Monday, January 6, 2014

Epiphany

Hey guys, Beckley again.  The Haven council has officially made their statement regarding the saboteurs that were caught back on Christmas Eve.  The confirmation that these people were UAS extremists has been taken fairly well.  I expected there to be more of a confrontation between the UAS immigrants and the Havenites, but everyone seems to be playing nice right now.  The main issue on everyone's mind are the people in Connorsville.

Connorville is the town set up by our reformed marauder neighbors.  The Council informed everyone in Haven that the UAS extremists did indeed come from there.  We've been in contact with the leader of that town, but first I should probably say a few things about Connorville.

Connorville is about a two hour drive from Haven.  I really don't know how close that makes it.  I'm not good with numbers.  Less than 120 miles though, since you don't really drive that fast given road conditions and the potential undead wandering into the road, drawn by the sound of your cars.  I think I mentioned before the the core of Connorvile is made up of RVs in the center of a dead town.  They fortified the town itself, but are ready to retreat to the RVs and bug out if things get bad.  So it's a mobile, but still permanent, settlement.

The leader of Connorville is a man named Glenn Connor.  I met him briefly on my last trip there to scope out the settlement.  He's a slight man, balding, wears small round spectacles.  He doesn't sound formidable, but when you meet him, you know that's not the case.  His beady little gray eyes will bore into you and he's obviously very intelligent.  He's constantly planning, you can just see that.  I'm a good judge of character, if I do say so myself, and Glenn Connor is one of the major reasons I don't trust that the people of Connorville are retired from marauding.  Connor is cold and I don't see even a glimmer of a conscience in his eyes.

Anyway, Connor has officially disavowed all knowledge of these three saboteurs.  Oh, he admits that they came in on the last Connorville trading convoy, but he says that they were recent arrivals to the town.  There's absolutely nothing to tie these guys to Connorville in anything but a very superficial way.  There's certainly no evidence that they received any help.  For all we know, they did settle in Connorville just to be within striking distance of Haven.  They offer to help on a trading convoy, desert once inside the Haven gates, and  lay low until the time to plant the bombs comes.  It's a perfectly reasonable possibility.

So why do I feel so suspicious?  I don't like Glenn Connor and I don't trust him.  I can't shake the feeling that he's hoping Haven erupts into chaos so that he can move in and take over, claiming our resources, our people, everything we've worked for.  But there's no proof.  So there's nothing to do but wait.  Wait and hope that proof comes before it's too late.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Night Before Christmas

Hey, it's Beckley.  Those of you here in Haven probably heard about the attack.  I've gotten all the information that I can from different people, so here's what I know:

Christmas Eve night a group of three (two men, one woman) were caught planting bombs in Haven.  One of the Haven guards who took the bombs outside the walls told me exactly what kind they were.  I didn't really understand what he was saying, but from what I could understand they were homemade.  I think they were a pipe bomb of some sort?  That sounds right.

Anyway, they were discovered planting one of their bombs at the food warehouse by none other than Santa Claus.  The people of Haven know that Santa stops by the houses with children and leaves a small gift.  The man under the false beard and Santa suit always wanted to remain anonymous but everyone has theories.  Anyway, Santa was at the food warehouse (probably to requisition some gifts) and interrupted the three saboteurs.  And that's when Santa opened up a jolly can of Krav Maga style whoop-ass.  By the time Santa's nearby security detail arrived on the scene, the situation had been dealt with.  (And no, I'm not going to reveal the identify of Santa, but it's easy enough to figure out who has access to food stores, has an interest in military martial arts, and has a security detail that would take it on themselves to follow him at a discrete distance.)

After the three saboteurs were apprehended, Haven went on lockdown until the other bombs were discovered.  Only two others had been planted and they were taken outside Haven and allowed to detonate safely.  The would-be attackers were "debriefed" and are currently being held.  Will Price and the rest of The Council are scheduled to make an announcement at some point soon, but I've heard a number of rumors about who these people are, and most of them agree that this group was UAS.

Yeah, remember those UAS splinter groups that were out there?  The ones that had no resources, no real transport, no real plan (no anything, really, except a desire to destroy Haven)?  Well one of them overcame those deficits and staged an attack.  The disturbing thing is that I really don't think we underestimated the threat of these splinter groups.  The UAS extremists are not organized and have no resources.  The fact that one of them got this close shows planning and organization.  So we either have a particularly cunning group here, or they had help.  From what I've heard, that's the general consensus, which is why The Council has waited to make the announcement.  They want to nail down who was housing these people, who gave them bombs, who gave them a plan, and who sent them on their way into Haven.  The best anyone can figure, these three either broke in, or they came in with the latest convoy from our new neighbors, the reformed marauders.

So that's where we stand right now.  A thankfully bloodless attack which may show us the true motives of our new neighbors.  We could be at war right now, but only our enemy knows that for sure.  I'll keep you apprised if I learn anything definite.  Meanwhile, everyone keep alert.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dead Will Rise--Out Now!

[This is an out of character post]

Well, long time no see!

This is Josh. I haven't posted here since I ended the main sequence of Living With the Dead and handed New Haven off to Beckley. I'm doing so now because I published the sequel to Victim Zero about a week ago, and I wanted to put up a link for anyone who missed it.

So here's the link to Dead Will Rise, book two of The Fall.  If you're a long-time fan of LWtD, you'll want to pick up Victim Zero and Dead Will Rise if you haven't already. You certainly don't need to read them to understand the story, but the novels serve as both a back story for LWtD and a nice parallel tale that weaves between the two nicely. You should check it out!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Reason for the Season

Hey, it's Beckley.  Thought I'd post really quick as there's a lot to do today.  You'd think that this time of year, so over-exposed and commercialized in the past, would be toned down these days.  Not so much.

Though it makes sense when you think about it.  This time of year does host a number of religious holidays, and today is a holiday that has taken on major significance to a growing number of the (surviving) population.

Happy Yule everyone.  As I speak, a number of celebrants are building a bonfire and preparing a Yule feast.  And next week there will be another celebration for Christmas.  So spirits are pretty high right about now, particularly among the religious.  You'd think that current events would drive everyone towards atheism and a rejection of any benevolent power, but it hasn't.  Don't get me wrong, lots of people lost their faith in whatever religion they held.  By and large, though, as I talk to people, many who lost their faith seem to be the ones who were just attending their church, temple, mosque, what have you, out of form.  The ones that didn't seem to have the deepest understanding of what the religion actually meant, but rather were just there.  So it's really no surprise that once society crumbled and the pressures of attending an organized religious movement vanished, so to did their belief.  That said, there's still a number of people with a deep faith, the most visible being Haven's wandering chaplain.  He came here during one of Josh's early forays out into the world and he's made Haven his home.  More or less.  He still spends most of the year wandering the country, bringing aid and the Bible to the survivors of the world.

But with the thinning of the religious herds for the big religions, we've seen Paganism in general, and Druidism in particular, make a resurgence.  Something about an Earth-based religion seems to click with a lot of people in this world where we are forced to be back to nature.  Where nature is both a savior and a bitter, malignant foe.  I think the duality of light and dark, good and evil, also appeals since we see so much positive in our society, yet we've all seen such needless suffering as well.  All this to say, there's been a lot of converts and the Yule celebration is just as big as the Christmas one next week.

I think it's just a further demonstration that Humanity needs something to believe in.  And whether you celebrate or not, I think it's worth your time to meditate on the fact that the darkness of this world is slowly abating and light is returning to our lives.  It's a time of renewal, and that's a lesson we can all take with us.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Hey, It's Beckley.  Been keeping busy and at the same time being lazy about posting.  I feel like I'm starting to lose touch with the need for technology.  I look at this laptop and I just don't see the point in firing it up most of the time.  The same extensive internet no longer exists, the same resources are no longer available.  This machine and the series of tubes it used to connect with have become anachronistic in today's society.  Still, it can be used for communication so I've got to keep up with it.

Lately I've been going out on beater missions.  Now normally there's a skilled group of soldiers who go out and re-kill zombies.  That said, we needed larger numbers to take advantage of the weather.  We've all seen the death of the Old School Zombies and the rise of the New Breed.  And we all know that the New Breed are deadly.  They're fast, they're clever, they're resilient, and they're patient.  The New Breed watching Haven are spread out over a lot of distance, trying to watch us from every angle, herding their less intelligent brethren, and just in general lying in wait for a meal.  They're always a danger to travelers and traders.  And we just had the chance to clear out most of them.  At least I hope it's most of them.

See, we got an early Christmas present a week or so ago.  Freezing rain and sleet and snow.  It was disgusting out.  The kind of nasty weather that would make you call off work in The World That Was.  Weather like this used to incapacitate the zombies, but the New Breed handle the cold better.  But here's the thing: Even though they handle the cold, they will keep still in the cold to save energy until there's something worth doing.  So they got rained on, then sleeted on, then snowed on, then sleeted on again.  Layer after layer of ice built up out there while the New Breed just stood there and took it.  The result is that the hidden packs of New Breed got frozen over.

I wish that it was like the cartoons, where a character can get completely immobilized in a block of ice, but unfortunately we had to deal with the reality.  Maybe a few New Breed got their feet iced completely to the ground.  The vast majority were still mobile, but forced to shamble across icy ground while wearing tattered clothes that had been turned to sheets of ice.  They were all moving like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz while flakes of ice fell from their limbs and joints.  And that made them easier targets.

So the call went out for volunteers since the people heading up Haven security wanted to cast as wide a net as possible.  Teams of civilians, headed up by professional beaters, went out from Haven in all directions and laid waste to any iced up zombie they could find.  It was a slaughter.  No casualties on our end and innumerable undead were put down.  Spirits are riding high in Haven right now.  The people are planning a huge midwinter/Christmas celebration.  Everyone is just so happy.  I'm just happy I got to help out.  The change of scenery helps to keep me out of my head.  I really need that sometimes.  I know, I keep referring to the past then not sharing about it.  It must be kind of annoying.  Still, the things that happened, that I've done, they stay with me.  I don't know if it's something I ever will get over.  I don't know if I deserve to get over it.  No that's not true.  I do know whether I deserve to get over it.  I know very clearly.  I don't.  The things I've done can't be undone and I owe it to the ones that are gone to remember why they had to die.  I might stand by my actions, but that doesn't make me feel any better about myself.

I'm being pointlessly vague and I apologize.  The point of all of this is lots of zombies are dead and people are celebrating.  And I got to put down a large number of undead.  That's what really matters in this world.  Happiness and zombie death.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Demon Days

Hey, it’s Beckley.  I haven’t posted anything for a bit.  I’ve been stuck in the death-days.  That’s what I call them, anyway.  There are times when I, and everyone I’ve ever met, just gets stuck in this negative place and fixates on death.  It’s not a depression because it doesn’t necessarily affect daily functioning on the global scale that an actual episode does.  Rather, I think that this is a result of the fact that we all have some form of PTSD or adjustment issue.  At some point, it all becomes overwhelming.  We see the ruin around us, we see the animated corpses shambling, and suddenly everything seems pointless.  You just focus on death and the inevitability of your journey towards it.

So for a while I’ve just been focused on the death that surrounds us.  I’ve been going about my routine, doing my job, helping out, but not feeling much in the way of hope or happiness.  It’s just going through the motions because what else am I going to do?  Everything seems pointless but you keep moving because the only other option is jumping straight to death, and with reanimation being a reality, that death becomes a danger to everyone around you.

Nearly everyone I’ve talked to has experienced this at some point.  This overwhelming feeling of ennui and pointlessness.  If the DSM-V (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is the Bible for people in the psychology field and the 5th edition was more delayed prior to The Fall than Chinese Democracy) had ever come out, this phenomena would probably be named “Adjustment-Induced Emo Disorder” or something like that.  Whatever the case, I think we all struggle with it.

It’s a loss of meaning, I think.  Our world was taken from us and we’re forced to make something new.  And it’s wonderful that we’re doing so, but this is a loss that strikes us to our core.  The years before The Fall were defined by technology, information being readily available, mass communication, and so on.  We have none of that now.  We’re knocked back to a culture closer to the pioneer roots of this country, but with anachronistic technology.  So we’ve lost the meaning we had and that catches up with us at times.  But we snap back.  I guess it’s fitting that I’ve come out of my death-days now.  I didn’t even remember that Thanksgiving was tomorrow until someone reminded me.  Although to be honest, I don’t even know what day of the week it is most of the time.  Without a watch to tell me, I just can’t keep track.  Sometimes I think the only reason anyone does keep track of the days is so we can still celebrate the old holidays.  

And this is an important one to celebrate.  Because despite the horrors we’ve been through, despite the terrible things we’ve seen and done, despite the feeling that life is pointless, we can still be thankful.  We’re alive and being alive gives life a purpose.  And it allows us to pull others out of the depths of their own death-days.  Because none of us exist in a vacuum.  We all need each other.  So thanks to all of you for letting me make Haven my home.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Winning Friends and Influencing People

Beckley here.  I’ve been busy outside of Haven, visiting with the marauders.  Sorry, ex-marauders.  Except not.  I should probably explain.

So, I was right in my belief that the Haven Council was talking with our new neighbors.  I was also right when I said that they would claim to be ex-marauders.  The Council has decided to take them at their word, which I guess I’m ok with.  Trust has to start somewhere.  But before starting any kind of trade agreement, they wanted to be sure that the new kids were telling the truth about leaving their past behind.  And that’s where I came in.

I was part of an inspection team.  The Council didn’t want to send any of the official Haven diplomats because they’re too high profile.  Our neighbors would know they were being tested and assessed.  So they sent me to get a read on this group on the down-low.  Officially I was a bureaucrat in charge of a Haven inspection team to check for slaves, drugs, weapons of mass destruction, and so on.  Pretty much anything that’s considered illicit or would prove our neighbors have not left marauding behind.  It was a fairly superficial deception and one that our new neighbors no doubt saw right through.  I think Haven wanted them to know that they were being assessed with more than just an inspection team, but didn’t want to be totally blatant about it.

So I spent the better part of half a week over there while the inspection teams went over every inch of this mobile little town.  They have a number of vehicles, but there’s a core fleet of campers and trailers.  They then set up shop in a neighborhood or area that is easily defendable.  So they have a permanent settlement, but the heart of their settlement can be packed up and moved in very little notice.

Which makes sense, because they’re marauders.

Ok, maybe I’m not being fair.  The inspection teams found no slaves, no excessive weapons stockpiles, no significant amounts of illicit substances, and no one I talked to seemed to allude to any kind of marauding.  Here’s the thing though: they didn’t admit to any marauding at all, past or present.  We already know that these guys have ex-marauders among them, so to not even admit to that?  It makes them sound coached.

There was also a severe lack of women.  I’d say the ratio was about 10 men to every woman.  So is this because the majority of women are used as slaves?  The women who were there were clearly not slaves, though they also were clearly not equals.  It reminded me of things I’d seen and read about biker gangs.  A kind of institutionalized sexism where the women were seen as subservient to the men, almost to the level of property, and would periodically get passed around.  I really got the feeling there was a similar arrangement here.  It’s abhorrent to me, but to call it slavery?  It’s not.

Everyone was forthcoming when I asked questions and started conversations, but at the same time I can’t shake that they’re hiding something.  Then again, everyone is hiding something in this day and age.  There’s plenty I keep hidden for myself, so I can’t fault them for doing the same.

So now we’re back in Haven and The Council will likely decide to be friendly towards our new neighbors and open some sort of trade.  And on the surface, there’s no reason they wouldn’t.  There’s no reason to believe that these guys aren’t trying to make a new life and leave the violence behind.  And yet, I just don’t buy it.  I’m wracking my brain, trying to figure out if there’s something I noticed without realizing, some warning sign that I’m only aware of in the back of my mind.   I don’t know.  Maybe I’m just prejudiced.  We all survived this plague on a healthy dose of paranoia.  Maybe it’s hard to turn it off.  Or maybe I’m right and these guys are going to come at us when we’re at our most vulnerable.  We’ll see, I guess.  If they are marauders, they can’t keep their nature hidden for long.