Friday, October 15, 2010

Casting the Net

I just realized this morning that yesterday was my fifth anniversary with Jess. We got married last year, but we count our real one as the first night we spent with each other, the moment when mere interest bloomed into something more.

I would love to say something about how much changes in five years, but really, the last year alone has had enough changes to make everything else seem rather minimal. I will say that there is no one on the planet I would rather have at my back, or spend my days with.

That's enough of my drippy love. There are bigger things to talk about.

This morning saw what we all hope is the last major fight at Jack's compound in Michigan. I will spare you too many details, since most of what I know are just battlefield numbers and logistical information, but I will give you a brief summary. It is my hope that Courtney will find the time to post something soon in order to paint a more accurate and vivid account.

Casualty reports are still coming in, but I can say for certain that they weren't very heavy. The attack came just after dawn, several thousand zombies in loose groups aimed at the gates to Jack's place. The initial response was pretty hectic from what I am told, and the fighting fierce enough that pretty much everyone from Jack on down was (or is, still) on the wall with a weapon in hand. Small groups of gunners fired what little explosives were left into the crowds even as the pit traps and stakes warded a number of the undead back.

The sound of gunfire became more and more sparse as the morning wore on, ammunition stretched thin over almost two weeks of constant struggle finally running out. Enough materials are on hand in that industrial complex those folks call home to fashion plenty of simpler weapons, but guns are one of the strongest advantages we have over the zombies. While lots of people on the walls there have bows made of metal and thin steel or aluminum arrows to fire from them, they aren't nearly as effective as bullets for stopping power.

Of course, Will, Courtney and Steve have been working with some of the people up there in charge of developing weapons and defenses to come up with new ideas. I don't want to act as though my three friends had this sudden brainstorm and saved the day, but each of them definitely had ideas that others hadn't considered.

For example, Steve heard that the idea to build ballista, or giant crossbows, was nixed a few months ago because of the stopping power problem with arrows. When he heard this, he came up with the idea to alter the bolts such weapons would fire so that they were long and hooked, able to pierce several zombies at a time and pin them to the ground, unable to move. The mechanics and engineers at Jack's place apparently hadn't considered such an option, which makes sense how pressed for time they must have felt while looking for defense solutions.

Courtney, as I have said, has been working with these folks a lot lately. She has given them tons of ideas, some workable and many not, but the most recent was altering some of the air driven guns used for firing those (completely AWESOME) spear-like pipe bombs into giant shotguns. There is a lot of gravel and loose rock around there, and her thinking was that pretty much anything sharp and/or hard fired by a hundred or so PSI becomes fatal. Those things are working out well, though the range is pretty short.

Will, though...that guy is a fucking genius. And sort of stupid.

It took him all this time to realize that there is always electricity up there. He's been trying to think of a method to kill or disable large numbers of zombies for a long time, and he never put two and two together until day before yesterday. When he got a very detailed look at one of the supply dumps around Jack's that he had missed on his first go round, will found everything he could hope for.

Huge spools of raw copper wire, ranging in thickness from barely larger than a human hair to nearly as big around as a pinkie. He spent some time with a few engineers reworking some of the air cannons himself, and managed to come up with one hell of a device. Just thinking about what it must have looked like in action gives me a shiver. I don't want to imagine what it had to smell like.

Huge, thin nets of copper fired one after another, each trailing a thick wire. Men on the walls spraying a fine mist of water in bursts across the zombies that had made it past the stakes, had managed to evade the bombs.

They let the undead get very close, bunched up...and tangled. Soaked and grouped together, they didn't stand a chance when Will signaled for the switch to be thrown. At least half of the attacking swarm died as once, convulsing violently as nearly the entire power capacity of Jack's compound crackled through them.

I might be making this a little more descriptive than it was given to me. Author's privilege. My imagination took the information I was sent and built this amazing picture, and that's how I have to share it.

Those zombies that didn't die from the raw power popping them like so much corn were so incapacitated that archers and air guns easily cleaned them up. What's really amazing is that the swarm kept coming, the ones in the rear of the groups unaware of the nature of the threat and pushing their fellows ahead. The great thing about electricity is that it isn't picky about what part of the body it touches...

Long story short, almost every zombie on the field this morning is now just another log to throw on the pyres. Those that didn't die by voltage were snapped off by the defenders, on the wall and those who began to lead strikes out into the thinning field.

It looks like they've won, and you can't ask for more than that. We will aid Jack's people in procuring more ammo and other needed supplies now that doing so won't be fatal almost to a certainty, and then our folks will come home.

Oh, and as of right now, it's ten degrees cooler at Jack's than it was at this time yesterday. Looks like a good break ahead for them. Time enough to resupply and dig in for the winter, and to mourn the dead.

At our compound, every one of us will raise a glass to the brave men and women who fought and died there, to defend their small pocket of life and love once again. Our hearts are with every one of you who lost and hurt over this difficult time, and our pride for your spirit and determination knows no bounds. You are a testament to the wondrous variety present in the human race--you fight, you teach, you build and redesign. Many of you have learned new skills when the need came, and perfected them in short order. When my friends had some ideas, you ran with them and made basic sketches on scraps of paper in functional, devastatingly effective machines in no time flat.

All the credit and honor belong to you.

We're proud to call you all friends.

1 comment:

  1. Another good side for balista...They make the accurate delivery of small homemade explosives a whooole lot easier. Replace the head of a bolt with a properly weighted, well packed pipe bomb, with a compression trigger for a head? short-range frag grenade launcher.

    risky, and you want to practice with duds first...until you're REALLY good at getting the trajectory right. But they can pay off big-time.