Back in the fall (I'm so used to capitalizing The Fall when I refer to the initial outbreak of the zombie plague and the worldwide chaos that followed that it takes an effort not to do it...) there was a huge swarm of zombies that threatened the place now known as North Jackson. You may remember that we sent Will Price and a contingent of other people there to help with the fight.
There was also a helicopter. During one of the largest assaults, it came from nowhere to deliver ruination on the zombie swarm. None of us knew where it came from, and haven't seen it since. Early today the people of North Jackson learned the truth behind that little mystery.
All over the country, small groups of soldiers who managed to survive the early waves of violence have banded together. Well, they were small at first. The helicopter that swooped in to help the folks of North Jackson was only passing through, killing what zombies they could before their munitions or fuel ran out. The men that were in that chopper moved on for another two hundred miles toward another group of soldiers they'd been in contact with.
Many such groups came together slowly over time. The men who helped North Jackson met with others. More joined over time to bring their total to more than four hundred. Each group had hoarded MRE's and many other supplies in much the same way the rest of us have--by looting the hell out of any cache we can find. The difference is that while many other groups of survivors put down roots in one place and tried to rebuild, these soldiers moved around, amassing a huge reserve of supplies and taking it with them as they went.
Those four hundred made it to the gate at North Jackson today. The email I got described their caravan as a line two vehicles wide, stretching so far that the end of it curved out of sight. The soldiers had several tankers carrying diesel fuel with them. All were nearly empty.
When their fuel began to get low, they made the choice to go to a place that they knew had a sizable population. Somewhere they knew was defensible and with enough infrastructure to handle their numbers. I'm proud to say that those four hundred soldiers stopped at the gate and asked for permission to enter, offering their services as full time guards for the walls of North Jackson.
NJ accepted happily. Though there will be a lot of additional planting needed (which will mean clearing and securing more nearby land) the people there are thrilled to have so many new faces. With the extra population, they will be able to mount an effort to clear the areas near the main complex in no time.
We've had bad experiences here with soldiers, but I want to give that some context. The Richmond soldiers weren't as bad as they could have been. Yes, they took our home through force, or at least the threat of it, but overall they were more restrained than your average marauder. There weren't constant rapes (a few, as I've mentioned before, but that happens in every group of people) and they didn't oppress the remaining citizens here, really. They were hungry men who had nearly run out of food. They were desperate, and lost their way.
I've always had a great respect for the military. I can't say enough about the pride that comes to my heart when I think about men and women making the willing choice to protect others. To serve their homeland. Soldiers are people like anyone else, and like any other person some of them lost their way after The Fall. How could they watch their brother and sister soldiers die and be eaten in front of them and not be scarred? How could they not be changed?
But also like other people, many of our surviving servicemen and women have adapted. The vast majority of those that live are stronger for it. The frankly huge hoard of supplies the new citizens of NJ brought with them is enough to feed the thousand or so people there for a few weeks by itself. Those brave soldiers collected all of that so it wouldn't go to waste. They had always planned to join up with a stable group of survivors, and thought that they might need bargaining chips to assure acceptance.
It wasn't necessary, but the folks at NJ appreciated it. Would have been hard to feed so many new people without it.
I'm happy for our friends to the north, and thrilled that so many of our men and women in uniform have managed to survive. It's a good day.