For several weeks, Will price has been working closely with Dodger on several defense projects. One of the most important has been a plan to better safeguard the farms from intrusion by the local zombie population.
My brother Dave, you may remember, lead a group of workers in digging simple trenches and lines of stakes. Others have taken samples of...discharge from the zombie the Bald Knob folks caught, using the stuff to line the boundaries of one of the farms. While only temporary and not available in large quantities, that stuff works perfectly to repel other zombies. So well that Evans and Phil are working on ways to try and infect other zombies with whatever strain of the plague it is that gives that weird zombie the ability to mark its territory with its own vomit. I have my doubts that it'll work, but it's surely worth a try.
One idea that Will has endorsed for a very long time, along with many others in the compound, is hunting groups of zombies near the farms down and taking them out before they can organize close enough to us to be a threat. The scouts did a little of this after the cold set in, killing hibernating zombies in their sleep. Once the Richmond soldiers invaded, that practice stopped. And of course, most zombies developed resistance to the cold, which made it far too dangerous for our people to attempt, with their advantage taken away.
Since we've been home, we've been short on able bodies. But Will managed to convince Dodger that training a small group of people to work together as a unit would work as a means of depopulating swarms. Like most of the training in different areas people have been doing, the twenty of them have been working on this in their own time, and after about two weeks of hard drills, they went out for their first test in actual combat yesterday.
They're basically doing it like the Spartans did--shields (most made from old pieces of cars, usually hoods) and spears, which are probably the easiest weapon for us to make. Spears are awesome for killing zombies, being piercing weapons, and a lot of force goes into that point when it hits a skull. More than enough to break bone and ruin the brain.
Will and Dodger went with them, Will wearing his shackles as he has to do outside the compound. Jamie went as well, acting the part of scout for the group, and found a horde of the undead not far into the woods nearest the farm right next to the compound itself. Not a huge group, only about fifty, but our untested spearmen (and women) were outnumbered more than two to one.
Shields locked together in a phalanx, spears angled up and out, ready to be driven forward in one swift thrust, they waited at the edge of the wood for Jamie to bring the zombies running right into them.
He did. Our little Spartans stood their ground and methodically killed every zombie that came at them. Oh, there were mistakes; a dropped shield here, a broken spear there, missed thrusts and close calls with undead that got inside the reach of their weapons. But each man and woman, tempered by more than a year of fighting for survival, reacted well to those problems and kept one another safe. They killed almost forty of the zombies that came at them before those that were left turned and left them alone after seeing the piles of bodies that had been created in just a few minutes.
It was a good practice run, and showed Jamie, Dodger, and Will what needs to be worked on and what seems to work well. There are probably a hundred little details that need to be fixed just right, but it's a promising start. If we're lucky and don't lose too many citizens, we might be able to field as many as three trips a week for our spearmen, solely for the purpose of breaking up swarms.
For the first time since The Fall began, we've got real prospects for taking the fight to the undead. It's an idea still in its infancy, one that has to be nurtured and guided carefully, but it's beautiful nonetheless. I wish I had the time to train for it myself. Maybe I will, some day down the road when my trainees are fully capable of taking over for me...
But I can't risk it until I'm done training them. As much as I want to stand in that line, shoulder to shoulder with men and women I trust, making the world safer one push of the spear at a time, I can't.