Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Phalanx

Our new arrivals are settling in to their temporary home here inside the compound. While we were gone Dave and some of his construction crew went over to the National Guard base across the road and dug up some large tents. There aren't many empty spots inside the walls to put them, but one place close to the western wall is pretty bare of vegetation given all the repair work we did there. That's a little closer to danger than I'd like to see the new folks put, but it's all we can manage right now. 

My cohorts have been working pretty hard to plan out where all the new arrivals will be staying permanently and what jobs each of them might be best at. Farming and hunting are obvious choices, and a few of them have a lot of experience defending. Today we're doing interviews with each of them to try and determine what the best fit will be. They'll be short ones, I hope, maybe ten minutes apiece, and each of my fellow coordinators will be doing them along with me. Part of the reason we're doing this is because we want to try to move some of our less satisfied citizens away from jobs they don't like since we now have extra people that might actually enjoy some of those jobs. 

I know for sure there are a few guys who hate working in the mess halls, and would rather get out on the wall or to the farms. A few of the pregnant women we brought from Tennessee like to cook, and since it's relatively safe I think a trade might be beneficial.

One of the women we brought back with us is very interesting. Her name is Jen, and I watched her for a long time last night. No, not like that--well, a little, since she's a lovely woman. No, I was watching some of our spearmen practice working in a phalanx, as many of us do from time to time. You may remember them from a while back, a small group of interested people that wanted to work on the spear-and-shield technique as a way of defeating much greater numbers of zombies. 

They've been practicing a lot lately in their spare time, and last night I watched Jen stare at their drills in fascination. She's an interesting lady, very knowledgeable about a lot of things but most interested in hunting and combat. She was the person most likely to be found patrolling the edge of the valley while we were there. She is a good archer, I'm told a good shot with a gun, and she definitely knows how to use a machete and hatchet. I saw that firsthand. 

The phalanx was practicing for about twenty minutes before she got up from where she stood and walked over to them. A few of the men were surprised to see her grab a spear from the rack. Even more were caught off guard when she shouldered her way into the hollow square formation they were in without a shield. No one said anything at first, but Jen caught them off guard one last time by shouting the orders she'd heard Will giving the men from inside the square. 

Those men are well-trained, and Jen has grown used to command. The tone of her voice was as rough and take-no-shit as any drill sergeant, if a few octaves higher. When the line moved forward to strike, shields tight, Jen slipped between the men with her slim frame and brought her spear down with a powerful overhead strike. When she gave the order for the line to pull back, she leaned hard against the men locked together in a tight defensive stance and swept her spear out in a hard arc. 

It was awesome. The men had practiced similar things before, but most of them were too heavy or big to make it work out right. Someone always overbalanced or broke the line apart. That was mostly due to the fact that the space inside the hollow square is small and hard for most guys to maneuver around in. 

Jen showed us the obvious solution to that. She suggests four women inside, each with a polearm. Not a spear, but rather a bladed weapon like a halberd. Swinging away from safely inside, mowing down the undead beating on the shields. 

Beautiful. 

2 comments:

  1. Devon SteinkoenigJune 15, 2011 at 1:54 AM

    Hey Josh, sorry I haven't gotten back to you, North Jackson had lightning strike one of the wind turbines that link directly to the improv. power grid.

    As you know, my home of several months was North of Toronto. After gaining access to the internet, which I have since learned was sped up by Google(thanks guys!), I found this blog. I decided to immigrate to the Compound, and my crew wanted to join me.

    Tyler Masters, and John and Mary Shroeder made up a team that I met up with near Fort Wayne. We spent a lot of time together and were as tight as family. Unfotunately they are all dead now. I wish I could impart on you and any who read this the sorrow I feel as I type this, but words cannot describe it.

    And so, with the blessings(and a new car!) of the nearby... hmm... governor? I don't know. Whatever. With Deron's blessings we left his village, headed South. We planned to head through Toronto and pick up supplies for the trip, as there is a sizable trading community there. We planned to then head to North Jackson, with various and assorted stops along the way. As you have probably guessed, that plan went to hell.

    About two weeks into the trip, we were nearing Chicago for some salvage operations. Driving along at about 30 mph, a deer jumped in front of us. I know what you're probably thinking, "You were only doing 30, how did a deer manage to get right in front of you without you seeing it?" but you have to remember that roads are semi-permanently congested, and much more so inside the Windy City.

    As with most things now, even a minor problem results in huge consequences. We decided to make camp while Ty, our resident mechanic, welder, and all-around badass when it comes to all things metal, repaired the car's armor and a few loose bits.

    As John and I were taking a break from unpacking, almost twenty zombies came at us at the same time. That should have been our first indication that something was up.

    We finished unpacking the essentials, and went inside. By this time it was quite late, and, since this particular Post Office was built to withstand the inner-city violence that was prolific at the time, it wasn't neccessary to post a gaurd. We did anyway, but weren't especially alert. During what I suppose should have been the second watch, we awoke to the sound of one of the smarter zombies opening the rather heavy-duty, and therefore loud, deadbolt we had installed.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Devon SteinkoenigJune 15, 2011 at 1:55 AM

    We fought for our lives, but John didn't make it and Tyler's arm was pretty messed up. We ran for days and each day Tyler's arm got worse. Eventually it was too gangrenous to heal and we had to amputate it or Ty would die. We did it as quickly as possible, and tried to help as much as we could but neither Mary nor I had had anything more than the basic first aid training. Tyler Masters died that night.

    Mary and I had to leave him. We hoped that the zombies following us would be distracted by his corpse long enough for us to get somewhere safe. As a matter of fact it nearly did, but while we were running, I managed to give myself a fairly long, shallow gash. You know, the kind that bleeds the most?

    Dr. Webb commented a few weeks ago telling you that one of NJ's patrols found me lying in a ditch. What she forgot to mention was the half-starved woman that was alternately crying and screaming at the top of her lungs that helped the patrol notice me.

    Mary, who has since recovered from her relatively mild case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and near starvation, is still determined to get the the Compound. Says we have to get there to make their deaths worthwhile. We'll be leaving soon, and this time, we're coming in a well-protected convoy.

    A few of the engineers here at NJ have been working on the designs for some prefab structures that will stand up to the hordes of zombies that have inherited the world. To keep it short, they've outdone themselves. These things have 1/2 inch thick metal(an alloy of just about anything they could find) walls, an ingenious heating system, and medeival castle-style windows, tall and thin. Too small for an arm, big enough for a spear/dagger/arrow. After caching up on the doings of their long-time allies, they decided you could use some prefabs. And they're sending a ton, all 2000 pounds of it. See you soon cuz, for real this time.

    ReplyDelete