Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lost Ground

The last few days have been hell, and I'm not just saying that because of the fires we've been using to keep the undead back. Will has been working like a madman on the defenses, but eventually they'll fail completely.

As it is we've already suffered some heavy damage. The annex, two smaller subdivisions we fenced in and connected to the larger original compound, has been partially overrun. That was actually intentional on our part, as we knew that the fire wouldn't hold them off forever.

Will came up with the idea. He's spent a lot of time on the walls, and though he's been a busy guy he has also been observing. The smarties that are found in small clusters among the larger swarm of zombies, seem to be having a harder time commanding their less intelligent brethren. Even as the fires in the trenches burned you could see the hunger almost pushing the normal zombies to consider attacking despite the flames.

So Will gave them an easy target. He suggested to Dodger (because Will is still a condemned man and thus has no actual authority) that we allow a section of trench to run out of fuel and let the zombies overrun it if they attacked. It was dangerous, but better to prepare a massive trap and tease them into attacking where we wanted them than risk a break in the defenses at a random place.

One of the good things about how we built the walls in the annex is that each of the two smaller neighborhoods that make it up has its own complete fence surrounding it. We brought the undead into the older and smallest part, letting them fill the streets before we cut loose on them.

We set fire to the wall where they'd come in. It was on the side farthest from the original compound, so we weren't worried about the main area going up in flames. That cut off the zombies' escape route.

Then we pelted them with dozens of vials of ammonia. The smell is overpowering to them, and our observations make it very clear to us that zombie communication, such as it is, is based on smell. So much ammonia in such a small area confused them and made them lose focus.

That's when we went for the kill.

At one corner of the giant square killing zone were two dozen men and women, trained to fight in unison with homemade spears and shields. Those folks, our Spartans, took positions on the corner of the square most in need of defense--the intersection point between the original compound and the two parts of the annex. All along the wall between the two parts of the annex were archers with arrows of many types, all of them interesting.

At the far side of that wall, a team of men working a catapult set on one of the raised platforms each corner used as a sentry post.

Clear on the other end were fifty warriors. Some had cutting weapons, some homemade flamethrowers. They formed a line of death, pushing the swarming zombies staggering in confusion from the ammonia, right into the middle of the giant square formed by the roads and houses.

We weren't worried for those fighters, though they were on foot and not heavily protected. The zombies were not able to get close to them at all because we used every drop of the secretions put out by a very special zombie to assure their safety. You remember, don't you? That zombie the folks in bald knob found, vomiting up a substance that made others of his kind run away?

Turns out that being surrounded by them on all sides makes him a very sick boy. He's been vomiting all week in the cage we keep him chained in. It isn't hard to collect the stuff.

On every rooftop, there were groups of three or four people raining down alcohol, heavy rocks, metal scraps, and anything else we could hit the zombies with. Not the least of which was a liberal dusting of magnesium dust and some leftover thermite.

You can see where this is going, yes?

It was a slaughter. Will planned the whole thing and it worked like a charm. Our people on foot escaped on the signal, which was only sent when the fire began to spread among the trapped swarm. Our folks on the rooftops used the walkways we've built between all our roofs to get out. Our archers and Spartans didn't have much to do but clean up the stragglers. Our catapult crew did all the hard work, dropping a few small explosives in just the right places.

I don't know how many we killed, but there are noticeably less zombies outside the walls now. I'd say about a third of what we faced int he beginning died in the annex yesterday. Maybe half of the total number gone.

That still leaves a hell of a lot of zombies, and us with a lot of problems. As soon as the fires died out in the annex, not more than a few hours after our people pulled back into the original compound, the killing ground was overrun again. The flaming section of wall had died out, and when it did the swarm hit it with their full might.

That's about a quarter of all the homes we had, lost. The homesteaders are taking it hard, since the majority of them lived in that section. None of them are angry at us about it, you understand, which I find rather odd. But they've lost their homes and many possessions, not to mention the gardens that provided them at least some food.

We're left with the same problems. We've conducted a masterful defense so far, but food is getting rationed hard and we'll begin to starve if we can't get out to hunt, especially with that part of the annex and its resources lost to us. We still haven't heard anything from our folks in Bald Knob, and no word about whether or not we'll be getting any help.

I guess the good news is that we've got less area to defend.

When I see the thin faces of the starving children around me, that doesn't seem much comfort.

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