Every one of the people we freed from the marauders, all the ones that stayed and fought them at least, have been executed. I'm told their deaths were as humane as possible. It's cold comfort.
The fire they started made its way to the group of survivors that held them prisoner. Thankfully the weather in that area turned, storms drenching the blaze before it could reach their home. That's the only way the fire could have done more damage to them, if it had consumed the buildings they live in. As it is, the future of the group is in the air.
The fire ravaged the entire area, killing game and destroying the late crops they'd been cultivating. The captives were being held until the final results of the forest fire they started could be fully appreciated. What started as a mission of justice against the worst kind of men ended with the destruction of livelihood for an entire group of peaceful survivors. I'm doing what I can to arrange food for them this winter to make up for this entire awful mess, but it may not be enough.
I've called on the goodwill of other survivors often. I've built a lot of personal credit with other groups, but those chips are running low. I've had emails from a lot of people telling me that I'm quickly becoming seen as a dangerous person to know. I've heard a lot of reasons. I made rash decisions. I act before I think. I involve myself in problems that aren't my own. I don't know how to keep my mouth shut.
At first, as I struggled to find trades to help those poor, burned-out people, I was angry. Every call and message was harder than the last. Even as I talked to people, they began to contact each other to spread the word that I was asking for help. One of the few truly stalwart group of friends I have, the leadership in North Jackson, told me about it. The whole situation boils down to me causing chaos. People are tired of going out on a limb to clean up after me.
The anger turned to depression. They're right. I've always seen myself as a good guy, but frankly everyone does that. No one is the villain in the story of their own lives. I've got a powerful sense of right and wrong, and the good I've done in saving others from the plague of zombies in no way makes up for every mistake I've made since.
All those people, the captives, suffered horrible things. My team and I tried to help them. Look at what we caused. Their deaths. The deaths of countless other captives. The destruction of land and animals that would have seen an innocent group of people through hard times. The deaths of those marauders, no matter how much they deserved it, doesn't make up for that. Does it?
I'm still wrestling with that thought. How many people since The Fall had those men and women tortured, killed, and raped? How many lives have been ruined? How many more were saved? The answer I keep coming up with is that I don't know. I can't know. It's all speculative. The facts in front of me, however, are concrete. The results that followed are there to see.
I'm trying hard not to wander off into a philosophical debate with myself here, but the concern that rises from this situation is one that is both important philosophically as well as practically. Morality has always had to shift and change with the times. Now more than ever we have to judge situations for what they are, for what the consequences will be. There's far too much at risk for rash behavior, no matter how heroic we might think they are. Would it have been better for us to leave the marauders be, and organize a force to attack them at a later time? I don't know how much damage they'd have done in the interim, but I know what damage we did by attacking.
This entire situation has been eye-opening. I find myself playing through hypothetical situations in my mind, what I'd do if confronted by a similar situation again. The same answer keeps coming up. Wait. Ignore the screams of the innocents. Gather more information. Plan an attack, gather forces, wait for an opportunity. Don't give in to my heart and the ache it feels for those under the power of monstrous men and women. I can't come to any other conclusion. I'd do it, if the day ever comes. I'd play the long game and plan for total victory rather than give in to the urge to rescue right then, to help regardless of consequences. The last few weeks have taught me that lesson. I've learned it.
And it frightens the hell out of me.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
You get into trouble because you are willing to make the hard choices - choices that HAVE to be made. You may be a trouble maker, but sometimes you need trouble. What kind of people KNEW about the depredations the "captives" were suffering and let it stand? Even with your small group you wouldn't stand for it and you took action that NEEDED to be taken.
As for the rest . . . maybe you were too hasty to wash your hands of the situation. Sure, you have a "mission", but the reality is you probably should have stayed to see it through. Next time don't do things by half measures. Yes, you will be seen as a trouble maker, but you will also be seen as a force for good.
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
- George Bernard Shaw
Be that unreasonable man.