The fire started by the captives is still raging. It has consumed a huge portion of the area the marauders were using as a gathering place. I've gotten a full report from the group the captives have taken refuge with.
The survivors of that group have imprisoned them for endangering the entire area. I hate thinking those people, who've suffered so much, are back under lock and key. But if their desire for revenge drove them to such dangerous lengths, I can't see how they can be allowed to roam free. So far the fire hasn't spread to the nearby community of survivors thanks to strong winds blowing in helpful directions. The locals are doing what they can to build firebreaks. It's going to have to be enough.
Every time I think I've got a handle on this insane fucking world we live in, something comes along and smacks us in the face. Zombies have spread like a plague across the earth? Check. Oh, then they started evolving in strange ways, forcing us to change tactics to match them. It's almost funny that the undead were the root cause of the destruction of human society, yet it's the dangerously unpredictable reactions of living people that threaten what we've managed to rebuild.
I feel partially responsible, and so does my team. We were the ones who freed the captives, stayed with them for such a short time and encouraged them to fight. On the one hand I find it hard to blame them for changing their own tactics when they realized the methods of fighting the marauders they were using wouldn't be enough.
On the other hand, they killed what I have been told was around fifty to sixty people just like them. Captives we hadn't been able to get to and free. Chained and shackled in trailers and shacks, unable even to run as the flames sucked the oxygen right out of their lungs before scorching every inch of them. The marauders didn't give their captured victims a second thought as they ran from the flames. What disturbs me is the fact that the freed captives who set the fires didn't either.
The whole situation begs the larger question: how much consideration should we give to our interactions with people now? Hindsight is a tricky bitch, because she tells me now that maybe giving those men and women their freedom was the wrong thing to do. Yet at the time, it was the only right option.
I'm not usually one to get overly worked up about the consequences of other people's actions. If these had been healthy, undamaged human beings I would just be angry at them. They aren't. They're hurt and frightened, furious beyond comprehension, and they've got every right to be.
My mistake, our mistake, might have been in not realizing how damaged they are. The captives have suffered through things that no living creature should ever know. We freed them like heroes out of some story, and we gave them a small portion of our time before pushing them in the direction of their enemies with a casual 'Go get 'em!'. We had tunnel vision about them. All we saw was the pain, and we missed what the pain caused.
Some men are monsters waiting to happen. All it takes is the right context, the proper circumstances, for the shell to crack and fall away. That's what marauders are.
The captives were made into monsters. They suffered, were broken, and when the healing began all the pieces fit together wrong. Bent on revenge with no consideration for the ramifications of their actions. No one to tell them no, no one to urge caution and restraint on them. Least of all me and mine. The marauders shattered them, but in the final analysis the facts can't be ignored.
My people and I are the ones who set them in motion. We're the ones who put their feet on the path and stoked the embers of their rage into flames. We urged them forward with justice in mind.
That makes us murderers every bit as much as they.