Monday, February 13, 2012

Watershed Moment

Since my post yesterday, a string of events has played out that will have lasting ramifications for New Haven and everyone that calls it home. In short, I've played every ace I had in the hole and made every desperate gambit I could. Things have changed.

Back in Colorado, we encountered a large area that was totally bereft of life, even zombies. We discovered that the area had been blasted with chemical and possibly biological agents, and only after I contacted some trustworthy allies to raze the place to the ground did I comment on what we'd found. I couldn't risk any remaining weapons of mass destruction falling into the wrong hands.

Funny, isn't it, how we always think our hands are the right ones.

Now that I've taken action, I can tell the whole truth. You've probably already guessed that I salvaged some of the unused canisters from that place, hid them in the trailer and brought them back home. Two metal containers about the size of a small kitchen fire extinguisher, yet with enough destructive power to wipe out hundreds of human lives in one stroke.

After my post yesterday, the council sent guards to make sure I didn't leave New Haven before they got a chance to talk to me. I went without a fight, because fighting would have been pointless. Also because I wouldn't have posted something like that without fully expecting a consequence of exactly this type. When I stood in front of the council, as they rained questions down on me, I stood calmly without speaking. I waited until their excitement turned into anger that I refused to respond. Past that, I waited until they finally fell totally silent, realizing I wasn't going to speak so long as they were ranting at me.

That was when my people entered the room without announcing themselves and informed the council that their services would no longer be required.

Since well before the team and I returned home, we've been in touch with people at New Haven about the dangerously unpredictable people in charge of the place. The only person on the team that is innocent in all of this is Bill, who finds himself thrust into a volatile situation in his new adopted home. Becky, Rachel, Will, Steve, and I have all been organizing and fomenting resistance on the off chance we'd need to act. Yesterday, the need became pressingly clear.

Understand, please, that we did this according to the rules. One of the many changes the new council made to New Haven's charter (or constitution, whatever they're calling it now) was to give the people the ability to vote in a single leader during times of conflict. All it takes is a majority vote. I think the council expected to have the clout to make sure it would be one of them if crunch time came.

They were wrong. As of today, against all expectation, Will Price is our leader again.

You may think that I would be the logical choice, but I've been down that road. Maybe someday I'll have the maturity to handle that kind of power, but not today. Not soon. Will has been a soldier, a general, a spy, a slave, a criminal, and an intrepid explorer. Through all he's suffered at the hands of New Haven's citizenry, he's maintained a love of this place that is almost matchless.

The other reason we rallied the people for Will instead of me is that I was the one who had the chemical weapons. Whoever went to to deliver them against our enemies was expected to have a 50/50 chance of returning, and Will is still crippled from his injuries. So I was the one who went. I was the one who carefully read the instructions on the things for the fiftieth time, who wore a gas mask, who made his way through the tall, frozen grass lining the hill leading down to the fallback point.

The freezing wind was merciless, but at least it drove the zombie swarms to ground. I didn't have to worry much about them as I crawled several hundred yards dragging a huge nylon bag behind me. I was alone and not in danger from the undead as I set up the air cannon, whose double barrels were cut short to fit in the bag. I hadn't expected to get close enough to actually get my shot into the fallback point, so I settled on firing my charge just far enough to be on the edge of the river, my side of the river. The wind would carry the gas across and into the ranks of the enemy. There was enough of it to kill most of them if we were lucky.

We weren't lucky.

My shot was off, and the wind was hitting me from two directions. One of the canisters misfired completely, landing only a few dozen feet from me and only issuing a small leak of gas. The other overshot wildly, bounced off the riverbank on the far side, and fell into the river. All I managed to do was waste a valuable weapon, get seen, and make the Exiles realize the lengths we were ready to go to against them.

Still, half our goal has been reached. The enemy may be more alert to us as a threat now, but control of New Haven and her resources is in the hands of the people with the willpower, intelligence, and creativity to use them to best advantage. We're going to need that once the Exiles mobilize, and since we tried to wipe them out with a WMD I'm certain they will, because we're outnumbered. Cut off from allies. And probably outgunned. I dodged rifle fire on my way up the hill after my air cannon malfunctioned. And those fuckers were not sparse with the bullets.

I can't help feeling a little relief that the canisters didn't get to do their work. I was resolved to doing what had to be done, but to end so many lives at once...just thinking about it makes me wonder if my conscience could have taken the strain. Strangely, I don't doubt that I would do it again, but part of me is almost happy it didn't work out.

Jess is furious that I didn't tell her any of this. I doubt I'll hold on to that happy relief if or when the Exiles finally attack us outright.

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