Three days without writing a post is weird. A number of you sent me messages filled with concern that something had happened to me. No worries: as I said in the last few posts, I needed to focus myself on doing my part to help make New Haven function in the wake of our conflict with the Exiles.
Three days. A lot can happen in that time.
Nothing earth-shattering has, of course. I'd have probably posted something if it had. The seasons seem to be changing at a quicker pace now, warmer weather gaining a firmer grip on the land. It's chilly out right now, but the last two days have been in the sixties and the nights not much cooler. That's been good for productivity across the board and has helped us save a bit on our stock of firewood. That's wood we can use for cooking instead of heating, which means not sending out teams of people to cut more. It's weird how all the little details can matter in seemingly minor ways that turn out to be important.
Take that very team of woodcutters for example. By not having to send them out on a scheduled run to fell trees and to haul in wood we've stockpiled to dry at our preferred spot to lumber, we had extra hands available to work on other things. With the weather being warm, Jess used them in her greenhouses to help prepare for the planting that will happen soon. That puts us ahead of schedule there.
And by keeping that team home, we kept them from being killed.
While the Exiles sit in the fallback point licking their wounds, the undead are moving about more openly. Our scouts are having a hard time getting accurate counts because the new breed has almost taken over the local zombie population. They might be dead people walking, but the new breed is clever enough to realize we have people watching them. Clever enough, in fact, to watch us back without our scouts being aware of it.
We usually keep a two-man crew moving around the half of the county left open to us, doing rounds and checking up on the locations that we visit often. There are still some cache houses where we store supplies, the heavy copse of trees on the edge of a vast forest where we cut and dry our wood, the creeks where we gather and transport water when our reserves get low. There are more, a few dozen spots where we have to send people on a regular basis.
It was a lucky thing our scouts were near the lumberyard on time. Normally they'd have been checking up on the woodcutting crew, but on this particular round the scouts saw zombies. Lots of them, at least seventy. They came out of the woods in a flood when they heard the scouts pull close with their dirt bikes, and slowed down immediately. The scout team thinks the undead were waiting for the trucks that would drop off our would-be lumberjacks, and were surprised to see only two men on motocross bikes.
It goes without saying that the scouts turned around and hauled ass for New Haven to give us that report. We've known for a while that the new breed is going to be a lot harder to handle than the original recipe zombies, but to think they've been watching the places we go, holding back the instinct to kill...that's a huge problem. New Haven isn't self-sufficient in that way; we have to send people out almost every day to gather supplies of one kind or another.
It's startling to realize just how much a weakness this is. We're dealing with a much more intelligent predator now, and we don't have any choice in the matter. We can't stop sending out teams. Hell, we've made some significant progress to opening trade routes back up, but that's going to come with its own set of problems now, too. How many runs can people make to New Haven, bringing in goods while we ship out medicines, before the new breed starts devising ways to attack the trucks and drivers?
Dear god, what if they start to comprehend how badly off we'd be if they just stopped trade altogether? Or even stopped us from going out into the county to bring in food or wood or water? My deepest hope is that the new breed...no. New Breed, in capitals, because they are enough of a threat to deserve that distinction.
My deepest hope is that the New Breed doesn't have that level of comprehension. I'm acting as an adviser to the newly elected council and to Will, who has been reconfirmed as Governor of New Haven, but my daily duties aren't nearly what they once were. I'm not a vital gear in the machinery of this place, as others have taken up the workload my brother and I used to share. I see to many small problems that fall through the cracks, but anyone with a brain (which is just about everyone in New Haven) could do it.
I hope the New Breed isn't capable of figuring out how deeply they could cut us, because I love this place. I love these people, flaws and all. If the undead discover that slowing down our activity outside New Haven's walls will weaken us and make us easier targets, we'd be in for a world of hurt. I don't have the pull around here that I did many months ago. I can't make things happen by just asking for them. Then again, I have more influence than I did under our recently deposed council, so maybe that evens out. My duties, my work, might be small items that don't have a huge flashy impact, and I'm okay with that.
Because my loyalty is to this place and these people. I will do anything to ensure New Haven's safety and prosperity, even if that means taking on some responsibilities no one can be asked to shoulder. If that sounds vague and cryptic, I apologize. I'll talk more tomorrow about that. I've been up all night discussing ideas on how to combat the New Breed with Evans and Gabrielle, and I'm starting to get a little wonky.
For right now, we'll be more cautious. We'll send out additional guards and try to armor every team that goes out as best we can. We'll manage somehow, because we have to.