Monday, March 19, 2012

Stone Dust

I may have mentioned this once or twice (or a dozen times) but it's worth repeating: Becky is a fucking genius. She's come up with a means to produce truly stupid amounts of Thermite, which is going to be really useful against the New Breed. 

I'm not huge on chemistry, but as Becky and I were talking yesterday I realized how easy it is to miss really important things. She has managed to create explosives and other difficult to manufacture substances where the rest of us scratch our heads like the comparative cavemen we are. I was talking with her about our plans to hunt down and assault the New Breed before they could gather enough numbers to become a serious threat to New Haven. I was frustrated because we have all these stocks of supplies and materials sitting around, but a lot of it isn't that useful. 

I mentioned the huge storehouse we've loaded with various sundries--the old hotel where we liberated some captives not long after The Fall--and started naming off the random items that had no particular use. Keep in mind that we've been making Thermite in small amounts for a while, but the stuff requires metal dust and that's not easy to make in large amounts. The process is time and labor intensive. 

I told her about the huge case of hematite rings we left in the hotel after clearing out the marauders. What use could we have for those things, you know? I'd taken a couple of them just because I liked the shiny black rings, and they brought back pleasant memories of the various ones I'd bought from flea markets and renaissance fairs over the years. 

That was when she stopped me. The look on her face was priceless. You'd have thought I'd told her casually about a store of hidden treasure. 

She explained to me that Hematite is the stuff that goes into a particular blend of thermite intended to cut through steel. We've had some of it before, even. We just didn't know exactly what was in it. Turns out we've been sitting on enough raw materials to make a few hundred pounds of the stuff. Of course, the rings aren't enough on their own. We need powdered aluminum in large quantities. If only we knew a manufacturing center that had such a supply...

So, yeah. North Jackson is sending their next trade caravan to us early. We're doing a bit of separate trading with them, direct instead of utilizing the network we've set up, exactly for situations like this. 

Becky, Will, Dodger, Patrick, Jess, and I are all working today on how to weaponize this stuff. It's going to need some fine tuning and testing. It's not a complex problem to work out. All we really need to manage is a way to deliver the dust to the bodies of the New Breed, and to ignite it without having to be too close. Granted, it's really dangerous stuff and tricky to set on fire, but we've faced this problem before. 

Now that we have a viable way to use heat against the New Breed (and I feel like an idiot for not giving Becky a list of all our supplies earlier. All those hours people have spent filing metals down...) there's a strong feeling of hope around New Haven. In a worst case scenario, the swarm in Shelby county has hidden themselves away and we can't find them. So they attack here. 

That's bad, but we're going to have a large supply of an incredibly effective weapon on hand very shortly. If the New Breed hits us here, we'll be better off a few days from now than we are right now. I'm curious to see what the effects of direct and indirect heat will be on the New Breed physiology. I don't know how much of a weakness the heat will turn out to be. So far we know it weakens their skin and underlying armored layers, but that just means it's easier to fight them. To cut them. 

Becky has prepared a small amount of the new mixture for me to use on two of our test subjects. One is going to get the direct heat treatment, the other indirect. It should be interesting. We've never exposed the undead to this kind of heat in a controlled environment. The results will hopefully help us in determining the most efficient way to utilize our new weapon. 

I've got it in a plastic bag stuffed into one of my cargo pockets. The stuff just looks like black dust. It's crazy to think that the amount in my khakis is enough to cut through most of an engine block. Thousands of degrees of potential heat. Basically stone dust, engineered by human intelligence (again, let's give Becky the credit here) into something useful. That's nuts to me. 

I'm excited to test it out. And I need to get to it before the meeting I have with the others later. It's going to be a busy few days, but with any luck they'll be productive ones. And by productive, I mean we'll be able to kill a lot of zombies with minimal risk. 

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