Thursday, April 26, 2012

River Rats

George and his people are making their way here. We've had to up the timetable given our recent setbacks and injuries, so we're getting a lot of frantic work done very quickly in preparation. It's not easy on our injured, but there isn't a lot of choice. The area where George and his people live is facing increased zombie swarms just like everyone else. They've got a nce barrier at their base, but sections of it are made from the shipping containers they're planning on bringing here.

Those are the last ones George and his people will bring here, obviously. Can't hang around when you're snatching pieces of your defensive barrier away.

The Exiles are seeing a marked increase in wayward zombies as well. They've been dealing with the attacks in a totally different way than we do since they haven't the same layers of protection. Without a wall they can't manage a classical defense of the fallback point, so they hole up in their buildings and use raw firepower to mow down the undead that come upon them.

The terms of the truce mean that we couldn't lead any zombies toward them even if there were a bridge within twenty miles that wasn't destroyed, but that doesn't mean I can't wish them all kinds of fun handling the undead. I feel bad thinking that way, because there must be some people on the other side of the river that are decent folks (a thought I wouldn't have entertained at all a few months ago), but it isn't one I can avoid. After hearing the horrible description of how Scar (what we call their leader) killed a friendly guard, I have a hard time actually feeling pity for them.

It's an interesting study in differences. Here, we use a lot of homemade weapons that we can essentially reproduce at will. Less effective than gunfire but sustainable over a long period of time. The Exiles don't have a wall that compares to ours, so they turtle up in the high buildings of the fallback point and rain bullets down upon the swarms of undead. I've spent a lot of time working with people here to assure our methods are passed around and taught to others, so we don't lose our capacity to make bows and arrows should a small handful of people die. I don't see that happening with the Exiles.

We've got walking wounded everywhere, working to make sure New Haven is ready when George and his people start making deliveries on the river. Hopefully they'll bring it all on one trip if they've managed to wrangle enough barges and boats. The Exiles don't seem to do much for their future aside from farming. None of our watchers have seen them making weapons or trying to create their own goods.

George and his river rats know that strength is in numbers and that long-term survival lies with choosing to trust. That's hard to do, but New Haven and many other bands of survivors have managed it. The Exiles haven't, nor have many of the remaining marauders across the countryside. When I walk (carefully, as I don't want to injure the incision in my belly) around New Haven, I see people who might have totally different ideas on god or morality or whatever working together. They tell jokes and help one another. Sometimes they work in silence and cast irritated stares. But they do it. They trust.

Though the Exiles have put up barriers that make it hard to see inside the fallback point, we can still see enough of them to know they're a different beast altogether. People there don't cooperate much, don't seem to have any kind of normal life. The other side of the river seems more like a refugee camp in some third-world country, full of people too frightened of each other to muster the will to overcome that feeling. It's sad. Really and truly. Especially because our watchers have begun to catch sight of kids over there.

Kids. With the Exiles. It's going to get easier, knowing that, to feel bad when they lose folk to zombies or starvation or illness. Children tend to crack the hard armor around our hearts.

George and his people will be here soon. I'm off to do what I can to manage the preparations. I'll try to keep my mind on business, but I can't help thinking about huddled kids living in fear of men like Scar.

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