Ten Beaters went out yesterday to harass the zombies mulling around just outside of New Haven. Ten people trained to kill with cleverness and efficiency, aware and reactive to the danger around them.
All ten of them died.
It's been a tough day since. I haven't had a wink of sleep, and a lot of other people haven't either. I could give you a detailed blow-by-blow of what happened, but I just don't have the heart for it. Our team of Beaters made no mistakes. It was those of us who sent them out that screwed up. We got cocky and those people paid for it with their lives. The short of it is this: the New Breed were waiting for us to send someone out to teach them a lesson. There must be a lot more of them pouring in over the bridges in Louisville than we realized, because the hundred or so moving around where we could see them weren't nearly all their numbers.
The team went out and took down three times their number of New Breed, but in that time a larger swarm gathered out of our line of sight. They came out of the woods at a full run and swept over our people in a tide of bodies. There wasn't any time for more fighters to reach them. Too many undead for our riflemen to pick off, since they were mixed in with our people.
I watched it happen from the wall. I wanted to run out there, to do something. Anything. If there had been more than thirty seconds to do it, I would have. Screw my healing gut, forget anything else. Those were our people out there. They died because of a decision I helped make.
I screamed myself hoarse yelling orders to anyone in earshot. I told people to gear up, to move out, but the sentries and guards around me knew I was just reacting. It was plain to see our people were lost before we even had time to open the gate. Right there in front of us, yet too far away to make a difference.
So, I spent the rest of the day and most of the night visiting the families and friends of those who gave their lives for us. Each visit was different. Some people were angry, and I let them take that out on me. Nothing less than I--or anyone else who was part of the decision to send the Beaters out--deserves. Others needed to talk, to remember their loved ones for the brave warriors they were. Some wanted to get drunk.
I talk a lot about the effort and coordination it takes to run this place. That's true, it can be a huge task at times. But days like this last one serve as important reminders that the threats we face are real ones, that anything can go wrong at any time. Just like that, ten lives ended. In less than a minute a huge amount of damage was done to our community, with ripples and repercussions that will take a long time to settle. All the people close to the fallen went from moderately happy to grief-stricken and feeling lost.
Three more people have fallen ill in that time, as well. Probably the worst time it could happen, when everyone is reeling from such a sudden and tragic loss. We're all much more sharply aware of how easily we can lose the ones we love. It always happens after things like this. People worry, and it affects us all.
So...the only option right now is to do something about it. We're all grieving, and the pain and rage has to go somewhere. Dodger has been working on an idea for a few weeks now, and I think it's time we try it out.
I'm not sitting on the sidelines for this one. To hell with staying safe. My stomach doesn't hurt anymore, and even if it did I wouldn't miss the chance to pay back the New Breed for this. Every member of the council, including Will, is ready to risk themselves. It'll be safer than ground warfare, but still dangerous. We should have waited until Dodger had it ready and let the team use it instead.
We failed. But that just means we need to try to make up for our mistake as best we can. I don't know that anything we could do might ever wash away those ten lives, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.