Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bottle Rocket

When I was a kid, I was utterly terrified of bottle rockets. I'm talking fear of God scared of the things. The reason was simple: while firing one off, my brother and I almost hit another kid. The sound of the explosion was immense to my small and inexperienced ears, and the little girl's dad reacted with fiercely angry words. That stuck with me for a long time. That might have been the first real experience I had with serious consequences.

So when some of you asked what we did to keep the Exiles from breaking the truce and hitting the barges, I thought of that story. So much of survival and daily living now has to do with weighing the repercussions of our actions. The Exiles know that with the river between us there isn't an easy way to wage war. Both sides have suffered heavy losses and need to rebuild and repair. We've lived under a truce for a while now and peaceful (if extremely tense) coexistence has a certain momentum. The zombies are threat enough for anyone, so not having to worry about getting your genitals shot off has tons of appeal.

The Exiles were watching for the barges. That was a given. There was never a point where any of us were sure they wouldn't break the terms of the truce and try to take them. Will was confident they wouldn't, though admitted the possibility that it might happen, because his assessment of Scar is that the guy is brutal and without mercy, but ultimately intelligent and practical. Right now the Exiles are busting ass to grow food and build some kind of future. A fight with us would be way too risky.

But still, we saw them watching. Patrolling the river. We couldn't know it was safe. The temptation, however small, was there. Easy targets with literally tons of useful gear. When baited with treasure, even the most powerful self-control can be tested to the limit. People do stupid things when personal profit is on the line.

We hedged our bets. By which I mean George had a large number of his people sitting on top of the shipping containers with rocket launchers.

Yeah, the Exiles weren't the only ones who raided a military depot. A lot of people aren't thrilled about it, but now that the danger is over I can say it: George didn't leave all those boxes empty. There's a lot of firepower in there, enough to make a huge difference for us. As New Haven has policies against most large-scale weapons (which we group rocket launchers and similar weapons with) they will only be used for defense. We aren't going to suddenly go to war with anyone just because we've got the ability to deal heavy blows. Warmongering isn't of interest to us.

George's current group will be bringing back fuel and more shipping containers this time. They transported all the important and dangerous stuff on the first trip. Granted, there will be folks on top of the crates doing the same thing this time, RPGs and heavy rifles aimed at the east side of the river. Just a precaution in case the other side gets upset that they didn't attack the first time. I think we've reached an unspoken understanding. But just in case it's not clear, I'll spell it out in simple terms.

You won't catch us off guard. We will never break the truce, but the second you do we'll retaliate with overwhelming and devastating force. You might even win that first skirmish, but you'll damn well know you were in a fight. We won't just bloody your nose if you attack. We'll bite that fucker off and spit it in your face.

Cheerful and positive, I know. Just needed to be said.

Now, I'm off to do some light gardening with my wife. I'm allowed to kneel and pull weeds at least and the annex farm never seems to run out of those. It's nice out right now. A few hours tending to growing things next to the woman I love sounds amazing, don't you think? That's what I'm protecting. Why I'm all too happy to fight back with wild abandon. I think the Exiles know perfectly well that any action against us will bring unexpected but certain ruin own upon them. I don't have any more chemical weapons handy, but test me and I'll come up with something creative. And this time?

Everyone will be behind me. Have a great day, neighbors. We're watching you.