So imagine my surprise to see smoke signals from that area in the early afternoon. The signals aren't an emergency alert. There are radios for that. Instead, the bonfires act as a means of telling New Haven about specific changes across the river without the chance of the message getting intercepted. In this case, the message in question was simple but important:
Exiles returning to the Fallback point.
Not just a few or even a few groups, but a hell of a lot of them. They didn't show up and immediately mobilize for war, but the camp over there looks ready for action. From what the watchers report--the general populace was warned as a matter of course--it seems the Exiles returning home aren't being welcomed by those who never left.
Interesting, if true, though I don't know what the ramifications might be for the people over there. We're too removed from the situation to understand their politics in the least.
What it means for us is a whole new level of readiness in case some shit goes down. The Exiles have declared war on us in as few words as possible. That the other side of the river appears to be a powder keg of possibilities only means we're preparing for as many of them as possible. For now we're all on high alert, but not taking any action against them. Not because they don't deserve it, but because being aggressive with the enemy at this point would be a waste of resources and would show our hand before absolutely necessary.
Will stopped by after a marathon council meeting to see how the news hit me. I'm still surprised at how often he checks in on me. He's a busy guy, and I've seen him as our governor for so long now and in so many situations that it's difficult to remember him as anything else. It bears repeating that Will himself still vividly recalls being a prisoner and a cog in the machine that made New Haven work. Being in charge is still strange and unreal to him no matter how long or well he has done the job.
We chatted for almost an hour, and I found myself surprisingly zen about the whole ordeal. The Exiles may attack. They might not. If they do, it's not as though we won't have warning. We've got a serious numbers advantage to their superior firepower. Addled though I might be, my brain still zeroes in on the hard calculation required for survival.
I found myself feeling prematurely bad for any of them we might have to kill, if indeed it does come down to a fight. But I didn't feel guilty. I still don't know that I would hold up in a combat situation where I had to fight a living person, but there isn't a sense of responsibility there. No shame or self-doubt. Only regret at the necessity of it. Maybe the real thing would be totally different, I don't know. But not being crushed by it inside my own head is nice.
I've been thinking about that a lot. Needing to be able to act decisively in that kind of situation. There are aspects I hadn't considered before. I'll get into that tomorrow, assuming war doesn't break out in the mean time.