I've written a lot--a hell of a lot--over the last three years about how humanity has had to change because of The Fall. Some of that has been personal. You've seen this blog for the last six months. I'm damaged goods, but I've made efforts to heal. Maybe even hidden some of the pain when it became too much for me to talk about it every day.
I've covered society-wide changes as well. I've tried to couch as much of my, and our, experience in this evolving world in terms we can all grasp and relate to, but even there I've failed at times. A better man than me might have been able to express who Patrick and Becky and Will are as people, might have captured their essence and those of my other loved ones in such a way that it made a difference not just to us, but to our enemies.
Maybe if they saw us as people with hopes and dreams and fears and worries, this whole war could have been avoided. Then again, that's a lot of responsibility to heap onto my own shoulders, and frankly even my own neuroses won't go that far. I might have made a difference there, but things are as they are and there's no use crying over what I can't change.
I'm at peace with not being allowed to leave. That's a quick reversal, but the reason is simple: the war took a turn that scares me beyond belief. I was informed early this morning and I've been sitting here staring at the screen as I try to wrap my mind around exactly how to say this.
I'll just say it and be done.
Yesterday, fourteen teams of Union soldiers along with seven teams of people from the west struck at the heart of UAS territory. The goal wasn't to engage in traditional warfare. There was no shock or awe involved. In no way do I blame our coalition forces for their actions. Faced with a large and much better-armed enemy, survival is reliant on unpredictability.
Those twenty-one teams hit the three major bunkers where a huge number of UAS residents still live. Being bunkers, a direct assault was pointless. Designed to withstand nuclear attacks, after all. Our teams, and even the westerners fall into that category since they fight the same enemy, have been working at this for at least eight days.
The UAS takes materials into their bunkers like clockwork. In theory every trailer packed with propane or water or whatever is supposed to be inspected, but the UAS is made up of people just like anywhere else. Unlike them, we actually see those human beings as people. I know I feel a small degree of sadness for them.
We haven't got any idea what the casualty list looks like, but the point of hiding explosives in those tanks of propane wasn't to kill a lot of people at one time. Nor was the act of contaminating nearly every drop of water with so much salt that it became undrinkable. Surely there were deaths when those sticks of dynamite went off, especially in such a relatively small space as a bunker, but those have to be acceptable losses.
The point was to drive them out, to force the UAS onto the surface with the rest of us. It took our very best people to manage these jobs without being caught, and while I don't know the precise mechanics of how they did it, I'm pretty sure this isn't a trick we can pull twice.
What it means for the war overall, no one can say. We've dealt them a huge blow, but it's possible restoring the bunkers will be priority one. It's possible that the damage to all three isn't as bad as we think it is, and this will be a minor setback. The volume of things we don't know could fill a solar system.
What's frightening is what we do know. We know that two of the Union teams were run down and captured. In the aftermath of their actions, angry UAS citizens lynched half of them before any semblance of order could be restored. When the leadership finally managed to pull things together, the other half were given a barebones trial right there on the smoking plains amid the fires and chaos of escapees from the bunker, and were put to death. The method was brutal; the crowd moved in right after the sentence and stabbed at them, tore them apart. The remaining Union soldiers watching this unfold--two of them under cover in the crowd before finally escaping in the night--saw it all. They heard the cries of hate and anger and fear. They heard the threats. They saw the determination.
I wonder how well-informed the citizenry of the UAS can be. If they know what their leaders have been doing, then they have to know we're in a fight for our survival. Something like this was bound to happen. The sad, sad reality is that our watchers on the ground there saw a people who might not have been committed before, but are now. For them the war is no longer an abstract. It's a personal and vicious thing.
Once things in UAS central calm down and get organized, we're in for it. The intent of the Union/Western forces here was to strike a blow that would weaken the enemy and demoralize them for long enough that we could build ourselves up, then strike the coup-de-grace. We did manage to buy time, for now, but we underestimated the reaction. Far from slowing this war down, all we've done is earn a short period of rest before an entire furious populace comes down on us like the hammer of God.
I'm fine with staying home and not heading to the front because it's perfectly clear that the front will eventually make its way here.