Thursday, July 25, 2013

Boot Camp

The old saying about teaching a man to fish is probably one of the more brilliant things in the history of the world. It's so easy to forget how much time and effort we've spent becoming experts at fighting zombies and surviving in the wild. Many people on the outside managed to go years without ever having to take on one of the undead in hand-to-hand combat. Lots of reasons--someone to fight for them, running and finding a safe place, or even just joining a large community like ours and not being on the roster. There are archers in Haven who've never been closer to a zombie than a bowshot. True story. 

But by now almost every survivor in the Union at least has the training to do it. In his great wisdom, Dodger realized part of the problem with sending our people out on patrols with the UAS is that the UAS rely on completely different tactics. They've got guns and literal tons of ammo. They've got vehicles and fuel to power them. We aren't the only ones working refineries, after all. 

So we're doing for the UAS what we've historically done for all our people. Out in the street in front of my house, just past the wall that defines the little stronghold we built around my block, is a training ground. We've had people teaching combat and refining techniques for years. Now we're passing that knowledge on to others. It's impossible to teach everyone in that huge army of people at once, so Kincaid and a few others are doing intense training, twelve hours a day for at least a week. Enough to let the hundred or so students from the UAS pass on the basics to others. Not that most of it is all that hard, but it does require a different mindset. 

In return, the UAS are helping some of our people learn a few of the techniques they use. Since most of their army were civilians, they had to do much the same. Teaching people basics and refining skills along the way. Most of the things our people are learning are organizational, with a few useful military methodologies we've never seen. It's good stuff, actually. Useful stuff. In the long run I think both sides will benefit greatly from the lessons. 

More, though, I think these training sessions will further break down the walls between us. Eventually we'll stop seeing sides and exist as a single people. Or, rather, the people living here and in other large communities will. Even though we'll be leaving, we'll technically still be a part of the Union. It's just hard to think in those terms since my group will be deliberately isolated from the rest. 

It's a hell of a thing, sitting in a lawn chair on my roof, watching former enemies grouse about how hot it is while they train together. I admit to having my mind blown a little, seeing them laugh at each other's jokes and the like. I watched a Union guy get dropped by a UAS guy who used a perfect throw on him. The Union guy landed hard, but he was excited at how well his student did. Not angry or resentful. 

I'm sure the UAS sent the people most willing to learn, the ones with the best attitude about the merger between our people, but still. It's pretty amazing to watch the integration happen. It wasn't so smooth with the marauders who joined us after the amnesty. Just ask Kincaid why he's leaving with us if you don't believe me. 

On the one hand it's really awesome to see both sides working together. On the other, they wouldn't be busting ass so hard if the threats ahead of them weren't real. I feel guilty for leaving here so soon after the end of the war, especially knowing the trials Haven is going to face. I've been here since the start, and faced those same trials. I worry for my people. And make no mistake; they will always be my people, not matter how far removed I am geographically. The people here didn't just band together to survive. They gave each other a reason to live. Me included. 

I see the first blush of that same bond building between our folks and the UAS. It's thin, but it's there. Knowing the harsh times ahead--that's just the way the world is--I worry they won't be strong enough to endure. I hope I'm just fretting over nothing. I probably am. I watched them for hours today, and it looks very promising. No matter where we end up, I'll keep whatever passes for my prayers aimed this way. 

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