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“Well, it seems like Eric’s dead.”

Everyone turned to look at me. We were gathered outside the kitchens in front of the bonfire, almost all the people capable of fighting. The chief, still in his hazmat suit, cleared his throat, and the head of the hunters, the person who just spoke, turned towards him. “What did Eric say before dying?”

“There were a lot more infected than we expected, almost a thousand. And the smart infected knew how to use a bow.” The head of the hunters, Keith, grimaced. His helmet was tucked under his left arm, and his right hand held a walkie-talkie. “They should’ve been perfectly safe on top of their trees, but that all changes if they’re being shot at with arrows.”

“How many people did they want as backup?” the chief asked.

“He didn’t specify,” Keith said. “It seems he was under a lot of pressure at the time.”

The chief nodded. Then he looked at me. “What do you think, Chris? You knew about the smart infected and correctly predicted its actions. How do you think we should handle this?”

Everyone turned to look at me again. The stares were a bit uncomfortable. What exactly was the chief expecting from me? “I think it’s just looking for food. It heard the message over the radio and realized people were going to approach the garrison. It might’ve even checked out the garrison and thought it was too hard to attack and went to intercept the people coming in instead. That being said, we shouldn’t let it do as it wants. The smart infected can control the herd with sound, but nothing’s stopping us from doing the same as well. If it doesn’t want to attack the garrison head-on, let’s make it attack the garrison head-on.”

“Are you crazy?” Keith asked. “That’s a herd of nearly a thousand infected. You want us to fight against that?”

“It’s not unreasonable.” It might sound a little crazy, but it’s really not. “We have the moat. We have the concertina wire. Even if there’s a thousand of them, there’s a hundred of us. If we each kill ten, which isn’t asking for too much, we’ll have killed them all. Not only that, but none of us should be scared of being bit or scratched at this point.”

Keith frowned. “But still—”

“There’s no buts. What are you going to do if it never leaves, just always hanging around the periphery? People won’t be able to come in. Our hunters won’t be able to go out. It’ll be hard to get sleep at night knowing there’s a herd of a thousand infected sitting outside our home waiting for the best time to strike. Not to mention, the longer we wait, the more infected it’ll be able to gather. We have to lure the herd here and abuse our defenses to kill them. It’s much safer than sending out a group of hunters to attack them in the woods.”

“Chris raises some good points,” the chief said. Keith looked like he wanted to say something, but the chief didn’t care. “We’ll lure the infected here just as he says. Start the preparations. Have everyone gather and distribute spears. Only give the bows and arrows to people who know how to use them. Let’s fill the cars we have with gas. If any infected manage to push down a section of the fence, we can use those to blockade any gaps that appear.” The chief looked around. “Anyone else have any suggestions?”

“Let’s wait until dawn,” Keith said. “The infected are slowest during the day, not to mention it’ll be easier to see. Waiting does mean we’ll have to last a night, but hopefully the herd is too busy eating … their current harvest that they won’t care to attack.”

Even if the infected weren’t distracted, I don’t think they’d attack the garrison. The smart infected definitely scouted the place, otherwise it wouldn’t be able to circle back after heading north without alerting any of our guards. It’s had plenty of time to attack directly, but it chose not to. Doesn’t that mean it isn’t confident? Unless, what if it’s not attacking us because we’re attracting more people to us? What if it can completely annihilate the garrison but chooses not to because it wants a sustainable food source? That’s … a scary thought. Maybe baiting the infected into attacking us is a terrible idea that’ll get everyone here killed.

“Should we let the people in quarantine fight too? Other than the few that are being treated.” The more people we have, the higher our chance of survival. I also think we should take some measures to prevent deserters. If things start going wrong, the worst thing that can happen is people deciding to run away to save themselves. Though, given the opportunity, I’d probably do the same. “And how about we add a punishment for fleeing during battle? Imagine thinking someone has your back just to turn around and realize no one’s there.”

The chief was silent for a bit. “Adding people from quarantine who’ve never been here before might not be a good idea. We can take the hunters out since they have a previous track record, but the last thing we want is a sudden rebellion from the newcomers. Don’t forget that most of them came in groups, and groups always have a leader. They might take this chance to seize power—not that I mind giving up my spot as chief, but I’d rather limit the variables for the battle. Of course, if things are going awry, we’ll let them out either to help us or let them escape before they’re eaten.”

There’s over a hundred capable fighters in the garrison, more if we include those in quarantine. About thirty people are good with bows. If they’re able to unleash three or four volleys before the infected reach the moat, a good hundred infected should be injured or dead. Then if we add on the moat, depending on what happens, it’ll probably deal with another fifty to a hundred infected. The concertina wire can’t kill anything, but it’ll slow the infected down for people to stab them through the fence with spears. At some point, the number of dead infected leaning against the fence will cause it to collapse, but we can slow that down by propping the fence up with cars or even the RV. If the infected do manage to break in somehow, at most, there’d be maybe two to three hundred of them left? That’s one to two infected per person, which is easily doable. I think we can win. The only issue is the smart infected. If we don’t kill it, it’ll just leave and find another herd of infected to lead around, eventually coming back here again. How can we catch it?

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Virlyce

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