The Mayor lifted his head and looked down at his people. Months of constant attacks, lack of food and horrendous weather had taken their toll on them all. They looked at him listlessly, sullen and defeated.
Were he to tell them the truth, to tell them the illusion that they lived in, they would most likely accept it. But now that the illusion had been built, now that they truly believed they were beset on all sides by enemies, now it was time for change. It was time to bring them hope. It was time to give them a purpose.
“My friends” he called out over the cold morning air “We have found a source of hope and a source of despair”. People within the crowd frowned, confused that the expected morning report on food and water stocks was not going as planned.
Bartle, self styled forager, walked out to the front of the ramshackle stage and began to pull tins of food from his shoulder bag, tossing the tins out to the crowd who began to fight with each other to catch the precious cans.
After the last one had left his hands and the crowd had quieted down, a man from the crowd shouted out “Where did these come from? And what is this source of despair you talked about?”
The Mayor moved forward and shook his head “The source of hope is not the food you hold in your hands, that is the source of despair” more confused looks amongst the crowd, as they peered at the labels to see what was wrong “Carnstown, the one with the high walls and thick gates. These are from there. They claim to be in the same situation as us, but they have been hiding food from us, more food than you can possibly imagine!” The crowd looked shocked now as they thought about everything they had been told of their surrounding neighbors and their interactions with them.
The Mayor continued on “They have food and they have decent shelter, running water and some electricity” he continued over the gasps from the crowd “We must go there and we must demand they share their supplies, and if they do not. Then we must take it!”
The man who had spoken earlier raised his hand and asked “How can we take it? We can barely stand! We can barely keep the undead at bay, a few more days and we will be too exhausted to fight”
The Mayor smiled “And now we come to the source of hope. Patrice, bring it out”
Patrice Lane, yelled a command to her two on hand technicians, who walked to the nearby barn doors and pulled them open. Out of the darkness another technician walked, pulling a long metal pole attached to the neck of a shambling undead.
Those at the front of the crowd screamed and began to back away before one man pulled his pistol out and fired three rounds into the creatures head. The Mayor stood stock still as the rounds glanced from the creatures head in a spray of sparks and the sound of metal on metal filled the air. The creature kept walking.
The Mayor raised his hands and called for order “There is nothing to fear! It is under our control! Patrice, tell them more!”
Patrice’s voice, though quiet, cut across the courtyard “This captured undead is to be our new weapon. Bolted to every major surface are quarter inch thick metal plates, blades are attached to its forearms and its head is heavily armored with riveted bolts protecting its brain. Short of a lucky shot or heavy explosives it will keep moving, it will keep attacking, it will keep killing, and it is, unstoppable.”
The Mayor paused for a moment to let this all sink in and then spoke “It is on our side, in fact, they are on our side.” He smiled “We have twenty more, but we need your help to control them, I want you to assemble into your assigned group numbers and one of Patrice’s technicians will show you what we need to do. Then at first light, we will march to Carnstown and we will demand tribute, or we will take what is rightfully ours! Are you with me?”
The crowd stood still and silent. Finally a young woman, thin from lack of food and clutching a can of beans to her chest stepped forward “I am with you Mayor, lead us. Help us live. Help us fight for what should be ours!” another stood forward shouting her support, followed by another and then another, until finally the whole crowd was cheering.
As the crowd quieted down and began to organize into their groups the Mayor smiled and turned away from his people. He walked back inside, past the large, locked, cabinet that contained many more cans of food. He felt a little annoyed with having to throw some of his own food supply to the people, but it had been worth it. He felt certain that now they would follow him into the fires of hell itself if needed and that they would not question the use of the undead.
He strode to the large map and looked at the highlighted towns and the line indicating his path of attack. He smiled, content that now, nothing could stop him from achieving his dreams.