This is the top story from the May 27, 2019 issue of The Informer. This is also the first issue in which some of the text and photos start to degrade, for reasons I have been unable to discern. As a result, there is gibberish text at the end of the story, but I leave it in case someone can determine its meaning.
Jason Nash and Faye Knight rode lookout from the bed of one of the trucks as it left Gilead on its diplomatic mission to Camp Brook Road. Each truck, flying the new Gilead flag, carried four armed passengers in addition to the driver as a precaution against being outgunned by Raiders on Route 12.
On May 24, a convoy of three pickup trucks carrying 15 heavily armed Gilead citizens made the short trip down Route 12 to Camp Brook Road in hopes of establishing a mutual defense and cooperation pact. After a tense initial contact, the mission succeeded in forming a friendly alliance that benefits both areas.
“I would call this an incredible victory for us,” said Joe Tobiason, who planned and led the mission. “We accomplished everything we set out to do, and even took it a step or two further, accomplishing it all without any violence, and even without any arguments.”
One immediate effect of the agreement will be that Gilead’s patrols can be reduced by three people, since the Southern Patrol will no longer be necessary; Camp Brook is the only area to our south and will be adequately covered by their efforts. “They have very good security,” said Rich Bennington, Gilead’s recently-elected Defense Coordinator. “When we came up to their barricade, it was laid out exactly how I would have done it.”
Little wonder, though, as Bennington and the rest of the Gilead diplomatic mission soon found out that a veteran of the Iraq war was in charge of the Camp Brook defenses.
A tense first-contact
After rolling out of Gilead and onto Route 12, the convoy was on high alert for Raiders or any other threats that might materialize. “I don’t mind saying, my palms were sweaty and my hands were shaking,” said Jason Nash, 17. “I’ve been on patrol a bunch of times, but that’s always been in woods right around here, where I’ve been hunting for years. This trip down 12 was like a different world, with all the abandoned cars, abandoned houses, and worst of all, the possibility of Raiders.”
In addition to tensions already high about the trip down Route 12, nobody in the group knew what to expect when they turned onto Camp Brook Road, although they knew it had to be handled carefully.
“As soon as we passed the first houses on Camp Brook, we started going really slowly – no more than 15 miles per hour – and I shouted at each house as we passed that we were from Gilead and wanted to talk to them about defending each other from Raiders,” said Tobiason.
The first several houses were empty and looked as though they had been broken into – windows were broken and doors splintered on their hinges. “But then, right around the first curve, we came up to their road barricade with about 10 guns pointed right at us,” said Tobiason. “I recognized Cory Bingham and a couple of other guys, so I held out our white flag for them to see as I got out of the cab.”
As had been planned in case of a Camp Brook Road barricade, everyone in the vehicles set down their firearms and held both hands out where the sentries could see them. “We had armed ourselves only because of the danger posed by Raiders,” explained Tobiason, “so now that we had gotten to the Camp Brook folks, it was time to show them we weren’t there to make trouble.”
Tobiason went up to the barricade and explained to the folks there what the Gilead delegation was hoping to accomplish, and in short order the barricade was moved aside so the convoy could enter Camp Brook’s enclave. “Most of them had already pointed their guns away from us when they saw me and a few others they recognized as being from Gilead,” Tobiason said.
Bennington said the Camp Brook defenses at the blockade were top-notch. “I was talking to Frank Barnard, the guy who does their defense planning, and he showed me the layout of their barricade and patrols, and it was impressive,” Bennington enthused. “Once I saw the barricade plan, I saw that we wouldn’t have stood a chance if we had meant to attack these guys.”
Bennington said the Camp Brook barricade is placed in a spot where steep, wooded hills close in on both sides of the road, creating a naturally defensible position. In addition to the guarded barricade blocking the road, sentries occupy the high ground on either side of the road, hidden by the woods and therefore able to fire down upon attackers.“
I think two things helped make the mission a success,” said Bennington. “First, was Joe’s commitment to plan it so we didn’t have a confrontation, and second was that Camp Brook is secure, and they know it. You don’t start shooting at people when you know you’re fundamentally secure.”
Elizabeth Larsen, who also was part of the mission, said she also considered another factor critical to the mission’s success. “You can’t forget that Joe has something like 20 years of marketing experience under his belt,” she said. “He is inherently diplomatic and can get a read on people and their needs very quickly. I think that made a huge difference.”
An alliance of equals
The agreement with Camp Brook Road is, at its core, a non-agression and mutual aid compact, and includes not just the homes along Camp Brook Road, but also Brink Hill, Dartt Hill, and Campbell Roads, all of which extend south of Camp Brook’s east/west trajectory.
Camp Brook and Gilead agree to prevent incursions by outsiders into each other’s territories, the border of which was agreed to be the top of the ridgeline between the two areas. The agreement also stipulates that monthly meetings will be held between representatives of each enclave’s leadership committees to update one another on security concerns, resource-sharing possibilities in case of shortages on one side or the other, and any news of the outside world.
Resource-sharing at this time was determined to be unnecessary. Through discussions, both the Gilead and Camp Brook delegations discovered that they have plenty of hay and wood, and no shortage of food or food-procurement possibilities, since Camp Brook residents all have gardens, and a small dairy on Brink Hill serves the same function as the Chambers’ dairy in Gilead.
One advantage that Gilead has over Camp Brook is the ability to convert automobiles and other equipment to run on vegetable oil, but this was determined to be virtually a wash, since Camp Brook has a large number of horses available to its residents – more than 50, compared to Gilead’s 10. Camp Brook residents also have plenty of animal-powered equipment to use with the horses for haying, logging and other harvesting activities. “It’s more work-intensive,” said Jan Westerman, a member of the Camp Brook Road Board of Directors, as they have named their elected leadership. “But at the same time, we have almost 100 people and a lot of horses to get around on and work the equipment, so we think our work plans are going to get us by pretty well.”
Nonetheless, it was agreed that to even out this disparity would be in everyone’s best interest. Therefore, Camp Brook will provide studs for the three Gilead mares, so a breeding program can begin. This addresses Gilead’s lack of stallions (the only male horses in Gilead are geldings). In return, Eric Quinton agreed to teach John Rountree, Camp Brook’s mechanic, how to convert diesel engines to run on vegetable oil, and would also provide a list of the parts necessary to make such conversions.
Camp Brook also isn’t lacking in solar power, as only seven of its 31 Survivor households are without solar panels; the rest have enough solar power for at least some of their power-generation needs. The solar energy helps keep Camp Brook’s four electric vehicles in service – two SUVs, a full-sized sedan, and a compact.
Tobiason said he was very gratified that the mission was, in his words, “an unqualified success.” As they were planning the mission, one of the outcomes he and the other GDC members feared was a radically disparate set of circumstances that would engender rivalry between the two enclaves. “We were cautious about how we presented ourselves and our resources,” said Tobiason. “We didn’t bring our best weapons, we didn’t bring our best vehicles, and we didn’t bring anything with us that wasn’t absolutely necessary to the mission.”
The objective, he explained, was to avoid giving the impression that Gilead was overly well-to-do, in case the Camp Brook Survivors were in dire straits and might seek to share resources with which Gilead can ill afford to part. “What we found, however, was that they are doing really well,” Tobiason said. “That’s good news for our southern border, and I think they were pretty glad they don’t have to worry about their northern border.”
The GDC’s diplomatic success in Camp Brook will be followed by a mission to Randolph, scheduled for tomorrow, May 28th. “This one has the potential to be far more dangerous,” said Jim Nash, the GDC member in charge of planning the Randolph mission with Bennington. “We really don’t know what to expect, since towns seem to have been hit much harder by the Pandemic than rural areas like ours, and at the same time the survivors can’t necessarily take advantage of natural resources like we can, so they might have needs they can’t meet on their own. They might even be desperate enough to attack, which is our primary fear.”
Despite the northern border being covered by the Tatro Hill enclave, Bennington isn’t sure it’s enough of a bulwark to protect Gilead from determined attackers. “It’s better than nothing, but some sort of non-aggression agreement with folks in Randolph would be much better,” he said. “If things are bad in Randolph and they start causing trouble for Tatro Hill, that’s going to directly impact us.”
Bennington and Nash note that if no single body of authority can be identified in Randolph, the mission will need to gather as much intelligence as possible about the potential threat posed by Survivors there. “One of my nightmare scenarios is that Raiders have taken up residence in Randolph,” said Bennington. “In that case, once they finish fighting each other, the winners will emerge as a leadership that is ruthless and potentially very effective at organized raids.“
I’m sincerely hoping we just find a group of nice folks who want to work hard and live through this until our country is back on its feet,” Nash said. “But at the same time, I’m glad we emptied out the sporting goods store’s ammo and guns.”Seeing the potential for lse/K false/S/Transparency/Type/Group>>endobj333 0 obj<</BBox[242.135 1214.82 477.576 1178.1]/Filter/FlateDecode/Group 332 0 R/Length 63/Matrix[1.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 0.0 0.0]/Resources<</ExtGState<</GS0 326 0 R>>>>/Subtype/Form>>streamH‰2P0 BC…l.}÷` …ôb.# #=CcS C#C =# #cS= ]c3=s#…¢T®4.€ $úÕendstreamendobj334 0 obj<</CS/DeviceCMYK/I false/K false/S/Transparency/Type/Group>>endobj335 0 obj<</ox[588.196 1185.62 708.436 1144.22]/Filter/FlateDecode/Group 334 0 R/Length 60/Matrix[1.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 0.0 0.0]/Resources<</ExtGState<</GS0 326 0 R>>>>/Subtype/Form>>streamH‰2P0 BC…l.}÷` …ôb.Sendstreamendobj336 0 obj<</CS/DeviceCMYK/I false/K false/S/Transparency/Type/Group>>endobj337 0 obj<</Length 1445/Subtype/XML/Type/Metadata>>stream<x:xmpmeta xmlns:x=”adobe:ns:meta/” x:xmptk=”Adobe XMP Core 5.0-c060 61.134777, 2010/02/12-17:32:00 “> <rdf:RDF xmlns:rdf=”http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#”> <rdf:Description rdf:about=””