It’s often said that disasters tend to bring out the best in people. This may be true, but it also brings out the worst.
My first few weeks as a member of the Farhaven Resistance were not spent fighting invaders or hatching dark conspiracies against an occupied force, they were all about stopping our own people from turning against each other.
The Republic fleet has started hitting the same target twice in one day, initially causing a small amount of damage then waiting for emergency services to gather before striking again with greater force. A lot of firefighters, policemen and ambulance pilots have been lost as a result and people are scared to go to the aid of anyone in distress.
Our resistance cell has been armed and sent out onto the streets as makeshift police officers. The fact that I have no prior experience in law enforcement doesn’t seem to bother anyone. It’s probably a good indication of how desperate the situation is, though it’s hard not to feel like a government sanctioned vigilante group.
Our cell leader, a woman I’m going to refer to as Elle, split us into two or three man patrols, trying to establish order. I’ve been paired off with Bill. We’re armed, but our gear is antiquated and I’m pretty sure my rifle dates back to the Ogilvey Massacre.
The city streets have taken on a surreal quality at night. Many windows have been broken, either by looters or by compression waves from the orbital bombardment, and the gutters are filled with broken glass which looks strangely beautiful as it reflects the Biggs Cloud.
We haven’t had too many problems with looters so far, nothing that a few warning shots can’t handle, but the fact that they even exist is somewhat depressing. Is this what it takes? Death and darkness and all of a sudden we turn on each other? Why are these idiots wasting their efforts on baubles and trinkets when there’s a real enemy in the skies?
People are starting to get used to the situation now. Initial fears have been replaced with defiance and a growing community spirit. People have started gathering on a nightly basis at whatever building they can find which still has power – schools, churches, community centres, even the city aquarium. Blackout protocol is in full force, of course, and a big part of our job now is patrolling the streets looking for lights to put out. Every building with power is now boarded up.
Another big part of our job is distributing food. With most of the farms incinerated and warehouses and silos in ruins, we’re going to be in trouble if this turns into a long-term siege. We’re handing out ration packs, but our supply was only meant to last a few weeks in the event of flood or ground-quake, buying enough time for outside assistance to arrive. As far as I know the entire planet has been shut down, so any assistance would have to come from off-world.
There’s still no word on when the CDF will come to liberate us. Tensions are high, and a few people in the resistance cell today almost came to blows during the morning briefing. People are starting to despair. There’s a rumour going around that every planet in the Alliance is in the same position as Farhaven, that the Republic has blitzed us entirely. Some are saying that the planetary government is thinking of surrendering, to avoid millions of deaths from famine and the oncoming winter.
I don’t want to believe it.
How much difference a day can make!
This morning we woke to a voice blaring out across the city on the PA speakers. She identified herself as Spokesperson Enderway, a message sent from deep space via narrow-beam transmission. She said that the CDF has not forgotten Farhaven, but there are many other planets which may suffer the same fate as us if ships are diverted to liberate us. She said how proud she is of the Farhaven spirit, and asked us to defy the enemy in every way possible, to make Farhaven a perpetual thorn in their side so that they will learn the strength of the Cirin people. She told us to live, to rebuild, to turn our faces to the sky every morning in defiance of our enemy and in support of our people.
It’s all spin, of course, but I have to admit I felt a welling of pride as I heard her speak. We may be on our own for now, but there’s a growing sense of hope.
More and more volunteers are rising up to handle matters like food distribution and shelter fabrication. Nearly every patch of land in the city is being turned into a vegetable garden and livestock are grazing in public parks. Every able man, woman and child is committed to stockpiling as much food as possible before Summer ends.
This means the resistance can now focus on grimmer tasks. We’ve been ordered to make preparations in the event of an invasion. Safe houses are being established across the city with stashes of weapons and explosives. I’m working with some engineers on establishing a city-wide wireless network which we can use to co-ordinate defence as necessary. Most of the technical stuff is beyond me, but I can plug things into others things as well as the next man.
If the Republic try and land any troops here, they’re going to have to fight street by street, building by building, room by room. Farhaven will only fall when no-one is left alive with a weapon in their hands.
The orbital bombardment seems completely random now. With primary infrastructure destroyed, the Blueys seem concerned with simply spreading as much fear and chaos as possible, dropping bombs on whatever target enters their scopes. Just this week there were impacts in the outer suburbs, the industrial sector, the central business district and the regional parkland. Some of the skyscrapers in the CBD have taken direct hits and most built-up areas are now off-limits to all civilians.
However there are still precious resources going unused in the CBD, so the resistance has been tasked with recovering what we can. I spent the last few days scavenging supplies from deserted supermarkets and convenience stores, searching for food which hasn’t spoiled. We encountered a gang of youths doing much the same, mostly teenagers and people in the early twenties, but one boy couldn’t have been older than twelve. They were armed with makeshift clubs and knives but led by a heavily augmented guy in his twenties.
I honestly think they might have attacked us if we didn’t have our rifles with us. Given the spirit of hope and cooperation we’ve seen elsewhere, it was depressing to see these young people hoarding as much food for themselves as possible.
I wonder where they’re sleeping. The nights are getting crisp, and winter is on the way.
I understand that by surviving we are resisting, but this isn’t what I signed up for. I want to fight. I want to hurt them for what they did.
Winter has arrived, and it’s going to be particularly bitter if this last week is any indication. There’s snow almost at sea level, something I haven’t seen since I was a kid.
The good news is that it’s highly improbably that any invasion will go ahead in these conditions.
We’re running out of food. The makeshift crops which flourished in the Summer can’t cope with the cold, and the emergency rations ran out over a month ago. It’s hard to concentrate on work when all I can think about is how hungry I am.
Hungry and cold. I tried writing an entry last night but the PAD was too cold to touch. There’s ice on the streets and more snow expected next week.
Elle sent a few of us on a “super special secret mission” yesterday (her precise words). We went into an open field on the outskirts of town where we found a Class-5 shuttle had landed. Apparently the CDF has outfitted a number of shuttles to act as blockade runners, able to land and launch again without use of a spaceport. The tricky part is unloading supplies and refuelling by hand, but that’s not our job – we were there to maintain order over the local citizens who had seen the shuttle land and wanted access to the food rations it brought. There were some tense moments, but it’s amazing how much authority a rifle can radiate. We handed out a few crates of supplies to thank the locals for their cooperation, and took the rest to a nearby bunker to prepare for distribution. It won’t stretch far across the population of the city, maybe just one meal per person, but under the present circumstances, that’s actually quite significant.
The shuttle commander said they had room to evacuate citizens, but only a couple of hundred spaces. Word spread quickly, and more resistance fighters were brought in to keep the situation from escalating into a riot. Eventually a lottery was established, with winners drawn at random from the city’s citizenry role.
I didn’t win, of course, I’ve never been lucky with lotteries, but it was good to watch the shuttle rise into the sky knowing that some people had escaped this hell.
Coldest winter on record. The snow is three feet deep on the streets. All business has ground to a halt and every citizen is working to clear the streets or manage the health of the population. The deathrate is increasing to such an extent that I think more people have died now from cold and hunger than from direct impacts. Most affected are the elderly and infirm, particularly those who live alone. Some members of the resistance are tasked with knocking on doors, checking on people’s welfare and encouraging everyone to move to communal accommodation.
We had a security briefing today which has me worried. People have been mapping out the attacks from the Republic and found a pattern to them – for the past month they have focused almost exclusively on the outer suburbs. As a result, much of the population has moved to the inner suburbs where overcrowding is becoming an issue in many shelters. If they start hitting the inner suburbs now the results could be catastrophic.
Shuttles continue to arrive sporadically, delivering not enough food and evacuating not enough people. Today we saw one come in at too steep an angle. It looked like it had taken damage and it was already a flaming wreck before it exploded in the air.
It’s a big sky – orbital interception is very difficult, but the Republic seems to think it’s worth the effort shooting down aid workers. If I survive this, I’m going to make them pay for every life they’ve taken, for every child they’ve orphaned, for every father left childless. I will take the fight to them and make them bleed, make them scream until they beg for mercy, and then I’ll kill them all. The galaxy will be better place without Darani butchers.
A year ago I would have been horrified by what I wrote last night. Kat and I used to talk about how vengeance solves nothing, about a cycle of hatred which ultimately leads to mutual destruction.
We were right, but I don’t care. Intellectually I know that no good can come from vengeance. Nothing will bring Kat and the twins back, and the suffering will continue until somebody stands up and forgives the other.
But I’m too cold and hungry and angry and lonely for the Intellect to make a shred of difference. If you were to give me a gun and then introduce me to a Darani, I would probably shoot him without a second’s thought.
It looks like the worst of winter may be behind us. The days are longer and warmer and the snow has started to melt, leaving mud and flith. There’s a new crisis looming as the receding snow is revealing bodies in the streets.
Elle had us walking the streets and mustering everyone strong enough to form burial details. It seems every five metres there’s a grave being dug, and every ten metres there’s someone in tears having just found the body of someone they loved.
Trees are starting to produce new growth, the city is greening again.
I just had a long conversation will Bill. It seems his social number was selected in the latest lottery so he’s in line to take a seat on the next blockade runner. I said that he’d finally have a chance to take the fight to the enemy once he made it off-world but he said he doesn’t want that any more. Before all this began he was ready to go to war and give the Republic a bloody nose, but he said the welfare of the people here has come to matter more to him. He believes in what the resistance is doing, and he doesn’t want to leave now.
So he offered his seat to me.
At first I said no, but we talked at length about it. He has forged a new life for himself as a welfare officer on Farhaven, but my life was taken away from me. I’ve been trying to replace it with busy-work, but I feel more like an observer than a citizen of this planet. This isn’t my world any more.
All I want to do is make the Republic suffer for what they’ve done here, and that’s not going to happen as long as I’m stuck planet-side.
Of course, there’s always the chance that the blockade runner will be shot down as it breaks orbit and I’ll die before I get my chance, but I’d rather die trying than waiting for someone else to come and save the day.
A blockade runner just came down outside the city, so I only have a couple of hours to reach the landing zone before they take off again. I’ve said some hasty farewells to Bill and Elle. I’ve decided to leave this Pad with Bill. This journal has been a document of lives past; tomorrow I’ll have moved on, one way or another.