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The Collapse of CommunicationsEdit

As the Pandemic plunged the world into global despair and chaos it became incredibly important that ways of communicating with other people and settlements were created. Forms of communication were diminishing on a daily basis as the Ferals ravaged and destroyed all that they came across, significantly increasing the necessity for proper and efficient communications among survivors. Due to the collapse of great businesses and technologies directly after the start of the Pandemic, the use of things such as cell-phones, cordless phones and the internet for communication purposes became a thing of the past. With the amount of survivors decreasing rapidly the need for efficient and reliable communications became ever more dire. 

Early Forms of CommunicationEdit

At the beginning of the Pandemic simple and direct ways of communication were quickly established. Items such as Short Wave Radios, and Walkie-Talkies which require batteries to function found widespread usage amongst survivors in order to keep in relative contact with eachother. Unfortunatley, the lack of electricity at this time rendered rechargable batteries useless, leaving only a limited amount of regular batteries to power them. Walkie-Talkies failed to send messages over larger distances, making them useless in many situations.

  • Messenger birds found widespread usage directly after the outbreak of the Pandemic. Birds, usually pigeons, were trained to fly small messages out to different settlements around Ontario. The main benefit of homing pigeons and other messanger birds was their ability to fly, keeping them out of danger in terms of Ferals. The speed of these birds along with the small amount of food required to sustain them made them an extremely convenient way of communication. The pigeons can only deliver messages to two towns, unfortunatley. One town must be recognized to the bird as its home, while the other town provides the bird with food. So simply, a message would be attached to the pigeon in its hometown, then it would be set free. The bird would then fly to the town where it is fed, it is here where the message is recieved. From there the pigeon will fly back home, possibly with a new message.[1]
  • Signal fires, while incredibly basic, found use after the Pandemic outbreak. In settlements if an attack was to occur on the safezone a signal fire would be created. This was mostly to warn those within the settlement to take cover, however it also notified those nearby of the danger giving them time to either get away or help.
Telegraph

A Telegraph

  • Telegraphs left over from the days of old were still usable, giving the survivors of the Pandemic a valuable means of communication after the initial outbreak. The largest challenge facing the survivors when it came to Telegraphy was finding individuals who could decode Morse code, however once they were found Telegraph use increased dramatically.[2]
  • River mail was commonly used by those living near rivers or large bodies of water. Messages or small packages were often bundled up in waterproof material and sent downriver, with the goal of arriving in the next town. This rough form of communicating eventually became more professionalised as the need for more ways to send mail grew. Eventually people would be paid to sit at the side of rivers to grab mail as it floated downstream. It would then be delivered to the person in which it was addressed. The relative success of river mail eventually lead to the usage of boat mail.
  • Boat mail became a popular form of mail delivery as the wilderness was not safe for travellers. It became a regular sight to see motor boats travelling up and down Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and the St. Lawrence River to deliver mail to cities and towns along those bodies of water. This form of communication was arguably the most efficient during the Pandemic. The speed of the boats combined with the Ferals' inability to swim fast or across great distances left boat mail as one of the quickest and safest ways to deliver news and mail. The captains of these boats were hired and paid for by the settlement officials, many of the captains were previously boat owners with lots of previous experience when it came to boating. In fact, many of the captains used for delivering boat mail drove boats they owned before the Pandemic.

"Runners"Edit

Runners were a popular form of communication after the outbreak of the Pandemic. Runners, whose job was simply to relay information across the various settlements of Ontario after the outbreak, came in three types. The three types of runners are lone runners, group runners and mounted runners. Group and mounted runners, who are the more official forms of communicating, are funded and geared by the Settlement so they can better do their job in the face of danger. While lone runner casualties may be far higher than that of their counterparts, they are a far cheaper and more economical way of communicating with other settlements and people.

  • Lone runners were the most common type of runners. Lone runners, unlike group runners and mounted runners, were freelance and worked completely on their own. The reasoning behind this is simple: profit. Mounted runners and group runners, whom are funded by the higher powers of the settlements, recieve a set amount of pay per delivery, despite the amount of mail in which they are delivering. Lone runners, on the other hand, offer a small, cheap and affordable delivery service to society and get to keep 100% of the profits. Despite charging less for their services lone runners still made a hefty sum of money. Many civilians who lacked the funds to pay for group or mounted runners took advantage of the lone runner's lower prices, creating an influx of business. However, there were many downsides to being a lone runner. Lone runners are often lightly armed, if armed at all, leaving them practically defenseless when faced with a Feral. The heavy weaponry and armor that was used as protection from Ferals was extremely expensive, leaving many of the poorer lone runners to rely on stealth, speed and cleverness to survive their journey. However, the more a runner travelled the more money they made, resulting in many of the more experienced, older runners having better gear.
  • Group runners are the most common form of runners. Usually travelling in groups of four to five people, group runners were one of the Settlement's main forms of communicating with others after the outbreak of the Pandemic. Armed to the teeth and trained by the Settlement's security forces, group runners have proven themselves to be a highly efficient and reliable form of communication. Group runners, who are in top phyiscal condition due to the rigorous training their job requires, use incredible teamwork, coordination and planning to complete their job successfully. One member of the group is in charge of carrying the mail and keeping it safe, this person is called the carrier. Usually the fastest member of the group is given this job. Another member of these 4-5 man groups is in charge of carrying the food, cooking tools and any extra ammunition, this member is jokingly called the donkey, a reference to the term 'Pack Mule', The third role in the group is that of the scout, likely the most important member of the group. While every member of a runner group is well equipt and trained, engaging the Ferals is still vastly unwanted due to the loss of both time and ammunition that would come as a result. It is for this reason that groups of runners have a scout, whose job is simply to stay ahead of the group and moniter the area that their comrades will eventually be venturing into for Ferals. If the scout sees that the area in which the runner group will soon enter is infested with Ferals they will quickly run back to their group and warn them of the danger. Once the runner group is aware of the danger the scout will run ahead once again in hopes of finding a safer path. The other remaining group members are simply devoted to keeping the donkey and carrier safe from any possible Feral attacks, these are called defenders. Defenders are usually those with the most combat experience and skill with a gun out of the runners in the group, oftentimes defenders are asked to assist the Settlement's security forces, and vise versa.
Mounted runners

Two men travelling on horseback.

  • Mounted runners, which were inspired by the famous Pony Express of the American midwest in the 1860s, were one of the best ways to send messages and spread news after the outbreak. Mounted runners used the horses that had survived the pandemic to travel around Ontario in order to deliver messages and news. Pony Posts, which were anything from a small, fortified cabin to a little village were spread along the roads in which the mounted runners rode, giving them a place to rest, eat and possibly even sleep. Initially, roads for the runners and their horses had been established in backwoods to prevent confrontations with Ferals. However, as the Feral population began to die down the usage of Ontario's old roads and highways become more widely used by mounted runners rapidly increasing travel speed. While encountering a Feral in the backwoods where the majority of the trails were established was rare, it still happened. Normally the horse could outrun the Feral, however as a safety measure the horses were equipt with light armor to help protect them from any possible attacks. The runners riding the horses were also equipt with guns and armor from their respective settlements, giving them a way to protect and rid themselves of stray Ferals. Luckily, mounted runners were not required to travel very far, merely to the next town over to prevent possible dangers. For example, if a runner from Town 1 has mail for Town 2 and Town 3, he just goes to Town 2. From there, a runner from Town 2 will take the mail to Town 3, and so on. By only travelling to the town over mounted runners got to traverse a small area in which they knew well, giving them advantages while on their journey. Being closer to home also made sure that a settlement's horses were very rarely in short supply due to their quick return time.[3]

Communication After the PandemicEdit

  • Landlines, a classic form of communication, found its way back into usage as soon as the majority of the Ferals had died off. Many of the phonelines had been damaged by the chaos caused by the Ferals and the outbreak of the Pandemic. However, once Feral populations decreased and it became safer to venture further from one's settlement the survivors of the Pandemic were quick to fix the downed phonelines. The electricity required for the landlines to work was supplied by both civilian generators and the emergency backup generators that can be found within phone companies. (This is why many corded landlines work when the power goes out). Unfortunatley, landlines were not a completely reliable source of communication until electricity was put back into full use by society. For this reason, the few landlines that managed to connect to those of the other towns were given to those in charge of the settlements. 
  • Postal Services began to spring up after the threat of being mauled to death by Ferals became less of a problem. While gasoline was rationed due to its difficulty to acquire, it was still used to fuel small vehicles for mail purposes. Small and gas efficient cars that had managed to make it through the chaos caused by the Ferals were used to deliver mail from town to town, similar to how it is done today. This service was run and paid for by those in charge of the settlement the mail was leaving from. 

In the end stable forms of electricity were reestablished since the threat of the Ferals was finally over and peace could be somewhat maintained. With the reintroduction of electricity forms of communication that the world was used to became widely used again. Things like cell phones, cordless phones, radios, computers (albeit without Internet) and even signal lights regained their popularity.

ReferencesEdit

  1. http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu/archive/pigeonpost.html
  2. http://www.ehow.com/how-does_4569173_telegraph-work_.html
  3. http://pnyxpress.tripod.com/history.html

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