The plan was simple enough. The old man and the boys would stay with the women and children as they began to widely circumnavigate the marauders, while the men and I decided to lead the zeds to these jackasses.
Getting the zeds' attention wasn't hard. They were already looking for us, so all we had to do was backtrack just enough to engage them at long range with our rifles. One or two volleys was enough to get them after us, so we just hit and fade against them to string them along, keeping out of whatever range their hive mind uses to shift from shambling to running. A shot or two now and again was enough to keep the zeds coming as we'd want them to go. It was boring, dangerous, and tedious- but a slacking of discipline could easily cost us a man.
When we neared the marauders, we didn't let up; we knew that the rifle fire would be sufficient to bring them out in sufficient force to counter a threat. So, what we did was easy; we lead the zeds up a rise, where there was a deep divot dug into the hill years ago for other purposes, and we would run out along the divot for a quarter-mile or so before getting out. The zeds would mindless go up, over, up, and over and continue on toward the marauders- and force them to deal with the zeds instead of us.
We watched from our safe distance as they engaged the flood of zeds coming over the hill. To their credit, they kept discipline and retreated in good order from the oncoming zeds- maybe they already knew, or they had a bad feeling, and didn't want to risk them getting close enough to charge. We saw someone calling out targets, and we saw them use some homebrewed ordinance to break up the clustered zeds, but they looked like they would be overrun until we saw them get out a replica of a Civil War cannon and bring it to bear. Homemade grapeshot cannisters blew apart the zed horde just as they began breaking into runs. Shotguns used behind barricades finished the job.
We didn't stick around to see if they were still looking for us, or if more zeds would come. Instead we marked the location on the map and headed to meet up with our women and children, which we did by sundown at the point I thought we could reach and secure by then. They were fine, but the worry on their faces made it clear to me that my risk was not appreciated yet. Over dinner that night, I reported to the others what we saw and did during the day. Faces changed, becoming more appreciative, even as they gasped over the report of a working cannon with grapeshot cannisters. That night turned around this exchange:
"But the zeds didn't do what you made them do. They're still there."
"For now. The zeds likely think that they are us, and we know what they want with us now don't we?"
As we used to say, we threw them under the bus. I am fine with that.