Despite never having ridden (driven?) a motorcycle before, I was able to pick up how to excite-bike my way across the wasteland without dying. Martialla had a much harder time getting the hang of it. She almost busted the ass that she doesn’t even have the first time we got into rough terrain. Probably because she’s so gangly and mantis-like. I’m not sure why it was so much easier for me than it was for her. Are there transferrable skills from horsewomanship to motorcyclemania? I’m a great equestrian you know. Maybe she’s just not used to having anything with so much power between her legs. Mega-burn! Call the trauma ward for that burn! I guess that’s really more of a burn on her dead husband than her, now that I think about it, which is less fun.
The following day we came to another trading fort. The last one wasn’t exactly a barrel of laughs but it was fine, this one was much less fun. You know how in your home town there’s that bar that people consider to be kind of shady but is actually fine? And everyone calls that the bad bar? Well there’s another bar across town that makes that bar look like the swankest yuppie gin joint around, a bar where you can shoot up in the bathroom and no one gives a shit because a hooker just got stabbed in the parking lot. This place had that vibe.
I admit that I may only think that because of the sign though. It said (in English surprisingly) that what they had for sale was water and slaves only, because they were out of stock on ammo. I’ve assumed/expected that slavery was a thing because that seems awful so why wouldn’t it be, but seeing a sign for slaves was still a kick in the snizz. Of course my first thought was to buy them and set them free. There are two problems with that idea.
Back home one time, a church group got the idea that they would go around to all the places that sold magazines and buy up all the dirty, dirty pornography so no one else could get it. Anyone who took economics in college or has been alive in the world can see the problem with that. As long as you pay for the stuff, the person selling it could give a shit what you do with it, all you’re doing is creating demand which results in more supply.
The other problem is that turning these people loose right there with no food or water is either a death sentence or more likely the fort-traders would just grab them up again and sell them once more. The only solution, as always, is murder – kill all the slave sellers and then the former slaves could have their stuff and live in their trade fort if they want. I gave Martialla the “should we” look but she shook her head. The two of us and our one gun against them didn’t seem like a great plan, I admit.
If you ask me (and you are in a way by reading this) why we even went in the place after seeing that sign, I couldn’t tell you. It’s probably for the same reason those same Christian porn people went to see The Last Temptation of Christ, they wanted to get upset about it. Unlike the last trade fort, you could just walk right into this one. There were definitely people with guns around, but no one seemed to be a “guard”; they were just armed and loitering.
As soon as we walked in, a dude that looked like Tigris of Gaul if you melted that helmet to his head and sprinkled in some mushrooms to the molten silver and then that mess turned into skin sauntered up and tried to put a collar on me. Just walked up like I was presenting myself to him to sign up for his slavery program. Like he thought I was just going to stand there and let him collar me up. Like he was a dog catcher sweeping up friendly strays.
I will admit that when I twisted away from him and kicked him in the knee, it didn’t do jack shit. It felt like I was kicking a tree stump. I’m fifty percent sure I broke a bone in my foot with that kick. I credit him that. What I don’t credit him for was when I swung the crowbar-hatchet-cleaver that we just traded for the other day at him, he tried to block it with his forearm like it was a Nerf bat. All the flesh from the mid-part of his lower arm to the elbow sheared off so easily that I lost my balance and almost faceplanted into the dirt. It was like swinging a sledgehammer at a concrete wall and finding out the wall was actually made of soap bubbles.
Have you ever see in an action movie or a kung fu flick or whatever when a bad guy gets his hand chopped off and he holds up the stump and looks at it like “huh”? And you think “that is so stupid, that would never happen”. Well, that’s exactly what he did. He held up his arm, showering down blood like water when you open the washing machine before it’s done, and gazed at it with a stupid look until Martialla sunk a meat hook-spear-golf club into his chest. His response then was to swing a wild backhand at her that she fell ass over twat trying to dodge.
I don’t know if he was trying to tackle me or if he just fell or what happened, but the next thing I knew I was being crushed into the ground with him on top of me reaching for my throat. It was like I was a mechanic working under a car and the jack fell out from behind the wheel. I’ve never felt pressure like that. I swear to god a horse rolled on me once and this felt seven thousand times heavier than that. I tried to keep his hands away from my throat but I would have had better luck bending the wing of a Seven Forty Seven. There was no fucking way.
Thankfully for everyone involved, Martialla shot him through the ear. First the left, then the right. And when he still didn’t go down, she shot him twice at the base of the skull. When he finally collapsed on me, I thought that I had died as well. Martialla used her murder stick as a lever to shift him enough for me to slither out from under him. Once I stopped gasping for air, I realized that no one was even watching. That skirmish wasn’t even an interesting enough occurrence for anyone to turn their head for more than a second. Martialla gave me a hand getting to my feet and a greasy looking guy with a furry hat wiped his filthy hands on his filthy pants and came over to us.
“We sharrig the needies same to us?”