Assuming Martialla is right, and I feel like at this point I have to allow for the possibility that she may be, and there are nanobots, I am obsessed with figuring out what happens with them. How does it work? What do they do? Does this injector only do something if you already have nanos inside of you? Could I grab a rat and inject it and see what happens? Would that create a mega-super rat that would bite my face off? If it did bite my face off, could I nano-inject myself a new face? What would that face look like? The pull to inject myself with whatever is inside that canister is strong. But Martialla is right, that’s insane. It’s not far off from finding a syringe on the beach and jamming it into your arm out of curiosity. It would be a crazy thing to do. And yet.
I thought about getting some of the paste out and rubbing it on a cut to see what would happen rather than injecting it, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to get the nanos out of the cylinder other than by coupling up the bedazzler gun. I did learn that the paste changes to a different color based on which tube you entice them into. One is blue, matching the glowing stuff inside us, one is red, one is yellow, one is green, one is orange, and one is purple. They’ve got the whole rainbow covered. I may have to give the injector gun to Martialla to keep away from me to keep from doing something stupid.
We passed another fuel depot/trade hub/fort/whatever but we didn’t stop. Makes me think we must be on a trade route but we’ve seen zero other vehicles on the trip. It doesn’t make much sense to me. In history class I often wondered (okay often I wasn’t paying attention but once when I did pay attention I wondered) when the teacher was talking about trade in old times; what does that mean? When it takes six months for a shirt to go from Paris to London, how is trade conducted? Plus they didn’t even have money until paper was readily available? It was all serfs and slaves and simpering pox-ridden nobles in big castles right? How do you make an economy out of that? I still haven’t figured it out here and maybe they haven’t either. I should have asked that lawyer I dated how the prison economy works. That seems like a good equivalent to a post-apocalyptic economy.
We did stop when we reached the stately village of Roachback, which as I’m sure you remember is one of the villages in the confederation that started this whole mess and sent us after the filters in the first place. I had assumed based on the name that the people of the village would be roach-men or they would be raising giant roaches as a revolting foodstuff or something else horrible in the roach milieu like that, but I didn’t see anything that made it apparent why they might have named their village after gross bugs.
Roachback is the village farthest upriver and therebecause (which is a word now) has the weighty responsibility of maintaining the water filtration system for the villages downstream. Said filtration system looks like a big rusty grain auger on its side in the river to me, but it must filter out enough of the poison for these gross mutants to survive. You might expect such a critical piece of the local infrastructure to be heavily defended, but those expectations would be dashed. The Roachbackians seem to have gone hard the other way, they had no defenses of any kind, I didn’t even see anyone carrying weapons which goes against the law of the wastelands as I’ve seen it. Maybe the idea is that they’re so important no one would ever attack them? That could have made sense before the Invincible got into the valley.
Before Martialla could say “that doesn’t seem like a good idea” I excite biked my way into town center and shook the filter bag triumphantly over my head in the middle of the shanties and hovels. When no one really reacted to that, I dumped the filters out on the ground, which finally prompted them to slowly come over and start doing something to them. Maybe they were cleaning them. Maybe they were just rubbing them for good luck. It seemed somewhat ritualistic. Martialla pulled up beside me.
“Don’t you think we should have assembled all the interested parties before we turned those over to anyone? They may not need all the filters here.”
I thought about it for a moment “Well now I do, where were you a second ago?”
“Trying to catch up with you as you raced ahead of me.”
The leader of Roachtown, or at least the guy (I think) assigned to deal with us, was standard apocalypse size (short) with pale greyish purple skin and abnormally large eyes, like eyes the size of ostrich eggs. And the head those eyes were in wasn’t any bigger, so they bulged out on the sides giving him a bit of a hammerhead shark appearance. I didn’t care for the cut of his jib at all. But then I haven’t seen too many people here in the future (present) that caught my fancy. I suggested to peepers that since we had just saved the entire valley civilization at great personal danger, they should have a mighty feast in our honor. He agreed and we sat down in the dirt with some other bulging eyes freaks to drink some shockingly palatable beer out of slimy gray cups and eat something that tasted a lot like chicken salad.
Since it was the only real food I’ve tasted since waking up, I had to know where it came from even though I didn’t think I would like the answer. I figured that they were going to tell me that it was ground up roach eggs at best. Instead they took me to a series of little pens where they were raising a chicken-like proto-creature. Aside from the horns and the fangs, and the tail (a tail tail not like a bird feather tail) they weren’t too much different from the chickens from our time. They did hiss at me like a cat but that’s less annoying than a morning crowing maybe. They also had a fenced in area with two donkeys that were nuzzling up against each other like newlyweds on a plane to Hawaii. Can donkeys feel love? If so, that changes my entire outlook on donkeys. While Martialla and I leaned on the donkey pen enjoying the sight of something familiar (if smelly), I posed to her a very important question.
“Which movie of mine is your favorite, Mar?
She thought for a moment “The Three Musketeers Versus the Wolfman.”
I snorted “Fuck you, I’m serious.”
“I am being serious. It’s a good action horror flick. Honestly the only thing wrong with that movie is the title. People hear that and they assume it’s some shit like Abbot and Costello Meet the Mummy. If they hadn’t tried to wedge the Musketeer thing in there and just made it a movie about some sixteenth century swordsmen fighting a lady werewolf, I think that movie would have been as successful as Brotherhood of the Wolf.”
I scoffed “In what sense was that movie a success? I remember people leaving in anger after five minutes.”
“That’s because Americans are, err, were I guess, illiterate boobs that would rather die than watch a movie with subtitles. Brotherhood of the Wolf made seventy million dollars, Ela. I’d call that a success.”
“Sure, internationally, if you want to count that.”