A sky full of stars

I haven’t seen any of the mountain folk since the original meeting at the Crossroads so we paid them a visit.  Turns out they’re major assholes.  Not only did they try to shoot us down when we first appeared, we found out that their major source of income is raiding the lowlanders.  Their community sprung up on the site of the Nakoma Resort and the land around it has been cracked and damaged by earthquakes leaving it so rough and riven with narrow passes that approaching by foot is a literal maze.  This makes it so the place is essentially unassailable.  But that’s the only thing going for it.  They don’t have shit for resources, ergo the town is perpetually short of food and supplies, ergo they take them from others. 

Here’s the funny thing, they’re in.  They want to attack the Invincible.  Why?  Since they’re parasites they realize that if the Invincible kill or conquer everyone in the valley then there’s no one left for them to parasite off unless they can handle the Invincible, which they know that they can’t.  It’s like that old con artist adage that you can sheer a sheep many times but only skin it once.   Is there a lesson in there somewhere?  The only people who are thinking about the future and willing to fight for it are the ones who don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves?  Is there some kind of twisted Aesop in there?  I can’t come up with it if there is. 

There is another reason they want to go to war, two actually.  One is that they fear no reprisal, thinking that there’s no way for them to be attacked in their mountain stronghold.  They said that the Invincible could send five thousand men and they would all die in the attempt.  I mean we came here in a plane, but whatever.  The second thing is that they’ve got a few too many people and they’d like to do a little pruning.  Too many old folks who won’t die on their own and “zeros” who add nothing to the survival of the community.  Their leader, Fortykills is eager to send them into battle.  Sounds like they’ll make a crack fighting force to me. 

Where did that term ever come from?  Crack as in highly competent.  Surely it can’t have anything to do with crack cocaine can it?  That term has to predate the drug right?  Does it have something to do with baseball?  Like the crack of a bat?

Anyway, Fortykills and the mountain assholes are on our side.  And she guaranteed me that when the time comes she won’t only send cannon fodder (that one I get) with us, she’ll send a few real fighters with us as well. 

The question is what value will this have as a campaign tool.  If I tell people that the people that attack them and steal their shit are in on the surface that doesn’t seem likely to bring people to my camp.  But maybe I can spin it, say that even those jerks understand the threat so how can you turn a blind eye?  Something along those lines.  Plus I can talk up their fighting prowess, they live by raiding so they’re going to be great allies.  I think I need to change my pitch anyway.  Play up the fact that Martialla and I saved all their worthless hides by getting the filters, lean more on “you owe me” rather than trying to appeal to reason.  Sidenote, now that we have a plane we should zip back over to the underground medical facility and see what’s going on there. 

Mountain town, or Svyatilishche as it’s actually called, is just as wretched and horrible as any place else around but the grounds of the golf course are still very pretty.  After we brokered the deal with Fortykills we wandered around up there for a while and found some dull green and spotted pink eggs in a boggy zone that used to be the back nine.  What laid them?  No clue, but that didn’t stop Martialla from getting a fire going and cooking them up as the sun set.  It was almost enough to make me feel good to be alive.

I lay back on the ground as Martialla puttered around messing with her freak eggs “Have you noticed that the stars are different?”

She glanced up for a moment “How can you tell?  There’s so much pollution you can’t even see the sky.”

I thought for a moment “Is it still pollution if it’s not caused by humans?”

She cursed and pulled her hand back from the fire “Yeah, why wouldn’t it be?  Besides, isn’t it almost certain that all this was caused by humans?”

I thought for a moment and then shrugged “I can see them pretty well most nights, I have excellent vision you know.”

Martialla chuckled “If only you had perfect pitch, maybe then your albums would have done better than Jennifer Lopez’s.  Lopez’s, that’s hard to say.”

I snorted “Perfect pitch doesn’t mean shit.  It’s just a freak ability like being double jointed.  You know who else has perfect pitch?  Bats.  And gerbils.  Have you ever heard a gerbil sing?”

“Um, does Alvin and the Chipmunks count?”

“No, those are chipmunks, it’s right in the name.  The stars are different Mar, and not just a little.  Stars move over time, I know that, but how far do they move in a hundred years?  I don’t see anything I recognize up there.  Where are the Three Sisters?  Or the Charioteer?  Or the Swan?”

“There’s a swan constellation?”

“Yeah, Cygnus.  Zeus turned himself into a swan to hump the queen of Sparta who then gave birth to Helen of Troy.  Think about that Mar, the face that launched a thousand ships was half swan.  Imagine the wedding night, you’re getting ready to rock and finding a cloaca on your bride.  No wonder a war started.”

Martialla shook her head “That can’t be true.”

“Oh, it’s true.  Also a bunch of other people got turned into swans for one reason or another and then got put in the sky.  Whatever happened down here wouldn’t change the stars would it?  Maybe everything got screwed up because the earth moved somehow.”

Martialla peered up at the sky for a moment “The earth is always moving, but I take your meaning.  The good news is that whatever happened now you get to name some new constellations.”

“I already have been.  There’s the alien doing laundry.  That’s Mr. Burns playing basketball.  There’s a frog giving everyone a big thumbs up.  There’s the fat little karate man locked in combat with his eternal foe the other fatter karate man.  The jackalope is over there next to the man in the canoe.  There’s the scorpion king.”

“Which one, the horrible CGI blob of nothing or the Rock?”

“The blob.  They’re making the Scorpion King into a movie you know.  I was up for the part of the Sorceress but they decided that wanted someone less Midwestern.  I wonder if they’ve started filming yet.”

“Started, finished, and everyone involved all died decades ago I would assume.”

I nodded absently “I wonder who got my part.”