I don’t know why I expected Gunmetal City to be a towering industrial monolith of pipes and belching smokestacks and pneumatic tubes populated by wretched mutants chained to machines churning out cheap wares. I should know better by now. Industry hasn’t been rediscovered yet. At least not industry the way that I think about it. I suppose chimps pulling the leaves off a branch to get honey out of a termite hill is industry technically. Termites make honey don’t they?
Instead of what I said, Gunmetal City is an old boron mine that people live on in clusters of little huts. There is one big crane in the middle which is kind of industrial-y but no smokestacks. I don’t really know what boron is but I’m sure living on it and breathing it in all the time is the kind of thing that causes cancer and birth defects. Because it’s a mine-hole it kind of looks like they live on the side of a pyramid. Martialla claims that boron is used in making high-strength, lightweight ceramic but that makes no sense. How could metal be used in clayware? Next she’s going to tell me that all those old Roman pots in museums are full of lead.
She also said that since we find ceramic goods everywhere that’s why Gunmetal City must be so affluent, rather than the guns. “Affluent” isn’t how I would describe people that live on a boron mine but they aren’t covered in as much shit as everyone else so they must be rich by the standards of the day. The Gunmetal part comes from the fact that they do have a small facility where they can make bullets and there is ONE family there that knows how to make firearms.
There were some dudes with rifles in towers and a moat of sorts to keep vehicles away, but overall the defenses didn’t seem that impressive for what I have to assume is the most important place in the world. As far as I can tell, these post-apocalyptic assholes raid and fight each other all the time but none of them attack the important places like this. I don’t get it. If I were the Vultures or some other merry band of murderers, I’d conqueror Cry, Roachback, and Gunmetal City and then I’d control the food, the clean water, and all the weapons. Seems like I’d be queen of the sad little hill then, right? Maybe no one does that for the same reason no one wants to fight the Invincible, they don’t think big enough.
Speaking of, the Gunmetal City Council are concerned about the Invincible. It’s a nice change of pace. Between them and the highlander jerks, things are starting to snowball. The Gunmetal city fathers (and mothers) may look like Freddie Krueger Nosferatu Beneath the Planet of the Apes freaky freaks but they’re smarter than the rest of the freaks around here. When we flew in, we were taken to see the city leaders immediately like we had an appointment – bunch of pizza-faced people in big robes that must have them sweating their various genitals off sitting in a dark room with a big table. They had a lantern on the table for light is all. A lantern. That’s what affluence gets you these days.
The lead Freddie Krueger, who I think was a woman and therefore I shall name Fredwina, explained that unlike a lot of the other communities outside the valley, they have never done business with the Invincible. Not because of morality of course, but because the I-Boys have their own source of guns and ammo and that means that unlike all the other “important” places, Gunmetal City has no vested interest in maintaining neutrality. Quite the opposite as a matter of fact. Sounds like they’ve had their share of skirmishes with the Invincible and have sent many a Freddie Krueger spy to their death trying to find out where the Invincible make or get their weapons.
So, they’re not cool with the Invincible but they aren’t hot to jump into bed with me either, unlike Julian McMahon. Like I would even want to be on the Profiler. Gunmetal doesn’t want to fight the Invincible alone, or at all really, so they’re on our side in the sense that if we can get together a legitimate fighting force in the valley, they’ll throw in with us. If not, they’ll try to curry whatever favor they can with the Invincible while they destroy us even though it’s probably not going to work.
They gave Martialla a couple of guns and a bunch of ammo so she’s in hog heaven. They gave me a pistol too, which looks fancy but I don’t like the way it feels. The grip is made of petrified wood or something. I think if I fire it more than once in a short period of time, it’s going to blow up in my hand. They did give us something more useful than a couple of cruddy guns (Martialla’s note – they’re not cruddy at all, they’re very well made and reliably functional) – information. At the other end of the valley there’s a community called Wyo that’s already thrown in their lot with the Invincible. They regularly receive shipments of supplies for the Invincible to use as a base for their roving bands of raiders either/and/or/also to serve as a launching point for invasion.
I realize that I’ve been going about this all wrong. I’ve been trying to get people to fight for freedom and for their very lives. That’s not going to work because these people have no freedom and their lives are garbage. If they knew how Martialla and I used to live they’d all kill themselves, that’s how much their lives suck balls. The message I should be using instead is “hey, there’s stuff we can take, let’s go get it!” And now I have a good target. My new pitch will be, let’s get a bunch of people together and sack Wyo and steal all their stuff because you want stuff don’t you? Sure you do, so mount up ranger.
At which point the war will have begun?