Despite Martialla’s snide remarks, I really am a good shot with a pistol. The guys that said I could shoot competitively were only exaggerating because they wanted to sleep with me, not lying because they wanted to sleep with me. But here’s the thing, pistols are kind of useless. Which is likely cold comfort to the however many people I’ve shot dead since falling out of a cryo-tube on account of it doesn’t make them any less dead.
Armorers on movie sets come in two kinds, Loquacious Larrys and Taciturn Teddys. A common Larry topic is how in movies everyone is running around with handguns but in real combat, pistols are nobody’s primary weapon, they are a last resort when you have nothing better. Some Larrys will even claim that a knife is better than a pistol, which is insane. A Larry said to me once “the only purpose of a sidearm is to give you a chance to stay alive long enough to find a better weapon”. Other Larrys have said similar things, a few will admit (grudgingly it seems) that in very tight quarters where a rifle is not practical, a pistol may come in handy.
The closest enemy to me was around twenty yards away, which is not tight quarters. I can make a shot at twenty yards, oh don’t think that I can’t, but a moving target at twenty yards with cover? Not as much. Plus here’s something to keep in mind, when people are trying to shoot you while you want to shoot them, the degree of difficulty goes up a lot. I mean a lot. Point being that crouching where I was with a pistol, I didn’t have a lot that I could do so I figured why not try to open up a dialog?
“Hey . . . uh . . . hello there! I don’t think we’ve been introduced. You guys don’t look like Invincible . . . uh . . . so, are you just . . . uh . . . who are you? What are your names? My name is Ela. Do you guys like movies? You know what movies are? You ever a find an old DVD player . . . uh, you know, like in a ruined city or something? You guys see Slumber Party Massacre Four? I was Millie in Slumber Party Massacre Four. You guys see that one? How about Today We Kill, Tomorrow We Die or David and Goliath? Martialla was in that one too. She’s my friend over there. She . . .”
I was interrupted by Martialla sidling out behind J-Lo to shoot one of them who was breaking cover to flank Paul’s hiding tree. When the flanker went down, another guy tried to dash out and grab him and Martialla shot him as well. This isn’t something I’ve seen wastelanders do before, leave no man behind isn’t a popular doctrine in the future. She ducked back down behind J-Lo as some return fire came back her way. The two wounded men were able to crawl into the underbrush but their designs on Paul were forgotten.
“Don’t . . . ah, don’t worry about that. We’re not mad, people shoot at us all the time. It’s . . . uh . . . no big deal you know? Can we talk for a minute? Are you with the Invincible? Or is this your tower? Maybe you just got startled? Uh . . .”
I heard a garbled voice from farther back in the trees “Aronto bosch! Barton smarsh amine! Dental hygienists!”
“Uh . . . I didn’t catch that. Are you guys dentists did you say?”
Martialla hissed at me “They shot at us. We killed three of them, they’re not going to talk to us Ela!”
I tried to peek around J-Lo’s front “We haven’t killed anyone yet, have we?”
“Paul split that first guy’s head open like a melon!”
I squirmed around and tried to look underneath the car “Uh . . . okay then . . . I’m going for the window, cover me.”
I noticed that Martialla’s left hand was gushing blood and her arm was streaked red as she nodded to me with her rifle clenched in her other hand. J-Lo having no doors like the General Lee is usually super cool, but in situations like this it’s a real drag. I tried to stay as low as I could and slip in subtly like a sneaky snake but someone was waiting for that very move. I think they call that overwatch.
The shots sounded almost simultaneous – one of the forest people shooting me in the left butt cheek, a through and through that let the bullet also smash into the bottom of my left foot, and Martialla’s answering shot. I heard her shoot several more times as I hurtled into J-Lo and bashed my face on the shifter while simultaneously I banged my elbows and knees and every other hard pointy part of the interior.
Have I ever mentioned that being shot hurts? Try getting shot through the bottom of the fucking foot. JFK assassination people talk about the “magic bullet”, I’d like for them to explain to me how the hell does a bullet go through my ass and then through the bottom of my foot? Sure I was horizontal going through a window, and my legs were up in the air for a nanosecond but still. You want to know the stupid thing? In that instant my nose hurt worse. Pretty sure I broke it. Which is a crying shame because I have a great nose. Everyone said so.
Martialla was yelling something, I don’t know if her bawling was directed at me or at Paul or at the people shooting at us but I couldn’t hear it anyway. I grabbed one of the plastic CHiPs rifles out of the back and stuck it out the window on the other side, holding down the trigger until it either ran out of ammo or jammed. Tossing it back, I shifted the forty-ton window armor into place (wo)manfully and then lay there panting for a moment. Martialla’s giant face appeared in the other window and I handed her a bomb/grenade from storage. This one had a fuse type thing on the top that you don’t have to light, so it seems more grenade-y to me. She bashed it on J-Lo’s side and then hurled it into the woods. One thing I give Martialla, the girl can hurl. I think she played college softball or something.
After the boom I heard a lot of shouting and shooting and the distinctive “thwap” of Paul’s machete removing human flesh from a human body. I wish that wasn’t a sound I could identify. I rustled up the nano-canister and gave myself an injection of some sweet blue nanos. The rush is intense, I tell you what. It’s like the first time you try coke, only better, makes you feel strong, like you can take on the whole world by yourself. I wonder if they ever made ones that were purely recreational rather than therapeutic. I suppose we might have some recro-nanos since we only know what the blue ones do. Assuming the different colors even do different things. Why doesn’t it have instructions on the side?
I slipped into the driver’s seat, which didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would with a busted ass, and hauled up the armor on that side as well. J-Lo’s complicated ignition sequence may make her harder to steal but, like the no-doors thing, it’s annoying in situations like this. Once I got her fired up I could faintly hear Martialla yelling at me to swing towards the tower and back up slowly. As I did so, I could see/feel/hear her creeping along using the car as cover as she fired into the woods.
She signaled for me to stop and I heard her saying to Paul “Go after them, don’t let any get away.”