Martialla harped on me for using too many nanos before I knew if I needed them. I told her that we didn’t even know how many we had. She said “exactly my point”. Her hand wasn’t just bloody, in falling down the tower she had ripped off her thumb and the tip of her finger next to it. She also managed to get hit in the face by a ricochet like an idiot. So she got a shot of the sweet blue stuff as well. When Paul eventually came out of the woods drenched in blood, he was doubled over and limping badly. His fire pole slide down the tower had ripped up his quads and his hammies and his calves and whatever else leg muscles you have. I saw that happen to a stuntman once on a jump/tear away awning bit. I don’t think the stunt even went wrong, I think it was not a well-designed stunt.
We (well Martialla did since he still can’t look at me directly ) asked Paulie boy if he had any nanos inside him since he’s from the future-past. He had no idea what we were talking about. When we explained a little, he didn’t seem to know what a robot was. What was going on in Twenty Thirty-Four? All he seems to remember about the “before time” is candy and Hostess fruit pies and Pop Tarts and cartoons. And maybe that he had parents of some kind. I wonder if he wasn’t sixteen when he got frozen like he says but instead six years old.
Even though she had just been scolding me about wasting them, Martialla injected Paul with some blue nanos as well. Whenever we use them for a while you can see blue lines glowing under our skin like we have circuits under the skin, Martialla says we look like the people in Tron but I wouldn’t know because I’m not a dork. Nothing like that happened with Paul. I assume that means they don’t work on him but we’ll know for sure if he’s still limping around in a few days.
I’ve been wondering about Paul. He’s walking gingerly but he is walking around on two busted wheels. He’s sturdier than he should be, I feel. I remember coming home drunk late one night and watching a show on the Discovery channel about how extinct human-like hominids were more robust than modern humans. As in they could get trampled by a wooly thoctar and just walk it off. It wasn’t fun, they weren’t happy about being trampled, but they would live. Paul seems like that. Maybe in his time, genetic engineering was a thing and he’s not like us physically. It’s frustrating that he can’t remember and/or is too traumatized to tell us about his life and what was going on then. I wish he’d quit being a mentally damaged baby.
We assumed that since we had come under attack, that meant that the assault on Wyo was fucked. I guess that’s self-centered. Which is on brand for me I admit, but still. While we were injecting each other like NFL players before the big game we fretfully grabbed our binoculars, expecting to see that “our” forces had driven into a trap and were being ripped apart. Instead we saw that things were proceeding fine. The Invincible trucks had moved out to form a makeshift wall in front of the city but it didn’t make much of a difference. The city (or town, whatever) had no other defenses in place so it was a whirling demolition derby of a battle anyway and our side had more vehicles.
I bet a real army with that kind of numerical advantage could have taken the town without suffering a lot of casualties but since it was a bunch of violent yahoos on rocket-sleds instead, the battle was more tit for tat. More of them died than “us” but if there had been such a thing as training or tactics or coordination, I bet the ratio could have been far more slanted in our favor. This must be what war was like in the Stone Age, the plan is “hey go over there” and then it’s everyone for themselves in what my dad would have called a donnybrook. Which is probably racist but he didn’t mean it like that.
I watched the battle for a while and then helped Martialla gather up all the rifles and other gear from the fallen. Her gun fever took over and she spent the rest of the time up there fiddling at them. I wasn’t really listening but she was saying something about how they were muzzle-loaders and that’s why they were never firing shots in quick succession. She was pretty taken with them for some reason. I don’t know why you’d be so over the moon about guns that look modern but function like crappy old time muskets, meaning slow.
Once it seemed like the fighting was over and the looting was in full swing, Martialla and I (and Paul) headed down to check it out. Some people were whooping and hollering and shaking their crude weapons in triumph. The smarter ones were getting down to the serious business of stealing everything. Everyone was pleased with the outcome but if you break down the numbers I’m not sure it accomplished much, if anything. Two of the trucks had been filled with skinny weird potatoes that look like dicks, one had weapons and ammo, and the other miscellaneous parts and a couple bikes. That’s all good but we lost eighteen vehicles in the attack and only captured three combat machines. With that and the trucks, is that a net gain? I suppose it doesn’t matter as long as people are happy and spread the word that attacking the Invincible is fun and easy.
I assumed that everyone in the town would be dead after the battle, actually I hadn’t thought about it at all but if you had asked me I would have assumed that. Instead there were a bunch of Wyo people standing around waiting to see what horrible fate would befall them. And everyone was looking to me like I was going to know what to do with them.
I picked out the tallest of the bunch, she may have been as much as five three, assuming she was the leader. She said her name was Nemecrie. I had a tough time understanding her futurespeak but I gathered that until the earthquake opened up a path to the valley, the Invincible didn’t come around much on account of some other group – the people with the facepaint and headbands – but once the valley was accessible, the Invincible started coming in numbers so the facepaint people left them to die. So they made a deal with the Invincible. Which was working out pretty well for them until we showed up.
I think she’s smarter than your average future mutant, likely because of her great height, because she was laying it on thick that given the situation, they had no choice but to sign on with the Invincible and that if our beef was with them we were jerks for attacking Wyo and hurting innocent people. She may actually have something of a point, but they weren’t hostages to the Invincible. They signed on with what they thought was the winning side and it didn’t work out for them. Sucks but that’s life.
I told her that we had just come to steal all their stuff and we had no designs on raping them to death or whatever normally happens after battles now, they could stay or go or do whatever they wanted. She pointed out that since we were stealing all their stuff, they’d die if they stayed. I told her we could drop them off at Bosstown if they wanted, as I understand they’re always looking for mudders.