About half the Wyomins left of their own accord and went up into the mountains to try and make it on their own. A couple asked for a lift to Crow, a couple managed to integrate themselves into one of the bands on our side, and the rest resigned themselves to a life of mudding in Bosstown.
Nemecrie was one of the contingent that wanted to go to Crow, I was halfway considering asking her to join us since she seemed to know what was up, but my enthusiasm for that project was dampened when she tried to stab me. Martialla and I (and Paul) were sitting by J-Lo enjoying the bounty of our victory – cooking up some mashed dick-potato soup and enjoying the lights in the sky – when Nemecrie approached us with a ceramic jug of a wine-like liquid that was horrid but pretty good by the standards of the day. She joined us for a bit and we chatted and drank and then when she was passing me the jug, she lunged at me with a blade.
I flopped back and she took a strip out of my jacket instead of my flesh. Martialla tackled her and she had a brief moment to rant about how the Invincible were unbeatable (or invincible if you will) and that Duke Eagle was going to make me his personal slave and so on and so forth before Paul hobbled over and twisted her head like a soda bottle cap. I guess she was a little more of a partisan for the Invincible than she let on before.
I nudged her dead body with my foot “You know if there’s one good thing about the world of tomorrow . . .”
Martialla interrupted “Which there isn’t.”
I nodded “Which there isn’t, but if there was it would be that there doesn’t seem to be a glass ceiling anymore. Possibly because it’s kind of hard to tell a lot of times what gender people even are.”
Martialla picked up the jug carefully to avoid spilling any more precious horrible wine “Here’s to you Emmeline Pankhurst, we did it! Sort of. And all it took was the total collapse and destruction of all society everywhere.
“Good work bodyguarding, guys” I said as I examined the hole in my jacket.
Paul’s head snapped around and he stared me with strange wet eyes. I couldn’t tell if he was going to jump on me and bite my jugular vein or if he was pleased or what was going on behind those crazy eyes. After holding my gaze for a moment he kind of bobbed his head like an ostrich and then set about dragging the corpse away so it wouldn’t disturb our great feast. Martialla sat back down and continuing stirring her punch bowl of potato moosh bisque.
She glanced at his figure retreating into the shadows “I don’t think Paul’s gotten much positive reinforcement in his life so far.”
I shook my head “I’d be locking my door with that guy around, if I had a door.”
Martialla shook her head absently “He’s harmless, well not harmless he’s killed tons of people, but you know what I mean.”
“I have no idea what you mean. So, why do you think this place is here? Everywhere we’ve been there’s usually some resource like mud or grass or stinking dead fish or some reason why people would want to live there. I don’t see crops or anything, and it definitely isn’t a trade town so what’s the appeal of this place, why was anyone here?”
She thought for a moment “That’s actually a good point.”
“What do you mean actually?”
Martialla made a vague conciliatory gesture “I just mean that . . . you know . . . usually you don’t . . . you know . . . uh, anyway maybe we should take a closer look around in the morning. I’m sure they looted this place good but they may not have noticed some things that might be interesting to us.”
“Speaking of, when the looting stage of the battle began I’m surprised that our side didn’t start fighting amongst themselves.”
Martialla snorted “What makes you think that they didn’t? Not all our casualties came during the fighting. Not even most of them maybe.”
“Wonderful. Well, at least we got this campaign off on the right foot with a victory, that’s what matters right? Good for morale and so forth.”
“And what’s the next stage in the campaign, fearless leader?”
“We saw a couple Invincible towns or strongholds or whatever when we were scouting, right?”
Martialla raised an eyebrow “Stay on the attack? Could be a good idea. I think the general military opinion is that of offense over defense.”
“Is that why the Lakers never play any defense?”
“Derek Fisher is a solid defender, and Shaq led the leagues in blocks!”
I snorted “Blocking shots is not defense, you play defense with your feet not your hands.”
Martialla snorted right back “You don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
I nodded my head “True. My original thinking was that if we provoked the Invincible they’d mobilize more strongly against us and then we could use that to rally people to our cause, but I think now that if we’re going to keep this rabble together, we need to stay on the move. Like a shark, we have to keep swimming or we’ll die.”
“Except the nurse shark. And the sand tiger.”
“Shut up Martialla.”