I thought that the 127 brand people might gaze longingly in awe at our new blue friends, but they don’t seem that interested in them. I don’t get it, if my lineage had guarded a hole in the ground for five generations I’d have a little more of a reaction to the people that came out of it. Even if that reaction was “I spent my life guarding this dumb hole and it’s just some blue people?” I suppose it’s my mistake for thinking that people who would guard a hole for a century think logically about anything.
Lucien is fine, or at least is acting like he’s fine soldier style, but the other Chemical Brothers (and Sisters) are not as happy about the fate that has befallen them. Possibly because they’re all civilians. Although I would like to point out that I am also a civilian and I didn’t even know this was possible to boot and you don’t hear me complaining about being in the post-apocalypse all the time like a baby.
It was funny, in a mean malicious way, to watch Lucien’s “squad” first be mad about their blue skin and then watch their faces as they slowly realized that they have much, much, much bigger problems than being turned into giant Smurfs. A couple of them cried when they came out of the hole and saw the new world that awaited them. One guy is a physicist, another said he’s an anthropologist, one is a mechanic, two said they work in “communications” which I assume means telemarketing, and two are truck drivers.
“Where are the ladies?” I asked Lucien “How were you going to repopulate the nuclear wasteland world with all dudes?”
He was eyeballing the various future scum milling around “I don’t know what the plan was, but I’m pretty sure whatever happened to us didn’t go according to that plan.”
Most of the facility where they had been stored was wrecked and/or unreachable but we were able to access the main garage. Said garage had a bank of fuel pumps that allegedly are connected to a five-thousand-gallon underground storage tank. Nothing came out of it when we tried it but since the specs say it was rated to last twenty years that’s not unexpected.
What were we trying to fuel up? The garage was home to three Series IIA long-wheelbase Land Rovers that aside from having no tires or fuel to run on were in fine condition (as far as we could tell anyway). Same goes for the six Armstrong-CCM Motorcycles. There was also a thing that Lucien called a fire support vehicle but looked like a tank to me, not a real tank but like a weird tank that your brother got for his GI Joes for getting an A in math. Whatever it was it had some remnants of tires left on it and maybe could have moved if there was any fuel for it. What it did have was a big old gun, which got people excited enough to drag it out of the ground. By hand. You know how much work it is to pull a tank out of a hole with cables and winches? I do now. Glad I didn’t have to do any of it.
The only other thing we found of value (unless you value clipboards and dry inkless pens) was a stack of paperback novels. Lucien said that if we did some more excavation we might find more, in particular he was eager to see if we could get into the repair facilities, the armory, and/or the security stations. It definitively seemed worthwhile since everyone wanted to stay to loot everything they could anyway – and I mean everything, our people were excited just for the scrap metal. However that plan was scuttled when it was reported that the Invincible were coming. Like a lot of them.
“Your plan worked” Martialla said to me as we were bugging out of Wyo.
Before we scooted off we covered back up the ground we had excavated as best we could. It’s going to be obvious that we were digging around but hopefully the Invincible will be too preoccupied coming to kill us all to worry about digging it all back up. That would be just my luck, I find a cache of Cold War era military equipment and the Invincible grab it all up and use it against me in the coming war.
As we bugged I reflected on the fact that we showed up with a bunch of people, then those people slowly drifted away while we dorked around, and then by the time we left – between the 127s and the Wyomins joining up with us – we had swelled our numbers up again. This must be what it was like for barbarian warlords in the olden times, your retinue fluctuates as you’re wandering around sacking cities and terrorizing the countryside. We bugged out all the way to Crow before we tuckered out of bugging. Sometimes I forget how small of an area we’ve actually been operating in before now.
Martialla and I splurged (to the extent that word means anything in this world) in Crow and got ourselves and actual room with an actual bed with actual sheets to stay the night in. And before we went to this room we had an actual shower with actual soap. The soap was probably made from rendered human flesh but I don’t even care at this point.
I love singing. And I’m very good at it. As I was belting out Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (yes I know it’s a duet, that’s how good I am) I got to wondering why you sound better singing in the shower. Part of it is probably the freedom that comes from singing naked. Makes you feel powerful. You can’t generally do that on stage. Generally. Part of it is probably the shower itself. It’s like a little sound booth. I’m no sound engineer, but I think that the walls of the shower absorb little to no sound, which gives you good power and resonance. I have a great ear for these things and I feel like somehow it evens out the pitch as well. Which is not an issue for me because I’m not pitchy but still.
I feel like four pounds of gunk slithered off me while I was in there. I think I saw the slime form a face and look up at me forlornly before getting sucked down the drain. So long Slime Ela, see you in hell! As I was getting dressed I had to take a moment to lament the shabby condition of the clothes that I had arrived here in the future with. At some point they’re going to rot off me and I’m going to have to wear the crap everyone else around here wears – furs and bones and leather. Ugh.
And then while we were in the room they brought us actual food that I recognized – strawberries! The first bite was like a ton of flavor bricks smashing me in the face with endorphins. By old world standards they were small and not very sweet strawberries, but in that moment they were better than most of the sex I’ve had in my life combined. And that’s including the times when it was just me. While I was debating eating the strawberry stumps I noticed that Martialla was perusing the April Nineteen Seventy-Nine Playboy.
“What are you doing?”
Martialla dipped the magazine down to glance at me “Reading a feature on twenty-five years of rock and roll.”
“So according to Hugh Hefner, rock and roll was invented in fifty-four?”
“Apparently so, I imagine it’s pretty hard to nail down the date a kind of music was invented. Didn’t you meet Hugh Hefner?”
My face soured “Yeah, I met him, ass-hole.”
“Are you saying that because he offered you the centerfold or because he didn’t?”