Some men you just can’t reach

So.  It turns out we had a little bit of a whoopsie-doodle here with stirring up a rebellion and murdering all these horrible Paradisanians.  According to people who never get invited to parties (not good parties anyway) the turning point in human development was the ability to communicate.  Once humans were able to go “Hey Jim, instead of trying to tackle these mammoths what if we dig a pit and wait for them to fall in?” the mammoths were fucked.  The spoken word brought on a wave of destruction beyond any weapon you can think of, nuclear missiles ain’t got shit on words.  Just ask the saber-toothed tiger.   Oh wait, you can’t!  Humans rules!

What we had here is a failure to communicate.   

You see when people kept telling us that if we wanted to get a war going with the Invincible we needed to go to paradise as step number one they didn’t mean this town which is called Paradise, they meant that we should go to a place called Crow which is a paradise.  I’m going to put ninety-nine percent of the blame on them for this one.  That would be like telling someone if they ask you where they can get some good cheese they should go to Paris when they mean Paris Texas.  Or maybe not that exactly but the point is they screwed up not me.   

So we got some bad intel and we killed some assholes, no big deal right?  Well, you see in terms of problem levels, here’s the problem.  Paradise was (is?) a client village or vassal or whatever of Crow and they were repressing not just the quarry people but a bunch of other smaller weaker communities in the area on behalf of Crow.  So when we overturned that apple cart it fucked up Crow’s whole regional power structure/house of cards.   

Between you, me, and the mutant chickens I’m not sure I ever actually read Beowulf but I feel like this is the kind of stuff that happened in Beowulf times.  Erik Njorl son of Frothgar, son of Thorvald Nlodvisson, son of Gudleif, the priest of Ljosa water who took to wife Thurunn the slayer of Cudround the powerful, rides for twelve days and nights until he reaches the hall Harken who killed Bjortguaard in Sochnadale in Norway over Cudreed, daughter of Thorkel Long, and kills him because that’s what he thought the king wanted him to do.  But it turns out that Harken was actually a sworn man of the king because of some other thing and then there’s a blood feud for fifty years and a bunch of people all kill each other in error because the king didn’t mention that they were all on the same side.  Also the king is secretly his own grandpa because of some mix-up where he humped someone in the dark.   

I found this all out because a contingent of Crowarians showed up at the gate of Paradise to say “hey, what the fuck?”  The Crowinians are the most normal looking people we’ve seen so far, except for Paul, and he doesn’t count.  They all have freaky David Bowie eyes, alabaster Marilyn Manson complexions, and asthmatic Marilyn Monroe voices but that makes them pretty damn normal by the standards of the day.   Don’t worry though, they had a bunch of the standard post-apocalyptic screwheads with them as muscle – dude with blue skin and three fingers on each hand?  Sure.  Purple dude with zombie freak eyballs?  Why not?  Shark-mouth, oversized heads or feet, unnaturally thin limbs, no nose, No Bones Jones the plastic man, etc.       

They spoke pretty good modern day (past) English too, despite some weird slang and odd syntax I was able to understand them just fine.  They were pretty chill about the whole thing.  Or maybe I’m just a great negotiator.  Probably the second thing.  Point is once I told them “My bad, I didn’t know I couldn’t overthrow your society” they stopped menacing us with their goons.  As long as they get their gas they don’t really care who gives it to them.  See, I thought that the Paradisians wanted the gas just for their old vehicles but instead their mandate was to make sure that Crow has all the oil they need.  Of course why they need it wasn’t revealed to us but you can’t expect someone to give up everything on the first date.  You have to hold some things back.  You know the kind of things I mean. 

I explained to the lead Crow-man, who I’ll call David Marilyn Manson Monroe, my desire to make war on the Invincible and he clucked his tongue and wagged his finger.  War is bad for business is his stance.  He said that we shouldn’t try to fight the Invincible we should make a deal with them.  When I told him that that deal was that we knuckle under to their brutal reign of terror his response was, in so many words, “grow up”.  His point was that that everyone serves someone so why not just bend over and get it over with.  I responded with a little speech about freedom and personal choice and truth and justice and the American Way and he looked at me like I was speaking Greek.  Which I was not, to be clear.   

He said that if I wanted to go to war with the Invincible the only way I would have a chance is to get Gunmetal City and Scrapbridge on my side and then also get a bunch of money to bring all the southern mercs into the fight, a prospect which he deemed to be unlikely on account of I had nothing to offer anyone in return for doing anything.  I told him he was dead wrong about that, I have charm, good looks, and a winning attitude.  He agreed and said that’s why I should come to Crow instead of “playing” at being a soldier.  Did I mention that Crow is where all the hookers are?  That’s their whole thing the “hospitality” industry.  It’s not all hookers, they have other luxuries there like showers and soap and food that isn’t swarming with or made from worms and gambling but those are incidentals, you go for the hookers, you stay for the unleavened bread.   

I told David MMM that my course was set, it was my destiny to defeat the Invincible and put an end to their wicked ways.  He laughed and said that their ways were no wickeder than anyone else and that Crow had enjoyed a working relationship with them for many a year.  I asked him, as long as we keep delivering the gas were we going to have a problem if we wreck the Invincible and slaughter Duke Eagle.  He said that it didn’t matter to him in the least, he’s just a businessman, he doesn’t get involved in such things.   

I’m sure at the very least as soon as they left he dispatched various underlings, evil spirits, secretaries of secretaries, and other assorted minions to contact Duke Eagle to let him know that I’m gunning for him.  Playing both sides and whatnot.   

I wonder if he’ll care.

It doesn’t get easier, but kind of it does

As you well know Martialla and I have been in a couple of scrapes here in the future (present).  The thing about those incidents is that they all jumped off quickly.  If we had any notice at all before the violence started it was only a moment, there was no time to get uptight about it.  Not before anyway, after there’s plenty of time.  Having a ten day wait before we Trojan Paradise is just the tiniest bit interminable.  It’s way too much time to think before a violent confrontation.  I liken it to when married couples schedule their sexual activities.  Where’s the spontaneity?  I saw the calendar at Martialla’s house once and it had “date night” on it.  Shudder. 

Martialla, being the fussbudget that she is, thinks that having time to plan before the fight is a great idea, but what is there to plan?  We’re going to go there and jump out and battle and either we’ll die or we won’t.  What plan is there?  She’s gone back to “scout” Paradise a couple of times and she has lots of conversations with one of the bigger triangle mutants but I think it’s just to keep her busy.  What could they honestly be plotting out?  One goes east and one goes west and one goes over the cuckoo’s nest?  I guess it’s a good thing they don’t let women be generals, we’re too honest, the grunts probably wouldn’t like it if you told them to go out there and wing it even if that’s what they were going to do anyway and everyone knew it.  People like the illusion of someone above them knowing what the hell is happening.   

Martialla and I did some “training” amongst ourselves but I called an end to that after a couple sessions.  Her slamming me to the ground repeatedly doesn’t teach me anything.  I took some self-defense classes in the old world but they aren’t terribly helpful for two reasons.  One is that shouting “That’s my purse, I don’t know you!” doesn’t do much good in the current situation.  Two, is that all those lessons were about how to escape and then run away from a larger stronger attacker.  What I need is advice on the best way to attack a smaller and weaker opponent since most of these future people are shrimpy and ratlike on account of malnourishment.  Where are those lessons?  Hmm department of parks and recreation?   

I decided that the best thing for me to do was to conserve my energy and work on my tan.  I was doing just that when Martialla crawled out from under J-Lo covered across the face and upper body with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle slime as she often is when she’s tinkering around under there.  I was supposed to be in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Four but Paige Turco scuttled that whole picture because of some contractual creative control she had.  I never got the full story on what happened there.   

I lifted my shades like the villain in an eighties skiing movie to regard her “What are you always slimed like Bill Murray in Ghostbusters when you go under there?” 

She did her best to wipe herself off“The biosludge they use to fuel these things is also food for mold, which grows under there, and slime drips off that mold.  I’m sure it’s totally fine and I’m not going to be riddled with tumors in a few months.” 

“Your imaginary nanobots should take care of that anyway.” 

“Indubitably.   Be careful with my sunglasses.” 

“I’ll buy you another pair at Sam Goody next time we’re at the mall.  Remember how you used to harangue me about tanning and how it was bad for me?  Well look at me now, without a base I would have been burned to a crisp here in the blazing sun of the future.” 

“I never tanned before and I’m fine.” 

I flipped her shades back down “Probably because you’re constantly covered in slime that protects you from the sun.  And you tanned at least once, I remember the director made you for Beach Bikini Killer Creature.” 

I felt J-Lo rock as Martialla climbed up and sat beside me “I don’t know why they even hired me for that.  I’m a stunt double not a body double, in a bikini I look about as much like you as a shaved orangutan.” 

“I couldn’t have said it better myself.” 

“You did say that to everyone on set.  Remember that time we found that porn movie your body double from Triple Indemnity did?  That was wild.” 

I snorted “We found?  I remember you coming to me with that little gem.” 

She was quiet for a moment before speaking again “So how are you feeling?” 

“Like I played twenty years in the NFL.  My wrist and hip are still bothering me pretty much all the time but all things considered not bad.  I don’t feel like I’m going to die anymore nor am I in so much pain that I want to die.  I don’t know what’s going on, because obviously it’s not nanorobots, but there’s something up.  I’m not a doctor but we shouldn’t be recovering from injuries this quickly, we shouldn’t be recovering from some of them at all.” 

She nodded absently “That’s good, but I meant more like how are you feeling mentally.  We’re about to go into a fight here and you’ve expressed . . . reluctance about that before.  Killing people . . . and so forth.  How’s . . uh . . . how’s . . . are you feeling about that.” 

“Don’t worry sarge, I talked to the company chaplain and I got my mind right.” 

She poked me to look at her “I’m serious.” 

I sat up and passed her back her shades “Serious how?” I lay back with my hands behind my head “You know the old saying there’s no atheists in a foxhole?  I don’t know about that, but I do know that there’s no point in naval gazing after the apocalypse.  Are you asking if I’m okay?  Of course I’m not okay.  Being in danger every second for the last however many weeks we’ve been here has made me hyper-aware of my own mortality.  A side effect of that is that I don’t really care what happens to anyone else, besides you, as long as it means that I get to keep living.  There’s nothing okay about that, but that’s what’s happening.  And it’s probably what needs to happen right now, what with survival and all.  Not so good on the set of the Full Monty Two, but par for the course in a real-life Mad Max wouldn’t you say? As a wise man once said, I’m not crazy, I’m just ahead of the curve.”