The crew has made it to the town of Alpha. Once they get inside the large piecemeal metal gates, the town itself is very reminiscent of old world America.
The vehicles are parked on a side street, and the crew can see that the buildings along Main St are the only ones that are actively maintained, the rest are in various stages of neglect an collapse. Gremlin notices two former schoolbuses, and an old Army jeep.
Kenzie approaches the group, along with a woman who introduces herself as Major Georgia Key. She directs them to get showered and submit to physical exams before they can wander around the town freely. The group is happy to comply.
They pass by a school, with an old sign in front: Maynard A. Smith Memorial School. There’s an explosion of childrens’ laughter, which startles Greaser’s guys. The storefronts along the street actually seem to be in operation. A member of the town militia, with a shiny chrome semiauto pistol on his belt, rides by on a horse.
Everyone heads to the clinic. The place is clean, but there’s no power. A young woman introduces herself as Dr. Swimming Fish, and directs them to the shower, which takes the form of a handful of delousing powder and a quick rinse. Greaser, Gremlin, and Troy discuss their plans, and agree it’s best to conclude their business quickly and be on their way.
One of Greaser’s crew voices his opinion that Maude is more trouble than she’s worth. Gremlin says that he made a deal to bring her as far as Texas. The matter seems to be settled for the moment, but will be revisited later. Greaser and Gremlin agree that they will need to deal with the Captain situation sooner rather than later.
Greaser notices that two of his crew, Mary and Sue, are keeping their distance from the rest. He attempts to read them, but it doesn’t go well. Mary misreads Greaser’s intentions and gets a little hostile, and declares they’re considering staying in town. There’s a tense moment, but Greaser manages to defuse it, and tells them to think it over seriously before making a decision.
After the showers, Dr. Swimming Fish gives everyone a thorough physical, one at a time. Greaser and Troy go first, as they both need medical attention the most.
The Dr. takes some blood, asks some very personal questions, and asks each of them for a semen sample. Afterward, they are given wristbands to indicate they have access to the town.
Gremlin asks about the Dust People. The Dr. says that as far as they know, it’s some kind of infection. She asks Gremlin about George, who seems to have wandered off. He explains that George keeps to themselves, and promises to wrangle them asap.
After getting their clothes back, they are outside when a couple of figures on dirt bikes come into town. They each have some kind of device on the back of their bike, with a long radio antenna, that they cart with them once they dismount and head into one of the buildings.
Gremlin informs everyone that George is missing. Gremlin and Troy are heading to the parking lot to check the cars. Troy gives Gremlin some advice about stepping up and being the leader of the group.
They are stopped by some of the locals, and warned they need to stay back, as two people, a man and a woman, are being brought out to a wall that was set up for target practice. Troy reads the situation, and sees they are Dust People. He opens his mind to the Maelstrom, and the woman speaks to Troy directly, saying that he helps them, they can show him something really good in the hospital. The man & woman are both shot in the head, and Troy, still in the Maelstsrom, sees starlight escape from the woman’s mouth and fade out it floats skyward. They get to the cars, and do not find George, but Janus is locked in the back seat. Gremlin opens the door, and Janus takes off like a shot.
Greaser decides to search around the school. He sees inside one of the classrooms, there’s a young woman sitting on a desk, telling a story to a group of about 12 children, ranging from 3 or 4 up to about 14. He’s caught up in the story, but one of his crew gets his attention and alerts him to the sight of George perched up on top of a building, taking pictures of the town. Greaser makes his way up to the roof. George is startled, but sees it’s just Greaser. They are a bit evasive, but adamant that they can’t comply with the town’s rules. Greaser tries to get them back to the cars, but they are spotted by some of the militia, who are suspicious at first, but George manages to talk them down. Greaser walks George back out to the camp outside, running into Gremlin, Troy, and Janus on the way. Janus nearly bowls George over. Gremlin is a little miffed at George, but Greaser talks him down.
Troy goes to find Kenzie, to ask about the equipment in the hospital. Kenzie explain that most of it needs power, and they only run their generators at night. He questions Troy’s interest in the equipment, and Troy explains that he is mainly interested in scavenging whatever parts aren’t being used. Kenzie asks if he can manufacture medicine, specifically antibiotics. Troy said it would take some time, and he’s not sure the crew is staying long enough. Kenzie presents an alternative offer, to leave one of the group’s women with the town. Troy says he has to think about it. He wanders around the rest of the town to see if there’s anything he can do to help with their power situation, and sees that the main problem is that they need batteries.
Gremlin takes a minutes to talk to George. He apologizes for blowing up at them, and they talk about the responsibilities of friends to protect each other. George is worried that they’ll be the reason that Gremlin and Greaser eventually have a disagreement, and it will end badly. Gremlin says there no use worrying about that until the time comes.# ontheroad