Troy finds Gremlin and Samson on the bus, passed out in the back after they installed the new clutch. He attempts to use Healing Touch on Gremlin. It does not go well. Troy inadvertently opens his brain. Gremlin’s eye snap open, and they’re not red. He reaches out for Troy’s throat, toppling him over and straddling him as he opens his mouth and lowers his head, making dry heaving noises. Troy is acutely aware that Gremlin is not driving, so to speak. Troy gets vomited on, but manages to keep it out of his orifices. He yells for help, and Greaser comes running, followed by his gang. Troy attempts to intimidate the virus, telling it that he’s a dead end. Gremlin stops for a second, smiles, says “I’ll take it anyway” and sneezes blood in his face, just before Greaser drags him off.
Troy races to the back and starts sterilizing himself, but realizes it’s already too late. He’s almost certainly going to have a fever, and he’s old enough that it’s not certain if he’ll be able to fight it off.
Gremlin comes to on the floor of the bus, with Greaser and Joseph holding him down. He asks what happened. Greaser says he had to pull him off of Troy. Gremlin asks if Troy’s alright, and Troy calls out from the back.
Maude arrives, guns drawn. Once it becomes apparent that no one’s in immediate danger, she approaches Troy, but doesn’t go past the plastic curtain. They discuss what to do next. Gremlin is against the idea of moving Troy, but everyone else is adamant that they keep moving. Gremlin relents, and Greaser nominates Joseph to drive the bus in Troy’s absence, and they load his bike onto the van.
Troy makes a show of going through the containment protocols to put Maude’s mind at ease. She’s still not happy, and stomps off to start up the van. Gremlin can see her speak briefly to George before she gets back in the van.
Gremlin goes to talk to Amy, who is waiting with several of her girls at a respectful distance from the camp. He tells her that he inadvertently infected Troy. She advises him to put a bullet in Troy’s head right now. Gremlin says he hasn’t given up on Troy yet. Amy gives him a bunch of maps and a tablet. He mentions the bunker up north, she says it’s about a day.
Gremlin approaches Maude, and offers to make the detour to the Army depot, but she’s not interested. In fact, she’s really not happy with Gremlin at the moment, so he lets the matter drop. He gets back in his car, and George asks where they’re going. He says west. He tells them about what happened to Troy.
The crew follows US 98 west, passing by lots of vegetation. There’s a thick blanket of kudzu over everything, including several large suspension bridges, one of which has collapsed. Beyond the bridges they can see remains of the surrounding city are also covered with it. Gremlin spots several bodies hung from the cables of the bridge. He figures out that they can’t have been there that long, as there’s still meat on them.
Greaser sees Gremlin slow down and maneuver around a large mound of kudzu, and he realizes it’s a tank.
In the bus, Troy is wracking his brain on a strategy for beating the virus. He begins scribbling a list of items he’ll need to construct an augury. Another idea he has is to try and bring it with him into the Maelstrom, and strand it there.
Amy’s crew contacts Gremlin over the radio, and advises him that they’re taking fire. There’s a bright flash, and one of their vehicles catches fire. Someone on the radio yells that it’s a railgun. Amy orders one of the jeeps to stay behind and assist the damaged one, and everyone else to move ahead, including Gremlin and co. Gremlin guns the engine and accelerates, and the rest of the crew follows suit.
Greaser figures out where the shots are coming from; there’s a ruined antenna on the top of a building about a mile away, and someone’s camped out at the base of it. He gives the signal to his guys, and they surge ahead of everyone else.
Gremlin slows slightly to get around the disabled vehicle, and he sees another flash lance out and punch straight through Maude’s van, which comes to a stop on the off ramp coming down from the bridge.
Troy can see all this from the bus, and yells at Joseph to stop as he opens the emergency exit in the back and runs toward the van.
Greaser and his guys are scrambling for cover. Greaser yells something at Tweeter, and then suddenly he’s flying through the air. He has only a split second to realize that his bike was hit by the railgun before he comes slamming down onto the pavement. The kudzu does little to cushion the impact.
Troy gets a little banged up on the way to the van, but he manages to get to the driver’s side door in one piece. Maude is not there. He sees her dragging her trunk out of the back, and he helps her carry it back to the bus. Once they’re aboard, he tells Joseph to put it in gear.
Gremlin slams on the brakes, throws the car in reverse, and backs up. He’s lined up perfectly, and stops with Greaser lying on the ground right next to the passenger side door. George is able to open the door and drag Greaser into the back seat (with some help from Janus). Gremlin puts it in gear and turns a corner to break line of sight on the tower.
George gets Greaser to to wake up. Gremlin is happy to hear it. He gets on the radio and tells Joseph to head for the building with the radio tower, as he’s figured out where the sniper is now as well. They make for the tower themselves, and Greaser is back on his feet, and pissed about his bike. He’s determined to make someone pay dearly.
Maude catches up with the car. Gremlin tells her where the sniper is. Greaser is determined to fight his way up to the top and make the guy pay for hurting his bike. Gremlin and Maude go with him. George takes the wheel, and drives around the block to make themselves more difficult to hit. Gremlin warns that the guy almost certainly has friends around.
Troy decides he’s not doing any good stuck in the bus, so he argues his way past Joseph and meets up with Greaser, Gremlin, and Maude at the front entrance to the building.
They enter the lobby of the building, there is no kudzu inside. They can see the elevator banks in the center, but nothing seems to have power.
They head for the spiral stairs and make their way up. Along the way, Troy can see specific spots where the heavy dust has been disturbed. He points it out to the rest of the group, and they use the foorprints as a guide to the safe spots to step on.
When they get to the fifth floor landing, they see a panel on the wall of the stairwell with a pulsing blue light. This is the first indication that the building has any power, as none of the lights are on anywhere. The sign next to it instructs to pull the handle to speak to emergency personnel. It occurs to Troy that when they get up to the top, they should figure out an alternate way onto the roof, if they simply open the door, they’re asking to get blasted.
They exit the stairwell onto the fifth floor. They can see the gigantic central column that houses the elevators, and can see several elevator cars at various floors. None of them are illuminated. The only thing that seems to have power are the strange panels that they discover are in each of the corner stairwells.
Troy takes another look at one of the panels, and discovers that the system seems to have been repurposed. Maude suggests that it’s some sort of signal. They decide to leave it alone for now.
Checking the elevators, Troy can see the buttons still have a layer of dust on them, but that the doors have been recently opened. They pry the doors open on one of them, and can see a steel cable that definitely has the look of being added after the fact. It’s shiny enough that they can see where it bends over the lip of the tenth floor landing and disappears under the door. They decide to head up to the 10th floor to see what’s on the other end of the cable.# ontheroad