On the Road: Session 24 (June 16 2017)

Everyone on the roof becomes aware of the temperature rising as a heat wave rolls in.

Gremlin asks Troy if he’s okay, as everyone just saw him vomit into a dead robot’s mouth. Troy says he’s fine, and asks about the railgun, and Gremlin says Amy’s welcome to it, but it’s big enough that it’s likely that they’d have to dismantle it to get it down to ground level. Maude claims one of the SAM launchers, and advises Greaser to grab the other one before Amy arrives. Troy gets on the radio and contacts Amy’s girls. They switch to a secure channel, and make plans to tow their disabled vehicle and Gremlin’s van, and everyone will meet up by the tower.

Maude figures they could probably break down the railgun and get it transported down to the ground in two trips using the window washer scaffolding. Troy takes a moment to marvel at it, and says that no one will ever make anything like it again. Some practical questions are raised about how to power it, and Maude suggests that they don’t do anything with it at all until Amy and her people show up, and let them do the heavy lifting.

Joseph and George get on the radio and ask if everything’s alright, they can see a fire on the roof. Greaser says it’s all good, he’s coming down. Troy works on dismantling the railgun so it can be moved. Everyone on the roof can see Amy’s convoy emerging from cover.

Greaser meets Amy and Paris and the rest just as they arrive in the lobby. He tells her about the railgun on the roof. Amy herself is still in a wheelchair, so she can’t go up, but she sends Paris and a salvage crew to grab whatever they can on the roof. She advises Greaser to head over to her command vehicle for medical attention.

On his way, Greaser passes by his gang. When he asks about his bike, everyone gets real interested in the pavement. Dale says there’s not a lot left. Greaser tells them to use Fingers’ bike and salvage what they can from Rosie. He reports to the command vehicle to get fixed up, and is surprised to find it has working air conditioning.

Gremlin and Maude are helping Troy break down the railgun. Gremlin asks him what happened with him and the robot. Troy tells him he can speak to the disease, and how he used the radio and the robot as an augury to purge himself of the infection. Gremlin asks Troy not to use Healing Touch on him again, for fear of another infection.

Greaser awakes to find George hanging out next to him in Amy’s mobile command center. They give him an object they found, a shiny purple thing with arms, that doesn’t seem to serve any purpose (spoiler: it’s a fidget spinner).

Greaser tells them that he has had some time to think about things. George knows what he’s going to say, and beats him to it: He has to leave. He says he’s not abandoning the mission; he and the Lost and Found will go on ahead and do what they can to make the way safe. George gets upset, and asks what they did wrong. When Greaser says it’s not their fault, George accuses him of lying. Greaser says he would never lie to them. This seems to calm them down.

George expresses regret for asking Greaser to kill Dr. Lee. Greaser says he’s not a good person, he likely would have done it anyway. George tells him to take care what’s left of his family.

George says they can hear Samson calling them, so they excuse themselves and exit.

Samson examines the religious shrine, and finds another book. It has different words in it, and there’s a multicolor image on the front page, with a pattern of stripes and stars with a man dressed similar to the robots down on one knee. He sets down his two skulls on the shrine, opens both books, and attempts to make sense of them, opening his brain in the process.

Gremlin is unable to block out the sound of Samson spouting halting gibberish in front of the robot shrine. He takes a break from helping Troy and goes to talk to Samson.

Amy’s girls arrive on the roof. After confirming that they’ve brought something to drink, Troy greets them warmly. A couple of them start poring over the power substation. Samson is acutely aware of George’s presence among them. He does his best to avoid George, even hiding behind Gremlin, but George makes straight for him, noticing the bibles and leaning in close. Gremlin can sense that Samson seems to be particularly susceptible to George when he opens his brain, and he’s starting to lose control of himself.

He successfully distracts George and manages to maneuver them outside. They get thoroughly distracted by the corpses of the robots. Gremlin explains what happened with the robot and Troy, as best as he understands it. He says that he wants to help Samson learn to read, but also warns George to be wary of Samson when he opens his brain. George asks Gremlin his real name, and Gremlin tells him. They manage to convince everyone to gather around for a group photo next to the remains of the railgun.

One of Amy’s girls approaches Troy by the railgun. She’s wearing a harness that has a robotic “waldo” arm attached that seems to operate under its own power. She asks him if he can put the railgun back together and test fire it, or at least prove the power works. She mentions the reactor, and he correctly guesses that they’re interested in powering up the town. She expresses interest in getting the elevators working, but he’s skeptical, as he thinks the robots have messed with them too much.

She assists him in putting the railgun back together. He’s impressed with the amount of fine control she has over the robotic arm she’s using. She shows him the induction pad stuck to the back of her neck. When asks if the arm is military, she says it was industrial, used for manufacturing. He asks if it could interface with an AI, and she says there’s no such thing. He insists that the knows someone who talked to one. He explains what he knows of ADA as best he can. She does her best to explain the concept of distributed computing, and the cloud. He says the pieces of the AI are trying to get back together. She says that’s a really scary prospect, because of what it might do if it manages to accomplish it. She finally introduces herself as Koh.

Gremlin approaches Samson after he’s come back down to earth. He warns him to be careful around George. Samson says he has no intention of hurting George, and Gremlin says he has no doubt about that, but accidents happen. Maude interjects and notes that Gremlin is technically her employer, so if Samson messes with him, she’ll have to kill him. Samson says he’s under no illusions that he stands much more of a chance against Maude than Gremlin stands against him.

Troy makes his way down to the ground floor on the scaffolding. When he gets back down to the lobby, he finds it awash in activity. Amy’s got one crew working on the elevators, another working on digging into the basement, and everyone else is engaged in an extended block party.

Paris approaches Gremlin, and after an awkward moment, they seem to be cool with each other. He accompanies her back to the bridge to assist with setting up the tow. When he sees what’s become of the VW van, he almost cries. The railgun punched a hole straight through it, and through the bridge below it. The shot started a fire, and that caused most of the cosmetic damage. However, the EMP killed the battery, and Gremlin confirms this when he attempts to get the engine to turn over. Checking the back, he sees the shot went through the catalytic converter as well.

Greaser addresses his gang. He makes his intentions known for all of them to leave the crew and go on ahead to clear a path for George. Joseph seems to understand, and says that the mission remains pure as long as George remains an idea. The rest of the gang sees the wisdom of this, and they agree to move on.

Troy speaks to Amy about her plans for the town. She points out that the robots held the place for 50 years, and they could do just as well if not better. He asks what she wants to do with it, and she says she doesn’t know. She mentions some possibilities, and says that convincing the girls to camp out in the town is easy, but convincing them to let others in would be a lot harder.

She tells him about how, in the Day Before, she started a band with her friends. It started as her idea, but as it evolved it became something more, and it didn’t belong to just her anymore. She says that the same thing has happened with her gang. At the beginning, it was a way to help women who desperately needed it. Over the years, it grew into something else.

When Troy asks what she wants, she says she wants what they had in the Day Before. He reminds her that time is on her side. She says she’d like to put a ship together and see what’s on the other side of the ocean.

Amy tells Troy that she and her girls don’t exist in the Maelstrom. Troy tells her about his experiences in talking to the disease. This intrigues her, and she has a lot of questions. He explains the difference in behavior between the disease in the Dust People, and what’s present in Amy’s girls (and Gremlin). He also explains how he beat his own infection.

Troy is of the opinion that the disease is sentient, but Amy says that the disease uses what’s in the host’s head, the older victims will tell people to call 911 (and she has to explain what that is), but recent victims won’t, as their minds have no concept of it. She tells him not to mess around with the disease; he might have fought it off once, but he’s still vulnerable to infection again. She brings up Alpha, he mentions Dr. Swimming Fish, and Amy says she knew her mom. He says he saw her in the Maelstrom.

They make a deal: If he keeps them updated on his research on the disease, they’ll pass on any info they pick up about ADA.

He asks a favor, and tells her to keep the railgun handy, in case Captain or anyone connected with him comes by. She warns him how well connected Captain is, but promises that they’ll make sure he doesn’t get past them. Amy tells him about Las Vegas, and how she met Captain there years ago. She tells him about the Immortals Club, a group of folks that survived The Big Day and all agreed to meet back in Las Vegas every year on the anniversary. Captain claims to be a member, but that’s only because he was born shortly before the Big Day, and was an infant at the time.

There’s some more back and forth on Troy’s purpose, again he maintains that he’s here to bear witness to the world’s demise. He says that he can’t afford to have friends or family. She tells him that the others think he’s their friend. He says that real friendship is dead, and that everyone is out for themselves. She says she’s sorry for her part in creating the world he had to grow up in.

George has wrangled the Lost and Found in front of the bus, with all their bikes lined up. They’ve set up the big camera on the tripod. They take a series of photos, and when that’s done, they take a seat on the trunk of Gremlin’s car, and pull out a piece of paper, and read the following (from Theodore Roosevelt):

“Let the man of learning, the man of lettered leisure, beware of that queer and cheap temptation to pose to himself and to others as a cynic, as the man who has outgrown emotions and beliefs, the man to whom good and evil are as one.

“The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twisted pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt. There is no more unhealthy being, no man less worthy of respect, than he who either really holds, or feigns to hold, an attitude of sneering disbelief toward all that is great and lofty, whether in achievement or in that noble effort which, even if it fails, comes to second achievement. A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticize work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life’s realities – all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part painfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affection of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves in their own weakness. The role is easy; there is none easier, save only the role of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance.”

Then one by one, they give each member of the gang a hug and a kiss.

Gremlin returns with the vehicles. Greaser approaches him and tells him that come morning, the gang is going to be taking off. Gremlin understands, and wishes him well. They shake hands, agree to meet up in Las Vegas, and they return to the party.

Samson circulates around the party, trying to figure out what Amy’s girls are all about. He’s not sure what to make of it all. They’re all women, in charge of themselves, no men around at all. They act like adult-sized children, but wearing military uniforms and carrying sophisticated weapons from the Day Before. One of Amy’s girls comes up to him and gives him a burger. He thanks her and finds a place to sit down to watch the proceedings.