Everyone is enjoying breakfast when there’s a loud crack and a boom. Everyone jumps, and a few of Amy’s girls duck under a table. It’s followed almost immediately by a onslaught of raindrops, and everyone relaxes a bit, but wisely all run for cover.
Gremlin sees Amy rolling up (literally) with her bodyguard Lysa. Amy offers to have the girls put up the big top so he can work on the van in the rain. As diplomatically as possible, she makes it clear that she’s eager for Gremlin and his crew to get under way, as they are starting to be a distraction. Gremlin says he understands, and is looking forward to moving on as well.
Troy works on setting up rain-catching equipment, and notices that the rain is slightly acidic. It will have to be treated before it’s drinkable, but it’s good for just about anything else, and the acid will kill bacteria.
Samson speaks to Gremlin. He asks about Greaser and the Lost & Found, and Gremlin explains what transpired. Samson says he feels partly responsible. Maude tells him that it was going on long before he showed up.
Maude informs Gremlin that she sees two vehicles incoming, both of them armored, and one of them has a mounted gun. He thanks her and advises her to stay out of sight; if it goes bad, he’d rather she had the element of surprise. He and Samson go to relay this to Amy.
In the lobby of the broadcast tower, Troy sees a couple of Amy’s girls getting into radiation suits. They’ve also set up some diagnostic equipment. He speaks to Patsy, who tells him they’re actually a little worried about radiation leaks, as the insulation has degraded somewhat over time. She asks if he can send word back if he comes across any radiation scrubbing equipment. They’re also worried that it might not be something they can get under control, and if so, that kills any plans of settling down here. She asks if it’s possible to scavenge some lead and rebuild the shielding. He says it’s a good band-aid, but they should make sure it’s only a local problem before bothering. She notices his prosthetic leg, and offers to have someone take a look and see if they can tune it up, but he politely declines. He brings up the diagnostic equipment, and she explains how it functions.
Gremlin and Samson head into the lobby and come across Guiterrez’s commandos, and inform them of what Maude spotted. They immediately begin mobilizing, and tell him to let Amy know. They find Amy overseeing some work on the stairwell, where an excavation campaign is currently under way. Gremlin brings her up to speed.
Everyone heads out to the road coming in from the west. They can see the two vans. The mounted gun doesn’t have a cupola, which seems to indicate that it’s controlled remotely. Samson stays close to George, who has taken cover behind a car. He takes out the strange SMG that he salvaged from the robots, and readies himself for things to go bad.
Gremlin and Troy accompany Amy and Lysa out to the scene. One of her commandos runs up to report. Amy tells her to get someone in position with an RPG, just in case. She then gets on the radio and tells the commandos to send “the prettiest one” out to speak the new arrivals. They can see one of the commandos, Olive, move out and approach one of the vehicles and speak to the driver. Then she turns around and heads back to the group. The radio crackles, and Olive reports in that they claim to be a group of scavengers, and they’ve been through here many times before. Troy and Samson express amusement at this prospect. Olive says the scavengers claim there are tunnels under the city, and that’s how they’ve avoided the robots.
Amy says she’s prepared to let the scavengers through, and they’re welcome to whatever salvage they can carry, but they have to stay off the main road, her girls will escort them out the other side, and they have to show them the tunnels. She enlists Gremlin’s assistance in parleying.
Samson is uncomfortable at being so far away. He tells George to guard his hammer, and moves in closer.
Gremlin, Troy, and Olive approach the vehicles. The driver is an older man, but Troy can see that the van is crammed full of younger men, all armed.
Gremlin lays out Amy’s terms. The driver isn’t exactly happy about that. Troy gets a read on the guy, and can tell that they are in fact here for exactly what the driver said. He also figures that what’s needed is a show of force. He speaks up and mentions that it’s a bit quiet around here lately, and how do you think it got that way? The driver puts it together in his head. Troy introduces himself and offers his hand. The driver responds in kind, giving his name: Rebus, Sr, of the Mt. Vernon White Men.
Rebus says that they’re interested in something in the marina, should only take about an hour, and they’ll be on their way. Olive radios in and tells whoever has the RPG to stand down. Troy stays with the men, but advises Gremlin to head back and work on the van, and Gremlin agrees.
When Gremlin gets back, George gets his attention and shows him their camera. There’s a slightly overhead view of Amy’s commandos, standing in formation in front of the vans. It resembles the V shape of a flock of birds in flight. With the exposure turned all the way up, the rain has blocked out everything else.
Gremlin explains what transpired, and Samson is deeply concerned, especially at the fact that the vans were apparently filled with armed men. He wonders what exactly they plan on taking with them and where they’re going to put it if both vans are already occupied.
Paris offers to help with the van, and Gremlin is glad for the assistance. She mentions that Amy is planning on dusting the scavengers as soon as Troy is clear. Samson is happy to hear this, but it does not sit well with Gremlin at all. As Samson helps put up the tent, Gremlin excuses himself and goes directly to speak with Amy.
He finds her back at the broadcast tower. He speaks plainly to her, and makes it known that relayed her terms in good faith, and an agreement was reached. She says in no uncertain terms that she can’t afford to take chances. Gremlin reminds her that she has spent a significant amount of time occupying the moral high ground, and if she goes back on her word she loses that. He also says that if they ever want to have a hope of bringing back some semblance of civilization from the Day Before, they have to reach out and trust someone. Her resolve breaks, and she concedes. She gives him her word that she will allow the scavengers to leave unharmed, as long as they don’t try to pull anything. He mentions that they said they were heading to Pensacola to sell whatever they find here. They come to an agreement that if the scavengers do end up playing dirty, Gremlin will make sure they’re dealt with there.
Troy discovers that the scavenges are in fact originally from what was once West Virginia. Most if not all of them seem to be related. It becomes clear that Rebus is the only one of the group that’s allowed to speak.
Troy asks Rebus about what’s west of Pensacola, and Rebus says it’s a deathtrap out that way.
Rebus asks Troy about the girls. Troy says they came across each other and had mutual interests. He mentions the bridge, Leon, and the tank. Rebus says he didn’t see any tank when they went through there. Troy says that they have Amy and her girls to thank for that.
Rebus is concerned that they’ll have to do this every time they come through there. Troy says it’s in their best interest to do so, as Amy is not anyone they want to fuck with, but she’ll play straight as long as they do. Rebus accuses him of being afraid of them, but Troy says he’s too tired to be afraid. They head to the south side of the city. Troy can see that the water is being kept at bay by a giant wall of debris. The scavengers make a beeline for a boat trailer, on which is a 40 foot boat that has been covered in camouflage. The scavengers get to work removing the camo and making ready to hitch up the trailer to one of the vans, while some of them pick through the remains of some other vehicles in the areas.
Gremlin works on the van. Paris and some of the other girls show up to help out, while George and Samson hang around. Some food is passed around, and Samson continues to save a portion for Janus. As he’s feeding the dog, he hears a click, and looks up to see George taking a picture of them both.
Samson asks George if anyone else has tried feeding Janus. George says that he’s really the first. George speculates that Janus, being a purebred Great Dane, may in fact be the last of his kind, any other dog they’ve come across is a mongrel. Samson says that Janus is beautiful, but he doesn’t find the mongrels any less so. George is surprised to see Samson looking at dogs as anything other than food.
Samson expresses relief that the scavengers won’t be a problem any more, and Gremlin comes clean and tells him about his exchange with Amy. Samson says it’s stupid to assume that the scavengers are going to play straight, and better safe than sorry. George comes to Gremlin’s defense and says that Amy is trying to bring law & order, and that means you can’t shoot first and ask questions later.
Troy spends some time scavenging near the waterfront, and finds his way into an intact warehouse. Inside, it’s mostly empty, but he finds some large spools of steel cable and rope. Beyond that there is a rack of ancient electronic parts. The prize is a pristine spool of fiberoptic cable.
Having found his prize, he waits out the rain in the building until he sees one of Amy’s vehicles come driving up. One of the girls emerges from the van, as does Maude. Troy strolls over. He can see that she’s spent some time in the rain; she has some welts on her exposed skin, and the metal of her cybernetics has some small rust spots. She asks about the scavengers, and Troy brings her up to speed on the deal. Maude is worried that letting them go will make Amy look weak. Troy says it doesn’t matter, and Maude says that soon enough it won’t be their problem any more. She asks if the railgun is working, and he says the power is the only issue. She asks if he ever gave anyone a present; not because he was trying to get something out of it, just to be nice. He reminds her that he’s given her a couple. She asks if he’s given anyone else a present. He says he’s shared a joint with Greaser’s guys.
Maude says she’ll be glad to be rid of the girls. She can feel herself getting slow when she’s around them, and she can’t get the story of Santa Claus out of her head. Troy asks if she has any family, and she says not anymore. He tells her about his sister, who was always a genius at manipulating him into doing what she wanted. She tells him about growing up with a guy named Flint, who told her that her parents sold her to him. He said that he was keeping her until she was “old enough”. He ended up getting shot by some crazy cannibal chopper chicks. She wandered on her own for a little, before Captain scooped her up, at around age 14. She says she thinks she’s about 20. She says if she has any family left, she has no idea where they would be.
She mentions how Amy’s girls keep going on about what things were like in the Day Before, she doesn’t think it was real, just a dream they all had. She admits to being a little jealous; at least they have something to hold onto. She doesn’t even have that. Troy asks her what she does have. She shrugs, and says that Gremlin’s an easy boss, but she’s had easy bosses before (though she says she’s not planning on double-crossing him). She says she expects she’s going to die when she gets to Texas, and that she can feel that Captain is not far behind.
The salvage operation wraps up, and Troy speaks to Rebus again. He mentions that he’s got some business in Pensacola, and hopes they will still be friends if they meet up again. Rebus looks him over, and offers him a job. Troy respectfully declines.
On the ride back, Troy fills Maude in on what he learned about Captain from Amy, about how he claims membership in the Immortals Club in Las Vegas, but that’s only because he was 1 year old on the Big Day. Maude is throughly amused.
Gremlin, Paris, and the girls get the van running, and there’s a cheer and a round of applause as the engine idles and doesn’t die.
At the end of the day, everything has been broken down, and dinner is being served in the broadcast tower. Samson asks Troy how many were in the scavenging party. Troy says there were about 14 of them. He gives his assessment of them: they’re hardasses, but it seems like they’ll play straight if you don’t try to screw them over. Gremlin asks what they were after, and Troy tells them about the boat.
Samson recommends that if they’re going to scavenge anything from the city, they should ask permission from Amy. If everyone has to do it, they should set the example.# ontheroad