After the salvage op, Troy catches up with Amy at the head of the cafeteria tables that have been set up. Coffee is served without fanfare. Amy is conferring with several of her girls over a stack of papers and a working tablet. He doesn’t want to interrupt, so he sits and enjoys his coffee while he waits. The conversation seems to revolve around the power, and what’s needed in order to set up this place as a proper hardhold. When Amy has a free moment, she approaches Troy and offers him something from a flask. She’s back on her feet now, but she’s on crutches. She mentions that this was the nastiest limb wound she or any of her people have suffered that didn’t end up killing them. For a long time, she wasn’t sure if she was going to survive it.
She brings up the scavengers, and her interaction with Gremlin earlier. She asks him for his assessment, and he says that they’re no charmers, but they seem like straight shooters. She reiterates her concerns. He relays the information he’s learned about them, where they’re from (and how far they’ve come), what they were looking for here. He also tells her that Rebus was looking for a sit down with her. She expresses concern that it’s a trap, and he dismisses the notion. He asks if she wants to keep this place a ghost town and simply trade one set of ghosts for another, or if she actually wants to settle the place. She says that the other girls are very firm on the latter.
She asks him for advice on what to ask for when negotiating with Rebus. He mentions that they’re heading to Pensacola, and will be coming back this way, so if there was anything she needed from there, he’d be a good delivery boy. She tells him to set up the meet, and deliver her terms: she’s prepared to let him salvage anything he wants outside of the perimeter she’s setting up, and she’s happy to feed him and his people and gas up his vehicles when they pass through, but in return he has to agree to make deliveries, and she wants him to bring her two females of child-bearing age from West Virginia.
Samson is sitting across from Maude at the far end of the cafeteria table. She catches him staring at her pistol lying on the table. She snatches it up, gives him a glare, and stalks off. Gremlin sees this, but doesn’t have any insight to offer.
They see Troy heading past on his way to see Rebus, and Samson gets his attention. He asks Troy for his read on Rebus and his guys, Troy reiterates what he told Amy: They’re dangerous, but they’re not a threat. He tells Samson they he’s working on setting up negotiations between Rebus and Amy.
Samson asks about Maude. He says it’s clear that she doesn’t like him, and she seems to be close to Troy. Troy tells him Maude has no patience for bullshit. Samson asks how well she interacts with George. Gremlin interjects that says that the fact that George seems to genuinely believe everything they say is their saving grace when it comes to Maude. Troy advises Samson to stop trying to tell her what he’s about, and just be him, and she’ll see it.
Samson asks Troy if he needs backup, saying he doesn’t like Rebus or his men, and would just as soon kill them all. Troy says that’s not good backup. He heads off on his own.
Troy find Rebus and his guys in a temporary camp a couple of blocks down from the tower. Rebus is sitting in an ornately carved wooden chair, and nearly all of the men are whittling as they sit. Troy makes his presence known as he approaches, and the men fall silent. Rebus asks him what he wants, and Troy says he talked to Amy, and she’s agreeable to a sit down. He offers Rebus a joint. In return, Rebus has one of his men offer Troy a small bundle of tobacco leaves. Troy tells Rebus about Amy’s plans to establish a hardhold. Rebus says that Amy does not have the numbers to hold the whole city.
Troy brings up Amy’s concerns about the possibility of Rebus being a slaver. Rebus says he’s not, but admits to buying women to prop up their repopulation efforts.
Rebus asks Troy about his role is in this group he’s found himself with, asking if he’s their shaman. Troy doesn’t deny it. Rebus asks if it’s an obligation or if he does it for coin. Troy says he’s got a long-term contract.
Rebus asks if George is a man or a woman. Troy says he doesn’t know, and George isn’t inclined to volunteer that information. Rebus indicates that either way, George would fetch a high price. Troy is reminded of their interactions with Leon on the bridge.
Rebus asks if Troy sanctifies himself, and Troy says he’s an unrepentant heathen. Rebus has one of his men share a jug of blackberry wine with Troy, and the two of them share a knowing smile that Rebus doesn’t pick up on.
Troy says he doesn’t think that Rebus and Amy will see eye to eye, and he advises Rebus to politely decline to meet with her, continue on to Pensacola, and when they return, go around the city altogether. Rebus contemplates this, and he’s not happy about losing access to the city, but in the end decides to take his advice.
Rebus says he will show one of Amy’s people the tunnels, but only if Troy is present.
Samson and Gremlin hear Janus barking sharply, followed by a peal of female laughter. They decide to investigate.
In the lobby, they find George and Janus standing in the middle of a group of girls. One of them is holding a metallic rectangle that is colored a bright purple, and another one is wearing a pair of goggles that seem to match. Upon seeing Samson and Gremlin approach, George and Janus come bounding up. George says that Amy’s girls found a working node in the building. Samson and Gremlin don’t know what that means, so George tells them to go and check it out.
On the way Samson asks Gremlin about George’s clothes. Gremlin speculates on the possibility that George’s steamer trunk is bigger on the inside than on the outside, as they do seem to change clothes quite often.
The girls notice them approach, and Samson says that George told them to ask about the… node? The girl holding the purple rectangle says that after they got the power on, it just started up. Samson and Gremlin have no idea what she’s talking about. She offers over the goggles. Samson asks if it’s dangerous, and she says they might go insane. Samson volunteers to go first.
He puts on the goggles, and finds himself on a hill overlooking a grassy field. He is confronted by an armored man, armed with a scimitar, sitting on a horse. He instinctively reaches for his knife before realizing it’s not there. He can vaguely hear laughter in the distance. Samson reaches down for a rock. As quickly as he can, he attacks the man with the rock as he’s dismounting from the horse. It’s not enough, and the man lashes out with his scimitar, slicing Samson right across his belly. He scrambles to keep his guts in…
The goggles are pulled off, and Samson finds himself back in the lobby. The girls attempt to explain video games to Samson, without much success.
They offer the goggles to Gremlin, saying they’ve got just the thing for him, but he politely declines. He’s worried that whatever wonderful thing he sees in there will make him depressed to have to go back to the real world.
Amy interjects and scolds the girls for showing the game, calling it cruel because it’s an echo of something that was lost forever. Gremlin nods with relief, because Amy understands.
Troy arrives, and sits down with Amy. He tells her that he made a judgment call and advised Rebus to call off the meeting, given Amy’s views on slavers. She’s initially annoyed that he didn’t even offer her terms, but he explains that it’s not a fight worth having.
Amy asks if the attitude is wrapped up in the old man, and Troy says it certainly seems to be that way. He says she can afford to wait it out, and sooner or later Rebus will die, and whoever takes over will hopefully be a bit more progressive.
The conversation turns to the tunnels, and Troy explains Rebus’ terms. She tells him to take Guiterrez with him.
Samson reiterates his concerns about Rebus’ men, and Amy says she can’t fight slavery everywhere in the world. She advises him to take up the fight himself, offers him an old Pride armband, and welcomes him to the Resistance.
Gremlin thanks Amy again. She says that she wishes him well in his endeavor, but some of the things she’s had to do would turn his stomach.
Troy finds Guiterrez, and brings her up to speed on the tunnels issue. She asks what to expect of Rebus and his men, and he warns that they are a bit abrasive and they have no respect for women.
They discuss relationships, and it becomes very clear that Troy does not equate love with sex in any way. He becomes uncomfortable with the direction of the conversation, and quickly changes the subject.
They head over to Rebus’ camp. Rebus and Guiterrez give each other an appraising look, and he leads them in the direction of the entrance to the tunnels with one of his sons in tow.
Troy asks Rebus if he found the tunnels by talking to ghosts. When Rebus expresses confusion, Troy says everyone has their gifts, which Guiterrez takes as an admission that he can literally see ghosts. Rebus becomes suspicious at this, but Guiterrez is intrigued, and asks if he can see any right now. Rebus is thoroughly amused.
Troy brings things back on task by asking about the tunnels. Rebus gives him a line about not having traveled down all of them. Troy picks up on the fact that Rebus is planning on holding back on what he knows of the place, to try and keep some advantage for later. He calls him on this, and Rebus responds with bluster and bravado… until Troy hits him with the whammy. He says that he already knows the answers before Rebus says anything, and tells him to cut the bullshit. At that moment, two figures wearing Army uniforms and carrying automatic weapons approach, and tell Rebus that if he knows anything about the tunnels, he needs to tell them now. Rebus can see them, and it has a profound effect. For their parts, Guiterrez and Rebus’ son are both oblivious.
Rebus says they’re not supposed to be there, indicating the soldiers. Troy tells him to spill everything, and Rebus agrees, but implores him to make the ghosts go away. Troy dismisses them, and they continue onward.
They descend into the darkness. At some point, Rebus turns on a flashlight, and Troy can see railroad tracks running through the tunnels. Guiterrez recognizes it as a subway line. She tells them about some rich guy in the Day Before that said he wanted to build an underground train from one end of the country to the other, but it supposedly never happened.
Rebus answers Guiterrez’s questions about the various branches. Troy speculates on using the lines again. Guiterrez says it would be a chore to wire them up again, but Troy says they could rig up a handcar fairly easily. Troy consoles Rebus, saying that he doesn’t blame him for what he tried to pull, he likely would have done it too.
They walk down a smaller tunnel, with narrower tracks than the others. The tunnel ends abruptly with a wall that was white once upon a time, with red lettering on it: “Sea Wall Beyond This Point – Do Not Drill – Project C5”. Troy can see a radio handset mounted on the wall. Above it the wall is covered in graffiti from the Day Before.
There’s a ladder that Rebus says leads to the marina. They head up and find themselves near the warehouse Troy found earlier. They can hear the roar of the sea.
Guiterrez is satisfied, so they take the scenic route back. On the way she reminisces about the Day Before, when she had a job, a home, a paycheck, healthcare.
Samson doesn’t trust Rebus’ men, so when night falls, he sneaks over to keep an eye on their camp. About a block past it, he catches the glint of metal that tells him a sniper is camped out, keeping an eye on Amy’s camp. He makes his way to the building, hugging the walls. He enters the building, looks up, and can see someone dart into the shadows.
He speaks plainly, telling them that if they take a shot, they are committing their entire family to violent conflict, and many lives will be lost on both sides. He gets no response. He ascends the stairs, hammer at the ready.
When he gets to the fifth floor, he drops the hammer and draws his SMG. He starts to count. Before he gets to 3, George’s words echo in his head: Being civilized means you can’t shoot first and ask questions later. He puts the gun away, picks up his hammer, turns around and heads back down.# ontheroad