Gremlin sleeps in his car. Troy sleeps on the bus. Samson still doesn’t trust Rebus and his crew, so he finds a spot halfway between the two camps, and falls asleep in a doorway.
Samson awakens in the middle of the night to hear a conversation between two voices that sound elderly. It seems to revolve around an argument about someone else that they know isn’t well, and that someone should call an ambulance. Samson peers out from the doorway, and can see two figures tottering down the middle of the street, still arguing.
Samson opens his brain, and it does not go well. He’s assaulted by a poweful stench, and is so distracted by it, he doesn’t notice the couple approach his doorway until they’re leaning in. The man asks him if he’s alright, but the woman raises an alarm by calling out “There’s a hooligan here!”, and it’s answered by a chorus of howls all across the city.
Gremlin and Troy are awakened by the sound. Troy looks out at the buildings around the block, and can see shadows swarming everywhere up in the windows, and is startled to see five or six kids inside the building next to the bus, pressed up against the glass.
Gremlin gets on the CB and asks if anyone else is awake. This wakes up George, who is also on the bus. Troy acknowledges Gremlin, and they agree they’ve got company. Someone calls out “the Chinese are coming!”, and that answers Troy’s unspoken question. Gremlin advises them all to stay in the bus, he’s going to warn Amy and her crew.
The elderly man is still talking to Samson, while the woman is yelling for the police. He loudly warns them to stay out of his way or he’ll kill them, and pushes his way past the two of them, and the man calls out “he’s going for help!” As Samson makes it onto the street, he can see several other figures emerging from doorways. One of them makes a beeline for him, a woman with long stringy hair, wielding a gun. He figures he voiced his warning loud enough for everyone in the vicinity to hear, so he moves to engage, swinging Delilah and connecting with the woman’s shoulder. He easily swats her aside, but not before she gets a very hesitant shot off at him.
Troy is looking to get to Maude, so he starts up the bus and starts to bring it around. George spots Samson out on the street, and they see him take a swing at one of Amy’s girls and possibly kill her in one hit, while he’s very nearly surrounded by dust people. He can see that Samson is definitely confused and disoriented. He turns the bus and heads to intercept. He can hear one of Amy’s roof crew on the radio, looking for confirmation to start shooting.
Gremlin gets out of the car and hurriedly makes for the lobby of the broadcast tower. He hears the crack of gunfire above him, and sees someone in one of the buildings across from the tower taking shots at the dust people on the street. He continues on to the tower, announcing his presence on the way in order to avoid getting shot.
Samson becomes aware of the bus approaching. He very narrowly avoids a gunshot from up above. Troy can hear someone give an order to close ranks on the radio, and Samson can see the lights of Amy’s vehicles all coming on, and they begin moving in to barricade the tower. Samson pounds on the door of the bus.
Over the sound of the rest of the chaos, Troy can hear a young woman’s voice from up above, yelling that she’s surrounded. He opens the door long enough for Samson to enter, and leans on the horn to attract the attention of the dust people. Just after the door slams shut, a crowd of them press up against the bus.
Gremlin can see that Amy’s girls are already aware of the situation, so that’s good. He can also see that a group of dust people are crawling under at least one of the vehicles being used as barricades. He yells out a warning about this to any who can hear. An amplified voice orders him to hit the ground, and he immediately obeys. A hail of automatic gunfire rages overhead. At least one shot comes uncomfortably close to hitting him.
Several of the dust people are clinging to the bus now, and Troy attempts to maneuver to shake them off. Samson tells George to get down, and he brings up his SMG to spray the windows of the bus. Troy attempts to stop him, but he’s not fast enough. Samson blows out the glass above George’s head, showering them with tiny glass cubes, and dust people begin to reach in through the now open window. In the confusion, he also manages to hit Troy in the leg. At that moment, they hear the autofire from Amy’s girls.
Troy levels his shotgun at the dust people in the window and fires, but not before one of them vomits on George. Samson can see George go down, and hear them screaming.Troy gets back behind the wheel and puts the bus in gear. He pulls around the corner and sees the new barricades of cars. Troy contacts Maude on the radio and confirms she’s alright, and aims for a small gap at the end of the barricade, intent on plugging the hole and gaining them access to the broadcast tower.
Samson grabs George and drags them to the back of the bus to get water to clean off the vomit. George is screaming the entire time. Along the way one of the dust people reaches into an open window and inflicts a nasty gash up his arm. He manages to get George to the back, and begins dousing them with water. Troy neatly inserts the bus into the gap (scraping a lot of paint in the process). He yells at everyone to get down, and Amy’s girls open fire on the wave of dust people coming in after the bus. Samson gets George cleaned off, but in the process manages to splash some of the vomit onto his wounded arm.
Gremlin can hear the sound of grinding metal, followed by another volley of autofire. A couple of minutes after it quiets down, he can hear Amy’s girls sounding the all clear. Paris helps him up off the ground.
Troy exits the bus, and informs some of the commandos that they have two exposed on the bus. They push past him onto the bus. The rest storm off to investigate where the dust people came from, and what brought them here.
Maude comes around a corner. She says that Rebus’ crew took off as soon as the fighting started. She mentions that they maintained radio silence the whole time. She speculates that they deliberately stirred up the dust people.
On the bus, one of Amy’s girls levels her gun at Samson, and says he’s the one that she saw attack Janine with his giant hammer. The others express confusion, as they know Samson is with Gremlin. Samson says he was defending himself against the dust people. This is enough to keep the girl from shooting him, but she stomps off. The remaining girls begin treating Samson and George, applying rubbing alcohol to the exposed areas. They also begin asking a series of strange questions, like “Am I pretty?”, “How many fingers on your left hand?”
Gremlin asks what happened, and Troy fills him in. Amy arrives, and says they have a situation. Janine was brought onto one of their RVs with a cracked skull, and she’s not expected to survive. She says that if Samson gives himself up, they’ll decide what to do with him in the morning. Gremlin says he’ll talk to Samson. He gets on the bus, and the girls give him some space, but warn him they’ll be right outside.
Troy confirms with Amy that no one else was hurt. He tells her what Maude said about Rebus’ crew. Amy expresses concern that Rebus is waiting for the dust people to finish everyone off, then they’ll come back in to clean up. Amy asks about Samson, and Troy relays what he saw: he concedes that Samson hit Janine, but he was getting surrounded by dust people at the time. Amy asks what happened next, and Troy says that he let him on the bus, at which time he opened fire on the windows, inadvertently letting the dust people in and exposing George. Amy says that’s mighty suspicious behavior, and asks if Troy’s sure that Samson wasn’t already infected. Troy dismisses the idea.
Gremlin asks Samson what happened. Samson tells him about the sniper, and how he took up a position to watch Rebus’ camp afterward, and then he got attacked by the dust people, and attacking Janine was a mistake. He hands over the rainbow armband, and says he shouldn’t be wearing it. He drops his weapons and asks Gremlin to get out of the way, as they don’t have a connection yet. Gremlin tells him that the Chinese girl at Betty’s was the first time he killed anyone, so they already have a connection, and hands the armband back.
Amy offers Troy an opportunity: if he and his crew abandon Samson, she’ll let them take off. The rest of the girls will consider them fugitives on the run, but they’ll have a chance to get out in front with a head start. Troy declines.
Gremlin approaches and says that Samson is coming out, unarmed. Samson emerges, and the girls lead him into the tower and up the stairs, and put him in an ancient boardroom. Before long, another of the girls comes in and treats his wounds. He asks why she’s treating him, and she says because she’s a medic, he’s a prisoner, and he has rights. He has trouble understanding this, but thanks her. They discuss justice, and the role of the strong vs the weak. He says that he’s lived a horrible life, but the more time he spends with Gremlin and his crew, the more he sees that there’s a better way. After she leaves, he conks out pretty quickly due to the narcostabs.
Troy thanks Amy for her offer, and heads off to deal with his gunshot. Maude approaches him and offers to help, but he waves her off. She says if the two of them took off by themselves, she thinks they could make a go of it. He asks if that’s even more important than Texas. She says if he was willing to go with her, she’d be willing to let Texas go.
Troy treats his wound as best he can, and catches up with Gremlin. He asks him if he’s still intent on getting to San Francisco. Gremlin says his dad gave him a key to a house there, and said his birthright was waiting for him there, and that hasn’t changed.
Gremlin is 12. He’s in his room. His mother is downstairs. He can hear his father have a coughing fit in the next room, so he gets up and heads across the hall and knocks. His dad is sitting up in the bed, and waves him in. Gremlin sits down in the rocking chair near the bed.
His dad tells him that he’s sick, and sooner or later, he’s going to die. He tells Gremlin that in the Day Before, he had another son, Gremlin’s half brother Johnny. He shows Gremlin a photo album of pictures of a young man in various attire, including a baseball uniform. He tells Gremlin that Johnny was in the Marines and went to fight in Pakistan, and when he came home he was sick. He went into the hospital, and didn’t come out. A few weeks later, a soldier came and gave his ashes to his mother (his dad’s first wife), but then another one came by later and said that they couldn’t keep them as it was not safe to release Johnny’s remains and took them back. Gremlin gives his dad a hug.
Gremlin says his dad didn’t talk much about life in the Day Before, but he did get a few snippets here and there. He speculates about heading north, to go around the dust people. He goes back to the Mustang and tries to get some sleep.
Once Troy is back on the bus, he checks on George. They say they’re not sure what they’re supposed to be feeling. He tells them to boil some water for tea. George asks Troy if he’s in love with Maude. Troy can’t understand why everyone keeps equating sex with love and relationships. He asks if George is still committed to their mission to save the world, and George confirms that they are, providing they survive the infection. Troy offers to make sure they don’t end up as one of the dust people; if they don’t survive the fever intact he’ll end it quickly. George says, all things considered, they’d prefer not to die at all.
They each admit they’re afraid of the other, for completely different reasons.
George says that they’re going to try to get some sleep, and asks him to retrieve their gun from the front of the bus. They admit they’re worried they’re not going to make it. Troy asks about Janus. George says that Gremlin should take care of him.
Troy awakens on the bus, before dawn. He can hear Janus whimpering, and George moaning. He enters the quarantine area in the back, and can see George is in the throes of the fever. He does his best to make them comfortable. George’s breathing is very shallow, and Janus stays by their side, despite Troy’s efforts to let him out to do his business. Troy goes back to sleep.
In the morning, Samson awakens in the boardroom. The sun is shining brightly. The guards have changed shifts, but there is some food waiting for him on a tray.
Gremlin awakens in the Mustang. He can still see clouds of dust on the horizon. He heads to the bus to check on Troy and George.
Troy asks if Gremlin had come across anything like a bus depot when he was out scavenging that he could scare up a replacement windshield from, but unfortunately, he hadn’t, but than doesn’t mean there isn’t something like that out there. They have a quiet breakfast. They are in the middle of discussing the Samson situation when there’s a knock at the door. Two of Amy’s girls are on guard duty outside, and say if they need to go anywhere, they need to be present.
Troy spends some time fiddling with the remains of the robot he salvaged. When he gets the skull open, he sees that everything is labeled, which is helpful. Gremlin asks what he’s planning on doing, and Troy says he wants to get control of it, maybe could be useful for security. He wants to install a deadman switch, in case it goes wrong, he can shut it down.
It’s around noon when Amy and a number of guards enter the boardroom that Samson is being held in. They lead him downstairs, through the lobby, and into a utility closet, and sit him in a chair.
One of Amy’s girls board the bus, introduces themselves as Marti, and tells Gremlin and Troy that Amy is trying to decide whether the hearing should be public or private. Gremlin makes a case for a private hearing, as a public hearing would be too chaotic.
Marti takes Gremlin to the tower, and he’s led into the room where Samson is being held. Amy begins the trial. She states the bare facts: Samson attacked Janine and killed her. She asks Samson to confirm this, and he does, but he states that the dust people were surrounding him, and if he knew who she was, he wouldn’t have attacked. He says that he had tried opening his brain, and was in a very confused state.
Dr. Kumar asks him some questions about opening his brain. He explains it as best he can. She asks him if he’s sorry for what he did, and he says he regrets it deeply. He talks about his time with Leon, being kept as breeding stock, as well as his time before that, when he was a killer and a cannibal. Amy asks if he had any sense of justice at the time. He said he considered his time with Leon as punishment.
Gremlin asks Samson where he was when the incident happened. Samson explains that he had taken up a position where he could watch Rebus’ camp, and intercept them if they tried to make a move on Amy. Gremlin is attempting to paint Samson in a sympathetic light by pointing out his actions to try and protect Amy’s crew, but Amy doesn’t see it that way, pointing out that he found a sniper and didn’t report it to her. Gremlin stresses that what happened was a mistake, and Amy says that doesn’t excuse the fact that someone has to pay for it.
In an effort to explain what Amy and Gremlin have taught him about trying to be a better person, Samson brings out the armband Amy gave him. The moment Amy sees it, she’s realized what she’s done: she made him one of them. She says that she can’t judge him as an outsider, and he’s free to go. However, Gremlin advocates for Samson to make some sort of gesture in the name of attempting to make things right with Janine’s friends and loved ones. Amy talks about the Quakers from the Day Before, and the concept of Restorative Justice.
Troy checks on George, who is now awake, but not moving. He asks how they’re doing. They says they can’t feel anything. Troy opens his brain to get a read on them, and they come up completely clean. He tells them they kicked it, they’re just hung over from the fever. They say they can’t feel their legs. He performs a closer examination, and George has minimal sensation everywhere below their neck. With his brain still open, he does notice a slight shower of sparks when they exhale.
He tells them they just need to sleep the rest of it off. Suddenly, he can detect the smell of another person in the area. He looks around, but can’t see anyone. Troy looks at Janus, who seems quite content, all things considered. He thinks the smell seems to indicate a male. He moves around the bus a bit, and works out that it’s centered around George. He reiterates the need for rest. George asks about Samson, and Troy says he’s standing trial. George says they’re scared that they’re paralyzed. Troy reminds them that last night they were scared of dying, so it’s a step up.# ontheroad