I had a feeling when I first saw her that following her was going to end badly. End badly for me. End badly for her. End badly for everyone involved. I also knew that I was going to do it anyway. She’s not like us. Some people say that she came from under the ground but I don’t believe it. No creature so luminous comes from dirt. I think she came from the stars.
I do want to be clear about one thing, I’m not one of the people that venerates her as a god. I was born an atomic bomb worshipper and I’ll die an atomic bomb worshipper. Just kidding, religion isn’t my thing, I’m not even from Bomb City, I just thought that would be a funny thing to say. Even if I was inclined towards religious ecstasy I know that Ela is flesh and bone like us. I’ve seen her get hurt, I’ve seen her fail, I’ve seen her be stupid, I’ve seen her die. Not her, but the other ones like her.
The Sisters will tell you that death is not the end. They’ll tell you that Ela is a great warrior and hero from ages past reborn to save us from the deadly menace of Duke and his Invincible. The Sisters have all kinds of songs (they’re terrible) and stories (some are pretty good) about her journey from the dawn of time to the modern age. Harrowing tales of battles long past and ancient monsters defeated and even tantalizing glimpses of the future. It’s going to be better they say. Which is nice. But that’s what people before us thought about the future too probably.
I don’t believe any of that and even if I had at first I couldn’t anymore after all the stuff I’ve seen. After you’ve seen heard someone having violent diarrhea in a ditch while you try to sleep there’s no way to think they’re a God-savior. I can see why other people would believe it though, I mean besides the normal reasons of desperation and hopelessness. She’s so tall and pretty, how can she not be something otherworldly? She’s not like us.
Plus she is amazing. She’s delusional and vain and a horrible strategist but she’s still amazing. Crossing the Burning Sands outside of Biship? I was there and I can tell you that feat was worthy of spawning a religion or right there. She never stops believing in herself and she makes you believe too. Even when we were dying and screaming all around her in the fields of Biship she never for a second gave up. I mean sure, we wouldn’t have had to cross those burning sands and die and scream if she was better at making decisions in the first place but people focus on the miracles, not the bad decisions that made miracles necessary.
The Battle of Texaco City, the Voyage of the Sea of Dust, the Crossing of the Mighty Colorado River? All the stuff of legend. I get it. I really do. I see why the Sisters think she’s an immortal hero or whatever exactly they think is going on with her. I see understand why she was able to gather a warhost and then lost it and then gathered another and lost that one too. She’s a natural leader. You want to follow her, even if you know it’s going to end in disaster.
Speaking of, for the education of future generations here’s what happened. The war went great at first. We had control of Interstate 5, we had Scrapper’s Bridge and Carburetor City on our side, she even convinced us to let those mutants from the Sump help us out and fight alongside with us. She talked about equality and happiness and friendship even with those scaly bastards and she meant it. Can you believe that?
We wrecked some Invincible outposts and then there was a big showdown, the Battle of I30N. We had scouted out an iron mine and a timber operation that obviously were crucial to the Invincible war machine. How did we know that? Because she decided that they were. And I will say in her defense that was a reasonable assumption at the time given what we knew about how many iron mines and large-scale timber operations we had on our side. Zero.
The Invincible may have arrayed around 60 war-vehicles against us and perhaps as many as 800 fighting people. Which seemed like an awful lot at the time. We won the battle of course because we were the good guys. We lost 50 vehicles and more than a hundred fighters, including such luminaries as Faimaden, Inchque, Ronicron, and Blowse, but we won. Even though Duke hadn’t even been there, nor, if you paid attention were more than a couple Invincible vehicles or those bumpy-headed bastards even there, all of which got away, a lot of people assumed that we had won the whole war.
That was the high-mud mark of our cause. After that it was pretty much one defeat after another, that’s the phase where she becomes more known for heroic actions like running away with only half the people following her dying instead of most of them. Turns out that up north Duke has a whole bunch more people and machines up north. Better machines. And weapons. And more people. And a lot more people.
It was a matter of much speculation where all that equipment came from. There were rumors of mysterious caravans from the east bringing advanced weapons and equipment for Duke and his war parties. No one ever found any evidence of them however. That would have been nice to know, and by nice I mean a critically important factor in giving us a chance at winning the war.
After a couple more battles it became clear that we never had a chance. We were trying to empty out the Dirty River Network with our bare hands.
And that’s how we find ourselves now in the friendly confines of the Murdertown Cagedome. Since we couldn’t win a conventional war Ela the Wise and Very Pretty challenged Duke to face her one on one in personal combat here where everyone could watch it go down if they were so inclined. Surprisingly he agreed. I can’t imagine that it’s actually going to happen, if this isn’t a trap at bare minimum he’s going to send a proxy in there to fight her.
Even thought he’d likely win the fight there’s literally no reason for him to risk it at this point. He’s already won the war. He has everything, why would he risk his life in hand-to-hand combat, even one that he’s very likely to win?
It doesn’t make any sense.