Built a little shanty by the Cumberland River

“It’s too bad we can’t document all of this.” Lucien’s voice was practically wistful “We’re seeing military history unfolding before us.  On the one hand we have a large number of actors that are reduced to pre-Roman styles of warfare, with some others employing a pike and shot combat doctrine, and then you have the Mad Max of it all.  It would be really interesting to see how this all plays out on a global level.  In these conflicts, I doubt that terrain and tactical advantage will end up being all that important strategically.  Control of fuel supplies will probably be the key factor.”

Martialla nodded in agreement “Refinement more than anything unless I miss my mark.  The raw materials themselves seem to be . . .

“Who cares?!” I shouted at them, I admit that I had lost my cool a little at that point but they had been whinging on about nothing for hours.

Lucien blinked “Uh, we do, that’s why we’re talking about it.  And future generations will want to know how . . .”

“Fuck future generations!” I would have poked him for emphasis if he wasn’t still recovering from when he was dumb enough to get shot through the abdomen “Why are we just sitting here, we need to move!”

“And go where exactly?” Martialla asked frostily.  “Why are you in such a mood?  What crawled up your butt this morning?”

I looked her full-on in her wide dumb face “I don’t know what it was, it was part snake I think and there was some crab in there for sure, and maybe some mongoose.”

Lucien winced and nodded “Yeah, I had one of those a few days ago, what I did is I . . .”

I glared at him “Shut up Lucien.”

His face fell “I’m just trying to help.”

Paul nodded knowingly and took out a broken rusty knife-blade out of his boot “What you need to do with those is . . .”

“You shut up too Paul”

He shied away from me like I threw a brick at his face.  That kid has some issues.  He’ll hack a man limb from limb at the drop of a hat but if I raise my voice to him he tries to hide under a rock like a lizard.  There were no rocks present sadly for him. 

We were on a hillside (escarpment?  Mound?  Something) overlooking Antolpe.  We never made it to Junktown because we kept getting driven off course by displaced violent plains people and Invincible war parties.  Even before we reached Antolpe it was clear that an invasion was in full swing, there were too many Invincible for it to be anything else. 

It turned out to be pretty easy to find Antolpe, we just followed the trail of carnage left by the Invincible.  Once we got there and saw that it was under siege that removed whatever doubt anyone may have had.  The Invincible aren’t fucking around. 

I think Antolpe is on the site of what used to be a trainyard, it has “walls” that are train carss set out in a ragged circle and then covered with dirt and scrap metal and whatnot.  I don’t see how you could move train cars like that without using train tracks.  Then again Stonehenge exists (or did anyway) so maybe they just dragged them there, doesn’t really matter either way, however they did they did it. 

None of the goat-horse-mole Antolpe people from the wrecked  caravan back West mentioned how big this place is.  By apocalypse standards it’s a freckling metropolis.  There may be as many as ten thousand people down there by my high scientific estimate.  The place is laid out in blocks like a real city, okay sure those blocks are made up of shipping containers and old buses, but they still have them laid out in a logical manner to create streets.  There’s a big empty area that I think is for some kind of sport or entertainment.

There was a fort/outpost of some kind off to the north of the city proper.  Lucien and Martialla agreed that it was meant to secure the river crossing.  When I asked them why that mattered, suggesting that you could just cross the river somewhere else and drive/walk on this side of it, they looked at me like I was insane.  When I reasonably pointed out that we got there without crossing the river AT ALL they brushed me off with some bullshit how I didn’t understand how difficult river crossings are for large bodies of people and equipment. 

My well-crafted argument of “I cross rivers all the time and it’s no problem, what I am, some kind of Superwoman who can cross rivers with superpowers?” fell on deaf ears.  Whatever reason the fort was there it didn’t do a very good job at forting because the Invincible were all up in that place and seemed to be using it as their base of operations for surrounding the city with their patrols and earthworks and mortars.  Martialla keeps calling their attack an “Investment” which is stupid because that means something else. 

Obviously I’m not a big military expert like the cold war relic Canadian guy who dug ditches for people to shit in back in the 70s or the retired Coast Guard pilot but it seemed to me like the Invincible were investing the shit out of the place.   They were swarming around the city like paparazzi swarming around a Jennifer Love Hewitt red carpet nip slip. 

I thought that running into Invincible patrols would make the Little No-Houses on the Prairie people peel off from us but there’s actually more of them with us now than when we started out.  We ran into little groups here and there intent on heading north for revenge-murder on the Invincible while everyone else is fleeing south.  They probably would have attacked us too if we didn’t have their kinfolk refugees with us already but we did so they didn’t. 

As I understand it a lot of the whalers of the plains are very sensibly running away from the Invincible to start new lives and/or starve to death to the south.  But these little clots of them have decided that allowing themselves to be driven off their land by the overwhelming power of a superior enemy means they’ve been disgraced and humiliated and their only possible path to redemption is to seek out the source of their dishonor and either kill them or die trying.  

As they tell it they’ve given up all their possessions other than their vehicles and their weapons (and their fur-robes of course) adopted new murder death kill names and left their families to cleanse their shame with violent battle against the invaders.  Although, what other possessions could they have had anyway?  Was that really much of a sacrifice? 

According to a movie I was in with the guy from the Highlander TV show (not the main one, the other one) people did something similar during the crusades.  Some people would get so pissed off about the world and it’s godless savagery that they took off their shirts and wandered around as hard nippled warrior monks seeking infidels to wail on.  

I gestured to that very gaggle of violent nomads who were in the process of throwing off their skin robe-cloak-things and getting good and liquored up on what I am pretty sure was literally fermented piss in preparation for their suicide attack on the besieging forces. 

“Look, there’s too many of us to just loiter here, there’s no way they haven’t noticed us and someone’s going to do something about it soon enough.  If we’re not going to join the suicide charge, and I’m good with not doing that, we need to get out of here.”

Martialla and Lucien looked at each other and then almost simultaneously said “That’s actually a good point.”

I punched the air uselessly “Why does everyone keep saying that?!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s