Since we’re dirty outsiders and I wasn’t in the mood to put out Peg-Leg O’Brien wouldn’t allow us to stay within the confines of Faketanktown. The silver lining is that she did favor us with a bucket of some kind of mush made from spicy nuts, bone meal & beetabegamatos that was pretty tasty by post-apocalypse standards. We snuggled up against the wall of old Russian vehicles in the hopes that would help ward off the bee-wolf-octopi that haunt the nights around these parts.
“The tank can’t drive” I said not liking the desperation in my voice “but the gun still works right? Can’t we do something with that?”
I could see Lucien’s pain expression in the dancing lights of the no longer Northern lights “Well . . .”
“No” Martialla interrupted bluntly “It’s a god damn tank. We can’t just rip the gun off and even if we could what could we mount it on?”
“I thought you were an engineer” I glared at Lucien.
“Not that kind of engineer.”
Martialla scowled at me like she does a hundred times a day now “Don’t act like she’s not being insane Lou, there is no engineer for what you’re asking Ela. It isn’t a Lego set, you can’t just mix and match parts. Besides they haven’t fired the main gun in years, those shells might not even work anymore, assuming that the weapon itself it even still operational.”
“How can you say that? Every car here is some kind of Frankencar!”
“This is different” she insisted stubbornly “this would be like trying to make Frankenstein, you can stitch together all the body parts you want but not matter how much electricity you shoot into the thing it’s not going to come alive, it’s still just a bunch of dead body parts. There’s no way.”
I pinched the bridge of my nose “I need to hear something good.”
Martialla thought for a moment “Sometimes, when I look at you, I think to myself that you’re so pretty I want to hit you in the face with a pickaxe.”
Lucien was aghast as I nodded “Thanks, I needed that” I let out a theatrical sigh “So now what do we do?”
Paul’s quiet voice floated up from where he lay on the ground with his feet crossed like an old movie cowboy. As per usual he was pawing through his tattered girly magazines.
“What we do now is we attack anyway.” Everyone looked over his way, startled by the rare event of him speaking without directly being asked a question by someone. “If we need to kill the base we kill the base. That big machine would have been good but it doesn’t work. So we go in and kill everyone the old way.” He patted his machete “We’ve been killing each other just fine around here for a long time without technology like that. What do we do? We go. Simple.”
Martialla sat up straighter “That’s the sexiest thing I’ve heard in a long time.”
I almost spit “Gross.”
Paul carefully packed away his precious magazine and did something her rarely ever does, he met my eyes “You think too much sometimes Ela” he said my name in a weird way that that sounded more like Lala “I figured from the beginning that we’d have to attack the place on our own. It always comes down to that. There are no easy paths. You want to go through, you have to go through. You came from a different world, things were more complicated, times are simpler now. The facility is a secret. That means it won’t be that heavily guarded. I can probably kill ten or fifteen of them myself. I’ve done it before. We just need a few more fighters and can win. Leave the rough stuff to Martialla and me.”
Martialla stood up and walked across to take his hand and they went off into the darkness to have revolting post-apocalyptic sex surrounded by giant crickets and bears with the faces of owls.
“I think that’s the most I’ve ever heard Paul say before” Lucien remarked.
“He’s a man of few words” I agreed “and terrible taste in women. What do you think of his idea, if you can even call it that?”
“That depends. We could just leave. We don’t have to do any of this. But if you’re dead set on trying to win this war then at some point you have to take a risk. We don’t have any advantages so we can’t play it safe. I don’t know about attacking this place with just the handful of us, but I don’t think there are any other tanks around. It’s worth going to take a look anyway. Paul’s right about one thing, the defenders are always at a disadvantage, they don’t know where we are or when we’re coming.”
I looked off into the darkness “Speaking of coming, right about now Paul. . .”
Lucien held up his hand “Don’t. Just don’t.”
I pouted at him “You are the least fun gay guy I’ve ever met.”
“I would find that remark offensive if this wasn’t the post-apocalypse and nothing mattered anymore. Gender presentation and sexual orientation are unrelated, and perpetuating the myth that they’re linked is unintentionally divisive. Exhibiting masculine tendencies or preferring masculine hobbies doesn’t make gay men any less gay.”
“But it does make them less fun.” I replied sourly.