I looked down at the, uh what shall I call it, pile of pink and brown biological, uh material, that Martialla and I were standing around “Jesus.  What happened to her?  It looks like she was run over by a train made of running woodchippers.” 

Martialla looked around like maybe the culprit was still in the area and could explain what they did to her “I don’t know, I didn’t see it.” 

I frowned at her “How could you not have seen what happened?  There were only four of us.” 

“There was a lot going on” she said dryly, holding up a bloody shirt to the side of her rapidly bleeding head. 

I clucked my tongue “It’s a real shame, I was just starting to like her.” 

“Really/  You were?” she asked quizzically. 

I half-shrugged “Well, I learned her name anyway, that’s more of an effort that I usually make these days.  The other one, the one King Jerkface killed, she said her name was Skank right?  I didn’t just make that up did I?” 

She paused to pick something bloody and chunky off her shirt-bandage “Splanchnic I think she said.” 

“Well whatever, she’s dead now so I guess it doesn’t matter.” I studied her for a moment “What happened to your ear?” 

“Uh, the one that got shot off or the other one?” 

I sighed “I suppose this is the part where you lecture me about attacking without discussing it in committee first.” 

Martialla glanced over at Lucien, dragging bodies away from the airfield “We really should be helping him shouldn’t we?  Um, no, I’m not going to lecture you this time.  You can’t argue with results right?” She gestured to the remaining crappy planes sitting slightly askew before us “We just achieved air superiority.  At least until we find out they have a hundred more bases like this.” 

I raised an eyebrow “Well tickle my ass and call me Suzie, are you saying that I did the right thing?” 

She tied the shirt around her head, covering one eye like a pirate “The right thing?  What does that even mean anymore Ela?” 

She dropped her arms to her side like she was suddenly tired and slumped down towards the planes.  I don’t know if they were confused because we showed up in an Invincible truck, even though we had just shot down their friends, or what was going on, but the Invincible air corps was shockingly unprepared for us to swoop down and start killing them.  I’d estimate that ten of them were dead before they even knew what was happening.   

There were nineteen of them but there were only four of us, I’d expect a better showing from the side with a five to one advantage.  And Shwyrm didn’t even know how to fire a gun.  I suppose that’s why she got killed.  You can only get in close to knife so many people before your luck runs out.  I suppose that’s true of everything, not just knives to the ear.   

One of the bumpy-headed pilots blew up two of the planes once it became clear that they weren’t going to turn the fight around and win the day.  We’re not sure how, no one saw that either.  Nothing left indicates that the other four planes we now have are rigged to blow and the rendered animal fat they use for fuel these days isn’t flammable so who knows what he did.  We didn’t find any grenades.  We didn’t find much equipment at all.  This is the first time we’ve seen these bumpy-headed Invincible without good weapons.  Which means they actually don’t have unlimited supplies. 

I followed along behind Martialla as we checked out our new air force “First order of business, quick jump back to Paradise to see what’s going on over there?  Start coordinating our forces?” 

She shook her head “I don’t think any of these wrecks can make it over the mountains.” 

My jaw dropped “What mountains?!  The Rocky mountains are gone!  They’re like hills now.” 

“There’s mountains enough” she said disapprovingly “look at these hunks of junk Ela, even though I’ve seen it with my own eyes I’m not entirely convinced they can get in the air, or stay there if they manage to take off.” 

I gestured wildly to the west “But we flew over the mountains to get here!” 

“That was when we had a real plane” she said evenly.   

I patted the nose of one of the flying hulks “Okay fine, so we fly back to where you crashed the plane -” 

“That’s not what happened” she interrupted stubbornly. 

“- we fly back and we fix up that plane with parts from these ones.” 

She gave me that exasperating look she does where in her mind she’s an impatient teacher and I’m the slow kid in class “I’m not an airplane mechanic Ela, I have no idea how to fix a plane.  And before you ask neither does Lucien.  Engineers are not magicians, they can’t fix everything in the world, even if we did have the right tools.  Would you expect a podiatrist to perform open heart surgery?  Engineers work on different things, the word is not a blanket term for every piece of technology ever invented.” 

I stared at her “So what you’re telling me is that in the past few days we’ve found a helicopter no one can fly, a robot no one can turn on, and planes that can’t go anywhere?” 

“I would dispute that we ‘have’ the robot since we left it where it was, but otherwise yeah.” 

Leave a Reply