My new traveling companions endeared themselves to me in short order by butchering and cooking up a dino-horse that I clipped with the truck. It was one of the better things I’ve eaten lately and it only caused me to have horrible stomach cramps rather than turning me into a human volcano, which is a huge win for my life these days. The fact that they can more or less speak 20th century English and they think I’m a total badass doesn’t make like them any less either.
They said that their ancestors lived in a train that had a thousand cars and never stopped and no one ever left the train, like it was a bomb shelter on rails. I’m no post-apocalyptic survival palling person but a doomsday train makes absolutely no sense. I can’t think of a worse type of vehicle for the apocalypse. Maybe a unicycle. They said it was like Le Transperceneige but when I said that I had no idea what they was all they could tell me is that it was an old story about what they just said. Maybe in Quebec they thought that trains were apocalypse proof. Silly French bastards. I’ll have to ask Lucien about that.
Nonsensical origin stories aside once their forbearer’s super-ultra-mega train ran out of whatever it ran on it was also okay to be outside again, which was very convenient timing. A the thousand train cars worth of people came out and starting doing railroad shit and building a couple towns since you can’t live on a train all the time. They claimed that in their valley of railroad glory there was no access to the west because of the “mountains” and to the east was a vast desert that you couldn’t cross. When I asked them how they knew that they said that no one you tried ever came back.
“How do you know they didn’t make it across and whatever is over there is so awesome that they never came back?” I pointed out attractively.
I blew their minds with that shit. To the south there are a smattering of dinosaur riding “savages” that they don’t mess with and they had only had limited contact with the wooly robed nomads to the north until the Invincible started attacking them. They were enthusiastic about the possibility of other bastions of “civilization” existing that they could trade with. They started talking about the logistics of laying track up that way.
“Or you could just use motor-vehicles like everyone else. Or boats. Boats are big up north of here, what with the river networks and all.”
At this point they decided that maybe their trains run on water since they had definitely seen them taking on water sometimes from big wooden troughs sticking out of the side of towers. Which got them even more excited because if there were big rivers up there all that water could feed a lot of trains.
“Or, you could just use boats like I said, because that way the rivers are still there. I get that you’ve been raised to have a hard on for trains but there are other modes of transportation.”
They admitted at that point that they didn’t know what a boat was. I did a really great job of explaining boat theory to them, you’ve seen sticks floating on the water right guys, but they were still struggling with the concept that anything as big as what I was talking about could float. Which I admit that I don’t fully understand either. How does a nine hundred-million-ton battleship stay above the water? Because of the shape of the hull? The mind swims. Like you’ll need to do when the laws of physics realize that it makes no sense and ship sinks.
“So it’s like a train on the water?” one of them asked, I hadn’t bothered learning their names yet.
“Sure boys” I sighed “it’s like a train on water.”
I tried to get a sense of the military capabilities of the train people and their fitness as war-allies but they were strangely ignorant, I’m starting to suspect that they don’t send their best and brightest out on very dangerous scouting duty. To hear them tell it their people don’t have much going on beyond throwing arrow-spears at people and maybe the Railway Guards have some kind of nailguns.
“That makes no sense” I shook my head at them like a sexy but disapproving teacher “the engine of a train generates a tremendous amount of energy. Think about all the weight that it has to shift. If its steam powered like you said, can’t that energy be directed into a cannon or a pistol that hurls rocks or something? Not to mention you have cars, shitty cars, but still cars, the apex of your killing technology cannot be a javelin. How do you hunt? How do you protect yourself from raiders? How do you murder the guy who’s sticking it to your wife?”
They didn’t have much in the way of answers. Maybe their society is somehow less murderous than others. Maybe they’re just playing it coy, although if they’re putting on a stupid act it’s a great one.
“Like the Invincible, the weapons they have, don’t you have anything like that?”
“I don’t think so” the other one said “those weapons they use seem very dangerous to the tracks. We wouldn’t have anything like that, it’s very bad to damage the tracks that the train goes on.”
I snorted “Yeah, I know, that’s why trains suck, you can take them out with a crowbar if you have enough time. The Invincible have planes for god’s sake, they can fly over and blow up your stupid train tracks whenever they want. And what are you going to do then?”
Guy number one turned as white as a dead sheet that turned into a ghost “They wouldn’t do that! Would they?”
Simultaneously guy number two gasped in pain and anger “Did you just say that trains suck?!”