Maximum Overdrive


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ff_nick2_icon.gif ff_nova_icon.gif robyn5_icon.gif ff_robyn2_icon.gif ff_ryans_icon.gif ff_silas2_icon.gif wf_squeaks_icon.gif ff_tay_icon.gif ff_walker_icon.gif wright_icon.gif

Scene Title Maximum Overdrive
Synopsis Taylor Epstein leads a group of strangers to see their convoy, but when personal grievances get in the way, the situation becomes volatile.
Date July 2, 2021

It’s snowing in July.

Of all the oddities at any given moment, this one hits the hardest. Temperatures dropped to twenty-two degrees from sixty overnight, leaving a fine coat of glittering frost on everything come dawn. An hour later, the expeditionary group from the Manhattan Pelago was disembarking from Delphi across the Allentown Strait to the first real mainland most of this group had ever seen.

What passes for the mainland west of Delphi is a stretch of metal salvaging operations and fishing boats up and down the coast. Teams of salvagers work at stripping usable metal from the rusting hulks of beached aircraft and ships. The bloom of cutting torches, roar of saws, din of hammers, and barking of guard dogs fills the air. The stench of crude oil and diesel fills the air, some of which spills from the split bellies of salvaged ships, others from storage containers kept away from the salvage yards.

It is the closest thing Delphi has to a suburb, and its people are as hardy as they are standoffish. Bundled in layers of winter clothes against the snap freeze, they work tirelessly to complete essential salvage that helps keep Delphi running. The scrapyard runs day and night, rain or shine.

Or in this case, even in the middle of the snows of summer.

Delphi Scrapyard
The Mainland

July 2nd
7:12 am

Tay Epstein leads his convoy on foot through the noise of the salvage yards, away from the harbor they landed in, to what resembles a pre-apocalypse junkyard surrounded by the skeletal remains of suburban homes. It’s impossible to tell what part of Pennsylvania this must have been before the end of the world, nor does it matter anymore.

At the edge of the scrapyard are rows of rusted cars without wheels or windshields, stripped of every piece of metal that still has value. Some of them look to have been pulled from the ocean, studded with barnacles as they are. Tay walks past them, his breath visible in the freezing cold air, cheeks red from the bitter morning wind.

Up ahead, vehicles of a different kind set in a row like a line of ducks. It’s a motley bunch, ranging from small pickups, a hummer, an ambulance, even an old school bus. The most impressive of the vehicles is a semi truck attached to a tanker trailer sitting in the middle of the group.

On approach, Tay is intercepted by a wiry man in a patched up parka with a furry winter hat. They meet amicably and greet each other with relaxed posture, at which point the man in the furry hat looks back at the larger group coming up the frosted footpath. He and Tay part ways, and Tay walks back to meet the main group in front of the vehicles.

“This is it.” Tay says, spreading his arms out to the side. It’s halfway been an apology and a boast. “Seven vehicles, fully functional to the best anybody can manage. Most of them were pulled from deeper inland.”

It’s about now that the group notices Hart didn’t come over with them, and when she emerges from the schoolbus, adjusting her too-thin jacket against the cold, it’s with a bright smile. Tay looks back at her, gesturing for her to join the group, then turns back to them.

“Hart’s been helping me clean them out. They’re still a little bit of a mess, need bedding, food, water, supplies. But that’s where we’re all gonna work together, moving the supplies we picked up in the Pelago here.”

“When everybody’s ready I can give a tour of the vehicles, walk you through what we figured out!” Hart calls out, loud enough to make sure those at the back of the group can hear her clearly. “We’ve only got so much seat space per vehicle, so everybody’s going to need to figure out where they’re going to be.”

Tay rests his hands on his hips, looking at the small group that initially hired him back in the Pelago. There’s still worry in his eyes about the journey, but less than before.

Monica can't help but quirk a smile at the collection of vehicles. She's impressed— it isn't easy to find one vehicle these days, let alone a proper fleet. She approaches the school bus, gloved hand running along the hood before looking up at Hart. "They're beautiful," she says brightly, as if someone were showing her a luxury sports car instead of Mad Max: Winter Edition. But maybe Mad Max is just her vibe. "I can help with maintenance," she adds, because she's used to the idea of making herself useful. That was true before the end of the world, too. "And we'll have Marlowe look them over, shore them up, add armor."

Not everyone can volunteer Queen Lowe for work, but she seems to think it'll be fine. Perhaps she means to ask more politely later.

Meanwhile, Nathalie LeRoux isn't looking at the convoy, she's watching the snow fall into her open palm. It's cold, and she'll put her gloves back on soon, but at the moment, she doesn't seem to notice. Snow is a relic of an old, dead world, something she didn't even know she had relegated to Things Long Past until she saw it here in the Delphi. The shake running through her is only partly due to the weather, the rest is from memory she'd rather stay buried. No use remembering the good times when the best they can hope for these days are tolerable times.

Erin Gordon, too, is holding out one blistered palm and watching the snow fall into it. It almost stings, a little, with every little flake, the cold with the warm and the reaction making water. A childlike instinct to lick it out of her hand grows and ebbs, for it is July, and this is not a commercial for a car dealership trying to make Black Friday sales in the middle of summer, and she knows not what this snow is made of. Bodies? Acid rain? That weird papercraft that production companies used to create the illusion of snowfall on movie sets? Seriously, anything is possible in this world. Perhaps it’s even an effect from the Great Lakes, such as they are. She pulls her flannel jacket tighter. Colin snaps his muzzle in an attempt to catch the flakes, a playful boy not-quite-oblivious to the oddity of their current stage.

“I’m not really handy with cars, I’ll tell you that.” She says with a crooked smile. “I’m sure they’re easier than boats, but to be honest with you I had to take my own car to the mechanic for everything other than oil changes. So if you need someone to change the oil, that’s about as far as I can go.”

Thin lips press tight at the sight of the vehicles, but Benjamin doesn't complain. He only moves to pop open the hood of one of the cars to get a better look at what they’ve to go work with.

W H O A! We’re taking those!?”

That is the response from JR who has been looking at the hunks of metal with a slack jaw. For the youngest Ryans, cars were only things in books. To him these were the coolest things. Folding his tall, lanky frame down to the level of one of the windows, he leans in to get a better look at all the buttons and levels.

“So cool!” JR sounds awed at the junkers, reaching for a dial and turning it. He grins at the clickiness of it, even if it doesn't do anything.

Almost on cue…

“Don’t touch anything,” Ryans automatically warns his curious son, while the elder traces wires and frowns. He looks unhappy, but resigned to what they have, even as he brushes a rats nest off the top of the battery.

Undeterred, JR asks, casting a look over his shoulder at the adults. “Can I learn to drive one?”

Bundling up in her coat, Nadira's eyes scan the frost-covered ground with interest. For a moment or two, that's all that captures her attention until she remembers that there are people she should be focusing on. Lifting her head, she glances about to the others before she looks over the vehicles. "I cannot say I have ever traveled in something like this, but new experiences can be good."

By Nat, Chess looks less impressed by the snow and by the vehicles; a ski cap is pulled down over her hair and her hands are pushed deep in the pockets of her leather jacket. Any shivers from her are on account of being cold and damp. A bag with her very few belongings leans against her leg for the time being; on her shoulder, the bow and quiver she’d gotten from Lowe and supplemented with trades at the rat market.

Long ago, in another world, she’d crossed half of the country with about as much. But this trip is longer and its success means life or death – not just for herself, but for an entire world.

“They’ll do,” she says simply.

In contrast, Nova looks as thrilled as Junior. “A school bus!” she exclaims. “I haven’t seen one of those since I was a little kid.” To the young man, she adds, “I’ll teach you, if nobody minds. It’s not hard.” She glances over at Ben Sr. at that – he might mind. Or the designated drivers of the vehicles. It’s a big if but she’s willing to cajole someone into letting them try.

“If not, I’ll show you when we get to Anchor,” Nova says, with all the confidence they will make it. If her optimism was enough to determine their fate, it would be a given.

Nick’s already at work, cleaning out some debris from the back of one of the vehicles so it can be stocked with their own supplies and people. “Hope you lot all had your tetanus boosters done before you get into these rust buckets,” he says wryly – he knows no one from his world has, but the Travelers may have had that foresight.

"I never learned to drive, but I'm willing to learn now!" Kendall, no. You are not going to have people's lives in your hands.

He regards the vehicles even as he shivers and rubs his hands together, glancing up at the sky just in time for a flake to fall in his eye. He swipes it out of his eye with a scowl, then a hat appears on his head with ear flaps, kind of like a deerstalker, because why not? "Hope the terrain isn't too bad." he adds, eying the school bus doubtfully.

Asi's glad she brought her Alaska-ready clothes with her, with the way this weather's changed. She trudges into the scrapyard, heels of her palms scrubbing against the thigh of the thick coveralls she wears over warmer, softer clothing. Traces of neon dance in her pupils, seagreen and bright. It's instinct– reaching out for the signals of electric life behind them in the city that grows even farther with each step.

She knows not to get used to it. To get accustomed. To long for it.

She does anyway.

Hart's warning drags her back to the present well enough, though, and in the news that they're going to need to divide themselves into groups, her eyes go first to her crew. She looks first to Monica, nodding confidently that she'll be fine where she is. Next to Eve– then quickly on, because that isn't actually Mad Eve– and she ends up at Silas. He can look after himself just fine, she's sure and she knows, but her steps begin to angle the direction he wanders anyway.

Not Mad Eve is occupied with her back turned, "You!" To a nearby pigeon, "Have you seen Bean? A small loveable turtle, he loves bananas." Wrapped in some well worn winter coat with fur on the hood from Mad Eve. After a moment she either received the answer she wanted or (she didn't) something else because she's then poofing out of existence and floating upwards and around the assembled fleet of vehicles. This whole area, the smells, the sounds. It all brings her back to home and her father, her roots.

"Ooh aren't you a lovely thing." Whispering as she materializes leaning against the school bus. A good way to hide how it taxes her physical form to traverse in her incorporeal one. Eve's pale hands drag over the cold metal and she shivers in delight. Eyebrows ticking upwards she nods to Monica and dances over to the other vehicles, her boots crunching in the snow as she starts to open the hoods.

"I see… I see." Sticking her nose close to the wires and engines. "Oh you don't say!" To the ambulance. Rummaging around in her bra she produces a joint and swiftly lights it while eyeing the hummer up and down. What a fancy bitch. "I'll need a rack of tools and a blow torch, I'll tune these babies up so good you'll be able to take them to great big void and back! Give them the ol' Mas spit and shine!" Cackling softly Eve takes a drag and blows the smoke upwards.

An idea strikes her in this very moment and everyone that knows her, knows to be wary of a moment like this. "Richard!" Turning crimson glowing eyes to her frenemy, "We should grab window seats for easy access, best to have extra eyes around us hm?" Eve doesn't look at Natalie but her meaning is clear, better to have one of their own also patrolling the skies.

"We fly!"

“Eve, I can’t fly,” is Richard’s tired response to Eve’s declaration, one hand coming up to rub over his face for a moment. It’s too early for her today, his tone and expression both say, “And try not to blow up our rides before we get to where we’re going, alright?” The dark glasses are slid back up over his face after he’s said that, and he takes a step to get a better angle at looking over the convoy.

"Not with that attitude, sailor!" Eve calls over her shoulder while snickering softly.

He nods once to himself, then nods again in approval, glancing over to Tay, “…well, it’s not a fleet of limos, but it’ll probably hold up a hell of a lot better than they would. Better than I expected, Epstein. I’m impressed.”

Hands tuck back into the pockets of his bomber jacket against the cold, “A tour sounds good to me.”

Elliot's attention moves from vehicle to vehicle as he stands at the bank of the group, settling on a can of what looks like functional communications equipment. Intact, at the very least. He could be useful there, though his usefulness is transmittable.

His dissatisfaction with the cold and snow are at wear with his annoyance at Wright, who taunts him from Washington KC. "God," she says, stretching in the sunlight. "It's perfect swimming weather today. Might hit up an outdoor pool. I can't believe it's going to be this nice all week."

"Not on your life, kid." This, directed at Kendall as Robyn Quinn slips past him, eyes scanning over the various vehicles with a steady, appraising gaze, hand to her chin and and everything. She seems largely unbothered by the snowfall - everything else is weird and off center lately, why should the weather be any different?

"I can drive, if we need it," she offers with a glance over to Tay, one eyebrow raised in curiosity. "Maybe help a bit with maintenance too. I had to handle a lot of different jeeps and trucks during…" She pauses, trying to think of the right words. "During an old job I worked," she settles on in probably the most euphemistic way she could refer to gun running and people smuggling during the war.

Zee, on the other hand, has been quiet since joining the rest of the group - even more quiet than usual. Despite that, she shows a clear sense of wonder over the extremely out-of-season snow falling from the sky around them, hands out and palms open as she catches some of the snow within, and then laughs before falling silent once more.

"They're a bit overrated," she says in a hushed voice as she sidles up beside Nova, someone she still hasn't made the attempt at speaking to despite having every opportunity to seek her out over the last week. "School buses. I used to hate riding them." She frowns for a moment, before looking over at her and mustering a wide smile. "But maybe this'll be a lot better! More fun people, at least!"

Destiny meanders her way through the knot of travelers, weaving between the vehicles to peer at each one. Her eyes settle on Eve for a moment, a small smile forming as she sees her getting excited about their prospects. “The smell of motor oil still makes me think of Uncle Eric,” she admits, quietly enough to avoid being disruptive of her cousin’s study.

The little blonde is dressed for the weather, having had a cache of warm clothes for cold sea winds already. Her hands are shoved into a pair of mittens, a fur-lined hat pulled down over her ears. For a moment, she tips her head back, looking up at the wintry precipitation and feeling a sense of wonder about it, even if the time of year is entirely wrong for it.

It’s like being in a snow globe.

By her side, Ace walks with only his eyes turned up to the sky, hands shoved deep in pockets, shoulders hunched up. As much as he tries to keep it to himself, his breath comes out in a cloudy shiver. He hates the cold nearly as much as it hates him. At least they have work at hand to distract him, potentially. "Whichever one of these has working heat; that's my vote," he says quietly enough. It's meant for Destiny alone.

Gracie chuckles to herself, shaking her head. “’Lot better than the Geo Metro I traded away when I got to Delphi,” she asides to Elliot as she comes to stand at a lean near him, and rolls her eyes. How far must she have driven that thing?

"Snow in summer," Silas murmurs to himself, looking up at the sky and shaking his head for what is probably the seventeenth time now. Not just snow in summer, snow in July. It's weird, even for Delphi. At least he's got his coat.

Silas eyes the assembled vehicles, his gaze eventually falling on the school bus. That's where the greatest number of passengers are going to be. Probably where an old salt could do the most good, he reflects, one corner of his mouth quirking up in a wry grin. But… a school bus. Of all things.

Hart starts to step forward toward Eve and Tay taps a hand on her shoulder. “Don’t give her any tools,” he leans in and says to her. Hart glances at Eve, then Tay, and flashes him a nervous smile.

“Do you want to try telling Mad Eve no?” Hart says quietly to Tay, through her teeth, while forcing a smile. Tay doesn’t answer, just turns his attention to the group.

“Eyes front!” Tay shouts, swirling one hand in the air as he turns from the group and walks to the rear vehicle in the parked convoy, a blocky six-wheeled vehicle with a cargo mesh on top. It’s the only European vehicle among the collection and its design is largely unfamiliar to the group gathered.

“This is a 1977 Steyr-Puch Pinzgauer 6x6 hauler,” Tay says, slapping the side of the large vehicle. “This one’s been modded as a sleeper transport, enough room to sleep twelve. But it won’t be comfortable.”

“We’re calling it the Wildcat!” Hart exclaims, clutching a notebook to her chest while beaming broadly.

Tay exhales a sigh and nods. “Yeah we’re— Hart’s given them all call signs.”

“Nicknames.” Hart insists out of the corner of her mouth. Tay does not have the fortitude to protest further.

“Leave my name out of this,” Nick says jovially.

Anyway,” Tay says, walking the length of the vehicle. “The… Wildcat sleeps twelve. Up front,” he says, opening the driver’s side door, “it’s got room for a driver and passenger. Fair to say that whoever is doing driver duty gets a bunk, same with copilot.” He says of the passenger. “It might look intimidating, but it drives a lot like a camper. Long, unwieldy. It’s a right-side drive, too. Stick shift.”

“What’s a… stick shift?” JR asks cluelessly.

Tay walks to the front of the vehicle. “Engine’s in the back, so if for whatever fucking reason you need to ram your way through something, do it front on.” Which is to say don’t do that with a vehicle with the engine in the front.

“We’re gonna lash a good chunk of our supplies on the roof of this one since we have some cargo webbing. Folks using the bunks will be responsible for maintaining the supplies, checking the webbing, and keeping the sleeper clean. These are the only beds we have that aren’t either tents, sleeping bags, or benches on the bus. So we’ll be rotating people in and out of the sleeper. Priority goes to drivers.”

Tay steps away from the Wildcat, looking at the group.

In Elliot’s shadow, as Elliot’s shadow, Squeaks does a right and fair job of mirroring his scrutiny of the vehicles. Except she has her hands tucked into her armpits and her pack hangs a lot lighter from her shoulders — every spare piece of clothing she brought is now being used way sooner than planned as extra layers added as the chill became more… chilly.

The red headed teenager shuffles a couple steps forward, out of the shadow about the same time that Tay starts introducing everyone to the transportation. She stamps her feet, while tossing a wondering look at the Wildcat one. But it's short lived. Three seconds later she lifts a look up to Elliot then follows his study to the communications van thing.

The banter between Tay and Hart brings a slight smile to Richard’s lips, a private little sound of humor escaping on a breath. He turns his head away from the ‘Wildcat’ to look over at the others, taking note of who’s standing with who. Gracie over with Elliot and Squeaks, Destiny with– the smile fades a bit there– Ace. Ben with his kid, Nat and Chess…

He shakes his head slightly at some thought, and then he looks back over to the vehicle and the man showing them off, “Sounds good. Been awhile since I’ve been behind the wheel off-road but I’m sure it’ll come back to me pretty quick, whichever vehicle need an extra driver.”

Tay glances at Richard, then shakes his head. “If we have to go too far off-road we’re already fucked. I’m keeping this trip to the highways and byways as much as I can, otherwise we’ll never get to the Anchor. Most of these babies aren’t made for off-roading.”

When Hart mentions Mad Eve, Monica hesitates only a beat before she grins over at her. "But we're all mad here," she says with a gesture to the group, "didn't you know?" She reaches an arm over to drop around Eve's shoulders. "I'll hold onto the tools for us two, how about that?" It's a way to reassure those worried about Eve's… whole deal. A routine she's used to, even if her practice was with a different version of the woman. An Eve is an Eve. "And I'll hop on one of the rides that might need a last line of defense. Med supplies, food, fuel, that sort of thing."

"Speaking of defenses," Nat looks between Tay and Hart, her arms folding against the cold, "do we have any?" A convoy like this would be a tasty snack to any and all scavengers they get anywhere near. And it's a long drive. "Or do we need to barter for whatever we can from Delphi before we go? You know, in case we need to fire off a broadside or something."

She probably doesn't literally mean cannons. Although, if they were available, she might.

“Exactly what I’m here to help with.” Did someone say defenses? “It’s been an age since I’ve been this far inland but guns are always the same, hm?” Huruma is the source of gaming commentary, descending from the back of a currently unintroduced truck, shed of sea gear in favor of a more bulky coat. As always, her off-arm ends in the twining shape of a pronged hook, brassy and already lined with a saltwater patina.

“At least as far as I’m needed, I ought to say… “ Pale eyes travel up and across the tethered convoy before she falls into line nearby Nat, gaze resting between Tay and the rest. Something in Huruma’s expression proves obscure if not unreadable. “I’m figuring that I should keep to a primarily lookout role from here, if it is all the same to you.” Eyes, ears, sixth sense, a good rifle, and all that fun stuff.

Chess lifts a shoulder at Nat’s words. “I mean, you give me a brick, and I can fire it. Literally.” She grins, then lifts a brow as Huruma comes into view. There’s a silent appraisal, seeking those similarities and differences between this woman and the version of her back in the world the Travelers had left behind.

She pats the quiver on her shoulder. “These can work as bombs. Or not. So I need a window seat with some room, probably the…” she glances over at Hart, mentally going through the names the other woman had so gleefully gone through. “Scout, yeah?”

Nova glances at Ben Jr. and grins. “Manual transmission. You have to change the gears with a gear stick with your right hand, and then there’s a thing called a clutch that is an extra pedal down on the floor. Multitasking!”

She tips her head. “Well, all driving is multitasking, but stick shift is multi multitasking. Automatic transmissions, the gears change for you. No stick, no clutch. Easier. Less fun. See?”

The smile on JR's face is huge, something his father could never achieve. He was young enough that this was all a fun adventure to him and not some dangerous journey.

“Seriously!?” He’s fascinated by the explanation. He can barely contain his excitement at the thought of trying something new. Though when he looks at his father, his enthusiasm wanes.

Despite that, JR seems determined to learn. Even going so far as to make sure he is where Nova is.

Meanwhile, rubbing greasy fingers together with a frown, Ryans straightens from his engine examination. It is clear he is still listening to the conversation around him, as he speaks up. “The Hounds have some weapons they can spare from their cache.” Not a lot, but it would get them started. “And if I have the supplies I can make bullets.” And explosives, he doesn't say that outloud. With hope they won't need that.

“Not to mention this group probably has a few abilities that can help in a fight,” Captain Ryans adds with certainty.

Fashionably late to the start of the convoy announcements, Marlowe drives up from the other side of the scrapyard towards the back of the group in what can only be described as a post-apocalyptic golf cart of the wastes: shorn off top replaced with worn and torn flapping canvas, offroading tires slightly balding at the treads, sunbleached faded logo of the golfing greens from whence it came. AKA, one of the campus carts. The back seats are loaded with mystery duffels and boxes, presumably supplies and tools (maybe even a blowtorch). The leader of the Pelago Syndicate eases up behind JR and his father, halfway between them and Eve and Monica's positions. "What'd I miss?" she asks in rhetorical, hushed tone while casting a sweeping gaze to the assembled.

Red eyes flick between Hart and Tay, Tay and Hart. Hart and- "Tart?!?" No no that wasn't a good ship name. Maybe that worked in her favor here. As long as there wasn't an Emily near… "Hay…?" No no… "Tary!"

"He would love it here dearie." A sad smile at the memory, that's all worlds Eve’s experienced in some way and she hasn't encountered an Eric Mas, or George Porter. Fatherless. Nodding along at her cousin with a wink the former seer lays her head on Monica's shoulder and sighs. "Honestly if they had seen the truck I fixed up for the war…" Trailing off as Queen Lowe slides in.

"A queen is never late. Everyone else is simply, early." Nudging the shorter woman and grinning widely. "We have toys to fix up!"

"Geo Metro," Elliot ponders in response to Gracie. "I know very little about cars but that sounds like something that hasn't been produced in a few decades? I've never actually owned a car, just have a Mantis for emergencies. Which is like an electric dirt bike that somebody forgot to stop putting wheels on."

He isn't startled by Jac's sudden emergence from his blindspot. If anything, his reactions seem to make room for her rather than keep distance from her. Her natural inclination toward stealth and investigation has his professional respect, and it's a relief to not have to cringe away from her proximity like he's still learning not to do with most of the others. Some of the caravanners might never be safe, some almost certainly are. He'll sort them all out as the minotaur settles back into an old routine, assuming it does this time.

The vehicles so far don’t seem to grab Kendall’s attention. Sleeper van, school bus, ambulance, so far none of those seem all that cool to ride on, and he looks over at the others. “Good to know I can at least make my own bed.” he mutters to no one in particular. The statement about the sleeper being able to ram things, however, causes him to perk up a bit and he gives it another look. Hm… yeah, but everyone’s going to be on that one.

When the subject of defenses comes up, Kendall steps forward. “I can probably make a few people invisible to sneak around, though I don’t think I can do it with all of…. this.” he offers, a little reluctantly, gesturing at the convoy. He doesn’t really like to let everyone else know what he can do, in case any of them try to get the jump on him.

Silas nods approvingly, eying Kendall with new consideration; hiding a large number of people would be tricky with his own ability… but with Kendall's illusions in play, that might change things.

But if they're sharing, he might as well throw his hat in the ring, too. "If we run into trouble, I'm good with a knife. Monica's better," he admits, giving her a rueful grin, "but I like to think I'm a fair hand. While I'd much rather put that skill to use cooking, I can do pretty good in a scrap. I am also a very good sneak. I've got a trick of my own; it's a little different from Kendall's, but. Similar. I can't do robots, though, so if we run into any of those, I'm not gonna be a whole lot of use," he admits.

"If there's communication tech aboard each," an assessment Asi is already making on her own judging by the seagreen glow in her eyes, "I can link into each. If for some reason we run into … trouble with our radios otherwise, that should still keep us in touch."

… Elliot's ability aside, she recalls suddenly with a glance in his direction. She shifts her weight, hands shoving into the depths of her pockets before she looks back to Hart. "What're the rest of them called?" she calls out.

Gracie slants a grin to Elliot and his explanation of what a Mantis is, while expressing his unfamiliarity with her own former vehicle. “Yeah, no. A Metro is like someone built the front seats, threw a hatchback on it, and then called it a car. I could’ve driven under that thing,” she asserts, pointing to the tanker. “Piece of shit. Motor for the windshield wipers was burned out, the door crank wouldn’t roll the windows up all the way…” The dancer rolls her eyes. “I was more than glad to trade it to the scrappers when I got back here.” Then her face pulls into a pout, dejected about her lot. “Mantis sounds way cooler.”

The older ginger spies the younger and her expression softens, a small smile spared for the inquisitive one before she turns a question to Elliot. “Not that I’ve decided which ride I wanna catch here, but… Would you— Do you have a… I don’t know, a preference?” Gracie pauses, then clarifies, “Whether I ride with you or anywhere else.”

Ace’s gripe brings Destiny away from her little reverie. There’s no smile or frown on her face when she looks at him with her wide eyes. “Wishing you’d ditched me back at Hawaii, huh?” Either that’s posed as a rhetorical, or she doesn’t expect a response regardless, she rocks back on her heels, then rides the momentum the other way to get up on the balls of her feet, head swiveling as she looks for her other crewmates, wondering where Edward and Else may be gravitating. “I’ll let you slip your hands in my mittens,” she promises, smiling as she flits a glance his direction before continuing her scan.

"Oh, only the same way you wish I'd stayed there so you'd not have to hear me whine about it," Spades teases her deadpan in return, glancing her way. The continuation of the banter leads him to return her smile, however slight his is, before he goes back to examining the trucks rather than looking through the people. "I don't recommend that," he asides to her in a thoughtful mutter. "You might never get feeling back in them again." Nonetheless his hand floats to the small of her back, ruffling up and down the back of her coat as though it's she who's poorly bearing the cold, not him.

Tay mostly keeps out of discussions of defenses and logistics, letting the convoy members rationalize where each of them would best be suited. It’s only when discussion of communication systems come up that Tay turns his attention over to Asi, then glances at Hart, before making his way to the next vehicle in the convoy, the semi truck hauling a fuel tanker.

Hart, meanwhile, sidles up to Asi. “We have a dedicated comms vehicle, Tay’ll get to that one.” She points up near the middle of the convoy to the news van. “But only a couple of the vehicles have working radios. I picked up a few hand-held ones in Delphi, though,” she says with an ear-to-ear grin. “So we should have enough for each vehicle to have one radio.”

Hart holds up her hand for a high-five. She’s very insistent.

This,” Tay over-emphasizes, drawing attention to the big rig as he slaps his hand on the side of the tanker, “is the very aptly nicknamed Tinderbox.” He turns and looks at the crowd gathered. “We got ourselves a Freightliner FLD-120 semi with a fuck-off big plow on the front.” He says with a gesture to the front of the vehicle where a massive scrap-metal plow has been affixed to standard plow hydraulics. “And we’re using it to pull our entire fuel reserve. We got a few jerry cans, but they’re for emergencies.”

Tay walks the length of the semi-s payload. “Now, this ain’t full.” He warns. “But it is over five thousand gallons of gasoline, gifted to us by Captain Saywer from the reserves in her ship. It’s enough to get this very thirsty convoy to the Anchor, but not back again.”

Stopping at the head of the tanker trailer, Tay claps his hands together to make sure everyone is paying attention. “Contrary to what you might’ve seen in movies before everything went to shit, gunfire ain’t gonna light this up. But it’ll make it leak. That’s our blood.” He points at the trailer. “We run out of fuel before reaching the Anchor? We’re fucking dead. This thing drools fuel out and somebody sparks it? We’re fucking dead. Whoever’s driving this crashes? We’re fucking dead.” Tay scans the crowd. “So how many of you actually have any experience driving a big rig?”

Jonathan Smith steps forward, hand raised. “Used to drive long haul coast-to-coast in my thirties. Wanted to be a teacher, but teaching didn’t pay the bills.” He admits with an inscrutable smile. Tay looks surprised, like he had a whole other lecture planned and now he wasn’t going to get to run through it.

“Well, shit.” Tay says with a reluctant smile. “You just got yourself a driving job.” He looks around the others. “Anybody else have rig experience? Jon-boy’s gonna need a backup, so either we got someone who knows, or somebody’s gonna learn.

"You don't have to worry about Tinderbox. Smith's not the only one versed in heavy machinery," Marlowe remarks loudly to plant her proverbial flag in a spot on the tanker. "And we haven't come this fucking far to only get halfway to where we're going." Her gaze sweeps back over the others, daring anyone to challenge the notion.

Monica grins over at Silas at the compliment to her knifing skills. "If you're gonna flirt with me right here in front of God and everyone, Silas, I hope you have some follow through." Her wink is big and overdramatized, for comedic effect, but there's probably a genuine appreciation for his acknowledgment somewhere in there. When her attention shifts back to Tay, she gives him a nod herself, "I can drive anything. So if anyone needs a fill-in driver, I can keep myself available." And what she can't drive— well, she is a quick learner.

Nat gives a nod to Chess, to agree with where she's volunteering them. "Sounds like a good spot to me." She glances over to Huruma when she pops up, and lifts an eyebrow a little. "I don't doubt it. But I'd feel better if we had weapons that anyone can grab in a pinch. We don't know what we might run into and everyone needs to be able to grab a rifle or a baseball bat or something if the occasion calls for it. I'll poke around the market and see what they're willing to sell."

Ace side-eyes Marlowe. It's him who challenges. "Ma'am," he starts, a bit of deference in his voice. It's not even a voice he uses for Captains– just someone whose gift he values. "You want to shore that thing up so it's less likely to leak, fine. But if the worst should happen and you were in that thing, you'd be lost, and everyone'd be worse off." He juts his chin up in Jonathan's direction. "He's got his tricks for staying alive if something goes awry, and I'd have my own.

"You'd have my word I'd fight tooth and nail should someone try to force us out of that cabin on the road," he promises.

Richard’s lips purse slightly when Ace speaks up, eyes behind dark lenses steady on the man for a few long moments… and then he exhales a sigh and looks away, one hand coming up to rub against the nape of his neck. Can’t judge a man by his alternate selves, after all, as much as he might loathe said alternate self.

“Well, not riding in Tinderbox, that’s for sure,” he murmurs under his breath as he looks the enormous vehicle over. Big rig experience he doesn’t have, regardless.

A brow lifts under Chess’ knit cap, and she looks to Marlowe, curious if the other woman will accept the reasoning from Ace – or the “Ma’am” for that matter. Beyond Marlowe, Chess catches Richard’s facial expression, and smirks a little – she doesn’t know why he doesn’t like Ace here, but she knows where Ourania works, and can guess why he doesn’t like Ace there.

(Does anyone besides Ourania like Ace back home? A question for the masses).

Monica gets a small smile from Chess, who knows very well what that woman is capable of, and she gives a small nod of approval. But she’s not the one assigning seats.

Nadira's eyes focus on the vehicles one by one. So far, figuring out a location to be useful is tricky. She could be defensive but also be utility, and her gaze sweeps over those around her as they begin to find places to fit. Driving duty isn't really an option for someone who's never even sat behind a wheel, so that counts her out as a fill-in. She makes a thoughtful noise under her breath, but doesn't speak up as of yet.

Elliot is grateful for Tay's lecture on how gasoline works, as it gives him time to contemplate an answer to Gracie's question. Where does he want to be in relation to the doppelganger of his girlfriend? "It's going to be a long trip," he says as he probes his mind for the rest of that thought.

"You're welcome to hang out with or around me," he decides, keeping his voice pitched down to not distract their companions from the tour. He trudges along with the group, huddling into his jacket when wind drives snow down his collar. "Though I hope you'll understand that I may decide I need some breathing room in this… atypical situation we find ourselves in."

“Naturally.” Gracie’s response is easy, lacking in defensiveness. “I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t actually want to know your feelings,” she assures him in her own hushed tones, adjusting the hood of her coat and tugging on the drawstrings to try and keep the wind out. That’s the most she seems to feel the need to say on the topic, turning her full attention back to Tay and Hart.

Des nudges her shoulder into Ace’s arm to chide him for his comments to her, but her grin fades when he addresses Marlowe. The small woman swivels her head sharply to look up at him. “You’re not going to ride in that thing, are you?” Concern creases her brow and she continues in a whisper. “I know it’s called the Tinderbox, but that doesn’t actually mean it’s going to be warmer.” While she’s making a joke out of her worry, she’s hoping it’ll actually make him reconsider.

Squeaks peels off her long distance study of the van in favor of giving Gracie a solidly considered look. Not that she knows the older redhead any better or worse than anyone else — not counting those who also came from the Cerberus. Speaking of her crewmates, she flicks a look over to gauge where Ben and JR and even Huruma are. Then it's right back to curiously watching Gracie.

That's actually why she's a couple of steps behind when the group begins moving again. Squeaks tags along, at first slow but then jogging for a handful of steps or more so she can properly catch up. “I think us,” she interjects, looking and pointing at Elliot and Gracie and motioning to herself. “Us should be in the news van.” Just because they should, obviously.

Silas offers Monica an easy grin in return. "Always," he says in return, waggling his eyebrows once or twice for good measure before letting out a chuckle.

Spades's objection to the prospect of Marlowe sees him raise an eyebrow — at least in part for ma'am. It's rare to see him show that much deference to anyone, Queen or not. The rest of it is for the vision of Spades as a long-haul trucker; he'd not ever have imagined that in a million years. But if he's volunteering, Silas doesn't doubt that he can do it; the man has his flaws, but unreliability isn't one of them.

"If anyone's thinking about the return trip," Silas comments, "there's gasoline up in Alaska. We traded with a settlement built by an old refinery up there for gas on the way East. Granted, Alaska's a pretty big place, so it might be a trip getting it from there to the Anchor, but it's there." Which, admittedly, does not particularly matter given the nature of the impending global apocalypse, but oh well.

“Wait a minute.” Kendall furrows his brow as he listens to the introduction of the Tinderbox. “You said not to crash it, but you also said you can just plow through anything in front of it. How… does that even work? I thought that crashing it is running it into things.” He looks at the rig in the front of the truck, then at the other cars in the convoy. “Wouldn’t that be better on something less…. Volatile?” He gestures to the school bus. “Like that, for instance. Just as big, but not nearly as dangerous.” nevermind the fact that it’s likely to be where most people are going to sit.

“Fuel truck is the only self-reliant one, and the semi has the frame for it.” Tay explains, starting to walk away from the semi. “If we’re down to one vehicle, it’ll be the fuel truck. Otherwise we won’t make it where we need to. And sometimes,” he shrugs, “even if something isn’t a good idea, you gotta do it.”

"Because raming something, and crashing aren't the same thing," Quinn remarks, hands slipping into pockets as she looks up at the sky for a moment. "A school bus isn't nearly as durable as a large semi truck. Besides, the possibility of ramming was reserved for the vehicle /without the engine in the front." She makes an effort to sound informative, rather than chastising, at least this time. "Preferably, we don't hit anything on purpose with any vehicle."

Turning her attention from the sky and from Kendall, she turns to face Tay. "I can help drive…" She turns, pointing first to "Katie", then to "Doc", "either of those two. Or both, as needed." She could probably help with others, but… she can't help but question exactly who she wants to be spending her time with.

Zee, on the other hand, seems largely distant from the others, focusing her attention back upwards on the falling snow. "I could drive," she offers absently. "I bet. I haven't in years, but… I could." The way she speaks, it's not like she actually expects anyone to respond.

“Our next two vehicles are carriers.” Tay explains, walking down the length of an old military cargo truck, and then stopping just before the tail of a school bus. “This is Speedwagon,” he says gesturing to the cargo truck, “and Frizzle.”

“Like the Magic Schoolbus!” Hart exclaims proudly, flashing a smile to the group.

“Like the Magic Schoolbus,” Tay mumbles, closing his eyes for a moment to rub a hand at the back of his neck. “Speedwagon is our primary storage vehicle, it’ll only seat 3 people, all up front in the cab. The rest of this back,” he says, patting the metal-framed canvas, “will be for food, water, ammunition, spare parts in case we break down, tools, tents, the whole nine yards. We need a ton of supplies to make it across the country, and if the Tinderbox is our heart, this vehicle is our stomach. We lose it, we’re gonna be hard up to get very far very fast.”

Tay then motions to the schoolbus. “Most of you will be riding on Frizzle here. She turns like a tank and is a gas hog, but with how many people we’re hauling it’s a necessity. There’s more seats in Frizzle than we have convoy members, but that also means most of you are going to be sleeping on the bench seats or on the floor if we aren’t stopped and camping.”

“Frizzle and Speedwagon also have CB Radios inside,” Hart says with a motion to them. “So we can stay in contact easily. Oh! And Frizzle has a tape deck, and I picked up a few cassettes in Delphi, so we’ll have some music for the ride!”

Fishing around in her satchel, Hart produces cassette copies of Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All, Debbi Gibson’s Electric Youth, and a copy of Journey’s Frontiers. “It’s not a lot, but it’s something!”

"Oh! Oh!" Zee suddenly leaps into action, practically dashing towards Hart as she reaches into the bag sling over her shoulders. "I have one more!" she proudly proclaims, skidding to a stop in front of the other woman and producing another tape cassette, a corner cracked and some of the writing on the tape itself worn away. There's a least enough to identify it - Juju by Siouxsie and the Banshees.

"Where… did you even get that?" Quinn turns to face her doppleganger with a look of surprise, eyes slightly widened as she looks at the tape she holds in her hand.

"Back in the Pelago, before we left! No one there had any use for it, but I thought dad might want to listen to it when we get to Alaska." Zee nods, satisfied with her explanation.

“If the records I found when I ransacked one of his old labs are anything to go by,” Richard comments, slanting a look over to the Two Robyns and smiling slightly, “He’s a jazz man.”

"Hey, you don't know! People can like more than one kind of music!" Zee offers back, sticking her tongue out at Richard, and then laughing for a moment before giving a more genuine smile.

Kendall looks at the schoolbus. Yeah, no. Even the temptation of music isn’t enough to make him want to ride that thing with most everyone else. “Speedwagon looks pretty cool.” he remarks, taking a step towards it. Plus, it’s a way to keep an eye on the supplies. “Something tells me if it’s as hostile as people say, we might need to protect this from people.” and Kendall is clearly the best choice for this?

“Us,” Gracie repeats flatly, but not with disdain or annoyance. It’s more like she’s just hearing the word for the first time, or at least in that context. “And that?” She glances up to the news van, Katie. She crosses her arms, folding her hands underneath them to keep warm as she leans a little to one side and considers it. “We couldn’t all ride together. There’s no way the back seats three, unless all the equipment’s been stripped, which wouldn’t make it much of a comms hub.”

Breaking away her study, Gracie smiles to Jac. “But you two feel free to ride together! I can drive—” She glances up to the van again, pulling a little face as she considers it. “— something, probably. Orrr… just ride along.” Her shoulders come up in a shrug, looking good-natured about the whole thing then. “However it shakes out, I won’t feel excluded.” It’s not like anyone’s riding alone, anyhow.

While the others may have continued the tour to the next vehicles in the lineup, Marlowe gets the challenge from Ace. Her eyes turn up to the taller man, somehow staring him down even from below. Others around can also see the shift in the Syndicate leader's mask of calm towards something darker as he stings her pride, first in sizing the unfamiliar face up when he calls her ma'am, then to pique as he continues what becomes construed as a dismissal from her implied chosen position. The only other thing that might be more explosive than Chess' charged projectiles and the Tinderbox is Marlowe's temper when she takes real offense.

Just ask her ex, Ande.

"What'd you call me? Nan to itta? Kiita, Asi? Kono kuso atashi ni obaasan yobarareta?1" Marlowe's native tongue sounds as sharp as the push knife that suddenly springs from the metal bracer around her left wrist and into her hand. The short blade's point hovers an inch away. "Omae nanisama? Yokei na osewa da."2 As she stares angrily, her irises shift from brown to golden rings in her eyes, and tiny blue-white energy crackles around the metal dagger as it lengthens to poke the fleshy underside of Ace's chin where the base of his tongue lies. Marlowe leans closer, uttering testily, "If this is you volunteering to sit with Smith and me, that wasn't the way to do it."

Ace expected that questioning the choice of a mafia queen would carry its consequence, and he has the good sense to stay where he is when the conversation moves on past the gas hauler. He nudges Destiny apart from himself with a subtle but firm push. He meets Marlowe's gaze, and—

Does not remotely expect what she's taken umbrage with to be what it is.

The green-greys of his eyes dance back and forth over her as he starts to try and get a word in edgewise to explain his fault– but Marlowe's mad, and off she goes in another language about it. That fucking language he didn't learn enough of when they went abroad. His brow starts to curl down into a furrow, but then that blade jumps out at him and his pupils shrink to dots, head twitching back slightly. "Hey, h–"

His hands go up, his voice cuts off even though his mouth keeps moving. But something is slightly off about him, and as the blade sparks and lengthens into the underside of his chin… it goes through, past where skin should exist, only the facade of a whole man present. Ace stands with his hands raised regardless in a show of deference despite his slip into a ghostlike, less harmable state.

It's clear his Southern upbringing attempt at showing respect backfired, maybe body language proves universal in the end.

For just a brief moment, Ace's gaze starts off of Marlowe and to Asi, who stands aside from this with her hand clasped over her mouth. He can tell by the gleam of her eyes it's not to cover up signs of shock. It's to cover up that shit-eating grin she has for him any time he gets put in his place.

Destiny winces when Marlowe starts, stepping aside when she’s nudged to do so. “Oh heck.” When the transition from English to Japanese comes in, that’s when those eyes go wide. “Iiya!3 Nooo! Nononononono!” One hand waves frantically up and down in front of her. But it doesn’t stop. “Chotto— Ch-ch-ch-ch-chotto matte—4” The sight of a weapon was bad enough, but when it’s pointed at Spades, Des switches back to her native tongue and utters language that almost never passes her lips.

“Oh shit!

The tiny blonde starts to step forward with the intent of reaching out to push Ace back, but she thinks better of it, worried her good intentions could actually cause him more harm. And that’s to say nothing of herself. “Su-Sumimasen! Ooooonegaishimasu!5” (That might have been ohmigodshimasu for as frazzled and as rapidfire as she’s spouting words, her voice just a panicked squeak at this point.) “Please,” she says in plain English, more for his benefit than anything else. Destiny has officially hit the pleading and crying stage of her fears. “He didn’t mean it.”

“Oh, shit,” Richard echoes although more quietly and with - almost certainly - a very different emotion behind it when Marlowe steps up to Ace with that tone and that dagger; one hand coming up to rub against his chin briefly, a glint of hope stirring somewhere that this might solve an issue for him.

(It’s a very dark glint. He has opinions about Ace, even if he’s really trying to separate this instance from the other one) (He’s not trying very hard. He’s a failable person.)

But then Destiny steps forward in a panic, and the almost-smile fades for a frustrated grimace. Damn it. He moves away from the Robyns to step over, one hand up as he calls, “Alright, alright. Let’s not murder each other before we’re on the road– we’re going to need every warm body for what’s coming. I’m sure that he’s very sorry for any suggestions he didn’t mean to make and will apologize for them… won’t you, Callahan?”

He’s never talked to the man, but he uses the surname with a great deal of familiarity, one hand lifting to pull his shades down slightly and his unnaturally pitch-dark eyes focusing a glare on the man of the ‘do not argue’ variety.

Silas had been in high spirits at the prospect of Metallica for the road trip; that, however, had been three minutes ago. Now that good humor has burned away faster than morning fog on a hot summer's day, leaving him looking on with a stone-faced, implacable expression.

They're barely out of Delphi and people are drawing steel on each other? Because Spades tried to offer Marlowe advice she didn't want to hear?

No. No, this is not good at all. Something about this scene has an echo of familiarity to it that he doesn't dwell on, doesn't let himself dwell on because that scene is not this one. There is far too much on the line for this to fall apart — well, at any point, really, but especially not before they've even gotten started. Silas's gaze slips to Destiny as she tries to put out the fire of Marlowe's ire, hoping she has better luck —

And the rest of you — does anyone else need to be made into a fucking example!?

— than last time.

Silas lets out a shaky exhalation through gritted teeth. Shit. He looks to Spades, trying to catch the man's eye, then to Destiny, because he's pretty sure if this sudden festerfuck has called Director Don's welcome bash to mind for him, Des has probably gotten the whammies a helluva lot harder.

She'd lost a lot more there, after all.

He doesn't speak, though, not yet, warily looking around to see what the others' takes are. Tay especially, since he's the one who's going to be guiding them. Richard's attempt to throw oil on troubled waters is met with a look that's at first grateful, but when he shifts to browbeating Spades, Silas's lips tighten again, fingers curling. Shit.

"He really put his foot in his mouth there didn't he?" Said to nobody in particular or maybe that was for the birds nearby. Eve's crimson gaze ticks from each face involved in the drama with a devilish grin painted on her lips. "My Queen please!" Sliding over to the tiny but mighty woman and leaning in to whisper in her ear, "You must remember Her Highness carries herself in such a familiar way that," The dark haired woman pauses while eyeing this man known, "The likes of Ace of Spades momentarily forgets himself! Spare him, for me."

What a situation!

Everyone else seems to be doing their jobs at diffusing the situation and Eve to her credit is trying her best but a jester is gonna jester.

"If you like I can challenge him to a duel, for your honor. It would be my pleasure."

Richard's calling out to him brings Ace to swing a look his way in confusion, one followed up by Eve, them both preceded by Destiny's panic. He, at long last, finally remembers one word in Japanese and looks back to Marlowe, risking tangibility to address her again:

"Sorry— ojou-san."

Elliot's response to Gracie and Squeaks is disturbed by the sudden shift in tensions across the group. As things begin to get Japanese he feels an ache in the place where Asi used to reside in his mind, and reaches for her language out of habit. The rest is complicated; he doesn't really like Ace, but he does need intel the man has on his counterpart. Then Richard reminds him that there's another source for that information, and he's relieved to no longer care what happens to the man.

Scanning the rest of the crowd for reactions to the kerfuffle, his eyes settle on Tay. He reaches out quickly and places his hands over Squeaks's ears.

Six gunshots fire off rapidly.

Hart practically leaps out of her skin at the sound. Others in the convoy that weren’t involved in the altercation duck and look around, wide-eyed at the sudden, thunderous noise.

Six of you are dead!” Tay shouts, holding a handgun in the air pointing at the sky. Shells are littering the ground at his feet. “We leave your bodies by the side of the road because we don’t have time to bury you, and your corpse gets picked apart by radiation-poisoned birds! Congratulations!”

Slowly lowering the gun, having sufficiently gotten everyone’s attention back, Tay holsters the firearm at his hip. “If you can’t keep your dicks in your pants, walk the fuck back to Delphi!” He bellows, pointing to the water. “Because this shit? This is what gets all of us killed out there.” He then points toward the inland horizon.

“Figure out your own fucking vehicles.” Tay says with a look of abject frustration. Then, without another word, he starts walking past the other vehicles toward the head of the convoy. “We leave in the morning tomorrow! Get your shit together!

Hart, starting after Tay, stops herself and looks back up to the group, wide-eyed.

Silas manages not to flinch at the gunfire; he'd seen the frustration on Tay's face building up, and he'd expected something. Maybe not that, but something. Jesus. Reminds me of Eve after New Years, he thinks to himself — the equivalent of whistling past the graveyard.

He lets the silence settle for a moment. Then a moment longer. Listening. Waiting for that moment right before it would break. Then he claps his hands loudly. "I'll drive the bus!" he announces jovially, mustering a pleasant, open grin to hide the tangled snarl of emotions that's twisting his guts like a ball of twine after all of the Forthright's cats had gotten ahold of it. "Hope you're all ready, we've got a helluva trip ahead. It's a long way to Alaska."

Still smiling bright as sunshine, he walks over to where Destiny is standing, just a little too still. "Let's go for a walk, get a little fresh air," he murmurs to her, sotto voce; he glances to Spades, extending the invitation to him as well.

If any moment of time needs a box of popcorn, now is it. Kendall didn't quite catch what the trigger for it was, but even the Travelers should know you don't mess with Lowe. This guy getting threatened by the knife isn't familiar to Kendall, but he has the air of being from the Pelago, so whatever he did he should've known better.

As the train wreck continues with the yelling in Japanese, Kendall takes a step forward to rubberneck, but jerks back when the gunshots are fired off, flinching and holding his hands up defensively. Unlike Silas, he's a little less stoic about some things. Well don't shoot him, he didn't do anything! "All right, not riding with that guy." He mutters under his breath, eying Ace. Not that he knows him regardless but y'know.

Monica gives a single blink in response to all that and then she can't help the bark of a laugh. "Can't even threaten a guy with a knife anymore. What is the world coming to?" She comes over to Marlowe, sliding her arm through the Queen's. "Come on, old lady," she says, as if there wasn't just a big kerfuffle over that exact form of address, "let's see what we can do for these cars, huh? Maybe we can travel with a little style. Eve! Get into the guts of that bus, would you? See how the engine is holding up."

Nathalie can only rub the bridge of her nose and by the time a gun is being fired, she's given up on socializing for the day. She turns on a heel and starts away from the convoy. "Fucking dramatic," she says to herself, apparently about the group as a whole. She'll be back by the morning. Hopefully with some hardware. And bullets.

The old sea captain kept out of all that, though he kept an eye on it. Marlowe was quite able to take care of herself, but he was ready if need be, leaning a little harder against the vehicle he’d been assessing to free up his ability.

JR however, stood staring wide-eyed in awe at the junker queen. The gunfire has him instinctively getting low in a crouch with arms over his head as if protecting it.

“Junior. I could use a hand,” his father calls after Tay has stormed off.

Scrambling over to his father’s side, JR says to him in reverent, hushed tones. “No wonder mom wouldn't let me go with you to Lowe’s. She’s a freaking bad ass.”

“Language..” Ryans reminds his son turning back to the engine in front of him, though there is a hint of a smile at the comment. “See if you can find some tools… maybe scrounge up some spark plugs and if possible see if you can find some oil.” That said as he pulls out the dipstick with a frown.

JR straightens and salutes his father, “Yes sir.”

Passive argument settles in Squeaks’ eyes at first, because there’s definitely somehow got to be room for three people besides the driver in the van. Gracie will see it. The teenager can be very convincing, given the chance. But it’s a chance that never actually comes. Everything she was about to say gets distracted when voices start getting loud and angry and she very almost interjects her own questions about what now. But even those words turn into just a baffled look when hands that aren’t hers press over her ears.

It isn’t enough to muffle the concussive popping. And it isn’t enough to stall the soul-deep panic that suddenly grips her and drags her to another place and time.

Squeaks’ entire body jerks in response to the sound, and the brain messages for fight, flight, and freeze all misfire all at once. “They’re dead!?” Color drains from her face. “They’re dead?!” She doesn’t look. She was told not to look, and so she stares up at Elliot instead. Her heart hammers against her breastbone with every intention of breaking free and every breath she takes is short and sharp and too fast.

Four gunshots follow.

"And that's another four!!" Eve backing up her future scorned lover. Firing her own firearm into the air while shaking her head about wildly. She knew she liked this man!

Ah well, the drama is done, watching Tay's back with a raised eyebrow. "Oh oh, I see the Avi in him now, very interesting!" Grinning over at Monica, undeterred by the tension in the air around her. "Alrighty, let's open up this ol’ girl!"

Looking at everyone, "Let's move it move it! In fact! I have a song that will help us all get in the mood for some GREASE!"

The wild woman cackles and saunters off to the bus, poofs of red mist blowing out of her ears.

"Nobody's dead," Elliot says, eyes locked with Squeaks to keep her in the here and now. "We're all okay." He only closes his eyes in irritation when the second volley goes off.

"What the fuck, Eve?" he shouts. Who the fuck gave that woman a gun?

He turns back to the clearly traumatized girl and centers himself before she mistakes his anger as being directed at her. "It's okay," he says, putting as much calm into his words as he can manage. "We're not back then, people here are just thoughtless assholes."

At the sound of the gunshots, Quinn immediately wheels around to face the source direction, one hand on the hilt of the makeshift sword she keeps at her hip. It takes her a moment to register that it's just Tay, but when she does, she exhales a sharp breath and lets her shoulders slack. "Great. Fantastic," she mutters, taking a deep breath. "We're all going to-"

And then four more shots ring out, and her eyes widen as she turns and finds Eve as the culprit this time. "Eve, toi cerveau de pois6!" She stares daggers at the moment. Locking eyes with the other woman, she scoffs and shakes her head. "Is that really your first instinct? Make things worse?" Rolling her eyes, she turns away and heads to investigate two of the vehicles. "This is why no one wants you around."

Harsh, certainly, but clearly she doesn't think it's an undue statement.

Zee, meanwhile, looks intensely on edge after the two series of gunshots. Shaking, but not otherwise thrown off kilter. She's watching Eve too, but only for a moment longer before she looks down at the ground and sighs - it's a vastly different reaction than what some people have seen from her before. Teeth clenched, she musters a smile as she moves over towards the bus, offering Else a smile and a wave as she passes.

Gracie slowly lowers her fingers from where they’d plugged into her ears when she saw Tay begin to set up his lesson. “Fucking Epsteins,” she growls under her breath. She’s still wincing in the aftermath of Eve’s backup, the crease in her brow only smoothing out once she’s sure there aren’t about to be more bullets needlessly expended. Her eyes land on Squeaks, filled with concern as she watches Elliot swoop in to defend her, watching his reassurances with an inscrutable expression.

Her study moves to Eve, and the crimson wisps left in her wake. “Neat trick,” the ginger murmurs to herself, then exhaling a shaky breath before wrapping her arms around herself.

As soon as the first shot rings out, Destiny stops crying, a gasp arresting the flow of tears. Save for that nose, undetectable beneath the cacophony of gunfire, she’s silent. When Silas looks at her, too-still as she is, her eyes are just about as far in the past as he expected them to be.

Gunfire erupts inside the mess hall. It sounds like an explosion. Several explosions. Destiny shoves Woods' shoulders and they both topple to the floor and stay there until it goes quiet, save for the sound of Don's screaming. Des slowly lifts her head from where she'd buried it into her guardian's chest. Her head feels warm, like something spilled on it. "Are you okay?" she whispers. Her eyes lift to his face.

Another fat tear rolls down her cheek before she blinks once, slowly, and comes back to the moment. She hadn’t heard him speak to her, but Des realizes from the way he’s looking at her once she manages to finally look at him and not through him, that he had said something to try to get her attention.

Reading the body language, Des nods her head shakily. “Okay, Smiles.” Her head dips as she follows along with him. She may be back in the moment, but she’s clearly still feeling somewhere outside of herself.

“Can we,” breathes out Chess, reaching up rub her temples as if she’s suddenly got a headache, “please stop wasting ammunition? Jesus Fucking Christ. Eve, quit trying to impress Epstein. It’s not happening.” The last is said with a grin, though, because really, the woman didn’t do anything worse than their apparent leader had before her.

"Don't let me lose hope Boomer!"

There’s work to do, though, and she turns away from the group to start doing it.

“And I thought the Vanguard was bloody dramatic,” Nick asides to whoever’s nearby, before he too turns back to finish cleaning out the back of one of the trucks.

"Yeah," is all Asi has to say in reply to Nick, her good humour about it all vanished in the wastefulness that's occurred since. She looks back to the trucks and lets out a sigh, arm swinging down back by her side.

Nadira releases a breath she didn't know she was holding. As it seems nothing else dramatic is happening for the moment, the tension slowly eases from her shoulders and she attempts to pull herself back into more of a relaxed state. Thankfully, that's something she does fairly naturally at this point. Her attention turns to Kendall, his commentary about protecting the supplies not having fallen on deaf ears.

"I think you might need help with that if your aim is to protect the supplies, Kendall," she says, softly. What she's not saying is that she wants to keep an eye on him. Speedwagon it is.

Hart, wringing her hands around a little notebook that has speeches about the rest of the vehicles she’d so carefully written, forces an awkward smile and says to absolutely no one listening:

“Thank you for coming to our…” Hart looks around at the scattering crowd. “…informational… showcase.” She looks down at her notes, then huffs a lock of hair out of her face.

That could’ve gone worse.


Delphi Floatilla

Zippers open and close. Pockets rustle. Buckles unbuckle and fasten again.

“There’s gotta be something.

A closet door opens and closes. Tools go into a lock. A flashlight sweeps in the darkness.

“What have we here?

A flashlight shines on a large plastic case, scuffed and banged up from transport. There is a white stencil on the side, nearly illegible from heat damage, and the beam of the flashlight traces over it.


Glory invites herself into a space she has no right being, dropping onto one knee with her small flashlight clutched between her teeth. She brushes her hands over the material of the case, feeling the smooth but rough surface, almost like shark skin. Her heart races a little as she moves her hands to the latches on the side, then slowly lifts the crate open.

Inside there is a black foam padding with recessed cutouts containing a series of metallic rods, a narrow black box lined with switches, and at the center of the case a triangular lens framed in gold with tightly-packed coils around the outside edge. Her eyes widen and she slaps the case shut, flipping the locks.

Glory looks at the case with fraught confusion, then withdraws her flashlight from her mouth and clicks it off. “This is it…” she whispers to herself. “This is where it all goes wrong.”

But what Glory doesn’t see is the narrow sliver of the door behind her that she did not close. Not does she see the man standing on the other side of the door, watching her root through the Travelers possessions.

Levi Walker doesn’t confront her. He’ll tell someone else who will.

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