Getting our act together
Around midday, Scratch and Precious are back. M’Beke summons Scratch to his office for a report on the mountains at the east. No clues about the lights, but small clusters of people (including families) were making their way west on foot. Soon there will be refugees.
Burroughs goes to visit Pellet, the prisoner. Unlocking the door, he finds the prisoner unconscious in his own filth, with signs of infection in the leg. It goes to get M’Beke, who sends Rothschild to get Jess while Burroughs cleans Pellet up. Jess shows up, hoping to get something from opening her brain, but ZAP, she’s KO’d. Burrough opens its brain, and gets … a hint that the Water Cult may have medication that can help. So M’Beke sends soldiers looking for Precious; when P shows up, M’Beke says to promise a favor in exchange for some medical attention for Pellet.
Precious asks Sister Harridan for the help, who agrees, saying to send Pellet to the Temple. Sister Harridan and a couple of acolytes show up, caring for the wound and drugging him. “He’ll sleep. He may still die. He may not.” Then Pellet is returned to M’Beke, who puts him in a well-ventilated cell.
Jess wakes up; Burroughs is watching over her. She heads back to her workshop. Scratch drops by, talks about salvage.
Party that night
Burroughs pulls a Deep Brain Scan on Pellet to find out his secret pains. It turns out Pellet is deadly afraid of disappointing or upsetting Mickey … who is scary and possibly in charge of the Radiation Gang.
M’Beke orders a big party, leaving a skeleton crew of soldiers guarding a few key places. M’Beke opens his brain; he usually gets visions … but the indistinct screaming voices and cloudy darkness overwhelms him.
Jess and Scratch get it on. Jess gets impressions of Scratch:
- Scratch is actually a softie, wants a trusting relationship … but has to rule his gang with an iron fist.
- His gang is motivated by avarice.
- Lucy Belle in another handhold — a prostitute — was his last lover.
Precious puts the moves on Stabby the biker. “What?” asks Stabby. “Are you talking to me?” So that doesn’t work.
The party lasts almost all night.
As the party is starting to wind down, a sniper takes a shot at M’Beke. He drops into ditch. Jess is there, spots the sniper and tries to sneak up on them but takes a bullet. M’Beke also figures out the sniper, too, and crawls off toward the front gate. As M’Beke closes the distance, the sniper takes another shot and Precious sees what’s happens. Jess tries to sneak up and get the drop on the sniper, but makes too much noise; the sniper knows she’s coming … but she keeps moving trying to get at the sniper. M’Beke orders the alarm sounded. Scratch turns his bike around to come back to the Fort. The sniper is gone from his position. Jess opens her brain: “the balance of power is shifting”. The bikers show up at the gate, M’Beke asks the bikers to go for the north wall, so Scratch sends four guys around each side. (The remaining bikers are at their camp.) M’Beke sends his gang straight to the sniper … but they don’t take any fire. Burroughs leaves his brain relay with Pellet and joins the excitement.
But it looks like the sniper has just gotten away. Precious notices something off: Rothschild wasn’t in position at the gate. Burroughs tries opening its mind … but blows it and has to go hide in its hole. Precious confronts Rothschild: “Where were you?” “I was at the party and ran over.” Rothschild is anxious. Jess points out the sniper’s nest, and Precious goes up and recovers the casings … which turn out to be for .30-06 hunting rifle.
Jess reads them. It was Rothschild, feeling a sense of duty. “I can’t believe I missed.” She tells M’Beke and Precious; M’Beke dispatches the Fort gang to look for him.
Burroughs is back, checks up on Pellet. He’s still asleep. Burroughs opens its brain: Rothschild has made a run for the badlands. Scratch is not going out there at night. Precious lies to M’Beke, claiming that he isn’t sure whether Rothschild is in the Water Cult … except that he is.
M’Beke bandages up Jess.
The Next Morning
M’Beke is wakened by one of his troops. “The water level is down, again.”