I signed off to find Loco and Ricky staring at me with more than a little bit of awe. Loco said "Were you talking to Freya?"
They both shouted "Freya!" and slammed their chests with their right hands clenched into a fist. "Okay" I thought "I missed when that became popular." They were looking at me like I was supposed to do something. Probably bang back. The weird thing was I felt something stir inside of me when they did that. Something I was familiar with. I wanted to roll. I wanted to pull the sword I had strapped across my back and cut someones limbs off. I wanted to yell. To let free, to give voice to that which lived within me. Instead I said "Cool. Lets move."
We moved. We were able to put some miles under our wheels for a change. The road was clear in places. More so than we had seen so far. We passed houses, some occupied. Once we passed a man and a boy walking the road, slung rifles over their shoulders. I waved, and the boy waved back. The sky was blue. A deeper blue than I had ever seen. It seemed like every year the sky got bluer. I forget who it was that had explained it to me. The sky really was getting bluer because each year there were less planes up there painting it gray with their exhaust. I still saw contrails. They were rare enough that they were pointed out when someone spotted one.
We did have one nice surprise. Nice surprises were rare. Nasty ones were far more likely. Loco found us a portable radio that worked. They were excited. I could care less. Why? If they played music it was from a world that was gone. I didn't really morn its passing either. It never was my world anyway. The news? Lies from liars. The weather? Useless generally. It was never for the area we were in and if it was, it was usually wrong. I was a better weatherman.More and more I found that cared less for the artifacts and news from a civilization I thought of as "Machine World."
They were excited. I think they were surprised that I wasn't. I noticed Loco look at Ricky and get a tiny shrug. Loco and Ricky started talked about baseball and if the Yankees were still playing. The Yankees? Well if money could save you from PowerDown then they might still have a roster. Otherwise there probably were some bulked up Gnawers running around New York. A-Rod had to have enough steroids in him to pump a Jewish Granny up to minor league Gnawer status.
I wasn't surprised at what was playing. I sat with them anyways. Who knows? Maybe we would hear something useful. FM was what I expected. Government approved broadcasting. Pure propaganda. A couple of robot stations playing music. Loco and Ricky started arguing about what station to listen to. What a surprise that their musical tastes were different. I told them to switch to AM and it got more interesting. We got the usual Christian preachers telling us what happened was Gods vengeance on a nation that had lost its way. Someone was selling charms that prevented nightmares and then we hit gold. We heard:
"Standby for a broadcast from the Revolution Network. We are also available on the 'Net at revolution.org.is or revolution.org.no They went to the pan pipe music that the Burners always used and a womans voice, with a bit of a Brit accent, said "This broadcast will be brief as usual." She chuckled "No surprise there." Then continued "We will prevail. Despite the brutal tactics of the warlord puppets and mass murder of citizens by the government police battalions we will prevail. Know this! Freya is upon you government dogs. You think by killing us you have stopped us?" She laughed scornfully "No. Oh no. You have only guaranteed your death. She comes! She comes! Fire and sword! Fire and sw...." Then the transmission went dead for a couple of seconds. Long enough for Loco and Ricky to look at each gape mouthed. I just grinned. Shorty was stirring people up.
Then another voice. This one male, and by the accent southern. "The broadcast you just heard was from a robotic transmitter placed in your area by terrorists. Please contact federal law enforcement should you know anything about this. A reward will be paid for successful prosecution of these individuals. Thank you and God Bless America."
"All right. Leave the radio somewhere the follow on people will see it. Maybe it will be here. Maybe it won't."
Loco asked me "G. Any chance..."
"No." I said it flatly. I relented and told him why. "We don't listen to the news. We make it Loco." It was bullshit of course but it sounded macho so it was okay. They liked it. We rolled on.
We pulled up outside of some little crossroads that once existed because it was at the crossroads of two minor state roads. That had worked in their favor until PowerDown. Then they had been overrun. Loco and Ricky glassed the town while I studied it. I was really wishing I had Woof and his friends with me. I had asked for them but Max said he wanted them to work the gaps between the scouts. I was going to ask again. I liked talking to Woof. Perhaps more than most people. We saw eye to eye except when I stood up.
"We got people." I told them.
"Yeah. I got them." Loco replied.