Loco began trying to untie the cords that they had used to tie down the tarp with. It was blue of course. I sometimes thought if I ever started my own country the national flag would be a blue tarp. He was having problems with the knots they had used. I told him "Just cut them Loco." The Old Mans lips compressed into a tight line when I said that. He started to put his sunglasses back on. I said "Don't." I watched his face ripple with his thoughts "Fuck him. Do it. No. He'll do something. Probably painful. I'm a man damn it!" He was going to do it. I pulled the hammer back on the Navy. He changed his mind.
Loco cut through the cords, sheathed his blade and began pulling back the tarp. I didn't know what to expect. Hell, it could been filled with dried people jerky headed for some Gnawer market. Carefully wrapped bundles of white and dark meat. It wasn't.
We had the same stuff we saw in the backs and trunks of cars. A suitcase. Some trash bags, the official suitcase of the homeless, a couple of cardboard boxes with pots and pans, and what looked to be spices. Also three sleeping bags, each tightly rolled, and some plastic water jugs, one of which was leaking I noticed. Seeing that let everybody relax a notch. I smiled at the boys and said "See. No big deal." Bearded Boy smiled weakly. The other two were still pissed. I understood that. Too bad.
I was going to tell Loco to just grope the Hefty's. I changed my mind. He obviously knew what he was doing. The tension went back up a notch when he stepped away from the cart. looked at it, then walked around one side. knelt down, then stood back up. He looked at me, and said "We got something here." I knew it as soon as he took a knee by the change on the Boys faces.
Of course then they had to go for it. Ricky was for shit as an actor but he was fast on the trigger. I already had a round in Bearded Guy, maybe a tiny piece of a second before Ricky. Loco was on them too. We were fast, but it was sloppy and overkill. Overkill because none of us knew the other well enough to bet their life on them doing what needed to be done. I sighed mentally and thought "No wonder Max walked us through the why and whats afterwards."
I looked at Old Man who was frozen in place and white in the face. "So...what are we going to find old man?"
"I don't know. Really!"
Either did I actually. I didn't even know what had alerted Loco. I thought I would keep that to myself. Instead I said "Show him Loco."
Ricky looked at Loco and said "False Bottom?"
"Yep. Same old shit. Different country." Loco started tossing luggage out of the back of the cart when a voice I recognized blasted the word "Run!" into my head and followed it with an image of a smoking crater. I went from 0 to 60 in nothing flat yelling "Bomb!" as I passed Loco and Ricky. They understood that word. I had a five stride lead on them but they were moving at speed right behind me. I felt like I had been running, and not fast enough, for an eternity or three or four seconds when the same voice screamed "Down!" and down I went.
I hit the ground hard, ate grass, and skidded to a stop. Almost on top of me was Loco who from the "Oof" I heard hit as hard as I did. Ricky was about two strides behind us. I covered my ears, and buried my face in the grass I had just mowed with my face and waited. The ground shook, the boom not even muffled by my hands and Marlboro butts in my ears, and dirt and other crap rained down on us. I knew my head was going to be hurting for certain soon. Jeebus that was loud.
I waited a few seconds, got up on my knees, and while I finger combed crap out of my hair and clothes looked back at where we had been. There was a small crater where we had been standing. Old Guy was nowhere to be seen. I thought "Well, he did say his legs were hurting. Probably not bothering him now." I stood up and gave Loco a hand up. Him and Ricky started doing what I was doing. The only difference was they were saying "Holy shit" while I was thinking it.
I was rearranging all the gear I had hung on me. "Take a look guys" I told them "While I check in with headquarters." Mentally I sent Freya the word that meant I wanted to talk to her "Svärd." I didn't get why I had to say that. I wanted to say "Earth to Freya" but no, we had to had to have a nifty cool Norse word. She was there instantly as I had expected. I didn't bother with verbal foreplay "What the fuck was that about?"
She sounded genuinely puzzled "I don't know."
"Damn. I bet you can hear my ears ringing from there."
She laughed "No, all I hear in your head is the usual." I didn't bother to ask. I knew it would be insulting. "Can you patch Max and Night in?" I was surprised by how much I wanted to hear Nights voice. Everything we verbalized in our heads went out to whoever was tied into the Freya party line so she heard and felt it too. I heard/saw her smile. "No Max. He is discipling people. I felt her fierce joy about that. "Here is Night"
As soon as she came on I sent images of how much I missed her as she did to me. I thought "Wow! This is intense. Maybe we could..."
Night cut me off laughing "No."
We went back and forth, then settled down an actually talked for about five minutes about nothing really. It was a delight just to talk to her. Well, actually it was listen. She did most of the talking. Then we got down to what just happened. Prompted by Freya who told us "You want to hurry up. I got birds to talk to."
"So what do you think?" I asked Night.
She was silent for a few beats and then said "Who were they going to be running into next?" Then she sent me an image of the horde.
Freya joined in "Me?"
We both answered her "Yep."