Let me clear my throat,
and express my…
Let me clear my throat,
If you are going into the thunderdome, I suggest bringing a secret weapon.
Hey - I know some of you are already hard at work on figuring out Clank’s vision - * ahem * - I will be going with whoever goes to check out anything related to this, if you decide on any places nearby maybe we should go. Let me know.
Bubba did have to lose his last mannequin during his last meeting with Toecutter…
Okay, so my head-count shows De’Ath (@daneel) and Channing (@gwwar) heading for the Thunderdome, and Junior (@funruly) off to the Skunkyard to try to find Scotty with Jane. I’m not 100% sure yet what Desmond Balthar (@SteampunkBanana) plans to do. Gonna fight, Nanner? Or try to pull a Mechanic’s head out of a black hole?
Or both? If folks are that mentally agile that they can blow Bruce’s gasket in the Thunderbowl and help solve Highly Esoteric and Methematical Astrogational problems at the same time, they’re certainly welcome to try.
Let me know, Nans. If it’s a 2 on 2 fight, we’re ready to commence the unpleasantries. If you’re hoppin’ in, I need to gin up a quick additional villain.
I have just the cheeky gentleman in mind…
Hey Desi, look at that assless chap!
I’m that kind of chap. One of the unfortunates: no ass at all. You wear a fat wallet and three handkerchiefs.
True story, bro.
Sooo… fightin’ or no fightin’? Thunderdome for Desmond Balthar?
Should Wez mount up?
Only if he wants that bare ass whoopin’ he’s always needed. Channing is going to need someone to help take the heat off her, since she did all the heavy lifting last time.
Crank up the volume and tear off the knob, let’s start this beat down.
All righty then!
I think I’ll put Wez in Fleetwood’s old ride. Once we scraped off the charred flesh and grease and applied a quick coat of Easy-Off…
…it cleaned right up good as new. So Wez and Toecutter are in these:
…and here’s Bruce in his sneaky-fast and burlier-than-it-looks Mazda:
Let @penguinchris and me put our heads together for stats, and the Thunder will begin to roll!
OK Junior (@funruly) looks like it’s you and me. I know you’re not a big thinker, but what do you say? Where should we go to find this guy:
…and you’ve got the Genesis device loaded into your trailer right?
There’s a place I delivered a load or two back in the day, had a cartoon Skunk on display like Clank rambled aboot. Never did understand that. It was also sealed cargo, they’d drop a locked container onto my flatbed, so I never knew what I was delivering. They we’re the only place that I delivered mystery goods to or from, but those places kinda stick out.
We’re looking for the signs that say Site 10.
I’m towing Clank, can’t leave him unprotected sitting outside the Thunderdome. Plus, I expect he may want to parley with that bearded fella we’re looking for. The Genny device can fit in his newly convertible van.
While the rest of the gang focused on repairs and upgrades for the Thunderdome match, Junior swapped the E.A.R.A.C.H.E. for a flatbed and loaded up the rolling shell of Clankenstein with infinite tender care.
I said, “Take good care of him, Mister Burton. Marion says we need him, but I guess we don’t need her to tell us that. But while you’re out there… take care of yourself, too.”
And then I went back over to my mom, who faded in and out of consciousness.
The drive back down to Palmdale was, for those days, uneventful. The giant scorpions were logy in the desert sun, and preoccupied with halfheartedly chasing Stringfellow Hawke around on his dirtbike
…while some old dude named Santini cheered him on and cackled.
Junior gave Santini and the scorpions a wide, distrustful berth, and motored on. Soon, the destination was reached.
Junior towed Clank all around in search of something that looked like this:
…or at least this:
But the closest he could find in the immediate vicinity was this:
Finally, down at the end of Administration Road, Junior found what he sought, parked in the center of a circle of apocalyptically cracked asphalt, on two flat tires and with its hood up:
And underneath the nose landing gear, flat on his back on an elderly wooden creeper, lay a grizzled old Mechanic. Formerly an engineer, he’d adopted the Mechanic’s faith shortly after the bombs fell. His feet stuck out and drooped, a greasy rag and a 7/8" box wrench hung loosely in his hand. He snored softly in the shade under the orbiter until Junior kicked his boot.
As he sat up, wiping a fraction of the grease off his face, Junior consulted the mugshot Stretch’s Head had printed for him.
“What d’ye want, ye crass reprobate? Cannae ye see I’m about some delicate work here?”
Junior was about to engage in what would inevitably have turned out to be a lengthy and counterproductive argument about the objective value of the engineer’s forty winks 'neath the orbiter, but Clank’s eyes opened for the first time in hours, and he uttered a hoarse croak that instantly got the attention of his fellow Mechanic.
“Oh, aye? 'Tis that which you’re about?”
The engineer gently placed his fingers on Clank’s temples, and both Mechanics closed their eyes. The Mechanical TCB operated on a different high-bandwidth spectrum than did the ordinary TCB network, so Junior shuffled his feet impatiently, cleared his throat a couple times, and wondered in vain what the two old geezers were communing about, and had just about concluded that both had simply fallen asleep when the engineer opened his eyes and regarded Junior seriously.
"Yer Mechanic’s a long way from home, boyo. Flyin’ yer soul out to the Swan is the swift, natural flight at the end of a Mechanic’s shift, and I look forward to crossing that final frontier meself, if ever the fates allow. Damned if I don’t keep getting called back. Do ye know, son, they’ve shot me cold corpse into space no fewer than thrice… three times, I tell ye, but to no avail. I’m still here, and somethin’ keeps callin’ me back.
"But it takes an ungodly toll in power to do it. Couldn’t say how they brought me back so often; I was dead when they did it. The skipper once told me he burned out a decade’s complement of warp cores to do it once, but I suspect he was tryin’ to get me to spring for the drinks in gratitude. That’s flag officers for ye.
"But if all ye have to do it with is the ol’ Genesis Device, you’ll need to consult the manual on the proper power setting. Too low and your man’s soul is lost forever. Ye don’t pull a fellow out of a black hole with 40-pound test line and a fishin’ pole! But too much power… aye, ye’ll leave a crater far too large to display what remains o’ yer constituent atoms to proper advantage.
"Ach, I’ve got the schematics and all the power specifications back at me hidden bunker, but for the life o’ me I cannae remember where I left the blessed thing. This neighborhood isn’t quite the rosy wee garden it was in the halcyon days before that Chelsea lass took us all tits-up, and the sandworms rearrange the terrain twice an afternoon. They stay off the pavements as our good fortune would have it, so that’s why I designed a wee map based on two subtle landmarks the wormies all avoid, and I can extrapolate from those. And since I’m always losing me paperwork, I took care to make my map off an image I’d always have on me person, or somewhere around the facility.
“Use the map and look to yer stars, laddie. That’ll get yer where ye need to go. And brush up yer astrogation while you’re at it, it’s a skill I hear you may find more use for in weeks to come. Where to begin? Well, I always like to start at the links… the 19th hole and a nip o’ the Glenfiddich.”
“Then seek ye the intersection I always like to call “Gamma”.”
“Map the stars, and you’ll find me very own secret black hole, where I keep all the records regarding the Genesis.”
“Oh, and if there is any of the Glenfiddich remaining at the Club… if you’d be so kind to an aging engineer…”
[The Truck Driver hops in his cab and his muttering can be heard over the diesel engine as it roars to life]
Aw hell, sandworms. Pictures of the endless fucking desert. and cryptic clues. Hell, we were supposed to have engineers on this bus trip to help figger out all the puzzles and writing and hard stuff.
And golf? The only thing more lame than a Hollywood Zombie is a Yuppie Zombie.
Come on Junior, think. You know what I think, I think I could use a drink. That old man isn’t the only one who could use a finger of scotch.
Heeyyyy. I think a place around here used to be on the liquor distribution route of my old pal, Trucker Moe. Good idea, brain!
Ahem, uh, pardon me, Clank and Jane, but I’m going on a slight diversion as we work out this riddle.
Now I think it was up here on the left.
Ah, there’s the place.
And there’s the delivery truck by the loading dock.
Oh hell, it’s surrounded by Sandworms.
Let’s see how they like this MK II Phaser.
Well. That seems to have burnt them to a crisp.
Dang, smoke everywhere, smells terrible.
Oops. Sandworm smoke seems to have gotten all over the whisky barrels.
[Junior samples the whisky.]
[Junior uses some sandworm blood to re-labels the barrels.]
There! No one will notice.