The battle with the ants and their queen was too much for Rubbish, but in freaking out he did manage to snap us out of our stupefaction at what had just happened. We wrapped and dragged the bodies of Sin and Mark Adder back to Nil, along with the eggs, oil, and carapaces — without incident, somehow. One shocked and sympathetic guard gave way to the raging Foreman, picking up right where he left off the last several times we’ve seen him . . . Cody punched him, and it’s probably just as well. If he’d punished us in any significant way, I fear I’d have done worse. The people of Nil deserve better than what he’s giving them right now; I’m no fan of Chief Ward, but I do know he isn’t distracted by a well-meaning but inept kid like Jessica. I mouthed off a bit, but got dragged off to house arrest like Cody . . .
. . . or would have, if a gift from below hadn’t popped up. I cannot believe I am even writing this, but: a millenia-old mech broke out of the ground in town. No fucking shit. Two thousand years old, sent to destroy some city it doesn’t even know. One tense staredown later, it was deemed harmless for now. Barbi took a rather abrupt and extreme liking to it; not sure what’s up with that but I can only imagine it helped later. We got the diamond from the caravan and got it to Chief Engineer Wilks; she figures she’s a year or two from making it work, but that’s better than when we started. Mark and Sin got heroes’ sendoffs, and rightly so; we’d all be dead if it hadn’t been for them. Cody and I gave a bit of a eulogy; even Rubbish spoke well at the funeral, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing him again soon. I also picked up an interesting metal rod from the caravan — I don’t recognize the material, and I could feel, as soon as I saw it, that it somehow focused the energy of the radio waves that buzz around me all the time. This bears further investigation.
Chief Ward appears to respect us now, which is a little creepy but it beats the yelling . . . we each got a dose of REM from him, and another still from Stacy Harden. The good times were short-lived; middle of the night, the fucking alarm was raised. Raiders. Some fires, some casualties. Barbi and her new metal friend fought one giant turd from the wasteland, and kicked some ass. When Twelve (new mech) went down, Barbi took off, but I’d have done the same thing if some disgusting dog from the wastes three times my size charged me yelling about rape. But raiders, here? The Pinkertons can only make it here once a year, and raiders are within the walls the same day? Something’s not right. Maybe the Pinkertons got raided in turn and gave up our location; maybe somebody in that caravan, or in Nil, isn’t who he or she seems to be. Problems for another day . . . problems for Chief Ward.
The problem for US, though, is that the water pump was damaged in the raid. Water, AKA the only reason worth coming to Nil, and the only reason we can live here. Chief Ward sends us to ROOSTER FIELD. Goddamn it. Maybe he’s just graduated from harassing us to actively arranging our deaths. Elder Elijah recommended we detour to talk to Constantine, and I agreed even though he’s full of shit sometimes. We may as well shed some light on Nil’s mysterious guardian angel and get some help and advice before we go into the deadliest known area in the vicinity of Nil. I guess that’s the wasteland for you. The approach to Constantine’s tower was a mech graveyard, and it seems the dead there do not all rest easy. Were it not for the timely arrival of a stranger, I might have had some more dead bodies to explain to Chief Ward — or I might have ended up as dead as those mechs.