(2016-03-07) The New Guy
The New Guy
Summary: Mon meets Elan, a fellow horse-drawn traveler. They talk
Date: 2016.03.07
Related: none

Monica wanders out of the apartment complex, glaring upward at the sky. "It's going to be a hundred twenty out here in two months, couldn't you ease up so I can get things working /now/ while it's cool?" She takes her hat off and lets the rain hit her face a little longer, enjoying the coldness on her skin, before she puts on her hat.

Elan stands amid a pile of gear off along the treeline at the side of the road, looking over everything he's unloaded from the two burros that he moved down to the stockyard. He seems to have begun partially assembling a frame for a sort of canopy, while the heavy ten ounce canvas itself, and the thick sod cloth, have been stretched over and wrapped around the gear to shield it from the rain. He looks up from what he's doing and over his shoulder with a smirk, "Just try to think of it as liquid sunshine!" He calls out to Monica.

Monica is a small town girl. She's used to having a mental list of voices she's heard, people she's seen often enough to know they belong here, even if she hasn't spoken to them. Elan is none of those things. She turns with a start, hand dropping to the butt of her pistol. Then she considers where he is and doesn't draw. "Howdy, stranger." The words just come out. She's wary, and it shows.

Elan keeps his hands where Monica can see them, trying not to startle the girl any more than he already has. He doesn't have anything in them, at the moment…everything's already unloaded and piled up under cover about as well as it can be, for the time being. He smiles kindly at her, "Good evening, how are you today?"

You say, "Twitchy," she answers, honestly. She chuckles and brushes her wet hair out of her face. "So… you're new. Have you met anyone yet?" He seems a little old to be one of the freak children, and he had plenty of time to hurt her before she noticed he was there…"

Elan nods to Monica with a smirk, "It's been a twitchy day…yeah, I came into town earlier, about the same time as some woman on a bicycle. The name's Elan…I met Quin and Sarah on my way in. It's nice to make your acquaintance."

Monica nods. "I'm Monica." She smiles a little weakly. "Would you mind showing me the back of your neck?" She ponders. Sarah. Sarah? Who's that? She keeps an eye on Elan, for a moment ignoring all the interesting stuff he brought with him.

Elan raises an eyebrow…that's a first, "I don't mind, no…anything in particular you're looking for?" He asks, taking off his sombrero with his right hand as he presses the back of the collar of his duster down with the left, turning around slowly. He's not in the habit of turning his back to strangers, but she doesn't make him quite as nervous as the rest of the twitchy people he's met today, "It's nice to meet you, by the way, Monica," he adds, hoping that she's about to explain the neck thing.

Monica me nods. "Okay that's fine, thanks. There are a bunch of… kids, basically, all dressed up in camo and they'll shoot you if you give them the chance. They have a bump in the back of their neck like something's been stuck in there. You haven't got one, thankfully. I didn't /really/ want to shoot you. So where'd you come to us from?

Elan nods slowly, putting his sombrero back on as beads of water fall down his face. He turns to face Monica once more, "Terlingua, originally…skirted some trouble near Dumas and came up from the south. I'm a medic. When I saw signs of habitation, I was going to skirt away from town and head on up towards Boise City…but then someone started to ride in without a care in the world, and I figured they were going to run into trouble. Just about every place I've seen that wasn't burned to the ground lately has been either crawling with snipers or overrun with raiders. Sounds like you've been seeing your share of them, too."

Monica draws her gun hand up across her body to hold the elbow of her other arm. "I was on the road a long time before I wound up here." She takes a slow breath. "There were some ugly moments. I'm from Wyoming originally. A medic? Awesome. Are you planning to stay?"

Elan nods to Monica, "Wyoming, huh? I just about ended up there…I was going to study up in Lander, but ended up in northern California for awhile, instead. Well, I was on my way up towards the Platte river…but it sounds like you folks could use a hand around here, and I can't say that there's much need for me to be in a hurry. I brought what supplies I've been able to scavenge along the way…I still have most of the medical supplies, I've been waiting to find out where your Doctor is, to discuss what you might be running low on. I had a third again as much with me, but one of my burros caught a slug across the spine down south of here, and there wasn't exactly time to re-pack."

Monica nods. "Yeah… some guys out there like to shoot at your animals. You can understand why we'd be a little leery to tell a new stranger who the doc is. He's the only one we've got." She looks at the sky. "Well, I was going to work on the solar panels, but I'm not going up there in the rain. Want to come inside and bask in the electric light for a change?"

Elan nods to Monica, looking up to the sky as she does, "I guess we might as well…it's not going to stop raining, and we're not going to get any dryer. Yeah, I think Quin mentioned a name, but I was a bit distracted by the sudden barrage of names, and it was dark by the time I got everything unloaded…I figured no one will be able to dig in it too terribly much without someone noticing, so the Doc can go ahead and get at whatever's needed…I'll be happy to store away whatever's needed tomorrow, if anyone has a safe place in mind," He looks up towards the solar panels, "I also have some electrical experience, if you need a hand with anything."

Monica looks at Elan. "Next you're going to tell me you're a dentist too. I hope you stay. I can definitely put you to work if the Doc doesn't."

Elan shakes his head slowly, "I'm not a dentist…a house carpenter, firefighter and medic…although I have been studying on dentistry, ever since about the time I made it into Nazareth…I found a pile of books from a dentistry student, there…their notebook, too…I might be able to help in that regard, in an emergency…I'll certainly keep at it. Well, I'll stay as long as you'd like me to," he says, walking along with Monica.

Monica leads Elan into the apartment complex. She glances over at her cart as she passes to make sure it's ok, but nobody's bothered it. She gestures toward it. "That's how I got here."

Elan follows Monica's gesture with his eyes, looking at the cart. He whistles appreciatively, "Glad I'm not the only one who's thought of improvising a wagon. I was talking with Virgil earlier, and we were discussing trying to gather some supplies up towards Texhoma and Goodwell, if they're still standing…I know you must have had a limited supply of deep-cycle batteries in town, and you're likely to need more, eventually…Sophia mentioned wanting another cow, things like dental supplies, as you mentioned, would come in handy…I can only carry so much with two burros. I asked Bob about pulling a camper out of the RV park over on Pine Street, but he's a bit wary of having me working on too much near the camp until he has Elijah draw some blood from me, so I started refitting one that I found outside of town, out near the railroad, west of the stockyards," he grins slightly, "I guess he figures that I'm going to have green blood, or a bunch of little nano-robots running around inside of me, or something," looking back to Monica he asks, "Is that your handwork?"

Monica looks at Elan. "Nano-machines? Are they doing that to us, too?" She looks toward her wagon. "Yeah. I built the thing to last the rest of my life, you know? I kind of feel bad letting it sit there like that, to say nothing of not riding Chester more. And no, we don't have /any/ deep cycle batteries, or so I'm told. None that work, anyway. The Others messed with them. The power storage for the clubhouse is done with big capacitors that I haven't seen yet. Probably Leiden jars or something like that. The good news is that I know how to fix alternators now. I had a brainstorm the other day for how to store power if we can't get batteries to work." She looks at Elan. "If Bob feels that way, I probably shouldn't take you inside either." She looks away. "If you /are/ a silencer, I'd like the chance to out-draw you before you shoot me, if you wouldn't mind.

Elan shrugs a bit, "I have no idea what they're doing, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, unless they're operating off of some pre-fabricated algorithm…they went through a lot of trouble to do a lot of damage, only to pick us off one at a time with our own weapons. I'm sort of surprised that they haven't hit this place with something big, to be honest…being around a large group of people in a static setting for a long period of time seems a lot like ringing the dinner bell, these days. I suppose that's assuming that the EMP and the plague was their doing, and not something that started down here…I haven't seen much evidence of exotic weapons from outer space. All I know is that Bob wants Elijah to take a look at my blood…'an exercise in trust', he said," he looks over the wagon again, "Bob's not that worried, I don't guess…he mentioned something about staying in building D, until after the blood work is done," he smirks at Monica, "I have a better idea, let's just not shoot each other," his mind shifts to her explanation of the energy systems, "Well, I don't know if they'll have deep cycle batteries in Texhoma, but I'm sure that we could find them in Goodwell…and a lot of other useful equipment. Including medical and dental equipment," he then has to reflect on the last thing she said, once more. Raising an eyebrow, he asks, "What's a silencer? The crazies that follow the drones around?"

Monica shrugs a little. "I don't /really/ know. I just heard if you meet one, they're agents of the aliens, and you'll probably die. The crazies that follow the drones… the child-soldiers? They have a lot of names. Camo kids tend to be the most common. That's what I was checking you for when we met. They have a thing in the back of their neck. Plus with their back turned, it's easier to shoot them.

Elan hmms, "A thing in the back of their neck? Like 'Invaders From Mars'? See, for some reason, this all sort of strikes me as potentially being the work of a human influence…the EMP could have been the result of an attempt to air-burst warheads near the arriving ship, and it's not like there isn't ample reason to believe that several nations already had warheads on orbital platforms…the plague could have been sitting in a petri dish in some college or government lab for years, just waiting to break loose, an implant near the brain stem to exert control would have required a pretty extensive knowledge of our neuroanatomy…about the only exotic equipment I've seen so far has been a mothership capable of traveling at least two hundred and three thousand miles per hour, and those unmanned drones…which I haven't seen fitted with any weaponry," He looks to Monica again, "Sorry, I haven't had a lot of opportunity to reflect on all of this out loud, I don't guess. I haven't had any close encounters with child-soldiers, thus far. Just a few snipers who seem particularly skilled at picking off travelers, and a few random crazies that were probably that way before the invasion. Did you used to be a mechanic?" he asks, randomly changing the subject before he fully realizes it.

You say, "A lump. It's big enough to see. I ran into them up close and personal when I went up to Fremont to find Camp Hope. I had no idea they'd all left and come here." She looks at Elan. "The thing about the EMP is that yes, you can get them from nuclear weapons, but to get one big enough to do the kind of damage I've seen in alternators and whatnot you'd have to be right under it when it went off. So there wouldn't /be/ an alternator or whatnot. And as for the plague, your guess is as good as mine. I'd like to think no human being would be dumb enough to make /that/, but we've done some awfully dumb things. As far as I could tell the lump didn't control the freak children. I don't know what it did, other than mark them as what they were." She looks at Elan a moment. "It does seem like they're trying to hack our civilization into destroying itself rather than just steam cleaning the Earth themselves. Which is interesting. You have to wonder how far ahead of us they really are if they're that desperate to keep their tech out of our hands. And yeah, trust me. I know what it's like to have way too much time to think while you're looking at landscape going by past a horse butt. Or trying to sleep when you haven't eaten enough or found enough water to wash in recently." She doesn't even blink at the change of topics. "I was a farm girl, you know? You learn how to be a jack of all trades on a farm, because you have to be. I did junior college, and got a general studies associates. I was starting to look around for a university… or military career… or a husband, I guess, although I wasn't looking that hard. And then everything went to shit."

Elan nods slowly, "Well, yes, everything went to shit. Of course, it didn't have far to go…" he looks up at the sky, "It could be that they're desperately trying to keep their technology away from us…or it could be that it's some sort of an automated drone that ran into Voyager 1, backtracked it here, and caused the powers that be to promptly go batshit and self-destruct. That's a good point about the EMP, though…the damage is more extensive than what I'd expect from a bunch of warheads detonated in orbit. …which might mean that a warhead could still damage that ship, for that matter," he looks to Monica as she tells her story, smiling kindly at her, "Well, your background's served you well…you've made it this far. Now it's just a question of where we go from here."

Monica nods. She looks up at Elan. "Where we go from here… there's only one place we can. We're in a dark ages now. We've lost decades of knowledge, and once the artifacts of that knowledge are gone, or spent, or melted and used for shoes or whatever… we'll be centuries getting it back. As long as the aliens are there we don't have that time. We have to take it to them now, while we have the tools. We have to understand their tech and move forward despite it all. Or we'll go extinct.

Elan nods in agreement, "Fair enough…then it seems to me that our options for retaliation are limited; finding out where their drones come and go from would be beneficial, finding out whether or not the ship above is controlled by organic lifeforms or whether it's automated would be beneficial…and finding out whether we could get an intercontinental ballistic missile off of the ground would be beneficial, on the off chance that we could get a shot close enough to reciprocate their EMP damage without their mothership maneuvering out of range. …even if we did succeed at that, without being able to pull an aboardage, we'd run the risk that any exotic technology aboard would be destroyed as their orbit decays and they come crashing down…and the notion that the ship above, if they are responsible for all of this, is the only one of it's kind within range of reaching us in the near future…seems like kind of a long shot, even compared to trying to figure a way to pull an aboardage," he notes, looking into her eyes, "If they did attack us with electromagnetic and biological weapons within such a brief period of their arrival, it might indicate that they had an understanding of those methods, based upon their own vulnerabilities."

Monica thinks about it. "I think that's anthropomorphizing them dangerously. I think whoever or whatever they are, they're doing their best not to have direct contact that would let us at their tech. They've had some insights into /us/ certainly. We need to get some insights into /them/. Capturing freak children or silencers or drones seems to be the way to go. It's what we have. If the drones give us new power sources we haven't seen before, we'll have something.

Elan considers the drones as he looks up at the mother ship, "You could be right…their methods might not be based upon their own vulnerabilities at all, but upon prior experience with the vulnerabilities of others, or prior knowledge that they had drawn en route, based upon our radio signals or interstellar satellite platforms. Figuring out how they're controlling people, if they're controlling people, should definitely be a priority, yes. It seems likely that there must also be some place that the drones are going to and coming from, somewhere on the surface. If we could find a way to track them back to wherever it is, we could probably learn a lot about their dirtside operations."

Monica nods. "Sounds like we're on the same page." She looks toward the clubhouse. "Heck with it. Can I interest you in some pine needle tea?"

Elan grins, "Pine needle tea? I can't say that I've ever tried it…sure! Why not?" He follows along with Monica, holding the door to the clubhouse open for her.

Monica goes inside. She'll be back out in a few minutes to heat the water on one of the gas grills.

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