Nov 24- Nov 27, 2023
After coming in from burying Debbie, 'Ben' and Will drink some more. Vinnie, trying not to be insensitive, reminds everyone about the desperate need to be scrounging in the nearby town, and tries to get the others into gear. They walk to the town as a group, and then split up to search. They find very little in the town. A cold rain is still coming down. They get back to the farm house cold, wet and miserable just before nightfall.
They re-barricade the door and those who have some dry clothing change into them. Wet articles are hung by the fireplace to dry. They settle into night routine, eating the remaining scraps of their food.
In the middle of the night, while on watch, Sawyer detects someone at the front door. He investigates and finds a man drenched from the rain trying to open the door. He quickly questions him at gunpoint, and then feeling un-threatened, lets him in. He's a survivor who has been walking for some time. Sawyer gives him a place to sleep by the fire. (Yes this is the new character to replace Sampson)
In the morning Vinnie is startled to see the stranger. He whips out his gun to interrogate the newcomer. Sawyer vouches for him, but that's not convincing enough for Bruce or Vinnie. The new guy, Kyle, tries to explain that he just needed a place for the night, and indicates he'd like to join their survivor group after losing his own comrades some time ago.
While Kyle gets dressed, Bruce makes a snide comment about Sawyer having checked him out, likely 'prison style.' Kyle is shocked at the implication that Sawyer might be into sodomy. Sawyer, in a spike of anger, makes a lunge for Bruce, but trips and stumbles.
Bruce draws his one-shot home made 'zip gun' and points it at Sawyer, saying he's had enough of him. Taking a lunge at him is too much for Bruce to have to take, after their major fight. Sawyer, heavily annoyed, says he just tripped and that Bruce is paranoid because he got his shebs kicked. He draws the attention of the others; "Look, once again Bruce is threatening me with a gun. It happens so many times I've lost count. "
Bruce, dangerously close to being psychologically unhinged, demands that Sawyer give up his pistol. He just doesn't trust the convict at all.
Vinnie steps in and says that he gave Sawyer that pistol to use. Bruce tells Sawyer to give it back to Vinnie or he's going to shoot the con in the head. Sawyer shakes his head, telling everyone who will listen that Bruce is off the deep end, totally stressed out, and its only a matter of time before he'll be threatening everyone.
"Point it at your own head di'kut. Pull the trigger, save yourself the misery and save us all the trouble," Sawyer tells him.
Kyle, the new guy, says that for what it’s worth, Sawyer seems like a nice guy to him; he did let him in after all. If it will help defuse the situation, Kyle says that he will take the gun, as a completely neutral newcomer to the situation.
Vinnie, Sawyer and Bruce, nearly laughing at the absurdity of the suggestion, agree that that isn't very shabla likely.
The standoff continues for some time. Vinnie tries to talk Bruce down. Bruce counters that he's not flipping out, in fact he insists that he's quite sane and calm. Vinnie, points out that he's been drinking heavily lately and is still likely hung over. Bruce says it doesn't change that Sawyer is the bad guy.
Finally Sawyer relents and gives the pistol back to Vinnie. Hope and Ken come downstairs and wonder what all the yelling was about. Vinnie suggests they take the van into town with all of their supplies so they can make their base in the town itself in an old garage he spotted. It will cut down on time wasted walking back and forth.
On the way Kyle explains that he's a mixed martial artist, who was preparing to hit the big time until the apocalypse started to happen. He said he's studied styles as diverse as Sankukai karate, Thai boxing, Hapkido and Jeet Kune Do; Bruce Lee's style, (who is a personal hero of his...him and Mr. Miyagi. ) He says that Ken looks a lot like Bruce Lee, and thinks that’s cool. Ken isn't impressed by the talk, especially when he has to point out that Bruce Lee is Chinese, not Japanese. Kyle later says he knew that, that he was just joking.
They drive the van, nearly on gas fumes, into the town and park it. They do a search in the town and turn up a small cache of canned goods. Vinnie gives the pistol back to Sawyer. While Vinnie, Sawyer and Kyle are searching some houses, they hear the roar of throbbing engines. They dart across the street as the first few bikes of a motorcycle gang come into view.
Fearing that they've been spotted, they go through a house and out the back and into another house. They go up to the second storey and watch out the windows. The bike engines have stopped, and they see leather-clad Harley-Davidson bikers searching around. They are white, scruffy and definitely not the SoLA. One blows a whistle and then calls out to Vinnie and the others: "We know you're around here, and you aren't zombies, so just come out!"
Vinnie sees that they're armed with melee weapons and pistols. He answers them saying that they don't want trouble, they're just looking for food. He grips his rifle, ready to fight. When asked who he's with, he says they aren't with anyone, just wandering survivors, but he used to be a RANGER.
The bikers call over more of their own, and soon there are a dozen of them. The leader wants Vinnie to come out and talk. Vinnie reluctantly agrees.
Sawyer says he'll go to. They tell Kyle to stay back and cover them. "Sure," Kyle agrees, though not exactly sure how to cover them from the second floor of a building...with a baseball bat.
They talk with the enigmatic leader of the bikers, who says they represent the Apoc Angels. One of the bikers recognizes Sawyer as 'Knuckles' from the time they spent in San Quentin together. He mentions it to the leader.
The Apoc Angels leader tells Vinnie that he's on their turf but they are willing to overlook it if they sit down and talk with them a bit. Vinnie, agrees and hopes for the best, calling Kyle out. The bikers tell them to meet them at the garage and then they get their bikes and pull out.
When the bikers, (twenty-odd strong, with a couple 4x4 trucks and a half dozen or so women), are out of sight, Bruce, Ken and Hope come out of hiding, having heard the motorcycles. Vinnie explains that the Bikers seem reasonable enough. Bruce is concerned but doesn't have much choice.
Back at the garage, the group points out that the van is theirs. The Biker's road boss is 'Duke'. He says that it’s on their property, and everything on their turf belongs to them. But to show their good faith, they aren't going to contest it. They make some introductions.
Duke says they were on their way down to Bikertown from up north in Manitoba but got heavily delayed. Now the weather is really slowing them up.
The group tells the bikers that they were just wandering, trying to survive. Duke says they should come to Bikertown, it's the closest thing to 'real' civilization. He explains how the Apoc Angels are an evolution of the old Hells Angels, the saviors of civilization, despite being traditional outlaws and rebels. In the post-apocalyptic world, laws have no meaning, so anyone can be a rebel...it didn't mean anything anymore.
The true strength of the biker lifestyle is the free spirited yet organized hierarchy...like a wolf pack. He goes on to explain that Bikertown was an oil refinery that was guarded by a security group affiliated with Blackwater International; Ex military, special forces Navy SEALS and the like. They did an excellent job of keeping the place, and the local civilian workers, secure despite the zombie outbreak and marauders that followed.
But what they had, others wanted. The Hells Angels and other outlaws and marauders tried in vain to penetrate the defences for months. One man, 'Spince', united the bikers under the 'Apoc Angels' banner. Over several years, in a time known as 'The Biker Wars', the organization became large and organized...like a mongol horde. At the end of the Biker Wars, the ultimate prize was had. The refinery defences were breached and the defenders had to surrender. They expected only death or worse.
But Spince had control, like a modern Genghis Khan. He gave the refinery back into the care of the security types, to hold and preserve in his name. The condition was that Apoc Angels members be always welcome. They worked out a system of barter and basic currency. The bikers now have a home base to venture out from, and the civilians have a large group of scroungers that bring back valuables from the greater continent. The Apoc Angels are the amalgamation of hundreds of renegade bikers and other riding clubs. Duke's pack is just one of many out on a season of free riding, and bringing back goods.
This tale intrigues some of the group. Vinnie asks about the currency they use. When Duke says its food-based, the basic unit of barter being the 'c', rather than the dollar. "Calories?" Vinnie guesses. "Cans" Duke replies, "A can of food is the universal standard for trade."
Duke says he wants to deal with the leader of this little ragtag group.
Sawyer steps up and says that he himself is the leader. Bruce counters that. Duke says that any sane group needs one man in charge. They'd better figure out who it is, and then he'll deal with that man.
This discussion between Sawyer and Bruce quickly becomes heated. Sawyer says there is no way he'll follow Bruce any more. The new guy, Kyle, says that Sawyer seems a decent enough guy. 'Ben' says Sawyer should definitely not be in charge. He's hated Sawyer for a long time now.
Vinnie doesn't think Bruce is stable enough lately, and he gives credit to Sawyer for trying to reform his ways. Hope is unsure and remains quiet...all of the confrontation all the time is making her feel terrible. Ken says that no one is the boss of him.
Bruce can't believe Sawyer is getting people to think he's a better, reformed person. This frustrates him more. He reminds everyone that Sawyer has been ready to leave every one of them high and dry at one time or another. Bruce calls out to Vinnie, asking why he doesn't try the position of leader himself. He's got an army background, he should make a decent leader.
Vinnie reluctantly agrees, and no one has any objections to Vinnie speaking for the group, but Ken points again out that no one is the boss of him.
Vinnie goes to talk to Duke.
Duke says his offer is simple: One option is: The bikers will leave the group on their own, probably to die, since the area has been picked over pretty well, and he adds they are in the middle of 'Indian territory'.
The other option is that the bikers give them fuel for the van, and guide them down to Bikertown in Texas. In return, upon arrival, the group turns the van over to the bikers.
Vinnie asks about what they'd do then. They'd be stuck there, with no means of travel or payment. Duke reminds them its a barter system down there. Surely they have things to trade. Vinnie wonders about the value of their items. Duke tells him that the knife he's carrying could be traded in for the equivalent of 10 or maybe even 15 cans. A pistol might fetch 50 to 80c. The van is worth about 300c. He gestures at Hope, and says that very pretty red-haired girl would be worth twice a typical woman. Maybe like 200c.
Vinnie says that she isn't for sale. She doesn't do sexual things, not even with the japanese guy that has been watching over her lately. Duke says that if she's a virgin, her price might even double. If they didn't want to sell her outright, they might think about just renting her out for a while. Just something to think about.
Bikertown is a four day trip, maybe a week depending on road conditions.
Vinnie, after some tough thought, agrees to their terms. When he goes to pass on the info to the others, Bruce is worried about ending up stranded in a town of cut-throats. He also points out that they have almost no food. Are the bikers going to feed them too?
Vinnie goes back to ask Duke. Duke is mildly annoyed. He says he doesn't usually re-negotiate contracts, but since the group is getting along well and cooperative, he'll consider it. Vinnie tells him they need food. Duke says they have a lot in the back of the truck, but they are bringing it back to Bikertown. It's a season's worth of employment.
Vinnie says they don't have any cans to buy food with...they can't very well buy food with food. Duke explains that the 'can' is the universally accepted currency, but everything has a can-equivalent trading value. He reminds him about the knife. Duke says he'd trade 10 cans of food for it. Vinnie, thinking of the group, offers up his M4 assault rifle.
Duke says that'll feed them for the whole trip and then a bit more. He promises to give him a bit of 'change' at the end, depending on the length of the trip.
While they rest, the bikers warm up with a trashcan fire. They are chilled to the bone from riding in the cold. The group shares in the biker's communal pot of stew. It's not a lot...the bikers don't like to 'eat' into their profits too much.
Sawyer talks with his old buddy, Longley, a very large, round and bulky biker who used to be an enforcer for the original Hells Angels. He had been serving time in prison for multiple assassinations, including a cop.
He tells Sawyer about some of the other groups the Apoc Angels are perpetually at war with, including The Ghost Wolf Nation, (a band of 'redskins'), The Brigade (and bunch of army guys and wannabes that took over Ft Hood.), The Lords of Death ( a bunch of anarchist sickos), The Road Pirates and Redliners (A recently merged car racing and automotive combat group), and The Texas Rangers ( Used to be survivors centered around a group of Law enforcement types, until there was a leadership overthrow. Now they are marauders.) He says that Sawyer probably already knows about the Texas Rangers, since his buddy Vinnie says he was one. He then shakes his head.
Sawyer says that Vinnie is no marauder. He said he was indeed a ranger, but he meant ARMY ranger. "Whoa" the biker says and quickly goes to pass on that info to the two guys that were planning on knifing him for belonging to the rival group. They get the word just before they were going to attack. Vinnie isn't sure what was about to happen, until Sawyer explains in private.
Bruce is feeling nervous around all the criminals, especially he is concerned about the frequent looks they giving to Hope, and wonders about Ken who has been very quiet. He overhears that a couple of the bikers are ex military, one of them is a very grizzled old 'Nam vet. Another one, Danny Boyle, apparently used to be a cop himself. Bruce finds an opportunity to talk to him and find out his story.
Boyle says he used to be a New York state trooper, and when the apocalypse happened, he tried to help people survive. After a couple years on the highways, he always ended alone and outnumbered. He had to join with a biker gang or perish. Since then, he's glad he did. Bruce tells him he's a cop. Boyle says not to sweat it too much. The old world is gone. The new rules are what matters. As a history buff, he says that groups like this are what survives dark ages and preserves humanity for the eventual return of civilized life.
Bruce notes that there are several women in the biker gang. Most of them are looking various levels of hot, in that biker-trashy way. He asks about them. The biker says that every biker pack runs a bit different. Women are generally commodities that get shared around. Outside of Bikertown every pack's leader is the absolute boss, and has a tough second in command to help enforce his will, a 'sergeant at arms'.
In Duke's pack, before heading out for a season, Duke holds competitions for each woman. The winner gets to 'keep' that woman as his bitch for the full month or season.
The boss and the sergeant at arms can take any of the women whenever. The senior and regular members can compete, but the senior members always get first pick as to who they are competing for. The prospective members...usually kids from Bikertown who want to join the pack can't compete for the women, until they are full members.
He points out one girl in her mid teens. "That's Nina, she's our newest girl.
Duke bought her in Bikertown for four cases of beer." He explains that all the girls are basically 'married-off' for the season, but the men can loan them out to the other members in return for trade.
Bruce discusses this with the others, and wonders if any of them might be able to buy some time with one of the ladies. He says he personally hasn't been laid in such a long time. The others glare at him. Vinnie points out that Bruce buried his girlfriend yesterday, and that he's the only one besides Sawyer to get any action for months, if not years.
"Still, a week is a week," Bruce maintains, looking hungrily at the wild and loose seeming women.
Vinnie identifies a girl that he finds attractive.
He asks around and finds she's paired with Ed Cook, the mean, bitter old biker who was a 'Nam vet. He asks him if he could get some time with the lady.
"You a member of the Apoc Angels?" The old guy spits.
"No," Vinnie replies.
"See those young guys over there?" he gestures to the prospective members. "They are trying to be members, and they aren't getting any action, so why the hell should you?"
Vinnie nods and goes away.
Kyle, asks around and finds one of the ladies, Penny, is matched up to an older biker named 'Mad dog'. He recalls from the introductions that Mad Dog went to prison for a while for running a prostitution ring. He goes up to deal with him, and finds him a relatively friendly sort. They work out a deal, and he introduces him to the girl. Kyle takes her into the back of the van.
Sawyer has made a deal with his old buddy, Longley, to borrow his woman, Dawn. He bangs impatiently on the door of the van, waiting for his turn to use it. Sawyer quickly finds out that her attitude closely resembles Stacey's. It helps him to give her a good, rough, hard session.
Bruce tries to work a deal to get time with the woman he heard used to be a porn star.
He quickly finds he has nothing to trade that the biker who 'owns' her wants.
They stay the night in the garage and get an early start in the morning. In the van, they follow the convoy of bikes. The two trucks drive behind the van. They travel over 400km that day, heading out of Nebraska, down into Kansas. They stop well short of sundown in a tiny roadside town the bikers seem to know well.
The group gets out to do a bit of subsistence scrounging, and then partake of the communal meal, and supplement it with a bit of their own remaining food to stave off hunger. Kyle confides to Vinnie that Mad Dog is quite reasonable about renting out his woman.
The transaction is successful, and Vinnie takes her in the van. She's seems like a sweet girl, not too corrupted by life on the road. She tells him she's 20 years old. He confesses that she looks a lot like a woman he used to work with, and always thought was sexy. She shows Vinnie a good time, which he takes full advantage of.
Later on that evening, a biker asks Vinnie who to talk to abut having a go at the little 'Desert Rose' meaning Hope. Vinnie tells him that its not up to him. If anyone is 'with her' it would probably be the japanese guy Ken, but that not even he has been doing her.
"What's the hold up? She's perfectly ripe. Saving her for Christmas?"
Vinnie says he'd have to talk to Ken. When the biker asks Ken about it, Ken tells him no chance. The biker accepts this, but reminds him they are going to Bikertown, and its built on trade. Sometimes you have to be willing to trade what you've got to get something you need.
Kyle takes the time to introduce himself to the biker pack's enforcer, the sergeant at arms, Rick Jameson.
Others have said that he's the toughest motherfucker around. Kyle feels it only proper for one warrior to make acquaintance with another.
He asks the biker where he got his fighting skills from. "The only place that really counts," he replies. Kyle surmises that he's a survivalist type fighter. He isn't too friendly, but Kyle didn't expect a man with his job, stature and position to be. He felt good at least identifying himself, even if the biker didn't think much of Jeet Kune Do, at least he admitted a bit of respect for Bruce Lee.
Another day on the road follows the night. The air is already getting warmer and they make good time, crossing down into northern Texas from Oklahoma. Despite the group's nervousness, Duke decides to camp out the following night in the open. They pitch their tents. The bikers tell them not to worry about zombies. There aren't a lot in the area after the biker wars and they always have at least two guys walking perimeter security.
Sawyer asks Longley where Bikertown is. He says it's just southwest of Houston, about 30km from the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Sawyer asks if there are beaches. Longley nods. 'Nice.' Sawyer says, remembering the cold they are leaving behind. Another two days on the road and they should be in Bikertown Longley tells him.