Gremlin is sitting in the back of the crowd while Samson is getting baptized. He realizes that the last time he’d witnessed a gathering like this was several years ago, the last time someone they had to hang someone back in Tallahassee. Meanwhile, a small crowd has gathered around George. People are chatting, asking questions, posing for group photos. George gets the tablet working, and begins recording people’s voices.
George has been trading various knick-knacks with the crowd for a while when Samson returns, wearing a lab coat as a makeshift baptism robe. One of the pastors is telling a Bible story to George. Samson sees that the pastor is getting a bit more familiar with George than he is really comfortable with. When the pastor puts his hand on George’s knee, Samson grabs his wrist and gently but firmly maneuvers him away from George. There’s a tense moment as Gremlin remembers the armed guards just outside in the mall, so he moves to smooth things over. Samson comes to his senses, and lets go of the pastor’s hand. The pastor apologizes for being overealous in his sales pitch, and Gremlin apologizes for Samson being overprotective. They politely excuse themselves as Gremlin takes hold of the wheelchair’s handles and says “Gentlemen, start your engines…”
On the way out, Samson inquires after a bible. A woman with the largest hat that Samson has ever seen tells him how to pray, and directs him to a box of bibles by the door. Samson picks one up, and on the inside cover there are all kinds of colorful scribbles. He wonders who owned it before him.
Outside, the rain has stopped, and a heavy fog is rolling in. The back door of the bus is open, and Troy has just finished installing the kill switch for the coffee table when the others return to the vehicles. Gremlin brings him up to speed on Louise’s daughter’s condition. Troy asks to see Gremlin’s atlas as Samson carries George and the wheelchair onto the bus, so Gremlin goes to retrieve it from his car.
On the bus, Samson regards John, currently staring out at nothing as it recharges. He asks what the android’s purpose is. George says it’s a soldier. Gremlin says it’s proven itself a capable driver as he hands over his atlas. Maude says it’s a codebook, as she passes by on the way back to the van. Troy says someone’s been studying, and stalks off toward the front of the bus.
As Gremlin heads back to his car, he passes by Maude and the van. She calls to him and asks, rather sharply, if there’s a problem between him and Troy that she needs to know about, and she doesn’t back down. He agrees to go find out.
He heads back to the bus and knocks on the door. Troy opens it, and Gremlin gets back on. They size each other up, and Gremlin asks Samson and George for some privacy. Samson carries George off the bus and Troy closes the door.
Troy tells Gremlin about the full potential of both John and his coffee table: Access codes, locations of military installations. Gremlin begins to understand. At one point, Troy refers to the bus as his, and Gremlin doesn’t challenge him on this. As far as he’s concerned, Troy’s earned it, and he figures he’ll only have to worry about finding another vehicle to replace if they make it to San Francisco and then all the way back to Tallahassee. Gremlin agrees to let Troy take charge of the expedition.
Samson asks George what exactly is their mission, how exactly will they save the world. George corrects him and says that the mission is to *heal* the world. They reiterate that the mission is to travel from one sea to the other, collecting the stories of all the people along the way. Samson says he thinks they need more of a plan.
Samson discounts the importance of the past. He says that the Big Day happened because the society of the Day Before failed. This upsets George a bit, and they point out a gigantic shape off in the distance, out in the water. They say it’s the battleship USS Alabama, it’s where the City Council lives, and where they’re standing used to be called Alabama. Samson reiterates his lack of regard for the world of the Day Before and walks off, leaving George unable to return on their own.
Troy and Gremlin are discussing whether the residents of the Fort would take kindly to the possibility of them camping out in front to make repairs to the vehicles, when Troy notices the gate open up, and two figures wearing gas masks approach the vehicles. He comments on it, just as the driver’s side door of the van opens up, and Maude slithers out with her large handgun at the ready. Gremlin gets on the radio, tells her to stand down, and makes it clear in his tone that he’s not asking. Maude reluctantly complies, and the guards approach cautiously. One tells Troy to open the door, and Troy does so. The guard informs them that Doc Holliday has died from measles, and that there is a chance that anyone who was in the infirmary was possibly exposed. They offer to examine everyone. Troy points out that they were not able to do anything for Doc Holliday, and questions their own chances inside. Gremlin, knowing that George wouldn’t willingly submit to a medical examination, politely declines.
Gremlin exits and sees Samson watching from behind the bus. He indicates to him that it’s all clear, and heads over to the van to talk to Maude. He confirms that he smoothed things over with Troy, and says they’re heading for Bigelow next, where they can hopefully make repairs. He asks if they’re good, and she says they are. He mentions the issue of the disease, and while Maude is concerned, Gremlin says he doesn’t think they spent enough time inside to be at risk. Maude speculates about finding the residents dead inside if they come back this way later on, and brings up the possibility of looting the place.
As Gremlin is heading back toward the bus, Samson back moves toward George, and Gremlin can hear Janus barking. Gremlin quickens his pace, comes up alongside Samson, and asks if everything’s okay. Samson says it’s fine, but George asks Gremlin to retrieve their wheelchair from the bus. Gremlin says he needs Samson to ride with him. Samson says he’ll see him at the car. He gathers his stuff from the bus, and closes the back door of the bus.
Troy brings John online. John asks where they’re headed, and Troy says they’re making for a hardhold called Bigelow. John doesn’t recognize the name, and says that no settlement by that name is on the map.
John asks if there was a physical altercation, Troy denies it, but says that there was a possible exposure to measles. John says that fever is the primary symptom, and also notes that George’s supplemental immune system will almost certainly have taken care of any infection for them. It will continue to monitor the body temperatures of the rest of crew. John asks if it should drive. Troy says he’ll continue on for a bit, while John still recharges, as there’s still some sunlight left. As the crew is moving out, they can see the jagged outline of the dead battleship, surrounded by a mass of tents.
They are heading northwest on US225. They can see more of the Day After patches on the road, to indicate that someone is maintaining it.
Gremlin and Samson discuss what’s ahead. Samson says that they need a plan. Gremlin says that he knows they can’t go back to the Day Before, and he has no interest in doing so. However, he is interested in building something new. He tells Samson about the trade network stretching up north from Tallahassee, and how he wants to do something similar for the road west.
Gremlin asks Samson about his vocabulary. Samson says he spent a lot of time in the company of better-educated men.
Samson says that George said he never created anything, but it’s not true. He has no idea how many children he sired, but some of them must have survived.
Glancing up in the rearview mirror, Troy notices that George is unusually quiet, and makes an attempt to engage them. Troy figures out that they’re thinking about Samson. He says he calls Samson Meatball because he knows too many Fuckfaces. George asks if they’re one of them, and Troy says yes. That elicits a chuckle.
George says Troy doesn’t like Samson, and he acknowledges that. George contrasts this with them. Troy says that he never didn’t like them, they just need looking out for. George says that if he doesn’t want them to call something down on Samson, they won’t. Troy says there’s no need for that yet. He mentions that he’s uncomfortable talking about people when they’re not present, and George lets the matter drop.
George asks if he and Maude are planning to ditch them. Troy says that he had a talk with Gremlin, and they’ve come to an understanding. He admits that George scares him, because they have a power they don’t understand and can’t properly control. Troy says he thinks everyone is capable of great things, but most people are distracted by bullshit.
George tells Troy that he never laughed at them, and thanks him for that. George offers to tell Troy a joke:
“So there’s this woman, and her husband goes away on business a lot…”
All apologies to everyone in the secondary audience. This was an amazing session, and what’s written here utterly fails to capture all the nuance of the original conversations that were going on in game. That being said, I have no interest in recording the game, or attempting to transcribe such recordings. You’re just going to have to deal with it.# ontheroad