Jedediah and his jalopy

Part 1
Ironbar gets bent.

After the chase against Max ended with the head-on collision of his truck and Ironbar's buggy, the scene was a brief torent of chaos. Two smaller buggies flanking Ironbar were hit by flying debre and rolled for several dozen meters and then layed on their side, immobleized yet still running. Jed and his plane and it's occupants buzzed past the smashing wreck, missing the front half of Ironbar's vehicle as it flew upwards with Max's vehicle, shearing away from the other half as it kept going, right under Max's machine and slamming, rolling and crunching to a stop.

Then there was silence. Max was down. Ironbar was stuck under the remains of his vehicle. He gave him a shakey, sooty yet presistant finger as he felt his old mask laying there broken. Even more infuriating was that after a sly comment, Aunty let Max go, signaling one of her guards to pull Ironbar out of the wreck. All he can hear as he started to crawl from under a beam was "So long, soldier!' from Aunty as she laughed her way to her buggy and prepaired to take off.

Then the guard came over and started to resue Ironbar...and soon wish he didn't!

"C'mon, Ironbar! You ain't busted too much arn't cha'!?" said the guard. "Aunty wants us back to Ba'tartown!"

Ironbar, half out of the wreckage, was all covered in soot and had several bruises and nicks on his head and back. And furthermore, he reeked with pig manure all over...and this was all so convenient for the wind died suddenly! Only now did the guard know that he was thrown into pig shit in the Underworld just before the chase. He shook his head out from the stench as he pulled on Ironbar's iron bar.

As he stepped out, showing that he amazingly had no broken bones or serious injuries, he gave the guard a nutty smile that seemed like thanks. The guard, not knowing Ironbar's violent mood swings, smiled back goofily. Suddenly, he then grabbed the guard's throat and started strangling him! As the guard, taken by suprise, stumbled down in the dusty stillness under Ironbar's murderous grip, he limply pointed towards Max, who was laying there waiting to be finished off. Ironbar, seeing this as he turned around at Max, let go of the guard and started to hobble towards him. The guard fell to the ground but started to get back up holding his neck with a wince.

But just a few meters to Max, Aunty stopped in front of Ironbar and pointed a little crossbow at him, between his eyes, causing him to stop. He said nothing.

"He's free to go,"said Aunty wth a blank stare, standing confidently in front of him,"He's my trouble, and he's no cause for worry no more."

Ironbar then looked at Aunty, and then looked at Max, who was barely getting up, and then back at Aunty with her harsh gaze, and back to Max. As he kept looking back and forth, he began to wince, whine and then throw a tantrum. "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!! I WANNA TWIST HIS FURRY HEAD OFF!!" He slowly shook his head around and swung his fist up and down, like a VERY antsy punk, and the it suddenly ended...

Bonk!! A swift shotgun butt to the head by the Helmet Guard stops the fit. Ironbar's face then eases, shows a girly smile to Aunty and he then collapses in front of her, knocked out. Aunty looks down at him briefly with a calm face and slight smile just before she leaves for her vehicle, leaving a comment:

"Play nice from now on."

The half-strangled guard walks up, shakes off his light-headed disorientation and drags him to the Cow Car which had been retrieved on the runway. In it are two injured drivers, one with a broken leg and the other out cold from a face-blow, lay inside a small copartment in the back. Ironbar, just to be safe, is hogtied in chains and heaped onto the blistering hot hide-body of the car and tied down as the bruised but OK Cow Driver as well as the guard take off in it.

Aunty and the rest of the troop, including the four shaken yet uninjured men from the rolled buggies, drive off to Bartertown. They leave the two crushed buggies and the smashed remains of Ironbar's and Max's vehicles in a smoking heap. The gas tanks have been vented, leaving the still-operational buggies powerless and the tanks of methane on the other vehicles useless. Without tools or fuel, Max can only leave them and go back to Crack In The Earth and never return to Bartertown again.

(The next day - at Jedediah's cave)

"My my my!!"quietly exclames Aunty as she walks into Jed's bungalow to she the treasure he and Jr have been hoarding. "Will ya look as this!"

Outside was impressive enough - a 100 acre millet farm irrigated from a big well, the water pumped by a 50 hp diesel engine pump converted to using methane. The feild was just harvested to provide feed for the pigs in Underworld.

Beside the flat, dusty feild was the first entrance to his underground home. It was a cleverly disguised "garage door" made to look like the surrounding rock. The door was a big sheet of sewn-together sheepskins covered with glued-on sand. When the collector, sweating in the heat, pulled open the cover, it reveiled a big cave holding two vehicles.

One was a tiny buggy powered by a Kawasaki 1000cc engine mounted in the back connected to a rear VW axle with hill-climber wheels by a custom shaft assembly. The buggy had only one seat, simple go-cart suspension, no rollbar and small front wheels that looked like they were spares for Jed's plane's landing gear. It had a small tow mount on the back and a rear power attachment gear connected to the engine opposite the shaft. It had only a 2 cu.ft. gas tank for fuel. Apparently this was the vehicle used as a "tractor" and short range patrol buggy for his farm.

The other vehicle was much larger, having two roll bars on a Toyota 4 by 4 base-frame, the wheels being custom made for it and the axles being originals but having a custom lift kit as suspension. The engine was a big, supercharged V8 uprade of the original but mounted in the BACK, and the transmision and distribution box being custum made with four individual shafts to each wheel!

This is the vehicle that Jed uses to bring goods back and forth from Bartertown that were too heavy or bulky for his plane, like a small wagon of grain or the big 70 cu.ft. towed gas tank. It had two seats, one in the front between the wheels where the driver sits - just like Aunty's buggy. The second was under the rollbars on the left side. The floor and the overhangs over the front wheels were of welded steel mesh and has hook mounts for straps to secure cargo. The Helmut Guard stopped here and started to case the vehicle, ignoring everyhing else!

Also in the cave was four small towed 4m wide farm implements - a tiller, a planter, a manure spreader and a reaper. A small hopper wagon was also wedged in the back next to a big towed gas tank as just mentioned. They were all empty, of course. Finally was a assortment of spare parts, tyres and a jack put under a table and several tools lying on it. The ceiling had two bright yet cool flourecent lights mounted in dusty covers bolted to the rock. The lines to then ran to a switch/outlet on the wall near the door to rest of his place.

Down a short walkway, lined with boxes of junk and some cans of castor oil lubricant for the vehicles, was the tool shop. It has a millng press, small lathe machine, a big work table spotlighted by numerous lights from above. A big tool rack stood a the end of the room, along with a scale and other stuff lying on top of it. On the table was a vise, several tools such as hammers, screwdrivers, guages, wrenches and so on. A smaller 20 cu.ft. gas tank stood across from the table, and cords all ran about from equiptment and lights to a electrical line that ran from the garage, along the workshop to a small nearby room where a running converted diesel generator powered the whole place. The tank was connected to it, and the exhast was piped to the surface.

This place caught the attention of the Collector, who immediately started looking at the tools lying on the table through his eye-peice.

"lovely..."he comments as he inspects the equiptment. Aunty and her two other guards look breifly at the place and then carry on.

Down another corridor, lined with boxes of junk and several old appliances, they come across Jed's bedroom. It had posters of movies, Japanese cartoons and some new-age "black light" designs all mounted all over the walls. This told very well that Jed was always a hippy-slacker type if anything. There was a bed near a sunlight-shaft window and covered with hempen blankets and skins. On the floor was a "carpet" of cattle hide. A stand nearby had a lamp and a tourist magazine that Jed was reading before Max wisked him away.

One of Aunty's guards decided to look into a dusty metal chest near the wall. In it was a HUGE collection of magazines of all kinds - science, aviation, do-it-yourself guides, comic books and a few porn mags. The guard rumages through one of the naughty glossies while Aunty, looking on, rolls her eyes up, turns around and walks on. The other guard follows as he looks back, snickering.

Down the corridor was two rooms facing each other on each side with cattle-hides as doors - Junior's room and the bathroom. The bathroom had actual running water fixtures- a toilet, sink and old-style bathtub all connected to a big water storage tank that was fed by a pipe to the surface. They drained into larger pipes buried in the cement floor that led to a small crawl space to a septic tank outside the caverns.

Jr.'s room also had a cement floor, but it was covered by a soft hempen rug. It also had a small bed, a small table and chair. The walls were also covered with posters, but these were of race cars. One was of the FYI100 Bathurst V8 race. On the table were crude drawings of dune-buggies, roadsters and such. the ceiling had a single light as well as a narrow skylight shaft going straight to the surface.

Down the junk-lined hall was the best place of all...the rec room. Along one wall, away from the hallway door was the rope-ladder going to a wide shaft to the surface covered with an old junked car-body. But the rest of the room really caught Aunty's eye. Why it didn't interest Max was odd, for it was simply dazzling to her.

The cement floor had a smooth black and white checker tiling. The walls had neon and back-illuminated plastic beer signs and Chinese lanterns hanging from the tall ceiling, which gave the place a festive glow. A couple fur-covered sofas and a marble coffee table was at one side. Across the room was a mint-condition 50's style jukebox, plugged in and ready to play. At the back end across from the passageway to the ladder was a small felt-covered bar that had several beer signs and mirrors behind it. Empty beer and wine bottles decorated the back as well. Under the bar was several bottles of variuos home-made liqueurs, as well as a functioning cooler/ice-machine!

With wide eyed eagerness, Aunty opened the ice-maker cooler to look inside while the guard looked on, both not noticing the shaking of the rope-ladder as someone starts clammering down it!

Aunty reached into the ice-cabinet and picked up a big chunk of clear cold ice. The coldness of the ice on her hand seemed strange to Aunty, for she hadn't seen or touched ice in so long. She held the ice to her face as the guard backed off a bit but watched.

She licked the ice and smiled girlishly. It was so crystal clean and it sent goosebumps all over her.

She then rubbed the ice on the side of her face. It was so cold and was so welcome in the intense heat of this god-forsaken desert. She closed her eyes and a tear of emotion ran down the side of her calm face from her left eye.

It made her remember. Of times long ago and that will never be again. Times she took for granted until the times ran out. Of her days, before the war, of being a third-rate nightclub singer. She was happy then...yet not a "somebody", which is why she started Bartertown.

It made her wonder as she opened her eyes slightly. Is it worth it? Can it ever be like what the world was before? Even just a little? She's definately a "somebody" of sorts...but does it make her happy. Civilization...it seems to want to destroy itself. That's why the old world ended...her world may end the same way...

There's no turning back...but it helps to look back. It made her both happy and sad...but it started to make sense...

"It's good to be a thief!" blurts out a sarcastic comment from across the room. It was Ironbar. He was thankfully cleaned up and had a couple bandages on. He also had a new mask on his bar...a brown-red samuari-like mask istead of the old white geisha-like one. He looked at Aunty with a blank stare with anger in his eyes.

Aunty looks back with wide-eyed suprise. "You're supposed to be at Underworld, supervising the rebuilding."she shouts.

"It's going alright,"says Ironbar, unconcerned,"At the rate they're putting that generator back in, we'll have power in two, maybe three days..."

He walks towards the center of the room. It is quite cool here, only 80 degrees fahrenheit, as opposed to 120 some degrees outside. He looks breifly at the checkered floor, and then arond the room and finally back at Aunty. To get his attention, she throws the chunk of ice at him, smacking at his chest! He doesn't flinch, instead he slowly looks down at the watery mess and back at her.

"I see's you don't likes the show, blockie!"he says with a smirk. The feel of ice only reminds him of his punk-rocker days before the war, when irrate fans threw their slushy drinks at him. This only makes him madder.

Aunty knew what Ironbar's problem was - he wanted revenge for yesterday's joyride. She just wanted him to get off it and get back to work. It isn't working. Maybe some music and dancing would work.

She walks toward the jukebox and turns it on. She pushes a few buttons and then turns arund and bumps the devise wth her hip stylishly. The box starts playing some instrumental jazz of some kind. She walks toward Ironbar and extends her hand.

"Wanna dance?" she says with a smile. Ironbar just rolls his eyes away. "OK!"she adds with a bright face as she starts dancing with a dummy torso on rollers that had a nice silk coat on it, holding the arm of the sleave like a "hand". As she waltzed around, it was obvious that Aunty was trying to either break his nerves or remind him that the past is forgotten. The first seemed to work.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!"yelled Ironbar sounding like a broken siren. He turned to the wall, grabbed onto a "Fosters" back-illuminated plexy sign and drove his head into it with a smashing head-butt! The sign shattered and sparks came flying out from the burst lightbulb.

"What's sammata?" said Aunty with a bright smile becoming sarcastic as she turned around.

"I WANNA KILL JED!!!"yelled Ironbar with a shreeking whine. He turns toward Aunty with a angry face. The guard, who was snickering in the back at Ironbar from his "pig-poop incident", suddenly straightened up.

"Really?!" cheerfully retorts Aunty,"First Max, now the Jalopy pilot. Who's next...our new collector, Grizzlebeard?"

"Max was your problem. He's fly-food in the desert by now!"whines Ironbar,"But it was Jed that took his goods, forcin' him to come here and makin' that deal with you! And it was Jed who took the Master away after he escaped with Max! HE'S THE ONE WHO SHOULD DIE! And I was just gettin' to like torturin' that little gremlin!"

"He's gone!"Aunty says soothingly with a calm smile,"the forfeture of his goods will be his punishment. Besides, with his plane and the fuel it holds, he can't go more than 400 miles. He's fly-fodder just like that Raggedy man!"

Then the collector walks in. He is a replacement for the old collector who died of a stroke yesterday when Bartertown was exploding. He is a stalky old man in brown leather clothes, with a leather hat and gray hair and stringy gray beard. Thus that is why he's called Grizzlebeard. He knows as much about technical knowledge as the old collector, is an expert on weapons, from working at the weapons check counter and also knows much about "finding" value in junk of sorts for trade. What he doesn't have is the fraudulent confidence of his mentor. But he has a dark strange sense of humour that leaves one wondering.

"With the equiptment in the workshop, we can make some of the parts we need. Vise is good...if it can crush a hand, then we can use it! Sure wished Jed was here to volunteer for a demo! You wanna, Ironbar?"he says with a wicked smile. He looks around the room and comments,"Wooo-weee, now I know where Dealgood and his lovely ladies have been goin' to, yeh heh!"

Ironbar then interrupts and steps up to him. "The big vehicle in the garage..."says Ironbar to Grizzle.

"Yours. Replacement for old one."he says without hesitation. Aunty's face turns wide-eyed with discontent.

"Wait!"she says to Ironbar,"You're not going out there to bag this bird and pluck 'em?" asks Aunty with anger and worry.

"I might..." Ironbar says with a mean smile.

"Hah! Really! Have I not been good to ya'!? Gave you big position in Underworld!? Gave ya food, spirits, ladies!? A new mask on your pole?" rants Aunty.

"Actually, the mask is nice..."he says quietly as he rolls his eyes up at his new decoration,"But Jed's skull would look nicer..."

He then turned mean again, picks up the dummy and holds it like a bat and prepares to smash it into the jukebox. Aunty, with a startled face, backs off while Grizzle watches with excitement. As he's about to swing, Aunty holds a drawn crossbow to his nose! And the guard points a submachinegun to his back from behind the bar.

"Go ahead! Go on! Try to catch Jed! Take your vehicle and two of your men and go crazy! End up like the scav's* who roam around with no hope! Leave your poor Aunty behind by herself!"Aunty screams, almost crying, her other hand in the air.

He drops the dummy and starts to walk out with a hint of satisfaction. Aunty lowers her weapon and continues in a calmer yet stern voice,"...But you're on your own!"

He looks back at her with a smirk, and goes on out the door to the garage. He's coming for Jed!!

[* Scav's = Scavengers]

Part 2
Cities in Dust

As Ironbar starts on his journey of hate, Jed and Jr. start on their journey for paradise.

The scene on the ruined buildings were bad enough. It was hard to imagine that they once had shops, malls, offices, glittering lights and other things of the old world. It was depressing...Jed could only stare catatonicly. The last time he visited Sydney was before the war. During an air show outside of town. He flew stunts in a powerful acrobatic plane shooting colored smoke for the fans far below. Now, twenty years later, half the city's remains are buried in sand. He couldn't even find the little runway where the show took place.

As he flew closer to the skyline, it was so horrid. The buildings were gutted and covered with sand. No windows or doors survived...only concrete shells. Savannah points to a empty freeway to direct a landing.

"Look...there...just like the place where we gots runway for this plane..." Jed looks down and sees a posible landing sight. He and Jr. starts taking the Agtruck down to gliding landing, for his methane is fast running out.

"Hold on, kids...we's gonna fume it in!!"yells Jed as he puts his goggles on. Pigkiller yells out,"Hey! We ain't going down there, are we?" Not paying any attention to him, Jed brings the plane down above the freeway. When they hit the sandy pavement with a soft "thud", the kids let out a breif scream as it went rolling along effortlessly. Steering it in, Jed calls out with releif,"See! That wasn't so bad!" But as the plane rolls to a stop, they come to a bridge overpass...but the bridge was out!

"Ahhhhhh!!"yelled Jed,"Junior!!! Harpooooonn!!" Jr. went to the back and grabbed a harpoon launcher made from a big single-barrel 8-guage shotgun with the barrel sawed-off to about two feet in length. He opened a small hatch on the rear of the plane, opposite the rear door, and points the thing out of it, showing that a large steel dart with sabot was loaded in the end with a steel wire cable tied to a hole in it. The other end of the long cable was connected to a latch-hook on a beam under the tail.

Junior pointed the launcher and pointed it to a railing on the side of the road. He fired - BOOM!! The recoil throwed him back against rear of Jed's seat. The blank cartridge shot the dart out and it stuck right into the rusty railing with a shower of sparks.

"We ain't gonna make it!"yells Savannah as they roll closer to the rebarb-spiked edge. The slack of the cable flies out the hatch and then tightens...causing the plane to jolt to a stop! Jed and Pigkiller were thrown to the windsheald, but thankfully not busting it, or themselves. Savannah, the other kids and Master are thrown against the back of the seat, almost crushing little Junior! Then the dust settles. Scrooloose picks up Master and the little midget dusts himself off. The kids start jumping out of the plane as Savannah gets up and picks up Jr. as he was shaking off the blow. He raises his hat up to show Savannah calmly smiling at him.

"Oh you brave little boy..."she says as she kisses him on the cheek. "Yeeewwww!! Don't start that ya' icky girl!" he squeals out. At the front, Pigkiller sits back with a big smile of releif. "Nice landin' Jed...Dealgood would wish it was that good for him! Heh heh!!" Jed replies with a cocky smile as he looks out the window,"Hahh! He'd better handle it if he is ta' enjoy bein' at my pla-aaa--aaace!!!" As he finishes his comment, he looks out an sees that the plane' forward landing wheel was hanging over the edge! It was dangling just a foot past the edge of the concrete and the tyres missed the sharp rebarbs by just inches!! Then there was just thirty feet of air below them to a sand filled gully where a road may be!

They left the plane and walked into the dark city. The streets were filled with sand twenty to thirty feet high in some places. However, some streets were bare...no vehicles or nothing. It's as if the people left quickly...or at least those with vehicles and guzzline. Jed's eyes glazed as he walked, looking back....

Jed remembered it from the radio reports when he was flying away to the country - the residents knew the war was coming because of the fuel shortages and the emergency martial-law imposed as a result. The marauders left first, wrecking mayhem on the rural highways and to avoid the military-police crackdown in the cities. All the junked or abandoned cars were dragged out for their precious metal and parts, too.

All that was left was a million poor, hungry people with no cars, planes, money, fuel...herded into the dark buildings...no shelters were available to hold them all. Only military vehicles...the entire Australian Army Reserves at that, were in the streets. The main Army was in Malaysia fending off a Chinese invasion. They never came back. Then the neutron bombs came from China...it was over. All that was left was a ruined city in dust. The old world was already dying when it happened...the nukes put it out of it's misery.

The last he heard on the goverment-police CB band was a desperate and dwindlng MFP trying to contain the marauders in the chaotic south, and that para-miltary forces in the north were looting armories and forcing the residents of still-standing Brisbane and Gold Coast out into slave-labor farms and industrial camps. The radio news then dwindled more and finally stopped...just static against the rumbling of his Agtruck propelers. He transported refugies for fuel...and to return the life of human talking to his then-new plane. To be a loner in a desolate world was a nightmare for him. Here, as in Bartertown, he wasn't alone....but this city, like the desert, was desolate. It didn't work. He wanted to find his paradise....now.

Jed, Savannah and Master walked to the remains of the Opera House while Pigkiller and the rest of the kids went running around looking into the empty buidings. When Jed and company walked into the magestic ruin, Savannah nearly swooned in awe.

"Oh! If our ancestors built this, then who'll know what we's can do!!" she says in a bright show of hope. Jed replies in a sad tone,"You can't be serious!? This place is dead...I'd rather be back in Bartertown than live here!"

"They'll kill ya' fer sure! They not kill me for only I knew how to run Bartertown....but if they found smarter man....!"barks Master, with a show of frustration,"Aunty had charisma...fine dame she is...but no sense. If I ran Bartertown, there'd be more than pigshit...a foundry perhaps. Mill shop. Better brothel...the works!!" He continued to walk, gestureing in the air, as Savannah and Jed stop and watch. His rant echos into the huge shell of the Opera House.

"She let Ironbar and Collector run everything! Puppet she most likely...her strength was hope...I respect, but Collector...swindle! Ironbar...nuts! Family they is to her...very convenient!" He turns around and look into Savannah's eyes with a grimace of warning,"But progress...NONE!! All swindle...for methane...for PIGSHIT!! No else...I shoulda done more than pigshit. I was swindled too...and so was Blaster...he all I had other than pigshit." He sits down on a concrete step and looks down sadly.

Savannah, with tears in her eyes dropping down her still face, replies,"How can people who'd rebuild the world be like that?"

Jed, looking around and nodding his head with a sarcastic smile, disgusted as to how history repeats itself, follows up,"World was already like it! I hear your friends call this Tomarrow-Marrow-Land. Well....The lights, the "sonic" as you'all call it, was runs by the petro from the King Arabs....petro was the shit of the earth, so as many says...from it came guzzline and diesel and lube and stuff. Without all of it...Tomarrow-marrow and would've never been here."

"Who was these King Arabs...if they made this petro, they were in charge...right?" asks Savannah.

"Nope."replies Jed with world-weary bitterness,"they were used...like Master-Blaster here. Their men were mostly slaves, with the King killin' each other. The Tommarow-ies never cared...as long as theys got their oil! All the Kings got as trade was stuff to make Mister Dead party!"

"But why did the at'ocalypse happen...why did Tomarrow-Marrow-land be no more?" asks Savannah with a cringed look of anguish and confusion."Please...say it ain't about the King Arabs!!"

"Well..."says Jed as he takes one big breath, exhales and looks up with a wry smile,"One day, these Kings wanted to have their own Tomarrow-land...they stopped fightin' each other, banded up, and told the Tomarrow-ies to give em' their "sonic" and "highscrapers" and such...but we's were greedy. We's wanted all the oil for us-selves. They stay poor and in chains we say..."

"We could't have...."weeped Savannah.

"Yes...we were like we are! The King Arabs got mad! First they blew up one of our high-scrapers, they blew up many of our planes...like that what sent you from the pocsyclypse! As 'venge, we sent sonic-planes and big steel boats, all with Mister Dead on board,"continues Jed,"Then, when the King Arab can't take it, they make a deal with the Chinks, who had lots of men, and the Ruskies, who had lots of sonic planes and Mister Nuke. They needed oil as bad as we Tomarrow-ies, you see. They get it, we don'ts! So bigger war'n started!"

"We made no deal...too little oil...we fought Chinks and Ruskies and King Arabs....everyone lose. Nuke destroy everything!!"Master says as he stands up and adds to the conversation,"Everyone nuts! No sense...like Aunty. I try to be King Arab...teach her lesson....no sense...I even set up mill shop, but Collector has it taken down...says he gets parts by trade for methane...only junk comes in...syphilis from brothel goes out!! No progress!!

"I didn't come here for this so-called progress!"blurts Savannah with a bit of anger,"I just wants to come home! Sonic n' lights n' high-scrapers n' oil can say goodbye! We's don't need it...we're home...and haves each other...all that matters to us all!"

"Me too...but my home will be where I can swim the surf, lay in the warm sun...not the sun in that blasted desert, but it's nice cousin who shines o'er the tropical beach, and doze on a hammock in a cool, moist breeze under a tree!!"Smiles Jed as he adds to her comment,"Besides, this city might be glowing with radiation from Nuke!"

"Who's Mister Nuke?"asks Savannah with puzzlement.

"Mister Dead's little bastard son! Whether in a "blistic" missile or on a sonic plane, he cans kill millions at once wth a VERY bright light, and lots of hard wind!"says Jed in his usual flash,"That's how the pocsyclypse happened...his cry was a BOOOM, his smell was radiation and his shit was fallout! And I's don't wants to stick around and stink in it!"
"I may not be alive when the new Tomarrow-land rises from these sorry ruins...but I am's very proud I'm's home."Sighs Savannah as she walks out of the dark hollow of Opera House. Jed stood there and looks down at Master.

"Your home...now Aunty's,"quietly says Master with a hint of warning,"No go back...you want paradise...head north with your plane..."

"North!"jolts Jed with horrid suprise,"There may be trouble...big time!" He remembers all too well of the CB reports just after the nuclear holocaust...the north-east of Australia is crawling with para-militaries. He remembers the reports of their atrocities....thousands shot, starved and worked to death...the neutron bombs in the south were the easy way out for the poor without vehicles.

"I may get shot down by para's,"he adds,"They make Aunty and her goons look like teenie-girl blockies by compar'son!"

"Worth it!! Trees...farmland...anything grows!! Beaches! Good air!"Master yells, getting some spirit into Jed,"I hear from traders...that's were we gots our tyres...ammo...guns...over five hundred miles, perhaps...if I knew ten years ago...I be there now! Dead or alive...better than being in Underworld...even as Arab King!!"

"Beaches?"says Jed with wide eyed enthusiasum, his depressed demeaner suddenly lightens up"...with waves...PERFECT waves....a-a-and palm trees...koalas...good food..pretty girls...."

"The works...and more!!"retorts Master with jubilation, raising hands in the air with a smile,"Worth fighting for...but I help...come!"

He leads Jed out of the Opera House and into what used to be an old parking garage. Now it is a crumbling concrete hulk, with it's bulkheads, floors and ceilings having huge cracks and gaping holes held by twisted, rusting rebarbs and pipes. As they stumble through the ruined building, they come across, in a otherwise totally empty room, a big rusting armored vehicle. The vehicle was tremendously huge, but completely and permanently immobile. Its axles were rusted frozen and its gigantic tyres were melted to the floor and rotting - a testament to the heat of an atomic weapon.

"See! Big APC...must have fuel! Military vehicles high priority for guzzline...if your plane can still use!"

"Ohhh boy!! I still have the original carbs and junk for it to use liquid fuel!"Beams Jed with exitement as he ganders at the impressive wreck,"My methane tanks have bottom feed lines, so they can hold and use guzzline....but under pressure with a carbon dioxide cart I's have, so I needs no fuel pump!"

"Good! I open...I go to rear hatch!"says Master as he waddles over to the back of the vehicle. He sees the latch and turns it....he groans and the rusty metal creaks as it turns slowly under his meak strength. Jed steps forward to lend a hand. When the hatch finally peeked open, a blast of compressed air vents out the crack with a big "WHOOOOSH!!"

"Ahh! The insides was shut since the blast! Pressurized to keep out radioactive dust..."yells out Jed as he opened the door,"but what's that awfull smell....like oil and..and...ohhh...."

"Look!"screams Master as something flops out from the portal after Jed pushes the door open. It was a mummified body of a soldier! It's head and hands were all dried and wrinkled, brown colored like leather. The uniform was almost in perfect condition except for char-marks on the sleaves and collar! The hair was all white and stringy and the eye sockets were empty. Even with the face shrunk over the skull like a wet brown paper bag, they can easily tell from that face that the man died a hellishly agonizing death....most likely from intense radiation through the APC's armour. He was fried like he was in a microwave oven! The rays also sterilized the inside of the APC, keeping the body and uniform from rotting.

"Ohhh...dear...have mercy! Poor fella'..."moaned Jed in terror as he looked at the hideous find.

"I go look inside...you drag him out..."said Master with a tone of respect as he climbed into the vehicle. He starts to rumage around in the dark for a few minute as Jed pulls the dried corpse off the hatchway and against a wall. Then Master finds something.

"Guzzline!! Still in fuel tank...mostly full!! Must be hundreds of gallons!"yelps Master as Jed looked back into the vehicle through the hatch. "Where!?"says Jed with almost forgotten joy. He stumbled into the APC and pulled out a tiny flashlight and shines it on the access cap, which was open.

"Whoooo-wheeee!! That smell brings back memories!!" yells Jed cheerfully as he smelled the fumes of the now-extinct (at least elsewhere) fuel. Amazingly, the fuel didn't ignite from the heat and rays of the nuke blast! He starts to look arond some more...he finds a small radio. When he turned it on, there was a loud ringing and then a stutter and finally, silence. A puff of smoke rose from the little box - the electronics were so srewed up by the blast's electro-magnetic pulse that even the voltage regulator failed, causing it to overlaod and burn out. The noise cause both Jed and Master to cringe, and when it fizzled, Jed smelled it and then tossed it off. As he looked for some army-rations, he found something that got his attention just as mush as the guzzline.

"Ohhh...myyyy...GOD!!" said Jed as he pulled out from a canvas case...an FN-FAL, 7.62 by 51mm SLR rifle in almost brand new condition. It had a black, fibreglass stock, forarm and grip, smooth blueing all over and a twenty round magazine still inside - loaded with full-metal-jacketed ball rounds! He looked the gun all over franticly yet carefully as a startled Master sits by and watches.

"As I say...worth fighting for...and you have fuel...have gun...must travel and fight...for PARADISE!!"yells out Master with glee. Jed then shows a wide-eyed blank face as he ponders the implications....he may have to fight to live the rest of his life in leasurely retirement. Not just knock people off their vehicles, out cold but still alive, to steal some goods to survive...but to actually KILL, up close, seeing the man's eyes and exspression, so his own life's ordeal might be finally over. Big deal indeed!! At least he figured that it would be better than killing over junk or hatred, like Aunty's goons or other scav's - but he wasn't the kinda person to murder someone like that....maybe swindle or rob... He looked at the lovely rifle with a grim face.

"You wanna stay here and not fight...go ahead....I'm stayin'....kids needs me...I'm's sick of fightin'...too old... but you young, yet not like Savannah...you want more...paradise?"says Master quietly, counseling the slacker-pilot.

"Paradise..."sighs Jed as he looks back at his rifle...cocks the bolt and flips the safety on. He then looks back at Master with shakey determination.

"Paradise!" he repeats louder with a slight smile. The Master returns a reasuring nod. It's worth it...

THE END (for now...)


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