From the next Convergence book. No release date yet.
“I’m grateful we waited to try that thing out,” Ike said, staring in consternation at the “floating palace”.
Rue winced as the giant, warty green bear cubs climbed the chain, chasing a bug the size of a basset hound. Although they were the size of an adult polar bear, she knew they were cubs because their mother was as big as an elephant. Annoyed, the pea-green mother bear grabbed the chain to follow. She was too heavy, so the chain dipped slightly. With a growl, she put both paws on it and pulled, making the car palace bob like a ship in rough seas.
Bruce sighted the bear through the machine gun. Although the two hunting buddies had also come, he was the one who always ended up on the roof. “Green with yellow blobs. That thing looks like something floating in the toilet after eating corn.”
“Ew! Thanks for that. Go ahead and shoot it. I’ll bury the body.”
“A woman after my own heart,” he said approvingly, and shot the beast behind the shoulder, the high powered round punching through thick hide and hitting the heart.
Rue activated her robots, which had gone dormant in her absence. As they approached now twitching bear, she formed a spear out of a rusty pipe and shot it through the bear’s head before rapidly killing the cubs. She knew some would consider it brutal, but if not contained here, the animals would wander into the city in search of food. They wouldn’t hesitate to catch anyone would couldn’t outrun them.
She had the robots drag the monsters away and bury them; the former tractor was great for digging holes.
There were no monster attacks today, so it was easy to focus on improving the car palace…she really had to think of a better name for that. She made the chains razor sharp, adding spikes for good measure, and made four sharp spiral columns to brace the platform. It was no longer free floating, but she could worry about that later.
Barely winded, she grinned at her escort. “Ready to go inside? I’m calling it the Watchtower.”
Ike opened his mouth, but shut it as a car elevator descended from the belly of the tower. “Huh.”
She hopped in the car. “Cool, right? I didn’t want to leave the car undefended.”
“You’re sure it’s stable?” Bruce peered at the elevator nervously.
“Yes.” If it was one thing she knew, it was metal. Rue enjoyed the ride as they ascended, finally able to see above the junk. The noxious fumes didn’t bother her; they were mostly at ground level, and puddles of poison usually contained a lot of metal that could be manipulated, rendering them harmless.
The platform reached the inside of the Watchtower and locked into place. They stepped out, admiring the great hollow space. Car windows let in plenty of light, illuminating the brushed steel interior.
Bruce’s voice echoed as he spoke. “What are you going to put in here? This place is huge.”
“Also, it’s going to get hot with all those windows. Have you thought of a heating and cooling system yet? What are you going to do for plumbing?” Ike asked, wandering to a window. “Look at that view.”
She smiled. Trust Ike to be practical. “Actually, I thought you guys might have some input. There’s a cooler in the truck, plenty to eat and drink, and we brought paper and pens. Take some pictures, kick around ideas. If you have any recommendations for plumbers and whatnot, write it down.
“Meanwhile, I’m going to add some stairs and an upper story. When I’m done, I can rough out some space for bathrooms and whatnot.” She figured with men in charge, she’d have a huge garage planned, but that was fine. She’d need space to work on robots; most of hers were more elegant than the rough specimens she had patrolling the ground.
She walked a few steps and said, “Don’t forget ideas for defenses…and a decent kitchen.”
Ike flicked a hand. “Go do your thing. We got this.”
She chose a shady corner and mentally sorted through junk on the ground, drawing up metal for a curving stair and upper floor. Since the kitchen and living area would be upstairs, she added a glass and steel lift to make it easy to bring supplies up.
She chose to make the floor a grid of steel with frosted, bullet proof glass to let in maximum light.
To keep the space open, she ran a wide loft along the garage’s outer wall, figuring she could use the space as extra rooms or storage as needed.
It was a big space, so she added several bathrooms. For now they were little more than nice outhouses; plumbing this place was going to be interesting.
Before taking a break, she added several large fans and plugged them into the magic pool, allowing them to power themselves. She wasn’t sure how that would work with tricky things like heating and cooling units, but there were experts for that.
Of course, to hire them she’d need money. Not everyone could be paid in bullets.
“I like what you’ve done with the place,” Bruce said with a flirtatious grin.
“Thanks.” She gave him a lukewarm smile and helped herself to a sandwich and glass of iced tea. He was a nice enough guy, but there was an edge of nervousness to Bruce. She made him uneasy, or her power did. There was no future there.
They did a walk through and the guys shared several excellent ideas. Everyone had their own jobs to return to, but they had good suggestions for contractors.
“But you’ve got to beef up security here first,” Ike cautioned. “It’ll be hard enough to get workers out here, although curiosity will draw some of them. “You’ve got to prove they won’t get eaten for setting foot on the Yard. We thought a big fence would help.” He showed her a sketch of cars and trucks standing on end, forming a big ring around the Watchtower. A truck was balanced on two others, forming a massive gate.
“Why, cuz! You’re an artist,” she teased, making him color. “It’s a great idea.” She tilted her head. “Especially if I make each car robotic so it can crush monsters.”
“Nice. What about mounting guns on the bottom, too?”
She frowned. “Maintenance. Still, a crude cannon would work, or maybe spears on chains. It’s not like the monsters will shoot back.”
“In that case, what about pit traps?” Bruce asked, and they discussed several options for monster disposal.
Rue liked one so much she immediately implemented it. It took more effort than rearranging the house, so she sank into a trance and drew metal from the ground, forming several retractable metal bridges over pits, complete with trapdoors. The pits were lined with retractable spikes, perfect for impaling.
She was about to begin on the car fence when Ike gently shook her arm. “You can finish tomorrow.”
She scowled at him, but quickly realized he was right. She was beat. Also, she needed to improve the ventilation, because it was a bit hot in there, despite the magic powered fans. “All right. I need to go over your plans and call some contractors anyway. This place is going to be a money pit.”
“Welcome to homeownership. Wait until you get to pay property taxes.” He walked her to the truck with an evil grin. “By the way, what was your plan to pay for all this again?”
She groaned and dropped into the passenger seat. How ironic would it be to survive monsters only to fall prey to the tax man?