The dry season has gotten off to a fine start, with temperatures topping ninety by nine in the morning. The line for water rations is just forming when Crater and his motorcycle gang (name?) roll into Tabernacle. Crater and Parson know each other, and Crater’s brought his gang down from Tennessee. Parson agrees to allow them to shelter in Tabernacle in exchange for their help.
The proceedings are interrupted when Roark appears from the Tunnels with two women. One of them is a dirty teenager, a stranger with long, wild blonde hair and big, blue eyes. The other is Tonkin, one of Roark’s missing women, who’s wearing a trenchcoat that covers what appears to be dynamite belt. She’s shaking with fear. Roark says she’s been sent with a message, but she’s not able to speak. At least, not until the teen girl, Isle, calms her down. At that point, Tonkin says Barnabas demands the return of Shazza and Tabernacle’s submission to his rule, or there will be blood.
It’s Crater who recognizes the sticks of “dynamite” are just road flares. Isle leads Tonkin back to the Tunnels, turning to each person in the Tabernacle and, looking them in the eye, offers a blessing “Peace be upon you,” before she leaves. Roark follows, muttering to himself.
Shazza has taken a turn for the worse after the beatings she’s been taking from Fang. Kale, the Tabernacle Angel, manages to keep her alive, but its a close thing.
Finally, Norplant wanders in, looking as stoned as ever, and tells Parson, in front of all, that she’s been communing with the spirits and they’ve told her “the Secret.” Which is water. Water, water, water. Warning and threat.
Late that evening, a nine-year-old kid riding a jury-rigged bicycle shows up. Kite brings him in to Foster. The kid, Little Tung, is from Falcon Town. He’s been sent to deliver a message from his father, the hardholder of Falcon Town, Tung One. The message is simple. Falcon Town has been warned by Big Rock that Tabernacle is Pariah, to be avoided or else.
Crater, Junior and two other load up the next morning. Little Tung gets strapped onto Junior’s back for safe keeping. The choppers head up I-85 to Falcon Town. The stadium is a fortress, well guarded. Tung One, a little old man with long black hair, thanks Crater for returning his son safely. Yes, he tells the biker, they’ve been warned to avoid Tabernacle. No, he’s got no idea what Big Rock’s plans are or when they’re likely to strike. Crater’s bikers return to Tabernacle.
Bendix and Kale return from Junktown. There meet with Foster didn’t go very well. Foster made it clear he’s waiting to see which way the wind blows before he makes any agreements with Tabernacle. And he doesn’t like the fact that Tabernacle’s ambush last week has stirred up trouble. Bendix also learns the two guys sent to check on Tabernacle’s wounded in Junk Town’s infirmary never arrived. And Foster is claiming he sent a messenger to Tabernacle two days ago with news of the warning, a messenger that never arrived.
A stranger, a dirty wanderer introduces himself as Zip Gorgeous. A chemist from Vulcan, Zip offers his services. Can he make gasoline, Crater wants to know. Yep. Can me make explosives, Bendix wants to know. You bet. In fact, one of the reasons he came to Tabernacle was its proximity to Nuka Cola, and the various volatile chems around there. Parson agrees to put him to work, and Crater sends Flint, one of his guys, to keep Zip safe as he explores Nuka Cola.
Then the Tabernacle War Party hits the road, north toward Big Rock’s farms in Gwinnett.
Crater’s bikers spot the farm, a large field just off the interstate. There is a lone building at the edge of the field, two stories, the bottom of heavy blocks of stone, the top wooden beams and a roof, open for the blue jacketed lookouts.
The biker gang splits in two, to attack the building from either side. Fang has Logo drive the bus in through the field between the two prongs of the motorcycles. The Big Rock lookouts lay down heavy fire. Junior and the bikers on the right are forced to ditch and their cycles are banged up pretty badly. On the other side of the building, Crater and his group also have to ditch, but continue to advance through the tall corn. Logo, rattled by the gunfire, swerves and the bus skids to a halt a hundred yards from the building. Fang takes the lead, Kite and the rest of the gangers right behind him.
The battle ends, almost as quickly as it started. A dozen Big Rock guards are dead. Two of them, faces mutilated, are redressed in the scavenged Falcon’s jerseys. The Tabernacle gang and Crater’s bikers load up twenty rescued slaves, a big ass radio found in the building and five of fifteen damaged motorcycles, and head back to Tabernacle. Later in the day, Crater returns with a trailer and hauls back the remaining bikes. Dink’s gonna be busy with repairs.