Ivy decided that she could get used to having her much-more-social sister around. Shiloh, too–between the two of them she hardly had to talk to anyone on the trip from Detroit to St. Loo. Riding with other travelers normally meant days of endless conversation and polite prying. The foo masks that gave them the appearance of having had the Cradle didn’t hurt, either. “What’s his name?”
“He calls himself King-Chief Diesel-Heart,” she said. “He’s got good trade, so we should be able to recoup some of our travel costs for the trip to Oksee.”
Ivy repeated the name to herself. “Where’s he from?”
“Ironically, near Detroit, he says. Outside the city. He has family, or a tribe there.”
“And he’s going to Oksee? The little clan leaders don’t usually travel. What’s so important?”
“You’re more curious than usual,” she chided. “What happened to not prying? From there, he’s going farther west, into the desert.” Holly shrugged. “There’s some sort of gathering of tribes.”
“Why would the raiders and spiders gather?”
“You could ask him yourself, you know.”
Diesel-Heart was short, barely taller than Shiloh, but carried himself with an air of wiry, confident power. He had a wild, dark beard that split easily into a slightly mad smile, and his pants, jacket and peaked hat were weighed down by countless bits of metal, badges and chrome scraps knitted together into flashy armored panels. The hat added five inches to his height and was topped with chrome. He rattled and clanked when he moved, though the weight of his gear didn’t seem to bother him. The eccentric man was well-armed though, and Ivy had to admit that it didn’t seem to be a bluff. Diesel-Heart carried a rifle, two pistols and a club he lovingly introduced as “Baby Batter,” which had a large hammer on one side and a doll’s face on the other. The bat bristled with nails and other brutal-looking protrusions. Ivy welcomed him into their camp, and Shiloh helped to make space for him in the rig. With some more gear transferred to the roof, it seated four.
“He makes you nervous,” Holly said to Ivy.
“Everyone I don’t know makes me nervous. It’s fine.”
“I apologize. He looked interesting, and he had good trade. I hope I haven’t brought someone dangerous–“
“Shush, it’s fine. It’s not as though he’s going to take the rig. And he’s the sort who’s good to have on your side. It’s odd, but it’s not bad.”