On a nameless asphalt road in the wasteland...
A battered, dark blue Ford tow truck is being pursued by a red Firebird, a motorcycle, and a full size tan Oldsmobile.
The Olds is a monster of a car, with its hood removed to make room for its huge engine and blower. Driving the tow truck is a dark haired man, accompanied by a brown haired woman and a young girl. The faster cars quickly catch up to the wrecker and attack.
The Oldsmobile's driver fires his crossbow into the wrecker's left rear wheels, blowing out the outside tire. The tow truck keeps going on its dual rear wheels. The Firebird pulls up on the right and its passenger leans out, wielding a sledge hammer. He smashes it down into the windshield and spiderwebs the glass. The young girl screams.
The Oldsmobile has slowed down to the tow truck's left rear quarter panel. It rams the tow truck sideways, threatening to flip the wrecker over. At the last moment the dark haired man heaves the wheel to the right and regains control of his vehicle. He floors the gas pedal, the truck downshifts, the engine roars, and the wrecker surges ahead. Oily blue smoke belches from the wrecker's exhaust. The Firebird immediately follows behind the wrecker. The tow truck's driver half smiles as he sees this in his mirrors. He slams on the brakes. The Firebird, still accelerating, can't slow down fast enough and its front end crashes into the wrecker's lower towing bar. The bar rams through the Firebird's radiator and hot coolant sprays over the hood. The Firebird is mortally damaged and has only minutes before it overheats and destroys its engine. The Firebird's driver, now insanely angry, screams with rage and tears his car free. He accelerates and pulls alongside the truck. The Olds does the same on the opposite side. The Oldsmobile's driver has reloaded his crossbow, and he aims it into the cab of the wrecker. The woman ducks, pulling the girl down with her. The Oldsmobile driver fires at the driver. With a sickening splat, the arrow pierces the driver's neck; exiting partway out the other side. The young girl plainly sees this as she watches from below in mute shock. As if on cue, the two marauder vehicles sandwich the tow truck as it loses power. Metal grinds on metal, and they slow the wrecker down. As the wrecker is forced to a stop, the black on black Interceptor comes into view from behind the vehicles. Max’s impassive eyes sum up the situation, and he mechanically activates the blower. The Interceptor roars forward.
The motorcycle had fallen back in the chase, and now Max bears down on it. The motorcycle rider tries to make it off-road to safety, but the Interceptor is too fast. In desperation, the rider tries to jump from his bike; putting the motorcycle between himself and the onrushing car. Max runs them both over. The Interceptor bounces roughly on the wreckage and carnage but continues onward. In another moment, Max rockets past the stopped vehicles.
The woman in the tow truck, who had been fighting to free her vehicle, watches the Interceptor pass them by. As she is distracted by this, the Oldsmobile's driver, a rough looking but handsome man, reaches in and backhands her with his armored fist. She collapses on the bench seat. The Firebird's passenger then rips at the exposed ignition wires on the tow truck's steering column. The tow truck stalls. The Firebird's driver yells in happiness; he has gained a replacement vehicle.
Max puts a few hundred yards between himself and the vehicles, then he spins the Interceptor into a quick 180 and stops. Max revs the Interceptor’s mighty engine, as if to challenge the marauders.
The Firebird's driver sees what Max is doing. Enraged that someone would dare to challenge him, he peels out; almost shearing off the left side door and accelerating toward the Interceptor with more coolant spraying everywhere.
Max sums up the Firebird's condition. Its driver has nothing to lose. But then, neither does Max. With a suicidal gleam in his eye, Max charges the Firebird.
The two vehicles get closer and closer. Neither one swerves. Then Max fully extends his arm out the window, brandishing his double barreled shotgun. He fires both barrels at the doomed Firebird. The Firebird's windshield shatters inward in a spray of glass and blood.
The Firebird veers off the road. Its low front catches in the runoff ditch and the car flips end over end, landing on its roof. The roof crumples; anyone who survived the shotgun blast would now be crushed to death. Max slows down and stops at the totaled Firebird. He looks over the lifeless wreckage, then back at the Olds. Max revs the powerful engine again; the awesome sound resounding through the dry desert air.
The dark haired man, barely alive, notices the marauders next to his vehicle are distracted by the deaths of their comrades and the threat of the Interceptor. He bloodily moans "Allison," and he motions her to restart the tow truck. The woman gets up, but she ignores the controls and draws a knife. She stabs the Oldsmobile's driver in the arm. The marauder curses and yanks his arm away. He tries hitting the woman again, but then looks back to the poised Interceptor. He lights a bundle of rags on fire and throws it into the cab of the tow truck. Angrily squealing his tires, he turns around and drives off the way he came.
The wrecker's interior begins burning quickly. The tow truck's passenger side door is opened and the woman crawls out, coughing from the smoke. The young girl, still stunned, also exits the truck and falls to her knees. Fighting the heat of the flames, the woman reaches inside the tow truck and pulls out a large metal case. She drags it away from the flames and then goes back for the man. As she drags him out, his legs are burning. She pats out the flames with her coat and she collapses; exhausted. The man reaches up to grasp her arm. Barely able to speak, he says "Ally," and his arm falls back. The woman cries. The young girl, in a daze, watches the man die as the tow truck burns in the background.
Max watches the Oldsmobile speed away. He shuts down the Interceptor and gets out, quickly followed by Dog. Max carries his gas cans and hose to siphon off the Firebird's fuel. As Max unscrews the gas cap, the fuel sloshes out messily into his cans. Dog sniffs around the wreck as Max tries to salvage every drop of gas. When the Firebird’s fuel tank empties, Max transfers the priceless liquid to the Interceptor. Then Max goes back and wrenches open a door to search inside the vehicle. He finds some canned food and a jug of water. Max opens the trunk of the Interceptor and stores the supplies there. When the Firebird has been stripped of anything useful, Max moves on to the totaled motorcycle. It holds only a few meager gallons of gas, but every ounce matters.
The girl has begun moaning, a low pitched constant wail. Dog's ears perk up as he hears this, and he trots over to investigate. The girl fixates on Dog as he draws near. Dog leans forward to sniff the girl. She tries to grab him, but Dog twists away and returns to Max's side. Max gives Dog an "I told you so" look.
Max watches the woman open the case and check its contents. Curious, he walks towards her, reloading his shotgun as he goes. The spent shells bounce hollowly on the black asphalt. The woman closes the case and looks up. She sees Max’s MFP ID bar.
“You’re a cop? I thought you guys were all gone.”
Max pauses for a moment, studying the woman. He says flatly, “The nearest cops are buried a hundred miles from here.”
The woman shrugs and looks around. “So what do you do?”
Max looks at her a moment longer, then turns and walks away. Dog follows.
“Wait, I need transportation.”
Max keeps walking.
The woman hastily takes off the dead man’s shoulder pads and gear belt then slings them over her arm. Then she lifts the obviously heavy case with one hand and grabs the girl with the other. She clumsily follows Max. “I have a map. They’ll give you fuel once we get there.” Max turns and sizes up the determined woman. He sees a patch on her scorched coat. It reads ‘Hughes Geology.’
Seeing Max’s hesitation, she pleads, “Come on, we’ll die out here!”
They are almost to the Interceptor. “A full tank?” Max asks.
“Of course, we’ve got plenty.”
Max cocks his head to the Interceptor and says, “Get in.”
Max walked around to the driver’s side door and sat down. On the other side, Dog was about to jump through the window to the front seat when the woman opened the door, blocking him. Dog hesitantly aborted his jump and waited for the woman to get out of the way. The woman half assisted/half pushed the little girl into the rear seat. She sat down next to Max as if she owned the car. The woman clutched the steel case safely on her lap. Dog whined softly about his seat being taken. His only other option was to jump in the back seat. Dog tried to sit as far away from the girl as possible.
Max, eyeing the woman’s attachment to the case, asked, “What’s in there?”
The woman looked quickly at Max, as if expecting an attack. In a bothered tone, she answered, “Not your concern.”
If Max cared, it did not show on his stoic features.
In the back, the girl had once again fixated on Dog. Dog nervously looked around for somewhere to hide.
The woman had taken out a dirty, well-used road map. She unfolded in and said, “We head north and west. It’s about fourteen hundred miles. About halfway there is a camp, or whatever is left of it. Then a dry river and finally my destination.”
Max looked casually at the map. He did not know, or care, where he was.
The girl had crept close to Dog and suddenly grabbed him. Though Dog squirmed, the girl held him tight like a baby. Dog finally accepted this humiliation and gave up, hanging limply from the girl's arms.
Max glanced at them and said, "Who's she?"
The woman sighed and answered, "My daughter Megan. I'm Allison." The woman waited for Max to respond. He didn't. If she wanted an answer, she would be waiting for a long time. Max started the Interceptor and studied his fuel gauge.
The woman faced forward. "Huh. Well, do you even have a name?"
Max aimed the Interceptor down the road and grudgingly said, "Max."
"Well, Max, you don't have enough fuel to make it, do you?"
The woman sighed again and pointed to the map.
"We're here. If I show you where to get more fuel, how do I know you won't just ditch us?"
Max drove slowly away from the wreckage he had caused. He spoke without looking at the woman. "I saved your skin back there and I haven't tried anything. Besides, you don't have much choice."
The woman had her knife out again, still red from the marauder's blood. Holding it in front of her, she threatened, "If you do 'try anything,' I'll just kill you and take your wheels. Got it?"
A ghost of a smile showed on Max's face. "Sure," he said.
Max accelerated down the road.
The big, tan car with the large blower, a '77 Oldsmobile Delta 88, is parked atop of a hill overlooking a split in the road. In the Oldsmobile are two marauders. The passenger is a large and high strung man. He is toying with a huge hammer. The driver is seemingly lost in thought. Flanking the Olds are two marauders on motorcycles.
The marauder with the hammer speaks, "We had it, Hail. All we had to do was get it out of that bitch."
Not too concerned, the driver, Hail, says, "Yeah, but we didn't."
"Damn!" curses the big man and he slams his hammer onto the dashboard.
"Easy, Mal. Look, they wouldn't be out here unless they had somewhere to go." He pauses and thinks for a moment. "We know that fuel dump is around here. The road they left on intersects down there. All we have to do is wait."
"Just sit here and wait?!? The hell with - LOOK!"
The Interceptor comes cruising down the road.
Hail commands the bikers, "You! Go back and get the others." To the other biker, "And you, follow us, but stay back." Then Hail starts the Olds.
The big man, Mal, is yelling, "What are you waiting for? Go, go, go!"
Hail whispers to himself, "Wait, wait . . . let's roll." The Oldsmobile roars down the hill.
Hail has timed his assault perfectly. Seemingly from out of nowhere, the Olds pulls up on the Interceptor's right side. Furiously, Mal swings his hammer at Max's head. Max swerves to the left, but an instant too late. The hammer smacks into Max's shoulder. Max cries out in pain as his right arm goes limp. Then Hail rams the Interceptor sideways. Max is barely able to keep control of the wheel through the numbing pain. The Olds rams the Interceptor again, and again. Max is being forced off the road. The woman, trying to help, reaches over to grab the wheel. Max pushes her away and hits the brakes. The Interceptor slows, but the Olds stays with it. Hail raises his crossbow to fire. Max pushes the woman's head down as they both duck. The arrow whizzes through the open windows of the Interceptor. The girl, still clutching Dog, is moaning and rocking herself back and forth. Max tries to ram the Olds, only able to use his good arm. He gains enough room to activate the blower. The Interceptor's tires squeal as it surges forward. Hail accelerates and the Olds falls back but still stays with the Interceptor. With his wounded arm, Max struggles to draw his shotgun. He gets it out as the Olds pulls alongside the Interceptor. Mal is almost completely out the window, with his hammer held high above him; poised for a killing blow. Max hastily aims the shotgun and fires both barrels. The blast cuts Mal in two and continues into Hail. He is splattered by Mal's blood and gore a second before he is hit by the shot. Hail's neck and face are hit. He instinctively slams on the brakes, bringing the Olds to a stop.
Max slows the Interceptor as he tries to reload the shotgun and drive at the same time, all with one arm. He looks back at the stopped Oldsmobile with black fury in his eyes. He wants to go back and finish off the Olds. The woman grabs the wheel and pleads, "No! They won't be coming back! We're almost there! Just go!" Max eyes the still-traumatized girl and his rage slowly dies. "All right, all right."
The Interceptor drives away.
Hail is grasping his wounded neck. Blood flows from between his fingers. Half his face is disfigured by gore. The motorcycle catches up to the Olds and stops. Hail glares at the rider. He wrenches open the passenger side door and boots out the remainder of Mal's body. With infinite rage he orders the biker, "Follow them and give the signal when they stop." The biker quickly nods his head and drives off. Hail's eyes are filled with hate as he labors to breathe. He begins to dress his wounds.
Max has found a ditch near the road. He allows no fire, and the growing dark is cold. He takes a thick wool blanket out of the Interceptor, and then covers the car in its camo netting. Night is falling quickly. Max takes off his leather jacket, grimacing with pain. He examines his wounded right shoulder. It is a mass of ugly bruises and welts. The girl watches Max as he prods his shoulder. Satisfied that nothing is broken, Max wearily puts the jacket on again and lies down for the night. The woman, watching from nearby, says, "There's a doctor, once we get there."
"Where is 'there'?"
"We're going to a hidden fuel stop; kind of a halfway point," the woman explains. "The people there are supposed to follow us soon. A while ago, a group of us set out for an undeveloped oil well. We had generators, animals, refining equipment, everything we would need to start over; so we thought. The place had been raided and it was in need of repairs. So, me and Norris came back for more equipment . . . and to try and find my daughter."
"You left her?" Max says darkly.
"No, I lost her when the city was being looted. I couldn't find her, and I thought she was dead. When we returned, there she was, starving, running from the gangs. I don't think she knows me. She hasn't been the same."
Max answers, "Not the same. Right."
Max turns away from the woman. He sees the young girl sitting with her knees held tightly to her chest, shivering. Max gets up and walks over to her. She looks up at him. Max takes off his jacket and covers the girl with it. He walks back to his blanket, sits down and goes to sleep with his shotgun in hand and Dog curled up close by. The girl examines the jacket's shoulder where it was hit by the hammer.
On a nearby hill, the marauder biker lights a torch and raises it high.
Dawn, the next day. Max wakes up and looks around. The girl is standing next to him, holding his jacket in front of her. She has taken apart the dead man's shoulder pads and fixed one pad to the jacket's right shoulder; where Max was injured. She gives Max the jacket. Max examines the girl's work and puts the jacket on. He then looks down at the girl. She is nervously playing with a set of rivet pliers. Max almost smiles at the girl. Her entire face lights up before she runs behind the Interceptor. Max turns to the woman.
"How much farther?"
"We'll be there in an hour."
The woman directed Max off the road and onto a vast open plain. It was completely empty, nothing for miles but heat waves rising off the sand. Max looked questioningly at the woman. "Just keep going," she said.
Max drove for another half hour through the plain. The woman kept telling Max "left" or "a little right." Finally the Interceptor came to a low depression in the earth, and then a wall of slanted tarps, painted to look exactly like the surrounding desert. It was a simple, yet ingenious disguise. The tarps parted, and their inhabitants came forward. Most were armed with hand weapons of some sort. The woman got out, and they visibly relaxed. A wiry man with graying hair stepped forward.
"Hey, Doc!" the woman said.
"Ally! How are you?" the man - Doc, said.
"Been better. We're here to gas up." Max got out, closely followed by Dog.
Doc looked Max over. To Allison, he said, "What happened to Norris?"
"Dead. Max, here, agreed to transport us in exchange for fuel."
"That right?" the man asked Max. "Bloody businessman, are ya?"
"Doc, forget it," the woman said. "Let's get inside."
Inside the tarps it was even lower to the ground. There were many liquid containers, stacked neatly in groups. Max observed that some held fuel and others water. Clear plastic sheets were also spread out; an effective way of gaining water in the desert. Doc seemed to have accepted Max. Noticing his limp, he said, "You ought to get yourself a knee brace." Max didn't answer.
Some of the people were pushing the Interceptor inside. Two men, obviously mechanics, were amazed by the car. "I don't believe it!" the first one said. "A '98 Interceptor! I just don't believe it."
"A '98? How do you know?" asked his partner.
"The headlights, you ass. They changed 'em for the last model. And the spoilers, too." To Max, he asked, "Was she yours, mate?"
"Yeah," Max answered. "Don't touch the gas cap." "Hell," the mechanic sputtered, "you'll need more than that. Me an' Nicky can put in those two tanks." The man pointed to two large fuel tanks. "You can carry hundreds of gallons with those. Of course, we'll hafta take out the trunk lid and the back window."
Max stopped and considered the offer. "Do it," he said. Max leaned underneath the Interceptor and disarmed the boobytrap. The two mechanics wheeled the Interceptor away, still talking about it. Dog watched them closely. He was annoyed that they were touching his master’s property.
The woman had been talking to Doc. Doc took her aside and said, "I don't know if we can trust him. Take this." He gave the woman a .38 caliber pistol. The woman checked the cylinders. There was a round in each one. "Thanks," she said. The woman tucked the pistol under her coat. "Where are your vehicles, Doc? Where are the others?"
"They took off, hoping to make it on their own. Damn fools. I guess you'll have to come back for us."
"Yeah, we'll bring the bus," Allison replied. "That reminds me. We need some diesel fuel, too"
"Sure, sure. How's Meg?"
Allison shrugged her shoulders and answered, "She's out of it. She'll be OK."
Max had sat down at a picnic table were he could monitor the mechanics working on the Interceptor. One of the people had brought food for him and Dog. Allison came over. "Y'know, with this extra fuel we can head straight there."
"Where?" asked Max.
"Our new home," she said. "You'll see."
Max sat in the desert heat and watched the two mechanics remove the trunk lid and begin installing the fuel tanks. He had to restrain Dog from attacking every time the men went near the Interceptor. He gave up and tied Dog to the table.
The mechanics would update Max on their progress. "Bolted 'em right to the frame, mate," or "This'll be your new fuel gauge." After a while the men finished and waved Max over.
"All done, mate. Gassed up and ready to go. We put the gauge right on the dash. You've got enough guzzoline to run forever." The people then loaded the car up with food, water, and fuel cans containing diesel.
Max re-armed the booby trap and carefully inspected the mechanic's work from all angles. Satisfied that everything was in order, Max scratched his chin, thinking about how the extra weight would affect the car's performance.
The mechanics kept asking Max about the Interceptor. "How fast will she go?" "That blower is quite a piece of mechanical engineering, eh?" Max tuned them out.
Max untied Dog. Dog immediately sniffed around the new fuel tanks. Suddenly, Dog's ears perked up. He whined and looked around anxiously. Max caught on to Dog's behavior and grabbed the woman by the arm. "Let's go - now."
"What? Why?” she asked.
Dog began growling. Max got in the Interceptor, followed by Dog and then the young girl. Max started the car. "Come on!" he ordered. The woman finally got in, holding the metal case.
In the distance, the sound of V8 engines began getting closer. The people rushed to arm themselves. Doc shouted furiously at Max, "You fool! You've led them right to us!"
Spread out and abreast of one another, the marauders came forward. They were close enough to see through the disguise. There were four cars, Hail's tan colored Oldsmobile, a red four door Monaco, a red Barracuda, and a black Ford pickup with the words 'Back in Black' painted on the hood. There were also about a dozen motorcycles. All the vehicles rushed forward, with the Olds in the lead.
The people panicked. There was nothing between them and the invaders but the painted tarps. The first of the marauder vehicles came blindly tearing through the tarps, running over people and equipment. There was no way to fight back. Some people tried running out into the desert, only to be ran down, over and over, by the marauders. Max realized that there was no hope of saving anyone. There were too many invaders. With the woman screaming and the girl once again comatose, Max did what he could. He drove the Interceptor in tight circles, kicking up vast amounts of dust. It confused friend and foe alike, but some of the marauders crashed into each other. A motorcycle was crushed between the pickup and the Oldsmobile. Max saw the man Hail behind the wheel. Hail was reveling in the carnage. His face was disfigured and caked with scabs, dried blood, and bandages. For an instant Hail and Max locked eyes. There was nothing but raw hatred between them. Max had to turn away as the Monaco was bearing down on him. Max lined up a motorcycle next to the Interceptor, and as the Monaco rushed forward, Max neatly maneuvered out of the way. The motorcycle was flattened by the Monaco; the rider crushed under its tires. Taking a last look at the ruined camp, Max drove the Interceptor away; the woman sobbing next to him.
The marauders had stopped their vehicles and dismounted. They began hunting down and killing any people left. The women met a much crueler fate then the men. When they ran out of people to kill, the marauders began filling up their vehicles with the seized gas. Hail was striding about the camp, urgently looking for something. He saw two of his men about to decapitate a prisoner. It was Doc. He shouted, "Stop! Bring him here!" The marauders dragged Doc over on his knees. Hail grabbed Doc by the throat, yelling, "Where is the pump?!? Tell me!"
Doc said, "It's right here," and gave Hail the finger.
Hail grabbed Doc's finger and broke it in one quick motion. Doc cried out in pain. Hail held Doc's wrist, saying "Where-is-it?" Hail broke one of Doc's fingers with each word.
Doc gasped in pain and looked around helplessly. Hail grabbed his neck again. "Where did the Bronze go? To the pump?" When Doc remained quiet, Hail knew he had his answer. He smiled wickedly. "It's OK. We have all day to talk."
Hail ordered "Don't kill him," and flagged down the motorcycle rider who had followed the Interceptor before. "Go," he said. The rider understood. He took off, after Max once again.
Max drove as hard as he could across the desert. Allison had stopped crying, but she kept mumbling how she "led them right to my friends." Max finally regained the road and cruised along, his eyes searching the area. He saw a cluster of large boulders close to the road, and he maneuvered the Interceptor behind them.
"Why are you stopping?" the woman asked, alarmed.
"They followed us before, they will again," Max answered. "We just wait for them to pass us."
They waited in the growing heat as the Interceptor idled loudly. Before long, a motorcycle could be heard coming at them, not too quickly. Max watched the rider pass by his position. He pulled out behind the rider and switched on the blower. The Interceptor surged forward. The motorcycle rider saw the onrushing car and he also accelerated. It quickly became obvious that the Interceptor would catch the motorcycle. The rider abruptly steered off-road, bouncing over the uneven terrain. Max followed. The rider turned in a slow circle until he was heading back towards the highway. The Interceptor was still gaining on him. Just as the rider made it back to the road, Max caught him. The Interceptor bumped the motorcycle from behind. The rider swerved but was able to keep going. Max let the Interceptor fall back for a moment before flooring the gas pedal. The car quickly caught up to the bike and rammed it. This time the rider couldn't keep control and he fell off his bike, sliding down the road. The motorcycle flipped end over end, crashing into the desert. The Interceptor bore down on the fallen man. Before the rider stopped sliding, the Interceptor ran him over. Max calmly slowed and turned around. He watched the man as he drove past. There was no doubt the rider was dead; as the man's intestines had burst from his body.
Max stopped the Interceptor and asked the woman, "How many of your people knew where we were headed?"
"Just about all of them," she answered uneasily. She realized what this meant a moment later. "Oh, no."
Max weighed out the situation. The marauders would probably get the location from the people at the fuel dump. They would soon be following Max to his destination, wherever that was. But, the Interceptor was faster than any of the marauder's cars and he could make it there long before them. Enough time for Max to drop off the woman and the girl, refuel, and get out of there. But... could he help defend the unknowing people? Guard them against the enemies now advancing upon them? He thought of the war shocked girl now resting in his back seat. In had been a long time since he had cared about anyone. All he wanted was the fuel, Max told himself. He would get his gas after delivering the woman, like he agreed to. Then, he would go. The woman, the girl... they brought up long dead memories, memories that Max wanted to keep dead and buried. Max resolutely turned to the woman and told her, "We can make it there before them. I agreed to transport you there in exchange for fuel. What you do after I'm gone is your business."
The woman looked at Max, mild shock in her eyes. She turned away, quietly saying, "OK, fine."
Max drove off down the road.
Back at the camp, the marauders were getting ready to leave. They had so much gas that they had to carry extra fuel drums so as not to leave any behind. Hail had Doc tied down in the passenger seat of his Oldsmobile. Doc was a broken man. One of his mangled arms was left free. When all the marauders were ready to go, Hail turned to Doc and said, "Point."
Utterly defeated, Doc nodded his head and pointed in the direction that Max headed. Hail's mangled features twisted as he smiled.
"Good man," he said. Hail drove away in that direction, with all of his army following.
Max drove off, following Allison's directions. Knowing what might be following him; Max pushed the Interceptor to its limits. Little could be heard over the roar of the high powered V8, so Max and his passengers rode in silence. Throughout the rest of the day and into the night, Max crossed the wasteland. Early the next day, about twenty hours after leaving the fuel dump, Max saw a huge dark column of smoke in the distance. "There," pointed Allison, "head for that."
Soon they came to the remains of a burnt out mid-sized oil refinery. The last remaining oil well was a huge pillar of fire. Scattered about were thirty or so oil workers, a large city bus, and several construction vehicles. Most of the people appeared to have been working on the surrounding machinery. Allison noticed Max staring at the intense flames. "Gangs set the well on fire, rather than letting us have it. Hopefully, this," she patted the metal case, "will put out the fire so we can rebuild."
The situation dawned on Max. "There's no gas? This was all crap?!?"
Allison didn't seem to care. "From my point of view, I never lied to you. But don't worry," she said sarcastically, "you'll get your precious gas, as soon as we repair the well. Then you can leave us, like you said. Just gas up and go. You're just a mercenary, you know that?"
Max knew that continuing the argument was useless. He was low on fuel, and he resigned himself to staying until he could get his gas. He didn't answer the woman.
As the Interceptor slowly drove inside, the workers surrounded the car. Allison explained what happened to Norris, then she showed them the case. A ragged cheer rose up from the crowd. "But wait," she continued, "Doc's camp is gone. The gang that did it... they're probably headed here."
"What? How many? How soon?" demanded a burly man in overalls. General confusion and panic began to grip the people.
Max was leaning against the Interceptor, watching calmly. Some of the people began to talk about fleeing to the desert. Max knew he had to do something. He stood up and said loudly, "I was promised a tank of gas for bringing them here, and I'm gonna get it. We don't know how many are coming; just that they are. We have about two days, people." Max had their full attention now. Full of quiet rage, Max stated, "I want them dead as much as you. If we work together we can do it. Who's staying?"
The oil workers stood uncertainly looking at one another. The man in overalls shouted, "All right!" Another cheer came from the people, this one full of hope. No one noticed Allison smiling brightly at Max.
Soon afterwards, Max spoke with the leaders. "First, we get the well and refinery operational. We make some diesel fuel for those steam shovels. We build a trench around this place and fill it with guzzloline. If they try to cross it, we light it and burn them. What do you have for weapons?"
One man answered, "Two rifles, with about ten rounds apiece."
"OK" continued Max. We'll extend the scaffolding to the trench and place them there. Sure targets only. Now, what about this case?"
Allison heaved it onto the table. She opened it, revealing a complicated network of wires and white blocks. "It's a bomb," she said. "We explode it at the base of the flames. The blast will suck out all the oxygen and put out the fire. Then, we cap the well and begin refining. It's been our plan all along."
Max thought about her plan. "Yeah, well how do we get that thing close enough to the fire?"
"That's why I brought the diesel fuel," she explained. We start up the crane, hang the bomb from it, drive it into position and BOOM! We'll have all the gas we want."
Max considered the worker's plan. There was no reason it should fail. "Let's get going," he said.
Max opened the engine compartment of the crane as the people filled it up with diesel. Others readied the bomb and attached it to the crane's wrecking ball. Max adjusted parts of the engine, getting it ready to start. When he finished, he nodded to the worker in the cab. After a few tries, the crane started. The man drove the clanking machine into position. The crane lifted its arm high into the sky, with the bomb suspended below. Thick, heavily insulated wires trailed from the bomb. The crane rumbled forward, getting closer and closer to the inferno. The man driving the crane had already begun sweating. Soon, the crane's paint began to blister and peel. The heat was intense. When the bomb was directly in the flames, the man stopped the crane and got out. He sprinted back to the workers. As he returned his clothes were smoking from the heat. The man was doused with water.
As soon as he was clear Allison pressed the ignition button of the detonator. With an earth-shattering BOOM, the bomb exploded, raining fire and debris down on everyone. The crane was blasted on its side and the people thrown to the ground. The next thing to come down on them was cold, black oil. The plan had worked.
The oil workers scrambled to cap the well, and their work continued through the day. As night came on, the oil well was capped and the refining ready to begin. Most of the workers, including Max, turned in to get a few hours of sleep. The actual refining process only required a few people. The rest of the work, digging the trenches and fortifying the refinery, was to begin in the morning.
Max woke up at dawn. He felt refreshed even after just a few hours of sleep. He put on his leather jacket and went to see how much progress the workers had made.
All of the connecting pipes were in place, and the oil pump was running. The first few gallons of oil had just been refined into diesel. The construction vehicles had already been primed for starting, and after it was fueled up the first steam shovel sputtered to life. Max directed its driver to begin excavating a circular ditch just outside the camp. Max then went to where the men were erecting a steel catwalk. He had them extend the catwalk right to where the ditch would be. The defenders would be able to rain destruction down on anyone who got near the ditch. Next was the making of Molotov cocktails. Max instructed the workers to use two parts diesel fuel for burning and one part oil so it would stick to whatever it was thrown at. The defenders got to work.
By mid-day both steam shovels were working and the ditch completely surrounding the refinery. The ditch was about four feet deep and eight feet wide. By now there was plenty of diesel fuel and regular gasoline was being made.
As Max overlooked the defenses, he was approached by Allison.
"I'm glad you decided to stay," she said.
Max gave her a cold hard stare. He said "I think you know why I'm staying" and turned and walked away to the Interceptor.
Max began lugging five gallon fuel cans to his car and filling it up. In order to keep Dog out of the way, Max had made him stay inside the Interceptor. The little girl had discovered this and she was inside the car, happily playing with Dog. Like a good soldier, Dog endured this torment. Max watched the two of them play. That might be his child, playing with his dog, if only he didn't fail, if only he had saved his family. It hurt to think about, and Max went back to work refueling the Interceptor.
Afterwards, some of the people asked Max what happened to the rest of the MFP.
"They were left to wither on a vine with its roots cut," Max answered. "No funding, no way to keep up . . . many abandoned the force; joining the gangs. Some just left."
Some just left, Max thought. Like me. I could have helped. Instead I stole the best car and disappeared. Max thought about Fife's 'hero' beliefs. He wondered what kept those heroes going. All Max had was guilt and rage.
The work continued. Gasoline was being poured into the ditch as the catwalk was completed. Max inwardly winced at all the guzzoline being wasted.
Max observed a huge Caterpillar bulldozer at work and he had an idea. He had a second ditch made, about fifty yards outside the first one. As it was being made, Max told the people to weld steel onto the bulldozer; to make it like a tank. Max's plan was to allow the marauders to get inside the first ditch but not the second, so they would be trapped between the ditches. The two riflemen could pick off targets, and the bulldozer would drive out into the kill zone to smash the enemy to death. If the dozer failed, the gas filling the inner ditch was to be ignited and the defense continued from there.
As dusk approached, the terrible sound of oncoming vehicles was heard. The defenses were almost complete, and the people got into position to fight.
Hail stopped his army a safe distance from the refinery. He turned to Doc, still in the Oldsmobile.
"Well. There it is. You did good, old man."
Doc's spirit was completely broken. He could only watch through teary eyes.
"Hey, hey, now," Hail said. "There's no need to cry! I'm letting you go!"
Hail got out and walked around to the passenger side. He untied Doc and yanked him out.
The workers behind the ditches watched this happening.
"You're free!" Hail said. "Go, go join them!"
Doc looked around hesitantly. He stepped once toward the camp.
"Go on!" Hail yelled, and kicked Doc in the ass.
Doc stumbled forward and then began to run surprisingly fast. Hail watched him go as he strolled around to the driver's side of his Oldsmobile.
Doc continued running until he heard Hail's engine start. He looked back, then ran faster than ever. Hail glared at the man as he revved the engine. The people cheered for Doc to run faster.
Hail floored the gas pedal and the Olds kicked up dust as it peeled out. Doc kept running, faster, faster. The Oldsmobile quickly bore down on him. Doc had no time to dodge. The Olds hit him and ran him down.
Inside, the some people yelled while others watched in shook. There was no doubt about what they were up against.
Hail stopped his car close outside the camp. His harsh, jagged voice screamed over the refinery, "ENJOY LIFE WHILE YOU CAN! TOMORROW YOU ALL DIE!"
Hail drove back to his gang, laughing wildly.
Inside, the people looked at Doc's twisted body, then to each other, and then to Max. Max was watching the Oldsmobile drive away. Max turned to them and said, "Tomorrow, I'm driving the Cat."
As the night grew longer, Max went to look over the bulldozer. He familiarized himself with the controls and checked the welded-on armor. The dozer's cab was completely enclosed except for eye slits. On the side of the cab the armor could be opened like a door and bolted shut from the inside. The engine appeared to be in good working order, and there was little he could do to increase its performance. Max took a moment to look at the huge steel spikes welded to the dozer's blade. The Caterpillar was one mean machine.
The camp's defenders were preparing for war. Most were armed with hand tools, such as wrenches and sledge hammers. There were some real weapons such as crossbows, and some workers had pounded steel plates into makeshift personal armor. Max was glad to see the two designated riflemen carefully striping down and cleaning their weapons. The oil workers, even though nervous and untested, would be ready.
The first of the sun's rays began to filter through the dark. The marauders could be seen pushing dirt into the outer ditch. They had no shovels and they were using what tools they could. Their dirt and sand bridge was almost complete, but it was just wide enough for one car at a time. They must have been at work all night.
After the marauders patted down and tested their bridge they lined up before it. Hail's vehicle was the first to cross, and the rest quickly followed behind him. Much dust was kicked up by the speeding vehicles. In moments they reached the inner ditch and had to stop. The marauders did not know the second ditch was there and were bewildered by this new development. In those first few moments of confusion, the defenders began their attack. Rocks and arrows rained down upon the marauders. One motorcycle rider took an arrow straight to the chest and fell dead to the sand.
Hail quickly summed up the situation. He got out of his Olds and ran yelling at his men, "Dismount! DISMOUNT!" The marauders took cover behind their vehicles and began returning fire. The sharp crack of rifle reports pierced the air, and more marauders fell dead.
The black F100 had stopped too close to the ditch, and two Molotov cocktails were thrown onto it. One burst into flames on its hood and the other blew up in its open bed. The truck was hastily backed up, and its crew began trying to put out the flames with furs and sand. The defenders took advantage of their distraction and one of the crew fell to the ground, wounded by a crossbow bolt.
Elsewhere, a motorcycle burst into flames as a Molotov cocktail thrower found his mark. More arrows and rifle shots cut down the marauders. But, the enemy still got in their hits. Three defenders were too hurt to continue fighting, and another man was killed by a well-placed arrow. The Marauders tried moving one group forward while the other group was covering them. Only several cocktails thrown at once could stop them. The defender's ammo couldn't last forever. Unless the gasoline-filled ditch was ignited, the invaders would soon be over it. The ditch was the last line of defense. Beyond it were only a few barricades.
Watching the battle from on top the bulldozer, Max looked up at one of the defenders. Max nodded to the man, who yelled "Now!" to his companions. The men lit and threw their last Molotov cocktails while the riflemen fired off their remaining rounds.
Confusion swept over the marauders as more of their ranks fell. Directly where the last cocktails were burning, the bulldozer roared out of the camp. The dozer was long enough to cross the ditch and it churned through the flames, straight for the nearest vehicle, the red Monaco. The dozer was blacked by the flames, and parts of it were harmlessly on fire. This just added to the bulldozer's evil appearance. Max bore down on the Monaco. Its driver tried to start the vehicle and get it out of the way, but far too late. The bulldozer's spiked blade impaled the car, pushing it along. Max pressed a foot pedal to lower the blade. The giant dozer blade pressed the Monaco into the dirt. The car's wheels caught in the sand, and the bulldozer completely ripped it and its occupant apart. The people cheered as the marauders were gripped by total disarray and confusion. Barely slowing down, Max pulled on the controls and jerked the dozer towards more enemies. Two motorcycles were smashed under the bulldozer's squealing, clanking treads. The marauders tried throwing rocks and shooting arrows at Max; totally useless against the armored cab of the Caterpillar bulldozer. The motorcycles and the remaining three vehicles, the Olds, the Barracuda, and the F100, had managed to start up and get out of the dozer's way. With all the dust thrown up, none of the marauders could find their entrance bridge. They were trapped.
Max crushed another motorcycle and its rider. Blood was splattered on the dozer's blade and treads. A wounded man was limping away, trying to run from the bulldozer. Max coldly ran him down. The dozer impaled an abandoned motorcycle on its blade, and a spark ignited the bike's gasoline. It burned, still stuck on the dozer. The smoke blew over Max, making it hard for him to see.
Hail had rallied his gang. They ran alongside the bulldozer, trying to climb aboard. Max shifted the bulldozer hard to the right, and two more enemies were killed by the dozer's treads. Still, three marauders managed to get on the dozer. One tried shooting his crossbow through an eye slit at point-blank range. Quicker than the marauder, Max put his shotgun to the eye slit and fired one shell. The blast exploded into the man's face and took his head off. Max peered through the eye slit and saw what the marauders were up to. They were trying to stuff bundles of rags down the bulldozer's air intake pipe and bring it to a halt. Max put his shotgun to the eye slit again and fired, hitting the other two marauders and knocking them off the dozer. Max looked for more enemies to attack, but all the remaining marauders were driving their vehicles again. They moved too fast for Max to hit.
The F100, charred by fire, pulled alongside the bulldozer. Three men jumped onto the dozer from the back of the pickup. Max wrenched the bulldozer to the side, ramming the too-close truck. Max pushed the F100 into the ditch where it sank into the gasoline there, then he turned the dozer away before it too went into the ditch. The marauders on the dozer threw a coat of furs over Max's frontal eye slits. His hand couldn't fit through to remove it. Max blindly drove the dozer in circles while he reloaded his shotgun. Max just finished putting the shells in when the bulldozer stuttered and lurched forward. The marauders had succeeded in suffocating the dozer's engine. Max tried flooring the gas, but it was no use. The bulldozer clambered to a stop.
Max threw open the bar to the cab and heaved the steel door open. He sprung out, running for the camp. The marauders jumped down and swarmed to Max, wanting to exact their revenge on him for all the destruction he caused. Max shot one as he ran, then another. He gripped his shotgun and sprinted for the ditch. A huge marauder tackled him to the ground. Max had only seconds to act. He got a hand free and pulled out his boot knife. Max elbowed the man in the face and followed up with his knife. The knife cleanly pierced the man's chest. Max shoved the dead weight away and began running again. Arrows flew at him, but he was at the ditch. Max jumped as far as he could, just making it to the other side. He was pulled to safety by the defenders. The marauders followed Max to the edge of the ditch, and a furious crossbow battle emerged. Both sides were being cut down. Finally, one of the defenders lit the gasoline in the ditch. The gasoline ignited into red and orange fire. The flames pushed everyone back. But, it was only a matter of time before the fire died and the marauders could find a way over. Max gasped for breath as he looked over the remaining defenders. There were only fifteen of them.
But, the marauders had sustained casualties, too. Only four motorcycles remained, with one rider for each. The 'Cuda and Hail's Oldsmobile had also survived. With the four motorcycle riders, there were ten marauders left.
Outside the camp, the engine of the bulldozer was heard roaring to life. It began pushing dirt into the still burning ditch. That was how the marauders were going to get inside.
As the bulldozer continued to fill in the protective ditch, the defenders stood watching helplessly. They could hear the jeers and laughter of the marauders. Soon the ditch would be filled in enough so the marauders could cross over and finish them off. Max took out all the shotgun shells he had left, about twenty. As he tucked the shells back in his pockets, Max said loudly, "Get in the bus and start her up. I'll hold them off, and you can ram your way out."
A chorus of protests arose.
"No! We make our stand here!"
"We can take them!"
"That bus won't make it!"
"We can do it!"
Before Max could argue, the first marauder vehicle came hurtling through the flames and bouncing over the almost-filled ditch. It was, unsurprisingly, Hail's Oldsmobile. The Olds' huge 454ci engine roared as it bore down on the people. The defenders scattered and began throwing rocks and pieces of metal at the Olds. Hail turned in a large circle as he tried to run over the defenders. Then the Barracuda and the four remaining motorcycles also crossed the ditch. The defenders panicked. Some kept fighting while others ran for the bus. A few were run down by the enemy machines. One man threw himself at a passing motorcycle. Both he and the rider tumbled to the ground. The man began pummeling the rider with his hammer. The other defenders had found positions of safety to attack the marauders. Max fired both barrels at a motorcycle, knocking the man dead from his bike.
Hail realized the battle was becoming a stalemate. His gang couldn't dismount to attack; they were outnumbered by the defenders. If they kept circling they would eventually be stopped. In frustration, Hail roared like an animal and kept trying to run people down.
Allison had sought shelter by the Interceptor. She looked in the car, expecting to see her daughter there, safe. Except for a frantic Dog, the car was empty. Allison pulled out her pistol and looked around, searching for Megan. She began running through the camp, screaming her daughter's name. She did not want to lose Megan again.
Hail knew he would lose. Even now, his only other car, the Barracuda, was surrounded by defenders, smashing its glass and trying to stop it. Somehow the 'Cuda was able to get away from the mob. Hail wanted payback. He might lose, but so would these greasy slobs who dared to resist him. Hail saw the desperate mother; and her gun. He brought the Olds to a stop and ran at Allison. Hail blindsided the woman, tackling her to the ground and wrenching away the pistol.
Max was at the Interceptor, ready to bring it into the fight. He heard the mad voice behind him.
"Bronze! Give it up!"
Instinctively, Max drew his shotgun in one quick motion as he turned and saw Allison being held hostage by Hail. Behind Hail was the turned over wreck of the crane. Max saw Megan watching from there, sheltered from the fray.
Max walked slowly towards Hail, oblivious to the surrounding battle.
"It ends here, Bronze! Now!" Hail shouted at Max.
Then things happened very quickly. Hail pointed the pistol at Max. At the same time, Allison pulled out her knife and stabbed it into Hail's shoulder. He cried out in surprise and pain. Hail shoved Allison to the ground and shot her three times. Max couldn't shoot without hitting them both. Megan began running to her mother, screaming "Mommy!" Without missing a beat, Hail aimed at Max again and fired twice. Max dove down and shot back, missing Hail as he sprinted to his car. Max tried to get up, but he clutched his side in pain. One of Hail's bullets had grazed Max. Max staggered to his feet. In a daze, he saw Megan reach her fallen mother and begin screaming over her.
Hail reached his Oldsmobile, where he saw the remnants of his army retreating. All Hail could think about now is revenge. He gunned the Olds at Allison and Megan.
Max can only watch in horror as mother and daughter are run down by the merciless Oldsmobile.
Fiercely determined, Max made his way to the Interceptor. Collapsing into the driver's seat, Max started the car. Dog whined and tried to lick Max's wound. Max pushed him away.
Hail aimed his blood-stained car at the oil pump. He rammed the pump, destroying it and sending oil spraying everywhere. Next Hail rammed the stored fuel. It began leaking to the sand. Hail lit a bundle of rags and threw it into the path of the fuel. Then he drove off, with the Barracuda and the last two motorcycles following.
The leaking gasoline reached the flames. The fuel ignited and raced towards the stored gasoline. With a huge roar, the refinery is incinerated. Out of the flames comes the Interceptor, in pursuit of Hail and his gang.
Over the black road cutting through the desert, Max pursued the marauders.
With the awesome power of the Interceptor's blower, Max quickly caught up. The farthest vehicle back was one of the motorcycles. Max pulled alongside the unknowing rider and fired one shell from his shotgun. The rider never knew what hit him as he tumbled dead to the road.
The second motorcycle rider heard the blast and fell back, next to the Interceptor. He hurriedly fired his hand crossbow at Max; missing both car and driver. Max swerved to ram the bike, but the rider drove off the road onto the dirt, safe for the moment.
Max ignored the motorcycle and turned his attention to the two cars ahead of him; the Oldsmobile and the Barracuda. The 'Cuda, with two marauders inside it, dropped back to the right of Max. Max saw the passenger armed with a crossbow, and Max fell back even more so as not to allow the marauder a shot.
Behind Max, the motorcycle rider regained the road and closed in on the Interceptor.
Max turned left slightly, putting more room between the vehicles. Then he floored the gas and swerved right, ramming the 'Cuda's left rear quarter panel and pushing it along, almost sideways. The Barracuda's driver tried to correct, but the Interceptor was too fast, too powerful. When the 'Cuda was turned more than its tires would allow, it flipped over. The Barracuda rolled over and over, finally coming to rest on its side.
Max braked hard to avoid hitting the 'Cuda. The Interceptor's tires locked up as it nosedived. Behind the Interceptor, the biker could not stop as fast. He rear-ended the Interceptor and was propelled over the roof and the hood. Max accelerated again, crushing the biker underneath his car.
In the Oldsmobile, Hail was only trying to outrun Max. He had gained a large lead as the Interceptor fought his last men. Hail was desperate. The man pursuing him had almost single-handedly destroyed his entire gang. He could only think of escape.
Again, Max caught up to his enemy. The race was going along at an incredibly fast pace. Hail had his Olds going flat out, the RPMs in the 6,000s. Still, Max gained on him. Max aimed his shotgun out the window and fired at the rear of the Olds. The blast shattered the Olds' rear window and cracked the front windshield. Hail looked back, with the first signs of fear in his eyes. Panicked, Hail braked hard and aimed Allison's pistol. Max saw the danger and rammed the Olds from the left, causing Hail to drop the gun to the floorboards. Hail rammed back, and the Oldsmobile's heavier weight forced the Interceptor to the left edge of the road. Seizing this momentary advantage, Hail lit another one of his bundles of rags. He drove as close as he could to the Interceptor, and threw the flaming bundle.
Max jerked his head out of the way as the fireball landed inside the Interceptor. Dog began barking wildly as the car's passenger seat began to burn. Max quickly stopped the Interceptor and patted out the flames with his blanket. With the car seat still smoldering, Max peeled out after the Olds once again.
The road became a series of turns in and out of some rough hills. The Interceptor smoothly took each turn, all the while gaining on Hail. Hail fumbled for the gun on the floor, then gave up to concentrate on keeping the Olds on the road. Hail had to drive the large Oldsmobile much slower than before, but he still tried to ram Max.
Max knew he couldn't stop the hulking Olds with just his car alone. He reloaded his shotgun and roared by the Oldsmobile on its left. When Max was next to the Olds' left front tire, he fired at the wheel, disintegrating it and the wheels' rim. The Olds pushed along its ruined left front end, sparks flying everywhere. Max braked, again falling back behind the Olds. Hail turned to watch Max get behind him. As he was looking back, Hail didn't see the next turn. The Olds plowed into the dirt. Hail couldn't steer to avoid a boulder in his path. The Olds crashed into it at better than sixty miles per hour. Hail was thrown forward over the steering wheel and into the cracked windshield. His face spiderwebbed the glass before he came to rest in his seat.
Max stopped and got out. Dog jumped out the window and ran to attack Hail. As Max caught up, he saw the Olds' driver side door open and Dog furiously tearing and biting at Hail. Hail swatted at Dog, then he saw the pistol under the seat. He grabbed for it and aimed the pistol at Dog. Max kicked the gun out of Hail's hands and ordered Dog, "Heel." Dog obediently trotted to stand by Max's leg. Max looked at Hail for a moment. The once powerful man was now broken. Blood flowed freely from his facial wounds, and his left arm hung limply from his side. Max drew his shotgun. Hail looked up at him. "Go on, Bronze," he said. "Get it over with."
Max holstered his shotgun, then pulled Hail to his feet and shoved him against the wreck. Max took Hail's right arm and forced it against the car. Then Max slammed the door on it, once, twice, three times. Hail screamed from the pain as he clutched his mangled hand.
Max stepped back and drew his shotgun again and pointed it at Hail. Then Max kicked the pistol to Hail. The message was clear.
Hail began laughing. "That's hardly a fair fight," he said.
Max coldly watched the man. "Not supposed to be," he answered.
Hail saw the steel in Max's eyes. He lunged for the pistol. Max calmly fired, killing the last of the marauders.
Max watched Hail breathe his last. Then he turned, walking back to the Interceptor with Dog. Max looked back at the pillar of smoke far in the distance. He watched it for a moment longer, then got in the Interceptor and drove off down the unending road.