Baptism of Rage

Youth is wasted on the young.

   - George Bernard Shaw

   The companions awaken in a gateway. After recovering, they quickly search the redoubt and head out. It's raining, but Mildred says they're in Tennessee - she saw it on a flyer inside.
   As they're walking down an old highway, four vehicles pass them. They keep walking until they spot a small ville (more of a wide spot in the road) where the vehicles are pulling in. Ryan is scouting the area with his Steyr and decides it looks friendly when gunfire rings out - the convoy is under attack by mutie dogs. With the companions' help, the people drive the dogs off, suffering only minor wounds.
   Everyone heads into the local tavern and take separate tables. Mildred and Doc go to order some food; on the way back to his table, the leader of the travellers, Jeremiah Croxton, calls them over. He has an interesting story for them. One of the girls with him, a teenager named Daisy who looks 17, claims she's actually 76. She says that she regained her youth by swimming in a "fountain of youth", and that she and her brother left to find more people to bring back.
   While Doc is taking all this in, Mildred goes to talk to the others. After a bit, Doc returns and relays a proposition - Croxton is willing to hire them as guards for the journey, and he can get them into Baby ville, their destination. They decide to go, if for no other reason than to see if it's really true (and if it is, for Doc).
   They leave at dawn the next day. The ride is largely uneventful until they reach the ruins of an old ville (Tazewell) near nightfall; then the lead vehicle starts to bog down in the road. Ryan gets out and finds that the road is too soft to support the vehicles' weight. They're trying to get the buried truck free when a combine harvester comes rolling down the road, manned by a husband and wife - Mitch and Annie; they say they just happened to come by and offer to pull the truck free. The only problem is, they have to go back to their farm, a few miles up the road, to get chains.
   Ryan and Jak go with them to recover the chains. Mitch says they're in the barn, so Ryan and Jak go inside to get them; once they're inside, the doors slam shut and they find they're trapped with a huge boar sow and her piglets. Mitch and Annie start having sex against the door, and Ryan fires through it, hitting Annie. Mitch, furious, fires up the harvester and plows it through the doors into the barn. Ryan shoots Mitch in the stomach and dumps him off, while Jak throws Annie down; they then drive off with the harvester and the chains back to the convoy.
   Meanwhile, darkness is falling. With night comes a horde of scalies, which attack the convoy. They drive off the scalies just in time for Ryan and Jak to return; they hook up the chains and pull the lead truck free, then head to the farm to spend the night. JB and Doc find a scalie being held prisoner in the basement and kill it. They spot more scalies running around outside, along with a couple boars, but the place is so well fortified that they can rest easy.
   They leave the next morning and reach Baby ville before noon. The companions are forced to hand over their blasters to gain entry, which they do. Once inside, they're given accommodations. At breakfast the next morning, a couple of the locals tell the new arrivals about the pool and its miraculous healing powers. They're then taken to the pool, where everyone is allowed to take a dip if they wish.
   Meanwhile, Jak slips away to do some investigating. He wanders over to the main gate, but the guards refuse him access. A cart rolls by, and he notices a hand sticking out from between a pile of blankets in the back. He follows the cart out to the fields, where the driver stops to bark some orders to three malnourished youths digging in the dirt. The driver unloads something, which the kids bury, then they all climb into the cart and leave. When they're gone, Jak goes up and starts digging with his hands; it isn't long before he finds a human body, and a little more work reveals several more beneath it.
   As he's heading back toward the camp, a sec man spots him and gives chase. He's joined by a second; Jak leads them into an alley and kills them both, then slips away. On his way back, Jak happens by an open window where Daisy is talking to several other youths. One of them asks where "Dad" is, and she makes a reference to Jeremiah as her father - obviousy all is not as it seems.
   Jak returns well after the others have gone to bed, but he immediately wakes them and fills them in. Meanwhile, across the ville, Jeremiah has determined that the companions are far too dangerous to let live - they'll all be killed the next day.
   As the companions are leaving the dining hall after breakfast, Daisy distracts Jak long enough for one of her friends to attack him. He kills the man, but another with a bow appears, and Jak is forced to surrender. The rest of the companions are rounded up, and everyone is taken to the fields and forced to dig their own graves. They get Croxton talking, revealing his whole plan, and Jak stabs him in the leg with a knife. This throws the sec men into chaos, and the companions take advantage of it. They quickly overwhelm the guards, but Croxton flees during the fighting.
   He flees to the old mill, where he's got an AK-47 stashed in case of emergencies. Ryan follows him, and they struggle. The gunfire weakens one wall, and they crash through it into the river, where they're trapped under the water wheel. Krysty dives into the river and uses her Gaia power to stop the wheel long enough for the others to pull him free.
   With Croxton dead and most of his guards dead, the companions give the weapons over to the other folks who had come to Baby ville, leaving them in charge. They take a wagon and ride off into the sunset.