As soon as the sun had safely set, Capable slipped out from the cab of the Rig to serve as lookout. She needed to get away from their collective rage and grief; Toast and Cheedo were too upset to control their gifts, so Cheedo was projecting her own suffering onto the rest of them while Toast was unable to block out the misery from their minds. The Fool-a daywalker like Furiosa, Capable had been shocked to see-was still recovering from wounds he had received during the chase, or else she suspected he would have taken the opportunity to be alone. A few drops of Capable’s blood would have healed him instantly, but he had threatened her sisters, and she wasn’t interested in giving him anything. Except perhaps a stake to the back.
She carefully avoided the silver chains dangling from the side of the Rig, wondering if she could convince Furiosa to discard them. They were meant to protect the crew from any ferals they encountered, but Capable knew that no Wasteland bloodsucker would stand a chance against them. But the mere proximity of the chains made her skin crawl; she would rather meet the sun than feel the touch of silver ever again. Joe hung belts of silver around their hips to weaken them, though thankfully they had abandoned them in the sand. Perhaps it had been a waste of Dag’s powers to summon clouds to shield them from the sun long enough for them to remove the belts, but the freedom was worth it.
It was strange and liberating to move without the searing weight of the belt holding her back. Joe only had his foul Organic Mechanic remove the belts when it was time for the rapes that accompanied his feedings, and even then, he took the precaution of having them chained by silver, in just enough sunlight to keep them from tearing his throat out.
He needed them for their gifts, the unique abilities they each had that he took as he drank their blood, yet he would never let any one of them turn him-a maker had absolute control over their progeny. If a maker ordered their progeny to march into the sun, they would have no choice but to obey.
So instead he kept them locked up, the secret sources of his power, his regime untouchable as long as he had their blood. And now that they had slipped his grasp, he would hunt them to the ends of the earth to reclaim them.
The War Boys loved him because they believed he was a god, not knowing the true source of his divine powers. Without the blood and magic he stole from them, Joe was as mortal as any other human, and his hold over his army would not survive the revelation that he was nothing but a lying old man. With Cheedo’s gift he could soothe the masses or rile them up, depending on his purpose. Toast’s blood allowed him to slip into the minds of others, rooting out dissent before it could even be voiced. He used Capable to heal his many infirmities and live well beyond the span of any other human, and Dag to call down winds to sweep away his enemies or draw water from deep beneath the earth.
And Angharad…Joe needed her to glimpse the future, to know what was coming, to anticipate the choices of his enemies before they themselves knew what they were going to do. But more recently, he and the Organic Mechanic had conjured strange and abhorrent magic, enabling him to plant monstrous children in Angharad and Dag. Angharad and her sprog were lost now-she had climbed into the light to free the Rig from Joe’s chain. She had been somewhat shielded by the side of the vehicle, and with Capable’s blood, she could have healed, but then-
Weakened by the Fool’s silver bullet, she had slipped and fallen, run down by Joe and consumed by the unforgiving light of the sun. With her gift of foresight, she must have known what fate awaited her on the Fury Road-the True Death, both immutable and unknowable.
As long as Joe lived, Angharad’s sacrifice would be in vain, and for that, Capable was determined that he would die. And more practically, she knew that he would never let them go, especially now that his only remaining heir was in Dag’s belly. He needed to die a mortal death, with his remains burnt and scattered, so that he could never rise as one of them.
But how could they defeat him? The effects of their blood would not fade immediately, and Joe still had his undead Imperators to protect him by night. As powerful as Capable and her sisters were, they were not warriors like the Imperators. Even Furiosa could not kill them all; she was strong but outnumbered. And anyway, her gift was walking beneath the sun, not war, as theirs were. During the day Joe would be guarded by hordes of War Boys, all armed with silver bullets and chains. The Fool was vicious and brutal, but not trustworthy. Even if he was, he and Furiosa could not take on Joe’s army alone.
What they needed was a newborn-unfathomably fast and strong, and utterly in thrall to their maker. A fledgling could cut through Joe’s army with ease, which was why he was so adamant about rounding up ferals of their kind and ensuring that he alone controlled the dead that rose.
Over the sound of the Rig’s engine, she heard a sob, and she realized with a shock that she was not alone. Curled up behind her was a War Boy, the same one they had gotten rid of before the canyon.
All she could think to say was, “What are you doing here?”
“He saw it. He saw it all. My own blood bag, driving the Rig that killed her.”
For a moment she was furious that he had taken Angharad’s death and made it into his own tragedy, yet when he began to smash his head against the floor, she couldn’t just watch. She reached out and cradled his head, whispering, “Stop doing that.”
Laying down beside him, she continued to shush him, feeling pity for him and something else. This War Boy was one of Joe’s weapons, used up and thrown away when he was no longer of value. Having been exploited by Joe too, she felt a strange sense of sympathy and kinship with him.
“Three times the gates were open to me,” he muttered, still half-sobbing, and she asked absently, “What gates?”
She had seen for herself his fanaticism and mindless devotion to Joe…if she was to redirect that loyalty, turn him to their side, could he be precisely what they needed to bring Joe down?
“I was awaited in Valhalla. They were calling my name-I should be walking with the Immortan, feasting with the heroes of all time.”
Those words made up her mind. This poor dying War Boy deserved something better than the falsehoods paid to him by Joe, and she could give it to him.
Faster than a mortal eye could follow, she had pulled him into the center of the cab and was above him, straddling him in a whirl of white cloth with her teeth bared.
“Valhalla isn’t real, but I am.”
He took in her fangs, the hard, inhuman line of her body as she hung over him, and recognized her for what she was.
“Are you Death?”
She laughed-a bitter, harsh laugh, because there was no room for true laughter in a world without Angharad. “Yes, but I am also life-true life, which does not end.”
She took his hand, finding it almost unbearably hot against her own cool flesh, and pressed it against his chest, letting him feel the thump of his own heart. “It beats strong now, but soon it will weaken and fail.”
Turning over his hand, she guided his palm to the place where her own heart had once been, when she was mortal. She could feel him gasp-though whether it was from the stillness in her chest or the fact that he was holding her breast, she wasn’t sure.
“My power endured the death of the world and is greater than anything held by mortal flesh. Stop trying to grab the sun. It doesn’t want you, and neither does Joe.”
He recoiled at her cruel words, but she continued to speak.
“But I do. I can free you from this living death, and give you true life. Embrace the moon and her gifts, the gift I am freely offering you. Will you walk by my side in the dark? Will you follow me, for this night and all the nights to come?”
His bright blue eyes were huge as he took her in, and for a moment she saw herself as he did-impossibly strong and beautiful, shiny and chrome, untouched by decay. She was everything he had ever wanted to be.
“Yes,” he gasped out, “Glory yes, take me, use me, make me like you-”
He continued to ramble incoherently as Capable bent her head to his neck. She ran her lips along the sensitive skin of his throat, allowing herself a moment to savor his fluttering pulse and the final moments of his life before she struck.
Capable didn’t want to cause him more pain than was necessary, so she tried to restrain herself, but by the moon he tasted good, sharp like copper and bright as the sun. She took her into him, bit by bit, making him into a part of herself. Once she drained him, she would give him her blood and remake him as something more magnificent and terrible than he could ever have imagined. As maker and progeny, their connection would be stronger than any mortal bond-the magic that animated her would bring eternal life to him as well. And once formed, only the True Death could sever it.
His arms, well-muscled for someone so ill, wrapped around her, and she allowed him to pull her down against him, reveling in the feeling of his long lean body. He was hard, and he thrust up against her with all the strength of a dying man. She felt an answering surge of desire, but pushed that urge down-not yet, not until he had died and was reborn as one of them. If she allowed herself to become distracted, this could all be for nothing.
She could feel his heartbeat slowing-he was dying now, really dying, not the walking half-death of all mortals.
Raising her wrist to his lips, she murmured, “Bite me, you need my blood or else you won’t rise-”
He mouthed at her, either unable or unwilling to break her skin, but the warmth of his mouth on her sent a fresh stab of want through her. So close.
She bit herself then let the blood drip into his mouth-not too much, she didn’t want to heal him, just enough to seal the bond. It only took a few drops, but he swallowed them greedily, licking his lips and begging weakly for more.
Capable held him as he died, his eyes locked on her face as if it was the last thing he ever wanted to see. Just before his heart stopped, his eyelids fluttered shut. She pressed him close as his body cooled, feeling the magic take hold, anxiously waiting for him to wake up.
And then she felt him burst back into his existence, not breathing and no longer alive, but more real to her than anything else. His eyes snapped open and fixed on her, and suddenly they were kissing, desperate and fierce and hungry.
With a strength that now exceeded hers, he flipped them over, hands fumbling at the cloth that separated them. Capable wrapped her legs around him and drew him in eagerly, welcoming him with an eternity of frustrated desire.
After they were finished, a thought occurred to her. “What’s your name?”
His voice was as gravelly as it had been in life, yet it had new nuances and depths to her, because she was a part of him as much as he was a part of her.
“Nux. I’m Nux.” He smiled at her, a little awkwardly considering they were still entangled, but she smiled back.
“Hello, Nux. I’m Capable.”
Through the kisses he was dropping on her neck and shoulders, Nux repeated her name several times, like it was a sacred and magical word.
As pleasant as it was, Capable forced herself to focus on the task at hand. Once Joe was dead, they would have eternity to explore one another.
“Nux, I need you to do something for me.”
He had found his way to her chest, and as he worked on untying her wrappings, he replied, “Anything.”
“Go back to the west and find Joe’s army. Kill him and the People Eater and the Bullet Farmer, and all the Imperators too. Spare Rictus if he surrenders, and the War Boys that do as well. Then come back to me.” Angharad would be avenged, but Capable would try to uphold her belief in no unnecessary killing.
“How will I find you once I’ve killed them all?” His utter certainty that he would not fail, and his concern at being separated from her, sent a thrill through her.
“You’ll always be able to find me, Nux.” Her hand trailed down from his face over the dried blood on his neck, to the place where his heart had once beat. “We’re one now.”