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A Toast to the Future

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The sun beats down on the roof of the Citadel, searing and merciless. Toast squints at the sky, hoping for clouds somewhere in the distance, but there are none in sight, the blue interrupted only by sand and rocks and a lone vulture in the faint distance. Sweat drips down her nose.

She wanders back towards the green, away from the steep edge. There's some precautions, now. A flimsy fence. Dag had insisted on it when she started recruiting more of the younger pups to help with the gardening, to help keep the green alive and awake. Still, they'd lost one. Even the younger ones have had their survival instincts stripped from them, and getting them to learn otherwise will be difficult. There's always a warboy as well, up there, when the pups are helping. They change it round, it's rarely the same one two days in a row. The warboy is supposed to keep the pups safe, to make sure no one goes to near the edge or anything.

Today's warboy is lounging on a rocky outcropping, basking in the sun, eyes closed against the glare. He doesn't seem to be a very effective guard, Toast thinks, but she finds herself keeping an eye on him. Peaceful looking warboys are a novelty. He moves, throws an arm over his eyes to further block the light and she sees there's something glinty bright in his face. Perhaps it's some sort of ornament. Who knows what's in fashion with warboys.

It's been, she thinks, about thirty days since their return to the Citadel. Perhaps a few more or less. She should be keeping track, she thinks. But she hasn't and won't. Someone else will, probably. Will chronicle the Fall and Rise of the Citadel. Scrawled between the lines, perhaps, of one of their wordburgers. The tale of the Immortan's fall, to be told and retold to the pups to come, to the children of the wretched. No. The children of the people, now.

Toast uses part of thin fabric wound round her head and neck to protect her from the sun to wiped the sweat of her face. It's nearing midday and the sun is at its worst. She should go back down. Or join Dag where she's sat in the shadow of the trees, surrounded by small pups. They worship her. Of course they do. Showing them how to make more green. Dag's explaining something to them, gesticulating, voice occasionally rising enough that Toast can almost make out what she's saying. She's got her role. Green mother, the pups sometimes call her. She dislikes that, Toast knows. Isn't ecstatic with the connotation of motherhood. But explaining that to the pups has proven difficult.

Toast tugs at her white shirt, peeling it away from her skin. It's soaked with sweat, everything is. Her cargos, too. Useful for working in the sun, the warboys claimed. But it was different, wasn't it, hanging off a car with the wind. Different when you had to cover up with a shirt as well. Or felt you had to. Whichever. The warboys certainly don't bother with that. She watches the guard one get up and saunter over to where the pups are, Dag looking up and saying something, but the wind eats up their words before they can reach Toast. She catches herself following the warboys movements, languid quick and strangely graceful, then shakes her head no. She's got more important duties.

Going down into the Citadel proper is cold, at first, clammy clothes helping not at all. Warpups on various errands rush past her in every direction, throwing her a quick V8 salute if they've both hands free. They'd tried to discourage that, it being part of the old regime. But in the end they decided that ridding the pups and boys of the worship of Joe was more important. That if they wanted to worship the engine then that was fine, for the time being. Toast doesn't want to admit it, not even to herself, but she quite likes their reverence. Wants it changed, gradually, though, into something more respect than worship, but it keeps the pups listening to them.

The small ones are having an easier time accepting the change in management so far. They accepted and loved and worshipped Joe, but now they've redirected that reverent energy to the sisters. Which is definitely a step in the right direction, something to be thankful for. They adore Dag for her knowledge and understanding of the plants. Love Capable for taking care of them, trying to teach them. And Cheedo as well, for her attempting to take care of them, for trying to learn how to be a better organic mechanic. They don't quite know how to feel about Toast yet. Toast doesn't quite know how to feel about Toast yet, if she's being honest with herself. Her purpose in the Citadel isn't as obvious and easily defined as that of her sisters. She's not sure how to relate to the pups and warboys.

Furiosa advised that they try not to change too much at once, and they listen. Know that she is more part of the Citadel than they ever will be. That she knows how much the warboys can take better than they. But it will improve. They will have more people to ask soon.

A salvage crew was sent out the day after they took back the Citadel, when the merest hint of order had been restored, when Furiosa had, through means that the sisters were not entirely comfortable with, had established herself as the one in charge. It hadn't been violent, not directly. Furiosa was too weakened for that. But she was an Imperator. She had rank and importance and understood the warboy hierarchy. The sisters had chosen to be on the roof while that was going on. To rest amidst the green and each other, relaxing for the first time in days.

The result was, either way, that a lot of wounded warboys had been brought back. A lot of half broken wrecks. Many of them had been burnt badly, both by the sun and various explosions. some of them would never be the same again. But then no one really would now.

Capable had found her Nux again, among the most heavily wounded. He hadn't been conscious. She hadn't left his side for the first week. Toast had worried about her, then. Told Capable that it was an odd relationship where she had spent more time watching his lifeless body and cradling his limp hand in hers than she had known him awake. Capable had looked coldly at her and Toast had backed off, hands up. It would be good, she thought, to have someone to speak for them to the other warboys. Someone who could make them listen.