Bunny approached Scab, the closest thing to a tinkerer the frozen outpost of Midland had to offer, and found her to be as crusty and bitter as her name implied. After an insult-laden exchange, Bunny relented to Scab’s obstinance, and purchased the name of a buyer who might have the part she needed — Playboy, who was known to frequent the Mexican Candycane, just over the bridge.
Meanwhile, at that selfsame watering hole, Burroughs Sundown carefully observed the placid patrons, chattering in their cups. After ordering a triple-double of swill, he overheard Exit and his buddy Coors lamenting Fuse’s heavy-handed (and larcenous) tactics. Burroughs laid on the charm, and sure enough, the topic turned to exits and mud huts, before Burroughs laid his vio-glove on Exit’s exposed flesh. In an instant, Exit addressed the bar at large, speaking for his puppet master — if anyone there was sick of Fuse and his boys, the time had come to act. Exit watched his body behave of some alien volition, through an impenetrable haze before it was returned to him. Gutpunch, the aged proprietor of the Candycane, applauded Burroughs’ twisted courage, but some of Fuse’s guys ducked out of the bar to play tattletale.
Just then, Must arrived at the bar, and, opening her brain, got a vibe of mistrust towards Burroughs — arguably the creepiest of the local creeps — from the remaining patrons. She approached him, and discussed this new disease, and its relation to the climate and the Mindfood. She learned there might be a treatment, devised from a mold growing in a cave to the southeast — a cave worked by slaves belonging to Fuse. Burroughs was uncertain what use Fuse had for the mold, but knew the disease was only in stage 1. 2 and 3 were on the way. Must tried to get a sense of Burroughs’ motivations, and realized that if she and her Family helped him rid the town of Fuse his gang, he’d in turn help her find the mold. Must, though, suffered a psychic rebuff, and crumpled to the floor. Bunny arrived at the bar, seeking Playboy, to find her leader crumpled in a rainbow puddle.
Before a pact could be sealed between these unlikely allies, Fuse burst into the room, flanked by Rothschild, Tum-Tum, and a few other thugs. Tum-Tum broke Bunny’s nose with the butt of his shotgun, as Burroughs tossed a knife to Must to arm herself. She caught it the wrong way ’round, though, and suffered a nasty gash on her dominant hand. Burroughs managed to deflect the barrel of Rothschild’s pistol before the dreadlocked fuck could get a shot off, and Bunny took the opportunity to bury her bootknife in Tum-Tum’s side, though she took another blow herself in the doing.
Must tried to convince Fuse to leave, seeing as Tum-Tum was already dead, and more blood needn’t be spilled — alas, his rage proved too much. She and Burroughs hit the deck, and Gutpunch blew a hole through Rothschild’s shoulder, taking him out of the fight. Fuse, apoplectic, bore down on Burroughs with his machete, catching Must in the blade’s arc. Burroughs’ and Fuse’s blades each tasted the blood of the other, and together, they collapsed to the floor. In the melee, most of the patrons fled the bar, leaving Gutpunch to find Doc Rot, the only halfway-decent medic in the tundra. Must sends Mimi, the only unhurt Family member still present, to get Need and the rest.
Doc Rot was heard outside the bar, tending to Fuse’s wounds, until Need strong-armed her inside to see to Must. She wielded a boxy metal gun with a rusty needle, which Bunny promptly smashed — leaving Winkle to scoop up the broken pieces. Need gets Must’s consent to lead the forthcoming prayer meeting, as Doc Rot makes do with gauze, sutures, and duct tape. Burroughs, himself badly wounded, strikes out into the cold, an icy wind cutting through his robes to the angular bones within, and follows Fuse’s trail to a nearby yurt — leaving a prodigious blood trail of his own.