For some reason Granny Po chose Rachel and me from our motley group to help her with the next step in their plan to stop the invaders they kept referring to as the Asai. She walked us down the bunker’s steps, down a hallway, and into a side room.
“Now I’ll read off the ingredients for my little concoction and I’ll need you to bring them to me, grind them up for the vat, that sort of thing. Okay?”
After some searching in the darkness I spun around and spotted the bottomless pit that must be the vat.
“Is this some sort of chemical weapon?” I wanted to help these people, I just didn’t know quite how far I wanted to go yet.
“It’s a solution to a fifty year problem,” she said. “Now, all the ingredients are labeled on the shelves there, so just pull them down when I call them out and I’ll tell you what to do with them.”
She lit a brazier in the center of the room and bathed the dungeon-like area in firelight.
So for hours we reached and strained and chopped and ground all the herbs, leaves, spices, and animal bloods. And Po dumped each finished ingredient into the massive pit.
By the time we’d finished, there was a murky red-brown liquid in the vat, swirling of its own accord, and I was starting to wonder what we’d created together. So I started looking over the jars.