All the sorrows man has visited on man

Posted in Uncategorized on October 24, 2012 by Tel Prydain

I spent another few days just hanging out before I started to get bored. By now, I had read all the books I’d been lugging about and I was just lying about and going for the occasional swim. Follows-Chalk was still hanging about, and while I considered sending him away back to his tribe, I reconsidered based solely on the fact that he’s one of the few tribals I’ve met that speaks English rather than their own odd tribal language.

I’m so bored that I start flipping through notes on my pip-boy. To my astonishment I discover I’m quite the through note taker… and compulsive too, because I can’t even remember writing any of this stuff down.
While flicking through said notes I come across the details of my conversation with Joshua Graham and note with some surprise that I’d agreed to drop his supplies off with Daniel, not Joshua.
Given my current bored state I don’t see any reason not to do that now.

Living in a cave might seem rough - but this is the alternative...

Living in a cave might seem rough – but this is the alternative…

Follows-Chalk and I meander around the Sorrows camp, looking for Daniel. He’d be easy enough to spot, being the only person wearing ‘civilised’ clothing; however his propensity to wonder about an already confusing area means that it’s a tougher job than it sounds.
I do eventually find him and, somewhat unceremoniously hand over the doctor’s kit, survival packs, walky-talkies and compass.

What happened next was a little shocking… Follows-Chalk, up to this point my long suffering, silent companion, declared that now I’d found those items for Daniel, his job was done. Despite an attempt to get him to stay with me, Follows-Chalk politely explained that he had agreed with Joshua to help me with this task, but now he had to go back to his people.
Agreed with Joshua?! I here I was thinking that he was continually throwing himself into danger because he loved me! How will I ever trust again?

As if that wasn’t abrupt enough, the crazy bald-headed lady who had welcomed us to the village suddenly appeared behind me and looked at me with an expectant glare.

Yikes! Woman, where are your pants?

Yikes! Woman, where are your pants?

Daniel explains the supplies are great – but he also needs a bunch of other stuff. Stuff that includes, but is not limited to, a map of the way out and the path out of Zion cleared of ambushes. And then he adds that this lady, Walking-Cloud, will help me.
Daniel even has the locations of all these things can be found on a map, but while I agree in principle that this stuff is needed, I’m not convinced that I should be the one to see to it – I already got the Sorrows all the other supplies.
I politely tell Walking-Cloud that I won’t be needing her services and then sulk off back to my cave.

After a day of sulking alone and morning the departure of Following-Chalk, I decide to resume reading the survivalist’s journal. I have a few more notes from him that I picked up from various supply stashes that he had hidden around Zion valley. I bet he never had to deal with being taken advantage of like this.

January 2nd, 2124
I’ve been leaving notes for them, and gifts.
They like the books. Started with stories but moved on to weapons manuals, medical books, practical stuff.
In the notes, well it’s embarrassing, almost like those cards people used to give each other, everything sweet and loving. I tell them to read and to learn and to make the most of their new home. I tell them I’m giving them Zion as a gift to make up for all the sorrows of their lives so far and all the sorrows man has visited on man. I tell them to be kind to each other and modest. I tell them never to hurt each other but that if someone else comes along and tries to hurt them to strike back with righteous anger. Stuff like that. I sign every note “The Father”, because well, just because.

That’s interesting… I’ve heard the Sorrows talk about a watching god, “The Father in the Cave”. I wonder if there is a connection?

January 18th, 2124
Have I mentioned that I’m dying?
Mind’s still sharp. Lungs are the problem. Might be cancer. Cough’s been getting worse for months, finally there’s blood in it. Getting harder to visit my little friends, breath’s so short.
I’ve given away most of what I own. They’ll find the rest in caves when they get a little older. I don’t want them to find me, though. “The Father” is a broken-down old man? Disappointment.
It’s time. I don’t want another birthday.

Well, the ‘little friends’ didn’t find the caves… or they did, but they marked them as places of religious significance and then avoided them. Which was probably a good thing considering the number of traps the survivalist used to protect his homes.

January 23rd, 2124
It’s cold enough that I won’t last long on the high mound up next to Red Gate. I think I’ve got enough breath left in me to make it. I’ll just lie down and stare at the sky. Feels right.
I hope they’ll do well. I hope no harm comes to them, from within or without. Did my best to prepare them with the last notes. Said something kind about each one of them, what makes each one special. Told them “The Father” was pleased by their kind natures and that it would be up to them to handle things on their own from now on, that I’d be silent but still watching and still caring.
Lying, then. Oh yes.
Lied to you, Char. And Alex. And Sylvie. Told you I’d be with you forever. But I wouldn’t go back and unsay it once if I could.
What was the point of it all? So many failures.
But I never forgot your face. Or Little Nut’s. Or (sorry) Sylvie’s. They used to say that happened after a while but it never did for me.
Maybe the only point of all that living was to keep those pictures in my head going for as long as I could. It was the only life I could give you. Not a day went by without.
It wasn’t choice. I chose to die again and again. Just never did. Body had its own drive.
Well, the little ones will need it. Species will need it if it’s to continue. That blind drive onward.
I wish them well. It’s been a gift to me, at the end of it all, to behold innocence.
Goodbye, Zion.
Randall Dean Clark
Feb 5th, 2053 – Jan 2124

Huh.
There is one line that sticks with me; “I tell them I’m giving them Zion as a gift to make up for all the sorrows of their lives so far and all the sorrows man has visited on man”.
The Father in the Cave… a gift to make up for all the sorrows…
The Sorrows Tribe must be the descendants of these children.

Well, that shouldn’t change things… but it kind of does – knowing that the Sorrows are the legacy of the survivalist whose homes and resources I’ve been sharing makes me feel indebted to them. I owe him, and he cared about them.
I guess that settles it – I’ve got to help Daniel help the Sorrows.

Joe’s Book Club

Posted in Uncategorized on October 17, 2012 by Tel Prydain

I spend a few days hanging out with the Sorrows tribe – which is only marginally better than hanging out with the Mutants in the ski resort. On reflection, it’s pretty improbable that any of the tribals will snap and try to eat me, but to be fair the mutants were as peaceable as anyone else I’ve met in the wasteland and at least the mutants spoke English.

One thing that the Sorrows do have over the mutants is that they live in a area overflowing with food, so I’m pretty unlikely to starve here. Indeed, I’m positively overloaded with fruit, vegetables and meat that I gathered while exploring this old national park. Also, fresh water means that the water bottles I’ve packed are basically dead weight.

With so much going for it, you can probably see why there is fairly little motivation for me to move right now. I suppose that I could set up a trade route between the Sorrows tribe and the Dead Horse tribe… but there are only the two missionaries who are actually willing to trade – so it would be less a trade route and more a delivery service.

If it wasn’t for the imminent threat of attack from the White-leg tribe, you could almost imagine that this is how Joe might go out – slowly integrating into the tribes and occasionally fairing goods between Graham and Daniel, living in a place where the only danger was from animals rather than raiders, watching a new civilization grow free from the constraints of the old pre-war world.

But alas, it’s not to be – the White-Legs are coming, and that means that my stay here will only ever be a temporary affair.

 And all without even needing a GECK.

And all without even needing a GECK.

Still, the White-legs aren’t here right now, so I may as well enjoy the time I do have.

It could be easy to get bored here, but luckily I brought a few good books with me (or at least, useful books) and I spend my days reading them. It can almost feel my survival, repair and bartering skills growing.
And when the dry self-help books get too much I can always entertain myself with more of the survivalist’s diary (which is stored on my Pip-boy).

January 13th, 2097
The Coughers are gone finally. All 34 that still lived. Ate their dead for strength, then struck out SE.
Victory. 10 months of killing. All I feel is cold.
They deserved every goddamn bit of it.

January 17th, 2097
Thought I was dreaming but the screams were real. For a moment thought they’d tricked me, just pretended to leave Zion, then sent a patrol to track me down. But the screams were a woman’s.
Edged around corner in passageway to have a look. One Vaulter, ankle deep in bear trap. Leveled my SMG but the way she was crying stopped me.
How she screamed when she saw me. Been their boogey man a long time.
Name’s Sylvie. Claims she ran away from them. Calls them evil people, “children of the devil”. Turns out they were sick after all, something they caught in a Vault they lived in. She never came down with it (yet).
So help me, I’ve wound up being her nurse.

January 18th, 2097
Her story matches what I learned from my “interrogations” last year, but according to her – let’s just say it was bad to be a woman in that group. So when they left, she slipped away.
She knows nothing about living outside a Vault. Says she wants to learn.

September 9th. 2100
Never been so scared in my life.
Canada wasn’t scary, just sickening, the criminality of it.
The end of the world wasn’t scary. When I knew you and Alex were dead, I didn’t have anything left to be scared about. I just went on for some reason.
I wasn’t scared fighting the Vaulters. It was like I kept daring them to finish me. When I killed them, I think it was the closest I came to being happy in years
Sylvie is pregnant. And I am terrified.
Ridiculous old man. A father again at 47. In this world?
She’s so excited and so – trusting. Says it’s God’s will that we have this child. Like nothing can go wrong.
You see, Char, she doesn’t know about you and Alex. Never told her. Almost did sometimes but what you and I had, it seemed wrong to share it.
More like an old man not wanting his young wife to know how he failed the one who come before her.
Hiking into Toquerville for medical books and supplies. This will be done right.
I’m sorry, Char. Hope you can forgive me.

Canada. I’d read about that in the books back in good ol’ Vault 101. Not sure what was so criminal about liberating Canada and allowing it to join the USA, but apparently this guy had been part of the welcoming committe – Welcoming Canada and her oil to join the US of A.

March 5th, 2101
Baby was breech. Would’ve been a son. Michael.
Did my best to turn him. Failed. Must’ve done Caesarian too late. Had to put Sylvie out and she never woke up.
Buried them south of the Narrows. Well. This time I was by their side. So much better.
I think I can finally do it. Blow my fucking brains out all over this goddamn cave.

This guy… he has no damn luck.
It would have been depressing if that was the last entry in his story… however I have susaqunt entries from some of the other caves I’ve looted visited.

August 22nd, 2108
10 sets of tracks 1/2 mile NE of canyon entrance. Barefoot???

August 23rd, 2108
Saw them through scope. Corpses walking around. Finally gone crazy. Dementia maybe.

August 24th, 2108
I’m not crazy, they’re real. Goddammit they are real.
Rushed me the moment they saw me, snarling like animals. They look like corpses but don’t smell rotted.
I’ll be putting them out of their misery. Doing for them what I never could for myself.

September 3rd, 2108
The last of them. All gone.

February 5th, 2113
Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday you useless old dinosaur, happy birthday to me.
Happy 60th. What do you get a man who has everything?
A bottle of whiskey and a 12 gauge slug through the roof of the mouth! Whoo!
Come now. What do I have to do to prove to myself that I’ve lived long enough?
I’m a shriveled old man. White beard. Seen enough sunrises and sunsets. Saw the big sunset, been hanging on through the long night 36 years now. Ridiculous.
Not kidding myself into thinking there’s anything on the other side of this. Fine. Things weren’t so bad before I was born.
Char and Alex. Sylvie and Michael-who-could’ve-been.
Thoughts of the beloved dead before dying.
Goodbye, Zion.

February 6th
Fucking didn’t do it, coward as usual. Maybe two bottles next year.

April 25th, 2123
24 of them, half boys, half girls. Youngest is 8 maybe, oldest 13-14. Dirty and scrawny, been on foot a long time. Children’s crusade.
Struck camp on nearly the same spot as los mexicanos, 30 years and a lifetime ago.
I’ve spent 2 nights listening to them. English. Literate. One of them reads stories while the little ones fall asleep.
They escaped someplace they call “The School” but can’t figure out where it was. When they want little one to behave they tell him to stop or “The Principal will get you.”
Principal better not show up or I’ll blow his goddamn head off. I can still shoot straight.

Have to say, I do feel a bound with the survivalist – we both lost the only worlds we knew and then had to make our way in a scary and unfamiliar world. He’s undoubtedly a better man than Joe, but then again he lost a lot more than I did and afterwards his world was largely one of solitude. Meanwhile the first person I met after having my life ripped away was a raider who wanted to shoot me in the face.

Perhaps I’m being too hard on myself. Sure, ol’ Joe is somewhat self-centred, but I did right some of the time – In Operation Paradise Lost I helped some kids escape slavery. And I helped Primm reinstate rule of law. Surely that makes up for shooting puppies, murdering an intellectually challenged mutant, looting corpses, shooting a man in cold-blood (even if he was a bandit) and leading a lovely, confused old grandmother to her death? Maybe?

Regardless, I hope this group of strangers work out better for my faceless friend than the last group did.

Scotch – the ultimate antidepressant

Posted in Uncategorized on October 10, 2012 by Tel Prydain

After being on the road for a while, it’s nice to just relax and kick back for a while. Just enjoy unwinding someplace that isn’t going to be overrun by scorpions, geckos and green plant men.
These days Joe is quite the badass. Well… quite the badass compared to the local insects, at least. I can remember fleeing from scorpions back in Goodsprings, but now scorpions are just an average Monday.
Mind you, a cazador or armed tribesman is still enough to send me running for the hills.

I take to opportunity to heal up and perform a bit of maintenance on my busted gear. It can seem wasteful pulling a perfectly good weapon to bits just so I can use the resulting components to repair whichever weapon I’m actually using, however in a scrape I’d rather have one well maintained gun in my hand than half-a-dozen serviceable guns in my backpack.
Plus I get a few days to hang out with my pal Follows-Chalk some more.

Given my abundance of free time, I figure I can afford to read a few more of the diary entries left behind by the survivalist. His story of survival after the initial bombings of the Great War have been educational and helpful – not as helpful as his caves full of awesome stuff, but helpful nevertheless.

For those who forgot, after losing his family in the blasts, the survivalist hung out in the caves for ages, living off cave fungus (a helpful hint that’s led me to collect stacks of the stuff in my pack) until the radiation died down. He then explored the Zion park, making it his new home. Eventually, many years later, a small group of young people came to the park. The survivalist watched them from afar, but didn’t interact with them other than to occasionally leave them gifts.
The computer in this very cave contains the next part of the survivalist’s story – about one year after leaving medicine for the newcomers, things start to go very wrong. The first new entry started in the winter of 2096:

February 11th
Fuckers killed all the men. I think they would’ve taken the women alive but Maria and Selena opened fire and some of the others went for their guns so they shot them down and some of the kids with them.
If I could’ve warned them.

February 12th
Elena and Carmen and 5 children still alive, being kept in a pen.
There are more than 100 of these assholes in blue suits. Every suit says “22” on the back. Why? Armed to the teeth with submachine guns, pistols. Estimate 60% male. Everyone seems to follow the dark-haired guy but can’t get close enough to tell. Assholes are disciplined – patrols, sentries – they mean business.
Say I go in at night and get the women and children out. Where to next?
But I have to get them out. Have to.

Grim. But at least there is hope.
Someone pass me the scotch.

Important life lesson: Scotch with a hand written label is either going to be very, very good or very, very bad. There is no middle ground.

Important life lesson: Scotch with a hand written label is either going to be very, very good or very, very bad. There is no middle ground.

February 13th
Recon during night.
Well-organized, sentries along most approaches, but stream not covered.
Are they sick? Lots of coughing fits. Tuberculosis?
Women and children still in pen. Will try to infiltrate by stream tomorrow night.

February 14th
They ate them.

Oh, my bad. I thought the first two entries were grim, but that there was some kind of goodness left in the world. The second two entries show that any redeeming characteristics I perceived were a clear misconception on my part.
Luckily, I have more scotch… now seems like a good time to drink it.

Whisky. Or as Americans call it, Whiskey. Or as I call it, Almost-Scotch.

Whisky. Or as Americans call it, Whiskey. Or as I call it, Almost-Scotch.

February 19th
Ambush along riverside trail. 6 males killed. Heard their coughing a mile away.
Used their grenades to booby-trap bodies, kept half. Secured 6 SMGs, 500 rounds 10mm, 6 frags.

February 20th
Ambush along riverside trail. 2 males died checking bodies. Killed 2 more with rifle. Shot 1 through calf and let asshole crawl off to spread message. Coughed like I’d shot him through lungs.

February 23rd
Ambush half-mile east of coal pits wash. 8 males killed.

February 28th
Ambush in the narrows. 6 males killed. Took a 10mm through thigh, steel jacket, missed femoral. Lucky. Used tourniquet to make sure no blood spattered on rocks back to cave. Have set traps all along entrance passage but if they find me it will be matter of time. Still, 24 confirmed kills in 10 days = at least 1/3rd of their combat force, not bad for an old man.

March 2nd
Lucky lucky lucky lucky. Patrol was small – 3 men. Screaming woke me – point man caught under deadfall. Panic fire ricocheted into the cave, almost hit me. Crawled forward and killed them all with SMGs. Nearly used frags, stupid, finger in pin when remembered ricochets.
Leaving at once. No other patrols in area but they’ll be searching narrows for these 3. Taking as much food as I can drag with me and heading to cave south.

Well, at least the survivalist was able to make the intruders pay in blood – that makes me feel a little better. Also, now I’m hung over.
I’ve had enough depression-inducing reading for now, so as soon as my head stops ringing I’ll get back out there. I’ve got crap to do.

The next morning I go have another chat with Daniel, the missionary that’s leading this somewhat motley crew.
Happily, this time I’m finally able to convince Daniel to trade supplies with me, and now I see why he was reluctant to trade in the first place. The dude has very little to offer – just a few hundred caps and a small selection of healing supplies.
Still, healing supplies are more use than a few guns I’ll never ever use, so I trade for all his caps and medical equipment. I give him more guns and ammo than he was asking for, and even a few combat enhancements… after reading about the fate of the small peaceful tribe in the survivalist’s diary, I’m somewhat compelled to help this small peaceful tribe defend itself.

Somewhat disappointingly, just visiting Daniel took a not-insubstantial part of the day. The Sorrows camp is so big, contrived and convoluted that walking from one end to the other is nearly an all-day event. Not wanting to travel in the dark, I instead camp at the southernmost hut of the village, which will mean I have a full day’s light once I get to exploring.

Next day I head south – not really looking for anything in particular, and just eager to take a look about.
Frankly, there wasn’t that much to see. We did gather a lot of roots and plants however, so that’s kind of a win.

All was nice and calm until we started to head back, and ran straight into a White-Legs ambush. Not ideal, but as they were worryingly close to the pacifist sorrows camp… better us than the sorrows, I guess.

Die tribal! Your strategy of wearing no pants won’t help you now!

Die tribal! Your strategy of wearing no pants won’t help you now!

Luckily, for us it wasn’t a very good ambush. There was only two of them, and Follows-Chalk and I were able to fight them off with minimal effort. Having struck down our foes, we then make a hasty retreat back to the sorrows camp before any of the White-leg’s friends can come looking.

"Death gurrrrgle!"

“Death gurrrrgle!”

Part of me thinks I should get on the road again, but part of me protests that I have plenty of food, a safe place to sleep and no need to go looking for trouble. The 2nd part of me wins. Bed rest and scotch it is!

Searching for Sanctuary

Posted in Uncategorized on October 3, 2012 by Tel Prydain

After a short rest Follows-Chalk and I resume our trek across Zion’s untamed wilderness.
When I set out on this adventure, I thought that I was average in all respects; however, it does occur to me now that anyone that can embark on a forced-march across inhospitable terrain, all day long, with a crippled leg is actually a bit of a trooper. I don’t feel too pleased about this revelation however, as if I’m a trooper, then any most other people I’ve ever met seem to be demi-gods – capable of jogging across the face of the world non-stop – hunger, dehydration or exhaustion be damned.

With the sweet sounds of smooth Jazz pouring from my Pip-boy, we make our way north. Or we try to head north… after following the twisting river a short while we run into a sheer cliff-face that seems to mark the borders of these lands.

Our path cut off by unfortunate happenstance, we are forced to veer to the left until we spot a break in the cliff-face that will let us sneak through. We eventually come upon an embankment that looks like we could scale it, providing a convenient ramp up higher into the hills.
As we progressed up the hill, we barely noticed the lurking green assassin until it was almost too late. With zero warning or fanfare, a vaguely humanoid shape detached itself from a nearby bush and then came charging down the hill at us with an ape-like gait.

It's not easy... being green

It’s not easy… being green

It’s clearly the same kind of creature that we encountered back in the caves, although it looks a damn sight uglier in the light of day. Follows-Chalk wastes little time running into battle – arms and axes flailing wildly… I have GOT to have a chat with that dude about finding some sort of sense of self preservation.

While F-C might be a fan of close-quarters melee, Joe is smart enough to rely on weapons that will allow him to vaporize foes from a safe distance away – and somewhat predictably, high-tech laser pistol beats silly savage axe.

What's better than a pile of ashes? Nothing! Nothing at all!

What’s better than a pile of ashes? Nothing! Nothing at all!

With the green creature safely dispatched I veto any further exploration of this particular area and we head back down to the river in the south – I just hope that the green men were here before we explored the cave, because I’d hate to think that we’d inadvertently opened some sort of leafy pandora’s box.

Given the continued existence of the giant cliff face to the north, F-C and I continue to the east – a task made more difficult by the fact that the pre-war tracks and roads had ceased to be part of the landscape some time ago, and instead we were left to wade our way through the river.
Arguably, we could have traveled along the river-bank, but the river helpfully cuts a path through the uneven terrain and ensures we don’t have to climb up, over or around any hill or outcrops. Plus, it’s useful defensively… assuming that the folk attacking us don’t have guns.

Now, it might not sound like floating in the middle of a river, unable to draw a weapon, is the ideal defensive position to take, and you’d be right if firearms are involved. If the other-side have guns they will rain fiery hot death down on you, and you’ll have very little you can do about it – but if they don’t have guns then you’re sitting pretty.
This stems from the fact that the animals in Zion aren’t particularly smart and the white-legs tribe seem (and there’s no nice way to say this) to suffer from a mild form of brain damage. Sure, they hate you, the White-legs and animals both, but once they chase you into deep water they have to focus on swimming so as to not drown, and so instead of attacking you they just float there looking a bit silly.

There was a great example of this someway up the river – on the bank we stumbled upon the body of some poor soul that Follows-Chalk informs me is a member of the Sorrows Tribe. He was clearly the victim of an ambush, but although Follows-Chalk tells me that Sorrows normally travel in pairs, I was unable to see even a trace of any survivor.
I pay my best wishes in the only way I know how – I take all of his stuff so that his memory can forever live on… in my heart… in my soul… in my back-pack… in my bank account. I’m, as ever, thrilled to be a little richer, but just around the bend in the river we find that the danger hasn’t yet passed and we spy the two White-leg ambushers that had offed our limbless friend.
The two would-be highway-robbers had chased the surviving Sorrow tribesman into the middle of the river – where the three of them had apparently been bobbing about for some time.

The arrival of Follows-Chalk and Joe didn’t seem to faze the swimmers any, and they probably would have continued to float there if F-C had not, in a somewhat unsportsmanlike manor, whipped out an axe and started slapping the nearest white-leg raider about the head from the safety of shallow water.
Given their general sogginess and lack of ability to fight back, Joe was quick to join in the fun – I’m not for pointless combat and I’m no commando, but I know a sure thing when I see it.

Like the world’s worst soup.

Like the world’s worst soup.

It doesn’t take long to murder the flummoxed, floating fugitives and once they were slain the surviving sorrow marched out of the water and off into the distance without a word of thanks. No matter, looting the white-leg’s stuff will be thanks enough!

Given the presence of a member of the Sorrows, it stands to reason that their camp won’t be too far away. Unlike the Dead Horse tribe, the Sorrows don’t have any hunters and they rarely wonder too far from their homes.
We continue east until we see another break in the northern cliff. Following the path we soon see the camp in the distance.

Not likely to appear in the next Home & Garden magazine, but it'll do.

Not likely to appear in the next Home & Garden magazine, but it’ll do.

I’m just happy to see a sanctuary. It’s been a long day, and I’m looking forward to a little rest.
Nevertheless, I must resist the siren call of sleep and greet our hosts – it’d be rude not to. Also, I don’t really have a choice – the moment I enter the camp I am accosted by a tribeswoman who seems oddly happy to meet my acquaintance – perhaps she’s related to the chap we saved from bobbing about in the river?
Her name is Waking Cloud and she insists on introducing us to Daniel, a man who is helping the Sorrows to prepare to evacuate in case of any White-legs invasion.

It turns out that Daniel is a Mormon missionary who, like Joshua Graham, lived in New Canaan before the White-legs destroyed it. When questioned as to why he and the Sorrows won’t consider staying and fighting the White-legs Tribe, Daniel points out that the same way of thinking led Joshua Graham to become the Malpais Legate, created men like Salt-Upon-Wounds (leader of the White-legs) and led the world to ruin in the great war that destroyed the old world.
Fair point, I guess… but those White-leg jerks really do have it coming.

Daniel seems a nice enough chap, even offering to help tend to our wounds, but he doesn’t have any desire to trade, which is something of a disappointment. What am I going to do with all the crap I looted from dead people if some shmuck valued customer isn’t willing to buy it all from me?
Well, if he isn’t willing to buy my crap prized possessions he’s no use to me. I need to find some place to rest.

 What do you mean you don’t want to buy this 2nd-hand armour? What are a few bullet holes between friends?


What do you mean you don’t want to buy this 2nd-hand armour? What are a few bullet holes between friends?

The Sorrow’s camp is a confusing maze of huts, caves and criss-crossing walkways, all hidden amongst the walls of a ravine. I appreciate the idea of living in concert in theory, but in reality the whole ‘avoid marking nature’ thing is pretty impractical for getting about.

It’s with some relief I spot a cave with familiar white patterns near the entrance – Another cave used by the survivalist!
And I have to say that this is the most impressive cave I’ve seen so far.

Behold! The mines of Moria!

Behold! The mines of Moria!

Despite my enthusiasm, I take my time navigating the cave – the last think I want is some trap-door to spring out and hit me like a brick. Three trip wires, two bear traps and a lot of sweat later I finally make it to the central chamber that the survivalist called home.
As always, the chamber included a bed, campfire, crafting tables and more than a few crates worth looting. And, as always, a PC powered by an old fusion battery.

I’m been looking forward to this for a while – and lucky me, the diary entries on this computer are fairly close to the last entries I’d read. In the last entries the survivalist had seen a small group of people, and while he hadn’t gone to meet them, he had been leaving them gifts. I could hardly wait to see what had happened to them…
As it turns out… nothing good…. But that story can wait for another day.

Depressing diary aside, there was only other thing of note here: The survivalist’s old Desert Ranger armour. I’m not much for the bulky, heavy armour I’ve seen some folk in the Mojave try to wear… but this Ranger Armour is light as leather armour, and it looks super bad-ass.

MWAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHA! HA!

MWAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHA! HA!

Unfortunately, the mask means I can’t wear my glasses, a fact that would negatively impact my perception by virtue of me not being able to see anything. The outfit kind loses something without the mask, but I guess I’ll have to settle for looking mildly bad-ass instead.

Awwwww.

Awwwww.

Gone Fishing

Posted in Uncategorized on September 26, 2012 by Tel Prydain

Have you ever had one of those days where you didn’t want to get out of bed, because the day before you were attacked by an angry plant and you figure that, if even plants hate you, then perhaps life is no longer worth living?
If your answer was no, then I envy you.

After being snared by traps and attacked by the local vegetation I figure I deserve a bit of a lie in… and besides, it’s a chance to read a few of the books that I carry about with me. Given my current situation, I figure a medical book would be relevant and applicable reading.

Arguably, I shouldn’t be dragging a pile of heavy books around with me in the wilderness, and admittedly, I am often trying to find additional room in my pockets in which to store the stuff I find.
But finding readable books are a rarity in the Wasteland, and that’s doubly true for books that offer practical information to fine upstanding lads such as myself.

Curse you, lack of ‘the internets’! Never there when you could be of some use.

Curse you, lack of ‘the internets’! Never there when you could be of some use.

I do seem to have picked up the bad habit of destroying books the moment I’m done reading them, which seems like something of a waste… But I just can’t stop myself, no matter how hard I try.
Perhaps I subconsciously fear somebody finding the books and using the knowledge against me.
To be fair, a surprising number of books do contain oddly specific details on how do murder to people and it’s not like I need raiders reading up on additional ways to maul or mutilate me.
Regardless, I’m pretty sure that any Brotherhood Scribe would want to strangle me on sight.

The next day Follows-Chalk and I set out again. Even if I hadn’t been ready to make my way out, I was beginning to feel in dire need of water, dehydrated even – perhaps due to my use judicious of the whiskey we found in the gift shop.
Mmmmmmmmmm, whiskey.

Our path meanders through Zion and I pass the time by collecting all the odd fruit and seeds that we pass by. They really are all over the place – I’m sure if there was a Mrs. Joe, she’d be able to knock together some kick-ass jam. Even I, no master of the culinary arts, have had some minor successes mixing up some pretty good snacks.

We pass over another bridge and through another deserted camper-van park. Honestly, I’m not too sure if this is one that we had explored previously, as caravan-park are a fairly common sight. If there is one thing I can say for sure about pre-war society, it’s that they loved themselves some ranger towers and caravan parks.
Still, compared to the Capital Wastes and Mojave this place is an untouched paradise – I imagine that we are only running into these remnants of pre-war society so often because we are following the old pre-war roads as often as we can… Following a road is a lot less effort than climbing a mountain, only to find at the top that there is no friggen way over it.

Majestic. Dusty. Majestically Dusty.

Majestic. Dusty. Majestically Dusty.

While the old caravan park was unable to produce much in the way of enthusiasm, what with its amazing stockpile of dented cans and soiled clothing, I am quite interested in an old Fishing Lodge that we happen upon up in the northern hills.
These people used to like hunting things, and I like killing things before they can bite me. We would have got along famously. What’s not to love?

“Come, Follows-Chalk. Let us loot in defiance of your rich cultural heritage.”

“Come, Follows-Chalk. Let us loot in defiance of your rich cultural heritage.”

Considering that it’s more than 200-years old, the place looks in fairly good nick externally, and it’s covered in white handprints indicating that the natives of the valley consider this remnant of the old world to be taboo.

as they say, one man’s taboo is another man’s treasure. (That <strong>is</strong> something that people say, right?)

as they say, one man’s taboo is another man’s treasure. (That is something that people say, right?)

Inside it’s not too shabby either; with large (formally) luxurious carpets, a classy fireplace, a pool table and its own bar.
But it does show obvious signs of wear and tear sustained from the passage of time. From the passage of time and from the family of green geckos that have made it their home. Did I mention the geckos? Because they are totally gnawing on my leg right now.
But the joke is on you geckos, because my leg is ALREADY crippled! Your increasingly painful biting means nothing to me! HA!

I won’t lie – it the gnawing still freaken hurts. But what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and if this bugger is going to try and eat me I’ll sure as hell try to eat him right back.

Oooh, fresh oeuvres. Classy.

Oooh, fresh oeuvres. Classy.

Plus I have Follows-Chalk and a shotgun on my side – a definitive improvement over lame ol’ teeth.

Fly, my little angel! Fly!

Fly, my little angel! Fly!

Once the geckos have landed, F-C and I are able to explore the rest of the lodge.
Resisting the urge to steal all the pool-balls as souvenirs, I instead focus myself on more likely targets of opportunity. There is a first aid kit in the bathroom from which I snag a few medical supplies, a gun cabinet that (predictably) provides a gun and the bar, which nets me a bit more booze. Hazzah!

We’ve struck gold!

We’ve struck gold! (Again)

Also… Gecko meat is on the menu tonight – fair is fair, after all.

There is also a locked cabinet, the key for which was rather oddly found in a crate in the bathroom. Never one to resist the lure of locked things, I open the cabinet with some anticipation.
I’m only mildly disappointed to find a pair of walky-talky radios – no use to me, but something that Joshua Graham wanted. Not that he’s paying me fat loots for them, but if he can help me get back to the Mojave it’ll be worth it.

It’s not that I don’t like Zion – indeed, in most ways it’s preferable to the desert of the Mojave. There is lots of free water, hundreds of free plants, there is very little radiation and the people are far more gullible friendly.
However, there are no shops. What’s the point of collecting all this crap if I can’t sell it off and then use the ill-gotten gains to like the rest of my life in the lap of luxury while everyone else does all the hard work? None, that’s what!

But that can wait… there is still plenty to see here in Zion, and as long as Follows-Chalk has room in his pack, I have sacred places to loot.

Green Thumbs

Posted in Uncategorized on September 19, 2012 by Tel Prydain

What a freaken day- Somebody should look at inventing a new mutant-strength bug-spray!
With the Ranger HQ looted for all its worth, Follows-Chalk and I made our way down the short path to the nearby general store. Just as we approached the entrance, we once again saw a flash of fluttering orange wings, wings that prompted an impromptu dash for the store door. Imminent stinging death was narrowly avoided as we threw ourselves inside and barricaded the door behind us.

Not pictured: The imminent stinging death lurking behind the building.

Not pictured: The imminent stinging death lurking behind the building.

Things inside weren’t necessarily a massive step up, as two giant mantis took offense at our sudden invasion of their home. At least the new risk only involved repeated stabbing and no skin peeling poison, so that’s something. Still… not ideal.

Luckily, while Joe was struck with surprise and indecision, Follows-Chalk suffered no such uncertainty. He quickly pulled out an axe and hacked the closest mantis into spasming chucks.
By the time F-C had scythed through the first mantis, I’d finally gotten myself sorted out and located my shotgun – The time for dithering was over; the time for shotgun-shells was upon us!

Giant green bugs vanquished, Follows-Chalk and I had our run of the store – such as it was.
It was primarily packed with goofy souvenirs, just like you could find in the Mojave – plastic dinosaurs, Nuka-Cola branded toy-trucks, toy cars and so forth. I was sorely tempted to take a truck to decorate my little cave, it would have reminiscent of my trips through the Capital Wasteland – but frankly my pockets are pretty packed as it is.
What I did take was a neat looking little snow-globe – and I’m glad that I did, because it was apparently hiding a stash of 2000 bottle-caps. Kapow! That alone is probably worth my trip to Zion!

And as a bonus, I found some of the old survival kits that Joshua Graham wanted, as well as something that is worth more than its weight in gold…

“Always carry a large flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake.”

“Always carry a large flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake.”

While I truly appreciate the whiskey and the massive stockpile of caps, they are merely distractions from the disturbing reality waiting for us outside. An angrily buzzing reality with orange wings.
Follows Chalk seems strangely resistant to my suggestion that he should go outside and face the giant, mutant wasp himself, and while we have plenty of pre-war food and drink in here with us, there is no bed – so unless we want to hang about here and die of exhaustion, we have no choice by to venture into the hornet’s nest, so to speak.

Given that he was unwilling to head out by himself, Follows-Chalk seemed strangely enthusiastic once we do make our way outside – running at the bugger waving his axe in what I assume was supposed to be a threatening manner.
With our foe distracted by an apparently suicidal tribal, Joe is able to line up a few good shots that bring the flying bug down.

The sting of a Cazador is no picnic, but that’s a minor concern compared to its poison, which is virulent to say the least. And as far as I know there is no cure – so the next few hours are spent feeding F-C drugs every time he begins to look unwell. Eventually the poison burns itself out, but by that stage the sun has set and we need to looking around for a place to stay the night.

We end up spending the night around an old camp fire, but wake up at the crack of down – this is hardly the environment in which one would want to sleep-in.
For breakfast, I break out a gecko steak, which could hardly qualify as ‘fresh’ at this point, but is still preferable to anything packaged before the Great War. It’s still quite edible, so I’m forced to conclude that, as well as having a miraculous carrying capacity, my pockets also include a complete and functioning refrigeration system.
One bright side of hanging out around Zion is the abundance of fresh water, so a quick trip to the riverbank is all that’s needed to deal with any growing thirst – I do however follow the fresh river water with a tasty whiskey chaser. Steak and whiskey – Itsh teh breakfasht oof chaimpions.

We head to the east and down across the river looking for more landmarks. In a shocking turn of events we DON’T see any ranger watch-towers that we can use to get a good look around, but we forge blindly onward. All the while F-C continues to natter about how happy he is to be desecrating exploring his clan’s sacred sites without the other scouts telling him off.

Thankfully our not-particularly-stealthy progress doesn’t alert any less-than-friendly wildlife, and other than the odd lizard we travel in relative safety

“Come at me, bro.”

Can I use that fast food joke again? It’s been like a year.

The first place of interest we come across is cave, once again marked with now familiar hand-prints – indicating that this is yet another cave that was used as a home by the survivor, the same one whose logs I’ve been reading.
The on-going adventures that the survivor recorded in his diary are a source of great interest to me. Heck, his experiences might help me survive my own journey or lead me to some hidden treasure. But, while I’m pretty keen to read the next chapter… I am also weary of whatever crazy traps he’s left in here for the complacent explorer or unwanted visitor.

Just inside the cave’s entrance the tunnels fork in three different directions, and I choose the right-hand tunnel first. It leads to an apparent dead-end, although through a tangle of tree-roots I can make out a wooden door beyond. With no small amount of dexterity, I manage to find a gap in the tangled roots, only to plant my foot soundly into a bear-trap that was hidden deep down beneath the tangle.

The jaws slice into my leg, blood splatters and I recoil in pain – looks like I’ll be limping for a while again. Thanks, life – that’s totally awesome.
After stopping the flow of blood, and killing the pain with a stim-pack, I check the ground obscured by the roots and disarm a 2nd bear-trap before it has a chance to bite me. Well, half a victory is still a victory I guess.

But any sense of satisfaction gained is quickly stripped away when I get to the door and the damn thing is locked. Like… really locked. There is no way I can pick the lock, and so it turns that the whole ‘leg in the bear-trap thing’ was for nothing.

Somewhat disheartened, Follows Chalk and I head back to the cave’s entrance. I’m not about to give up yet – the other caves we’ve visited have had multiple entrances, so there is a good chance that this cave has one too. Perhaps one of these other tunnels will lead us to the hidey-hole that inevitably lies someplace within the twisting passageways?

We head down the middle passage but the exploration is cut short when we enter a cavern and balls of acid start raining down on us. I assume that it’ll be more green lizards keen for a place on my dinner-plate, but when I finally spot our aggressors they turn out to be giant green plants. What new horror is this? Seriously? Plants?! Like… evil, man-eating plants?

We back towards the entrance, returning fire on the botanical beasts best we can… frankly it goes pretty well due to the fact that the acid balls are slow enough to dodge and the plants, being plants, aren’t able to chase us, move to get a better angle or avoid our return-fire.
At just about the point I thought that this was almost too easy, shapes begin to move within the moss and ferns that line the cave floor, and vaguely humanoid shapes begin to emerge – within moments the room is full of fanged plant-men, and they seem to be trying to cut us off from the exit.

My, what big back-leaves you have.

Double-U, Tee, Eef?!

It’s a small mercy that the newcomers seem fairly easy to dispatch. Joe keeps peppering the spitting plants with laser-fire while Follows-Chalk has once again taken up an old fire-axe. I try to avoid slashing claws and hurled plant-spit, while F-C cuts down the plant men with deceptive ease.
Thank-goodness he’s here or this would have all gone pear-shaped.

With the way out clear, Follows-Chalk and I retreat to the cave entrance yet again.
Where to now? Abandon exploring the cave altogether?
With defeat the only other alternative, Joe turns to the one thing that desperate people have turned to since time immoral… DRUGS!

Back at the locked door I take some time to search through my labyrinthine pockets and locate a packet of Mentats… pills that promise to aid concentration and perception. I chug the lot and feel them kick in almost instantaneously. Science!
With my new chemically enhanced powers I take another crack at the door. Or more precisely, several new cracks at the door. Even with heightened senses it’s no easy task and I break a half-dozen lock picks before I’m finally able to push the door open.
But a growing drug dependency and a small pile of broken lockpicks is a small price to pay to avoid fanged plant-men and puking flowers.

 Victory! … Victory is very dark


Victory! … Victory is very dark

Given everything we’ve been through today, I figure I deserve a rest… and some more whiskey. Sit back… relax… perhaps read a good book.
Sadly, while I was eager to discover more about the strange man who set up these cave refuges, the computer logs seem to be set a significant amount of time after the ones I’ve already read. What fun is a story if you skip the middle? Instead, I copy them all to my pip-boy to read later on. There must be more caves sanctuaries to find out here.

Rather than read I’ll have to entertain myself by looking through the stuff left lying about. Like the last few caves, this cave has a number of weapons, ammo and clothing – including a motorcycle helmet that’s been modified for use as a armoured helmet.
I offer it to Follows-Chalk, only to demand it back when I find that the result is oddly chilling.

The crow flies straight, a perfect line. On the devils path, until you die.

The crow flies straight, a perfect line. On the devils path, until you die.

No day with new stuff is a total loss, I just hope that tomorrow features significantly less plants trying to kill me. Wild animals and bandits are one thing, but when the plants are after you, you know that you’re really f**ked.

In a Strange land

Posted in Uncategorized on September 12, 2012 by Tel Prydain

Exploration of Zion: Day 6

The next morning I resume my attempts to exploit the culture and religion of the region’s native inhabitants – a noble endeavour, I’m sure you’ll agree.
The one worry I have is getting weighed down by the guns, ammo and armour I’m collecting. Whenever possible I use the items I find for spare parts to keep the things I do keep in tip-top condition. And while that’s working out pretty well, I’m still finding that I’m collecting too much stuff to lug about easily. Follows-Chalk is pretty happy to carry a fair chunk of our plunder, however I’d prefer not to have to rely on an extra pair of hands.

The plan is to head to another ranger post. Besides the fact that there is almost definitely a small cache of weapons and antique food, Follows-Chalk is able to get a good look at the surrounding area and pick out landmarks worth visiting. It’s quickly become apparent that the most efficient way to explore Zion will be to locate the ranger outposts and move on from there – and finding the towers is pretty darn easy because there seems to be one on every second ridge.

I’m feeling pretty healthy, but I’ve still got a bum leg and it’s slowing me down a little. But that’s not too bad, gives me a little time to gather wild fruit and take in the local art-work.

What we see here is

What we see in this painting is the story of how the tribe chased some game, then were attacked by small dinosaurs, and then the sun fell out of the sky, and then a group of sentient hands invaded… I might not be interpreting that right.

Joe went over the mountain, to see what he could see!

Joe went over the mountain, to see what he could see!

Just as I’d hoped, the ranger station allows Follows-Chalk to pick out a few places of interest within walking distance. There’s an old bridge, a funny looking rock formation and an old camp ground. Given that we’ve already spent half the day walking to get here, I figure it’d be a wise plan to head some-place we could rest if it gets dark.

We make our way down towards the camp and find a good place to look over the camp-site – after the White-Leg ambush a few days ago I’m in no mood to take any risks.
And that’s when I spot it… swift unpredictable movements, black spines, feathery antennae and the flutter of bright-orange wings – motherf***en Cazadors.
At this point the accepted practice would be to run away… But I can only assume that Follows-Chalk has never seen one before, because F-C is not familiar with accepted practice. Instead he utilises one of the rifles I have him carrying to open fire. Given that bullets are already flying there isn’t much to left to lose…

Just hope he's not on your list of things to f***-up today.

Just hope I’m not on his list of things to f***-up today.

It turned out better then I thought it might, the hight meant that we are able to pepper the bugger with gunfire… unfortunately things take a turn for the sting-y when a 2nd Cazador drops down behind us and starts acting all indignant and such.
A fair amount of running a screaming later, and the bug lies dead. However I’m not feeling too well anymore, the damn thing poisoned me.

Exploration of Zion: Day 7

I made it back to the cave with the electrified door without too much trouble, and decide to spend a few days recuperating. Happily I have the logs of the cave’s previous inhabitant to keep me entertained. The next few logs tell the story of his return to his old home.

Year 2084.

June 14th
Just got back. Tired. Good scrounging along the way. Ended up dragging back a cart of stuff.
Write tomorrow. Sleep.

June 15th
Departed April 10th. Walk to SLC took 15 days. Would’ve been 7-9 back in the old days but had to circle pockets of radiation and foraged along way.
Don’t know what I was thinking. Imagined I’d find my house, dig through rubble, find – something. Your bones I hoped, and Little Nut’s. Would’ve buried them. Here in Zion maybe.
SLC is mostly craters. Warped steel girders where highrises sat. Mounds of bricks.
Never found our house. Didn’t even find street. What wasn’t a crater was scorched clean.

Want to believe it was fast, a flash, both of you vaporized. Lies to make me feel better. I’ll never know. Which part of city got hit first? Northeast and you both died in a blink. Farther away and you burned alive screaming or the blast broken glass and bits of brick and wood splinters shredding you like hamburger. Look at it coward and listen don’t turn away face it. If you’d been brave lucky man you would’ve found a spot and blown your brains out.
But not you. You took your time walking back, made a shopping trip out of it. Scrounger.

The truck was still there on the 77 north of Spanish Fork. The Chryslus too, but no sign of the old couple’s bones.
Outside Nephi I caught a trail. Three men, tracks heading toward Fountain Green. Thought about following but didn’t. Stupid fantasy of friends, more likely cannibals.

June 20th
Took two days to build door and electrify it.
No soliciting, assholes. Home sweet fucking home.

Exploration of Zion: Day 9

The poison is almost out of my system and I should be getting ready to move on, but the logs are too interesting to leave and I decide to take a little while my leg heals.

Year 2095.

September 20th
I count 28 of them. 11 adult males, 8 females, 9 children aged 2 – 10. Some rifles and pistols in bad repair. Old world clothes, ratty.

September 22nd
Got close enough last night to hear them talk. Spanish, I think. From Mexico?
Heard them say “paradeeso” a bunch. Think that means paradise. Here to stay, then.
Seem harmless. SEEM.

October 5th
The one I call “Maria” is pregnant. Think the father is “Jose” but she spends a lot of time with “Pablo” too.

October 7th
“Pedro” ran out to pee in the stream and would’ve seen me if he looked to his left. Too close. Need to give them space.

November 10th
“Jose” broke his leg chasing a bighorn. Too far from camp for them to hear. Told myself to leave it be but couldn’t. 300 yards from their camp did my best Jose screaming imitation until a bunch of them came looking, then strung them along to the crest where they could hear the real Jose.
Probably useless. Compound fracture, broke the skin.

November 11th
“Infec-shee-own.” So many goddamn words nearly the same, think I’d be fluent. But anyway Jose’s leg has got it so he’s going to die. Nature for you. Of course they’re giving prayer a try.

November 12th
Left bottle of antibiotics on a rock outside their camp last night. They thanked God (Dee-os) of course. As though that asshole saw fit to burn the world but still cared enough to leave some medicine on a rock.

November 15th
Jose will always limp but otherwise he’ll be okay. Good deed for the month.
Will they make it through the winter?

I guess it’s a tad ironic that I’m reading about Jose’s limp while Joe’s leg heals.

Exploration of Zion: Day 10
I eventually can’t put it off any longer, it’s time to get back on the road… or rather, back onto the dusty bush trail. Once again we clamber over hills and through rivers upto a ranger post to give F-C a chance to scope out the surrounding area, and this time we hit pay-dirt. To the North-west are some pre-war buildings.

The first building seems to be the office for the rangers who managed the park. Other then the beds and the desks covered with office supplies, there are also plenty of weapons and other items here – far more than the random ranger outposts. I take pretty much anything that isn’t nailed down… accept for a few hats and teddy-bears, which I don’t have to heart to disturb.

oh mr beauregard

“Hey Chalky, how does the idea of casinos get long speeches while the bears in hats pass without comment?”

I also find a fairly impressive bag of medical supplies, something that Joshua Graham was hunting for. They are a bit rusty but it’s nothing that a little alcohol couldn’t sterilise… should I choose to use up some of my alcohol… my precious, precious alcohol.

After we clear out the office we walk down a short path to an old general store… which I don’t have high hopes for. I’m sure there could well be lots of pre-war food. But that’s not terribly exciting, I’d rather eat something fresh.

Just popping out for a bottle of milk

Just popping out for a bottle of milk… horrible, rancid milk.

Still, free stuff. And what’s the worst that could happen?