Just Grin And Bear It

My new home in Fallen Rock Cave is fairly well set up, and I have almost everything I could want. Sure, it’s a little dark and damp, but that comes part and parcel with living in a freaken cave. I have the bed, some work benches, plentiful storage, plenty of clean water via a small stream and easy access Joe’s new allies in the Dead Horse Camp.

In fact, my access to the Dead Horse tribe is better than I thought it would be. While the primary entrance to my cave is a short distance north from the main camp, there is also a second entrance that comes out into the lake that the Dead Horse camp sits upon.
Using the back entrance does require a little swimming, but it’s always nice to know that there is a back door in case I have to make a fast escape.

I visit the tribe every few days, just to check in and do a little trading. I’m not sure if Graham, the Burned Man, ever replenishes his store of tradable goods (he sure hasn’t yet), but it’s still worth a visit since the man is positively a repairing machine.
He can take any weapon, tool or armour that is damaged in any way and repair it to pristine condition.

I’ve been paying Graham to repair my armour and guns, and then trading items I don’t need to him to get that money back.
I also trade my spare gear for weapons modifications and other items I can trade if/when I ever return to the Mojave. Carting a few small weapons mods about is a lot less work than carrying 12 or so rifles.
If that sounds contrived, that’s because it is… but it means I take a small loss on the trades in order to pack more ‘value’ into my pack. That will add up to a big payday when I make it back to the Mojave. IF I ever make it back.

It's super wierd to see 'The Burned Man' just hanging out by a campfire.

It’s super wierd to see ‘The Burned Man’ just hanging out by a campfire.

Even if I weren’t using Graham to help me convert my heavy trash into lightweight trash, it still would be worth visiting. Follows-Chalk is always happy to see me. The young-lad seems pretty keen to explore the nooks and crannies of Zion, but he seems reluctant to traverse them without me.
We did join forces again for a short while, after he asked me to help retrieve a missing calf. You see, the tribe keep an eye over a wondering herd of Bighorners that graze in the hills south of their camp, and one of the mothers had lost its offspring.
As Joe can attest, when a Bighorner gets angry it’s likely to try and stick you with its aforementioned big horns, so the tribe needed the mother calmed down.

I don’t consider myself much of a farmer, but Follows-Chalk did save my life and he led me to this safe-haven; And Joe always pays his debts.
Okay, okay… so Joe rarely pays his debts. But this was an opportunity to pay back Follows-Chalk without actually paying Follows-Chalk, so it seems fair.
Half an afternoon of leading small calves about by luring them with banana-fruit later and my debt to F-C is paid.
Also, the rest of the tribe seem grateful, so that’s worked out pretty well.
Also also, if things get really bad, I know where a herd of wondering hamburgers hang out.

At this stage, food is still not a massive issue – I haven’t come close to depleting my food supplies from the Mojave and I’m still finding plenty of food daily. The only issue I can see with my level of sustenance is that the fruit, seeds and vegetables I’m finding in the wild aren’t as filling as a good steak. As such, I have to eat three or four a day if I what to keep starvation at bay (and I really want to keep starvation at bay).
Having said that, if I can keep finding the odd molerat, ant or dog to supplement the plant-life, I can continue to live pretty well.

"Entertain me, glowing screen!"

“Cosy as a patch of mildew!”

I’m not the first person to hang out in this cave… obvious, considering all the gear left here and the traps left to guard it. As luck would have it, the old computer terminal gives a few hints about the previous inhabitant, although it seems to be fairly grim reading:

October 28th – Year 2077
Five days on foot, still can’t sleep.
Outside it’s like nothing happened. Sky looks wrong, that’s all.
Hike back to overturned NatGuard truck near Toquerville? After blisters heal, maybe.
Looks like USGS team was researching something here in cave. Cleared out when bombs fell, left equipment behind. Probably thought they had families to run back to.

Year 2077 – October 29th
Char, must’ve said this out loud a thousand times walking here. Maybe writing it will feel more like you heard.
You were right.
I was north of Spanish Fork. Took the 77 along Provo Bay to steer clear of town. Would’ve been home in an hour. Engine died, truck just stopped. So did a Chryslus in the other lane. Knew right away.
First nuke hit SLC inside a minute. I was looking South – Lucky Man! Flash behind me so bright world looked on fire. Old couple from the Chryslus starts screaming they can’t see.
Didn’t watch you die, Char. Saved my eyes. Counted 12 more flashes next 7 minutes. Ground shook each time, 18 seconds later.
When nothing hit for half an hour, took a look. Globe of fire where you and Alex died. Didn’t kid myself.
Didn’t know what to do. Grabbed my pack and rifle.
Saw to the old couple. Sat them up against car, let them hold and comfort each other. Told them I was going to get help, everything be okay. One bullet through both heads. Instant.
Five day hike back to Zion.
You told me. Stop running off to the wild. Man belongs with his family.
You were right. You were right. You were right. You were right. Wasn’t there to hold you and my boy. Died without me. Never touch you or him again.
Should shoot myself. What I deserve.
Can’t. Maybe soon.

Year 2077 – October 31st
Black rain falling outside. Geiger jumping. Should let it kill me but bottling water from back of cave all the same.

There is more here, but it’s too depressing to read anymore right now.

As nice as it’s been hanging out in my cave/lair and just re-treading the same few paths looking for plants to snack on, my wanderlust is beginning to get the better of me. I figure it might be time to take F-C up on his offer and try exploring a little further afield. I hear that there is at least one more friendly tribe (the Sorrows) out in Zion, and they might be able provide additional markets for my growing pile of crap merchandise.
As a civilised man it’s my destiny to seek out less civilised people and sell them stuff they don’t need, at prices detrimental to their family, tribe and nation.

Follows Chalk is thrilled to finally get to go walkabout with me, and I make a point of letting Joshua Graham know that I’ll try to get F-C back safely (given the history of the Burning Man, it would behove me to keep said man happy).
Since we are going exploring anyhow, the Burned Man asks a favour of me… to help keep the tribe safe he is looking for a compass, some medical supply kits and some walkie-talkies. I probably would have helped him for free, but Graham promises that, if I assist him, he’ll help me find a safe way back to the Mojave.
Fair deal, I guess.

Follows Chalk and I head out to my little bivouac and camp the night, ready to head out and explore the wilds the next day.

As the next day draws to a close, I have learnt several valuable lessons from our outing. Firstly, trained White-Legs tribals are a lot harder to kill than common raiders. Secondly, mutant bears are bad. And lastly, even ants (creatures that I consider to exist for the sole purpose of being eaten) are pretty damn scary if you are already badly hurt.

It's only a flesh wound!

It’s only a flesh wound!

Our exploration started pretty well, and heading a short way north we stumbled upon an old caravan park. Several rusted camper-vans surrounded an old BBQ and picnic table.
I was just getting excited about the prospect of new swag when my world exploded and bullets started ricocheting off the side of the caravan I was attempting to plunder.
Two White-Leg scouts had seen us and were closing in with worrying speed, while a third scout covered them with gunfire from the ridge above.

For a brief moment it seemed like my bullets were just bouncing off of the tribals who ran through the hail of ammo without any care in the world. I’m not sure what drugs those guys were on, but I want some.
Thankfully, whatever they were using wasn’t as effective when I pulled out the laser pistol that Veronica and I had salvaged from the Sarsaparilla factory, and F-C was able to distract the White-Legs long enough for me to zap them into ash.

With the two shocktroopers gone, the scout with the machine gun was a lot less of a problem. I winged him once or twice with my pistol, and he quickly decided that his luck had run out and ran off into the hills.
F-C and I eagerly gave chase… F-C for the honour of his tribe and Joe because… well… because I can always use an extra gun, and I figured that this guy now owed me his.
Turns out that giving chase was something of a strategic error, as in our attempt to follow him we promptly ran into a bear.

"Well, that was exciting. You did pretty well, but it's just lucky you had someone brave like me there to help youuuuoooohhh my god!"

“Well, that was exciting. You did pretty well, but it’s just lucky you had someone brave like me there to help youuuuoooohhh my god!”

I had seen Yao Guai bears back in the Capital Wastes, but as a rule I avoid them and their nasty, nasty claws.
Turns out that my prior instincts had been spot on, because one swipe from the irate creature (who was only a cub) was enough to cripple my arm. If this is a child, I never want to mean an adult!

I immediately started to run backwards, firing stray laser bursts into the year. The bear must have really enjoyed thumping me, because despite F-C attacking it from behind, it continued to pursue me with an admirable level of single mindedness.
It was during this blind flight backwards that I practically fell into an ants nest.

Thankfully the bear cub toppled to the ground shorty after I ran into the ants, otherwise I probably would have never escaped.
Even with the bear gone, I was still in quite a way trying to fend off the ants. The custom laser pistol I’m using packs a mean punch, but it takes forever to load – the ideal weapon for dealing with a single bear, but a terrible plan when being gnawed on by a cluster of ants.

Eventually the last ant dies and I can take stock of my situation. Honestly, it’s not great. I have massive abrasions on my chest, as well as a crippled arm and crippled leg.
And all I get out of the caravans is a lame pre-war suit.

"The camp is mine! All mine. Yay, I guess."

“The camp is mine! All mine. Yay, I guess.”

Follows Chalk and I stay the night at the caravan park, and the next morning I decide to press on… just a little. It’s tempting to return home and lick my wounds, but I don’t want to return empty handed.
There must be something out here that will make this worth the trip.

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