Tall Towers and Small Scouts

The next morning I awaken in a rusted old caravan – an event that engenders a certain amount of deja vu. From the very first day Joe left Vault 101 it seems that his adventures draw him inextricably towards rusty trailers.

On the bright side, the stim-packs I injected last night have done an admirable, because I’m feeling a whole lot better – even despite the fact my limbs are still crippled. Yay, pain killers!

Follows-Chalk and I picked over old camper-van park yesterday, but I give the place a second look just in case I’ve missed something. Three ancient caravans form a semi-circle around an old campfire and a few picnic tables – over which a wide array of pre-war trash stands silent witness. Bent old cans, cups and empty boxes seem to have miraculously survived the last 200 years of exposure to the elements.

Other than the spare clothes salvaged from the caravans themselves, there doesn’t seem to me much else here worthy of our time, so we set off to the north-west.

The hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiills are alive, with the sound of music!

The hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiills are alive, with the sound of music!
Also, creepy pictures of the slender man.

It soon becomes apparent that this wasn’t my best plan ever. I’m still limping heavily from the day before and my sluggish pace is only holding Follows-Chalk back. I decide that, despite the inconvenience, I should really retreat back to my cave and rest rather than spend the rest of this expedition limping along like an invalid.
It’s a shame, since the way north seems to hold some promise. But my injury is a liability and I’m not sure I’d survive a 2nd encounter like the one we had yesterday.

By this time our path has lead us a short way to the west, so our trip back to my cave isn’t quite re-treading the same ground damp ground we took to get here. Rather than slogging through the river, F-C and I follow an old bridge that leads us to a path that guides us away from the water and up onto a cliff of red clay.
The short climb is well worth it – besides from keeping my feet dry this new path affords a better view of the river below, and I can clearly make out the path I had waded through the day before.

Eventually the path we are following veers away from the river and slightly inland. It doesn’t take long for Joe to spot an old ranger outpost, covered in white hand-prints. A note on my pip-boy map informs me that this is Ranger Substation Peregrine.

For those who may have forgotten, those hand-prints designate a sacred area that is taboo for the tribes of the valley. They avoid any pre-war structures and believe that they are full of spirits.
What that means for me is a lot of pre-war buildings that haven’t yet been looted by an enterprising soul like myself. Follows-Chalk is excited to explore some of these sacred places, eschewing the traditional beliefs of his people. And Joshua Graham specifically asked me to check these places out in order to locate various items for him.

Who am I to question the Burned Man?

Loot it! Loot it before it gets away!

Loot it! Loot it before it gets away!

The bottom part of the structure is clearly a store room of some kind, but there doesn’t seem to be much worth taking from here – the giant wooden boxes don’t seem to continue anything of substantial value, although a few odds and ends find their way into my voluminous pocket cavities.

Around the back a narrow wooden staircase leads us up into the main area of the tower.
A gun locker makes the top level instantly a lot more interesting than the lower level was. A moment or four later and I’ve managed to empty a whole lot of the ammo into my inventory. I’m not picky about the ammo type – there is a severe lack of ammo buying opportunities in Zion Valley, so I’ll take whatever I can get. If things get dire, I can attempt to use a workbench to convert the ammo I’ve found into calibres I can actually make use of.

Scouring the room I’m able to find a few other items that I might later find a use for – the highlight of which is a sweet ranger’s hat.

Oh -  a ranger hat! If I'm wearing this I get to pick a favored enemy and get an automatic bonus to duel-wielding.

Oh – a ranger hat! If I’m wearing this I get to pick a favored enemy and get an automatic bonus to duel-wielding.

I also locate a few cans of pre-war food. I’m loathe to consume any food-stuff that’s decomposing from back before my great-grandmother was born, but if I run out of fresh food I might be willing to risk it.

The outpost does afford a splendid view – and from here I can clearly see the ant mound I almost fell into the day before.

 Oi, I can see you, yao guai! Keep your hands out of that picnic basket!"

“Oi, I can see you, yao guai! Keep your hands out of that picnic basket!”
“What was that?”
“Nothing. Sorry. Must be the hat.”

Once I’m convinced that there’s nothing else left to pilfer, F-C and I resume our trek back home.

Eventually the path meets up with the route F-C lead me down to meet his tribe after I first arrived in Zion. We stick to the trail until it once again steers us down into the clear waters of the Virgin River.

After I’ve loaded all our loot into my numerous storage crates, I bid Follows-Chalk a fond farewell and watch as he dashes back up the tunnel that leads to the Dead Horse Tribe’s camp.
Alone once again, I turn my attention to my injured limbs and make use of the medical supplies I have ferreted away for just this situation.

I spend the next few days relaxing and taking time to heal. To kill time I read a few of the books I’ve been carting about with me, including one that contained suggestions for using energy weapons more effectively. I could swear that I’d read this book already, but this must have been a later edition because I feel like it’s improved my understanding of laser guns even more then last time I read it.

I also take the time to read the rest of the entries on the computer terminal, the ones left by the cave’s previous inhabitant 200-years ago.

Year 2077 – November 2nd
Sounds dead outside, but can’t look. Geiger goes crazy 15 feet from cave mouth.
Do the math. Radiation goes down before water runs out or I never leave this cave.

Year 2078 – January 1st
Happy New Year.
Two months in cave. Still lethal outside. Don’t get it. In army they said 2-4 weeks cleared fallout.
Less than a month’s water left. Been mopping condensation off cave walls, wringing shirt into bottles. Trading calories for H2O. Food stocks holding. Thanks, USGS.
If there was even a chance I’d see the two of you again, I’d run outside.

Year 2078 – January 10th
Sounded like windstorm out there for 2 days. Radiation down 500. What happened?

Year 2078 – January 15th
Took a peek. Snow. It glows green.

Year 2078 – January 28th
Radiation low enough I could risk short exposure outside.
More important, cave stream now drinkable if I use Rad drugs.

Year 2078 – January 30th
There is nothing alive out there.

I wonder what happened to him.
And I wonder if anyone will ever read my logs and wonder what happened to me.

After a few days of bed rest I can’t justify laying about my little lair any longer. My limbs are good as new and I’m ready to make another attempt at exploring Zion.
Just like last time, I head over to the Dead Horses camp and ask Follows-Chalk if he’d like to accompany me. His enthusiasm doesn’t seem much dampened after our ambush – it’s just part of life for him. Maybe I should harden up?

This time I have something of a plan. When coming home from our last misadventure I spotted the ruins of a bus at the bottom of a ravine, lying amongst the rubble of a broken bridge. I figure that it’d be worth checking out. Follows-Chalk tells me that it was full of small scouts, but Joe ain’t afraid of no midgets.

Unfortunately, the path to the ravine turns out to be entirely via the river. Like, not walking along the bank next to the river, but actually in the river. I’m pretty sure this is a sure-fire way to get blisters.

Through high-water and low-water we go – part of the trip I seem to be swimming more than walking. But eventually we make it to the ruins of the bus.

Don't worry, I'm sure that this will be well worth the trip...

Don’t worry, I’m sure that this will be well worth the trip…

Once inside I see what Follows chalk was talking about – the small scouts are not diminutive hobbits with a propensity for exploration, but the weathered remains of many small children. With this startling revelation, I’m significantly less enamoured with the idea of desecrating their final resting place.
Toy cars, plastic dinosaurs, leg braces and cherry bombs are scattered around the children’s remains, a mute memorial to lives ended all too soon.

You don’t see a lot of children in the Mojave. That’s probably a good thing. Things might be better in the NCR, but bringing children up in the New Vegas wastes should be classified as an act of cruelty.
I have to say though – if the White Legs weren’t a problem, Zion would be a fine place to start something new.

Before I leave the bus and the immutable tragedy within, I notice something glinting on the floor of the bus. An old compass, its gilded casing still mostly intact.

Sooo... alls well that ends well?

Sooo… all’s well that ends well?

It’s not working properly, the small needle not quite moving smoothly – but I’m sure I can fix it. And finding it should put me in Joshua Graham’s good books.

Bus behind us we wade back into the river, and begin to make our way to the west. I’ve only just started exploring Zion and there is no telling what I might find next.

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