Zoological Zion

Exploration of Zion: Day 1

I’ve set out to explore the hidden corners of Zion with my guide, Follows-Chalk. Although by ‘explore’ I mean pillage, by ‘hidden corners’ I mean ‘sacred sites’ and by guide I mean ‘Native who apparently has no more knowledge of Zion then I do’.

Before setting out I gave myself time to rest and heal – an idea that’s good in theory, but is rendered almost immediately irrelevant when I stick my big, fat foot into a bear trap. I’d forgotten about the traps protecting the bed of the river that leads to the Dead Horse camp ground.
On my way down here Follows-Chalk warned me of them, but this time he was apparently content to watch me blunder straight into them. WORST. GUIDE. EVER.

We spend the night at a small campsite at the mouth of the virgin forks. A lack of proper doctor’s kit means that I’ll be limping, but I want to make sure that my leg is at least bandaged.

Exploration of Zion: Day 2

While I carry my trusty 10mm and my rifle, I’m also packing a plasma pistol with a regenerative clip. With ammo at a premium in Zion I figure that using a pistol that can grow its ammunition back is a good plan.

Last time out I saw an old radio antenna and that seems as good a place to start as any. I might find the equipment I need to contact the Mojave – perhaps even radio for help. We’re so cut off here, and it would be something of a comfort to enable communication with familiar friends.

Despite the newly re-crippled leg, Follows-Chalk and I head to the West and through the old camping spot we previously explored. This time there are 160% less White-leg ambushes. Instead, we are ambushed, multiple times, by geckos – which are both less deadly and also a lot more delicious.

Or, I thought they would be less deadly. The small gecko that we saw at first are not a problem, but after walking a few hours we’re attacked by a new breed.
‘Normal’ grey Geckos back in the Mojave tend to be soft, squishy and edible. And even the golden ones, which are as tough as nails, had the good manners to stay normal mutant gecko size – which is to say, more or less as high as my waist.

But the gecko breed that we start to run into are green – and seem to be as tall as me.
That was disconcerting enough, but Follows-Chalk tells me that there are apparently even bigger gecko verities out there.

Natural 20

Shout it out. What you roll: Natural 20s!

Exploration of Zion: Day 3

We finally make it to the base of the antenna, but any hopes of getting it working are quickly dashed as it becomes obvious that the wires and cables are rusted through.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. If it doesn't get used it's going to rust.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
If it doesn’t get used it’s going to rust.

But I do discover something a little wonderful. While I can no longer tune into radio stations from the Mojave it appears that I can still tune into the odd jazz radio station I started receiving sometime last year. It occasionally plays an ad inviting me to a Midnight Science Fiction Feature, but considering where the last radio ad got me I’m disinclined to consider a new offer.
Still, that means I don’t have to hike about in silence.

As a bonus, the contents of the gun case means that this wasn’t a wasted trip.

Exploration of Zion: Day 4 

First thing in the morning we take advantage of the ranger station’s height and Follows-Chalk is able to point out a few other places we should consider visiting.

Our path takes us up into the hills to the west until we start to get hemmed in by a mountain range that seems content to prevent us from any further progress in that direction.

We pass through a valley known as Bighorn point which, I have to say, is a massive disappointment. Given its name I was expecting some delectable bighorn meat – what we got was a giant green gecko that almost made a meal of me.

GAAH! Die extra, double-strength mutant.

GAAH! Die extra, double-strength mutant!

Thankfully Follows-Chalk had tomahawks flying before I even saw the damn thing, and that evening we feasted on Gecko Steak.

Exploration of Zion: Day 5

The next day we plan to head back east to the river. With all the fresh water in Zion I neglected to bring spare water with me, and this morning I’ve worked up a mighty thirst.

Loot, loot, loot your boat!

Loot, loot, loot your boat!

It’s a relief to have such easy access to water, and after drinking our fill we follow the river to the south.

I’m about to suggest that we get out of the water and back up on the cliffs, when we stumble upon a cave entrance decorated with smeared white hand prints – intriguingly close to the decorations outside my home based near the Dead Horses.

Nothing says loot me like sacred markings.

Nothing says loot me like sacred markings.

Well, obviously I’m going to explore it – although given the layout of my own cave I’m going to be pretty damn careful of traps.

Our initial exploration of the cave goes to plan until we run into a door that’s been wired with electricity. Notwithstanding the mystery of how the electrical field is still going after such a long time, it does represent a fairly formidable barrier to our continued exploration.

Shocking!

Shocking!

There is another path through, but it looks substantially less pleasant. Thankfully I finally figured out that the electrified fence is controlled by a near-by PC. A considerable amount of fiddling later, and the gate swings open – free of deadly electricity.

It’s pretty obviously set up by the person who set up my home cave. It’s almost identical – beds, a camp fire, storage crates, work tables and an old computer hums in the corner.

I’m pretty eager to find out what happened to this guy, so I soon have the Computer humming while I search through it logs. Just as I hoped, there are logs here; logs that are dated after those I’ve previously read.

It starts:

Year 2083
May 5th
The comeback goes on.
Add prickly pear to list of survivors with honey mesquite, and banana yucca. Odd nodules / mutations but safe to eat. Harvesting oh so careful, never take more than a fifth. Mouth waters every time I’m about to eat something that isn’t from a can.

May 7th
Clouds of those stinging flies near fallen tree I call “The Napper”. Little flashes in the cloud.
Something dragonfly-sized that zaps them midair then scoops them up. Something new.

May 19th
Bighorn sheep! A family – ram, ewe, and little one.
Fucking Goddammit!

May 20th
The sheep were different. Brawny. Ewe had curved horns just like the ram. 
Seen some tiny lizards but this is first time seen animals that big. Fingers crossed. 5-10 years breeding, fresh meat, hides, horns.
I know it’s time to go back, Char. When winter has passed.

It’s interesting reading and there’s a lot more – but for now I figure it’s time to relax a little. Kick back and unwind with my new friend.

There’s a lot more of Zion to explore, and plenty of time to do it.

Well you're standing could you get me the ketchup?

Well you’re standing could you get me the ketchup?

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