Green Thumbs

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.


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