Monthly Archives: September 2011

Power Struggle

Day eight. I’ve made it a week. Barely. Morning greets an injured, isolated, worried Cass a long, dangerous walk from town, surrounded in every direction by the completely unknown. I have never been near here before. I genuinely have no idea what to expect wherever I go, unless I head back.

My leg and arm are busted. In fact, both of my legs are, because I stepped on another mine when I woke up and went outside to have a quick look around with my binoculars in the night. I can’t blame anyone else for that one. Though my health has been restored with food and rest, this means that my walking pace is now agonisingly slow, and I have no hope at all of escaping anything I encounter.

There’s really nothing else for it. I have to go to the factory over the hill to the North, and hope there are friendlies or medicine inside. No booze today – I need to keep a clear head. Not before lunch, anyway.

This is excruciating.

It is extremely slow going, made worse by my need to crouch once I reach the foot of the hill, as I simply have to take every precaution against being spotted.

It takes three hours to reach the top of the hill. Walking back to Megaton would likely take another week. I might even die of thirst before reaching safe water.

At least it’s not raining. Looks like another nice day, actually.

I’ve so far had a tussle wth an indecisive molerat who kept retreating and coming back before I could hit it. Even the bloody mole rats are outmaneuvering me. I couldn’t dodge away from their bites, but once they were in range it was easy to punch them into submission. I press on, pausing very frequently to listen out and scan the area.

Once I get over a small outcropping I spy a substation and some electrical pylon connecting thing pieces (there’s a reason I didn’t tag the Science skill). It’s evidently a power station after all, and after watching it for several minutes, I feel sure that there’s nobody patrolling the site. This is neutral, really – there are no hostile sentries, but no civilians either. It could mean anything, though it’s unlikely to be a raider stronghold.

I move closer, and decide to start with the main plant building on the right. If it’s abandoned, it was at least a workplace, so probably has a medical kit somewhere inside, and while I’m in a bad condition, I am quite well armed with mines, shotgun shells and sniper ammo.

Besides, I don’t really have much choice. I step inside.

It’s dark inside. Very dark. Some kind of reception room greets me, with a door off to the left, behind which I can hear … something. I don’t recognise the noise as an animal, but it’s definitely not human. A kind of snarling hiss. It’s not directed at me though, and nothing is coming this way. Probably can’t open the doors anyway, whatever it is.

I sneak behind the desk area on the right – there may be a first aid kit or just some supplies in the desk or cabinet I can see there. Rummaging carefully through both, I find nothing useful, and no medical box.

Then the door opens.

What the hell is that?

The … something snarls and charges at me, arms flailing. Faffing about with screenshots lets it get close, but it fortunately doesn’t do much through my armour. The Policy!

It goes down with one shot, unsurprisingly, but it’s not alone. I look up and see that it’s been joined by an enormous, glowing friend with a neck like a tree trunk. I give the glowing one the second barrel, which it shrugs off, walloping me with its massive, clumsy hands.

Under pressure, I reload, ignoring another little one that’s arrived, and empty another two shells into it at point blank range…

I’ve unloaded all my shells and revolver ammo into it (in my first, panicky use of VATS aiming mode yet), and it’s not only not slowing down, but has cracked me in the head hard enough to cause a concussion, and somehow emitted a massive burst of strength-sapping radiation. I am in serious trouble.

I glance towards the door, and see with a jolt of horror that there are about a dozen more of the little guys swarming through the room. The exit is about ten feet away.

Maybe they’re nocturnal or just defending their territory. I’m slow as hell, but if I can make it to the main door they might let me go. Grimacing as claws and heavy, ghoulish fists lay into my back, I stagger on broken legs, my head spinning, to the exit, and practically fall through.

They follow me out.

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Out on a Limb

Sniper!

Ohgodohgodohgod where is it I can’t see anyone could be anywhere argh

Gotcha! Right, it looks like there’s only one. That’s a known quantity. I can handle that. He appears to be alone, and is moving around in a fairly exposed ruin up the street. I am damn lucky there was cover here, or this guy would surely have killed me.

I can’t outgun him from here, so I dash back down the street and hide for a moment while I figure out what to do.

He’s running around somewhere up there. I can’t afford to lose track of this guy. Got to move now before he gets the drop on me again. The building on my right has a garden, so I run that way and behind it, moving up towards the ruins, parallel to the street. Hopefully he’s just mined the main approach and not the entire village.

This would probably be easier, and the images clearer, if I hadn’t been sipping at the scotch since 7am. But then what would I be living for?

From here I can see the ruins the sniper is holed up in, and the exit is dead ahead. This is Bad. I can hear him shouting from somewhere, and if he comes out here now I’m toast. There’s nothing else for it.

I hurdle the Stepford fence and make a suicide charge for the shelter of the building.

Across the mines.

AAAARGH FUCK SHIT OW JESUS GODDAMMIT

My leg! oh christ, my left leg and arm are both mangled. I survived because I was on the edge of the blast, but damn it, this is Not Good. Another mine would finish me even if I could run, and he must have heard the explosion. Poking my head into the ruins would get it blown off. Short of options, I hunker down behind the wall, inject my only stimpack for a small health boost, and wait.

Footsteps.

The trick works. Sniperman comes running out to investigate, and runs straight past me. Tunnel vision is the second most deadly curse of the sniper (the first is corpsing), and it’s worked in my favour now.

Even with my busted arm, there’s no missing with a shotgun at this range. Sniper down.

A closer look shows that it’s another leathery old dude in plain clothes. Huh. More importantly, it’s a leathery old dude who no longer needs the sniper rifle he’s carrying. Yoink!

With some trepidation I scan the area, and investigate the ruined building he was holed up in. Lots more mines are dotted about, but he was alone.

Upstairs I find his nest, and confiscate his ammunition and a pair of binoculars. This may not sound exciting, but this is an excellent find – in fact if I’d had these five minutes ago, I wouldn’t have got into this mess at all. Still, better late than never, and I’ve now a healthy handful of bullets for the sniper rifle as well.

Speaking of which…

This is the spot I was hiding in when I realised there was a sniper, from his vantage point. Hoboy. The old loon must have been completely off his tits on hooch. There’s no way a sober man would have missed that shot. Hell, even I could get a solid hit from here. If my arm wasn’t all shredded, anyway.

While I am very, very lucky indeed to be alive right now after blundering into a sniper and then onto a mine, make no mistake: I am in serious trouble. With my leg crippled I can’t sprint and can barely run, and with my arm similarly beshrapnelled my aim will waver more than a minister’s principles in an election year. Even with a shotgun, it’ll be suicide getting into a fight at more than groping distance.

And there’s nothing I can do about it. To heal a crippled limb I need a splint and a stimpack. I packed two medical braces when I set out this morning, but I just used my only stimpack to heal up, and they’re damn rare in the wilds. I’ve found none at all in a week. I absolutely have to find more, or I’m limpy toast.

Nice view from up here though, I have to say. I spent some time scanning the horizon in every direction with the binoculars. There’s no sign of life or civilisation anywhere except far in the East, where there’s a vague outline of a nondescript building, but I can’t even tell if it’s intact, much less whether it’s inhabited. And that’s a long walk in my condition.

To the north, of course, is the factory I saw earlier. But that could be anything.

I’m in a real pickle. Uncle Snipey had a mattress up here, so I do have the option of sleeping, which will restore some health (although it won’t fix my limbs). It would be suicide to walk around with these injuries and low health… but if I sleep out here it might start raining. If that happens I’ll end up with fatal radiation sickness before I even know it. I’d never wake up.

Halves, then. I drop some supplies, including most mines and the automatic shotgun I liberated from the slaver, and decide to sleep for a few hours, until the late afternoon. By then I’ve mostly healed up, so I can spend the afternoon searching the houses dotted about what’s left of this town.

There are four intact houses that I can see. I start with the entrance to the town, as I cleared the road on the way up so I know it’s safe if I need to run.

On the way over, an ancient mailbox yields a pair of spiked knuckles, which will do more damage than my plain knuckledusters. With a quick recitation of The Policy, I enter the first house.

Inside it’s dark, and I can hear a radio somewhere inside. With a few open doorways and the stairs in sight, this is worrying. Trouble could come from any direction.

Poking around in a stealthy fashion, I clear out the ground floor and find nothing remarkable, save for a fresh bloodstain on the floor below the stairs. On top of those is a dead raider.

Interesting.

VERY interesting. Three shotguns in a row? And it’s not even my birthday. This one’s in passable condition, too… but I leave it for now. Too much of a good thing.

Oddly, the rest of the house is empty too, except for another dead man, this one unarmed and in civvies. A strange situation. Whatever went down must have happened quickly with the radio on and the raider’s body not looted. Though I suppose they might have killed each other… hmm.

The next few houses, to be honest, don’t really help either. Each is empty, though there’re a few bits and pieces and ammo in some safes I pick open.

There’s also another dead raider in one, facing the main entrance, who’s obviously dragged himself from the door.

A very odd situation. what on earth happened here? Were the raiders living here when some wanderers cleared them out? Was this a regular village wiped out by the raiders, with Uncle Snipey chasing them off and fortifying the town to keep them out? Or did he just go postal and kill everyone himself, like all old men will inevitably do if left unsupervised and deprived of gin?

It explains his paranoia, the stupid old bastard. Damn it, if he’d just yelled out a warning I’d still be healthy and we could have helped each other out instead of me having to kill him and limp around on a knackered leg. Idiot.

On the plus side, I do find this:

A semi-automatic, 3-shot sniper rifle of quite brutal power, in mint condition. Hell yes. I drop the old coot’s bolt action junk and take this instead.

Oh, and in the same house:

Jesus! Can you imagine how hard she must have hit her head on that thing to break it? Someone must have been swinging her around by the legs like a sledgehammer. I’m getting a headache just thinking about it. Owww.

Damningly though, despite finding five first aid boxes in these houses, there’s no stimpack in any of them. Indeed, nothing but a few near-useless blood packs, more braces and surgical supplies (used for treating head wounds) in any of them. Five medical boxes and no stimpacks. It appears that even my fearful cowering in town was underestimating how scarce resources are out here.

The dilemma of sleeping in the open is resolved, at least – there are beds in all these houses, although I’ll have to share with long dead, crusty skeletons. But that’s fine; I’ll just pretend I’m touring with Girls Aloud.

Since it’s starting to get dark, I pick one in the safest corner of town, get some food and water in, and decide to sleep until morning. I’ll need to rest well and head out when it’s still dark. Oh, and update my increasingly high-tech map:

The factory is the nearest place that might have supplies or friendlies. Everywhere else is a long, painful limp away.

With my problems, tomorrow will be a very long day.

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Dawn of the Dead?

5am. Time to get up, Cass. This is day seven in the wasteland. It could be my last, but then that’s pretty meaningless when you think about it. I haven’t thought about it though, although now that I’m saying that I’m starting to, and frankly it’s all a bit much for my brain to handle at 5am.

This will not be a trip of scavengey profit-seeking. I’ve packed enough food and water for a few days, all my weapons, and the few odds and ends that fit. If I happen to see anything very valuable I will have to mark it for later retrieval. Today’s objective is to find a new haven. Seek out new territory, and if possible, a life outdoors.

It’s almost daybreak when I set out, heading Northeast, skirting the city and ignoring Springvale altogether. There’s an intact bridge this way that will be safer in the dark than the watery rubble I crossed yesterday.

It’s an uneventful trip, and even the bridge is unguarded. Some dark figures are lurking on the right, so I follow the riverbank to the left instead. All the while, I’m crouching low and moving in short bursts over any open terrain. While it’s still dark I have the advantage of concealment, but careless movement will give me away, and there may still be night creatures lurking.

Dawn is breaking. So far only a dog has seen me, and then shortly thereafter it saw an extreme close up of my knuckle dusters. On the opposite side, I stash some food and water behind a large billboard in case I’m ever in the area again.

I move further North, uphill. To my right are some old ruins I cling to for concealment. I soon come across a lone figure engaged in a gunfight with an unseen enemy, and move into position to help flank whatever’s fighting her, or finish her off if she turns on me.

Turns out it’s just a pack of dogs she was shooting, and she doesn’t turn on me. She does, however, reveal herself to be a slaver. She also gives me some lip. You know what that means!

I’m already coming to think that the Shotgun Policy is the greatest I have ever devised. The Shotgun Policy goes thusly:

1) I have a shotgun.

2) I express my displeasure through the shotgun.

3) There is no disagreement that cannot be resolved by sufficient expression of my feelings.

Spending a shell in this way gains me her semi-automatic shotgun and several shells. The gun’s in poor condition, but it has some potential. I add her armour to the billboard stash. It’s worth a little cash, but too bulky to take with me today. And yes, I am gently implying that the slaver was fat.

Progress is really slow crouching down like this, and it’s doing my knees in something awful. Daylight is well and truly upon me before my next encounter, which occurs after some slow and very paranoid creeping past ruined buildings high up on the hill over the river. That encounter is something big coming my way fast.

I’m a crabman! Bababababa beee bop ba budda bop! Bop ba budda bop! (Younglings: ask your parents)

Oh right, yeah, mortal danger. I refer you, good crabperson, to the New Universal Shotgun Policy subsection 2b regarding interspecifc disputes, to wit, ‘BLAM!

THE POLICY PREVAILS. Even if I did have to repeat myself. Damn ammo hog. Oh, and yeah, it doesn’t reload properly, I know. The “break open to reload” animation doesn’t exist for rifle-sized weapons, see, only revolvers.

This was one tough freak of nature, I have to say. Bigger and hardier than the ones I saw underground, and it came at me from quite a distance. I can only see one more, much smaller crabman the area, and that’s running away from me. Did I just kill the crabman version of the heroic self-sacrifice guy from TV’s famous Films? I’d feel terrible.

The remaining lobsterbloke runs around for a bit until its lumbering invokes the wrath of a hovering laser robot. Erm.

Strangely, the robot doesn’t seem interested in me, and flies right past, firing ineffectually at its quarry. I shrug, and have a crafty smoke under a bridge. Man, this takes me back.

Time to move on, and I can see that I’m quite close to where I blew up those raiders yesterday. I pass by without incident, but am spotted not long afterwards by a lone raider who charges at me from somewhere ahead. Ulp. Fortunately, it’s nothing that The Policy can’t sort out. Then his friend shows up, and does the same. Then another one gets the drop on me, landing a solid blow on my back with a pipe that would have been really painful if I was still wearing armour from the swimwear section.

Unfortunately for my wee flanker though, I’m wearing a real woman’s armour, so I’m able to whirl around and use my fists to cave her goddamn head in.

When it’s over, I inspect their gear. Mostly crap, and all melee. One of them has a Power Fist – a powerful but large, ungainly and kind of awkward mechanical boxing glove thing. It’s too shoddy to be worth carrying, so I drop it and head up the hill, already feeling the craving for a cigarette. I don’t know why I started on th-

… wha… the hell was…

How’d I get on the floor? Oh bloody hell, grenade! Run away! The policy is void! The policy is void!

Wait… it’s just a raider, and he doesn’t even have a gun. The hell am I running for?

That’s more like it!

Did Cass punch him to death already, or is she nonchalantly crushing his windpipe with her thighs? Well now. That’s a complicated question.

While I’m picking through this surprisingly happy-looking dead man’s belongings, another raider tries his luck, only to realise that he has none left, and that I’m about to replace any luck he may have previously had with fractures, internal bleeding, and abject humiliation, as I chase him down and round the hill like a violently psychotic Benny Hill.

(Note: His jet black shirt is actually his chest. This is a texture error that’s popped up once or twice since I incorrectly reinstalled some body mods. It’s since fixed, so shouldn’t appear in future.)

Phew. This time, I look around more thoroughly, and wait a minute or two before I go a-lootin’. I’ve just shot two guys and punched several people to death, taking a pipe to the back and a grenade blast in the process. I think it’s fair to say at this point that Cass is not the kind of woman to piss around.

And yes, she is indeed striking a pose while standing on that man’s testicles. That wasn’t deliberate, but hey.

I leave the raiders and their rubbish gear behind, and keep moving Northeast-ish. The ground is very open here and there’s no safe haven to run to. The only signs of life are a few animals running around to my left, but they’re ignoring me. I press on under an old railway bridge, and come across a scrapyard.

Now this… this could be very handy. I’m still short of some tools for my tool and medical kits. But someone must have claimed this place, surely. I stalk about very slowly, trying to see who’s home. This goes on for some time. The entrance to the scrap yard is a cross section of a train carriage, with piles of wrecked cars acting as a fence.

There’s still no sign of any life, and the whole set up screams of an ambush or trap to me. With extreme caution and my shotgun at the ready, I start to creep through, and…

…nothing happens. After a minute or so of sneaking around just inside the entrance, the total lack of noise or movement is creeping me out too much. I bug out.

On the way in, I spotted what looks like a settlement in the North – several intact white buildings, and even a factory or power plant of some kind behind them, which looks very solid, and a good place to bunker up. Hope they’re friendly.

Maybe that’s a village, and they just make the trip out here if they need stuff. The group of raiders I spot hiding along the way support this – makes sense that they’d lie in wait for townies, right?

I give them a wide berth, and after another long and slow crouched walk across the plain, the town is in sight.

Hm. Looks a bit more banged up than I’d thought.

Ah dammit. Mines. Looks like this isn’t a safe town after all. They must be under siege. Still, I can disarm these and add them to my collection, so I start to work my way up the street, picking up mines as I go. I leave most of them alone in case the locals get annoyed, mind.

By the time I get up the street it’s pretty clear the place is deserted. There’s nobody in sight and the whole area seems like it was abandoned long ago – there’s none of the makeshift walls or homes of Megaton or even Big Town.

If the residents have moved on, the building over the hill with the chimneys is sure to be the obvious first stopping point.

That’s odd. I’m sure I heard a ricochet… oh. Oh god.

It’s a wide, deserted street downhill from loads of ruined buildings, littered with mines to slow down any approach. It’s a sniper’s heaven.

I’ve walked into a trap.

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Neighbourhood Watch

On my way into town, I’m able to use some tat from my cupboard in the Crack Shack to repair the widowmaker shotgun until it’s pretty much flawless. Next, after my sale of the rubbish I’ve acquired today, I contemplate the crushing boredom of yesterday afternoon in Megaton, and review a vague policy I’ve been adhering to all week without really telling anyone.

I’ve avoided missions so far. It’s partly because I wanted to do something different (for my enjoyment as much as anything else) to the usual starting missions, and partly because I was worried that their cash rewards would remove much of the difficulty of starting out with nothing.

But it’s time I had a look at what’s available. If I’m going to experience life here, I need to explore the place and get talking instead of just drinking and glaring at anyone who stares at me.

First off, because she’s right behind me, I speak with Mad Moira. She wants to write a book, a guide to surviving in the wasteland, and wants someone to go out and research it for her. This sounds incredibly dangerous and stupid. Going out into the wilds on my own terms is one thing, but not on the whims of an obvious weirdo, especially as she implies that she’s had people do this before and they’ve just got hurt.

So no, thanks. I quite like being unhurt. It’s one of my favourite things.

Yeah sure, soon as I become a moron I’ll be in touch, yeah?

Next up, I head further up the craterside, and finally poke my head inside Moriarty’s Saloon. This place has been namedropped by several locals as full of bastards and horrible drinks, and its owner is the one the former owner of the Crack Shack was so afraid of. I don’t know whether I want to get involved in whatever was going on there.

In any case, I take a seat and wait for a while. The barman hangs around across the room, completely ignoring me. Well, fine. Screw you too. I say hello to Moriarty, who is clearly one of those Americans who wants to be Irish but doesn’t actually know what’s involved (hint: Catholic guilt, four hundred relatives all with the same name, and the power to draw sustenance from misery). He has nothing for me to do, so I try a young woman by the entrance. She asks me to deliver a letter.

Well then, you’re an idiot, and if it’s too dangerous for you to do, then I’m sure as hell not doing it for free. Is there some sort of stupefying agent in the water here? No deal, lady.

Next in turn is a spiv in a corner who’s been gesticulating for about five minutes in a bid to get my attention. I reluctantly walk over and he explains his problem. Sort of.

He yells and, quite absurdly, snarls at me for defusing the atom bomb in the town centre. Crap. I thought nobody saw me.

Oh. Okay, that’s a little too far, now. Threaten me, will you? Let’s just see how that works out for you…

Oh hey look at that. I guess not very well.

Doesn’t really suit me, I fear, and the hat is a rubbish trilby rather than a proper sexy fedora, so I’ll be selling both. But first: Action replay!

I’m calling that one self-defence, too. And conveniently, I got to try out my new shotgun! I think I like it.

Surprisingly, nobody objects to my eviscerating this guy with buckshot in the middle of the pub. This really is a rough place.

As well as the suit, he has a silenced 10mm pistol. That won’t be massively useful given that my stealth skills are comparable to those of a fire engine, but I hang onto it anyway, and see if the sideshow will get the other patrons talking. Most of them aren’t friendly, but another woman in some torn and tacky tights is willing to chat.

Well dang, that’s pretty ominous. She too has no work for me, though she does indicate that she’d be willing to work it for me, for a price. Yowser. Maybe some other time, dear.

I head outside. The bar was a complete waste of time, then. Some of the other locals are surprisingly nice, and chat with me a little, but none have any paid work to be done. The exception is Walter, a leathery old man who maintains the town’s water supply.

He’s in sore need of help fixing up some leaky pipes. He doesn’t mention a reward, but I think I can pull this off pretty quickly and then name my price. If he gives me any jip I’ll un-repair them again, or just rob him and run like buggery.

So, what the hell. I agree to help Walter out, and wander around town for a while looking for these leaks.

Along the way I find the last open building I haven’t looked into. Ugh. I suppose I should give it a try. Their money’s as good as anyone else’s.

I can’t believe I’m doing this. Think of the money, Cass. Lovely, lovely money.

Inside it’s not as creepy as I’d expected. Everyone’s sitting in silence on pews, facing an unoccupied pulpit. After hanging around for half an hour, it becomes clear that they’re not actually waiting for a sermon or anything. They’re just sitting there watching, for hours. Maybe all day.

With the stage ready, my next move is obvious.

Yea, and there didst grow a great clamour among them, for she of the Cass had arrived, and her form did know no imperfection, and her words were unto them like the most melodious song, coupled with the most delicious baklava, combined with the most sensual fellatio and/or cunnilingus. And reduced they were to mere vessels for her glory, and in their kind donations of all their worldy goods did they know peace.

I said “in their kind donations did they know peace“, damn it.

Oh, fine. Spoilsports.

None of them have anything to say that isn’t a little unnerving, and it suddenly occurs to me that they might actually think there’s been a sermon happening this whole time. Brrr. I make my excuses.

There’s no good work in this town, so once I locate and repair the last of the leaking pipes, I take a reward of 200 caps from Walter, who gives me a slight incentive for a future visit, and decide that this will be my last night in Megaton. Dinner, one quick beer and a smoke before bed, and then I’m off at first light. Screw Megaton.

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Wasteland Inheritance Tax

So much for enjoying townie life. That was an excruciatingly dull afternoon. So, the next day, having stashed the old armour and my revolver, I return to the scene of the sledgekilling to investigate a nearby building.

It’s dark, and there’s a distant voice and some scuttling sounds coming from inside. Hm. Bit worrying. I’d best slip on the old knuckledusters. I’m quite safe here, so I simply wait by the inner doorway, ready to clout whatever it is that seems to be coming this way.

Scorpion! Bloody hell! I lash out and leap back reflexively, narrowly avoiding its stinger, which I can’t help but notice appears to be bigger than my head. Jesus. A hit from that would be like taking a pike to the head, or watching an entire episode of Hollyoaks.

My punch hurt it, though, and I think I can outmaneouvre it. Dancing back and forth to keep that tail away, and luring it with a couple of feints, I manage to kill it, though not without taking a slash from its claw. I extract its poison gland for sale, then ransack the room for tin cans, machine parts, and general cack.

Further into the building another, much smaller scorpion goes down without any trouble. The place is empty save for lots of pipes, and a little area with more junk and a radio. That explains the voice I heard, but I do wonder whose turf I’m on. If the scorpion killed the resident, I can’t see a body. Maybe they’ve adapted to digest bone?

Not much else to say about this place, which looks like some sort of waterworks or sewage substation. There’s a manhole going further down, but I’m not equipped for potholing. Back to sell my gear, and I run into Doc Hoff, the oily travelling creep. Business is business though, and there’s no point in being snooty. He buys my junk, and I hesitantly buy some more brahmin cheese. It has anti-radiation properties, see, so it’s worth the high price tag.

As I have some metal, I do a little work on the motorbike. It’s now at 8%. I think once I get it over 30% it should be safe to use, though I’ll still need fuel. Still, this is progress!

Speaking of which, I need to find a new pasture. My brush with death in the East left me a little shaken, but the North seemed a bit more promising. I’ll compromise and head Northeast today, skirting round the city. There must be a safe haven somewhere nearby.

I head North past Springvale, and cross the river. The bridge is collapsed, but there’s enough rubble to climb over.

I need to be careful, as the water is massively radioactive and even a brief wade could make me sick. Thankfully I get across with only a slight misstep, and upon reaching the far side, Cass takes a moment to celebrate with a jolly dance from her Music Hall routine.

I’m a little nervous. This far from town there’s nowhere to retreat to if I bite off more than I can chew. I briefly chase a pair of those disgusting bumspitter flies, but they prove too quick for me and leg it long before I can clout them. Not worth a bullet, so I let them watch me from a distance. There’s not much else in sight.

A molerat evades me, too. Best not go running off without thinking though. No, I’ll follow what’s left of the bridge.

An abandoned truck is a good place to stash some goodies, though it could be a set-up. Still, I can’t see anyone (although my leaning does cause the car to suddenly shift slightly, with a loud scraping that scares the bejesus out of me), so risk it anyway.

Annoyingly, most of the boxes are empty and one has a lock I can’t pick. The rest, however, are full of explosives.

There’re enough mines in here to seriously hurt a group of raiders. I still need to be cautious though – the only gun I have is the pipe rifle, which is at best a weapon to harass people with at range. I’ll lose a stand up fight.

Still, the bombs renew my confidence somewhat. This side of the bridge is partly wooded (well, it was) and partly old ruins. I poke around in the latter, mindful of snipers, especially as a distant explosion resounds in my ear from somewhere to the right. No sign of movement, however I do hear someone shouting what might be a friendly warning behind me…

Crap! A clutch of molerats has just cornered someone in the rubble behind me, and he goes down. They turn their attention to me, but my armour absorbs their bites without much damage. Pow! Lots of dead ratties mean meat and teeth to sell. Lovely. Now, let’s see what that was all about.

Oh damn. It looks like another innocent wanderer. Where the hell did he come from? Poor guy, a molerat swarm isn’t a nice way to go. Kind of embarassing, too. But what’s this?

Ohhh ho ho baby! Rest easy, my brother. Your death was not in vain.

A shotgun. A shotgun! A double-barreled shotgun, no less (voted Sexiest Weapon in the personal firearm subcategory for thirteen consecutive years). It’s quite worn, but such a simple design should be cheap to repair. I might even be able to do it myself. This is fantastic!

As with many video games, Fallout’s shotguns are absurdly useless at range, but if I fire it at anyone within 20 feet or so, they will cease to exist. This is exactly what I need to compensate for my weak aiming skills. With only three shells, it’ll have to be my backup weapon for now, but once I’ve filled my bag I’m going straight back to town to stock up on ammo. Oh yes.

Now though, I’ve detected some raiders in the streets behind this nearby building, so I ready my rifle and sneak around for a closer look. Sure enough, a sentry comes running, but I am a wily fox and have already dropped a mine in his path and taken cover.

The blast propels dozens of pieces of wire into his legs and groin, which demoralises him for some reason. He screams and tries to do a runner, so I pop out of cover, and shoot him in the back.

Yes, I shot a fleeing man in the back. What of it? This is the Wasteland, not Disneyland. Try to kill me and I mangle your legs and shoot you in the spine. That’s how it works.

This doesn’t seem to have alerted the others, who are much further back, so I move closer and pull the same trick on another one who’s dumb enough to walk away from the herd.

Boom! Instant kill. Disappointingly, he didn’t feel a thing.

Again, there’s no indication that anyone else is coming to play. The two I’ve killed have a few bits and pieces on them – just enough to fill my bag, and should fetch an okay price. Time to head back.

On the way back to Megaton I meet some puppies! Awww. They’re passive, too, though they are growling a warning at me. I should probably kill them before they grow up into vicious pack killers, but I don’t have the heart. Also there’s no money in it, and mama needs her shotgun shells, so I skirt round them and make a triumphant, moderately badass return to town.

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