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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Filed under Fallout 3, Stayin' alive

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