The Wasted West

What Happens in Logan, Stays in Logan
A letter from Hera Sumi to her mentor, Hal Morgan

I almost joined the Mists this week, Hal. I would’ve, too, if it hadn’t been for the quick work of Phee. I’ve told you about Phee, right? The junker with all the little nanobots? She’s a bit creepy, sure, and maybe a little crazy, but we’ve seen worse, you and I. And who isn’t a little crazy nowadays? Anyways, I let my guard down for just a few minutes, just to pick through some debris in Logan trying to find something useful. I know, I know, you’ve probably heard the stories about how it’s been since the Harvest, heck, maybe you’ve even heard that there were some Librarians there. It seemed abandoned, and it’s been so long. But one minute I was standing there, and the next I was on the ground, dying. Anyways, I’m better now! And I’ve learned my lesson, promise. Extra vigilant, always, from now on.

As a reward for all our troubles trekking out to Logan and back, we now have Junkyard citizenship! The fact that they’re willing to let people like Phee and Rosa become citizens of their town says a lot to me. And it’s saying something when I tell you that the most recent addition to the group, Bo, could be considered “normal” when compared to my other companions. I don’t think I’ve told you about Bo yet…for now I’ll just say that his claims of being a good luck charm are not unfounded. I don’t know how any one person can be so lucky, but it’s true.

Just about out of paper, so I’ll wrap this up. Hope you’re doing well, and I’ll check in on Lizzie for you while I’m in Junkyard.

Hera

P.S. Don’t ever go to Logan. Just don’t.

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Speed
A letter from Hera Sumi to her mentor, Hal Morgan

You’ll never guess where I am right now. Riding in the back of a truck, next to a ghost rock bomb, on the way back to Junkyard, fleeing from some doomsayers. Seriously. Oh, and there’s an incapacitated cyborg lying next to me. You may not think that this would be the best time or place to be writing a letter, but really, when is these days? So here I am.

It all started out ok. Junkyard asked us to check in on a human/mutant city that had been attacked by the Mutant King recently and was known to worship an unexploded GR bomb (no idea), we wrangled a car out of them to get out there and back, and we even managed to rescue some humans we saw being transported away from the city to be sold into slavery so that we didn’t have to skulk around inside the city ourselves to gather intel. Then, of course, we chased after the bomb we’d seen being loaded on the other side of town and headed off for Junkyard. And let me tell you, trying to speed across the wastes is no fun at all. We managed to take out most of the mutants, but Rosa went down under a hail of machine gun fire. We hauled her into the back of the semi, Phee hopped in the front, and we’ve been driving ever since. Hopefully we make it to Junkyard before the one doomsayer manages to gather reinforcements to come after us. And maybe we’ll even find a spare moment to pull over so that Phee can fix Rosa up. I wouldn’t know where to begin when trying to heal a cyborg, and after seeing Bo’s attempt at driving today, I do not want that man behind a wheel. No way.

Lizzie says hi, by the by. She wouldn’t tell me how she did it, but she had scrounged up some kind of sugar substitute and made cookies. You’ll have to come here if you want your own, but I made sure to have a second in your honor. It was delicious.

Hera

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Speed (Pt 2)
A letter from Hera Sumi to her mentor, Hal Morgan

Well, I’m back. Obviously, since you’re reading these. Assuming the postman made it to you, of course. We successfully got the semi, the bomb, and ourselves back to Junkyard in more or less the same condition as when we left Carson City. The head of Junkyard wasn’t exactly excited when we pulled into town with an unexploded GR bomb, but he did let us back in and the bomb is now under lock and key while the techies are dismantling it.

Funny story, we were seriously worried that we might explode for a bit on the way back. Turns out the doomsayers had stuck a timer on the bomb, and it started making awful noises. I drove as carefully as I could while Phee fiddled around with it in the back with Bo’s assistance (I wasn’t kidding when I said I wouldn’t let him behind a wheel again). Unfortunately in her rush to fix it she cut a wrong wire or something and the beeping got worse. Fortunately, we didn’t explode. Turns out the holy bomb that dropped on Carson and has been worshipped ever since for sparing their fair city was faulty.

That’s about it for now. Bo’s off drawing up designs for his shiny new still with the copper pipes he haggled (I don’t think he actually knows anything about distillery, but he can confuse you enough with words to sound convincing if you ask him about it), and Rosa’s amusing herself during her recovery (she’s a little confused about what transpired over the past couple days, but that could be for the best) by watching Phee paint flames on the truck that we stole (you have no idea how gleeful Phee is to finally have her own set of wheels to tinker with – we may be the only rusty old semi in 1,000 miles to sport a fresh coat of painted flames).

Hera

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Zeek's Three
A letter from Hera Sumi to her mentor, Hal Morgan

I ran into Betsy Young and she’s just as shiny as ever. I don’t know how she does it. She and Wyatt are well.

During another day of Phee and I exploring the nooks and crannies of Junkyard, Ike Taylor (city official) pulled us aside and introduced us to an old military man. And when I say old, I don’t mean old old; he looks like he’s in his mid-20s. I mean old as in he looks like stepped out of a textbook. Acts like it, too. He told us to call him Zeek and then quickly launched into his mission to reclaim the military vault he woke up in from a force of mutants and rescue any surviving soldiers. Taylor told him that we were just the folks to help him (and all I could think was this had better not be another “oh by the way, there’s a giant bomb” situations).

From our interactions so far I think we’ll get on well. Zeek has lofty goals to “restore our great nation”, but he’s very…I guess quaint would be the word. He still doesn’t really understand what life’s like now, and that while it would be great to save everyone, our resources are limited and we have to cut our losses somewhere. Not everyone is worth saving. Travellers on the road should be approached with the utmost caution, if not just outright avoided. I have a feeling that I’m going to get dragged into some lost causes over the next few months while he learns this, but I can’t exactly abandon the guy when so much of his goals align with ours. Not to mention I don’t think he would last more than a few days by himself. I’ll give him a few days because he’s certainly capable when it comes to survival and fighting, he’s just lacking in the common knowledge department.

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Things Fall Apart

When I signed up for Damocles, I knew things could get bad – the briefings prepared us for radiation exposure, collapse of civilization, starving bands of refugees, that sort of thing. What they didn’t prepare us for is the reality:

The desperation, the degeneration, the loss of that spirit which made us great – the loss of trust in our fellow human beings.

I’ve recruited some folks to help me reclaim the Vault…though they are not exactly shining pillars of virtue. Hera is one of those Knights, like Betsy Young…though considerably less shiny…maybe they give out the armor once a knight is more experienced? Also, she seems a little more cautious than what I thought a knight would be like – actually, almost afraid. This new world seems to breed that fear deep into folks.

Phee is a nightmare wrapped in mechanical bugs – she does some crazy stuff with machines, but is mercenary to her core. I worry that she is as much a threat to the men and material in the Vault as the mutants themselves. On the other hand, her skills have proven handy, and maybe she can restore some of what is broken

As for the others in this team, well, the rumors paint them as very scary.

In some ways, they’re a lot like the weapons I’ve got – not what I would have picked from an armory, but useful as long as I understand their limitations. Probably a lesson here, somewhere, about life in this wasted world.

But for now, we take the tools we were given and make the most of things…and pray that we can build a new, better world out of the madness we have inherited.

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9842 Series Paste Distilling System(tm)
Assembly and Repair

“Ok… What? Oh right. I’m home. My head hurts. Right. Ok… It’s time.”

Bo kneels in front of a large burlap sack. It is still bundled up, as he spent the night cradling it in a fetal position. He opens the long, rough drawstrings.

“Ah. A book. Good. The faintest of ink is better than the most retentive of memory.”

“I really need a drink.”

“Ok. Step one. Locate copper tube 1A.”

Bo empties the sack, and somehow manages not to break any of the many glass vials and jars.

“Ah.. Let’s see. Lots of copper tubes. Which one.”

The Kung-Fu master digs through the piles of tubing.

“This one maybe. Ok. Let’s say it’s this one. A fair decision made quickly may be better than… um… Something. Not important right now.”

“Apply clamp 3C to beaker 12g using clamp… what is that? 9f… I think.”

Bo stares at the pile of parts.

“I need a drink.”

“Ok.. What… Um… A task that challenges the mind… What was it… Something about perseverance. Ok…”

“I have 1A… apply clamp…”

“Oh… I need a drink…”

….

PHEE!!! HELP!!!”

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Zeek's Three (Plus Two)
A letter from Hera Sumi to her mentor, Hal Morgan

It was fortunate for us that Bo and Rosa woke up from where they were passed out in the back of the truck while Zeek, Phee, and I were discussing our strategy for taking the mutants camped outside the vault. Between Zeek’s long-distance shooting and Bo creating a racket in the woods (“HELLOOOO”), the attentions of the mutants were quickly divided and about half the camp cleared out in one direction or another, just as planned. Rosa lumbered in to help Bo (a heavy cyborg like Rosa attempting to run will never fail to strike fear into the hearts of enemies or bring a smile to my face; I’d never say it in front of her, but it’s hilarious to watch her try), and I ran in to clear a path through the remaining mutants for Phee to get to the truck that the mutants had been loading with the advanced military supplies.

Everyone played their part, and did their job well. Zeek has a dedication I haven’t seen in many to stick through mortal danger to complete his task of slowing down the driver of the truck just long enough that Phee was able to construct a pair of rocket boots on the fly and catch up to it to take control. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s crazy what she can do with a few bits of junk. Rosa crushed a massive trog with my aid and Bo…I could just see Bo beyond the trog and campfire as he leapt up the stairs (with loud and slightly drunken kung fu cries) to intercept and utterly decapitate the doomsayer who appeared from within the vault. Even with a few minor setbacks, the plan worked like clockwork. It’s so nice working with a team again.

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Into the Vault

We dispatched the enemy forces outside the vault – it seems these people are solid fighters, though prone to disturbing distractions.

Now we face the harder task of dealing with the friendly defenses inside the vault itself…I suspect they must be malfunctioning, as we were not awakened in a timely fashion.

Mutants and magic are now the least of our worries

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Zeek's Five (Minus One)
A letter from Hera Sumi to her mentor, Hal Morgan

While Rosa stayed behind to guard the entrance, the rest of us made our way into the vault. Zeek tried to convince the AI running the place to just let us in nicely, but the system was having none of it. Also, who names a military artificial intelligence and defense system Daisy? We decided the best course of action would be to split up and enter the facility two different ways, not knowing what we would find inside or if anyone would make it to the bottom to disable the AI and help the soldiers still in cryostasis. Bo and I snuck in through the ventilation while Zeek and Phee climbed down the elevator shaft. It looked like it was once a very secure military bunker, but I’m not sure even Zeek was prepared for the destruction we found inside. It looked like a dozen trogs had run rampant throughout the base; only a few of the original defenses were left intact. In fact, the whole thing was much easier than I had anticipated. Between the four of us, we were able to safely and efficiently reach our goal.

Unfortunately, we found that only half of Zeek’s original squad remained alive and in good health. Most were dead, and two of those had already been transformed into horrible cyborgs by none other than Daisy, who thought it was “fixing” them. We put them out of their misery before they could cause much harm.

We also discovered that when the bombs dropped, the US government decided that this was a battle they could not win and reprogrammed Daisy to change the parameters of Operation Damocles. Rather than wake up immediately to help us rebuild, we were to be abandoned for 100 years, at which time the soldiers in stasis would be woken up to repopulate the world themselves. Zeek has explained the current situation to his fellow soldiers, and all have agreed to carry out their original mission. They returned with us to Junkyard, and now they are reacquainting themselves with the world. We rigged what remained in the bunker to explode so that it would not fall into the wrong hands.

Another happy ending, and maybe, with their help, there is a bit more hope for the world now.

Hera

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Integration

Not many of us survived – but we knew it would be risky. With the supplies and expertise though, I think we can make a real difference.

We’ll have to negotiate solidly with Taylor – we need to get maximum value for the supplies we have recovered, so that the Damocles Cadre can most effectively carry out our mission. I’m hoping that we can integrate into the command structure of Junkyard, protecting this bastion while gaining respect from those we serve with.

We always knew this wouldn’t be easy – but it is just a bit more realistic, now that others have emerged.

And my new allies, native to this time and place, are helpful and terrifying in equal measure. We’ll see how this plays out.

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