Good shoes are a must. Also, a cap and a bag. Backpack, where you have everything you need to survive the Wasteland. I don’t carry a gun, don’t wanna tempt fate.
There are no more countries or borders, so I measure my journey by small bumps of civilization on the ruins of ancient cities. I’ve been to the militarized Tricity, I visited Postnań, hub of the old Taksiarze faction, I’ve traveled through ruined Breslau, and traversed the whole dangerous Silesia.
I’m a postman. I bring people news, stories, letters from family and loved ones, orders and memos, sometimes even threats. I carry a pack or two from time to time, but it’s rare.. They are heavy and take up too much space, after all what are couriers for?
„Neither snow nor rain nor heat…” – the creed of American postmen before the war went something like that, I believe. I don’t remember postmen of that time, I was just a kid when the bombs fell. I’ve also never seen snow but heat and fire…far too much. Nevertheless, it’s a good creed, I think. Solid. Makes you want to commit to your job.
I don’t think it would be a lie, if I said that I’ve seen everything (*). There is, however, one place where I always come back, not quite for professional reasons, well at least not only because of that, but simply out of curiosity. If possible, I try to visit it at least once a year. A small town called OldTown.
The first time I came there was by accident, ten years ago. I was about twenty kilometers from Sedina, and it was already getting dark. That area was never particularly safe, and staying there for the night was not something I was looking forward to. When I had been leaving Tricity, someone mentioned that a small town was supposed to be here somewhere. A group of nomads or – what I thought was quite unlikely – Vault dwellers settled here, put a few huts together, got rid of the nasty, local wildlife and boom! – town. Nomads I could’ve believed, but the Vault story? I put it between fairy tales. Never before had I seen a Vault, let alone any legendary Dwellers. But random wanderers, why not? Sedina was at that moment a vile shithole, run by gangs and mentals of all kinds. It was near to impossible to go up a street, and not stumble over a mugged corpse or junkie swimming in his own puke, often both in one. An unwritten law says that you’re not supposed to shoot postmen, but even so I rarely went there. So apparently a small group broke away from that pit, ran and built their own paradise on earth, if there is still something in the world which you can call that. Good for them, I thought. Anyway, I wasn’t sure whether this settlement existed at all, but at that moment I didn’t really have an alternative – I had to find it. I waded through a field of mutated crops, which somehow miraculously survived the war and turned into these grayish-yellow, wrinkled horror stalks. It was not safe one bit, since I passed a couple of molerat mounds on the way, but it was still better than wandering through the big, wide and scorching hot concrete slabs of an open road. I think it used to be some sort of an airfield, if I remember correctly. On a pan like that I was easy prey, visible from afar. If raiders or bandits would not get me, I’d be gutted by something worse then them. Deathclaw or something. With humans I could still negotiate, but even though I preferred not to take that risk.
The moment I began to consider burrowing myself underground for the night, I saw in the distance a faint glow of lights, and less than an hour later, I heard the first sounds of civilization. To my surprise it wasn’t gunfire, screams or engine roars but music and singing. As I came closer I could hear loud talking and overall noise, like during a holiday of some sort. For a second, I could not believe my luck, but then I got out of the bushes into a narrow road that ended with a makeshift and not very impressive gate. Or rather a log blocking the way and a low wall made from junk. At the „gate” stood two guards who, as soon as they noticed me, threw their cigs on the ground and pointed their guns at me. They looked dead serious and also a little familiar, but I had no time to wonder where I had known them from, because my hands shot up into the sky in a heartbeat. The guards slowly came closer, still aiming at me and despite looking dangerous, they didn’t really seem aggressive, more just like doing a routine task. They were wearing black leather jackets, green cargo pants and black boots. Only as they came closer, I recognized badges of the Brotherhood of Beer on their shoulders. A few days earlier I had departed from Tricity, and I was on good terms with BoB. I relaxed a bit, but didn’t lower my hands. When they asked who I was, I answered, truthfully, that I was a postman and that I was on my way to Sedina. As a sort of confirmation I pointed at my hat with a golden horn, a symbol of post that was used before the war. I even shook my mail bag, just to be sure they got the message. The guards walked around me, checked for weapons, then shrugged and said I could come in. Just like that. I have to admit, it was a nice change from my previous adventures with guards, who usually turned my bag and backpack inside-out, forced me to strip, like I had a cannon stuck up my ass, or simply expected to be bribed. And here? Nothing. They did what they had to do and let me through.
The town was a hole. A few tents and huts huddled around a few dried out trees. Some of them were even arranged in larger camps, because not even the greatest optimist would call it “districts”. Nevertheless, the atmosphere there was nice and warm, people of different ages, professions, armed or not, sat at several burning fires. Something I will never forget is the lack of that particular nervous tension or depression about the surrounding gray ravaged world, which I usually see in other towns and villages. Here everything seemed…well, jolly. The lot drank beer, or were frying some unidentified meat over a fire, picking cans with knives, telling jokes, laughing and in general it seemed that everyone was having fun.
I didn’t come too close to any camp, as I wanted to look around first, get to know the area a bit. After passing through the gate I came to a fork in the road and, as it turned out, the whole road formed a circle, which enclosed all camps and buildings. When I entered a little deeper into the town and asked where I could get something to drink, because the long journey got me dry, someone pointed to a well-trodden road in dry, rough grass that ended on a slight mound. When I got there, it turned out that the hill goes immediately into a steep slope after which a pair concrete stairs lead down to a bar located in one of two semi-circular bunkers.
Nothing special – tables and benches made of old tires and pieces of wood were arranged along the walls, on the ceiling hung a couple of lamps with different shades of light bulbs, and on the very end was a counter made from doors placed flat on tires and barrels. Before I could think about they got power up here, I heard a muffled rumble of a generator, somewhere behind thick walls. I bought a beer, threw a few caps on the counter and went outside because the bar was beginning to get crowded and a bit hot.
Just outside the bar the air was pleasantly cool. There also was quite a lot of people, talking, smoking. I was struck by how many people here had food, water, cigs and alcohol. Actually, now that I think about it, I haven’t seen any poverty or hunger. I mean sure, they weren’t looking like they were swimming in caps, but still.
I talked a little with a few people. Just about their town, how they found it living there. I learned that the town is called OldTown, and everyone is welcome here, as long as don’t cause too much trouble. I got a beer, a few cookies and a piece of burnt meat in dry bread. Just like that, for telling the news from the world and taking a couple of letters to Sedina. I wanted to go to the Flying Caravans casino, who then were just a bunch of wankers in better clothes, not the family that is shaking half the Wasteland they are today. The casino however had to wait for another occasion, since it had been a long day and I had to hit the road first thing in the morning.
On the next day, just before dawn, I rolled my mat and I continued on my way towards Sedina. On the road I got passed by a car with OldTowners. They were creaming something about storming the tower. I haven’t the faintest idea what that was all about. But even then I knew that this strange town, where people live in peace, like living on the ruins of civilization was quite normal, was going to be a mandatory stop for me. Was it of sentiment, or curiosity, but I wanted to know what will become of it, if anything at all. Time has shown that this little town in the middle of nowhere would not disappoint me.
Everything has its beginning and end.
The conflict known as “The Great War” ended the civilization as we knew it, forcing us to hide in steel bunkers deep underground or in inaccessible wilderness far away from exploding bombs. As time passed, the face of earth changed and we begun returning to terrains once inhabited. From the ruins we dug out all the useful junk and rebuilt houses and city walls to call this desolate wasteland our home once more.
Thus, OldTown was founded. In 2106 a big group of survivors decided to settle on ruins of an old airport near devastated Stargard. Warriors from the Brotherhood of Beer gave them a helping hand, providing logistic and armed support.
The town, despite being a newly founded settlement, instantly clashed against something known as the Wolfgangs. Cyborgs, unambiguously associated with soldiers from the previous world war, targeted OldTown the target for one of their attacks, for unknown reasons. Furthermore, an internal conflict occurred between trade factions, leading to the Flying Caravans to break up and the foundation of the Junkers, who broke commercial monopoly of the OldTown trade family. From the piles of debris and nuclear fallout OldTown slowly arose.
Almost exactly a year later, I must admit, I walked towards OldTown just to see if it was still there. Now that I think about it, I don’t know what the hell was pulling me there then, because I nearly got killed like five times. All kinds of vicious crap had bred in the northern fields and woods. Zombies, ghouls and the other half-rotten abominations came out of nowhere in the area and ate everything from sun-dried carcasses to travelers.
This time finding the narrow road leading to OldTown was less of a problem. The entrance to the town was still make-shift gate, slightly better than the last one, but still nothing special. However, after a minutes walk behind the gate a friggin’ BoB fort emerged. I couldn’t believe it, a huge fortification, with a watchtower, a gate and everything! When I went further, it kept getting better. There were about twice as many people than last year, camps have turned into … well, into just bigger camps.
But this time I’ve heard at least a few generators in several camps working with an uneven whir, there were guards strolling about, maintaining order I presumed. Everything looked pretty well organized. The guards said they were called OldTown Rangers, and when questioned about whether they know anything of the ghouls who attempted to have me for dinner they replied that that’s why there’s a whole BoB squad to handle that particular problem.
I had spent in OldTown two whole days, and all this time the local sheriff organized raids for the people to go along with BoB to hunt the aforementioned ghouls. I have to admit that people showed incredible solidarity in this regard. Effectiveness to I imagine, since over the next years I haven’t seen so many undead scavengers anymore, so all those anti-ghoul crusades had to bring the desired effect. I was also pleasantly surprised by two cooks, splendid chaps, a pair of jolly scamps. Their food was good and not too hard on the pocket, although the taste was unusual, something like a brahmin I guess.
I spent my last night in a tiny camp, which advertised itself as „The Spartan Meta”. For a cap they offered a shot of very good vodka, a cig and half a pickle. I have no idea how they made any money on a deal like that, but I got the impression that the whole thing was just an excuse to have fun and make some friends and contacts. I guess it worked, because these four guys who sat there, are now fatcats of the Wasteland known as Spartan Commando – they swim in caps and alcohol, build, reconstruct, invest. I would’ve never thought about them in that way when I met them.
The year 2107 brought the town another year of growth and new threats. Lurking ghouls and mutated animals never stopped attacking the settlement, seeing it as easy pickings.
Luckily, present BoB warriors and OldTown Rangers easily defended the town against the frenzied creatures. The year 2107 also brought an increase of population.
Hearing the news about the newly founded place, people were drawn into it giving birth to the now legendary “Season of Arrivals”.
Sad to say, but this visit to OldTown was hardly as pleasant as the last one. I could not even cross the gate (which this time was actually a gate) as I started to throw up like a Jet junkie on withdrawal. When I was walking the already well known to me narrow road, I remember some sort of fog or mist that hung over the fields. At a point I thought I was gonna puke my guts out, someone grabbed me under my arms and dragged me to the hospital. Yes, there was a hospital, although I wasn’t in the best condition to appreciate that remarkable town infrastructure development. My awe had to wait another two days which it took me to wake up – as it turned out, safe and sound, if you don’t count terrible hunger and cottonmouth. I later learned a radioactive cloud had gone through the town and that I had been very lucky, because a lot of people died unfortunately. I left the hospital, only to run into a huge BoB sergeant in full armor.
He turned to me, apparently ready to sell me a punch to the face, but noticed that I was a postman and had just left the hospital.He relaxed a little and told me to join the other people standing just before their stronghold. Frankly speaking I haven’t noticed them at all at first, which was difficult, because there were almost a hundred of them, and their expressions were, well, not exactly a picture of happiness. It was only when I heard what the BoB boss was saying and what OldTownwers shouted back at him, did I realize some sort of political overturns were taking place. BoB came up with apparently a brilliant idea to put tattoos on “real” citizens, to distinguish them from visitors and increase security and order, and the rest of the town apparently intended to show them where they can shove their idea.
One even pulled down his pants and showed quite literally, apparently so that no one has any doubts. Before anyone reached any closure, a bullet shot over our heads, then another, and before I realized what was happening, I was running almost blindly with a stolen iron pot on my head, and shots were flying over my head like a swarm of metal hornets. I barely managed to escape into some bushes outside the town. I still remember that it was already dark when I walked away from OldTown, and in the distance I caught a glimpse of three white silhouettes that moved incredibly fast towards the town. I didn’t stay any longer to figure out who or what they were.
This year at OldTown passed by on political and social matters. Nothing unusual in a multicultural place like this. The tight situation between present religious groups and constant trade war among businessmen didn’t help either. A cloud of radioactive fallout came with a wind, but the risk of illness was quickly averted thanks to precise actions of the BoB’s hospital.
More and more people from all across the wasteland settled down in OldTown, slowly turning it into one of the biggest towns in all of post-apocalyptic Poland.
I’m not gonna hide that before my next visit to OldTown, I was pissing my pants a little. My last goodbye was not as warm as two years earlier, and besides troops os the so-called Marshal, whomever he may be, began moving through the wasteland.
The journey passed rather quietly, to be honest, even a little too quietly. I was looking out for narrow path leading to the OldTown gate with anticipation. Finding it was easier than usual, because a large part before OldTown was littered with leaflets praising this whole Marshal. They lay in an elegant path to the town. Easy-peasy.
When I finally got to OldTown, I was welcomed by considerable noise. Camps, streets, paths, traders, even a bank, which, as it turned out, was founded by the former sheriff – everything made a very civilized impression. Anyway, my first steps took me towards the Flying Caravans’ stands since I needed to refill my water supply. Unfortunately, I refilled exactly nothing, because as it turned out, the water supply had been poisoned. Fortunately, on the other hand, I could afford to hire Taksiarze to go to a nearby lake. Then the cabbies were still some lame-ass, self-proclaimed “kings of the road”, of whom no one had heard about, but as it turned out, they had a good foundation to gain reputation and recognition.
We came back just in time to see the proceedings of the City Council. A City Council! Well butter my back and call me brahim-steak, that sounded almost like a democracy. They were just discussing the murder of a man named Mały, a member of Kawaleria Berg – a local faction that functioned as law enforcement in the town. To my utter disdain, the main suspect was a postman named Drapichrust. Such a disgrace to the uniform and our traditions. I hope he was appropriately punished, because I could not stay till the end of the meeting.
Epidemic. Terrifying word, sending shivers down your spine. A cistern of life-giving water was poisoned and a huge part of townsmen got infected with a virus. Fear and uncertainty was brought upon OldTown. The sickness was beaten and the main suspect was the Marshal, warlord from the south. Some events that later unfolded were only a proof for that suspicion. Marshal’s forces planted enough mines around the airport to blow up entire OldTown. Luckily, the townsmen managed to fight off the threat but Marshal and his IV GRP still cast a shadow on OldTown and entire Poland.
Full of optimism I visited OldTown a year later, only to let reality bitch-slap me in the face once more. During my absence, as it turned out, the Marshall gathered a lot of support in the town and sent the residents of OldTown against its’ main founders – Kawaleria Berg. I once had the pleasure of meeting chaps from Kawaleria. They were perhaps a bit rough on the edges, at least some of them, but generally struck me as good people who wanted to develop and govern their town well. And when I got to OldTown, each one of them had been locked under house arrest in their own camp.
Meanwhile a horrible disease had supposedly been unleashed and in the hospital, which belonged to the aforementioned Spartan Commando, a vaccine was being distributed. The nice lady doctor methodically stung a long queue of people. Years after I learned that it was, in fact, not a vaccine at all, but special microchips that the Marshal spread on lands he had occupied. Well, I’m glad that they did not take and chip me then, I’d be fucked big time.
While trying to ignore the rather tense situation in the town, I went to the restaurant owned by Flying Caravans. Probably no one would’ve believed it, but I’ve never eaten pierogi before! I don’t know whether these were the best in the world, but I sure have never forgotten their taste. (*)
That was when I saw it – a crowd of armed mob, firmly marching toward the Kawaleria Berg camp. Anticipating the worst, I finished my beer and gathered my stuff into my backpack as fast as I could. As it turned out, I was just in time, because a moment later, I heard screams, a series of curses, and then a loud roar of a charging crowd.
I didn’t look back, I didn’t have to. Kawaleria was being exterminated by their former friends and neighbors. As far as I know some of them managed to escape, but I think the whole incident was bestial. I sneaked out into the night before the angry mob began to search for another victim.
OldTown becomes a playground for secret service, spies and agents both of Marshal and town government. Social agitation is on a rise, resulting in angry mob attacking the town’s defenders – Berg Cavalry.
Those of them, who managed to avoid death by rabble, pushed by hatred and lust for revenge went down in history as Berg’s Bastards.
News of approaching Marshal’s army reach the town. Denizens try defending their homes, but most die in process. Marshal and his IV Great Republic of Poland assume town control.
It would seem that experience should’ve thought me to avoid OldTown by now, but being naturally curious and stubborn, I could not resist another visit.
I got to OldTown without any problems, although I did have to sneak by a couple of heavy cyborg patrols of the mysterious Marshall. Unfortunately, OldTown had been taken by him and it could not go unnoticed. In the town, in addition to your typical city guards, the streets were controlled by Marshals cyborgs and robots. It was like some scene from a pre-war science-fiction novel, here a robot, there a robot, I think one was damaged, because as it strolled about it kept singing this song about being a “Robot with no slow-mod”. Surreal… The town was ruled by someone known as the Governor – an extension of Marshall's will. I saw him once or twice, casually taking a walk, like owned everyone and everything, escorted by two young women, who, though being hauntingly beautiful, sent shivers down my spine. Packed with guns, knives and machetes, I dare say they were not there for decoration. So I did my best to stay out of the Governors way, just to be on the safe side.
Flying Caravans’ Restaurant had been still open, so I ate pretty well, and then decided to give myself a treat and go for a cup of coffee to Atomic Cafe. There I met a ghoul-woman, all bald with skin-flakes falling off her head, and in general, stinking a little bit of dust and moth balls. To my pleasant surprise, however, she was nice and chatty.
Another surprise, and a considerable one, was an absolute lack of BoB. Their huge stronghold? Gone! There was only a corn field, a Brahmin and a few shanty, huts that smelled like manure. It was called the Czech street, and it was inhabited by…well, rednecks. I don’t know what else to call it – typical farmers, soaking in the sun, drinking beer and throwing shit at everyone…sometimes also a potato or an onion. Like I said before – surreal.
I went to the bar to get some news and I was unlucky enough to sit on a couch which apparently belonged to Spartan Commando. I had no idea! I mean, yes it was a bit strange to see an empty couch in a crowded bar, but it would never cross my mind to think it was owned. I only learn because some guy dressed in test tubes and syringes came in and told me to fuck off. Not wanting any trouble I got up and went my way, and the test tube guy fell to the couch all smug and lit a cigar like he just won a friggin battle. Dick. I asked someone what ultimately happened to the Kawaleria Berg, and a guy informed me in a hushed voice that somewhere deep in the fields is a functioning Kawaleria militia, who call themselves Berg Basterds, led by a man named Smok Apacz. He was supposed to be one mean motherfucker, and the Governor flipped his oatmeal anytime he heard about him. That’s why every one was so hush-hush about it.
As I left the bar, it seemed that the day was just getting started, because the town was in absolute chaos. Asking random people I managed to find out that someone had stabbed the Governor, and hillbillies from the Czech street were suspected, but no one actually knew. The Governor was in critical condition, Marshals robots and cyborgs started interrogating and strip search everyone, riots broke out, and the same, I could not fucking believe it, guy from Spartan Commando I met earlier, was elected deputy Governor. I should say it comes to no surprise, that I got the fuck out of OldTown as fast as I could, before anyone come up with an idea take to me for a “chat”.
Later on I got a message from travelers that this guy from the Spartans, a chemist named Wilku, had also been stabbed on the same day. Can’t say I felt sorry for him, even if he didn’t get to rule for very long...
OldTown under Marshal’s rule becomes a town of restrictions and tough rules. Townsmen express their discontent at every step, but presence of Great Republic’s heavy cyborgs dampens their plans for open rebellion.
Berg’s Bastards harass Marshal’s forces at every step, but soon they are virtually all slain, with only a few survivors.
OldTown stays under new government's grip, a loosening grip of a weak hand.
All these years, I kept coming back to OldTown, despite having to run for my life on more than one occasion, despite the risks, local skirmishes and turnovers. Probably just after those six-and-something years, did I decide that I’ll always come back there. I guess I began to believe that if I didn’t go there it would be a year wasted.
So, as one can guess, my travels brought me to OldTown once more. It was hard to even imagine what I should expect, but I got pleasantly surprised, when the town appeared to be calmer. Bigger, more crowded and kinda stuffed, but definitely calmer. With a bit of relief I welcomed the return of BoB, though they seemed less tense than usual, like they were there on vacation. They had hammocks, music, beer and grilled meat, all in a nice and suspiciously friendly atmosphere. Even their famed fort looked more like, I dunno, a pen? A barrage? Something in between anyway.
Apart from the quite large BoB camp, there was one more that stood out. Surrounded by a fence, wall and grid, and rather spacious. As it turned out it was a camp of ZUS, which stood for, if I remember correctly, Zjednoczona Unia Sediny. It’s been a while since my last visit in Sedina. If some of my OldTown visits could be considered dangerous, then they were a child's playground when compared to what was going on in Sedina. That is why I was surprised when I saw all of these Sedina savages… well, civilized. I got a glimpse of their leader.
A cyborg, but not like those from the Marshal, which had essentially been turned into robots, with hardly any humanity left. He had a huge claw-like cyber-prosthesis instead of one hand. He looked dangerous. But definitely not aggressive. Perhaps someone like that was what Sedina actually needed? I made a promise to myself to go there at the nearest occasion.
OldTown was swarming with all kinds of people this year! I met a shaman, a great seer, a poet and apparently also a terrible junkie. But the conjured such spells, that I had chills down to my ass. He talked to spirits, changed the color of fire … and prayed to a goldfish suspended in a jar hung from a tree branch. Hence my suspicion of drug abuse.
In addition, it was the first time I ever saw real Vault Dwellers! I know that maybe I should have said that at the very beginning, but over the years, I have already forgotten what an experience that was for me. They all came from Vault 801, had the same dark blue overalls and were incredibly pale. I saw a few townspeople guide them and showing anything of their interest...
My day was going without any major explosions, both literally and figuratively. Even better, instead of turnovers, an election for OldTown mayor was being organised. There were three candidates. One was an eloquent beef of a guy from Spartan Commando, who didn’t seem to treat the whole thing too seriously, though his supporters were many. The second candidate was the aforementioned cyborg ZUS leader, which only further improved my opinion of Sedina. The third candidate, however, which pleasantly surprised me, was the head of the local post office. Chatty little man with charisma, and, well, kinda homey, like I had known him for years. I would’ve voted for him if I had been a resident. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to stay till the end of the debate, duty called. I wished them good luck on their new path, where matters are resolved with diplomacy, and went my way.
After Marshal’s murdered deputy’s funeral, more and more unusual events unfold in the town. Dwellers from a nearby vault arrive at OldTown, zealous communists begin spreading propaganda among townsmen. Meanwhile, during mayor election, earth literally splits open under people’s legs. From the splits, caustics substance spills and houses start to tremble. The council, convened hastily in panic discovers their home will soon be no more. Evacuation commences, people abandon their houses and walk the wasteland again, scarily looking towards the future. Thankfully Rummagers and vault commies manage to use a G.E.C.K and swiftly make foundations for a new town.
A year later, I must admit, I couldn’t wait to see what became of OldTown. When I left it last time it seemed that the situation had finally stabilized itself, and the town would finally start developing in a steady, healthy pace. I was really curious to see what has changed throughout the year. One can guess how surprised I was, when my Geiger counter started crackling quite a way from the town itself. At first I thought it was some random anomaly, it happens, but as I kept walking the device’s tapping kept nagging me more and more. I remembered that not far from OldTown were two high buildings known as the hotels, I think they used to be a base of Czahi – a nasty gang, which, however, had bent under OldTowns growing influence. I haven’t seen them for years, so they all had either died out or ran away. Hotels were therefore free from danger, and I decided to climb to the top of one of the buildings for a better view.
As I stood on the roof, I had to rub my eyes, and look again. OldTown was gone. Not that it was abandoned or deserted, it just…wasn’t there! A crater, gaping with emptiness and dust, took it’s place.
I’m not ashamed to say a tear went down my cheek. It was an intriguing place, I was actually thinking I could settle down there, hell, maybe even start a family. And now it was nothing more than a dry hole in the ground, surrounded by an aura of death.
Reluctantly and with the broken spirit I went on my way back, almost dragging my feet. I’ve decided to take a slightly different route, walk through a couple of fields and maybe set some animal traps. But I didn’t get very far, perhaps only a few hours walk from OldTown, I when behind me I heard people talking and clatter of wheels on the cracked concrete. From around a corner a caravan came out – a simple wagon pulled by two brahmin, its’ driver and some armed escort. When I asked where they were going, they said “to NewTown”. If the destruction of OldTown had taken me ny a bad surprise, this time I was simply stunned. I asked if I could join the caravan and later the same day we stopped at the gate of a new town. It looked way more spacious, and more, well “towney” than OldTown, but unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to take look inside. Guards at the gate told us that the Great Council of Vault 801 forbade entry to anyone without a passport. When we tried to somehow convince them to make an exception, they cocked their guns and told us to fuck off, plain and simple. There was no choice but to turn back, but then the merchant said that there had been another settlement nearby. That was Sicz. As it turned out, after it’s doom, OldTown got separated into two factions – Communist NewTown under the leadership of the Vault 801, and the free and independent Sicz, ruled by the mysterious Khan with an iron, yet fair, fist.
When we got to Sicz, I started feeling a bit yellow, because this small village was way too similar to all those gang camps in Sedina. Everyone looked like bandits, walked around with weapons, drank, smoked, and seemed like total bunch of thugs. But somehow no one punched me in the face for no reason, we have not been mugged and I even found myself trading with them, exchanging some letters and we’ve been greeted rather warm. This Khan guy must have had balls like tractor wheels. Sadly I didn’t have a chance to meet him. I was told that in „Commie-town” (that’s what Sicz called NewTown) everyone’s living like little rich bitches, they had drones, which shot intruders, minefields, supplies of fresh water and food. Only that it was all an illusion, a sham and a pretty shell rotting from the inside. At least that’s what Sicz said.
In the morning I left Sicz with food and water for the road. I didn’t return to NewTown, although I had been tempted to try getting inside there again. I learned my mistake, because the beautiful, utopian NewTown, where everyone had a job, a place to call home and security, didn’t exist for very long. At least not in the same state as it came to be.
Life is moving and constant changes. OldTown as we knew it turned into a radioactive hole, hatchery for all kinds of awful mutations.
Town’s population split into two “camps”. One settled in a highly developed NewTown: protected by ubiquitous and lethal drones, with communist propaganda playing from speakers at all times, people here payed with freedom for security. At the same time Sicz was established – agglomeration of free people ruled by Khan, violent like rabid dogs, lurking among ruins, biting everyone they deemed dangerous. Nobody had any doubts that these two distinct places must jump at each-other's throats at some time to determine a winner and dominant. That didn’t happen though. Sicz and NewTown united in a face of a common enemy – mutants, who were a danger to both.
In the end, over time, Sicz and NewTown become one once more recreating OldTown, home.
It wasn’t even six months after my last visit to OldTown, or rather NewTown and Sicz, when news reached the south that something really bad was happening in the north-west. People disappeared without a trace, whole caravans were slaughtered like pigs, and rescue expeditions returned with nothing or not at all. This went on for several months and every time I thought things had once again gone quiet, I would hear about kidnappings or some other horror stories.
As you might guess, I went there despite everything I had heard. When I was close to OldTown areas, despite having a rather well camouflaged camp, I couldn’t sleep at night. I heard roars, grunts, someone or dragging something through the concrete slabs…not exactly a lullaby, if you catch my drift. It was the first time I actually started to believe all those stories about night monsters around OldTown.
At the beginning I went to check out Sicz, because, after all, they gave me a warm welcome. I was surprised when it turned out that Sicz was gone. Just like OldTown the year before, only without the whole crater thing. Just flat dirt and a couple of bricks left here and there. You might think that I was already accustomed to disappearing town and other unusual events in these parts, but frankly, I’ll probably never get used to it. What baffled me the most though, was how a group of tough guys and warriors, whom made Sicz what it was, could disappear just like that? I just couldn’t comprehend that.
While the sun was still up I went further towards NewTown. When I was almost at the gate I was greeted by a colorful sign which said plainly „Welcome to OldTown”. Getting back to the old name was nice and nostalgic, but it meant another turnover in the local government. When I crossed the gate I realized it couldn't have been your run-off-the-mill change of rulers. The town was a sight of despair and misery. Poverty, dirt and famine. I couldn’t even imagine what must’ve happened here. Despite my initial shock I started to see something else – integration, determination, consistency. Something really bad happened to this town, but it just kept raising to it’s feet. It was uplifting to see.
I walked around the town, which I previously wasn’t allowed to see from the inside. There was a lot more space, a decent building with a bar, a hospital and storage rooms. Close by was a big arena surrounded with a metal fence, and next to it a small building occupied by Shperacze – a powerful religious organization that worships technology. When it got dark, lamps went on on wooden poles illuminating main streets. One of the brightest streets ended in a very colorful and busy Alkochemicy stand – alcohol merchants from Postnań. I decided to stay there, drink a little and listen to some news. As it turned out, I was right – things that happened weren’t an ordinary coup. The reign of Vault 801 led the town almost to ruin, although it wasn’t the final blow. Shortly after I left Sicz the other year, Khan was injured and it was revealed that he was a highly advanced cyborg. I do not know if he was one of Marshall’s, because everyone seemed to have a different opinion. But after this event, Khan escaped and no one heard from him again. And Sicz deprived of his iron fist leadership began to fall into chaos, as each small gang fought for dominance. And that was only the beginning. In winter the kidnappings I mentioned began. At the beginning Sicz tried to work together with NewTown to solve this problem, but the only thing that came out it was only more death and disappearances, Sich collapsed completely and any survivors returned to the current OldTown. After all that they sort of started to rebuild their society, but everyone was afraid to even peek through the town gate, especially at night. And caravans eventually stopped coming to OldTown altogether. And all because of the Redeyes. Monsters that lurked in the night. People tried to fight them, but they were too fast, too strong, and seemed to be indestructible. This story got me a bit depressed, and additionally, I began to worry that maybe I will not be able to leave town, since those monsters were still out there.
I left Alkochemicy a little tipsy, and bought a bun with some sort of meat with like a heap of onion, an abomination Flying Caravans proudly called a hamburger. It looked terrible, tasted not much better, but at least I had a full stomach. Apparently I was already too late for a meal at Gastro, because they were closed for the day.
I went to the bar, which was on a whole new level when compared to the old one. Big, wide, well lit, with plenty of place to sit, the counter itself was rather large and the queue moved fast enough. It was very cozy, music was playing, and people were dancing which gave some hope for this town.
At some point however something happened and the power went out. It became dark and quiet. The people gathered at the bar were just wandering aimlessly about, asking what was going on, looking for some information. At first I thought that maybe something had short circuited in the power generator. But I was wrong. Dead wrong. First I smelled something strange and sharp, as if someone had lit a thousand cigarettes at once, and then from behind the bar a thick white mist started to flow inside. And it was flashing irregularly, as if there was a small lightning storm inside. Everyone looked at it in dead silence, until the from the mist two red dots flashed, glowing and sinister. Suddenly everyone jumped like crazy and started squeezing themselves under tables, behind the bar counter, everywhere! And nothing was happening, just silence. I myself only managed to flatten myself against a nearby pillar. I was so scared that nothing else came to mind.
And then I saw them. They poured through the windows and open doors, they emerged from a mist like ghosts, nightmares. I couldn’t even tell what they were exactly – mutants, cyborgs, ghouls or something entirely else. I had a strange feeling that it was a little bit of everything. Their flat metal faces were covered with dried blood and wires that were creeping out at different angles and vanished somewhere behind them, and their eyes were only two glowing red dots. Even though they seemed to be wrapped in old, torn rags, I could tell that their body shapes were completely different from each other. One was creeping near the ground, scratching the concrete floor with huge, clever-like claws which he had instead of hands. Another one was a huge, lumbering mountain, walking by slowly leaning on his gigantic gorilla arms. A third one I saw had spikes and blades coming out of his back, but I could swear they were made out of metal, and not a natural grown thing. They all looked like someone grinded a bunch of humans, animals and machines to a pulp and they tried to build new humanoids from it.
They crawled slowly across the street, but attacked no one. I clung to the wall of the bar and looked around nervously in search of a better hiding place, but as I met the eyes of some guy sitting under a table, he put a finger to his lips, telling me to be quiet. So I was. One of the monsters came close to me and started sniffing and smelling me like a dog, putting his metal claws on my column. He kept staring at me for a minute or two, and then… just turned around and walked away. Only later did I realized that they could not see! That’s why everyone just froze in place, hoping the creatures wouldn’t notice them. Being petrified with fear I didn’t even notice whet the Redeyes left the bar and into the main OldTown street. I cannot tell how long I stood under that column, maybe five minutes, maybe half an hour, but I came to my senses when outside of the bar came noise typical for a battle – screaming, shouting, shooting, clinging of metal and the unpleasant munching of massacred bodies. When I ran outside everything was almost over and two cars were getting ready to chase the Redeyes that seemed to have fled from the town. The town itself looked like a butchers shop…bodies everywhere, screaming victims, torn limbs littering the street like garbage. It was one of the most terrifying days of my life, I don’t think I was ever that scared…
Now, as some the time has passed, I can talk about it without flinching. Redeyes fled, but left behind one of their own, which reportedly collapsed suddenly and his red eyes went dark. They say that the rest of the creatures didn’t even notice that. Later, as they somehow managed to pluck the monster of all its armor, cables, and tendons, it was revealed that it was one of the missing OldTown inhabitants. That was a kind of horror I had never heard of before, and I’ve seen some shit.
I had to stay in town for a bit longer, because I was afraid to go out alone into the wasteland again, and so far no caravan was going to leave either. And that’s how I witnessed the battle. An epic battle, If I may say so. A few days later, at the gate of the town none other but the Khan himself had appeared! He was followed by, I think, about twenty of those Redeyes. They were standing beside him like trained animals. Khan gave a speech in which he demanded submission and constant supply of material, as he described it, for his Dogs of War. He wanted to conquer the world with them and establish a new order. It sounded like the delusional boasts of movie villains from before the war. Naturally, the town refused and fought perhaps the most fierce and brutal battle, I have ever seen. Oldtowners were throwing themselves in tens and twenties at each Redeye, but they still pushed forward, as if insensitive to blows, mowing their way through corpses.
Then something flashed, banged so hard my ears rang. It was a huge EMP fired by the town defense systems computer. Then all of the monsters and Khan himself fell to the ground. And were unable to raise again. It was over. A clamor of victory picked up, the people cried with joy or sat on the ground with relief that everything is finally at an end.
The bodies of Khan and his “Dogs of War” were burned. The defense computer was still operational but the EMP blast fried all electronics in the town – lights, implants, sensors… everything. Yet no one seemed to care.
I left the next day with the first caravan that left OldTown with vigor and optimism to start rebuilding their lost utopia.
Fear and terror. Feelings accompanying us from the dawn of times, forcing us to hide from darkness and unknown. These feelings returned to new OldTown’s denizens and stayed for good. Every night, at the horizon, shining red eyes haunted them. People went missing with no trace and terrifying screams pierced the darkness. In the end, red-eyed monsters barged into the town. Immune to punches and bullets, they murdered people in the most vicious and brutal ways possible, to take them to the night later on. AI commanding the defense systems reluctantly suggested using an electromagnetic charge. This solution met with Doctor’s approval, Khan’s right hand from when he ruled Sicz. He revealed, that red-eyed creatures are old Sicz’s leader’s revenge, sick fantasy of his cybernetic brain. EMP was fired, Khan, Doctor and red eyes fell dead.
In this spectacle of death there was place for the miracle of birth. Thanks to the EMP town’s AI gained personality and autonomy. It demanded to be called Igor from then on.
Theoretically, after all these adventures and mishaps, which I had in OldTown I shouldn’t really hope to see coming back to peace and prosperity. Therefore I am really glad, to have been proven wrong.
My last visit in OldTown began with a view of the city, that started to stand on its feet, that had energy and determination. Seriously, it was happening! Lights, trade, food stands everywhere, delicious alcohols, town guards, raging bar, caravans and expeditions have repeatedly passing a large metal gate.
Apparently, all this was achieved thanks to an artificial intelligence, which held power in the city, and told everyone to call it Igor. As long as I live, I don’t think I had ever seen such miracles before. But it seemed that under Igor's rule everything was developing and residents were mostly satisfied. I met up with some unfavorable opinions, that a robot is not an appropriate government, it will lead us to destruction, and so on. But it was just a handful of people.
In the evening, the bar was busy, noisy and in general it was very pleasant. There was this one group though, maybe a dozen people, very colorful bunch and rather… eeh, eccentric. I personally thought they were talking bollocks all the time, just rambling nonsense, but they kept throwing caps everywhere, like there was no end to them. Their boss was like really tall and thin, he scared the shit out of me. And for a good reason as it turned out. At some point, just out of the blue, they demolished half the bar, shot a few series in the ceiling and put their masks on. And let me tell you, those were some scary fuckin’ masks. Their leader, named Pagan, s people Ramat began rambling that they Dżedaj knights who fight for love in the wastelands, and a machine with no heart is pure evil and would bring us destruction. Then a fight broke out. At one point strong lights flashed everyone in the eyes, and into the bar came a shiny white robot. A robot! Its one glowing eye was staring emotionless at the intruders, and somewhere from its armor a metallic voice said that Ramat is not welcome here. When the intruders tried to argue, the robot grabbed one of them and literally threw him out of the bar, like a rag doll. Ramat then announced their imminent return, jumped into their SUV and drove away.
That was not the last time Ramat bothered OldTown, although their actions were rather unusual. Sometimes they treated people on the road with poisoned tea, then rode a huge truck that blasted music and on the roof was one of them playing guitar, and in the end they kidnapped some girl. Tension grew in the town.
Igor organized a Jugger tournament – a great, spectacular game. I had to give him credit – even if he was only a machine, that was a great move on his part. Crowds came, a lot of teams ready to face each other in the arena. The only thing no one predicted was Ramat sponsoring the team from the Order of the Holy Flame. They came in a huge SUV and cheered on the Order, and even threw insults and rotten food, when Igor's Guardian stepped in to play for one of the opposing teams.
I’m not sure if a move like that was legal, but the crowd went wild with cheers. Unfortunately later things got ugly as the crowd started turning against Ramat. That was a nasty fight! Ramat was waving their weapons slowly retreating towards their car, the Order who just burst out of nowhere started defending Ramat, madly bashing everyone. I think half the town and BoB with shields and baton focused on the Order. I have no idea how Ramat got out of there in one piece.
They got out in the end. For a brief time it was relatively peaceful after that, though word on the street was that some Oldtowners are trying to negotiate with Ramat, saying that they’re not so bad, just a little nutty. I dunno, because to me they seemed totally mental.
When I was thinking that Ramat was basically driven out, it suddenly turned out that they organized a great campaign against Igor and set some emitters, or jammers, and other crap, and their supporters defended these places while the Ramat was going to blow up some of Igor's underground shelters with something important inside… I do not really understood what was going on, an awful lot of technical bullshit, I think even Shperacze were helpless. Anyway a counteroffensive was initiated. Large one, almost the whole town came out in waves to repel the alleged danger. And the town went quiet.
They returned in the evening, many hours later. Most survived, but the battle must have been fierce. Each had a sad, clouded face. I don’t know what happened there, but when someone asked about Ramat, they only shook their heads, without a word. OldTown supposedly won, but somehow it felt like a bitter victory. I left the next day.
Despite the hard end of the previous Season of Arrivals, the city was not destroyed, there has been no revolution, nothing exploded, there was no collective massacres or epidemics. That is why this time I went to OldTown without fear, without doubt, sure that I’ll see a blooming hope of the wasteland. And when at last I passed the gate of the town, I was greeted by a huge big screen with Igor’s face who, I swear, looked straight at me and said:
– Welcome back.
This year showed, that the biggest monster of all the wasteland’s monsters are people.
A group called Ramat showed up near the town. Addicted to a drug called Mélange, masked arrivals planted madness and grotesque everywhere they showed themselves. They demanded access to a product refined near the town, one of the main components of the drug. They also urged to destroy Igor, who, in their opinion was a danger to everyone on wasteland. OldTown denizens, reluctant at first, soon started fighting, killing them in a huge climax. Ramat however managed to destroy Igor’s backup memory banks. When the whole thing went quiet, calmness should’ve returned to townsmen hearts. That didn’t happen. AI again and again surprises with errors caused by no backup data. Something’s hanging in the air, and people can feel it.
Wasteland lives and is cruel in its judgments.
And war… War never changes.
Do You remember when I told you about my first visit to OldTown, some ten years ago? Back then it seemed like eons have passed, but only now, having once again crossed the gates of that renown town, I truly felt it. In 2106 that gate and the city wall could have been knocked down with but a kick, and this time I was crossing The Gate, real thing, with a high wall made of salvaged wood and tires reinforced with sheets of metal. Impressive, especially when one can remember how humble has this town started.
I’ve arrived mid-day just before the Season of Arrivals, so I had some time to look around a bit. The town seemed well stocked, the number of trade stalls and bars has increased, a few not too shabby cars stood parked in front of the famous HOMe bar, which was bustling inside with bartenders swiftly pouring drinks, who did not even need to smack some heads for not paying – everyone paid their dues, took their drinks and left to dry them up. A somewhat uncommon view.
Loitering till the evening I waited for the official opening of the Time of Arrivals. People slowly began to swarm in, some rackety band played some tunes at the Arena. Truth be told, I was expecting it to begin with a bang, and the excitement reached its peak. Well, it did start with a bang, just not the kind I was expecting – the bustle died down upon the sound of an explosion which flashed above our heads. A second later a wrecked drone fell down on the shocked crowd. And then another one, and then a few more, resembling a gloomy metallic rain. Before anyone came to their right senses we heard drums, roaring engines and the steady thundering of dozens of heavy boots stomping. And then there was fire. Hundred if not hundreds of Order of the Holy Flame members literally flowed through the city gate with torch brandishing dancers, fire-eaters and floggers leading the way, embellished cars and heavy armor wearing warriors in the back. It was only then that I noticed a new addition to the town – the police. Not the real police of course, but suddenly some teen navy blue uniform cladded people appeared from thin air, positioning themselves right between the city dwellers and the Order, separating them from one another. Some one-eyed, white haired, nasty looking old fart was giving them orders. He seemed oddly familiar, maybe because his sun bleached and heavily patched uniform looked far older, pre-war even, in stark comparison with the rest of his crews’ clothing.
The Order’s Inquisitor announced they’ve arrived to seek vengeance for their followers, who were allegedly killed during the previous Time of Arrivals. He was babbling and babbling, it took me a while to understand he meant Ramat – those legitimate lunatic clowns I told you about earlier. It wasn’t good. The Order demanded extraditing the alleged culprits, including some big fish such as the Alcochemists’s boss. They were threatening with retaliation, fire, destruction… I’d be much calmer if those were some fucktards from bumblefuck nowhere, OldTown used to handle such jokers easily, but that was the goddamn Order of the Holy Flame! Won’t be a shame to admit I barely kept my urine in. It was right then that OldTown has shown that it can face any adversity, no matter how grand – IGOR’s white robot stood in line with the police making a formidable noise while at it, and then I heard some sound as if a pack of machines would decide to transform itself into a rocket. When I looked to identify the source of that odd noise, I saw one of the policemen standing on the roof of HOMe manning a huge gatling gun, aimed right at the Order. That eyeless old grump, Commander Van Wolff (as I was told later), held his hand high, and when he lowered it, the gun spewed a line of bullets which pierced one of the Order’s members rendering him into a bag of soft goo. Awkward silence ensued. After a while the Order started to back off, however not without a parting remark that “this isn’t the end”.
What a lovely beginning…
In my younger days, my first and foremost reaction for danger used to be to employ my legs en route to the swift getaway – that was back when I still could say I have fully capable legs. With age though I seem to be acquiring more of the youthful curiosity rather than the typically tetric cynicism, so I decided to stay a day or two more to see how the events unfold.
At first I was a bit alert, but I calmed down as my doubts cleared – CAD, that whole police-y group, apparently managed to keep the city together. Not saying it was perfect, but the frequently appearing patrols was quite reassuring. The Order has not ventured to attack the town, only sent some emissaries presenting their new demands and notices. Whenever these folks showed up, they were always promptly paired with CAD officer or two as a mutual safety measure. Didn’t win them any popularity points for sure, but at least indeed nothing bad happened. Only the inhabitants of Czeska street have been loudly and audaciously expressing their discontent with CAD – and not only in regards to their reactions for the Order, but with CAD’s sheer existence and presence in general.
All in all one could say it was relatively peaceful. CAD did clash with Czeska a couple of times, the Order came and went, but nothing sinister was happening. Once when the Order came in a larger group to render some peaceful sermon upon everyone at the Arena they were interrupted by some citizen challenging them to a duel. I didn’t get to see it, but apparently there’s a rule now saying that any conflict can be solved by a public duel at the Arena and the losing side has to yield or something. So the Order chose their champion and they started the sword fight with that other dude. OldTown citizen has won and as the winner of that duel he’s requested for the Order to get the fuck out of the town. And, you won’t believe it, the Order chose to get the fuck out. I shit you not! This scene only lacked some shrugging as they were passing the city gate.
And yeah, aside of this, peace and quiet. Some mutants ran up the city gates, but didn’t even get to scratch it. There were some epic City Councils where the big shots deliberated this and that. Mostly the whole shebang with the Order, but also some shit about anomalies, red mists, some other fuckery. Not just anybody can join the City Council’s sessions, so this is only a gossip, but I heard that the Alcochemists’ boss was reluctant to go on some stroll, because he doesn’t give a damn about the Order and their whims or something like that.
That peace and quiet ended abruptly when Czeska street inhabitants started getting frisky so a dude named Judge Augustus… er.. basically nuked their asses. With a mini-nuke. It was right then when the shit has hit the fan. The mini-nuke was faulty so it didn’t fly all the way to Czeska, but still it made a lot of damage. Half of the town’s bigwigs were in the Order’s camp negotiating something, but when they came back, Van Wolff had the judge in the jail in no time. Czeska of course called for retribution, others blamed all of this on Czeska, saying they brought this upon themselves, all the while the entire thing with the Order didn’t even budge. Ah, right! Y’all remember that IGOR thing, the AI city guardian? So he… err… kinda has a daughter. Don’t ask me how! As if I know! I just know he has a daughter. So… among all this mess, she was killed. Kinda. She was killed but then Shperacze found something to revive her, or something like this. I don’t get any of this, or how this happened, but it turned up the heat a lot, so I headed out with the nearest caravan to avoid getting involved in any serious mess like a civil war or, I dunno, some random rockets falling from the sky.
A few months later I heard that the Order has finally closed the negotiations with OldTown, Czeska street decided to be an enclave, IGOR stopped sulking, his daughter was somehow alive in the end, and all those odd anomalies were also somehow solved. Much a brawl about nothing.
Tell me honestly, those introductions I make, they’re kinda long, right? I always try to paint the background picture at the beginning, but y’all don’t really give a shit, right? So this time, without further ado – I came to OldTown just as I do every year, and like every year, it seemed quiet at first, but then shit hit the fan, hard.
I was standing in front of HOMe drinking that warm piss of a beer they sell there, smoking an OPC, chatting with old acquaintances – in short, minding my own business. Suddenly a meteorite came down, fell from the sky. I mean, later it turned out it wasn’t a meteorite, but then we all thought it was, cause, well, what else falls from the sky looking like a ball of fire? The usual bustle ensued, with gathering, counting people, cause obviously whatever rained there had to be inspected, as if going in packs to inspect some oddity was never a bad idea before. This time it didn’t end up badly, but I’m jumping a bit ahead of the story here. So the party to go and inspect the meteorite gathered and went, meanwhile some dude was “mysteriously” killed in the bar. No biggie, happens all the time that someone gets killed here, but that hearsay has it that one was some ambassador or some other chancellor of some trade village, who of course took that killing as a grave offense. I don’t know shit about politics, but that looked like a big deal, since in no time the unfortunately deceased was surrounded by CAD officers, doctors, even a mutations specialist swung by, and autopsies and investigations unfolded. As they were wrapping things up in the bar, that whole archaeological expedition came back, and everyone were just stunned. There was no meteorite. It was some shuttle from space. Like one of those that were supposedly shot into space before the war, to the moon and back and to look for the dark side of the sun and what not. It was exactly like one of those things from the old movies. Not only that, the shuttle, as it turned out, contained a crew – two fellows clad in white spacesuits, who – it seemed – were quite unsure what (or where, or when for that matter) exactly they’ve fallen into.
From that point on the chaos ensued, and I can’t even sum it up in a way that would make sense and I definitely don’t know the details, but I’ll do my best: so that ambassador was apparently killed by some dude who leaves behind chess figures everywhere, he was hunting here and there, managing to stay elusive because the drone system was off again or something, I don’t get it, but the gist of the story is, he was killing people here and there, even one lady officer from CAD was killed. First some Big Red Riding Hood and the Three Kings were the suspects, but then it turned out that there is also some Collective involved, and guesswork as per the nature of their involvement ensued – did they collaborate with the Three Kings, or were they working separately, or maybe that’s the same thing with 2 names anyway, even now I still don’t get it, but I think the consensus was these things are unrelated. In the meantime Czeska, of course, brawled with CAD, some nutjobs took the city hospital hostage, but only for a brief while, because then they just killed themselves. The astronauts were rambling among all of this happening, looking for something, meaning of life maybe, or some terminal? As if I knew. Then, once for a change, IGOR’s daughter was killed again, this time for good, but then like a ghost of the past rising from the ashes her mother emerged, the killer managed to flee and it almost caused riots. Then some awfully fat dude rolled into the town with his posse, yelling some bollocks about it being his town now and him being in charge now, then he drove away and a mob of angry citizens followed him and we’ve heard they pummeled his ass pretty good. Then that Big Red Riding Hood was allegedly caught with some envoy from the Collective, and in the end that initial killer was ambushed and jailed together right in the next cell from this pair. Sounds like a happy ending right? Yeah, on the next day it turned out that that killer and the envoy from the Collective are dead, and that Big Red Riding Hood has literally evaporated out of his cell without any trace. There was also some commotion with electricity, series of fires, the Paletters’ Shovelhead was yelling something at those from the trade village I told you about earlier, and then it all calmed down.
That’s it, I think.
My head hurts, screw you guys…
When the next year finally came, I couldn’t wait to reach OldTown again. Winter was terrible, and in OldTown, at the very least, it was always warm. Come to think of it, I’ve never been there during winter, but c’mon, how much worse could it be, right?
As soon as I arrived, I learned that there was a fire, and that Commander of the town guard got nice and scorched. To death. Tough shit, I thought to myself, now everyone will probably start punching each other over that. Can’t say it was a good start.
The town itself was very much alive and also bigger than it used to be. Czeska street seemed barricaded from the inside out, but it turned out that they remembered me so I could easily cross the gate without even getting stabbed. Though that last bit was more luck rather than my street cred, I suspect.
But let’s start from the beginning. The Commander burned to death and I don’t think anyone believed he might have just fallen asleep with his cigar over a gas canister. The town became a bit uneasy. I heard that somewhere in the wasteland hides a dude with a cheerful name - Beast-master, and for some reason, he’s got a grudge against OldTown. I saw with my own eyes as a huge super mutant (I mean seriously, big as a fuckin’ barn) with a bunch of smaller mutants came up to the town gates and started babbling about something, I don’t really know what, I was standing too far, but the name Beast-master was definitely there. CAD, along with some oldtowners, rolled up the mutants’ ass like a, err, just really hard, you know. They kicked them out of the gate, and killed the big mutant to death. No idea how many mutants there were in the end, I heard something about a hundred and fifty, but that’s gotta be bullshit, couldn’t have been more than eighty.
Then everything sorta crashed down. The Town Council was allegedly kidnapped, someone attacked that nice young man from the radio, Rusty Zenon smacked Stale Adam, because the latter disrespected his mother, and then… then a bunch of drunk people started a brawl in the bar like there was no tomorrow. Later I learned that they were “fans”, because OldTown had some sort of a new sport and those guys were caving in each others’ faces in honor of their favorite team. Dunno, I didn’t stay till the end, ‘cause chairs started flying and I didn’t feel like waiting till someone asked what my favorite team was. Just a small invasion of an even bigger mutant group, a fight between a giant in power armor and one of the super mutants, general mayhem, flying limbs, blood flowing in the streets and we can call it a day, eh? True story, may limping rats bite me testies if I lie, it all happened…
One might expect that after all that went down, the worst was already over. The mutants got smacked around, then a few people also got smacked around to relax, no one else burned, all was fine and dandy. Or so it seemed.
The next day, out of the blue, some dude with a red hood strolled into town and declared himself king, or some other emperor, of OldTown. Only after a minute or two, a light bulb went off in my head that it must have been the same guy who stirred all that shit the year before. I didn’t get a chance to think anything else, ‘cause some CAD officer broke the rank, whipped out his baton and he was already running towards Red Cap to whom him in his stupid face (his words, not mine), but unfortunately the stupid face turned out to be his own, as he landed on it with a huge hole in his head. Because, heh, tough shit, Red Cap had his very own personal drone. Not that I’m some kind of wordsmith, but I believe that used to be called an imp-ass. At least for the town, ‘cause certainly not for RedCap, who cheerfully began his reign over OldTown.
And THEN, so no one thinks that he’s gonna fuck around, he brought a fuckin’ missile to middle of the arena. Yes, a missile, and a big one, with a red shiny nose. So he brought this missile, and sat on the throne… What, I didn’t mention there was a throne on the arena? Well there was, usually occupied by that big CAD captain, Leon or something, ‘cause he was some sort of sponsor of that new sport I mentioned earlier and he liked to sit there and watch. I don’t judge. So anyway, RedCap sits on that throne and says that there’s gonna be a referendum, and everyone who’s faction-less can come and vote for a faction that they would like to see blown to bits by his new shiny missile. So every jaw drops, and what now? To vote or not to vote? What if you vote and someone finds out which faction you voted against and then that faction comes and mows down you and your family three generations back? That was not a good day. And adding to all that, it rained...
So...the next couple of days was a rollercoaster of excitement, gotta tell ya, never had a holiday like that before! Ok, first it turned out that Janusze, sort of a handyman faction, dug a huge well under the missile, sunk it and detonated it relatively safely. Then some oldtowners realized that they don’t really enjoy a band of bloodthirsty mutants making unexpected visits, and so they went to their camp to beat the shit out of them. During that, let me make a dramatic pause here, they rescued a long lost, thought-to-be-dead daughter of Van Wolff, that Commander who died in the fire. A daughter, you dig? And if someone thought that was the end of this surprise craze, it turned out that Van Wolff didn’t actually die, he feigned his own death and came back to town, pissed like a hornet. What the fuck is going on around here??
Red Cap must have lost his shit after all that, because before anyone could notice, he started fighting with Van Wolff in the middle of the town, and who knows, maybe he’d have won, he was fast and also batshit insane, but at some point the angry mob grabbed him and… well, let’s just say there was not much of him left to hang afterwards. Someone supposedly even cut off his balls and ate them. At least at the very end he got a blowjob and a dance, right? What, too soon? Pff…
Anyway before the dust had a chance to settle, Van Wolff and I dunno, HALF THE FUCKIN’ TOWN went to the wasteland to deal with the Beast-master, who, as it turned out, was a lackey of Mr Hood all along. No idea how it all ended, I just went to get piss drunk, ‘cause at my age that was a bit too much, and no one makes Valium anymore…
Oh, there you are again! Why is it so surprising, we see each other every year, OldTown is practically my second home. Well truth be told, it’s more of a first home, cuz when you’re a postman you don’t really have a place waiting for you somewhere out there. And I think that after all these years I can safely say that me and OldTown are on first name basis, eh?
But let me start at the beginning, cuz I had a helluva an adventure on my way to OldTown, man lemmie tell ya! So I was walking from the west, ya know, all the way from behind Sedina even and… what? I was sightseein’, what’s the difference? Well sure there used to be this Germany country there, but it ain’t anymore, amirite? So I was walking from the west and I’m thinking to myself, weeeell I’m almost in Sedina, gotta deliver some post over there and probably take a full bag of new ones. Especially from those big brutish raider fellows, they all send their grannies to OldTown for retirement, cuz ya know, it’s warm, safe and they even have water, so the grannies have good lives there. I sometimes think that those big knuckle draggers are only tough on the outside, taking care of their grannies and everything. And writing them letters too! Well, drawing for the most part, but still. And after Sedina it’s a short trip to OldTown, and if I had taken the train then I’d be there in no time. What haven’t I told you before? Yeah there is a working train track between Sedina and Tricity. Probably further by now. People don’t ride it very often because it mostly carries cargo. Anyway, a short trip, right? Only not exactly. Cuz nowadays there is this hole along the way that’s called...well, The Hole. Or Hore. Some daring prankster nailed an “R” in a strategic place. I don’t think it makes much of a difference, most people can’t read anyway. Right, so at the beginning my plan was to avoid this place, cuz from afar it looked like just another raider camp, but suddenly a car jumps right from around the corner, stops in a cloud of dust and from it two guys jumped out. One was very big but with a baby face and the other was small and twitchy like a squirrel on drugs, and they both come to me, look me down and ask if I’m a postman on my way to OldTown, so I just said yes. So then they kindly informed me that no I’m not, cuz I’m going to the Hole with them. It was a hot day.
So anyway, when we got there, the second I got out of the car a girl jumps up to me, not too tall, but armed, half her head shaven, and I thought to myself, well shiet, it’s been nice, there are worse ways to go. So she shouts at me if I want a beating of a lifetime, to which I respectfully declined, so then she says that it’s a shame, but perhaps I’d like to stay for a brew and maybe pick up some mail. So I just said yeah, sure. And well, I gotta say it was alright. Fun even. Nice place even if they are still just a bunch of raiders, but the Hole was okay in my book.
So on the next day I finally arrived in OldTown. Upon entering I was greeted with a sight of tiny houses with porches and stuff, just across the street from the old HOMe bar. No, seriously, houses, painted and everything! I’d admire them longer, but some guy bumbled out from one house and started to vomit violently over the porch, and right behind him came out his wife, I think, and started to beat him with a bar of soap in a sock. Now this is a rich town, they even have soap! Not to mention socks!
The town itself seemed to me like a well oiled machine. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’ve suddenly arrived in the pre-war past, it’s still a machine made from spit and junk, running on warm beer, but nonetheless it works.
So anyway I’m wanderin’ around, ya know the drill, a little trading, post delivering, there is always a nice brew waiting for me at the bar along with some old acquaintances. So, damn, I gotta tell y'all this, you wouldn’t believe in how many languages they speak over there! Seriously it’s like OldTown had become this, wassit called, a summit place for every other crater around the world. well I’m tellin’ ya, half of the time I couldn't understand what people were saying to me. I don’t know about you, but to me that’s goddamn impressive.
But that wasn’t the end of attractions, cuz, heh, get this, some lady from CAD married some ruffian from Czeska street. No I’m serious! Even that old geezer from CAD came to the ceremony. No not that one, the other one with a missing eye. What? Both, really? So what is it like a club now, to be missing an eye? Oh well, you know, I’m talking about that commander guy. So anyway, a beautiful ceremony and all, but of course there just had to be some armed rando who didn’t enjoy it. It would be a lost day if someone DIDN’T get stabbed. The culprit was quickly taken down, but sadly the fresh groom died. He died. Yes I know that’s not how that one film with Hugh Grant ended, but it ended like that this time. Yeah, it is a shame.
This wasn’t the end of premeditated dying, cuz a couple of days later this lady captain from CAD was also murdered, that red headed one. No, not that one, the other one. No, it.. No, the captain one, all-right?! Yeah I know, it’s like a curse with those captains, getting murdered, missing eyes and all. Oh right, I almost forgot! The murderer lest a chess piece at the crime scene, you like the one from the Three Kings. It seems like they’re still out there somewhere.
Anyway, not counting a couple of minor incidents, the rest of the town was relatively peaceful. Yeah, even Czeska! I mean, right, sure, someone got knocked out from time to time, but that’s basically just background noise over there. Only the Order seemed a bit restless, as if not burning people alive and living in prosperity was getting boring. I’m not here to judge.
I have been hearing some whispers about the Wolfgangs, or something like that. Supposed to be some robot men from good ol’ Germany. No idea what it all meant, when I was west of Sedina, there wasn’t much to look at, sometimes somewhere far away some caravan or other convoy rode past, but nothing that looked like German robot men. Right. At least until the moment they stormed into town! All in black, and yes, they had robots with them. A huge fight broke out, but I missed most of it on account of hiding between the latrines, no one goes there, especially not robots. I have no idea how it ended, but when I came back, the dust had already settled and the hospital was working at full speed, and the whole thing was supposed to be some sort of misunderstanding. I dunno, back in my days misunderstandings looked a bit different, at the very least they contained less heavy metals, unless someone had misunderstanding about a car, ya know what I mean? I swear there is always something going on in this town.
Helluva an adventure, amirite?