Good shoes are a must. Also, acap 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 travelled through ruined Breaslau, 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 belive. 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 profesional 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 smwimming 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 youn 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 greyish-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 tehy 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 teh 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 arraned 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 pait 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 civilisation 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, providinglogistic and armed support.
The town, despite being a newly founded settlement, instantly clashed against something known as the IV reich. 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 whirr, 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 acually 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 exatlcy 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 realise 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 realised 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 ofthe 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 postapocalyptic 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 looing 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 teh 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 brahm-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 wasbrought upon OldTown. The sickness wasbeaten and the main suspect wasthe 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 butMarshal and his IVGRP still cast a shadow on OldTown and entire Poland.
Full of optimism I visited OldTown a year later, only to let reality bitchslap 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 neighbours. 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 Polandassume town control
It would seem that experience should’ve thaught 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 Marshalls 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 skinflakes 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 learnd because some guy dressed in test tubes and syringes came in and told me to fuck off while pointig to a Spartan Commando patch.
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 funtioning Kawaleria militia, who call themeselves 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 goverment’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 definitly 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 corrently, Zjednoczona Unia Sediny. It’s been a while since my last visit in Sedina.
If some of my OldTown visits could be considered dangeruos, then they were a childs 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 dangeruos. But definitly 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 elention 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 eachother’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, somone 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 bofre, 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 realised it coulnd’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. Closeby 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 evetualy stopped coming to OldTown altogether. And all becuase 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, scraching 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 teh 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 realise 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 whitout 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 concuer teh 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 wree 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 Igors 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 colourful 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 Igors 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 Ramnat, 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 Igors 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 judgements.
And war… War never changes.