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Countdown to California: Leaving Tucson

I am as shocked as can be, that I finished book 3 in a single playthrough. Honest! No cheating, no checking ahead, just fair-n-square. Meaning, it’s time to start California Countdown: Freeway Warrior book 4.

We made our way to Tucson, and aren’t at all surprised to find that it is not a peaceful paradise. Although the Detroit Lions and other gangs following us have retreated, the Tuscon folks are harassed by a bandit clan called The Outlaws, and figure that we should pool our gasoline together, and make the run to San Diego, California.

I’m keeping my gear simple: map and compass, binoculars, torch, and food. I’m also glad for my +3 knife that I picked up in the last book. I still have 7 medkits, too.

My survival skills are now 12 points ahead from when I started (4 per book): driving 5, shooting 6, fieldcraft 5, stealth 6, perception 6. I’m not sure whether this makes me a complete badass, or merely adequate for the challenges ahead. I guess it depends on how the book is calibrated, and so far each one has been easier.


Our story begins…

So, we start the adventure on routine scouting duty. Four of us are in the town of Red Rock, looking at an abandoned car that wasn’t there two days ago…

Yeah, it’s bandits. I hide behind cover while Rickenbacker kills them in a hail of bullets. Then we loot the drug store they were looting (those scoundrels!) and move on northward. There’s a big gangster campout jamboree happening at the Interstate 8 junction, so we decide to hold tight and loot the town of Eloy while we try to think up some sort of distraction to get the bandits away from the highway, so the convoy can get through.

The distraction we come up with is pretty crazy: take two jerry cans of precious, irreplaceable gasoline to Arizona City, and set a fire. The bandits will come to investigate, and Bob’s your uncle. I complain about the gasoline, but Beavis and Butt-Head are in charge and “heh heh fire is cool!” so off I go. But as I’m preparing for a grand act of arson inside a paint factory (an environmental disaster, about to get worse) the stuff catches fire and suddenly I’m in big trouble!

I flee into some laboratories with no other exits and big thick windows. Yikes! I smash my way through them, and get out of the building, and make my way back to my colleagues. We leave town, leaving lots of fire and explosions behind us.

Now we need to meet up with the convoy again. This all feels familiar, somehow…

A dust storm comes up, a really bad one that makes visibility really bad. I’d rather be cautious, so we pull off at a truck stop. Bad move. We get jumped by a drunk guy with a broken bottle, and he slashes me up pretty badly with some really unfortunate dice rolls.

Then we get back on the road, and meet up with the convoy at Gila Bend. No sweat.


Bring on the Pathos

First thing on arriving at Gila Bend, I find out that Kate has eaten some Amanita muscaria which got into some food. She’s having the usual symptoms: tripping balls, talking to her own internal god, sweating and feeling cold, and the usual. Lucky girl, right? There hasn’t been any reliable source for hallucinogens in years!

Hm, except that the symptoms described in the book are for organophosphate poisoning: cholinergic symptoms such as SLUD and convulsions, chills, and unconsciousness. The doctor recommends atropine (which is capitalized for some reason?) which is totally not for A. muscaria since that’s not even a muscular ACh binder, but more for organophosphates like pesticides and VX gas.

So okay, I’m just gonna ignore this doctor, and mentally tell myself that she caught a few deep lungfuls of pesticide, so I can move on and enjoy the book…

Meaning I need to pick the closest hospital and find some atropine that’s still good after 8 years.


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First published July 1, 2020. Last updated December 15, 2020.