Countdown to California: Vision Quest
Today I continue Freeway Warrior 4: California Countdown
I made my rendezvous with the convoy, and was met with some bad news: Kate is having a cholinergic syndrome from eating some bad mushrooms, I’m guessing Inocybes because they do look a lot like the little edible ones, and not at all A. muscaria because those don’t have cholinergic action. So it’s time for my own vision quest: finding her some atropine to counter the effects.
My map shows two hospitals, and Ajo is closer. It’s also further from Phoenix so I figure it’s less picked over and also not in gang territory. Off I go.
I stop at the first building in town: a ranger station, which does indeed have a map. I get to the hospital and make my way to the storage room. I then have to roll endurance + perception in order to survive a wave of billions of cockroaches. That goes fine, but I do wonder what would have happened if I had failed that roll; could I really be devoured alive by these peaceful carrion feeders?
I eventually find the atropine, which for some reason is in tablet form? That’s bizarre; atropine is given intravenously. Whatever, Doctor Dever. So that was easy!
I get back home, and have some unpleasant words with one of the guards. He has some very crude notions about “those clan chicks” and how hot they are. He’s right, though, they’re smokin’ hot and it’s pretty awesome to be dating one. Rawr. I deliver the atropine tablets, and get some sleep.
The next morning Kate is up and about, so that’s great. We have some breakfast and a smooch, and I refill my canteen. Mission accomplished.
Rock Falls and Rat Finks
But now, back to my usual daytime job as a scout. As the convoy prepares for another day of driving, we check out our vehicles and I find that my car’s brake line has been cut. It’s a clean cut, clear sabotage. I report this to the convoy leader, who acknowledges that other acts of sabotage seem to be adding up… to indicate a snitch or mole, a dirty rat fink. But then he also instructs me to fix the brakes and get on to my scouting duty, and we roll out.
We make it as far as Smurr, New Mexico when I catch a glint of light on the mountain pass. A mountain pass being a great spot for an ambush, I stop to take a look. There’s a tiny puff of smoke, then a deafening CRASH! RUMBLE! as the whole damn pass fills with rocks. Well, we won’t be taking this route.
We report back to the convoy and the situation is even more dire: the convoy leader has been murdered, straight up shanked. They found the guy who owned the knife, but that doesn’t mean a lot. Besides, there’s no time for a trial, cuz we have rocks to move. Rather, everyone else has rocks to move while I keep an eye out for bandits, because this certainly seems like the time they would strike, with us immobilized and newly in chaos because our leader is dead.
But, they don’t. We clear the rocks and move on.
But, they do. The bus catches fire.
Seriously, WTF? We put it out and I take some injury (ouch!), and we find that the food and water and ruined and the scene reeks of gasoline. This was clearly arson, and by someone who had time to rig up a timed fire or trigger it remotely.
We park the trucks and start repairs, and set up camp, … and set up a trial for that murder.
They line up 3 guys for me to pick:
- the one whose knife was used (meh)
- that jerk who was disrespecting Kate (jerk)
- a third guy I don’t know, whose pockets contain signal flares, radio detonators, wire cutters, and other such (uhm, bingo!)
When we question a little deeper, he flies into a rage and tries to stab me (yeah, classic that guy)… and also, the Outlaws start their raid on our camp at that same moment. Not a coincidence. He really makes good on that stabbing thing, too, bringing me down to 10 endurance points before I bring him down. And the next guy brings me down to 3 and that’s only because I got the jump on him and skipped damage for a round; otherwise it would have been 0.
The Outlaws retreat, and we hit the road. I drive with one hand and pop painkillers and antibiotics with the other hand, bringing myself back up a decent endurance score. We don’t make it far, before we pull off and camp again. The vehicles took some damage during the raid, most of us took some damage during the raid, and we need to park and make repairs.
What a day!
Scouting and Fixing
The next morning, the mechanics start in on repairs. I eat the last of my food, and we head out on a scouting trip to the towns ahead, not only for bandits but for food and water as well.
I head onward to Mohawk, but we’re stopped early by a man camping out by a bridge. He’s apprehensive and tense at first, but when we get friendly so does he. His name’s Brent and he’s on his way to California as well. He’s also full of information about the bandit gangs at Yuma, the military blockade on California, and more.
We offer him a ride and he comes back with us.
Meanwhile, we found little food and no water.
We return the the colony convoy, not entirely pleased.
First published July 7, 2020. Last updated December 15, 2020.