The Wasteland Survival Guide – Introduction: “I Came, I Saw, I Kicked Ass”
More than a hero, more than a villian, I am a survivor.
[image1]Some call me an urban legend, the last damn hope for humanity, that kid from Vault 101. Others call me a fuckin’ commie. And I’m fine with that, as long as I don’t hear them say it with their jaw attached.
But you? You’re just lucky. Lucky you’re still alive. Lucky you can read. Lucky this book hasn’t been turned into a carcass of mold like all the other books in this godforsaken hellhole. Lucky I have spare time. Lucky Moira made it worth my while to write this damn introduction for a survival guide. And especially lucky you haven’t stepped into Megaton long enough to become Moira’s little guinea pig. (And she’s lucky for not editing this out.)
But it doesn’t matter how lucky you are, does it? You’ve seen the Wasteland, this man-made Apocalypse, this sorry-ass excuse of a history lesson we all have to live with. The landscape is dead, vacant, and rusted – a painting of paradise whose colors have faded into the murk of browns, greys, and dusty hues. The wind blows through the windows of the abandoned car, creeps around the corners of the broken street, and spreads the odor of anarchy through the ruins of the Lincoln Memorial.
Absolute freedom has bred absolute chaos. Raiders, slavers, mutants, mercs – they all want to rip your head off, and if they’re savvy enough, sell it to the highest bidder. Men are expendable. Women and children conceal weapons underneath their filthy garments. Soldiers weighed down by their metal power suits patrol the wastes like sulking, marauding ghosts. Human “ghouls” who have had their skin ripped off by the radiation live in fear of the smoothskin bigots. Civilization exists in tattered pockets in a world worn with war and natural, mindless cruelty.
[image2]Wherever you run, there is no escape. You can run towards the ramshackle clinic for some healing stimpaks, run past the beggar who clings to the earth pleading for clean water, run from the Deathclaw that hungers for your tender thighs. But you can’t run from the truth, the hollow tragedy of the boy who slings his rifle over his small, rounded shoulders, of the girl in the pale pink skirt who tries to remember her murdered parents as she stares at the irradiated clouds in the sky, of two skeletons holding hands together on a rotted queen-sized bed while a radio sends a distress signal that continues to loop. You can hear the rhythm of the reality – the broken record on which it plays – that humanity has lost its optimism, for fear of hoping at all.
Radiation smothers everything life depends on. It’s in the food you eat, in the water you drink, and it probably pricks through your skin while you toss and turn in your sleep. Step close to a latent nuclear missile, munch on a couple of Sugar Bombs, or take a dive into the deceivingly clear river, and you can feel the radiation trickling up your spine. Gradually it saps your strength and willpower until you’re writhing on the floor and gasping for breath. Always carry some RadAway next to your stimpaks and keep a couple of preventative Rad-X in case you have no choice but to get your feet wet.
And that’s the crux of survival: Use common sense, accept the fact that this world has gone to shit, and deal with it. There are already enough worshippers of wackadoo religions, enough military kooks, enough “for the good of mankind” experiments, enough Nuka-Cola fanatics (one is all we need), and enough Buffout or Jet or whatever-can-be-popped junkies to justify why humankind is not worth saving. In other words, please don’t add to my body count.
In times like these, only until you’ve looked out for number one can you start looking out for number two or more. But I wouldn’t bother. Followers might have your back, either by choice or by contract, and they might take care of some raiders in the distance with a bit of shotgun diplomacy, but they’re too autonomous. You can’t tell them to use a stimpak. You can’t force them to use the better assault rifle you just picked up. You can’t jump off some rocky cliffs and expect them to do the same; no, they have to find a roundabout way that usually gets them killed. Just go solo and never look back.
[image3]If you think I’m being egotistic, then you obviously don’t understand survival. Good or evil, savior or scourge, none of that matters if you’re dead. I don’t show any mercy, whether it’s a gang of idiotic ape-men, a don’t-have-time-to-name-it beast-fiend, or an insane scalpel-wielding old-timer. Yes, even grandma knows how to aim for the head – and so should you. Stop, concentrate, activate your V.A.T.S. system, shoot the limbs off your enemy, and then move on to the next fool.
And between shots, remember this well: fight, salvage, sell, repeat. Take whatever high-value junk you can find, anything that’s worth the weight. Ammo, stimpaks, medicinal “supplements”, frag mines, grenades, pre-war paper money, railway spikes, oven pilot lights – all of these can be traded in for a pile of bottle caps, the new currency of the country of garbage. Open every metal box, every first aid kit, every safe, every bag of mutilated organs, and if any of them are locked, even better.
Learning new perks and skills doesn’t just mean whacking the nearest jerk with a friendly baseball bat. Pick some locks, hack into security terminals, disarm any mines and traps, and "convince" people to tell you their secrets. Battles go to the well-prepared and the well-rounded, the road warriors who have the know-how to stay healthy and discover new places that even raiders have yet to touch.
And even if you ignore everything I’ve written so far, do yourself a favor: listen to Galaxy News Radio. Even if you think DJ Three Dog is a liberal heretic and think The Brotherhood of Steel are some overzealous paladins with an itchy trigger finger, it’s the only radio station that’s worth a damn. Go ahead and tune into the Enclave station if you want, but for those who live in reality and not in some preachy, patriotic, apple-pie paradise, the music alone is all you need. There’s nothing like decapitating a couple of smack-talking Super Mutants to the smooth voice of Billie Holiday – it’s the kind of scene cigarettes were made for. Three Dog will even throw in some rumors for you explorer-types and give a shout-out to your exploits. It’s called recognition and respect. So yes, please, holla’ at your dog.
[image4]By now, you’re probably wondering about me, about the fairy tale of a boy who left the shelter of the Vault in search of his father. I’ll let you grab a couch to mull over my abandonment issues, anti-isolationist ideals, and my animus figure. But whatever you’ve heard hardly sums up my life. No sixty-second mythic summary – no heavy introduction in a survival guide – can compare to what I’ve seen, what I’ve heard, what I’ve decided to live.
That’s the beauty of survival, and this world of fallout: It feeds on adventure and breathes in freedom, yet it dreams of order and the safety of the Vault. I can describe it, explain it, tell it in finely chosen words, but I can never make you fully understand for as long as you sit and listen. But even if I die, I do not worry. There will come a time when you will seize that lever and open that metal door, and it is then I will return. And the Wasteland will greet you, the birth of a legend. For with you goes that kid from Vault 101 once more.