<<UserID:Webb>> Well, today started off on a high note. In my scavving yesterday, I turned up a percolator in decent shape in one of the houses’ kitchens.
I’ll be honest, I was actually fairly excited. I’d lost my old percolator with everything else when Checkers and his Khan thugs jumped me, and I’d had that thing for years. Not that you can get actual coffee out here, but if you grind up some dried mesquite seedpods and tobacco, you can get something roughly approximating the taste... or, well, at least approximating the stimulants.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had ACTUAL coffee. God, I remember that spring when Jess was pregnant that I went to the Vault City branch of OSI to buy seeds, and they actually had some viable beans. Cost us a cartful of salvage, including a barely damaged Mr. Gutsy I’d scavved outside Benicia, but we came home with seeds for corn, tomatoes, potatoes, oats, barley, winter wheat... and four green coffee beans.
One of the beans never sprouted, and one died before it ever grew into a producing bush, but, two years later, when Callie was running and babbling up a storm, we actually started getting coffee cherries. That must have been... what? ’67? No, it must have been ’68 by then. Those last two bushes kept trying to die on us, but for the next three years, we nursed them along, picking and hoarding the beans whenever the cherries would ripen, and, once a week, Jess and I would sit down to a cup of actual, honest-to-God coffee in the morning.
It was bitter, often burnt, and tasted like the tin cups we had in our rust-walled shack outside of Modoc, but, for those fifteen minutes each week, sitting and talking with Jess while Callie fingerpainted her way through whatever we were feeding her for breakfast, I swear I felt like something right out of a Vault-Tec ad.
Of course, those bushes are ash now, just like everything else.
Still, nice to have something approaching coffee again.
After breaking camp, I headed east again on the 164, crossing over the old California/Nevada state line again and then some railroad tracks -- maybe the same tracks I’d been following when I left the NCRCF? -- after which the road started to curve up and lead through some rocky hills, with cliffs on both sides.
I always get nervous when I’m surrounded by high ground; I start to feel like the proverbial fish in a barrel.
For the last half hour or so, the road’s been cut deeply enough into the rock that curves basically create blindspots on all sides. It’s getting a little close in here -- I’ll be glad when it opens up again.
Huh. Look at that. There’s a jackknifed truck spread across the road, along with some other wrecked cars and... that’s odd... orange traffic cones? Who set those up?
There might still be some salvage in the truck -- you’d guess everything on main roads would have been picked clean decades ago, but sometimes you’ll still find caches left by caravaners or raiders in truck cabs.
Of course, sometimes the owners are still there. ED-E, are you picking up any movement or heat signatures in the truck?
<<UserID:Webb>> Good. Still, doesn’t mean that the coast is clear. Let’s go get a closer look, see if there’s anything decent inside. Be carefu-
*Sound of impact, echoing gunshots, and sparks hissing.*
<<UserID:Webb>> *Expletive Deleted*
Get in the trailer! Go!
*Gunshots continue. Sounds of running footsteps, followed by a grunt and glass tinkling.*
Ugh, think I landed on some bottles... ED-E! Move it!
Jesus, that was close. Damn damn damn damn. They’re on both ridges.
Must be Vipers. Jackals couldn’t hit anything from that distance... or come up with a decent ambush like this.
*Expletive Deleted* Vipers... Okay, Webb, think.
Better cover from the south than the north, so let’s see if we can at least clear the north ridge before they get into position to pour fire right down onto us.
*Two loud shots, followed by the whistle of a ricochet.*
Gah! Why the hell can’t I hit anything?
<<UserID:Webb>> THAT WAS RHETORICAL, YOU *Expletives Deleted* EYEBALL!
Hah! Got him! That’s right, tumble on down, you bastard!
Okay, ED-E, I need covering fire while I move up to that next car. Your lasers still online?
<<UserID:Webb>> Right. I want to see those cliffs on fire, okay? Now!
*Running footsteps, gunshots, and laser fire until the recording ends abruptly.*