I awoke the next day, feeling more well rested than ever. At first, I thought it was going to be difficult to be sleeping on the surface in the middle of a toxic Wasteland, but surprisingly, it wasn't all that bad. It looked like I was starting to get used to being on the surface.
After a quick breakfast of boxed cereal and a sip of bottled water, I swapped a new filter into my gas mask and decided to make a call back to base, maybe even my squad's radios to see if they're alive. I checked every one of their radio frequencies and I did not get any response obviously. Guess they had been eaten by the mutants. I made a call back to headquarters and give the report of what happened yesterday.
"HQ, come in HQ. This is Corporal William Davis of Bravo Team, anyone copy?"
A static response at first, but then, a familiar voice came onto my walkie-talkie. "William? Is that you?"
"Colonel!" I responded happily. "Man, am I glad to hear from you sir!"
"Am I glad to also hear from you, Corporal. What happened out there? We hadn't received radio contact from any of your team yet. By the way, where's the rest of your squad?"
"...They...they've been wiped out by mutants, sir." I said. "I'm the last of my squad."
Silence loomed through our broadcasts. "I'm...I'm sorry to hear that, William. Is there anything I can do to help?"
"What I can use is some backup. I mean, I think I can handle this 'search and rescue' operation on my own, but if I had some reinforcements to back me up, that could really help me out here."
"I see." Colonel Braddock said. "Where are you located exactly?"
"I'm at one of the Ranger safe houses." I explained. "It's an abandoned diner, pass the overpass tunnel on the big highway."
All of a sudden, my walkie-talkie began to crackle with a lot of static. One of the worst things I was about to experience for my first time on the surface was being left out there with radio contact. "Corporal...*bzztt*...relay what you've sai-*bzztt*...you're breaking up...I repeat, you're...*bzztt*...breaking up...relay your current positi-..."
And just like that, my walkie-talkie was no longer in use for communication now. "HQ! HQ, do you copy?" The silent crackle from my radio was all that I could here. I switched it off and put it away. "Shit..."
It looks like I was on my own at this point. Normally, I would have just sat in this diner and wait for help to arrive, but I rather not risk running out of food and water, or worse, oxygen as I wait for help. Not to mention that Anya is still out there and I have to get her back to the Underground safe and sound.
Putting back on my gas mask, I restocked on some ammo left in the meat locker before stepping back out into the wasteland of the Dead City. There were a few more safe houses around the area, and I know that Anya has to be at one of them. Hopefully she would still be alive by the time I find her.
The first few hours into the city were pretty normal. So far, I had not run into any of the mutants, or even the raiders. I can probably guess why the raiders wouldn't show up with the recent appearances of the radioactive rain storms in the spring time. You want to know what it's like up here during the spring season. Surprisingly, it isn't really all that bad.
The temperature is fairly cool like how the spring season should feel like. There was also a gentle wind, like the one I used to feel before the bombs fell. Yet, it was saddening that none of that really exists back at the Underground. Sure, we had some weather machine that gives us rain, wind, and snow, but it all wasn't the same. The even sadder part is that I couldn't really feel for most of these things myself. I mean, how can you really feel for the wind when you've got a gas mask over your face, or the rain when it can kill you with radiation poisoning.
Anyway, I had one of the first three safe houses in the area: an abandoned bank. It was completely exposed to the toxic environment, but the bank vault wasn't. I checked inside the vault to see if Anya, or any recording was there. None; completely empty.
The next safe house I went to explore was somewhere deep in an abandoned library. Aside from the damaged books and the supplies left behind for the Rangers, there was still no trace of Anya. Again, I set off into the wasteland and began to find the next safe house, which was at another abandoned apartment.
Along the way to the apartment, I heard something that seemed to be like a quiet whining noise, almost as if it were a dog. My first thought that it was a mutant, so I had my gun up and ready. The noise was coming from behind an alley.
As I got closer to the alley, the whining got louder. I then realized that the whine was a bit softer and younger sounding, assuming that this mutant was a youngling. Turning around the corner, I was right. It was a baby mutant, or in a dog terms, it was a puppy.
The baby mutant had one of its legs trapped in a bear trap, one of the common traps raiders use. My first reaction was that if it saw me, I was afraid that it would attack me, but it didn't. When it saw me, it just simply looked up at me and whined painfully. It needed help.
In this situation, I would have most likely left it alone since it was a mutant that can kill. But this thing was only just a baby and it needed help to be freed from the trap. You can say that I felt sorry for that thing, even if one of its parents or brethren possibly wiped out my entire team. I set down my gun on the floor beside me and knelt down beside the mutant. I put both of my hands on the bear trap and pried it away from the mutant. The mutant gave a pained whimper as it limped out of the trap. The moment it was out, I released the bear trap and it clamped back into position.
I got my gun back into my hands and aimed it at the baby mutant just in case it decided to attack me. But it just stood there, staring at me in curiosity. At this age, mutants like this one are supposed to be vicious like their parents. Yet, this baby mutant wouldn't attack me after what I did to help him out of that bear trap.
Knowing that he wouldn't attack me, I lowered my gun and it all of a sudden immediately ran up to me. I was frightened, thinking that it was going to attack me. My breathing grew quicker from fear and sweat was beginning to form around my forehead. The vision on my mask began to fog. I waited for a few painful seconds, waiting for it to just attack me. But what it did next surprised me.
The mutant snuggled up against my leg like it was a kitten. I knelt there, nervously, but eventually, I relaxed and gave the mutant a pat. It looked like I just gained a new friend out here in the Wasteland.
"Heh, good...boy?" I smiled nervously.
The tiny mutant then used its little teeth to grab hold of my khaki pants and gently pull me. It looked like he wanted to follow me somewhere. I was afraid he was going to lead me into a trap, but it looked like this little mutant was a bit smarter than I was. So, I decided to follow him.
"Alright...I'll follow you, I guess."
So I tagged along with the baby mutant, seeing where he would lead me to. After having to climb through piles of rubble and circling around pockets of radiation, the mutant had led me to the last ranger safe house in the area. It was another apartment building. The mutant urged me to open the door to the apartment, and so I did. It guided me to the room of where the Rangers had set up the safe house; a room on the third floor.
I turned the door knob, only to find it locked in place. "Damn, the door's lock. How am I going to get in now?"
I looked around the hallway to see if there was any other way to gain entry into the apartment room. Looking above the locked door, I spotted a small air vent that could possibly lead into the room. It was way too small for me to fit in, but it looks like it was someplace that my little mutant friend could fit in.
"Hey buddy," I whispered. The mutant looked at me, tilting his head in confusion. "I need your help to get me into the room. Think you can climb in that air vent and unlock the door for me?"
I waited for the mutant to respond, and just like that, he gave a slow nod. Looks like this thing was smarter than I thought it would be. "Alright," I reached up and pulled away the metal grate from the air vent. I let the mutant climb into my hands and raised him into the open air vent. He jumped into the air vent a disappeared for only five seconds when I heard the door lock click.
I pushed open the door and saw the mutant was sitting there, panting like a dog. "Good boy...or girl...or...whatever." I knelt down and pat it on the head. The little mutant seemed to give a content smile as it wagged its long tail. I reached into my bag and pulled out an energy bar for the mutant. "Here's a treat for what you've done for me."
The mutant took a bite of the energy bar before it was all over it. I gave a light laugh. "Now you stay right there and enjoy your treat. I'm going to look around the safe house for my friend."
I began searching around the apartment room to see if Anya was here before. I searched the dining room, the bathroom, the living room, and the bedrooms, there was still no sign of her. There was one last bedroom to check, so I was positive that she was here beforehand. I opened the door and gave a quick peek inside. Nothing, until I saw a tape recorder sitting on the nightstand at the corner of my eye.
Yes! Anya was here!
I went over to the nightstand and played the recording, sitting down at the bed as the recorder gave off some static before Anya's sweet, angelic voice came onto the speakers.
"Is this thing on...okay, looks like it is. What a trip...I had to skip the first two safe houses in order to get to this one. I'm so close to reaching my goal."
Goal? What's Anya talking about? I continued listening.
"By tomorrow morning, I should arrive at Bunker 13 and find out more about where my parents worked at. At long last, I'll finally be able to finish the work they hoped to finish before the war started. Soon, we won't have to start living down a hole in the ground for the rest of our lives, nor do we have to wear a gas mask any time we step out onto the surface.
"To anyone who finds this message, I ask that you do not find me. You have to understand that I'm doing this for the sake of humanity. Please do not risk your lives any further to find me. I'll be alright. And William...oh, William..."
My ears perked up as I heard her say my name.
"If you're somehow listening to this, I just want to say...I'm sorry. I'm sorry for breaking your promise of meeting behind the bakery. I would have told you what I was up to, but I didn't want you to worry. I hope...I hope that you'll forgive me one day. Goodbye."
The recording ended and I sat there in silence. A lot of things were now going through my mind now: what the hell was she up to? Finishing her parents work? What the heck was she doing that would make her leave the Underground like that?
But on the bright side, I at least knew where Anya had gone to. I got up from the bed and armed my automatic carbine. Here I come, Bunker 13.
I stepped back out into the Dead, my destination now set to Bunker 13, one of the many bunkers that were used to shelter some of the city's population during the Great War. Now that I have Anya's location, I can finally get some answers on why she left the Underground like that.
Bunker 13 was just about a five hour walk from here. I should be able to make it there before nightfall. But before I left for Bunker 13, I think it was about time I'd say goodbye to my mutant friend.
"Alright, pal, this is where we go our separate ways." I said. The mutant gave a whimper. "I can't bring you along, kid. You're going to have to go your own way to look for your mom and dad."
I reached for another energy bar in my pocket and handed it to the baby mutant. "Maybe we'll see each other again someday, until then, good luck out there in this wasteland kid. And, uh, make sure you don't eat any of us the next time you see us, okay?"
The mutant happily took the energy bar in its mouth and limped out of sight. I smiled and shook my head. "I'll take that as a yes." With that, I set off north towards Bunker 13. Time to get some answers.
The sun was down by the time I made it where Bunker 13 would be located. I had been traveling for over five and a half hours now. During my travel to the bunker, I had to swap one new gas mask filter for my mask since the one I used for today easily burned out after a while.
All around me was pitch black that I had to already start using my headlamp. I knew that if I didn't make it to Bunker 13 right now, I'd become a midnight snack for a mutant. Turns out I was right about that. All of a sudden, an eerie howl came to my ears as I knew that was the sound of mutants nearby. Now, I was in the dung.
I made a run for it. Bunker 13 should be just around here somewhere. I kept on running until I heard the sound of heavy paws chasing me. The mutants were right behind me. Turning around the corner, I saw a large escalator leading down to a metro station. Bunker 13 was right there! Salvation!
I ran down the escalator and began pounding at the airlock door leading into the metro station. "Hey! Hey, open up here! Open the damn door!"
A voice on the intercom spoke back. "What the...holy shit! Someone's outside the airlock doors! Hey, hey! Stay right there, we're getting the door open!"
"Hurry!" I yelled, the sound of the mutants howling got louder.
I raised my gun up to the darkness and saw dozens and dozens of yellow eyes staring down at me. The airlock doors were beginning to open up, but slowly. The mutants charged down to me as I took aim through the scope of my gun and opened fire. The bullets didn't seem to affect the mutants as I was all of a sudden thrown to the ground by one of the mutants. It pinned me to the ground and my gun sprawled right through the open doorway. I held the mutant's snapping jaws away from me and reached down for my sawed-off shotgun, getting ready to blow its brains out when a familiar, tiny howl came to my ears. At once, the mutant stopped trying to eat me as it backed away with the rest of the mutants. As I got up to my feet, the same baby mutant I had rescued earlier came ran through the entire pack of mutants and stood right in front of them, as if it wanted to protect me.
I would never understand a thing what that mutant said, but whatever it said to those adult mutants immediately made them stand down from attacking me. As one last token of gesture, the mutant once more snuggled up against my leg as I stood there nervously, the mutants still glaring at me.
Slowly, I reached into my pockets for another energy bar. I opened up the wrapper and handed the sweet, nutritious treat to it. It took it with its tiny teeth and ate the energy bar in front of the pack. As it finished, it snuggled up at me once more and I gave it a gentle pat on the head.
Finally, the mutants were convinced that I was no harm at all and there was no other reason to try and tear me apart for a midnight snack. The mutant who attacked me earlier, who I presumed was the baby's mother, called her child back and the baby climbed onto her back and nestled there. Before leaving, the mother glared at me one last time before turning her back with the pack and left Bunker 13. I guess that was her way of thanking me for looking out for her child, or maybe it was a way to say that I got off lucky this time.
By the time I looked back, I saw that the doors of Bunker 13 had opened and the Underground Rangers stationed there were standing there, armed with assault rifles and flame throwers. They all looked very surprised of what they had seen.
"Dude..." one of the Rangers began. "How did you do that?"
"You can say that I made a friend out here." I said, smiling exhaustedly through my mask. "Now, can I please come in?"