Heading back towards the Deathclaws isn’t actually any kind of problem, as I can stay in the water and hug the coastline until they’re out of sight. As soon as I emerge onto the shoreline, the temptation to get into more trouble appears: a huge asylum, replete with unnecessarily sinister statues stuck to its walls.
This is getting comical now. I’m no more than a couple of minutes further South than the largely menace-free road I walked not so long ago, but I’m nonetheless repeatedly running into intruiging or deadly things that are keeping me from my own true goal – getting back to my near-dead Power Armour and continuing with my voyage around the world. I’m feeling fairly annoyed by my long diversion, as all I’ve really gained from it is some poor monster’s severed hand.
With a heavy heart I start to stride through the asylum gates, before being challenged by a mercenary. My PipBoy tells me that he’s pretty damn tough, and also that, technically speaking, walking through the asylum would not be the most direct route ‘home’ anyway.
Exploring an inland asylum no doubt means all sorts of spooky and somewhat tasteless thrills, but going around the world it is not. Plus I’m not exactly resplendent with ammunition, have no power armour and am in any case becoming quite accustomed to cowardice. Have it your way, mysterious mercs.
I creep around the periphery, and wind up close to the shattered bridge I’ve passed by various sides of twice already. At which point I am set upon by yet another Deathclaw.
Oh come on! What did I ever do to you guys? Apart from briefly steal one of your eggs and then start wearing one of your chums’ hands as a glove. And I did fire that one rocket into your mum’s face…
Fortunately, there was enough distance between me and my latest beclawed nemesis that I’m able to clamber onto a section of the bridge then drop safely off the other side, then disappear into the undergrowth before the thing can get a bead on me.
I then narrowly dodge an entanglement with a suprisingly fearsome-looking insect, before stumbling across what appears to be some huge mining operation.
A quick survey from the safety of stealth suggests tons of raiders and tons of turrets, plus it’s very much in the wrong direction. A strange, cubist concrete structure just beyond it is not, however.
My geiger counter goes crazy as soon as I approach the angular tunnel leading into this odd building’s apparent centre. I can see, ooh, tripwires, promixity mines, sticky bombs, explosive barrels, radioactive barrels and a machine gun turret down there too. That short grey corridor would be the deadliest 50 metres of my life. Which means there’s got to be something worth defending at the end of it. If there were obvious enemies here, I’d run at this point. But the environment is Michael Radiatin’s speciality. I’m going in.
For once, it’s a challenge well within my skillset. I neck some rad-blocking meds, stick a sackcloth gasmask over my face and creep in, disabling the traps one by one then taking out the turret with a few laser blasts before it realises I’m there. The rads have taken a fairly heavy toll on me, but it’s nothing I can’t sort out, thanks to all these magic wasteland drugs. I just have to hope that this doesn’t go on too long.
It doesn’t. Inside, I find a bed with a corpse on it – in my experience, at least 60% of beds out here have corpses on them, and I’m so numb to it that I just lie right down next to the body to grab some much-needed pillowtime myself. Hey, company is company.
Rooting around the dead guy’s irradiated squat, I find a chemical crafting station which I knock up a few meds with, some bits of ammo, a chest I can’t find a key for and HOLY OF HOLIES I CAN’T BELIEVE IT a hazmat suit.
In other words, the best radiation protection you can get. Paired with my recently-acquired ability to swim in even the most toxic of waters, this means that no road is closed to me. I have become a true globe-trotter at last.
I just need to get back to the Museum of Witchcraft and my poor old power armour, and then this whole journey really can begin in earnest. Watch out, the outer limits: I’m coming for you.