Tonight, I was hunting. Hunting for any traces of serums I could purchase to make my life traversing the Wasteland just that much easier. Hunting for convenience. For help.
When I found the first trap camp, the first unmarked one I had ever encountered, I was only mildly suspicious. But, I reasoned, in two years of playing I've never seen one. Why would this be any different? And then I saw them, through the haze of a smoke machine and a tiny, cramped hallway. Four Slocum's Joe vendors, tempting me. Taunting me, with their shiny donuts spinning above their clean, honest-looking heads. Their jaunty tunes telling me all is well and right, and that I can do this.
I could not.
I died, alone and disappointed with myself, with you, with the entire Wasteland.
I respawned. But you already had my junk.
You appeared through the smoke, sending me emotes of hearts, beckoning me forwards into what I now knew was a hallway hiding stacks upon stacks of punji boards in the walls. You tried to lure me, not realizing I had already fallen to them. I knew you had my junk, and that I would not be getting it back. So I left, to continue my search elsewhere.
I entered the second camp to find a similar scene. Four Slocum's Joe vendors at the end of TWO cramped hallways this time. I knew what to look for now, the telltale edges of punji stacks clipping through the walls, not entirely obscured by the smoke machines. I took the one that didn't have a blind corner, slamming stimpak after stimpak through my armor and jumping, until I was fortunate enough to land on the counter of one of the vendors.
I had done it! I had avoided the other punji boards and flamethrowers placed to kill those lucky enough make it past the hallways. I had conquered the trap camp, and I would have my rewards. I was promised cheap items, or rare ones, or both.
But your vendors were packed with overpriced, common items. Bulked out with garbage to make those like myself assume there would be something to gain from making the attempt.
I won't lie. I was put out. So, I did what I could from atop the vendors. As you both ran around behind me trying to lay more traps, I waved. I waved, and I set off your flamethrowers to destroy your own punji boards, and I laughed. I laughed, and I waited. And finally.
I decided to plug in my mic.
You left your party chat when you saw my screenname light up that I was speaking. I wasn't though. I was still laughing.
You spoke to me first, and I responded. It was obvious we didn't know what to think of each other. Would I be angry you tricked me? Would be angry that I outmaneuvered you?
Oddly enough, neither of us were angry. You admitted you simply enjoy trolling people, and I gently suggested you at least put something worth buying at a decent price in your vendors. Please.
You were nicer than I expected, and asked me to follow you upstairs when I said I was heading out to continue my search for serums. I was… skeptical, to say the least. But we had talked for a bit, and you seemed ok. So, I followed.
You led me to your chemistry bench, and asked which serums I was looking for. "Herd Mentality." I replied. "Two. My friend and I both want to use it."
You crafted me the two serums and dropped them at my feet, asking if I was sure that was all I needed. You could craft all of them. Just let you know if there was anything else. I thanked you, but there was nothing else. My search was complete.
And I left with a little bit more faith in the Wasteland. Even the ugly parts.
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