By Den

Part 1

  I've always had a natural ability with tools and an instinctive understanding of machinery. From the fragments that I have read, the world was a far different place than it is now. Wags roamed the land, air and sea. With so much machinery, I can only assume that people with talents like mine were quite common. Now, in post nuke America, better known as Deathlands, most people are too busy with the basics of survival to bother trying to repair what very little machinery remains. I grew up with my two brothers, both strong and extremely talented with weapons. It is because of my brothers that my talent for machinery was allowed to grow.
  We lived in a log cabin, far from any Ville's or Baronies. My name is Volun, the names of my two older brothers are Elan and Sanford. About a half a days walk from our home lie some pre dark ruins. It is there where I learned my skills, for years I would scavage the ruins for machinery, and any scraps of knowledge on how to maintain it. My brothers took care of the hunting and other chores giving me the necessary time to increase my knowledge. One of my first major achievements was when I got a wag working. This was a great help to me as it allowed me to transport the tools and machinery I found from the ruins to my home. I always went armed on my visits, my weapons were a 9mm glock 17 handgun, a Rugar mini 14 rifle with a 30 shot clip, plus two spares, and a kabar fighting knife.
  The ruins had many dangers, from falling debris to muties, both human and animal. Of the human mutants, the worse were the stickies, if you are a resident of Deathlands you already know more than you would like about the Stickies. Fortunately, the Stickies were not very numerous. The same could not be said for the mutie rats, which were the size of dogs. The rats were smart, vicious, and, unlike the Stickies, numerous. One of my best finds was a portable generator. I was just pulling it out from a (surprise, surprise)collapsed building, when from around the corner I heard the sound of small rocks being disturbed, followed by a rather harmless sounding "peeeep". I unslung my mini 14, jacked a round into the chamber and cautiously peered around the corner. I was greeted by a wall of beady red eyes. There were 15 -20 of them, ranging in size from a terrier to a German shepard. Their fur was matted and dirty. There were patches of fur missing, and a host of vermin covered them. The largest rat, who appeared to be the leader, hissed. I began to back away slowly, hoping to avoid a potentially fatal confrontation. The lead rat snarled and began to advance, his brethren following behind me. I immediately shot the lead rat, a small red spot appearing right between his eyes. I backed away as fast as I could, discharging the rest of my magazine into the pack. I was saved by two things, the noise from my rifle startled the pack, giving me time to gain some distance, the other thing that saved me was that the sight of blood and the thrashing of the wounded muties drove the others into a frenzy,as soon as a rat took a round, its brethren would attack and begin to devour it. When the Mini 14 ran out of ammo there was no time to reload, I turned and ran, there was only about 100 feet left to the wag; normally a very short distance, with death behind, an eternity away. I made it to the wag, fortunately there was only one mutie rat behind me, the others were either dead, wounded, or eating one of its less fortunate mates. I realized that I would not be able to get into the wag before the mutie reached me, so I dropped the Mini 14, drew my Glock and fired. My first shot missed, in spite of the fact that the rat was very close. The rat halted its charge and stood up on its hind legs. Standing up it was almost at eye level, its breath smelled of garbage and rotting corpses. I was about to hand it a ticket on the last train to the coast, when it reached out and grabbed my blaster from my hand! For a second I thought that I would be the one to get chilled. If the damn thing was smart enough to grab my blaster, it was not hard for me to imagine it shooting me with it. The mutie did not reverse its grip on my blaster, it held onto the Glock by the barrel while I stared into it's hate filled, close set red eyes. I don't know how long we stared at each other, time seemed to stand still. The standoff was suddenly, violently broken when the rat dropped my blaster. At the same time as my blaster hit the ground, I drew my Kabar. The mutie snarled and lunged at me, its six inch fangs going for my throat. I twisted aside, at the same time punching straight out, knife held point down and blade facing outwards. I was hoping to cut it's throat but the rat dropped his head and my blade merely sliced the top of his nose. The mutie squealed in rage, the wound was painful, but by no means fatal. The advantage was with the Mutie, If I did not win quickly, the other Muties would soon finish dining on their dead brethren, and I would be the one heading for the coast. The wag was right behind me, but to turn away, even for a second, would undoubtedly prove fatal, two angry red eyes watched everything I did. Once again we stood facing each other, the rat still on it's hind legs. I stood in a slight crouch, left foot slightly ahead of my right. This time I made the first move, bringing the Kabar up in a circular motion to again slash at the Muties throat. It reared back, as I had hoped it would, and I continued my motion, circling downward and twisting my wrist so that the blade pointed outwards. As the Rat reared it's head back, it's body came closer, meeting my blade point first right below the sternum. I jerked out the knife and the rat fell down, convulsed, and died. I looked towards the other muties, and saw that I had an audience. The surviving rats had paused from eating their brothers to watch the fun. Some resumed their feast, but others began to slowly creep forward, while emitting an ominous hissing sound. I threw the Mini 14 into the wag and retrieved my glock. I wasted no time getting my ass into the wag; as soon as I slammed the door shut, the muties lost their caution and charged. The wag, for once, started on the first turn, and I was home free. Looking in the rear view mirror I saw that some of the rats were following me, so I decided to give them a little gift. From under the seat I pulled out one of my brother Elans inventions, a home made gren. In deathlands, grens are very rare, almost to the point of nonexistence. Elans grens aren't as useful as the pre dark variety, where all you have to do is pull a pin to arm it. Elans are simpler, just a steel can with a fuse sticking out. this one was a frag variety, it had bits of metal mixed in with the powder. The fuse lit with a satisfying hiss, and 5 seconds after I tossed it out the window I heard a "WHUMP", followed by squeals of agony. The sun was shining, the air was clean, and my enemies were dead or in agony. It was a beautiful day.