Memories of My Time in the Rangers
Memories of My Time in the Rangers
Background[edit | edit source]
A ring binder containing a few sheets of three hole paper. It looks and smells like the text was printed using a Ditto machine.
Locations[edit | edit source]
- Ranger Citadel: The bookcase in General Vargas' office (parts 1 and 2), the bookcase in the Museum (part 3).
Transcript[edit | edit source]
Part 1[edit | edit source]
By General S. Vargas
Ranger Simak has asked me to write down my memories of how I joined the rangers and what it was like fighting our battle against the robots of Base Cochise. Can't say I see the point. He's already got all the details written down in his official history. Why do I need to rehash a story I've already told a hundred times before?
I have to admit, though, there are some things history books don't tell you. The little things in between the big things. That's where real life happens. Not in a damn history book.
All right, Simak. You talked me into it. Here goes.
Chapter One - Home Town Hero
This may surprise some folks, I suppose, but not all us rangers are the descendants of the original rangers. In fact, there's less and less ""hereditary"" rangers every year.
For instance, I grew up in a little town not too far south of the old Ranger Center. It was a mostly Hispanic community, all farmers and sheep herders, and so isolated from the rest of the wastes that I didn't hear English spoken until I was ten.
I was a golden boy back home. Not for the gun-skills I've since grown famous for - I didn't have those yet - but for my talents as a medic, which I learned at my mother's knee, she being the only doctor in town. I learned a heck of a lot more about patching up bullet wounds once I joined the rangers, but even back then I knew enough meatball surgery that I was always picked to come along on scavenging and hunting trips in case of accident or attack.
For a long time, our little town was a pretty peaceful little place, but then one day, a band of raiders found us and decided that what was ours should be theirs. They surrounded us and demanded we give them every last bit of our salvage and our livestock - and our children. When we refused, they came in, guns blazing. Our people were cut down like tall grass, and I was planning to go die bravely with all the rest. My mother, however, had other plans, and chewed me out royally, saying that staying and dying was selfish heroism, when we could save lives by rescuing others and leaving.
So we gathered as many kids as we could find and escaped with them and a few other adults. It felt strange to be running, like cowardice, but if we'd stayed and fought, we would have died and those kids would have become slaves, so I did my best not to feel guilty.
But the guilt hit hard once we got those kids to the next town and my mother died. Turned out she'd been hiding a gunshot wound the whole time. I think I must have gone crazy with rage after that. The problem was, I didn't know who I was mad at: my mother, for hiding the wound, myself, for not seeing that she was hurt, the kids we'd rescued, for slowing us down, or the raiders who'd shot us in the first place. In the end I decided the raiders would be the easiest to take revenge on, so I set out with some of the other survivors to hunt them down.
It was while me and old Joe-Thomas, Pops, and Suzy were tracking those raiders that I acquired my old nickname, Snake. I could tell you how. But I won't. A man's gotta have some secrets, particularly when the story isn't as interesting as the name.
Anyway, we didn't stay together very long after we'd found the raiders and blown them all to kingdom come. There just hadn't been much of anything keeping us together except our fixation on revenge, and when that went away, we each went our separate ways. Me, I drifted for a while, thinking I'd do one thing, then thinking I'd do another, but it gnawed at me that my revenge on those rangers hadn't given me satisfaction. My town was still gone, my mother was still dead, and I was still lost, and I decided - in my youthful naiveté - that maybe what I needed to do was kill more raiders. And the best way I knew to do that was to become a Desert Ranger.
Part 2[edit | edit source]
By General S. Vargas
Chapter Two - From Stranger to Ranger
I walked up to Ranger Center not knowing what to expect. It wasn't exactly an inviting looking place, which figures, what with it being a prison and all. But the rangers were friendly enough and I soon learned it wasn't too hard to become a Desert Ranger. If you could shoot, understand orders, and follow them, that was good enough, and if you could patch up wounds or drive a jeep or work a radio, even better. You got your circle-star badge and your hat right there on the spot - no questions asked. And if you later turned out to be an untrustworthy son-of-a-bitch who was using the star and the Desert Ranger name for his own personal gain, why they just shot you and that was that. Pretty much the same system we have today, now that I come to think of it.
Anyway, like I said, they welcomed me with open arms, partly because I was a good medic and a good shot, and partly because they were pretty short-handed at the time. Ha. That hasn't changed much either, has it? I guess it never does. Since the end of the world, the bad guys have always outnumbered the good, and there's never a lack of wrongs for us to right.
Training was mostly learning how to shoot people, rather than how to deal with conflicts in a peaceful manner. We didn't even learn a code of ethics to abide by. Hopefully that's changed now. Don't get me wrong, a bullet is often still the best answer to a problem, but it should always be the last as well.
I met my future squadmates pretty early in the training program, each with a sillier name than the last - Angela Deth, Hell Razor and Thrasher. Honestly, we didn't get along that well at first. I found Angela's brash manner and constant joking grating; Thrasher just seemed like an angry, ornery bull; and Hell Razor didn't seem to have any self-control at all, in combat or out.
I don't know if we would've stuck together at all if not for Sergeant Dalton, who recognized early on how well our skills meshed together. My tactics and marksmanship combined with Thrasher's toughness and brute strength, Angela's uncanny ability to smash past locks as well as hold her own in any fight, and Hell Razor's berserker combat style and desert survival skills made us into an unstoppable fighting unit - and it was that recognition that we fit together so well that I think eventually made us friends, as well as squadmates.
I thank Dalton to this day for forcing us to stay together through the rough patches at the beginning. I wish he'd lived long enough to see what we've made of ourselves now. Sadly, he died on patrol, leading another band of new recruits, just before I made captain. Damned shame.
For a while, the four of us just lived the daily grind of the desert ranger - scouting and foraging missions, patrolling our territory and checking in on the towns and farms under our protection, but then, way before we were ready, something serious came along. It started as just another patrol, making the rounds to Highpool and Ag Center, but what followed was the making of us. Though there were several times along the way that it could have been the breaking of us too.
But like I said, I'm not telling that story. You can read about that in Simak's history book. Instead, I'll tell you about what happened after.
Part 3[edit | edit source]
By General S. Vargas
Chapter Three - Walking Back and Going Forward
So, have you gone away and read Simak's history of how me, Angela Deth, Hell Razor, Thrasher and good old Ace killed all the robots, blew up Base Cochise and saved the world? Pretty exciting, huh? Good ending, too. Neat, tidy, wraps everything up in a bow. The bad guy's dead, we all live, beers and happy times all around. Well, like I promised you, I'm gonna tell you the bits that didn't make it into the history. Like how the trek back to Ranger Center nearly killed us, and how it led to us moving to our new headquarters.
We didn't really want to walk back to HQ, not after getting the crap kicked out of us by robots for a day and a half. Unfortunately, the chopper wasn't in any kind of shape to fly us back, so we really didn't have any choice. We started marching.
It wasn't easy. There were still plenty of killer robots wandering around, and plenty of other baddies who'd come snooping in the aftermath hoping to pick up some fresh salvage. Tired as we were, we had to fight through 'em all. Vax was a life-saver here, taking point in every fight and soaking up a hailstorm of bullets. Then, once we got within a stone's throw of Vegas, and he saw we were safe, he \\(it?\\) turned around and walked into the desert and we never saw him again. Damned shame. Only robot I ever liked.
In Vegas we rested and restocked at Faran Brygo's place. He welcomed us with open arms, and why shouldn't he have? Now that we'd taken care of his cyborg problem for him, the last real obstacle to him crowning himself King of Vegas was gone. We'd smoothed the road for him, and he was grateful. At the same time, even as we rested and celebrated with him and his men, it was clear that we would eventually come into conflict, what us being on opposite sides of the law and all. Still, he wished us well when we left for Needles, and I think he meant it.
Everywhere on the road we saw signs of the wasteland's continuing struggle with the robots and mutants that had brought us north. People think the rangers blew up Base Cochise and that was that, but a hundred anonymous struggles followed - traveling merchants fighting refugee mutants from Darwin Village, the police in Needles fighting cyborgs, even raiders fought these threats. It took years and years, but added together, all these minor skirmishes made the wastes the relatively safe place they are today.
A few days on, we passed by Guardian Citadel, and had a look in to see what was worth looting. I don't remember which one of us first came up with the idea of taking it over. Maybe Ace, but who knows. It seems like a pretty obvious idea, looking back at it. It was secure, self-sustaining and well-stocked, and a damn sight more comfortable than the old prison. What more could a ranger want?
Our return home was not exactly the beer and sausages affair you might have expected. I won't deny our destruction of the Base Cochise was key winning the robot war, but as I said before, it was far from the only battle in that war. Nor were the robots the only threat we were facing at that time. There were also Finster's mutant nightmares, some of which had actually managed to breach the walls of Ranger Center, leaving many of our brave brothers and sisters dead, so it was a pretty sober homecoming.
It also seemed to me like proof that the rangers urgently needed to move to a more secure location, and so I went to General Surgrue and told him of Ace's idea to move into the Guardian Citadel. Unfortunately, though he was a good man, and a solid, dependable leader, he was not exactly a visionary, and though I did my best to point out all the advantages of the plan, he refused, saying the times were too unstable, and a hasty move was too risky.
Angela, Ace and I kicked up a ruckus like the young hot-heads we were, but the old man wouldn't budge, and so did the rangers. Finally, however, time and age did what youth and impatience could not, and General Surgrue retired.
In the meantime, I'd been climbing the ranks and taking on more and more responsibility, and when he finally stepped down, I stepped in to take his place. We treated the old man with the respect he was due, but didn't wait too long before organizing a move to what is now Ranger Citadel. And I don't think anyone can question the decision now that we're here. We are now more secure, better positioned and stronger than we ever were before.
Okay, Simak, I'm done. It might have been boring. There may not have been enough fighting, but that's what real life is like. It might not be interesting, but there's always more to a story than just "they won and then moved to a new home."