If you’re new to Death in Fire, go check out Part 1. Otherwise, welcome back to my band of merry Black Mesa-ians!
Week 1 Recap
Randy Random smiled upon Black Mesa last week. We resisted three raids from the vile and primitive Gray Cliff People (GCP), survived a heat wave, and even managed to store some food for times of less-than-plenty. Our humble five-room shelter is no resort, but the sandy floors and wood walls elicit a certain tropical charm.
Days 5, 6, and 7 all saw GCP raids, escalating from one peg-legged bum-rusher to three hooligans sporting spears and bows. So far, we’ve thrown them back every time and taken only a few bruises along the way.
The second week begins with hope! The heatwave, which never passed 102°F, buckled back into balmy Spring. We have five days left before Summer, though seasons have less meaning because we were fortunate enough to crash in a region with year-round farming. The trade-off was beaches and almost no natural defenses. Sometimes, you crash-land into a canyon or near a mountain pass, something with defensible choke-points, but no such luck.
But the year-round farming is critical because of the near lack of wildlife that isn’t elephants, squirrels, or boomrats. Squirrels are not worth the trouble. Boomrats have scarcely more meat and literally explode when they die. As for elephants, I have one survival rifle and a pistol wielded by someone with “basic awareness” of firearms, so live long and prosper, my 8,000-pound, tusked friends.
On this morning, however, a thrumbo shows up, which is, as far as I can tell, the result of some asshole geneticist crossbreeding a rhinoceros and a yeti.
Thrumbo are peaceful until you give them a reason to be otherwise. Or at least I assume so. I’ve never messed with thrumbo and I’m not about to start. You can kill them and sell their horn and possibly their fur for all the monies. Judging by its stats, it’s also possible to “train” it, but good luck trying to feed that thing and Ko and Doyle have nowhere enough Handling expertise to pull it off anyway. Sadly, the words “Unleash the thrumbo” will never pass their lips.
Also, Thrumbo may be immune to even Emmie the former sex slave’s charms, but Ko isn’t. Ko researches while Emmie cooks breakfast, then he crashes and burns.
These sand floors are an embarrassment, so I allow Tetsuya and Doyle to continue cannibalizing a nearby derelict marble structure, which Emmie will then carve into stone blocks. Fret not, everyone not named Tetsuya (who won’t haul stuff because he’s part cat) will help Emmie carry the heavy stone, but she’s the only one qualified enough to turn ore into beautiful polished blocks. I say “will help” because the delicate intricacies of stone cutting are still unknown to us, courtesy of my failure to commit to research early, but such is life on the supple beaches of Black Mesa.
It isn’t easy for me to say this, but… we… could… probably… go… vegetarian with the year-round farming season. There’s only two reasons to bother with hunting: diversification and volume. Crops burn, they die from disease, a super volcano might erupt and throw the planet into two or three seasons of volcanic winter, killing everything not under our roof. More food is better than less food, and different types mean we’re less vulnerable to Randy Random’s chaotic-neutral good graces.
So, we continue to hunt, and not just because I’m a murdering meat-eater. The good news is Ko has ascended to a 5 in Shooting, making him a “Strong Amateur.” 8 is “professional,” but I think emus fall within his meager capabilities. Ko proves me right and downs an emu in one shot. This is a cause for celebration. What is a cause for concern, however, are Doyle and Tetsuya, who are both pretty much useless in a firefight.
So, the day continues with Tetsuya researching how to shape rocks with pieces of metal like some kind of neanderthal and Emmie cooking. Tetsuya even manages to restrain his testosterone, thereby undermining my awesome “Tetstostuya” joke.
Then this happens!
Oh, neat. Some random stranger named Stella wants to join us out of the wilderness. Depressive AND abrasive? You’re really selling me there, Randy. How about you go hit up the GCP? I hear they are discovering fire soon. Us? Oh, no big deal…we’re on the cusp of breakthrough into stone cutting. Much more advanced, no big deal. Really just a fringe benefit of our epic intellect.
We send Stella on her way to ply her depressive trade elsewhere, even if I’m curious to see how “abrasive” and “empath” combine.
Ugh, are we still on Day 8? Time to get serious about floors. Even better, let’s declare war on floors, starting with sterile tile for the med bay. Sterile tile floors are awesome because they prevent opportunistic infection when treating wounds. Sterile tile floors suck because they require both silver and steel to create, and silver also serves as currency when not relegated to bacteria-slaying.
RAID! Again. GCP. The raids are distracting than threatening and they’re disrupting my colonists’ bedtime. This is our fourth raid in as many days. Get a life, GCP! Where’s William Shatner when I need him?
Two raiders: Priscilla and Stinkbug. Priscilla is apparently the new chief since we killed Val, the previous chief, before looting his primitive corpse for his parka during the first week. Stinkbug is an unfortunate name, but the GCP are an unfortunate people.
I send everyone but Emmie, who is literally “incapable of violence.” Doyle is a terrible shooter, but I figure his “basic awareness” of firearms (2) is still better his amateur (4) melee skills. Tetsuya carries his plasteel knife in case they get too close. The violent primitive known as Stinkbug takes four gunshot wounds and dies almost immediately; Priscilla the Chief flees like a whipped cur.
Doyle buries Stinkbug before she literally starts to stink. The graves number three now, and I know there’s more on the way.
The sun rises, my colonists stir and stretch, ready to embrace the promise of a new–
RAID. M$#$f*!king son of a b#$*%. Four raiders this time from everyone’s favorite party animals, the GCP.
Our fifth raid in five days ends with two dead GCP villains and the last two fleeing for their miserable, wind-blown lives, but not without a price. Doyle lies on the ground, unconscious and unmoving, with one arrow buried in his torso and another in his leg. Given our surplus of medicine, it just means some downtime and some of Ko’s medical TLC (not THC, even though Ko is also an “herbalist” by trade). No biggie. Or at least, no biggie until I investigate a little further:
HOW DOES AN ARROW SEVER AN ARM? It’s not like opportunistic infection or some complication claimed her arm — she had one less appendage when she left the battlefield than when she entered it.
Ko applies her tender trade and bandages Doyle and doses her with antibiotics. Infection is a real threat in this game, which is why I totally meant to finish the sterile floors sometime last week. Alas, we’re still trying to polish the natural stone floors in the common room, so Doyle gets the treatment in his bedroom with the sand and the ticks and Odin knows what else.
Now, you may be asking yourself, “If I lived at Black Mesa, what would I do after our master builder loses her arm in the fifth consecutive day of raids?”
Why, you throw a party! Tetsuya announces an impromptu party, presumably in celebration of the arm that’s still attached to Doyle’s body. At least no one tries to slip Emmie a roofie, which wouldn’t work anyway since we are lacking key beer technology and my cheap ass won’t buy any with our paltry silver reserves. I will, however, drink an actual beer while I watch my colonists throw a dry party for their dry lives, but only because I sympathize.
The party ends as night falls. My colonists all seem to understand their roles now and dive back into work without me micromanaging them. Ko harvests our rice and potatoes. Emmie hauls them to storage and starts cooking. Tetsuya and Doyle work on the floors. It’s a moment of kismet after five days of heat, sweat, and blood.
It occurs to me that Emmie is the only one without a bedroom. She sleeps in the common room, also known as the living-dining-research room.
Speaking of floors, I need more steel to finish the medbay. I decide to carve out the steel from the freezer, which will not only give me more steel, but expand my freezer space. And so I dispatch Ko, Doyle, and Tetsuya to mine it. Hours go by with little progress. More hours… you are using tools, right? Not your hands? You’re not licking the steel, are you?
Screw it, just go to bed.
Holy…no raid? The GCP took a day off, hopefully to nurse their wounds and infect themselves doing it, the filthy little buggers.
Emmie! Here, have a room. Also, have some sandbags.
Sigh. Remember when I said I suck at this stupid game? I have precisely ONE light source and it’s a freaking torch. Everyone just stumbles around in darkness after sunset, apparently.
We’re still at least another half-day away from uncovering the cyclopean forbidden knowledge of stone cutting, but we manage to finish the common room’s floors. And in the early evening hours, Tetsuya makes his move on Emmie, but apparently she’s a dog person and she rebuffs him.
Night comes and I’m thanking Loki that the GCP leaves us the hell alone, right up until the dry electro-storm hits. Dry means no rain. Electro means lightning. Incompetence means wood shelter. Do the math, because I sure as hell didn’t.
In the muzzy haze of early morning, lightning crashes and births fire. No need to panic.
It’s just a little fire and there’s a sea of sand between us and it. I can probably (DEATH) just let everyone (IN) sleep through the (FIRE) night ALL HANDS GET YOUR ASSES OUT THERE NOW DAMMIT NOW
Ko, Doyle, Tetsuya, and even Emmie stumble out of bed and put out the fire without incident. I say “even Emmie” because I briefly consider letting her sleep through it account of all the rape and beatings in her life. Then, I realize someone willing to butcher animals and make sausage doesn’t want to be babied like a princess. You da woman, Emmie. Equal work for equal pay!
So, the fire cost us nothing more than few hours of sleep. Oh, and there’s a raging inferno to our west that will most likely kill this colony in about the next 1,000 words or so.
I know, I’m alarmist, right? Sand isn’t flammable! Then again, during previous games, I assumed steel wasn’t flammable and had to be proven wrong twice because I assumed the first time was a fluke. I’m done with assumptions… so I’m assuming the sand is goddamn wood shavings.
I decide to roll the dice and let nature have its way. Absolute worst case scenario is I kill yet another colony and proceed to get my ass kicked again in Civilization VI.
Other than the nearby conflagration, the next few game hours bring good news. First, our vegetarian food stockpile of corn, potatoes, rice, and strawberries now stands 93 meals high, courtesy of the bad-ass former sex slave known as Emmie. Second, Tetsuya finally has a eureka moment on stone cutting technology. Next up: passive coolers, a cheap, green way to stay cool during the upcoming summer months of sweltering humidity.
Night falls, bringing my two best friends, fog and rain. As it turns out, sand is an effective fire barrier in this game, and I wish I could claim that’s why three-quarters of my complex still has sand floors.
My people turn in, then I catch Doyle in bedtime prayer. Thanks, Doyle, we’ll take all the help we can get…
Our morning begins with Dulce raiding our freezer for food. That’s a BAD KITTY. Go hunt a squirrel. Or can I interest you in an elephant? Sigh… Emmie butchers my last delicious alpaca and throws in some potatoes to make “kibble,” which will feed Dulce and, most importantly, muzzle my conscience.
Gotta have goals, and today our goal is a proper prison cell. The medbay/jail combo is hardly ideal, and even if I huffed enough paint to think that mixing prisoners and my wounded would be a fun experiment, the game mechanics don’t allow it. If you designate one bed for prisoners, then all the beds in that room become prisoner beds. I can even un-designate them, but if I ever have a situation where I have both wounded prisoners and wounded colonists at the same time, then I’ll have bodies to bury. And this is less bleeding heart liberal sentiment, and more practical consideration for currying favor with local hostile tribes when I return their fallen cliff dwellers.
We have visitors! A group of five from the Family’s Desert. No problem; families are always welcome at Black Mesa, my friends. Sadly, I have no guest beds, so I dispatch Doyle, my one-armed master builder, to throw a couple beds together. My one-armed wonder finds a way.
I’m planning the creation of a guest room when a sudden BOOM interrupts me. Bzzzt! says the notification, telling me a wire shorted in the freezer and discharged all of the energy stored in my battery. My food is burning and, even worse, Dulce is nowhere near it.
And guess who’s first to respond? Emmie, my chef, my stone carver, my firewoman. She squelches the fire and my guests don’t even seem to notice. We have two hastily made guest beds, and one sleeps on the half-finished floor in the med bay. At least he’s half-germ-free, and he seems to appreciate semi-hygiene, because they leave shortly before dawn and were “AMAZED,” driving up our faction score with the Family’s Desert, which I believe makes bartering a little less unfavorable. Not “more favorable.” Less unfavorable.
Four full days have passed since our last raid, which should probably be a cause for concern. Probably.
What was the hell was I talking about? Meh, it’ll come to me later.
Ko and Emmie celebrate the first summer morning with a game of horseshoes on the birch farm. To my delight and surprise, Ko makes no attempt to hit on Emmie.
And finally, god bless it, Ko and Doyle wrap up the sterile floors. And holy nut-slap they are not cheap. I started at 800 silver and I’m down to only 100. It is worth it, though, for those sterile floors. As I said, I’ve lost too many colonists to infection and plague. Maybe if I’m lucky we’ll find a bit of silver ore to mine somewhere around here.
The rest of Day 14 is quiet but productive. We install electric lights, start gathering wood for install flower pots, a chess table, better chairs, and other decorative items to beautify the environment. I guess wood paneling isn’t enough for some people.
Suddenly, I realize I’m a genius. This is how geniuses realize things, by the way. Always suddenly. Staring at the freezer, I abruptly notice the lumpy gray texture of the rock wall… a lumpy gray-ness of sweet, sweet compacted steel embedded in the rock. I found a way to simultaneously expand my freezer while also replenishing the colony’s ever-dwindling supply of steel.
However, all day passes and Tetsuya and Doyle have made minimal progress. Tetsuya the math professor is predictably awful at mining, but Doyle is my space miner with an 11 (“strong expert”). Frustrated, exhausted, sweaty, they turn in. RimWorld doesn’t have a hygiene mechanic yet, and I’m not sure having one would make it better.
Back to the mining, minions! Suddenly, I realize I’m a hopeless idiot. It’s PLAsteel. Not steel. Much stronger, but also harder to mine and I don’t have all damn week. Just build a janky jail already, a simple-but-charming-but-mostly-simple guest room, and for eff’s sake, do something about that sand already.
And to be honest, I’m proud of my colonists. They move about these tasks with uncharacteristic efficiency and grace, carving out a meager prison cell, harvesting and replanting, and chiseling stone into brick. The sun dips below the sandy horizon, and the well-oiled of machine that is Black Mesa eases gently into the ni-
RAID! Oh…uh oh…oh no.
Oh. Sweet. Merciful. Freyr.
The Gray Cliff People have returned, led by none other than Chief Priscilla, who fled “like a whipped cur” on Day 8 after we shot her wingwoman Stinkbug dead. The GCP launched another raid the following day, which we easily repulsed, and we were rewarded with 5 days of peace.
Too late do I realize my arrogance. The GCP were not idle, and used their time to muster their primitive strength into something terrible. Nine of them. NINE, led by Priscilla, and accompanied by Stinkbug’s twin sister, Stinkbug. Emmie is literally incapable of violence, meaning we are outnumbered three-to-one. Six bows and 3 clubs against Ko, my one semi-sniper, a Doyle, who rates just above useless with a pistol, and Tetsuya and his knife.
The battle for Black Mesa has begun.
…to be continued!
Email the author of this post at JasonDobry@Tap-Repeatedly.com.