You attempt to rush past the man to freedom, but the moment you attempt to use your new leg, you are rocketed out of the top of the wagon, and you end up belly-flopping hard onto the ground. The scientist comes to you and offers you his hand.\n\n"You'll need to get used to your enhancements," he says. "We can offer you training." \n\n[[Ask him about the caravan]]\n\n[[Run!! Run!!]]\n\n[[Accept training]]\n\n
You loose on arrow at the titanic bird-thing, and immediately realize your mistake, almost as quickly as the monster can launch itself into flight, blocking out the sun with its massive wings before both crushing and impaling you with its talons.\n\nMoths don't shoot bats, dead meat doesn't shoot a buzzard. Why would you do any different, Drifter?\n\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t[[Start]]
Why didn't you tell me you spoke French? The rampaging Quebecois accept you as one of their own, and, despite witnessing and being technically complicit in a few shocking instances of really, really horrifying violence against innocent people, you live a mostly-comfortable life. \n\nLooks like you found yourself a community you can be proud of,\nDrifter\n\nTHE END\n[[Start]]
In your haste to escape the storm of hungry beaks, you put too much weight on a rung of the ladder. You fall to the fire escape, your ankle twisting under the impact. The flay of crow-rats, seeing an easy meal, is upon you in moments. You attempt to swat them away, but it is like trying to slap at a roaring current made of oily black fur and grundgy feathers. It is a merciless seventeen seconds before some vital organ gives out, and everything fades away.\n\nNever trust a ladder you didn't make yourself, Drifter.\n\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t[[Start]]\n
Climbing the fire escape, you see that the windows on each floor have been sealed shut. This building was probably a compound of some sort at one time or another, its occupants all fled, or eaten, or starved to death. However, someone did cobble together another ladder to grant access to the roof. It doesn't look tremendously sturdy, but you suspect it could do its job at least once more. You can also climb back down to get to the parking lot.\n\n[[Go out to parking lot]]\n\n[[Climb rickety ladder]]
For a moment, you feel that you are flying. Then your face smashes against brick, all of your teeth break, and things go briefly red, then black.\n\nBad call, Drifter. Just generally, bad call.\n\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t[[Start]]
You stand on gray, baked earth. The strange desert stretches out around you. To the West is a crumbling city. \n[[to city]]\n\n[[to forest]]\n
Well, okay.
You keep going, making slow time with your leg dragging behind you. As you walk farther and farther, you feel more and more hot, and your vision blurs by degrees. You know that the forest has to end somewhere, and you must be close. Still, the nagging voice of self-preservation dictates that you need to spend as much time as is necessary to rest. What do you want to do?\n\n[[Well, I do feel a bit woozy...]]\n\n[[Keep pushing! Though shergals of groons may hound my steps, still I sparp toward my ferneezi!]]\n\n
This forest is made up of dronewood, a mostly-vegetable species named for its tendency to hum contentedly when growing in nutrient-rich soil. Those who have made settlements in dronewood forests often notice that over a period of weeks, the trees will become more dense in areas where this humming is heard, and less dense in quieter areas. Many times, these settlements find themselves forced to move before the forest becomes too thick. Others are more stubborn, and either end up starving to death in an organic cage, or making the grave mistake of trying to cut their way out.\n\n[[Oh well. Onward!]]\n\n[[Start]]
You make another fire, but you can't sleep. You know the Bastards are planning something. Suddenly, you hear a slight rustling in the leaf litter right next to you. You shoot your arm out, eyes still closed, and your hand closes around something's scaly leg. You open your eyes and there it is! This mossy-skinned, half-gibbon, half-gecko thing has to be a Bark Bastard. It makes raspy sounds, but doesn't bite or kick, and you get the sense that the thing is pleading in its own weird language for you to spare it.\n\n[[Show mercy]]\n\n[[Strangle it]]
You leave the carcass in a clearing, hiding behind a large tree and shooing off or firing warning shots at any other creatures that attempt to make off with it. Finally, a humongous being bound in a casing seemingly made from stitched-together animal intestines notices the dead creature, and hauls it up to the one opening in its body: a giant bowl on top of its head equipped with a large funnel for incorporating new food into the monster's biomass. The pig disappears into the bowl. The Sausage Person starts to lumber back the way it came. What will you do?\n\nWait a bit, then follow it [[Toward adventure and butchery!]]\n\nI could kill that thing. [[I think I'll kill that thing.]]
You reach for the revolver as the cat springs into action. You point it at the monster just as it's about to land on you, paws-first, and you try to pull back the hammer. Except the hammer isn't there anymore. It must have broken off when the cat smacked the gun out of its owner's hand. You give a little hysterical chuckle before claws dig into your chest.\n\n\n\n\t\t\tA busted gun's as good as no gun, Drifter.\n\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t[[Start]]
You find yourself living the dream of many Drifters before you, throttling the little Bastard until it goes limp and its huge tongue lolls from its mouth. Almost immediately, a cacophonous hiss starts to emanate from the trees, as hundreds of Bastards appear simultaneously, seemingly from nowhere. They leap in unison, and though you attempt escape, the creatures pin you down and tear at your flesh with their teeth and claws. Though you're long-since dead by the time they do it, they turn your skull into a ceremonial poop-bucket.\n\n Don't strangle the wildlife, Drifter.\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t [[Start]]
You venture into the woods, using the sun and the stars, seen through the leafless canopy, as navigation. Whenever you need food, you hunt using an improvised bow made of a freakishly-pliable fallen limb from one of the "trees" and the tail of an elasto-rat, with arrows made from the numerous shed feathers of the giant sharpquill bird. Each night, a mangy squabbit or pygmy boarmoset adorns the spit above your fire. While you are sustained by these small meals, you find yourself wanting more. One day, sighing as you pick up the recently-slain corpse of yet another critter, you notice a trail of large, clumsy footprints filled with little bits of red, meaty matter. Sausage People! A prudent Drifter would stay the hell away from the drippy savages, but a daring raid of a Wurstfolk encampment's larder could yield a substantial amount of meat, plus delicious spices! \n\n[[Ew, no. Keep going]]\n\n[[Toward adventure and butchery!]]\n\n[[I have heard the legends of these greasy giants. But who are they, really?]]
You continue firing arrows into the trees, attempting to lock onto some slight movement. But you can find none. Suddenly, you hear a whistling sound coming out of the canopy. An arrow strikes you through the throat, and you die on the ground, choking on blood.\n\nCongratulations, Drifter. You made the Bark Bastards' shit list.
You rocket off into the sky, propelled by your incredible bionic leg. This time, you don't just belly-flop onto the ground. You explode. Your bones shatter and fly all over the place. Your guts stain the leaf-litter. The only thing unharmed is the leg, which the scientist collects solemnly, shaking his head.\n\nIf someone offers you a free lesson, you take it, Drifter.\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t[[Start]]
Just as you take the bag of (you now realize) expired creme, the beast pounces, and pins one of your arms to the ground. Luckily, your bag-holding arm is still at the ready. Just as the murderous feline opens its slavering jaws, you force the bag into its mouth and squirt a dollop of the rancid stuff down its throat. The thing gags and coughs, releasing you to focus on getting the no-doubt terrible taste off its tongue. This allows you time to break off a sizable piece of jagged wood from the broken door and drive it into your would-be predator's neck. You quickly step away as the cat thrashes in agony, choking on blood and rotten dessert filling. Eventually, the horrible yowling subsides, and the mountain of claws, fangs, and tight-wound muscle lays still. In the welcome quiet, you are able to discern a faint whimper, coming from a cupboard. You open the cupboard door and find a little girl in a blood-stained white dress. She shrieks and lashes out with a small, dull knife, perhaps thinking you're another cat, and cuts you across the palm of your hand. \n\n"Ow!" you shout. It's the first thing you've said in a while. \n\nThe girl stops thrashing, opens her eyes, and sees that you're human. She still holds the knife close. \n\n"Hey, I'm not going to hurt you," you say. "You're safe. You're safe. I killed the cat, see?" You point to the cat's mortal remains.\n\nThe girl pokes her head out of the cupboard and sees the giant body. She nods her head and puts down the tiny knife, but remains in the cupboard.\n\nYou can't think of anything else to say for a moment, then it comes to you. You've got a perfectly good kitchen. "Hey, you hungry? I make a mean cat-steak!" The little girl looks up at you shyly, and smiles, exposing the gap in her teeth.\n\n\n Looks like you made yourself a friend, Drifter\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t THE END
You walk through to the the parking lot, and breathe a sigh of relief, just before a cat crashes down onto your back from the roof of a nearby buliding. Luckily, the impact of the feline meteor kills you instantly.\n\n\n\t Always keep your eye on the high ground, Drifter.\n\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t[[Start]]
You are woken from your fever dream by a bumping and shaking under you. a quick look around upon sitting up reveals that you are under the ribs of a covered wagon. A blanket covers your legs. Casting it aside, you see, to your horror, that your left leg has been replaced with a new one made from some strange metal. You try to flex the leg as you would have your old, normal leg, and it seems to retract fine, albeit with a mechanical whirring of servos. You kick it out again, and violently split the wall of the wagon. Someone outside calls for the wagon to stop. A person pokes his head into the back of the wagon.\n\n"You're awake!" the man exclaims. He has the look of a scientist about him, with his curious eyes (one of which is a reflective silver and lacks a pupil), and his tattered white coat. He explains to you that his caravan found you raving at the air before passing out in a kind of delirious coma. He says that he is sorry for removing and replacing your leg without your consent, but that you would have died had he not taken the leg off, and he figured you'd want something in its place. \n\n[[Ask him about the caravan]]\n\n[[Try to run]]
The French Canadians, recognizing your heretical tongue, blow your brains out, but not before haranguing you at length about the proud history of the Quebecois, and subjecting you to the full length of Celine Dion's "All the Way... A Decade of Song". \n\nThink fast, talk French, Drifter.\n\n[[Start]]
The ladder has seen better days, certainly, but you judge that it looks pretty sturdy. The climb is about fifty feet to the roof. In the event that the rope did snap, bad things would happen. \n\n\n\n[[Climb]]\n\n[[Bakery]]\n
After the collapse of civilization, the denizens of Quebec became hostile, xenophobic marauders. Every last one of 'em. Yep.\n\n\n\n\nUm, alright. [[Oui?]]\n\nI repeat, [[What?]]\n\nOh. [[Run?]]\n\n[[Really? An entire people just up and decides to start looting, pillaging, and killing people based on differences in spoken language? I find that not exactly offensive, but perhaps confusing.]]\n\n[[I am actually offended, and refuse to participate in this crime against human decency that you call a story.]]
I didn't make this cruel, cruel world, Drifter. I merely describe it. So the guy's yelling at you in French. What do you do?\n\n\n\n\n\nI will attempt to display my sympathy by addressing him in his native tongue. [[Oui?]]\n\nPerhaps he can tell me a few things about his people's fascinating history! I don't know any French though. I guess I'll just ask [[What?]]\n\nDespite my initial instinct toward criticizing this sad, strange world, I accept that at this juncture, it is best to put aside that sentiment, at least while someone is threatening to shoot me. Perhaps I should [[Run?]]\n\n[[This is silly, and you as an author have failed grotesquely to display sensitivity to this sadly-stereotyped culture of probably mostly-good people. I refuse to play any longer]]\n
Well, okay.
You just go to sleep, scared of the possibility of attracting someone or something to a fire. In the morning you awake in pain, to find that your thigh is red and swollen, and you feel feverish. This could be bad. You think you see some people in the distance, but you're a little delirious, and your vision is blurred. \n\n[[Call to them!]]\n\n[[Keep clear of them]]
You find a large pond to collapse by. In the morning, you find that your wound has healed, and you no longer feel delirious at all! Knowing that something in the pond must have done the trick, you dive in. Instantly, you feel stronger, faster, and feel as though a glow radiates from your skin. None of that helps, though, when you are devoured by a forty-foot-long beast with the jaws of a crocodile and the body of a centipede.\n\n\t\t\t Stick to the local swimming hole, Drifter\n [[Start]]
Spooked by the rustling, you get up and run for the light in the kitchen. A glance over your shoulder reveals that you made the right call. Another of the gigantic cats, this one missing its right eye, was stalking you, mere meters away. It has now broken into a full run, and is closing fast. You make it to the kitchen, and shut the door behind you, bracing it with all your weight. A quick scan of the large room reveals another half-eaten corpse slumped next to a shining metallic table, upon which is a perforated bag filled with pastry creme. A blood-stained, battered revolver lies just a few feet out of its reach. A scene plays itself out in your mind: the revolver being torn from this gunslinger's hand by a violent swipe of claws, just a split-second after the creature's eye disappeared in a red haze. The door is suddenly knocked off its hinges, and you are sent flying to the ground. Pushing the splintered door off of yourself, you see the cat slowly padding toward you. It's toying with you. In its mind, you're already dead. You look around, desperately hoping you can prove the monster wrong. Immediately to your right is the revolver that once belonged to the corpse. The bag filled with pastry creme is on your left.\n\n[[Shoot it! Shoot it!]]\n\n[[Screw it, I'll take the bag]]
You don't make it a day with the dismembered porccary before something strange happens. As you wander through the woods and into a large field, you see a giant, winged thing strutting around. It seems to be an elephant-sized mix between a black vulture and some kind of large-eared bat. It sniffs the air, smells the carcass you're carrying, and proceeds to screech at you. \n\n[[I get the hint. I'll fork it over]]\n\n[[This is my meat, jerkface!]]
The cat is too busy quaking in fear to notice as you slip past, then ram the door open with your shoulder. You stumble into the stairwell, but luckily catch yourself and avoid falling. A quick glance behind you reveals that a sizable portion of the flay is now distracted with devouring the cat. Another, smaller group still thinks that you would be easier prey. You run down the stairwell, crow-rats close behind, and reach the first floor, chest heaving. Yet another cat, this one blind in its right eye, makes for you, but is soon set upon by the crow-rats which chased you just moments ago. A struggle ensues, and it is all you can do to watch. The monster yowls and rages, its body covered with a seething mass of black. The cat manages to shake them off, and goes about exterminating the pests. Many are swatted, their lifeless bodies thumping against the bakery's walls, leaving spatters of virulent blood. Others are stomped into the floor, or held down and torn apart by the giant animal's teeth. When only a few are left, they get the right idea and flee, leaving just you and a very, very angry cat, who soon notices you. The only option you see is to go toward a room where a light flickers.\n\n[[Go for the light]]
He tells you that he is in charge of but one of the many caravans controlled by the Resurrectionists, a group concerned with raising people's quality of life through the fair distribution of pre-Cataclysm technology. Currently, he says, they are on their way to restore an old power station. He says that you are welcome to stay or leave, but first you must learn to control your new leg properly.\n\n[[Accept training]]\n\nThese guys are weird. [[Run!! Run!!]]
You sprint across the swinging, groaning bridge, fearing falling, but fearing it infinitely less than the abominations closing the distance behind you. A door on the roof of the bakery presumably leads down a stairway into the bakery. However, another cat stands on the roof as well. Its eyes go wide in fear of the approaching flay, but it stands its ground, perhaps summoning a burst of courage, or perhaps simply paralyzed. The idea of simply charging at a dangerous animal makes you uncomfortable. You also notice that if you timed it right, you could fling yourself off the bridge and maybe, just maybe get through an open window on the building's second floor. \n\n[[Charge the cat]]\n\n[[Leap of faith]]
You say your goodbyes, grab some provisions, and part ways with the caravan. You never were one for forming lasting allegiances, but you suppose getting the word out about the Resurrectionists couldn't hurt. Breaking through the forest, you see a vast expanse of plains. The perfect place for some super-powered bounding.\n\nBeing alone isn't so bad with a badass bionic leg, eh, Drifter?\n\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t THE END\n\t\t\t\t\t \t\t
You hear the shuffling of feet, or perhaps clawed digits, across pavement, accompanied by low growling. Will you proceed?\n\n[[Go into town]]\n
You've heard about the cats before, from other Drifters met in passing on the road. You've heard how a devious mix of natural selection, ambient radiation, and fluoridated drinking water combined to make towering, black-hearted killers out of tiny, black-hearted killers. You've heard, worst of all, that despite their bulk, the cats still have all of the agility of the common housecat, being able to leap onto buildings to pursue their prey, and land from incredible heights without taking a scratch. You learned to put out your fire and move along when you heard the yowls at night, but you never thought you'd see a whole pride face to face. \n\n[[Alley]]\n\n[[Barricade]]
The broken window of the bakery looks like the open mouth of a great, carnivorous beast, dead or perhaps just asleep. You have an ominous feeling about the place, but sticking your head through reveals a flickering light in what must be the kitchen. \n\n[[Inside bakery]]\n\n[[Ladder]]
You climb through a chink in the barricade, between a splintering school desk and a rusty filing cabinet. A pair of the giant cats ram themselves into the small hole just behind you. You pull your legs through just in time to avoid being crippled by a deluge of falling scrap-metal. \n\tAfter taking a moment to savor the frustrated yowls of your would-be devourers, you look around, expecting to see signs of other survivors. The small bakery that the junk-wall was built around looks to be abandoned. Powdered sugar, meringue, and a red substance that you hope is maraschino syrup cover the pavement outside the shattered window. The inside of the building is dark. A slightly frayed rope ladder dangles down from an anchoring point on the roof. \n\n[[Bakery]]\n\n[[Ladder]]\n
You dash away from the beaver-pelt-clad marauders, shots ringing out all around you. A bullet grazes your left thigh, and though you can run now, with your adrenaline surging, you know that you will be limping once the action dies down. Eventually, the barbarian screeching of the French Canadians dies down, and you rest, knowing that for the moment you are safe. You are tired at the moment, but wary, and it's getting dark. The riflemen could make another sweep. What will you do?\n\n[[Make a fire and sleep]]\n\n[[Just sleep. No fire]]\n\n[[Make a fire and stay up]]
You find a nice clearing and build a campfire. By its light, you tear off a piece of your shirt for use as a bandage. You don't really have much to sterilize it with, so you pour some of your water on it, then dry it close to the flames, hoping it will be enough. You bind the wound and go to sleep, a bit uneasy, but at least warm. You wake in the morning and find that you have stopped bleeding. However, your bow is also gone. You hear a muffled hissing sound from the treetops, the laughter of Bark Bastards. As usual with these creatures, the theft is nothing life-threatening. You can find another branch easily, and you're already carrying plenty of replacement strings and arrows. But then there's the principle of the thing. Also, you can see more Sausage Person tracks.\n\nI'll make a new bow and try to forget about it, wounded though my pride may be. Maybe I can find that Sausage Person camp. [[Toward adventure and butchery!]]\n\n[[I feel an intense need to kill a Bark Bastard, because if I'm going to get shot and robbed within the same twenty-four hour period, someone should have to bleed for it]]\n\n[[What are these assholes again?]]
You haul yourself onto the roof, the makeshift wooden ladder complaining with every step. Once you reach the roof's solid ground, you see that another cat is perched on top of the building on the other side of the alley, looking straight across the gap at you. You know that it could bound across the chasm between the buildings as if it were a crack in the pavement, and break your neck with basically any part of its body. But it doesn't do that. Instead, it utters a hiss from the most sulfurous depths of hell and goes to ground, landing gracefully on the pavement. Only one thing can make a cat do that. You turn around, and sure enough: A flay of crow-rats! The cloud of pecking, biting, gouging things is coming your way. A creaky rope bridge connects the building you stand upon to the building that the barricade was built in front of, seemingly some kind of bakery. You could cross it, or attempt to climb back to ground level on the decrepit ladder, but whatever you do, it had better be quick.\n\n[[Climb back down the ladder]]\n[[Bakery roof]]\n[[Crow-rat facts]]
You open the clasp and see a small color color photograph, cut into a jagged circle to fit the locket's frame. While the picture is faded, you clearly make out a little girl of about 5 in a dusty yellow sundress. Her grinning mouth exposes the gap left by a missing tooth. Her sooty-faced mother and father crouch next to her on either side, both wearing a sort of cautious smile, like they don't quite trust the good times to last. Both also wear holstered revolvers on their hips. You are interrupted in considering the picture by a deep purring behind you. You turn around just in time to see a huge paw slam into the side of your face. Everything goes black.\n\nIt's no time to get sentimental, Drifter.\n\n[[Start]]
Most of the way up the ladder, you can see over the barricade. The two cats are sitting down outside the wall, their tails switching impatiently back and forth. You shout down to them and give them the finger. Their heads turn toward you. It soon comes to your attention, though, that they are not focused on you, but on a point directly above you. You look up. Another cat is on the roof, and it looks at you with what can only be described as malicious glee before cutting the rope ladder with one mighty slash of its claws. Seconds later, you bounce off the ground, your organs shaken out of their rightful places by the impact.\n\n\t\t\tThose cats aren't as dumb as they look, Drifter.\n\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t[[Start]]
Despite the tough, desolate land it grows from, the area you now find yourself entering could certainly be called a forest. Large vegetable organisms grow here which look kind of like trees, but you can't help but notice that their sides expand and contract almost imperceptibly, and small but resonant sounds seem to come from their trunks. Odd as this might be, you see no real reason to fear the things. You know from experience that they only attack when threatened. Besides, you also know that stranger, more sinister things lurk in the woods. Are you sure you want to proceed?\n\n[[Start]]\n\n[[What was that about the trees?]]\n\n[[Sinister things?]]\n\n[[Oh well. Onward!]]
You maintain your steady pace through the woods, staying away from trouble for the most part. One morning, you wake up to a cry of "Vous! Parlez-vous Francais?" accompanied by the click of a rifle's bolt being drawn back. Radical French Canadians! Your next actions could be your last! Whatever shall you do?\n\n[[Oui?]]\n\n[[What?]]\n\n[[Run?]]\n\n[[French Canadians?]]
You kick the glass out of the window's frame, then climb through. The bakery is dimly-lit, so you are not too surprised when, walking toward the kitchen, you trip over something. However, turning to discover what just upset your balance, you are horrified to find a mangled corpse, seemingly half-devoured. The clothes on it are shredded beyond any recognition, but a stainless steel locket adorns what was once the neck of the body, blood-stained but undamaged. If you wanted to, you could open it. You hear a slight rustling behind you. It might be nothing. But it also might not be. \n\n[[Examine the locket]]\n[[Go for the light]]
You follow the tracks of meaty juice to a rather-large settlement of Wurstfolk. By Sausage standards, a large settlement consists of maybe eight individuals, since it's very hard for an area to provide the incredible amount of meat necessary to sustain the horrific appetite of a larger population during the Summer and Fall. You've got a straight line to the larder, and it seems like the guard has its back turned, though you never could tell if they actually see anything. Charge the larder?\n\n[[Sure!]]\n\n[[Seems too easy]]
Nobody that you've spoken to knows for sure how the crow-rats came to be, but the seeming consensus in the large camps, which mostly still have doctors and other wise folk, is that they were created as some sort of biological weapon. It isn't hard to see why. Operating in large groupings usually over 150 individuals, crow-rats are capable of stripping a grown man of his skin in less than a minute, leading nomads with a penchant for gallows humor to refer to these swarms as "flays."Their reinforced incisors, usually hidden inside their beaks in a manner similar to a viper's fangs, are capable of chewing through concrete, to say nothing of bone. Even those who escape from a flay's clutches with minor wounds are usually as good as dead anyway, since the tiniest scratch can easily become infected with any of a cocktail of pathogens which the vermin carry, but possess immunity to, from a modified variant of Avian flu, to good old-fashioned Ebola, to even drug-resistant Plague. All of which translates to you needing to move, NOW.\n\n[[Bakery roof]]\n[[Climb back down the ladder]]\n\n
Describing Bark Bastards is tough, seeing as nobody actually knows what they look like. Some say that they're some kind of of mutant, dickish bat. Others think they're douchebag cousins of the Chupacabra. Your uncle once opened a bottle of water and took his eyes off of it for just a second before it was replaced with a bottle full of dog piss, which he partially drank before spilling it all over himself in shock. It was two days before he got a chance to wash, and the canopy was just full of this awful hissing laughter the entire time. The point is, all anyone knows about the Bark Bastards is that they live in and move through the trees, they are at least as smart as great apes, and they seem to use this intelligence mainly to inconvenience people. Only a few people actually die as a result of Bark Bastard mischief, but nearly everyone who's ever encountered their tricks has wanted to strangle one. So, are you going to be the first to succeed in that gruesome undertaking?\n\n\n\nWhile that sounds tempting, I have a crippling wound on my thigh. I'll make a new bow, and then it onward [[Toward adventure and butchery!]]\n\n\nWound or no wound, [[I feel an intense need to kill a Bark Bastard, because if I'm going to get shot and robbed within the same twenty-four hour period, someone should have to bleed for it]]
Your footsteps alert a pride of mutant feral cats to your presence! You see a narrow alley to your left, and guess that if you squeezed through, the rhino-sized felines couldn't follow. There is also a barricade made from junk a few yards away. It looks as if it were only recently assembled.\n\n[[Barricade]]\n\n[[Alley]]\n\n[[Cat facts]]
You look for some way to more definitely distract the guard. Luckily, you still have a bunch of cooked boarmoset in your backpack. You tie some meat to an arrow, and it hits right at the beast's elephantine feet. Single-minded in its new task, the guard is completely oblivious as you sneak in, grab as much jerky and spices as you can, and get out again. You make camp when you're sure you've made a clean getaway, and stuff yourself with delicious spiced meat as the burblings and bellows of angry Wurstfolk fill the air miles away. You lay on your back, full to bursting, and consider what adventures await.\n\n Nothing better than a good meat heist, right, Drifter?\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t THE END
The inevitable endgame of the vending machine meat craze of the 2060s was the invention of the Linkie, an unholy union of snack cake and sausage patty. Delicious, warm, and moist as they were, Linkies held a strange secret: their out-of-the-wrapper convenient warmth was due to the treats actually being living but unconscious things, much like sponges, which were capable of generating their own heat by means of slowly cannibalizing themselves, turning their own biomass into energy. Like most snack-cakes, Linkies were nearly indigestible by humans, and held onto life long after being consumed. However, instead of simply passing out of the body with other metabolic waste, the Linkie's cells found some way of embedding themselves in the tissues of its consumer. If a person made a habit of eating the cakes, they slowly became more meat-cake than man, eventually having to resort to wrapping their hideous form in any kind of "casing" that made itself available just to avoid falling apart. Thus, from the gluttonous hordes of junk-food addicts were the Sausage people born, or the Wurstfolk, as they prefer to be called. Constantly hungry due to their physiology being composed of self-devouring meat, the unfortunate Wurstfolk are always on the lookout for new sources of flesh to ingest, and spend most of their days in a cycle of hunting and absorbing, though they have also learned to store food in anticipation of times of famine. Since Wurstfolk directly incorporate meat into their bodies, they actually increase in size whenever they eat, and shrink as time goes on without food. Now, in Fall, after two seasons of plenty, the average Wurstfolk could probably be expected to be at least fifteen feet tall. This will also be the time when the larders are at their fullest, in anticipation of Winter. \n\n\nStill. [[Ew, no. Keep going]]\n\nCool! [[Toward adventure and butchery!]]\n
Bloodsuckle, burnbirds, boombeasts, bark-bastards, bladed apes, electrolytic weevils, thermobaric weasels, pyroclastic ivy, the Sausage People, the Beast Addressed as Lloyd, Masticatin' Phillips, and a dangerous enclave of French-Canadians who shoot English speakers on sight. To name just a few.\n\n[[Oh well. Onward!]]\n\n[[Start]]
You throw the meat toward the monstrous avian, and it gladly gobbles it up. You start to inch away, but it looks up from the feast, demanding that you stay. You watch the creature devour the last of the meat. It then tosses its head in a way that suggests it wants you to come closer. Knowing that it would have killed you by now if it wanted to, you go to it, and it picks you up by the collar of your shirt. It then deposits you on its back, and takes off into the sky.\n\n\t\tWhat the hell did you just sign up for, Drifter?\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t THE END-ish
You stick with the Resurrectionists, moving from the ruins of one city to the next. It's pretty relaxed work for the most part. You and the other enhanced guards stand around and look tough while the engineers repair this structure, or take that one apart for salvage. Every few days, you have to kill something big or foolish enough to consider raiding the caravan, and you can usually kick its head off, no problem. Sometimes people die, and sometimes supplies run low, but that's how it's always been for you. At least you have people to share the tough times with now. More than that, people who are trying, against all odds, to make times not so tough for everyone else.\n\nIt seems you've found a cause worth fighting for, Drifter.\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\tTHE END
Over the next few weeks, you undergo an odd sort of physical therapy, learning how to make the leg work just like you want it to. You learn to apply it to everything from tiptoeing to kicking holes through solid concrete. You also become attached to the scientist, whose name is actually Dr. Sarif, as well as the other members of the caravan. You hunt with them sometimes, you share dinner with them, and even if some of their engineer-speak goes way over your head at times, you generally enjoy yourself with them. \n\nThe day finally comes when Dr. Sarif feels you've mastered your leg well enough to function on your own. He gives you the option of staying with the caravan as a guard to help the Resurrection firsthand, or going back out into the world to spread the news of the Resurrection and continue your journey. Which will you choose?\n\n[[Go forth]]\n\n[[Stay with the caravan]]
You squeeze into the alley just in time. The cats impotently reach their gargantuan paws into the opening as if feeling around for a mouse. Safe for the moment, you stop to catch your breath, and examine possible avenues of escape. A rusted fire escape ladder is bolted into the brick of one of the two buildings, and you could conceivably use it to get inside. The other side of the alley looks to be a wide-open parking lot.\n\n[[Fire escape]]\n\n[[Go out to parking lot]]
You make a new bow and follow the mocking sounds coming from the trees, shooting off arrows when you hear one especially close to you. After a few hours, you begin to suspect that the creatures are capable of throwing their voices. The thought crosses your mind that you may be in over your head.\n\n[[Give up for now and set up camp]]\n\n[[Keep hunting]]
You............................................................................................sleep................................................................................................................delirium..............................................................................can't.................\n\n\n[[No sleep never! Never till out I come from the sperbin and cake is finally served to my gerbil benefactors! No sleep never nosleepnevernone...]] \n\n\n
You let the Bastard go, and it makes a gesture of lizardly appreciation, jumping up and down and thumping its broad, leaflike tail against the forest floor. It scampers back up the nearest tree, and you feel that perhaps its life was worth saving after all. \n\nIn the following days, you receive mysterious gifts, presumably from the Bark Bastards. They leave you fruit, bottles of water, jewelry. Once, they bring you the head of a child's teddy bear. They visit from time to time, too, and you find that they can understand many of the words you speak. Eventually, you convince them to form a raiding party, with you at the helm. Single-handedly, you become responsible for elevating the Bark Bastards' mischief-making capabilities to new levels, and you make quite the living off of it as well.\n\n Sometimes, it's fun to be a Bastard, Drifter.\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t THE END
The figures turn their heads at your call, and immediately begin hooting and throwing leaves into the air. Sharp metallic projections glint on the strangers' arms, and you realize then that these kind people you had imagined giving you medicine and a warm place to spend the night were actually bladed apes. You try to run, but your infected leg isn't too happy about supporting your weight, and buckles. You curse the pain in that limb for a few seconds more before you feel it being chopped from your body, and you pass out from shock.\n\n\t\t\tDon't talk to blurry people, Drifter.\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t[[Start]]
You make a fire and see by its light while binding your wound. Suddenly, you hear a rustling noise from the bushes. You fire an arrow, and hear the sound of something relatively large hitting the forest floor. Moving to it, you see that it is a porccary, a larger mutant offshoot of the teacup pig. It's too much for you to eat right now, but you see two basic options for what to do with it.\n\n[[I'll use it as bait for the Sausage people!]]\n\n[[I'll chop it up and eat it as I go.]]
You attempt to sneak into the larder, an arrow nocked just in case. It turns out you need it, as the guard somehow knows you're there. With a bubbling growl, it tries to grab you. You shoot it as you dive away, and the arrow cuts a stitch on the seam binding its arm's casing to its body. The seam unravels entirely, and the monster's meat comes tumbling out of the hole where its arm used to be. It falls to the ground, apparently dead. You're just about to boast when you turn to see another Sausage Person right behind you. It flicks your head, and you black out.\n\nWhen you regain consciousness, you can't exactly see. Instead, you are simply aware of all that is animal, all that is vital around you, and you know the exact position of these living things in space. You want deeply to incorporate all that lives into yourself, to fill a new void that has opened within you. You hear a voice, not in your head, since you no longer have much of a head. you hear it instead through your entire body.\n\n"Welcome, brother. We see your hunger. You want meat? You shall have it. You shall have more than you ever thought possible. And it will never be enough." \n\nYou flex your fingers. They are covered in casing.\n\n\t\tAt least you aren't dead, right, Drifter?\n\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\tTHE END
You keep going for a while, perhaps against your better judgment. Are you sure you're okay? Maybe you shouldn't keep going.\n\n\n[[But if I stop, then who's going to pick the boogity bushes? The dooker dogs, that's who! So I continue on my crabbity quest, till my ambulatory appendages give way and I fall into the blorping abyss!]]
I don't think you realize how big this thing is. Your arrows poke little holes in its casing, enraging it. It then charges you, covering huge distances with its long stride, before catching up to you and sending you to the ground with but a light kick. It then picks you up and jams you into the funnel until you're in enough tiny pieces that you fit.\n\n\t\t\t\t Don't fuck with giants, Drifter.\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t [[Start]]