Despite the heat of the desert and the wet of the swamps, any Wastelander that’s spent any time in our lands can sense slight changes in the weather. These days, the sun-blasted days grow shorter while the dark nights grow longer and a chill is certainly felt within our bones. Such changes are gradual with the passing of the moons but the land may react violently. The swamps may churn up a putrid fog, toxic and acidic. The deeper desert may blow a horrible sandstorm, devouring flesh and wood, swallowing steel and concrete. In the past, many scavengers and structures have been lost in the haze and horror of such events. The larger storms are rare, but it is with heavy heart that I must report the wrath of one such storm.
A few days ago, the Open Wastes of Kronbelt were ravaged by a monstrous sandstorm, sweeping in from the south, leaving nothing in its wake but memories. I can do nothing now but attempt to share my own of the Open Wastes and relate them to how I’ve always seen the Wastelands.
Solitude. Security. Since the early days of the settlement, Wastelanders have sought one or both conditions in their day-to-day scavenging. Some are loners, hunting for food and supplies, relying only upon their skills and no one else. Some are wary wanderers, willing to stop in and pick up supplies or news before moving on. Others avoid solitude, banding together with a few they trust for a sense of security. These varied experiences were fully embodied by the Open Wastes of Kronbelt under the care of Jubal Quintus and the men and women of the Trade Post.
Long before the first walls of the Trade Post were raised, these individuals were known across the land. Jubal Quintus, one of the Old Timers, lived out of a supply trailer-shack near the Wastelands tracks for the longest time until the Teeth Grinders moved into the old church just next door. Initially, the merchant tolerated the savage mutant tribe but his sense of security was rapidly deteriorating. When word spread of some Wastelanders daring to explore the wild barren regions on our outskirts, he chose to follow suit and try his luck, pulling up stakes and heading southwest for solitude and security. To the west of Cormac, Jubal’s calculating eye spied an old rest stop and the lonely rolling dunes of Kronbelt.
Returning to the Wastelands, Jubal convinced Kezz Mauriac, Ironblood Mechanique, and Facemelt Loon to join him in Kronbelt. Soon enough, the strength of their skills and scavenging formed a series of fortifications around the rest stop, establishing a new center of commerce and community simply and aptly named the Trade Post.
In time, the Trade Post met with hardship and dangers forcing most of the founders to set out across the wastes in search of new supplies and contacts for the Post while Jubal remained behind. His solitude ended when Mollyblue Etchegaray, the Diesel Queen of the Junkyard, walked into the Trade Post. She established new trade routes from Post to Paradise and soon thereafter, Kezz returned to the fold and quickly set himself to work by gathering new recruits for the Trade Post’s defense. Facemelt also wandered back into the walls of the compound, with new ideas and materials in tow for rebuilding various parts of the battered compound. The Trade Post, silent and still for so long, was rejuvenated.
The details of the outpost’s origins are best described by the History of The Trade Post, a document carefully arranged and authored by Jubal Quintus, during its many months of operation. The Press is fortunate to have a copy of this document and we’ve included it within our library archive where we hope to keep it safe. Needless to say, given the developments mentioned above, the Trade Post once again became a beacon of security and supplies in that desolate corner of our lands.
This security was definitely used to an advantage for a brief time recently when Wastelanders banded together and claimed one of the salvage masheens for their own and located it within the Trade Post to protect it against the now unknown intentions of the deadly Tin Man. Ironblood Mechanique, one of the original Kronbelt founders, also returned from his journeys to lend his hand to the Post’s defense against the brominite incursions. Alas, there proved no defense against the terrible force of the desert. The sandstorm that wiped clean the dunes of Kronbelt also swallowed up the salvage masheen along with the walls of the Trade Post.
On a personal note of reflection, I’m unsure what aspect of the Open Wastes of Kronbelt intrigued me the most. More often than not, I wandered alone across the dunes rather than linger among the stools and tables of the Trade Post. I embraced the solitude found in the lonesome blankets of sand, attracted to the little discoveries among the gritty folds and wrinkles.
An Old Shack. Alone and abandoned in the southeast corner of the dunes. Wood, worn and weathered in the wind. Metal, pitted and scratched by the sand. The owner, unknown and long gone. The wind moved in, made itself right at home. The door whispered the restless coming and going of this invisible settler in creak and clatter.
A Raided Caravan. Bones of wagon and beast. A journey from the Trade Post cut short. For a time, the sand hippo baked its rotting body under the slow passage of the sun. Finally, only the strong bones and massive skull remained of the powerful animal. Picked clean by scavengers. Bleached white by the fire above.
A crude sign of warning marked the edge of blackened crater. A pock-mark scar upon the dry skin of the land. Point of impact, pit of damage. A scant trace of radiation lingering in the wound.
Smoking campfire. Empty bedroll. Vacant tent. Nothing out of the ordinary…but out there, exposed in the Open Wastes, one couldn’t help looking over their shoulder. Trap bait or merely an absent camper somewhere nearby behind a dune?
Any wanderer, such as myself, that returned to the Trade Post would find just as many discoveries within the nooks and crannies of the compounds catwalks, chambers, and sheds. Visitors entered the compound either through the pair of large steel doors or the smaller gatehouse framed by the cab of a rusty old world vehicle, its headlights beaming out into the darkness.
Passing through these thresholds, Scavengers found themselves in an asphalt courtyard, surrounded by tables stacked with salvage goods from various Wastelanders. The hungry relaxed at old spindle tables or lined up for a taste of Jubal’s Meaty Bits, a literal “hole-in-the-wall” of Blue Molly’s diner. The thirsty stumbled to the stools, sitting under the colored blinking lights of Turp’s Bar to sip or shoot down one of Jubal’s notorious brews.
Anyone with scrip burning a hole in their pockets wandered from table to table or browsed the shelves of the Super Outlet, housed within the old gas station and garage. Next door in a modest shed, the tinkerer Facemelt maintained his Junkarium, home to his many finely detailed crafts and accessories. Those with weary bones, finding themselves far from home, were welcome to spend the night in a room at the Sunset Hotel. Furnished with nothing more than some chairs, a pot to piss in and an old mattress to rest your head upon, a true Wastelander would neither ask for or expect more. Such simple things provided within the security of the Trade Post are comfortable luxuries against the cold dark nights of the Wasteland.
The Trade Post excelled in providing security to protect its commerce. The walls were built strategically and with care. Scrap metal panels stretched around the perimeter, closing off the gaps between the broken concrete ruins. Foolish raiders attempting to scale the walls might very well find themselves face-to-face with a guard patrolling the high catwalks ringing the compound. No gap was left unguarded or secured.
And just as no link was left to weaken on the perimeter, that same efficiency was applied to the interior. No nook or cranny was left unused. Every corner of the Trade Post housed some curiosity or function such as those mentioned earlier. Even the old gas tanks below the station were cleaned and furnished, one with bunks and storage for the Trade Post founders while the other was a small theater for old films.
Lonesome moments of solitude and danger without. Comfortable security of commerce and camaraderie within. The Open Wastes and Trade Post of Kronbelt highly personified these two basic and essential aspects of the Wastelands. Although it saddens this Digger of rock and ruin to know the vicious sandstorms of the desert finally succeeded to do what no raider could ever imagine, I recognize and accept it is the way of all things. That which is born of sand and swamp must one day return to their embrace. Where one thing is swept away and buried, another reveals itself, uncovered, waiting to be found. Waiting to be put to use again.
((Editor’s Note: On behalf of The Post-Apocalyptic Press and the Wastelands Dev Team, I would like to sincerely thank Jubal Quintus, Kezz Mauriac, Facemelt Loon, Mollyblue Etchegaray, and Ironblood Mechanique for all of the love and attention and work they put into Kronbelt over the last two years. It was one of the gems of the Wastelands for raising the bar not just in terms of theme and craft but most importantly (in my personal opinion) for providing an interactive experience serving the larger community. A place where all were welcome to contribute and interact whether it was trade, RP, or simply gathering together for a sense of community. Thank you.
Additional photographs of the Open Wastes and Trade Post of Kronbelt can be found here, here, and here. Thanks also to everyone that shared photos with the Press. Even if we didn’t use them all for this article, they can be seen here. These are just a few of many that may be found in flickr or elsewhere.))