Swamped Chapter 4 Page 5

“Navigation. Something you could probably use a little help with. Mostly this is about learning the lay of the land, so we’ll actually be venturing outside. We can’t use the barge, so we won’t be venturing very far, but it’s important that you learn to tell where you are and how to get back to base. Riley will be your partner for this one.”

You follow the sergeant outside, where Riley is already waiting. They seem to be whittling something.

“Right, you’re here. How far should we go?” Riley asks.

“This is Marshall’s first session, so no more than a five minute walk. Should be good enough. Marshall, your task is to follow Riley and then lead the way back. If you get too lost, Riley can set you back on track. They know their way around the swamp fairly well already.”

“Keep your eyes open on the way there,” Riley says. “Beyond that, well, we’ll see if anything gives you trouble when we return.”

You follow Riley, and try to keep track of the path. But you cross several intersections, and so many of the trees look alike. When Riley finally stops walking, you’re not that confident you can retrace your steps.

“Right. Here’s where we turn back. Now, remember, what matters isn’t that you take the exact route back, but that you get back to base. Though obviously, it’s best to stay out of the muck. If you need any help, just ask me, I’ll lead you as far as you want. Of course, the more you can do on your own, the better.”

You turn around. You can still see the base in the distance, so at least you can’t get too lost. You start walking back, following the path as best as you can remember. When in doubt, you look to where the base is.

Then you feel a crack beneath your feet, and soon after you trip, landing face-first on the walkway.

“Best not to go this way,” Riley says, looking down. “Lots of rotten planks that haven’t been replaced yet. Took a real beating in the last storm, I should probably pass along a note to the repair squad. Of course, they’ve got their hands full as it is, but this walk’s too close to base to overlook. Wouldn’t have been a bad route otherwise, but in this swamp, you always have to watch your surroundings.”

Riley helps you up, and you head back to the last intersection. Unfortunately, your little turn has left you completely lost. So you take stock of your surroundings.

There are paths to the north, south, and west, as well as the path to the east you came from. The base is to the east, but you’ve already ruled out that most direct path.

You’ve already forgotten how you approached this intersection the first time, or if you even did. Will you pick a direction, or will you ask Riley for help?

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Fuck it, go west

Ask Riley for help!

We can do this!
Let’s go West, then North, North again, West, South, East, South, East, East agai—oh wait, we’re back at the rotted section somehow.