Zion National Park was a nice place to visit back before the war, a valley where folk came to turn off their PIP Boys and pretend they were “Roughing it”. Some of the people in the back when times didn’t think of camping as a vacation, though. They saw it as a way of life, taking pleasure in training their survival skills. Randal Dean Clark, a U.S. Army soldier, was one such survivalist. He was lucky enough to be a few miles away from Zion park when the Great War began. He was a family man, but he also loved to spend his time alone in the woods. He was coming back to his family when the bombs fell. He witnessed Salt Lake City, his home, and his family incinerated. He knew the park would provide refuge in the aftermath, and he survived deep within a cave here as the fallout settled over the dying world outside.
He kept journals of his time alone. Typed into computers hidden all over the valley. Only a handful of entries over the course of decades; a man of few words who never suspected that his thoughts would be read by strangers a hundred years after his death. Yet through his tale of survivor’s guilt, and suicidal episodes, he inadvertently told the history of the tribals who live here now.
After close to twenty years alone in Zion with nothing but mutated bighorners, Clark discovered a band of survivors had moved into his private paradise in 2095. He had learned to move silently through the park, and saw them long before they saw him. There was a language barrier, and Clark wasn’t able to directly communicate with his new neighbors. He helped them when he could, silently, and always unseen, leaving gifts of medicine and supplies.
Despite his efforts to keep them safe, they were killed by a band of savage Vault Dwellers in February 2096. They came from Vault 22, or at least that’s what we can assume based on the Vault-tec jumpsuits found on bodies scattered around Zion.
Vault 22 was an experiment in botany that might have turned the Mojave into a garden as lush as Zion… but it ended up working a little too well. Some of the residents hightailed it out of their and tried to take Zion for their own. They committed atrocities against the settlers who had come here first.
Even though he was outnumbered, Clark took his revenge. He had spent his life surviving in the wild, not cooped upside a Vault that provided everything he needed at the touch of a button.
For eleven months he killed them, before they fled in early 2097, leaving him alone once more in his empty garden of Eden. Well, not entirely alone. One of the women from Vault 22 remained behind, and she soon became Clark’s second wife. She would have made him a father for the second time too, but a complication in her pregnancy only made him a widower twice over.
That would be his last face-to-face contact with other people. The park drew more visitors as Clark’s beard began to turn gray. Most were unsuitable as companions, and Zion’s guardian eradicated them.
However, in his elderly years, Clark found the opportunity to share the knowledge he had learned before the war, and afterward.
In 2108, a new generation of children arrived in Zion. Born after the war, and unaccompanied by any adults. Maybe raised in a Vault with no grown-ups. For sixteen years, Clark watched over them, but never revealed himself. Didn’t want to let them learn that their mysterious benefactor was just an old man on his last legs. He wrote them letters, gave them books and supplies. Almost everything he had, to ensure that they would grow into good people.
And that they did. Their descendents became the tribe now called “The Sorrows” and they still view him a supernatural force that watches over them.
In a sense, he still is. After decades of tending Zion, he knew his life was drawing to a close, so he found a spot high above Zion where his children wouldn’t discover him, and allowed age, disease and the elements grant him the death he could never inflict on himself.
He’s rested here for over a century, his last journal entry with him. Too modest a man to take credit for his good deeds while he was alive, but he hoped that someone would learn the tale someday.
What? Oh, you don’t want to know what those savages from Vault 22 did to those other settlers. Like I said, it was an atrocity and Mister Clark avenged it. What they did is considered a crime against nature by most people. But they do that kind of thing all over the wasteland. Some fight against the impulse, while others embrace it, try to control it. But that- is a story for another day…