Fallout Fridays – Like a Goodneighbor

It should come as no surprise the Courser is dead by my own hands.

Nick and I found him at the nearby Greentech Genetics, waging a one-man war against a squadron of military-styled mercenaries who apparently call themselves “Gunners”. Not that it matters. They’re all dead now.

As I approached the Courser he managed to hear my footsteps. With a gun in my face, I told him I needed what was inside his head and he was about to meet his friend Kellogg. That must have spooked him, because instead of shooting he attempted to use an old military Stealthboy to escape. But not before I tackled him to the ground and forced my combat knife deep into his neck.

When he stopped moving, I ripped the whole damn thing off his shoulders and placed the gruesome prize in my rucksack. I know that chip is somewhere in his brain, but frankly I don’t feel like performing surgery out in the wild. I also stripped him of his superior armor, even though it is a bit too black-trenchcoat-over-black-clothes for my taste.

Turns out the Courser was there to track down a synth who escaped The Institute, only to be captured and sold by these Gunners as a slave. So naturally, I executed the slavers and freed the synth. But the synth was terrified of me, and refused to leave until I was gone. Given what she just witnessed me do, I can’t say I blame her.

I am no hero. I’m just a bigger monster than these other monsters.

This was confirmed by the screams of Dr. Amari when I plunked the head onto her desk in Goodneighbor.

“What the hell is that thing?!”

“It’s a courser. Or more accurately, it’s a courser head. I need you to get the chip out of its brain so I can decode it and get into The Institute.”

“Are you insane?! How did you even track down a courser, let alone kill it?”

“I’m…I’m not entirely sure. My memory is still a bit…untrustworthy, since the last time I saw you.”

“Yes. Yes I worried if there were going to be lasting side effects of such an unprecedented procedure. But you were quite insistent!”

Nick interrupted, “If we could just get back to the decapitated head in the middle of the room…”

Dr. Amari agreed to help me recover as much as possible but said it would take time. So I bought us a room at the Hotel Rexford and told Nick I was going out for a drink. I expected he might warn me, or tell me to be careful, but he never did. He knows me too well for that now. I can see it in his eyes when he thinks I’m not looking. The look of a man who is in way over his head but doesn’t know how to leave.

I made my way over the The Third Rail, a bar in what used to be State Station. Before The Day happened and turned my world into…this.

The bouncer is a ghoul in a nice suit. The bartender is a robot wearing a bowler hat. But the singer, yes the singer, is a stunning older woman in a sequined red dress.

She asks if I liked the song when she steps off the stage and sits at the stool next to mine. I guess I was starring a bit more obviously than I intended.

“I’m sorry, I just haven’t heard live music in a very long time.”

“That’s okay handsome. I love a captive audience. And you have the look of someone who could use it.”

I buy us a few rounds and we get to talking. She quickly evades any questions I have about her life, but is also polite enough to return the favor. Every time she calls me “handsome” I squirm a little too obviously on my stool.

During the evening she gives my left hand a sly look and says to me, “I may be wrong, but if I’m not mistaken that’s a wedding band.”

“It is. My husband gave it to me less than a year before he died. Before our child was kidnapped right out of his arms.”

“Oh honey, I’m so sorry to hear that. This wasteland takes everything it can.”

Whitechapel Charlie continues to pour drinks. Magnolia and I continue to drink them, the alcohol making us feel warm and safe. When her next set starts, she asks if I have any special requests. So I ask for Billy Holiday. She sings “The Very Thought of You”. Just for me.

For the first time I can remember since I woke up in that Vault, I feel tears stream down my face. Her voice is so beautiful, and she is so kind. She is the first person in this awful world who hasn’t asked me for anything upon first meeting them.

“What’s the matter, handsome? Didn’t like the song?”

“No, I loved it. A little too much, maybe.”

A long silence between us hangs heavy. Many of the patrons have already called it a night.

“Do–Do you want to get out of here? Maybe go for a walk?”

“Sure handsome. Let me get my coat.”

Fallout Fridays – Like a Goodneighbor

Fallout Fridays – Dead Men Tell Tales

It’s been a long time since my last entry.

I don’t want to count the days.

Days killing men and monsters. Days hacking at mutated beasts or digging up mutated plants or trying to stomach 200 year old radioactive processed junk for “food”. Days staying awake on Jet and Psycho and Buffout and Adrenaline. Days sleeping off wounds in bombed out shelters. Days obliterated with alcohol for the need to sleep. Days of never having a hot shower.

That’s the sort of unimportant focus on details that this sort of introspection cannot become, for my own survival. The only reason I am keeping this journal once again is to attempt to maintain my grip on reality in a life that feels absolutely unreal.

So I am going to go back to my last entry, the time I killed Kellogg, and do my best to reconstruct from there.

I remember Nick Valentine and I found a weird piece of circuitry and hardware attached to Kellogg’s amygdala among the “evidence” we gathered from our own murder scene. But how many days did I sleep on that concrete floor with a half-melted face before that?

I remember we went back to Diamond City so I could see a “doctor”, and Nick could speculate with Piper. That reporter who pisses off the mayor writing scare pieces. How many days did they drug me out of pain and hope for the best?

I remember Nick and Piper concluded we had to take the amygdala to the Memory Den. To Dr. Amari. The woman who put the brain of that murderous psychopath into my brain. And Nick’s…processor?

From that point forward?

I remember days that Did Happen.

I remember days that Did Not Happen.

I remember days where I died. There are so many of them. But those Did Not Happen because I am still alive. But I still remember dying anyway.

Ironically the one day I can focus on to keep my real-or-not-real barometer on track is The Day The Bombs Fell. The Day Shawn Was Taken. Because that day undeniably Did Happen. And that helps me focus on what really matters. Find Shawn.

Find Shawn. It has become a prayer I echo in my brain as I trudge through the bodies and the shit and the blood and the mud and the filth. Find Shawn.

Because otherwise I start trying to count the days. How many days in this hell actually belong to me? And how many of these days which I can never forget were just shoved into my brain just to maybe learn a clue to finding Shawn?

Find Shawn.

The reason I destroyed my brain.

I remember Kellogg’s most recent mission (not mine, he is not me and I am not him) was to hunt down and murder a man named Virgil who escaped from The Institute, “The Boogeymen of the Commonwealth”.

I remember that man was rumored to be hiding in The Glowing Sea, the most radioactive corner of the city. Where The Bombs Fell. The Bombs from The Day. Again, the one undeniable day everyone can agree Did Happen.

I remember I took that powersuit from Sanctuary and set off into The Glowing Sea. I remember I ran out of power cores once I got to the cave and found a Super Mutant with glasses and more clothes than a loin cloth. I remember he turned out to be Virigl.

I don’t actually remember how I managed to leave The Glowing Sea without a powersuit. But I do remember the doctor told me the white splotches on my skin and my white hair are scars for surviving ungodly amounts of radiation.

I also “remember” dying in The Glowing Sea. Being eaten by a Deathclaw. But I have this Deathclaw scar on my face I can touch anytime I want to remember I survived. Of course, a earlier journal entry confirms that happened before then. But whichever Deathclaw I got this from, I clearly haven’t actually been killed by one because I’m still alive. Death days are days that Did Not Happen, even if I “remember” them.

Scars are good. Scars keep me grounded. Any time I look at them I can touch parts of my body that confirm certain intrusive memories over others. Like markings on a map. The map I am now following to the Commonwealth Institute of Technology with Nick Valentine.

I am not entirely sure why, but there is a synth we must murder in order to Find Shawn. So that’s what I am about to do. Kill the Courser.

Find Shawn.

Fallout Fridays – Dead Men Tell Tales