Fallout Fridays – Shawn Gone

A ten-year old white boy with brown hair stands slack, head down, in a glass room.

January 1st, 2288

It’s a new year and I have found Shawn. Except there is no Shawn. Shawn is a synth. The Shawn I see in the last of Kellogg’s memories when I dream isn’t real. He’s limp and lifeless in a glass room where “Father” can tinker with him. The body of the child I never truly had turned out to be nothing but a hobby for an old man.

The old man claims he is my Shawn. He says Kellogg kidnapped him sixty years ago, not ten. And even though I wanted to say he was full of shit, even though I wanted to kill him, I couldn’t do it when I looked in his eyes. Those eyes are still the same.

But if they can put those same eyes into that little boy, who is to say they couldn’t put them in an old man?

Why would Kellogg look nearly identical from my memory of Nate’s murder from when I murdered Kellogg if those dates were supposed to be sixty years apart?

A bald man with a scar across his left eye, looking inside a cryogenics pod through the glass.

Once again it keeps coming down to counting the dates.

This…Father…who claims to be my son, he was the one who released me from the Vault. He was the one who put Kellogg in my crosshairs. He has been orchestrating nearly every encounter I’ve had since I woke up. And with his ability to make robots indistinguishable from humans, it’s likely I have no idea how deep the rabbit hole truly goes.

I hacked into his terminal and was able to retrieve Kellogg’s personnel files. They truly do go back over sixty years, including records of his augmentations and longevity. Either this is false information meant to confirm “Father” or it’s the truth. Unfortunately I have no way of knowing at the moment. And that old man who claims he’s my son continued to use him even after learning what he’d done.

He wants me to stay here. He wants me to see what he’s accomplished. He wants me to be proud of him.

That’s why he woke me up.

Because he was curious if I would survive.

He was curious if Kellogg or I would die.

He was curious if I would find a way into the Institute.

But the old man stacked the deck in my favor. All these scripted events and breadcrumbs have been strings pulling me along a story he wants to tell. It would be touching if I wasn’t so manipulative.

I don’t know how to leave this place but the old man keeps saying I’m not a prisoner. He also insists I meet the department heads of his Institute before discussing anything further. He wants me to see his justifications for his actions.

This is not the first time I’ve been trapped living somewhere dangerous. I know how to play this game. Smiles and courtesies and calculations and stories. Make them feel safe while maintaining vigilance.

I don’t know what else to do now that there is no Shawn for me to Find. All I can do is survive and observe.

Fallout Fridays – Shawn Gone
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Space Rat #2

Courtesy of NASA. A dark but illuminated Earth is visible past two orbiting satellites.

Earth.

I hate Earth. Or at least what it is now.

Papa grew up here during the Third Space Race, the last time Sapiens pretended to give a shit about spacing. He used to play those old vids on a loop whenever he was feeling down.

You could always tell how he was feeling based on what vids were playing on our ship.

Papa had an immense, dense bank of computer storage in the Dodger dedicated solely to old Sapien vids, mostly from the Media Infancy era.

Outdated News Vids usually meant we were out of money. Cartoons meant things were good and life was easy for a bit. British comedies meant we were feeling rebellious, probably at the Cons’ expense. Mystery shows meant something needed fixing on the ship or Papa had a new idea he wanted to research.

Grandma would always complain about all the noise of the ship. But she never turned off the vids. She loved them the same way she loved Papa. Resentfully in the open, but with kindness in secret.

That’s the only Earth I actually understand. Pre-Con Earth still doesn’t look like a place I would want to live on, but at least it makes a sort of sense, in easily-digestible chunks.

You would think growing up with constant vids would make the bombardment of walking out into the street from Customs easier, but there’s never only one thing begging for your attention. Right now even with my earbuds I can still hear an advert for shaving cream, an announcement about curfews, continuing requests for other ships getting a Confederate shakedown, and a looping trailer for something called Martian Marshalls that keeps making explosions. I thumb down a cab and try my best to inhale and exhale slowly through gritted teeth.

The driver is a reptilian biped wearing a tank top and pinstriped pajama pants. Their vertical pupils eye me hungrily when I say, “If you can find me the closest tox bar with no Cons I’ll pay you double. Double that if it’s quiet.”

I peek down as we lift off the street, whizzing around a skyline that’s nothing like what I grew up watching. If it weren’t for the Statue of Liberty, I wouldn’t even recognize it.


“Intoxicants are one of the universal signs of intelligence,” Grandma used to say. At which point Papa would likely whisk me away and tell me about ancient Sapien agriculture and it’s connections to ethanol.

It’s not like she was drunk all the time. Who could afford it?

But because people are generally cowards when it comes to crime, intoxicants are part of the parcel. So she taught me how to order toxics and still keep my wits about me.

“Always keep it simple, Peewee. You want the toxtender’s good will, and they don’t like people being pissy about how they do their job. When toxtenders don’t like someone, they remember them.”

The driver was more than happy with my double-double tip, and I was pleased with the quiet basement bar they found for me.

“I’ll take a vodka and soda, with a cannabinoid inhalant please.”

One of my best rehearsed lines.

The toxtender looks mammalian, with a thin semi-translucent fur making distinctive markings on their face and forearms. Their “mammalian assets” are proudly on display in a shimmering dark leather top, but the fashion seems out of place in a dive like this. The toxtender takes my credit chips without words, for which I am immensely thankful.

I sit at the bar and fiddle with my comm nervously as I wait for my toxics. I check the corners of the bar but see only an old Sapien sleeping on a back booth, his hat resting next to his gray head. The only noise to drown out his gentle snores is one lone vid screen, scrolling the news at a minimal volume. It’s quiet, but not silent. Which is perfect.

A tray is silently brought to me and I toss back the drink and take a large hit off the inhaler.

“Another please,” I say to the toxtender, who continues to serve in silence.

I can feel my heart finally beginning to slow down as I fiddle with my comm settings. But I can never get these damn holographic buttons to actually recognize my fingers. Papa used to blame our calluses.

“Fuck this,” I mutter in exasperation, slamming the home button projected through my palm with my free hand until, finally, I hear a chirp in response, “Jackie, can you contact our employer for me? Send him my current location and try to sound intimidating if you can.”

“Right away, boss,” a tinny distant voice shouts from my hand.

“The wonders of technology,” the toxtender scoffs while bringing my next round.

I smirk at them as I raise my glass, “To your health, kind one.”

I swear, toxics and money are the only things worth being terran-side.

Space Rat #2

Fallout Fridays – Institutionalized

The Sensory Array, a large metal tri-pod with a console and satellite dish are positioned on a large concrete platform.

The sun rises as we approach Sanctuary Hills. Despite the bombed out houses and machine gun turrets posted at the bridge, it’s actually quite pleasant to look at the shimmering creek low with mist. I can see why so many people have settled here already. It’s why Nate and I moved here once he served his time.

We were going to be a normal family. Live a quiet life. Try to recover and heal together.

The adoption process was almost as arduous as the “transition” process I went through while Nate was in Anchorage. Nothing but endless questions and brain scans and psychological screenings and genetics testing to make sure you were the Right Kind of abnormality. The kind that can be covered up and never spoken of again.

If there’s one thing I can be thankful for about the times I’m living in, at least we’re no longer under the thumb of the fucking Enclave government anymore. There’s no more sense in pretending to be normal anymore. And at least Nate can finally sleep.

Dr. Amari, Desdemona, and Tinker Tom are waiting by the towering sensor array. It’s everything I can do not to punch that damn doctor in the face. But it’s not her fault. I made her do this to me. And what’s worse is I know I wouldn’t still be alive if it wasn’t for what she’d done.

It’s no mystery to me how I’ve gone from a chubby children’s therapist to a gunslinging murderer in the span of three months. It’s not as if I’m unaware that my instincts to draw and aim my gun with a steady hand come from a man who was doing this longer than I’ve been alive. But I still killed him.

“Oh thank goodness! When I heard from Nick about your condition I came straight away. And of course you already know Tom and Dez,” She approaches me with her tarnished stethescope.

“Get. The Fuck. Away.”

She stops.

“I am here to add these last few components,” I hold up my backpack, “To shoot up a shit load of Psycho, Buffout, Mentats, and Jet,” I rattle my lunchbox full of drugs, “And then I am going to teleport into the Institute and murder every moving thing that comes between me and Shawn.”

I snap the biometric scanner into the console Tom has been Tinkering with. A couple red lights turn green.

The military circuits fit into the base of the gigantic beam emitter. Bright blue flashes swirl around the base of the stand. Now we’re starting to look like a damn teleporter.

Tom looks excited beyond his dreams, the blue flashes reflecting back in his eyes, “The signal is starting to rise! I don’t know how much time we’re gonna get before it peaks.”

Desdemona approaches me and hands me a holotape, “I don’t know how much time you’ll have when you’re there or if this will even work, but please take this with you! It will provide everything we know about The Institute and give you the means of contacting Codename: Patriot. He’s sympathetic to our cause and will likely be for yours as well!”

Desdemona and Tinker Tom look up at the Sole Survivor from the console of the Sensory Array.

The whirring and spinning deafening noises manage to even drown out the stacks of gas generators needed to keep this thing running. I stand in the middle of the platform, surrounded by the blue light stinging my skin.

“Nick!” I call out, “Thank you! For everything!”

Suddenly the blue lights go pure white, flooding my entire field of vision. It feels as though my body is somehow being squeezed through a keyhole until just as suddenly…

I’m here.

My gun is already drawn but there’s nobody else here in this cold metal room. It feels too much like the Vault.

There’s nowhere for me to go but forward as the voice of a man is piped in all around me.

“I am known as Father. The Institute is under my guidance.”

A round glass elevator in the middle of a dark metal room.

A round glass elevator arrives as I enter the next room. It’s a trap, but there’s no other option.

“I know why you’re here. I’d like to discuss things with you, face-to-face.”

Yeah, more like gun-to-face, motherfucker.

I punch the only button in the elevator and it lowers me into a large atrium. There is a vibrant scene of people walking about in white jumpsuits in the bright white clean test tube of a world. The voice keeps droning on about saving humanity from itself or some other creepy bullshit I don’t care about.

This place looks like it was straight out of a comic book. It’s obviously very advanced, even for the time I came from. But I already know their weaponry and combat skills ain’t all that impressive. And that’s what’s about to really matter.

Then the elevator stops.

I step out and walk into the next room.

And there is Shawn.

He’s not a baby anymore. I knew that already but it still hurts. But he still has those same eyes. Why is he locked in a glass room?!

“Shawn! Shawn I’ve been looking for you for so long…”

He looks startled. A dagger goes through my heart as he screams, “I don’t know you! Father! Father help me!”

“Are you okay, honey? You’re not hurt are you? Shawn, what do you want me to do?”

Shawn, a white ten-year-old boy with brown hair and blue eyes, is in a glass room and visibly distressed.

“Father help! She’s trying to take me!”

“Shawn please. I am your mother. These people took you from me and your father when you were just a baby. I know it doesn’t make sense but I’m here to make it right.”

A door slides open and my pistol is already aimed at an elderly man’s face as he says, “Shawn, S9-23 Recall Code Cirrus.”

The Sole Survivor looks down the barrel of her gun at an elderly man in a white lab coat.

That’s when Shawn goes limp.

Fallout Fridays – Institutionalized

Fallout Fridays – The List

“General, if it’s alright with you, Minuteman Long and I will bunker down in Tenpines Bluff for the night. That way we can let them know The Minutemen are finally back.”

His words barely even register. Nick and I have been talking for hours while the two men from Sanctuary have been inside picking for parts. While the two of us have been counting days. Even though I promised myself I wouldn’t.

I give Preston a weak salute and he seems pleased. Jun is looking at his feet, rifle clicking away in his hands once again. Preston takes him under his own arm and gently guides him. In the still air of a fresh kill, I can hear Jun’s quiet whispers to himself

“I did it just like I said I would I promised him I promised him I would make myself useful I promised him not to be sad I promised we would get there I promised…”

In my backpack are military-grade circuit boards, a Biometric Scanner, and a Sensor Module. The last three things we need to Find Shawn.

Find Shawn.

Which brings us to The List. The mutated fruits of our efforts to make sense out of nonsense. I read it over and over from my Pip-Boy, only half paying attention to the road while Nick leads the way back to Sanctuary.


The LIST

CONFIRMED

  1. The Day The Bombs Fell — October 23, 2077.
  2. The Day I Woke Up. Saved Sanctuary Settlers. — October 23, 2287
  3. The Day I Met Nick. — October 27, 2287
  4. The Day I Killed Kellogg. — October 29, 2287
  5. The Day My Brain Got Fucked — November 5, 2287

RELIABLE BUT NOT REMEMBERED

  1. I return to Sanctuary for the Power Armor. While helping the settlers search empty houses I opened Mr. Jahani’s root cellar and was attacked by ghouls. My former neighbors. Reportedly I fled the scene as soon as they were dead wearing the power armor in exchange for my vault suit. — November 24, 2287
  2. Children of Atom from the Glowing Sea report meeting someone in Power Armor looking for a scientist. Presumably this is also the day I met Virgil. — November 28, 2287
  3. Nick finds my barely conscious body on the edge of the Glowing Sea. He says when we woke up from the Brain Fuck I didn’t trust him and went off by myself. Sounds plausible. — November 30, 2287
  4. We arrive in Diamond City. Doc Crocker does what he can. — December 2, 2287

REMEMBERED BY NOT RELIABLE

  1. The Day I Killed The Courser — December 10, 2287
  2. We arrive in Goodneighbor — December 11, 2287
  3. We find The Railroad — December 13, 2287
  4. We arrive in Sanctuary — December 23, 2287
  5. I wake up in Sanctuary — December 27, 2287

I can’t believe I slept through fucking Christmas.

Tomorrow we’re going to finish the teleporter.

Tomorrow I infiltrate The Institute.

Tomorrow I Find Shawn.

Fallout Fridays – The List

Fallout Fridays – Taking Down The Joneses

I already knew Kellogg was sharing space in my brain, but the thought of other people knowing makes me feel contaminated.

I hurl my empty 10mm at Codsworth and his metallic body lets out a clang as the pistol falls to the floor. All three of us are silent, Garvey still behind the doorway with his laser musket aimed at my chest.

“Get out of my room, Codsworth,” I say flatly, “I need to talk to Minuteman Garvey.”

My blood is churning into foam and my ears are ringing, but I maintain my poker face. The robot follows my orders, because this is my house.

“At attention, soldier! Double Time!” I bark to Garvey.

He immediately lowers his weapon and stands at my feet. I stare him up and down with my best impersonation of drill sergeants from the stories Nate told me.

“Soldier, what you just heard is classified information. And I need to make sure it stays classified. Do you understand?”

“Sir, yes sir!”

Damn, I didn’t expect that to be so satisfying.

“Minuteman Garvey, I need a full status report on the teleportation project and any remaining needed hardware.”


I couldn’t stand still in that creepy place, so I’ve taken Preston Garvey and Jun Long on a milk run to get the last missing components and provide an assist to another settlement nearby, Tenpines Bluff.

I know Garvey can at least aim that musket of his, but I’m not so sure about Jun. As we passed through Concord and saw the rotting corpses of the very first men I killed being picked apart by crows, Jun’s rifle clicked in his shaking hands. I shared a bit of my personal Day Tripper stash, at least then he can keep his hands steady.

“I don’t see how you expect to be in fighting condition while using recreational substances,” Garvey says disapprovingly.

“Better living through chemistry, right Jun?” I reply after taking a handful of pills, “If I couldn’t get stoned on a consistent basis I’m pretty sure I would have died a long time ago.”

Jun nervously accepts my offer while stealing glances at Garvey, “I’m sorry. I promise to make myself useful. Nobody likes a grown man feeling sorry for himself.”

I give Jun a brief hug. Chalk it up to being stoned and him having a vague resemblance to my Nate. Dogmeat barks playfully as we leave Concord and make our way Northeast.

Tenpines Bluff turns out to be a tiny shack with a garden and two residents, but we quickly learn they’ve been getting attacked by feral ghouls at the nearby Satellite Olivia Station. So we make our way Northwest through the sparse “woods” toward the huge satellite dish in the distance.

“This is exactly why the Commonwealth needs the Minutemen,” Garvey puffs up, “Most folks are just trying to get by and just need a hand once in a while.”

“At least now we can kill two birds with one stone,” I joke, “A military site is bound to have all the hardware we need.”

It’s dusk when we  approach the site. That’s when I hear them. Those awful sucking/shrieking scream they make with what’s left of their vocal chords. I can handle Raiders and Super Mutants and all kinds of other shit that tries to kill me in this world. But zombies still freak me the hell out.

I hold up my fist and direct my companions to take cover on a nearby hill. Once they’re on their bellies, Dogmeat and I creep forward. I can’t see any of them, but I know they’re in there. I lob a molotov into the middle of the courtyard to get the party started.

That’s when everything gets strange.

Time itself seems to slow down and I see them. Eight shambling corpses crawling out of Mr. Jahani’s basement in their tattered rags. The smallest one wears nothing but a baseball cap and I stare into his eyes as I put a bullet between them. The screams echo all around me.

Is that Ms. Rosa? Was that her little Louis? Oh god what have I done?

My pistol falls from my hands and I run for the big Oak tree in the middle of the cul-de-sac as they swarm me. Decaying fingers gouging and scratching. Putrid breath churning my stomach. Screams deafening my ears and chilling my bones.

“I’m so sorry I didn’t know I’m so sorry oh god please”

Why didn’t I make sure they got into the Vault too? How could I take cover while others got burned alive? Why did I have to be the one who lived?

Dogmeat drags Mr. Peters off my leg and rips out his throat. But…but that’s not right? I thought I lost Dogmeat at the Fort Hagen? Where did he come from?

A red flash illuminates the sky and suddenly Mrs. Peters collapses onto my chest.

Where did that come from? What is happening?

I fish my combat knife out my boot and stab Mrs. Donoghue in the head. She’s still wearing that beautiful blouse I asked her to borrow.

It’s hard to see through the tears and the hands grasping my face, so I just keep stabbing and punching blindly. I don’t know how long we struggled, but eventually I was the only one left moving.

Once everything goes still, I vomit on my hands and knees, staring at chunks of half-digested Sugar Bombs and Nuka Cola.

Dogmeat’s cold wet nose against my arm makes me jump and I thrust him away before I can apologize. He whimpers but comes back to lick my outstretched hand.

That’s when it slowly dawns on me that I’m not actually in Sanctuary Hills. Because that is a giant satellite dish. And these ghouls are not my former neighbors. They don’t look anything like them.

I hear the flick of a match behind me and I snatch my pistol from the ground and whip around. It’s Nick!

“Well kid, that settles it. I’d say it’s past time we put our heads together again and try to get some answers. No matter how grim they might be.”

Fallout Fridays – Taking Down The Joneses