Fallout Fridays – Off the Rails

A white redhead woman smoking a cigarette in an underground brick room.

As soon as we walked through the door, Nick and I were blinded by floodlights.

“Halt Outsider. We’ve been following you since you left the Commons. You have exactly one chance to answer truthfully before we blast you apart. Who are you and what do you want?”

I lowered my pistol and tried to deescalate with the desperate mom routine. Cry. Talk. Find Shawn.

“Please, I’m trying to find The Railroad. I have spent months trying to track down my baby. He was kidnapped by The Institute. I have murdered every single agent of theirs across the Commonwealth. I have had my brain scooped open and contaminated with a psychopath just so I could gather some basic intel about them. I have been to The Glowing Sea and back again to talk to a sentient Super Mutant who used to be their top scientist so I could get schematics. And now, finally, after all this fucking time, I just need this Courser Chip decoded so I can break in and Find Shawn.”

*THUNK*

The floodlights went dark. As vision crept back into my corneas I could see a raised platform above us. On it was an olive skinned woman with white hair like mine, pointing a minigun directly at my chest. Next to her, a white redheaded woman smoking a cigarette and eyeing me with suspicion. In the corner, a boy in a blue jacket and newsie cap hiding his face. And on the stairs, blocking my path, a white man in Aviators wearing a plain white tee and jeans.

He was the first to speak, “The Courser Killer finally graces us with her presence.”

The redhead shot him an annoyed look and snapped back to me, “So it’s true then. You’ve actually seen a courser. And you killed it? And you recovered a chip from it’s brain?”

I pulled the cold metal component out of my bra, where I’d been hiding it ever since Dr. Amari recovered it. I held it flat in my palm as the redhead eyed it closely. Suddenly her eyes grew wide and she snapped back to attention, barking orders.

“Glory, lower your weapon. Drummer Boy, go get Tinker Tom. Deacon, I want every piece of intel you’ve gathered on our new friend. On the double, go!”

Glory eased her minigun slightly and stood at ease while the two boys clambered past each other into a hallway behind the leader.

Nick and I carefully approached the women on the platform, chip still in my hand. The redhead took a long final drag of her cigarette before flicking it away.

“I’m Desdemona, leader of The Railroad. Sorry about the rude welcome but you are about to become the only outsider who has ever set foot in our headquarters. But before I can allow that, I must ask you something crucial: Would you risk your life for your fellow man? Even if that man is a synth?”

A loud laugh escaped my mouth before I could compose myself. I thought about it for a minute. Truthfully, I had no desire to risk my life for anyone. Synth or human or otherwise. Had I put myself into dangerous situations for others? Sure. But always with ulterior motives. Find Shawn. The rest is secondary.

“Maybe I could answer that question for you: Yes. This woman risks her life every day for at least one synth. Not only did she rescue me from a sealed vault, she even managed to fast talk our safe passage out of there when things got too hot. And believe you me, you’d much rather be her ally than her enemy.”

Nick placed a hand on my shoulder and gave it an affection squeeze. Desdemona and Glory both seemed impressed.

Sure, I stick my neck out for Nick all the time. But that’s because I need Nick to Find Shawn. What would I do if I didn’t need him anymore? What happens after I Find Shawn?

A red light flashed, then we followed Desdemona through the hallway into a large open crypt-turned-military-operation. All eyes were on me and Nick.

“We’re going to need time to decrypt this Courser Chip of yours and make sense of these…very crudely drawn schematics. In the meantime, Deacon and I will brief you on everything we know about the Institute. I have a feeling we could be great allies. Welcome to The Railroad.”

An underground brick room light by candles. Several people stand around a circular table covered in notes, maps, and cigarettes. This is the Railroad HQ.
An underground brick room light by candles. Several people stand around a circular table covered in notes, maps, and cigarettes. This is the Railroad HQ.
Fallout Fridays – Off the Rails
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Fallout Fridays – Trailing Tour

When I woke up the next morning, Magnolia was nowhere to be found. Which saved me the trouble of any awkward goodbyes.

“Oh good, you’re awake.” I heard Nick opening my hotel room door behind me as I finished getting dressed.

“Dr. Amari got the chip out while you were wetting your beak last night. But she says we’re gonna need some help getting it to dance for us.”

I held the surprisingly clean microchip in my hand and sighed, “What does that mean, Nick?”

“It means we’re going to have to make some new friends along the Freedom Trail. A group that fancies themselves abolitionists. Call themselves The Railroad.”

I never did much in the way of Bostonian tourism before The Day. Or if I did, I don’t have any memories of it. As far as I can remember, my husband and I had only just moved here. But everyone knows about the Freedom Trail downtown. Even now, it seems.

Our would-be adventure started in Boston Commons, which is rumored to be the home of a giant monster named “Swan”. Thankfully, I can still neither confirm nor deny the truth of that rumor. In front of a broken fountain was a crude spray-painted sign reading “At journey’s end, follow freedom’s lantern.” Below our feet we found a State Seal with the number 7 pointing toward an “A” in crude graffiti.

Next is the State House, L4.

Then the Old Granary Cemetary, A2, which is naturally covered in feral ghouls.

Old State House is O6.

The Old Corner Bookstore was nearly a deathtrap between more ferals and raiders. But I’m still alive so – 3I.

At Faneuil Hall, a large gathering of Super Mutants put a hold on our progress. One of them had a missile launcher, which he was using to gleefully blast holes in the ground to prevent boredom.

Nick looked at me between worried peaks over our cover, “How do you wanna handle this, kid? I don’t think we can take them head-on and live to tell about it.”

I looked through my bag and dug out the Stealthboys we had salvaged off Kellogg and the courser. I tossed one to Nick.

“We can’t outgun them, so we’re gonna have to outsmart them. Use this to get to the other side of the courtyard without being seen. I’ll distract them by sniping a couple of the weaker looking ones. As soon as they start moving toward my location, that’s when you start shooting. That gives me time to cloak and relocate. Then I’ll pull them off of you from another corner of the yard. With any luck, they’ll be too confused until it’s too late.”

Nick stroked his plastic chin with a concerned look before admitting, “It’s suicide, but it might be foolish enough to work.”

The plan started off well.

I followed his hazy camouflaged figure through the scope of my rifle before lining my sights with the head of the “smallest” Super Mutant. Exhale and squeeze, Dori. Wait for the pink mist.

That’s when it goes wrong.

As soon as the first mutant fell, a missile came screaming toward my location, forcing me to fall back and reveal myself. Nick popped off a few shots so I could cloak, but then I began to hear a frantic beeping getting closer and closer.

That’s when I noticed the Super Mutant holding an active Mini Nuke in his hands like a football, charging toward me without hesitation.

“Fuuuuuuuuuuuck!”

I ran backwards as fast as I could while unloading half my bullets into that beast’s head. He dropped and I immediately hit the dirt, waiting for an explosion that never came. Nick’s cries for help pulled me back into the fray. As I ran back I slammed a big hit of Psychojet. Everything seemed to slow down except for me, while I felt a murderous surge of chemicals fill my bloodstream. I rushed toward Nick’s location with my shotgun in hand, and somehow managed to squeeze off a round into the last two Super Mutants’ heads before they noticed me. I unleashed the kind of yawp I imagine would be right at home among vikings, while I continued to bash their skulls in with the butt of the shotgun.

“Need I gently remind you we have a trail to follow?”

Faneuil Hall – 5R.

Paul Revere’s House – 8D.

And finally the end of the line, Old North Church – 1R.

1R, 2A, 3I, 4L, 5R, 6O, 7A, 8D.

R-A-I-L-R-O-A-D?

Are you fucking kidding me?

If this is the smartest band of people in the Commonwealth, we might be in more trouble than I thought.

Fallout Fridays – Trailing Tour

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

Fallout Fridays – Kill Kellogg

[Image: First-person view of Kellogg, a bald white man with a large scar across his eye wearing leather armor in a run-down war room. Caption is Dorian Mooneyham: I'm going to make you suffer.]
[Image: First-person view of Kellogg, a bald white man with a large scar across his eye wearing leather armor in a run-down war room. Caption is Dorian Mooneyham: I’m going to make you suffer.]
October 29th, 2287

After escaping Skinny Malone and his bumbling goons, Nick Valentine and I ran back to Diamond City under the cover of night. Thankfully, with targets harder to see, people get a lot less trigger happy. Of course Ellie was ecstatic. She’s a cute kid, and I’m fairly certain she has a crush on our mutual robot friend. He was all business though, and wanted to take down my case as soon as we were back at his office.

[Image: Nick Valentine's Detective Agency. From left to right, Nick Valentine, a synth private eye in trench coat and hat; Dorian Mooneyham, our Mary Sue in Blue vault suit, white with a dirty blond ponytail; and Ellie Perkins, brunette assistant with a wasteland-but-cute skirt and top with converse sneakers. Caption is Ellie Perkins to Nick Valentine: Hmph, you keep laughing at death, some day, death's going to laugh back.]
[Image: Nick Valentine’s Detective Agency. From left to right, Nick Valentine, a synth private eye in trench coat and hat; Dorian Mooneyham, our Mary Sue in Blue vault suit, white with a dirty blond ponytail; and Ellie Perkins, brunette assistant with a wasteland-but-cute skirt and top with converse sneakers. Caption is Ellie Perkins to Nick Valentine: Hmph, you keep laughing at death, some day, death’s going to laugh back.]
Reliving that moment when my baby was stolen was…rough. To say the least. But I gave them every detail I possibly could. What the man and woman were wearing, how they talked, what they said. And his face. With that bald head and that nasty scar across his left eye. Not dissimilar to the scar I have now from that monster that attacked me in the power suit. As soon as I mentioned the scar, Ellie and Nick both went quiet.

“You don’t think–?” Ellie trailed off.

“What? Who is it? Give me a name, goddammit!” I demanded.

Kellogg. Continue reading “Fallout Fridays – Kill Kellogg”

Fallout Fridays – Kill Kellogg

Fallout Fridays – It’s No Emerald City

October 27th, 2287

It’s only been four days since I woke up from the Vault, and I’ve already had to kill 78 men in order to survive this horrible world. That’s right, I’ve kept count. I thought I would forget after the second dozen or so, but I can’t. The killing doesn’t get easier, but I hate to admit I’m getting better at it.

Dogmeat and I left the Red Rocket early in the morning and made our way south toward Fenway Park. Or “Diamond City”, as I suppose it is known now. Before we even got far we saw two goons who looked like they were trying to rob an old lady and her son at the Drumlin Diner. I tried to be diplomatic. He stuck a gun in my face. Without thinking I tackled him, threw him over my back, and stabbed his companion in the neck, then stomped his head in before a single shot could be fired. The old lady, Trudy, was grateful. If a little frightened. Turns out they were pushers and had gotten her grandson hooked on junk, squeezing him for cash. (Sorry, “Caps”. Apparently bottlecaps are currency now.)

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Continue reading “Fallout Fridays – It’s No Emerald City”

Fallout Fridays – It’s No Emerald City

Fallout Fridays – Lost in Time

Last known date: October 23, 2077

My name is Dorian Mooneyham and I am starting this journal because I have just had the worst day possible. In what feels, to me, like less than 24 hours, I’ve seen the world destroyed by nuclear annihilation between America and China, been frozen in an underground vault for god knows how long, watched my newborn kidnapped and my husband murdered, and woken up to find nothing but giant cockroaches and dead neighbors and a nuclear wasteland.

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I used to be a counselor, before the bombs fell. Ran a youth center with my husband once he came back from the war. We finally adopted a kid of our own after clearing countless amounts of red tape and citizenship screening. Technically, women like me have every right to adopt as other women in this day and age, but in reality we have to lay on the femininity pretty thick to get through the gates. But we did it, goddammit. And after a bright flash and a cold nap, it’s all been stolen from right in front of me. Continue reading “Fallout Fridays – Lost in Time”

Fallout Fridays – Lost in Time