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Author Topic: I don't want to set the world on fire... [Fallout. 4.]  (Read 325 times)

Vikarion

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Re: I don't want to set the world on fire... [Fallout. 4.]
« Reply #15 on: 22 Jan 2017, 04:08 »

October 21st, 2077
*Note, left on dresser*

Nate, had to go down to Vault-Tec Regional HQ this morning - that's what that call was about. Apparently they are talking about having me start up early. Also, a Vault-Tec salesman will be by sometime within the next couple of days to sign us up.

Well. I will see you later today. We should talk about that job with Corvega. I want you to be happy, honey, and if I have to work a little harder, a little longer, every day, so that you can find that perfect job that just fits you just right, I supppppooooooose I can. <end obvious guilt trip>

Honestly, Nate, you do what you think is best. I trust you. Stop feeling guilty and just make the best decision you can. We'll talk it out tonight, if you want.

Not this weekend, though, please. If this is the last weekend before I have to start work? Then let's waste it gloriously.

See ya this afternoon,
Erin
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Vikarion

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Re: I don't want to set the world on fire... [Fallout. 4.]
« Reply #16 on: 22 Jan 2017, 23:25 »

2.
October 23rd, 2077

The last Saturday before I was to start my job dawned bright and cheery, if a bit brisk. I'd showered the night before, so I simply brushed out my hair, noted that the curl I'd put in was starting to fail, and then popped into the bathroom, where I discovered Nate practicing his speech in front of the mirror.

"You'll do fine", I said, and managed to body-check him away from the medicine cabinet long enough to grab a toothbrush. He'd been practicing the speech for five or six days, at this point, I was beginning to have it memorized. That was Nate's method, however: do it until he had it down. As opposed to my own, which was what he liked to call unprepared and I liked to call "improvisational".

He mumbled something and started brushing his own teeth as I headed out of the bathroom. I took a moment to put our bedroom in order - nothing major, Codsworth had already made the bed - and checked the weather by the simple expedient of looking out the window. A beautiful day, if a bit chilly, as I could tell from the condensation around the edges of the windows. Then I followed the sounds of the robot to the kitchen.

Codsworth was there, as he was every morning, absurdly pleased to be offering coffee and a paper. But then, he was a domestic robot - morning was probably the highlight of his day. And while I was musing on that, and chuckling about the latest comic book Nate had dragged in. What is it with guys and those? "Grognak and the Jungle of the Bat Babies?" Really? Of course, that didn't mean I wasn't planning to read this one the moment I could do so without being witnessed.

I was about to ask Nate what he wanted to do today when Shaun finally woke up for real. There was a gasp, a moment of silence as he inflated his lungs, and then the full throated wail of "I've pooped myself, and I don't know what to do next!" which, Codsworth, bless him, has learned to diagnose by pitch. And that, of course, gave Nate an opening.

"I know we were nervous, but buying..." Complete with full, shit-eating-grin.

"I know, I know." I said. "Come on, you know I love him. Buzz-saw and all. I surrender. You win."

"Alright," He held up part of the newspaper defensively. "I accept your surrender. I'm a little scared not to". A smile, then, motioning towards the weather report on the TV "So, it looks to be nice. Want to-"

I didn't hear the rest, because the doorbell rang, startling me and almost making me drop my coffee.

"It's that Vault-Tec Rep," Nate said, staring past me out the window. "I wonder why he keeps bothering you?"

"Because I haven't signed the final papers for membership in the Vault," I sighed, and went over to the door. The man outside was, well, sort of a seedy ginger-haired man operating off of a script and trying to be enthusiastic. He did manage to work in the "Total Atomic Annihilation" phrase, however, so I suppose our employers - well, still just his, for another day or so - would have been happy, relatively.

It was the work of only a couple minutes to finish signing up and awkwardly say goodbye. Nate and I had a moment to watch the rest of the weather, and then Shaun started up again, with a slightly wilted Codsworth popping out of the hallway.

"Uh, Miss Erin?" he said, conveying an air of apologetic distress as he tended to do when he thought things had gone wrong despite his best efforts, "I've changed Shaun. But he seems to be in need of some of that...ah...maternal affection you seem to be so good at."

I figured as much. Shaun had actually done exceptionally well today. He'd slept through the night, and woken up very late. It was...what, 9:35 or so? He really was getting older.

Codsworth was right. Shaun quieted right down as soon as I entered his bedroom. Nate followed me, and I had one of those moments where all was right with the world. Nate had just fixed Shaun's mobile (a success somewhat counterbalanced by he and Codsworth nearly welding themselves to the HVAC unit earlier in that do-it-yourself fix-it session), and Shaun did seem reasonably distracted by it. But I wouldn't give away Nate's penchant for mechanical tinkering for a moment, and as the two of us stood beside our child, I felt secure, finally. Safe.

"I was thinking," Nate said, breaking me out of me momentary reverie. "We could go to the park today. Maybe even eat out."

I considered that. We had pumpkins to carve, but they could wait, and the weather was nice. Why not? "Sure", I said, and was about to suggest going out for brunch when Codsworth called out from the living room.

"Sir? Ma'am? I think you need to come see this!"

You know how voices can have a timbre to them, a quality that tells you everything you need to know, emotionally, before you even hear the facts? You wouldn't think that a robot could manage that. You wouldn't think so, but they can.

I walked out to the main room. Codsworth was there. "What is it..." I began, but the words died on my lips, because the newscaster on the television was speaking:

"Followed by... yes, followed by flashes. Blinding flashes...but we seem to have lost contact with our affiliate stations...confirmed reports of nuclear detonations in New York and Pennsylvania...My god..."

And then the screen went to static.

I know he said more than that. To me, though, I understood what he was saying, but it was like, for a few seconds, as if the world had gone flat, and papery, and colorless. Because I understood what was happening, immediately, and now I understand what they mean when they talk about denial. It's not this willful ignorance, not always. Sometimes you encounter your fears incarnated into reality, and it seems impossibly unfair that this should happen. So I stood there, for a precious moment, just watching the newscaster, noticing someone run by the window, and for that moment, everything seemed incredibly, completely disconnected.

For a moment, I wondered if it could be a drill. There had been drills, before. But not with the newscaster, no. That would cause panic. The US government was very against causing panic. That, along with the tv going to static, cleared my mind. Nate was there, he had Shaun. And...

"We have to get to the Vault!" I cried. The thought had blossomed in my mind, like a word that has been on the tip of your tongue. The Vault. The Vault! We were enrolled in the Vault program!

Outside, sirens began to wail as I threw open the door and all three of us ran outside. I was the last out, poor Codsworth still hovering uncertainly by the sofa as we left. I paused as I left, unsure, out of time. "Codsworth," I said, feeling guilty and horrid for...for leaving him. "Stay...stay safe, honey". And then I was out the door. I didn't hear his response.

Outside was chaos. Not a mad house, not insane. But chaos. I heard the chop-chop sound of vertibirds, and down the street a man in uniform was waving people across the street. Someone with a megaphone - or it sounded like it - was saying something about evacuating to the Vault, but I couldn't be sure, because the sound of the siren slowly rising and falling and the vertibird overhead made everything else almost impossible to hear clearly. Many of our neighbors were outside, holding each other, or loading into their cars, or running towards the Vault, which seemed like a good idea to me, especially since Nate was already doing just that with Shaun.

As I crossed the footbridge across the creek, I saw a young couple arguing over a spilled suitcase, and then we were at the gate. I know something went down, something with the Vault-Tec Rep who had just been at our house. We were at the end of the line, and I was staring up at a Vertibird coming in to land, and then I heard a "whirring" sound, the small crowd shrank back, and the Vault-Tec Rep ran by me, screaming about reporting something.

There was a pause, for a moment, and a man in uniform, standing next to someone in a suit of powered armor and carrying a minigun - which I guessed was the source of the sound - began calling for people "on the list" to step forward. That took a moment to register, with everyone, I suppose, and then I shoved my way forward. "We're on the list!" I said, trying not to gasp, and gave our names. For a moment, as he checked his clipboard, I was afraid that we weren't on it, that Vault-Tec had fucked up. But he nodded, said "They're on the list" to the figure in power armor, and stepped out of the way. And then Nate and I were running, up the hill as a Vault-Tec security guard screamed at us to go, go, go!

I hadn't been up here before. It turned out that there was a large lift built into the top of the hill, and I saw many of our neighbors on it as we approached and scrambled up. Then there was a pause, I'm not sure why, perhaps they were waiting for more people. Then "alright, that's it, send them down."

"How's Shaun?" I gasped. The first unreal shock was beginning to pass for me, and now I was starting to hope, very much, that this was some sort of drill. There had been others. Maybe it was a limited exchange, or maybe friendly fire, or a conventional explosion, or...

"He's fine", Nate said, trying to smile back at me. I was standing near the edge of the lift pad. Nate was standing near the center, facing me, holding Shaun. "We're gonna be okay" he continued. "I love-"

If I hadn't been looking off to the side at that exact moment, I might have been blinded. One moment, I could see, and the next, everything was brilliantly, almost painfully white. So white, that you could feel the light, like a force. It faded, accompanied by the cries of others on the platform, and maybe mine too, I don't know. As it faded, a brilliant white and black and red and orange ball, bright as the sun, raced skyward, halo shock rings spreading into a suddenly orange sky. And, at its base, a shockwave, racing towards us.

There was a yell from somewhere behind us "Down! Send them down now!" The lift lurched into motion, and then, slowly, of course, began to take us down. Yet it was fast enough. Nate and I kept ourselves down, crouched over Shaun, and death passed over us.

- - -

The ride down seemed longer than it was, I know. To say that we were in shock was an understatement. One or two people barely kept themselves composed. We went through check-in, picked up a Vault suit for each of us, and then followed a doctor into a room with large...pods, I guess, where we were informed that we should change into our vault suits and seat ourselves in the decontamination pods before going deeper into the vault. We were moved along pretty quickly, and I wish I could have had a bit more time, but it seemed like they were trying to get everyone situated before anyone had a meltdown. I understood, as I was beginning to suspect that everyone was going to have some sort of emotional reckoning at some point or another, and my own useful numbness was starting to fray.

Shaun, after being remarkably quiet, began to fuss, so the doc left Nate and I to calm him down for a moment. He did, and I offered to take him, but Nate was insistent, so I held him while Nate changed and then gave him back. I wasn't too thrilled about changing right there and then myself, but no one else seemed to be paying attention, so I just slipped into the vault suit as quickly as I could, then hopped into the decontamination pod.

There was a moment of waiting, which gave me time to realize that the vault suit was actually pretty comfortable, and then the...hatch...front plate? On the pod came down. There was a hissing noise, and then a voice said something about the procedure being complete in five, four...and I had time to think that that was pretty fast. And then there was a split second of extreme cold.

Have you ever been under for surgery? I think that this was a bit like that. There wasn't any perception of time, or movement. The next thing I knew, I was very, very cold, coughing, and surrounded by cold fog and condensation. Outside, there were muffled voices. Then...figures. A...man...and someone in some sort of environment suit, and they were opening the pod across from me.

Things were going too fast, much too fast. The pod was open, Nate was holding Shaun. Then the figure in the environment suit was trying to take Shaun. Pulling at him, and Nate holding on. I blinked, stared, the man was holding a pistol, and then the pistol roared, and Nate was thrown back into the pod, and I was slamming my fists into the glass porthole.

They casually closed the pod, and the one in the environment suit walked off carrying Shaun. The man turned to me, stared into the glass, and said "at least we've still got the backup". He didn't even flinch when I punched the glass in front of his face.

And then there was that hiss, a moment of nothingness, and then I was waking up again, and this time, as I pounded my fists against the interior of the casket, it cracked open, the hatch spilling up and away, and I fell out onto my knees on the floor, gagging and retching.
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Vikarion

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Re: I don't want to set the world on fire... [Fallout. 4.]
« Reply #17 on: 23 Jan 2017, 01:56 »

3.
Unknown

I...don't know how to describe what had just happened to me. Tragedies in movies and shows almost always come with expectation, with build up. What do you do when your husband has just been shot in front of you, when your child has just been stolen?

In my case, I retched, and got up, and scrabbled at the glass of the nearest pod, hoping for a face, hoping, I guess, although my thoughts weren't that together, for someone I could thaw out, someone to help. Instead, I saw a frost-rimmed cadaver, twisted and dead, and when I yanked at the handle, all there was was some computerized voice muttering something about "cryo-failure".

Then I was crying and yanking at Nate's pod, at the handle that controlled it, and it rose, the hatch, slowly. And there was Nate, eyes closed, blood spattering his suit...and frozen as hard as a rock. It was grotesque. There was a large, neat hole in his chest. It must have gone through his heart, and his lung - almost instant, but there was tinges of red at the corners of his mouth.

I had to hold Nate's stiff, frozen hand in mine to get his wedding ring off. I...don't know why I had to have it. I just did. And as I stood there, shaking, holding his hand until I could work it off, something inside me ignited, hot, and cold, and hard. I don't think I'd ever truly hated someone, until now. Not really.

I checked the terminal, before I left, and I checked the other pods. All dead. In both rooms of pods. Life support failure. The main door to the exit was jammed, so I began making my way through a secondary passageway, apparently the staff areas, and it took me all of ten seconds to run into a computer.

At this point, my opinion of Vault-Tec had reached historic lows. The terminal was...informative. According to the staff instructions, most of the people from Sanctuary Hills were enrolled, and were to be frozen, for an indeterminate amount of time. The security logs detailed that after we were frozen, apparently eventually the staff ran out of food and mutinied. That wasn't supposed to happen, according to the official instructions - they were supposed to receive an All-Clear signal from Vault-Tec.

No all-clear ever came, and they left - or tried to leave - sometime after the last dated log, in April 2078.

I began to feel a sort of fear, deep in my stomach. So, I'd been frozen for, what, six, seven months? Was that why one of the murderers had been wearing an environment suit? Was it still radioactive outside? Had the man taken his off? And...how long have I been frozen? That reminded me to get a move on. It was cold, cold in the vault. And damp, and it smelled like mold and mildew.

I encountered the first bug as I came around a corner and saw it clinging to the other side of an interior window, but it jumped off before I could get a good look. The second one was in a nearby hallway. It looked like a giant roach.

Now, while I generally freak out less about bugs than some, that is not true for roaches. I hate roaches. So, I pulled out a security baton I'd found lying on a crate a couple rooms back, and crunched the thing. It was huge, maybe eight to twelve inches long. I broke its back with an overhand strike, then stomped on it. In the future, I will refrain from stomping any bug as large as my shoe, I should add.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was to come around the next corner and find a couple more. And then a couple more. And then about seven more. Turns out they bite, too. The real nice touch was when I had finished off the last of them, was looking around, and, oh, there's a vault-boy poster: extermination is everyone's duty!

Oh, good.

Vault 111, it turned out, was pretty small, and as I moved along it, I considered what I'd read on the terminal. It was hard to, but I had to, because otherwise my mind would go to...to a bright flash. To a gun shot. To...so, no. There would be a time for that, but i couldn't afford it here. So instead I thought about Vault-Tec.

Obviously, from the terminal, Vault-Tec had been hiding quite a lot from us, but it also looked like they hadn't tried to kill us. The thing is, I could kind of get why they did it. After all, if you want to save a number of people from...ahem..."total atomic annihilation", well, you have to provide them with shelter, food, and water. If they are frozen, however, the only thing they are using, really, is basic life support and refrigeration. In other words, electrical power. If you tell them beforehand, of course, they'll throw a giant fit - admit it, I'd have thrown one, sure - about getting frozen. So, you just freeze them and tell them after you thaw them out. What are they going to do, sue you for saving their life?

So if Vault-Tec was at least sort of playing by the rules, that meant that all of this...death, this tomb...was probably related to either the mutiny, or the murder and kidnapping. The computers said that there had been manual interference. So, at some point, someone had turned off the life support? Or wrecked it. So why had I survived? Because I was the "backup"? Was that it?

And why had no "All-Clear" ever come from Vault-Tec? They were supposed to be completely prepared to monitor the outside world, and with multiple, redundant, and automated stations. What had happened?

The vault did include a small kitchen for the staff. It looked like everyone had left in a hurry, empty bottles scattered around, and no food, of course. Given that the security logs had mentioned that they were running out of food, I wasn't surprised. But I did fill up the bottles at a water fountain and a sink. It can't hurt to have fresh water, ever, right?

The Overseer's office was not far past the kitchen. His skeleton was sprawled behind his desk, and I stepped gingerly around it to reach his terminal. Looking through it, it seemed like he had probably panicked, trying to force the staff to remain in the Vault past Vault-Tec's designated shelter time. Fortunately, his terminal also let me open the doors to the exit, and after picking up the 10mm pistol lying on his desk, I headed for the exit.

Based on the skeletons here, either the revolt succeeded, or came as close as possible and wiped out the opposition to boot. All that was left were two roaches, one of which managed to surprise me. Fortunately, their mandibles had a tough time making it through the vault suit. There was also a Pip-Boy, wrapped around the skeletal arm of someone who had been wearing a lab coat.

I picked it up, the dead man's bones sliding free of it, and strapped it on. There was a heavy layer of dust on the screen. Wiping it off, I switched the Pip-Boy on, and watched it boot up. It took a moment, then a little Vault-Boy figure appeared and gave me a thumbs up. I figured that that was as good a signal as any, and plugged the Pip-Boy into the control console for the Vault door, and slammed the release.

There is a certain majesty to watching a Vault open. I never saw 111 close its main door. When I hit the button to open it, the great arm swung forward, slotted into the door, and wound it like an old-fashioned toy. Then it pulled the whole massive behemoth backwards, with a grating rumble that accompanied a popping in my ears as the pressure change. And then, slowly, it rolled to the side, like some slow giant toppling over.

The elevator ride up was...long. It felt like coming up for air from the bottom of a deep, murky pool. I don't know what happened in Vault 111, not yet. It had the feel of a crypt. As the elevator brought me to the surface, two blast doors rolled back, and light, brilliant sunlight, blinded me.

It took me a moment to recover. Everything was quiet. The air was still. There was a smell, though, faint, like old ashes. I looked out, south, down towards Boston.

I did not see a living thing. I thought suddenly of radiation, then remembered that Pip-Boys are supposed to come with excellent Geiger counters. It was quiet. Everything was. I could have been the last person on earth.

I looked at my Pip-Boy - I guess it was mine now, by right of pickup. I checked the map, but it was blank. Either it was broken, or it wiped when it was turned off. Down beneath the map was a date and time-stamp. It read: "October 23rd, 2287"

So, I thought, my Pip-Boy is broken. Great.




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Vikarion

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Re: I don't want to set the world on fire... [Fallout. 4.]
« Reply #18 on: 23 Jan 2017, 22:17 »

October 23rd, 2287, 9:21 am.

I cannot describe how utterly desolate it was, on that platform, staring down towards my old neighborhood. The only sound was the wind, a constant breeze, blowing north. And it was cold, with a brilliant, white sun high in the sky. Long-dead trees raised bare, agonized fingers to the sky to grasp at the wind, and a series of electrical towers raced south, long corroded, some missing wire. From below, occasionally, a faint metallic bang would come, as something caught the wind.

I began to feel a cold clench grow in my stomach as I tried to make out my house. I couldn't, but what I could see, was discouraging. Some of the houses looked collapsed, others had holes in the roof. All seemed to be missing windows - probably the blast wave. It occurred to me that the nuke must have been a good distance away, several miles, in fact, or we...well, I...would never have survived.

Nate's gone. The thought grasped me, like a cold hand on the shoulder. Nate was gone. I wasn't going to come home after a trip and everything and be fine. And Shaun was gone, too, and...

So I turned around, trying to get away from that thought, startling some ravens, which in turn, startled me, which at least let me cram that thought down and put a lid on it, for the moment.

There were skeletons scattered about. Some still wearing old, brittle rags, some not. Maybe they had burned. I gathered anything useful from the various small remnants of the construction, mostly empty bottles, and I managed to find an unopened package of Cram in a trailer, as well as some more 10mm ammo for the pistols I found in the vault. I took the opportunity to make sure I had the gun ready, too.

Then I took the path back down. I stopped at the gate, where they'd had "the list". There was no suit of power armor, just three or four skeletons. I think one of them was the man with the clipboard, the man in a uniform, but I couldn't be sure, because the skeleton was bare. But he was on the other side of the fence. Or perhaps he had rushed the fence, perhaps they all had, and been shot. Or perhaps the shockwave had just washed over them, shredding them with splinters and debris. There were also some beans by the side of the path, which I picked.

I could tell I was delaying. I didn't want to go home. I stopped at the head of the path, and just sort of looked around, not really seeing, when my eyes caught movement to my left, in front of my old house. A familiar shape, which -

"Codsworth?" I said, or thought I said. I must have whispered it. Then, I was running towards him, grabbing him as he was trying to do something to the weeds in front of the house. "Codsworth!" I said, and nearly gave him a hug, except that I wasn't sure how I could have done it.

"As I live and breathe!" - the robot expostulated, then he directed three all eyestalks at me, "it...it IS you!" he crowed.

Codsworth, it turned out, was perfectly functional. But then, of course, he wanted to know "where are sir and Shaun?" and I had to answer that and...it didn't really seem to get through. When I told him that Nate had been murdered, he asked if playing a game with Shaun might cheer me up, and then, when I told him Shaun had been kidnapped...he asked if I was quite alright, maybe hallucinating, as eating 200-year-old-food could do that to me.

That cold ball of fear, growing as I got closer to home, exploded, nearly choked me. "Two...two hundred years?" i croaked.

"A bit over 210," he said, and went on, but it faded into noise. Two hundred and ten years. Then...then everything was gone. Not just Nate. But Shaun, almost certainly. My family. My in-laws. My parents. And Codsworth...Codsworth had been here the whole time?

"Codsworth," I managed to ask, "Are you alright?"

I suppose that must have undammed some reservoir of robot anguish, because Codsworth, robot or not, apparently had been very lonely. Also, distressed at the insufficiency of cleaning products to the demands of a post-nuclear world, but, I think, mostly lonely. Because that is exactly what I was feeling very much right then, along with all the grief and rage I could hold.

The rest is somewhat a blur. Codsworth had a holotape from sir, for me, which I accepted. Codworth wanted to search the neighborhood - he obviously hadn't seen Shaun - and I humored him. We found nothing but more giant bugs, including giant flies, and I shot them without any trouble. I hadn't used a 10mm much before - my father took me to the range a few times, and Nate would shoot sometimes, but I've never owned a pistol. It was...surprisingly satisfying. It felt good, to kill something. I think it let me take a little pressure off, because I need to calm down, and figure out how to survive.

Codsworth recommended I head towards Concord, as the people there had "only shot at him a few times". In my blur, I started heading that way, and I didn't stop until I'd crossed over the run-down bridge that crossed over the river, and found two bodies. One was a hairless, evil-looking canine of some sort, dead, with a tire iron protruding its ribcage. The other was a man, also dead. In the distance, I heard something that sounded like a gunshot, and then, another. That cleared my head, or at least woke me up. Stripping the bodies, I hurried back across the bridge. For the moment, I think I should stay in the neighborhood. I'm not ready to leave. And...I have to have some time to let myself feel all of this.
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Vikarion

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Re: I don't want to set the world on fire... [Fallout. 4.]
« Reply #19 on: 24 Jan 2017, 21:41 »

October 26th, 2287, 4:49 am

It has been three days since...what? Since Nate was murdered? For me, yes. For the world, who knows? Since Shaun was taken.

I keep wanting to go back up to the vault, back up to see. I think that I'll go back, and go down, and it'll all have been some cryogenic-sleep-induced hallucination. There will be Nate, holding Shaun, and our neighbors, and I can just wake them all up, and we'll rebuild, it'll be tough but...

And then I look at my house, the treasure chest of my earthly hopes, and I know. I know that the Vault is real, that the bodies in there...

...so, they're dead. So what? But Nate - he's frozen. But I saw him, alive, before he was shot! Maybe, maybe, if I found a doctor, and I could unthaw...

...are dead. That Nate has an entrance hole the size of a quarter in his chest. That he is dead. That Shaun is...gone. That I am a woman out of time, and alone.

Well, and a robot. Fuck, I can still laugh.

I walked into my home that afternoon, after following Codsworth around and then nearly stumbling out of the neighborhood, and it was...strange. That is the best way I can describe it, the English language doesn't have a word for what I felt. It was some combination of fascinated horror, nostalgia, unreality, and violation. My home was remarkably well preserved, probably due in part to Codsworth, but so were some of the others. I suppose that things take longer to wear out when there's nothing living to crack, and expand, and eat, and rot. Nuclear war: guaranteed to kill absolutely everything - including you! - that might result in you making a claim on that warranty!

Except roaches and flies. It just makes those fucking huge.

Grief, for me, didn't come in stages, or in some sort of process. Anger, denial, fear, guilt, rage, hate, sheer pain - these all came in little varieties, building on each other in little scaffoldings of thought, little branches from a tree. The occasional bitter laugh as some cruel way of seeing another facet of the situation, another way that, alternately, it was all my fault, or, (better? worse?) I had never had a chance, a choice. And the...

The fear, the thick, chilly fear. The "bang" of a white flash, heat on the skin, white-out, and then...the sky on fire. Halo rings expanding, flying away as that incandescent light ascended, grew black, as that rushing, writhing mass flew towards us...what if the lift had jammed? What if we hadn't been in the thermal shadow of the intervening hills? Is that how my parents died? Flash-burned to ash? Shredded by the blast wave, like I think those on the path died? What about Nate's brother? They are dead now, but how? Did they ever know what happened to us?

My house was almost as I had left it. Oh, someone had been in there - Codsworth, for one, but it was...it was almost as if I'd stepped out, on that day (can it really be 200 years ago?) and everything had just been left exactly where it was. Not true entirely, of course. The food was missing. So were a few items, though Codsworth might have used them. I...didn't move much. I went into Shaun's room, I don't know why, to punish myself, maybe. Well, it worked.

Our room, when I finally got to it, was perhaps the worst off, probably because the large windows let the elements in. Our bed frame was broken, and there was no trace of the mattress, or of any of our clothes. I ended up just gathering what I could from the nearby houses - sofa cushions, pillows, and a bedframe, to put together a makeshift bed. It was still the afternoon, but I was exhausted, in more ways than one.

I awakened in the middle of the night to the sound of hollow, crackling thunder. That's the only way I can describe it. I went outside to look, and a storm was rolling in. It was...otherworldly, like you might see on Venus, or Saturn. Green, glowing, dusty clouds covered the sky, and lightning flashed, and when it did, thunder boomed, but with a hollow, metallic reverberation. The air was thick with that smell you get before a major thunderstorm, and the feel, too, that charge in the air. Another scent, too: coppery, metallic, sometimes burnt metal, on the tongue.

Occasionally, the geiger counter on my Pip-Boy would tick over. The storm brought radiation with it, but not much. It lasted about two or three hours, and there was no rain. I tried to stay inside as much as I could, in case that helped reduce exposure, but it was weirdly fascinating, even beautiful, to watch.

I spent the next three days or so salvaging what I could from the neighborhood, and getting Codsworth to help me clear and build. The immediate issue of food and water was taken care of by scrounging around the neighborhood and raiding the lone root cellar I found. I also discovered that one of our neighbors was a drug dealer. I worked. I slept when I was fatigued, or perhaps long past that. I sat down and cried if I felt like it. I ate when I was hungry, drank if I was thirsty, and, otherwise, taught myself how to build.

The neighbors across from us had apparently bought one of those new "Complete Workbenchs" or whatever they were called, and it had absolutely everything I could possibly want there. In working order. I've injured myself five times on it already. But by last night, I had managed to erect a two-story wood-and metal building on the foundation of a collapsed home Codsworth and I cleared off.

Well, that's one way of putting it. Another way of putting it is that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, so I just asked Codsworth to help me pull apart the house and then used any wood and metal frame pieces I could find to make a framework, and then I just nailed sheet metal to it. Ditto for the roof. The second floor was the hard part. Everything else I could prefabricate, and then Codsworth and I could carry it into position, but the second floor required laying beams across (which required making all too many of them), and then standing on them to nail cross-laid floorboards down. After which I realized I had made no stairs.

Well, in the end, it worked. It took three days, it's crude, and I probably should have been looking for help, or whatever. That might have been the right thing to do, but I couldn't do it. I'm not ok now. Still, I'm on my feet, I'm alive, and it's time to start checking the area around Sanctuary Hills.
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Vikarion

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Re: I don't want to set the world on fire... [Fallout. 4.]
« Reply #20 on: 25 Jan 2017, 02:57 »

October 26th, 2287, 7:10 pm

I decided to start out west, instead of heading towards the gunshots I had heard a few days earlier. That required heading down a small hill, and then a judicious amount of jumping and wading through shallows to avoid getting water on my skin. The water, according to my Pip-Boy, was radioactive. Still. So much for the "nuclear war would be relatively mild" crowd. Or it hadn't been 200 years...but that seemed unlikely.

Moving through essentially the small bog that had formed, I came across a military APC, sitting in the middle of barrels marked with the symbol for radiation. The rear door of the vehicle was open, and a skeleton was lying just outside it. Other than that, and an ammo can with 10mm ammo, there was no hint as to what had happened. At least, nothing I could see without getting close to the barrels, which I'd already come too close to when grabbing the ammo.

I continued following the river as it started heading south, largely for lack of anything better to do. I encountered a few bugs - some before they spotted me, thanks to my Pip-Boy - and managed to get them before I'd emptied the magazine. Mostly.

I'd actually passed the cabin before I spotted it, turning around and seeing it high on the opposite bank. Crossing the river, I managed to get ambushed by three of the giant fly things that throw some sort of smaller, biting insect at you. I killed them, but I was cornered at one point, getting cut up, and I decided to used a Stimpack.

Well, they work. I'll say that for them. They won't save your life if you've had your leg torn off or anything, but I was looking around for something to bandage up with, when I realized that the several gouges out of my arm (which did not feel wonderful, either), were scabbing over. Within a half-hour or so, maybe a little longer, there was fresh new skin growing in. Which, I had to agree with Nate about, was pretty damn cool. I'd have to ask him if-

Right. Ok. I salvaged anything remotely edible-looking from the flies, and realized that the other thing the Stimpack had done, besides healing me and stinging like hell when I injected it, was make me really, really thirsty. Fortunately, I had planned for that, and chugged two bottles of the purified water I'd filled earlier. I was either going to have to dig a well, set up a purifier, or learn to love distilling water by hand. Or...go back to Vault 111. That gave me a shudder. No, I did not want to do that, yet.

The cabin turned out to be an old ranger cabin, with not much inside besides a rotten mattress with a skeleton on it, clothed in rags. There was a suitcase nearby, with mostly ruined clothes and sundries inside, but one pretty decent dress. There was also an old holotape:

October 22, 2077.
I finally told them tonight, and it was bad. Real bad.
Dad was shouting, telling me I should be ashamed, that I had to get out of the house.
Mom just cried, and somehow that hurt worse than anything else.
She didn't say a word, not even when I packed my things.
I can't go to John-- he doesn't even know yet.
Maybe he'll never know.
If it weren't for the cabin I wouldn't have a place to sleep. Just need some time to think.
Last time I was here, I was just a little girl playing clubhouse in this old cabin.
Now I'm really scared.
Will anything ever be right again?


I listened to the holotape, heard the voice of that poor girl, so long ago, and so near. I think I realized then, or at least I've tried to, to realize more than just as a passing thought that my personal tragedy was not the only one. Many others had died that day, and since, of course. What had happened here? I couldn't even guess at what might have killed her. The cabin was largely intact. It couldn't have been fire, the thermal pulse of the detonation. Had she been lying here, sleeping late, just blinking her eyes open as the blast front arrived, sending some errant splinter winging her way? Or had she survived the blast, walked outside, seen the...end of the world...and come back in to put an end to herself and the young life within herself, too.

The end of the world. That's what it had been. I'd always used to say "don't bet on the end of the world, it only happens once!". Well, it had happened. Guess you should have sold those stocks after all, cashed out your IRA. Doesn't that little stash of precious metals look kind of pointless now? What are you going to do with those silver bars, Erin, sell them to the giant hellroaches?

I sighed. Then I exited the cabin and started heading east a bit, when I spotted some movement. Crouching and trying to make myself as quiet and small as possible, I peered through some light bushes to see what looked like a pair of horribly mutated deer pacing their way across the small clearing in front of me. And, despite the two heads and pair of vestigial legs hanging from the chest of the creatures, I admit that my first thought was "food". Because I was running out of it at Sanctuary Hills, and running around and working was making me a lot more hungry than usual.

I got the first one with two shots. The second one I winged, unfortunately, because I wouldn't have shot it at all if I thought I would have only wounded it. I must not have winged it too badly, however, because it took off for Canada in a big way. I followed it, and managed to creep a bit closer once it stopped. Once it did, I lined up, and tried again, sending several shots at it as it startled and bounded away. I would have pursued again, perhaps, but when i had fired, my shots had had an odd echo. I fired again. No echo.

Then I heard the "echo" again, louder. Someone else was shooting, and it was getting louder. I crept in the direction of the shots, thinking that someone must be shooting at something, maybe some of those giant bugs. I don't think it occurred to me that the person might just be shooting at me until something went whizzing by somewhere.

She came over a small rise, shooting, and I shot her, twice. Just, like that. No hesitation, just, "BAM! BAM!". She fell over. She wasn't thrown back, she didn't scream, she just fell over on her side. I waited, then crept up, making sure she never moved. She didn't, she was dead. One bullet had taken her square in the chest, and a second had blown off her left arm at the elbow. Her blue eyes stared up into the empty sky, and all I heard was the wind.

I stared back. I didn't know what to feel. I'd never killed anyone before, but I just had, and with all the reverence of a mechanic. But I was numb. Perhaps I didn't have to feel anything, I decided. So I stripped the body and butchered the deer, which had a lot less actually edible on it than a deer is supposed to have.

At that point, I headed back to Sanctuary. I had food and some items to drop off, and after doing so, and a quick nap to get me through the worst of a sudden cloudburst that lasted about two hours, I decided to head south, across the bridge, to the gas station...well, coolant station, I guess...down the road.

When I made it there, I found a relatively healthy looking dog ambling around the station. Aside from him, there was no one else. I've never been a huge dog person, but he seemed to like me, and that came in handy a few minutes later, when we were attacked by some sort of large, hairless rodent. That burrowed.

I'm not sure exactly what they were, but they went down pretty easily to my 10mm and a little help from my Pip-Boy's VATS. I almost shot the dog when he ran in front of me, but fortunately managed to hold my fire. After exploring the station, I discovered that there was a cave underneath the building, which the dog and I also cleared out of the few rats that were in it, without incident, other than the unpleasant discovery that the damn rat/beaver things can burrow right up next to you. Oh, and I detonated some bad air in the cave without killing myself, which was nice.

I also took the time to build myself a bed at the station, just in case. Couldn't hurt, right?

All in all, I considered it a successful day. I'd made a reasonable exploration west of Sanctuary, and a bit south. I'd also procured more food. It might take a little while, but I was getting back on my feet.
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Vikarion

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Re: I don't want to set the world on fire... [Fallout. 4.]
« Reply #21 on: 26 Jan 2017, 01:23 »

October 27th, 2287, 7:10 am

The next morning was bright and clear, and I headed across the bridge south, after eating breakfast. Once across the river, I headed southeast. I was still feeling a bit unwell - I'd taken a Rad-Away last night and while it is a scientific miracle, it also leaves you feeling pretty under the weather.

From what I understand, Rad-Away works by both flushing your system of radiation as much as possible (iodine and other supplements, plus diuretics to flush out your system, and, at the same time, a human-tailored retrovirus that was ingenious: developed from two different viruses, one fungal, one a highly modified human retrovirus, the virus actually exists as an oversize dual RNA/DNA package. When placed in a sterile fungal medium, the virus would replicate normally, reproducing itself. But when placed in a human body, the human retrovirus, the real point of the thing, sprang into action. The DNA package it contained had two parts: first, an injection of "correct" human DNA strands that would be similar from human to human (the vast majority). Second, it stimulated the MRN complex - the repair proteins in a cell - in any cell a virus contacted.  This second one was important: as the MRN complex in cells is also used to resist viral infection, triggering it to activate for DNA repair reduced the ability of the body to combat the virus package itself, giving it more time to do repairs before the body automatically wiped it out.

The downside of such a large and cumbersome virus, as I understood, was that about one repair per cell what about what the virus could manage, and it couldn't - and shouldn't - reproduce in the human body. And it left you prone to getting sick for a bit afterwards. Of course, so did radiation, and I wasn't too thrilled about the idea of getting cancer either.

Anyway, I foraged a bit, as the area had a lot of wild Mutfruit in it. Probably the result of my neighbor's garden going rogue, I figured. Continuing to the south and west, I came across a feral dog and a mutant deer, and killed both, under the principle that they were made of meat. Continuing east, I then ran into a group of the hairless rat-beaver-things that performed their usual trick of burrowing into the ground and then bursting out to chew on my ankles, but I actually managed to catch the first one or two off guard, simplifying the procedure.

I also found something interesting: a little mechanical pumphouse, with a skeleton sitting, leaning against it. It also had a little compartment that I couldn't get to budge, but I followed the pipes to the pumphouse down to the little lake that fed the Sanctuary Hills river, and found a pump, still whirring away. Two hundred years of pumping away. At least, I think it was a pump. There was a circuit breaker on top which I shut down, and when I returned to the pumphouse, I could open the compartment. Three little boxes tumbled out, full of bottlecaps. I'm not sure I know why one would save up bottlecaps, but I figured there must be some reason, so I tucked them away. It's not the first stash I'd found - there were a few even in Sanctuary Hills. Whoever the skeleton had been had probably also left a crate with some Rad-Away on top of the pump. As well, it looked like they had shot themselves, because there was a .44 snubnose revolver next to them, and a hole in their head. They were facing the direction of Boston.

I wonder...there was a root cellar in Sanctuary Hills. I forget who it belonged to, I didn't know the names of everyone in the neighborhood, or even many of them. In it, I'd found some gold, actual gold bars gold, and food, and some water, a radio, and a bed. It seemed a perfectly good shelter. It occurs to me now that I could take shelter there during any future rad storms, now that I know it is there. But someone had left it, and never returned, leaving real money behind. Had he or she come out here, looked out across a burned and ruined land, and given up? Or had it been so terrible that they knew they didn't have enough supplies, and decided to go out gracefully? Or was it someone else completely?

I didn't have too much time to consider that, because I soon encountered movement as I headed east - a dog, moving. I crouched behind a rock outcropping and peered over, spotting a couple people around a campsite. I debated, mentally, what to do. One of them looked like she or he was on guard, but I didn't want to just come in shooting or with my gun pointed at them. I decided to stand up, as I was a reasonable distance away, and just get their reaction from a reasonable safe distance.

Well, that was stupid. They immediately saw me, and all of them started shooting. It was immediate and total chaos. Their dog went for me and my dog went for it, there was one with a gun ahead of me, one to my right somewhere in some bushes, and another between them. One of them had something loud, a shotgun. I don't know how they missed me. I started shooting at the one in front of me, hit him or her, they stumbled into the leaves. I saw movement to the right, fired blindly, running, unloaded a magazine into glimpses, between trees, reloaded. Moved, forward, fired again, and the one I'd wounded in my blind firing went down. My dog literally took theirs apart, dismembered it, then went for the last guy, latched on to their arm as I was dodging their shots sideways through the sparse trees. I stopped as they tried to shake him off, lined the sights up, put one through their skull, and it was quiet.

I had a couple grazes or scrapes, nothing too bad. My dog - I need a name for him - was fine. I collected their gear, took what meat of their dog that wasn't ruined, and then continued. There was no much else of interest I found to the immediate east. Besides a house thoroughly destroyed, to the point that all that was left was the chimney as in those old ghost towns out west, there was only the edge of a quarry, a good bit south of Sanctuary Hills. So I began heading north, skirting the large pond or small lake that lay to the east of my neighborhood.

On the eastern shore, i found a couple clutches of large eggs. This made me uneasy, so I climbed up the hill a bit and scanned the area. There was nothing, until I tried using my Pip-Boy's targeting system. It was trying to tell me that there was something under the water, but I couldn't make anything out, so I tossed a stick down to the edge of the lake, figuring that the dog was quicker than I was.

Well, that was the right decision. Two creatures burst from the water, and I whistled for the dog to come back, which he did immediately. The creatures were some sort of insectoid or crustacean, with wicked pinchers. And they were quick! I blew the first one away almost as soon as it got out of the water, but the second one nearly made it to me.

VATS and my Pip-Boy came to the rescue. I targeted its legs, making it stumble, and giving me enough time to reload. At the same time, my dog came in, trying to chew on its backside, only for the thing to spin nimbly and backhand it, sending the poor mutt whining away limping. But that gave me the opportunity to finish reloading my pistol and give the thing a few rounds where it needed them.

The dog and I collected the unhatched eggs, and killed any of the giant-pillbug-like creatures that had hatched, presumably some sort of larval form. In fact, some of them had given me some pretty painful bites while I was busy dealing with their larger parents or whatever. Whatever the case, that had pretty well taken care of my desire for adventure for the day, so i headed home, cooked up or started drying the meat I had collected, and encountered a mild rad-storm that lasted maybe forty-five minutes.

All in all, I felt, a good day. I sacked out, exhausted, around seven-thirty, and slept for ten hours without changing my position once. 
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Vikarion

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Re: I don't want to set the world on fire... [Fallout. 4.]
« Reply #22 on: 26 Jan 2017, 23:26 »

October 28th, 2287, 7:00 am

The good run of good weather continued as I decided to explore to the southwest again the next morning. I'd gone as far as to get within sight of a giant radar dish when I had explored to the east the previous day, but I wasn't quite ready to see what it was, yet. Mostly, I was hoping to encounter someone more friendly. I was also hoping to find a bit more food, or some more mutated deer or even the giant beaver-rats. Water was less of an issue, as I'd taken the time over the last couple days to put in a hand-powered water pump. The water table was pretty close to the surface, and my Pip-Boy said the water was clean, so that had solved that problem, but food remained an issue. You eat a lot more when you are fighting, running, or doing hard work.

On the positive side, the effects of the Rad-Away were wearing off. I'd also changed into the unused Vault-Suit that I'd found when leaving Vault 111. It was a little less tarnished, and, also, somewhat cleaner at this point. After eating breakfast, and washing up with my new pump's - I had missed that - I headed out, feeling...less miserable.

I'd spotted a trailer sitting in the middle of an open field, when I'd been here a few days ago, but I misjudged my location, because instead of spotting the trailer, I spotted what looked like some sort of rough...house...set up around one of the high-tension power poles in the area. I immediately went low and quiet, and circled around it a bit, scouting it out.

There looked to be three people living at the farm, and a two-headed cow. Yes, a two-headed cow. This appears to be a theme in this new world: two-headed deer, two-headed cows...I checked the people again. One head each. Whew. They all seemed to be armed, but working on weeding the crops. A man, older, an older woman, and a younger women. I considered this for a moment. They didn't look like the others I had seen - and killed. No armor, no guards, just working on growing things. I decided to go for it.

Fortunately, I was correct. The man saw me, stood up, and looked me directly in the eye, his hand on a crude pistol tucked into his belt.

"That's close enough, stranger" he growled, although not with anger. "What do you want?"

I held my hands up, palms out. "I'm not looking for trouble. I'm just trying to figure out the area, maybe trade a bit."

He squinted at me, taking in my Vault Suit and equipment. He had a slightly narrowed face, friendly, but worn, with deep lines around his eyes. Then he nodded. "New in the Commonwealth?"

Now that was a question that was difficult to answer. "Yes and no," I said, as honestly as I could without revealing too much. "I'm back after a long time away."

He nodded again. "Figured as much." He indicated my Vault Suit with a glance. "Haven't seen one of those before. I don't suppose you're with the Minutemen? We could sure use them. Times were better when we had you around." This seemed like a question he'd asked before, and without much hope anymore.

"No," I said, "I'm not, sorry. Who are the Minutemen?"

He chuckled, a little bitterly. "More like 'who were'. Used to be the protectors of the Commonwealth. Not anymore. Now all that's out there are raiders and a few farmers trying to make a living from the soil." He scratched his cheek absently. "Gets harder, every year, especially with them raiders taking everything you don't hide."

"Raiders?" I asked. "That doesn't sound too friendly."

He shrugged. "Murderous, thieving jackasses who do anything the want, to anyone they want. Steal everything they want, kill anyone who tries to resist. That's what happened to my daughter, Mary. She tried to stand up to them and they just shot her without a second thought."

That, hurt, somehow. Deep, thrumming pain. "I'm sorry," I managed, and avoided giving anything away, I think.

He shrugged. "Nothing to be done. Farming's hard work, hard enough without people taking what you earn." He glanced at my hands. "I don't suppose you work the soil?"

"No," I said, and managed a smile. "That sounds like hard work."

He laughed at that. "You're a smarter woman than me. Well, feel free to trade with Connie, my wife, or help Lucy out, if you want a few caps. I'll keep my eye on you for a bit, understand."

"I understand," I said, and smiled. I turned, was about to walk across the field to his wife, when he grabbed my wrist, gently.

"I'm sorry," he said, lower and more quietly. "It's just...well..." he realized he was still holding my wrist, and dropped it. "Mary, my daughter, she had a locket. It used to be Connie's. Came down through her family. You look like you know how to use a gun. The raiders holed up in the old satellite array to the northeast took it, when they murdered her. It would mean so much to Connie if you could get it back, and I'd be happy to pay you."

I know I shouldn't have said yes. I know that, but I also know why I couldn't tell him no. I promised him I'd look into it.

Connie, Blake's wife, was a blond, middle-aged woman with a worn, tired face and lean, sun-browned arms. She didn't have anything I wanted to trade, but did have a lot of information to give me. Besides Vault-Tec's Mutfruit and SpeedyCorn, there is also a hybrid of the potato and tomato, appropriately called the "tato". The major trading city of the Boston area is called "Diamond City", although she was sparse with other details about it, and she also told me to always make sure I had plenty of meds and ammo, wherever I went, as they were necessities. She was fairly businesslike, which I can understand.

Lucy, the daughter, was pretty friendly, in contrast. I had the sense that she was bouncing back the fastest from her sister's death, with the resilience of youth. She offered to pay me bottlecaps to help her pick melons, and was amazed when I asked why I would want bottlecaps. Apparently bottlecaps are the new currency, while dollars are used for more...personal-hygiene-related solutions. This will, incidentally, also solve another potential looming problem of mine.

I did spend some time helping her pick melons, and watching them all interact as I did. Despite their loss, they were undoubtedly family, and it began to get to me, with that deep hollow feeling. I eventually excused myself, and made it back to Sanctuary Hills, where I finally broke down.

Grief is not like people write it in movies, or on the radio. It's not something you store up, and then you have a big cry, and it's all washed away.

To lose someone is a hollow, scraping pain. They are gone, gone. It tolls like a bell, in your head, and the sobs come with ripping, forceful intensity, alive, wounded, wild. They rip out the back of your throat, great gasps until every last bit of breath is gone, and still, like a dry heave, you cannot breathe in. You want to smell them again, breathe them in. But they are gone, and you will never hold them again, or hug them, or make them laugh, or make plans, or sit together, or ever come home to them again.

It's sitting on edge of a bed and crying until you fall asleep. It's not pretty, or noble, or wasting away in some castle. It's nearly drowning in your own snot and tears, and helpless to move. There are physical pains, where all you can do is moan, or scream, where the body is so badly broken that the mind can only howl in agony. This is such a pain of the spirit.
« Last Edit: 26 Jan 2017, 23:31 by Vikarion »
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Vikarion

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Re: I don't want to set the world on fire... [Fallout. 4.]
« Reply #23 on: 28 Jan 2017, 03:51 »

October 28th, 2287, 10:36 pm

I awoke in the dark, and the rain, which seemed appropriate. It was about ten-thirty, according to my Pip-Boy, and I was drained, tired inside.

I was awake, though, and I decided to go to the satellite relay. The thought made my stomach twist, but I figured I would just try to sneak around, grab the locket if i could find it, and vamoose before anyone noticed I had taken it. At worst, I figured, there would be one or two, maybe as many as four raiders. I could probably take them, and if I couldn't? Well, I wasn't trying to die, but maybe there was an afterlife, and whatever the case, it couldn't be much worse than how I currently felt.

Dinner, or breakfast, was cold. I remember once, I was listening to some political or philosophical discussion, on the radio, and one of the guests said that he figured where we'd gone wrong was when we'd started piping electricity into our homes. It had made us soft. "That", I thought at the time, "is the dumbest thing I've ever heard anyone say. However, that was incorrect. I now believe that it is in the top ten list of dumbest things that anyone has heard anyone say. I miss my stove. I have taken two cold showers since...that day. I remember each distinctly, with a special appreciation for the way you can feel every cold drop go down the hollow of your back.

I would also have gone for a cup of hot coffee, even that crap during the war. Or tea. Or hot chocolate. Mmmm, with marshmallows. Or...I sighed, finished up eating, and tried to get myself ready. I brought my 10mm pistol, of course, and a .44 snubnose magnum I'd scrounged up somewhere. I only had five bullets for the magnum, but I figured it was good to have something strong as backup for the 10mm. I also had three grenades, and used one in an enforced test-fire after I was examining it and broke the pin (it was rusty). I'd clipped them to my belt, and I was staring out at the rain after scrounging through one of the houses when my arm brushed one of them and the grenade fell right off. I managed to grab it as it did, and, lacking a better option, hurled it out of the window and far into the street. I had enough time to wonder if it was going to go off, when it did, with flat, loud BAM. In retrospect, I should have ducked, although I was apparently well out of range thanks to the intense force with which I had thrown the bomb.

That little episode determined me to check the pins of the other two grenades, and also to simply place them in a satchel, rather than hang them. It seemed somewhat less dangerous, even if they were not immediately to hand. And then, I decided, it was time to go, before my stomach finished twisting itself in knots, and started on my legs.

As I began hiking east, crossing the river in the shallows and heading into the hills, it occurred to me that this was the first time I would be intentionally, purposefully heading out to kill people. Well, yes, only incidentally to the retrieval of the item. But, still, the odds were, I, Erin, was going to shoot someone tonight. And, since I had nearly blocked out the thought and the memory amidst the other things, it occurred to me with doubled force that I had already killed 4 people. I hadn't wanted to, and I didn't, at the moment, feel especially bad about it, but I had done it. Me. I wondered for a moment if any of my friends and family would have expected that.

This train of thought, and the memories with it, distracted me, and I climbed up a hill to find a small camp. Despite evidence of recent habitation, such as some candles, I assumed that the camp was abandoned, searched and found a few drugs and some ammo, and just went back to walking east. That was when I saw a dark shadow slide by to my left, looking like a dog. I froze, then crouched, looking around while trying to move as little as possible. I couldn't see anything, as I tried to stay frozen, and finally turned my head a little to the left, enough for my eyes to catch the figure of a man with a gun. He was behind me!

This was a bad surprise, even for the last week, probably thanks to the build up. It was bad, so bad my stomach cramped into nausea and my mouth filled with bitterness. Then, having spun and raised my weapon, I brought down the sights on my target, led very slightly as he was walking - and realized he hadn't seen me. Then, deliberately, I shot him in the head anyway. I waited, turned, and shot his dog that was arrowing in on me from the side. "Thought I forgot about you?" I muttered. I'd figured the shadow had belonged to an attack dog.

I paused. If the man was not a raider, I had just murdered him. On the other hand, even if he was a raider, perhaps I'd murdered him anyway. After all, he hadn't been hostile. He hadn't sicced his dog on me, or even raised his gun. He'd been walking back to camp, and I'd effectively ambushed him and killed him. And his dog. Like me and my dog. I felt sick.

I felt a little less sick when I found him. He definitely looked like the others who had shot at me, and who were presumably also raiders. I looked to the east, where the radar dish of the installation loomed imposingly. If I'd had to guess, I would have guessed that this guy had been either an advance lookout for those in the building, or heading to join the raiders. I decided to call it that, and began circling to the south of the dish, where I encountered a couple of the giant flies.

I debated momentarily whether to shoot them or not. On one hand, I didn't want them at my back, while on the other, I didn't want to alert the guards, if there were any more. On the gripping hand, I had heard quite a few gunshots myself, so they weren't that abnormal, and the 10mm wasn't that loud. With luck, it would sound further away. It turned out to be a good bet. I tapped the two flies, quickly, and then crept towards the tower that supported the radar dish. On an exterior walkway, about two thirds up, I spotted a raider, on guard duty accompanied by a guard dog.

I shot him with the, and he dropped to the walkway. Then I looked for the dog, but it had vanished. Waiting for a moment, I saw it heading towards me, waited until I had a good shot, and put one through its head. I waited, listened, checked, and saw no one else before I crept towards the building. I circled to the right and came at it from the side, avoiding the front. I thought there was someone inside, but I couldn't tell until I'd gotten close enough to spot the shoulder someone inside leaning against the wall near the window of the concrete structure. Then I stepped on something, it cracked, and the person stepped away from the window. I started shooting, hoping for a lucky graze I guess, he started coming out of the door, and I put two bullets into his chest, dropping him.

I stopped again and collected my breath. The building looked relatively small, and I heard nothing from the door, so, after my breathing returned to normal, I headed inside. To find a hallway, sloping down and into the earth. Wonderful.

Attempting to avoid making any more noise than absolutely necessary, I crouched and continued down the corridor, eventually coming to be in a sort of U-shaped hallway surrounding a central two story room, with stairs down on the left branch, and access and windows into the main chamber as well as other rooms.

I peered through the middle window, looking into the central chamber, which appeared to be the primary motor, machinery, generators, and computers for operating the dish. There was also a raider on one of the walkways. I shot him. That got the attention of another, which I waited for, and then shot when he came to investigate. His dog might have managed to bite me, as it had come up behind me, but that was when my mutt tore into its neck and took it apart.

After finishing cleaning up the threats in the upper story hallway and the main room, I decided to head down. Rather than take the stairs, in case someone was trying to ambush me, I sent the dog out ahead to check for anyone, then slipped into the main room myself, jumped from the walkway down to a handy crate, and from there to the floor, as quietly as I could while narrowly avoiding two skeletons in the corner.

I saw no one, heard no one, so I snuck towards the last, final hallway. I carefully peered down it, and saw a woman that I'd heard earlier. I carefully aimed, breathed out, squeezed...and blew the top of her head off. There was silence for a moment, then another raider popped out of a room or alcove next to the woman I'd shot, and I shot him. Then there was another one, charging me with a stick of some sort. He received two in the chest. I swung back to where the woman had been, to see a fourth raider with a fucking hand-held minigun!

The hand-held minigun. I remembered that. "Send these weapons to our brave boys in Alaska! Over 3,000 rounds per minute! Man-portable! Shred a commie in the blink of an eye!". Of course, Nate had pointed out, once he was back, that it also used under-powered rounds that were inaccurate at any great range; but while I wasn't a commie and will never be, I was  at close range, and I doubted very much that it would make a difference. So I ducked around the corner and waited while the raider sprayed a burst at where i used to be. Then it stopped.

There were two other things Nate had told me about miniguns. First, they were heavy, and hard to aim. Second, they needed a moment to "spin up" so to speak, before firing. So, when the firing stopped and I heard the motor wind down momentarily, I popped back out, and simply shot the raider twice as he or she - some of them were wearing heavy leather or canvas - started to react.

Though I spent some time in further creeping around and being scared, that turned out to be the last of them. I finally began to relax after several minutes of looking and listening. Rather than being ambushed, I'd managed to ambush them, and I had just taken out...

I looked down at my gun, warm in my hands.

I had just killed...I couldn't even be sure, maybe nine raiders? Should I include the man in the camp atop the hill? I didn't know, but I'd just killed a lot, a lot of people. I mean...I almost started to giggle...this was, like, serial killer territory. I could just imagine the tabloid headline: "Killer Lawyer Needs a Lawyer!", or "Judge, Jury, and Executioner, This Lawyer Does It All!". Or more hopefully: "Local Hero Cleans Out Gang, DA Confirms No Charges!".

Except...there wouldn't be any headline, would there? The only newpapers I had seen, so far, were ragged, ancient things complaining about Eddie Winter, or how far we were going to go in our war with China. I hadn't spoken about anything before the war to the Abernathys, not wanting to reveal that, just yet, anyway, but they hadn't volunteered anything. There was obviously no police force, no courts (three! years! of! study! a small voice in my head screamed in sudden fury), no road maintenance (obviously), no military that I could see or hear - I'd passed a crashed vertibird and a decrepit suit of power on the way to the installation - and all of that meant...no country.

On some level I'd had to have known it, right? I mean, but...but no. The lack of a justice system hadn't been why I'd been willing to start killing without a thought. How many people had I killed? Well, the first one, that woman with the shotgun and the soot-blacked eyes, firing from too far away at an expectant opponent. I'd heard the shots, moved away from them, but when I realized that they were close, at me? I hadn't run, or hidden. I'd simply, calmly, crouched, held the gun out, and blown her arm off.

It had been so easy. Why, because I was afraid? Well, yes. I hadn't been that calm, not any of these times. I just hadn't been quite as foolish, quite as unlucky, quite as stupid. And -

 - the memory came hard, fast, cold. Clearer in retrospect. "...I'm not giving you Shaun!". Frosted glass, cold. A flsh of light, the report. BOMMmmm! Reverberating. Nate, limp, flying back, blood. "...At least we still have a backup." I looked at my hip, the .44 strapped there. The backup.

I lurched into a corner and heaved, the smell of vomit mixing with the smell of blood and shit from the dead bodies, the dead bodies that I had made so, in the room. My heart hammered in my chest, and I gasped, retching.

Come on, I thought, get it together. I thought on that face. Balding. Scarred. Flat, with a sort of sneering brutality indulged in for the sake of a lazy, cynical cruelty. I felt a spark, an ember flare, then flash into wildfire. Hate swarmed up, covered the horror, the disgust. Good. That was better, cleaner. I took that hate, held it, used it to push off the floor.

Then I looked at the bodies. Holes in them. Loosened bowels and sphincters leaking shit and urine. I looked at them. Then I looked at the minigun.

And I put those raiders back upright, in my mind. Standing at a farm, facing a young woman who is standing up to them, shaking hands clutching a pistol made of pipe and twine and wood and a nail for the firing pin. Her parents are watching in horror, holding back their other daughter. The younger daughter screams, begs her sister to stop, to just let them take what they want. Her father is telling her it's not worth it, what's a few...

She's angry. She stamps her foot, asks why they think they can just steal what they want. Tells them that if they want food, they should grow their own. Screams that it's not fair, that it's not ri-

The leader, the woman I shot, the one who had the minigun first, she doesn't even reply, just grins, raises the weapon, and saws the girl in two with one long burst. She's still alive, for one horrible moment, as her torso falls, her eyes, wide, her lips moving, showered in her own gore. The woman laughs, walks over to the family, slaps the father casually in the face, insulting him, crowing over his inability to do anything for his daughter.

I put that vision away, all too real in the words and faces of the Abernathys. I began to search the room for a locket, hoping it wouldn't be too hidden, and continued to think. It hadn't been that I'd killed them. I was still - well, it was bad, yes, but. Well. No. No, I hadn't disliked it at all. I had...enjoyed it. I had even felt a gleeful, mocking sense of superiority as I'd killed something, over the last few days. Faint, perhaps, overlaid by fear and triumph and uncertainty and, above all, grief, but there had been that spiteful, hateful, smirking cruelty there. A sense of: my life is ruined, so I'll ruin the world. That look, on the face of the murderer of my husband, had spoken that feeling in every impression I had of it.

But these people, they had deserved it. And...well, if it helped me to vent my grief and hate at them, well, their deaths were doing some good for someone, then. If my brain wanted to feel guilty about that, just had to have something to feel guilty for, then it could, but at least I would know it to be bullshit, and I would be alive. Because there was another lesson from the Abernathy's story: weakness, or stupidity, or an unwillingness to do violence, would get me killed.

I found the locket in a toolbox, tossed there with other random junk. A person's life, reduced to a trinket. For what? So some degenerates could strut about, relaxing with drugs and booze and flashing their weapons at anyone they wanted to rob, butchering anyone they wanted to murder? So they wouldn't have to dig in the dirt, or build a house, or work hard, or trade? To take the food out of the hands of those who grew it - to destroy their futures and hope - under pain of violence and death, just because they didn't want to do hard work themselves. To destroy another human just so you wouldn't have to do perform the most basic, fundamental duty of a living creature: to seek its own provision. Not parasitism, not one species preying on another, but cannibalism, murdering and eating their helpless own.

No, I was not like the man who shot my husband, stole my child. They were like him. The same idea, the same perspective, if not the same actions.

I decided that I was going to kill them all.

- - -

I couldn't carry away everything I wanted to. I did do my best to resemble a pack mule, however, which apparently was the signal for every wild animal within two miles to come bother me. I think I spotted two deer, ran into a pack of wild dogs, and encountered a nest of rat-beavers. Nothing caused me any problems, other than sometimes having to drop things in order to engage in the festivities. I unloaded my salvage at Sanctuary Hills, and then returned the locket to the Abernathys.

They were...so grateful that I felt guilty, maybe a little unclean, that I'd trespassed on their pain and sorrow. Conny Abernathy especially seemed to...unclench. She spoke of her daughter a little, and even said that it had been worth it, even with how it had turned out. And they essentially invited me into their home, and even let me put up a bed. I actually did take a nap, given that it was by then about noon, and I slept a bit long, but it was, for once, deep sleep.
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Vikarion

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Re: I don't want to set the world on fire... [Fallout. 4.]
« Reply #24 on: 01 Feb 2017, 23:41 »

November 11th, 2287, 8:00 am.

For the next two weeks, I spent my time alternating between looting the satellite array, salvaging and building at Sanctuary Hills, hunting, and heading down to the Abernathy's now and then. Aside from that, nothing interesting of note happened, save a few minor things.

Southwest of Sanctuary, although I'd never visited it, was a quarry: Thicket Excavations. I passed it, at one point, and met a man named Sully Mathis there, who offered me some caps - still not used to thinking of them as money - to dive into the water that was filling the quarry and turn some valves so he could pump it out, presumably so he and some friends could salvage whatever was in there. I don't know why he didn't do it - i guess he couldn't find some Rad-X to protect from radiation. Or he couldn't swim.

So, I helped him - including fighting off someof the crab-things -  and next time I go by, the place is full of raiders, or that's what I'm calling them, because they started shooting at me.

Well then.

So, I cleaned out the entire quarry, which took entirely too long. And who did I find at the bottom of the quarry, now nicely costumed in the leather and salvaged metal that seems to be the hallmark of raiders? Why, Sully Mathis, of course. By that point I'd sniped him from much higher up with a scoped rifle I found on a raider, however, so I suppose he didn't get to enjoy our second meeting. I'm not sorry at all.

I've also found a few other things. Such as some people who were horribly mutated and burned at some point, who attacked me. They looked somewhat misshapen, like they were imperfectly formed, lumpy and misshapen. Not sure what happened to them - disease, maybe? Is leprosy still around, maybe in a mutant form?

And then there were the robots. Human-like robots, three of them, on the road, which had some sort of laser-gun that fired blue lasers. Not very good aim, though. I took them apart at a workbench, but I sorta ruined them - maybe next time I can salvage more than the plastic.

Codsworth has been a great help, along with a few books here and there. Apparently General Atomics loaded up their Mr. Handys with a database and a small internal library. So far, he's taught me basic gunsmithing and how to build a generator. We've also done more work on the "hut" which is, it turns out, stable. It's more of a small barracks now - Mr. Abernathy and Codsworth both thought I should set up a beacon for anyone else who might want to settle Sanctuary - but I wasn't sure yet. I felt like it might attract raiders, yet, as Mr. Abernathy said "...you're sitting on a prime piece of land there - water, soil, and shelters. You ought to homestead that."

Well, maybe. As he pointed out, I'm not a farmer, but crops are food, and I needed a steady source of food besides hunting. Not that that had been a problem - there were plenty of animals about - but they might not always be. Also, only eating meat except for when I visit Abernathy farm was...boring. Still, there's a satisfaction about bringing in your own meals. There's also a certain satisfaction in not cooking and simply eating a 200-year-old package of snack cakes, too, especially since the last thing I'm worried about is weight. But old food is contaminated with radiation, and Rad-Away is unpleasant, so meat it usually was. I never used to be a hunter, though, and I knew I'd been wasting a lot when I killed and butchered in the field. It turns out that killing it is the easy part. Mostly.

After almost twenty days since...the day, I felt...not normal. I think there is a great gap, a distance, between that "normal", and this new world. About a two-hundred-year gap. But I felt like I wasn't about to shatter, or explode. Nate, despite the occasional urge to talk to him, or look for him, was gone. It was worst in the house, where there are memories. The war seems a cruel joke, now. What was the point of him going off, of everyone going off, to fight? We could have just had eleven years of peace and then blown the world to hell. So, I've moved from shock and denial and sorrow to anger and sadness and asking stupid questions. Progress, right?

There wasn't much more to the west of Sanctuary, but there was another settlement - just two people farming - to the east. They called it Tenpines Bluff, and were being harassed by something called a "super mutant". I had no idea what that is, and they weren't clear. Some sort of green monster that they were hoping I might be able to kill. Well, maybe later. There was a caravan visiting them at the time, with another one of those two-headed cows. Brahmin, I believe they are called, and I didn't hang around, as it was getting late.

As for the wildlife and the country, well, the beaver-rats, it turns out, are "giant molerats". The crab things are "Mirelurks". And nobody has seen anyone else from Vault-Tec. Neither has anyone heard of the U.S. Government, or the Army. Or the Navy, for that matter. Or of anyone from China - in fact, I think some people don't even know what China was.

As for me, I decided to set up that antenna, and then head into Concord.
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Vikarion

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Re: I don't want to set the world on fire... [Fallout. 4.]
« Reply #25 on: 04 Feb 2017, 02:57 »

12 February, 2287, 6:20 am

Well, today was...interesting.

I set up the antenna and generator yesterday, with the expectation that nothing would happen. Instead, I got a husband and wife who said they'd heard me over a ham radio. Go figure. I'd already planted some "tatos" from the Abernathy farm, so everything went fine. I set them up in one of the houses, pointed out some leaks in the roof, and headed out for Concord.

I didn't know why I avoided Concord for so long until I entered it.

When...back...well, back before the Day, Concord was...America. It was the town of Ralph Waldo Emerson, of Louisiana May Alcott, of our first rebellion against tyranny, our birthplace. And it was in ruins. But...I should not have been afraid. When I came into Concord, there was only one raider who I saw - and shot before he saw me. And then? Then there was the Museum of Freedom.

Most of the pre-war places I have visited were like visiting ancient tombs. Old. Dead. Even with raiders living in them temporarily, the concrete and steel nature of my world, the old world, lurked. I can feel it, calling to me, almost like dead ghost voices. The people I saw, perhaps knew. Gone, and forgotten, except by me, because I am them. Yet, for once, in Concord, there wasn't so much of that. For whatever reason, the old banners I saw last year at the tricentennial were still there. Well, and also not last year. But the city was largely intact, and most of the buildings were boarded up. In Concord, America wasn't gone, but just...sleeping.

Well, until I made my way to the Museum of Freedom. Then I encountered someone - Preston - on an exterior balcony, calling for my help. He practically screamed at that he was under attack by raiders and then ran back inside.

Well, given my new-found antipathy towards raiders, probably due in part to displaced anger and grief at the destruction of my...well, everything I loved, which should do it...I decided then and there to help. There were about seven raiders inside, and dispatching them required making my way up the interior of the building while taking every shot I had. That said, trapped between Preston's group and myself, the raiders didn't really have a chance.

When I reached Preston, he introduced me to his group, which he claimed was a group of survivors from somewhere called Quincy. Apparently they were attacked, and he is or was a member of the Minutemen, a group that tries to protect people. He also said that they'd been trapped there by the raiders, and more were coming outside. Then he and his pal Sturges told me that there was a suit of power armor on the roof, and wouldn't I please go get the fusion core for it?

I'm not a big fan of bragging, but I had actually grabbed the fusion core by that point, seeing as it had been entirely obvious and in my way. Hey, I'm from the 2070s, we knew what those were. Valuable, long-lasting, and somewhat dangerous. Just like gasoline, really, except renewable.

So I agreed, and headed towards the roof, when I encountered Mama Murphy. Mama Murphy, if nothing else, looked like a combination strung-out drug addict and old woman. I imagine she was both. And while I've never really had anything against drugs, as such, I'm also not a fan of addicts. And she was an addict, but she had a warning: she told me that something had been attracted by the noise, not a raider, and that it was bad.

Well, I admit it. I listened politely, but mentally, I blew her off and went for the armor. It was outside, just out of the crashed vertibird, with a holotape sitting on a table, waiting. It turned out to be from a Staff Sergeant Daly. He spoke about the loss of his crew, why they crashed (the nuke went off) and then signed off. But what was more interesting was his claim that the event was "global", and "God bless America, or what's left of it".

So...it was global. And it was devastating. Aside from that, I didn't learn much. Well, yes, I heard his despair, his pain - but what was I to do about it? I was...not robbed - I'm alive, and Vault-Tec did try to save us - but I was deprived of any chance to...to live life as I would have otherwise. But that's my fault. No, our fault. Our first thought was the Vault, we signed up for it, and we both went there. Oh, yes, I was the one to lead us there, but Nate was much more on-board with Vault-Tec than I was. He was always the one who trusted the institutions of our country more, too. So, I want to blame myself, but..."honey, you should take the job". So, yes, I want to take credit, but I can't.

Power armor is both claustrophobic and...powerful. I shoved the fusion core in, turned the access wheel, and the armor popped open. I stepped into it, and...well...Nate wore power armor once or twice. He tried to describe it to me, but I think it may be different for everyone. It felt...good. Like a second skin. Except, of course, stronger, faster, and nearly invincible. I yanked the minigun off the Vertibird, and moved to the edge of the roof.

Well, the raiders had returned, that was for sure. I blasted one with the minigun - terrible weapon for aim, but it seemed to literally just gush bullets like a hose when I used it. Then I dropped to the street below - which was awesome, by the way, just freaking "KABAAM!" and then I was there - and moved off down the street, hosing down anyone suspicious. Which most definitely included the leader of the gang.

And that was when the Deathclaw showed up. I know what they are now, after talking to Preston, but my initial impression was of some sort of dinosaur. I instantly emulated the drug addict, Mama Murphy, and popped some Jet. Yes, it's addictive, and I started craving it, but, on the "I'm-still-breathing" scale, it meant little to the fact that a 12-foot freaking lizard popped out of a sewer grate.

However, whatever Jet does to other people, for me, it changed things into some sort of movie-esque slow-motion. I watched, nearly detached, as I emptied the rest of the ammo box into the creature, watched as it dropped, realized I needed to reload, slammed another one in, ran backwards, and finally dropped the thing just as it managed to come around some cars to get to me.

Thank goodness for hurried evacuations.

Anyway, Preston and so forth were properly grateful, and, to be honest, I was pretty relieved. i don't know what a deathclaw is, but I can say they look about three times as mean as a raptor, thanks to those claws. But what was arresting for me was not just the fight, or the response, but that when I went back inside, Mama Murphy - after telling Preston to stop hassling her about chems - told me that I would find the next clue to my son in Diamond City.

Which I would have nodded, smiled, and then moved on from...except that I never said a thing about Shaun. I had just said I was looking for a missing person. It was...creepy.

And yet...what if Shaun is alive? What if he wasn't kidnapped for some cruel reason? I can't think of why someone would want an infant, but maybe I will find him in Diamond City.

In the middle of Boston. After a nuclear war. And after an indeterminate period of time.

But...but...when you love someone, really love them, you'd do almost anything for them. And...I listened to Nate's holotape, after Concord. He called it "Hello, honey". And he called me a great mother. I'm not a great mother. Yeah, ok, so I can grow a kid. And, yeah, I tried to put up with any stupid crap without getting upset. But that makes you...a normal person. I hope. But a great mother? A great mother would have stopped them, whoever they were. A great mother would have grabbed Shaun first, instead of running out to the tv.

Except that, I didn't know. And that, to an extent unmercifully, short-circuits the guilt. Painfully. Cruelly.

We humans want a way to blame ourselves for what happened. But this is arrogance, pride. We do not, usually, control what happens, we just pretend we do, according to our stated values and ideas. But when tragedy strikes, we retreat into our realm of ideas, of will, and pretend that we could have done better.

But we couldn't. This is the world. We live in it. So I bundled everyone up and got them back to Sanctuary and now...?

Now I will go out and look at the world that is.
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