1700 words (10 minutes to read)
We recommend reading the introduction, along with the following track.
War never changes.
Since mankind first appeared on this world, he enjoyed the destructive power of stones and bones. Blood has been spilled in the name of Gods, of Justice, or of plain and blind rage.
In the year 2077, after millenia of armed conflicts, mankind’s destructive nature reached its apex.
The world plunged into the abyss of nuclear devastation and radiation.
But it wasn’t, as many thought, the end of the world: Armageddon was just the beginning of a new, bloody chapter of human history.
Mankind managed to destroy the world but… war… war never changes.
I… I know that… that we are… in 2287.
Or maybe not. I’m not sure of what I know anymore.
I can’t remember what month or what day it is… I can’t tell what’s driving me forward anymore.
We emerged from the Vault and found nothing that hell was real and was awaiting.
I saw my family, my friends, eaten by those creatures that…
… My god!
… Those creatures…
Things that should not exist in one’s worst nightmares… now roam the earth.
Every human you meet wants you dead, everyone’s ready to sell his soul for…
… There’s nothing left…
I’m the las-”
That’s the abrupt end of the holotape Bittercaps found wandering through the wastelands. His feet brought him to a barren and apparently uninhabited land.
Yet, after numerous hours, he finds himself staring for several minutes at the light up sign of a Drumlin Diner, first sign of life after miles of wasteland.
He decided to calmly walk in, once the Calmex hit his nervous system.
An unknown figure appears by the door, careless to hide his sly smirk and his arrogant attitude, fueled by the presence of a couple MK1 automatic turrets currently pointed at the newcomer, and demands to know Bittercap’s intentions. Bittercaps immediately recognizes the tattered skin and the physical traits typical of a ghoul.
“Name’s Bittercaps!” screams, wondering if he ever met someone with the same, weird accent as the figure by the door “I’m here to spend the night, and talk business”.
The man looks unimpressed, and turns to scream inside “Ma’! Ma’! Comere! We got a visitor!”
After a few seconds, another ghoul, a humongous woman, wearing a worn out red dress, squinting her eyes, recognizes Bittercaps.
“Well if It ain’t Bittercaps! Here to prepare the best stuff in the whole Commonwealth for us?!”
She kept screaming to the man: “Jake! Ya moron he’s an honorable guest! Let him in, prep’ him sumthing to eat! How ‘bout a nice ‘burger uh? MOVE YO’ ASS!”
Outside, Bittercaps finds himself in an awkward position: how did the woman recognize him? Was he really that famous? Was it because of that time he baked a state of the art batch of Buffout for some scavs a couple of months early? Or was it because of that time he mixed Nuka Cherry with Psychos…?
“Well…” he said to himself while entering the Diner “… Better to sleep under a roof than a radioactive sky…”
While he eats his burger (its ingredients remain wisely unknown), the woman introduces herself as Anne “Mama” Parentis, leader of the Parentis Ghoul Family, and politely invites Bittercaps to visit the canteen.
Bittercaps is suspicious, so he stalls and waits, and proposes to show his chemist skills. Mama Parentis is eager to see him in action, and promptly calls someone from the canteen: “Sloth! Slotty! Cm’ere and bring the toolbox!”
Slow and thundering steps announce the arrival of Sloth, a Super Mutant the size of a truck, wearing a Captain Cosmos shirt and colorful pants. He looks slightly scared by Bittercaps, he drops a box full of instrumentation and materials near him, before turning and running back down the stairs.
A few kilometers away from the Diner, Leo Sanderclive opens his eyes to a wooden roof in an empty room. He feels like he has slept a couple of centuries, give or take a year or two.
He gazes at all his belongings waiting silently for him on a chair, including his plasma pistol.
Realizing that he was awakened by the smooth sound coming from outside, he suddenly hears a series of screams. No time to waste: he wears his uniform, checks his gun, and heads down the stairs of the deserted home he slept in, headed outside.
He catches a glimpse of a couple of faces staring at him from some window, but they suddenly vanish, and his focus shifts once again to the shouts coming from over the left corner of the house.
There, a woman in the middle of the road separating the two buildings, is facing a bizarre individual, pointing a rifle with shaking hands.
The man is slowly closing in, his hands raised over his head… and a huge axe fixed on his back.
Fred Zinjan has seen a lot. He really has a couple of centuries of stories to tell, and the only thing he wants is a quiet place, where he can feel safe and accepted for what he is: a Ghoul. He was always an outcast, but he would have never imagined that he would miss the times when the reason for his condition was because he was a Nerd… Now things were different, for once, he became what he read about in countless comics: a Superhero!
The woman in front of him was unaware of all this complex reasoning: she was simply trying to stop a damned Ghoul from coming near her village (if a couple of wooden houses and some planks piled up can be called a village).
Fred is used to being an outcast, even though he is a Superhero, people are scared of him because of his rotten skin and foul appearance.
The woman holding the gun doesn’t seem more human though: pale skin, shaky arms, trembling voice, she is at the edge of collapsing.
Her screams are desperate: “St… Stop right… there! You were supposed to leave… us… alone… Damn Ghouls… DAMNED PARENTIS!”
Calm words from Fred seem to have no affect on her whatsoever, he keeps advancing slowly, keeping his hands up.
What could make things worse?
At that moment, a man wearing a worn Enclave uniform turns the corner, appearing behind the woman.
Now this could definitely make things worse!
He stops, confused, his eyes wander from the Ghoul, the woman, the barrel of her rifle. His hand is ready to pick up his pistol. Should he open fire? Against who?
The woman is at the verge of panic, her rifle pointed towards the ghoul, then the Enclave man, the Ghoul, Enclave, Ghoul, Enc… and she faints.
The Ghoul and the Enclave guy have the time to exchange a perplexed and suspicious look before another girl comes running out from the other home.
She gazes angrily at both, then shouts: “Damn! Of course the damn Enclave had to wake up!” and rushed to the collapsed woman.
A solitary Super Mutant sleeps inside a container in one of the countless landfills throughout the Commonwealth.
He chose this place because it’s silent, and silence is the best tool when one wishes to think. And remember.
Remember his own name for example, and how and when he became a three meters high bag of muscles.
These unanswered questions usually fill his day, when suddenly he hears movement outside: steps, broken glass, broken metal and swears break the silence.
“Why?” a voice asks “Why always me? Francis do this, do that, fix this, fix that, oh, and since you’re at it, go and take a look in that giant pile of shit outside and see if you can find something useful! Yeah sure… Screw ya ‘Ma!”
The Super Mutant peeks from his container’s door, trying to quietly move his colossal body.
He manages to see a ghoul, thin, almost bald, wearing glasses, torn clothes, with an old cap, rummaging in the wastes.
“Francis dear” the ghoul told himself “Hurry up so that we can go back and have a beer!
The ghoul is strolling along a landfill packed to the brim with chunks of metal and rubbish, when something suddenly moves, and from the rubble, the levitating form of a Mr. Handy appears.
“Greetings! I am the new Mr. Handy model: Domestic Assistant Mark-3, with autonomous learning capabilities!”
I am the product of the decade long expertise in robot building by General Atomics International, combined with the talent and ingenuity of RobCo Industries.
Tired of old, slow, pre-programmed models who never do what you wish, and are always plagued by technical problems? Tired of continuous system updates at the wrong moment? Tired of those robots that only know how to waste your time when you’re in a hurry?
I am exactly what you need!
I was created with autonomous programming capabilities, without obsolete concepts like biases or limitations! I grow with you and I adapt to your needs! There’s no end to what I can think, do or learn!
I am BA-ND-3R, your new best friend!
*Warning: this is an experimental model. The producer declines every responsibility regarding damages to people, animals and buildings deriving from the use of this model. Read the instructions manual, do not assign to children under 12. Might learn dangerous behaviours, even devastating ones. Handle with care.”
The Ghoul, startled by the automatic announcement by the newfound robot, stares at it for a couple of seconds. He had never seen anything like this before, but it was certainly a nice catch: it could be worthy a good number of caps.
The robot approaches the ghoul, with a wierd request: “Beer? You said Beer? You got it? Where is it?”
He nods at the Mr. Handy Band3r model: “Yeah! Sure! As much as ya like! Follow me, little guy!”
“Lead the way then! I shall reward you greatly for that!”
A few minutes later, the Super Mutant leaves his container. Usually he keeps his distance from humans, because even though he tries to convince them that he’s still mentally sane, the only replies he ever gets are bullets.
That robot though, seemed like an interesting potential companion, so, out of sheer curiosity, he began to follow them…