War Never Changes, Chapter 1: The American Dream
Hello! My name is u/MoxdogTheHound, and I write things!
I've been working on a Fallout 4 based series, which is essentially a novelisation of my playthrough of the game.
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War Never Changes Directory (this is where you can find all the chapters of this particular series).
I stood, hands perched on either side of the sink, staring into the fogged up mirror. The steam cleared slowly, revealing a foggy, distorted version of my face. “War never changes.” I spoke the words deliberately, as I stared intently at the vision of myself that was slowly becoming clearer as the water droplets cleared away.
“You’re gonna knock ‘em dead at the Veteran’s Hall tonight, hon.” Spoke Nora as she appeared at my side. I looked at her through the mirror, admiring her beautiful features. She smiled at my reflection, which caused me and my reflection to smile back at her.
“You think?” I asked. I’d been deliberating on that particular tagline for weeks leading up to tonight’s events, and I was still unsure about it.
“Absolutely.” She said, her face breaking into another of her comforting smiles. “Now get ready and stop hogging the mirror!” She laughed, before reaching up and tousling my auburn hair. I leant forward and made a final inspection of myself; my beard was trimmed, and my hair was long but neat. I stepped back and pecked Nora on the cheek, before moving out of the way to allow her to use the mirror.
I stepped out of the bathroom and headed into the kitchen where Codsworth was floating around. He turned at my presence and spoke in his crisp, robotic English accent. “Ah, good morning, sir! Your coffee.” He said, rotating to present a coffee pot. “173.5 degree Fahrenheit. Brewed to perfection!”
I grabbed a coffee mug from the table and held it out whilst he poured the steaming hot coffee into the mug. I held it up, savouring the aroma of the energising potion. “Thanks, Codsworth.” I said simply, before moving over to the bench. I glanced at the front page of the newspaper; more of the same. I took a sip of coffee and placed the paper down, electing to grab the comic book instead. Grognak the Barbarian and the Jungle of the Bat Babies. It was my favourite, but I’d read it a thousand times before.
Getting restless quickly, I stood back up and walked around the small kitchen. From the other end of the house, I could hear my son, Shaun, begin to cry. As quick as ever, Codsworth stopped what he was doing. “Ah, sounds like someone made a stinky! I shall attend to young Shaun.” He spoke, his words sounding quite comical with his accent.
I heard Nora chuckle behind me, startling me slightly. I was a difficult person to sneak up on, yet somehow she always managed to. “You know, I was nervous at first, but Codsworth’s really good with Shaun.” She said as she flicked through my discarded newspaper. I moved over and stood in front of the television, savouring the slowly cooling coffee in my hands. The news anchor was delivering the weather forecast for the next few days.
I looked out the window, admiring what I saw. We hadn’t lived in Sanctuary Hills for long, but it was a beautiful neighbourhood. Clean streets and beautiful gardens filled my view; it was a nice improvement over the ghetto-like conditions I’d lived in throughout my childhood.
The doorbell rung suddenly, breaking me out of my reverie. Nora called from the kitchen bench, not looking up from her paper, “can you get that? It’s probably that salesman. He comes for you every day.” I walked over to the front door, just as the newscaster switched to sports. I opened it, revealing a short man wearing a suit and tie covered by a large yellow coat, with a matching yellow hat on his head. In his hands was a sturdy-looking clipboard with the Vault-Tec logo emblazoned on the back.
“Good morning! Vault-Tec calling! Mr Fitzpatrick, I assume?” He asked, taking a step forward. I couldn’t tell if he was genuinely that cheerful, or if it was an act.
“Mornin’” I answered back simply.
He paused for a brief moment, before the cheery speech returned. “Isn’t it? Just look at the sky out here!” He said, before clearing his throat. He looked directly at me for the first time, before launching into his pitch. “You can’t begin to know how happy I am to finally speak with you. I’ve been trying for days! It’s a matter of utmost urgency, I assure you.”
I looked at him quizzically. “What’s so important?”
“Why nothing less than your entire future! If you haven’t noticed, sir, this country has gone to heck in a basket.” I nodded at this, thinking about the dire food shortages plaguing parts of the U.S., and the violent riots occurring around the nation. “If you’ll excuse my language.” He continued. “The big kaboom is… it’s inevitable, I’m afraid. And coming sooner than you may think. If you catch my meaning. Now, I know you’re a busy fellow, so I won’t take up much of your time. Time being a, um, precious commodity… I’m here to tell you today, that because of your family’s service to our country, you have been pre-selected for entrance into the local Vault. Vault 111.”
“But there’s room for my entire family, right?” I knew he spoke the truth about the ‘big kaboom’. It was inevitable, and having a Vault as a backup was a good idea. But I wouldn’t be going anywhere without my family.
“Of course. Of course! Minus your robot, naturally. In fact, you’re already cleared for entrance. It’s just a matter of verifying some information. Don’t want there to be any holdups, in the event of… ahem… total atomic annihilation. Won’t take but a moment.” The way he spoke so cheerfully about the end of the world didn’t sit right with me.
“Sure.” I said. “Let’s do it.”
He worked through his checklist, verifying the information with me. After he ticked off the last box, he looked up from his clipboard and smiled at me. “Wonderful! That’s… everything… Just gonna walk this over to the Vault! Congratulations on being prepared for the future!”
With that, he turned and walked off. “Uh… Thanks again!” I called out after him, before closing the door. I turned back to see Nora sitting on the lounge, looking up at me.
“Hey, it’s peace of mind. That’s worth a little paperwork, right?”
“For you and Shaun, no price is too high.” I said, flashing her a quick smile.
She laughed at this, a heart-warming sound that made me remember why I married her. “Good answer.”
I winked at her and grinned. “I have my moments.”
I could hear Shaun crying again from the other end of the house, as Codsworth floated back down the hall. “Mister Colin,” he spoke, “Shaun has been changed, but absolutely refuses to calm down. I think he needs some of that ‘paternal affection’ you seem to be so good at.”
“You heard Codsworth,” Nora called from her seat on the couch, “go on.”
I walked down the hall and entered Shaun’s room. Lying in his cot, wrapped up in a blanket was my beautiful baby boy. I looked down on him, my heart filling with happiness, as it did every time I saw him. I reached down and tickled him, and the crying stopped almost instantly. From behind me, Nora’s voice spoke again; she’d managed to sneak up on me again. “And how are the two most important men in my life doing?” she asked, wrapping her arms around my muscular waist. “Spin the mobile a bit. He loves that.” I did as I was bid, spinning the rocket-ship mobile that hung above Shaun’s crib, the soft accompanying music playing as well. “How’s my little guy? Much better now, huh?”
“At least he’s stopped crying.” I said, looking at my wife.
She looked back at me and smiled. “Listen, after breakfast, I was thinking we could head to the park for a bit. Weather should hold up.”
“And do what exactly?” I asked.
From the living room, Codsworth called out. “Sir? Mum? You should come and see this!” He sounded panicked. I didn’t even know his programming allowed for him to sound panicked.
I rushed out to the living room whilst Nora grabbed up Shaun and followed. We stood there, watching the newscaster. What he was saying filled me with the icy cold feeling of pure fear. “Followed by… yes, followed by flashes. Blinding flashes. Sounds of explosions… We’re… we’re trying to get confirmation…” The newscaster spoke slowly, the shock clear in his voice as he looked around the newsroom at the crew members clearly behind the camera. “But we seem to have lost contact with our affiliate stations… We do have… coming in… confirmed reports. I repeat,” he said, looking directly at the camera, “confirmed reports of nuclear detonation in New York and Pennsylvania. The TV signal suddenly cut out, replaced with a generic ‘Please Stand By’ screen.
“My god…” Nora whispered under her breath.
My mind switched in to soldier mode; my mission was to get my wife and son safely to the Vault. “Let’s go!” I called. “We need to get to the Vault now!”
I opened the door, just as the sirens started sounding. The quiet street was now chaos. A booming voice called, “RESIDENTS OF SANCTUARY HILLS! IF YOU ARE REGISTERED, PROCEED TO VAULT 111 IMMEDIATELY.” We ran down the street towards the path that lead to the Vault.
A military Vertibird flew overhead, whilst an APC parked at the end of street. Soldiers climbed out and began ushering civilians towards the Vault. I kept hold of Nora’s arm and lead her through the mass of our neighbours. We crossed the small wooden bridge, passing a couple arguing over whether or not they should bring the suitcase. The lush green grass and the beautiful array of autumn leaves seemed so ill-fitting considering the impending doom that could be unleashed upon us at any second.
We arrived at the gate to the Vault area, which was guarded by a ranking Army Officer and heavily-armed soldiers in suits of Power Armour. The Vault-Tec rep I’d spoken to only a short time before was engaged in a heated discussion with the Officer blocking the gate. “That’s absurd!” he screamed. “I AM Vault-Tec!”
The army officer roared in his face, “NOT ON THE LIST. YOU’RE NOT GETTING IN.”
“I’m going in!” The Rep yelled back! “You can’t stop me!” With this, one of the soldiers stepped forward and began spooling up the large minigun he was holding. “Woah woah woah, ok!” The Rep said hastily, before stepping away to the side.
I pushed through the crowd, coming face to face with the army officer. “We need to get in! We’re on the list!”
He glanced down at the clipboard. “Infant… Adult female… Adult male… Ok, go ahead.” He said, before moving aside to allow us to pass. He nodded at Nora as she passed. “Good luck ma’am. And God help us all.”
We ran up the path, were a Vault-Tec security guard awaited us. “You two!” he bellowed. “Follow me!” With this, he turned and ran up the path, leading us towards the Vault. The Vertibird I’d seen fly over came down to land, the rapidly spinning blades buffeting us. We ran past as the guard yelled again, “Step on the platform! In the centre!” We ran and stepped onto the platform, joining a group of our neighbours who were already waiting. An alarm sounded nearby, and the order to send us down was given.
Nora huddled close to me, and I spoke to her, trying to calm her. “Almost there. We’re gonna be ok. I love you. Both of you.”
“We love you too.” She said back, gazing up at me through fearful eyes.
I looked out over the hills, just as a gigantic explosion erupted in the distance. A blinding light grew quickly, and even from our considerable distance, we could feel the heat of the explosion. I’d heard mini-nukes exploding when I was in the service, but that can’t prepare you for the intensity of a nuclear warhead exploding; it sounded like the end of the world. A huge mushroom cloud rose from the detonation site, as the nuclear blast caused the whole sky to turn a hellish colour. The platform we were on slowly began its descent, as a storm of dust and debris raced across the landscape towards us.
The platform sunk low enough that we weren’t torn to pieces by the sheer ferocity of the winds, or any loose pieces of rock or wood that hadn’t been incinerated. I looked up as the nuclear-powered hellstorm raged overhead. The doors at the top of the platform closed, clanging shut. The light of the hellish red sky was replaced with bright industrial lighting. The roaring wind vanished, replaced by the sounds of adults sobbing, and Shaun wailing.
The elevator came to a stop at the bottom of the shaft, and I mentally prepared myself for my new life in Vault 111.
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