The Search

22 – The Long Way Home

November 13, 2287 – Goodneighbor had the illusion of being a tucked away protected area in the middle of the city. It was walled off on all sides, only accessible by the main entrance off what was now an alleyway eventually leading to the Common. But even as I tried to sleep, there were constant sounds of Vertiberds overhead, firefights in the distance, and explosions. Hancock might have controlled what was going on inside the borders of this town, but outside, there was a still a war, apparently now between the Brotherhood and the various rogue forces that were competing for resources and political control. Even the Minutemen, stuck in the northwest corner of the Commonwealth, were involved in that battle, as Preston and his crew tried to eke out their version of freedom for the expanding array of settlements that allied themselves with the faction. At first, it seemed to be good guys vs. the bad guys. But it was getting increasingly difficult to tell who was who anymore. I had a feeling if I got to someone representing the Institute at some point, they’d probably think they had a good reason for doing what they were doing as well. Maybe they would feel they were trying to protect mankind somehow, or maybe they’d feel mankind wasn’t worth protecting.

Just Outside Goodneighbor

Just Outside Goodneighbor

In any case, Goodneighbor seemed to be in the middle of all the goings on, but at least temporarily sheltered from it as well. As I made my way toward the front gate, the large Scollay Square sign above the Memory Den reminded me that Boston’s political leaders had always played tug-of-war with this area. I couldn’t recall all the specifics, but I did know that since the 1800’s, these few city blocks had been a cultural and economic focal point of the city. In the early 1800’s, one of the first anti-slavery newspapers in the country had been printed right here, almost two decades before the American Civil War, and some of these buildings had been part of the Underground Railroad. I was sure many of them still had undiscovered hiding spots where slaves had been given sanctuary on their way north. At another point in time, a Christian sect that believed the world was going to end in 1844 had taken root here. When that year came and went, and everyone was still alive, the sect disbanded and eventually a kind of secular rebellion took hold, with vaudeville, Shakespearian, and even burlesque shows moving in to the Square.

A century later, after the Second World War, America’s restored faith in itself led to the promotion of many projects across the United States that might have been best reconsidered. Unbridled enthusiasm and a nationwide economic recovery led to massive construction, sometimes without thought of preserving what once was. For Scollay Square, that meant removing the seediest elements, and redeveloping the entire area. The local fight against what was viewed as government intrusion into a private sector of the city lasted years. But in the end, a large federal cash grant and payouts to building owners convinced the last remaining holdouts that razing most of the remaining buildings and creating a sprawling new government complex – what became Government Center – was the way forward.

The modern architecture didn’t age well though. By the mid 2070’s the specific architectural style used in Government Center betrayed the date of its creation, and with the United States in the grips of a costly war on the Chinese mainland, local politicians were looking for cheap victories to ramp up general constituent enthusiasm and keep consumer sentiment high. The renaming of Government Center back to Scollay Square was one of those hollow deeds.

History wasn’t really my strong suit, but I didn’t have much of a fondness for politicians, so I always seemed to remember when they pulled purely symbolic shit like that. Which led me to thinking about the Brotherhood of Steel, whose Vertiberds were now above me again as I tried to get my bearings, just outside Goodneighbor. I headed north through an alley, and was just alert enough to step backward quickly after accidentally tripping off a proximity mine. The noise attracted a wild dog, which I quickly put out of its misery. I glanced south, and could see the Vertiberd not far off in the distance, above the buildings. It was fighting something. Probably more Super Mutants.

I needed to get out of here, and quickly.

Approaching Cabot House

Approaching Cabot House

I took a look at my Pip-Boy, and the map had been filled in enough for me to see I was just a few blocks away from a main route over the Charles.  Once across, I’d be out of these confined streets and tall apartment buildings, and any potential danger would be easier to spot. As I continued down the main thoroughfare, I almost ran into a Mr. Handy, who slid out from somewhere and stopped right front of me, in the middle of the street. Just behind the robot was an open courtyard, in back of which was a rather pristine brick house from what looked like the 1800’s that covered about a half a block. Between the Mr. Handy and the courtyard was a concrete movable barrier hosting a tall wooden sign that said in sloppy red paint, Private Property, No Trespassing. Despite the lazy work on the sign, someone was keeping up this property, and I wondered if this Mr. Handy was here to stop me from going any farther.

I took at step forward, and it said “hello,” as I passed. I decided to check out the house, and as I approached, a Sentry Bot similar to the one I had found at that junkyard so long ago emerged from behind some bushes and told me I was being watched, and to move along.

It wasn’t taking an overly aggressive stance, so we just stared at each other for a moment. I looked at the house again, and noticed within arms length was an intercom mounted to a steel pole on the sidewalk. I clicked it, and a voice responded.

“Go away,” said a gravelly voice, the kind I had found emerged from ghouls.

“What is this place,” I asked?

“Hey – it’s you,” said the voice.

“Who is this?”

“Edward Deegan – we met at Diamond City.”

Edward Deegan? I didn’t remember any Edward Deegan. I didn’t remember meeting any ghouls until I arrived at Goodneighbor.

“Well, maybe we didn’t meet per se, but I know who you are. You’re the guy that sprung Nick Valentine from Skinny Malone’s gang. You’re looking for your son. Come on in, I might have some news for you.”

The door opened with a click, and I entered into one of the cleanest, brightest buildings I had seen since emerging from the vault. A ghoul, who I suspected was the face behind the voice over the intercom, ushered me into the main seating area off to the side of the hallway entrance.

“You’ll want to speak to Jack,” he said. “He’ll be down in just a moment.”

I went along with it, and took a seat in the sparsely furnished room. At the top of a staircase running almost the entire length of the side wall was a balcony, behind which, a set of double doors opened into another room where someone was muttering rather loudly to himself.

Jack Cabot, and Edward Deegan

Jack Cabot, and Edward Deegan

Eventually, the man, who I suspected to be Jack, emerged from the interior room and came out to the balcony, looked down at me as he leaned forward, hands on the railing, and said out loud, “good, good!” He was of medium build, dark hair, dressed in leisure slacks, shirt and tie, and a lab coat.

“I always like to meet those who work for me face-to-face,” he said as he walked down the stairs.

“Work for you,” I asked?

“Didn’t Edward tell you? Sit down, have a drink, and let me ask you a question.”

With that pronouncement, the ghoul who had been standing on the other side of the room, rolled his eyes and took off down the hallway. I suspected this conversation was going to take a while.

The man sat in a large chair adjacent to the couch on which I was sitting, leaned in and shook my hand, “Jack Cabot.”

He sat back, took a deep breath, and said, “So. Do you believe there is other intelligent life in the universe?”

The Universe, huh? “Sure,” I replied. I guess there could be life out there? Why not? It’s a big place.”

Jack seemed pleased by my response, and noted that not many people believed in life that didn’t originate on Earth. But he wasn’t talking about aliens – little green men. He was talking about “the origins of civilization, ancient science that modern man couldn’t comprehend.”

Yeah, I had heard both kinds of stories, and I knew the type of people who told them. My military buddies had known pilots who had served our country honorably and who swore that they had seen flying saucers or cigar shaped objects follow their aircraft for miles and then they’d suddenly veer off in an unbelievable burst of speed. Centuries ago, hardy captains of vessels lost at sea in days of fog would claim strange lights had emerged out of the mists and had led their crews to safety.  And then there were those who claimed the Great Pyramids at Giza and the Moai on Easter Island couldn’t have been built by anyone but an advanced civilization (that had nothing to do with humans). Jack was still rambling on, and then mentioned his father had found some ruins or something that had pre-dated any known human civilization by 4000 years.

At some point during Jack’s speech, Edward had returned to the doorway. He interrupted, and said that if I was going to be of help, I’d need to know about the “missing shipment.”

Edward Is Not Amused

Edward Is Not Amused

Cabot suddenly broke out of his rambling trance, “Ah, Edward, yes, please carry on. I need to get back to work. I get so excited sometimes. We’ll continue this discussion later.” And with that, Jack Cabot shook my hand again, and headed back upstairs, muttering to himself the whole way up.

The ghoul said Cabot owned a facility to the north, and an expected delivery, a metal case with vials of some kind of serum, had gone missing. He wanted me to track it down and bring it back. A good place to start would be Parson’s State Insane Asylum. He said don’t worry, that was just the name of the place. They were using it for storage or something. I was to check in with a Maria, who was in charge of the security force.

Somehow, I had roped myself into another recovery mission. How many was this now? I’ll have to go back and look through this diary to find out all the things I’m supposed to be following up on. But since that day when I had gotten so pissed off at letting myself be led around by Preston, Shawn had become the priority. I had made sure of that.

The main bridge across the Charles and out of the city proper was just behind the Cabot House. As I exited and headed around back, I apparently awakened the Sentry Bot guarding the place. (Stay off the grass)

When I got to the back of the building, I realized that bridge I had seen on my Pip-Boy wasn’t actually a bridge after all. I mean, the bridge was there, but the main route across the Charles from the map had, at one point, been the elevated highway that very suddenly loomed above me and cast a shadow over the smaller route over the river that was underneath it and that veered off right a bit toward the Bunker Hill Monument, which I could now see not to far away. This Pip-Boy map wasn’t necessarily to be relied on. It was going to show me routes that weren’t necessarily passable. I made a mental note of this and started across the little bridge.

Bunker Hill, and Old Ironsides

Bunker Hill, and Old Ironsides

Along the north side of the Charles, and just to the right of the Bunker Hill Monument, draped across giant masts, were the furled sails of the USS Constitution. She’d be almost 500 years old now, and there she stood – tall, bold, silent. As I continued across the bridge, the Bunker Hill Monument was getting … brighter. There were lights inside of it.

On the other side, I found myself on a street that led to a cluster of dingy apartment buildings, and just around a corner, at the top of a hillside was the monument itself, surrounded by a wall of steel and wire, and lights strung all around. I approached, and a woman’s voice cried out, “you there, caravan or raider?”

“Why would I answer raider?”

“It’s a good point,” said the voice. “Funny that no one’s ever asked me that before. I guess usually I know the raiders. They’re the ones that start shooting before I can get the question out.”

“I’m not a caravan either, though,” I replied. “It’s just me.”

Entrance to Bunker Hill Monument

Entrance to Bunker Hill Monument

I was let in, told the market was open, and was warned not to fire any weapons. So this was another marketplace? For people north of the city, this outpost probably felt a lot safer than venturing into narrow streets and crumbling buildings.

I got taken for ten caps as soon as I entered by some kid who said she’d give me the grand tour of the place. So much for trying to be hospitable.

I took the stairs to the top of the monument, and looked around. It was still dark out, but to the southeast, that Brotherhood ship was silhouetted against the twilight sky, and I could also see down onto the deck of Old Ironsides from here. It was lit up. Maybe it was another market, or maybe still a tourist attraction. Did they even still have those? Were there tourists in 2287?

And off to the southwest, I was pretty sure I could see my eventual destination – the Glowing Sea. It was a different shade of light than the glow of Diamond City. A shifting, greenish yellow, as opposed to the steady cold bluish white light of the former Fenway.

I didn’t really need any supplies, so I quickly headed out, checking my Pip-Boy to see if I was still on course. The path I was on now headed straight west, to a larger street where I could pick up the trail northwest back to South Malden and then onto Lexington and Concord. I quickly discovered this street mirrored pretty closely that giant elevated highway. If I kept that in sight, it would probably lead me back to the Sand and Gravel yard, where that main interchange coming down from the north was. From there, I easily knew my way back to the Red Rocket.

Just as the right side of the road on which I was traveling opened up from apartment buildings and shops to the shoreline of the Mystic River, I heard laser weapons fire. Red beams of light darted behind trees way up ahead of me, and I slowed my pace to try to find out what was going on. Within a few seconds, there was traditional weapons fire added to the chunk chunk chunk of the lasers, and then what sounded like another weapon I couldn’t identify.

The Robot Firefight

The Robot Firefight

The firefight was happening on the other side of the elevated highway, through a dense thicket. I figured I was sheltered from anyone seeing me, and I watched the glowing battle play out. Or rather, I watched the glow. I couldn’t make out who was firing what. All I could see in the darkness and the distance was the firefight, and what appeared to be a campsite illuminated by a large fire. I got closer, but before I had a chance to make out who was doing the fighting, a thundering explosion erupted next to an overpass support column, and the ground shook.

Then it was quiet for a moment, and I heard a synthetic voice, but couldn’t make out what it was saying. Next thing I knew, an eyebot appeared from the brush under the highway, and it was headed straight for me, firing its beam at my head. I started to back away, and it suddenly exploded. Someone from the area of the battle was still firing at it. Another eyebot followed right behind it, and once again, though I had tried to stay an observer, here I was fighting off another enemy.

After I disposed of the eyebot, the weapons fire in the distance continued, and then it got quiet again. I crept closer, circling around the scene and hiding behind the column where the first explosion had taken place, and was astonished by what I witnessed. Five or six synths were firing on each other pretty much at point blank range. There was so much gunplay, the group was creating its own little glowing circle that lit up the night.

Fighting Back Against the Robots

Fighting Back Against the Robots

Another eyebot suddenly darted around the column, and I was instantly the worst thing I could be right now – a human distraction for a bunch of synths fighting amongst themselves. I swapped out my laser gun for a hunting rifle with incendiary ammo, and started fighting back as best as I could, sighting in one enemy after another while backing away from the battle. The synths kept fighting each other while taking the occasional shot at me, and within a few minutes, I had cleaned up whatever synths were left standing.

A moment of quiet was followed by yet another gigantic explosion, and then nothing. I emerged from the brush and onto to roadway, and examined the robot fragments burning on the ground. I had never seen synths like these. They were a mix between the modern Institute synths that I had seen when fighting Kellogg, and the old Protectron-type robots. Maybe they weren’t really synths at all.

I was picking through one of the larger ones on the side of the road when I heard a metallic clunk behind me – the sound of a Protectron taking a step.

“My friends did not survive the attack,” said the last remaining robot. “Thank you for assisting. I was certain to meet my end here as well.”

Startled, I asked the robot if it was OK, and it – she? – said she was registering anger. I asked what type of robot she was, and she said she was a heavily modified Assaultron, and her name was Ada.

She said it wasn’t the first time her and her friends had been attacked by this type of robot. She mentioned that the leader of the caravan she traveled with – a man simply named Jackson – had upgraded some of their weaponry, but they had been overwhelmed by the force of these strangely vicious robots.

I was curious why she and her friends had been continually attacked, and she responded that she should have known with the weapon upgrades that Jackson had installed on all of them, that they would be targets for salvage, and that they should have left the Commonwealth when they had the chance, whatever that meant.

A Conversation With Ada

A Conversation With Ada

Now, she was out for vengeance. Someone named The Mechanist had been broadcasting over the eyebots that followed the attacking robots around, and she suspected this person was behind these evil robots. That was the first synthetic voice I think I had heard actually when the whole fight started.

Ada asked me to fight with her to defeat this Mechanist, and in return, she’d provide me schematics I could use to create my own robots. It was a tempting offer, and perhaps I’d find good use for something like that down the road, potentially when I found my way to the Institute, but for now, I really needed to find Dr. Virgil.

Ada was headed to the General Atomics factory, which she said had been mentioned in all the eyebot broadcasts. I suddenly recalled hearing that ad on my way past the Corvega factory that time an eyebot had floated past me. At least I thought it had been General Atomics. But that eyebot hadn’t attacked me, it seemed like it had been recruiting.

I had to decline Ada’s offer, but told her I could probably help at some point in the future. She didn’t seem like she wanted to do it alone though, as she asked if there was someplace she could be of use until I was ready to assist her again. I thought about the ring of settlements that was starting to be assembled, and decided Sunshine Tidings Co-op was probably most in need of an advanced robot such as Ada. As long as she didn’t look like one of those synth skeleton things, she’d probably work out fine in any of the settlements.

When I mentioned Sunshine Tidings, Ada said she was already familiar with that settlement, and said she’d see me soon. She slowly hobbled off, and I scavenged the remnants scattered about for anything valuable. Since I was heading back to the Red Rocket, a lot of these parts that were on the still intact robots – vacuum tubes, circuit boards, Mr. Handy fuel and the like – would probably be very useful to Sturges. The rest of the burning metal was pretty much scrap.

I left the smoldering heaps and headed across the thicket underneath the highway, back onto the main road on the other side. Not far in the distance, the roadway turned north, again veering a bit away from the highway, and met another small two-lane bridge crossing the Mystic River. As I approached, a tarnished metal sign with a couple bullet holes noted this was the Tucker Memorial Bridge. Once across the Mystic, I’d practically be in Lexington.

It was almost morning, and the northern sky seemed to be brightening. There was a sudden crispness to the air coming off the water, and I found my mood lifting a bit. I was looking forward to getting back into more familiar territory, and eventually, to home.

I Missed Something Important Here

I Missed Something Important Here

As I took my second or third step onto the bridge, I felt something tug at my foot, almost tripping me, and the next few moments seemed to happen in slow motion. Almost simultaneously, I realized I had not only triggered a tripwire, but also that the entire bridge was shiny, like it had been covered in some kind of dark liquid, and that barrels of what I assumed were some kind of fuel were strategically placed all over the bridge, tucked next to huge piles of debris.

My only hope at this point was to dive off the bridge and into the water if I could get to it in time. In one motion, I pushed off with my right foot and grabbed the bridge railing, pulling myself up and over. Before I even hit the water, I heard and felt a tremendous explosion, the force of which pushed me out farther into the river, and while my life didn’t flash before my eyes, my last conscious thought was seeing Shawn, in that room with Kellogg, and that I wouldn’t get to see him again.

What seemed like a moment later, I heard the muffled voices of two men, one on either side of me. One of my eyes was swollen shut, but I was able to open the other. I was seated outside with my back to a high security concrete wall, facing out at a decaying roadway. The two men were right next to me, but I could barely hear them. My ears were all fucked up from the explosion. They were talking to each other about “the test,” something they were going to give me. I didn’t like the sound of it, and my panic level rose instantly. I reached for a pistol on one of the guys, but pain shot through my arm as I tried to lift it, and I started to realize just how severely injured I had been in the explosion.

“No, no,” said one of the men quickly as he pushed my arm away. “We’re not going to hurt you.”

“The br – bridge,” I stammered.

“Not us, guy,” said the other man. “We’re the ones who saved you. We’ll take you inside, but we’ve got a few questions to ask you first. The rules are the rules.”

“Where am I,” I asked?

“This is Covenant.”

Listen to Episode 22 – The Long Way Home

4 Comments

  • Reply
    Craig
    August 15, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    Hi Samuel, I just wanted to say, you rock! I started to listen to your podcast a week ago and had a very hard time putting it down. I started playing Fallout 4 about three weeks ago and so up until four episodes ago I was pretty much right there with you. I Just finished listening to your last episode today and I look forward to future episodes. I can’t imagine how much time you have put into these episodes so I completely understand the time between them. Love your stuff man. Keep up the good work.

    • Reply
      Samuel Tannin
      August 22, 2017 at 4:36 pm

      Hi Craig! Really appreciate the kind words! Yeah, it has taken a long time, and I’ve slowed down both playing the game and writing these episodes. I can’t believe the game has been out almost two years now. I’d say I’m about half done this project. But then again, I don’t really know as I haven’t finished the game yet. :)

      Thanks again for writing. It’s so nice to hear from people who are enjoying the podcasts, and it often gives me a jolt to get the next one done!

      Cheers!

  • Reply
    Steve Parker
    October 23, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    I second this motion! This is by far my favourite podcast out right now, and I have taken to listening to it while touring my settlements in the game.
    Keep up the good work! Can’t wait to hear the next one. :)

    • Reply
      Samuel Tannin
      October 27, 2017 at 1:02 am

      Thanks, Steve! I’m honored! Should be another episode just after the weekend, and then I’m going to try to get two more in before the end of 2017. I want to hit 25 episodes before the end of 2017. :) Again, thanks so much for listening, and for the very kind words!

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