The Search

13 – Finding Valentine – Part 2

November 6, 2287 – I found Nick Valentine. He’s alive — well, if you can call it that. You’re going to think I’m crazy, especially given how critical I’ve been of the Mayor and all the paranoid folks at Diamond City. You’re going to say my head was messed up by wild mongrels, Super Mutants, and raiders, that spending a night in the cold, clammy basement of a old church, next to bags full of human remains with who knows what kind of infection running through my blood… Well, let’s say under normal circumstances, I’d think the same. But I know what I’ve seen, and I’m pretty sure Mr. Valentine is a synth. I don’t know if the people at Diamond City know he’s a synth. You’d have thought someone would have mentioned it to me, especially Ellie or Piper, since they knew for a fact I was going to find the guy — the thing? The person? But they didn’t mention it. Seems like it would have been an obvious — if not important — thing to tell me if they knew. So how do I know he’s a synth?Well, for purposes of keeping this diary going in an orderly fashion, I’ll start where I left off on my last entry. I’ll just let you know that I’m fine, Nick seems to be “fine,” whatever that means for him, and I’m writing this entry from the ground floor of Trinity Tower. On our way back from Park Street Station, my Pip-Boy picked up a radio broadcast from someone being held hostage at the top of the tower by a pack of Super Mutants, so we’re just trying to get ourselves together before heading up there to see if we can help. We’ll be heading back to Diamond City soon, I hope, which should be interesting, especially given Nick’s appearance, which I’ll explain shortly. I wonder what kind of reception he’s going to get once he gets back.

The Basement of Trinity Church

The Basement of Trinity Church

I awoke in the basement of Trinity Church. I don’t know how long I was out, but the light was coming in from the windows on the opposite side of the church from where they had been when I fell asleep, so I knew it was morning at least. I lifted my arm to look at my Pip-Boy, and a sharp pain shot like electricity from my side and across my abdomen. I put the arm back down and kind of rolled over so I could sit up against the wall behind me without using my stomach muscles too much. I opened my pack and got a stimpak, pulled away the armor near the wound and injected. Hopefully I’d be healing soon. At the very least, the immediacy of the pain was quickly subsiding. I slowly got to my feet and headed back up the collapsed flooring toward the front of the church, determined that I was going to find Valentine by the end of the day. Park Street Station was just up Boylston, and across the Common. Once I got there, I’d just have to deal with Skinny Malone and his men.

The walk from Trinity Church to the Common was quiet. No raiders, no mongrels. There was no one around at all. It was almost eerie – just the whisper of the wind, and that weird sound that I had heard near the Corvega factory. I wondered if there was someone I could ask about it. It seemed almost non-directional, and I couldn’t figure out what might have been making it. At the end of Boylston, heading into the common, an old rusted metal gate stood half off its hinges, an entry to the area where the Swan Boat ride had been.

Entrance to the Common

Entrance to the Common

Fragments from a couple boats were scattered about, some still in Swan Pond in front of me, others on the grass near what looked like a maintenance shed. As soon as I got near the water, my Pip-Boy started crackling like mad. This area was hot, at least in spots. Radiation seemed to be concentrated near the pond, and by the maintenance shed. I soon found out why. There were barrels of radioactive waste stored in a few places here — some in the pond itself, some out in back of the shed, and in the gazebo in the middle of the Common there were eight or nine barrels laying about. Someone had used this once serene and beautiful gathering place as a toxic dumping ground. I instantly felt sickened, and it wasn’t from the radiation.

The entrance to Park Street Station was just beyond the gazebo, but I had to back up and go around because the radiation level was so high, I couldn’t go straight through the Common. As I reached Park Street, an old Protectron emerged from a capsule and offered a tour of the Freedom Trail. Nora and I had always talked about walking the Trail, but we had never actually done it. I made a mental note that I’d have to come back here some day, maybe with some other people, just for safety, and walk it. I gathered it had been quite some time since any tourists had taken this little guy up on his offer, and I actually felt a bit sorry for him. It seemed absurd to be thinking of walking the ultimate Commonwealth tourist day hike in 2287, particularly not knowing how many of the stops were still actually in existence, and not knowing who or what inhabited them, but why the hell not. History was still history. It was probably more important now than it ever had been. I wondered if this Protectron would take us all the way up to the Bunker Hill Monument. It had to be a couple miles away, and while the software seemed willing, the mechanicals seemed a bit tired.

What the Hell is this Thing?

What the Hell is this Thing?

As I was pondering this, I heard an incredible organic roar from behind me, and turned around just in time to duck as a boulder whizzed over my head. In the middle of Swan Pond, one of the Swan Boats was now strapped to the back of some giant ogre-type creature holding what looked like a massive battle axe. He was scooping up rocks from the bottom of the pond with his other hand and hurling them at me. I fumbled for my shotgun and got a couple blasts off, which only pissed off this giant Swan thing, as it made a run for me. I needed to find some shelter fast, or at least some obstacle to hide behind, as I imagined one swing of that axe would do me in. I noticed the Protectron heading back into his capsule – maybe he had seen this before and knew how it ended. I glanced toward the Park Street Station building, but it was still too far away. No way I’d make it before this thing caught up to me. I had to stay and try to take it down. I headed for the maintenance shed, and thought about hunkering down inside, but then I’d be trapped. Instead, I ran around the back of it and took shots at the Swan thing as it approached. It was quick, but it didn’t seem terribly nimble. If I was careful, I could keep shooting at it and hope that it would eventually run away, or fall over dead. A few shots later, I realized the shotgun wasn’t doing nearly as much damage as I had hoped.

Whatever it Was, It's Dead Now

Whatever it Was, It’s Dead Now

It was Cryolator time. The freeze balls it ejected had saved me from certain death once, and it was time to give it another shot. The only problem was, the projectiles didn’t go very far. I was going to have to get closer. I dashed out in the open toward the Gazebo, and just as I reached it, the Swan thing smacked me from behind, and I went flying through the air, barely missing both rows of columns and landed hard on the ground on the other side. Using the gazebo as cover, I sprayed the monster with a full magazine of Cryolator ammo. Not enough. I reloaded, and darted around the gazebo as the thing threw more rocks at me. Another full Cryolator mag brought the thing to its knees, and it collapsed in front of me, completely frozen. I took out the shotgun and fired into the ice. It’s head rolled across the Common leaving a trail of broken grass crystals behind.

The Park Street Station entrance was a few steps away now, a small square concrete building with an open front doorway. As I passed through the entry, a blast of warm, stale air hit my nostrils. It was a dry, construction-type smell, like cement coming out of a bag before water is added.

Park Street Station Entrance

Park Street Station Entrance

Just past the entryway was a pair of escalators leading down to another set of doors. Standing at the top, I could hear voices talking about Valentine, and the girl that he had come looking for. I snuck down to the lower doorway and tried to listen in, but one of Malone’s goons must have heard me, because they all darted behind cover and started shooting. I high-tailed it back up the escalator and used the shotgun to hit them as they came out to take shots at me. Best as I could tell, there were three or four of them, and at least one of them had an automatic weapon. They didn’t seem to be as patient as I was though, and someone was shooting at me every second or two, which gave me an opportunity to knock them off one-by-one, until there were none left.

Just past the door by the escalators and off to the left was the attendant’s booth. Inside the booth was a terminal that noted Park Street had closed due to an agreement with Vault-Tec Corporation. I remembered hearing something about Park Street station closing at the time, but hadn’t paid much attention to it. I think it had been a money thing.

Approaching the Subway Platform

Approaching the Subway Platform

The Metro was always in one kind of financial trouble or another, and some corporation had paid a massive amount of money for the station, effectively bailing out the city. I hadn’t known it was Vault-Tec though. That meant there was probably a Vault down here, or at least the beginnings of one if they hadn’t finished it. I was getting the feeling this wasn’t going to be a simple fight in a subway station. If there was a Vault down here, I pictured quite an extensive search happening before I’d find Valentine.

Some more stairs led down toward the subway platform, and just as I came around the corner and saw the tracks at the bottom of yet another stairwell, I was being shot at again. Again, the shotgun hadn’t been as effective as I had hoped on the first round of Skinny Malone’s hired hands, so I took out an incendiary hunting rifle I had bought at Myrna’s. I’d have to be more precise with my aim, but the bullets this thing fired did extended damage, which I needed since there seemed to be a lot of guys scattered about the platform.

Entrance to Vault 114

Entrance to Vault 114

Most of them were content to try to pick me off from afar, but one of them rushed me. I clocked him across the head with the butt of the rifle, and he went tumbling down the stairs and against a Nuka Cola machine at the bottom, hitting his head hard. That seemed to piss off the other guys even more, and they started getting reckless with the firepower, just trying to overwhelm me with everything they had. The only chance to hit them was when they were reloading, so I took the most of those opportunities.

Eventually the firefight was over, and I cautiously glided down the last staircase to the platform below. There was crumbling concrete and rebar everywhere, along with bodies and spattered blood. Cargo containers were positioned at various points along the tracks, probably carrying materials for the Vault construction, supplies, furniture, electronics, whatever. The tracks headed Northeast, and came to an abrupt halt a thousand feet or so from the end of the staircase near a large room with heavy excavation equipment and a steel platform with the same kind of Vault entrance control panel that I had used in Vault 111 to get out.

Inside the Vault

Inside the Vault

I plugged in my Pip-Boy, and sure enough, the giant gear forming the entrance to Vault 114 pushed forward into the vault, and rolled off to the side, making a hell of a lot of noise in the process. In fact, once it finally stopped rolling, I heard a couple of Malone’s men remarking about how loud the gear mechanism was. While I hadn’t exactly taken them by surprise, I knew they weren’t expecting me, so when they yelled to see who it was, I knew exactly where they were. Two headshots later, I was plunging ever deeper into the depths of Vault 114, through numerous corridors, and eventually into another large open area with metal staircases and more construction equipment. These scaffolding-type staircases just lead further down into the vault. Of course, Malone’s men were stationed at every choke point. Usually in pairs, but sometimes alone. I was feeling pretty confident at this point. I had to be getting closer to wherever they were keeping the detective. I wondered if there was any kind of signaling apparatus or radios or something that would alert someone that things were going down, that I was getting closer to where I needed to be and that a warning should be raised. The deeper I went, and the longer nothing happened, the more my anxiety kicked up and the feeling of dread increased.

Valentine in the Overseer's Office

Valentine in the Overseer’s Office

Eventually, I reached a spacious, open area that appeared to be a cafeteria. Around its edges was a second floor, almost like a balcony that circled the room. There were boxes and tables scattered about, and on the top level, from behind a round porthole window, what turned out to be Nick Valentine was jawing at one of the guards, saying that he had better be careful, because he had offended Malone, and Malone had scratched his name off in a black book that he kept with him at all times. The guard got spooked, and decided to get right with his boss, heading down into a corridor off the side of the room, leaving Valentine unguarded, but still behind a locked door. I found my way over to a staircase on the side of the room leading to where the guard had been, and through the small window saw a figure silhouetted in the dim light on the other side of the door. Nick’s voice emerged from the room, urging me to get a move on because the guard would be back in exactly three minutes once he realized he had been tricked.

A terminal to the right of the heavy steel door sprung the lock, and there in front of me, was Valentine. As he lit a cigarette and started asking why I was there, I noticed in the glow of the match that one side of his face was sliced open from the top of his skull down to his neck. Behind the paper-like skin that was barely held in place by tension, was a metal jaw, and as the detective spoke, sinewy synthetic materials pulled on it, making it move. His eyes glowed with an intense, artificial light, and honestly I didn’t hear a word he said I was so fascinated by what I was seeing.

My First Glimpse of Nick Valentine

My First Glimpse of Nick Valentine

Totally leaving any proper manners to the wind, I asked him what, exactly, he was? He said there wasn’t time for that, and that I should get to the point – obviously I put myself in a lot of danger to get here and cut him loose from Malone’s grasp, I must want something really important. I told him I was looking for someone, that I didn’t know where he was or how long he had been gone. Nick said he had seen success with less info, and he’d do his part to help me after we got back to Diamond City, but first we needed to high-tail it out of Vault 114.

Valentine seemed familiar with the layout of the place, so I followed him through corridor after corridor, and up staircase after staircase, and through a number of locked doors that the private eye skillfully opened. Once again, past every obstacle was another group of Malone’s thugs waiting for us. Nick said Malone himself would be waiting at some point, and to be prepared, mentioning also that the girl he had come to rescue hadn’t turned out to be a runaway after all, but was Skinny Malone’s “new flame,” and supposedly she had a hell of a mean streak.

Standoff with Skinny Malone

Standoff with Skinny Malone

And through another locked door, right before the vault exit, there they were, staring at us, weapons drawn. The girl’s name was Darla, and she was giving Malone a hard time about having kept Valentine alive. Their conversation continued, and Nick and I just listened. It seemed like there was some history between the gangster and the detective. I was curious of course, but figured this wasn’t the time to be asking questions, what with Malone’s guys having us completely covered with impressive firepower and all. When the discussion finally ended, I did mention to Darla that her family had been asking about her back home – something that Ellie had told me before I had left Diamond City – and that she didn’t have to throw her life away here in the pit of the Commonwealth.

I expected Nick to be irritated at me injecting myself into the situation, but he seemed to take it in stride, and let me continue. Darla seemed ready to hear what I was saying, because she pretty quickly turned to Malone and told him that she was going back home, and that they were through.

At this point, I was less worried about what Nick thought of my little speech, and more concerned with Malone. But Nick chimed in and offered to Skinny that I had done him a favor – that Malone had always had bad taste in women, and perhaps now that Darla wasn’t around to feed his temper, he’d see reason and let us walk. Yeah, like that was going to happen.

Nick and I Have a Chat

Nick and I Have a Chat

But the funny thing is, it did.

Malone gave us ten seconds to clear out, and by the time he had yelled “one,” we were already past him. Nick guided us to an emergency exit that led out of the tunnels and up to street level through a manhole cover.

It was dark out, and quiet, and we had a chance to chat while we caught our breath. Nick asked how I had found him, and I told him Ellie had sent me. He said I should follow him back to Diamond City and that we’d take care of my missing person issue when we got back.

I got the impression he had no idea what I had been through in my quest to rescue him from the vault, since he started giving me advice about the Commonwealth as we walked. I would have laughed at one point when he was telling me to always keep my head on a swivel because things could go from peaceful to deadly in a second, since a mongrel attack then happened as if on cue. But there was no time to laugh. At least I had someone to help me fight the damn things off now.

As we got closer to Trinity Tower, I got that buzz from my Pip-Boy that I mentioned earlier. It was an emergency distress call from someone being held hostage by Super Mutants at the top of the tower. I looked at Nick and he just said, “well, I guess we better help them then, don’t you think?”

We got to the tower entrance, and what we found inside was straight out of an old horror movie. More gore bags, of course. I brought out the laser musket again, and we made our way up level after level, fighting the giant green monsters all the way up.

Diamond City from Trinity Tower

Diamond City from Trinity Tower

A few days ago, I had seen the devastation to the city’s buildings from the Mass Ave bridge, but up close, the building itself told the story in sharper relief. Just about every level was exposed to the outside. A storm had started to pass through, and sheets of water were coming into the building. At one point, we could even look down through an open wall and see the lights of Diamond City not far off in the distance.

At the top of the tower, a Mutant with a minigun put up the fiercest resistance of all, actually damaging the building more than it did us. A few carefully placed shots from the musket took care of him, and then it was just Nick and me, atop Trinity Tower, in the pouring rain. We found the source of the distress call – a guy named Rex Goodman, who had been locked up in a maintenance building atop the tower. But the most astonishing thing was that he wasn’t alone. Trapped up there with him was another Super Mutant – a friend, appropriately named “Strong.” Rex instructed us to follow Strong down off the tower, as he knew the quickest way to the bottom.

A Chat with Rex Goodman

A Chat with Rex Goodman

We eventually made it down to street level, and I took the opportunity to ask how Rex had come to be trapped with a friendly Super Mutant. He said he was an actor, who had been trying to give the Super Mutants a bit of culture. He thought if they could “experience the majesty of Shakespeare, it would change them forever.” He thanked us for saving him, and said he was headed back to some radio station to resume his acting career. With that, he disappeared into the darkness, leaving Nick and me with this green muscled creature staring down at us, going on about how some guy named Mack Beth had told him he needed to find the milk of human kindness. He said he’d stay with us and try to learn where to find it.

Really, I felt the last thing we needed was to be heading back to Diamond City, which had had its own Super Mutant problem, with one of these things tagging along. We were likely to get killed by a swarm of guards before we even got close. I thought a far better place for Strong was back at Sanctuary Hills, or even Tenpines Bluff, where he could help the settlers protect their property from the raiders coming over from the Corvega factory.

So I told Nick to head back to Diamond City, that I was bringing Strong to Tenpines, then I’d see him back at his office. I warned him to be cautious, that the Great Green Jewel of the Commonwealth had become more like the Extremely Paranoid Asylum of the Commonwealth in the short time I had been there, and that perhaps the last thing citizens of Diamond City wanted to see right now was a synth.

Nick said not to worry my little head about it, and to just come see him when I got back.

Ellie and Nick Review Case Files

Ellie and Nick Review Case Files

So, long story short, I escorted Strong to Tenpines, and the settlers there seemed grateful for the assistance, but when they asked me if I had visited the Corvega factory yet, I just kind of made an excuse and split. Anyway, I had to get back to Nick’s office in a hurry.

When I got there, he and Ellie were going over new leads that had come in on some old cases while he had been the guest of Skinny Malone. He told me to take a seat, and asked me to tell him anything I knew about the circumstances surrounding Shawn’s disappearance.

I spilled what little I could remember. The woman had been wearing a hazard suit, the guy had some kind of brace on his arm, and they had hardly said a word to each other, but had mentioned me as their “backup,” whatever that meant. I also mentioned how ruthlessly they had killed Nora when she had tried to protect Shawn.

Nick listened, and I almost see the calculations going on in his head. We got into that too. I asked him if the Institute might have had anything to do with this, and wouldn’t he know (being a synth himself and all). He said he was a “reject.” There were old synths, made entirely of metal, and newer ones that could easily pass as human. He was unique as far as he knew, a prototype perhaps, and had been dumped in the Commonwealth to fend for himself a long time ago, his brain erased.

Listening to My Story

Listening to My Story

The last detail I mentioned though – the fact that the guy was bald and had a scar across his left eye – got Nick’s attention, and Ellie’s as well. He said a mercenary named Kellogg matched that description. Kellogg had showed up to Diamond City with a kid about ten years old in tow, and had bought a house in the abandoned West Stands.

Unfortunately, both he and the kid had disappeared a while back, but Nick said we should head over there and snoop around a bit to see if we could figure out what happened to them.

It was a lead, and a pretty good one at that, even if it was a bit of a coincidence. So we left Nick’s office, and headed over to Kellogg’s place in the West Stands.

Listen to Episode 13 – Finding Valentine – Part 2

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