November 2, 2287 (Entry #2) – Codsworth and I abandoned the railroad tracks just past Bedford Station. We arrived at an orange low-profile train trestle that somehow looked like it could have been built yesterday, and between it and the houses on the outskirts of Lexington was a large open field sparsely littered with debris. I couldn’t remember what had been there. Maybe nothing. The wind whipped through some high-tension power lines above us, and smaller utility poles dotted the landscape, a few of them still connected to each other via frayed wires. Below us, perpendicular to the trestle, was a disappearing local road that would be pretty tough to follow anywhere at this point. Possibly, this land was owned by the railroad as a right-of-way.
As we headed south, the tracks veered off to the southwest, and the decaying grayish-green elevated highway became our traveling companion, quietly hanging over my left shoulder. Even when I wasn’t looking at it, I knew it was there, its presence was so imposing. Eventually this highway met the east-west elevated route that connected the western parts of the Commonwealth with the downtown area, and farther on, Quincy. That major intersection marked the start of Lexington.
We made it there in not much time at all, and the landscape became congested more quickly than I had remembered — first, just a few fairly intact houses, then a quick transition to basketball courts, graffiti-covered urban playgrounds, and large apartment buildings maybe six or seven stories tall – some completely collapsed, others in remarkably good condition, at least at appearance wise. Whether or not they were safe to enter, I didn’t know.
Some shots rang out to our left, and through some large support columns, we saw an apartment courtyard with an empty pool where some raiders were under siege from a mob of ghouls. I thought perhaps helping the raiders by taking a few ghouls out with my laser musket might earn me some brownie points, but as soon as the monsters had been dispatched, the friggin raiders turned their rifles on me. What they didn’t know was that I was getting extremely good at taking out their lot. Killing ghouls was a bitch. Raiders, not so much.
Where there were raiders, there always seemed to be chems. And pipe pistols. Always plenty of pipe pistols. It was fine — we could always use the steel, and I was building up quite a little ammo collection of .38 caliber rounds. As I was scavenging the last of the useful items off one of the raiders, I heard – and felt – an explosion far off in the distance behind us. It seemed that whenever I felt like stopping somewhere, it was never long before I found motivation to get going again.
By this point, we were under the east-west highway, and a quick sprint southeast across another open area brought us to Mass Gravel and Sand, a well-known Commonwealth landmark. Anyone entering the city on the elevated highway from parts north would recognize it in an instant. It might as well have been a sign saying, “Welcome to Boston.”
As we entered the Sand and Gravel yard, my Pip-Boy buzzed. There was a radio broadcast in the area. I tuned in, and it seemed to be an SOS of sorts – a military request for assistance from a “Scribe Halen of Reconnaissance Squad Gladius.” Her unit was hunkered down at the Cambridge Police Station, and they were running low on supplies. I turned the radio off. It wasn’t anything I could deal with at the moment. But over the next several hours, even to the time where I’m writing this now, her voice continued to haunt me.
Jesus. Can’t anyone take care of themselves in this world?
Past the Sand and Gravel site, the same settlement pattern repeated in Cambridge just as it had in Lexington. First houses, then urban landscape. Eventually, I was pretty sure we were on Mass Ave when a graveyard in front of what looked like a very old church came into view to my right. I was fairly certain it was Union’s Hope Cathedral, but it was in rough shape and I wanted to make sure I knew where I was. Codsworth and I walked through the graveyard and up to the simple wooden front door of the church.
Not two seconds later, I heard the sound of ghouls creeping up behind me. I whirled around, and there were maybe six to ten of them rising up out of the dirt, seemingly from every tombstone within a few feet. If I stuck around, I was sure to be quickly surrounded, and then just as surely would forever become part of this graveyard. How fitting. I ran as fast as I could back to the avenue, the ghouls practically nipping at my heels, right past Codsworth. God bless his tin soul, he stayed there to fight them off, giving me time to put some distance between myself and the creatures as I ran south on Mass Ave toward Boston.
The graveyard bordered Mass Ave, and was larger than I had thought. Perhaps two entire city blocks long. Cars and debris from buildings littered the roadway, and I had to be careful I didn’t get tripped up on them. I could hear the ghouls getting farther away, but could still hear their hissing. As I continued to run, I could have sworn I noticed on my left a dead body hanging from a chain on an outstretched pole. Had I really just seen that? I kept running. More buildings, a large intersection, and then the avenue came to a sort of choke point. In front of me, up in the air, suspended between two wrecked buildings, was a footbridge with a raider posted as guard. I readied the laser musket, and before I could get a shot off, he was already unloading his weapon at me. I hid behind a burned-out car and examined the scene through the scope of my laser musket. There was more than one raider. I could see two, but thought I heard the voices of three.
I looked down the scope and held my breath, lining up one of them in my sights, when I heard a faint noise behind me — that hissing, choking sound again. I turned to see Codsworth floating almost in slow motion down Mass Avenue directly towards me, with five or six of those goddamn ghouls draped all over him. He was dragging them right at me!
At this point, it was either let Codsworth turn me into a meal for the ghouls, or make a run for it right through the raider choke point. I leapt out from behind the car just as a ghoul took a swipe at me, and booked toward that footbridge. Just as I passed underneath, a raider popped out from behind a truck in the middle of the road, and sliced at me with a knife. He got me good, digging a nice groove in my arm as I passed.
I kept running, flat out. Just past the raider, I heard the classic sound of a proximity mine trigger, followed by the expected explosion. The blast hit me hard, throwing me to the ground. Because of my speed, I had been mostly past the mine by the time it went off. If I had been stopped, or even if I had been walking, I probably wouldn’t be alive to write this.
As I stumbled to my feet, stunned and reeling, I could just make out the Mass Avenue bridge a few hundred feet or more in front of me. Behind me, Codsworth was following by maybe 50 feet, and whatever ghouls hadn’t peeled off along the route to harass various raiders were now being leveled by my old butler. I could hear the steady gunfire from raiders fighting off the rest of them.
I scrambled toward the bridge. It was mostly intact. The only downed section was on the Cambridge side, where the roadway dipped down into the river, and then ramped back up onto the main section, which continued all the way into the Back Bay. There would be no backtracking today. I could wade through a little Charles River water. Wouldn’t even have to swim. As soon as I was across that bridge, I’d effectively be at Back Street Apparel.
The halfway point across the bridge offered an excellent vantage point – no ghouls, nothing else on the bridge. I stopped to gaze at what had become of the city. Most of the skyscrapers had taken massive damage. The Dartmouth Professional Building looked like it was about half the size it had been, and it looked like 111 Huntington had pretty much toppled into it. The Trinity Tower was missing sections – whole chunks looked like they had been taken out of floors.
But the most surprising sight of all was the Mass Fusion building, a large red and white tower that fanned out as it reached skyward up to a darkly-painted fusion reactor containment structure balanced atop its frame. It was the tallest building in the Commonwealth skyline, and there it still stood, from this distance, looking as pristine as the day it was erected. If it was still functional, it’s no wonder there was still so much power in various places in the Commonwealth, at least where the power lines hadn’t been damaged. I remembered the ads – “Mass Fusion – we keep Boston running.” They certainly did. Maybe for 200 years. I wondered if it had been functional all this time, or was someone in charge of it now? Maybe the military ran it, if there was still a military.
Looking eastward up the Charles, Downtown Crossing and the Financial District were too shrouded in what looked like some oddly concentrated fog for me to see what the state of things was past the Common. Back over in Cambridge, the Commonwealth Institute of Technology buildings hadn’t fared much better, though a large greenish one in pretty good shape loomed over the riverfront, the tallest building on that side of the river until you reached the Corvega factory in Lexington.
As for the rest of the skyscrapers that had once formed the skyline I loved so much, all that remained was hulking steel frames of buildings that once were. Skeletons really, just like the bones that littered every roadway, building and out of the way place I had visited since that day I left the Vault.
Codsworth rejoined me on the bridge at this point, and we continued to cross, stopping again about three quarters of the way now, a hundred feet before I reached the Boston side. If I looked through the scope of one of my rifles, I figured I could see Back Street Apparel from here. I pulled out the laser musket, and examined the front doorway to Back Street Apparel. There were a couple machinegun turrets, scanning the local area for movement, and a couple raiders were patrolling behind them. This wasn’t meant to be a negotiation at all. If a small army had arrived here to pick up the hostage, they were ready to take it out.
I cranked up the musket, but before I could even get a shot off, the machinegun turrets had detected us and started spraying the bridge with bullets. I took advantage of the heavy metal railing lining both sides of the bridge, and ducked down behind one of the large segments, content to line up raiders one by one in my sights through the spacing in the railing.
I started with the raiders, and then once there were no mobile forces firing on me, I sighted in the turrets. Within about five to ten minutes, it was quiet outside. I couldn’t imagine why the rest of the raiders hadn’t come out to see what was going on. I cautiously approached the entrance, slowly pulled the door latch, and entered the shop.
The remaining raiders were hiding in various places inside, probably a bit too secure in their little outpost, and started coming out one by one to take a shot at me. I eventually found the woman they were keeping hostage in a closet on the ground floor. She pleaded with me for us to just go, but I knew if I didn’t clear the place out first, this sort of thing was bound to happen again. I was going to make a statement here. I untied her, but gave explicit instructions that she was to wait until I got back before leaving. We’d head back to Red Rocket together. I told her to count to a thousand, and if I wasn’t back by then, she should sneak out quietly and head toward Concord without me because either I was dead, or I was going to need Preston to, well, send someone else to come help me I guess.
Codsworth and I cleared the next two floors of raider scum, and when we were certain the building was secure, we went back down to escort the woman back to her friends, taking the same route back to Red Rocket that we had used to get here. It seemed as if the ghouls and raiders in Cambridge had taken care of each other, as the trip back was quiet. Almost too quiet. I remembered my note-to-self about being watched.
We reached Bedford Station just as the sun was setting, and then just as we were passing Thicket Excavations, a strange yellow fog began to roll in. We hurried our pace, and as we approached the Red Rocket, I immediately noticed a lot of work had been done in just a day by the crew. A shack had been built on the roof of the building, and large panels of wood and steel had been placed up all around the site for protection against raiders. Had Preston come through? It certainly looked like it. Two more settlers had arrived as well. Probably how they got all this work done so quickly.
My rescued hostage embraced her friends, but there wasn’t much time to get reacquainted, as right on the heels of this crazy fog arrived the scariest, most violent electrical storm I had ever seen. Huge waves of thunder rolled across the sky, and every shot of lightning tripped off the radiation detector on my Pip-Boy. Sturges said it was a radiation storm, and they happened every week or so. They didn’t last long, but when they arrived, you had better hope there was either a shelter or some Rad-X nearby.
We all gathered in the Red Rocket’s garage, waiting for the storm to pass. I told Preston that the settlers at Tenpines were being harassed by a pack of raiders holed up in the Corvega plant. I also told him how much I appreciated that he had taken things in hand here at the Rocket, and that as a favor to him, I’d see what I could do to clean out the plant on my way to Diamond City. But I was going to Diamond City tomorrow. No more missions. We were even. In fact, Preston owed me, but that part didn’t need to be said.
Once the storm had passed, the nine of us (well, eleven if I include Dogmeat and Codsworth) left the station and headed back to Sanctuary Hills for what we all hoped would be the first solid night’s rest anyone remembered having in quite a while.