November 7, 2287 – Nick Valentine, Dogmeat and I walked along the road that led between the mammoth support pillars that were giving their best try at supporting the remains of a crumbling highway overpass. This was the same highway that used to run from parts north, past Bedford Station, and all the way down to the Mass Pike Interchange before continuing on to Natick. I wondered if the technology existed any more to create massive structures such as these. There seemed to be certain kinds of tech still available today. I was walking with a robot that could almost pass for a human, were it not for the torn parts of skinlike wrapping revealing the workings of the machinery behind his face. And just a few yards behind us was the torn-apart remains of what appeared to be a lean and powerful military-type humanoid robot, most likely also from this “Institute,” that had thrown a good scare into just about everyone at Diamond City and from which my traveling companion had been unceremoniously discarded.
The destroyed synth had been stuttering on about tracking a mercenary. I assumed that was Kellogg. But why would a synth be tracking him? Was it another robot for hire, like my friend Nick? Or was something else going on? It seemed I was daydreaming again, as I realized the overpass was a ways behind us now, and Dogmeat was up ahead, off the road, heading up some muddy terrain and by a large chain-link fence with another torn piece of cloth caught in it, waving in the breeze. He paused, waiting for Valentine and me to catch up, and then darted farther up the bank.
As we crested the hill, a roadway reappeared out of the dirt, leading into what appeared to be a small town, with several small commercial-type buildings clustered together. Hanging over them farther in the distance were two giant satellite dishes, perhaps five stories tall. Dogmeat led us up the road, toward the center of town. To our left, the crumbling buildings stood silently, and on our right, the terrain sloped downward pretty aggressively. I hadn’t realized how quickly we had climbed in elevation over the past half hour or so. Indeed, the whole of the Commonwealth seemed to stretch out across the horizon. Through the haze, we could even see the Mass Fusion building, which wasn’t that far from the waterfront.
We continued on toward a tall, imposing reddish-hued building, a couple stories tall, next to another Red Rocket station. “Fort Hagen,” noted Valentine. Dogmeat headed up a stairway leading into a covered area in the front of the building, and started barking. Kellogg had obviously come this way, but the entrance had been walled in with a barrier of cement blocks, and sandbags were piled in front of them, just to help deter anyone from trying to break the wall down. Nick suggested we find another way in, and that we give Dogmeat a rest, so we proceeded to circle around the building, looking for an alternate entrance.
The aptly-named Fort Hagen certainly appeared to be constructed like a fortress, with thick concrete walls and architectural features that gave the appearance of windows, but they were merely constructed of darker colored concrete, just as strong as the rest of the building. As I was examining one of these “windows,” I heard a ticking of what sounded like a generator, and just at the split second I recognized the sound as a turret, we were under fire.
Turrets would only be set up and maintained if there was something worth defending inside. After taking out the first one, Nick and I found some old scaffolding out back leading up to the roof of the building, and made our way up, keeping an ear out for more turrents. We found them around every corner, five in all, at strategic spots along the roofline. After a short scramble up to a second roof section placed on top of the first, we found a steel door mounted on what looked like it might have been an elevator maintenance shed, but it was obviously bolted shut from the inside since it wouldn’t budge. The view over the Commonwealth from this height drew us toward the front of the building, and we watched somewhat spellbound as the setting sun behind us reflected off some of the skyscrapers in the Back Bay and Downtown Crossing. I just took it all in. For all the shit that was going down out there among the remnants of civilization, there continued to be the occasional moment of quiet beauty.
“Don’t take too long admiring the view,” said Nick, “we don’t know what other surprises Kellogg has in store for us.”
Turning to answer, I happened to notice a large set of black, bulkhead-type doors behind him, embedded into the rooftop. “It’s OK,” I said, “I think we won’t be out here too much longer.”
As we descended into the top floor of Fort Hagen on the rickety metal ladder leading from the bulkhead, we immediately heard several different robotic voices, similar to the one we heard from the synth that we had seen torn apart on the roadway, but different at the same time. One of the voices jogged something in my memory – the scout around I had done by Sanctuary Hills had taken me through a Robotics Disposal Facility, and I remembered the military prototype Sentry that had been programmed to defend Fort Hagen. I still had the holotape. I quickly dug it out of my supplies and popped it into my Pip-Boy, and was almost instantly greeted with an error message that stated no link could be established with the Sentry. Unfortunately, the robot needed to be within a line of sight in order to activate it. I thought for a second that I should just quickly head up to where I had last seen the robot, and order it down here to clear the place out. Sanctuary Hills was almost directly north, but a nighttime trek through unfamiliar territory probably was every bit as unwise as facing whatever evils Kellogg had in store for us.
Nick and I laid low, intending to let the voices come to us, which is exactly what they did. Interestingly enough, we had a good vantage point for most of this floor from this little room at the bottom of the ladder. Of course, this probably worked in reverse as well, since every room also seemed to funnel right back at us. In fact, we were essentially cornered as synths started coming into view from almost every direction. They were using energy weapons that fired a powerful blue beam that made a weird snapping sound. I grabbed a frag grenade from my belt, and lobbed it into what looked like it must be the main room. I didn’t know if it had hit anything, but it did flush out more of the damn things so we could get a better shot at them.
They started coming at us with a vengeance – these skeleton-framed synths with various body panels covering the internal framework. We took some of them out, but their voices continued all around us, and seemingly even underneath us. The inside of this upper floor of Fort Hagan was mostly office space – desks, chairs, filing cabinets, a little lunch room. All of it was pretty well destroyed, and as we searched, we noticed areas where the walls had been blown apart, and debris was scattered everywhere. It looked like there had been quite a few firefights here.
Around another corner, a small, square section of the wall had been cut out with more precision, and as we approached, I could hear the motorized ticking of another turret. Its high-caliber ammo had evidently made the cut. After taking out the turret on the other side, we walked through the hole and down a collapsed floor to a lower level where we found a shiny yellow Protectron in its capsule next to a terminal.
With some help from the Pip-Boy, I programmed it to start patrolling, hoping it would at least shake things up a bit and alert us to the synths that we still heard in the area. As the capsule opened, and the Protectron lumbered off its platform, I mentioned to Nick that the poor thing probably didn’t stand a chance among the much more nimble synths. I almost felt like I had given it a death sentence. It sauntered away, and just as it went out of sight, some more synths came out from nowhere and started to attack us. Nick fled through a doorway to our right, right into the path of another synth that was firing some different kind of ray through yet another cutout in a wall. Eventually we realized it wasn’t a synth at all, but was actually a turret firing an energy weapon.
We did our best to take it out, but Nick went down, and I was left to try to find a spot where it couldn’t see me, but where I could try to get a good shot at it. It wasn’t easy, and I suffered some sizable burns on my arm and hand. Nick said he could use a Stimpak if I had extra, and even though that made me think of a few questions to ask – like, how does a synth use a Stimpak – I tossed one over to him. He injected himself and while the ceiling-mounted turrent was firing at me, he hit it square, causing it to explode and fall to the floor. Immediately after that, there was yet another wave of synths to deal with.
Once that wave was taken care of, things seemed to be quiet, and we didn’t hear any more of the robot voices. Well, none except the Protectron, which was obviously getting closer to us now, and was going on about how interfering with a law enforcement robot was a felony. Thanks for the help, buddy.
Through the damage in the wall made by the energy turret, we could see a control room of sorts, with lots of large computer equipment. On the far wall was an elevator whose call button was powered. We eventually found our way around to the control room, and figured the elevator had to be the way to go, as we had searched just about everywhere else by now.
The elevator was in rough shape, and even thought it was going up, when obviously it was headed down. When the door opened, a long dark maintenance tunnel lay ahead of us. It was bathed in a reddish light, and a haze somewhat obscured a couple figures moving about at the far end. We moved forward, and were under turret fire once again, followed by more synths with energy weapons. The hallway was narrow, but we were able to duck behind some pipes and choose our shots when the machines came out of hiding.
The hallway opened up into a small area with a workbench and some tools, where we were surprised by a voice that came over the fort’s PA system giving us a sarcastic hello. We were being watched. The voice called me a TV dinner, and mentioned the “last time he had seen me.” It had to be Kellogg. The voice taunted us through several more levels. The deeper into the fort we got, the more menacing the voice became. It told us to leave while we could, but I wasn’t having any of it. Now that I knew Kellogg was here, nothing was going to stop me from getting to my son.
We eventually reached what had to be the lowest level of the building, which must have been quite far underground. We were in a very long hallway with what “felt” like a large room to our left, sectioned off by large metal grates and steel doors. We could just barely make out the shapes of what had to be some massive control room. Stacked along the walls on the right side of the hallway was more mainframe-type computer equipment. I strained to see inside the room through the grating, but it was just too dark to see much beyond general shapes. There was, however, something glowing in there. Something stationary. I couldn’t make it out, but it looked like of like some sort of display, like a cylinder with light inside it. Next to it was a dimly glowing terminal screen. Whatever was in there, it didn’t matter though. There was no way in.
A door at the end of the long hallway with a red exit sign above it was locked tightly as well, but to its right was yet another dimly lit hallway that led to a cafeteria and kitchen area. Kellogg’s voice emerged from somewhere in the darkness again, echoing and bouncing off every concrete surface. He said he got that I was pissed off, but he assured me that whatever I thought was going to happen here, it wasn’t going to go my way.
We’d see about that. It was possible, but nothing he said was going to stop me from trying.
Just off the kitchen was a barracks area, and a locker room with showers and a locked cage containing some first aid equipment, which we desperately needed. Down another hallway was another wave of synths and another energy beam turret, and past that, yet another maintenance tunnel lit in red circled around and down to yet another lower level. This place was a maze. By this point, I didn’t even know if we were headed the right direction. But the return of Kellogg’s voice confirmed that we were getting closer. He still sounded calm, which concerned me. We had to be close. What else did he have in store for us? He didn’t appear to be the least bit concerned that we were coming for him, unless, why continue to give us the opportunity to turn and go back?
Up a half dozen stairs was another energy turret, and off to the side, a strong metal door with a tiny wire mesh covered window, and a terminal beside it. I cracked the terminal, and inside the small room behind the door, a single light hung from a wire. In this room was a another metal cage with a security gate. I picked the lock, and entered the pitch black cage. When I turned on the light from my Pip-Boy, I was utterly astonished to see what was in front of me. This was a weapons locker. A Fat Man launcher lie on a table to my left, with two Mini-Nukes sitting above it on a shelf, along with some Fusion Cells for the energy weapons we had picked up from the synths. On another shelf was some kind of advanced laser pistol with a targeting system I had never seen before. There was also a 10mm pistol with boxes of ammo for it stacked neatly against the wall, along with maybe five or six boxes of 5.56, all of which we left behind.
We soon came upon what looked like an office waiting area, where I found another terminal that allowed me to deactivate three more energy turrets. At the end of the waiting area was a large, important looking old-fashioned wooden door, with an American flag on a stand at each side, and a red, white, and blue banner hanging above it. The door opened into what appeared to be a large room from which television broadcasts might have been made. Nick was combing through some file cabinets, and I was examining the large TV camera that was about my height, when we heard Kellogg’s voice come across the PA again. “OK, you made it,” he said, “I’m just up ahead and my synths are standing down. Let’s talk.”
Nick and I looked at each other. This was it. We were here. We both looked at the only other door out of this room. As I adjusted my armor, Nick warned me again that this guy was heavy-duty, and the chances of us getting through this weren’t great. I answered that Kellogg himself might have given us the key to his own destruction, and that if things started to go sour, that he should take care of the synths, and I’d take care of Kellogg.
We went through the door, into more darkness, and by the sound of our footsteps and the way they echoed, I could tell we were in a large space. To our left, a long hallway was visible along the entire length of the room, behind metal grates and steel doors. This was the area that we had seen into earlier, but from that hallway. Somehow, we had circled up and down levels, and through crumbling passageways and ended up back where we had been before. Had Kellogg been here earlier when we had passed by?
The lights suddenly came up, and Kellogg stood in the middle of the room, flanked by two synths, one in full clothing. Computer terminals lined the walls, and a high-tech workstation, clearly newer than the rest of the equipment here, lie off to the side, along with the empty glowing cylinder that earlier had been the only visible feature in the room.
I suddenly found myself making a run for Kellogg, which caused the synths to raise their weapons. I stopped short and screamed at him, “where is my son?”
He said Shaun was doing great, but that he wasn’t here. He was a bit older than I expected now, but he was in safe hands – at the Institute. I cursed at him, and told him it didn’t matter, that I would get to him, even at the Institute. He gave me some bullshit about how that’s how a father should be, persistent, even if it was ultimately a useless quest.
He said it was time to tie up this loose end, but I replied that before he died, I needed to know why he killed Nora. He said that had been an unfortunate accident. No. It was no accident. Kellogg had murdered her in cold blood. I had seen it. And now, he was going to have to pay for that.
I yelled for Nick to get back to the doorway, and as he ran, he took out the skeleton-type synth that was guarding the door with one shot to its head. Kellogg ducked behind the clothed synth, and they both started firing at us as we ran. Nick paused at the doorway where we had come in, but I yelled at him to keep running. As soon as I passed the threshold, I pointed the Fat Man at the center of the computer room and pulled the trigger.
The explosion knocked us both to our knees, and down the little stairwell that headed back into the studio room. I looked up at the doorway, half expecting Kellogg and the synth to emerge from the small mushroom cloud that was rising to the ceiling. But they didn’t. There was just an eerie quiet, apart from the ringing in my ears.
We found Kellogg’s body, charred to a crisp, and looked over the room for any other clues we could find, but unfortunately, most everything had been destroyed by the Mini-Nuke. It didn’t really matter. I knew where Shaun was now. Well, sort of. Even though I knew Shaun was at the Institute, there was the small matter of finding out exactly where that was. I knew it was in Cambridge, but where in Cambridge? Nick said even he didn’t know where, and he had been built there.
He suggested we needed some fresh eyes, and mentioned I should talk with Piper, since she was the only one who would be willing to snoop up the Institute’s tail feathers. He said she knew a lot more than she was telling anyone, and was probably the best chance we had to figure out where to go next.
I knew he was right, but I also knew what the cost would be – “my life story, in print,” was how she had put it. At least I had a bargaining chip.
I told Nick I’d catch up with him later, and checked my Pip-Boy. It was almost morning. I remembered we had left Dogmeat outside, and figured it might be safe now to bring him back to Sanctuary Hills, and rest up a bit. I could stock up on supplies and ammo, and maybe I’d even bring one of the Power Armor suits. Probably would be a good idea, considering that breaking into the Institute wasn’t likely to be any easier than working our way down here to see Kellogg. Might as well stack the deck a little more in my favor.
In the back of the room was another working elevator. I hit the button for the top floor, and after a smooth ride up what felt to be maybe eight or nine levels, the doors opened into small room with a steel door on its opposite side, and next to that, a terminal. It turned out to be the locked door we had seen on the roof earlier. As I walked out onto the roof of Fort Hagen, the door closed behind me and I heard the sound of whirring propellers above. I looked up, and a gigantic Zeppelin-type airship was floating slowly by, perhaps a hundred yards away. Several Verti-berds were circling around, above and below it as it glided from the direction of the hills in back of Fort Hagen, and out toward the Commonwealth at large.
As the giant behemoth passed overhead, a voice came over a loudspeaker. “People of the Commonwealth. Do not interfere. Our intentions are peaceful. We are the Brotherhood of Steel.”
And with that, the ship and its Vertiberd escort slowly moved toward the Back Bay. I walked to the front of the roof, and continued to watch as the procession got smaller and smaller in the morning sky. Eventually, I lost sight of the Verti-berds, but the the Zeppelin looked like it had stopped over Diamond City.
“Do not interfere?” Interfere with what? I didn’t know anyone else in the Commonwealth who had managed to get a Vertiberd running again. And where the hell had that giant airship come from? I wondered if that Paladin I had met a week or two ago had anything to do with this. Had he found what he had been looking for?
Too many questions. But I couldn’t worry about those answers. It wasn’t my job to keep the Commonwealth safe, it was only my job to keep Shaun safe now, and I was getting closer to doing just that.
I climbed down the scaffolding surrounding Fort Hagan, and wandered back out to the roadway, where I found Dogmeat, waiting obediently for me. I was sure he’d be happy to get home again, and I have to say I was looking forward to getting back there too. This had been quite an ordeal. Just a few more miles and I could rest up before heading back to Diamond City to see if I could pry some info from Piper in return for my life story.