November 2, 2287 – The morning of November 2nd in Sanctuary Hills was cold and foggy, and we were all up at the crack of dawn. It was going to be a long day, and I wasn’t even sure I could make it to downtown and back by nightfall. I had never actually walked all the way from home to the Back Bay before.
One of the new settlers showed me the ransom note. The bastards that took their friend had drawn a cute little map where the caps were to be dropped – Back Street Apparel, just across the Mass Avenue bridge. They wanted 400 of em, and the most we were able to scrounge up was about 260. Either my negotiating skills or my newly modified pipe pistol were going to get a workout.
After I got all my equipment together for the trip, I met the others just outside our house. Marcy made a snide comment about my “sexy hat,” which I totally ignored. If I was going to be negotiating, I needed to look like I was ready for anything. The green military helmet was part of the whole package. She thought perhaps a sequin dress she had stashed away might be more appropriate. What was she playing at?
As I was getting ready to leave, Preston argued that he should make the trip with me. I refused emphatically. He was the best protection Sanctuary Hills had, and as I mentioned before, it was high time he started taking his responsibilities a little more seriously. If that meant manipulating him into protecting our settlements, I wasn’t above doing that.
And much as I actually could have used his sharpshooting skills, I wasn’t having more than one of us led into a potential trap. Preston and Sturges had let these new settlers into our house, totally un-vetted. For all we knew this whole thing was a setup. It didn’t seem likely, but it was a definite possibility.
We compromised on getting Codsworth to follow me into the city. Really, the last thing I felt I needed was a robotic hovering butler complaining about every piece of valuable scrap I picked up, but I figured I might need someone to bail me out of trouble if something happened, and a RobCo tin can with personality was the most disposable of our group. Sorry, Codsworth.
Just as I was heading out, Preston asked if I could stop by Tenpines Bluff on the way, a small settlement to the east. Just a few settlers had gathered there and were trying to make a go of it. He had promised someone there he’d send someone to check on them. I cut him off mid-sentence. Please, he said. Just this time. He’d lock down Sanctuary Hills and the Red Rocket, he just needed to honor this one last commitment. You mean, “I” needed to honor it, right Preston?
I told him no promises, but I’d see if I could stop since it was sort of on the way. I could tell it was a huge relief for him, and either I’d get there and everyone would be dead, or they’d be OK, right? I’d be a messenger. That’s all.
Codsworth and I crossed the road from the Red Rocket, cutting through the woods on the way to Tenpines. The route went up a sharp embankment. At the top, we discovered a chair, a giant tractor tire, and a toolbox. And what do you know — perfect sightlines to the Red Rocket station. Could there be one goddamned place in this whole area that didn’t have an overlook near it? Guess the kidnappers must have seen an easy target, waited for an opportunity, and picked off one of the new settlers as soon as they had a chance. I made a note that from now on, every single place we went, every single place we stayed, we had to assume we were being watched at all times.
So far, my plans to date and the way they had worked out – or hadn’t worked out – weren’t exactly fueling my ego. Since the day I left Vault 111, it had been one disaster after another. There had been a lot of bloodshed. Lots of mistakes that I… We… Had been lucky to have overcome. Would the outcome of this trip be the exception? I asked Codsworth. What do you think? Outlook good? Signs pointing to yes? He shot back with ask again later. Clever chap.
As we meandered through the misty woods, we came upon a clearing, below which was an old granite quarry. I took a look at the Pip-Boy map. From here, we’d go straight east to Tenpines Bluff, then south to Bedford Station. From there, I’d decide whether or not to take the railroad tracks south into the city or follow the old elevated highway down through Lexington and into Cambridge. If we took the latter route, we could hook up with Mass Ave at some point and hopefully take it straight into the Back Bay. That is, if the Mass Ave bridge was still up. No way was I swimming across the Charles River. If the radiation didn’t get me, who knows what was living in that muddy water now. If the bridge was down, like the highway Codsworth and I could see crumbling in the distance, it would be a long slog trying to backtrack almost to Bedford Station to take the railroad tracks into the city. And even then, the tracks circled around more toward Brookline, west of the city, so it wouldn’t be a direct route.
As we looked down into the quarry, a shady looking character in jeans, a white T-shirt and a leather-and-fur cap waved at us, beckoning us down. Since he wasn’t shooting at us, I figured I’d see what he wanted. He said his name was Sully, and he needed some help fixing the giant water pump that sat next to the quarry, which was completely flooded, so he could collect some scrap that he suspected was at the bottom. I wasn’t buying it, and suggested that if he really wanted my help, he should start leveling with me. He didn’t offer any concrete answers, other than the sum of 50 caps to get the job done. I tried to pry 100 out of him, realizing that if I could add 100 caps to the 260 that I already had, the odds of finishing this mission without violence would probably shoot up a bit. But he wasn’t having it. 50 caps to fix a few pipes. What the hell.
It was then that I found out that his idea of help involved me diving into the cloudy quarry water to find some open valves and shut them so the pump could work. Seemed kind of risky for 50 caps, but the water wasn’t terribly murky. I could see a fair distance.
The water was ice cold, which surprised me because the past week had been fairly warm apart from the mornings. Maybe this wasn’t rain water, and was from a spring. Within the span of about ten minutes, I had found three open valves, and getting the last one closed was the toughest. My hands were so numb I was having a hard time grabbing onto the valve wheel to turn it. But I managed. I couldn’t even pull myself out of the water I was so cold. I swam over to the granite ramp that had evidently been used to get machines out of the pit, and walked up it, soaking wet, over to Sully and the pump.
As soon as the pump started, we were suddenly under attack by these giant green crabs with shells. They just came out of nowhere, and Sully, Codsworth and I started cutting them down. Sully said they were “Mirelurks,” and that we shouldn’t have been surprised that running the pump “stirred them up.” I said he might want to warn a guy next time if he suspected something like that happening, and wasn’t that worth some extra caps? After all, I was down ammunition now, and that was on him.
Nope. 50 caps. I was pissed, but we exchanged pleasantries, and when he went back to his pump preoccupation, I decided to check out the quarry’s trailer offices. One of them contained a working terminal, a stash of 15 caps, along with some chems and a tool case. I picked the lock on the case, and inside was some 10mm ammo. I took enough just to replenish the rounds I had wasted helping Sully with the Mirelurks, and examined the terminal.
There was a log of quarry shipments from this site – which was called “Thicket Excavations” – to multiple locations up and down the east coast. It also looked like Mr. Sully had been keeping a log. He mentioned what a great spot this would be, how easy to lock down — for what reason he didn’t say, but his files also mentioned sounds he had heard in the pump and elsewhere on site, and he specifically said it was because of this that he was going to get someone else to fix the leaks in the water. Nice guy. Figured I was justified in taking the caps and a few other things.
I snuck out of the trailer and Codsworth and I left Sully to his grand plans, and begrudgingly headed to Tenpines Bluff, just to honor my promise to Preston. When we got there, one of the settlers, a woman, pulled a gun on me. When I explained that the Minutemen had sent me, and hadn’t they asked for help, I could tell she didn’t think much of the Minutemen.
I said I was only there because I was honoring a promise to Preston. She said that sounded familiar, and offered that if I really wanted to help, I could start by clearing out a pack of Raiders that had infested the Corvega plant a couple miles to the south. They had been stealing supplies from Tenpines for a while now. Every time they took one raider out, more would come like clockwork.
I said I’d see what I could do. She snickered under her breath and walked off. Fantastic. Preston’s not even here, and somehow ropes me into more shit.
We left the settlers at Tenpines and headed back to the road that continued east, toward Bedford Station. The station was a dropping off point for the huge blocks of granite that were pulled out of the Thicket Excavations. In the distance, the elevated highway became clearer, a huge quarter-mile or so section just beyond the station was missing. It was so odd, seeing the highway just open into the blue sky, then start again a ways down the track.
I was marveling at the sight as we walked closer, when Codsworth warned me to stay still. Up ahead by some large slab-moving equipment next to a rusted metal building by the tracks, presumably the station itself, I caught some figures moving. People? I wasn’t quite sure what I was seeing. They seemed human, but their movements were weird. Kind of lumbering, then lunging. Codsworth and I just watched them, moving about the station, behind the equipment, around the giant granite blocks that were scattered about.
I got out my sniper rifle, thinking I’d get a closer look, but as I pulled the rifle up, and the scope to my eye, I barely had time to blink and saw a bloody human-like thing with ripped clothes and a melted face make a dash for us. I started firing, realizing this was not the weapon I would want to use for close combat, but I didn’t have time to grab the Cryolator, or anything else I thought might be more effective. Codsworth and I fought off three of the things. They were damn fast. Not much time to react once they started coming at you.
Once they were down, I exchanged the sniper rifle for my pistol, and closely examined the things we had just killed. These must be the “ghouls” that Preston had mentioned last week. I could see why the Minutemen had such trouble with them. They had a swarm like behavior, but were very erratic and unpredictable with their movements, and if there had been more of them? Forget it. We would have been goners.
We approached the station building slowly, and I noticed another ghoul on a platform attached to the station where passengers had evidently gotten on and off the trains. I snuck as close as I dared, and started firing at it. There was something explosive on that platform, and one of my bullets must have hit it, because there was suddenly a huge explosion, and a fireball pushed sideways and caused yet some other explosive to go off, sending more ghouls that we hadn’t seen into the air.
The station was clear, and I took a look through the files, scavenged a few things, and examined the station terminal. There was a manifest for each shipment that had arrived before the bombs fell. Somewhere here, there were 24 spools of electrical wire. I wondered if someone had already looted them, or if they were still in one of these train cars. Probably gone. Sturges had said I should grab any copper I could find while on my trip, because it was definitely one of the top items we needed right now to help power defenses, lights, etc. as well as to fix equipment.
Bedford Station appeared to be more of a trainyard than just a station, and there were boxcars scattered about, some on tracks, some off. As Codsworth and I walked south toward Lexington, we checked in every cargo trailer. No copper. Just a couple skeletons and some assorted supplies – chems, mostly. Not far away from the Bedford stop was the Stationmaster’s Building, where multiple tracks from the shipping yard converged into one track that continued on. Inside the Stationmaster’s Building there was a holotape with a cryptic message that sounded like half a conversation. A man’s voice said “she’s late,” something was wrong, and that there were five people surrounding them. He said to make for the trees as soon as he started firing, mentioned the word Dutchman, and finally, “good luck A9.”
Not far away, just outside the back entrance to the building, right by the tracks, we apparently found “Dutchman,” identified by a note containing instructions to deliver a package. Couldn’t have been dead more than a day or so. Beyond that, by the base of a large steam train refilling tower, was another body. Someone named “Helena.” Also “fresh,” and also with instructions to pick up a package. Maybe some drug deal gone bad? Or did they get attacked by the ghouls?
I didn’t know, and honestly didn’t care. These tracks and empty train cars and everything about them were starting to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I told Codsworth we were going to follow the tracks only as far as the first train trestle heading into Lexington, and from there we’d make a run southeast across some open ruins until we hit Mass Ave. Then, it was on to Cambridge to see if the bridge was still up.