November 25, 2287 – At the beginning of this diary, I remember writing something about how my memory couldn’t be trusted. That’s certainly true, but I feel I owe anyone reading this – or listening to it – an explanation of where I am now, and what’s going on, so I’m going to try my best to go over everything that’s happened since I left Covenant. It’s only been nine days, but for some reason it feels like nine months. That memory thing again. Maybe it plays with time as well as recall.
I don’t know how I’m going to thank Ada for basically saving my life. I had planned to drop her back off at Sunshine Tidings Co-op, but, well, I’ll guess I’ll get to that part in a bit.
I remember as I walked up the hill and away from Covenant, even with my newly acquired power armor, I was getting winded pretty easily. It was obvious I still hadn’t recovered from the trap on the Tucker Memorial Bridge. After walking a mile or so, I did find my rhythm, but at some point, I was interrupted by a traveling group of hostile robots. This was something that would become fairly common as I made my way to the Glowing Sea. Either I was now somehow a marked man, or these Mechanist-controlled goons were just everywhere. I also discovered that my power armor was starting to be more of a hindrance than anything. It didn’t have a full set of plates, so parts of me were exposed, and when I was fighting up close, I just felt slower for some reason. The good thing was if I could land a punch or kick, the bots usually went down with one hit. I just had to make sure afterward that they didn’t get back up.
As I made my way southwest away from Covenant into the eastern outskirts of Lexington, and after running into a few more groups of robots, I started to reconsider heading to Diamond City. This armor was going to need some skilled crafting, and I didn’t remember running into anyone in the set of shops at the former ball park that would carry power armor plating. It wasn’t like there were specialty armor shops or anything. It was all high-volume stuff that got sold out of there. Probably for what I needed I was looking for a specialist, someone off the beaten path. Sturgis popped into my head, and I had already started to gather a small collection of power armor parts at the Red Rocket. So I made a quick change of plans and headed toward Bedford Station. Within a few minutes I was running past Thicket Excavations, and then I was on to Concord.
I arrived at the Red Rocket just as it came under siege from another group of those robots, and some raiders. Wave after wave of them floated over the hill that led from the granite quarry and across the road that ran alongside the little former gas station. The battle went on for a good twenty or thirty minutes. There would be a brief reprieve, and then another group of enemies would emerge from over the hill. I stayed in the bushes at the top of the knoll on the station’s southern border, and just kept picking off anyone I could.
After a while, it was quiet, and I walked just below one of the guard stations and yelled, “hey, is Preston in there?”
“Who’s asking,” came a voice above me.
“Tell him it’s Samuel.”
After a few minutes, a familiar face peered over the edge of the station. Preston smiled and told me to come around and he’d meet me at the entrance.
I walked up to the giant metal doors framed beneath the two joined shipping containers that formed a bridge above the entrance. The doors slid open, and Preston greeted me with a concerned look.
“It’s not been a good night,” he said.
A young settler, no more than 16 or 17, had been killed in the first few minutes of the fight. She had only been here two days.
He started to catch me up as we walked toward the Red Rocket’s garage entrance, when I noticed off to my left someone walking around in a power armor suit all decked out with an armored chest plate featuring Sugar Bombs lettering and paint. I recognized it as one of the parts that I had left in the garage. Great. People were fucking with my stuff. I calmed myself down once I recalled that my suit was in such bad shape that I was going to need a lot of these resources back to fix it. And if the Red Rocket was being attacked like this constantly, it’s no wonder people had started to raid whatever I had put in the garage.
But although the community took the death of this new arrival hard, it was at least partially because since I had left, things hadn’t actually been that bad. Over the last two weeks, they had added more people to their group, and hadn’t lost anyone until tonight.
Here I was, naively thinking we’d have some kind of joyful reunion, and my arrival had coincided with losing their first person in weeks. To top it off, I also had to ask them for resources so that I could get to Dr. Virgil and eventually, my son.
When we got to the garage, I was surprised to see several power armor workstations set up around the room, all facing the center, with armor frames in various states of plated cover.
“We’re finding these things all over the Commonwealth,” said Preston. “The armor, that is. Sturgis found one workstation and made the others from scratch.”
“Are you finding them on dead Brotherhood soldiers,” I asked?
He pointed to a more complete set of T-60 armor that I hadn’t noticed in the dark, farthest corner of the space. It was missing a chest plate.
“That one over there, yes. The others no. That one we found not far from here. It was a gamble. You know we’re not fond of the Brotherhood, but the last thing we want to be seen doing is pillaging tech from their fallen.”
“Probably a good call,” I replied.
As I walked around the room examining the suits, I noticed some of them seemed to have extra thick plating, some had different types of paint – a thick coat that seemed to cover up the texture of the armor itself, and some decorative, like someone was just having some fun trying to replicate the whimsy of the Sugar Bombs set.
“What’s up with these different coatings,” I asked.
“Ah, you’ll have to ask Sturgis about that,” he said. “You know me, I just bring the help.”
The days were pretty short by mid-November, and it was already dusk when I exited the garage and went looking for Sturgis. He was in the common house, reading. After some quick reintroductions, I told him about Dr. Virgil, and asked if any of those coatings that he was testing back in the garage would be helpful at blocking extreme radiation.
Not the coatings, he said, but some simple lead plating would be extremely effective for a trip to the Glowing Sea. Unfortunately, to cut the weight down, the original plating would have to be altered, which meant damaging the delicate fiber optic connections that allowed the user to see the armor condition on the helmet’s heads up display. He wasn’t sure there was enough raw fiber optic supplies to put a whole suit of the lead plates stuff together, but we set about the task straight away, and worked on it through most of the night.
We ended up having enough components for everything except one leg. Sturgis said he’d put the plating on, but in a battle, I wouldn’t know how badly it was damaged. I said I’d live with that, thanked him for his work, and that night I was out, headed south, toward Walden Pond. I traveled with a full moon overhead, slightly insulated from the cold, clear air by my newly enhanced suit of T-51 power armor.
I remember the trip to Walden Pond as being uneventful, except for one more ambush by traveling robots. By this time, the Brotherhood had a solid grip on the area around Sanctuary Hills all the way past Sunshine Tidings Co-op, and down south as far as Fort Hagan. Maybe farther. For all I knew, the only real danger I’d face all the way to The Glowing Sea would be the radiation. I still had no idea what I was in store for.
When I got to Sunshine Tidings, I checked in on Ada, and mentioned that the Mechanist’s henchmen had been spreading all over the Commonwealth. Ada said she could follow me to the Glowing Sea, and for some reason I took her up on the offer. Nick would have been able to weather the radiation without any issue I was sure, but I really didn’t feel like making conversation on this trip, and Ada was more a neutral party. As cruel as it sounds, I still didn’t have much of an attachment to – well, her, at that point. She could help me out, and if something happened to her, well, she was just a robot, right? Besides, I had saved her back near Covenant. She kind of owed me.
Again, knowing what eventually happened, I feel like a total heel putting it like that, but it’s what I was thinking at the time. Humans, like my son, were important. Nick I almost regarded as human. He seemed to have compassion and empathy. That wasn’t something that I was sure Ada was capable of, at least not at the time.
Not far after Ada and I entered the wasteland area between Sunshing Tidings and Fort Hagan, I picked up a faint signal on my Pip Boy. It was a recording asking for help, and as we moved closer to the Fort, the signal became clearer. A man said he was trapped inside a bunker at Fiddler’s Green Estates. He was injured. As the relay tower I had worked over a week or so ago came into sight, I saw someone had raised the antenna array, but I wasn’t sure if this was one of the earlier messages I had listened to. Maybe if I had been in different locations when listening to the other frequencies, they would have led me to specific places.
Ada said Fiddler’s Green was a trailer park just at the bottom of the hill on the east side of the Fort. When we arrived, the place was overrun with feral ghouls, but was otherwise abandoned. After scrounging around for a while we found a trap door next to one of the little travel trailers that were scattered about the site. I told Ada to wait for me, and I climbed down the metal ladder and into the small beam and sheet metal reinforced bunker that was like two small rooms connected. In the room with the ladder I had just descended were several shelves with food and various essential-type items. I shined a light into the connected room, and saw a leg draped over the side of what looked like a bunk. Sure enough, our settler was here. Dead. I collected what I could of the canned food and climbed back up the ladder to a waiting Ada, who didn’t ask what I had found.
I didn’t know if she could interpret a head shake, or if she would even want to know if I had found the guy, but I just continued on toward our eventual destination. We kept our distance from any buildings around Lake Cochituate, as a view through some binoculars showed Super Mutants and Ghouls in the various buildings that were nearby.
We followed a broken up road heading southwest toward our goal that appeared out of the ground here and there. I remember passing two small cape style houses that were falling in on themselves, and then past that it became obvious we were approaching The Glowing Sea because most everything was destroyed – leveled. There were no buildings that I could see, just the charred and twisted trunks of dead trees scattered on the ground, and sticking up into the air at odd angles.
Up until that point, the skies had been a deep blue, and the visibility was excellent. We could see for miles, including far into the area of the Sea itself. But something strange happened the farther we walked, and I was curious what the effect would have been had we approached at night. In the daylight, it was as if we were being pulled into another world. There was a space of about 500 yards between a point where I’d say we were mostly free of any deadly radiation, and a spot at which the environment just seemed to envelop us with toxic rads. I remember looking back toward the lake, and suddenly I couldn’t see very far at all. The skies had turned a soupy green, and our visibility extended perhaps a mile or two at most. For the hell of it, I took a few minutes and walked back in the direction from where we had come. There was almost a defining line between when I was under those piercing blue skies, and when we were very obviously in the Sea and the radiation counter started ticking. It was as if the Sea itself was causing some kind of alteration of vision, but I suppose it could have been the suit. I wasn’t about to take my helmet off in it though. If I had to guess, I’d bet the air would burn my nose and lungs. As it was, all I could smell was the continual fragrance of a light oil that kept the power armor moving. Beyond that, I started to get a tingling in my leg, and I was reminded that I should dose myself with some Rad-X to stave off the worst of the radiation effects. I had stockpiled it in my travels, since I knew I’d eventually be headed here and had no idea what kind of protection I’d be wearing on the trip.
So here we were, finally nearing our destination. I didn’t know exactly where I was headed, only that Dr. Virgil was at the deepest part of this soup. The radiation was going to get worse. And so were the monsters. There were deathclaws, which I already told you about, bloatflies, and giant mosquitoes, but the worst up to that point were the giant radscorpions. Every few steps brought another of the camouflaged bastards exploding out of the rust colored dirt that seemed to coat the ground. Every few hundred yards we’d find the half-buried remnants of some old building. A giant cave-like hole in the ground led inside old factory – which had lots of supplies inside along with a plethora of irradiated ghouls, a Red Rocket station, a church, and a few unrecognizable buildings where only a wall or two remained.
These items – creatures and the remains of buildings and roads – would slowly emerge out of the fog as we walked, and although I was struck with wonder at each new discovery, sometimes I was also filled with dread because I didn’t know what was hiding just beyond my immediate range of vision in the greenish-yellow haze.
We had traveled for a good hour or two when we were ambushed by a handful of radscorpions at the same time. Ada charged right into the battle, while I hid underneath a window behind the remains of a concrete wall and tried to help as best as I could. I called for Ada, but she was unable to retreat without being attacked. At some point, she slumped over and just sat there as the scorpions kept attacking her, and I just kept firing until the damn things were dead, and it was quiet.
I approached cautiously, but Ada seemed to be, well, dead. I pushed her, yelled at her to wake up, but she didn’t respond. Something had happened. Maybe it was some protection mechanism. I had no idea what to do. I waited a few minutes, until my leg started tingling again. I needed to get moving, and figured I’d come back for her after I had found Dr. Virgil. I put some adhesive on a small note and stuck it to her wrist, hoping she would see it if she woke up, but I had no idea if it would even stay there. I wrote, “going to Virgil, will be back for you.”
I wasn’t sure I should just leave her there like that, but I didn’t really know what else to do. Maybe if she was just sitting there stationary the creatures around here would leave her alone.
The further I went into the Sea, the darker it got. I walked for another mile or so, and the terrain started to pitch upward, almost as if I was heading up the side of a mountain. As I got higher, the haze started to break, and it looked like I was reaching the top. Over the ridge I was approaching, tall thin shards of a bright whitish-green glow extended upward toward the sky. As I reached the edge, it became obvious I was looking down into a crater, or some kind of depression, and a number of metal buildings came into view, illuminated by something I couldn’t make out. The glow just seemed to emanate from spots in the ground, particularly from a pool of water at the bottom of the crater. I was shocked to see people walking about on boardwalks that went between the buildings and down near the water. I checked my rads monitor. There was no way people could live here. These people didn’t even have armor. They were just wearing threadbare clothes. The area was so toxic, in fact, that I started to see visual representations of the radiation – glowing spots, floating in the air, appearing and disappearing at random.
Through my binoculars, the building at the very base of the crater was the clearest, and beyond that, through the misty glow rising up out of the bottom, I could see a few others built into the opposite crater wall. I zeroed in again on the people, who just seemed to be milling about, almost walking in a daze. Before the binoculars, I wondered if they were ghouls at first, but now I could see they were just regular people. They just had zero affect.
I approached the closest building and a man with deeply sunken eyes, ashy skin and a sullen look walked up to me and announced, “the world will see Atom’s glory again.” He then walked right past me. I actually didn’t even know if he had seen me. It was like he was just reaffirming that phrase to the glow around us.
I was confused. Was the radiation spreading? Were they planning something horrible? Maybe, they would try to spread the radiation outside the Glowing Sea? I followed the man up a boardwalk that followed the contour of the crater up the opposite side from where I had come, to other metal buildings, which looked like they had been created from the hollowed out center of an aircraft. Wooden platforms extended out from each building like a deck, with a featured view of the bottom of the crater. On one of the decks, a man was kneeling, whispering something about Atom. He seemed to be worshiping the crater?
I heard a female voice tell me to stop – that this was Atom’s holy ground. She asked me why I was here, and I responded that I needed help. Her answer led me to believe they might need help more than I did. “Do you seek division,” she asked? “Have you come to merge with Atom, to be split in his infinite glory, or do you seek to tear down his followers?”
Her clothes were in a little better shape than the others, but she still fixed me with that strange, hypnotic gaze, and spoke with the same flat affect as the man I had encountered on the way in.
I figured it would be best to get straight to the point. “I’m looking for someone named Virgil,” I replied.
“We know Virgil,” she said. “What do you want from him?”
I just said that I needed information from him. She said they had traded with him in the past, long ago, but after that he seemed to not want to be disturbed. Dr. Virgil was in a cave southwest of the crater and the woman warned me again that he didn’t seem to want visitors.
I thanked her, and started to head out, but then had to satisfy my curiosity. “How is it that you can live here,” I asked? She answered that it was Atom’s unique gift to true believers – that Atom had brought them to this place that could not harm them so that they could worship Atom and spread his message to a world that doesn’t wish to hear it, to show atom’s power to all.”
Well, that was chilling. I didn’t really want to know more, and decided to move on to try to find Dr. Virgil now that I had a much better idea of where to find him.
As I climbed up out of the crater, out of the glow of Atom, and looked behind me one last time at the metal buildings and steaming pools of irradiated water. I was in a daze, and I didn’t know if it was the radiation or just remaining puzzlement regarding what I had just witnessed. I knew I wasn’t thinking clearly because it only now occurred to me that this was the crater left by the bomb that destroyed the Commonwealth. This was ground zero. My mind was buzzing, suddenly flipping through all the scenes of the day the bombs had fallen. When Nora, Shaun and I had stood on that platform, and saw the flash, this is where it had happened.
I turned my head forward, and walked on. In the distance saw a pit where a couple jet planes had crashed. All that was left were a couple tails and some wing parts. I imagined most of the other parts had been used to build the structures built by the people in the crater. Radscorpions patrolled near the pit, so I gave it a wide berth and kept moving.
Eventually the land funneled me toward a carved out impression with a door framed into it in the side of a mountain. I knew this had to be Dr. Virgil’s. The door was open, and past it were a couple simple alarm triggers, consisting of chains hanging from the rock ceiling with tin cans attached to them. The mechanical humming and clicking of turrets was prevalent, and I figured getting through this entrance area would be tricky. The gauge on my power armor noted that the radiation seemed to be mostly blocked here, so I hopped out of the armor, hoping to more delicately make my way through the alarms and traps set in the passageways leading deeper into the cave.
Disarming the traps kept the turrets from firing as I snuck by them, and just as the tunnel I was in opened into a much larger cave ahead, a Protectron met me in the opening and a deep voice came from behind it.
“Hold it – take it nice and slow. No sudden moves. I know you’re from the Institute, so where’s Kellogg?”
“Take it easy,” I responded quickly. “Kellogg’s dead. I killed him myself.”
The Protectron moved out of the way, and stepping out of the shadows was – a Super Mutant. Not in armor though, just in regular, large, clothes. I took a quick glance around at the cave. Computer mainframes hugged the walls in the maybe 30×30 foot space, and scattered about were medical and tech parts on a couple tables in the middle of the room. The whole space was brightly lit by roadway construction type lamps. I wasn’t sure where the power was coming from though.
“I knew they’d send him after me,” continued what I now assumed was Dr. Virgil.
“Why did you leave in the first place,” I asked?
Instead of answering, he asked me why I wanted to know. I replied that I needed to get in there. Virgil went into a litany of reasons why that was a bad idea, ending with “if you want to get yourself killed, that’s your problem.”
“So you’ll help me then,” I asked?
He said yes, but he wanted something in return. Dr. Virgil had been working on a serum at the Institute that would reverse whatever had turned him into a Super Mutant, and he needed me to retrieve it in his old office and bring it to him.
I had no idea what I was going to encounter once I actually got to the Institute, but if I managed to stay alive, getting to Dr. Virgil’s office was probably going to be easier than getting Shaun out. Probably.
As I mentioned in my previous entries, the upshot of my visit with Dr. Virgil was that I had to track down and kill an Institute Courser – basically, a “fixer” synth who did the Institute’s dirty work. They were fast, stealthy, and ultimately, deadly as hell. Each Courser contained a chip that would lock into whatever teleportation system the Institute was running. Virgil mentioned that Coursers seemed to pop up at the ruins at CIT. He said if I tuned my Pip-Boy to the lower end of the spectrum, I’d be able to use it almost as a detector by following the interference it picked up right to the Courser. Then it was as simple as kill and not get killed.
Promise made, I hopped back into my power armor, exited the cave, and planned to head straight north, keeping the mountains behind the cave to my west as I traveled. As I walked, I started to plot the trip back in my head – get out of the Glowing Sea, head through Natick, up to Fort Hagan, through the wasteland south of Sunshine Tidings Co-Op. I suddenly realized I had totally forgotten about Ada. I needed to go back where I left her and see if perhaps I could carry her back or something. Maybe Sturgis would know how to fix her.
Before I had time to even switch direction though, coming out of the fog was the belltower of a church, and that’s when I fell into what I thought at first was a sinkhole, but what turned out to be the extended roof of the church that was now at ground level, and completely covered with dirt. I climbed up a staircase that ended in mid-air, about 15 feet from the open roof above me. I had no idea how I was going to get out, but then I heard those Deathclaws. They knew I was in here somehow, and hours later, they were still on patrol.
It was then that I started my last diary entry, and then suddenly heard Ada, fighting them off.
After everything was quiet for a while, Ada’s robot face appeared above me, looking down from the hole in the roof.
“Ready to go,” she asked, as if nothing at all notable had happened.
It was the last time I’d take Ada for granted. We were off to the Institute, to kill a Courser, snag its teleportation chip, and see what the Institute had in store for us.