November 4, 2287 – “The City’s in a tizzy,”the voice on the other end of the speaker had said. The word “Tizzy” might have been underselling it a little. How about “on edge?” Or maybe “reaching a boiling point?” Or how about “totally freaking the fuck out?” Yeah, that’s almost there. But I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. Last I wrote, what seems like a while ago now (and yeah, I’m going to try to write these entries more quickly now so that I don’t get too far behind), I was outside a closed gate, on the other side of which was Diamond City.
The guards on patrol and at stations, the attacks so close to the park, the closed gate, turrets set up at strategic locations – I was getting a picture, one that had already been reinforced by almost every experience I had gone through so far out here. Most of the world in 2287 was a very scary place indeed. Raiders, looters, super mutants, ghouls, mutated insects and animals – I just kept scrawling more things onto my list of shit to watch out for. But I have to admit, there was one thing, one potential enemy, that just totally blindsided me. OK, getting ahead of myself again. I’m just kind of stunned by it all, so, well, let me go back to where I left off.
This “Piper” had managed to trick her way back into Diamond City, getting the guard to open the gate when she told him I had a caravan full of goods to trade. The large metal slab slowly rose up in a dramatic display, and right there to greet us both was Mayor McDonough himself . He immediately launched into Piper, calling her a “rabblerousing slanderer,” as the gunfire and explosions started up again behind us in the distance. The Mayor didn’t seem phased at all. Didn’t even blink.
In fact, the battle continued even as he went on about how “safe” Diamond City was. “The great green jewel of the Commonwealth,” he said. “Safe. Happy. A fine place to come, spend your money, settle down. Safest place in all the Commonwealth.” He claimed inside there were stores, doctors, schools, power, running water, and sure enough, “The Wall” he referenced as their “sacred protector.”
He asked me what had brought me to Diamond City. I said I was looking for someone, and would appreciate any help I could get on that front. He said Diamond City security was pretty wrapped up at the moment, perhaps finally acknowledging the racket going on behind me, but replied that there was a debt collector in town who was pretty good at tracking people down. His name was Nick Valentine and he’d probably be within my budget. That sounded like a judgement right there. I didn’t like this guy’s tone. I hadn’t said more than a couple words to him, and already he was looking down his nose at me.
Piper chimed in at this point, and noted that there had been a lot of missing persons reported lately and that security had been of zero help. The Mayor shot her down, and walked off in a huff. Piper trailed him as he walked up the ramp toward the field, jawing at him all the way. Just before she hit the tunnel into Fenway, she turned to me and said I should come see her at the paper after I chatted with Valentine.
I stood there at the entrance, just past the turnstiles, taking in the scene. The inner courtyard leading into the park was dilapidated, and had been turned into another guardpost area, a final layer of security between the forces outside and the “safest place in all the Commonwealth.” Over to the side, in an old concession stand, was the guy who had been on the speaker. He was a guard named Danny Sullivan, and I made sure he knew I wasn’t in on the con to get Piper inside. I felt kind of cowardly throwing her under the bus, but I couldn’t let anything jeopardize my chances of finding out any information I could gather about my son. The mayor already assumed I was associated in some way with the journalist. The last thing I needed to do now was make more waves – of any kind.
Danny went back to watching the gate, and I prepared myself for what I would find when I walked up the ramp toward the field. Inside the foyer, there was rubble everywhere. If this was the main entrance, which it seemed to be, it was already giving me an impression of what I’d find in the park, and I didn’t think it was going to be any kind of “jewel of the Commonwealth.”
As I went through the tunnel, came up over the crest of the ramp and looked down, I was shocked to see how right I had been. This wasn’t a city. It was a rusted out shantytown. Straight ahead and down another ramp, in the middle of what used to be the infield, was what looked like the city center – a giant smokestack with vendors radiating out in all directions at its base. Surrounding it were metal buildings – shops maybe – crafted together mostly from old trailers and concrete block.
I walked down the ramp into the park, and above and behind me were the luxury boxes that appeared to have been converted into living quarters. A couple of them had signs in front of them that seemed to be a little fancier than the ones I could make out next to the trailers on the field. Perhaps this was the equivalent of the private restaurants and bars that were once accessible only to the high-rent folks.
The first trailer on my left as I walked into Diamond City was the Publick Occurrences, the site of Piper’s newspaper. A young girl stood in front, acting as town crier, warning all “newcomers” like myself that “The Institute” was grabbing people in the night, and if I wanted to know more, the paper was free to visitors.
I had a quick chat with her, but wasn’t really interested in the latest headlines. Her name was Nat, and she was Piper’s little sister. The two of them sounded a lot alike. Both full of fire and suspicion — possibly a dangerous combination. Seemed like stirring people up in this new world was probably a pretty quick way to make enemies.
While I was talking with her, Piper came out and said she’d like to do an interview with me to find out more about the missing person I was after, but I declined. I figured it would be better to track down this Valentine guy and see what he could do for me first. I didn’t think I wanted to be associated with this woman or her sister, or her paper for that matter, since I imagined that’s exactly where my story would end up. I said I still had to check out Valentine’s, but maybe we could work something out. I did need to find out more about these missing people, but for now, there was only one missing person in particular I was interested in finding.
I headed toward that smokestack in the center of Diamond City, and just happened to look down and noticed Fenway’s home plate. I stopped, knelt down, and gently brushed off the dirt with my hand. This was a sacred relic. I was shocked it was still here. Maybe it was some kind of replica or something.
I stood up and glanced around. The sun still wasn’t up, but the park lights pretty much simulated daylight. The place didn’t look like much, but wafting through the cool chill was the smell of warm soup, and roasting meat. People were darting about, doing business. The place was alive. I’d even say thriving. There was a kind of run down charm to Diamond City. Not sure I’d bring children here anymore, but it seemed safe enough. But people certainly did seem to be on edge all right. Folks were giving me nervous glances as I walked by, and they’d whisper to their familiars as I passed.
Mixed among the retailers was a supply shop called Myrna’s. I sold some of the crap I had been carrying, and picked up some more .308 ammo in particular, along with a couple other goodies.
Diamond City had an inn, a clothing store, a chem shop, and even a radio station that played songs recorded long, long ago. From way before my time even. There was also some guy selling baseball gloves and bats, and his confidence in describing America’s pastime — where people from the pre-bomb days basically beat each other senseless with the so-called “swatters” — was so solid, he wasn’t letting my factual description of what the game actually was confuse what he already knew. Whatever. I bought a Rockville Slugger off him anyway. Figured it would look good in my room back at the Red Rocket.
The only person not selling something who seemed at all like talking to a stranger was a guy named Sheffield, who was asking anyone who’d listen for a Nuka Cola. I had a few on me, so I gave him one. He seemed like a good guy, harmless looking, just hard on his luck, and offered to work in return for my kindness, so I sent him to Red Rocket. He seemed grateful, and I hoped he’d get there OK.
I found Nick Valentine’s shop in an alleyway by what used to be third base, but Nick wasn’t there. The place was dimly lit, a medium-sized room fashioned out of concrete block, and near the back, a woman was going through some files, and muttering to herself. I cleared my throat to get her attention. She turned around and apologized, introduced herself as Ellie Perkins. She was Nick’s assistant, but Nick himself had gone missing. I asked her what was going on that everyone was disappearing, but she said it wasn’t the same kind of missing, whatever that meant. No, Nick had apparently tracked down a gang to their hideout somewhere inside Park Street Station. They had kidnapped a young woman. Ellie had warned him he was walking into a trap, but he had gone anyway. The gang’s leader was a guy named Skinny Malone, and he was from a real bad section of the Commonwealth, the ironically titled “Goodneighbor,” to the Northeast.
Guess I was heading downtown. Ellie said to just look for the guy with the hat and the trenchcoat. Everyone else would probably be wearing tailored suits.
I exited Valentine’s office to the sounds of shouting out by home plate. Some guy was holding a rifle to another guy, asking him what he had done with his “real” brother. The victim had his hands up in the air, and was yelling that he wasn’t a “synth,” and not to shoot. Security was on them instantly, and one of the guards warned the guy with the gun to drop it, but he wasn’t having any of it. He said his brother was a synth who would kill everyone if given the chance.
And with that, the security guard unloaded a single shot that exploded the gunman’s head. Everyone seemed like they were in shock. There wasn’t so much as a gasp. The guard shouted that there were no synths in Diamond City, and that everyone should get back to business. And they did.
The dead man lay in the street. Even the guy’s brother backed off, shaking his head as he walked away. The guard told me to go, but I wasn’t about to leave so easily. I asked what the hell was going on, and he blamed Piper’s newspaper, saying everyone was too riled up, thinking their own families might have been replaced by machines. He said it would be better for everyone if I just went on my way and didn’t ask any more questions.
So that’s exactly what I did. But I was going to stop at Piper’s on my way to to get some more info on these “synths.” I wasn’t sure what to expect, but if these things were really out there, if they were advanced enough to be convincing as people, and if there was any possibility they were at all responsible for Shaun’s capture, I figured a little more digging was in order before I went to see if I could locate Valentine.
I wasn’t convinced this was anything more than some mass-induced paranoia, but I had recently learned a few hard lessons about taking threats seriously out here in the new Commonwealth.