After the events of Big Town, I headed back to Megaton. The place was becoming familiar and even starting to feel like home. After I helped defuse the bomb lying in the centre of town, I was given the keys to a house as thanks. Unfortunately I got the sheriff killed in the process. Some people will commit any sin to get what they want, I may need to settle debts with that Mr Burke one day. I did some odd jobs around Megaton, mostly helping a young lady with research for a survival guide. Seems a bit naïve to me, the wastes throw up all kinds of hazards, it would have to be a comprehensive book that could help people survive in this world. Still it could help someone. Research for one chapter took me to an old Super Duper Mart. The shelves had long since been picked clean and now seemed to be a den for a gang of raiders. It sickens me how easily I dealt with them. But when they are trying to take your life, you have little choice but to fight, and fight to kill. Just as well. Clearly they had set up their base to lure in people hoping to find food and then ambush them. Outside I ran into a young boy, all alone in the wastes. He was crying and pleading for my help, which I offered, and helping him was probably the first undeniably positive thing I have done since leaving the vaults.
The boy’s town had been ransacked by fire breathing ants. Deadly. But with the Shotgun I picked up from the raiders, they were easily dealt with. Only trouble is, ants don’t drop ammunition when they die. By the end of it I had cleared the monsters out, rescued a scientist and saved the queen so that he could continue his potentially lifesaving research. All very good, but not I had no ammunition, my guns were useless, all I had was a pair of spiked knuckles and my trusty baseball bat. But my work was not complete, the young lad still needed a home, he’s couldn’t very well survive on his own in that ghost town, ants or not. He said he had an aunt in Rivet city, a floating fortress converted to a settlement a mile or so down the river. Looked like I had some walking to do.
I passed the burnt out ruins of DC, making my way to an aunt who might not even be alive, explosion billowed clouds into the air and bullets ripped through the air in every direction. Whatever was left of the nation’s capital, a lot of people were fighting and dying over it. I thought it best to keep my distance. I swam the rest of the way, trying to stay out of sight. I would have to deal with the radiation poisoning later, a bullet through the skull is a lot harder to cure. I passed the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial. Now more memorial to the world that once was than the people they were named for. Soaking wet and shivering, I reached Rivet City. Once a great war machine, now a refuge from the violence of the world around it, and what better protection. Inside the people had made a nice settlement for themselves, there was a market, bars and even a church. It was a great comfort to be able to attend a service again, all that was missing was a confessional. I sound located the young boy’s aunt. She was more than willing to look after him now his father was gone, before long they were reunited and getting on with their lives. Even out here in the savage wastelands, good deeds can make a difference to people’s lives.
I stayed in Rivet City for a while, resting and talking to the people. One fellow named Abraham Washington had set up a museum dedicated to the pre-war Capitol. It was long before he was asking for my help. What he was after though, was no less than the declaration of independence. A frivolous task to risk one’s life on, but I could see how valuable the preservation work was. If man was ever to drag itself out of the brutal survivalism it had descended into, then we would need to remember the culture of the past. I set off towards the war zone that once was the mall. I moved as fast as I could, the old subway system was some shelter from the battle raging over head, but held its own problems, giant mole rats, raiders, and wild ghouls would have been enough of a problem without getting lost in the winding labyrinth of concrete corridors. When finally I made it to the mall, I was immediately running for my life. Chased by a pack of dogs, super mutants battling humans in silver grey power armour, great mushroom clouds belching fire into the sky. I ran for a nearby building, it looked appealing as the human figure standing guard outside appeared to be the only thing not shooting at me. I got closer and saw the figure was a female, and a ghoul at that, I did my best not to look disgusted by her blackened eyes and half melted-off face.
“Damn tourist. You must be crazy running around out here.” I didn’t have an argument for that, I surely was crazy. Dodging gunfire to look for a 500 year old piece of paper. But I could say the same about her, loitering outside in the middle of such a battle. I went inside, looking for respite from the chaos outside. The interior was once a museum of some kind, I went through the doors under the big skull to find a thriving ghoul community. To see such tortured bodies, I would almost think the Lord had truly abandoned us, but they seemed happy enough in their little community. We are all sent afflictions to test us. The locals looked upon me with suspicion, but where happy enough to accept me into their home. Most seemed happy to have a “Smoothskin around who didn’t immediate scream and run to grab the pitchforks and torches.” I rested briefly and tended to my wounds before heading outside, once more into the breach.
It was a straight run along the mall to the national archives. Thankfully the big front doors were open, and there were no more monsters immediately inside. I crept past a large hall when I heard a whisper.
“Psst! Get over here if you want to live, just watch out for the mines.”
A young lady was dug in behind sandbags and landmines. Introductions would have to wait, no sooner was I behind the barricades with her then were attacked by a band of super mutants. The lady was a mean shot with her gun, and the landmines did their jobs. For my part, I was still weak and injured from the journey there, I mostly hid behind some rubble and lobbed frag grenades into the doorway from where the attackers were immerging. When the inhuman screams stopped and the smoke settled, the lady was able to introduce herself as Sydney. She had apparently been sent on the same fool’s errand as had I. It seemed Abraham had given her up for dead, but she had been merely pinned down, unable to escape. We shook hands, deciding we each would need the other to retrieve the declaration and get out alive. Sydney had found a way to open an elevator in the floor of the rotunda. The lift seemed barely intact but it carried us safely down into the bowels of the building. At least we could be sure there were no mutants down here. But of course nothing is easy. The archives basement was filled with security robots, but I found a laser riffle that seemed to take care of them easily enough. The one exception being a heavily armour plated Mister Gutsy. Sprinting through the corridors we made it to a stairwell, it spiralled upwards and thankfully posed a problem for the robots tracking. From atop the gangway we peppered it with gunfire until it spluttered and collapsed. We were through the worst but Sydney was injured, I was down to my last stimpak, but she needed it more, I would just have to hope there were no more hazards. We reached a strongroom where Sydney was convinces the declaration lay. Inside, was a pair of dormant turrets and a securiton robot, wearing a wig. The droid introduced himself as Button Gwint one of the signatories of the declaration, and seemed to believe intently that he was who he said. He also seemed to think he was still at war with the British. We humoured him and played along with his story. He would have had us make a journey to retrieve some ink, to prove our worthiness before we could take the declaration.
“Sure. We’ll get it for you.” Sydney said giving me a wink. We found cover and opened fire on poor robot. On another day I might have felt guilty about this, but we had come too far, and after all, it’s just a robot. Gwint went down easy, but the turrets came to life. If not for their aged state and slow aim speed we may have been in trouble. We both made it through the skirmish unharmed. All that was left was to scavenge Gwint for the codes to the safe, grab the declaration of independence and run like hell for Rivet City. If Abraham was surprised to see me, he was downright flabbergasted to see Sydney. We took our reward and a well-earned rest. A priceless piece of American history had been retrieved and I had rescued a soul given up for dead. I was starting to feel good about myself.