The one good thing about growing old is that you get your way. The new leaders of the Tribe (they refuse to call themselves Elders until I have passed on, which should be soon, if I'm lucky) want me to record my knowledge for future generations. Bah! What knowledge they need is to be found with sweat and blood, not some letters on a page. But the future is a great unknown, and they may have a point. To make them happy, I've written down what I feel will be important. (The important words being "what I feel will be important.")
They want me to write my memoirs. Fine. I'll do it. But as the song goes, I'll do it my way. And I'm old enough that I will get my way.
I know little about the War, but it doesn't really matter. A lot of people died when a lot of atomic bombs went off and nearly destroyed the world. If you don't know what an atomic bomb is, then imagine the worst thing possible. Atomic bombs were worse than that.
Like all of the original members of the Tribe, I came from the Vaults. Before the War, the government of the United States, which numbered in the thousands of villages, and had many, many tribesman per village, paid to have these huge holes dug in mountains and huts of metal and stone built underground. There were many Vaults. Some were close to cities, and some far away. These Vaults were to be used as safe places in case of atomic war. As you may guess, when the War came your ancestors made it to a Vault. Vault 13 to be specific.
For several generations, your ancestors and mine lived within the Vault. As best as they could figure, it was too dangerous to try and leave the Vault. They grew their own food, recycled their waste, read, worked, slept, had families, and even purified the necessary water within the Vault. I was born in the creche, and was raised by the community (and a robot). It was a good life, but all good things come to an end. About three generations after the War, the water-purification chip the Vault relied on to create the fresh water broke down. All the spare parts were missing or busted, and without the water-chip the Vault was doomed. Something had to be done.
The Overseer gathered the healthy of us between a certain age and made us draw straws. Guess what? I drew the short one. Wouldn't be much of a story if I didn't, would it?
I left the Vault the next day.
Life on the Outside
My first few days were harrowing to say the least. I fought off some giant mutant rats that were more interested in eating me than they should have been.
My only clue was the location of another Vault, number 15. I spent a couple of days stumbling through the desert before I came upon a small settlement. I stopped there for help, and encountered the little town called Shady Sands. I helped them, and they helped me. Understand that survival requires that you work together, even with people you may not trust. I did earn the trust, however, of two prominent citizens of Shady Sands - Tandi, and her father, Aradesh.
With their knowledge, and the help of a man called Ian, I continued on my way to Vault 15. The ruins of Vault 15, to be more specific. Ravaged by the elements, scavengers, and time itself, Vault 15 was no help for my people. The control room that contained their water-chip was buried under tons of fallen rock, and I had to move on.
After a small problem with some raiders, who would continue for years to plague not only myself, but the Tribe, I found myself in Junktown. It was here that I learned the most important rule of all: doing a good thing sometimes means being a very bad person. My memories of Junktown are tainted, and I feel no remorse for my actions in that place. It was there that I came across a dog, who adopted me and was my faithful friend from there on. I miss Dogmeat to this day.
While Junktown was a city of traders (and traitors), it did not have a water-chip. I was not desperate yet, as there was still time for me to recover the chip and return to my home, but I needed to move on. Fortunately, they pointed me in the direction of the Hub, the largest city in the wasteland.
The Hub was a larger city than both Junktown and Shady Sands combined. You could drop the Vault in there, and you probably would not notice. But the people of the Hub had no life, and it was a desolate place just the same. It eased my mind, however, to hire some merchants to bring water to the Vault. Looking back, it was probably a mistake to do so, but I was still innocent of the evils that lurked through the ruins of civilization. A small clue led me to the city of the ghouls, the place they called Necropolis. It was there that I encountered large mutants, armed with weapons of an unknown origin. It is with heavy sadness that I say that Ian lost his life in the city of the dead. A super mutant burned him to death with a flamethrower. The passage of time is no proof against the memory of burning flesh. His sacrifice was not in vain, as I did find the water-chip buried beneath the city. It was with easier steps that I returned to Vault 13.
Enemies of the State
While the Overseer was obviously happy to see me returned to the Vault, alive and with the necessary water-chip, he was distraught at my description of the super mutants. It is here that I realized the mistake I had made with the water-merchants. I had pointed them, and others, in the direction of our home. Without the protection of anonymity, the Vault could easily have been destroyed. The knowledge of the fate of Vault 15 did not help. The Overseer tasked me with a new mission. Find and destroy the danger of the super mutants. Once again, I left the Vault. This time, it was easier on my heart. Looking back now, I realize it was also the first time I should have seen the true hearts of the other vault dwellers and the Overseer.
I returned to the Hub, looking for clues. Some time was spent there, and I discovered a shady underworld amongst the hustle and bustle of that large city. They thought they could manipulate me, but I proved them wrong and used the crooks instead. I did rescue a young man who belonged to the Brotherhood of Steel. A few trouble-makers tried to stop me, but I learned much about survival since leaving the Vault.
It was in my best interest to leave town for a while. I journeyed to this Brotherhood. Thinking they would have the knowledge I sought, I tried to join them. They required me to go on a quest before they would let me in. Thinking it would be a short and easy quest, I agreed and set off for the place they called the Glow. The horror of atomic war was never so obvious to me until then. The Brotherhood was surprised to see me, and even more surprised to see that I had not only survived their quest, but succeeded. They gave me the information I required and some of their technology, and I set off in search of the Boneyard. On my way, I took a detour and stopped by Necropolis in order to see some old friends. Unfortunately, that place was now truly the city of the dead. All the ghouls had been slaughtered. Large mutants roamed the streets. I found one survivor who told me that the mutants had attacked shortly after I had left. Before he died, the ghoul told me that the mutants were looking for pure strain humans, and one in particular. The ghoul's description of the mutants' special target fit me perfectly. It was with a heavy heart and a cold burning on my soul that I continued on to Boneyard.
I found many enemies, and a few friends, in the Boneyard. I killed when necessary and learned more about the nature of my true foes. Deep under the ground, I found an evil that was behind the mutants and their army. Within a dark and forbidding Vault, where the walls dripped with human flesh, and the screams of the dying echoed through the halls, I found many evil creatures and mutants.
Walking among the misshapen ones, I killed one of their servants and took his clothing. Hidden from casual searches, I made my way to the bottom of the Vault. The deeper into the Vault I went, the more gruesome the journey. More and more flesh was to be found, integrated into the very walls. The worst part of it was that the flesh was still alive, and even aware of my presence.
After a while, I found myself in the presence of the most hideous sight yet. I still cannot bring myself to write of this discovery, but let it be known that when I left, the Beast was dead and the Master of the mutant army was no more.
My job was still not finished, for I still had one task remaining. The Master had literally built his army one mutant at a time. Humans, preferably with little radiation damage, were to be captured and sent to the Vats. There they were dipped in something called FEV, which transformed them into the large, grotesque mutants.
I had to find these Vats, and put them out of action as well, lest another take the Master's place and continue to build the mutant army. Fortunately, my friends at the Brotherhood had a few clues, and helped me reach my goal. Invading the Vats, I came across more mutants and robots. None could stand in my way. I had a mission. I had a goal. I had a really large gun. It was here that Dogmeat fell, a victim of a powerful energy forcefield. I miss that dog. I destroyed the Vats that day, and with it, the mutant army. The last I heard, they splintered and disappeared into the desert.
My Return to Vault 13
I was not treated to a hero's welcome when I returned to Vault 13. The Overseer met me outside the massive Vault door, and told me point blank that while my services to the Vault will always be remembered, he could no longer trust me or what I had become. He said something along the lines that I had saved the Vault, and now I must leave. Bastard.
And so, I left.
The days and weeks that followed were hard on me. I had met few true friends outside the Vault, and they had died following me. Now, my family had kicked me out and said that I could never return. I screamed. I cried. Slowly I came to realize that the Overseer may have been correct. I had changed. Life outside the Vault was different, and now I, too, was different. But I have never forgiven him for doing what he did to me.
I wandered the desert, but never moved far from the mountains that shielded the Vault from the rest of the world. Perhaps I wanted to return, and force my way in, or plead for them to take me back. Fortunately, it did not come to that. I found a few wretched souls, a small group of Vault dwellers, who upon hearing of what happened to me, had decided to leave the Vault and join my side. They knew little of the outside world, and would have died if it were not for my assistance.
Together, our little group moved north, away from the Vault, and away from that old life. Slowly, I taught them what experience had taught me. And together we learned to thrive.
Over time, our ragtag group turned into a tribe. I fell in love with one of them, and we raised a family, like all of our tribes people.
We founded the Village, beyond the great cliff. It is a secure home thanks to our hard work. We would send scouts back towards the Vault, to help others who thought like ourselves, but that slowly came to an end. We no longer head in that direction. I often wonder what became of Vault 13, and the other Vaults, but I never had the time to go exploring again.
I taught the others the skills they would need to survive and grow strong. Hunting, farming and other skills to feed us. Engineering and science to build our homes. Fighting to protect what was ours.
My love and I led the village and the Tribe. The Tribe grew, and grew strong with our help. But all things come to an end. Our sons and daughters are now the leaders. I'm sure that the Tribe will continue to grow strong under the leadership of our children.
My love perished years ago, and not a day goes by that I do not think of Pat's face. I see it every time I look at our children. This journal is our legacy to them, to their children, and to the rest of the Tribe. That is my story, and I am sticking to it.
Behind the scenes
The song mentioned in the line, "But as the song goes, I'll do it my way," is My Way, written by Paul Anka and made famous by Frank Sinatra.