Blindluck92 here. This story wasn't really supposed to amount to anything, but apparently a lot of you want more. At least I assume you want more. The only reviews I got for it were positive, and I've been getting new followers both for me and for this story almost daily since I posted it. So I figure, what the hell? I'll feed you guys another one-shot until my multiverse muse returns (which will hopefully be before 2016).
Also, I want to make it absolutely clear that this is not a "god mode" story with an inexplicably perfect protagonist. Nathaniel Reese isn't good at everything. He's just really, really good at war.
Now that that's out of the way, on with the story!
Standard spoiler and disclaimer policies apply. I don't own the Fallout franchise, nor is any shout-out to Captain America meant as copyright infringement. And while a certain protagonist might occasionally channel Liam Neeson's character from Taken, I don't own that either.
The Man out of Time
"When I asked for your life story, I was thinking more along the lines of an interview," Piper said. "Not a hiking trip to the edge of the Commonwealth."
"Don't worry," Blue replied. "We're almost there."
"Almost where?" Piper asked automatically. When she actually bothered to look, though, the answer was obvious. It was a small, pre-War town, or at least the shattered remains of one. The houses were all either in shambles or completely destroyed. The only sign of "life" was a Mister Handy unit keeping watch over the wreckage of a single home. When it saw them, it gave Blue the robotic equivalent of a wave and welcomed him with a thick British accent.
"Mister Nathaniel!" it greeted warmly. "Good to see you've returned safely, sir!"
Blue gave the robot a sad smile. "Hey Codsworth."
Strange, Piper thought. Why was a Mister Handy in the middle of nowhere treating Blue like an old friend and calling him-
Oh. Oh crap.
"You lived here." The realization his Piper like a mini nuke. "You lived here before the War."
Blue – no, Nathaniel smirked at her. "Got it in one," he said before rolling up his left sleeve past the shoulder to reveal a glorious tattoo of pre-War America's iconic eagle. Its wings were outstretched, beak open in the middle of a furious cry. The eagle's left wing had Freedom inked on it in Gothic script, with Family on the right wing. The left talon was clutching a pair of dog tags, the right firmly holding onto an R91 Assault Rifle. A final word was inked inside of a banner beneath the eagle: Winterized
"Master Sergeant Nathaniel Reese," the man declared proudly. "United States Army."
"You're a pre-War soldier?" Piper laughed, not in disbelief but rather excitement. "Oh my god this is awesome! 'The Man Out of Time.'" Nathaniel rolled his eyes at the title, but said nothing as Piper continued to laugh. Eventually she calmed down and gestured to the walking anachronism in front of her. "How is something like this even possible?"
His pride quickly turned to sorrow. "Follow me," he said. Eager for more details, Piper followed Nathaniel without question. Personally, she preferred Blue.
Her thoughts were interrupted when he came to a stop at the top of a hill. Except it wasn't a hill. It was a door. The door to Vault 111. And they were going down. Piper took advantage of the slow elevator ride to start asking questions.
"So you've seen the Commonwealth. Diamond City. How does it compare to your old life?"
In a flash, Blue was glaring straight at Piper, and she could practically feel the raw emotion coming off of him in waves. Gone was the calm and quiet man she'd met outside of Diamond City, replaced now by a traumatized and tired war veteran.
"My 'old' life was my only life less than a week ago," he growled. "How does it compare?" His anger slowly gave way to heart-wrenching grief, loss, and pain. "Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, has been reduced to Diamond City, the shanty town. The Green Monstah is now the green jewel. Insane gangs, walking corpses, and giant, green-orange freaks have turned 'rape, pillage, and burn' into a way of life. Two days ago, I was almost gutted by a lizard bigger than my house, and as you could clearly see, said house is now a pile of splinters."
"Blue…" Piper murmured softly, but the soldier wasn't done yet.
At this point, Blue was fighting back tears. He refused to cry. Not yet anyway, and certainly not in front of a reporter he'd only just met. "I went to war, fought and goddamn bled alongside every last man and woman in the Army. All so that this wouldn't happen to America. I thought we'd succeeded. I was wrong. This Wasteland is proof that we failed. That I failed. My brothers in arms died for nothing at Anchorage! I couldn't protect my country, and I couldn't protect…" he trailed off and sighed. "Well, you'll see that soon enough."
Piper wasn't sure she wanted to see, but she'd already come this far. Besides, she asked for Blue's story in the first place, and despite the fresh emotional pain, he was still willing to show it to her.
No, she had to see this through. For her paper, and for Blue.
The elevator finally slowed to a stop, having reached the bottom. Blue got off and walked into the bowels of Vault 111 with Piper close behind. They stopped briefly at the Overseer's office for Blue to open a wall safe. He wasn't that great at picking locks…
But he could jury-rig a satchel charge from junk he'd bought in Diamond City with remarkable ease. The explosion was just strong enough to breach the safe without damaging the contents inside. Grabbing the strange looking weapon, Blue was on the move again. And this time, he didn't stop or say a single word until they reached their destination.
A room full of cryogenic stasis pods. Meant to keep people frozen in time underground as the world above went to complete hell. Something obviously went wrong. With the obvious exception of Blue's pod, they were all closed, and the occupants were all dead inside. But Blue… Nathaniel didn't seem to care about his pod. His sole concern was the one across from his. Flipping a switch on the control panel, he released the locks and opened the pod door. It hissed from the temperature differential and slid back to reveal a woman. Unlike the others, she hadn't died from a mere system failure.
She had been shot. Killed.
Piper gasped and clapped a hand to her mouth in horror. "Is that…" she choked, "is that who I think it is?"
"Nora Reese," Nathaniel confirmed, voice utterly broken. "Lawyer, wife… and mother."
"Mother?" Piper echoed in shock. "You mean you…?"
Nathaniel nodded. "A son, Shaun. Not even a year old. When we were frozen down here, Nora was holding him tight. Then someone thawed her out and tried to take Shaun, but Nora wouldn't let him go." His eyes were brimming with unshed tears. "I watched helplessly as that bastard killed my wife and kidnapped my son." For a while, he became very quiet, then he sighed and reactivated Nora's pod. The door closed, freezing her and preserving the memory of a life he'd all but lost.
"You okay?" Piper asked, wincing at her own words. "Sorry, stupid question."
"It's fine," Nathaniel assured her. "Thought that counts anyway." He kneeled before the door, and Piper suddenly felt like even the freedom of the press didn't give her the right to be here.
"If you need to be alone, I-" she was cut off when Nathaniel started speaking again.
"Before I left the Vault, I made a vow right here," he said. "If you write nothing else about me in your paper, write this."
Piper took out a small notepad and a pen still capable of producing ink. "I'll quote it verbatim," she promised.
"The man who destroyed my family made the mistake of looking me in the eye and letting me live instead of killing me when he had the chance." The words flowed like a mantra he'd recited a thousand times. "He won't get second one. I will find him. I will kill him. And I will get. Shaun. Back."
The way Nathaniel said it, Piper believed him completely. "You make it sound like a declaration of war," she commented.
"Against all enemies, foreign and domestic," he recited. Then he smirked ever-so-slightly. "I'm a soldier, Piper, and a damn good one. War is literally my job."
"Soldier…" Piper repeated the word out loud. Suddenly smiling, the reporter quickly scribbled a few more words onto her notepad before putting it back in her trench coat pocket. Then she gently placed a comforting hand on his shoulder and smiled. "Ready to get outta here, Blue?" She wouldn't call him Nathaniel. That's the man he was. The man she'd write the paper about. As far as she was concerned, the name of the man he is now, the name of her friend, is Blue.
He took a deep, calming breath before nodding. "Yeah," he sighed, more relaxed than she'd heard him sound in hours. "Let's hit the road." Piper helped Blue up, and together they walked out of Vault 111. On the elevator ride up, she couldn't help but mention one last thing.
"Thought you'd want to know, I came up with a better name than, 'The Man Out of Time' for your story."
Blue raised an eyebrow. "Oh really? And what might that be?"
Piper chuckled and pulled out her notepad, handing it to him. When he saw what was written on it, the Sole Survivor couldn't help but smile.
One Week later:
"Extra! Extra!" Nat yelled in the middle of Diamond City. "Read all about it!" Piper's little sister was selling the latest edition of Publick Occurrences, as usual. It was an extra special three-part edition though:
"The Nuclear Winter Soldier, by Piper Wright"
Piper has her story, and our Sole Survivor now has character depth. I'm stopping here for now, and while I'm definitely going to post more in the future, I honestly have no idea when that will be. This is not my primary story, but it's refreshing and quite fun to write, so I'll keep doing it from time to time. For now, though, I'd be ever so grateful if you would...
Read, Review, and Enjoy!