To Amata, I really hope it's only you and not your security personnel that listens to this.
There's really no easy way to say this, especially to someone I grew up and hoped to grow older with, but. Well, I'm leaving the Capitol Wasteland, to spread word of the Good Fight, as Three Dog would say. I convinced Moira to let me go with a cargo of her wasteland survival guide to the Commonwealth, after which, well, I don't really know, I'll just honor my nickname, I guess, walk about with Dogmeat only.
"So, you're Piper huh? How old are you?" The Lone Wanderer asked the girl, daughter of the owner of the one printing press in the entire Commonwealth.
"Sixteen," And the girl looked it too. The Wanderer had no doubt she would make a good successor to the owner when she grew up, especially if she kept the sharp wit that The Wanderer, Jamie, had already seen in action as soon as the two walkers had stepped into Diamond City. "Turning seventeen soon."
"Well, then I guess your father won't mind me giving you this," And Dogmeat watched curiously as the weapon that had accompanied his human was handed over to the girl, "This gun has kept me alive as I fight the Good Fight, as I've fought for people that couldn't defend themselves, and as I've fought people that tried to stop me from doing it. I hope that it serves you as it did me, just remember, no gun is any good if you don't take care of it, so keep it well maintained, and no gun excuses killed someone unarmed, unless they attack you first." Heavens knew the two of them had fought enough of those.
The girl nodded, and Jamie smiled as Dogmeat wagged his tail, and the next day, the two of them had left the Commonwealth behind, two weeks after first arriving in Boston.
I wonder often if things would bee different if you had allowed me to come and go into the vault after we took your father off the overseer seat. They probably would have been, but Moira, bless her soul, has the right idea. When life breaks, you don't try to piece it back together exactly as it was, but you create something different and just as beautiful with what you have left.
Probably why I never looked back even as the water turned clean and pure water came back to the wasteland, I just hope the Brotherhood doesn't try to hoard that knowledge as they've been trying to do with everything else technological lately. World needs that kind of thing in it.
Chicago had been pretty much the same story as the Capital and the Commonwealth, a site bombed to hell where the Wanderer could only go with power armor on, and plenty of RadX to deal with it, while Dogmeat the second stayed outside the radiated area. A couple of settlements where people numbered in the hundreds rather than a family or five, and plenty of ruins from before the bombs. The two walkers thanked the lord for the lack of supermutant spawning sites.
After Chicago they returned to the coast, New York this time, still spreading the Good Fight whenever they could, and Dogmeat doing as Dogmeat did. Synths, Mutants, Ghouls, Raiders, and thankfully only a couple of Brotherhood members. A shame, as it had turned to what the Wanderer feared, an organization little better than the Enclave had been before its destruction. The Lyons would be devastated.
Some time away from the Capitol would do me good, I think, hence why I am talking into my pipboy to record this. I'll be back to the Capitol eventually, I don't know when, but I want to say that I'll say five years from now. If not then, well, just check outside the thick door every year on the day I left the Vault, I'll be there eventually.
We'll see how time and experience changes the both of us, huh, Overseer?
Just don't forget.
And so it had been six years since The Lone Wanderer had stepped foot on the Capitol Wasteland. The pipboy had already transmitted Three Dog's excited rant about the Savior of the Wastes coming back home after spreading the Good Fight, after a courier had ran from all the way from the Republic of Dave to GNR as soon as the familiar vault suit padded with leather was seen walking next to a german shepherd with a wagging tail.
The Wanderer had no doubt that as soon as the two stepped back into Megaton they would be welcomed back with open arms, although that wasn't really why they were back. Sure, the house they had left behind, with Moira in charge and enough caps to pay for it for seven years, no more no less, was waiting for the two there, but Jamie and Dogmeat were back just to meet with the current head of Vault 101.
And they were only a year late. Or a week earlier. Jamie would rather have the latter.
Moira had, as expected, welcomed the wanderers back with open arms, giving Jamie back the key to his house soon after the two had reconnected in Craterside Supplies. Jamie told Moira about the other wastelands out there, about the lakelurks in the great lakes, the lack of super mutants in some places, the viciousness of raiders in others, and the food that was both harvestable and buyable outside the capital. In return, Moira had told Jamie about all the changes that had taken over the land, from the Gunners comming into town in full, to the Lyons disappearing and the new elder, little older than Jamie, stepping up.
It was sad that the elder did not believe in the same things and Lyon had, and the Brotherhood had gone from the steadfast protectors of the capital to a sanguinary force that hoarded technology like some people hoarded pre-war clothing.
During the week before Jamie was supposed to go to the Vault, the Lone Wanderer visited all others left behind six years ago. Three Dog had been as happy as he had sounded on the radio, and thanked Jamie for spreading the good fight. The people in Rivet City were not as welcoming, but then, Jamie only cared about the kid that they had escorted to the ship to his aunt. Little lamplight still had some faces there that Jamie recognized, but most were new, the children from Big Town. As for Big Town, it prospered since MacReady had arrived, apparently, as it was more densely populated than before. MacReady himself, however, was long gone from the town by the time Jamie visited, and not even Dogmeat's nose could find him. According to people in Big Town, he had left to the Commonwealth two years before.
And so life went on in the capital.
A week was, to some people, plenty of time to do things. For Three Dog, for example, who moved from new to new as soon as they came in, a week was an eternity.
To Jamie, who had a girl to meet, the week went by in a blur.
Dogmeat had declined going, as if sensing the mess going on in Jamie's head, and so it was alone that they made their way to the vault entrance, still marked on the Washington DC map on the pipboy, still hidden by a wooden door at the mouth of a cave, except now it also had the mark of people that had come and gone often, of carts pulled by brahmins, and of stands that were put up and pulled down. It looked like a place where traffic was as common as it was in Megaton.
The tape that Jamie had left was long gone from the vault door terminal, not even settled dust was on it, proving that there was plenty of people that came and went. If any dwellers listened to the GNR then they would know that Jamie was back. There was no guarantee, however.
The dulled siren signaled that the door was being opened, and Jamie holstered the rifle they had been cleaning, standing just as the metal gear started rolling and the vault, isolationist six years ago, opened to the world outside again for what must have been thousandth time, and it was only a few seconds later that a sobbing, smiling, beautiful Amata came out running to embrace Jamie, and then it seemed like all was right in the wasteland.
The dinner had emptied as soon as Overseer Amata and The Lone Wanderer, both legendary figures in the vault for very different reasons, entered the lower parts of the vault.
They talked about everything and nothing.
Amata talked about all the changes in the vault, how now there was plenty of children running around, the birthrates increasing in the vault almost as soon it had accepted the first trading caravan, Jamie, in response, talked about the places they and Dogmeat had seen and how society had redeveloped, how animals were different and how people liked to band together, despite it all.
They talked about the six years they had spent apart, even as the elephant in the room that both refused to acknowledge grew and grew. They talked about their journeys, about how they had grown stronger, greater and became much more than what they had been as teenagers.
They talked about everything, and about nothing.
And they fell asleep embraced by one another, reconnected friends after circumstances had forced them apart.
To some, a week was plenty of time to do things. MacReady, for example, had organized his arrival to Big Town a week before he turned Mungo, taking all that he would need with him, nothing more, and nothing less.
To others, a week was not enough time for anything. For example, James, may he rest in peace, had always said that sleep was both a blessing and a necessary curse, and that days ought to be longer than they were.
Life in the vault was marked for its routine. Each day, the lights would brighten, and the intercom would announce that so many days were left for the next caravan to come through. The dwellers would have breakfast together, engineers would go to the reactor, the clinic, now restaffed, would have one or two sick people come fro treatment, the Overseer would make sure all would run smoothly. Lunch was had, school would let out, and the sound of children's laughter would fill the halls. The lights would then dim, diner would be served in each quarter, and then the dwellers would sleep, getting ready for the next day.
This routine meant that Jamie, who was used to living on the edge, with only his instincts to keep him alive while he slept and only adrenaline giving him an edge while awake, the week dragged on needlessly.
Jamie and Amata spent as little time away from each other as possible, both knowing what would come once the week was over.
6 days after Jamie first reentered, they and Amata were having a conversation in her office.
"You've done great, Amata, I'm sure your mother would be very proud of what you managed." It was with a heavy heart that Jamie said this, because the dreaded time had finally come. "But it's no place for me, hasn't been for six years, and won't ever be."
Jamie had brought along a bottle of alcohol just for this, a last drink, so to say, before a final goodbye.
"Six years ago, I asked you to come with me to look for my dad. You said no, you needed to get your dad under control. Two months later, after I helped you get the vault back in order, I asked you again, and you said no, the vault needed you now, and you locked. I understand why you did it, and I'm not angry about it, not anymore, but I have to ask you again, because I don't think I'll ever step into the vault again by myself.
"Amata Almodovar, I am leaving Vault 101, will you come with me to explore the world outside the wasteland?" Jamie held out a pistol for Amata to take, the same pistol that she had given them six years ago.
To some, a year was a very long time, even out in the wasteland. To others, a year flew by before they knew it.
Life in the Capital Wasteland changed little, even as the seasons changed, even as snow started to fall where previously some grass grew, even as the radscorpions burrowed to warmer ground and as radroaches confined themselves to buildings and subway tunnels.
To the Lone Wanderer, a year would have usually gone by in a blur of combat, fights and rescues, but not this year, not 2083. Yes, the Brotherhood might have just become what the opposite of what they had been a mere two years before, making both Three Dog and Jamie denounce them, but things were looking up.
After all, it was only a year before Jamie and Amata would be re-united for the last time, this time for good, as she would finally join the Lone Wanderer out in the wasteland, after training the next Overseer.
Life went on in the wasteland
And life went on.
Jamie and Amata, seeing the increase of aggressiveness from the Brotherhood of Steel left the Capital Wasteland behind and went to the Commonwealth in 2085. There the two did as their new moniquer said they would. The Wandering Couple Wandered the Commonwealth, and eventually joined the Minutemen, preventing Quincy from becoming a full on massacre site, and keeping the Minutemen from dwindling down to one man.
Life was not perfect, it never was. Amata and Jamie had their fights, as any couple would, but they did not let it come between them. They were not the fights of people that dislike each other, but the disagreements of people with different opinions yet very much in love with one another.
Life was not perfect, it couldn't be when the wasteland wanted you dead every second of the day, but the couple made do, and when another vault dweller emerged to guide them to Sactuary, this one the only one alive from whatever experiment VaultTec had created, the two willingly followed along with Preston Garvey to their new home.
Life was not perfect, the Sole Survivor was damaged, maybe more so than Jamie, but they pushed through. Sanctuary grew, from a settlement of refugees to a town where food was plenty, water was clean and one could sleep at night with no worries.
Life was not perfect, but Piper, Curie, Cait, MacReady, Hancock, Strong, Danse, Preston, Dogmeat, and Dogmeat all made their life alongside The Wandering Couple and The Sole Survivor in Sanctuary, even as the Brotherhood tried and failed to grab a hold of the Commonwealth, even as The Institute collapsed and the Railroad helped all synths make their life outside the system that had oppressed them.
Life was not perfect at all, but even then, life went on.
And as long as Amata was there with them, Jamie would not have it any other way.