A/N: We're back at it. No need for a boring Opening Author Note or update this go round. I'll save it for at the end. If you see any typos or strange inconsistencies let me know! Please let me know your thoughts.

9,980 story word count

Chapter 3: Concord

We left Sanctuary Hills all geared up and ready to go. Walking across the footbridge was slightly intimidating. We had gotten used to the quietness of Sanctuary Hills and its relative safety. Plus, we were going were alone. Codsworth would stay and guard our home for now. He had two automated turrets to help him. We were decked out in our army fatigues and combat armor, along with a backpack full of gear. We both had 10mm pistols and combat knives. Where our weapons changed however, was that I carried a combat rifle, and Nora carried a hunting rifle. The hunting rifle served as a way for Nora to remain distant if there was ever a firefight. She could snipe from a distance with her 8x scope.

We noted that a car had fell through the bridge over the river. I noticed the statue of a minuteman that protected this country in the revolutionary war on the way out. Surprisingly it was still standing. What was more intriguing was something below it. There was the body of some nameless person and the corpse of their dog near a duffle bag. I looked around to make sure no danger was around before scavenging, Nora looking around as well. There was a short double barrel shotgun and a box of 12-gauge shotgun shells. I stowed away the shotgun shells and shotgun just in case. There were around fifty Nuka-Cola bottle caps, which I didn't know why someone would collect them. Just to be safe, I kept them. If anything, I could melt them down for aluminum or something. We kept moving for the better part of ten minutes until we saw the Red Rocket Gas Station's rocket as I followed the road around the sloped landscape.

We noted all the Prewar vehicles that were left in ruin along the roads as well as the cracked asphalt and fallen trees. Power lines were done for, either being snapped from their poles a long time ago or being mangled as they crossed overhead. Eventually, I heard barking coming from the Red Rocket station. I looked at Nora who nodded. I pulled out my combat rifle as a precaution, while Nora pulled out her hunting rifle. We made our way around the hill passing various vehicles. From the cover of a single seater prewar vehicle, I looked over the abandoned building for a dog. Nora had held her head down just in case someone was hostile. No dog whatsoever. We stayed there watching, waiting for a dog to show. I made a clicking sound with my mouth as to call the canine. All I saw, were crows, sitting atop one of the letters of the Red Rocket. I was slightly annoyed. I heard that damned dog…now where was it? It was probably a mongrel or a wild dog. I walked towards the station keeping an eye out for any movement. Nora stayed behind cover with her hunting rifle scoped in. We were ready to fire if we needed to. I walked under the car port seeing nothing. I was about to walk inside the building when the ground next to me exploded. I kicked an ugly pink mammalian creature away, just out of shock. It got back up and hissed before burrowing under the ground at an alarming speed.

"What the hell?" I uttered backing away, "Nora be careful!"

"Roger that!" She spoke.

A few seconds later, the ground exploded in several different directions. I started firing at the creatures, my accuracy somewhat improved now that I had modified my N99 the way I wanted it and had some practice with it. They looked like mutated mole rats. As Nora was firing rounds and missing the quick moving creatures, I dispatched three or four out of the eight with my pistol before running out of ammo. One jumped at me, but I pistol-whipped it before crushing its head under my boot. Nora shot one that was further away. It had stopped moving just enough for her to shoot it. It fell on its side squealing. The others disappeared. I went to reload. Before I could it came bursting out the ground jumping straight for me. That's when a dark brown and black blur met it in the air tackling it to the ground. A dog had a hold of the mole rat's neck and was shaking it violently. Another explosion of dirt came up with a mole rat going for the dog. This time, Nora's shot hit it in the head, killing it instantly. The dog continued to shake its prey by the neck, eventually killing it. When it was done, it dropped the molerat and looked at me, before scampering off into the Red Rocket station. It wasn't just any mongrel. It was a male German Shepherd, a pure-blooded one at that. Those dogs were smart and useful. I briefly wondered if it had an owner.

"Hello?" I called out, "Anyone in there?" The dog barked. No answer from a human.

"Nate!" Nora called, "Be careful!"

"It's okay," I called back, "I think it's friendly. Come on over."

"Well, it is a cute dog," she said scampering over almost excitedly.

"Hello?" The dog barked again. So, the dog was on its own.

"Come on out boy," I said putting my gun away, "I'm not going to hurt you." The dog stuck his head out of the door tilting his head. The rest of his body was behind cover. This dog was very smart. "Come on boy." The dog kept low, as a sign of submission before walking towards us. "There you go. What are you doing out here all by yourself boy?" I ran my hand over his head scratching behind his ear. "Come with us. We can look out for each other." In response he wagged his tail barking.

"Aw…." Nora said, "He's so cute!" The dog perked up wagging his tail and bounded over to her excitedly. She returned the excitement by petting him.

It was amazing that the dog seemed to understand what we were saying. I looked around the gas station from where we were at before deciding that we could pick it clean for supplies. Nora….she was busy playing with the dog. I didn't have a problem with that. It's the first time she genuinely looked happy since before the bombs fell. My search earned me nothing but medical supplies and an entire assortment of junk. It looked like someone had tried to turn the garage into a workshop. Something, that had the gears in my head turning. I could really do something with this place. It had a Chem Bench, a weapon bench, a reloading table, and an engine crane converted into a power armor frame. There was an armorer's bench as well as a large rotisserie out behind the gas station. It must've been a place where someone camped out at one point. All of this was available in Sanctuary Hills a mile or so back.

Afterwards, once Nora had stopped giving the dog infinite belly rubs, we walked towards Concord. I couldn't help but notice how much my wife had improved. She went from a seemingly helpless and shellshocked damsel in distress(which I knew she wasn't) to an actual survivalist. Time would tell though. She may have taken a life, but could she handle taking a human life if need be? The majority of the town was still standing and the church tower being the tallest point. But what was strange was that I could hear gunfire. I kept my combat rifle out just in case. The dog growled before getting ahead of me impatiently. I wondered what had him so annoyed.

We came through the town from the neighborhood near the hill that the Red Rocket was a top of. Though it was still a pretty long walk along the road, you could see the Red Rocket over the roofs of the townhomes. The houses were all abandoned, the streets barely recognizable from when we used to visit beforehand.

"This is so depressing," Nora spoke.

"Isn't it?" I agreed.

Then we got into the "city" part of town where there were stores or businesses lining the streets with apartment buildings atop them. There were several sandbag walls lining the streets as cover, probably from when the military had taken control of the area. A mob of Crows were perched in various positions, almost as a greeting. Some of them had the same red eyes I had noticed before. Come to think of it…did any at the Red Rocket have them? Maybe it was a mutation. I pushed those thoughts out of my head as Nora and I walked deeper into the city, hearing gunfire echoing off the buildings and some kind of energy-based sounding weapon.

"You hear that?" Nora asked me.

"Yeah," I said, "Keep your eyes peeled and be ready to open fire." She nodded.

We turned the corner and got behind cover trying to see what was going on up on main street past the town square. There were a group of people firing up at someone at the Museum of Freedom's balcony. The dog growled. I quieted him down trying to figure out which side to choose. Was the man up top under attack or did he start taking potshots off at everyone down below because he was caught trespassing?

I got my answer quickly when I heard someone coming out of the doorway of a building less than fifteen feet away. We went unnoticed. "Come on," One of the guys said to the others inside the building, "Those idiots need help killing that group of wastelanders who were stupid enough to come to Concord."

"Christ," The second said in annoyance, "Motherfuckers just had to come this early in the morning. There better be a bitch in there to fuck, cause there's no way I'm going to get up and kill those bastards for nothing."

"Oh, quitcha bitchin' and get out here and help us." The third spoke.

Nora and I nodded to one another. We understood that these were gangsters and attacking the man at the museum of freedom. I aimed my combat rifle and fired at one of the three, getting a clean headshot. Nora hit the other in the head, blowing it completely off. The other turned towards us drawing a makeshift pipe pistol only to be tackled to the ground and his throat ripped out by an angry dog. The dog was about to run off towards the other hostile humans before I stopped him.

"Hold on boy," I said, "We're going to get them. But we have to be smart about it." He whimpered. "Just trust me and follow me. Nor….." I paused mid name. Her hands were shaking, and her eyes were wide open. Realization hit me like a wave. The moment I was waiting for had happened with her. First the first time in her life, Nora Walker had taken a human life. Unfortunately, another moment I was anticipating. We were in the middle of a firefight when she had done so. There was no time for her to freeze up and process what just happened. I had to get her moving. Otherwise, someone might lose their life. Me, her, or whoever we were attempting to save. "Nora." Nothing. Gunshots were still going off in the distance. "NORA!" I yelled shaking her.

"What?" She commented dazed.

"Baby," I said, "Stay with me. I need you. I know what you did was traumatic. But you've got to focus."

"Okay." She said numbly.


That woke her up. "Okay," she said with again with a fierceness in her eyes.

"You good?"

"I'll have to be."

"Great," I said and going over the strategy with her, "the balcony in the blue general goods store. That'd be a good sniping point. Don't lose focus hun. You. Will. Die. Or I will." She nodded, more determination to prove herself. "Keep your eyes open for retaliation. If they look at you, run back inside for cover. There's none up there. Be attentive to if someone comes inside. If you have to, do a quick survey of the building. I'm going to come around the alleyway right there. We'll flank them together."

"Okay," She said taking a deep breath and trying to get her bearings, "Be safe."

"Of course, darlin'," I replied. My plan was to flank them through an alleyway. We made our way to the side street undetected before going through the alleyway that was about halfway up main street. One of the hostiles were using the corner as cover. The dog and I crept up undetected. I pulled out my combat knife I found in Sanctuary Hills before creeping up towards the hostile. I was close enough I slit his throat before he knew what happened. He dropped his improvised weapon grabbing his neck in desperation for air.

I kicked his pistol away and looked for more hostiles after noting that Nora was crouch walking to her position from the second-floor balcony door. One was using an old vehicle for cover. I pointed the gun at his head and pulled the trigger. There were several more hostiles further up the road lighting that balcony up. One was taken down by a shot from the energy weapon that was being used by the man on the balcony. I did my best to get his attention. He looked up before nodding and taking a potshot off at one of the last hostiles. There were four left. There was a crack in the air from my wife's rifle. Three left. "Hey boy," I said to the dog and pointed at one. "Sick 'em." He barked. I vaulted over the cover and ran towards another firing off rounds at his back. One of the final two turned around but fell straight to the ground from a headshot curtesy of Nora. The three were taken down with ease.

"Hey you!" The man on the balcony called out in distress, "I've got a group of settlers inside! The Raiders are almost through the door! Grab that Laser Musket and help us! Please!"

"Make sure everyone is safe," I said yelling back as I walked forward, "We're coming up." He nodded and went inside. I noticed a wrecked Vertibird atop the roof but ignored it. Instead, I turned to Nora who had disappeared. "Nora!?" She came falling out the front door blasting whatever was inside. A dead raider with a crowbar fell atop her. She pushed the raider off and got up. "Nora!?"

"I'm fine," She called back as she ran towards our direction, "Apparently there's a backdoor. He's dead though." She caught up as I picked up the laser musket. "What's up?"

"They're attacking some settlers," I replied handing her the musket.

"What kind of contraption is this?" She asked.

"I don't know," I replied as I picked up fusion cells, "Put it in your duffle bag and let's go. Close quarters, so I'd go with your pistol."


We went into the museum, noting a propeller in the glass roof, hearing gunfire throughout the building coming from above. Two Raiders had taken cover on walkways above behind some crates and canisters. They were laying down a firing line preventing the settler from getting accurate shots with his laser musket. "Take the right," I said to Nora, "He's closer." The other one was on the third floor. We dispatched the two of them, my target falling forward all the way down. There was only one clear path to the top of the museum. We made our way through the museum. One got the jump on me. He tried to swing at me with a switchblade. I quickly dodged, grabbing his wrist, moving his arm quickly around to make him drop it. He tried to punch me with his free hand, but I blocked it, swept his feet out from under him causing him to fall forward. He tried to get up, but Nora put a bullet in the back of his head. I nodded to her, and we continued. Another Raider came out of the next room, but our new dog tackled him to the ground and ripped out his throat.

We found our way up to the second floor stealthily taking out Raiders who were busy trying to shoot into the blocked doorway on the third floor. I made my way through the side room on the second floor. I remembered there being a mural of freedom in there. I overheard two Raider's talking.

"I'm telling you man," One said, "Let's just get the hell outta here. We got no reason to hang around and get shot."

"Stop being such a fucking pansy," the other said, "We hold out for the others, like we're supposed to."

"What are you deaf?" The first argued, "Somebody's out there shooting the place up. I ain't sitting around, waitin' to die…."

"I swear to god," The other snapped back, "If you make a move for that exit, then I'll gut you myself. Now shut your mouth or we'll never get the drop on this guy that's coming to help those idiots uptop." Before the argument could continue, I shot the two of them. We continued through the room making sure to stay quiet. When we climbed the stairs on the third floor, there was noise on the other side of barricaded walls and doors.

"I'm coming in there!" I heard a Raider say, "And I'm going to fuck up every single one of ya!"

"Come on man," Another Raider said, "Let's get out of here. They ain't going nowhere. When the others get here, we'll deal with them."

"You hear that?" The first Raider yelled, "I gotta take a little walk, but when we get back you're all dead."

We hid against the wall and waited on them to come through the door before shooting them both. I peered around the corner and towards the door. The man who was on the balcony was aiming his musket through a window. He nodded and was the one to open the door. The dog ran inside without a second thought.

"In here," the man said. I walked in and he closed the door behind me. He wore a colonial style duster and a Militia style hat. He had an upgraded version of the laser musket he told us to use. "Man, I don't know who you are, but your timing is impeccable. You…" He looked at us gripping his musket tighter. "You two aren't affiliated with the Gunners, are you?"

"Who are the Gunners?" Nora asked confused.

"Local organized Merc outfit," The man at the computer said still typing away, "Better equipped raider's basically."

"We can discuss them later," The first man said, "Preston Garvey, Commonwealth Minutemen. Thanks for the help." I took note of the situation. There was a guy trying to hack a computer nearby. He wore gear you'd see on someone who worked with power armor or military equipment. There was an old lady petting the dog I found at Red Rocket, and two others. One looked insecure and the other looked pissed off.

"We're glad to help," I replied nodding with a firm tone.

"Well, if that's true," The man said, "We could use more good will. As you can see, we're in a bit of a mess here." He paused for a moment expectantly.

"I can see that," I replied, "Go on."

"A month ago," The Preston continued, "There were 20 of us. Yesterday there were eight. Now we're five. First it was the ghouls in Lexington, and now this mess." Ghouls?

"Ghouls? What are ghouls?" Nora asked him, "Forgive our ignorance." I wondered if these ghouls were more mutations.

"Wow…." Preston said looking surprised, "You two must not be from around here. Ghouls are…...irradiated people. Most are just like you and me. They look pretty messed up, and living a long time, but they're just….people. The ones I'm talking about are different." I tilted my head inquisitively. "The radiation's rotted their brains; made them feral. They'll rip you apart just as soon as look at you." He sighed holding his laser musket aside to wipe his chin. "Anyway, we figured Concord would be a safe place to settle. Those Raider's proved us wrong."

"Yeah and more are on the way," I replied, "So we need to either get out of here now, or fight."

"We're probably going to have to fight," Nora said looking at the crowd.

"We can't leave anywhere in a hurry with Mama Murphy," Preston said, "And fighting…..well we do have one idea."

"Is it enough to stop those maniacs?" Nora asked.

"Sturges," Preston said to the man trying to hack the computer, "Tell them."

"There's a crashed Vertibird on the roof," He said, "old school. Pre-war."

"Yeah," I said, "I saw it coming in."

"Me too," Nora added in, "Looked like crap."

"Well," Sturges replied, "Looks like one of its passengers might've left behind a seriously sweet goody. We're talking a full suit of cherry T-45 Power Armor. Military issue."

Power armor? I used to like operating in Power Armor. I was familiar with the T-45, the T51 and the T60 Power armor. And from what Sturges just implied, the U.S government wasn't around to care about abandoned equipment. "I like it," I replied immediately.

"You would," Nora laughed.

Sturges laughed too. "Yeah, I thought you might," He said, "Protection with an added bonus. Get the suit, and you can rip the minigun right off the Vertibird. Do that, and those Raiders get an express ticket to hell. Ya dig?"

"Minigun?" I said, "Standard issue for Powered Armored infantry back before the bombs. Now we're talking."

"I know right?" Sturges said but became slightly said, "Only one problem though. The suit's outta juice. Probably been dry for a hundred years. It can be powered up again, but we're a bit stuck."

"Okay then," I said, "What's the solution to the problem?"

"What you need is an old Pre-war, F.C," Preston spoke up, "A standardized fusion core. Your high grade, long-term nuclear battery. Used by the military and some company's way back when. And we know right where to find one."

"But we can't get to the damned thing," Sturges continued, "It's down in the basement. Locked behind a security gate." Sturges sighed looking defeated. "Look. I fix stuff. I tinker. By-passing security ain't exactly my forte."

"I'll give it a shot," I replied, "But there's one thing you should know about this fusion core. Without configuring it to Power Armor software and machinery, the charge will run out pretty quick."

"Configuring it to Power Armor software?"

"Yeah," I replied, "Fusion cores are a multipurpose core. They power generators, vehicles, power armor, Sentry Bots, gatling lasers….things like that. If it's being used for generators that are built correctly, then fusion cores last forever. Ammo, usually 500 shots from a Gatling laser. Sentry bots have an inbuilt recycler and operate on two fusion cores. Ever see one cool down? That's them swapping the cores out. It needs two to power it, while the other two are constantly charging."

"Hun," Nora said, "You're doing it again."

"What?" I asked then realized that I was rambling about fusion cores, "Oh. Yeah. So here's the deal. The power armor's ours when we get out of this mess."

"Deal," Preston said happily, "Looks like our luck is finally turning around. Once you jack that core into the power armor and grab that minigun, those Raiders that are on their way will realized that they picked the wrong fight." We made our way down into the basement and found the generator behind the locked door. I activated the terminal and began working on hacking it. Hacking was a tedious process. I had to go in looking at it through a binary code that would be interpreted and translated into characters. Then I had to match the right word with access information. I seriously needed to write a translator program so the binary code wasn't so annoying. But I opened the damned door and walked in to activate the generator, then ejected the fusion core. It was a cylinder-like device with the charge stated on the core. It was at fifty percent.

"That little thing can power that power armor?" Nora asked.

"For a little while at least," I replied, "Come on." We made our way back up to the third floor where the group of settlers were at.

"Well look at you," Sturges said, "Bonafede computer genius."

I nodded. I went to walk pass the old lady that the dog seemed to like. "Dogmeat sure did find us some help," She said to me as she petted the dog, "Just look at you two."

"Dogmeat?" Nora said with complete disappointment, "So he's your dog?" Well crap. There goes our dog. I was starting to enjoy him being around.

"Oh, don't be so downtrodden darling," the old lady said, "He's not my dog, no sir. Dogmeat...he's what you'd call his own man. You can't own a free spirit like that. But he chooses his friends and sticks with 'em. He'll stay by you now. I saw it."

"You….." Nora spoke not understanding her, "Saw it?"

"It's the chems," She replied, "They give ol' Mama Murphy the Sight. Been that way for as long as I can remember. It means I can see a bit of what was and what will be. And even what is, right now…..And….right now, I can see there's something coming. Drawn by the noise, and the chaos. And it is….angry." So, she was drugged up on something. Probably suffering from hallucinations. Nora, however, went along with it. Older folk were known to be a bit….out there.

"What is it?" She asked feigning concern.

"I see….." She spoke, "I...see….oh it's horrible. Claws….and teeth and….horns! The very face of death itself…" She sighed looking exhausted. "That's all I can manage, that's all. I need to rest now. And you have a job to do….." With that, she started to fall unconscious. I caught her hastily and let her fall asleep laying on the couch.

"Don't listen to that hag," The Asian woman said, "She's just a chem addict."

"Marcy!" Preston said, "she's old. Respect her."

"You two got us in this mess!" the woman named Marcy said, "all because of the Sight, and your beliefs that Concord was safe!"

"Uh I hate to be the bearer of bad news," Sturges said as he peered out the window of the balcony, but we've got a problem. I'm seeing movement coming from the Northeast. It's Raiders."

"No time to waste then," I deadpanned. I walked out the other end of the room before getting to the roof. There it was. T-45 Power armor. I noticed that there was a holotape duct taped onto it. I put it in my backpack, which I gave to my wife. I noted the discarded fusion core in the armor's receiving chamber. I ejected it and put the new Core inside. "Listen. Stay up here and snipe with Preston. This thing has some good protection. I don't know what grade metal this thing has, but it'll keep me safe."

"Be careful babe," She replied back. I nodded.

I turned the activation switch and the suit opened, revealing the inner workings and power armor frame. I carefully stepped inside, and the suit closed around me. The HUD (Head's Up Display) came online revealing everything I needed except for a few inaccurate readings. It showed that the core was thirty percent drained, when in reality it was fifty percent. It showed how many rads were in the air and the intake number. It showed armor integrity and the ammo count of my weapon, which was broken.

Preston was already firing at the Raider's down below. One even taunted him, "Why don't you bring that fancy gun of yours down here?" He yelled up to Preston, "Not a lot of people can get through my boys. You give us that woman and we'll leave. She's all we want." I heard a laser musket sound crack across the air in response along with a .308 round from my wife's hunting rifle. I briefly wondered which woman that man was talking about as I walked towards the Minigun. I grabbed it, attached two spare 5mm ammo cartridges to my left leg. Concord had become a slaughterhouse as soon as I had stepped into this Power Armor. I walked out onto the ledge of the roof before opening fire on the rooftop raider. I then let loose a hailstorm of bullets to the groundside Raiders. A lot of them perished immediately as no armor could stop a minigun's barrage unless it was power armor, and that wouldn't hold up too long. I jumped down off the building knocking a Raider to the ground. He tried to flee, but I showed no mercy. I killed him before turning my minigun onto the others. I walked towards the end of the street where I had pushed the last few remaining back behind cover. We had won this; I was confident of that. But then, something happened to change all of that. I heard the most ferocious growl that could possibly ever exist. Then a sewer grate flew off the ground and something climbed out of a civic access.

This thing was larger than I was in Power Armor. It was reptilian with curved horns like a prewar bull, its head was bulky and boxy with sharp looking teeth, and it had spines growing out its back. Its eyes were yellow full of immense hatred. It had long limbs and a long tail. It had opposable fingers as it stood on two feet, hunched over slightly. It had long dark claws, the centermost claw being several inches longer. That thing roared in fury before picking up a Raider and throwing it into the side of the building with a sickening crack. They survived?

"Deathclaw!" A Raider yelled, which sent the rest of them scrambling to get clear of the beast. It chased them down one by one on all fours like a Prewar big cat chasing mice. It literally ripped one Raider in half and then went for another that had tripped and rolled over trying to fire at it. The bullets didn't seem to do anything to it. It just pissed off the creature even more. It literally bit off the head of the Raider by crunching down on his neck before spotting more prey. The Deathclaw looked up seeing two Raiders run inside the old drugstore at the town clock. That Deathclaw immediately bolted towards them and dove through the window. A Raider went flying out the window and the other tried to jump from the second floor only to be tackled in midair by the Deathclaw jumping out at him. The Deathclaw's strength was shown when it landed on the side of the large multi-floored bank where there was a Prewar well attached. It stayed attached to the side of the bank by its left limbs and right leg while the Raider's still live body pierced by its claws. I had never heard a man scream in agony like that. The Deathclaw roared before looking directly in the eyes of its prey and biting off the head of the raider. It dropped the corpse before sniffing the air. It climbed the side of the bank before going into one of the windows. Shortly after, it burst out of the first-floor door with Raider's scrambling to get clear. It immediately slashed at one before grabbing the other by the legs and then slamming him into the side of an old Corvega. Then piercing him with his claws. Finally, out of targets, the creature looked up at me growling. Shaking myself out of my stupor, I pressed the rotary trigger on the minigun. The Deathclaw took that as a challenge and shot towards me. I unleashed a hailstorm aiming for the damned thing. The Deathclaw stopped coming at me, realizing that the minigun would shred it to pieces, and bolted down the Alleyway I used earlier. I started to back up to the Museum of Freedom. It roared, the echo bouncing off the buildings intimidatingly.

"Preston!" I yelled up at the Balcony, "You get everyone in the basement right now! You get them in that cage the generator was in! That's the only safe place where that damned thing can't run them down."

"Alright," Preston said before going back inside.

I backed up to the door scanning the area for that Deathclaw for several moments. Nothing. Then I saw it. It had leaped from the top of the roof where the first Raider I killed in this power armor, to where I jumped down at. It had gone inside! I knew I could easily take off now and put some distance between me and that Deathclaw and leave the others to their fate. But….I wouldn't. My wife and dog were in there. It was the dumb thing to do, but it was also the right thing to do. I went inside, watching it fall through the glass skylight. It landed on the back stairs being temporarily stalled by a laser musket blast from the basement. At first I thought it saw me, but then it went down into the basement pouncing at something. I thought it had gotten one of the settlers, but all I heard was it hitting a steel surface. It started swiping at it.

My mind went into overtime trying to think of a way to deal with the situation. That thing could put the fear of God into someone a hundred times over. I couldn't use the minigun as stray bullets could hurt one of the others. If I could get something to land on top of it from high enough, I could….it was going to be me who'd jump on the thing. Quickly coming to a solution, I jumped up to grab the doorway of the second floor to the left and then found my way up to the roof, completely bypassing the Deathclaw. I looked down at the Deathclaw as it tried to slash its way into the generator cage. I could hear Nora firing rounds through the mesh. It wasn't doing anything to the creature but angering it more. Quickly seeing where I had to fall from, I realized I had to fall from the propellor of the Vertibird that had pierced the skylight. I got onto the prewar machine and attached the minigun onto my back. I remembered that these Power Armored suits had very good shock absorbers, which let the suit fall from aircraft heights. I noticed that the propeller was spinning slightly. I grabbed ahold of one of the tiltrotor blades and broke it off making sure the sharpest point was pointed down. My time had run out. The Deathclaw was finally able to rip off the door and throw it into the wall behind it. Preston shot one more round of Laser musket in its face as a last attempt to survive, while Nora unloaded a magazine after. The Deathclaw merely growled then let out a terrifying roar as it went to put its entire body in the cage with them.

Its roar was silenced as I dropped down atop its back, impaling it through the spines with the vertibird propellor. The propellor came out its abdomen and the Deathclaw was on the ground by the sheer force of my drop. I turned around, having been facing the creature's tail when I fell. The Deathclaw roared in pain and defiance. But I quickly silenced that by grabbing its horns and twisting its head with a sickening crack. I looked up at the settlers and Nora who stared back in a mixture of pure unwavering fear and awe. Preston, Nora's, and Sturge's mouths were open in disbelief while the others were done cowering and stared with shock. Dogmeat was low to the ground, but his ears were pointed up in surprise.

"I think we're done here," I said to them.

"Holee shit," Sturges uttered.

"Hun….." Nora said, "Be a little quicker next time please."

"I'll try."

Nora and I had been sweeping Concord for more hostiles, finding that no one survived us or the Deathclaw. My mind was on the Deathclaw. Before the bombs fell, America had been looking through various options for the war effort. Medicine, power armor, weaponry, super-soldiers, biological warfare; anything to gain an edge. One of those projects, not known to many, was the creation of a new genetically engineered creature that was supposed to help replace humans during close-combat search-and-destroy missions. They were effective too. I had participated in service animal training. I had trained dogs, wolves, birds of prey, pigeons, horses, cattle, monkeys, and some Genetically engineered animals. One of those genetically engineered animals, was the Deathclaw. If there was one thing I learned about Deathclaws, it was that they could only be trained from birth, and the trainer had to imprint on them. Failure to reign in their viscous nature would result in evisceration. I was surprised that they actually survived the bombs. I wondered just how common they were. I'd have to ask the others. All this thinking about training animals, had me wanting to go back to the farm-life where I grew up. I sighed, shaking these thoughts from my head.

Nora and I took the time to gather up weaponry, armor pieces from the fallen Raiders, chems, and medical supplies. We didn't bother scavenging the buildings due to insufficient time. We would head back to Sanctuary Hills, this place obviously being a dead end for finding Shaun. Nora had been weary about looting the dead, but I told her that it was necessary. We had to shoo a few crows away from smaller tidbits of the Raider remains. Though strangely, the red eyed crows didn't engage in feasting. At least from what I had seen. They just sat out of reach of any human, staring at us. I ignored them. The more weapons and spare parts we had, the better. Plus, the Raiders weren't going to use it. Better in our hands than more Raider gangs. We loaded all the stuff on a wagon Nora had found and leaving it outside the door of the Museum of Freedom.

We walked in seeing everyone standing in the lobby, though mama murphy sitting on some crates. It seemed that they had gotten over their initial shock and were regrouping.

"Take it easy mama murphy," Preston said, "Are you sure you're okay?"

"I'm fine Preston," The old woman said, "Quit your fussin'."

Preston didn't say anything after that, he just looked at me. "That was….." He said, "A pretty amazing display. You saved our lives. I'm just glad you're on our side."

"Is everyone okay now?" I asked.

"Yeah," Preston said, "For a while, anyway. At least until we can move to someplace safer." I nodded. He gave me a look as if sizing me up in my power armor. "Listen. When we first met, you said you were glad to help. Well, you did. And we owe you our lives." He handed me something. "So here. It ain't much but it's the best way I can say thank you. He handed me several fusion cells and a bag of bottle caps.

"What's with the bottle caps?" Nora asked, "What're they for?"

"It's currency," Preston replied giving me a strange look. So, bottle caps were post war currency huh? Okay then.

"We didn't do it for the money," I replied rather hotly.

"Hey," Preston said apologetically, "I'm sorry. I'm used to everyone being in it only for themselves."

"I'll let it slide this time," I said jokingly. He smirked giving me a look.

"You know," He said, "You remind me of some of my friends. The other Minutemen, the ones who gave their lives for something bigger than themselves. You should come with us to Sanctuary. We could use the help." Sanctuary? Was he referring to Sanctuary Hills?

"Does he mean our old…?" Nora trailed off.

"Fine," I said nodding, "We're in."

"Oh…." Mama Murphy said, "That's wonderful! But there's more to your destiny, isn't there? I've seen it. I know your pain."

"Our Destiny?" I asked, "What do you mean?"

"I know you believe in my sight now kids," Mama Murphy said, "You saw it come true for yourself. The Deathclaw was the face of death I warned you about."

"I admit," I said going with it, "That there is something going on with your vision. Whether it's real or not, I have yet to determine." But her statement next made Nora and I believers.

"You two are spouses out of time," She said, "Out of hope. Waking up to this horrible nightmare must have taken a toll on you both. To see your former home…...all your friends…..gone by nuclear fire. To see you find a glimpse of your former life in the form of robotics and pictures. Your resolve for finding him. Your resolve for answers, for revenge. I know it. I feel your pain. I know that you two are strong warriors, and that the dimming hope of never finding him. But all's not lost. I can feel…." Her next words almost made me break down. "...your son's energy. He's alive and safe. Safer than any person in the Commonwealth." I exited the power armor and walked around it, looking at her with hope. I believed she had the sight now. There's no way anyone could have known what happened down in that Vault.

"Where is he?" Nora asked her, "Where is our son? Where is Shaun?" The others looked between us with a surprised expression.

"Oh," She said heartbreakingly, "I wish I knew kids; I really do. But it's not like I can see your son. I can just….feel his life force, his energy. He's out there. And even I don't need the sight to tell you where you should start looking. The great green jewel of the Commonwealth. Diamond City. The biggest settlement around."

"What's in Diamond City?" I asked, "Is Shaun there?"

"I don't know," Mama Murphy said, "But I'd start looking there." She looked exhausted. "I'm a bit tired now. I'll do you a favor, maybe if you bring me some Chems later on, the sight will paint a clearer picture."

"No!" Preston said, "Mama Murphy, we talked about this. That junk….it's going to kill you." I immediately felt bad about even thinking of drugging her up for visions of the future.

"Oh shush Preston," Mama Murphy replied, "We're all gonna die eventually. We barely escaped death today. We're gonna need the sight. And our new friends here, they're going to need it too. I'll not hear anything more about me not using Chems. Now let's get going. Sanctuary awaits."

Preston nodded defeated. "Alright folks," He said to the settlers, "Thanks to our friends here, it's safe to move out." Everyone started to get up. "We're heading to that place that Mama Murphy knows about: Sanctuary. It's not far." No, it wasn't.

"She knows about it?" Marcy spoke up with an attitude, "You means he had one of her visions while she was stoned out of her gourd. And now you just want us to head out on a wild goose chase based on no better plan than Mama Murphy Saw It?"

"It can hardly turn any worse than-" Preston started to argue but Sturges intervened.

"Whoa, whoa, hold on, hold on," He said getting between the two, "Everybody just take it easy. We're all in this together, right?" Everyone just put their heads down knowing that Sturges was correct. "So, Marcy. You got a better idea of what we should do next?" She didn't answer. Sturges looked at everyone else. "Anybody?" No one answered. "Well then. Sanctuary it is. Let's just hope it lives up to its name."

"Let's go Jun," Marcy said to the man who seemed as if he was suffering from PTSD.

"Huh?" He asked depressed, "Oh, okay."

I pulled the wagon behind me in my bulky power armor following the group. I mostly ignored the conversations that went on between the group, mostly the ones between the Asian couple. One acted like a bitch and the other seemed too cowardly.

"You know," Preston said, "I didn't catch your names."

"I'm Nora Walker," Nora replied walking alongside him, "and he's my husband, Nate Walker. We've lived in Sanctuary Hills for a while." Technically it was true. We were both living there before the bombs fell and after, though our perception of time was debatable. "It's a nice tranquil place."

"So I hear," Preston replied.

When we passed the Red Rocket, Sturges voiced his opinion.

"Well look at that," Sturges spoke looking at the Red Rocket, "I think I just found my new vacation home."

"That your idea of heaven Sturges?" Preston asked.

"You betcha," Sturges replied.

"Probably some decent salvage in there," Preston said, "We could probably check it out later." There were still protests from Marcy, but everyone seemed to ignore her. I kept quiet the entire walk, mostly letting what Mama Murphy said, sink in. Shaun was alive. I had to believe her. She said he was also safe, safer than anyone out here. But he was not safe until I found him.

It wasn't long before we came across the Minuteman Statue near the Sanctuary Hills bridge, Preston noted it. "Well, I'll be damned," He said looking impressed, "It's the monument to the original Minutemen. I knew it was somewhere here around Concord. That means this right here must be the old North Bridge. Where the first shots of the American Revolution were fired. I'd call that the best omen we've had since we left Quincy."

"Yeah," Sturges said, "I don't know what you're talkin' about Boss, but I'm glad you're happy about it." I smirked. Not surprising that people today didn't know what the Minutemen Monument was for, it probably had become pretty much lost knowledge to people these days. At least someone knew. When we walked over the bridge Preston started thinking of the possibilities.

"This is Sanctuary huh?" Preston said, "Looks like this is a good place to settle and call home."

"Uh boss," Sturges said looking ahead, "I think somebody already set up shop here." He pointed at our home and the fortifications Codsworth, Nora, and I had made.

"You don't have to worry about it," I spoke up, "This is our home. We built all of that with our robot."

"You did?" Preston asked.

"Yeah," Nora replied as we stopped outside my home, "we used to like living here…. before the war."

"What do you mean?" Preston asked, "Before what war?" Then he caught on, "Are you saying what I think you're saying?"

"We lived here…." She spoke, "Two hundred years ago. We were frozen or something…. for most of it. Just woke up a couple days ago."

"Damn…" Preston said, "Like one of those Pre-war Ghouls. And you say you were frozen? Anybody else frozen like that?"

"Our son," I spoke, "Somebody kidnapped him while I was still trapped in a partially thawed Cryostasis pod. Nora had him, but they tricked her, making her believe it was a medical procedure. I would've believed it too. We've been looking for him. Trying to find him is the reason we found your group. But there are others still trapped in there. They're not dead, but we can't figure out how to release them. It requires an external source."

"Damn," Preston said, "I'm sorry. I hope you find him. Let me know if there's any way I can help." I nodded. "Anyway, I am glad you're here and everything you have done for us. And I hope you don't mind; I've got word from another settlement asking for help. They're still hoping that there are minutemen out there somewhere. The only chance to start rebuilding the minutemen is to show people that they can count on us when they need us. Trouble is, I've got my hands full here. Do you think you can help out the settlement?"

"What kind of help do they need?" Nora asked.

"Sounded like the usual," He spoke, "Raiders. They'll most likely have details. Probably a gang forcing them to hand over food."

Nora and I looked at each other. She was conflicted. "Let me speak with my wife privately for a moment." I uttered.


We walked over to the other side of the footbridge in Sanctuary, leaving the others perplexed. "Should we really be doing this?" She asked me, "What about our baby boy?"

"Hun," I said, "I know, I know. We're going to find him. I want nothing more than to do so. But this kind of thing is exactly what we were meant to do in the first place."

"But is our son more important than a mission to rebuild?"

"Absolutely fucking not," I said sternly. It was the first time I had cursed, that was partially directed at her. She blinked thrown off. "I'm sorry honey. But I want you to know where my priority is. Shaun will always be my priority. However, you of all people know that the more allies we have, the better off we'll be in doing so. Back then, Mama Murphy told us where to go. In the heat of the moment, I believed in her psychic powers because she knew things no one else should have."

"Yeah," Nora said, "The sight does kind of sound farfetched. Simple mathematics and probability could have something to do with it."

"Exactly," I said, "But what I'm saying is….we help them, they may help us. I want no misunderstanding between us. Shaun is our priority. He always will be. We have to find him at all costs. But what I'm about to say about this request for help is going to step on some toes. We have to act like this is an inconvenience for now, though still give aid. I think that will show them where our primary priorities are. It's kind of manipulation, but I'm not worried about that for now. We can find Shaun and start to rebuild at the same time. I need your support."

"Of course," She replied nodding. We returned to the group.

"We'll do it," I replied.

"That's fantastic," Preston said, "The minutemen could use more people like you. By the way, if you want to help out around here at all, talk to Sturges. I'm sure he could use all the help he can get. He's a tinkerer."

"Do you people know what you're doing?" I asked kind of put off. They've been asking for help since I found them. "How have you all survived this long? I may have underestimated some things out here, but I didn't grow up in this world. I grew up in a world where the government was still around. How have you not learned anything?" Nora blinked.

"No need to be an asshole about it," Sturges remarked.

I sighed. "Sorry," I said shaking my head, the power armor helmet mimicking it, "We've had a lot to deal with. I didn't think we'd aid in building another settlement here, or that we'd find friendlies out here. At least not this soon."

"You've done this before?" Preston asked.

"Yeah," I spoke, "There's a lot I've done before the war. Some of it, went down in history. But other things were not a part of it. I doubt there was anyone alive who remembers it. The army kept a tight lip on things I did in Spec Ops with my friend Roger. The only one that I know of who could've known about such things these days, was my wife. Anyways, one of the things I had done as a Major while apart of the 108th regiment in the army was aid in a rebuilding effort on allied soil. With budget cuts, the government assigned us that for a few months until an engineering battalion would arrive. It helped that growing up before I moved to Boston, I lived on a small farm...or a homestead. My wife knows a few things as well, but she's extremely smart and has skills I do not."

"Sorry….." Jun said, "….but what would…those be?"

"My husband is the soldier out of us," She said, "But before the war, I was a lawyer and dabbled in psychology. My hobbies were life sciences, particularly with plants and animals. Don't let Nate fool you. He's good with animals as well as far as training them goes. I'm learning a lot of the similar things he's doing. You can say he's got the military experience and I have the Judicial experience in our marriage."

"Interesting…." Preston asked, "So you worked for the government way back when?"

"In a manner of speaking," Nora said, "Nate was a high-ranking soldier, but I was on my way to work for a local law firm or as a District Attorney for one of Boston's Law enforcement departments."

"Sounds like the dream team," Sturges said, "Nate? You're a self-taught engineer?"

"Yes," I replied, "As I said. There's a lot of things I'm good at. I was what you would call the Jack of all Trades. But I've gotten rusty. Being on ice has pretty much drained me."

"Drained you?"

"I can remember how to do everything," I said, "But my physical skills have suffered. Being on ice numbs your body. Of course, it'll have effects on your physical being. Anyways, that's off topic, let's get you all settled in for the day. It's been a rough day for you. Tomorrow, I'll see what I can do to help before leaving for that settlement. Where is that by the way?"

"Tenpines bluff," Preston spoke.

"Tenpines forest?" I asked showing him a map of the Commonwealth, "Nora and I hunted out that way a few times. Is it on the bluff here?" I pointed it out. It was East of Sanctuary.

"Yeah," Preston replied, "That's it."

"Good," I spoke, "We'll head out when everything here's squared away." They walked in, Sturges immediately commenting on our set up.

"You've been busy…." Sturges said, "How long did you say you two were out of Cryo?"

"Around five days," I replied walking over to the Washington's carport after dropping off the supplies we gathered under my own carport. I exited my power armor and removed the fusion core. The sun was almost going down and there wasn't much more that could be done. Codsworth floated out the house to greet us.

"Mr. Nate! Mrs. Nora!" He said, "Glad to see that you're back. Did you find any assistance in Concord?"

"Somewhat," Nora replied to him, "We made some new friends." I wouldn't call them friends; that was too naïve. I would call them rescues.

"Can't have enough of those these days," Codsworth said, "I realize that I'm no Mister Gutsy, but if needed, I'd be honored to accompany you throughout the Commonwealth. Just say the word."

"I think we can allow that," Nora replied.

"Yeah, we can go for that," I agreed, "But we're not leaving Sanctuary tonight. I want you to drag couches or intact beds back here. It's been a long day Codsworth."

"Yes sir," Codsworth replied getting to work immediately. Nora looked at me slightly alarmed. I knew what the problem was. We just invited strangers into our home. I was used to situations like this, but she wasn't.

"Everyone listen up," I said, "We're giving you access to our home temporarily. Anything within these walls we built, are mine and Nora's. I'm going to warn you now, there's a basement here full of food and medical supplies. Ration them out until you can get yourselves established. We don't mind helping you, but we will not tolerate freeloaders. The sleeping quarters downstairs belongs to us. The basement is protected by an automated ceiling turret, so that will be the last resort defense system. There's also a few guns down there with ammo. Use the ammo sparingly. Preston, you have your own weapon and I know you know how to use it. Anyone else here know how to handle a firearm?"

"We all do," Marcy said, "We were just defenseless out there."

"Good," I said, "Sturges, I'm sure you know how to tinker with some of the weapons we acquired from those Raiders."

"Sure do," he said nodding.

"Good," I said, "you can have access to our ammo if you need it. BUT, I want you and the others to salvage what you can with what we gathered and use those. If you need a higher caliber gun, there's an unmodified hunting rifle that has .308 rounds in it. That one is free to use. The same for the Combat rifle and 10mm pistol. The unmodified ones are free to use, but not the modified ones. Those are ours. Unless it is an emergency."

"Understood," Preston said nodding.

"So, who's hungry?" Nora asked.

"Starving," Jun said.

"I think we can spare some of our Salisbury Steak meals," Nora replied.

Nate and Nora discovered that this was the first time that the wayward group had had a proper meal. This was a special occasion where the two didn't care about their rations. These people had been through hell. A good meal was all they needed to boost a little morale. With their bellies full, watered, and had somewhere decent to sleep behind protection, I'm pretty sure they got the best night sleep they've had in a long time.

At first, I was having a good night's sleep with my wife by my side. Our cots were right next to each other, with various pillows between us as the bars that the cots were sewn to, was metal and very uncomfortable if we laid on it. They were attached to each other, so we didn't flip the cots. I woke up hearing my wife talking in her sleep. I laid there listening to her. She was wearing the army fatigue pants and a white tank top. She had uncovered herself, covered in sweat.

"No," She said, "No." Silence. "Shaun no." Silence. "Nate. The raiders have Shaun." Silence. "I…killed them." She started getting more violent, stirring in her sleep and kicking. I was too familiar with nightmares, being in the military. I struggled with them occasionally. Combined with the loss of our son and her taking human life, I'd imagine it's been traumatic for her.

"Nora," I said shaking her. Nothing, "Nora." I kept shaking her arm, eventually moving her body.

She gasped waking up, ready to fight. "Wha-" She uttered, "What's going…Nate?"

"Shh," I said comfortingly, "It's okay." How many times had she be the one to do this for me after Anchorage? "Just a nightmare hun."

"Shit." She uttered putting her head into my chest.

"You want to talk?" I asked, "I know todays been hell."

She didn't respond for a few moments. She just laid there; her face buried in my bare chest. "I…," She said into my chest, "I killed someone Nate."

"I know," I said softly.

"Does it ever get better?" She asked looking up at me.

"Sometimes," I replied, "But most of the time, you get used to it."

"I don't like it," She replied.

"Good," I said, "That means you're still you. When you start to like it, then you've become someone else. Want some Hypquil?" Hypquil helped you sleep at night, and it was usually dreamless.



I got up to retrieve a bottle of the Hypquil and poured her an ounce cup of it as well as got a bottle of water. She drank both and returned to sleep in my arms. I hoped that she nor I would ever start to like killing. That would make us no different than Raiders….I drifted off as well.

There wasn't much in the way of mods this go round as everything used had already been stated. I will say that if you think Horizons is overwhelming. You could use Agony. It boasts some of the detail to medical survival that Horizons do.

I suppose that there could be some Deathclaw overhaul mods mentioned. There was a nod to a Deathclaw companion. I plan to make the creatures of the commonwealth, Nuka-world, and Far Harbor more prevalent, to a certain point. Such as Deathclaws being trained similar to Jurassic World the Jurassic World Velociraptor pack. Using animals as combat/service creatures, like combat hounds, or mounts.

I plan to add more tech into this story and expand upon factions, which I already have so far. If you know your lore, then you've already caught on to how much certain factions keep tabs on the sole survivor.

I've got a good list of mods I'm going to feature in the story; or quests, chapters inspired by mods. The Project Valkyrie, Brotherhood and Outcasts, Fusion city rising, and depravity are among them. I don't know if I'll get to everything each quest is about, but I'll probably add some of them to the story. You got some ideas for mods? Let me know and I'll see if we've got the same ideas.