ATTENTION READER, SPOILERS!: This is part 2 of an ongoing series of articles, click here for the first in the series. I won’t be going out of my way to spoil major plot details, however, due to the nature of these articles, some details are going to be discussed. You have been warned.
Holy crap that took forever to finish! Welcome to the next stop on the Fallout Hypetrain: Arroyo, the village created by the Vault Dweller from Vault 13. Only, our story starts some years on from the sad days of the Vault Dweller’s exile – eighty years later, in fact. Arroyo is suffering from a terrible drought, and the village Elder has sought the help of the Chosen One: The direct descendant of the Vault Dweller. Sweet, naive, beautiful and insanely lethal, Penelope was not so much dumb as easily lead. This is the story of how Penelope, the Chosen One of Arroyo, ventured forth into the wastes to make her destiny.
Her paranoid and over-zealous father believed the world to be a wicked place and filled her head with horrifying visions of Super Mutants, Slavers and Military Death Squads. While his warnings frightened her, these terrifying tales were often accounts of the Vault Dwellers own adventures and a sense of adventure kindled within her. So when a young, handsome mercenary passed by the village one day, her curiosity overwhelmed her fear and after talking for awhile he showed her how to handle his gun. Her father accidentally discovered the pair and became enraged with what he saw, infuriated that she had ignored his warnings and consorted with an outsider. He stormed towards them, and as Penelope caught a glimpse of the violent fury in his eyes, the fear quickly returned and panic gripped her heart. Four shots sounded across the village, and three corpses suddenly thudded to the ground: Penelope’s father, the mercenary, and a Brahmin in a nearby pasture – both heads impaled.
“Sweetie, I love you – I’m just saying, it’s probably better if you don’t come back for awhile.”
The village crops were failing, the elder had recently received a holy artifact – the sacred canteen of Vault 13 – and Penelope, the Chosen One, was now exhibiting unusual powers. It was clearly a sign from the spirits that Penelope’s quest was to begin; at the very least, the Elder needed to get this gun-toting, misfiring freak away from the other villagers. After being rushed through the Temple of Trials, the holy canteen was thrust upon Penelope before being sent in search of the one that had delivered it unto them – Vic the Trader. The Elder figured the cost of a sacred relic was worth the safety of the rest of her flock – Penelope’s father was an asshole anyway – and sent the Chosen One out to find the fabled G.E.C.K. “Eh, that would keep her busy,” thought the Elder to herself and waved Penelope out of the village.
Penelope set off immediately towards the town of Klamath, the last known whereabouts of Vic, carrying away with her the hopes of some and the fears of everyone else. One of the first sights that greeted her was a servant tribal, Sulik, who’d been forced into servitude to cover his debt. It saddened her to see him so, reminding her of the terrible stories that her father would tell, and she resolved to help him. She ingratiated herself with the people of Klamath by rescuing Smiley, a local hunter, and used his life to bargain for the freedom of the indentured Tribal. Sadly, her quest to find Vic was fruitless as he’d departed to the Den some time earlier and had yet to return. With the thanks of the town and some fresh supplies, Penelope and Sulik left Klamath and carried onward toward the Den and Vic.
The population of Klamath would later come to despise Penelope for the blight she left upon the town. In rescuing Smiley, she decimated the local Gecko population, which in turn allowed the rat population – lead by a mutated, intelligent Rat God – to explode and overrun the town. Klamath never truly recovered.
Upon arriving at the Den, the pair would soon find Vic in the clutches of Metzger, the town Slave Baron, and were forced to barter for his freedom. Braving the chilly reception of the Klamath residents in the honeymoon of their Ratpocalypse, Penelope retrieved the Radio that Vic had promised to Metzger and returned to the Den. Of course, being the shrewd businessman that he is, Metzger demanded further payment for Vic’s release. Living as a Tribal her whole life, she explained to Slaver as she dropped half his asking price at his feet, had taught her how to haggle and be “diplomatic.”
Finished with her negotiations and eager to be on her way, Penelope began questioning Vic about the Holy Vault 13 when their group were rudely interrupted by gunfire. Having grown accustomed to the traditional bartering system of the wasteland, Penelope had not considered that the Slave Baron might not appreciate being paid in $500 worth of Gecko hides. Taking the advice of Vic the Sudden Travel Companion, Penelope and her group fled east across the mountains towards Vault City. The trio were pursued for days, running and gunning against gang members and mercenaries that dogged their steps relentlessly. Eventually, their attackers ran short on patience and pay, and their pursuit became less intense. Somewhere in the ranges near the farming community of Modoc, Penelope and her companions hunkered down in a cave and finally lost their assailants.
Having been spurned by Penelope in the most humiliating fashion for someone of his position, Metzger faced a small rebellion of guards in his employ whose respect he’d lost. After killing the rebels and ending a potential coup, Metzger became far more ruthless than ever before and declared total martial law over the Den. He still hunts the Chosen One to this day.
After a sleepless, nerve-wracking night, Penelope roused the others from their rest and packed her belongings for the day’s journey. As she slipped her gun back into its holster, Penelope suddenly coughed violently, flecking blood onto her companions. Her body spasmed, and her head snapped back, eyes bulging and mouth contorting into a silent, tortured scream. The world around her ebbed away into darkness until only she remained, staring upward into oblivion. The heavens then brightened and opened up before her, a figure slowly emerging from between the growing clouds to stare deeply into her soul.
It was Hakunin, the village mystic, channeling his spirit across the aether and into Penelope’s mind. “Chosen,” boomed his voice, “it lights my soul to look upon your face.”
His words trembled like enormous bells inside Penelope’s head, and she winced with every syllable. Shocked at what she saw and still waiting for feeling to return completely to her face, she stammered the first thoughts she could grasp. “H-how… Fuck?”
“The spirits have carried my mind to yours across the whispering winds so that I can bring you grave news of our village. Our crops are failing, the Brahmin are weak, and our people are wasting away – you must find the G.E.C.K.!”
“I know all this, is there something more that I can do?”
“No, that’s it really. You must find it. And quickly!”
Penelope paused for a moment, considering the effort it would have taken to communicate a warning she was already aware of and the considerable risk to herself in incapacitating her.
“Then… What are you doing here?”
Hakunin shuffled as awkwardly in the clouds as an ethereal projection could shuffle.
“It’s.. a nice day, isn’t it?”
Penelope forced down the urge to vomit.
“The spirits saw fit to make you very pretty, Chosen–”
“Are you stalking me?”
The clouds surrounding Hakunin began to quicken and grow around his now receding form, “Sorry, Chosen, I think I just heard the spirits calling to me from across the void. I must go, sorry, very urgent. Baaaaiiiiiiii…..”
Vanishing from the sky, Hakunin left Penelope to plunge once again into total darkness until the world rushed up from beneath her, coming to a perfect halt at her feet. The sunlight dazzled her, and she filled her lungs with what felt like the first breath of her life, then screamed as loud as possible until she passed out.
Penelope stirred to find Sulik leaning over her, slapping her across the face in an attempt to bring her back to consciousness. Around her laid the perforated corpses of several Rad Scorpions, Raiders and other unfortunate wasteland beings that had wandered into Sulik’s spear. Penelope had been staring at the sky in silent pain for several hours, Sulik explained, and Vic the Traitor had fled to Vault City when it became apparent to him that she may not recover. Without their guide, the pair weren’t sure how they would even find Vault City, let alone enter it, and their mountainous surroundings made navigation by nature exceedingly difficult. Collecting all that they could carry from their fallen enemies, they set off in the direction they thought was Vault City.
Though they would never make it to Vault City, Penelope and Sulik would become well known to its inhabitants. Vic the Trader had unwittingly become Vic the Harbinger of Previously Unknown Tribal Diseases, all of which had reached the end of their incubation period by the time he arrived in the city. Vic, in his dying moments, told the Vault City authorities of the tribals that he had traveled with. With the insidious illness now engulfing the city, the Vault City militia immediately enacted a plan to eradicate the source.
Neither Penelope or Sulik had navigated in mountainous regions, where light and shadow played tricks in the twisting, cavernous tunnels on those who would normally rely on both to guide them. Thinking that they were heading East towards Vault City they were, in fact, travelling south, and ventured far from their mark towards the plains north of the Glow. It was in this desolate spit of land that the tribals happened upon an intense argument between a family of vault dwellers and some armored men. Upon seeing the holy vestments that the family was wearing, Penelope made a move to assist them before being held back by her companion.
“Der are many evils in dis world, Grampy Bone has told we of dem all, but none are as feared as dey. Dey be called de Enclave, an you an I fren best be quiet until dey pass.”
As if on queue, the argument between the two groups had reached a fever pitch and the armored men opened fire on the family, the burning, razor sharp hail of miniguns tearing them to shreds. Their leader, a frighteningly towering man, turned his attention towards them and had barely uttered a word before Penelope bolted. She ran until her legs pumped cement, and her lungs heaved in agony with every breath, long having lost track of whether Sulik had even come with her. Delirious and exhausted, Penelope trudged in a manner that parodied the act of running until she slumped against a large metal door that had only just appeared in her vision. Taking stock of her surroundings, she noted that she’d wondered into a cave at some recent point and was now resting beside a lit control panel. She craned her head upwards and there, emblazoned on the surface of the door, was a giant “13.”
“I found it,” she whispered wearily, but triumphantly, and passed out again.
Fortunately, someone had cleared this cave out many years ago.
When she awoke, it was not in the harshness of the desert with a burly tribal slapping her face, but in the warm, sterile medical bay of Vault 13. At her bedside stood Sulik, beaming at her while holding a small metal box labeled “G.E.C.K.,” and a kindly old man wearing a doctor’s coat over a weathered, old Vault 13 jumpsuit. The doctor, as Penelope realised, he must be, whistled at her while looking at his clipboard. “Well,” he said slowly, bringing his eyes level with hers, “I would’ve bet dollars to Lad Cakes that you weren’t going to make it, but here you are. How do you feel?”
Penelope sat up to answer, her muscles feeling surprisingly limber, before spying the G.E.C.K. in Sulik’s hands and gasping excitedly. “Is that… for my village?”
The doctor looked over at the metal box and grinned. “Ah yes, a small gift from our leader, Gruthar, after your friend here helped us out with some urgent problems. He’d like to meet you, by the way, Gruthar, he’ll be along shortly. Oh and don’t worry about your things, they’re in that satchel there just beside you.”
Penelope reached down into the bag and grabbed her gun, the familiar feel of it’s worn metal grip filling her with an assurance that no doctor or companion could. Sulik handed the G.E.C.K. over to her and sat down on the bed beside her, placing his hand on her shoulder. “Fren, der be sumting dat we have to be telling you about da people here first–”
At that moment, a massive Deathclaw lumbered into the room and towards Penelope’s bed, its arms outstretched as though to embrace her. Penelope’s eyes widened; a familiar panic filled her and as though by hardwired instinct she brought her gun around to blow a hole straight through the Deathclaw’s eye. The Deathclaw screamed in shock, clutching at its face before slamming into a nearby wall, and Penelope sprang into action. Jumping from her bed, she grabbed the bag that lay beside it and stuffed the G.E.C.K. into the opening. Sulik stood in shock, turning pale at the carnage he’d just witnessed when another Deathclaw entered the room.
“Hey, is everything alright in here,” it chirped timidly as it crossed the threshold, “I heard a gunshot and OH GOD, GRUTHAR! WHAT HAPP–!?”
Its sentence was cut short by the storm of bullets that Penelope had slung into its throat; blood spraying into her face, she stepped over the beast that now lay retching on the floor. The doctor, enraged at the death of his friends, made a motion towards a weapon on his desk before being cut down just the same as the others. “We’ve gotta get out of here!” she shrieked towards Sulik’s direction before rushing the vault door and madly slapping at the control panel. As the door slowly ground open, Penelope could hear the roaring footfalls from more of those creatures and she began squeezing herself through the tiny gap that had formed. Scrambling from the opening, she stood upright and fled into the desert, heading straight for Arroyo and never looked back.
Already suspicious of the outside world and now having suffered a devastating blow in their own home, the inhabitants of Vault 13 could no longer contain their malcontent and rage. The only one left to offer an explanation for what had happened, Sulik was brutally tortured until he revealed all he knew about the Chosen One. Thundering out of their once-safe bastion in the ground, the dwellers of Vault 13 rampaged across the Wasteland, hunting the Chosen One, destroying all that stood between them and their quarry. The Wasteland was forever more dangerous for their roving, volatile presence.
Weeks passed, and Penelope grew weary, having to survive on her own as she had once done at the beginning of her journey. Skirting around the borders of Klamath, which had developed quite an odor since her last visit, she finally wandered into the pass that held her village and instead found a nightmare. The bridge hung broken and loose from the far end of the ravine, everything beyond it a crumbling ruin, and Hakunin’s dying form lay in front of her at its tattered end.
Penelope rushed to the shaman’s side, taking him into her arms. “Spirit stalker? What happened?”
“Dark spirits flocked to our village; they smashed, burnt, tore, and destroyed all that they saw.”
Penelope gasped, and her eyes widened, “The Enclave!” she exclaimed.
“Yes, and others! They came looking for the Tribal that had wronged them so! Slavers from the virulent Den, demonic gibbering beings with gnashing teeth and wicked horns, a terrible rat creature that spoke! In our darkest hour, we thought perhaps that you’d found the Holy Vault 13 and brought with you Angels to help us! But alas, they were impostors and theirs was not the holy number – our salvation was truly lost under their infernal assault. Our warriors perished, every one, as ants among a storm of titans and by the time the battle was finished there was nothing left but ash.”
“But… But What of the Elder? I-I-I’ve retrieved the G.E.C.K.! I’ve saved the village!”
“The Elder died cursing your name, Chosen,” coughed Hakunin, blood flecking from his dying lips. “We… We all did.”
Hakunin slumped forward, and Penelope stood to let it crumple in a bloodied heap. The corpse of her former spiritual guide and stalker cooled at her feet as she gazed upon the charred remains of her childhood home. Gripping tightly in her hand the gun that had brought her here, she sighed heavily with tears welling in her eyes.
“Fuck it,” she muttered, placing it back in its holster, “maybe that New Reno place needs another gun.” And she lived as happy as money can make you ever after.
Because losing everyone one you love sucks, but so does literally anyone for the right amount of money.
Later, the Enclave killed, just, everyone.