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Crafting A Narrative

“20. At Gun Point” – Fallout 3 | Crafting A Narrative Experience

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Read Part 19: “City Snobbery” here.

I was led around a corner and into a wide open space, dominated by some kind of huge green tent. It seemed so out of place among the humming machines and glowing screens that I had to pause to take it in. In front of the tent was a low table covered in fruits of every colour, and leaning over this was a short woman in a long white coat.

As I watched, she held out a needle. “I need you to run another analysis, Janice; I think this time I’ve managed to reduce the arsenic levels to a point that will result in few short-term issues.”

The lab assistant cleared her throat as she hurried forward to collect the sample before murmuring something in the other woman’s ear.

“Oh yes, the visitor. I do so love interruptions…” the doctor turned to face me, a brilliant red apple in her hand. Her skin had a sickly yellow tint to it, and the right side of her face was disfigured by a tumorous growth. “I don’t suppose I could interest you in a piece of delicious fresh fruit?”

“Arsenic?” I asked.

“All in the name of scientific advancement, of course.”

“Thanks for the offer, but I think I’ll pass.”

She sighed. “Of course you will… I’m told you have something to tell me about Project Purity? Has James managed to make some miraculous breakthrough already, or has he realised that the facility will never function again?”

“I don’t know. I’m here for what you can tell me.”

“About Project Purity? Really? I have more important things to do than talk about long-dead fantasies.” she shook her head as she turned away again, and I felt a flare of anger. I’d had enough of the arrogance of the people in Rivet City. After all the miles and dangers that lay behind me I deserved answers.

“You rude, self-obsessed b****! Is it so impossible to take ten minutes away from your damn plants to tell me what I want to know?”

Far from turning back to me, or offering a response, she picked another piece of fruit from the table and held it up for examination.

In hindsight, I reacted badly. I don’t know what came over me. My anger was like a demonic possession. I closed the gap with four steps and, with one violent movement, flipped the table, sending fruits and vegetables scattering in every direction.

Through the deafening blanket of rage, I heard Doctor Li’s voice: “Janice, call Captain Harkness.”

One hand closed around her throat, while the other held my pistol to her temple. I felt a cathartic surge of pleasure at the terror in her eyes. “Tell me what I want to know.”

“What do you want to know?”

“Where. Is. My. Father?”

“What? Who?”

“James. Where is he?”

I felt the convulsive movement of her throat as she swallowed. “You’re Valken? I was under the impression he left you in a Vault.”

Throwing her from me, I felt another twisted surge of pleasure as she hit the floor. “He tried. But his leaving left me no choice,” the explosion had left me feeling calmer, making me realise how frustrated I’d felt at the constant setbacks. “Where is he?”

“Dead, most likely.”

My breath caught. “What?” After everything I’d been through, it wasn’t possible. “No.”

Doctor Li struggled to her feet. “He set off into the Wastes—towards an area known to house a population of Super Mutants—alone. He was obsessed. Half-mad. I don’t understand what brought him back after all these years. How could he not realise it was too late?”

“Too late? What is Project Purity? What happened to it?”

She righted the table and sat upon it. I could see that she was still shaken by my outburst, but it had to be that way if I was going to get my answers. “It was the dream of James and Elise that all of us were infected by because it was such a… vital idea. Safe water, free for everyone. It’s the first real step that’s needed if we’re going to rebuild the world. And we almost had it, but then you happened.”

Three-Dog’s words came back to me, but I still had to ask, “Me? What do I have to do with any of this?”

“After Elise died giving birth to you, James left us. The best efforts of the best minds in the Wastes couldn’t take the project any further than your parents. After six months of halted progress, the Brotherhood of Steel decided that supporting us longer was pointless. Without their protection, most of the team was afraid to stay and so we fell apart.

“I don’t know what James was thinking coming back. He was acting as though he expected all of us to still be here… He always was an idealist.”

“Idealist? Why didn’t you help him?

She laughed at me. “The rest of us did what your father, apparently, never could: move on. The team is dispersed, spread all over the Capitol Wasteland, and some of them are probably dead. As important as Project Purity is, it’s a dream that needs more than two people. And besides, I have work of my own to do. I can’t afford to waste the rest of my life locked in a cycle of futility.”

I turned away in disgust at her attitude. “You’re just afraid, aren’t you? Afraid of the Super Mutants and afraid of being responsible for failure again. Why risk your reputation and comfort by trying to make the world a better place when you can just say here injecting arsenic into food, right?”

“For all the brilliance of your father, you really are incredibly stupid. Just because I left Project Purity behind doesn’t mean I don’t still live for the same ideals as we all did then. My talents are simply-”

The end of her sentence was cut off by an ear-piercing squeal capped off by an explosive bang. Heavy footsteps rang on the gangway that offered a top-down view of the main floor of the lab.

“Hold!” that voice that shouted down was authoritarian and vaguely familiar.

Looking up, I realised that I was surrounded; more than half a dozen security personnel had responded to Doctor Li’s request.

“Outsider. I thought you’d turn out as a troublemaker.” The man who spoke was the same as had met me on the stairs when first I’d entered Rivet City. His toad-like face with its wide-set eyes looked down on me, and I met them with equal coldness even while I dropped the pistol. “Oh, it’s too late for that, Outsider.”

The sounds of guns being readied echoed around the lab before silence, broken only by the ominous humming of machines, reasserted itself.

“You came into our community uninvited.”

I saw him cock the hammer on his antiquated handgun.

“You caused upset among some of our most respected citizens.”

He raised the weapon, squinting along the barrel.

“You verbally threatened and physically assaulted our most eminent community member.”

A grim smile twisted his features.

“For these crimes, I, Captain Errol Harkness, find you guilty-”

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Damien Lawardorn is an aspiring novelist, journalist, and essayist. His goal in writing is to inspire readers to engage and think, rather than simply consume and enjoy. With broad interests ranging from literature and video games to fringe science and social movements, his work tends to touch on the unexpected. Damien is the former Editor-in-Chief of OnlySP. More of his work can be found at https://open.abc.net.au/people/21767

Crafting A Narrative

Afterword – Fallout 3 | Crafting A Narrative

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Afterword

 

For any readers who may have wanted to read the Crafting a Narrative series from the beginning, but not had the patience to follow the links in reverse chronological order, I will list them here before saying anything by way of an afterword:

1: “Fresh Air”
2: “Silver and Blood”
3: “The First Sunset”
4: “Revelation and Reflection”
5: “The Kid”
6: “Into The Nest”
7: “Beyond Grayditch”
8: “A Ghoulish Descent”
9: “Lyons’ Pride”
10: “Galaxy News Radio”
11: “A Walking Slaughterhouse”
12: “Disguised For Diplomacy”
13: “Museum Tour”
14: “Delivery”
15: “The Way Back”
16: “A Promise Kept”
17: “Signs of Danger”
18: “The Compound”
19: “City Snobbery”
20: “At Gun Point”
21: “Project Purity”
22:”Westward Bound”
23: “The Best Little Town”
24: “Trapped and Helpless”
25: “Tenpenny Tower”
26: “Compromise”
27: “Betrayal”
28: “Pressing On”
29: “So Far, So Familiar”
30: “Tranquility Lane”
31: “Betty’s Lair”
32: “A New Resolution”
33: “Purpose Without Passion”
34: “The Enemy”
35: “The Skirmish”
36: “In The Infirmary”
37: “Back On The Trail”
38: “Scorched Earth”
39: “Gripped By Talon”
40: “The Final Pages”

I began this saga well over a year ago as a project to provide me with a consistent avenue of creative writing, as I felt then as though those skills had been diminished by long disuse. As with any project that takes more than a little time and effort however, telling Valken’s story quickly become more than just practice to me. It became ever more a chance to tell a story that was unfolding before me, while commenting on the game itself through Valken’s internal monologue and description. That commentary, I hope, was subtle, secondary to the story, but nevertheless present. But I digress.

As time went on, this story became a project of passion, and I was sorry to have to leave it languish for as long as I did due to my other commitments and issues, but I was determined to finish it. As noted in my resumption address, if you read that, I decided to cut the total length down from 52 entries to 40, partly to ensure that I didn’t have to take another hiatus. In writing those final parts, and particularly the last, the story became somewhat rushed. I apologise for that, and for some other minor inconsistencies that have cropped up over time. Perhaps the most egregious offence that I committed across the writing of the series was the alteration of Valken’s voice. In the beginning he was a much more rustic character than in the final chapters, and that is solely because, once the general characteristics of my writing style began to bleed into his voice, I found myself unable to stop the flow (which is why I prefer to write my fictional efforts from a third-person perspective).

I don’t mean to write an exegesis here explaining the choices I made to cut certain pieces of story, and nor do I want to bore you, dear reader, so I will begin to wrap up.

Once again, I want to thank you for coming back and reading the latest chapter of this story each week, for sharing it on social media, and for any comments that you may have left throughout the duration. Though the readership, from the statistics that I have access to, has been fairly small, I am happy to have been able to entertain you with my words, though I freely welcome any criticism calling what I have done glorified fan-fiction.

So, where do we go from here? I have in mind already an idea for a second “season” of Crafting a Narrative, but I am not yet sure if I will undertake to write it. I would first need to play the game/s that I am thinking of using as a base, then construct the story, and get approval from Reid and Nick. The biggest obstacle, however, is the scope of the project. I really didn’t fully grasp the scale of what I was doing when I began this series, and certainly didn’t consider that, by the end, it would have grown to be my first completed novel-length work of creative fiction. Right now, and for quite some time yet to come, I simply haven’t the free time to do this again. That being said, it certainly isn’t outside the realm of possibility that one of OnlySP’s other writers will take up where I now leave off. I make no promises on that front, however.

Now that I have covered the past, present, and potential future, I close the book on this series. Thank you very much for your readership.

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