Read Part 28: “Pressing On“.

I looked back. Sparks burst sporadically from the two deactivated robots, while Reed, Bork, and Tate slowly shrunk as they drew further away from me. Reed had been more than a companion to me, he’d been a teacher, giving me information and vital skills for survival. I didn’t begrudge his leaving though. He was a merchant, our deal had reached its end, and any continued partnership offered little chance of profit. As I pushed open the door to Casey Smith’s garage, I felt a crushing sense of loneliness.

Dust motes sparkled in the strip of light cast by the open door, but light otherwise filtered poorly through the windows. Cobwebs hung thickly in every corner of the garage. The building had clearly been ransacked long ago and visited rarely since. Whatever goods it had once held were scattered haphazardly, a heavy layer of dust blanketing everything. And hiding beneath it all was the unmistakeable stench of rotting meat.

Despite the oppressive atmosphere, my excitement quickly grew. Cutting through the dust on the floor was a fresh set of footprints leading deeper inside.

I followed them around the corner and down a flight of stairs into a long tunnel with a nondescript wooden door at the end. “This can’t be right,” I murmured as I approached, but as soon as I passed through it, my doubts vanished. The room I emerged into was made of shining steel, reflecting the brilliant light of enormous bulbs that were powered by gently humming generators. At the bottom of the wall opposite me was the Vault door, a massive, dark-grey cog with ‘112’ printed in red in the centre.

I descended the staircase, each step announcing my presence with a resounding clang. The sound was unnerving, and I was glad for the thick metal door. I didn’t know what dangers lurked in Vault 112. Foolishly, I most feared being met with hostility by the residents.

On toggling a switch hanging upon the wall, the massive door slid inwards and rolled aside, revealing a dimly lit service room, exactly the same as that found in both Vault 101 and the mock-Vault in the museum. So far, so familiar. Up the stairs, then a single door led away from the room into a long, silver-white corridor, far cleaner and brighter than any found in Vault 101. Running along the wall was a window that provided a view of a massive room in which a number of pods were arranged around a central pillar. Bustling hither and thither down there were Robobrains. The sight confused me. We had had no such room in my Vault, and the function of it was beyond me.

Passing through another door, this one sliding away smoothly as I drew near, I was immediately confronted by a Robobrain. Until then, I’d never seen one up close, and found it decidedly creepy. A machine, controlled by a human (I assumed it was human) brain that floated in a glass tank where its head should have been. Something about the peculiar melding of the organic and synthetic was deeply disturbing.

“Good… evening,” it said in a cheery female voice, “welcome to Vault 112, resident. Our records indicate that you are… 202.3 years late for check-in. I am authorised to supply you with a Vault 112 jumpsuit. Please clothe yourself, then find and enter your assigned Tranquillity Lounger.” As it finished speaking, one of its arm pressed the clothes against my chest.

“What’s a Tranquillity Lounger?”

“The Tranquillity Lounger is a device designed to make your stay in Vault 112 as pleasant as possible.”

“Okay… But what does it do?”

“The Tranquillity Lounger is a device designed to make your stay in Vault 112 as pleasant as possible.”

Clearly, if I was to get answers, I would have to find them myself.

I switched my clothes for the fresh jumpsuit and set about exploring the facility. I quickly realised that similarities between Vaults 112 and 101 were few. Where my Vault had been a massive, sprawling facility, with the technology and resources to support hundreds of people, this one was far more contained. Aside from the rooms that I’d already explored, there was the Overseer’s office and an armoury (both of which had locks beyond my skill to pick), two medical facilities, two small rooms filled with humming computer towers, and another filled with generators, as well as the chamber that I’d viewed from above. No water reclamation and purification plant. No greenhouse. No air filtration systems. No kitchens. No bedrooms.

The examination had revealed nothing. The purpose of the facility was still as obtuse and inexplicable as before. The only option left to me was a closer examination of the pod room, and the so-called Tranquillity Loungers that it housed.

The pillar that I had seen from above proved, on ground level, to be a colossal computer node, from which cords streamed to the processing rooms on either side. Upon this central cortex, aligned with each of the twelve pods, was a terminal. I accessed the nearest of these, learning that the subject (number 4) was named S. Henderson, was suffering from an erratic heartbeat and elevated stress levels. Crossing to the pod, the occupant proved to be a woman, who lay twitching occasionally but otherwise unmoving.

“Hey!” I called out, my voice echoing weirdly in the silence of the chamber.

The nearest Robobrain trundled towards me. “How may I help you… sir?”

“Are these readings normal?” I asked, pointing to the terminal.

A cable emerged from the machine’s torso, which it plugged into a slot beneath the computer screen. A moment passed. “The diagnostic reveals… nothing unusual.”

“But her stress levels…”

“Are… within the normal operational range.”

I wasn’t sure whether the robot was stupid or intentionally unhelpful. I decided to try for answers one more time. “Why are the subject’s stress levels elevated?”

“The… Vault 112… simulation is designed to mimic real-world situations. Stress is a natural human response to particular stimuli. For this reason… elevated stress levels are… within the normal operational range.”

“A simulation? What’s the purpose of that? The Vaults were designed to keep people safe from nuclear fallout, weren’t they?”

“Please provide a registered access code?” The cool feminine voice changed suddenly, becoming hasher, more authoritarian.


“Please provide a registered access code?”

“I don’t have one.”

“The information you have requested is… unavailable.”

I struck the robot. “What the hell is going on here?!”

It buzzed in response. “Violence will not be tolerated. Please locate your assigned Tranquillity Lounger.”

Frustrated, I turned away. The one answer I’d received only raised more questions, but I was quickly learning that that was the way of things out here in the Waste. If I wanted answers, I would have to find them myself.

One by one I examined the remaining terminals. Each that was occupied divulged the same concerning readings for the subjects’ vital signs. No matter what the robot said, I knew that it couldn’t be normal, and that made me reluctant to strap in.

I crossed back to the Robobrain. “Were any of the subjects late in arriving.”


“Where is that subject?”

It raised an arm, pointing to a pod. “Tranquillity Lounger… Nine.”

Looking in through the tinted glass, the face, even viewed in profile and sporting a new, wildly bushy beard, was instantly familiar. My relief at the sudden flash of recognition was like downing a bottle of Nuka-Cola Quantum. I was refreshed, galvanised.

No longer did I hesitate. In a second I had dropped my backpack, run across the room and clambered into the only unoccupied Tranquillity Lounger. Soft music began to play as the glass shield dropped into place, then a screen lowered over my eyes. Ten seconds later, the world went black.

I didn’t care. I was unafraid. I could face whatever was coming.

Finally, I had found my father.

Disclaimer: The preceding is a narrative account of the author’s playthrough of Fallout 3. It is not paid content. Fallout 3 and all related trademarks remain the property of Bethesda Softworks. OnlySP.com team members have no personal or professional affiliation with Bethesda Softworks or any related companies.

Author’s Note: Once again, I would like to apologise to my readers for the late publication of these week’s entry, and to forgive any future delay, be they hours, days, or weeks. Once again, I find myself being faced with more than enough work to keep me busy. I would also like, once more, to thank you all for following along every week. Your continued interest is much appreciated, and if you have any suggestions as to how this series can be improved (other than by moving on to a different game/series [that’s already in the long-term planning stages]), please let me know.

Damien Lawardorn
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

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  1. Wtf did i just read? WHY IS THIS IN MY GOOGLE NEWS FEED?!??!!?

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