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Crafting A Narrative

“40. The Final Pages” – Fallout 3 | Crafting A Narrative

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40

Read Part 39: “Gripped By Talon” here.

Does it seem petty for me to say that the motivating force of my life for the last five years has been revenge? I sometimes think so, but in such moments of doubt and weakness, I remember that I am still ‘fighting the Good Fight’ in my small, private way. Talon Company is a force that stands against justice in the Wasteland, so I’m serving more than just myself by destroying their cells wherever I find them.

Fort Bannister was first.

After months spent regaining my strength in the Citadel, Elder Lyons allowed me to lead a small detachment of rookie troops against the Talon Company base in the D.C. region. A three-day march brought us to what remained of a pre-War military base and we caught them unprepared. It was a massacre. I remember feeling a twisted sense of pleasure at seeing the mercenaries fall. Maybe it was the new suit of Power Armour I was wearing, or maybe it was just that the odds were so well tipped in our favour, but I felt invulnerable as I waded through the chaos of battle, pushing ever closer to the command centre.

I found Commander Jabsco cowering in a locked broom closet in his office. We took him alive, and as we marched him back through the corridors, those members of Talon Company that saw us dropped their weapons, most of them fleeing the scene. The ease with which victory was achieved seemed to bode well for my decision.

When we arrived back at the Citadel, with Jabsco in tow for interrogation, I discovered that we had been sent out as a diversion. By sending a show of force away from the Citadel, the Brotherhood of Steel had hoped to lull The Enclave into a sense of security. The following day, they had lifted Liberty Prime from the laboratory and used the robot as a key element of their arsenal in the reclamation of Project Purity. Sometimes, I still regret not being there and being a part of it, but that was no longer my mission.

The room in which we interrogated Jabsco was dark and cramped, reeking faintly of old blood. Our prisoner had been roughly treated since his capture—jostled and beaten; denied food, drink, and sleep; and then left in darkness with a torturer who made his privations worse still. The trials through which the Brotherhood had put him showed on his body when I entered the chamber alongside two other inquisitors. He hung from chains attached to his wrists, his feet only just scraping against the floor. Bruises and weeping sores covered his emaciated body, and he flinched back against the light from the corridor as we entered. He was pitiful.

“‘Commander’ Jabsco,” began one of my companions, “you are so titled because you lead the D.C. branch of Talon Company, yes?”

“Yes,” the word come out as a hiss, little more than escaping air.

“Barnes, note that the prisoner admits guilt. Jabsco, tell us the other regions in which your company operates.”

A brief silence was broken by the harsh crack of a whip and the prisoner’s scream.

“Tell us!”

Jabsco’s voice was a whimper as he listed one place after another: San Andreas Island, Nuclear York, Philly, The Pitt, Broken Banks, Great Lanta, Ronto, Baltimore, Canyon City, The Corpse, Freeport, Fort Worth, Miami. His list seemed to stretch on forever, and I began to feel despair at the scope of the task that lay before me. In order to destroy Talon Company, it seemed, I would have to travel from one end of the former United States to the other, gather information in each region and city I passed through, then dismantle the cell. It was a daunting prospect, but at least it would occupy my time.

“And central ops?”

“I don’t know.”

“Don’t know?”

Again, that whip crack and agonised scream.

“Where?”

“I don’t know.”

I put my hand on my companion’s shoulder to stop him from asking again, and stepped forward. “How big is Talon Company? How many people.”

“I don’t know. Thousands.”

My companion scoffed. “For a commander, you don’t seem to know much.”

“I follow… orders. That’s all.”

“Whose orders?” I asked.

“I don’t know.”

Barnes sighed from behind me. “This is a waste of time. He can’t tell us anything.”

“You’re right; let’s end this farce. Jabsco, in two days hence, you will be tried and sentenced. Until then, Steel be with you.”

It was abrupt end to an abrupt interview, but it was far from the end for the Talon commander. As we emerged back into the light of the corridor, the torturer recommenced his work and Jabsco’s screams began to rend the air once more.

Two days later, as promised, those members of the Brotherhood present in the Citadel gathered in the courtyard for a trial that could only be considered a farce. A Scribe spent ten minutes reading out a list of crimes that ranged from murder and manslaughter, to perjury and treason, after which Elder Lyons stepped forward and pronounced death.

Minutes later, the guns of the firing squad rang out and Jabsco fell, a pool of blood forming immediately around his limp body. He was then dragged away, the crowd following, to be dangled from one of the steel girders that surrounded the Citadel, “as a message to all lawbreakers that their transgressions will not be tolerated”, in the words of Elder Lyons.

Afterwards, the crowd dispersed, the Brotherhood soldiers returning to their regular duties, but I remained, watching the mutilated corpse swing in the faint breeze, thinking.

“What’s on your mind, Wanderer?” Lieutenant Lyons had approached without my noticing.

I sighed. “This wasn’t justice, Natasha. You had no proof that he committed any of the crimes that he was accused of.”

“We had an admission of guilt; that’s better.”

My brow furrowed. “What? I was there when that admission was torn from him. He admitted that he was the leader of Talon Company in the D.C. region. Nothing more.”

“You still have much to learn, Wanderer. That is one of the ways of the Waste: the leader of a band—be they mercenaries, raiders, or bandits—acts as proxy for the whole group. We know the things that Talon Company has done, and responsibility for those actions lay on the shoulders of Jabsco. The individual mercenaries will, of course, be punished in due course, but Jabsco’s execution is notice that the Brotherhood will no longer permit the actions of Talon Company.”

I thought about this. “Well… at least your ideas are right.”

“Are you criticising us?”

I shrugged. “It’s not my place to criticise. After I leave tomorrow, I’m going to need every scrap of the Brotherhood’s help I can get, so I won’t say anything against it.”

“We’re not monsters, you know, though we may seem it to you. Having grown up in a Vault, you’re the child of a more civilised space. We’re just products of our environment, Valken.”

“I know,” I replied, but I left further thoughts unvoiced, ‘and so are the Super Mutants, and the Enclave, and Talon Company. Ugliness and brutality are the hallmarks of this world, but they lend it a beauty all of its own and I’d rather be here than back in 101.’

The following day, I took leave of all those people with whom I had become friends over the months at both the Citadel and Project Purity. I’ve been back a few times since then, most recently a little under a year ago, but the scientists have made little progress in getting the purifier working. You might think that I gave up helping when I turned my back on the Project, but that’s not true. Every time I’ve come across a Vault in the past five years, I’ve plumbed its depths, searching for a G.E.C.K., and come up empty-handed. I’m beginning to think that it’s nothing more than a myth, even though I’ve heard stories about it, and seen settlements where greenery thrives and the inhabitants say that the G.E.C.K. caused it. Of course, that hasn’t been my priority.

My mission has gone well. With the assistance of the Brotherhood of Steel, and other local authorities, I’ve managed to dismantle almost a dozen Talon Company cells, gathering more information as I’ve gone along. I started by travelling south, to the wilds of Miami, then as far west as Golden Gate State. Since then, I’ve let rumours and information guide me, which has led me back almost to my starting point. My last few weeks have been spent in Baltimore, as it’s here that I’ve heard the main base of Talon Company is located.

I’ve been gathering intelligence and support, and tomorrow we attack. For the first time, I’m scared that we’re not prepared enough, and I guess that’s why I’ve been writing down my story. If anyone ever finds and reads this journal of mine, I want them to know that I existed and that I tried to make my life matter. Maybe, if I fail tomorrow, you are reading will take it unto yourself to finish my job, but I seek neither to request or suggest that you do. I only ask that you, like me, try to do something with your life.

Captain Olney is calling me for a last-minute war council, so I’d better leave off here. Maybe, if I get the chance I’ll write again and tell all the stories that I haven’t been able to tell here: the part I played in the dispute between the settlers and sentient plants in Miami, how and why I caused Nuclear York’s reactor to go critical, and how I ended the Alcatraz Island Vault experiment. Those are stories that will be told if I survive.

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.

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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