Last time, on Aether cruises through Fallout, we… I don’t even remember. Something about going home again. You can read it. We’re not concerned about past. We only look towards the future. And the future, for us, is the Hub.
We embark from Vault 13 and make the long trip south. A long way. It takes a couple of days to reach it. We only know where the Hub is because of Ian; he told us where to find it, a while ago. It’s about half a day south of Junktown, and since we went back to the beginning to visit the Vault, we have to travel everything we’ve done all over again.
The only real obstacle we run into on the way there is a single Radscorpion. Which by this point is not an obstacle at all. I only include it to commemorate the fact that it manages to poison Athena. It’s true! It manages to get the drop on us, and the only attack it makes before Athena and crew blow it away manages to both get past Athena’s defenses and actually poison her! This is exciting! I rarely ever see this happen! Entire games will go by, and I don’t have to think about poison. Of course, we’re carrying around 10 antidotes because I haven’t bothered selling them off yet, so it’s no matter for us to cure it, but still! It’s like winning the lottery. Of discomfort. Yeah. We don’t even loot the scorpion’s corpse, we just leave it there as a monument to this unique moment.
Oh, and also, it’s been 50 days since we left the Vault, I think. Our Pipboy gives us a helpful reminder that everyone we’ve ever known and loved will soon die unless we find some way to rescue them by tracking down a lonely little water chip in this awful, awful wasteland. You know, in case we forgot.
Which we didn’t, for your information.
And then, we’re at the Hub! The thriving metropolis, largest city in the Pacific Wasteland, headquarters of nearly all organized traders in the wastes. They control the economy of the region, most commerce flows through here at some point, and this is the closest thing the wasteland has to a pre-war style city.
We walk in there, and it’s surrounded by farms. Two headed cows and weird mutated corn as far as the eye can see. I gotta say, I really love that Fallout thought about agriculture. Most games only give it a passing sidequest where you have to save the odd bumpkin from some ghost of his daughter’s uncle or some thing, but you see agriculture all over the place here.
We also bump into a caravan that’s in the process of leaving town, hitching their wagons made from the scavenged flatbeds of pre-war vehicles up to their brahmin, the two-headed cows that serve as the livestock out here. We chat up the security guard, and get some deets on the place. Apparently, we can buy pretty much anything here. Including water. You know, if they can get fresh water here, mayhaps they’d have an idea of where we can pick up a water chip.
After that we break into some random guy’s house in the middle of the night and start quizzing him about the layout of town. He’s a surprisingly good sport about it. He tells us were to find all the necessities in town, such as the police station, the general store, and most important of all, the local bar. He also tells us that we passed by someone from the sheriff’s office who would have filled us in on all that, but we didn’t because it’s 10:00 p.m. And all the sensible people are in bed and not breaking and entering in order to ask for directions.
Athena’s a night person, remember. You guys all picked it and everything. This is what she do.
Athena heads towards the city center. A couple of things to do here. If Ian were here, he’d be our guide to the Hub, explaining every place we went into in his charmingly snarky manner 😦
First thing we do when we’re downtown is check out one of the caravan companies. There’s a couple of them scattered around, and they’ve all got the same thing on offer. Jobs. For one of Athena’s proclivities, any one of them would be happy to have us as a caravan guard. If we were willing to commit a couple of weeks of in-game time to make the trip there and back, we could earn a decent living. Each company has a different rate of pay, different routes they take, and in some cases, different rates of running into dangerous encounters. The specific company we’re talking to, the Crimson Caravans, actively seek out the most dangerous routes, because they like the thrill of it, but they pay the best of all the companies
We’ve got around 100 days left to find the water chip before our Vault runs dry. Athena doesn’t know this, but that’s plenty of time. Even so, we don’t really need the caps right now, so we pass on the offer.
We head south a bit more through the downtown district. Outside of the neon lights of the local bar, we get stopped by a rather sketchy fellow. Says he can tell Athena’s a woman with needs. And see, he knows a guy, specializes in filling some needs. Athena tells him that her needs are mostly for information, and not for whatever he’s got running through his veins. He offers to tell her what he knows about water chips for a price. They barter for a while, and Athena ends up forking over 400 caps.
He doesn’t give us much that we don’t already know. Says to look around the Vaults, which, yeah, duh. He doesn’t know where any are, which would really be worth the money, but does say that there are four around here. Which sort of helps. He still got the better end of the deal.
He still tries to get Athena to buy into the info on the twitch dealer, and offers to get her an audience for 1000 caps. Athena counteroffers that maybe he should put a word in on her behalf for free, and flexes her muscles. Sketchy here backs off, and says if Athena tries to push it, no deal at all.
That’s the second speech check Athena’s failed. Either I need to pump up her speech skill or I need to pump up her muscles.
Across the street, there’s a pair of toughs having a bit of a conversation on the nuances of the particularly messy parts of what they do for a living. They make note of Athena trying to join in, but otherwise ignore her. Athena heads inside the building they’re guarding.
Inside is Lorenzo. A money lender. Between the two thugs outside discussing the ethics of a clean kill vs. smearing people and the 10% daily interest (!) you can guess what type of money lender he is. But at least he’s up front about it. I’ve got to respect that. Athena tries to pump him for info, but he refuses. Doesn’t deal in info he says. Only cash. They part ways.
We head across the street again into the Maltese Falcon, the local bar/casino. The Vault’s big on clean living, you see. Athena’s got a whole world on the other side to learn. She heads up to the bar, and orders herself a drink. She surveys the nightlife for a short while. Before long, she catches the eye of a tall, dark, and gruff gentleman in the corner of the room. He gives her a quick smile, then starts weaving his way through the crowd towards her. With a glint in his eye and a welcoming smile on his face, he puts on his suavest voice and tells her his name is Kain and he’d like to buy her…
time for a certain job his boss has. Kind of an odd pickup line. See, Athena’s reputation has preceded her here. Specifically, the Gizmo job, back in Junktown. See, in the wastes, somebody who would fight for the common good is so rare, people have been assuming she took down Gizmo because she was a murderer for hire in Killian’s employ rather than because Gizmo was scum and Athena was following every letter of the law in keeping him from hurting anyone else. Athena’s a little repulsed by this implication, but she’s been through this game before. Just like Gizmo, let them dig their own hole, than take it to somebody who can do something about it. Or maybe this would be a job that’s actually worth doing. She asks Kain for more details. He doesn’t want to talk about it anywhere there’s ears, and instead takes her downstairs to meet with his boss.
Decker. Pleasant fellow. Head of the organized crime outfit, the Underground, that stretches all through the Hub. There’s a merchant in the Hub, Darren Hightower, who hasn’t been playing well with the Underground. Decker would like him removed. In the most direct way possible. He offers a total of 3000 caps for the job, which is almost as much as Athena’s carrying right now. 500 up front, even.
Athena heads back north a bit, and goes into the General Store. A bit of buying and selling occurs. We sell off a bunch of our extra guns, armor, what not that we’ve been taking off of the fools we kill. In return, we pick up a few stimpaks, some anti-radiation medicine and a rope that we’ll be needing in a while, and a bunch of books and magazines that will boost some of our skills.
Then, we head off the beaten path a bit, and enter a line of buildings that have been collapsed since the war. In there, we find Irwin, a homeless man. He wasn’t always homeless. He used to have a farm just outside the Hub, where he lived with apparently his beloved donkey. Raiders came and took it from him. Took everything from him. Even his donkey. That’s why he’s homeless on the streets of the Hub now.
Now we can help Irwin. That is possible. This is kind of an out of nowhere quest, but it has a one of the best rewards of all the quests in Fallout, and will serve us well nearly all game. But… well, when you reach the Hub, the combat missions take a step up in difficulty. Our foes are going to be getting stronger and better equipped, we’re going to start seeing more monsters, and even the basic enemies will be coming at us in greater numbers. The mission to help Irwin in particular is really tough. The way it’s set up, it is easy to get overwhelmed. It’s the only mission in the game that has a minimum level requirement, and we are barely over it. Even at that, it’s a really good idea to gain a few extra levels before you start thinking of taking it on. On top of that, with Ian dead so early on, where actually down a bit in strength from where the game expects us to be at this point, so I think we’re going to politely decline and come back to it later when we’ve gotten a bit
What’s that? Athena decided to take them on anyways because there’s a person who needs help and she is hardcore? I can live with that.
So Irwin takes our crew to his farm. It all looks peaceful. Not much out here other than a few tranquil cornfields and the sunbleached corpse of Pugsley, Irwin’s donkey. We scout around a bit, and see nothing. Slowly, confidently, we enter the house.
There, all hell breaks loose. Like I was alluding to earlier, this is one of the toughest quests we have available to us at this stage of the game. Especially without Ian to help us keep things under control, I’m not positive we’ll be able to clear this with all of our members surviving. As soon as we enter the building, Athena and the first raider in sight trade shots, and all of a sudden, we find ourselves surrounded.
The raiders in here are higher level than most anything else we’ve fought, although not outrageously so. Their equipment is not that great. Only two of them have any guns heavy enough to do real damage, and the rest have decent, but not great, equipment. Their armor is all entry level. Individually, they’re not a threat. Three on three? This would be cake.
The problem is all in the numbers. We are fighting seven of these guys, in very enclosed spaces. Athena draws all the early heat, and after the first round, she already has to break out the stimpaks to recover. Second and third rounds, she’s basically a turret. She’s got enough AP to fire her gun once and then open her backpack and pop a few stims. She can’t move to a better position. She can’t target body parts and run interference. She is barely keeping up with the damage. If she stops firing, we may as well throw this battle away because we won’t be able to keep up. If she stops healing, the seven of them will quickly put her away. And slowly, as the battle settles in, the raiders start setting their sights on more than just her. She’s still taking most of the heat, but two of the raiders start focusing their attention on the lesser armored Tycho. And he takes enough damage that he has to flee from the melee and spend a turn healing. We haven’t even killed a single one of them yet, and already we’re getting ready to tap out.
Our only saving grace comes with the raider with the biggest gun accidentally hitting one of his own instead of Athena. That turns out to be the first death in the fight, and it doesn’t come from any of our crew. It leaves an opening in the line currently separating our party.
And through that opening comes Dogmeat. The hound blitzes towards where the raiders have Tycho cornered, kills one of them and knocks down the other. One of the raiders surrounding Athena breaks off to engage Tycho, and Athena starts getting the break she needs to aim her shots. She starts pulling for people’s heads, which gives her a better chance at critical hits, and with some luck, kills all the raiders meleeing her over the next couple rounds.
Tycho and Dogmeat clean up the raiders in the other side of the room pretty handily, leaving just the two with the biggest guns. Athena scores a critical hit on the more dangerous one, knocking him to the floor. Dogmeat then moves in and rips him apart. The lone survivor decides discretion is the better part of valor, and flees. Tycho is having none of it, and blows him away.
We won. We saved Irwin. More importantly, we all survived, in a mission that almost saw us die. I’d say that’s a pretty successful day.
We loot the corpses. Getting mostly stuff we’ll sell later, then a few stimpacks. Then we leave the farm, and make our way back to the Hub.
On our way to tell Irwin the good news, we come across a food stall. Bob’s Iguana Bits. That may sound familiar to you. That would be the ‘Iguana man Bob’ that Doc Morbid was selling human meat to. We may want to do something about it.
Before worrying about that, though we check in with Irwin. Let him know we killed all the raiders. He is very grateful, so much so that he gives us the only thing of value he has left in life; a crappy, broken rifle.
Oh, wait a second…
For helping Irwin, he gave us the .223 Pistol. It’s a hunting rifle with the stock and barrel sawn off. This is one of the few one-of-a-kind weapons in Fallout. It is Deckard’s gun from Blade Runner. In Fallout New Vegas, it made a return as That Gun.
This is the best all-purpose small gun in the game. Hunting rifles may be better for range, and we’ll get a burst-fire shotgun later in the game that’ll be good for clearing out the room in a pinch, but for most of the rest of the game, we’ll have this little baby in hand. Stronger and shoots farther than most any other gun we’ll get. It only holds a few shots, so we’ll need to reload often, but other than that, this weapon has very little weaknesses.
After that little adventure, I think Athena needs a little break, don’t you? She sits down in a corner and reads her books. While doing, that, she also ponders. What should she do about Decker? 3000 caps is a lot of money, and given that she was paid 500 up front, she might be honor-bound to see it through. But she’s not one for dirty work. Maybe she wants to make the wasteland a better place. She could do what she did with Gizmo, and take this to the authorities.
And then, what about Iguana Bob? He’s selling human meat as food. What should she do about him? Taking him to the police is not an option for reasons that make such complete and total sense that she doesn’t even have to bother explaining them, and are certainly not because Athena is a character in a game that was not completely finished. She could just leave him be. Or she could take the opportunity to blackmail him, taking a payday to stay quiet. Or, she could take the wildcard option and show you all why I was so excited to find a burlap sack.
What do you all think? We’ve got two options for Decker’s quest, and we’ve got three for Iguana Bob. Let me know which one you’d like to see in the comments below.
Next time: For great justice.