Man, it’s been a while, hasn’t it. Let’s go ahead and correct that.
So, last time on Aether and the Falling Outs, Athena killed some people for money. And this was a good things. Let’s see if we can keep that momentum going, shall we?
Also, Butch, master of the Far Go Traders, asked us to investigate why his caravans are going missing. We suspect a completely unproven urban legend that all the sensible people we know think is completely bonkers. That one chatty woman that buys our corpse-lootings suggested we check with a couple of people on the east side of town for more info, so let’s do that.
The east side of town… not the best. There is a conspicuous lack of police presence in these parts. And the Hub is the biggest population center in this section of the wasteland. Which means it has a lot of crime, and outside of Decker, a lot of them are hanging out here. Case in point, this building. Full of guys. Bad guys. Specifically, bad guys who are both stronger and more numerous than we are right now, and who will immediately attempt to kill us if we indulge out natural player curiosity and attempt to look at everything in the game. This building will be important for us later on, but it’s a little too much for us to handle right now. So lets leave it alone for a bit, shall we?
Instead, we head south a bit, and talk to this guy. Uh, sorta.
He’s what they used to call ‘touched by the gods’. Has an alternate view of the world. He suggests we go inside. Talk to Harold. This next guy.
This guy. He is important. You won’t know this now. But you might have seen him if you’ve played later games in the series. He, or at least some person pretending to be him (Fallout Tactics is a weird one) has been in every single Fallout game released between this one and Fallout 3.
He also has a tree growing out of his head. You can’t really tell from this model, but later games make it more explicit. He does talk about it here, though. The tree’s name is Bob. Sometimes, Harold calls him Herbert as a joke. It’s very funny.
Yeah, Harold’s a weird one.
And he’s not in good position here. Lives in the slums. Begs for spare change for a living. And we need some information on the Deathclaw. Athena drops him $25 as a camaraderie-building measure.
Before we get into the Deathclaw stuff, let’s have a chat. Harold’s got a bit of a story to tell, and we get into it. Obviously, he’s a little different. Just look at him. Those who have played later games may think they know what species he is. But they’re wrong. He’s a mutant, as he says himself. And others, in the Hub, turned off by his appearance. To the point that he can’t hold down a job on his home, hence why he begs for money now.
It wasn’t always that way though. He used to be a vault dweller himself. In fact, he was alive before the great war. Got himself at least a good century on him.
His vault was one of the first to open. Ours is still locked up, that was quite progressive. So he made it out to the wastes after the bombs dropped, quickly became an accomplished trader himself. Moved supplies between suppliers, made quite a profit doing it. However, it was dangerous business. And eventually, mutants started picking off his staff and caravans. Sounds pretty similar to what we’re looking into now, actually.
He and a friend of his, Richard Grey, mounted up an expedition to the military base the mutants were operating out of. Remember that name, it will be important later. In any case, going through the base, Harold and Grey were the only ones to make it to the end. Grey got knocked into a vat of chemicals, Harold passed out and woke up outside the base looking like he does now. Doesn’t really know what happened.
After that, he couldn’t face the wasteland any more, so he settled down in the main commerce center where everyone around hates him. Sounds like the big cities alright. He’s not going to leave though, because this is his home.
And he knows about Deathclaws. Says, contrary to popular belief, they are very real. And also contrary to popular belief that they are half-death, half-claw, all death, they are more like a ‘damn big man’. A damn big man with skin like steel and strong enough to punch through concrete and totally deadly and fearsome and probably going to kill us, but just a damn big man nonetheless.
Harold also suggests it might be weak to bullets to the eyes. Who would have guessed? I’m glad we picked up on this super secret and non-obvious weakness, because I never would have thought of it myself.
Following that, we talk to Slappy, the loony man outside again. Slappy goes to the Deathclaw’s lair every once in a while just to watch it like a zoo critter, and now that we’ve talked to Harold, is happy to to take us there to check it out, too. We agree to go on a sightseeing trip with him, and we’re off!
To a large empty cave. There’s a few broken shells of seemingly large eggs about, but otherwise, nothing of note. At least, not until we reach the end of it, where we see a great, hulking beast of some sort lurking next to the prone body of a gigantic man.
Athena tries to use the darkness inside the cave to stealthily close the distance between her and the Deathclaw, but the beast notices her first, and starts stalking towards her.
Well, I guess it’s time to kill a legend. Athena fires off a quick shot, doing minimal amounts of damage, then puts a bit more distance between her and the beast. Dogmeat closes in but doesn’t get close enough to bite, while Tycho pumps a few shells into the Deathclaw, matching Athena in her small amounts of damage. The Deathclaw’s tough.
Luckily, so is Athena. The beast gets within distance, and jabs her claws into our heroine. Athena’s metal armor holds, and she only takes a few points of damage from it. This does end with the Deathclaw at point blank range, which Athena takes advantage of. Remembering Harold’s advice to aim for the eyes, Athena points her weapon at the Deathclaw’s face, notes the 91% chance of hitting it, and squeezes the trigger.
And misses her entirely. Dandy. She backs away. Can’t move fast enough to keep the Deathclaw from hitting her, but she can at least buy some time and minimize the amount of attacks she’ll be taking each turn.
Dogmeat and Tycho continue attacking the Deathclaw, who completely ignores them, focusing solely in on Athena. Dogmeat’s doing about six damage a turn. Tycho’s doing around eight. Athena’s averaged four damage over her two turns. Thanks to the awareness perk you guys chose for her a while back, Athena can tell the Deathclaw has 225 hp. This is going to take a while.
I would say that, but the next shot Athena takes nails the Deathclaw right in the eye, and staggers her with a critical hit taking off a quarter of her maximum life.
The good news is that the Deathclaw, as long at its targeting Athena, isn’t doing that much damage. This is definitely a dangerous enemy, and if Athena had any lesser armor, she’d be in really trouble. But there’s only one, and her impact is small enough that Athena is able to keep pace with healing. She does have to get a bit less mobile, taking more time to dive into her backpack and pump a few stimpacks every couple of turns, but she’s not going to be in danger unless the Deathclaw gets a critical hit or she runs out of stims.
Now that Athena’s hitting the Deathclaw in the eyes, she’s doing the most damage out of the group, around 20 a shot, but it’s still a long process. They’re mostly whittling the creature’s health down. If the Deathclaw went after Dogmeat or Tycho, we’d be in real trouble, but Athena’s got defense strong enough to stand up to it. At one point in the fight, Athena does get a little more wounded than I’m comfortable with, so rather than pressing the attack, she breaks off, and spends her entire turn healing. The Deathclaw follows and punches her in the face. Athena twists around, gets her weapon ready…
And blows half of the Deathclaw clean off. She scores a critical hit with her final attack, and does about four times the Deathclaw’s remaining HP. Brutal.
There’s no sign of any of the missing caravans in here. The only thing other than the Deathclaw and the giant eggshells is this giant man at the end. Who seems to still be alive. Athena hurries over to him.
The guy, the mutant, is pretty far gone. Barely coherent. He hands Athena a holodisk by way of explanation, says he came form the northwest and was hunting for ‘primes’, then calls out for his father and passes on.
Athena loads up the holodisk into her Pipboy. Turns out the Deathclaw wasn’t behind the caravans going missing after all. It was this mutant, and those working with him. The Deathclaw had just been an innocent murder-machine whose paths had happened to cross with the mutants.
Armed with this information, Athena steals the mutant’s radio because he’s a jerk, and heads back to Butch and the Far Go traders.
Butch is skeptical of Athena’s story at first, but for whatever reason believes her more when she says she kills the Deathclaw. Says he’ll have to talk with the other merchants about the mutants, then kind of drifts off and stops talking to her. Without paying her for her work! Hey!
His assistant has a bit more sense. Again doesn’t believe her story at first, but he has a machine that can read holodisks. He copies the data off the one she got from the mutant, sees she’s telling the truth, and not only pays her but drops her a bonus to boot. Capitalism ho!
We head back to the rough side of town. Got some more things to explore, there. First up, we talk to Jake. Jake is a high end weapons dealer. Has some stuff that are really high quality, at a really high price. And in spite of the fact that he sets up shop in the lawless part of town and gives the people there things with which to kill each other, he’s a really stand up guy. He and Athena chat for a bit.
He fills her in on his background, he used to be part of a union that got wiped out by mutants, and he also fills her in on some of the dangers she may be facing out in the wastes. Such as radiation. Which is a problem. But, there’s a drug dealer next door, who sells some anti-rad medicine along with his less healthy offerings. Jake says that he’ll work with us if we tell him Jake sent us. You remember that guy that tried to shake us down for a connection in front of the Maltese Falcon? My man Jake just gave us one for free. Good guy.
Jake and Athena do a bit of minor business, following. Jake’s got a lot of things I want. We’ve reached the peak as far as damage output for small guns go, but he’s offering a sniper rifle that tops Athena’s current weapon for range, that I could see being very handy in some of our upcoming situations. He’s also offering the next step up in armor, which I want more than most anything else. However, his prices for both are through the roof. Athena’s actually really wealthy by now, apparently agreeing to take on dirty deeds then turning people into the police without actually doing them is a very lucrative market. But she didn’t get wealthy by spending more money than she needs to, and I’ve got a plan for that cash. She starts building her stock of stimpacks back up, but that’s about all she does.
Next door, we talk to the drug dealer. Dude decides immediately upon talking to her that Athena’s cool, and opens up to do business. She passed a speech check here, we didn’t even need that reference. Athena picks up some anti-radiation medicine from him. The most wholesome of stuff he’s offering. We’ll need that later.
Then, we go into a completely random building. Seems to be an old, bombed out workshop, currently home to a bunch of skags. There’s a stairway leading down, there. Down the stairway is a locked door. Interesting.
To break kayfabe a bit here, this is the start of quest that’s geared for stealthy characters. Unlike most quests in this game, there’s only one way to complete this one, and it requires skills that Athena doesn’t have. I’m not holding out hope for this. But, our Athena’s not the type to let other people tell her what she can’t do. And she’s curious about the locked door.
She has a set of lockpicks, picked up from I don’t even remember where. She pulls those out, and starts working the lock. It takes her a few times, but she does manage to get it open. Well, I’ll be.
She doesn’t notice the bomb under the floorboards, and sets it off. She takes the hit pretty well, but Dogmeat doesn’t. She has to spend a couple of stimpacks getting him back to health. The Awareness perk is useful for telling when your team is hurt, just as much as it is for telling how your enemies are doing.
Then she goes to the next door. It takes her even longer than the first one, but she manages to pick the lock on this, too. Only to see another locked door at the end of the room. This is basically a hallway, nothing but bombs and locked doors down it. Somebody doesn’t want us getting to what’s at the end.
Dogmeat sets of the next bomb. Good job, Dogmeat. But he’s got enough health now that he’s not in danger. Athena walks up to the third door and jimmies it open on her second try. I’ve got to say, I’m stunned. With her lockpicking skills, I thought for sure one of these was going to jam and we’d be forever barred from this quest. Athena’s surprising even me.
She walks into the next room. The people in there welcome her to the Circle, and tell her to go talk to Loxley. Uh, after eating two bombs and illegally entering through three doors, this is not the reception I expected.
Loxley is this gent with a fake English accent. I know that’s not coming through screenshots, but just imagine it all with a bit of tosh-tosh off the top or whatever and you’ll get the picture.
He’s impressed that we managed to get through the hallway. And then gets very angry and shouty that we made it there. Athena knows how this business goes, and tells him that she’s here to join the Circle. What circle? The Circle of Thieves. And getting through the hallway was the first initiation test.
Loxley’s got a bit of a job for her, if she wants it. Remember Darren Hightower, the merchant Decker wanted killed? He has a very valuable necklace. Other people want this very valuable necklace, too. We’re going to liberate it. Of course, they’re thieves, not assassins, so we need to leave Darren alive when we’re done.
Also, Loxley informs us that if we go to the police, they’ll be a whisper by the time we make it down here again. I guess he’s heard about what happened to Gizmo and Decker. There goes plan A.
What do y’all think for Plan B? What fits with Athena’s moral code? Should we go through with this job, rob from the rich to give to herself? Or is Athena gonna keep herself on the right side of the law that only sorta exists anymore?
Next time: This is all your guys’ fault.