"I hope your trip went well, Charley," Connie said, "because we're going to need those defenses you've been talking about. We've got problems."
"I can see that," I admitted. "Any idea who those shooters were?"
She nodded slowly. "I'm almost certain those are the Rust Devils. They're a raider gang that operates out of the old army base a ways south of here. We never really had much trouble with them before, but your run-in with them is the second time we've seen them scouting around in the last few days."
"What are they after?"
"Some of it's probably just looking for new turf. After you cleaned out Concord, all the gangs are shifting... picking up unclaimed ground and also testing each other to see if they can make a land grab. But with the Devils... I think they're looking to find out where all your technology is coming from. They have a thing for robots, and I bet they want to get their hands on your Workshop."
Well, that threw a wrench in my designs for Concord. I was going to have to take the defenses at the farm more seriously. I was also probably going to have to start thinking about building up better defenses for the vault entrance. Just more proof that nothing's ever easy, right?
I talked with Connie, and eventually also Blake and Lucy, about the threat from the Rust Devils and we decided on a plan to improve the protection around their farm. The next day, I made my way back to Sanctuary and had a similar talk with Preston. He'd heard of the Rust Devils before, and he confirmed they had a strong presence at Joint Base Hagen. He also confirmed that we didn't have the strength we needed yet to challenge them directly. He'd keep training his new recruits, but he told me I should finish building up the defenses at the farm, then look to securing the Diner, too. The last thing we'd want (and the Donahue sisters confirmed this emphatically) would be for our supply lines to get cut off. No supplies would mean no more building - we just didn't have an adequate local source of concrete and glass.
So I headed back to the farm with a good chunk of the Sanctuary population in tow. It took a week, but we hadn't forgotten the lessons we learned while we were fortifying Sanctuary and we managed to build up a solid defensive wall around the Abernathy fort and their surrounding farms. We decided, for the time being at least, to not extend the wall all the way down to Sudbury Road - while this would leave future settlers somewhat more vulnerable, Preston wanted to maintain the opportunity to build defenses to his own needs when he eventually put in the forward operating base for his people.
Those people were coming along well in their training. While Preston asked to keep the bulk of them back at Sanctuary to continue preparing for the operation to take over the quarry, he allowed several who had a background with farming to travel down to the Abernathy fort. They'd be doing double duty, on one hand protecting the area and on the other providing much-needed farm labor to get the most out of Blake's farm plots.
Almost right away, we ran into some challenges - basically, while walls are easy to make out of concrete and steel, living quarters and farm improvements require a broader range of materials. Those same materials were already under some pressure back at Sanctuary - things like fertilizer, cut wood, insulation, you name it. Fortunately, Preston's new farmhands didn't waste much time in sorting out the issue. All it took was a trip to Ridge, from which they returned with a borrowed ASAM sensor, and soon they'd set up small shack for sorting and stockpiling building materials.
Once the wall went up, we didn't have any further sightings of the Rust Devils. However, I was pretty confident they were still keeping an eye on us, trying to figure out our weaknesses and look for a way to exploit them. I sent word back to Sanctuary to see if Tracey had finished up with her sentry gun based on Preston's laser musket, but unfortunately that was one project that was still unfinished. The next supply shipment did have some more of the kits for the shotgun turrets at least, and I got to work installing them near the entrances.
After I wrapped up that project, I started to try and sort out how I'd run power to the guns, and as I was getting ready to ponder that I noticed something interesting - Winter was wearing one of the green Abernathy Farm vault suits. She chuckled when I asked her about it, then admitted that she'd decided to stay on here permanently. Winter explained to me that as much as she liked Sanctuary, she felt cooped up every time she went back there. The farm just had a lot more open space, and she felt like we were building up something new here instead of just rebuilding the old neighborhood.
At first I wasn't sure how I felt about that, but after some consideration I realized that it wasn't my place to tell her no. Winter had, after all, made a huge contribution to the start of our community - and while recent days had seen us with less free time than we'd had before I also appreciated her companionship. I asked her to consider joining me in Concord when we completed our takeover, but other than that I told her I supported her decision, and that I was happy the Abernathy family had a good advisor like her at their disposal.
After a few false starts, I worked out a plan to get power to the sentry guns. I'd installed the atomic battery high up on the fort in a spot that I thought would be fairly hard for someone to shoot and disable. From there, I fabricated the skeleton of the radio tower we'd built for Ridge, and used it as a connector to loop a long transmission line down to the outer wall. From there, I ran conduit along the inside edge of the wall and piped power to the sentry guns. At the same time, I installed and powered a few spotlights at the main gate.
After testing the system to make sure it was working properly, I declared victory and decided to turn in for the night. Inside the farm, I found that Winter and Lucy had more or less the same idea, and we shared a meal before turning in to bed. I knew there was a lot more that I could do there, especially in terms of building up the upper-level apartment that I'd promised the Abernathy family, but I was starting to grow concerned that I was letting too much time pass on my plan to take over the Drumlin Diner. Reluctantly, I told my friends that I'd be moving out in the morning, heading back to Sanctuary to gear up for the next mission.
Edited by gregaaz