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Concord Hymn (Charley's Story, Chapter 41)


gregaaz

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In the end, taking over Concord was an anticlimax. A week had passed since we seized the quarry, and our outposts did their job well: they intercepted several raider groups of different sizes, all making their way towards the city. I'm told that nowadays the historians call it Operation Concord Hymn and make it sound like a well-oiled military operation, but the reality is we just walked in and set up shop. True, Preston and his folks had to go through some of the buildings to clear out feral Ghouls and check for any raider holdouts, but there wasn't any sort of epic battle.

 

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Why 'Concord Hymn', you ask? It's the inscription on the statue near the North Bridge. It goes like this:

 

By rude bridge that arched the flood

Their flags to April's breeze unfurled

Here once the embattled farmers stood

And fired the shot heard round the world

 

Well, that battered old bridge was certainly rude, and we raised the flag over the town hall on April 3rd, 2288. Yes, a good number of the party that I took with me were farmers, but the shots? Not quite heard around the world. There would be shots yet to come that would ring out louder and carry farther. Still, I recognized the way the history rhymed, just a little, with what we did that day. I pointed it out to Preston as we made the walk, and I think that's where the myth of Operation Concord Hymn was born.

 

It was a beautiful sunny day, and while the city clearly needed a huge amount of work I could already see the potential for this place to truly spring back to life. At first, I wanted to raise the flag over the Museum of Freedom, but Preston stopped me. He had his own idea, and as he explained it I found myself nodding my head in agreement.

 

"The old Minutemen died in that museum, Charley," he explained. "If you hadn't saved us, that would have been the end. And by the time we finished the walk to Sanctuary, I wasn't in charge anymore. You were. I don't want history to remember that place as where the Minutemen died. I want history to remember it as where the Minutemen came back to life. I want to turn the Museum of Freedom into Minuteman HQ."

 

"I like it," I said. "That building has everything you'd need to make it a military headquarters... and I agree with you about the symbolism. Alright... what about the building at the other end of the street?"

 

"Concord Savings and Loan? It's worth a shot. Depends a lot on the condition the building's in." 

 

What happened next was probably the closest thing to what you could call a 'battle' in Concord. We pushed in the door and found ourselves face to face with a bunch of raiders who were trying to cut into the bank vault with an oxyacetylene torch. Me and Preston went in shooting, followed by several of his 'not quite Minutemen', and the battle was over in a matter of minutes. The raiders had come prepared to deal with feral Ghouls, not with an organized squad of shooters.

 

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Once the shooting stopped, we moved through the whole building to make sure it was secure. While the lobby was still in good condition, the rest of the building was falling apart and it was going to take a lot of work to fix it. We did, however, find woman that it seemed the raiders had tied up, and we took a moment to question her. She'd been living in one of the nearby buildings and had the bad luck to be scavenging in the bank when the raiders piled in. They thought she might know the combination to the vault, and beat her mercilessly until they were satisfied she was telling the truth when she said she had no idea. 

 

After a few more questions about the area and what to look out for, I sent her outside to the moving party. I explained to her that we were taking over Concord, and that she was welcome to stay as long as she helped out and obeyed the law. After she left, I chuckled at the words that had come out of my mouth. The Sanctuary gang's talk about 'the law' had evidently fully slithered into my brain and replaced 'the rules.' 

 

The other matter to deal with was the raider with the oxy torch. It turned out she was barely wounded, and had just played dead as soon as the shooting started. 

 

"Hey Preston, we've got a little complication. What do you want to do with her?" 

 

The woman watched me - her face was covered with a gas mask, but I like to believe that she was displaying a mix of fear and confusion.

 

"Here, I got just the thing you need." Preston handed me a collar - though not one of the Neural Sentries I was used to seeing.

 

"What's this?" 

 

"Shock collar. Carla sold me a case of them after we got back from the quarry... I figured they'd be helpful if we got more prisoners."

 

"You hear that?" I asked the woman. "Put this on, if you want to live."

 

She hesitated, then acquiesced. While she put on the collar, Preston confiscated her weapon and pulled the mask off her face. She wouldn't meet my eyes, and I could see that she had a faded skull motif in chalk decorating her face. 

 

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"Another cannibal, you think?" I asked Preston.

 

"The, uh, makeup sure looks that way, but we've got the time to question her now. I'll have the team set up a holding cell for her. Come on," he said, the last bit obviously addressing the raider. 

 

They left, and I lingered behind a bit to explore the bank. The symmetry with future Minuteman HQ appealed to me, but above the ground floor the whole structure looked compromised. I needed something that was more intact. 

 

In the end, I settled on a building just down the street from the bank. It looked like it had once been a bank and, like the rest of the city, it was pretty much strewn with trash, but it looked intact and suitable for adaptation. Eventually, I wanted to tear down some of these buildings entirely and replace them with new, more sound structures, but realistically I knew it would be a long time before I reached that point.

 

I made my way up to the roof and, with a bit of help from Tracey, installed the flagpoles, then ran up the colors. I'd like to say I felt happy and triumphant, but instead I felt my gut twist with anxiety. Yes, we'd accomplished huge things in the last six months, but the challenge of Concord just felt... overwhelming. I needed to break up this task into digestible parts, but I had no idea where to start. 

 

As it happened, however, I got a reprieve on that score. One of Preston's folks escorted Callie, the woman I'd rescued from the bank, over to me.

 

"Sorry to bother you, ma'am, but this woman has some important information."

 

"Hey there friend," Callie said, "we're... in some real trouble."

 

"Whoa, slow down," I said. "Who's we, and what's the trouble?"

 

"Ah, when I say 'we' I mean the folks living in these ruins. And the trouble... it's greenskins. Super Mutants. They've been coming in small groups to this area for a couple of weeks now."

 

"That shouldn't be a problem now that we have the outposts set up," I said, "we'll catch them in the open on the road before they get here."

 

"I hope you're right, but if they ever got us by surprise, we'd all be dead. If you're serious about making this into a real town again, we have to do something about them."

 

Maybe it was just the desire to procrastinate on setting up the town hall, but I kept talking with her. I got a good idea of the problem, and I realized that these Supers might well be coming in through the woods and skipping the roads anyway. Otherwise, we'd be stopping them at Drumlin Diner before they got to Concord. Their... what? Tribe? Gang? Anyway, they were operating out of Medford Memorial Hospital. At length, I tracked down Sturges and had him help me suit up. When I was done, Preston offered me a bulky device that seemed to be liberally leaking steam.

 

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"What's that?" I asked him. 

 

"Call it a souvenir from the quarry. Our guys found it when we were clearing out some of the trailers the raiders had set up. It, ah... spits out nails, and it spits them out fast. We tested it on some trees and it blasted them apart. I suspect it'll have a similar effect on Supers."

 

I took a moment to appreciate the weapon. "That's pretty impressive, Preston. Thanks, this'll give me a good edge when I go to take them out. Can you take over getting this place set up while I'm out?"

 

He nodded. "You can count on me, boss."

 

Initially I'd planned on raiding the Supers fast and violent. I remembered how they ones at West Everett had done a pretty good job avoiding a stealthy approach. By the time I arrived, however, the mist that had rolled in over Concord had thickened into pea-soup fog, and with a little care I was able to slip past their pickets and get into the hospital building unopposed.

 

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Once I got inside, however, I could tell that stealth would only get me so far. First, the walls were intact enough that the fog wasn't getting in and second, the area was sufficiently well-lit that I didn't have much in the way of shadows to work with. More to the point, from the sounds I could hear in the background, there were live captives within the building - and I wasn't going to leave them behind. I'd have to kill every mutant in the building. 

 

And killing every mutant in the building was exactly what that spike thrower was suited for. I don't think I could have dealt with the recoil without the power suit, but equipped as I was, I cut a bloody swathe through the Supers. After what felt like an hour, the building was finally quiet and I changed pace to search the building for survivors and important supplies. 

 

All in all, I rescued four prisoners and sent them on their way towards Concord. I also found an armory's worth of ammunition and medical supplies, which I packed up and hauled back to the settlement with me. 

 

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When I finally got back to Concord, dawn was breaking and I could see that Preston and the rest hadn't slacked off while I was gone. They'd made a lot of progress clearing the stretch of Route 62 that ran through downtown, and I could already see several buildings that looked like they had potential for improvement. Revitalizing Concord was going to be an enormous effort, but I felt a little more confident after I saw the progress my people had made.

 

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After spending a little more time inspecting things and getting a feel for the state of the city, I tracked down Callie to tell her about the Super Mutants. I found her in one of the ruined houses, which she'd cleaned up before we arrived and had been using as a base for her scavenging. I was pleased to see that she'd changed into a vault suit already, and I greeted her warmly.

 

"Callie, I've got some good news from Medford," I said.

 

"Then you dealt with the Super Mutants?"

 

I nodded. "Yeah. They're all dead, including a big one who I think was the leader. I don't think they'll be bothering us for a long time. You look good in the vault suit, by the way."

 

She blushed a little at that. "I'm still getting used to the look," Callie admitted, "but at least its comfortable."

 

"So, you've been living here for a while now, or so I gather. Any advice for us?"

 

"Nothing you haven't heard before I think. We need food and water, we need defenses. If this place is going to really take off, you need trade. Just the fundamentals."

 

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I was already working on the food and water part. Now that Route 62 was more or less clear, it was time to get in touch with Abernathy Farm and start food deliveries. Winter was there already, waiting for the word to get started, and the two of us escorted a pack brahmin loaded heavily with food and water into Concord, much to the pleasure of the settlers there. I spent the rest of the day helping Preston set up a bunkhouse on the upper floor of one of the buildings that would serve as temporary housing until we could get proper houses built. 

 

It was still very much a first step, but we had our toehold in Concord. Now we had to cement that grip so we could keep what we'd claimed.

 

 

 

Behind the Scenes

The raider who surrendered in the bank was kind of an unplanned development. The surrendered raiders at the quarry were a huge pain in the neck to deal with, requiring all kinds of console kludge to pose properly, so when she gave up I went ahead and installed Just Business to facilitate the capture. 

 

 

Edited by gregaaz

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