Part 3: The last to fall were the buildings, distant and solemn...
Previous: Part 2: In streams of light I clearly saw...
Having been crafted in a factory, immediately boxed, and not unboxed until safely ensconced in Vault 111, I cannot speak to how the world looked before the bombs. For all I know, it was always a desolate landscape filled with rundown buildings and populated with hostile people bent on taking whatever they want from whoever they want in whatever way they want. We are close to New York City, after all. For that matter, from what little I've heard of certain bits of the old world, the new world may in fact be a substantial improvement. At least the raiders are honest in their homicidal rage and don't hide behind a facade of friendship.
Clara, on the other hand, seems quite downcast when we emerge from the vault. Frankly, I'm just glad to get out into the open air, even though the place does look pretty grim, but she gasps and moans like she's giving birth for just a moment. Apparently this place is quite different from what she expected.
She doesn't let it bother her for long, though. She immediately whips into action, scrounging nearby crates for valuables, and picking random flowers and plants, not stopping to consider the possibility that they may be toxic to the touch. Well, she's not too bright, as I have already stated, but she must be pretty damn lucky, considering how everything's turned out so far. I mean, sure, hubby died and sonny was kidnapped, but she survived nuclear war, two hundred years of frostbite, a homicidal bald man, and here she's just grasped some unknown brightly-colored vegetation with her bare hands and she gets away without even a so much as a light rash. Maybe she can roll sixes until doomsday (discounting the fact that doomsday has already come), but luck is a fickle thing, and I feel that she'd better start thinking before she acts if she wants to survive this hellscape. Not that she listens to my advice or anything, mostly because I have no mouth with which to offer said advice. But I'm thinking it really hard at her. Who knows, maybe she'll pick up my thoughts by osmosis.
At any rate, she wanders into the ruins of an old town, kills a couple more giant cockroaches, hacks into some guy's terminal, disarms a bomb, and picks the lock on a safe to get at the goodies inside. I take it back, maybe she can survive on luck alone. It's not just anyone who can open a safe's combination lock by idly poking at it with a bobby pin.
Further exploration of the town reveals a mobile tin can called Codsworth hovering along, pruning the dead shrubbery for some reason. Apparently Clara knows this robot, and walks up to it, ignoring the fact that it is possessed of a razor-sharp... razor blade... and may or may not be malfunctioning. Again with the luck, though, because it's okay, the robot is a friendly sort of thing, although a little mentally off-kilter. The first thing he (I'm going to call it 'he' from now on) says is "as I live and breathe" which is technically wrong on both counts, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now. "It's really you?" Well, could be. Or it could be someone who looks just like her and has the same voice and knows him by name, but is actually an impostor. You decide, kids!
Codsworth asks where hubby is, and she responds "he's in a better place," which Codsworth seems to think is a terrible thing to say. I don't know, buddy, why is being in a better place somehow a terrible thing? Worse than this dirty, rusty ruin of a ghost town? Don't tell me you understand the religious connotations of "better place" and yet are still mawkishly clueless about current events. Oh, yeah, by the way, the insane robot still thinks it's 2077. Asking to play checkers or charades, thinking that infant Shaun is somehow cognizant of the game, much less appreciative of it, talking about arranging a playdate... I'm not sure if he's playing some sort of mind game or if he's really that barmy.
Finally, Clara does seem to recognize that Codsworth may have a screw or ten loose, and asks him if everything's all right. He breaks down and admits that it's all been a sham, and at that point I'd yank out the pistol and preemptively defend myself against his inevitable insane attack, but Clara seems less interested in personal safety. As usual. Codsworth hands her a holotape, which she accepts without questioning its authenticity. I swear, if she doesn't start thinking of her own survival she's going to end up in a ditch somewhere.
Codsworth and Clara wander the town for a bit, killing giant mutated flies that honestly look far too large to hover on those itty-bitty wings, but who am I to judge, I'm a sentient piece of fabric. Shaun doesn't magically turn up in the two houses they investigate, so he must not be here in the whole town after all, right? Codsworth points Clara in the direction of Concord, suggesting that maybe someone there might be of service. Yeah, I have a feeling she's going to be shunted from place to place, each one saying "go on to the next area, someone there can help you" like we're in some horrible office building trying to search for just the right person to submit paperwork to.
Clara doesn't seem to care, though. Off we go, down the road, over the miraculously intact bridge, past a vignette of the aftermath of mortal combat between a dog and a man, and what's that there? A gas station, and they're offering a special deal - one free dog with every fill-up. Great, another actor has been added to our little drama. I'm not even going to complain that after just seeing the aftermath of a mutually-homicidal fight between canine and human she still runs right up to the dog. Spoiler alert: it turns out okay.
Codsworth. There's something screwy with that bucket of sprockets. Like a well-oiled machine that's gotten sand in the gears, something periodically goes "boing" inside, leading to unexpected behavior. I'm going to keep my eye on that thing, and be ready to run. Or I would anyway, if I had eyes or legs.
Image: Here you see some of the brightest and most diverse colors in the whole Commonwealth. Feast your eyes on the impressive pale marigold and baby blue, for this intense visual stimulation will ne'er be seen again!
Have a question or comment for Vault Suit? We have known each other many years, but this is the first time you've come to Vault Suit for counsel or for help. Vault Suit can't remember the last time you invited Vault Suit to your house for a cup of coffee, even though Vault Suit's wife is godmother to your only child. But let's be frank here. You never wanted Vault Suit's friendship. And you feared to be in Vault Suit's debt.