As I came down off the ladder and looked around at the pipe systems that led to the outflow, I sighed. It was unfortunately true, what I’d told him. Since I’d left the Vault I’d gotten quite used to getting dirty, and I’d gotten used to pulling myself through debris that, back in the Vault, would have left me feeling quite revolted. The metro tunnels under the ruins of the city were the worst. Dank, rotted and damp, with a horrifying smell, and it was frankly best to not use a light as much as possible. That way you didn’t have the urge to look down when you stepped in something squishy. This pipe, at least, was nominally dry. There were a few old bones of some critters that had perhaps gotten stuck in here, and elsewhere I could hear the scuttling sounds of what were probably roaches, but I had definitely seen worse so far in my wanderings. I clicked on the light of my readius, and made my way forward, down the pipe and into the ducts of the Memorial.
Daniel Agincourt, one of the engineers, had downloaded the ductwork schematics into my readius, and by those directions I made my way into the depths of the waterflow systems. Past a few unlatchable grates it cleared out, and it was quite dry, so I was able to make good progress forward. But the pipe was small in places, and I had to move mostly at a crouch, so it took some time. It was getting quite dark by the time I finally made it to the outflow pipe in question, and found what I was looking for. This part of the pipe was much wider -- I could stand up again -- and it was open to the sky, just a mishmash of grating on the topside part of the pipe. A large amount of debris had apparently fallen through over the years, and accumulated at the grating by the bend of the pipe, triggering an automatic stop of the water flow at some point in the past. I was glad I had gloves. I pulled it all up, a bit at a time, and as much of it as could fit I pushed back through the grating, letting it fall down to the ground below. Finally, when it was all clear, I tackled the knob to turn on the flow. It had rusted over the years, and I had to throw all of my weight into it to make it move, but finally it ground open, and with a thud and rusty screech, I heard the ductwork open below me, and the sounds of water starting to flow again.
But the sound of the water was shortly drowned out by a noise that I didn’t recognize, coming from outside: a great, whirring, rushing noise, and then I saw lights, coming from some distance above. I shut off my readius light just as the lights broke the surface of the platform above, and I saw two vehicles that I had until now only seen once before, in the back pages of an old book in the Vault. Vertibirds -- flying machines. They whirred down to the platform, and immediately started to disgorge soldiers from their bellies. A large number of soldiers, almost all of them in power armor similar to that of the Brotherhood, but small differences in cut and shape of the helmets and shoulders. They were followed by a tall, stern-looking man in a tan coat, who bore himself very straightly, arrogance clearly visible even from where I hid in the pipe. Who were these people, and what were they doing here? Dad had not told me about any more guests, and so many soldiers, I would have thought that he would have let me know they were coming. I got the feeling that these new arrivals were entirely unexpected. Then I grimaced, as belatedly I realized that my rifle and smg were tucked away in one of the basement rooms in the Memorial. All I had was my pistol, and it hadn’t had ammo in it for weeks -- I just kept it there so people could see it, and maybe think twice before trying anything.
Well, nothing was going to get resolved just by sitting here. As quietly as possible, I made my way downwards, to where the pipe connected back to the facility itself, in the basement. I would find out what was going on, and do what I could to help my father.
The Forgotten Past, Chapter Two: The Loss Of Purity
Page One: Hope Springs Eternal Part 1
Page Two: Hope Springs Eternal Part 2
Page Three: The Meeting Of Minds
Page Four: The Waters Of Life Part 1
Part Five: The Waters Of Life Part 2
Page Six: Unexpected Guests
Page Seven: A Shot From the Dark
The complete story, unedited, can be found as downloads in the optional files here: http://www.fallout3nexus.com/downloads/file.php?id=16864
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