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Ellie didn't, exactly, expect the world to end when she woke up this morning
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It's a sunny October day - Saturday, October 23, 2077, to be exact - and life hums along in the Sanctuary Hills neighborhood of Boston. It's easier to ignore the war here than in many places. Sure, the shelves have been sparse for over a decade, and sure the news is a near constant buzz of atrocity after atrocity, and sure more than a few neighbors have sent their children off to war and received a coffin in return (if anything at all) - but all that's taboo to mention, here. The heady early days of the war when it was all anyone could talk about, when there was still hope for diplomacy - those are long gone, and now everyone would rather reality go with them.

(That doesn't mean no one thinks about it. The Vault-Tec representative has been a common sighting lately, and while it's gauche to mention if you've reserved a spot in Vault 111 in case the worst happens... Well. It's not particularly hard to figure out who will make it in the event of escalation.)

(That doesn't mean life doesn't keep running inexorably onwards. The world has never cared to protect those who ignore it. The end will come, even if the people refuse to look.)

It's just after nine in the morning, and the day is just beginning. 

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Or just about to begin, in some cases. Ellie rolls over to see the clock tick to 9:02, and contemplates getting out of bed. She doesn't especially want to get out of bed because she knows she's out of coffee, so she'd have to run down to the store which is also likely to be out of coffee but not certain to be so according to the precepts of her caffeine addiction she has an obligation to at least check.

Bluh.

 

By quarter past, she's made it to the kitchen table, casually dressed with her hair pulled up in a lazy bun, scrolling through the morning news feed without really paying attention in a bid to put off the time of having to see a real-life person just a little bit long.

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She's in the middle of that scrolling, still, when her Pip-Boy's screen shifts suddenly to an emergency alert - and sirens outside start to blare - 

And radios and feeds across the East Coast declare that residents have twenty minutes to get to shelter. 

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Oh fuck.

 

It's not until she's well more than halfway to Vault 111 that Ellie's brain generates the thought that adrenaline is cheaper than coffee and easier to produce at home. She's saving all her breath for running, but maybe she'll chuckle later. If she lives.

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She seems to have a better developed panic sense than many of her neighbors. 

She also, fortunately, has papers proving she has a space reserved in the vault. Everyone less lucky that her is being fended off by armed guards - fortunately, Ellie also arrives before that particular situation can turn into a riot, given most of the people living nearest the vault do have spaces reserved.

She's shepherded inside, and ordered to go into the decontamination room and follow the health personnels' commands - there's pods set up for people to use.

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Pods are a bit weird, but sure. Don't want any of the nastier covid strains sheltering with them.

Ellie enters her assigned pod.

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There's a hiss, and her vision goes a bit blurry - 

And she feels a bit lightheaded - 

And then her vision goes dark. 

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It is briefly very, very cold.

 


The next thing she knows is that it is getting warmer, and there is a hiss of escaping steam and moving mechanical parts.

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She seems to be in a new area. 

There's only dim light - the moody red of emergency lighting, and at a level that suggests most of the lights have already burned out. The front cover of the pod hisses and moves away from her, revealing a long hallway with identical pods packed tightly along either side. The lights in the hallway are completely dark - the only illumination is coming from a door on the far end from Ellie.

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What in the actual fuck.

No way in hell that was a decontamination pod, obvious in hindsight even if it wasn't with the prospect of nuclear annihilation bearing down upon her. Add this new setup plus the cold and get... cryo-suspension? She thought that tech wasn't ready. Apparently the reservation fee wasn't enough, Vault-Tec needed test subjects. That pisses her off, but on the other hand she's alive to be pissed off, so. Call it a wash because who knows if the legal structures to exact compensation even still exist.

Speaking off, she needs to find out how long it's been. She stretches out some of the frozen stiffness in her body as she walks over to door.

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(Some of the other pods have hissed open, though some only partway. There's slowly thawing frozen bodies - dead - in a few, and dessicated corpses in the rest. Ellie seems to have gotten lucky indeed.)

The door is half open, and there's a control terminal just beyond it. 

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What the shit.

Does the terminal have a comprehensible user interface?

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Yes! It seems to be the exact same one in common use when she went into the Vault, at least. She's seen this layout at her work. 

It's pretty barebones, overall, but at least the terminal boots up when she hits the power button, and even if it's in emergency mode (with sparse green text on a black background), even if a good number of the pixels are dead - it functions.

This appears to be the monitoring terminal, and it gives the date as October 23 - of 2287. The exact time isn't shown - the place it should be is a mess of dead pixels.

The screen otherwise reads:

Welcome to ROBCO Industries (TM) Termlink
Thank you for choosing Vault-Tec!

> Cryogenic Array

> Life Support

> Pod Occupant Status

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Two hundred and ten years. That is. Fucking super. Just. Really great. Yep.

At least she's not late to show up to work on Monday.

'Cryogenic Array' confirms her guess... Probably she should check if there are any others left. She selects 'Pod Occupant Status'.

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...Yeah they seem to all be dead, though her status at least is marked as 'unknown.'

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Not unexpected, still shitty.

Anything of interest in the other two options?

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Both report their status as:

Offline. Premature termination resulting in system failure. Isolated manual and remote overrides detected. Controls disabled.

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Premature termination. Uh huh. Guess the experiment didn't go to plan. Wonder what those overrides are about... the Vault was sealed well enough to survive the bombs, but not well enough to keep intruders out, seems like.

Wonder what the state of the world is.

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Unfortunately, this terminal doesn't have that information.

The monitoring room has another door, though, which is also ajar.

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Maybe if she keeps going through doors, she'll get to the main entrance.

Ellie powers down the terminal and heads for the exit.

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The vault isn't very big inside, at least - and she can't find any food or clean water, but she does find an old stimpack and a gun with ammo (near a skeleton wearing the uniform of the vault's security personnel, surrounded by darker stains than most of the rest of the vault's floor. It's not the only skeleton she finds). (She also finds cockroaches the size of small dogs. Fortunately, they run when she gets too close.)

The vault door is sealed once she finds it - but the manual release is in clear sight.

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That is creepy as fuck and Ellie really fucking hates bugs that are way too fucking big.

She has only cursory knowledge of how to use a gun, but picks it and the stimpack up on the principle of hey might as well, despite how little good they seem to have done their previous owner.

Hopefully the manual release isn't broken, when she tries it. And the weather outside is fit to breathe.

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- It opens! Slowly and with a groan and a squeal of unoiled gears. The outside air smells marginally fresher - though perhaps more bitter - than the vault air, and she doesn't immediately start feeling sick, and there's sunlight falling onto the elevator pad.

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..Which also works, revealing a dead world. The clouds are an angry, rusty brown, and the trees are burnt sticks, and the suburb is - destroyed. There's some ruins, still, especially the rusted metal, though she can't see many details from the distance.

The skyline of Concord and Boston proper beyond it - what little should be visible from this location - look different, too. Patchy, a dull broken smudge on the horizon.

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Fuckin... yeah. She was slightly more than half expecting a glassy patch, so. Not as bad as it could have been?

Still not great.

But even broken buildings can be shelter and shelter means people and people means food, so she starts walking.

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Nothing stirs except the faint shift of wind over debris and dead leaves as she approaches.

The town is... Very destroyed. There's traces of freeze dried and vacuum-sealed food, actually, and a rare bottle of Nuka-Cola in a few of the houses - some of it probably even still technically edible. There's no people, but... The neighborhood is still surrounded by its little stream - since widened into an angry, murky river - and the bridge over it is intact. It'd be defensible, in theory.

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