Fallout 4 fanfiction: “Cold, Cruel World”

This is part of a series based on my first playthrough of Fallout 4. These stories don’t include the entire quest of the Sole Survivor but are a collection of significant moments in my role-playing, headcanon and backstory.

In this one, Fiona finds Mary Abernathy’s locket, decides to be a Minuteman, and hooks up with Sturges. It also includes some of the reasons she stopped using Preston as a traveling companion.

I really did try to have Preston as a companion in the beginning of the game. He would often sit there and do nothing when shit hit the fan, and he couldn’t hit the broadside of a Red Rocket with his laser musket. I don’t know if he’s programmed that way, but I decided he had PTSD and that’s why I started using other companions instead.

Language, gun violence, romance.

2,200 words

Cold, Cruel World

Fiona went with Preston to a nearby settlement for bullets and seeds but returned with some terrible news.

“Raiders attacked Abernathy farm,” Preston told Sturges when they got back to Sanctuary Hills. “Robbed them and killed their daughter Mary.”

“That’s a damn shame.” Sturges shook his head. “A damn shame.”

Fiona had thawed out in a cold, cruel world. “Why? Why would they do that?” She paced the carport that had become Sturges’ workshop.

“Because they’re raiders,” said Preston, with an impatient edge to his voice. “Scum like that prey on the hardworking people of the Commonwealth. The Abernathys needed the Minutemen.”

“Better make sure we’re ready if those raiders head our way.” Sturges put out his hand. “Lemme see your gun.”

She gave him her 10mm. He inspected and cleaned it at the workbench while they talked.

“The Abernathy’s should move here,” said Fiona. “There’s plenty of room.”

“Is there room for everyone in the Commonwealth?” Preston asked and then answered himself. “No, we need to help people defend their homes. The only way to do that is to rebuild the Minutemen, and that means showing people that they can count on us when they need us. Will you help?” Preston looked at her.

“Help you do what?”

“Find those murderers and Mary’s locket. Bring her family a little justice.”

The justice she knew involved due process, a court, law and order. Those things didn’t exist any more.

“I believe in justice but I’m no Minuteman.”

“There’s a dead deathclaw and some dead raiders in Lexington that say different.” Preston tugged on the lapels of his colonial style duster. “You might not have a uniform but you came to our defense at a minute’s notice.”

“Who’s going to look for my son if something happens to me?”

Preston and Sturges exchanged glances. They didn’t think she’d find Shaun alive, if she found him at all. She refused to give up hope. Hope was all she had.

“And what if something happens to you because we don’t deal with the raiders?” said Preston.

Images played in her mind, like a movie reel she couldn’t turn off, of the scarred man who killed her husband and took their son. Gunners killed Jun and Marcy’s son. Raiders killed Blake and Connie’s daughter. Too many children gone, too many families torn apart.

She realized she had more than hope. She had hope and fury.

“Fine. I’ll go. But we’re taking Dogmeat and the Cryolator.”

Fiona picked up the strange weapon from Vault 111.

“Remember to aim a little high,” said Sturges. He’d improved and tested the weapon on a wild mongrel sniffing too close to the settlement. Froze the animal to death. There were only a few dozen cryo cells and he hadn’t figured out how to make more, but she wanted any advantage she could get.

They still had the ridiculously-named “minigun” from the crashed vertibird in Concord. Nothing “mini” about it, the military had used the huge Gatling-style weapon during the war and it was almost impossible to heft without power armor. The T-45 suit from the roof of the museum had just enough juice to move to Sturges’ workshop but wouldn’t get far without another fusion core. So the minigun would have to stay behind.

“According to Blake Abernathy, the raiders came from a satellite station,” said Preston.

“There’s one to the east, not far from here,” she said. “Or at least there used to be, a couple centuries ago. That might be it.”

“We’ll check it out. Grab what you need and meet me across the bridge.” Preston rushed off to update Mama Murphy.

She gathered ammo and the few stimpaks they had. Sturges handed back her gun.

“Be careful, alright?”

She holstered the weapon. “I will.”

“Ever since Quincy, I don’t think Preston’s been sleeping much. If a body can’t sleep, it can’t think straight. Don’t let him get you killed.”

“I don’t plan on it.” Fiona rubbed a dark smear of something off his stubbled chin. “Grease monkey.”

He smiled. “Popsicle.”

They’d slept in the same bed the night before, held each other, nothing more. She put her hands on his shoulders.

Carpe diem, right, Nate? Seize the day. Or…

“Carpe homo habilis.” Seize the handyman. She laughed at her own joke.

“What’s that?”

“Nothing, just the language of a useless education. Kiss me.”

“You sure about that?”


Sturges wrapped his hands around her waist. He moved slow and careful, just the way he’d fix a generator or clean a gun, not in a rush but doing the job right. It felt good to be held close, to feel his mouth on hers. He smelled like gun oil and sweat.

Fiona recalled Nate’s frozen hand, the one she held when she removed his wedding ring, and pushed the thought from her mind. That wasn’t the way he would want to be remembered.

* * *

She walked with Preston and Dogmeat through the eerie ruins of her old life. They followed the edge of the lake without hearing a single bird, voice, radio or car, just the sound of their boots in the dirt. He acted like he had a patrol of Minutemen behind him, confident as a security guard in a parking garage with his shoulders back and his two-way radio clipped to his shoulder.

Fiona followed, pistol drawn and neck swiveling like a deranged owl scanning for signs of movement. Without power armor, she only had road leathers and a few bits of metal to protect her, so she wanted to be quiet and careful.

They climbed the rocky hill at the end of the lake and crouched behind some brush. She could see the huge satellite dish and a crashed military vertibird nearby.

Preston looked through the scope of his laser musket. “There’s two guards and a dog.”

“Are you sure they’re raiders? I don’t want to shoot innocent people.”

“They’re raiders alright. I’ve seen enough of them to know.”

“And not Gunners?”

The tone of his voice changed. “Seen enough of those, too.”

Fiona touched his arm in a small gesture of comfort and Preston flinched.

She removed her hand. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“No, it’s okay. I’m just… tense, I guess.”

Fiona heard shouts and gunfire. Preston raised his musket and peered through the scope again.

“Looks like they’re fighting … molerats.”

She’d met a few of those at the Red Rocket fuel station where she found Dogmeat. They were big, hairless rodents with a mean streak.

She saw a flash and heard an explosion. “What was that?”

“I don’t know. Maybe they have molotovs?”

“Oh, Jesus H. Christ. C’mon.”

Preston and Dogmeat followed her, keeping the trees between them and the distracted raiders. She crouched behind cover, aimed the 10mm, fired several shots and reloaded while Dogmeat dealt with the last of the molerats. Silence fell as the sun dropped below the horizon.

Preston kneeled beside her. “See? You did great.”

She wiped her sweaty hands on her pants. “Don’t start handing out medals, we still need to get inside.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

While he searched the exterior, she checked to make sure the raiders were dead. They dressed like the assholes in Concord, but with burlap hoods covering their heads, and smelled like a sewer.

Preston found a door into the facility and they headed down a ramp covered in debris and filth. Dogmeat whimpered and she rubbed his neck for reassurance as they inched forward. Then she saw a glint of red light and grabbed the tail of Preston’s coat.

“Don’t move,” she ordered in a whisper.

He backed away from the laser tripwire at his feet. “Thanks. That was close.”

He crouched and fiddled with something on the wall. Her heart leaped in her chest when she heard a click and the red light disappeared. She held her breath for a couple seconds and only exhaled when she didn’t hear an alarm, get blown to bits, or see any raiders running toward them.

“They’re easy enough to disarm so long as you see them before you set them off. Probably connected to this.” He pointed to a device in the ceiling.

They entered a room with some broken filing cabinets, a desk and a working computer. Preston approached a metal security door.

“Could be something useful in there.”

She spoke in a whisper and wished Preston would, too. “If it was useful, wouldn’t the raiders be using it already?”

“Only if they could get in. We should try the terminal.”

“Or we might just do what we came to do, before we get ourselves killed.”

She gestured to three windows, without glass, through which they could see catwalks suspended above a large command center. They crouched and crept forward. Peeking over the windowsill, she counted three raiders.

From the hallway to the left she heard a barking dog.

“Shit.” She raised her pistol as Dogmeat ran to intercept the other animal.

A raider rounded the corner, gun drawn. He spotted them and shouted, “Oh, hell, no!”

Fiona aimed at his chest and fired twice. The raider fell.

“They know we’re here now.” She shot into the main room. The raiders shot back. Preston just sat there. “Preston! A little help?”

“Right. I’m on it.” He cranked his laser musket and fired a wild beam of red light that hit a filing cabinet.

She heard shouts from the hall to the right and darted over to take a look. More raiders at the bottom of the stairs.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

Dogmeat ran past her and jumped down the steps, snarling as he locked his teeth around the arm of a guy wearing little more than stained long johns and duct tape. She used her Pip-Boy’s targeting system, emptied a clip and ducked back behind the wall to reload. Preston continued shooting and she wondered if he hit anyone at all because they were still shooting back.

She heard the fierce patter of a rapid-fire weapon and Dogmeat yelped. Poking her head out again, she saw a woman awkwardly toting a minigun toward the stairs.

Must have got it from the crashed bird outside, same way I got one in Concord.

Fiona holstered the pistol, swung the Cryolator off her back and pelted the pig-tailed asshole with ice crystals. The minigun’s spray of bullets chipped the walls in bursts of plaster around her and hit Fiona’s right leg like a jackhammer. She retreated behind the edge of the wall and blood pooled at her feet.

This is not where I die!

Her head spun. Fiona clenched her jaw, yanked a stimpak out of the pouch at her belt and slammed the needle into her thigh. The pain eased, replaced by a kind of tingling feeling, similar to the fizz of carbonation in a Nuka Cola. Her head cleared.

The raider was frozen for the moment but not dead, struggling to move but still swearing at her. Fiona switched to her 10mm and unloaded as she limped down the stairs.

The minigun hit the ground with a heavy, metallic crash.

“That’s for Mary Abernathy, you piece of shit.”

She used a stimpak on Dogmeat, who ran off to help Preston while she wiped her bloody hands on the raider’s coat.

They searched the facility and found Mary’s locket, a fusion core, and a few stimpaks. Fiona took an army helmet off the skeleton of a long-dead sergeant and put it on. They loaded up their packs with weapons, ammo, food, and anything else they thought they could use, and hauled it back to Sanctuary Hills.

Preston gushed the whole way about her shooting skills, the tripwire she spotted, the key she found to unlock the storage room, and the future of the Minutemen.

Fiona said nothing until they reached the settlement. She promised Preston they would take the locket to Abernathy Farm in the morning, dropped her loot in the middle of Sturges’ workshop and went straight to the bathroom, where she washed away the blood with water and tears.

She didn’t cry for the killing. Killing got easier every time. It was either her or them, and it sure as hell wasn’t going to be her, that’s all there was to that. She didn’t cry for the pain. The stimpak took care of that and her limp was already gone.

She cried for the death of the person she used to be and the world that was gone forever. Who was she now? Who would she have to become to survive, to find Shaun and kill the bastard who took her husband’s life?

Not just a lawyer anymore but judge, jury and executioner. A fighter, like Nate.

A Minuteman.

The tears came harder and faster, until the shower tank ran out of water. She was wet, naked and shivering, and she didn’t care. Everywhere in the wasteland desperation stood bare, why should she be any different?

When Sturges wrapped a blanket around her, Fiona kissed him. He was solid and warm and she kissed him all the way to the bedroom, where he shrugged off the straps of his overalls and pulled his t-shirt over his head. He was broad and muscular like Nate, but he made love gentle and quiet, and not like Nate at all.

* * *

~ J.L. Hilton

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