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In the world of Chronicles of the Wasteland

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Ongoing 2015 Words

Chapter 1

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October 23, 2077

 Aubrey hummed quietly along to the radio as she listened to Nate rehearse his speech in the mirror as he washed up for the morning.  She could hear Codsworth bustling about in the kitchen and Shaun was babbling like only babies do in the next room.  She let a smile cross her face as she joined Nate in the bathroom just as he finished the speech. "You're gonna knock 'em dead at the Veteran's Hall tonight, hun." 

"You think?"  Nate glanced back at her and smiled before returning his gaze to the mirror.

"Definitely." She suppressed a giggle as Nate attempted to tame his mop of hair into something resembling professional, failing miserably, then giving up and letting it flop back down on his forehead.  Shaking her head a little, she tapped him on the shoulder.  "Hey, my turn, big guy." 

Nate smiled and obediently stepped out of her way, watching with barely suppressed awe as she quickly transformed from a 'I just woke up and need 10 tons of coffee" look into "I'm a lawyer and I will screw up your day to no end if you cross me" with a few brushes of eyeliner and some ruby lipstick.  Just as she was about to pull her hair into a ponytail, Nate took her wrists.  "Hey…leave it down.  It suits you…"  

Aubrey arched an eyebrow, but slowly lowered her hands, leaving the hair tie on her wrist.  "Fine…" She sighed playfully.  "But just this once.  Don't get used to it."

Nate chuckled and Aubrey stepped away from the mirror, kissing his cheek.  "I'll be in the kitchen."  She said, stepping out of the bathroom and walking, peeking briefly into Shaun's room, then heading down the short hallway.  

"Ah, good morning Mum!  Your coffee, 183 degrees Fahrenheit, brewed to perfection!  And today's newspaper, just delivered."  

Aubrey smiled.  "Good morning, Codsworth."  She accepted the cup of coffee and took a sip, smiling happily.  She glanced at the newspaper and frowned.  "More of the same." She muttered, moving to the couch and sitting down, only half-listening to the news reports on the TV. 

Just as she sat down, a shrill cry sounded from the back of the house.  "Ah, it seems someone's made a stinky.  I shall attend to young Shaun."  Codsworth stated, floating down the hallway.   

"I know we were nervous at first, but I'm glad we got Codsworth," Nate said as he appeared behind her, rubbing her shoulders.  

Aubrey smiled up at her husband as he came around the couch and joined her properly.  She was just about to snuggle into him when the doorbell rang.  Nate sighed.  "It's that salesman again.  I don't know why he keeps bothering you."   
Aubrey gave her own sigh as she stood up, going to the door and opening it.   
"Good morning!  Vault-Tec calling."  A man in a trench coat and fedora stood there, complete with the cheesy smile and clipboard.

Aubrey forced her own smile.  "Good morning." 

"Isn't it?  Just look at the sky…"  The man cleared his throat.  "You don't know how happy I am to finally speak with you.  I've been trying for days.  It's a matter of utmost urgency." 

Aubrey suppressed the urge to roll her eyes.  "I'm here now."

"So you are…so you are.  Now I know you're a busy woman, so I won't take up too much of your time.  I’m here to tell you that, because of your family's service to our country, you have been pre-selected for entrance into the local Vault.  Vault 111."  He held up his hands and spread them out as if showcasing a sign.  

"Uh, sounds…great."  She glanced back at her husband, who was engrossed in the sports report on the TV and suppressed another sigh. "Wait." She cut off the salesman, as he was about to say something.  "I have a family. You have room for all of us, right?"

"Of course!  Minus your robot, naturally." The representative cleared his throat again.  "Now, you've already been cleared for entrance, it's just a matter of verifying some information.  Don't want there to be any problems in the event of….ahem….total nuclear annihilation."  He gave a nervous chuckle and held out the clipboard.

"The apocalypse?  Well, hell, sign me up."  Aubrey deadpanned and took the clipboard, filling in names, dates of birth, and the results of the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. test she and Nate had been required to take, him for the Army, and her for the Navy.  It took her all of a few minutes to complete the forms. "Here you go." She said. 

"Wonderful, wonderful.  I'll just…walk this over to the Vault…Congratulations on being prepared for the future!"  He called as he walked off. 

"Uh...thanks again?"  She called back, shutting the door. 

"Hey, it's peace of mind." Nate said as she once again sat on the couch next to him.

"For you and Shaun, no price is too high."  She murmured.

"Mhm.  Good answer. That's why I married you; you're so smart." 

Aubrey snorted.  "I have my moments."

Another cry from Shaun had both parents looking back as Codsworth floated back into the great room.  "Miss Aubrey.  Shaun has been changed, but he absolutely refuses to calm down.  I think he needs some of that 'maternal affection' you seem to be so good at." 

Nate chuckled as Aubrey once again stood up.  "Go on honey, I'll be there in a few minutes to help."  She nodded and went to her son's room, peering over the side of the crib and reaching down to tickle the baby boy's stomach.  "Hey cutie.  You giving Codsworth trouble, huh?"

Shaun only giggled in response.

"There's my boy, on his best behavior, just like his dad." Nate smiled, closing the door behind him and joining his wife.  "Well…most of the time anyway.  Hey I fixed that mobile on his crib the other day, give it a spin."

Aubrey chuckled and gently spun the mobile, grinning as Shaun babbled and cooed at it.

"Hey listen, I was thinking maybe we could go to the park this afternoon.  Weather should hold up."

Aubrey arched an eyebrow and leaned against the wall, crossing her arms in mock indignation.  "Right, the park.  With you.  Because I want to get pregnant…AGAIN." 

Nate smiled and grabbed her around the waist, getting ready to pull her into a kiss, when Codsworth suddenly called from the living room.  "Sir! Mum!  You should come and see this!"

Nate pulled away and looked at the door.  "Codsworth? What's wrong?"

"I'll go check." Aubrey said, opening the door and walking quickly out to the living room where the robo-butler hovered by the television.  Aubrey's eyes widened as she listened to the broadcast.

"We've received word of bright flashes…explosions…" 

"Wait, what?  What did he say?"  Nate came out and stood beside her, Shaun in his arms. 

"We're trying to get c-confirmation from our sister stations…That….We have confirmed reports of n-nuclear detonations in New York and Pennsylvania…My God…."   The screen went dark and sirens sounded from outside.

"My God.…" Nate whispered, still staring in shock at the TV. 

Aubrey pushed herself to action.  "We need to get to the Vault!  NOW!"  

Nate nodded, reality returning to him.  "I've got Shaun!  Let's go!"  He bolted for the door, throwing it open.

"Codsworth,"  Aubrey turned to him, biting her lip.  "Stay safe, honey."

"And your family as well, Mum. Oh, my….."

Aubrey nodded and ran, tapping Nate on the shoulder as they sprinted down the street and over the little footbridge, passing neighbors and children too preoccupied with baggage to recognize that time was not on their side. As they neared the gate at the top of the hill that contained the Vault, Aubrey paled.  Soldiers in Power Armor, holding miniguns of all things, were stopping people from getting in.  

"That's absurd!  I AM Vault-Tec!"  The representative from earlier pleaded with the guard.

"You're not on the list.  You don't get in!"

"I'm going in there, you can't stop me!"  Two soldiers spun up their miniguns and Aubrey almost stepped in front of him, but the man had already fled, screaming that he'd 'report this'.  Aubrey couldn't help but wonder to whom, even as she stepped up.

"We need to get in!  We're on the list."  She spoke firmly, schooling her features into the mask she normally saved for the court room.

"Infant, adult male, adult female.  Okay, go ahead." The guard spoke as he stepped aside.

"Thank you!"  Nate shouted as they jogged through the gate, Aubrey trying not to vomit as people screamed behind her.  

"YOU TWO, FOLLOW ME!"  A man in a blue Vault suit beckoned them and jogged off.  Aubrey and Nate followed as fast as they could.  She could hear Shaun half-crying and bit her lip.

"What about all those people back there!" Nate shouted.

"We're doing everything we can, now keep moving!"  Somehow Aubrey didn't think that was true.

They sprinted to the Vault entrance.  A gigantic platform with the number 111 emblazoned on it in bright yellow lettering.  "Step on the platform, in the center! GO!"

Nate reached it first, and Aubrey gripped his free arm as she joined him.  "We made it!  Is Shaun okay?"

"He's fine.… I love you!"

THUD-OOM.

A monstrous sound, like a thousand thunderclaps all at once came from the south.  Aubrey shielded her eyes but caught a glimpse of the cloud.  A mushroom cloud.  "Oh God!  Hold on!"  She screamed along with the others on the platform.  Nate tucked Shaun as close as he could to his body and aimed his back to the explosion.  Aubrey closed her eyes shut, vaguely aware of the platform starting to descend, more focused on the shockwave she had seen was coming their way.  She buried her face in Nate's shoulder as the wave skimmed overtop of them, sentencing all those above ground to certain death.

 

The family clung to each other as the elevator continued all the way down and jolted to a stop several minutes later.

"Alright, alright, everyone, listen up.  Everything's going to be okay.  Just go up these stairs and through the door there.  Welcome to Vault 111, your new home underground!"

Nate straightened up.  "We made it.  We're okay…"  He mumbled.  Aubrey released the breath she didn't realize she'd been holding, knees quivering as she sucked in lungfuls of air.  With his free hand, Nate touched her shoulder, guiding her off the platform and to the stairs.  She was handed a blue suit and directed to change in a small room off to the side.  She did, on autopilot, placing the civilian clothes in the basket provided and rejoining her husband, clad in a similar suit, and son as a doctor led them to a hallway filled with strange looking pods.   
She suddenly snapped back to reality, realizing the doctor was speaking to her.  "Just step in here, and we'll be good to go soon enough."

Shaun suddenly let out a proper cry, and Nate soothed him.  "Honey, c-could you help me real fast?" He asked, rocking the boy gently.

Aubrey stepped over to him and kissed Shaun's forehead.  "Who's my little guy, huh?  It's alright, I'll just be over there…" Her voice seemed to soothe the infant as Nate rocked him. 

"All set?" The doctor asked.  "Just step inside the pod, ma'am, sir."

Aubrey bit her lip, a feeling of unease settling over her as the door to the pod closed.  Nate waved to her from inside his pod, making Shaun wave to her as well.

"These pods with depressurize and decontaminate you before we head deeper into the Vault." The doctor spoke, muffled from the heavy steel of the door.  

"Time for a whole new life."  Aubrey whispered to herself as the computer started speaking to her 

[Occupant Vitals: Normal.  Procedure complete in Five… Four…Three…] 
Aubrey shivered as a blast of cold hit her, and her eyelids started to droop. 

[Two…] 

Her fingers and toes started going numb, and she fought to stay awake, but suddenly found that she couldn't move. 

[One] 

The last thing Aubrey remembered was her world turning white. 


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