When the bombs fell, he was only four years old. But, he remembers seeing the bright orange mushroom cloud and the smoke curl over the ground right as he was descending down the vault’s elevator, hand clutching tightly at his mother’s. He starting crying, not only because it was loud and scary, but because his house and everything in it was obliterated. The animals he loved at the zoo the day before would die. The city he knew would be gone, and he would probably forget what the sky looked like.
For a week, the vault would tremor as the nuclear war didn’t seem to end. All the hurt, death, destruction, mixed with broken hearts and bones stayed in place until the silence of death swept across what would be nothing but a wasteland. The overseer loved the term ‘wasteland’, alone with ‘the wastes’, ‘new Sternbild’, and ‘the new commonwealth’.
“Mr. Overseer, do you think people are alive out there?”
“Will Sternbild be rebuilt?”
“Are the stages still there?”
It didn’t matter how many questions the children asked: the answer was always a firm and faux apologetic ‘no’. The former mayor wouldn’t waste his time trying to explain the scientific and political mumbo jumbo to a bunch of grade schoolers who haven’t earned their Pip-Boy 3000’s yet. He’d wait until they were older, at least before they’ve taken their generalized occupational aptitude test at the tail end of all the education Vault 31. He’d tell them the truth, enough to scare them into never leaving, and assigning them jobs to keep the vault running.
It didn’t scare three vault dwellers though, along with two of their creations that took Sternbild by storm: a Mr. Handy (a robotic butler/maid) who went by ‘Oswald’ and a protectron (an armed robot) named ‘Davy’. They were adults; unimpressionable and scientists who built the robots themselves. They were convinced that their robotic genius and work could change the wasteland as far as anyone knew it, that people were out there needing their help. The overseer thought otherwise, banning them from leaving. But, that didn’t stop them.
The scientists were the first ones who signed up with Vault-Tec Corporation. Emily Brooks with her husband Barnaby and a colleague named Albert Maverick. Sirens blared, shots were fired by security trying to stop them- and in the middle of it all, Barnaby and Emily made time to feverishly kiss their only son goodbye and not promise their return. Maverick could only spare him a goodbye thrown over his shoulder as he disappeared down a hallway with a pistol in hand. Samantha, the scienceless godmother, was the only one who tearfully stayed behind.
There were people who didn’t even know the true destruction of the nuclear bombs, who didn’t even know the radio broadcasts that told of the rogue scientists that escaped the paradise of the vault, who didn’t even know that the Sternbild was a wasteland barely being rebuilt. Not that they were lied to about the wasteland- they were lied to about their survival itself. Cryostasis right as the nuclear war started was still in a testing phase which made it illegal to use. But, with the date of the bombs being earlier than expected, the people panicked.
Especially since Oriental Town was the first place to be bombed before the battle took over the city. It was mainly because it was a nowheresville, a place of cow shit and long, summer days. It’s a place that would provide the least amount of casualties, but close enough to Sternbild herself to invoke a reaction.
The people begged Sternbild’s City Heroes for help, but they never responded. Feeling abandoned, the first vault that was ever built resided on the edge of town. Vault-tec took over once the hole was dug through. No one would know what it held until the time came that people ran for their lives, grabbing whatever was important in their heist to safety.
Once frozen, most perished after a half century. Others with a little more fight in them ended up kicking the bucket after the second century. The last three- two men and a young girl were still frozen and still alive. They were here way before the war, but paranoia and war propaganda convinced Oriental Town into paying for Vault-Tec’s protection. That is, even if it meant that their methods of protection was made ambiguous other than the people’s assumptions.
Maybe the kid took too much after his parents, and maybe the widow on ice couldn’t sit back and watch nothing be done.
Just give them two more decades- then it’d be the start of something big.
They’ll turn the whole damn state of New York upside down.
In Sternbild’s Fallout.