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The Silver Bullet

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October 22, 2077, day before war. As the Halloween neared, people started to decorate their houses and yards with different decorations. Concord was already full of pumpkins, children planning their tricks and designing their costumes. Sanctuary Hills, as any other military base, had rules for holidays. Limited amount of decorations were allowed and tricks were absolutely forbidden at the area. Even during Christmas time, everything was limited. Strict order and discipline. That was U.S Military for everyone. Not fun allowed.

Muscular woman wearing peaked cap, leather biker jacket and jeans stood front of large, two-storied house. As an ex-soldier, her stance was still straight and steady. Andrea, 31, stared a house at other side of the road with her dark brown eyes and tapped her fingers against her arm, smiling suddenly as she heard her father cursing at the vestibule. 60-years old Air Force General was not really happy about upcoming holiday. He disliked it. One of the reasons why he still lived at the base.

”When you guys are supposed to leave? Game will start soon,” Jonathan Adams asked while checking his watch. Andrea turned and saw him watching her with his tired, ocean blue eyes. She found them mysterious but his subordinates found them frightening. Silver hair and wrinkles gave him more frightening appearance.

”You know them, dad. Nate is always ready, like soldier is supposed to be. Nora, in another hand, is always late which is bad for lawyer and now Shaun with them? It will take forever,” Andrea answered. “Dad, why are at home? It's tradition for you to be somewhere else than here when Halloween comes.”

And there was actually good reason for it even without kids with tricks. Her mother, Natasha, died last Halloween in car accident.

”It's my day off.”

”A day off? You’re having day off?” Andrea laughed but then narrowed her eyes. “Wait, did you crack a joke? What is this?”

”No, it wasn't a joke.”

”You know, there is something common with you and Roger,” Andrea said. “You two never have a day off or whatever it is. You both live and breathe military. Always working.”

”Now you sound like your mother,” Jonathan Adams said, smiling sadly after it. It made Andrea suspicious. He hadn't talked about his wife after her death, not even once. It had been his way to cope with it. Andrea opened her mouth to comment his behavior but sound of honk interrupted her.

”Andy! Are you leaving or not?” Nate shouted while Nora put Shaun to backseat.

”You guys are really taking a baby with you to watch baseball game?” Jonathan asked from his neighbors as he walked next to his daughter.

”Of course. I’m trying to raise Shaun to support Red Soxs, sir. And as you know, upper stands of stadium are sound-dampened.”

”No. Absolutely not. He will be supporting Washington Nationals one day. Right, Andrea?” Lawyer directed her question to Andrea, adding little smirk. Andrea snorted amused.

”Nah, I can move into DC. but there is no way I’m betraying Red Soxs.”

”Speaking like true citizen of Boston. C’mon hun, we will be late,” Nate added, saying last sentence to his wife as this was mirroring herself from wing mirror. Andrea shook her head amused while listening their arguing -playful arguing- but felt Jonathan stopping her by touching her shoulder, feeling strength of his hand. It was funny. He had been out of field decades but had still great amount of strength. Even for his age.

”Be careful, Andrea.”

For some unknown reason she memorized those words. Woman frowned even more after her father kissed her forehead and narrowed her eyes lightly, looking him thoughtfully. This wasn’t anything like him. Was he dying or something?

”Dad... we are going to watch baseball game, we are not returning back to Anchorage,” Andrea stated, still wondering what caused her fathers strange behavior.

”I know, ” he answered, turning his head at his neighbors as old engine of Mitsubishi Galant Sigma roared at the other side of the road. ”Have fun, Bo Peep.

Andrea smiled, though she hated that nickname, and performed forehead salute. “Yes, Sergeant, sir.”

However, she still felt his eyes on her back as she walked towards Nate's car. Knowing something was going on. Jonathan Adams was acting strangely… no, whole goddamn country was on the edge. Conflict going on between biggest nations. Of course military was on the edge. They had declared martial law around the country, cities being literally being now commanded by U.S. Military. Every corner of the city now being filled with checkpoints. Trying to find spies.

No. It wasn’t her problem anymore. She waved at her father before opening car door and sat next to Shaun.

”Huh, whatcha looking buddy, hm?” Andrea asked baby. Shaun stared her for a moment and then giggled. “Oh, you remember your godmother? Good.”

xxxxxx

Nora cried out loudly when Washington Nationals lost their lead. “This is not happening. Did they really come all way from Washington here to lose?” Nate laughed as a respond.

”What is our sore loser whining? There is still game time left,” he answered. “And of course they're here to lose, they're playing at the Fenway Park.”

Nora rolled her eyes and leaned to watch how Andrea and Shaun were doing next to Nate. “You are really good with him,” she stated. Baby chuckled loudly while staring his godmother.

”Shaun is only baby who understands my humor. Hey, your boy is smiling because Red Soxs are winning,” Andrea said but then she heard a loud cheering from Washington National’s fan base and glared score board. “Or not. Traitor.” Andrea moved her eyes back to baby.

xxxxxx

But Shaun had his limits. About fifteen minutes before game was supposed to end, he began to cry. Andrea was surprised how fast Nora was able to tell what was wrong with him as Nora stated he was tired. Maybe it was those mom instincts.

”I’m going to take a little walk with him. I’ll be back soon,” Nora said and put Shaun into pushchairs before kissing Nate. “I’m not going kiss you,” Nora whispered as she noticed Andrea staring her and Nate.

”Too bad. I think Nate would like it,” Andrea whispered back, narrowing her eyes. Nate raised his eyebrows and looked both women confused. Women chuckled at his reaction. After Nora had left, Nate opened his mouth finally, sounding more serious.

”I thought VIP stand would be full of members of town council, politicians, officers or other higher ups?” Andrea hummed agreeing and glanced empty stand. They were there all alone which was new. After all, baseball was popular at the Boston.

”And dad is acting strangely. And I can’t get in touch with Roger. It's driving me crazy. There is something going on...”

”When you last time talked with him?”

”Two weeks ago. Before he went to Mariposa with Colonel Spindel.” Two weeks without hearing a single thing about him. No emails, phone calls, messages... nothing. Maybe that one person truly isolated whole base from the outside world.

”What about your father? Could he help you to get connection with them?” Nate asked and Andrea shook her head as an answer. “Shit.”

Andrea watched people at stadium. Cheering and having fun. “These people… they don’t know how truly close we are another war. Or they don’t want to remember it. Sometimes it sucks to be part of U.S. Army,” Andrea said and run her hand through her black hair. “I hope Roger is okay. I just… wanted to hear his voice.”

”He is fine. He is strong and tough son of bitch,” Nate said, trying to encourage her.

And her mother-in-law was actually kinda bitch. Anti-military Vanessa Maxson had never liked Andrea because she was so called military brat, and -still- didn't like her. Ten generations of Adams family had been in army so she wasn’t best choice for being Mrs. Maxson daughter-in-law.

”Me and your brothers wouldn’t have let you marry him if he were total loser,” Nate continued.

”Always a big brother, huh?” Andrea stated, punching his arm gently. She had already four big brothers, all in Air Force like their father but she ended up into U.S. Army with Nate. Since their childhood, they had been inseparable. Best friends.

”How are you really doing?” Nate asked randomly, giving her piercing look.

”Fine,” she answered shortly.

”Fine? You begged lay-off shortly after the Yangtze. What happened?” Andrea murmured something as an answer, but Nate could not hear it.

”I… I just did want to leave from military. I can’t live without army, but I don’t want to be there at the moment. Pentagon is sending me messages, requests and orders about coming back because they need me to do their dirty work but I told them ’no’. Nate… I’m tired of being used. Dad stated I’m wasting my skills…”

”Andy, if you hadn’t been part of that… experiment, you'd be dead by now.” Andrea rolled her eyes. He was right, but…

”They just… think that I’m ready to do anything what they ask after-” Andrea wasn’t able to finish her line as she heard Nora coming back. Duo turned their heads to look at grinning woman.

”What did we do now?”

”Stop grinning, we know Washington won,” Nate murmured. Shame on Red Soxs for losing a game at Fenway Park. Though their conversation broke Andrea's enthusiasm for game. “Should we return back home? To celebrate this victory?” Nate asked his wife, stressing word victory.

”Willingly. I think Shaun needs to sleep now in his own cradle. And don’t sound so bitter, sweetie. Red Shocks will win their next game...” Nora grinned, piching man scarred cheek.

xxxxxx

Before Andrea opened front door of her childhood home, she looked across the road, seeing Nora closing the car door and Nate taking pushchair from car boot. Andrea was happy for him. For them. Though he was good soldier, Nate belonged here with his family. Mrs. Rosa, their neighbor, had told Andrea about Nora, how lonely and afraid she had been when Nate was gone. While he was with her and Roger at the Anchorage. But now Roger was somewhere in New California, Nate with his family and Andrea… Andrea was lonely and afraid. Afraid for Roger.

”Hey, Andy!” Nate called her and saluted. ”Goodnight Captain!”

”At ease, soldier. Goodnight,” Andrea answered and Nora performed salute too. ”Sorry, cannot command you, civilian. Wait, I cannot command you either.” Nate waved his hand at her and escorted his wife inside their house. Andrea opened the front door and noticed house being empty, realizing that her father was not at home. Maybe he got tired of Halloween after all and left to their cabin.

How good it felt when she was finally able to lie down to the her old bed. Fenway Parks chairs weren't the best to sit, especially for long time. She sighed, staring white roof above her for a while, thinking a conflict between with U.S. and China, why her father acted strangely… But most of all, she thought about Roger. God, she missed him. His stupid jokes, his ’always military man’ appearance, his icy blue eyes, touch of his beard on her skin when he kissed her. Maybe soon she could see him. Maybe she should leave Boston and fly to New California tomorrow. Or right now. Or maybe she should sleep couple hours before that...

xxxxxx

”Why Major Barnett wants you there?” Andrea asked suspiciously from Roger while leaning against door frame, watching him packing up his military bag. Military transport aircraft to NC was supposed to leave from Adams Air Force Base tomorrow, October 8. He was leaving her alone, again. Fucking Army and Pentagon. Fucking Barnett.

”I don’t know. Spindel said it’s because Pentagon wants to raise security there. There is something wrong at Mariposa,” Roger said and closed door of closet. Andrea frowned again.

”I think there is something wrong with whole military,” she said sarcastically “They could use their funding money for… better aircraft's for example, instead of using it in some... research.”

”Says daughter of Air Force General.”

”Who ended up into U.S. Army.” Andrea stated, staring Roger as he walked front of her, dropping his bag down to floor.

”Yeah, I know that I was fabulous reason enough for you to join Army.”

”Oh really? You can wipe that fabulous smirk from your face because I joined into Army before I even met you,” Andrea grinned.

”True. But only you had balls to punch commanding officer in middle of Pentagon?”

”I guess I was fabulous reason enough not to report about our little incident. But maybe it saved my career and yours,” Andrea reminded him. Roger grinned before pulling her to kiss. She loved his intense, rough kisses. Loved how rough and overbearing Roger was, but still caring.

”I wish you wouldn't have to leave,” Andrea whispered after breaking up the kiss. She couldn’t stop him. He loved military. Roger looked at her and smiled a little.

”We know the risks, you know that? For me… it’s better me to go. I'd complain to higher ups, even to your uncle, if they'd have ordered you there. There is always small change that something might happen...”

”That's a reason why I should come there with you. Chinese or even USSR might try to break into facility if they know about its existence. What would be better place to attack than U.S. Army’s scientific research facility-”

”Andrea,” Roger murmured with serious look on his face. “It’s better this way. I do not want you to go near that place. You are even more valuable to me than you are to Army. I don’t care how good you are in a battlefield. You are my wife and I love you,” he added. Andrea swallowed and glanced floor underneath them.

”And I want you go to Boston while I’m getting used to my new job at the NC. You can come there later, so we can settle down to our new home. I did manage to talk with real estate agent. That house is ours by the end of the October.” Andrea smiled widely. That sounded like a plan. Plan what Secretary couldn't ruin. “Go to see your father, Nate and our godson. And don’t forget those tickets you bought to Red Soxs game...”

Roger grinned at her as Andrea punched his shoulder. “There is always reason go to Boston and it’s baseball,” Andrea stated, man chuckling at her answer. Pair stared each other for while in total silence. Andrea could stare those icy blue eyes for eternity. Suddenly Roger put his hands on her tights and lift her up.

”Oh, I know what this means. You up to this? Aren't you too old for this?” Andrea grinned while man carried her to bedroom.

”We will see about that, honey,” Roger said smugly and woman chuckled.

xxxxxx

Andrea woke up from a dream. Or was it a dream really, it had happened couple weeks ago. Reality or not, she missed him even more now. After rubbing her eyes, she glanced the clock. 0500. Pondering how still -after six months- she lived with military routines. Getting up early and doing routines. She listened house for a while. Her father had not returned. Only thing what she heard was neighbors barking dogs.

Civilian life was pretty boring, watching television and exercising. Andrea kinda missed the action, her body missed the action. Sometimes she felt that her body was on fire if she didn’t do something. Andrea missed it. Battlefield. But she had made up her mind and wouldn’t return there anytime soon.

’I won’t give up. He can keep his-’

Her thoughts were interrupted when she heard car tires screeching further. She stand up immediately, seeing two black vans parking front of her father house, feeling her heart beating faster than usual when five men came out from cars. Men in black suit and sunglasses. Typical government agents. ’What the fuck?’ Andrea though but went straight to front door and opened it before men could reach it.

”What happened?” Anxiety took over again. Something was going on.

”Mrs. Maxson, ma’am. You need to come with us,” bald agent said. Andrea frowned and saw Nate at their front door, watching them. As she clearly hesitated, agent told they were here to pick her up by her uncles orders. That she must come with them immediately which made Andrea snort.

”Yeah sure, I’ll do what ever he wants. How about if you guys tell me what's really going on?”

When she didn’t hear an answer, she opened her mouth. ”We can stand here until Judgment Day but you are not going to take me anywhere before you tell me what is this?” And they knew. They couldn't take her by force.

”At 12:03 am this morning COMPACFLT reported three unidentified submerged submarines, possibly Chinese, at California coastline. Three hours later US Air Force spotted unknown aircraft at high altitude, near Alaska,” agent stated. ”IONDS detected four nuclear missiles at 9:13 am. Four minutes after that NORAD confirmed them. We have been given order to escort you into Vault.”

Andrea closed her eyes. Fuck. Not now. When she opened them, she looked at Nate. ”I’m coming with you but with one condition. They are leaving with us.”

”Ma’am, I’m not sure are we able to...”

”Then fucking call your boss. He has to make that happen because if he doesn’t, his pride will die when war starts,” woman ordered furiously and walked past them, straight to Nate. Nate looked at her, worrying look in his face.

”What is going on?”

”War is happening. NORAD confirmed four unidentified nuclear missiles. They are here to collect my precious ass, thanks to my uncle,” Andrea said and glanced agent, who was talking in phone, probably with devil itself. Nate swore immediately. Which he didn’t do often.

”Fuck.” Nate swore again as seeing Nora holding Shaun behind him. After seeing Nora's face, Andrea knew she had heard their conversation.

”So what are we doing now? Shaun...he is…,” Nora faltered and looked at her baby. Shaun was about to cry, maybe he sympathized with her mother. Because Nora started sobbing. “Please, Andrea. Take Shaun with you. Please… take him to the Vault with you,” Nora begged. Andrea was speechless first.

”Nora. For first time in… five, ten years, I asked a request from my uncle. I’m taking you three with me to Vault or I’ll die with you guys. Those are his choices,” Andrea said evenly. Nora nodded, her shoulders still shaking.

”Ma’am.” Agent was walking towards her. “I spoke with your uncle. He gave Jensen's a permission to enter Vault. We are leaving now.”

xxxxxx

Vault wasn’t faraway from Sanctuary but government agents escort them through gates where U.S. Army soldiers maintained an order. Many civilians tried to get into Vault, but there was not enough space. It made Andrea's stomach twist when she thought how many would die soon. It was miracle that she was able to get permission for Nora and Nate enter there.

Agents escorted them to entrance of Vault and Andrea made sure that Nate, Nora and Shaun were with her whole time, standing there with her. There were about seven other people at entrance with them. Andrea concluded they were either politicians or other important persons. Sanctuary Hills belonged to military after all and government didn't really give shit about civilians, not after they started this war. War. She gasped, remembering Roger. If he was still at the Mariposa, he would be save. Facility was strong and well-secured. Andrea was thinking her father and brothers when they heard something loud and saw huge nuclear mushroom somewhere southwest. Damn Oppenheimer and Project Manhattan.

”Get it down now!,” one of the Vault-Tec employer shouted. Elevator came to life and they were able to escape nuclear blast just in time, Nate and Nora shielding Shaun from blast.

xxxxxx

A way down was long. Andrea swallowed as she heard young woman next to her crying. Woman stating it was all gone now and people above them were dead. Andrea resisted urge to cry herself. Roger should be here with them. With her. For her surprise, Shaun wasn’t crying anymore and Nora thanked her. About getting them here. Lawyers usually firm and confident voice was now whimpering. Her eyes were red from crying but she tried to smile.

”Anything for you guys,” Andrea answered before they reached their destination. Group of survivors walked through main door of Vault. Place was kinda dreary. It reminded Andrea of some kind military bunker. They saw Vault-Tec employees standing a little further, giving people vault suits and telling people to follow man with lab coat.

”Vault suits will give you a little resistance against radiation and energy. Just a precaution, you guys really don't need to fear radiation here,” Doctor Pierce told, while leading new residents to decontamination area.

”Yeah that’s what they say before shit hits the fan,” Nate said and Andrea hummed agreeing. “Andy, I should really thank you for... this.”

”I couldn’t leave you guys there. Actually we should thank my uncle, I wanted it or not.” Andrea put her long bangs behind her ear and stiffened little bit when Nate hugged her suddenly.

”Well, good thing is I know that is platonic hug,” Nora said more cheerfully. ”I don’t want to tell Roger… ” Lawyer looked suddenly ashamed and apologized. ”Oh... I’m sorry, Andrea. I just-”

”No it’s okay. I’m about 90% sure that he was at the Mariposa. I think… I hope,” Andrea faltered quietly, thinking how she could get to him.

”You remember what I told you yesterday? He is tough son of bitch. There is no way he could die like this. Not now.”

”Yeah, I know.”

xxxxxx

”This is the place were you enter into these decontamination pods, which is important before entering into actual vault,” Pierce said and gestured pods, then towards a door behind him. Andrea glared their surrounding. Somehow place looked more like research facility than Vault.

”How many people are there?”

”About forty,” Pierce answered. “Not many but enough us to survive. Now, put on your vault suits so we can continue.” There wasn’t suit for Shaun so they give him a permission to have his old blanket and jumpsuit. Andrea was changing her clothes when she heard papers falling to the floor and Nora gasping.

”Oh I’m so sorry.”

”No it’s okay. It’s my first day at work, so I’m little nervous,” girl said and picked papers from the floor. While holding Shaun in other hand, Nora helped girl.

'Goddamn lawyers,’ Andrea thought. They could handle any paperwork, regarding was there a child, dishes or coffee cup in their other hand. Nate offered his help and took baby from Nora while she helped girl.

After everyone were ready, Doctor Pierce gestured them to step inside pods, employees directing new vault dwellers into them. Andrea glared her pod and stiffened little bit.

”Claire, can you check whose pod is this? Is someone missing?”

”It’s says Jonathan Adams, doctor,” woman answered while checking terminal. “He didn’t show up.”

Andrea dropped her gaze down and stared a floor, trying not to think her father or Roger. ’Where did you go, you stupid old man, if you had place here?’ She thought, squeezing her hands into fist.

”Well, there is not much we can do now,” Doctor Pierce said. Andrea glared her pod for a while before going inside, feeling her throat dry. This pod made her anxious. Like pod would want to swallow her. ’Get a grip on yourself, woman.’ Something was telling her not to go there. Telling her to exit whole Vault and find her way to California.

”Are you okay?”

”You know, I’m not just fan of these… pods,” Andrea answered to Nate's question. “I’m fine.”

”Well it’s over soon,” he said cheerfully which made Andrea smile.

”You are so positive, you know. Always, even now when world has ended.”

”It is easy to be. My family is right here. You and Nora. Don’t worry. It will be fine,” Nate added behind her, sitting inside his own pod with Shaun.

”You and your positivism.”

”What you'd do without it, huh?” Nate smirked. Andrea rolled her eyes and saw pod's door closing. Doctor Pierce telling it would take only one or two minutes to complete decontamination. Sooner or later, it would be over. Feeling claustrophobia taking control over her, Andrea heard machine starting and told herself it would be over soon. Before realizing, she felt dizziness and then… darkness.