Drew felt nervous. It perhaps had something to do with the patrolling Protectrons that, as far as he knew, were hostile. Or, it could be the fact that the old Robco plant marked the next big step in his life, one that he wasn’t sure if he was truly ready to take.
From where he was hiding behind an old truck and trailer, he could only see two of the robots. One of them was missing an arm and the other one had a cracked glass canopy. While Protectrons weren’t the fastest or most heavily armed type of robot out there, they were still dangerous. Their lasers could severely burn, and if they got lucky with their aim they could easily kill.
Drew knew he could shoot the robots and be done with it. However, he would rather not damage or destroy them if he didn’t have to. They could be useful in keeping a watch over the place as they already had been for the last two centuries.
Then again, they might attack him and melt his face off, and he was rather fond of his face.
“Just shoot the things. You can repair them later,” he muttered to himself as he gripped his laser rifle tighter.
“But repairing them costs time and resources,” he argued with himself. “Resources that I can’t afford to waste.”
Drew peeked back out of cover and took a good long look around, taking note of where everything was from the patrolling robots to the old rusted cars, and that wasn’t to mention the pre-war military tank that was just sitting there out in the open. He figured that if he was careful and quick, he could use them as temporary cover. All he had to do was get close enough to trigger their response routines. If they greeted him instead of shooting him then he knew that he was on a winner. From there, reprogramming them with the help of his Pipboy would be easy.
“Here goes nothing, I guess.”
Clutching his modified laser rifle, he moved out of cover behind the trailer and hurried towards the nearest car, squatting down behind it. The closest Protectron gave him no mind and continued along its preset path with its recognizable robotic waddle. It made them look weak and somewhat goofy, which made it all too easy to underestimate the potential danger they posed.
Keeping his head down, Drew moved from car to car as he made his way closer to the machine. The fact that it hadn’t reacted gave him hope that it was simply a parking attendant robot. If that was the case then it likely wasn’t aggressive. At least not without provocation. Then again, like a lot of robots, its coding could have easily developed faults which often resulted in turning the robot hostile. Thus far, that didn’t seem to be the case here.
He waited and watched as the robot clunked towards the car he was hiding behind. When it was only a few feet away, he took in a breath before he called out to it.
He waited for a response but the Protectron continued to clank along as though it either hadn’t heard him, didn’t care, or simply didn’t understand.
Cautiously, Drew stood up and observed the robot. At first, it continued on without a care in the world before it finally stopped dead in its tracks. Drew held his breath as the machine then slowly and awkwardly turned around to face him. He anticipated it turning nasty on him. If it did, then he planned on dropping back down behind cover. Thankfully, though, it didn’t.
“Move along, please. No loi-tering.”
Drew smiled, satisfied that it wasn’t going to shoot him. With that burning question solved, he made his way over towards the main building. He wasn’t sure what parking attendant robots were doing at an old robot factory. They were usually at pre-war stores such as a Super Duper Mart, not on private property. He supposed it was possible that it had somehow found its way here from elsewhere, but no matter what its origin he decided to simply leave it alone.
Well, at least for the time being.
The front doors were locked and there was no keyhole so he couldn’t pick it with a bobby pin. Instead, it was protected by a terminal and the doors themselves were thick steel, probably reinforced. The terminal was an easy hack and thankfully the doors hadn’t seized, meaning they opened, albeit with a grind and a rather unpleasant screeching of metal.
Drew stepped inside where he found a typical reception area complete with a desk, desk fan, an old rotary dial telephone, and a desktop computer. He sat down behind the desk and decided to check the inventory. Unfortunately, most of the database was corrupted. This meant that he would have to do things the old-fashioned way and go exploring.
He just hoped that like outside, any patrolling robots he happened to stumble across were friendly.
Drew made his way out of the foyer through another set of double doors. Behind it was a long crusty hallway that didn’t look like it had been touched in decades. The walls were stained with only an echo of old paint and the tiles were covered in a thick layer of dust and grime.
He walked forwards, peeking through the doors one by one. The first on the left was a utility cupboard and the one on the right was a bathroom. The next one on his right was a small room filled with old boxes. Curious, he headed inside and opened one up to find they were full of holotapes. Intrigued, he popped one in his Pipboy and discovered they were programming tapes for Assaultrons.
He closed up the boxes, stepped back out into the hallway, and continued on to the next door before heading inside.
Unlike the previous rooms, this one was larger and had a story to tell. On his left was a security door complete with a terminal and on his right was what appeared to be a grimy makeshift workbench. Someone had clearly been here at some point in the relatively recent past, though judging by the grime ‘recent’ could mean a decade, or it could mean fifty years.
Drew turned his attention to the security door terminal. Like the front doors, he easily hacked it. The door clicked open and he stepped through into a much bigger room. All over were half-assembled General Atomics Gutsy robots as well as various other parts all scattered around haphazardly.
“I wonder what you’re doing here in a Robco plant?” he asked himself as he wiped some grime off the shell of the nearest one.
Noting a terminal on a desk in the corner, he decided to check it. It told him everything he needed to know. These Gutsies had faulty engine thrusters, and it was quite clear that they blamed General Atomics. From what he could tell they were manufacturing Gutsies here under license to be used across the border in Canada. The log entry was dated three days before the end of the world.
As Drew stepped away from the terminal, he noticed something tucked away in a dark corner. Using his Pipboy light, he found that it was an old Assaultron with what appeared to be a modified head laser.
“Oh, shit,” he uttered as he stepped closer. “Look at that.”
The head laser was definitely an aftermarket addition. It looked cumbersome and unwieldy, but there was something about it that also looked powerful.
Whoever had modified it was long gone, probably decades ago. He plugged his Pipboy into the service jack and ran a quick diagnostic. He found that it hadn’t been active for the last fifty years. Whoever it belonged to was probably long dead by now.
Drew took a step back as he realized that this was the first Assaultron he’d seen since Izzy.
Izzy had been a good companion that he’d had before he’d met Gemma, Amy, and Jack. For a while it had been just the two of them, wandering around searching for a place to call home. For a robot, she’d had a spot-on sense of humor and often felt more alive than some of the humans they came across. Unfortunately, she had been destroyed by raiders a year back. They had attacked Colville and she had been one of their victims. She had been blown to pieces, her main processor reduced to little more than dust. As strange as it was, he sometimes missed her almost as much as he missed his lover, Gemma.
Deciding he’d seen enough for today, Drew stepped out of the room and re-locked it, before heading back out of the factory. After resealing the front doors he casually walked across the parking lot, once more being accosted by a patrolling Protectron for loitering.
The place definitely had promise, but he knew he’d have to explore more just to be certain. He would have done it today, but unfortunately, he’d had a late start due to having to help fix one of the patrol robots back at Colville. There was also an old bus on the highway that he wanted to check for salvage. If it was worthwhile, then he would return. If not, then the bus would be forgotten.
Thirty minutes later and he almost walked right past it since the bus wasn’t on the highway, but in a ditch. How long it had been there, Drew didn’t know, though apart from a crumpled front and smashed windows, it looked to be in fairly good condition.
The inside was a different story, however. The upholstery was half rotted away, though there was a distinct lack of any bodies, skeletal or otherwise. That didn’t bode well for the likelihood of there being any salvage.
After a minute or so of searching, he found absolutely nothing other than an old smashed pocket watch. While some would probably see no worth in it, the internal components could prove useful in the future.
As he was stepping back out of the bus, he heard the telltale roar of a Yao Guai in the distance. He turned, ready to defend himself if necessary, only to freeze, his eyes widening at what he saw.
There, bounding towards the mutated bear was a huge green Deathclaw. Not only was it bigger than any he had ever seen in his life, but it was also moving at a terrifying speed. With a claw raised, it swatted the Yao Guai away like it was nothing, sending it hurtling several feet before it landed in a crumpled mess.
Drew continued to stare as the massive beast strode over to its fallen prey and squatted, hunching over the now dead creature ready to eat its kill. Both had to have been around five or six hundred feet away, but even at that distance, the Deathclaw was terrifying as hell.
After a few moments of chowing down on its caught meal, the large green creature suddenly stopped then raised its head and began to sniff at the air.
Drew felt the hairs on his arms stand up as not a moment later the monster turned its head towards him.
Quickly, he retreated back inside the bus, grabbing his laser rifle off his back, clutching it tightly against his chest as he made his way slowly towards the rear. With a held breath, he slowly and cautiously peered out the back window before he released it with a sigh of relief.
It was looking back down at its kill as though it hadn’t noticed him. He wasn’t sure how true it was, but he had heard that Deathclaws had poor eyesight, which appeared to be true. In the past, he hadn’t put himself in a situation to be seen, let alone stand and gawk like an idiot as he had just done.
The creature stood back up and sniffed at the air a second time, causing him to duck down behind cover. Slowly, he peered back over the rear seats, studying the creature that had to be in the order of ten feet or more in height. That was when he noticed what appeared to be a large growth on its chest.
As though sensing his gaze, the Deathclaw turned its head and its eyes seemed to lock onto his. For a moment, he swore it was staring into his very soul.
“Shit,” he hissed as he ducked back down as quickly as he could.
Right at that moment, the bus was probably the safest place to be. His only hope was that it hadn’t noticed him like the first time. Unfortunately, a minute or so later he began to hear the thumps of heavy footfalls and they were not only getting louder but they were very clearly getting closer.
The giant green Deathclaw was coming his way.
As quietly as he could, Drew hid beneath one of the seats and held his breath. The footsteps stopped right outside the bus and not a moment later he heard a loud creak. Daring to peek, he saw giant clawed green hands were gripped onto the inside wall through the glass-less rear window, its claws digging into what was left of the rear seats. He could hear its heavy breathing and the scraping of its claws against the metal as it shifted its weight, probably to get a better look inside. Drew knew that if it wanted to, it could easily tear through the shell of the bus like it was nothing, yet it didn’t, which he was definitely thankful for.
As gently and as quietly as he could, he twisted the power knob on his custom laser rifle, putting it up to full power. He would quickly burn through his shots and he risked burning out its beam emitter, but a few good hits and he hoped he’d be able to take the beast down.
He seriously doubted it, though, and knew if he found himself in a position where he needed to shoot it, he was probably already dead.
He watched with some relief as the claws retreated, followed by the welcome sound of the monster’s pounding footsteps as they grew quieter and more distant. Even when he couldn’t hear it anymore he still dared not move. The last thing he needed was to be chased by the monstrosity.
It wasn’t until it started to get dark that he finally made a move. His body felt stiff from the lack of movement, and being cramped beneath the bus seat for the last hour or so certainly hadn’t helped matters. He let out an unintentional groan as his muscles protested at the movement.
After peering outside and finding the coast was clear, he quickly departed the old bus and jogged up the highway back towards town. It didn’t escape his notice that the Yao Guai carcass was gone. All the better as it wouldn’t bring any other unwanted predators his way.
His jog soon turned to a full-on sprint as he heard a roar from somewhere behind him. Whether it was the green Deathclaw or something else he didn’t wait to find out.
Thankfully, nothing chased him, but that didn’t mean he slowed down.
The presence of Deathclaws in the area did put a damper on his plans. It made moving his stuff between town and the factory a lot more problematic. His initial plan was to fix up some Gutsies and Protectrons and have them help him move, and while he could still do that, he would need to fix up more robots and arm them to the teeth. The Deathclaw had been a lot bigger than normal and even regular-sized ones could take several cells worth of laser fire. He dreaded to think what it would take to bring that monster down. It had to have been eleven or twelve feet at least. Maybe more.
He could only hope that it was the only one in the region, though he doubted it. In a way, it had changed his mission. He had wanted to set up shop in the old factory and sell robots to the settlements that dotted the region, but now he knew that he had to remove the new threat before it became a legitimate problem. If there was a nest then he had to find it and destroy it. He had to drive the Deathclaws out of the region and the old Robco factory was the key to achieving that goal.
Drew knew that he was going to have to get to work sooner than he had planned. It had been his intention on taking things slow so as to not burn himself out, but now he didn’t really have that luxury. While Colville itself was heavily fortified, there were other settlements including farms in the region that were not prepared at all for a Deathclaw attack, especially not from one that was over twelve feet tall.
He’d seen what Deathclaws could do, he’d seen them wipe out a settlement down south. He didn’t want that to happen up here, not when he knew he could prevent it.
It was time to stop dreaming of getting the Robco plant back up and running and actually do it. It was time to build an army to defend the region.
He just hoped he could do it before any settlements were turned into a Deathclaw banquet.