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The Rot - Part 1: Something Is Amiss

So, this will be the first part of a horror inspired blog story series I have been working on for some time. Actually the idea dates back to FO3 what with all the creepy-ass vaults that could be found around there. But with the newly sparked interest of FO4, I have chosen to refresh the idea and give it some more detail and depth... and voila! Here it is! I introduce you to a chilling story of a Brotherhood of Steel mission gone totally awry. A story of paranoia, deception, and a battle against an unseen enemy. Here is The Rot...


"Any sign of them?" asked Knight Wilkins and peered out over the barren wastes of what used to be the state of Minnesota, now known as the Niflheim.

"Negative", echoed the static voice of Knight Riddings over the radio on vertibird MN-12. "We are still looking though. Chances are that Lake Superior swallowed them whole, but I honestly doubt that. We would have been able to pick up some sort of interference if that was the case."

"Well, expand your perimeter", commanded Paladin Gregory. "Do a full circle around the area..." The clumsy power armor gloves unfolded a torn map over the state. "... of Lake County", he finished. "I don't want a single building overlooked. Could be that they have had to make an emergency landing somewhere in seclusion."

"Roger that", replied the young Knight. "Riddings out."

The radio fell silent and once again was the constant humming of engines and the buzzing of propellers the only sound that could be heard loud and clear over the vast and desolate landscapes. Knight Allister, having removed his helmet, peered out of the window and down into the unknown depths of Lake Superior as they passed over the masses of water. Knight Wolfe was heavily asleep, yet kept knocking his helmet into the front seat, his snoring could be heard through his voice-speakers. Knight Cailin was a young and fragile thing, recently promoted from Initiate to Knight. It made Allister wonder if the Brotherhood of Steel was suffering from a diminishing quality and competence when it came to recruiting, or if she possessed talents he had yet to witness. The young woman was green, that was as clear as day. Probably hadn't even pulled the trigger once, yet here she was. Scribe Caldwell was drawing some impressive and imaginary sketches in his notepad and Knight Engstrom kept checking his minigun as if he expected enemies at any moment.

What enemies could possibly be found a thousand feet above ground? reflected Allister.

"Caldwell", muttered Paladin Gregory and examined the map. "Can you tell me just where we are at the moment?" When the Scribe didn't reply the Paladin growled in annoyance. "Caldwell!"

"What?! Oh, sorry", said the weasel-like man and adjusted his glasses on top of his sellion. He put the notepad with the funny figures to the side and traced his finger along the map's different sections. "Hmmm", he murmured. "If my orientation is correct, we should be just south of Finland."

The Paladin glared at the Scribe as if the man had made an indecent joke. "Are you trying to be funny? From what I have learned of those old books, Finland lies on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean."

"No. Sorry, sir", replied the Scribe nervously. "You don't seem to understand. There is a community named Finland", he explained. "Or at least there used to be. Just by the western shores of Lake Superior. That's about where we are now."

"Fine", grumbled the officer through his thick moustache as if he had just been insulted. "Wilkins, take us in over land and see if we can get less static over the radio, then contact Knight Riddings and her crew again."

"Roger that, sir", said Wilkins.

Allister leaned back into his seat. This was definitely not what he had expected when he had signed up for this assignment. A month ago vertibird MN-14 had gone missing somewhere over Lake Superior. Their assignment had been to scout out any sites of interest for the Brotherhood of Steel. Science buildings, military bases, research centers; any building that could hold potential advanced technology for them to recover. Yet somewhere during their mission they had simply... vanished. As if devoured by the world itself. Not a single transmission from any of the crew members had gone through and any attempts to reach them had been met with radio silence. No distress calls had been made. Not even their sent logs spoke of anything faulty during their operation. And scans made over Lake Superior yielded no result of a wreckage, if they had happened to crash into the waves. Vertibird MN-14 and her crew was simply missing, swallowed whole by some unknown fate. It bothered him.

MN-12 and MN-13 had been out on a recon mission for about a week now with one single purpose of finding the lost crew, all other priorities were secondary.

Suddenly the radio came alive again and Knight Riddings spoke. "MN-12! Come in, MN-12!" Judging by her voice, it sounded urgent.

Knight Wilkins, the pilot, looked at the radio as if he was expecting to see Riddings pop out from the interface. "MN-12 here, what's your status?"

"We... we have an incoming distress signal, MN-12! It's pattern does not match that of MN-14, but it's certainly nearby the area of last made contact with the crew."

Wilkins looked at Gregory, expecting him to give a response. The middle-aged Paladin furrowed his brow and gazed out through the cockpit. "Your coordinates?"

If there was one thing Allister was ashamed to admit, it was the fact that he had never really learned how to interpret coordinates. When Riddings spoke on the radio all he heard were numbers and letters that meant nothing to him. He knew how to handle a gun and how to remain calm and loyal. He guessed that that much was expected of him. Reading maps, radars and compasses could be left to those who... knew those things...

"Any specific points of interest in your area, Knight?" asked Gregory and watched with interest as the shoreline came closer.

"The distress call came from 47°27′13″N 091°14′15″W", she replied, once again causing confusion for Allister. "The only thing of specific interest for our chaps would be the old and abandoned Finland Air Force Station. A military base complex is located just slightly north of it."

"Standby MN-13", said Paladin Gregory and motioned for Wilkins to steer the vertibird in over land. "We will rendevouz at the entrance of the airfield. Do not fire your weapons or wander off unless you deem it to be necessary for the situation. We are coming in."

"Roger that, MN-12. We copy. Riddings out."

Paladin Gregory leaned over the seat to face his crew. "Lock and load, folks. We have some distress signal to investigate. Could be from our unfortunate brothers and sisters of MN-14." He then cast a sour glance at Knight Wolfe. "And wake that soldier up. I want him to be fully alert during our operations. Understood?"

"Understood, sir", said Allister and nudged at the sleeping Knight who grunted in response. "Wolfe, be with me."

"What?" muttered a static voice through the helmet. "We found them?"

"We... we believe so?" added Cailin nervously. "Again, we... we can't know for sure until we... we get there. Right?"

"Uhm", said Wolfe, still a bit tired and still a bit uncomfortable with being in the presence of such a rookie as Cailin. "Estimated time until landing, Wilkins?" he asked followed by a yawn.

"ETA 5 minutes, Wolfy", said the pilot. "Don't worry about it."

Allister put his on helmet and Engstrom finally got to stand up tall with his minigun, having attended to it and fine-tuned it's system ever since he woke up. The scrawny treetops of the barren, forested regions of Niflheim was laying open and wide out in front of them. Allister had never really liked being assigned to the chapter located in Niflheim. Former state of Minnesota, he kept telling himself. It always seemed to him to be that kind of place where the barns and the hovels outnumbered the people.

Even less so now...

Beyond a couple of grey-brown valleys and open fields a large military base was located by the shores of Lake Superior. The complex was huge. Maybe they would be able to kill several birds with one stone? Recover the lost crew and gather some more intel and technology as they were originally assigned to do. He bet that Scribe Caldwell would be happy if anyone to see size of this place. And he was right... Looking over at Caldwell, he could see that the man's face reflected that of some sort of inner ecstasy and obsession.

"Amazing!" exclaimed the Scribe. "The air field! The bases! The military complex! It is huge! And so well-preserved! Why... this is an amazing find! Paladin, I demand that even if our mission was to fail, we should remain here and recover what we can!"

"You are not in any position to make demands here, Caldwell", grunted Gregory. "Though I agree that the place must be inspected thoroughly even if we wouldn't find the crew of MN-14."

Allister could have sworn that Caldwell licked his lips at that moment, but chose not to reflect on it further. The mad obsession and love for anything related to advanced technology was a passion he was happy to live without. He grabbed a hold of a safety bar as the vertibird started to make its decent towards the entrance of the large airfield. Though Wilkins was a skilled pilot, even he had trouble with making a straight landing sometimes. The harsh winds that roamed over the wastes of Niflheim grabbed a hold onto the hull of the vertibird and caused it sway violently back and forth while Wilkins struggled to keep it steady. Cailin whimpered in anxiety and Engstrom's hold around the handle of his minigun tightened. Finally the vertibird remained still and dropped gracefully to the ground on its feet with a vague thump.

"Well done, Knight", sighed Paladin Gregory, and one could tell he was pleased to have solid land under his feet.

"You are very welcome, sir", replied Wilkins and breathed out due to the intense moment where he had almost doubted that he would make it down in one piece. 

The Knights, the Scribe and the Paladin disembarked from the vertibird and approached the entrance of the airfield. A big sign with big, faded white letters said:

FINLAND AIR FORCE STATION: AIM HIGH... FLY - FIGHT - WIN.

Allister raised an eyebrow at that last statement. What had they won? Total annihilation?

"Remarkable", said Caldwell. "Definitely well-preserved, even for a military base. I who believed that they targeted all these places when they launched the bombs? Maybe the one aimed at this one missed? If that's the case, then we are in luck! Imagine how much untouched technology that lie within!"

"Remember, Caldwell", reminded Paladin Gregory and inserted a fusion cell clip into his laser rifle. "We are here to recover the crew of MN-14. That's our main priority. Everything else is secondary."

"Understood, sir", said Caldwell, but still kept looking up at the sign with fascination.

Knight Wolfe rolled his shoulders. "So, what's the word?"

"We are waiting for Knight Riddings and her crew", informed Wilkins. "They should have gotten here before us."

"Speak of the devil", muttered Engstrom and motioned slightly with his minigun in another direction.

From beyond the airfield came Knight Riddings and her comrades marching across the wind-swept concrete. "Welcome to Finland Air Force Station, gentlemen", she said.

Cailin made a discreet cough, indicating by her bright voice through the statics of her helmet that she was a woman.

"And ladies", shrugged Riddings.

"So?" said Gregory who was not in the mood for pleasantries or warm reunions. Allister sometimes wondered if there was even a fiber of warmth in the officer's body. If so, he had yet to find it. "The distress signal?"

"Right", said Riddings. "We did some scans and apparently..." she said and brought up a portable monitor that provided them with a full 3-D imagery of the base. "This place is bigger than we first could have guessed. Not only are there silos, military complexes and barrack annexes. But also..." She clicked over to a different montage of the 3-D structure the monitor provided, this time showing them an underground map. "It seems like this base holds some sort of underground complex as well."

"Astonishing", muttered Caldwell under his breath, taken by the visuals and what to expect.

"But what about the distress call?" repeated Gregory. "Where did it come from?"

"It came from over here", said Riddings and pointed to a secluded area of the map underground. "What's strange is that... well... it can't have been on for too long, sir. It must have activated just recently as we came in over the area. Our last recons over Lake Superior two days ago yielded no such results as a signal as strong and clear as this distress call, even during perfect weather conditions."

"That is... strange indeed", muttered Gregory and stroke his moustache. He then looked over Ridding's men. "Now, I am sure we will all get to know each other's names later, but we've got a mission to carry out. Something is amiss here and I aim to find out what. Now, everyone on me. Weapons loaded, and do not fire without permission. Could be that there are allies or the local folk about."

"What local folk?" snorted Wolfe. "The Niflheim is as lifeless as the insides of Knight Jameson's pants."

Paladin Gregory grunted in response, displeased with Wolfe's attitude. Though it caused Cailin to give out a light snicker.

"Just follow my lead", said Gregory sternly and motioned for the Knights and the Scribe to follow him. "First stop will be to find that entrance on Knight Riddings map that leads underground. Keep your wits about you. Just because we have our suspicions that this might be the crew of MN-14 contacting us, there is no certainty."

"Roger that, sir", said Allister and double-checked his assault rifle.

The silence that roamed within the Finland Air Force Station was almost surreal. It was too quiet. There was the atmosphere of... anticipation. As if this place had been lying up there in the north hiding, having waited patiently for centuries for them to arrive, in order to swallow them whole. Like a spider sitting in a dark nook, waiting for days just for one single prey to unknowingly wander into its lair where it would be devoured. This place was indeed ancient. And none of them knew what horrors were in store for them there...


TO BE CONTINUED...

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