It was cold. Freezing, more like. He expected to see an environment akin to the northern commonwealths, or the more unwelcoming parts of Canada. But instead, a vast, empty void welcomed him; his vision came across nothing but pure blackness.
"First sergeant, the truck's just arrived! Come on, wake the fuck up - the commies ain't gonna kill themselves!"
A sharp jolt of pain from the side of his face startled him wide awake. As his vision slowly gained clarity, he came to the realization that he had fallen asleep on a long journey via troop truck, and his platoon lieutenant had just taken the liberty of slapping him back to consciousness.
"Rise and shiiine, ya lazy Polack pinko!" The Southern-accented CO stood tall with a smirk on his bearded face, snow goggles over his eyes and a winterized R91 assault rifle held in one hand. "Welcome to Alaska, soldier! Time to go kill us some scum-sucking, slit-eyed chinks!"
The soldier suddenly felt a horrible sense of dread. He blinked a couple of times, and much to his further surprise, he saw the environment shift before his very eyes.
Now, he was on the snow-caked ground, staring at the lieutenant's face. The man's goggles were cracked, exposing open, bloodshot eyes. His bloodied mouth hung ajar, forever twisted into an agonized, skyward scream.
All around, the sounds of frequent gunfire bursts and distant artillery explosions assaulted his ears, threatening to smother his hearing. The soldier pushed himself up from the ground, and instinctively brought his assault rifle to bear.
With no small amount of hesitation, he decided to pay his dead platoon leader a last, cursory glance. To his horror, he discovered the mangled remains of his entire platoon haphazardly strewn alongside the lieutenant, their blood having partially turned the white fields crimson red.
He felt angry at the sight. Infuriated, more like. At that moment in time, he wanted nothing more than to eviscerate the men responsible for killing his fellow soldiers. Though before he could so much as take his first step forward, the distinctive thundering of Type 93 assault rifles firing in the distance forced him to hit the deck, straight onto the bloody snow.
As he felt the first bullets whizzing past his head, the soldier came to a grim realization: the Chinese were coming for him.
He frantically looked around for suitable cover, but found none in the empty, snowy field he was in. Cursing under his breath, he was forced to lay prone beneath the dead bodies of his comrades, using them for concealment. He held his breath and made not a sound as the moments passed by. His only action was to socket his field bayonet to the barrel end of his rifle.
After a little while, a six-man patrol of Chinese soldiers appeared in sight — far fewer than the enemy platoon the soldier expected. What's more, their stances were nervous and their faces were fresh and young; these men were quite clearly unprofessional conscripts.
One of them, the patrol leader, shouted a series of commands in his language and indicated at the gathered American corpses. He briefly then held up a hand and made some circling motions with his index finger, obviously motioning his squad regroup prior to investigate the area.
Figuring that he should seize the moment before he was discovered, the soldier pushed himself up to a kneeling position, with his gun already brought to bear on the closest enemy soldier. The conscript had barely any time to shout in alarm before he was perforated by an R91 rifle burst: three 5.56 caliber rounds precisely delivered to his torso.
Before the rest of the communists could even react to their comrade's body hitting the ground, the soldier had already switched targets and put two rounds in quick succession into the patrol leader's head. Having nothing but a shoddy ushanka to protect his skull, the man was dead even before the second round split his head wide open and spilled its contents into the snow.
The Chinese reacted with surprise at first, but with violence a second later. The soldier ducked down and pushed up a private's corpse to rest over the lieutenant, using them as improvised cover. The repetitive thudding of Type 93 rifles discharging in full-auto and the meaty thwacks signifying a successful hit on a corpse were all the sounds he heard during the fifteen seconds he spent huddling under the dead.
When the shooting stopped, the soldier knew it was time to strike. He crouched up from cover and sprayed wild, inaccurate fire, wounding a few conscripts and successfully killing one with two bullets to the chest and another through the head. He didn't stop to express his dismay when his rifle clicked empty, and instead, he launched himself forward into the fastest sprint he ever attempted in his life, holding his bayoneted rifle up like an improvised pike and bellowing a terrible war cry as he did so.
The undisciplined conscripts were surprised at the very least to see the lone American actually leaving cover to engage them in melee. One of them lost his nerve, dropped his gun and ran away, while the other two struggled to quickly reload their Type 93's.
The soldier made contact with the second to last conscript with the length of his bayonet through the man's stomach. The conscript screamed a shrilly death cry as the soldier cruelly twisted the blade sheathed inside of him. He was then put out of his misery when the American retracted his rifle and smashed the gun's alloy stock into his face.
As the dead man's body dropped to the ground, the soldier was already on the assault. Instead of sensibly choosing to just pull out his sidearm and shoot the last conscript from where he stood, the soldier charged his enemy, adrenaline coursing through his veins and bloodlust clouding his judgement.
He endeavored to inflict the cruelest of deaths upon his final foe... it was nothing less than what the commie bastard deserved.
The last, burly conscript had just finished reloading. He leveled his gun over at the charging, screaming American, but much to his dismay, the poor, mass-produced quality of his weapon caused it to promptly jam as he depressed the trigger.
On his end, the soldier quickly closed the remaining distance between himself and his foe. Once he was at melee range, he anticipated and ducked under a clumsy rifle swing from the conscript, and quickly retaliated by thrusting his gun upwards and spearing the man right through the gut, expecting him to go down just as easily as his comrade did before him.
Instead of that, the conscript held onto the R91's frame, and with all the strength and force he could muster, shoved back. The soldier felt all the air from his lungs escape his mouth as his own gun's metallic stock smashed into his ribs, causing him to stagger back, gasping for breath.
The conscript unsheathed the bayoneted rifle from his own stomach with a slight grunt before angrily throwing it away. The American had enough time to hear a furious, bellowing screech before he was hit by a crushing tackle from the conscript, causing him to crumple to the ground from the sheer brutish force delivered by his muscular foe.
The soldier endured having the life pounded from out of him with every heavy-handed strike from the angry communist straddling him. He held up his arms to defend himself, but the conscript was unrelenting; he regretted having spent an inordinate amount of time at the CP shooting range instead of the gym. Salvation only came when the conscript held back his fist and briefly stopped for breath.
Ever the opportunist, the soldier suddenly clouted the conscript squarely by the jaw, leaving him too stunned to avoid getting a padded knee delivered to his vulnerable nether regions. The conscript howled in agony, and the soldier was completely free to hold the conscript by his tactical harness to force him to the ground, essentially switching positions with his foe.
While the conscript was still trying to recover, the soldier had already unclipped the entrenching tool hanging from his belt. Baring his teeth, he hoisted the steel implement up in the air and bludgeoned the conscript's head once, drawing blood from his mouth and knocking a couple of teeth out from the sheer force of the blow.
"Yankee, w-wait!" The conscript finally spoke in stilted, heavily-accented English.
Consumed in murderous, uncontrollable rage, the soldier held up the tool once again and delivered another strike, audibly fracturing the skull and knocking the conscript's goggles away, revealing young eyes slanted in palpable terror.
The soldier screamed like a wild animal as he smashed the shovel against the conscript's face with all his might. The heavy-handed blow splattered blood just everywhere; it hideously disfigured the conscript's face and caved the front of his skull inwards. By now, it seemed cruel to let such a wretched creature continue living.
The soldier raised the entrenching tool, hovering it just over his vanquished adversary's exposed throat blade first. Channeling all his anger and hate into one final strike, he plunged the tool downwards.
He awoke from his dream to the sound of rain and a running engine. The taxi seat was too soft and comfortable; he was lulled to sleep almost immediately after the cab started moving.
"Here is a telephone, as you requested." The driver, one of the only few dozen of his kind in the entirety of north-central France thanks to the nightmarish shortage of natural gas in the planet, gestured outside the cab, towards a phone booth near a disused alleyway.
James Kryger, a major in the United States military, ground his teeth in concentration as he briefly studied the area, looking for anything unusual.
"Thanks, this'll do nicely enough." He replied in the man's tongue. "How much was the fare?" He almost dreaded to ask.
"That's the most intelligible French I've heard from a Yank in a while." The driver grumbled. "Not that that's saying much, though. Eleven-thousand francs, if you'd please."
Kryger frowned at that. "Just eleven thousand? I was expecting to shell out at least twenty-five."
"Nuclear-powered reactor, my friend. No gas, only nuclear energy." The driver affectionately patted his car's steering wheel. "How else do you think I can still drive this cab around? Before all traffic in Europe stopped moving around seventeen years ago, I had the sense of mind to predict that I'll have to stop relying on fuel just to keep on driving, so I "commissioned" a reactor from my smuggler friend in the Corsican black market. It cost me a fortune and my left testicle, but hey, I can still drive."
"Fascinating story." Kryger faked interest as he handed over the cash. "But... do wait here for a moment, sir. I'll be needing another ride to the airport in a moment."
"Hmm-hm." The driver dismissively nodded as the major disembarked from the vehicle. "For your own safety, do hurry up, will you? Unlike me, most other Parisians don't take too kindly to Americans because of what soldiers like you did to Cana—"
"Duly noted." The major closed the car door shut before the man could prattle on. He made his way to the phone booth, ignoring the rain and wind.
After paying the hefty fee and dialing in a number for an overseas call, Kryger pulled up his sleeve and stole a quick glance at his watch as he waited for the person at the other end of he line to receive.
FRI, 22/10/2077|4:43PM CET
He was briefly confused at the date format, until he remembered that the watch was a gift from his extended family in Warsaw. He considered resetting the settings to match the American date format, when the distinct sound of the telephone being picked up registered in his hearing.
"Mariposa United States R&D Installation, this is Roger Maxson on the line..." The person spoke up, somewhat glumly, as Kryger was quick to observe. He also took careful note of how Maxson neglected to mention anything about his rank of captain, as was usual. "Who is this I'm speaking to? Is this the Army?"
"Well, aren't you the master of the obvious." Kryger lightheartedly snarked. "Roger, it's me, Jimmy. Got a minute to talk?"
Captain Maxson seemed to gain a little speck of energy when he heard the major's distinctive, slightly Bostonian-accented voice. "Major Jim Kryger? Jesus, it's been, what, seven months since last we talked! I heard from the brass that you're in Europe on diplomatic duties with an ambassador!"
"Yeah, Ambassador Richards and I just parted company recently. The mission's a bust." Kryger said. "Britain, Switzerland, Poland-Lithuania, Germany, Norway and France — in that order — have all rejected to side with us in our war with the PRC until we start selling natural gas to them again... even though they know just how close the president is to escalating alertness to DEFCON 2."
He grimaced. "And it's much worse down here in France: President Mélenchon is threatening to cut diplomatic ties with the US in light of our recent... ahem, activities... up north. He thinks we're no worse than the Nazis, for God's sake."
"Ah, what else is new? The fact that you even came to Switzerland to convince the "neutral" bastards to do anything should've convinced you that your efforts were already in vain." Maxson seemed only a little displeased at the news. He actually seemed resigned. "It's all coming apart, James. Everything is coming apart."
"Our visit here wasn't completely pointless, though." Feeling that he's driving his old friend further into depression, Kryger figured he should change to a more uplifting facet of his trip to Europe.
"The Soviet premier agreed to pitch in with the States against the PRC in exchange for nuclear reactor schematics and power armor prototypes. Ambassador Richards liked the deal — he even agreed to let more delegates from the USSR inside our little Vault project at home."
"Well, that's reassuring. Who's to say the chummy commies won't turn on us after we're done with the Chinese?" Maxson seemed ever the pessimist. "Look, James, my men and I have just witnessed some godawful, extremely fucked-up shit down here in Mariposa, and frankly, I don't have the stomach for any more bad news. Did you ring me just to—"
"I called you up because I wanted to hear from an old friend. What sort of fucked-up shit are we talking about here, Roger?" Kryger interjected. "Chinese-American internment camps? Starving civilians? Canadian rioters getting executed in the streets?"
Captain Maxson sighed. "Much, much worse than the standard fare, I'm afraid to say. Listen, I don't know if you've heard what I told the top brass two days ago, and I'm not completely sure if you'll be able to understand why, but the things I've seen in the past few days convinced me of something."
Kryger was silent for a long while, enough to convince Maxson that he hung up. "...I'm listening, captain, go on."
"I'm not a captain anymore, James... at least, I think so. The sheer amount of bullshit our so-called "leaders" have been ordering us to pull off and their blatant misapplication of military technology cannot be allowed to continue. Let's face the facts — the United States is doomed to an undignified death by nuclear fire if men like us continue to carry out orders from the clueless, ignorant man-children in Washington."
"So... I'm guessing that two days ago, you and your men deserted from the army." Major Kryger correctly guessed. "What did High Command say over the radio?"
"You know me too much, Jim. Yes, we deserted. And I wish I can give you a proper answer to that — the brass didn't even give us the common courtesy of a response. We got nothing but static, and no one's come to take Mariposa back from us yet."
Kryger narrowed his eyes. "Roger, I don't know what kind of skeletons you've discovered in that particular government closet, but are you sure it's bad enough to warrant desertion?"
"Oh, it's bad, Jim. Just... terrible." Maxson started, seemingly reluctant to recall the things he witnessed just two days prior. "It spoke volumes of the president and his toadies in Washington and the Pentagon, really. It revealed to me just how low our government is willing to go in order to win this godforsaken war."
The former US Army captain seemed to pause to take a drink out of a flask. "I mean, I've seen plenty of inhuman things done by man against his fellow man, and with a résumé like yours, I'm sure you've seen a lot of shit too. But believe me when I tell you that they're nothing compared to what the Mariposa science team did. You know anything about the Forced Evolutionary Virus — FEV?"
The major frowned. "I... might've come across a file of it when it was still in the PVP development phase. Why?"
"Yeah, as it turns out, the Pentagon wants to develop the FEV as a bioweapon against the Chinese. The virus turns American soldiers into big, hulking masses of green muscle, capable of killing several times their number in PRC troops before succumbing. Problem is, the tests don't always go as planned."
"I've seen the project results on animals, but I haven't seen the virus' effects on humans." Kryger said. "What did you see?"
"It's disgusting, major. The Mariposa science team had been using "volunteers" for test subjects. I've seen dissidents, internees, Canadian guerrillas, POWs captured in Alaska and even Army defectors go through the labs and come out as mutated blobs of limbs, tongues and mottled flesh... "centaurs", as the men have taken to calling these rejects— these poor, unfortunate victims of rampant technological misuse."
"I see. Where are these scientists now?"
"Where they belong: Hell." Maxson decisively answered. "Just before I had the cowards all executed, they told me they were just following orders from the Pentagon. Bah, I've heard war criminals make better excuses for atrocities."
Kryger heaved a sigh, "Alright, I understand why you deserted. Still, why are you telling me all this? Aren't you worried I might take a couple of battalions tomorrow and retake the base from you?"
"You're my brother, James." Maxson replied, rather simply. "We've been watching each other's backs from high school, to West Point, to Anchorage, to Canada and to the Chinese mainland itself. I know your true loyalty lies with the Army, but I know you won't do me harm. Were our situations reversed, I'll do the same for you."
"Indeed..." The major thoughtfully nodded. "Roger, I'm going to have to call you later — we'll take more about this at a later date. And for our sakes, I do hope you change your mind about leaving the Army, or the brass never gets to hear of your desertion... I'd really hate to kill you."
Maxson forced out a chuckle. "And if you ever change your mind about serving war criminals and blind idiots, don't hesitate to call this line. Goodbye, James."
"I hope we meet again under better circumstances." Kryger quickly worded out before he cut the line and hung up the phone.
"What have you done, Maxson?" He muttered to himself.
For a long while, he just stood there, soaking up the polluted Parisian rain. "What have you done?"
The cab driver pulled down his car window. "Monsieur? If you're finished with your call, we should really get going now before the local gangs see your uniform."
Kryger recomposed himself. "Just a moment, I have one last call to make."
"Your funeral, my friend." The driver pulled up his window again. Kryger tried to keep an even face as he turned around, picked up the phone, paid the seven-hundred francs needed for another international call and dialed in a new number.
"Kryger residence. This is Kathérine speaking." The woman on the other line said.
After a long period of separation due to his duties, Kryger felt somewhat relieved to hear his wife's voice once again. "Hey, Kath."
The woman gasped. "James! I was just wondering what you're up to. Is everything fine on your end?"
"It's rainy and cold out here in your town, but I'm alright with it. How's Shaun?"
"He's doing great! Codsworth made sure of that... but did you just say you are in France right now?"
"Yeah. Paris, to be more exact." Kryger said. "Listen, I visited your parents' address in Brittany yesterday. I told them I've already taken the liberty of reserving spots for all of them in Vault 111 and they should come with me to Boston later today just in case. Your dad, however, refused to leave the country for anything."
"Papa's a good man, but he can be quite stubborn at times, as you well know." Kathérine snickered at the memories of her youth, her choice of a career, and even her wedding. Her father objected to many things she took a shine to.
"Yeah, I still remember the "speech" he made at our wedding reception. I have nightmares about it every night." The major smiled a little. "Still, while it's disappointing that they turned me down, I'm sure we won't need to use the Vault. This mess would be over soon, Kath."
"I hope so. When are you coming home? I'm starting to miss you."
"Actually, the general had just given me a month of paid leave in exchange for attending a veterans' little get-together tomorrow. This afternoon, I'll be taking a flight straight to Boston as soon as I get to the local airport."
"That's awfully nice of dear old Chase." Kathérine spoke in an overly sweet, highly-sarcastic tone. "I bet he wants to repay you for taking the title "Hero of Anchorage" from its rightful owner."
"I wouldn't want the publicity anyway. The old man can have all of it for all I care." Kryger replied dismissively. "I'll see you soon, love. Say hello to Shaun for me."
"—was serving as a T-45a power-armored platoon leader when his unit began an assault on a heavily fortified Chinese compound just southwest of Cooper's Landing on December 21, 2072. At the very tip of his platoon's spearhead formation, 1st Lieutenant James Kryger ordered his unit to a halt when he heard the subtle buzzing of enemy cloaking modules powering up. After telling his men to switch to thermal vision, 1st Lieutenant James executed a sudden bayonet charge, completely surprising the Chinese elite commandos in their midst and successfully dispatching all thirty-nine of them after a bitter, bitter fight in extremely close quarters. 1st Lieutenant James shows extreme..."
Kryger was growing tired of hearing General Constantine Chase reciting his many accomplishments during his third tour of Alaska. He had grown to dislike the attention his supposedly extraordinary feats brought whenever he was given leave to go home, especially when army recruitment posters have started using his name and likeness to motivate young men to enlist.
It wasn't his fault that medals and promotions were being thrown his way by the truckloads because of his uncanny knack for thriving in grim odds and the droves of senior officers steadily being killed off in battle.
"...and it is with great pleasure that I hereby bestow upon him for his conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty, our nation's highest military honor: the Congressional Medal of Valor." Chase grandly declared. "The inspiring leadership and heroic aggressiveness displayed by 1st Lieutenant James upheld the highest..."
Kryger would've turned down the award just so he could avoid hearing Chase's oratory voice, if it weren't for his family overseas pressuring him to accept it. He calmly waited until the trenchcoated old man with a stogie walked up and placed the medal around his neck and pinned the requisite ribbon to his chest.
"You've done this country proud, son." Chase smirked, revealing teeth yellowed by decades of frequent tobacco abuse. "Congratulations. Thank you for your service."
"The pleasure's all mine, general." The lieutenant took the man's offered hand and shook it, just as the gathered audience of civilians and military personnel alike started cheering and clapping.
Barely ten minutes later, Kryger was already sitting behind a desk in an interview room Chase set up for him, forcing his eyes to condition themselves to frequent camera flashes.
Several men in suits — government officials, journalists and other "important" people, by the looks of them — have come to each have a few words and a picture taken with him. He tried to look as happy and willing as he could, but after a few dozen people in, his enthusiastic facade started to crumble.
"How did it feel when you've held a dying soldier in your arms, futilely trying to staunch his bleeding while desperately calling for a medic?" A grizzled, older-looking man who was very obviously a veteran film director, asked another of his inane questions.
"For the last time, sir, I never did any of that while in Alaska." Kryger droned in a flat, emotionless monotone.
"Nonsense! All Medal of Valor recipients have each held a dying comrade in their arms at least once during their tours." The director haughtily exclaimed in an obnoxious New Jersey intonation. "Can't you remember anyone you've held as they lay bleeding to death? There was a lot of blood, right?"
"Oh, of course. How could I forget." The lieutenant's expression was that of utter boredom, and his voice was completely deadpan. "I felt my whole world crumbling as I tried in vain to shove his insides back into his stomach. He then reached out and whispered to me, compelling me to tell his mother how he did his best. I screamed into the air when he finally stopped breathing, and then it started to rain... for some reason. Also, yes... there was a lot of blood. By the gallons. Happy?"
"More than happy. This is... this is perfect!" The director seemed to choke back a sob as he dutifully scribbled down notes on a tiny scrap of paper. He stood up, looking satisfied. "Thank you for your service, lieutenant. God bless you." He saluted Kryger with the wrong hand.
"Yes, yes... next!" Deeply irritated, Kryger dismissed the impudent man, who was promptly escorted out of the room by two soldiers. His next company was a raven-haired, green-eyed woman of short stature, outfitted in full photojournalist gear.
"Lieutenant James Kryger, I've been following your war exploits closely. It's an honor to finally meet you in person." The woman said as she took a seat across the lieutenant's desk. Her way of speaking betrayed her European origins — French, to be more precise.
"Congratulations on your award... it's fortunate that the president himself took notice of your actions in Alaska; I doubt General Chase would have the humility to give you some credit for taking the fight to the PLA."
"Thank you." Kryger nodded as he adopted the most diplomatically neutral face he could muster. "Since we're off to a decent-ish start, I'll pretend I didn't hear your previous statement about my superior officer. Now, what do you wish to talk about, ma'am?"
"Ah, well as you can see from what I took to wearing, you might have guessed that I work for a certain... foreign news agency. I'm trying to compile a story on the ongoing Anchorage Reclamation, and I feel that I should hear all about the conflict from none other than you: the man who killed the infamous General Jingwei."
Kryger frowned as he shook his head. "I'm sorry, ma'am, but as a foreign agent, I cannot provide you with information concerning the conflict in Alask—"
He then realized something. "Hey, wait a tick. Are you perhaps Kathérine Saunier, from the Paris Héraut paper agency? Chase himself actually warned me about meeting you here, you know."
"Really, now...?" The woman inclined an inquisitive brow. "And what did the old man say about me?"
"He said he should have his men arrest and deport you from the country for allegedly infiltrating his Oregon estate after bypassing the perimeter security. He's also more than a little pissed at you for contributing to a major smear campaign against him." Kryger answered frankly, neglecting to add the copious amount of profanity Chase used. "I couldn't care less about the latter, but did you really sneak into his home?"
"I... uh," She hesitated. "...might have... accidentally stumbled into his house... completely by chance, of course."
"You might've also "accidentally" stolen his personal journal and several other classified documents from his study room, need I mention. And if I could hazard a guess from the discarded roll of film found inside the house, you probably have taken a few dozen unauthorized pictures, too..."
Kryger smirked as the woman sank further and further into her seat. "I'd have you pegged as a PRC spy if I didn't know any better, but I do recognize a person being uncommonly dedicated to her job when I see one. Question is, why are you doing all this, ma'am?"
At this, Kathérine seemed to gain focus. "I'm sure I don't need to tell you this, but General Chase is slime, lieutenant. He's not even a very good military leader and yet, he keeps on taking credit from the soldiers under him. If America seeks to prevail against China, I think the general should be replaced with someone less vain and a lot more competent."
"Shush! Keep your damn voice down." He ordered under his breath, to which the photojournalist meekly nodded. "You know an awful lot about the war in Alaska for a foreigner, even with the general's journal and those documents in your possession."
"I do a lot of hands-on research unlike most journalists these days." The woman lightheartedly boasted. "Going through people's dirty laundry is an activity I excel at, I'm proud to say."
"And I'm sure you won't get a lot of fans in Washington with that set of skills." The lieutenant grimly muttered to himself. "Tell you what, let me inform you that I share some of your sentiments about General Chase, and Anchorage Command in general. I feel that the ground-pounders in Alaska should get more recognition from the media."
"Then help me out, lieutenant! I'll make sure soldiers like yourself get all the credit they deserve not just in America, but overseas as well!" Kathérine pleaded.
Kryger sighed, "I'm not too keen on the extra publicity myself, but I'll help you out for the sake of my unsung brothers." Though before his guest could celebrate in triumph, he stopped her dead in her tracks with a pointed glare.
"But, I have three things I need you to understand before I can agree to anything. One, I'll never divulge highly-classified information such as troop movements, planned operations, weapon developments and the like. Two, I'm going to need Chase's journal and those documents back in the exact same quality as they were before you got your mitts on them..."
The lieutenant quickly checked to make sure the photojournalist was still listening. "...and three, you're gonna have to make the deal worth my while. The brass will have me hanged, drawn and quartered if they found out I've been giving info to a civilian journalist without express authorization you see... and they'll probably do much, much worse if they found out that she's also from a European paper agency."
"Your first two terms are fair... I like them." The woman smiled, nodding. "But what are you willing to trade in exchange for the information I seek? I'm afraid I don't have much money with me now; I'm almost broke after four months of traveling all around the commonwealths."
Kryger chuckled at that. "Ah, you must've mistaken me for corrupt, Ms. Saunier. I've no need for cash."
"Then... is there something... specific, you needed from me?"
The lieutenant saw the faint spark in Kathérine's eyes, but he quickly disregarded it. He wasn't the kind of person for such games. "Hmm... you know, I've almost completely forgotten my high school level language classes. How about I trade you Anchorage intel for regular lessons in French? We can teach each other — I still know quite a bit of Polish and Lithuanian from my immigrant parents."
He could practically feel the warmth and joy radiating from the woman when she beamed at him. "We have a deal then, Lieutenant Kryger! I'm glad we've reached an agreement. When and where should we meet?"
"Eh, tomorrow at eleven-hundred hours should be fine. Can you travel to Sanctuary Hills in Boston? My exact address is in this card." He took out one of his spare business cards from his coat pocket and handed it over to the photojournalist.
She briefly examined it. "Yes... yes, I think I can. We'll see each other tomorrow, yes?" She extended a hand for the lieutenant to take.
"If the weather's lovely and I'm in the mood, yeah." He smiled as he shook her hand. "Wait a minute, can you hear that mechanical beeping?"
Kathérine blithely continued shaking Kryger's hand, her expression blank and unnerving. "You have a veterans' meeting scheduled in three hours, James. Wake up."
He inclined his head to the side, his brows furrowed in confusion. "Excuse me?"
"Come on, James. It's time to wake up."
"Have you changed your mind about attending, love?"
Kryger slipped back into consciousness to the sound of an alarm clock beeping. Opening his eyes, sitting up and looking briefly around, he was somewhat relieved to find out that he was at home in Sanctuary Hills, lying in his bed.
"Is everything alright?"
He swiveled his head to face Kathérine Saunier-Kryger, his wife of three years and the mother of his son, Shaun Kryger. She wasn't clothed except for a towel wrapped all over her body and her dark hair glinted in the sunlight.
"Hmm, it's okay, I'm fine." He silenced the alarm.
"Then you should hurry up and get yourself presentable, hero." She adopted a smirk. "General Chase will have your hide if he heard you didn't attend."
"Don't remind me." He grumbled as he got off of bed and suntered off into the living room. Merely a couple of seconds in, he promptly ran across the house's resident Mister Handy robotic butler, generously donated by the patriotic folks at General Atomics for services rendered to the country.
"Pleasant morning, major!" Codsworth floated up to and cordially greeted his master as he slowly walked by. "I never had the chance to ask you last night because I figured you were tired after your flight from the Old World, but I must ask, how was your mission to Europe? Have you been to England, by any chance?" The Mister Handy extended one of his limbs, handing over a steaming mug of coffee for Kryger to take.
Kryger took the mug and gently stirred it with the little spoon it came with. "I've been to England, yes, but the mission... it didn't end as well as we hoped, Codsworth." He took his usual spot on the couch, facing the television.
"Ah, but you can't succeed every time, couldn't you, major?" Codsworth vocalized a tinny little laugh. "But what of England, then? Did you meet the king while you're there? I do so hope he's doing okay without his cars..."
"Huh. I've some bad news for you, buddy. Apparently, the current prime minister's predecessor had gotten rid of the British monarchy two years ago because Henry XIII stirred up a violent revolt and tried to turn the UK back into a despotic, hereditary kingdom."
Kryger shook his head and shrugged as he took a sip out of his mug. "King Henry is now just a nameless prisoner from the abolished House of Windsor."
"They... they actually dismantled the monarchy?! Oh, such a shame!" The robot dramatically exclaimed in extreme dismay. "A pity that we don't have much media coverage of the Isles anymore... I would've known about this sooner and then maybe I wouldn't have been so surprised!"
"Times are changing." The major said with a grimace. The sugar rationing was taking its toll on his early morning coffee. "And not for the better."
"Not for the bitter indeed, sir." The robotic butler just couldn't resist.
Kryger tried to visibly cringe, but he actually laughed at that. "Never change, Codsworth."
Suddenly, an infant's wail was heard throughout the house, interrupting the usual morning news broadcast.
"I'll tend to Master Shaun, sir!" Codsworth piped up before Kryger could even react. "You just relax, goodness knows how much you needed rest after kicking so many commie tails!" Kryger quietly watched as Codsworth floated off in his usual chipper manner, humming to the tune of "Rule, Britannia!".
Just as the Mister Handy departed, Kathérine appeared from the master bedroom, having finished dressing up in a black formal dress to accompany her husband to the veterans' meeting.
"Have you heard about what happened to the Jaoming family from just across the street?" She asked.
Kryger lowered the volume on the television as he turned to regard her.
"While I was in Norway, I heard they've started boarding their house and amassing guns. Why, something bad happened to them now?"
"I saw the whole thing from the windows upstairs, it was terrifying." Kathérine set herself some tea and turned on the gramophone as she talked. "The National Guard actually got a tank and soldiers in power armor to intimidate the Jaomings into getting out of their fortress. I heard they're in an internment camp in New Mexico now, after having been suspected as Chinese spies."
Kryger stared into his coffee for a long, uncomfortably silent while as an old Edith Piaf song echoed from the gramophone. He remembered Maxson telling him about internees and other undesirables being used by the government for experiments of extremely unethical nature, and if the horrid stories he described were indeed true, the Jaomings would've been better off executed instead of interned.
Shaking his head from the clouds, Kryger gulped down the mug and stood up. "...I'm gonna use the shower. Can you tell Codsworth to bring my BDU over?"
Kathérine placed her hands on her hips. "A battledress uniform, really? You're not going off to war again today, James. I'll let Codsworth with Shaun and get you some real clothes befitting of your rank."
Arguing with her was pointless, Kryger reasoned. Without complaint, he turned and headed off to the shower. The water was frigidly cold thanks to the damnable energy rationing, but Alaska taught him to resist much lower temperatures. Before long, there was a knock on the bathroom door.
"James, I've got your ceremonial dress uniform!" His wife called out outside.
Kryger finished up and covered himself with a towel. When he opened the door, he had to mentally stop himself from covering his face with his palm.
"I'm saving that for my funeral, Kath..." He scratched his stubbly chin as he examined the uniform and coat he was being offered.
"And you'd make for a ruggedly handsome corpse in this outfit." She adopted a sly grin as she pushed his clothes to his chest. "Come now, there's no need to be modest; this'll look great on you. When was the last time you wore something that caught the ladies' eyes?"
He grumbled as he took hold of the set of clothes he was offered. "I've never worn anything more decorated than a gilded suit of power armor in a ceremonial detail once, and I still caught your eye."
"Yes, but it was a slow process. It took me a year to realize how good you look in uniform!" She giggled as he blushed at the memory. "Just put that on and let's see the results, okay? Do this for me, James."
"Ach, very well..." He was disgusted at how easily he was talked into things by his wife. "I suppose since I'm going to wear this, I might as well go all the way."
Kathérine faked obliviousness. "Oh, Major Kryger. Whatever could you mean by that?"
"Such impatience..." Kryger shook his head as he held the bathroom door partially closed. "Wait until I get dressed and away from all the water. I'm not in the mood to be electrocuted."
His wife surprised him by pushing the door shut for him. "Get to it then, soldier! Don't keep your lady waiting!"
Thus after a period of five minutes getting into his clothes, the major stepped out of the door looking positively grand in his new outfit: a dark green army officer's uniform with an LAS008-pattern armored greatcoat worn over it, complimented by a military peaked cap perched atop his head.
The full outfit itself would've looked modest enough by itself, but the sheer amount of decorations it came equipped with such as a golden pair of epaulettes and the requisite aiguillette on the coat, an officer's sash worn diagonally across the chest over the uniform itself, and the obligatory rows of service ribbons over his breast have all left a bitter taste in Kryger's mouth.
"So..." He faked an earnest smile as he stood in front of Kathérine to be examined. "How do I look?"
"Ouah..." Kathérine gaped at the sight of her husband. He looked like a completely different person in his ceremonial dress. "...Why didn't I make you wear this outfit a lot more often? You look like someone straight out of the Napoleonic era!"
"Or a goose-stepping fascist." The major snarked. "I suppose I should get the—"
Codsworth suddenly pivoted around a corner, holding what appeared to be a curved, ceremonial sabre sheathed in a gilded scabbard in one of his mechanical limbs. "Sorry, sir, but my processors just couldn't help but overhear your little conversation with mum! Needless to say, I took the liberty of retrieving this," He extended the sheathed blade for his master to take. "-for you from the armory in the basement. You're welcome!"
Kryger slowly received the blade. "I appreciate it, Codsworth, but you should handle this thing with a lot more care next time. Need I remind you, this is no ordinary sword — it's not even ceremonial. It's a reverse-engineered, officer's sabre-styled copy of General Jingwei's shocksword."
"Not to worry, sir. I treated the blade with the utmost care and vigilance. Why, it would appall me so if my circuits were abruptly shorted in the line of duty — Master Shaun hasn't even reached maturity yet!" The Mister Handy chuckled heartily.
The doorbell rang, all the sudden.
"I'll get it." Kryger clipped the sword to his belt, completing his outfit. He walked up to the door and answered it, revealing a middle-aged man in a yellow Vault-Tec overcoat and hat.
"Major Kryger! I didn't expect to see you home!" The Vault-Tec sales representative greeted him with an overly sunny grin. Kryger had known long ago that this cheerful demeanor of his was a facade. "Heh, nice outfit! Heading off to another ceremonial detail, are you?"
"Mr. Beckett." The major extended his glove-covered hand for the other man to shake. Privately, he wished to be rid of the uppity man's company soon. "It's good to see you again, but haven't we already sorted out the forms for my family's reservations to Vault 111?"
Representative Beckett politely shook the major's hand. "That's correct, but the overseer requires one final thing before your reservations could be finalized. You just need to fill this out, and your family's all set for the future!" He pulled out a hefty-looking form and handed it over for Kryger to fill out.
"Hmm, and you're sure about that?" The major pulled out a pen and looked over the stack of Vault-Tec paperwork.
"Well, even if you didn't have the foresight to pre-emptively reserve a spot in the Vault, your extensive, highly distinguished service to the country would've already seen you and your family reserved a spot automatically!" Ever full of false cheer, Beckett replied.
"Heh heh... even your eurotrash wife." He added under a breath, as if not counting on the other man to hear it.
Kryger, however, had to sharpen his senses just to stay alive in Alaska. Upon hearing Beckett, he suddenly stopped, visibly flinching. After a short while, he pocketed his pen and looked to the Vault-Tec rep, his expression blank and unreadable.
"Mr. Beckett, can you take a closer look at this sentence here?" He held up the form for the representative to see as he subtly took a step back into the house. "There must be an error while printing this form — I can't decipher the writing."
"Err, what?" Beckett climbed the front porch steps and leaned into the doorway to get a better view of the fine print. "Let me see th—"
Kryger suddenly retracted the form, took hold of the doorknob, and with all the strength and force he could summon, rammed the door straight onto Beckett's face as he leaned forward.
Kathérine and Codsworth were immediately roused by the loud thud of the impact. Both went over to the door just in time to see Kryger holding the door open, with Representative Beckett sprawled on his back at the front porch, writhing in agony.
"Uppity xenophobic bastard," Kryger spat onto the ground, near Beckett's feet. "Call my wife that again, and I'll break more than just your teeth and nose. Get the fuck out of my yard."
"Good lord." If Codsworth had hands and a mouth, he'd be using the former to cover the latter in sheer mortification.
"James..." Kathérine approached her husband and placed a calming hand on his tensed shoulder.
Representative Beckett spent a few more seconds pathetically rolling on the ground and wiping the blood trailing from his nose and mouth before picking himself up.
"You'll regret this, you retarded Polack! I'll report this incident to make sure you and your commie-loving family are barred from entering every goddamn Vault in the whole fucking country!" He cursed at the major as he scooped up his suitcase and hobbled off.
"When the nukes come, I hope you all fucking BURN in nuclear fire!" He shouted one final time as he disappeared from sight around a corner, but Kryger had already slammed the door shut on him moments ago.
"Good riddance." The major scoffed. Kathérine and Codsworth stared at him in silence as he nonchalantly went back to business, filling out the forms Beckett left behind.
"Sir, if I may," Codsworth talked a bit hesitantly. "While that man probably deserved to get his nose bashed inwards, don't you think what you did was a little... unwise?"
"That rep might just go through with his threat, James." Kathérine worriedly added. "I'm already used to people treating me like filth after hearing me talk and the neighbors giving me pointed looks or accusing me of being a spy. You... shouldn't have done that."
It was times like these that Kryger seriously considered resigning from the army and moving away from this country of jingoistic xenophobes and self-righteous warmongers. But then, he remembered that everywhere else around the world, things were very much the same, if not even worse.
Not one corner of the Earth remained pure and innocent nowadays. Ever since the Middle East ran out of oil and the European Commonwealth disbanded, the entire civilized world was progressively losing itself to greed, prejudice and darkness.
Kryger closed his eyes and sighed. "I know Vault-Tec; my mother used to work there as an office worker. Like her back in those days, Beckett is just an expendable asset — to be used and discarded as the company directors saw fit."
He opened his eyes and adopted his usual confident, steely expression. "That man cannot—"
"Uhm, sir..." Kryger turned on his heel to see Codsworth floating just in front of the television set. "I think you should come and see this! Mum, too!"
Kathérine was slow to react, but Kryger was quickly at the butler's side, knowing that something must indeed be very wrong if Codsworth wasn't his usual, chipper self.
"—followed by... yes, flashes — followed by lightning flashes. Sounds of... explosions." The news anchor on the TV screen was obviously profusely sweating despite the typically poor quality of the broadcast. "We're, uh, trying to get confirmation."
"What?" Kathérine's eyes were wide open, and her stance was as nervous as the man behind the screen. "Is he... is he talking about... oh." She covered her mouth with her free hand as the major continued watching the broadcast, grinding his teeth in fearful anticipation.
Could it be? Could it really be the end of all things by nuclear fire and radiation?
The anchor swiped his forehead and took a quick sip out of a nearby glass of water. "We've seem to have lost contact with all affiliate stations... we do— we do have coming in... it's uh," He involuntarily sighed, interrupting himself. "...confirmed reports, I repeat, confirmed reports of n-nuclear detonations in New York... and Pennsylvania..."
"M-my God..." The man on the screen covered his face with his hands and dejectedly leaned into his desk, just before the broadcast was abruptly cut to static. Immediately afterwards did the couple hear vertibirds circling the air, followed by the emergency sirens.
"Oh... oh no." Kathérine dropped her teacup in shock.
Kryger took her by the shoulder and locked eyes with her — focused, steely gray orbs staring into panicked, fear-stricken green.
"Kath, we need to get to the Vault. Now." He gave her a rough shake. "Let's go get Shaun. Codsworth, can you see if it's clear outside?"
"Will do, major!" The Mister Handy unit quickly floated off out the door as Kryger and Kathérine hurried off and retrieved their son together. Kathérine was was forced to hold the infant in her arms when Kryger diverted his course to quickly snatch his service pistol from the basement downstairs.
When the young family regrouped and vacated out of their house, the full extent of the chaos wrought on by imminent nuclear annihilation greeted them.
"Sir, mum, you need to get to the Vault, quickly!" Codsworth navigated the sea of panicking civilians and soldiers marching to get to his masters. "My sensors have found no sign of communists around, and you should have a clear path to Vault 111 if you hurry!"
"Shaun will miss you." Kathérine's held back tears. "We will miss you."
Kryger placed a hand over Codsworth's chrome central body. "All those NBC modifications I built into your chassis should keep you safe and sound while you wait for us to return, so don't be sad, Codsworth. This isn't goodbye." He retracted his hand.
"If— if you say so, s-sir." As if Mister Handies were even capable of crying, Codsworth was already speaking as if he was sobbing. "Good luck to you all, and until we meet again! T-take care of Master Shaun on my behalf!"
Kryger nodded, and without another word, he turned and departed along with his family to upper ground, where Vault 111 was located. On their way there, former neighbors and soldiers in conventional and powered armor scurried back and forth, passing by their sides as a lone VB-001 vertibird zoomed past everyone overhead.
"Nuclear detonation imminent! All Sanctuary Hills residents with Vault-Tec reservations, report for induction into Vault 111 immediately!" A guardsman with a megaphone announced from above, inside the aerial craft. "All other residents, please do not be alarmed! Return to your homes and fortify the windows — your chances of survival are much better inside the protection of your own home!"
Not a moment too soon, the Kryger family finally managed to reach the National Guard checkpoint just ahead of the Vault's entrance. Neighbors who have managed to get there before them were desperate to be let inside, but the guardsmen only granted access to those with reservations — something the major's family was fortunate to have.
"Captain! We have reservations, let us in!" Kryger demanded from the officer at the front of the checkpoint as he cut a path into the crowd of people.
The officer instantly recognized his fellow soldier the moment he saw Kryger's ceremonial uniform. "Just a moment, sir. We need your family's identities to confirm if you have clearance to proceed!"
Kryger wasted no time. "James Józef Kryger. This is my wife, Kathérine, and our son, Shaun. I serve under General Constantine Chase from Southeast Asia Command."
"Your rank and service number, sir."
The army officer didn't even re-check his list as he turned to his soldiers. "Men, we got one adult male, one adult female, and an infant! Make way!"
The officer saluted the major as his men cleared a path forward. "Go on right ahead, sir. The overseer's waiting for you. Good luck!"
Kryger nodded and turned to Kathérine. "Come on, there's not much time left before—"
"Why the FUCK are you letting that goddamn Polack, his pet frog and his mongrel son inside the Vault and while us patriotic, God-fearing Americans get to stay out here and rot?!"
Oh, shit. Kryger grimaced as one of his neighbors shouted at the guardsmen. He recognized the man as a shady fellow who liked to hole up inside his house for several days at a time, only leaving every Sunday midnight.
"You don't have a Vault reservation, citizen, and you're a wanted criminal to boot." The checkpoint officer firmly stated. "Stand down and go back to your home."
"Mac's got a point! Why is Vault-Tec prioritizing these foreign leeches over us true citizens? This is bullshit!" Another of the residents proclaimed.
Before things could get ugly, Kryger had Kathérine take Shaun away from the gates and over to the Vault's entrance platform. He was just about to follow them, when things suddenly got out of hand.
"Alright, if you idiots don't want to stand down, we're going to have a really big problem here." The National Guard officer began to lose patience. "Return to your homes and board up your windows. There's no place for you here."
"Fuck you, babykiller!" One of the crowd shouted. Kryger scowled when he saw Representative Beckett among the throng of agitated residents. "The Krygers don't even have reservations! I de-listed them and I had their spots revoked!"
"You are just a representative; you do not have the authority to do that!" The officer was hovering his hand over his sidearm at this point. "Enough! This is your FINAL warning! If you don't vacate the premises immediately, we'll be forced to put you all down for insubordina—"
The man never got to the end of his sentence when half of his face got blown off by a .44 magnum round.
"ENEMY ALERT!" A guardsman in a suit of T-60e power armor cried out in alarm as he spun up the barrel of his minigun. "Return fire! RETURN FIRE!"
The guardsmen promptly opened up on the crowd, butchering several of them outright in the initial barrage of gun and laser fire. Most of the Sanctuary Hills residents retreated back into town as the soldiers reloaded their arms, but some of those with guns and enough desperation to fight the National Guard itself never left; they stayed in cover, trading potshots with their vastly superior foes.
"Stay alert! They might come back in force!" Kryger's N99 10mm service pistol was still smoking when he put it away, totally spent. Never in all his years did he expect to actually defend himself and his family from his fellow Americans.
"Major, you don't have orders to stay here!" One of the guardsmen ran up to him. "Get to the Vault door, we'll lower you down to safety!"
Kryger shook his head. "Forget about those orders! In a few minutes, America will die, and you'd only be wasting your lives staying out here in the open! Tell the rest of these men to pull back to the Vault platform and we could all—"
Intense volleys of bullets and laser beams zipped past the two men, forcing them to head down under cover. The rest of the Sanctuary Hills residents have returned, bristling with pistols, rifles and other weaponry they retrieved from their houses.
"Move it! We'll hold them off!" The sergeant pulled up the major and dragged him to the Vault entrance platform. There, he joined a disheveled group of other reserved citizens, as well as his wife and son.
"James!" Kathérine walked up to him. "We heard explosions and gunfire coming from the gates! Is everything alright — are you hurt?"
The major gently brushed her off. "I'm fine. Stay low and keep behind me, Kath."
At the gates, the National Guardsmen valiantly held off a veritable horde of extremely well-armed civilians desperate to escape the impending nuclear apocalypse. The acting sergeant and his men continued to fight for two minutes and killed many times the number of their meager squad count of eight before they were overwhelmed by the sheer number of hostile residents encroaching on their position.
It was only until the last minute that a single guardsman in power armor barreled through the shelter housing the Vault 111 elevator switch and activated it. The last thing the two adult Krygers and their neighbors saw of the surface world before the elevator ferried them underground was their tragic savior preparing for a final stand.
The events that followed would've made for a battle worthy of the epics, if it weren't for the nuclear flash that heralded the sundering of Boston and the death of the United States.
The elevator halted to a complete stop when it reached the ground floor of the Vault.
"We did it. We made it through..." Kathérine breathed out a long sigh of relief. "We're safe... finally safe."
Kryger closed his eyes and solemnly crossed himself.
The elevator doors slid off to the side. The Vault's overseer and an unusually numerous amount of Vault 111 security officers greeted the newest dwellers at gunpoint.
"Everyone please, step off the elevator and report to the decontamination pods immediately." The overseer sounded as if he wanted to be seen as calm, but the slight quiver in his voice betrayed him.
"Unfortunately, the Vault isn't completely safe at the time being — the sealing mechanism on the Vault door has malfunctioned, and there's a chance that lethal amounts of radiation can seep into the cracks and put us all in terrible danger. Normally we'd have to get you into these jumpsuits before we could continue, but we can't take any risks... we must proceed."
And just like that, the security officers quickly surrounded and herded the batch of dwellers deeper into the Vault before they could verbally protest. As he walked, Kryger spared a look back and saw a large group of engineers in blue and yellow jumpsuits accessing the elevator to address the issue with the door.
"This will be our new home?" Kathérine wondered out loud. "It's... cramped, and strangely cold in here."
Kryger exhaled and indeed, he could see his breath in the air. "Well, it's not as pleasant as the one we had topside, but it'll have to do."
"Do you think we'll be able to return to the surface?" She worriedly asked, to no one in particular. "I don't want Shaun to live his whole life down here. When he gets older, I'd have wanted him to see his grand... parents..."
Kathérine suddenly stopped talking. Kryger saw her take her left hand from holding Shaun to choke back a sob, and he quickly moved in close to comfort her.
"No, no, no, no. I'm sure they're just fine, James. No need to worry!" She was quick to push him back with her free hand, though. "Europe isn't involved in this mess, I'm sure. Okay, m-maybe not the whole of Europe, but I'm s-sure France is safe! Failing that, Brittany should've been spared, there's n-nothing worth killing there!"
She croaked out a mirthless, bitter laugh. "Everything is just fine... there's no need to panic or worry, silly Kathérine! There's no need to—"
Kryger slipped his hand into hers. This time, she responded by holding on to it as if letting go meant death. "We'll get through this, Kath. After we get out of the Vault, we'll check on your parents as soon as possible."
She tearfully nodded and kept silent until they reached the decontamination pods.
"You there, Mr. Kryger!" As they entered the decontamination room, a Vault-Tec doctor called out to Kryger. "Come with me, sir. I'll show you and the missus to your pods."
The major felt a gun barrel poke into his back, urging him to go forth and obey. The security officers sure seemed overly eager to get the new residents to their designated chambers.
"Just step inside the pod, sir. Hurry." The doctor indicated at one of the strange machines lining up the room. "The pod will depressurize and decontaminate you while keeping you safe from any wayward radiation should the worst-case scenario back at the Vault door occur."
"You heard the doc." An officer wielding an AER9 laser rifle tilted his head to the pod. "Get in, resident. It's safe inside."
Kryger shrugged and oriented himself inside his pod. He noted how the Vault-Tec staff never seemed to object to him still wearing his ceremonial dress uniform, including the sword clipped to his belt and the 10mm pistol holstered to his side. A second later, the pod closed in over him, sealing him in place within with only a thick, rectangular glass window for vision.
The major breathed in a lungful of cold Vault 111 air as he looked ahead, spotting his wife climbing into her own pod adjacent to his while holding Shaun in her arms. When Kathérine's pod sealed itself over her, Kryger reassured her by giving an "A-OK" sign.
"Just relax, Mr. Kryger." The doctor said. "We're preparing you for the future."
"Resident, secured." An automated voice announced as the doctor departed. "Occupant vitals: NORMAL."
Kryger suddenly felt a massive temperature drop. It was as if he was in Alaska again.
"Procedure complete in: 5."
Something was definitely wrong when it got even colder. Kryger looked around his pod for an emergency exit, but found none. Frost began to accumulate on the glass window.
Still, there was... something pleasant, about the cold. It felt strangely welcoming now, like a reprieve from his burdens.
The major realized he was starting to lose consciousness fast. He looked ahead of his pod and found Kathérine already fast asleep in her own pod.
Kryger squirmed and resisted against the force lulling him to sleep. He now knew that the pods weren't functioning as the doctor claimed they should — they were a whole different thing compared to plain decontamination pods: "Cryochambers..."
It was pointless to fight against the cryosleep process. Kryger closed his eyes and gave himself to the cold.
Hello! First off, I'd like to say that trying to make the writing as American-looking as humanly possible (replacing s's with z's, replacing -re's with -er's, "manoeuvre" with "maneuver", getting rid of u's in some words, etcetera...) was somewhat tedious and annoying, but for the sake of immersion, I'm willing to write the entire story in this format.
Aaand here's the customary disclaimer:
The Fallout franchise is the property of Bethesda Softworks. I own nothing except for the shitty iPad I used to write this story with.