Part 2 – Dwelling in the Vaults

Chapter 8


The Vault System was never designed to save anyone.

This was just as true in the UK as it was in the US and Canada (having been recently annexed into the United States). The Vaults were a vast social experiment by those in power, nothing more, nothing less.

Like Vault UK-00 just outside Liverpool. This vault was designed as an experiment in social class. One half of the vault dwellers were drawn from the richest the British Isles had to offer, the other half from the poorest of the poor Britain had to offer. Then they were put inside with no clothes other than standard jumpsuits, no alcohol, no weapons, no books, no sports, no entertainment recordings. The only food was a thin nutrient gruel that came out of a spout.

Or Vault UK-10, which was populated completely by Shakespearean actors, but the only entertainment were holotapes of old American reality TV shows.

Vault UK-11 was populated half by hedonists and half by people who kept to a neo-Puritain lifestyle. Of all the vaults, this was the most successful and the biggest failure of the UK experiments.

In West Yorkshire, UK-01 was designed to test teamwork after a sudden cut off in supplies. 14 weeks after the vault door closed, luxury items started to break and the water started to only trickle from the taps. There were plenty of possibilities for people enterprising enough. There was a hidden hydroponics laboratory and a seed bank as well as many other resources if people were willing to look. The Overseer was instructed to hand out hints she received on her terminal in the most subtle of ways.

These were two examples of the experiments involved. Some were stranger, some rather normal. Not all these experiments went according to plan.

The original intent for Vault 16 was to explore the possibility of a clothing free society in the modern Britain. Otherwise, its layout, entertainment and all other facilities were the same as most other vaults. The Vault UK-16 jumpsuits were designed to break down when exposed to water. The first time they got wet, or were washed, there were no clothes.

Unfortunately, this is not what happened. Ambrose Wesleydale had been out walking in the moonlight as he tried to make a decision about his vault ticket. He didn't hear the bustle in the hedgerow next to him, nor did he note the dark shape that jumped out until it was too late. A creature, built like a heavy weight boxer with the head of a beast, sunk its jaws into the man's shoulder and shook him. Ambrose didn't really know what happened as he apparently passed out from the pain. He was rushed to the hospital and healed after some surgery and stimpaks. Later visits showed he had no infection or other side effects of his animal attack. His stitches removed three days before Vault Day, he cued up like everyone else, the attack having made his decision easy.

However, the muggle doctors were wrong.

Ambrose Wesleydale was infected, just not with a virus.

Unbeknownst to him or the staff at Vault-Tech, the "animal" that had attacked him near his suburban home went by the name of Fenrir Greyback who had been recruiting for his master.

The vault door closed two days before the next full moon.

This experiment was a failure, but turned into another as eventually every human being became infected. There was a dip in population at first, but it quickly leveled off in the next few years as the werewolves mated in their bestial forms. The infection was passed onto the next generation. A number of generations later, it was normal to be a werewolf in UK-16.

Then there was Vault UK-08.

Dudley marched into his new vault determined to be the top boss in no time. He'd gotten a good look at the others and they were all wimps. He'd put them in their place. But first he had to see if the med center had any chems.

"Damn," he grumbled finding none of his favorites he was addicted to. Withdrawal would be a bitch, but maybe someone else had smuggled some in. Leaving the med center, he made his way to the cafeteria. The vault door was closed and the dwellers started serving themselves.

"Hey, has anyone seen the Overseer or the assistant?" one skinny guy asked.

"Not since we came inside," said another. "Did anyone check the office?"

"Yeah, but that was a while ago," a woman replied. "Probably around here somewhere."

Dudley Dursley didn't really care about any overseer as he was more focused on piling as much food on his plate as he could. They had everything from pudding to Dandy Boy Apples to pie. He took a bit of each and waddled to a table. He dug in, half focused on his food and half focused on becoming UK-08's boss, when the screaming started.

He looked up, then froze in fear.

Dudley would never admit to a fear. In fact, he'd beat up anyone who said that to his face. Unfortunately a visit to the Zoo when he was eleven had given him a particular phobia. One would think that it would claustrophobia, being stuck in a small display after his freak of a cousin trapped him inside. However, that wasn't a big deal.

His parents had been working for over an hour to convince the zoo security to let Dudley go. Dudley, always wanting to get his own way, had ditched them and started banging on the cages of the animals not suitable for display. This had disturbed a particularly ornery cobra that had jumped up and bit his hand.


They'd needed three packs of anti-venom to cure the bites and Dudley had been afraid of snakes ever since.

"Snakes!" one man growled/yelled. "Why does it always have to be snakes?"

Dudley screamed like he'd been retroactively turned into a choir boy.

Vault UK-08 was filled with rats, 47 non-poisonous snake species and 800 people with Ophidiophobia and thousands of rats. There was no Overseer to keep order, no management or security robots. Food was produced in artificial green houses that also served as incubators for snakes, the only source for healthy meat after the initial stores ran out. There were no weapons other than a person's fists or a makeshift club. All machines were serviced from a second hidden vault that had no access to the snake filled rooms. Video cameras recorded it all.

Unlike other vaults it was impossible open UK-08 from the inside. It would be forty years before anyone saw the sun again when the door opened on pre-programmed command.

Some of the UK vaults were longer term experiments.

Like UK-12, which appeared normal at first, but 15 months after the vault closed, all food was laced with Tetrahydrocannabinol. It was intended to stay shut for a minimum of 60 years. There was crap for entertainment in the vault, but after those fifteen months, they didn't really care. This would end up becoming a vault of artists whose creations only made sense when one was under the influence of a mind-altering chem.

The only vault that was actually completely successful was UK-12, because people were, like, you know, too chilled out to cause trouble and, like totally down with like the stuff, uh, you know the stuff. They were also, like dude, the happiest of the vaults, as somehow, like, everything became funny. Like the blank wall. Hehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehe




Or Vaults UK-03 and UK-04.

These two were built right next to each other in Cornwall, and were part of the same experiment. Each was occupied by a group of people with the same physical traits. Background was irrelevant, dwellers were chosen on similarity to each other in terms of hair, eye and skin color, height, weight, facial structure.

Dwellers of UK-03 had red hair, blue eyes and freckles with a focus on height in both, but with broad shoulders in men and an hourglass shape in women. UK-04 had black hair, beady green eyes, pale sickly skin, hooked noses and a short, sickly build in both sexes. After 75 years, the walls separating the two vaults would retract, suddenly letting the two groups mingle for the first time since the vault doors closed.

Petunia and Vernon Dursley were assigned to UK-09 situated in the far north of Scotland.

"See Pet? No problem at all," Vernon said as they sauntered through the well maintained cavern entrance. "And now we're going to live the good life. Mr. Handys to do the dishes and clean the clothes. The best Holotapes and feeds from Britain."

"I know, I'm just worried about Dudders," Petunia said as they walked in the vault door. Like the "normal" people they were, they followed the Overseer's directions to their quarters and settled in for the night.

At five AM the next mornings, klaxons woke up the dwellers and Securitrons forced people out of their rooms. They were herded into the central cafeteria where they were instructed to que up in four rows. Vernon nodded to a few people he'd seen in his position as an executive at Grunning's Drills. They were good men and women. Normal folk.

They, like the Dursleys, were grumbling about being woken in such a manner and at such an hour like common laborers.

On the platform above them, Securitrons escorted a man to the edge so he could look down upon them. He was built like a man who worked out, but used it, like a military man or an Olympian. His muscles were large, but not grotesque. His jumpsuit was black with yellow letters for the vault number as opposed to the rest of them who had worn the standard blue and yellow.

"I am your Overseer," the man said, slapping a hand with his police baton. "You have been chosen to serve this Vault. Work well, and you will be treated well. Work poorly, and you will be punished."

"What?" demanded Vernon. "Nobody said anything about work!"

"You think this was for free?" the Overseer demanded, staring down at them as if they were ants. "You think we were just handing out tickets for free? No! You will work for your ticket. You will pay Vault-Tech and the Crown for their generosity." He nodded to the robots. "Securitrons, escort the workers to the fields."

The robots, each armed with their usual implements of war, herded the outraged vault dwellers into the artificial fields. Cows, chickens, pigs and crops filled the area. Hot bulbs designed to replicate the heat and full spectrum of the sun hung over head, and the Overseer stood above them all, lifted from the ground by a crane.

"Here is your food," the Overseer commanded waving a hand to encompass the entire farm. "If you want to eat, you must work."

"What? Are you insane?" bellowed a banker Vernon recognized, speaking words that most of the UK-09 dwellers agreed with.

"If you don't work, you don't eat," the Overseer finished.

"This has gone far enough! You can't treat me like this! I'm the CFO of the Central Bank!" he yelled out.

"You will pick up your tools and care for your food," the Overseer commanded. The robots handed out rakes, spades, hoes and pitchforks. The banker held the pitchfork in his hands, glaring at it as if he couldn't believe this was reality.

Snarling, he threw the tool at the robot, scratching the casing, but causing no injury. He looked up at the Overseer. "Fuck you! Take your filthy little robots and shove them up your arsehole!"

"So, you will not work?" the Overseer asked.

"Fuck no!" the banker declared, giving the man the New York passing signal.

"Then you will be punished," The Overseer declared darkly, motioning for the injured robot. It turned on its one wheel, took aim, and shredded the banker with bullets. The "normal folk" screamed and tried to get away, but the other Securitrons armed their weapons. "That was punishment. The same will happen to any who refuse to work."

One by one, reluctantly, the bankers, corporate executives, heiresses and heirs, and otherwise entitled people started forward. They held the tools and tried to figure out how to use them as if there was some kind of magic "on" switch.

"Work harder!" their Overseer commanded.

Vernon Dursley, morbidly obese, slovenly self-important man that he was, tried to use a rake to move fresh cow manure. It would be months before he realized he really should have used a shovel.

Petunia, after picking up a hoe, realized she had no idea how to garden as she'd passed all the work off to the Boy. Her nephew would have known exactly what to do, goodness knows she gave him plenty of practice over the years.

A farm, Vault UK-09 had been designed as an experiment to see how people would function under circumstances that were mostly alien to them. The dwellers were chosen for their place in society and psychological profiles made at Vault-Tech. These people had no callused hands, no scars from hard work. The worst injuries were from playing too much golf or from spending too much time on the terminal. They had never worked a full day in their lives. They played around, joined all the right clubs and surrounded themselves with all the right people.

Not a one of them had actually seen a cow with their own eyes. They'd seen holotapes or bits on the Telly, but they couldn't tell you the difference between an ox or a steer or even a bull from a cow. Heaven help them when they had to tell the difference between layer hen and a meat pullet.

Vault UK-09 had no automated farm equipment. No tractors, no rototillers, no powered lawn mowers. All non-essential technology was stripped before it was populated, so there were no electronic communications, no computer terminals and no technical schematics outside of the engineering department (that none but the Overseer were aware of) and the Overseer's staff. All entertainment data is at least fifty years old at the closing of the vault and were all shows that were canceled mid-series.

Other than the basic technology of the kitchen, living quarters and power system, it was like being transported to the start of the Victorian Era. The people were made to work through forced labor, transforming the rich into serfs while the Overseer and his staff were the vault elites.

They were horrified at their situation, but they'd already seen what would happen if they fled.

Some vaults were truly bizarre experiments. UK-17 was populated by 970 very life-like wax sculptures and 15 couples of assorted ethnic and socioeconomic background.

There was a chemical in the wax models that had an unfortunate side effect of male infertility with frequent and/or long exposure. The loving couples became very close friends, but died of old age, childless. All that is left in the vault was the AI computer system designed by one couple, and the descendants of the original robots. It knew that it was supposed to look after the dwellers, but when the dwellers were gone, it had no purpose. With it's need to be full of people, it made them out of replacement parts, scavenged bits from broken down Mr. Handy's and Securitrons and all non-essential systems, like life support. These new androids were covered in wax for skin and flesh, dressed in vault jumpsuits and programmed to be true AI's like the "Overseer" who gave digital birth to them. They are "people" but they are not "human."

In Norfolk, UK-05 was comprised entirely of conjoined twins from all over the world. This vault would have one of the widest ranges of how they defined "beauty" of any society to come out of the vault system.

Then there was Vault UK-13.

Unlike the other vaults, this was based on genetics. Every single person who received a vault ticket had been under a genetic scan. They tested absolutely everyone who signed up for the vaults. However, they were only looking for some very specific traits.

It would be difficult to convince the Ministry of Magic, but a large part of the Statute of Secrecy had been useless for some time. Britain had installed CCTVs around the nation decades before. Records were kept on computer terminals instead of on paper or in a person's head. Without the proper knowledge, one couldn't simply erase data from a computer and an obliviate certainly wouldn't do it. Even if they did know how, the hardcopies of CCTV feeds were hidden in undisclosed locations. In fact, the recorder of CCTV feeds might not even be in the same county as the camera.

Basically, the Statute of Secrecy was blown wide open in muggle populated areas.

Muggleborn and muggle raised children were observed during accidental magic.

Ministry Obliviators were observed attempting to erase the events from the public.

The occasional Death Eater nostalgia revel was seen. They were seen using spells to cause pain or control a person's actions. They were seen murdering in cold blood. Unfortunately, by the time police arrived, they always escaped, usually by some form of teleportation.

Any time a magical was in the muggle world, they were being observed.

Vault-Tech, on the other hand, did not know the secret of magic. The Home Office, aware of the magical world, had manipulated things so that Vault-Tech was unaware of the second Britain, but still gave them the data they needed. They simply observed people with special powers they classified as "psychic abilities."

In the US, Vault-Tech was controlled by an organization known as the Enclave, a subset of the US Government that had little care about the ideals the US had been created under and still claimed to respect. Vault-Tech built, staffed and stocked each vault to the specification of the Enclave's experiments. In the UK, they were directed by Her Majesty's Government and enacted similar experiments at the prime minister's behest.

The Prime Minister had a problem. It was a problem of a nation that existed on the same soil as Britain, but was neither subject to nor respected the laws of Britain. After the events of Grindlewald and the self-styled "Lord Voldemort" it was the opinion of Her Majesty's Government that the Wizarding World was a detriment. However, many flaws can be turned into assets under the correct circumstances. Short of bombing the general location of Hogwarts and the block "Diagon Alley" was known to exist, there was little Her Majesty's Government could do about the problem.

Vault UK-13 was the solution.

Observation was first.

Children who were observed with accidental magic were flagged in the system. It was noted that many of them would vanish for months at a time from September to June and would talk about a place called "Hogwarts." It was ostensibly a school, not that such an institution was registered with Her Majesty's Government, and eventually almost all of those children went off the grid by the time they reached the age of seventeen, only occasionally returning to visit family, though most left completely.

The second stage was to gather a genetic map.

These children had blood drawn during school physicals and other medical visits. They had blood taken later before the vault tickets were issued. Eventually, after years of research, the muggles had traced the genetics of magic. It was a series of dominant and dormant genes that had to match up a certain way, otherwise magic was impossible. If a family had magical children at all, it was common for only one such child in a family because of the rarity of the magical genes in the common population.

There were genes that determined magical power and special traits. Some, like in Subject Harry Potter, showed a link to multiple traits for the same genes. His eye color, a vibrant green that was exceedingly rare in the non-magical population, was caused by the same gene that also gave him increased magical power.

With these traits mapped and logged, it was possible to recruit a population of individuals who possessed magic, but were not subject to the whims of the Wizarding World. They selected primarily children not yet indoctrinated. A number of selected teens who were reported to attend "Hogwarts" or "Beauxbatons" were also chosen because they had skills and knowledge that could be passed down. Only a very few adults over the age of twenty were chosen to limit the attachment to the magical world.

The third phase was Guilt.

Guilt is a powerful motivator. Gossips like Petunia Dursley use it to manipulate others into conformity. Those in authority use it to motivate those below them. Parents use it to enforce behavior in children. For the most part, humans do not want to feel guilt. Thus it was easy enough to "guilt" many of the children into attending UK-13.

All it took was for Vault-Tech, in the nicest way, to tell the children "Join the vault or your entire family dies." Every family with a magical child considered suitable for the program also received vault tickets. The parents, not wanting to die, would pressure their children into the vaults, while the children would be more willing because they didn't want their parents to die either.

Most parents were shuttled to other vaults, never to see their children again. The few non-magical parents who were allowed into UK-13 were those genetically most likely to have magical children.

Of course, to get the right sample size for the project they imported as many muggleborn children as they could. There were some from the US, a number from France and Ireland, quite a few from Norway, Denmark and Sweden, all nations that also had contracts with Vault-Tech and large refugee populations fleeing the Great War in Asia and the Resource War in Europe. The children were not informed that they would be in the UK until their buses boarded ferries or entered the Chunnel.

Still, even with these imported children and teens they were able to acquire only 453 dwellers, much less than the normal 1000. Unfortunately, the result was a child to adult and teen ratio of 10 to 1. For adults and teens, women out numbered the men almost 5 to one, though it was approximately 53:50 female to male for the vault as a whole. This was attributed to strict recruitment and drafting into the military, and a number of those men who would have normally qualified, died in combat.

Of course, that many children would be difficult for most people to deal with, so the adult population was supplemented by Mr. Handy units programmed to deal with children. Auto-Docs were programmed with the latest in pre- and post-natal care with a lesser emphasis on adult medicine, though they were by no means deficient in that capacity. Vault-Tech installed an extensive database on medical techniques with a focus on pediatrics, and a large collection of medical training supplies as well as an overabundance of stimpaks. After construction, the medical facilities were three times the size of the same in a "normal" vault.

The habitation section was designed with a focus on cohabitation. There was very little privacy at all. The beds were designed for two or more people and there were a third as many as there were people. Most rooms had several beds in the same room, no door and only shelves for storage space. Those few rooms that were fortunate enough to have doors could only be locked by order of the Overseer.

UK-13 had the most extensive recreational facilities of any vault in Britain or Ireland, making use of the less space used in adult and teen sleeping areas. A large track was paved around an Olympic length swimming pool that extended to a depth to 50 meters at its deepest point where their was a higher ceiling to accommodate diving. To the side was built a smaller "kiddy pool" only a maximum of 1.5 m deep on one end, though it was still quite long, allowing for one to make laps, but not designed for diving. A real grass field under grow lights and drip irrigation had sections marked for soccer (as Vault-Tech was still an American company), field hockey, cricket and other outdoor sports. A specially designed robot kept the grass perfect in length and quality at all times.

Vault-Tech supplied plenty of sports equipment for various field sports from football to rugby to track and field to fencing. There were two archery ranges and a room filled with treadmills, exercise bikes and weightlifting equipment. Each vault dweller was given a martial arts uniform in addition to their regulation jumpsuits for the mandatory self-defense lessons. In the interests of the vault's preservation if attacked, three individuals known as "Squibs" were included both for lack of antipathy towards magicals and their martial arts background with strict insistence on self defense and self control. However, outside of sports and martial arts, there were no weapons in the vault.

The last thing they wanted was for this experiment to fail because someone decided to see if they could kill witches with firearms and plasma weapons. With this in mind, even the Securitrons were equipped with solely non-lethal weapons. While highly regulated and rather rare in the UK anyway, almost every other vault had at least a few weapons, or designs that allowed them to build a few.

It also had one of the most extensive science libraries in the international Vault system. Vault-Tech included a plethora of books, informational files and physical resources such as pencils, paper, clipboards, far exceeding the needs of the population. The educational quarter was designed to be quite large, much larger than necessary for the initial population size. The Prime Minister insisted on a greater emphasis on ethics, genetics and bioscience which resulted in a full genetic laboratory, an advanced hydroponics laboratory, a cloning department, and medical training. Other sciences had similar laboratories, though they tended to be smaller and not as well stocked. Other fields covered were history, ethics, computers, mathematics, anthropology and sociology, chemistry, and art (which was second in emphasis only to bioscience).

As the goal of UK-13 was a more British and Loyal magical public it was decided to limit possible aggressors and ensure the dwellers' allegiance to the Crown.

The Overseer of UK-13 was chosen to be hyper nationalistic, a proud British citizen and subject of the Crown. The entertainment video files were 90% pro-British propaganda; the rest were romances or porn. The walls were covered with signs declaring how proud the people of Britain were that the Dwellers of UK-13 were good British citizens.

Aside from the science section, books were mostly "true British Classics" selected to show the best of British arts and culture, this meant Shakespeare, Dickens, and such for the big names. Byron and both Shelleys had large sections. Robert Burns complete works were included in several forms. The greatest of English, Welsh, and Scottish artists were included with framed prints made specially for the vault.

Modern language was restricted to the Queen's English, save for some specific texts on Gaelic and Welsh. The PM insisted on including Ancient Latin and Greek because they were important to a "well rounded" education, though it was really just because those in power knew many spells had Latin and or Greek roots, unbeknownst to Vault-Tech.

Why did Her Majesty's Government spend so much time and effort on this when the communists could bomb them at any time?

Because Her Majesty's Government never believed the bombs would really fall.

Sure, the news talked the war up, but no one would really be stupid enough to actually start a nuclear war, right? Not one government involved in the Vault system believed there could be someone stupid, but like any fight, someone has to throw the first punch. Vault-Tech held the same beliefs and acted as the arm of the governments responsible for the Vault Experiments.

They fully expected the world to keep on going with the people sealed inside completely ignorant of reality until it was time for the experiment to end. Eventually, they'd release the descendants of the vaults, observe the results, and most likely, start new ones based on what they learned.

This was all well and good, but there's an old saying: "No plan survives the enemy." Because the Vaults were never intended to save anyone.