The young girl sprang up from her bed as her door flew open. "Hurry Sally," her best friend cried. "The Purge has started! Dad's targeted you, they'll kill you if they find you. You're Dad's gone. Jonas is already dead!"
They had killed her father's assistant?
"What do you mean Dad's gone? Is he dead too?", she yelled, grabbing Amata.
"No!No! He's left the vault! That's what started it. Dad's so angry, he's purging everyone against him!", she cried.
"What do you mean he's left the vault? Without me?" Sally stared at Amata in disbelief. No one left the vault. They were born here, they died here. Of course she and Amata both had known there was a way to leave, ever since they had cracked into the Overseer's computer a few months ago. The Overseer happened to be Amata's Dad.
"You'll have to go too. It's the only way. If you stay here Dad will have you killed", Amata cried, tears streaming down her face.
Sally could hear the shouts and screams coming from the hall. "You need to get out of here", she said to Amata, grabbing a Vault 101 uniform and struggling into it. "If they find you with me they could kill you to."
"No one's going to hurt me. I'm the Overseers daughter. Here, take this, you'll need it to get out. Dad kept it in a drawer. ", Amata said insistently, shoving a pistol at Sally.
"Thanks. I won't use it unless I have to." Sally took the pistol held out to her, a 10mm. Well, it was better than the BB gun, which was all she owned. "Now get away from me, it isn't safe."
Amata nodded. "I'll meet you outside Dad's office.", she called back as she hurried from the room.
The girls knew the only way out of the vault was through the Overseer's office, if Sally could make it that far. She quickly scanned the room, taking anything that might be of use. Her BB gun, given to her by her father when she was 10; a baseball bat, it would make a useful weapon anyway; the meds from the safety kit. Everything went in the pack her Dad had given her.
She slipped into the hall. So far so good, the sounds of the Purge were further away. It was being disguised as a police action against the large mutant roaches that were now loose in the vault, but Sally wasn't fooled. A number of the Overseer's enemies would be dead by the time the roaches were under control, and she was one of them. Not that she had ever done anything, except maybe be a little defiant, it was her father he had the grudge against.
It was a good thing, she thought, that she had been ostracized by the others in the vault. With only Amata for a friend, she had had a lot of time to study and practice the martial arts, something she truly enjoyed. Now she was probably the best shot and most proficient at self-defense of anyone in the vault.
Sally knew every twist and turn of the vault's corridors, every room and what it contained. Okay, so she had been a thorn in everyone's side, always going where she shouldn't, sneaking into unauthorized areas. She had always intended to leave the vault someday anyway. The information and training she had worked so hard to achieve could save her life now.
She rounded a corner to come face to face with the leader of the Tunnel Snakes, that band of young punks forever picking on her. "Help me," he cried. "My Mom's in her room being attacked by roaches. Save her!"
Sally didn't bother to show her contempt for the coward, who always acted so tough. She ran to his room, bursting in the door, and quickly dispatched the roaches with the baseball bat. A smaller one she just stomped on. Roaches didn't scare her; she had practiced shooting them with her BB gun in the Vault's bowels since she was 10. The old lady was still alive, thank goodness.
Butch was bursting with gratitude. "Here", he said, holding out his jacket. "Take it. It isn't much but it's all I have to give you. You're my best friend!" This from the boy that had given her the ugly scar running down her right leg! She slipped on the jacket and ran for the medical room. It's heavy leather might offer some protection. If she was going outside, she would need all the help she could get.
Her adrenalin flowing, she slipped down the hall toward her Dad's clinic where she found the assistant was now trying to repair his Mr. Handy robot, his back to her. She had been chosen to become a medical doctor when she had turned sixteen and had trained with her father and him for the last three years. He might not risk himself by helping her, but he wouldn't call the authorities either. She purposely ignored him as she looted the clinic of all easily available meds, taking her Dad's favorite Bobble head as well.
As she left the office she nearly stumbled over a body on the floor. Jonas, her dad's best friend and cohort, was dead! He had always been so nice to her. She knelt beside the body, stifling a sob, but she didn't have time for emotion; she was in grave danger herself. A holo tape lay beside the outstretched hand as though he had been holding it when he was gunned down. She snatched it up and stuffed it in a pocket. She couldn't bring herself to search the body of her friend.
The assistant intentionally ignored her as she hurried past him into the hall and headed for the Atrium. She approached the Overseer's office warily, utilizing all the skills she had learned. A guard in the hall spotted her and came toward her with his baton raised. The pistol was out, but she hesitated. She had never shot anyone before. The guard hit her with the baton. Shocked into defending herself she fired again and again until the guard fell. He was still moaning so she didn't think she'd killed him. She grabbed the baton and hurried down the hall. The flickering of the fluorescent lighting cast an eerie glow over the empty hallway, the distant sound of shouts and gunfire spurring her on.
Voices caught her attention. She sneaked up close to the Overseer's office and listened. The Overseer was interrogating his own daughter! "Where is she?" he demanded. "Just tell me where she is and this will be over."
"Dad", Amata's voice was desperate. "She hasn't done anything. She's my friend! Just let her go!"
Nearly out of bullets, Sally put the pistol away and drew her baseball bat before going around the door to help her friend. A guard looked surprised to see her, but quickly recovered, coming toward her with baton raised. She didn't hesitate this time. Before he could land a blow she swung her bat with all her strength against his skull. He fell, unconscious, even as the other guard in the room, who had been standing by the Overseer, turned toward her.
"You're going to die now, girl", he snarled, tapping his bat in his other hand threateningly as he started toward her. She recognized the head guard, the man in charge of the purge. He was a cruel man, feared by the other residents. His expression said he was going to enjoy beating her to death.
"Not today", she replied coldly, steeling herself for the confrontation. She dropped the bat and jerked out the pistol. High on adrenaline and energized by fear, her hatred of him found outlet as she fired, two, three times. In his over confidence he hadn't realized she was armed. She was fairly sure he was dead, as blood seeped from his chest to puddle on the floor; at least he wasn't moving. She hoped he was dead since she was sure he was responsible for the residents lying dead in the vault. She stepped over his body to confront the Overseer.
"You going to kill me too, girl?" the deep voice asked. She covered the Overseer with her pistol.
"Not unless I have to. Call off your guards." Her voice was strong and steady, belying the fear twisting in her gut. This was her leader; she had never stood up to him before.
"How long do you think you can keep them at bay? I'll never give you the code to the exit. You can't hold me hostage forever", he said sternly.
"Please, Sally, don't kill my father." Amata's voice was pleading. "Please, father, just open the exit for her."
"I knew I was right about her" he said coldly. "She's just like her father. We trusted him, and look what happened. He left to go outside, taking his knowledge of this vault and leaving his whelp behind. She shouldn't be allowed to live. I'll never let her out to betray us, too."
"You don't have to." Sally reached out and typed the code into the console. The console slid aside to reveal a secret tunnel. "Come with me, Amata,", she pleaded, looking at the scared girl, but she shook her head.
"You'll never make it out", the Overseer shouted after her as she ran into the tunnel.
It was a good thing Amata had spent all those hours secretly cracking into the computers. She had been great with computers and had taught Sally a few hacking tricks, but what really paid off now was she had given Sally the password to the passage. Sally fervently hoped the Overseer never found out.
She moved quietly and cautiously now. The guards were all alerted so caution was more important than speed. She got through the tunnels and underground works without much difficulty. A guard was nervously pacing the area in front of the vault entrance. She watched him, moving carefully as he moved, slipping up behind him.
"Don't move." Her tight voice, backed up by the feel of a muzzle on the back of his neck, caused the guard to go motionless. "Hand back your baton." He slowly handed the baton behind him and felt her take it. He wasn't going to push his luck; he had heard how she had already dispatched several of the vault enforcement.
"I'm not supposed to let you out", he managed. He was young and had never seen combat, but he was trying to be brave.
"Where are the controls?" she asked.
"Over there", he motioned to a box on a pedestal.
"Then just tell them I knocked you out", she said and swung the baton against his head.
Amata appeared on the stairs behind her as the big vault door slid in and rolled silently to the side. "You did it!", Amata said, awed. "You opened the Vault! I wasn't even sure it was possible."
"Amata,", Sally cried. "Come with me. We can do it. We can make it in the Wasteland together."
"No", she said determinedly. "I have to stay. I'm the only one who may be able to talk some sense into my father. I just wanted to say goodbye."
Sally hugged her friend and stepped through.
The vault door clanged shut behind her. It had been tough getting out for a novice warrior but she had managed. She moved down the short passage toward the old wood door at the end. Light barely filtered through the steel mesh and glass window, still intact though crusted with ages of dust and grime. Just enough light to make out the skeletons on the floor. She shuddered as she stepped over them. What was she going to do? A vault girl of 19, with no wasteland experience, how was she going to manage?
She didn't have much to start a new life. She shoved at the door and it creaked open. She stepped out into the wasteland.