(Note: I think I mistakenly tried to post this to the wrong sub-reddit earlier)
We all know Fallout 76 is the story of utter catastrophe – the complete loss of human life in Appalachia, whether as a result of nuclear warfare, post-apocalyptic disease or violence, or corruption into post-human, loosely social beings.
Weaved into the tapestry of tragedy, before and after the bombs, are tales of romance with heartbreaking outcomes. I'd like to share a few lesser-recognized stories.
I – Better Late Than Never
Jeff Nakamura found love with Amy Kerry as they survived the collapse of civilization from nuclear war. Amy was a Vault-Tec University student, turned amateur scientist. More than 17 years after the Great War, she begins journaling from her trailer at Tygart Water Treatment plant about her an experiment she started to test how the Scorched have affected the environment and her relationship with Jeff. When they met is unclear. A photo in the trailer implies they could've been college sweethearts, but Jeff also messages Amy his excitement at celebrating the one-year anniversary of their first date at Cow Spots Creamery, saying he'll "scrounge up" supplies for a romantic dinner while warning her to come armed because of reports of feral ghouls in the area.
The two followed close but diverging post-war paths. Jeff rose to a leadership position with the Responders and as the group's quartermaster. Amy embraced her solitary nature, and by January 2095, she moved away from him, preferring to live alone in her little trailer and focus on her project.
Work kept the couple apart more often than they were together. They would get together at odd times, whether Jeff visited Amy's home during a scavenging mission or when Amy traveled to Responders HQ for assistance on her project. Jeff never fell out of love. He pined once about the cold gap in his bed, and he hoped she still thought of him the way he did her. The distance, the lasting effects of war, time, strained Amy's feelings about whether love was possible. Twice, fate answered her question, with tragic results.
In February 2095, during an expedition to place a soil sample, a mole rat bit Amy and infected her. Disease spread through her body for days. Jeff found her bedridden and close to death. He diverted from a foraging mission to her trailer because he was concerned Amy hadn't reached out for some time. He nursed her back to health, not just physically, but spiritually. Amy realized the depth of Jeff's love for her, which renewed feelings she had stifled for him.
An apparently chance slip of the tongue put Amy in danger once again a couple weeks later. A member of the Responders mentioned her research and the technology she adapted to a Brotherhood of Steel soldier during a supply requisition. The project piqued the Brotherhood's interest. When Jeff sent word about the situation, Amy feared they wanted to weaponize her tech for use in the ongoing fighting with the Scorched.
Relations between the two groups were already stressed by the Brotherhood's constant demands for supplies – materials that were gathered often at the cost of Responders lives. The tension nearly escalated to war, or slaughter, when the Brotherhood held Responders leadership at gunpoint and demanded information about Amy's research and her location. Responders leader Maria Chavez relented, providing what data the group had from helping Amy, but she withheld details of the researcher's whereabouts.
Jeff warned Amy to flee her trailer and hide as the Brotherhood began hunting for her. Soldiers began closing in on by mid-April. Amy could hear the sounds of power armor stomping through the countryside within a mile of trailer. Amy finally decides to take Jeff's advice and run. She encrypts her project's data and leaves a cryptic message for Jeff to meet her at Cow Spots so she can give him the program password. In her holo to Jeff, Amy finally tells him, "I love you."
But the two would never take their relationship to the next level. Amy died at the ice cream company, presumably from a ghoul attack, and the program password still on her body. I don't know, but I doubt Jeff got her message, and he wasn't able to save her again like he did after the mole rat bite.
I don't know what happened to Jeff yet. He leaves the automated message at Morgantown airport to clear the Scorched away from the supply drone landing site, but I haven't confirmed where his body is or how he died.
II. Star-Crossed Lovers
Being a Responder involved deep sacrifices for the cause, often at the cost of members' relationships and lives. Knowing life-expectancy was cut drastically short Responders held tight to any relations they could develop in the toxic, lethal new world around them. Miguel Caldera reveled in the elation of a brief affair with fellow Responder Garry Wilkins in what I consider a rare homosexual relationship in the series.
Originally a programmer and a list-maker, he joined the Responders as a means of survival as Scorchbeasts prowled the land. He put his skills to use, helping with programming tasks, and his fingerprints are on multiple devices through repair projects. On his off-time, Caldera also reprogrammed a Protectron robot into a companion he nicknamed Mr. Fluffy. The robot somehow developed an attitude, and Caldera remarked it couldn't understand the logic of his name, but Mr. Fluffy never left his side.
Miguel also found his true self as a Responder. He aced the group's survival training programs and found himself drawn to the outdoors. He became an expert and the Responders' go-to guy for training volunteers and refugees on the subject. While helping set up camps in the Flatwoods area, Miguel felt, “camping under the stars and helping people out at the same time is the dream." A realization came to him that he would've made an excellent candidate as a vault resident, but the thought of living in a "tin can for a hundred years" turned him off. He preferred his connection to nature.
The work, however, became overwhelming as the refugees outnumbered Responders. Caldera used his programming background to enhance more automated training programs.
His existential burden was lifted when he and Garry, a Responders courier, met by chance apparently on the road between Flatwoods and the Morgantown Airport. Miguel enjoyed the company, and they fell in love.
The relationship blossomed, leading Miguel to realize he needs to upgrade Mr. Fluffy's software to give him a little distance. Having the robot near him at all times was, “really ruining my sex life right about now," Miguel wrote in a journal entry.
The two would get together when Garry's travels brought him to the airport, and they seemed to be in those early puppy-love stages.
On one supply run, Garry leaves a note at Miguel's workshop since he was out, probably in the woods again, Gary surmised. But Garry expected to stick around for a couple days and urged Miguel to find him, saying he misses him. Miguel, meanwhile, left a note for Garry calling him his "sweet Garry bean" that he's relaxing at his camp, enjoying a "sanity day" respite awarded to him by Responders leader Maria Chavez. Miguel suggested Garry should meet him and they can have a picnic.
Miguel signed the note with, "Love you, dear heart."
Exhausted by the mounting deaths, Miguel hoped to strike out into the wilderness to live free and alone with Garry. But the world would cut their love short.
Garry was last seen in Flatwoods in late July 2096 and arrived at the airport sometime after that. In what Miguel described as an accident, "one of those things" – probably a Scorched, maybe a ghoul or a mole rate – broke through a gate and killed Garry. Miguel buried his lover on a hill with other victims, and then lost himself in grief by going to his camp outside the airport.
He died there with Mr. Fluffy forever anchored to the site by his programming, becoming Miguel's robotic headstone.
III. Out Out Brief Candle
Responders hawk Melody Larkin developed and led an elite squad of Scorched fighters called the Fire Breathers, dedicated to serving on the front lines in hostile, no-win conditions. Training to join the unit was grueling and hazardous by design to forge recruits into the Responders' toughest, grittiest weapons against the Scorched.
Rita Wilcox sought to earn her place, and in an eye of the storm, started her training with encouragement from her lover Buck.
I don't know how they met – more is documented about Rita's death. What's available about her life is a solitary holo Buck recorded when they slept together the night before Rita deployed to Charleston. The holo ended up in the Alpine River Cabins.
Buck watched her sleep, enjoying the sound of her breathing in the moment of peace they shared.
He admired Rita's strength, saying, "ain't no Responder alive" deserved to join the Fire Breathers more than Rita. But Buck worried he would never see her again as he half-jokingly urged Rita to remember the basics of fire safety. His fears would come true in the molten heat under the Ash Heap.
Rita and her class of recruits – dubbed "Scorchslayers" and led by Maxine Ballard, and including headstrong Timothy Wolfe, Andrew Rhodes and weak-link Sylvester Tate – entered the Garrahan Mining Corp. mine nicknamed "Belching Betty" as the final component of their trials to join the Fire Breathers.
The test seemed simple: Gear up, advance to the bottom of the mine, signal a beacon and return to the surface.
The mission ended in disaster.
Scorched attacked near the entrance, killing Wolfe and Rhodes. Rita blamed Sylvester, accusing him fleeing the fight, which exposed their teammates' flanks. Rita noted Sylvester's cowardice started showing during skirmishes with Scorched in the farmlands around The Forest. Unwilling to venture further on what he saw as a suicide mission, Sylvester fled, leaving Rita and Maxine to face the rest of the exam alone.
Sylvester was picked off by Scorched before he could reach the surface.
Rita followed Maxine to the bottom of the mine. They managed to sound the beacon, which alerted waves of Scorched to their position. Though Maxine seemed bitter about the risks of Larkin's exam, she and Rita bravely faced the assault in a last stand together. Their final words were of mutual respect for one another.
I haven't found evidence of Rita's feelings toward Buck, or what fate befell Buck, but that one holo he recorded indicated they had a strong connection.
IV. Wrong Place, Wrong Time
Much is documented about the corruption inherent in business throughout Appalachia, from large corporations to small companies. Not everyone was consumed with selfishness and greed, however. But empathy led to the downfall of the manager of Poseidon Energy WV-06, Renee Hargraves, and the death of her apparent husband, Jacob.
Renee Hargraves watched as protesters rallied outside the plant near Charleston. The demonstration was part of a wave of unrest over mass layoffs as corporations converted facilities to automated production. WV-06, which had produced energy to the region for nearly a century, was recently revitalized through the introduction of Ultracite to the region.
The military stood as a barrier between the plant and protesters, separating Renee and Jacob – she in her office with the company on lockdown, and he on the picket line. The protest devolved into disaster.
Renee was horrified at the situation, believing Security Director Brent's decision to call the military on company employees was overkill. She understood they wanted a new contract with better job security. Brent didn't care, not only adhering to company policy to fire picketing employees, but saying "good riddance" to them as robot workers were being shipped in. Renee seemed shocked by the move, especially since she wasn't informed.
Brent seized the situation to his advantage and labeled Renee a union sympathizer. He then used his role to stage a coup and had Renee taken into custody.
Meanwhile, the military began gassing demonstrators, apparently with Hallucigen Inc.'s supposed non-lethal crowd control products. Company information in Boston reveals the technology was experimental and problematic. The gas in Charleston helped serve as proof.
Jacob is able to message Renee from the crowd, saying the gas transformed protesters into savages. He describes two people he knows as ripping a soldier to pieces. He was also affected as he said he could feel adrenaline surging through his body.
Jacob died in the tragedy, and Renee watched through the window, locked inside the plant. All she could do was write a goodbye message.
"I"m sorry, Jacob. I couldn't stop them. I love you. We'll be together soon," Renee wrote.
I haven't uncovered why Jacob was in the protest – whether he was participating or caught up in the demonstration. There's a terminal in the plant's basement I've yet to hack that I hope will divulge further information.
A woman's skeleton in the plant manager's office indicates Renee died alone, betrayed by a key member of her staff.
These are a few stories I've pieced together by scouring The Forest region. There are more out there, brief snippets of families struggling to stay together and survive, of families separated and trying to reconnect, and at least one where a lonely lover waited in Flatwoods for years for their partner to emerge from Vault 76 before giving up. I'd love to learn what happened to Jeff Nakamura. He left few records of himself, and reports about his activities come mainly from other Responders documenting how he helped them in some way.
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