The darkness of night drew in across the Commonwealth wasteland shutting down any line of sight to the surrounding area. Dense clouds blocked out any rays of light from the moon or stars above. Thrusting open the flaps of his tent attached to the side of an up-turned pre-war truck, a disgruntled man entered placing his laser musket on the floor close to his side. Resting up against the rusted metal of the destroyed truck he let out a long sigh contemplating his situation. He ran his rough hands through an untidy beard strapped to his chin before striking a match and lighting up the small gas lamp in the centre of the tent. A small but bright enough glow illuminated his “home” allowing him to see his travel bag and assortment of supplies. Rummaging through his bag, he pulled out a dust covered bottle of Nuka-Cola and cracked it open. His shoulders relaxed as he gulped down the sweet flavour of the drink allowing his tense body to briefly relax.
His outstretched leg kicked out slightly nudging the man wrapped up in the torn sleeping bag across the dirt floor opposite him. A moan came from the one sleeping peacefully as his head rested on a makeshift pillow.
“Wake up, Zak.” Said the man, keeping his voice down in an attempt to avoid any unwarranted attention potentially lurking outside the tent. “It’s your watch.”
A groan came from Zak as he slowly woke from the nudge but it wasn’t quick enough for the other mans liking. Another nudge came swiftly from the man’s boot as he finished off his Nuka-Cola.
“Alright, alright I’m awake. God damn it Chris, you’re so impatient sometimes.” Said Zak snapping at his roommate. Pushing his body up from the sleeping bag, the younger man sat up rubbing his eyes grabbing the empty Nuka-Cola bottle in the process. “Thanks.” He sniggered sarcastically.
“We don’t have time to be patient Zak. Look around, this is the bloody wasteland. We are in a tent not Diamond City.” Snapped Chris as his body tensed up once more.
Zak brushed off the comments and grabbed his long-range radio pack, dragging it in front of him and scratching what little paint work was left on it. Holding a headphone to one ear he skipped through multiple frequencies listening to see if anything new sparked up while he slept but nothing caught his attention. Chris gave him a sharp grim look as Zak moved the communications gear aside.
“I don’t know why you still listen to that thing. There’s nothing there apart from Diamond City Radio. Even then the presenter over there isn’t any good.” Said Chris being his cynical self.
“It’s all about hope, Chris. You should learn to get some every once in awhile.” Replied the young man.
Chris looked up at Zak with such aggression before pulling his gaze away towards the floor. “My hope disappeared when everything we stood for and defended was taken from us. Now quit the bullshit and move your ass, I want some sleep.”
Zak awkwardly slid on his old and slightly torn military assault vest over the dark blue fatigues that were stained with dirt and specks of blood. He climbed out of the tent grabbing his service rifle in the process. Gripping it tight with both hands. He checked the magazine loaded into the firearm to make sure it was full with 5.56mm bullets; he cocked it and began his watch. Not forgetting his long-range radio that attached to his back. Zak took long strides around the small campsite, if you could even call it that, as the darkness fully set in. Visibility was low but his purpose wasn’t to spot anyone or anything in the distance. It was to make sure nothing approached or got inside the tent.
A few hours passed and nothing had happened. It was quiet for the most part. Stray gunfire could be heard in the far distance every now and then. But nothing close enough to alarm Zak and draw his attention. Climbing atop of the truck as quietly as possible hoping not to disturb Chris, Zak made himself comfortable and once again fiddled around with the dials on his radio device. Hour after hour passed and nothing new to report. Zak always believed something would turn up but he could not ignore the words Chris spoke before he slept. Zak knew before every sleep Chris would take out a small folded photo of himself, girlfriend and best friend standing together so he never forgot what was taken from him a few months ago. Zak struggled to get along with his buddy, now more than ever. Losing everything you hold dear definitely changes your attitude and outlook on life. Something Zak was personally still struggling to deal with. He was with Chris when both their lives turned upside down, Zak just had a different outlook on things. He was younger. Optimistic. Chris had experienced more of the horrors the Commonwealth wasteland had to offer.
The morning sun began to rise. Rays of light breached the labyrinth of trees around them. Zak scanned the area making sure he hadn’t missed anything while on night watch. Thankfully he hadn’t. Tiredness set in as his eyes became heavy but not heavy enough to not try the radio once more. Frequency after frequency he received only static that chipped away at his optimism of something better being out there. Then it came, the one thing Zak was hoping for. The final frequency channel sparked to life with an automated message of a woman’s voice. He listened several times as he couldn’t quite believe it. It was a majestic sound.
“Attention Commonwealth residents. Are you looking for a safe place to settle? Home in on these coordinates. If you’re willing to work hard, you can make the Commonwealth a better place alongside us, the Minutemen.”
His previously droopy eyes sparked to life absorbing all the light possible. Adrenaline pumped through the cells of his body getting rid of any tiredness previously felt. He jumped off the truck with such enthusiasm and darted into the tent almost knocking over the gas lamp which would have set their home ablaze. Vigorously shaking Chris only to receive a pipe revolver lodged into his face from the startled older man.
“What the fuck are you doing Zak? I could’ve blown your head off.” Said a dazed Chris unsure of what the hell was going on.
“I found it.”
“What we’ve been waiting for. A signal from the Minutemen. The call.”
Chris grabbed Zak by the shoulder and pulled him down face to face. Anger filled his face like he was ready to knock Zak senseless in a fit of rage. “The Minutemen are dead you idiot. They’re gone! We were there at Quincy when the Gunners slaughtered us and Clint betrayed us. We were lucky, we were out on patrol at the time of the attack otherwise we would be dead as well. The cause we fought for is gone!” Said Chris shoving Zak back before turning his back to him. His words hung heavy round his neck. Yes they were lucky but maybe he could have saved the ones he considered dearest to him. When they needed him the most, he wasn’t there. Chris folded into himself as the reality set in once again. The guilt consumed him every waking moment. Zak held back giving Chris a moment to himself but he didn’t wait long.
“We can still fight on in their name. Bloody hell man, isn’t that what we’ve been doing by surviving? By still wearing these patches?” Asked Zak pointing to the Minutemen emblem on his sleeve. Chris didn’t reply and stayed facing away from him. “Listen.”
Zak activated his radio and played the message again for Chris to hear. Chris listened to each and every word but refused to accept it as being genuine. Claiming it was a lie and a trap to draw any remaining survivors out. His trust had diminished. Zak picked up his gear and left the tent in frustration. This was the ray of hope that Zak had been waiting for, his devotion to the Minutemen cause never dwindled despite its collapse at Quincy. Chris burst out of the tent moments later with his pipe revolver ready in his hands.
“You’re naïve Zak!” stated Chris. “We lost. The Minutemen lost and we are all that is left of them.”
Zak turned pushing his hand into his older counterparts shoulder. “That is where you are wrong. The Minutemen isn’t a specific group of people. It is an ideal…a message to the people who are in need of help. It doesn’t matter whether it’s me or someone else as long as you carry on with the purpose of the Minutemen name. Yes we lost in Quincy. We lost those we cared about. Those that we loved.” These words brought pain to Chris’ face. His body ached with a sense of loss and guilt. “We weren’t to blame for what happened at Quincy Chris. But we can continue on and not let their deaths be in vain. We know what it means to be a Minuteman. We can fight on in their name. We can help bring a sense of hope back into these lands. Yes it might be a trap but it's our duty to find out. If we constantly live in fear then nothing will change for the better in this godforsaken wasteland.” Said Zak boldly holding out his hand inviting Chris to do the same. An invite he accepted. Hands locked together as brothers in arms. Tears ran down Chris’ face and seeped into his beard. A weight bearing down on his shoulders began to lift for the first time in a long time. An acceptance embraced him. Something that he had not felt in several months. Being a Minuteman was tough but a noble purpose for anyone willing to fight for the greater good of the Commonwealth. Chris knew that what had happened at Quincy would haunt him for the rest of his days but Zak’s speech gave him belief in pushing forward and working towards what was right for the Commonwealth and its people.
Chris grabbed his stuff while Zak unfolded a rough map of the Commonwealth atop of the truck. Homing in on the coordinates within the radio message he marked down where their destination was. Dismantling their tent and packing it tightly into his travel bag Chris stood next to Zak proudly wearing his old blue Minutemen Colonial Duster. It was if a new lease of life had entered him. Zak looked up smirking at the sight. “Aren’t you forgetting something?” he said.
Chris turned pulling out a folded militia hat bearing the Minutemen emblem at its peak, dusting it down and firmly lodging it on his head. Laser musket in hand he looked the part to once again represent the Commonwealth Minutemen. His gaze followed the worn down train tracks close to them that led to the remnants of Oberland Station up ahead. Previous scouting trips revealed Mole Rats, Bloatflies and Wild Dogs roaming the nearby area so wherever they were heading, it would be an eventful trip. This was the way of the wasteland nowadays. Wildlife ran rampant, surviving just like humans.
“So where are we heading, Zak?” asked Chris ready to get this journey underway.