If you ever come to Tenpenny Tower in Fallout 3, you should know that there is no happy ending. There is no good solution. There is no justice, only murder.
When I arrived at the tower, I was a hero. I was Wyatt Earp. I was Bat Masterson. There was no solution that I couldn’t find a way to either shoot my way out of or talk my way through. I protected the innocent, helped the helpless and when violence was necessary, my rifle was the answer. I was Wasteland justice.
I was greeted at the gate by Roy, who was having a dispute with Tower Security Chief Gustavo through an intercom. I overheard the gist of the conversation, Roy and his friends would not be allowed in, regardless of how much money they paid. The reason was clear, Roy was a ghoul. The rotting, bleeding and dying flesh on his face was pale, a large hole showing a portion of his skull was visible where his nose should have been. Beady, unblinking eyes sunken back into his head stared at you with distrust beneath patches of scraggly, red hair.
He gave me a look of annoyance and muttered something about “smoothskins,” the term ghouls commonly use to refer to humans, and then he wandered off into the waste. After paying a fairly decent sum of money for entrance to Gustavo, he explained to me what the dispute was about. No ghouls were allowed into the tower, but he was willing to offer me a reward for solving the dispute. While I knew he would be happy to pay me for hunting the ghouls down and killing them, I had another plan. I would find a way. There must be a peaceful solution, and I was determined to find it.
Gustavo had given me an approximate location of where to find Roy and his band, but it involved wandering through some sewers crawling with feral ghouls. The feral ghouls are essentially zombies. They went insane while exposed to the radiation that creates ghouls and will roam around attacking and devouring anyone who comes near them. After wading through long, dreary tunnels composed of abandoned sewer systems and relying heavily on my shotgun for protection from the ferals, I finally came across one of Roy’s group, Michael, who tried to tell me to go back, but eventually led me to Roy and his girlfriend Bessie. They had been trying to move into the tower for a while. Roy had a plan to unleash a pack of feral ghouls through the basement storage room. I was shocked, but I told him that I was certain I could find a way for him into the tower and nobody would die. He didn’t believe me, but I was going to prove him wrong. Bessie stopped me on the way out. I could tell she cared about the people in the Tower, but she was devoted to Roy and she hoped that I was successful. I could tell she was tired of the violence and the hiding.
Once I arrived back in the tower, I went to talk to the owner, Allistair Tenpenny. His English accent shocked me for a moment. I wondered how this man could possibly make it in the Wasteland. I was shocked once again when I asked him about the ghoul situation and he agreed that there was no reason for violence. He did want to take into account the feelings of his tenants though. He sent me off to try and convince a few of them that allowing the ghouls into the tower would be OK.
While wandering through the tower searching for a few influential residents who needed to be convinced, I came across a kindred spirit, Herbert Dashwood. Herbert had spent his youth wandering through the wastes, having adventures, meeting women, growing a magnificent beard and “fighting the good fight” as someone would say. One of his best friends and companions from his days of adventure was a ghoul. When I asked him his opinion on having ghouls for neighbors he almost scoffed at the notion of being offended. Herbert was ready to invite the ghouls in with open arms. I could tell that while he knew his days of adventure were long past, his thirst for wasteland justice was still strong. I assured him that I would find a way and left him to his drink at the bar.
My hopes of finding others who shared in Herbert’s concern for the downtrodden were quickly dashed when I met Edgar Wellington II. He was everything you would expect from a rich bigot with a name like Edgar Wellington II. He treated me like filth. I had heard a rumor that he was having an affair with another resident whom I needed to talk to as well. I considered using the leverage on the two to force them to agree with me, but after I met Edgar’s wife, Millicent, I decided against it. She shared all the same attitudes of her husband except she reminded me of the old saying, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”. Her eyes spoke of a certain amount of derangement that was kept in check by her disdain for those she considered inferior to her, which she clearly saw me as. The tension was thick between those two and while I may not like these people, I hoped the situation could be settled without bloodshed.
I may have been a little rough while convincing a few of the residents to let the ghouls in. A few of them got the impression that I was threatening them and just the hint of violence was enough to either make them consent or pack their bags. I watched a few of them head out into the wasteland and half expected to see them drop dead within sight of the tower, but slowly they made their way over the horizon.
The next day Roy and his friends showed up in the tower as promised. They were happy, they were thankful and beneath their rotting flesh, they had the look of people who were glad that their hardships were going to be lessened for a time. They immediately ingratiated themselves as part of the community and I was glad to overhear many of the non-ghoul residents discussing their newfound respect with their irradiated neighbors. Bessie began managing the clothing store after I had convinced the previous owner that the ghouls would be moving in and he packed up, only to disappear into the Wasteland. Roy himself called me their hero, offering me a gift and I noticed him hanging around Allistair Tenpenny. I remember hearing that long ago Roy was a policeman and I once saw him talking to Gustavo about security. I could see Roy becoming a pillar of the community. I could still sense the violence in him, but the Wasteland was a violent place and even the Tower needed a hell of a lot of guns to stay standing.
I was a hero.
After hanging around a few days, I sat down for a drink with Herbert Dashwood again. I could tell he was impressed with how I handled the situation and after I prodded him, he asked for my help on an adventure he was never able to complete. It appeared that his ghoul companion from his adventuring days, Argyle, disappeared when they were ambushed in an underground village. Herbert was able to escape, but he was unsure if Argyle made it. I understood that he was betrayed by some woman, who had been working with some slavers. The slavers took everyone they could find and kept a close eye on the area and Herbert never saw his friend again. He told me of the secret cave and asked me to investigate it for clues as to where I could find Argyle, which he was certain, had escaped somehow.
I soon found myself wandering through the wasteland. On the way to this cave, I was unlucky enough to be ambushed by some raiders while checking out an abandoned power-station. I may not have seen the ambush coming, but when the bullets stopped, I was wounded and the four of them were dead. I’ll call that a win.
After wandering past the cave a few times, I finally noticed the pennants above the rock and climbed down into the dark. Broken furniture, rocks and a few bodies littered the floor. I found a note left behind by the slavers mentioning something called, “The Pitt” that I’ve never heard of. In a particularly dark corner of the cave I found Argyle, his dead eyes transfixed on the rocky ceiling. The difference between a dead ghoul and a live one is all in the eyes. His flesh was rotting around his face, but I’m sure he was a particularly gruesome looking fellow when he was still alive.
I had some bad news to tell Herbert, but first I needed to stock up on some ammo and have some of my equipment repaired. I smiled a little when I came through the door of my house in Megaton as my radio was playing one of my favorite old pre-War songs about about a guy who has it really bad for a girl. I love the opening line from that song.
I woke up in the middle of the night to the radio filling me in on some news. The D.J. mentioned something about Tenpenny Tower and I waited for a quick recap of how I was a hero, but something didn’t sound quite right. The report said the ghouls made it into the tower, but it was only possible after the “wholesale slaughter” of all the residents. “He must have heard wrong,” I thought, but something tugged at me and I felt a foreboding sense of dread as I rushed out of town and into the Wasteland in the middle of the night.
The sun was just poking over the horizon as I walked up to the tower gate. There was no guard on duty and that was enough to confirm that something was definitely wrong. I made it into the Tower lobby and, other than a strange smell, everything seemed normal until I realized that everyone around me was a ghoul. They each looked happy as though they felt normal. The men wore fancy suits or plaid button-up shirts and dress pants and the women wore sundresses and a few even wore bonnets. It was the same style and fashion worn by the humans who were missing.
I began searching around for Roy, Michael or Bessie to ask what had happened. I was still holding out hope that the Tenpenny Tower human residents were somewhere safe. The ghouls were friendly enough. They spoke of the safety they had found since coming to “Roy’s Tower”. I noticed Bessie around a corner and followed her into the clothing store she now managed.
I asked her about the other residents and she looked down and away from me, clearly afraid to meet my eyes. She said, “I don’t know where they are, but everything is fine. Roy said not to worry.” I tried asking more, but it was obvious she didn’t want to talk about it. After poking around a little longer, I found Michael wandering around the shop he inherited from one of the residents. When I asked him about the others, he told me Roy “took out the trash” and that he was glad he lost his sense of smell along with his nose and then told me to avoid the basement.
The basement door; I could feel a dark pit in my stomach as I reached for the knob. Something inside me warned me to just walk away. I closed the door behind me and descended into the dark, still hoping that this was going to turn out OK. The stench was awful and I could hear breathing somewhere near me. My eyes darted around the room taking in the horror; bodies littered the floor, the blood was everywhere. I looked down and realized it had already coated my boots and when I reached out a hand toward the wall to steady myself it slipped on the surface. I didn’t need to look at it to confirm why my fingers suddenly felt sticky.
In the corner of the room I noticed his face lying in the blood, his beard a dark crimson mess covering his chin. I shouted in rage and stumbled over one of the corpses as I tried to make it to his body. I could feel my blood rising in my face and anger exploding in my chest. My hands tightened around the shotgun I had slung across my back. Every ounce of me wanted to get some killing done and I was granted my wish when out of the darkness lunged the rotting body of a feral ghoul. I could feel the recoil of the blast in my arms and the brightness of the blast illuminated the horror of the scene; the ghoul’s head exploding, the floors and walls covered in blood and the piles of bodies rotting in the darkness.
I strode through the lobby leaving a trail of red boot prints behind. Roy would be upstairs in Allistair Tenpenny’s penthouse, I knew he would. Michael got in my way as I went to the elevator. He told me those bigots got what they deserved. I pushed him out of the way and went into the elevator.
He was right where I knew he would be; Tenpenny’s suite. He looked at me and began, “if it isn’t our hero”. I could see the smile on his rotting lips. It was the same smile he gave me before, but this time I saw it for what it was. I told him I saw the bodies in the basement and asked him if he was proud of what he did. The smile became a sneer as he said, “They got what was coming to them, but I don’t have to justify myself to you or to any other smoothskin.” He told me to “piss off” and I knew what he was; a monster. He was a monster all along and I was too trusting to see it.
My hands went for my shotgun and Roy fumbled for his rifle. He must have been surprised that I would actually try to kill him. The first blast took him in the chest, causing the rifle to fall out of his hands, he fell to his knees, fumbling for the weapon. He looked up at me and realized he was too slow and seemed to resign himself to his fate. I could see the monster in his eyes. I could see the bodies in the basement and I could remember the people who called this place home. The shotgun fired and he was dead.
A coldness I had never felt in the Wasteland was wrapped around me when I stepped out of the elevator. The ghoul residents had no idea what I had done. They still greeted me with a warm smile and gratefulness to be away from the violence. Michael and Bessie came around the corner and Michael looked at me. He knew. His hand went into his coat and I could see the gun fire as I reached for my own. Pain exploded in my chest and I could feel it shoot through my body, it mirrored the shock from my own gun as I returned fire. He crumpled to the floor and Bessie looked at me. Now she knew. I turned my back and walked away, waiting for her revenge, waiting for the shot, but was surprised when I found myself standing alone in the Wasteland, covered in blood; some of my own, some of my friends’ and some of my victims’.
I was a hero.
Dan Hoyt has been an avid gamer his entire life. When he’s not playing games, he’s working out by walking his dog, hiking and doing martial arts. He likes to try new kinds of alcohol and discuss politics. He’s a graduate of The University of Kansas and has spent years as a journalist.