As the bombs fell, a few of us were lucky enough to be rushed into special-made shelters designed to keep us safe until the world regained its sanity. In my case, being frozen for 200 years still didn’t give it enough time. I was surprised to find that my vault wasn’t the only one in the area though, finding another buried beneath Park Street station, guarded by a few trigger-happy gunmen who did not appreciate my poking around in their caverns. To be fair, I didn’t appreciate being shot at.

It was good fortune that the heavy vault door muffled the sounds of our scuffle, because I would bet good caps that if the blow-hards behind it had heard me coming, they would have executed their prisoner. Good for both he and I that they didn’t, bad for them.

Sneaking around in a suit of power armour isn’t easy, but it seemed that this vault was designed for heavily-armed soldier types; wide hallways made navigation easy, and tall bulkheads ensured I didn’t clang against the ceiling. I spied someone tied to a chair in a dingy utility closet – it had to be Nick Valentine. Unlocking the door, again thanking the makers of the heavy combat suit for how much manual dexterity they enabled, I stopped short just after entering, unsure of just what I had walked into.

It turns out that Nick Valentine, celebrated private eye of Diamond City, was some sort of synth. Not a skeletal “Gen 1” model, and sure not the “could pass as human” Gen 3 half the Commonwealth seemed to be up in arms about, but something in between. He had skin, mostly, but beneath it cables, tubes, and gears could be seen. His face was human-shaped, but his eyes glowed like faint lightbulbs. I suppose my surprise showed even through the heavy helmet I wore.

“Not what you expected, am I?” he asked almost flippantly. Apparently he had a long history of startling people at their first meeting.

I don’t have anything against synths, particularly the human-looking ones, but Nick was something else entirely. I untied him and handed him a spare 10mm pistol. He checked the action and the magazine, smooth as any professional I’d seen before, nodding when he was satisfied it would do the job. I suggested we leave, as quietly as I had come, but he said no, he still had a job to do.

It turns out the missing person he had been chasing wasn’t missing, she had just run off for love. Attracted to the danger and mystique of a strong man like the leader of the Triggermen, she left home without saying a word to her parents. It was Nick’s job to bring her back, or at least do everything he could to try and convince her.

A synth with a real sense of purpose and dignity. That was a new one for me, but really I don’t know if I’d ever met a synth before. I think Nick and I were going to get along well.