Dateline: Modoc County
Rumors have been pouring in that Don has been seen somewhere on the Madeline Plains; several sightings have placed him near Termo (pop. 10) where he was reported to be swilling rum directly from the bottle while wearing nothing but a mountain lion and tule stalks.
We remain hopeful that Don may someday rejoin civilization. Meanwhile, we present you with the last of the pre-bug Fallout 4 posts:
The Periodic Table of the Elements ranks, along with The Rolling Stones and Sarah Lindsay, as one of the greatest achievements of mankind, not only because of its scientific and aesthetic beauty, but because it unlocks the additional achievement “build frickin’ huge bombs.”
By Sandbh (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
The Periodic Table is a map that is also the territory – by ordering the elements by their properties, and then sorting by their weight (actually, their atomic mass) we can construct a pattern that predicts itself – where there were holes in the pattern, the chemists searched for, and found, the missing elements. And in so doing, they discovered the real source of the pattern – the number of electrons in each atom’s valence shell.
Take lithium, for example – it is a Group 1, or alkali metal. With only 1 weakly bound electron in its outermost shell, it almost always reacts by losing (or “donating” as chemists like to say) that electron to another atom. If you’ve ever heard of an “alkaline lake,” then you know that alkali elements tend to form salts, which are formed when acids (halogen or chalcogenic elements ionically bound to the Hydride, or H+ ion) neutralize a base (an alkali or alkali earth metal ionically bound to the Hydroxide, or OH- ion). For example, lithium hydroxide would react with, say, Hydrochloric Acid to produce water and Lithium Chloride.
Which is why I was so confused when Fallout asked me to react lithium hydride with hydrochloric acid instead.
It was possible, I guess, since lithium is still donating an electron in an ionic bond, but hydrogen is much more likely to bond covalently with oxygen, forming the hydroxide radical, than it is to act as a halogen.
Still, if I could find elemental lithium, I should be able to use electrolysis to reduce the hydrochloric acid sample down to hydrogren and oxygen. Then I can expose the lithium pellets to the hydrogen gas, and since hydrogen is the more electronegative of the two, the bond should form …
… although it does help to remember that Fallout does not actually expect me to know chemistry in order to complete the quest.
I think it’s because when I started gaming1, a lot of what we had were educational games … well, ok, there was also Zork, aka the “how to scar kids for life” game and Canyon Climber and assorted other titles, but I will state gluteus ex cathedra that the ratio of educational to entertainment games was much higher then than now. This is at least partly because computers in the 80’s were marketed entirely to nerds, so it was expected that a “physics simulator” would be less about cake and more about solving differential equations. So when a game hands me a chemistry-themed problem, my first reaction is usually going to be busting out my “Acid-Base Equilibria” handbook.
Especially ’cause I’m hanging around with Curie, the mad science robot-turned-girl, so my mind is definitely on her data distributions, if you know what I mean, and what I mean is I am trying to get her perk so she’s in my cutscene, assuming this game even has a cutscene.
Which is why I found myself in the Cambridge Polymer Lab, trying to dope gold foil with uranium 235, because Curie loves it when you bring the science.
Although I am confused about which part of “bring the science” means “be a real girl,” because fairly soon into our travels she told me she wants to be human. She babbled something about “inspiration” that I really think was supposed to be a metaphor for “hot monkey love,” since she’s definitely playing the coquette:
but really, it just seems to be this thing now, that robots either want to wipe out humanity, or join it. Frankly, it makes no sense to me:
Anyway, about 10 minutes into travelling with her, she expresses her frustration with this whole “pure analysis” thing, and decides she needs “feelings,” not that those ever did me any good.
Fortunately, Dr. Amari down in Goodneighbor specializes in those “Blade Runner” style undercover medical procedures, and she knew where we could get a spare synth body2.
So it wasn’t long before Curie had blossomed from a precision-designed incrediby efficient and nearly immortal machine into a slushy bag of organic molecules.
But hey – whatever makes her happy. If being human is what she needs to be happy and fulfilled and inspired and … waitta minute, this is starting to sound kind of … I don’t wanna flirt with Curie, I’m already spoken for!
Now I was in a conundrum … Curie is having fits and starts because, as any poet could have told her, emotions might make for great inspiration, but not while they’re also jacking your endocrine system full of more chemicals than a Grateful Dead concert. She’s pouring out her heart to me, and the game is over there in the corner going “flirt with her! flirt with her!” but I’m not about to piss off Piper, because not only does Piper have a flamethrower, but I think she has developed Satanic powers:
But on the other hand, Curie doesn’t really have a handle on the whole “emotional thing” yet, so disappointing her could jumble up the ball of love, anger, confusion, and hope that she is currently using for a cerebral cortex into some homicidal cocktail of hate and vengeance. Especially since I gave her my tire iron with the axe attached, and she’s really taken a Shining to it:
Which, in hindsight, may not have been the wisest decision on my part. I didn’t know she was going to select “murderous rage” as her newly found emotion of choice.
So I was thinking it would probably be a good idea to get her affinity up and get her the hell away from sharp objects. Which is how I found myself in the Cambridge Polymer labs, shooting ghouls and trying to remember anything helpful about the surface chemistry of metals.
Of course, I didn’t actually need to manufacture Lithium Hydride; the quest was to fight through the ghoul infested rooms until you found the right containers: one of lithium hydride, as well as gold and U-238, out of which you create a unique set of uranium-doped power armor, which would have been useful if I wasn’t already so overburdened that I left it there.
Nor did it get Curie to stop raging around the Commonwealth because I wouldn’t date her. She “loved” that I completed the reaction, but I still didn’t get a cutscene saying she’d found her inspiration, her … Muse, if you will.
I was getting kind of worried, because outside of the Institute, I was running out of sciency places to take her, and she was beginning to get frustrated, not to mention she had also discovered firearms:
I thought maybe we could have a fun day at the library, maybe kill a few hours browsing through the Encyclopedia Wastelandica, but it turned out there was nothing there but robots and supermutants.
We ended up in Covenant, where she tried to talk to Dr. Montgomery, but all the doctor wanted to do was chain smoke unfiltered Pall-Malls by the carton3. In hindsight, it was probably better that way, considering Curie IS a synth.
Finally I just said the heck with it – if I can’t get Curie’s perk without romancing her, I guess I’ll just have to live without it. Still, I felt kind of sorry for her, ’cause nobody likes to be friendzoned. So in return, and partly ’cause I like to cause trouble. I gave her a missile launcher:
I don’t know if that did it, or it was when I ran off to follow a random call for help, but it wasn’t long thereafter that she kissed me on the cheek, gave me some GMO mutfruit, and said, “Call me if things don’t work out with Piper, oui?”