- "This place is spooky as fuck. It’s unnatural. I mean, did you hear those moans man? What creature of God would make those sounds?"
- ―A raider for King’s Council while roaming the ruins of the Pens
The Pens are a collection of ruins in the fringes of Seattle that burned down in a catastrophic fire. The site is reputed to be haunted by many local residents, which they attribute to several different causes. Haunted or not, the Pens contain a horrendous past of violence and violation.
Before the Great War, the buildings that would become the Pens were office buildings outside Seattle. That was until when the bombs dropped, and the buildings were abandoned for safer areas. However, the buildings themselves were not that damaged by the bombs’ devastation and survived.
In the following years, the buildings were mostly empty, briefly becoming as a molerat den after 2091. The group that would come to define the buildings would come in 2091 dressed in jet-black armor and bearing terrible weapons. This was the New Order, a white supremacist organization that had survived the Great War and was thriving in the post-War environment. This group of New Order scouts were on a mission to secure some buildings away from prying eyes at their base at Martha's Gulch and convert them into breeding pens to replenish the New Order's shrinking numbers. This effort was led by one Frank Parmenter, a rather unsavory individual even by the New Order’s slim standards. The scouts found the undamaged pre-War office buildings as satisfactory, quickly clearing out the molerats inside. Actually renovating the buildings to make them livable would take longer.
This process took three years due the difficulties of construction in such a dangerous area and obtaining materials. In this time, Frank Parmenter and his New Order minions abducted several white women for breeding stock. This breeding stock was integrated into the unfinished buildings regardless of their condition. The women were put into small confined spaces like animals. That was what led to the buildings to being nicknamed the Pens by the footsoldiers stationed there. Frank Parmenter disapproved of the name as a bad label for his ‘fertility project’, but he came to accept it as darkly appropriate in time and the name stuck.
After three years, the renovations to the Pens were finally completed as originally intended. There were already women in the Pens at that time, but none of them were being ‘bred’ yet. That soon changed. The New Order's goal to "secure the future of white children" began as the organization secured West Seattle and had a heavier presence in the area. New Order footsoldiers began to visit the Pens regularly try to impregnate the breeding stock. These efforts, though scarring to some, bore fruit with (mostly) non-mutated babies being born to the New Order for the first time in a while. These babies were brought back to Martha's Gulch to be raised by the New Order while the women stayed behind to languish in their misery.
The Pens soon afterwards began a toxic cycle relating to its "breeding stock" the continued for well over a century. The unfortunate women would be captured by the New Order around Seattle, taken to the Pens, and be confined to a small claustrophobic room. They would then be intermittently visited by footsoldiers (on leave) at random who would attempt to impregnate them. Those who would be bred would be ‘put aside’ for several months. However, pregnancy would not stop the women's suffering as they would then be vulnerable to the sexual predations of the footsoldiers stationed in the Pens. After the birth, the cycle would continue on and on until the women would be worn out and discarded. The boys would be raised by the New Order while the girls would be cycled back into the Pens. Quite a percentage of the births came out slightly mutated or deformed, but most babies were kept if their survival chances were good enough.
Frank Parmenter would oversee this process in the Pens as steward for decades, taking advantage of his position in power to exploit the breeding stock for his own pleasure. Parmenter's predatory acts disgusted even his own footsoldiers, and he became a hated figure within the buildings' confines. His favorite girl near the end of his stewardship was Sophia, a lone wanderer from a vault far to the east whose spirit was never fully broken. So, it was a relief to everyone in the Pens when Parmenter finally kicked the bucket in 2115, and his body was thrown to the mongrels. The next steward of the Pens was Matthew ‘Matt’ Drew, a strict disciplinarian who saw the breeding stock as little more than tools to be used but also did not actively mistreat them like Parmenter. That did not stop him from allowing the footsoldiers stationed in the Pens from taking their pleasure from the women confined there. Sophia especially was popular with the men, even though she bore ‘Parmenter's taint’.
It was in 2118 that Sophia attempted to escape the Pens alongside several other breeding stock. That killed two women, including Sophia, and the event injured three footsoldiers and four women. Many of the disobedient breeding stock were purged on the command of Matthew Drew. This caused quite a bit of anger among the New Order as they felt their ‘girls’ were being taken from them. Matthew Drew scrambled to gather more girls to resecure his now tenuous position. That proved to be more difficult when a band of raiders attacked the Pens in 2119 and were only barely beaten off. In the end, Matthew Drew was unsuccessful despite all his discipline and was replaced as steward by Corden, a character more similar to Frank Parmenter.
Corden's biggest concern was not about the well-being of the women in the Pens but instead was worried about outsider finding out about the Pens' operations. That became even more of a concern upon the founding of Pantheon Radio, reporters who wanted to stick their noses into everything. This led to several incidents with reporter in the 2150s though that eventually died down as things calmed down in Martha's Gulch.
That was until a big attack came in 2161 from raiders from King County International Airport. That sparked a series of conflicts between the footsoldiers at the Pens and various attacking groups. These little skirmishes luckily never damaged the Pens and the building remained a mystery to the residents of Seattle, capturing more women and pumping out more children to fill the New Order's ranks. This and the steward Corden’s lecherous actions brought a couple of more revolts by the breeding stock, but these were always put down with severe consequences. That included the Great Betrayal of 2169 and Zarya’s Revolt in 2175. In Zarya’s Revolt in particular, Zarya managed to lodge a screwdriver in Corden’s eye socket before being skinned alive. That led to a nervous wreck of a man, Antony Schwartz, becoming steward. Schwartz was too neurotic to take advantage of his job in early years and actually managed to compently manage the Pens for about a decade. In that time, conditions marginally improved for the women in the Pens. Their abuse continued nonetheless.
Schwartz hit forty in 2186 and fell to his lust soon afterwards. He died in 2187 from unknown causes and was survived by a significant number of babies born later that year. Schwartz was replaced by a very different man, one that would come to be the defining image for the Pens for years: Kraig Black.
Kraig Black was a former squad commander for the New Order and somewhat of a legalist (or a quasi-fascist if you asked some). Black saw everyone in the Pens besides himself as either a whore or a scoundrel, making little distinction between the two when it came to classifying his own footsoldiers and the breeding stock. He doled it equal punishment for things such as attempted escape, attempted ‘rape’ (a footsoldier forced himself upon a woman at an unsanctioned time), and theft: death. Initially, the women in the Pens were actually happy for Black’s ‘law and order’ approach but soon soured when it began cutting into the Pens’ thriving black market, funded almost entirely by theft and sexual favors. Ironically enough, Black’s period as steward was when escape attempts reached their height and the depravity of the footsoldiers there reached its zenith. In 2191, a female Pantheon Radio reporter who had been captured and placed in the Pens was gang raped to death as an example to the rest of the women. This was unsanctioned by Black, but he did little to investigate into the matter. This was later refuted in 2194 when Black executed three of his own for fueling the Pens’ black market with things such as cigarettes, junk food, and erotic novels. Black tried to be hard on everyone for the decades he was in charge.
Things seemed to be coming crashing down in 2211. The other groups in Martha's Gulch expelled the New Order, and the New Order was forced to take refuge in their safe-houses in West Seattle. The Pens were mostly unaffected by the situation due to its isolation from other New Order outposts. However, that also made the Pens rather vulnerable to attack from outside forces. That came in 2214 in the form of one person: an indomitable Vault Dweller. That particular Vault Dweller had a sister who had been captured by the New Order and put in the Pens to suffer indefinitely. So, the Vault Dweller tracked down the New Order footsoldiers that took part in the abducted and, in the dead of night, assaulted the Pens to save her sister with the help of an assaultron. This attack came as a great surprise to the footsoldiers stationed in the Pens, but they responded quickly. The Vault Dweller was horrified by the conditions within the Pens but was forced to only try to rescue her sister due the footsoldiers. Her assaultron held off the foosoldiers for a while until it was destroyed by intense gunfire. However, the Vault Dweller and her captive sister made it out of the Pens, narrowly escaping. That would make her of two women to ever escape the Pens alive.
This severely harmed the New Order's hold on the Pens for a while and soon enough other women attempted to get out following in the footsteps of the prior escapee. That led to a whole series of executions that effectively squelched any rebellion. The period following this was one of intense paranoia for steward Kraig Black, who was panicked that the breeding stock might stage a breakout or a similar episode to the the one in 2215 might occur again. This stress eventually killed Black in 2219, leading the rise of another steward to take his place: Mike Flynn.
Flynn ran a tight ship similarly to Black but was more lenient towards minor offenses. Steward Flynn even allowed a mother to live after he found that she was raising a twin of her’s in secret (something he deemed so improbable that it impressed him). However, things changed when in 2223 Flynn began to become paranoid about the increasing influence of Aldrich Whitney within the New Order and even the Pens themselves. This and other gas-lighting experienced by Flynn caused him to begin encouraging sexual violence to clamp down on so-called spies. This crushed the breeding stock’s hopes once again and bred further hatred for Flynn and the other footsoldiers in the Pens.
This culminated in the summer of 2224, the morning of June 13 in particular. A fire started for no apparent reason at the main entrance of the Pens’ largest building. Word of this awakened the entire place. Flynn, suspecting foul play but more concerned making sure the breeding stock did not die from the smoke, ordered a general evacuation. The Pens’ staff and footsoldiers awakened and began trying to orderly shepherd the breeding stock out of the burning building. But the women inside would not have any of it. After a large number of them were let out of their rooms, the women revolted against their handlers. The New Order footsoldiers were surprised by the attackers and overwhelmed by the women’s sheer numbers. The women took their revenge on the cowering Mike Flynn and tore him apart as the building burned and fell apart around them. They seemed to care little that they burned, only that they caused the steward as much pain as possible.
By the time reinforcements had arrived, they found a fiery pier and heard pained screams from within. The New Order, fearing a revolt from the women inside and word getting out about what they did, fired upon anyone trying to get out of the burning building. The experience scarred many present. The fire had also spread to other smaller buildings and killed most of the women there except for one Harriet, who escaped. The great fire attracted a lot of attention from raiders and local settlers, so the New Order melted away as quickly as they came. All they left behind were ashes and twisted metal.
The loss of the Pens dealt a huge blow to the New Order, but it was not a deathblow. The group managed to plod on for a while. The site of the Pens was not reused, and the New Order's fertility took a hard hit as a result. However, the New Order did not forget about the site with later generations of New Order recruits going there as a rite of passage. The site earned an increasingly negative reputation within the New Order as bad things often happened in the dark ruins where vengeful ghosts thirsted for blood.
The New Order was shattered in 2247, but that did not reduce the Pens' reputation as a haunted place. In fact, as the New Order faded into history, the Pens status as haunted became part of legend in many parts of Seattle. Caravaners and raiders alike avoided the place, reporting moaning and shrieks coming from the place once nighttime fell. This reputation only worsened when a group of raiders from King County International Airport massacred a group of scavengers in 2268 and dumped their bodies in the Pens.
The ruins of the Pens have not been disturbed much since, and those with sense avoid the place. If someone tries to brave an expedition, they will have to contend to the instability of the Pens' remaining structures more than any ghosts.
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