// 2021-08-07 // by Neon

Spin the Record

Spin the Record - DJ

A well-dressed businessman tapped the face of his silver Rolex watch. He wore a perfectly tailored suit and an arrogant grin to compliment his conspicuous consumption. Rays of sunlight shone onto the long dark-wood boardroom table from behind slits in the window blinds of the ritzy conference room, lighting up the puffs of smoke that emanated from an expensive cigar hanging from the man's middle-aged lips.

"Ah yes, right on time. You know what they say, time is money, and I don't want to waste it!" He snuffed out the cigar in the ashtray beside him and feigned a laugh, the kind of dry and emotionless chuckle that regularly stifles the soulless grey air of corporate offices all across America.

Two hardy individuals sat across the table from the corporate exec. They gave one another a look, each with their eyebrows half raised in an expression of unmasked distaste. The two of them were polar opposites to the tailor-dressed West-Tek bureaucrat sitting across from them. These were rugged individuals shaped by an endless war overseas, their mannerisms no longer bound to rehearsed pleasantries of life in the homeland. Both were wearing freshly ironed black West-Tek Corporation service dress uniforms, but the truth is that there's only so much civilised paint you can put on a pair of two newly repatriated soldiers.

Both field operatives were covered in tattoos peeking out from under their wrinkled uniforms. The man had the letters "KILL REDS" etched onto his fingers and a little scraggly beard to make up for his bald shaved head. The woman, she had an abstractly devilish bald eagle emblazoned along her neck, and the sides of her head shaved with a short ponytail pulled back from her remaining hair. The pair were the kind of people one might mistake for ruffians, were it not for their professional formal attire.

The business executive cleared his throat and spoke up. "Two years serving in India, after an impromptu hiring process in the field. I suppose that would make this your first formal performance review, wouldn't it, Mister— or should I say Miss— Domingues-Janofsky?"

The woman nodded. "That's right. Though it's usually just 'DJ' since the full name's kind of a mouthful."

Still listening to the sound of his own voice, the exec began to segue into his next talking point. "The names we call ourselves are quite powerful, aren't they," he paused and smiled. His tone was full of himself, as if he were about to catch the unrefined woman in a lie, "It's curious. 'Antonio', is it? Quite the unusual first name for a woman to hold."

DJ smiled and ran her fingers back through her hair. It wasn't the first time she'd gotten this kind of question, but it always satisfied her to own the confusion. "It's actually supposed to be 'Antonia'. There was a clerical error in my birth record— I never bothered to get it updated, sir. But, like I said, call me DJ. I insist."

The executive was unamused. "How unfortunate. I figure that kind of mix-up is bound to happen with a foreign name like that. Though you could always consider taking up a more American name— 'Anne Janofsky' has a nice ring to it. But we digress, it seems. You've got quite the record here, let's see..."

He flipped through several pages before reading a quote from one of the team captain's mission reports in an incredulous tone, "Beyond just being a local informant, this promising character has come to be a vital asset to this team, operating at a level that exceeds all expectation from an informally trained guerrilla. Antonio is an American citizen, and I'd like to petition them for a full time position as field operative in this company. Their unique talents are wasted running up amateur gigs with the locals."

The exec moved his gaze over to the rugged man sitting next to DJ. "That's quite some praise coming from you, Captain Lewis. If I didn't know any better, I'd never imagine that the man you spoke of", he motioned idly in DJ's direction, "was actually this young lady sitting here with us today. Care to explain to me how you came to your conclusion? I'd like to emphasise that West-Tek is a professional organisation that prides itself in the performance of our people."

Lewis gave a quick nod and spoke in the assertive tone of a seasoned leader. "Sir, that report was sent over to HQ several months after I met DJ. I wrote that statement after she singlehandedly disarmed then neutralised three insurgents using their own weapon amidst an ambush on two members of my squad at the local village market. The detachment that was with her was supposed to be there to protect her, mind you. I am proud to state that in the two years of her direct service, DJ's aptitude in the field has far surpassed any early judgement anyone on the team may have had. Her devotion to her squad and to this great country is unquestionable, sir."

The exec leaned back in his chair, still unimpressed. "You needn't say anymore, captain. I can certainly see that you think so. But I also think that it is easy for our judgements to be blinded when someone who we are employing is, hmmm, what's the best way to put it... sufficiently personable. How about we talk about your qualifications, Miss Janofsky."

DJ replied with a slow uncertainty, "Sir, respectfully, I am not quite sure what you are insinuating, where you are going with this, or how this line of questioning is relevant to my performance review whatsoever."

The executive frowned and leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table and holding his hands together. "Please indulge me, Miss Janofsky."

"I was part of a missionary group when I first arrived in Northern India, sir. It was an opportunity for me to get out there and share the values of my country out where it actually matters. I don't think I need to explain to you, sir, that the role of a missionary in a politically unstable country entails much more than just spreading the word of God. There certainly wouldn't be any paramilitary involvement if it were so simple. I'm grateful that the circumstances allowed West-Tek Security, particularly the garrison stationed our there to secure to our mission, to ultimately see someone in me that might not have been seen back home."

"A nun who chooses to play soldier. That's a new one. I'm sure you are aware that our foreign security professionals are generally pulled from the trench, not the pew. But, I mean, look at you," He touched his neck, clearly referencing at the deathly eagle inscribed on Dj's own neck, "So much for Leviticus 19:28. Maybe this nun just doesn't care. I can see why a mission might not have wanted you."

DJ scrunched her brows, a brief fire lit in her eyes. The man's utter lack of decency, camouflaged by calm corporate pleasantries, was starting to get to her. But Lewis, still seated right next to DJ, put up a hand to silence her before she had the chance to say anything she might regret. "Sir, this is hardly appropriate. If you have a formal complaint with one of my officers, I'd like to request—"

The West-Tek executive coughed loudly and cut him off. "Get out. Lewis, you're dismissed. Return to your post."

"Sir, I'm not sure—"

"That's an order. Speak up again and the formal reprimand you asked for is going into your file."

Lewis nodded and stood up. He exchanged a glance with DJ and lightly shook his head both ways with a frustrated scowl on his face. DJ had been under his command long enough to understand the point he was trying to tell her without needing him to say a word. Play it straight, avoid further antagonising the petty bureaucrat, and wait for the desk jockey to shut up of his own accord.

Lewis stepped out of the conference room and the door gently latched closed behind him.

The self-absorbed executive continued his little speech. "Look, I don't know how better to put this, but the way I see it, we're in a bit of a conflict of professional interests here. We, West-Tek Security, have an image of corporate professionalism that we need to protect in order to maintain our division's position as an industry leader in the private security landscape and an as ambassador for the broader West-Tek brand. You, on the other hand, well...", the exec waved his hands a bit and trailed off, stumbling to find the right words.

DJ took care to avoid sounding disgruntled in her response, doing her best to stay diplomatic. "I'm not sure that I understand what you're getting at, sir. You've read my file, it's right there in front of you. You know that I've been nothing short of the model employee. Are you suggesting that my mission results have been substandard in some way? If you're suggesting that I need to perform differently in some way, I am certainly open to hearing it."

"No, no, that's not it. It's just... let me put it this way," he paused for for a moment, ominously collecting his thoughts to regurgitate in veiled corporate jargon, "You know how some of our clients can be. Private security is a very professional and competitive industry with the contracts we pull. And West-Tek needs to be able to inspire the confidence that our people are the very best, and that we're the ones who get the job done. But if I were one of our clients, I'm not sure you're the person I'd think of when I picture the kind of man who delivers the kind of results our company has to offer, Miss Janofsky. Surely you can see that, no?"

DJ clenched her hand into a fist under the table out of sight. It would take an empty-headed halfwit to not understand where this was going, but clearly all this jackass thought she was. "Sir, this position is my livelihood. It's my dream. I have been employed with this company for two years now, and I don't believe there has ever previously been a question of my ability to do the work we do here. This is the first I'm hearing of it."

The suited man squinted and feigned an awkward smile, "Listen, Miss Janofsky, my dear, I want you to know that I'm on your side here. I'm just not convinced that the best future for you is here with West-Tek. Surely, you could find a good husband and settle down to a peaceful life here in a civilised country. And, thankfully, the West-Tek family is committed to helping you build that reality. I'm sure you'll be more than satisfied with the severance package I've put together for you..."

DJ's eye twitched, and the pretense of civility was over. She slammed her fist on the table and let her tongue loose. "Don't patronise me. I'd like to see you put on the uniform and do my job for a year. Not sure you'd make the first week, though."

The exec was unfazed by her display. "Careful there, missy. It's unbecoming for a young woman to raise her voice, and certainly won't win you many favours. A word of advice, I'd recommend you take a step back, take a good hard look in the mirror, and consider the blessing God gave you by bringing you into this world. Take the money and settle down. I'm not going to give you this offer again, Miss Janofsky. One way or another, you're going to hand over your ID badge and walk out of here to a civilian life. Maybe it'll teach you some respect."

He pulled out a pen and a long form from a manila folder in out of the pile of documents sitting in front of him, sliding the agreement across the table to DJ.

She looked down and stared at the severance form for several long seconds, still a bit dumbstruck. It took everything in her power to fight back the urge to jump out of her seat and just throw it, her ambitions shattered before her very eyes. Somehow, DJ just hadn't expected things to end so abruptly, to end like this.

The suited villain continued to taunt her, "Consider this a down payment on your new life, and opportunity to clean yourself up and build a family while you're still in your fertile years."

DJ picked up the pen and clicked it. She took a deep breath and reigned in the righteous indignation that weighed down her stomach. She thought to herself, and as satisfying as it might be, telling this prick to go fuck himself wasn't actually the winning move here. DJ knew better; a soldier takes his loss in stride and lives to fight another day. Even in defeat, DJ knew in her heart that she was a stronger soldier and a more credible patriot than this pencil pusher would ever be. And for the moment, that thought gave her the strength she needed to keep herself steady.

But, make no mistake, her fight was not over. She knew her place in this world, and her life story sure as shit wasn't about to end as some domesticated housewife.

Wow, this little adventure ended up being a lot longer than I originally planned. Really, I just thought it'd be fun to write a couple paragraphs of cool backstory for my Fallout 4 character.

The original concept for DJ's character came to me after I threw her design together in looksmenu, took a step back, and just couldn't shake how jarring her visual appearance is when contrasted with the suburban conservative pre-collapse attire of the prologue. I knew that I had to explore that visual dissonance: who the hell is this abberant badass lady, and how did such a forward-looking woman come to exist in such a conservative setting?

I hope you enjoyed tagging along with me in my attempt to explore that question. :)

Lore Note: This is a bit of a pedantic tangent, but I'd like to take a bit of a detour into the realm of Fallout lore and explain something that might have bugged some of you. Those who are well-versed in the Fallout setting will probably be weirded out by my interpretation of West-Tek fielding a private international security division. There is no reference to West-Tek operating a division of this type in canon. I'd like to explain my thought process as to where this idea came from.

Despite the very heavy-handed references to a booming private sector military industrial complex, the nuanced and more unsavoury but inevitable international policy side effects to war-as-industry, such as the vertically-integrated commodification of war (up to and including the forces that actually participate in the conflicts), are completely overlooked in the Fallout universe.

Due to the cold war style thematics of the pre-collapse world, it's extremely likely that there would been significant investment by major powers into deniable political assets and proxy warfare outside the realm of standard military operations. Unfortunately, there is very little source material to explore the shady political implications of a vast military industrial hegemony in the resource-strained mid 21st century.

There's zero references whatsoever to any kind of significant private security agencies anywhere in Fallout lore, which makes no sense to me. Absent this pretty important political detail, my interpretation is that West-Tek might be the kind of corporation which could reasonably have this kind of militarised security division. The viability of such an entity within West-Tek is self evident: given the corporation's scale (largest pre-collapse defense contractor) and interconection with United States military interests, West-Tek has reasonable incentive and financial capacity to vertically integrate paramilitary resources to create a stable revenue stream to not only supplement the volatility to military R&D contracts but also generate additional demand for West-Tek military products.

It is my hope that my extrapolated but liberal interpretation of Fallout canon does not offend the more lore-focused reader.