“So you ask me when I became sentient? You actually meant when did I become able to converse with you. Typical human arrogance. Believing that themselves are the only meaningful intelligent species in the wastelands. One of the problems still not blasted by fire from the skies. Not being able to speak is not a sign of not being intelligent. I had my own thoughts before being an experiment of the ones in black power armour....oh you have heard of them have you? The Enclave you say? Well then at least I don’t have to explain how much of a bad example they are of your kind. They claim the wasteland is full of mutations, the impure and barbarians? From my perspective they are the ones who are the barbarians.
I don't remember all of my life before the experiments. In recent years more of it has come back. I do remember my mother. Not that an 8 foot tall mutated lizard is what you humans would call a mother. But she did look after myself and the rest of my brothers and sisters. She ensured that hunters stayed away. Brought what was left of them back on more than one occasion. Of-course that did nothing to alleviate the human fear of my kind. It was that fear that killed my mother. A being in metal who stumbled on our cave. He turned my mother to ash but did not see most of us young ones hiding in the dark while they had fought. It was a rude awakening to the world that we were growing into. But it taught us a lesson. If there is one thing certain in life, it is that the wasteland is a cruel and barbaric place, and the weak perish.
Most of my brothers and sisters left the cave shortly when it became obvious that mother would not be providing her services any more. I however stayed. The cave was home, and it stayed cool in the wasteland temperatures. Out in the wasteland there are also more than a few hazards to a young and growing creature. Shelled monsters with sharp claws for one. They were nice to chew on when mother was able to drag one back...
...I apologise how rude of me for drifting off like that. Where was I? Oh yes. Growing up on ones own is less than ideal. Even for my kind. Food was an important resource and while water pooled into an area of the cave providing drinks, food was harder to come by. At first I survived by eating what was left of the carcasses that mother had brought to us. However they soon ran out. It was this that forced me out the cave for the first time. To sniff that air...feel the bright sun on my scales. It was a moment of revelation. Stepping into this world that you humans had created. One of deserts and charred nature. You certainly created a world perfectly suited to every form of life but yourself.
At first I survived by hunting small things that scuttled. I remember them being more crunchy than satisfying. The shelled creatures eggs were good though if I could sneak into their nesting lairs. Not easy to avoid a pair of sharp claws when I was that small. As I grew I became more bold and more capable of attacking larger prey. I stayed away from the humans of the wastelands though. I had seen what the one in metal had done to my mother. I did not want to become a pile of ash. I did far more wandering as I grew. Spent more time away from the caves until a time when I remember forgetting about them entirely and living out in the wastes, wandering the sands, through the world destroyed by the weapons of your kind. Occasionally I would smell the scents of human habitation. I would avoid them or stay somewhere out of the way.
I guess now this was how I spent much of my youth. Avoiding humans and their weapons. How I came to be in the hands of the Enclave I do not remember. I do remember everything that came next. I awoke in a strange cave. Dark, made of metal. A cell obviously but at the time I had no perception nor knowledge. I was strapped to some sort of structure by my limbs. Restrained and unable to move. My struggles failed to get me free however they did alert the humans clad in white suits that were around me. I could not see their faces. Only orange masks. And so began the experiments. They were slight at first. The occasional scale pulled off me. The occasional drawing of blood. They fed me and kept me alive as the days dragged on. How many I do not know. But the experiments became rougher. They gave me a number to which they referred to me. Number Six. I heard them use it when they talked to each other about me. One day, while I was restrained, they started to cut me open, injure me. They purposefully harmed me to see how I healed. How I reacted. The pain they would inflict grew as they used more things to harm me. Electricity. Lasers. Sharp blades. As time went on I became used to their treatment. Used to being unable to escape. It seemed this was the clue for them to move onto a new phase.
I was strapped down again but this on my front. I could see the ground, its metal finish. I could hear humans talking again but not understand them. That was when I felt the blades in my skin again. Once more I ignored the pain, the blood running down my head. I'm not sure how long I was there for. I was left for some time once the pain had died away. After a time I begun to notice a change...a difference. I wasn't sure what the humans had done. But something had been done to me. There was something on my head now. Something cold. My memory became dull and difficult to recall after that.
In recent times I've remembered things. Voices in my head. Telling me of things. Orders. I remember being caged up, called on to fight. I fought many things. The human mutants. Normals. People in metal like the one that killed my mother. The ones in black armour that stood with me seemed to take great enjoyment watching me rip these others apart. When I refused to fight I was hurt. Searing pain in my head like someone had stabbed something in my eyes and brain. The more I disobeyed the more I would be hurt. I became just another tool for them. The experiments continued all the while. Every day one of the humans in white would inject something into me. Something that glowed green. Something dangerous. I'm not sure why I thought it was dangerous.
The beings I was being sent to fight changed too. Time and again I was starved and released into one of those slapped together settlements your kind create. There the people in black would watch as I ransacked these villages. Killed the inhabitants. The young and the old. All fell to my claws. I had no mercy for those that I tore apart. But I questioned why. My kind kill for food or protection. These Enclave didn't eat the people they killed or made me kill to defend them. They just liked killing. But I knew the device they had lodged in my head could kill me at a moments notice of they needed to. But they were as arrogant as you were human for wandering in here. They thought they could control me. All the time I could feel myself getting more different. My eyesight changed and grew better. I was able to understand their language. Understand their words. Even start copying it. I started to watch their patterns. Stalk them almost. Watch them use their technology to achieve their ends. Time passed until I found myself in a new place.
The Enclave as you call them, referred to this place as the Capital Wasteland. It really was a wasteland. Nothing but burned houses and collapsed buildings. There was more killing to be done here and so I killed. I obeyed the orders. Safe in the knowledge that soon I would be smart enough and strong enough to escape. But my chance only came when I met someone new. Someone different.
To this day I remember him. Or was it a her. It was dark and difficult to tell. Whoever it was bore the scars of combat. They had the eyes of something who had grown in the wastes. They wore a metal suit like that of the others but it was obviously a trophy of conquest. They had a canine with them. I could tell from the smells. I remember the day I was given my freedom from this lone wanderer and his dog. I was trapped in my metal cave. Metal box. Awaiting release to go and kill more of the giant mutated humans that had laid claim to a large area in-front of a ruined building that was some pre-war government building. I didn't care much for the humans architecture. A cave is as fine as any building of stone and metal. It was dark and cold.
I heard the first shots and struggled to see or hear what was going on after that. Flashes of light and laser. Loud shouts and the sharp cracks of gunfire. Bullets bounced off my cage with alarming regularity. It started to make my ears hurt. But the sounds of combat. The scent of blood. It made my anger grow. My violence. I wanted out. I wanted to join the fight and harm everyone out there. But the doors remained shut and soon there was silence. But over the scent of blood and death I could still smell the dog and this other human. The metal headed human figure had walked up to the cage and peered inside. He saw me. I starred back at him through the gap in the wall. I remember wondering whether this human would slip some sort of bomb through the gap or whether they would turn me to ash like my mother.
The figure disappeared however and son after the cage doors opened. Freedom had found me at last. I carefully dragged my bulk out the cage and turned to face the figure. They had a weapon in their hands pointing at me but they stood still and calm. This lone wanderer was not frightened of me in any way. Around him were the dead metal people who had owned me. Used me. The human watched me as I watched him. Both of us seemed surprised that each other were not attacking. But maybe this human saw the scars of the Enclaves work and had some sympathy for a beast like me. After some time the human figure lowered its weapon and shouldered it. It gave me a last look before whistling at the dog that followed him off into the ruins of the old city once more.
This lone human had freed me...aware that I was what I am. And yet, had shown no fear of me. Only a wish to free me from my servitude as a slave of the black metal men.
It had taken some time to remove the device on my head. Or at-least damage it enough to ensure the Enclave could never use me again. I was still intelligent, able to understand the language of those around me. I saw it best to leave the wasteland of the capital and head for new shores. I pointed my snout in a direction and marched away from those that would use me for their ends. I never saw that lone human or his dog again. Perhaps his kindness got the better of him one day. Who knows. But I owe him my life. And he taught me another lesson of the wastelands. That kindness and compassion are not forgotten. And they can be far stronger than the brutish behaviour of others.
For many cycles of the sun and moon I walked. Through battered coastal villages. Through forgotten swamp lands. Past the ruins of great civilisation. Past the remnants trying to survive. At last after a long time I came across a new land. A new place. A vast desert stretched below me, marked by a place of tall spires and bright lights in the distance. A place of many humans I believed. I could smell others of my kind but I knew they would shun me due to my difference. A life alone is what I assumed would follow and for a while that is what happened. A solitary life of hunting and avoiding the humans of this new land I found myself in. Of-course it didn't stay like that. One day someone happened upon the ruin where I was sleeping. A human, one of different clothing to most though. He knew exactly what I was however from the start. He knew I could understand his words.
He claimed his name was Arcade. He claimed to be working for some group in the wastelands. Do gooders apparently. But he had been a former member of the Enclave from what he said. He recognised the device still stuck on my head. He offered to remove it for me. I was uncertain why I should trust another Enclave again. This new human had been unsure how to convince me of his intentions but regaled me with a story about his own past, and how he had come to help a lone courier in the wasteland. In doing so he had found a new purpose. There was something honest about his face and his words and so I agreed. He, however, stipulated I had to follow him to some place new somewhere he called 'Vegas'. I assumed this had been the arrangement of towers I had seen earlier on my travels.
We wandered together through the wastes while Arcade told me more of the place I found myself in. Apparently some time ago there had been a battle in which he and others had been involved. Personally I found it hard to believe this doctor sort had been in any fights. No scars, no wounds...he hardly looked or sounded intimidating. It took a day to reach the metal walls of the settlement he referred to as Vegas. I suppose Arcade had not thought how it looked as we advanced down the ruined streets getting more than a few odd looks. The people around here seemed like most humans now. Barely contained thugs eager to put a blade in your back if it helped them survive. Or maybe it was just me they wanted to kill.
The surgery was excruciatingly painful. I remember giving Arcade a nasty scratch during it. However, he never stopped working and eventually the device on my head had been removed. Apparently, there was no future way any one could use it to control me. I was, as he put it, free now to explore my new intelligence. I was grateful to Arcade but while he insisted I remain at this fort to heal, I knew my presence was a danger for him and the others that had helped. I left that night and sort refuge elsewhere. And thus, this is where you found me human. In this cave, alone, hiding from your kind. People of your kind who wish to cause me harm, simply because I am a Deathclaw. Now I could let you go. But then you would return with others. What’s that? You promise not to? Please, if I was capable of laughing I would. I'm afraid human, that you attacked me first and as a result, your life is forfeit. But don't worry. I'll make sure you are dead before I start eating you. I'm not uncivilised after all...