Fallout 3 Stealing Independence Walkthrough (Side Quest) - Guide by Carl
Abraham Washington is not difficult to find in Rivet City, simply follow the signs to the Capitol Preservation Society. He'll tell you how significant the society's collection is, and that one of the most important artifacts has yet to be recovered. When asked, he'll tell you that is the Declaration of Independence. He'll also be kind enough to reveal the location on your map.
Skip if you've already got a fast-walk location at the Mall: You can get to the National Mall by going through Anastocia crossing north of Rivet City, or by fast-walking if you've ever been to the Mall. If you haven't, you will be happy to get the discovery of a fast-walk location to the Mall out of the way because there are many things to be found in the nation's monuments and civic buildings. Finding the Archives won't be a problem with the marker Washington gave you, but getting there could be a taxing experience because of all the Super Mutants that infest this strip. Kill only the ones you need to, or you'll find yourself in a very long fight. If you must, work your way closer to the Archives and discover a fast walk location or two so that you can come back later, at a closer spot. Anything you reveal here will be a useful location later.
Once you find the National Archives, make a real save of your game, so that you will feel secure. Inside, you'll find Sydney who has set up a barricade to protect herself. Look for the mines on the floor and try to make it past them without setting them off or disarming them. I had luck going past the first two then heading to the right. Once you reach Sydney, three supermutants will attack. Help her shoot at them from behind the barricade. A second wave will come, just as powerful if not more so. Once all six are dead, talk to Sydney.
If you got A Note from Little Moonbeam's Father from the Reilly's Rangers Quest you can see how it can be used, but only after this quest is completed. If you have this note you can talk to Sydney about her father afterward and she'll give you her Sydney's "Ultra" 10mm Submachine Gun. At any rate, offer to work with her as there's nothing to be lost by doing so, especially if you can keep her alive long enough to get to the shortcut. If she dies, be sure to pick this item up from her body. If you're evil, you've maybe already killed her.
Use Sydney's password on Sydney's Terminal in the room. Open the cargo elevator and a secret hatch will appear in the ground nearby that you can use to cut through a large section of the building. The Declaration of Independence is located in a room dead north of where you start once you've used the elevator. If you're tracking the quest, you'll see the location. On the way, watch out for numerous gas leaks. Lasers and flamers can be bad here as they'll set off the gas, and deal damage to both you and Sydney. There are many detours to be taken here, but not much to be found. Keep yourself healed as you never know when something might set off a gas leak and damage you. Sentry bots are bad here too, and they've got insane damage resistance so prepare to dump some ammo into them.
The room with the Declaration is guarded by a robot named Button Gwinnett. It's very much convinced that it's one of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence. You'll eventually, through dialog, come to three choices you can make, and they'll all be listed at once with the Speech check. If you can convince Button that you're Thomas Jefferson, you'll be able to walk out with the declaration unimpeded. You can also get a forged copy, by telling him that you want to help him trick the redcoats -- this will require ink, which can be found in the northeastern section of the Arlington Library Media Archives. The third option is to kill Button, which is what I chose to do just to make sure it's not hard to get out.
In choosing to kill button, I found the password to the terminal in the room on his body. This unlocks the door where the declaration is held in a safe. Once you've got it, work your way back to the elevator and out of the archives. If you can't figure out the elevator, there's a panel you can access while standing on it that will take you up. You may need to do some mutant clearing once you exit the archives. Just enough need to be killed that you can fast-walk back to Rivet City, so don't stray too far from the entrance. Once you get back to Abraham Washington he'll reward both you and Sydney (if she survived). The reward for this quest is the schematic for the Railway Rifle, which is one of the more unique small guns in Fallout 3. Also, if you've got the note for little moonbeam, Sydney will now trust you enough to talk about her father. Reveal the note to her by telling her that her dad didn't abandon her, and she'll give you her custom SMG as a reward!