The REALLY Wild Wasteland. (The Fallout RP!)

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Without a word spoken, the Princess of Cheese prepared their meals and, upon finishing, beckoned Jonathan to sit, as she handed over bowl and cultery. It seemed that she planned that they eat first and, with bellies full, they would converse. He was fine with that; other than what little he had managed to gobble down earlier today before the Princess dragged him off to his... bath, Jonathan hadn't eaten at all and his belly, being reminded of that fact, started protesting.

Truly, Kristin's culinarian skills were something to behold, for this was possibly the best meal that Jonathan had gazed at in ages. Though his mouth filled with saliva and his stomach roared with anticipation, Jonathan waited for his hostess to finish her pre-dinner ceremony and have the first bite herself; doing otherwise would have likely been disrespectful and insulting, not to mention gluttony by itself had a tendency to evoke bad manners anyway.

Seeing the Princely Hostess grab a piece with her fork, Jonathan went ahead and did the same, sniffing at his meal, taking the time to properly savour it, for he doubted he would have another one as grand in his lifetime. Unfortunately for him, just as the piece of meat was half-way through his mouth, a loud thud was heard, and the princess started talking. It would appear that she had changed her mind again. Dissatisfied, he put the fork down without taking a bite. It looked like he was in for an earful.

"I lied today, twice, for two different people. I despise lying. I see why it's necessary, but - that doesn't mean I have to like it."

So begun the Talk, and what a way to start, indeed. Jonathan raised an eyebrow and stared at the Princess, puzzled as to what she meant by that.

"Back at Miss Black's home, during the Enclave interference - after I had struck down her guards - I bore witness to a master at work. Navigating those conversational landmines, dodging conversational traps and trickery..."

Oh, that. She was talking about that. Jonathan's face turned sour, and he bowed his head and threw a sidelong, disgruntled stare towards nowhere in particular. Her words were ones of praise; too bad she wasn't talking about anything commendable.

"...And while I was struck with awe, I could not help but entertain the terrible notion that even I had been ensnared - not by #411, but by you."

Ensnared, she said? Jonathan turned to stare at her again, confused and more than a little bit surprised. Kristin was the honest kind of person, the kind that either doesn't survive long or learns that being honest does wonders lowering your life expectancy and thus take a turn towards the Dis kind of honesty. How, then, had he ensnared her, as she claimed? Jon threw another glance at the bed; when his eyes turned back to the Princess, her face had turned into one that was painfully familiar and caused him a day-long guilt trip. It was painful to look at again.

"Don't you dare talk down to me."

Jonathan's features were marked by visible regret, and he thought he could faintly hear girlish giggling at the back of his head. His face darkened as he hung his head, staring at the ground. He stayed as he were as Kristin recounted her tale of how she lost her family's business. That explained why she was here, at least.

"It was humiliating. And it was not much different from how you treated me back there."

Jonathan sook his head and sighed; that's not what he did. That's not what he wanted it to look like he did. It wasn't-

"At first, I started to doubt you - was I merely a pawn for some greater endgame for you? - I had hoped not. I asked for a guide, that was all." And then..."

He raised his head and stared questioningly. And then?

"You give me the silent treatment."

She was the one that didn't want to listen to his explanation in the first place!

"Dismantled a bomb for me in a heroic gesture."

Jonathan tilted his head forward, staring inquiringly. For her? Why would she think-

"presented me with a gift in a sweet manner"

His eyes narrowed. Gift? He hadn't given her any gifts!

"displayed concern over my well being"

That much was true, at least. Was that when she started taking the wrong picture?

"made your intentions known when you stared at my body,"

No, that was when it started. Jonathan frowned, throwing a sidelong stare away, his cheeks blushing for a brief moment. He wasn't exactly proud of his behaviour, but she caught him off guard with her sudden undressing.

" preying on my vulnerability"

Jonathan turned back to staring confused again. Her vulnerability? What vulnerability? When had he done so?

"It dawned on me; perhaps I was a pawn...IN YOUR GAME OF LOVE!"

Jonathan flinched as though headbutted by a stampeding buffalo in heat, staring dumbstruck towards Kristin -who had by then stood up and placed her leg on the chair- so dazed by the bluntless of the princess' proclamation that he didn't quite realise he was actually staring under her skirt for a noticable amount of seconds, before shaking his head and regaining his composure. Though the princess only confirmed what he suspected, the way she came to the conclusion and her directness were... surprising to say the least.

"I congratulate you on your bravery, former Postman & Pugilist turned Playboy!"

He made an annoyed grimace at that remark, his annoyance further intensified by the princess' tone, its condescention made abundandly clear by her sharp, patronizing smirk. Was she going to make fun of him, now? He supposed he deserved that much.

"But that particular path - has uhh - run into some - how do I put this..." she continued, now unexpectedly hesitant, before flaring up again in anger, frustratedly pointing towards Jonathan, "...it's not important! I want the truth!"

Kristin's disposition, in the space of a few words, changed completely. She went from enthusiastically confident to seemingly uncomfortable. Though Jonathan took note of the sudden mood change, he kept a straight face, for the princess had more to say.

"Tell me, Playboy-Pugilist-Postman..."

The nicknames were seriously getting out of hand.

"We are locked together in this Enclave Errand...but discard that for the moment! Are you truly just my guide? What I mean is - were you willing to join me, despite our situation?"

She seemed extremely concerned about how their relationship was going to go. Come to think of it, she also was acting off when she talked about similar things from behind the door while he was shaving.

"Today for instance, did I do something good by exposing the priests' extortion - is my cause just?"

And now not only was she doubting the righteousness of her convictions, but she wanted to hear what he thought aswell?

"Or are you humoring me as I have been lead to believe when you berated me at Miss Black's home?"

Again, asking about his motives. Of course, it was only logical to question the intent of the man you would spend the next half a year travelling with, but the way she went about it suggested there was more to it than that.

Then, epiphany. Could she... Could she actually...

"...You are my biggest frustration, yet I admire - something - at the same time."

...be developing feelings for him!?

Jonathan kept a staight, contemplative yet unreadable face as the Princess finished her speech and uneasily devoured her food in a stressed manner. That was a lot to digest, and he wasn't talking about the food. The princess, difficult to read as she were, caught Jonathan off-guard a good deal of times. The enormity of the misunderstanding far exceeded his expectations; cleaning this mess up would be harder than he thought. But...

He would be frank.

"Well... that was a lot to stomach," he started, his manner a mixture of serious and casual, "This has all been one big, messed-up misunderstanding. I shall try to make things as clear as I can. Though I should warn you..." he looked at her sternly in the eyes, "I will not mince words. You asked me to be frank, and so I shall be, even if what I have to say causes you grief."

"I suppose it's only fitting that I start with where this whole mess begun." he sighed, reluctant to reminisce on today's developments, "Back at Miss Black's house, it was evident that what was transpiring was out of your depth. Not just due to lack of experience; it's clear that your are, by nature, straighforward. And though that is an admirable quality most of the time..." he leaned forward, "It is also dangerous."

"I have been a liar and manipulator for the better part of my life" he admitted, shamefully, "But not by choice. When you're stuck in a situation such as mine, you're left with few options if you want to survive. I never was a good shot or physically conditioned, so the only thing I could do is lie. And I did it a lot." He scratched his cheek, "And when your entire world is built upon the lies you weave, you eventually end up believing some of them."

He shook his head. "A-anyway, back to the point. Though I did play the... 'game'" he said as he did air-quote gestures, "I derived no pleasure from it. I did it to guarantee Miss Black's safety."

And look how well that went.

"Unfortunately, my opponent was also skilled in the ways of coercion, and it became increasingly difficult to maneuver the conversation towards a favourable result. A fact made even more difficult having to worry how you would react. I saw how close you were to striking her down, despite the fact that doing so would likely doom Miss Black and her friend."

He sighed yet again. The princess really wasn't going to like what he had to say. "That harlot read you well. With a few words she taunted you into acting rashly and, though you didn't go berserk, she still spun a web around you. One that I had to deal with in some way or another."

"You see, Miss Kristin," he said as he made gestures with his hands, as though he was teaching a class, "the key to dealing with these situations is to show as little emotion as possible. Caring, most of all. If your opponent finds out you care about something, they'll exploit that care and trap you. Much like how she did with her offer. She saw that you showed concern for the clones and tied you to them, most likely to keep an advantage over you in the future."

"Which brings us to my... ensnarement of you, as you call it." He shook his head. "When I reached out to you to tell you not to get attached to the clones, I... I didn't do it to humour or mock you. I did it exactly because #411 was using them against you, and since I dragged you into this mess to begin with... I wanted to let you know what you were walking into and, if you didn't like it, do things some other way. Hence why the final decision was left to you."

He took a deep breath, "I don't like manipulating people, Miss Kristin. Circumstances and extended periods of doing just that left me numb to it for a while... but I dislike it. I dislike that I am good at it. Hells, lying is the only thing I have going for me, honestly. It's a wonder that I have even survived so far."

Wonder, or proof the universe has a cruel sense of humour.

"To be able to get the result that we got, I had to consider you expendable. And in doing so, I hurt you. The way you stared at me outside Miss Black's house was evidence enough. And that, well..." he scratched his cheek with a finger whilst throwing an irritated glare at the floor, reluctant to dwell into something so personal, before turning to look at her in the eyes again "It hit me. I have conditioned myself to be as pragmatic as possible so as to get the best result as I can, but the repercusions... well, let's just say I have a guilt complex. Seeing that I hurt you it triggered it. I thought pretty... demeaning things about myself and grew distant, cold and..." he glanced at his bandaged hand, "not... so... much."

"Now... about this so-called game of love." He took a deep breath and stared contemplatively, "Sheesh, where to begin?"

"Let's begin with the dismantling of the bomb. I did it as a job. I know the sheriff. I helped the town a few years back when they had run into a power supply problem. He thought me reliable enough, and so tasked me with seeing if the rumour that the bomb was rearmed was true. It wasn't, but I thought I might aswell make sure it never would be. What I threw for you to destroy was part of the detonator. As reward, I got him to agree to cover whatever expenses would be needed for Miss Black's caretaking."

"I am not proud of my behaviour." He frowned with disgust, "but you caught me off guard. I did not expect you to undress when you did, or at least, that you'd offer warning that you did..." he blushed a bit, before, aggravated, leaning forward again, "L-look, I won't lie, you are probably the most attractive woman I've ever seen. But that doesn't mean that I have such feelings for you, nor that I seek to covet you in any way. Especially since you wouldn't want me to in the first place. Our relationship, so to speak, shall be as you want it: professional. You want a guide, and I will be that, nothing more." he felt a hint of sadness at that fact, though he wasn't sure why, "I will try to make it so that my quest for allies does not inconvenience you in our travels, though I can't promise that it won't. And when the time comes, and we have to work for #411 again... I will try to make that time as bearable for you as I can. It is only right, I dragged you into this in the first place."

"As for whether you were just in what you did to that priest... I am not really one to say. I don't believe that gods exist, and if they do, considering what a mess the world is, I find them unworthy of worship. B-but that's just me." he made quick to clarify on that, "What a person believes in or not is not my business. I won't argue theology with you, not will I mock your beliefs. If your faith enriches your life, then who am I to trample on it?" The moon's still not made of cheese, though.

"The only grounds upon which I critique a religion is the effects it has on its followers. Does it bring out the good in them, making them more prone to acts of charity and selflessness? Or does it turn them into cold crusaders, drawing sword and gun to smite unbelievers? In your case, it remains to be seen. You did offer food to the people of the town... but I did take note of your zeal at driving Cromwell away, not to mention the number of near death experiences your rituals gave me."

"As for your final question, whether or not I would join you on my own..." he closed his eyes and took a deep breath to prepare himself, and opened them again, staring determined, "No."

He exhailed in an attempt to release some tension, "Had I not pledged myself to your service, or dragged you into this Enclave business... I would not travel with you. I'd do as Miss Black asked of me and brought you here, maybe given you a few pointers as to where the other landmarks around here are, but that would be it." He massaged his back a bit, his voice growing dispirited, "It's nothing personal. It's just that I've found that it's better if I travel alone, for me and my potential companions both." His eyes were modestly downcast.

"There you have it, then." Jonathan said as he leaned back on the bed, nervous as to the princess' reaction, "I have said my piece. I'm sorry if what's said angered or disappointed you. You asked me to be frank... and so I was."

The certain amount of musketeers, depends who you're counting.

This short ride back to the Citadel had only been going for a few minutes, but it felt like more than a month had passed the riders by. That's only because silence can seem like an eternity, and not because this entire interaction was being controlled by some other being on a different world, metaphorically snowed under with the demands of real life.

Ferdinand appeared to be keeping quiet throughout the journey, holding the Powersuit Destabilizer over FalloutScott like a sacrificial dagger ready to be plunged into a back. Besides, Ferdinand didn't want to slow down the journey. His legs were slowly being crushed by the great weight of a fully grown man in Power Armour.

"So William, how tha hell did ya get back here from way out west? 'Specially since ya don't got ya bike anymore." Said Dudley, in a BOLD and booming voice befitting a man of his stature.

"Yeah, that's something that's been bothering me too. We covered a lot of ground without much time to stop but you're back too. How'd that happen?" Said Evan, in his sharp tone the felt like it was being distorted by the wind.

"I got a lift in a Vertibird. It's the only way to travel, or so they tell me." Replied William, remembering the Vertibird ride with Lucy, Sylph, Johnny, and Beryl. That had felt like a long time ago, as did many of the events of the past month. William wondered if he'd ever see any of his fellow passengers again. Lucy had disappeared into the night, alone. William's hand brushed her plasma pistol as he wondered where its true owner was now. Slyph should be back at the Brotherhood, William was looking forward to introducing her to Evan and Dudley, if only to hear what nicknames she'd give them.

As for Beryl and Johnny, the former had vanished almost immediately after leaving the Vertibird. She could be anywhere by now, most likely as far away from the Enclave as possible thought William. Staying in the Capital Wasteland at a time like this meant dealing with the Enclave in some way or another. Many opted to just leave without a word, packing up their old lives for pastures new (and quieter).

Johnny Truant too had slipped away, another one who could be anywhere. Perhaps something compelled him to leave, or maybe he too had simply wanted nothing to do with the trouble the Enclave brought. Either way, yet another soul had struck out alone, through the rubble of a dead world.

Perhaps that was the way of the wasteland, for those living outside the main communities at least. Wandering souls set to roam the wastes for years, until they grew tired and settled down somewhere or were claimed by one of the many dangers that existed in this twisted world. Maybe each individual soul could only accompany another for so long before the basic instinct of solitude drove them apart? Or perhaps William was thinking too much about it right now.

A Vertibird? I envy you William, I have always wanted to fly a Vertibird. Such a shame they're in short supply." Said Evan, who had ridden in Vertibirds for short distances, but had often dreamed of manning the controls himself and exploring the wastes in style.

Not me, I'd never want ta be off the ground for too long. 'Sides, I seen plenty o' them things go crashing down under light fire. Hell, I mighta' shot one outta' the sky myself." Added Dudley, who had indeed once shot a Vertibird down with his Minigun.

The Musketeers rode onwards to the Citadel, soon bringing it into sight as they got to the bridge spanning the Potomac. You could see Rivet City and the Jefferson Memorial from here. It had also been the battleground where Liberty Prime first fought the Enclave, as the Brotherhood of Steel reclaimed the Water Purifier with the aid of the Lone Wanderer. The Bridge had been cleared and some attempts at making it sturdier had been put into place, but it was still clear and empty. The only things that passed along it with regularity were Brotherhood patrols and Merchant caravans seeking to cross the river quickly and head for the Capital Wasteland without lingering too long in the DC Ruins.

The bridge had once been a regular site for raider attacks, and rumour was they used to camp in a bombed out building on one side of the bridge. But this was uncontested Brotherhood territory now, and the raiders stayed well away. Still, that didn't stop the keen eyed Evan from spotting a group of figures making their way into the DC Ruins as he looked upriver to the north. They could be raiders, slavers, or just a group of scavengers who hadn't heard of the battleground DC had become once more.

OOC: Once again, I have to say it. My GOD, you people are funny.

IC>>>>>

He could hardly believe what'd been done to him. He didn't even know the full extent of it. He was alive? Isaac looked himself over, feeling...admittedly...kind of weird for being alive. He felt like he should be celebrating, but right now he was in a not-too-cozy patch of wasteland, wearing nasty ghoul-clothing. Not really helpful to the effect, plus there was this weird feeling of energy just below the surface of his skin. He never had this before, not even in the Enclave. So...what? Did he have super powers now? Well...no. Over the next hour, he was wandering and trying to...I dunno... Fly? Shoot webs? Hulk out? He wasn't sure. It was just sort of...energized somehow. Of course, when he came by the sea...he felt something off, and then he SAW something off. The dark-haired man looked and...the water was glowing red at points. Now, why...? And then, the answer came to him. Glowing Ones. Red Glowing Ones.

Isaac: At least twenty of them, and- What the hell?

He took refuge behind a rock as they emerged. Soldiers! All of them were soldiers in Chinese combat fatigues! What the fuck? Had they WALKED here? What was going on?! Well...it seems that Isaac wasn't aware of the fact that a Chinese warship had been sunk recently, by born a horrible abomination and a nuke. He further hadn't known that there were survivors who made their way to shore. All he knew was that they were here. Well now...this was an opportunity. They were busy cleaning out their guns because of the ocean. The whole twenty of them had no firearms operational. And if his body was as alive as it felt...with HIS level of training...

Isaac: Alright... Test #1. How do I fair in light combat?

Yes, light combat. Isaac Black - formerly FalloutIsaac - was that good. He moved quickly, so in the two seconds it took for his presence to be registered, he was closer than the average man could get and taking full advantage of their surprise. It is a matter of fact that while one of them shouted something in Chinese - Probably an attack order - he was at the first ghoul.

Isaac: Welcome to America.

WHOMP! Teeth went flying as Isaac punched him right in the jaw, knocking him back and onto the ground. Isaac scooped up his assault rifle - which was inoperable - and immediately went for the next, who did the same in response to him. The rifle butts was what was being employed here, not the guns themselves. It was better than nothing. Of course, the clever and quick-witted tactician that Isaac was, he kicked the ghoul in the stomach first so his rifle found the guy's face without issue. A few more of them attacked head on, shouting a battlecry with bayonets on their guns. Okay, so this wasn't entirely without risk here. Picking up the other rifle, Isaac used them defensively to knock bayonets upward as he cancelled the charge's force with his own charge, then leapt on one of them to punch him out and steal his bayonet'd rifle, quickly swinging and stabbing that to outright kill the other two. Then...he noticed the others putting down their guns.

Isaac: They're not rushing to finish cleaning? But why...oh right. Glowing Ones.

They charged. All of them. That was too many at once to physically overcome. They'd dogpile him, fill him with rads, and then watch him...melt? Now, wait just a second. He was revived in radioactivity. Was it possible that...?

Isaac: Oh, dear god, I hope I'm both right AND wrong about this.

They clobbered him. Or at least, they were sure they did. Dogpile, rad-waves, stand up, and watch...as nothing happens. The China Ghouls were confused. He should be dead. He should be...disgustingly dead. Or at least...he should be ghoulifying. None of these were happening. Isaac's eyes opened again, and suddenly there was a spark in his gaze...and a smile.

Isaac: Well, now I know what my so-called super powers are. I eat rads for breakfast!

He leapt up from a prone position and grabbed one of the ghouls in the face, using the momentum of his jump to then slam him to the ground, neck broken. He kicked another from that position and then jumped two to knock them down and break their faces. This was good. This was VERY good. He couldn't lose this fight. They were FEEDING HIM. Their proximity and their radioactive emissions from before made him stronger. He was beating them within an inch of their lives and-

Isaac: AGH! What the-

Okay, his power trip was slightly interupted now. He was not invincible. The waves were easy to ignore, but a few of them were firing concentrated pulses of burning energy! Damn, they had been practicing this shit in China! Okay, Isaac was using a body to keep from getting fried and they were keeping their distance. Suddenly...all the ghouls' heads exploded. He'd been halfway through them with several others KO'd, and now...what was going on? He spied...he spied... Well, it looked like Liberty Prime...but it was smaller.

Liberty Minor: The only good commie is a dead commie. Good hunting, soldier.

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Moving on to our party underground where the Dr. Evil staff were... They had just finished a hearty round of evil laughter when suddenly Dr. Evil noticed that Robin was nowhere to be found. Rather than consider the notion that maybe she had employed a Stealth Boy...which is what happened...he assumed that she had gotten away from them.

Dr. Evil: Guards, find that woman! Sound the alarm!

Robin, meanwhile, did get a look behind the machine. Well, there was a high-tension and dangerous-looking cable, but she discovered something important about the machine. This wasn't the "Laser" itself, of course, and it also wasn't the main control mechanism for it either. This was a glorified remote control TO the main "Laser" control on the secret moonbase that housed the actual "Laser".

Ah, but enough of these quotation marks! What about ED, Trixie, and Chester? Well, they soon heard the alarms...

...and would assume that it was for them. The guards that found them first, though, were a little confused.

"Aren't these the other prisoners?"

"Is that one talking about girders?"

"Ya think we should fire at them?"

The answer they came up with was "YES!", and so the shoosting begins!

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Evan, Dudley, Ferd, and William arrived back at the Citadel without incident, oddly. And when they presented Sara Lyons with FalloutScott, her first words - to her fellow BoS members - were "Try to keep this one, alright?". That said, they had his suit examined and this was going to be a hard one to get off. All of these things were hermetically sealed, unlike their own suits, and this one was three-times as armored as the other suits in the Enclave, at least! However, Sara had intel on this one. She knew what to do in this case, ans rapped on the helmet.

Sara: FalloutScott, you are our prisoner. I know you have an emergency release catch in there, because you are perhaps the smartest man in the Enclave. However, I also know your one weakness. If you don't come out, you will never have access to this pre-war scotch we found in a bunker one day.

Oh, that did the trick. Scotty McLaylen was brilliant man, but he loved his scotch. The suit opened up and a...smallish dark-haired man stepped out and graciously accepted the bottle.

Evan: How did you know that would work? I had to plan a hugely-complex plan to get him here and away from his pet robot?

Sara: And I'm grateful. However, with his suit disabled and no contact with the Enclave, this was the last straw. So, take him to a cell, wait for him to be drunk, and then we'll interrogate him.

That worked strangely well... The suit was, meanwhile, going to be examined, checked for boobytraps and everything else. Evan was heading that one himself. Sara now stood before William with the other two present.

Sara: Well, you've done me another great service. We had to recover from the escape of FalloutBob before. Real mess there. Would you be willing to take on another task? There's someone we probably need to pick up, and I think you'll find this interesting.

And with a smile, she said...

Sara: We need you to go find Isaac Black.

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Old Onley... FalloutDavid and Talion The Purifier...

"My name is Talion. Would you mind telling me who you are and how you managed to get your hands on that?"

The man in the black coat looked back at his custom black vertibird for a moment, which was currently napalming the shit out of the Uber-Mutant.

FalloutDavid: What, that? They're really not that uncommon anymore. I'm David Davidson, lord of the Empire of Dave. We're a growing thing up north. That mutant was once a crazed Enclave doctor who'd covered the Capital Wastelands in newly-created Behemoth mutants. You can ask anyone. It's true.

What he DIDN'T admit to, rather slyly, was that he was FalloutDavid and that the Empire of Dave was his vertibird base for the Enclave that'd formerly been the Republic of Dave. Of course, that was going to become kind of a hard thing to deny... For, as he was done talking, there was a rumbling on HEAVY tank treads as METAL GEAR BOX came into view. Talion could see the heavy weaponry on the thing, looking somewhat battered because a large building had fallen on it before. Before either one of them could react, one of the secondary arms spat out some vulcan ammo to turn a Deathclaw into a fine paste.

And then, it just sat there.

FalloutDavid: So...lunch?

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"Well, GAWD-DAYUM! Lookit that!"

Wadsworth: That is certainly something one does not see everyday.

Up at the entrance to Megaton, the extremely-well-armed Mr. Handy of the Lone Wanderer and his guard contengent witnessed an incredible thing... An alien spacecraft just flew off into the sky, to parts unknown. Would they ever see the like again? Strangely, there was the deep hope in the group that this would be so. However, before all that business, there was another situation: There was a young woman...and a dog. She was a well-armed traveler with...pink hair and...horns? Okay, that was odd...

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"Ummmm... Miss Natsuki? Do you think you could fix my ears?"

Natsuki: I think I can manage.

Manage? She could change molecular structure with her vectors. Fixing a loose connection with the right tools was a frigging cakewalk. In no time at all, Constance Sorrowfield had her 'ear vision' back in order, opening up worlds to her again. And it was about that time that Rufio - having thoroughly sniffed the helmet and the blood - began to bark and indicate the design to follow.

Natsuki: Looks like he has a lead on #411. Gotta love an Enclave dog. They're the best.

She turned to face Constance now, looking a little more serious.

Natsuki: I'm gonna have to borrow him for a bit and do some official extraction. Your mother said that you had to remain in deep cover, though, so I'll be getting her and you'll be preparing the Sylphys. This is important work, Constance. I'll see to it that you get a little fast-tracking...

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Of course, she'd wanted to go after her mom, but doing important work for her at the orders of her idol pretty much determined what she was going to do. Besides...Natsuki had a feeling about this, an uneasy one. This was, after all, the area that Lucy Black lives in, and there was no sign of Lucy herself. So, walking up to the gates...

Natsuki: Hi there. Any black suits come through here?

Wadsworth: I assume that you are referring to the Enclave?

Natsuki: Why yes, my good Handy. In fact, the one I'm looking for is definitely in here, as per Sir Rufio's keen sense of smell. I'm here to make sure she hasn't been murdered.

Wadsworth: Very well. I will take you to her. Are you, in fact, one of her kind?

Natsuki: I am Lieutenant Natsuki Manriki, and if any of you even thinks about attacking me...

All the nearby guards fainted! Why? Well, actually, because she'd done a thing where the fingers of her vectors poke into the brain... No harm done, but when they wake up and if they ever have kids... Nevermind! Point is, Natsuki was taken to Doc Church's place now...where she would see both Charlotte Sorrowfield and Lucy Black...

Natsuki: Yes...I thought so.

Arizona

Sylph's response to her own answer was completely unexpected, causing the old Ghoul's single eye to widen.

"Ohhhhhh. So you could be Mommy Arizona Not Old One Not Leather Faced Lady Not Ghoul Whore With The Gun some day?!"

Her chapped lips quivered a bit as they pursed, but they couldn't quite hold in the beginnings of a snicker. Before long, she burst out into raucous laughter, hunching forward and clutching at her stomach as she laughed hard enough to cry. The fact that she heard Thomas choke in response only made her laugh even harder.

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. No offense."

"What, not sexy enough for ya, Tommy-boy?" Arizona teased after she gasped for breath, glancing up at him and using a free hand to pull the collar of her shirt a little lower to expose a bit more cleavage.

Then she promptly went back to chuckling at his plight, blinded by tears by the time he called out about a spaceship. She couldn't even see the beam of light as she wiped at her face and sniggered.

"Oh come on, Thomas, you don't have to make up an excuse to get out of this. I know you've got the hots for someone else. I'm not gonna come between that." she said with a smile.

By the time she could see again, Charlie was strangely absent, but she waved that off. More than likely, he was going off someplace private to throw up the stew Sylph had forced him to eat. She couldn't really blame him. Thomas, however, managed to finish his own stew without going completely green in the face, and she imagined part of that was due to the idea of being paired up with her, she thought with a renewed chuckle.

But when Sylph took the bowl from him, it ended up hitting Thomas in the face when she flung it with a carefree toss of her hand when he told her he didn't need any more. Arizona's laughter quickly died down as she shook her head and raised a brow at him.

"So, still don't want that Med-X? At this rate, you may want to seriously consider it, unless you think your luck is going to improve." she said dryly.

Robin had wondered how long before they noticed she was gone, she'd have been offended if she wasn't so interested in what she found in her hiding place. The mess of wires and electronics was rather enticing she recognized a fair few parts though they were in better condition than she was used to.

One thing that struck her though was the simplicity of this model, causing her to doubt it was capable of calculations required, suggesting it was communicating with a more complex unit elsewhere. She looked around for some sort of transmitter, then she could start trying to detect the broadcast frequency. It briefly occurred to her that maybe she didn't have to destroy the lunar laser that just cutting off communications would be sufficient, or maybe she could take control herself...

Unfortunately it was then the alarms went off making it hard to concentrate on her hacking. She peeked out of her hiding place. Oh hey it was the other guys glad to see they weren't dead yet. She took the risk of waving to them for her hiding place counting on them to distract Dr Evil and his Minions.

She quickly ducked again not wanting to risk being exposed for two long. It was then she tried again to search for an antenna, sure enough it was one of those screw on dongle things she'd heard about but never seen in the flesh. Honestly she'd thought they were too silly to actually exist but she guessed Evil didn't have the same sense of style. Removing the antenna and clumsily trying to work it into her pipboy she figured it would be worth a go even as inelegant as her solution was.
Her attention then turned to how she could help the others without hurting anyone that was.

Clutching his newly acquired Laser RCW Chester felt like a million dollars...or caps... whatever. It's a real prison-break now, just like in the old serials! The siren began wailing overhead as he thought this, lights beginning to flash, the alarm ringing through the hallways and corridors, footsteps and shouting drifting down towards them.

"Think we're gonna have a little company, sonny." He said, turning back towards #209, who was thankfully now clothed and still carrying Trixie over his shoulder. "Still yammering the same thing, hrm?" he asked, eyeing Trixie's wide-eyed blank expression, until a doorway swung open, guards beginning to pour in.

"HOLD IT RIGHT THERE, BOYS!" Chester called out, casually pointing the RCW in their direction, a cocky swagger in his step.

"Just hold on there good n proper, let me and the two kids here past and we won't have to..." PEW PEW PEW A hail of laser fire rang towards them, the ghoul dropped his whole confident demeanour, letting out a strangled yelp as he dived for cover.

"Dagnabbit..." he grumbled, peeking out. "No one ever wants to talk it out no more, always shoot first n ask later..."

Aiming down the sights Chester took a more careful approach, reluctantly deciding in the light of the situation that shooting his way out might be the best option.

"You asked for it..." He growled, more to himself, pulling on the trigger and letting out short bursts from his RCW.

Kristin Blamco - Megaton: Moriarty's Saloon
"Progress"

A two-day-sleep-deprived-and-slightly-irradiated Kristin was not the most attentive of Blamco Princesses, so one could hardly blame the Heiress for simply listening to Jonathan while trying to stave off the ever enticing embrace of slumber. Not wishing to interrupt Jonathan, the Heiress merely attempted to understand her companion's point of view. Let it be said that Kristin would rather draw swords and engage in some friendly sparring in order to air out their feelings, this..."talking" approach had caused so much confusion as of late, yet it was the only approach that the seemingly pessimistic man, Jonathan, was prone towards.

"I will not mince words. You asked me to be frank, and so I shall be, even if what I have to say causes you grief."

Kristin met his stern gaze with a dull stare, a combination of exhaustion and lack of amusement. Why could he not have been honest from the very beginning!

"I have been a liar and manipulator for the better part of my life" Jonathan admitted, Kristin noted the audible lack of pride in his confession. The Heiress frowned with concern, she had no idea that Jonathan's apparent loathing was turned inwards more than anything else. Pursing her lips to complete the expression of concern, it was Kristin's turn to feel the pangs of guilt over the grief she had possibly given him lately.

"I derived no pleasure from it. I did it to guarantee Miss Black's safety."

Could she believe him? A self-admitted liar and manipulator? All signs pointed towards Jonathan acting in her favour, and while she didn't agree with his methods...she resigned herself to agree with the results. Lucy Black was still alive, currently being treated and even a deal had been brokered with the Soya Agent #411.

She had to believe him.
There was no place for doubts if they were to become frien -

"Let's begin with the dismantling of the bomb. I did it as a job."

Wait what?

"L-look, I won't lie, you are probably the most attractive woman I've ever seen. But that doesn't mean that I have such feelings for you, nor that I seek to covet you in any way. Especially since you wouldn't want me to in the first place. Our relationship, so to speak, shall be as you want it: professional. You want a guide, and I will be that, nothing more."

The surge of heat rushed to her cheeks once more as his straightforward comment, while much appreciated, had taken the Cheesiest of the Princesses by surprise. Attempting in vain to stifle her flushed cheeks and regain her warrior's composure, Kristin could not help but feel an even greater pang of disappointment as Jonathan swung between the two extremes of their relationship. From misconstrued romance to cold professionalism. She was so sure that she had made a new friend!

Then her personal mission was clear.
She would win over his heart...platonically.

The notion of friendship might seem petty, but when you live your life surrounded by false supporters, would-be thieves, potential manipulators and finally a loving family whose numbers have dwindled to a handful...well...Kristin has learned the value of protecting the rare bonds that money nor BlamCo could buy. Unfortunately, being raised in a large religious family of great affluence that consisted of training the female members as warriors for a Cheddar-based cause could skew one's views somewhat. Maybe.

The Heiress quietly finished her bowl of food as she continued to listen to Jonathan. She had not looked at him once he started talking about her religion, actions and the nature of their relationship before the arrival of #411. Why? Well, the Princess had uncorked the bottle of red wine and poured a hearty amount into two glasses.

"There you have it, then." Jonathan said as he leaned back on the bed, "I have said my piece. I'm sorry if what's said angered or disappointed you. You asked me to be frank... and so I was."

Hearing Jonathan's explanation come to an end, it was now the signal for her to finally speak up. Turning around, with glasses in each hand, the BlamCo Host extended one to Jonathan. "And I appreciate your honesty, Jonathan.", Kristin replied in a somber fashion.

"However!", She really was expending the little energy that she had left, "I did not ask you about my actions because I seek your validation, don't get me wrong, I merely wish to know more about the moral fiber of the man that I will be travelling with."

A small smile curled at the very edge of her lips as she raised the glass to Jonathan. Apparently she was making an elaborate toast.

"Don't be so down on yourself, Pugilist! Your abilities, while they wildly differ from my own, they are nothing to sneeze at! Take some pride in your abilities, BlamCo knows that I can respect them even if I have reservations about their application to me.", Kristin's frowned slightly, "I know now that our situation is not to your liking, but for better or for worse, we have being thrown together. Fate may laugh, The Enclave may scheme, Dairy may smile...but the Wasteland knows not the unmatched strength that only our dynamic partnership can summon!"

Kristin took a long swig and emptied the wine glass, quickly feeling a rush of exhaustion and excitement wash over her body.

"For what it is worth, I do not begrudge you for having ties to the Enclave. In fact, I somewhat admire your strength for having left. That is why I could strike down two armored Soya Agents and not have to worry about where your gun might be pointing.", fiercely clapping a hand down on his shoulder, the slightly-too-honest-after-wine Kristin leaned down inches from his face, "While I do need you as a guide, I also hope that our travels will result in having a friend."

And in that moment, Kristin, in all her dysfunctional rationalisations revealed that loneliness was a force that conquered her heart when her pride had taken a rare backseat. Awkwardly, she attempted to kiss his cheek in a regal manner, as if she was bestowing a polite gift to a worthy knight that words could not possibly convey. That was her roundabout manner of saying, 'May we have a fruitful companionship from here on out.'

Sitting on the bed next to Jonathan, Kristin nodded towards her armor arranged in a pile, "Can we get our usual attire sorted out as soon as possible.", she grimaced at her current set of clothing, "These are not the garments of The BlamCo 'Berserker' as my younger sister would say. You two might get along...one day perhaps..."

Plopping her head onto the pillow and crawling under the covers, Kristin kept to one side of the bed. Clearly keeping enough space for Jonathan. "I did get us this room, we may as well use it. And I have - ", she yawned, " - not slept for two solid days."

Closing her eyes, the Sleepy Princess mumbled about dairy and muttered to Jonathan, slightly muffled now by the pillow.

"Goodnight Pugilist."


??? - ???
???

The compass-like radar blipped-and-blooped as the armed female regularly checked it with one hand.

"We are moving at a snail's pace!", the quick-tempered woman hissed when she pressed the 10mm SMG to his temple.

"Hey Missy! You're the one that wanted to do this quietly! It's going to be a hell of a long journey if we want to avoid trouble when I don't have a goddamn armed escort!", the caravan driver snapped.

"I am your armed escort, you fool!", the woman checked the handheld radar once more, "Faster! I don't want the trail to this 'Megaton' to get cold."

Begrudgingly, the caravan driver did what he was told.

The fire of lasers started, and suddenly PW035 stopped it's recording.
What followed was a long monotone "thuuuuuuuum" buzz, ending with a twitch of her body.

"Ugh" Trixie moaned as her eyes opened, held over the shoulder of the Enclave Soldier boy, flashes of light appearing from either side.
"How long have I been out for?" She complained, before fully realising the situation at hand.

Kicking herself from #209's grasp, she took cover from the fire, unable to find any suitable weaponry to assist the others.
"I should have known you two wouldn't be able to get out of here without alerting the whole place!" She yelled over the sound of the firing.

The two seemed to give her a strange expression, hers replied in a similar manner.
"What? Is one of you going to pass me something to shoot at these bastards with, or are you just going to gawk?"

The Wild Wastelands | Conjoined Paths | Temporary Camp
Seriously?

Between the barely edible stew that was attempting to digest his stomach and the multiple impacts by fast moving objects that his face had suffered, the quality of Thomas "Shifty" McGee's day was quickly plummeting, like a hydrogen filled zeppelin that had just collided with a flaming iceberg. He was so wracked with internal, external, mental and emotional pain that his eyes seemed to flick too and fro as if he were looking for an escape route. It was only his debt to the Ancient One, Arizona, that kept the friendly former neighborhood undertaker glued in one spot. This did not mean, however, that there weren't other forms of escape.

It was obvious that a lively conversation was out of the question, given his choice of conversation partners. There was the nearly neolithic ghoul raider, Arizona, who seemed to grunt every other word and on top of that, she had attempted to shot Thomas her nearly non-existent cleavage. On top of that, she appeared to be teasing him about his revelation that Lucy Black, the only person that had properly conversed with Shifty and the only person that he didn't have to pay for a dance, was more than likely alive. The other option was Sylphee. A Super Mutant with a speech impediment would have had an easier time winning some sort of Nobel Prize for Linguistics than she. So yes, a conversation was definitely out of the question.

The other option for escape was the sweet embrace of sleep. All the promise of an escape was just a bedroll and the closure of eyes away. The one issue being the recent vision that ole Tommy boy had shared with one Enclave Intelligence Specialist #411 left the whole idea wanting. Now Thomas might have enjoyed a sultry wet dream or two in his life but the prospect of sharing it with a woman utterly devoid of anything remotely resembling a heart coupled with the fact that she had encased him in Carbonite was enough to send the Sharply Dressed Man screaming for a dose of jet.

It was at that point that the normally straight edged Shoveler realized that he had an escape right next to him in the form of a syringe of Med-X. Normally, Thomas would have never considered taking such an addictive chemical but desperate times called for desperate measures. Sure he might have become an addict after his first dose but it might have been a small price to pay for the opportunity to escape his skin. "Might have," were it not for the fact that the spot where the syringe gifted by Arizona was now filled with a syringe shaped spot where the Med-X used to be... and that's when things got worse.

"Haaaaaaaaaaaaaands! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaands," A voice slurred by the camp fire, a voice that sounded rather like a blue haired girl dressed in a crimson uniform on some form of opiate. A voice that sounded like a girl that had placed a syringe of Med-X in a Deathclaw shaped plushie backpack and accidentally dosed herself when she give said Deathclaw shaped plushie backpack a nice big hug. A voice that sounded like the night was going to be spent babysitting rather than sleeping.

Looking over at the source of said voice, Thomas saw Sylphee and Sylphee saw her hands passing in front of her eyes in slow motion, leaving a trail of hand shaped rainbows and butterflies and giggles the color of Technicolor marshmallows.

"Oh... shit." Thomas cursed slowly when the realization of what had happened dawned on him. His first instinct would have been to shoot the Tiny Tripper were it not for the fact that his weapons was still in the possession of Arizona. His second would have been to tie up the Crimson Clad Killer of Dreams and Sanity but he might have lost the fight with his urge to leave her tied up. His third idea was what won in the end.

"Sylphee?"

"Heeeeeeeeey Daaaaaaddy... yooooou dooooooon't haaaaaaave tooooooo saaaaaay myyyyyyy naaaaaaaaaaame teeeeeeeeeeen tiiiiiiiiiiiimes."

"This boulder wants to talk to you."

"Oooooookaaaaaaaaaaaay Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaddy."

Okay, so it wasn't the most elegant of solutions but it should have gotten the job done. Turning to Arizona, Thomas addressed the Tugger of his Heart Strings.

"She should be busy for a while but before we move on, could you please... please... PLEEEEEASE not humor her in her quest to find herself a new mother?" The man who sounded rather a lot like a JERK said before pausing, realizing and backtracking, " I mean ... ummmm... what I mean is that were I of that predilection... no... predilection sounds like there's something wrong with finding you attractive... what I mean is... if I was into... ummmm... ghouls... I would find you very very attractive... but honestly... you know my heart lies elsewhere. Wow... I really am digging myself a hole aren't I? Ummmmm... well... I should probably stop eating my foot."

Pause... gather... inhale... exhale.

"Sorry. I know that you're joking with Sylphee and I understand that bonding with her might seem like the ideal thing to do but I think that it would be in our best interest to leave her in Megaton. She's dangerous. You saw what she did to that building. She'll more than likely kill us before whatever lies within the confines of the Dunwich Building does." Thomas stated calmly, eying Sylphee to ensure that her conversation with Mister Boulder was still going along smoothly.


The Wild Wastelands | Doctor Evil's Vault | A Corridor
Aw nuts!

Between the scarred Chester reprising the role of Scarface and introducing the Evil Minions to his little friend and the Trixie Chick playing the role of a crane requesting a girder of all things, Enclave Heavy Weapons Specialist #209 was thinking that it would have been a nice thought of the catatonic woman was requesting his girder, that is to say, his penis. Unfortunately the fact was that his dangling minigun was swinging out in the open for all to see was having very little effect on the dame's demands.

It was at that moment in time that the delirious dame decided to do something other than repeated request for a giant steel rod. Kicking out of ED #209's grasp, the previously infinitely looping lady took cover and started doing what women excelled in, bitching at the two non-delirious dudes for not escaping.

"I should have known you two wouldn't be able to get out of here without alerting the whole place!" Trixie ranted as she looked for some sort of weapon.

"'Oh ED, thanks for not leaving me in that cell to be tortured and turned into Doctor's Evil's love slave. Thanks for watching over me while I went into catatonic shock and started requesting girders while you and Chester killed the minions who would have undoubtedly enjoyed fondling me while I was in such a state.'" Enclave Dominator #209 said, sounding kinda rapey without knowing it.

"What? Is one of you going to pass me something to shoot at these bastards with, or are you just going to gawk?" Trixie demanded.

Tossing her one of the two puny laser pistols that he had acquired, #209 muttered something slightly aloud.

"You're welcome your worshipfulness." ED said, playing the part of Han Solo during the Death Star prison break. Speaking of which, there was a grate located across the corridor from where #209 had taken cover. Snapping off a quick shot, the grate exploded.

"So how about that way?" The Wookie Sized Man asked as he fired off a volley of shots down the hallway.

As Jonathan finished his explanation, he expected some sort of vengeful retaliation -verbal or otherwise- from the princess. Rage-fuelled shouts and growls to be heard from the other side of Megaton, as the Princess tore him a new one for daring question her beliefs, or for presumably calling her a liability and wounding her pride, aswell as being kicked out of the room with considerable force and having to spend the following nights at the clinic with a considerable amount of broken ribs.

Things, however, took a turn for the unexpected, as the princess not only did not chide him, she actually praised him for his skills. This was the first time in years that Jonathan had missed the mark to such an extent, and it showed. Shocked as he were, he struggled to maintain a straight face, and he barely kept up with Kristin's words. And then...

And then, the kiss came, and everything shattered into tiny little pieces.

Jonathan was left utterly stunned, staring an unfocused stare with his mouth wide open, his mind struggling to recover. Entire minutes passed as his mind slowly processed and digested the enormity of what had transpired in front of him, finally circulating to a long overdue, yet strangely accurate response.

"What."

It was as though he had gone through 24 episodes of a series full of extremely well-made action scenes, only for the last two to turn out to be a debate discussing society, alienation, how we perceive the self and others and ending with congratulatory applause and words of gratefulness. Jonathan touched the cheek that was kissed brief moments ago,[1] his expression still riddled with ample disbelief.

She kissed him! The woman that, by her own admission, wanted him to be "her guide, nothing more" now wished that they could become friends. And what a way to show that. Normally he would he outraged, or at least agitated, by how contradictory she was acting... But he couldn't help but smile, a soft "Hah" escaping his mouth.

"I'll never understand you, will I?"

He turned to look at the Sleeping Beauty, her face buried in her pillow. They had a rough start, but... she accepted him for who he was. Who he really was.

"I'm fine with that, I suppose." he thought loudly, "There's definately a certain... charm to your unpredictability." And then, mumbled to himself, "Whenever you don't try to kill me, that is."

He got up from the bed. Though the princess was exhausted, he was suddenly brimming with energy, and was eager to find an outlet for it. The princess mentioned something about getting their clothes sorted out -Didn't she?- while he was busy staring at the wall like an inbred hillbilly with brain cancer, so...

He turned to look outside the room's small window. It wasn't that late, he figured. With that in mind, Jonathan packed Kristin's irradiated clothes and armour -heavy though it was- in his backpack alongside his clothes, covered the princess with a blanket, grabbed his bowl of tasty smelling food and headed out, making sure to lock the door as he left. Why wait for tomorrow when you can have things done today?

* * *

He smiled like an idiot as he made his way, a smile only interrupted whenever he took a bite at the delicious meal that Kristin had made. The girl had talent, that much was for sure. As he went, he noticed something up in the sky, something that looked like a light, moving...

A flying object?

Nah, he was just imagining things.

He sure was in a jolly mood; so much so, in fact, that though his backpack was heavy thanks to Kristin's armour, it didn't slow him down. The clinic wasn't that far away, anyways.

Yes, the clinic. The Doc was likely the only person in Megaton than knew how to deal with potential radiation in clothing whose solution wasn't the ever reliable "burn them". Besides, though he wasn't sure he wanted to face Lucy as she were, it was something he owed, both to himself and her, to do. He couldn't run away forever. He had 6 months, time in which he needed to grow a backbone. Finally reaching the clinic, he knocked with his elbow, as punching anything with his hurt hand was likely a bad decision.

"Hello? Anybody in there?" he yelled, but there was no response. Taking a bite, Jonathan checked the door handle, only to find that the door was unlocked.

"I'm coming ii-" he shouted as he opened the door, his voice muffled by the food he was munching, before halting upon seeing the good doctor's two rather peculiar guests, "-iin?"

Everything about the girl, excluding her clothes, was undeniably strange, even by Jonathan's standards, who had seen some shit during time in the Wasteland. Her hair was an unnatural pink, and there were small bumps on her head that, on second glance, looked much like ears. Her clothing felt woefully familiar, and there was an air about her that screamed to him that she was dangerous.

Her canine companion, armed to the teeth as it were, pissed him off. Jonathan couldn't quite pinpoint why, but despite never having met the dog before, it also felt oddly familiar. He wouldn't want to piss it off, though, not with the firepower it was packing.

"I shwee that-" he started, but then realised he had swallowed yet, and repeated himself, his mouth now unoccupied, "I see that the doctor is busy with you right now. Not to worry, I'll come back later!" he finished as he started to turn around, eager to get away from the two as fast as he could.

[1] 10 minutes, to be exact.

Wild Wastelands | Megaton | Clinic
Not Quite Lying...

The sun just was starting to rear it's ugly head in the East, ready for another day of raining down cosmic radiation upon the DC Wastelands, when the eyes of Enclave Intelligence Specialist #411 opened slowly. The Intelligence operative had a distinct dislike for the daytime. While she was in the field, #411 frequently had to lay low during the daytime hours. Allowing the sleep induced haze to clear from her eyes, she realized that she was still laying on a medical gurney inside Megaton's petty excuse for a clinic. Seeing that Lucy Black was still laying in the bed next to her, #411 almost allowed herself a small smile were it not for the fact that she noticed that the clinic's population had risen 40% while she slept.

"Lieutenant Manriki!" Charlotte Sorrowfeld exclaimed loudly as she attempted to rise to her feet. Unfortunately her head decided to inform her that it was not yet ready for her to perform such a drastic action and caused the room to spin and hold her head until the dizzy spell passed.

"I wouldn't try doing that again, young lady, not until you want to pay me to patch up your head from the tumble you take once you realize that you've got a concussion." Doc Church said from the back of the clinic before returning to his duties, eyeing the dog in the clinic. Under most circumstances, people were advised to leave their animals outside of the clinic but the machine guns mounted to the dog's sides gave Rufio a pass.

Charlotte eyed Rufio for a moment, her brain remembering some of the details as to how Rufio came to be. While it could be said that the Enclave was one of the most technologically advanced factions that oversaw the Wastelands, some of the ideas that came out of Enclave R&D weren't exactly the brightest ideas. In the dog's case, the Enclave weapons developers had the bright idea of combining a canine's natural senses with the sensor package normally found on an eyebot. Add to that the obvious offensive advantage of having dual mounted machine gun and you had a unit capable of scouting the surrounding areas and dealing with small pockets of resistance. It should be noted that the project that spawned Rufio was working in parallel with the Deathclaw Domestication program and were the program successful, the sensor and weapons package would have been adapted for use on a domesticated Deathclaw.

Charlotte shook her head briefly. Her mind was wandering and refusing to focus on the more pertinent things, like the fact that Natsuki Manriki was standing in front of her. Taking a minute to gather her wits, a very difficult task when you've just rolled down the side of a crater, the Enclave Intelligence Specialist looked at Natsuki once again, her deadly intelligent gleam returning to her eyes.

"A pleasure to see you again, Lieutenant Manriki." Enclave Intelligence Specialist #411 lied as she fought of the paranoia that was gnawing on the back of her brain. Was Natsuki aware of #411's plans? Did Number One dispatch Natsuki to retrieve the mastermind behind the Enclave Sylphy Coup before it had a chance to get off the ground?

Seeing the slightly concerned expression on Natsuki's face allowed Charlotte to relax a little, her guard easing and her body relaxing itself. The Diclonus officer waved off the formalities that Constance's mother attempted to display. It was apparent that Charlotte was in no condition to stand at attention nor was she in any condition to travel by foot back to the Enclave Vault. The Enclave Intelligence Specialist would need a Vertibird extraction to get her out of the field. Given recent events, however, it would still require for Charlotte to travel to a safer extraction point.

"Constance?" The mother of the name's owner asked. The question might have been surprising to most within the Enclave ranks considering the contempt that she displayed in public but only Jack and Natsuki were aware of the mother's true feelings.

Charlotte was informed that Constance had been ordered to hold position outside of the town, out of sight of any of the guards, allowing her to release the breath that she'd been holding since asking the question. It was a smart move though. If constance saw the condition that her mother was in, there was no telling how the young girl would react, especially since she was in control of an army of Blue Haired Little Savages.

Lucy Black stirred in the bed nearby, mumbling something and as she did, the dawn's light shined down upon the bandage that covered the woman's eye, snitching on #411. This would likely be noted and talked about during the debriefing and interrogation process that Charlotte was sure to endure upon her return to the Vault. It didn't stop her from attempting to explain herself. What did stop her was a clinic's main door being flung open.

"I see that the doctor is busy with you right now. Not to worry, I'll come back later!" Jonathan McKenna stated as he turned to retreat. The Enclave Intelligence Specialist noted that her suit's Geiger-counter had started clicking as soon as the man entered.

"Hold it right there, Jonathan McKenna. Why in the world would you bring irradiated items into a clinic where there are ALREADY people having issues with radiation?!" Charlotte asked loudly, her bitch mask clamping down shut over her face, "Besides I need to introduce you to someone. Lieutenant Manriki, this is Jonathan. He's rather and his companion are rather... skilled. I would like to use them as an intelligence contact."

Skilled enough to kill a squad of #411's guards with nothing but rudimentary weapons. But would they be skilled enough to whip the Sylphy army into shape so that the coup against Number One could start? She certainly hoped so.

Eyeing Jonathan, she addressed him.

"So what's so important that you came barging in here with a bag of radiation on your back?"

"Hold it right there, Jonathan McKenna!"

Jonathan froze into place, unable to take a step, his shoulders raised high from the surprise of someone calling him by his real name in a town that he was only known as "Bob". He looked around to see if that attracted any sort of unnecessary attention, and to his dismay, it did; a young woman, the one that Jonathan recognised as having been an errant girl for Kristin earlier, stopped in her tracks to investigate what the ruckus was about, awkwardly averting her gaze and hurriedly going along her way as they made eye contact. If his hand wasn't hurt as it were, Jonathan would be facepalming with an excessive amount of force. Great. Not only did someone know who he were, they went ahead and announced it for all the world to see. The situation couldn't have been any worse, he thought, but then recognized who it was that was talking and realised how wrong he was about that assessment.

He let out an aggravated sigh; of course it had to be her. It was as though the universe was letting him have a break, only to realise moments later that it was giving a break to Jonathan Aristotle McKenna, and worked to make up for it in the best way possible.

"So what's so important that you came barging in here with a bag of radiation on your back?"

If calling him by his real name out loud was like lighting the fuse to dynamite, the way she addressed him as though he was some expendable underling was the explosion. Jonathan barely contained himself from lashing out at her with a flurry of kicks, knowing better than to let let his emotions get the best of him. Still, he couldn't let her get away with it. Not after everything she put Lucy through.

"First things first," he started calmy as he turned to face her with a sharp stare, "I am a partner. Not a contact."

"Second of all," he continued his voice just a tad higher, as he dropped his backpack outside and walked into the clinic, his eyes unmoving, "Unlike some people that think it's a good idea to walk straight into enemy territory without as much as a hint of cover, I prefer to think, and thus mask my identity. Since we will be working together, Agent, calling me by my real name is foolish and inconvenient. Almost as foolish and inconventient as, say, announcing that you're planning a coup at broad daylight."

"Lastly" he went on, his voice raised even more, yet still remaining calm, "What I do outside of our work is none of your business. I'm not your underling; stop treating me as one."

"So, yeah," he said as he turned to Natsuki, "Name's Bob. Pleased to meet you. I'd give you a business card, but that would be bad for business."

He turned to face #411 again, "And Agent, what a delightful surprise to see you here. What happened? Got hit one too many times in the head? Again? Don't answer that, a rhetorical question. Now, before I go back to my business with the doctor, have you anything to say that you've put at least 2 seconds of thought into?"

"We need you to go find Isaac Black."

Dear viewer, what would you call a farming tool used to move soil? A hoe. Now, what is the first name of Telltale Game's Walking Dead Season 1 protagonist? Lee. What is the swearword corresponding to fornication? Fuck. Now put them together dear viewer.

HOLY FUCK.

Isaac Black, former member of the Enclave and Lucy's father was out there somewhere, and the Adaptable Number of Musketeers had just been tasked with finding him.

"We'll find him." Said William, almost instantly. He was raring to do something, to travel once again, to avoid sitting around while the world changed. Evan nodded in agreement, but Dudley and Ferdinand looked less reluctant to accept.

"Team huddle boys," Said Dudley, before turning to Elder Lyons and saying, "Just a minute miss, we gotta confer here." He almost scooped up the other three into a huddle before continuing, "Guys, I 'aint comfortable on this one. This Isaac Black guy was Enclave, we just done something with the Enclave. I don't want to keep doing jobs that involve those guys, 'specially since we're not gettin' paid. Not riskin' my life outta' the goodness of my heart."

"If you don't help the Brotherhood, the Enclave could win. If the Enclave wins, we're all screwed. No other way to see it." Argued Evan, who knew Dudley felt powerless when going up against them. His big size and big weapons meant little against power armour and plasma rifles. Evan knew if the Enclave won, every strong merc with a big gun would be rolled up and vaporised by the monolithic machine.

"I agree with Evan," Said William, "The Enclave is something bigger than all of us, and if we don't do anything to stop it it will destroy us eventually." Evan nodded in agreement again, Dudley looked a little more convinced. Ferdinand hadn't said anything, and was looking at his own feet in contemplation.

After a little more discussion, the Musketeers accepted the job and were heading topside once again, as they got to the Citadel's main court, Ferdinand spoke up at last.

"Guys, I'm not coming. I know this is important, but it's not my fight and I'm walking away now." He held up his hands slightly as Evan took a step towards him.

"Ferd, this is important."

"I know, you said that already. But I'm still walking away, gonna find my horse and ride off into the sun. Find a town somewhere and settle down far away from the Enclave, the Brotherhood, all of this." Ferdinand extended his hand for Evan to shake. Evan just stood there, hardly believing anyone would just up and leave now.

You could cut the tension with a knife, but what actually did the job was Dudley Sullivan, who grabbed Ferdinand's hand and shook it vigorously. Dudley wished he could leave too, but having seen what could happen knew he couldn't just go. William shook Ferdinand's hand too, despite not knowing him. Finally, Evan barely brushed the outstretched hand and turned to leave. Ferdinand went back into the Citadel, looking for the room they had stashed his horse in. The Musketeers would never see him again.

Some time later

Ferdinand mounted his horse, having at last found where the Brotherhood had kept him. No straw had been available, because of course there wasn't any. He was outside the Citadel now, and looked at the spot where Evan and Dudley's motorbikes had been. Gone now, the trio had roared off east in search of Isaac Black and more trouble.

Ferdinand had no more stomach for trouble, he wanted a quieter life in this uncertain world. Looking west, Ferdinand saw the setting sun, painting the sky red and pointing the way towards a new life. He'd ride until he found a town he liked, then settle down and get a job. That would be a new adventure, maybe he'd be a messenger riding between settlements. Just the horse and the wasteland for company. The idea of that appealed to Ferdinand, it could be a new life, a good life.

Ferdinand spurred his horse into movement, and rode west towards the setting sun. He would leave the Capital Wasteland, never to return. Although he didn't know it, there was a town hundreds of miles to the west that Ferdinand would one day arrive in and take an instant liking to. He established himself as a courier, and went on to set up his own successful courier business where all the employees travelled by horse. Ferdinand would get married, and have two daughters. When they grew up, Ferdinand passed the courier business onto them, and retired to spend his later years looking after the horses.

He would live for many more years, eventually dying quietly in his sleep at the age of 62.

Flattened against the wall, Chester occasionally peeked out to fire a quick volley of shots before ducking away again. More and more laser and plasma blasts pinging off the hallway around him and his accomplices. Between shots he looked over at Trixie who was only just beginning to regain her senses, it seemed at least.

"I should have known you two wouldn't be able to get out of here without alerting the whole place!"

"'Oh ED, thanks for not leaving me in that cell to be tortured and turned into Doctor's Evil's love slave. Thanks for watching over me while I went into catatonic shock and started requesting girders while you and Chester killed the minions who would have undoubtedly enjoyed fondling me while I was in such a state.'"

For a moment #209 and the ghoul met eyes, sharing a look. Clearly both thinking along similar lines at Trixie's attitude.

"Hate to break up this lovely lit.." PING "Ugh...little conversation, kids, but can we save it till we..." PING "...until we're out of the frying pan? If you're both quite content with that." He grumbled something under his breath, checking his ammo just as a green globule of plasma splattered just over his head.

"What? Is one of you going to pass me something to shoot at these bastards with, or are you just going to gawk?"

"You're welcome your worshipfulness."

Chester was just looking up at Trixie about to join the fight, clutching a pistol in her hands, when #209 fired at a grating opposite them, blowing a conveniently man-sized hole through it.

"So how about that way?"

Chester stared at the guy.

"You freakin kidding me? You really expect us to escape down that?! Jeez, man, there could be any number of things down there... knowing our luck right into another cell or a garbage compac..."

PING

"...Ah hell, anything beats this!" Chester grumbled, firing of a couple of rounds as he moved across the hallway, peering down the shaft.

"Hurrrr... what a day..."

Lucy Black - Megaton: Clinic
"Wrong side of the bed"

Lucy Black, former Enclave Asset, had found herself flitting between desperate mental efforts to physically get up and unconsciousness. Whatever drug was given to her was definitely responsible for numbing sensation over her lost eye, but if it were designed to put Lucy to rest then it had failed dramatically. See (Heh) during Lucy's impromptu Enclave Asset training handled in the most cruel of fashion by her own mother no less, she was shown to possess an above-average resistance to chemical substances, including sedatives. Unknown to the voice of the person whom she had registered as Doc Church of the Megaton Clinic, Lucy was in a chemical-induced state of limbo where her body was registered as unconscious, yet her mind and by extension her pain-receptors were active. This lead the one-eyed female to absorb everything that was said around her, not to mention feel everything that was done to her as the doctor had cleaned and bandaged her wound once more. Yet as active as her mind was, she could in no way react or respond.

It was absolutely terrifying.

Fortunately, there was respite in her moments of consciousness, the single moments where her body stubbornly fought against the drugs coursing through her system. Each moment allowed her the fleeting the access and control to parts of her body. First a twitch of the finger, the second an audible groan, the third a flutter of an eyelid and so on.

Her memory was a haze of bitterness, hostility and desperation. Had she really removed her own eye in an attempt to frame #411? It was a stretch admittedly, assuming the Enclave would care about her fate after her unceremonious betrayal and departure. In a strange twist of fate, she was banking on the words of her Father's previous student and current successor: FalloutJack. The Enclave did have a strict set of rules, most of which could be observed during her time in the Enclave Vault. As per their agreement, she was to be unharmed if she truly turned her back on the Enclave.

While her self-inflicted injury might be easily dispelled from those that observed the act, it would be a much greater task for #411 to explain the circumstances to her superiors. Even if questioned, Lucy could still use #411's coercion against her. Operating off the record, #411 appeared suspicious enough and it could always be said that Lucy was forced to harm herself. The reasoning was flexible enough. Even if Lucy's hands were tied, she would make every attempt to bring something of #411's life burning to the ground. In this case, her career. And retirement was usually another name for execution in her profession.

Despite her losses and talk of new beginnings, Lucy Black was vengeful as ever.
A normal well-adjusted person would feel a pang of disappointment.
Few people would gouge out their own eye to gain some leverage over an enemy.
Lucy Black was not a normal well-adjusted person.

Thankfully, her humanity was intact, as she felt hope. A tremendous sense of hope that her Illustrious Undertaker, Thomas Shifty Mcgee was alive! Or at least she hoped he still was...

That sense of hope had quickly turned to dread when the patient to her immediate left, of whom she could not see due to the loss of her eye, had addressed others in the room.

"Lieutenant Manriki!"

#411?!?
When did other people arrive? Was she asleep for that? Nevermind, that named ringed a bell though -

"Constance?"

She knew that one! Umm, think Lucy think! Uhh - Brotherhood scout, catgirl, Sylph was harmed, Johnny Truant had lost what little sanity remained. That wasn't a night that one would forget. Coincidence? She didn't believe in them anymore.
Plus, since when did the Brotherhood ever have girl scouts in the first place?
A question left unanswered.

A new voice had entered the conversation, one which had informed #411 of Constance's orders to remain outside of the town. Well, that didn't explain much, but it said enough about that peculiar little cat's allegiance. Must have been terribly important if #411 asked for that little girl by name...

"Orders, eh?", Lucy muttered venomously under her breath without thinking. She quickly hushed, clenching a fist under the blanket and feigned sleeping once more.

Please don't notice, please don't notice, please don't -

"I see that the doctor is busy with you right now. Not to worry, I'll come back later!"

Jonathan!? Oh what perfect timing!

Her eyelid slowly opened. She blinked a few times to test her control. Her fist clenched and unclenched. She was fighting.

No no no, don't go!

The dawn of morning sunlight forced her to squint. Had she spent a day here already?

Don't leave me here!

Bracing her elbows on the bed, Lucy shifted her weight and rolled onto her side with tremendous effort. Her movement was uncoordinated, but aggressive as she clawed at the bed with clenched teeth to place her palm down to push herself upwards into a sitting position.

Her world spun and she clutched her head. The incomprehensible shouting match between #411 and Jonathan was in full effect and due to that, everyone appeared to be distracted from the One-Eyed-Former-Gauss-Girl waking from her 'slumber'. Looking up, the displeased female was greeted to her reflection in the mirror on the bedside table that separated the two beds.

With a white medical eyepatch clashing with her asymmetrically cut dark hair, the blue-eyed survivor turned to give a withering glare worthy of Medusa's praise to the first person she caught the eye of. Unfortunately, she was staring directly at Jonathan.

"Oh.", Lucy cleared her throat as she took advantage of the lull in their conversation. Her eye lingered coldly on #411 for Jonathan to indicate the source of her discontent.

Darting back to him, her corner of her lip faintly curled upwards in acknowledgement. "I have a visitor.", her voice croaked slightly, exposing her physical weakness despite trying to be a tough girl.

The Three Musketeers, Bedtime Stories

Our three heroes were heading east as the hour grew later. They'd have to stop and make camp before long, but were hoping to cross most of the DC ruins before stopping for the night. Fortunately, they were able to take a road that cut through the lower portion of the city, it would allow them to make good progress through wide open industrial areas and along the freeways. The worst they'd have to worry about would be the odd raider gang or a lone super mutant, a straggler from a larger group. Most congregated in the city centre, and Rivet City Security ensured little hostile presence so close to their settlement.

William was sat on the back of Evan's bike, giving him a less cluttered ride than the previous journey, where he had been sharing the space with a minigun and an axe. Evan's weapons were less cumbersome than Dudley's, and William had plenty of space to sit. Evan's bike was made to carry two passengers, or a driver and some cargo. It was why his had been chosen to transport Ferdinand and Fallout Scott.

Good progress was being made, and the only people they encountered was a small party of traders that had already made camp for the night, huddled around a small fire and protected by the twisted metal sculptures of bombed out cars. Once they snuffed the fire out, it would be almost impossible to spot them in the dark. Unless you knew exactly which spots on the road to look out for of course. Many a group would pick a camping site they thought shielded them from detection, and therefore attack, only to be discovered and killed by raiders with a better knowledge of the area. That was the way of the wastes.

The traders had looked at the Three Musketeers with alarm as they passed, though when William raised his hand in a friendly wave one or two of the group waved back with relief. The traders had afterwards immediately snuffed out their fire. "Can't blame 'em fer being too careful." Dudley had commented at the time.

When it came time for the trio to find their own spot to rest, they chose the second floor of a mostly intact house. Houses, despite being bombed-out wrecks, were often good places to find shelter anyway. Since the water purifier had started to clean up the irradiated water supply in the wasteland, much work had been done fitting water pipes that pumped purified water into the pre-war plumbing systems. It meant that pre-war buildings often had access to a clean(ish) water supply, as well as providing shelter from the cold nights. They had most likely not been the first to stay in the house, since the fridge was completely empty except from a couple of empty bowls, and the First Aid Box in the bathroom had been opened and emptied.

Evan had tried to find a salvageable bike, or cobble together several parts to get one in working order, but if it were that easy everyone would be riding instead of walking. All he managed to do was frustrate himself. Meanwhile, William and Dudley went scavenging for some food, finding an unplundered Eat-O-Matic with enough supplies to last a few days. William also had a lucky find, a chest holster he recovered from a police car. He now had somewhere to properly put Lucy's Plasma Pistol. Upon their return to the house they found Evan sitting on a sofa in a huff. The discovery of the food cheered him up no end and they ate in what had probably been the guest bedroom, because it had a working light.

"So boys, what's the toughest thing ya ever killed?" Asked Dudley, in between mouthfuls of food made chewy in only the way being left around for 200 years can. It was fortunate the pre-war food companies had basically made so much processed food and laced it with preservatives. Must have been good preservatives for the food to last that long too.

"Toughest thing... there's been a few. I'll have to think about that one." Said William, trying to decide if he could claim credit for killing the giant plant monster he'd encountered in the Enclave base.

"Probably an Enclave soldier, they're much harder to kill than raiders." Said Evan, whose answer drew a look of surprise from Dudley.

"Don't know which I find more unlikely, that ya'd ever killed an Enclave soldier or that ya'd ever killed nobody before ya travelled with us!" Boomed Dudley, letting out a laugh and nearly choking on his last mouthful of food. He hunched over where he was sat for a moment in a coughing fit.

"I've killed people before I travelled with you. I used to accompany Brotherhood scouting parties from time to time. That's where I killed an Enclave solder. Hardest thing I've ever done." Aside from getting off the drugs, obviously, but Evan didn't talk much about that.

"So how'd it happen then? If it's the hardest thing you've ever done you must remember how it went." Inquired William, glad of the thinking time Evan had provided him with.

Three years ago...

"Quiet Scribe!" Hissed the Brotherhood Paladin in the loudest sort of whispering, which is more conspicuous than talking and rather defeats the purpose thought Scribe Ramsey. The squad he was accompanying had heard rumours of an Enclave team seen passing through the area repeatedly. The Brotherhood had arrived in the area a week ago and scouts had quickly found the Enclave team. In the following days, their routines were mapped and the best ambush site chosen. Now all the Brotherhood had to do was spring the trap.

Scribe Ramsey readied his laser rifle, the Brotherhood wanted to kill the Enclave as quickly as possible, and another gun in the fight wasn't something they were going to turn down. Targets had been called for. There were four targets, and the Brotherhood had set up in four ambush locations. Each location would attack one member in aid of simplicity. It should have been an easy job.

Then, in a co-ordinated movement, each member of the Enclave squad turned towards one of the ambush sites and threw two grenades. The first was a pulse grenade, that scrambled the Paladin's power armour. The second grenade was a plasma grenade. Evan saw both Paladins he was with that the hit of the pulse grenade, and the one that had shushed him was turned into a sloppy puddle of green goo. Scribe Ramsey stared, mouth open in horror.

Then the shooting started, the Brotherhood had been well enough in cover to avoid most of the plasma bolts aimed at them, but couldn't return fire without exposing themselves. Scribe Ramsey noted that two of the ambush sites were no longer firing at the Enclave, they must have died. One of the Enclave troops fell next, hit three times in the head by laser blasts. Then another, who seemed to take a dozen hits before going down. Scribe Ramsey had not yet fired his weapon, he was lying on the ground taking cover behind a boulder. A Brotherhood Paladin was beside him firing from cover. Then the worst thing Scribe Ramsey could imagine happened. The Enclave decided to charge his position.

One of the troopers pulled out a Ripper, the other began rapidly laying down suppressing fire on the other remaining ambush site. Scribe Ramsey panicked and as the Ripper soldier got to their boulder he scrabbled round the side on his hands and knees to avoid being seen, just in time to witness the Brotherhood reduce the Enclave numbers to to lonesome Ripper soldier.

With a sickening sound, Evan heard metal chewing through metal, then metal chewing through flesh and bone. Scribe Ramsey knew the Brotherhood would kill the last Enclave trooper, but he also knew they were too far away to save him in time. As the Enclave trooper spotted him, he started firing his laser rifle, it didn't seem to slow the trooper down. With a lunge, the Ripper roared close at him, Scribe Ramsey rolled out of the way and grabbed the troopers arm in an attempt to stop him striking again. It was a battle he was losing, the trooper forced himself closer until he finally lunged forwards and pinned Scribe Ramsey beneath his heavy bulk. A blunt kind of pain spread across the Scribe's torso as he felt warm blood on his chest.

It took him some time to realise the blood wasn't his own. The Ripper had gotten itself stuck in Scribe Ramsey's laser rifle, and the Enclave trooper had been shredded with his own weapon. Covered in the troopers blood, Scribe Ramsey promptly vomited on the newly-made corpse.

Present day.

"That's it? An Enclave trooper fell on you and killed himself? You didn't even do that one! Not technically at least." Protested William, who had finally decided which story he was going to tell.

"Yeah, I did say the toughest thing killed by YERSELF, not toughest thing that tripped over its own damn self and died." Said Dudley with a quieter laugh, possibly to avoid another coughing fit.

"Mine is much better. So there was this slaver leader a couple of years ago, real mean bastard had his own operation going. Used a sword to cut his own mark into his slaves. A group of them who escaped from him cobbled together some money and hired me to kill him."

Slaver Camp, two years ago...

Sword in hand, William Knight stepped up behind the slaver and slit his throat. He placed a hand over the man's mouth so he couldn't cry out. 'Five down, three more to go.' Thought William, as he spied his next target. The slaver was patrolling the outskirts of a chain-link fence. The camp was inside a basketball court and the slavers would chain their 'stock' to the the outside of the fence. They called it the shop window. Each slave had a chain around their neck that kept them close to the fence, then had another that bound their hands and legs together. No slave could move without their chains causing a racket, no slave could move faster than an awkward shuffle, and so slave could move their arms more than half a foot apart from each other.

William Knight's next target was facing away from him too, walking down the line of sleeping people chained to the fence, and would have been another easy kill had one of the slaves chained to the fence not cried out a warning. William could not fathom why the man would try and help his captor, or warn him of danger, especially when he seemed badly beaten. William Knight could only guess where the man got his injuries, but they looked recent.

The target spun around, raising his gun to shoot. Quick as a flash, William thrust his sword through the slavers neck. The slaver fell back, his own blood spilling out of his mouth, and let out a burst of fire from his gun. William quickly ran into the entrance of the court, where the slaver's tents were pitched around the edges, leaving the centre of the court open. A bloodstain market the central spot of the court, William didn't want to think what had caused it.

William Knight shifted his sword into his right hand, and drew his pistol with his left. One of the two remaining slavers came running out of the tent brandishing a spanner and a monkey wrench. Before William could react, the slaver threw the spanner at William, it hit him in the side causing a yelp of pain. William opened fire, twisting painfully on his new injury as he did so. Five shots, the first one missed, the second hit the slavers empty left arm, the third and fourth hit his heart, and the fifth hit his shoulder as the body fell to the ground. William heard a cacophony of clanking chains as the slaves at the edge of the fence begun to wake up and look what was going on. As he stepped into the middle of the court, William was temporarily blinded by floodlights that had been switched on. A voice boomed over a speaker system.

"Who is it, that enters my home so willingly? A fool, surely. For any that come here are invited! And if you are not invited, you are either placed in the window or strung up as a warning! Which would you prefer?"

With that dramatic flourish of an entrance, a burly man stepped out of the tent in front of William. This was the slaver leader, easily identified by his trademark sword. It was heavier and more sturdy than William's own blade. Before William could raise his pistol to shoot, the man bullrushed him, knocking the pistol to the ground before kicking it away into the darkness beyond the floodlights reach. A sharp kick to the ribs sent William back and onto the ground. The chain link fence rattled as the slaves attached to it started striking the mesh. The slaver leader raised his sword.

"Put down your sword boy, and I'll be merciful. You can live with the rest of the filth until somebody buys you. You'll fetch a good price. If you don't, I'll string you up from that same fence with hooks in your body until you die slowly. Might be disease, might be the hundreds of holes you'll have in you." The slaver smiled before continuing, "Might be I let the next lot of buyers use you for a shooting competition!" He roared with a great laugh that reverberated in William Knight's ears.

"How about I string you up from your own bloody fence, and use you for target practice?" Replied William, who shifted his sword back into his left hand and slashed at the slaver, who raised his sword to parry.

"Oh! You've gone for the second option! Wrong choice boy, this time next year you could have been some rich bitch's manservant or be working down a mine. Such a shame you'd rather just end it all now!" Shouted the slaver as he thrust his sword forwards, forcing William to sidestep. The slaver was quicker than his size suggested, and his sword just nicked William's torso. The slaver pressed his advantage, forcing William to dodge and parry. The slaver then interrupted his own rhythm of attacks with a straight punch to the face that made William stagger back.

'If I'm going to beat him, I'll have to fight dirty.' Thought William, who counter-attacked with a flurry of slashes and thrusts, then jabbed his boot into the side of the slavers knee. The slaver stumbled back a bit, then quickly raised his sword to block an immediate attack from William, who then stepped around the slaver and slashed low at his other knee. A low parry stopped William and allowed the slaver to regain his footing.

What followed was a succession of tricks and attacks from both combatants to try and break their opponents defence. From each trick William learned a new way of getting one over on an opponent in a swordfight. It was the good old groin attack that finally broke the slavers defence. William feinted with his sword then lashed out with his foot, making painful contact with the slavers jewels. With his sword ready to strike again, William made a swift cut to the ribs, followed by a thrust to the heart. The slaver leader was quick, his sword drawing blood from William's cheek in a blow that also dazed him, but a sword through the heart will kill anyone and the slaver collapsed in the centre of the court.

Present day.

"So then what'ya do?" Asked Dudley.

"I freed the slaves, led them back to their friends and collected the other half of my payment. Which I think I burned through in record time. After that, I made my first journey to the Capital Wasteland." Replied William, remembering how much that fight had taught him about his own style of combat. William looked down at his bowl of Blamco Mac and Cheese, and concentrated on eating.

"That's one hell of a story." Said Evan quietly, in between mouthfuls of his junk food.

"I've got a hundred just like it. When you travel the wastes and take any jobs that pay well you get into all sorts of trouble." Added William.

"Or ya get dead!" Boomed Dudley. "I got a better story than both of those put together!"

Six months ago...

Dudley Sullivan kicked the barrel towards the wall, grabbed his axe tight, and screamed an insult as ugly as the Super Mutant trying to kill him. Charging forwards, Dudley jumped onto the barrel, then only the top of the wall, then buried his axe in the super mutant's face!

Present day.

[b] "Told ya my story was better." Said Dudley, folding his arms triumphantly. A smug look crept across his face.

"And...?" Inquired William, expecting something more detailed to the story.

[b] "And what? That's it." Said Dudley in a defensive tone.

[i] "Well that's clearly not it because you didn't explain how you got there, why you were killing the super mutant, or what it made you feel like." Insisted Evan.

"He's got a point Duds, and you didn't even properly describe any of the action. You just jumped at a super mutant and hit it with your axe." Added William.

"That stuff don't matter, it's the kill that matters, and the beast that dies that's important." Said Dudley, who then looked at Evan, "Not how you got there or the feelings it gave you," then turned to look at William, "And it 'aint about all the fine little details of yer fight neither." Finished Dudley.

William paused for a second to consider a response, then he smiled and said, "If it doesn't matter about the details, then I'm calling the king-size bed, Evan can have this room, and you Duds, can have the kids room because you'll still be sleeping in a bed and the details of how big it is won't matter." Before anyone could argue different, William rushed out of the room and down the hall into the master bedroom. He'd be getting a king-size bed all to himself. Dudley tried to chase him and Evan shut the door to the guest room behind him, leaving Dudley with no alternative but to fit his 6'7 frame onto a child's bed for the night.

[i] Goodnight musketeers!

[OOC: Greetings and fabulations. Today's mini-update will include Megaton, Dr. Evil's underground lair, and Isaac Black. You're welcome. ^_^]

Liberty Minor: Scan complete. No sign of communist infection.

Isaac: That's great, but that isn't what I asked you.

Down by a beach, somewhere east of the BoS Citadel, Isaac Black sat on a rock while talking to the small-scale Liberty Prime.

LM: You appear to be living, radiation count high.

Isaac: Any sign of ghoulification? Am I going to have skin falling off in droves?

LM: No cellular degeneration detected.

Isaac: Well, that's a relief. Wonder if there's any other good news today.

And with that, the robot tuned into Galaxy News Radio!

-Good mornin', children! Or whatever time a'day it is! This is Three Dog with the news! Today, we have ANOTHER claim to have sighted a flying saucer in the sky, followed by more harsh weather as the day continues, according to a doctor over at Project Purity who is also a walrus and part of a water-worshipping cult. I tell you, we get ALL kinds on this channel, but I'll shout it out 'cause it's way better than static. The Enclave just sent a message stating that they've executed the leader of the giant mutant brigade - their creator - but unfortunately the Brotherhood of Steel reports that their psycho bigass robot is still on the loose. Hold onto your butts and keep out of its way!-

Isaac glared at Liberty now with shock. They deployed the MGB? Holy shit...

-Our sister station, New Vegas Radio, reports that among other kill-sat activity instigated by a single Courier, a rogue organization has totally WASTED the Sunset Sarsparella Factory and HQ. Sorry, cap hunters. The place is a damn crater now. In other news, the population of those Gary clones has been reduced to almost nothin', but those damn blue-haired chicks are all over the place! They may or may not be crazy, and they can DEFINITELY be dangerous. Exercise caution around 'em. And that's the news! Time for a little music.-

Isaac: I'm sorry, but...what the fuck?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

It's funny that, during this attack on their persons from Dr. Evil's henchmen, Chester would take a moment to take a gander down that grate they just broke open. Even funnier, there was suddenly a man in a suit with a fez on and sunglasses (Mustafa) pulling out a curved knife and shouting at the top of his lungs, leaping right at the ghoul!

Meanwhile...

Whoops! The antenna was still active! It sparked a bit and contacted the moonbase, where there were robots of...some kind...in charge. Wait, hold on. Looks like one of them is opening communications. It's...oh my...

Wheatley: Hello, Dr. Evil! You're looking good today, and...less bald. Yes, definitely a good look for you, no doubt about it. I've run all of the checks you asked me to and everything is green. I'm not getting much communication from the maintenance bots, but I talked to them and...they're working...and...yeah. So, who else are we obliterating today?

Could it really be this easy? Probably not...

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Well, there appeared to be a bit of a commotion and confusion for the young Lieutenant as Charlotte was injured, Lucy was injured, Jonathan McKenna was here, and so was the local Doc. In the middle of all this, Natsuki held up her hand, saying "One second!" as her vectors went out and held everyone here in place, save for Rufio, as she worked her Pip-Boy and got all her information on-screen.

Natsuki: Okay... Charlotte, we're taking you back to base on the next available vertibird in...five minutes. I made the call before I walked in here. Doc, you're discharging her for that purpose. Lucy? Just what is it with you losing eyes? Didn't dad pull strings to fix you up or something? And Mr. McKenna...

She looked at Jonathan with a little confusion now.

Natsuki: Aren't you retired? And why do you smell like cheese? And what's with the 'Bob' stuff? You know FalloutBob'll take it personally if he hears about it.

It looks like you can't keep much from Natsuki, at least not while she has your file from the Enclave database RIGHT THERE.

The Wild Wastelands | Megaton | Doc Church's Clinic
Back and Forth

There was an obvious flinch that came from Enclave Intelligence Specialist #411's corner of the ring at the mention of her coup plans, though thankfully there was no mention of who the coup would be against. Thinking on her toes was her specialty but since "BOB" had played the nuclear option, #411 was left scrambling. On a side note, that Natsuki Manriki, Lieutenant and ranking officer of the Enclave, had given orders and that Lucy Black, #411's original choice for leading the coup, had started moving around was left unacknowledged by the retorting Enclave Intelligence Operative as her need to get the last word in took over.

~Think think think think think BING!!~

"If there WAS mention of a coup, it was only for the benefits of any enemy ears listening nearby. Let us not forget that I, rather than filing your names and faces with the Enclave Department of Justice, opted to recruit you. Despite the skills that you and your cohort have displayed, do you think that you could withstand the full might of Enclave Justice being brought down upon you? Do you think that your previous compatriot will go quietly and quickly after her little display?" Enclave Intelligence Specialist #411 retorted. Informed. Threatened. Despite the fact that Natsuki had ignored the little jab at #411's allegiance, the recorders built into her power armor would not and #411 already had an idea that there would be a less than friendly interrogation waiting for her when she arrived at the Enclave Vault.

"You've been out of the Enclave for quite some time so I'll forgive you if you don't remember how much of a tight knit group the Enclave Heavy Weapons Specialists were. I'm the only thing that will be keeping them from turning you and Kristin Blamco into a glowing green smear against the wall for some Raider to defecate against. I hope that you'll remember that the next time you decide to address me like that." As if she was doing Jonathan and Kristin some BIG FAVOR, "Remember if next time you're talking with your little damsel and every time that you look into those big doe eyes of her's."

There was a slight smirk on Enclave Intelligence Specialist #411's face and a manner that stated that she was toying with Jonathan, playing upon what she had perceived during their little jaunt from Lucy Black's house to Megaton. Though there might have been something else that had been present in her vocal tone.

An awkward silence fell over the room as if whatever venom had caused this little outburst been purged from #411's system. Enclave Intelligence Specialist #411... Charlotte Sorrowfeld's cheek flushed when she realized that she had been ignoring military decorum.

"I apologize for my outburst, Lieutenant Manriki. I will prepare myself for the journey back to the Vault. I hope that we'll have rendezvous with Constance." Charlotte said as she attempted to sit up, her head regretting the decision immediately as the room did a barrel roll. The woman, undeterred by her injuries, however, sat up and turned when she heard a voice behind her.

"I have a visitor." Lucy Black voice croaked. If she was patient and a good girl, she'd be having a few more in a days time, provided stuff didn't happen. Enclave Intelligence Specialist #411 was aware that Thomas "Shifty" McGee had shifted direction towards Megaton. It would be an important piece of information to share in order to maintain her leverage over the 1EGG. Charlotte's voice didn't reflect this sort of thinking however when she addressed Lucy.

"There are more on their way. For some reason, your friend, The Undertaker, is on his way here." Charlotte said in a reassuring tone with a slight smile upon her face. It was kindly, almost motherly but coming from the woman that had used this piece of information as a bargaining chip earlier, it was utterly creepy. What did it matter, however, the important piece of information was that Thomas was on his way.

"I suspect that he'll be making a stop at your home. If I am able to see her, I will order Constance to inform your wayward friend that you are located here."

"You're welcome your worshipfulness."

#209 tossed Trixie the lazer pistol, she found the weapon quite foreign, but it still fired almost the same as a normal pistol.

She attempted to ignore #209's retorts, still trying to properly adjust herself while reacting to the barrage of fire, though her mind reminded her that even without the power armor, he was still a member of the enclave that probably wouldn't need a weapon to break her like a toothpick.

Probably best to not tick him off... She thought to herself during the distraction of lazer 'pews'.

"So how about that way?"

"Beats staying here" Trixie commented as she watched Chester jump toward the hole after a bit of question to it's safety.

Taking advantage of the covering fire from #209, she followed suit, firing off some shots so he could follow the pair.

Suddenly a man in a fez leaped from behind Chester wielding a knife, she aimed for his head and pulled the trigger.
But nothing happened.
She'd ran out of cells in her pistol, being unaware to the capacity of the weapon.

In panic she chucked the weapon, hitting him square in the head, causing a clumsy stagger.
I should really use explosives...

From the agent's expression, it was clear to Jonathan that she was left dumbstruck at the mention of the coup. Cold sweat rolled down her forehead as she desperately searched for a good retort to salvage the situation. He would see to it that she would fail miserably. Unlikein Lucy Black's house, this time Jonathan was the one on the offensive, unplagued by guilt or phantoms eating away his thoughts. His attention lay entirely on #411, his goal to make her life miserable. Given how much more she stood to lose here than him, all signs indicated that his objective wouldn't be too difficult to complete.

"If there WAS mention of a coup..."

Oh, ho ho, yes. He hit a nerve alright. He held back a smile as he saw that the best retort she could come up with consisted of hollow threats. Well, not quite hollow; his life expectancy would very likely go down a couple dozen years if she were to convince her superiors that he was a threat that needed to be eliminated, but she would not, because for her plan to work she needed him. "All bark and no bite" described her retort quite well, and Jonathan planned to continue unfettered, though he did raise an eyebrow on her calliing Kristin "little damsel". Before he could reply, though, he felt a wierd, tingling sensation in his head, and it took a considerable amount of effort for him to move.

"One second!"

The lieutenant finally spoke, and Jonathan was left bedazzled. She did that? He was right to be afraid of her, then, for he shuddered to think what else the cherry blossom coloured lieutenant could do. Lucky for him, Manriki addressed the harlot that was apparently named Charlotte first, which gave Jonathan some respite, and by the time her attention was back to him Jonathan had recovered from the shock and collected his thoughts. She briefly read something in her Pip-boy and turned to eye him, puzzlingly.

"Aren't you retired?"

Wait. What.

Retired?

What did that mean?

"And why do you smell like cheese? And what's with the 'Bob' stuff? You know FalloutBob'll take it personally if he hears about it."

Jonathan was left quite confused at the lieutenant's tone and inquiries. He half expected her to acuse him of treason and have him taken in for trial, but she acted as though nothing of that sort was expecting him back at base. Indeed, if he guessed right and it was his file that the lieutenant was reading on her Pip-Boy, it would seem that his desertion was taken rather lightly by the brash, if "retired" was how he was classified. He smirked; Natsuki had just handed him a trump card.

"I'll have to apologise to him, then." he shrugged, "But the name was randomly chosen in a pitch without much thought put into it. Besides, out of the loop as I am, the only Fallout person I know is FalloutJack. He sounds like a rather praiseworthy individual, given Charlotte's expression and tone when she talks about him," he threw a sideglance at #411, smirking, "And yes, technically I am retired. But, I still believe in the cause, and I could hardly refuse helping #411, especially considering how much she clearly needs my help." he made sure to emphasise the last part.

He threw a heavy sigh, "And you can see how she repays my altruism. First by almost exposing me and then with threats over some abstract example." he turned to face the agent, who was attempting to get up, "That's hardly a proper way to treat your partner, Agent. I reprimanded you for putting me at risk, but you had no cause to throw those threats at me. Primarily since I volunteered to help in the first place, and especially since you forced my hand with your abomidable display and abuse of power at Miss Black's house."

And now, he thought, for the coup de grâce. As he turned to the lieutenant, though, he was met with the cold, hateful gaze of the now-awakened Lucy Black. Staring back shocked, he took a step back, as he felt guilt piercing the back of his head like a thousand tiny needles. Just as he was dumbstruck at Natsuki's abilities, he was likewise stunned by Lucy's hateful glare. He should have expected that; he was one of the reasons she pulled her eye out in the first place. Clearing her throat and getting the attention of everyone else in the room, Lucy Black gave an even more harrowing stare at Charlotte before returning her gaze to Jonathan, this time looking at him more relaxed.

"I have a visitor." she said weakly, and for the first time since his talk with Kristin Jonathan was at a loss for words. His guilt was eating away at his head, and he couldn't quite think of a way to approach this. Lucky for him, #411 was the first one to reply to the recently awakened one-eyed victim of his legacy.

"There are more on their way. For some reason, your friend, The Undertaker, is on his way here."

That was some news, indeed, and Jonathan, trying to pull himself out from the abyss devouring his head, thought of how he could use that information later. He would have to discuss this with Kristin and proceed from there. But, something was pissing him off...

"I suspect that he'll be making a stop at your home. If I am able to see her, I will order Constance to inform your wayward friend that you are located here."

...And it was how kindly and caring Charlotte the Harlot was acting towards Lucy. After everything she did, this was like throwing salt at a festering wound and rubbing it. He couldn't put up with it.

"You can drop the act, #411." he said bluntly as he rubbed his face, having placed his bowl on the nearby table, "Dazzled though the girl is, I'm pretty sure she has enough wits about her not to buy into your pretence of caring. Especially since you're responsible for the loss of her eye."

After casually dropping that bomb that would hopefully cause Charlotte a whole lotta trouble, he turned to Natsuki.

"Lieutenant. I kindly request that you help Agent #411 up and be on your way. There's much tension between the two, the reason for which I expect to be evident, and I would much rather not have another bomb to defuse tonight."

Still adressing Natsuki, he turned to face Lucy, "...I will also have to fill Lucy in on the events of the day, and that is better done in private, I think."

Lucy Black - Megaton: Clinic
"..."

"Fuck this.", Lucy Black flatly stated, unsteadily getting back onto her feet. "I'm going to Moira's."

Running a hand through her hair in an exasperated motion, the One-Eyed Former-Gauss-Girl shook off her black eyepatch that was being soaked in disinfectant on the bedside table. "How much do I owe you, Doc?", Lucy muttered impatiently, eager to get away from what was a room full of Enclave affiliates.

"Your, uh, debt has been paid. In double actually by the gentleman over there and that BlamCo Priestess. So technically, I owe you. And since I hate owing anything to anybody, I'm going to give you some supplies.", Doc Church looked more annoyed than usual as he handed over a fully-stocked first-aid kit. "Now leave...all of you. This isn't a charity."

Lucy stuffed the first-aid kit under her arm in a hurry. It looked new. "Thanks."
Promptly, she turned to walk to the door but chose to stop and regard #411 for a moment. "Constance. The Catgirl, right? Cute kid, she looked well the last time I saw her."

One might expect that to sound like a veiled threat, in fact, Lucy was merely mirroring #411's sudden burst of hollow compassion. The fact that Lucy could switch gears so quickly was eerie in its own right. This was more of a 'I-know-about-someone-you-value' kind of thing. Lucy now had her own leverage if any of her people were going to be used as a bargaining chip again.

Using the walls to balance herself, Lucy cautiously walked past the Lieutenant and stopped in the doorway to look blankly at Jonathan. "You have a lot of explaining to do.", her voice was distinctly devoid of any strong emotions. Whether that was concerning, threatening or understandable given her current condition was left to recipient's interpretation.

Once Lucy had shut the door behind her, she dropped all pretense only to stumble onto the nearby railings. Her balance was off and she felt ill, whatever combination of medication that was coursing through her system was not agreeing with her at all. Leaning over the edge in case she had to vomit, Lucy closed her eyes and tried to focus on what was important.

She needed a weapon. Protection. That's all.
She needed to feel some semblance of protection.

And although she was hellbent on getting to Moira's, to an outsider, all they could see was a haggard eyepatched female clawing her way up the railings.

If things couldn't get any worse, she was beginning to doubt her grip on reality. Why?
Well, you know that crude 'Church of the Children of Atom' sign near the Megaton bomb in the center of the town?

Something about 'The Children of BlamCo' in deep purple seemed a little off...

Now she needed an explanation above all else. What the hell had happened in just one day?!

The Wild Wastelands | Megaton | The Clinic of Doc Church
Shit Lists and Shopping Lists

If it was Jonathan McKenna's life goal to rise to the top of Enclave Intelligence Specialist #411's shit list, he fast becoming its rising star. The list's top positions were not usually reserved for those who had spoken ill of her or done her wrong, that was a different list entirely, one that involved convoluted machinations that ended up with their life a shambles. The shit list was reserved for those who made her look poor in front of a superior officer and most important of all, those who attempted to ingratiate themselves with FalloutJack. Jonathan was attempting to do so using Natsuki Manriki as a proxy, an equally unforgivable sin in #411's eyes. As Jonathan spoke, the Enclave Intelligence Operative felt her jaw tightening ever so slowly, her teeth grinding and gnashing as she attempted to exert some control over herself and her desire to launch herself upon the man and rip out his throat with her bare hands. The simple fact that she needed him to assist in the training of the Sylphy Clone Army was all that stood in her way and it was more than enough to keep her from driving a power armored glove through his skull with a power assisted punch. Waiting for a moment, the red haze that threatened to consume her cleared as she smiled at the former Enclave Enlisted Soldier.

"Lieutenant. I apologize for my subordinate's insubordinate tone. Yes, he is a retired from the Enclave and as such he has forgotten some of our ways having been exposed to the corruption of the Wastes for so long. I shall prepare myself for the journey to the rendezvous point. If you will give me a moment with Mister McKenna, I will follow you shortly. If you could ensure that my discharge instructions are in order, I am afraid that in my current condition, I might forget some of those instructions."

Doc Church nodded and pulled Natsuki aside, instructing her on which chems were to be administered when and what to look for in the event that Enclave Intelligence Specialist #411's condition worsened.

"I shall have to remind you, Mister McKenna, that as a retired member of the Enclave, you carry none of the benefits that your former rank may have entitled you. While any respect that you garner from other field units may be a matter of ceremony, as your Asset field supervisor, I am not bound to display such nostalgia. If you require me to hold your hands in a such a manner, it might be time that I reconsider our arrangements and rescind any offers that I may have forwarded on my behalf." Meaning that she do whatever it took to make Jonathan and Kristin Enclave Enemy #2 (Just behind the Brotherhood of Steel), "Might I also remind the former Enclave soldier that were he the sort of man that was officer material, he would have made the realization that the Enclave would question the motives of a retired soldier showing up on the door step of a girl that had recently also left our loving fold. Were you the sort of intelligent man who wanted to ensure that nothing happened to the daughter of Isaac Black, you would have kept your distance and perhaps sent a postcard. You of all people should be aware that the Enclave has eyes everywhere and we do not take kindly to those who would plot against us and given the state of the world, there are many that plot against the Enclave. Were you a kind man, you would see that it was through your own act that you brought me, a member of the Enclave Intelligence Wing, knocking on Miss Black's door. You might seek to forget your past but the past does not forget you and sooner or later, it has a way of catching up to you."

With that said, Charlotte Sorrowfeld returned her attention to the wounded One Eyed Gauss Girl, who was now standing nearby, apparently keen on blowing this Popsicle stand before anything else untoward occurred, she did only have one eye remaining. Pausing for a moment to collect her thoughts and calm herself from the infuriating Mister McKenna, Lucy words came first.

"Constance. The Catgirl, right? Cute kid, she looked well the last time I saw her." Lucy Black stated, inferred, threatened in her own right.

Eyeing Lucy Black for a moment, there was a part within the woman that remembered Lucy's comments regarding FalloutJack and their close personal relation. A gloved hand tightened slightly and the sound of leather rubbing upon leather could be heard in the nearly quiet room. While #411 wanted to threaten and berate the woman as she had, Charlotte understood that Lucy's words were born of desperation and anger at what the Enclave Intelligence Agent and done to her and her friend. This however, was entirely different. The mother in Constance Sorrowfeld wanted to reach out and snap that slim little neck that kept the pretty little head of Lucy Black's vertical. The conniving bitch in Enclave Intelligence Officer #411 knew that to show a reaction would give the girl ammunition that could be used later.

The bitch shrugged as if it were just another piece of information in regards to another pawn on the chess board. A forced smile made its way to the woman's face as she addressed Lucy once again.

"This is not an act. Lucy. I want to apologize for my recent actions. There are things that I hold higher than even my life and the lives of others and that is the ideals that the Enclave strives to bring to the Wastelands as well as the embodiment of those ideals, FalloutJack. I need for you to understand my commitment to protecting these things. Approaching you in the manner that I did was a mistake." There was a pause. A search for more words to convey the thoughts rambling within the head of Charlotte Sorrowfeld. Reaching behind her, Charlotte produced the visualizer that showed Thomas "Shifty" McGee prominently, the man clutching his face is if he had been struck there several times recently. #411 placed the unit on Lucy's chest before stating, "Don't make me regret this act of kindness or you will regret it."

Well, perhaps a little more practice in the kindness department is in order Enclave Intelligence Specialist #411. You started pretty well there but ending the conversation on a vague threatening note... eh... well. Whatever. Watching Lucy leave, Charlotte turned her attention to whatever was left, mainly the getting the hell out of this crater shaped hellhole.

By the time Constance Sorrowfeld/Enclave Intelligence Specialist #411 was finished with the conversation, Doc Church had finished instructing Natsuki and loading her up on chems that he "claimed" #411 would require in her recovery, none of which was entirely cheap. The Enclave was ready to move out.


The Wild Wastelands | Doctor Evil's Vault of Evil | A Evil Minion Break Room

"So, you're saying they found what?" Evil Minion Fenwick asked, his voice tinged slightly with disbelief at what he had just heard.

"Did I stutter? They found a whole stash of candy in that garbage chute. Apparently Scotty's been rehearsing being an Evil heir and what's the first thing they teach you at Evil University?" Evil Minion Wrigley responded with a smile on his face.

"Stealing candy from a baby?"

"Bingo! Apparently Little Scotty Evil's been stealing lots and lots of candy from the kids around the DC Wastes. I mean enough to fill an entire garbage chute. Man. I thought the kid was a little puss but man that takes some balls." Evil Minion Wrigley said slowly, his smile suggesting that he would have liked to be a fly on Scotty's shoulder when it happened.

"What you mean it takes balls?"

"I mean, have you ever done it? Have you ever taken candy from a baby?"

"Fuck no, man. That's mean."

"See? You've gotta overcome that instinct of not doing it. You've gotta be able to look that kid in the eyes and take that piece of candy right out of his mouth. Then when he's crying, you've gotta run like hell. Most people think that you've done something to the kid that's a lot worse than taking his candy and they'll beat the shit outta you. So between feeling like a guilty shit and running from the mob of people that'll be on your ass, it takes balls."

"So, what about the others? Didn't Mustafa get his hands on one of them?" Evil Minion Fenwick asked curiously.

"Naw, he got fucked up himself. Seems that someone impaled his neck on the broken bits of grate. I think it was the big naked guy." Evil Minion Wrigley said

"Fuck you, it's gotta be that chick dude. I heard she opened that cell door with nothing but her bare hands." Evil Minion Fenwick said.

"I bet you a week's pay that it was the naked dude."

"You're on, bitch."

"I'm not the bitch, bitch."

Evil Minions Fenwick and Wrigley were suddenly interrupted by the sound of the door opening, revealing Evil Minion Second Class Mustafa on the other side, his neck bandaged from ear to ear. It was either through supreme luck or good writing that the grating had not severed the major arteries in his neck, only his vocal chords. It was rather unfortunate since he was currently the Number One contender to take the title of Evil Idol.

"What the hell are you two talking about?" Asked Evil Minion Second Class Mustafa Hawking.

"Uhhh... nothing man. Nothing."

Arizona

The Wild Wasteland | Conjoined Paths | Temporary Camp

The Ex-Undertaker's reaction to her teasing didn't disappoint, since it looked like he was panicking internally and looking for a place to run. If he was screaming internally too, she wouldn't have been surprised. As much as the idea amused her, it was also rather exasperating. After all, just because she looked like a zombie didn't mean she was dead. She had needs too! Not that she could actually sate them.

She was interrupted from watching Thomas desperately think of an escape plan when Sylph started to slur and wobble like a champion drunk, and she wasn't sure she wanted to know how she got that way. But the Ghoul was pretty sure it had something to do with the Med-X she offered Thomas, and he promptly declined.

Wonderful. Looks like she's not only a psycho, but a chem-fiend, she thought with a sigh.

Thankfully, Thomas seemed to know what he was doing, and prompted her into talking to a nearby boulder. The fact that it worked only made Arizona shake her head.

"She should be busy for a while but before we move on, could you please... please... PLEEEEEASE not humor her in her quest to find herself a new mother?"

She opened her mouth to reply to that, but he seemed to launch himself into a great impression of someone digging themselves a nice, deep hole. All the while, she stared at him blandly with her single eye and fought against a smirk. When he realized what he was doing, he did a mental one-eighty and got back on-track, with her nodding sagely.

"Sorry. I know that you're joking with Sylphee and I understand that bonding with her might seem like the ideal thing to do but I think that it would be in our best interest to leave her in Megaton. She's dangerous. You saw what she did to that building. She'll more than likely kill us before whatever lies within the confines of the Dunwich Building does."

"Ha! I wasn't planning on bonding with her at all, that isn't what I do. Teasing you is fun though, and in the Wastes, you have to make your own entertainment." she said with a small smile, before she nodded and lowered her voice, "But you're right. I'm not sure I'd trust her with a pistol, much less explosives and a goddamned Anti-Materiel Rifle. You want to leave her in Megaton, I won't argue. The problem is getting her to stay."

She leaned back and crossed her arms.

"I want to get to Megaton as soon as possible, then move on to Dunwich, maybe stopping at Tenpenny Tower along the way if we need to. Worst case, we stay at Megaton a few days, relax before shit hits the fan at Dunwich. But not much longer. I want to get this job over and done with, and I'm sure you'd rather travel with someone that's nicer to look at." she added with a small, knowing smirk, "Though if you want to stick around with me, I wouldn't argue about that either."

Yeah she could run with this, robots that understood speech were quicker to hack than the regular ones. Thinking fast she spoke quietly and quickly.

"Bad news, we have reason to believe some of the maintenance bots have gone rouge. They're loyalty has unfortunately been brought into question and you're report that they aren't communicating as much is damming. Orders are to charge up indefinitely; if the maintenance bots are loyal they'll follow that order and not fire until given the explicit release code. The code is the the numerical value Grahram's number in binary. You are not to repeater this information to anyone even if they appear to be me. Impostors are everywhere and stay vigilant."

She had kept her eyes on the battle not wanting to be caught out. Luckily the others were doing great at distracting the scientists.

If it was Charlotte's life goal to rise to the top of one of Enclave R&D's chief ex-scientists' shit list, well she needn't have continued trying because she landed the position a while ago. It wasn't a difficult feat; the shit list mostly consisted of probably-and-hopefully dead individuals that made his life miserable back before Raven Rock went boom boom, like for example James Ronald Tiberius Drummond, who got his position because high ranking father, and was a bright, shining example of the Dunning-Kruger effect doing its work, or that Clearwater MIV or whomvever-of-his-name he was, who was a mixture of mad scientist-slash-Don Quixote-slash-pseudogentleman (but only for the ladies, the lust-driven virgin hypocrite lunatic of a bastard). Truly, compared to what he had to put up with in his earlier years, the agent's rage-fuelled idle threats and empty promises were like he was being commented for his brilliant disco dancing skills despite the fact he had no idea what the drowning fuck a Disco was! No, it was not the agent's shallow attempts at intimidation that riled him so; rather, it was her actions back at the Miss Black's house that landed her on the top of the people-I-want-to-make-most-miserable list, and he expected to spend many a night thinking of all the wonderful ways her head could melt from lazer rifle shots, or plasma, or tesla coils, or lava. Maybe boiling water. It would be like a MKX fatality showcase, except what the flippity dildos is MKX anyway?

And so, he payed little attention to her, quite frankly, laughable attempts at asserting her dominance, his attention wholly occupied by the recently awakened Miss Black getting up and stumbling around in a vain attempt to look strong. A mixture of delibitating anxiety and guilt kept him from acting -indeed, he could scarcely keep a straight face-, and he really couldn't find words to expressing himself. Hells, as he were right now, he wasn't sure what he wanted to say. The girl threw a glare at him, as though examing him to see what had changed over the course of a few hours, before speaking up

"You have a lot of explaining to do." she stated flatly, and Jonathan found himself gulping anxiously. He wasn't sure of her tone, but what he was certain of, given the fact that she had woken up to him talking to the very same agent he was pointing his gun at along with an Enclave officer, she had painted a very, very wrong picture.

That thought terrified him, and Jonathan found himself at a panic, desperately wondering just what it was she was thinking of him. He could have easily stood there for a good few minutes, but a certain unwanted collaborateur decided to sprout more bullshit again.

"This is not an act. Lucy." And the Enclave cared for the wasteland. And Charlotte didn't have a crush on FalloutJack. And Jonathan had pancakes for breakfast.

Why did she even bother? She was the one that decided interrogating the poor girl in her house just as she was left off the hook for what looked like petty grudges and paranoia And suddenly she cared? Please, Jonathan could come up with a forbidden love story between Enclave officer and Super Mutant Behemoth and still make it more plausable than #411's words. He was content to leave her insultingly fake show uncommented, prioritising helping Lucy around over throwing petty insult, but of course the Agent had to play macho, didn't she?

"Don't make me regret this act of kindness or you will regret it."

"You sure have a really fucking wierd way of showing you're sorry, don't you?" Jonathan said as he turned to face her, his eyes throwing a piercing glare, before hunching towards her, his head barely a few paces away from hers.

"You can threaten me all you like, Charlotte" he started, his voice barely above a whisper, "But lest you forget, you're the one that started this mess in the first place by announcing my fucking name, to a fucking Enclave officer. You're the one that blew my fucking cover, it's not my fucking problem if in order to save my arse from your fuckup I have to make your life miserable. Clean your own mess."

"I'm guessing this Constance is my contact." he said in a calmer manner as he backed away, noticing Natsuki come back with the doctor and that Lucy had disappeared during his little outburst. Thinking he overstayed his welcome and eager to catch up with his barely-standing acquaintance, Jonathan grabbed his bowl and faced Church, "Doctor, I would like you to deal with the radiation of the clothing I have in the backpack outside. Don't worry, I will pay, extra if it's done quickly. And Agent..." he said as he turned to look at her again with a grin, "I look forward to working with you." he said mischievously, before opening the door and leaving.

* * *

She hadn't strayed too far, as expected of a person that couldn't quite stand on their own two feet. He was quick to catch up to her, though words still escaped him. As he slowly approached her, he grew even more panicky over what to say, made evident by the sweat running down his cheek and nervous shaking of his hands.

Snap out of it!

"Moira, uh, closed not too long ago for the night..." he started awkwardly as he got next to her, occupied as she were staring at a sign labeled 'The Children of BlamCo'. The Princess sure left quite the first impresiion, it seemed.

"You hungry...? I brought some food... eeeh, it's quite delicious?!" he continued in a similar manner, extending the bowl towards her before sighing and getting more serious.

"Look, I know how this looks like... but I swear that I can explain." he threw nervous glances left and right before looking back at her meekly "But not here. Please, come with me to my room at Moriarty's Saloon, Miss Kristin's there too. I promise I'll go over everything that happened today there. "

The Wild Wastelands | Conjoined Paths | Temporary Camp
What a F**KING start...

"Though if you want to stick around with me, I wouldn't argue about that either." The Old One, Arizona said with a smirk on her face. Her teasing had risen to such a degree that it had caused the Former Undertaker's cheek to burn red as she toyed with him. Though the exercise had left Thomas' dignity in tatters, it did signal the fact that Arizona seemed much more approachable than she did when he had first met her in Rivet City.

"Well, you don't need to argue, Arizona. You did recruit me to guide you to Dunwich and I'm not about to let you wander off in the Wastelands without a guide, regardless of what could potentially be waiting for me in Megaton. I may not be an Undertaker any longer, but I'm still a man of my word." Thomas said in an almost comically valiant sort of way. Despite his training and preparation, Thomas had found himself ill equipped to handle the Wastelands. In fact the last time he'd gone on an adventure of this magnitude, he'd ended up cryogenically frozen by the Enclave. Even with this particular fact gnawing at the back of the man's brain, Thomas "Shifty" McGee had made up his mind in regards to accompanying his friend to the Dunwich building.

"No! I lost again!!! No fair Mister Boulder! You're cheating!" Sylphee yelled in the background as she had apparently lost another hand of Caravan to the boulder that she was talking to. How she even found a Caravan Deck this far East was beyond the already mentally exhausted man.

"Sylphee! Say goodbye to your friend. We're leaving!" Thomas called out as he started packing his gear, eyeing the blue haired junky for a moment to ensure that she heard him.

"Okie dokie daddy!" Sylphee called out as she started packing up her Caravan card, sticking her tongue out at Mister Boulder. No one liked a cheater.

"Arizona. I really, really, really appreciate you doing this for me," Thomas said with a smile that did a rather piss poor job of hiding his excitement. Though if there was any doubt that the Friendly Former Undertaker was excited, it was dispelled with the hug that he gave the ghoul.

"DAW! So cuuuuute!" Sylphee called out from where she sat, her bags already packed and ready to go, her rifle, which she had retrieved from Arizona was slung over her shoulders.

Arizona

The Wild Wastelands | The Dunwich Party | Path to Megaton

The fact that Thomas' face turned an entertaining shade of red only made Arizona smirk a little wider. Really, the fact that he still blushed that easily was a little surprising, though he did mention that he wasn't quite... Experienced when it came to women.

"Well, you don't need to argue, Arizona. You did recruit me to guide you to Dunwich and I'm not about to let you wander off in the Wastelands without a guide, regardless of what could potentially be waiting for me in Megaton. I may not be an Undertaker any longer, but I'm still a man of my word."

"Glad to hear, especially since I don't have the slightest idea of where the hell the Dunwich Building even is from here, so I'm relying on you to get me there." she told him easily.

The fact that she was starting to like the idea of company on the journey there was something she kept to herself. The Wastes were boring enough as it was on her own, and having someone to talk to was nice. Even if it was two someones who she could already tell would drive her up the metaphorical wall quicker than it would take for a snowball to melt in hell.

But she hadn't been prepared for his hug. After she had gathered her own things, he mentioned that he appreciated what she was doing for him, and wrapped his arms around her in a tight embrace. She blinked even as her face pressed against his chest, and the short Ghoul awkwardly returned the hug with a small smile.

"It's no problem, Tommy boy. Now that's enough. I'm getting soft enough as it is." she said as she quickly pushed herself out of his clutches and gave him a mock glare.

She ignored Sylph entirely as she called out how adorable the two of them were. At the same time, she wondered where Charlie had gone off to, but realized that he knew what they were planning on doing. If the boy had any brains in his head, he'd be following behind them in short order.

"Well then, let's get to Megaton. I can hear that nuke calling to me even now." she said brightly as she started to walk.

The Wild Wastelands | The Dunwich Party | Gates of Megaton

I'm going to shoot her. I'm going to shoot her. I'm going to shoot her, Arizona repeated to herself as a mantra, I'm going to shoot her right fucking now, I swear to Good Christ Almighty.

As they stood outside of the metal gates of Megaton, all the old Ghoul could think about was taking Lester and putting a bullet in Sylphee's head, due in no small part to the trip there and the resulting migraine. From their temporary camp, it had taken them from early morning to late evening to get there, and while it was only around half-a-day's trip, Sylphee made it feel like it had taken several agonizing weeks. She could easily see why Thomas wanted to dump her irritating little ass in Megaton and leave her there. It was only due to her uncharacteristically phenomenal patience that she hadn't shot the blue-haired little shit.

Looking up with a bloodshot eye at the sentry above the gate, she called out.

"Hey! You gonna let us in, or what? We've got caps to spend, and don't plan on causing any trouble." she shouted up wearily.

She only hoped that neither Thomas or Sylph had managed to get a reputation here. But given what Thomas had implied in earlier conversations, she was almost certain they had.

Lucy Black - Megaton
"..."

"Don't make me regret this act of kindness or you will regret it."

An apology intertwined with a threat. No doubt, Lucy's offhand comment about Constance had ruffled some feathers. Not enough to make #411 fly off the handle and implicate herself any further in front of the Enclave Lieutenant, but it was enough to keep in mind for the future. Which reminded her, #411 had given her something cylindrical and thin with a few buttons on it. Some kind of remote?

Lucy couldn't quite place where she had seen it, her recollection of recent events were shaky at best. So she merely focused on fiddling with the power button and lo and behold, a slim screen flipped out and displayed footage of Thomas "Shifty" McGee. Lucy's heart did not leap into her throat, which was highly unexpected at the sight of her very-much-alive Undertaker. Biting her lip to elicit some sort of positive reaction, the girl who had her world turned upside down from recent events couldn't convince herself that he was truly safe unless she could protect him. She had to be his shield.

Lucy wasn't 'alive' unless she was fighting something or protecting someone. There was no normal life after the Enclave Vault, not to mention those that she had met, betrayed, fought alongside, lead and used as support along her journey. Outcast to both the Brotherhood of Steel and the Enclave, it also meant that she had more enemies than friends and she no longer had a prototype Gauss Rifle to protect herself.

Perhaps she could strike a deal with Moira, although she wondered whether the quirky woman would accept a house of all things...

"Moira, uh, closed not too long ago for the night..."

"Wonderful.", Lucy sarcastically replied, turning around a little too fast to catch sight of Jonathan McKenna standing not too far away. Judging by his panicked expression, he was most likely here to check on her. A sentiment that she appreciated, but not one that could fully vocalise while her head was spinning.

"You hungry...? I brought some food... eeeh, it's quite delicious?!", he continued in an enthusiastic fashion, extending the bowl towards her. As hungry as she was, she wasn't quite sure she could trust her stomach to remain settled until they had found someplace comfortable to rest. Waving off the offering of food with a grimace, she couldn't help but wonder if The Children of BlamCo and Jonathan's sudden enthusiasm for the food that had almost killed him were intertwined somehow. Her refusal was met with an audible sigh. Oh?

"Look, I know how this looks like... but I swear that I can explain."

Yeah! It looks like you are cleaning up my mess. Your cover is blown. Me losing an eye will go down in history as one of my most monumentally stupid last-ditch-efforts to save a screwed up plan. Kristin, using her blade before her brain, just painted an enormous target on her back by killing two Enclave soldiers in her home...despite how impressive that was.

You shouldn't have saved me. I would have found a way out! Hell, I had a face-to-face with Number One himself!

"But not here. Please, come with me to my room at Moriarty's Saloon, Miss Kristin's there too. I promise I'll go over everything that happened today there."

If there was one thing that would always distress Lucy; it was being left out of the loop and lacking information.

Now Lucy wanted to blurt all of this out, but the audacity in his previous statement begged more immediate questions that wouldn't give her any headaches. Nightmares, maybe.

"Whoa whoa whoa!", Lucy swayed a little and tumbled safely into Jonathan's outstretched arm. The two started walking together once Lucy had her arm around his shoulder for extra support. She was beginning to recognise that someone had administered Med-X into her system. Surely not Doc Church? He was well aware of her aversion to the substance. "Wait a minute.", Lucy raised an eyebrow and slowly turned her head to face Jonathan.

"Moriarty's? You two?", closing her eyes to shut the mental image from her mind, Lucy continued, curious as ever it seemed. "'Miss Kristin', you two are on speaking terms - no - polite terms where you aren't cursing her existence? I mean, I get it.", Lucy narrowed her eyes to give him a sly look, "So what did she put in that food anyway? Or was it your turn to fill her - OW!", Lucy yelped as her head collided with the doorframe to the entrance of Moriarty's Saloon.

Med-X was a terrible thing.

Fortunately, the knock to the head had made her lose that particular train of thought. More somberly, her face fell and her voice had lost any drunken charm while they struggled up the stairs together. It was a terribly slow process, but it gave her enough time to go back to her primary thought. "You shouldn't have saved me. Look at the mess you're in, my mess."

Drunken words were sometimes thought to be honest ramblings. In Lucy's case, that truly was how she felt.
After what felt like a pause in their walking, Lucy untangled herself from Jonathan, feeling a little bit safer that she was inside. Now, to open the door and be greeted by Headache Princess...

Sure enough, Lucy entered the room by pre-emptively putting up her hand for silence. She was savvy enough to silence the Princess before her headache had gotten any worse. Her only greeting however...was silence. Opening her eye, Lucy found someone asleep in a bed for two. Sounds innocent enough, right? Dead wrong. Lucy remembered an armored warrior Princess, not a blonde-haired whore half dressed as a schoolgirl whose chest was ready to burst from a shirt 3 sizes too small.

Turning on her heel, Lucy was prepared to walk out. She would rather proposition #411 for a cup of tea than deal with Jonathan's sexual exploits.

"Okay, seriously? Where's Kristin?", Lucy replied with a hand to her forehead, "Couldn't you pay your entertainment first, so she could leave, before you came to visit me?"

Med-X was a terrible terrible thing.

The Wild Wastelands | Megaton | The Gates
///Ignorance is (not) an excuse///

They say that Ignorance is no excuse. Ignorance of the law, ignorance of society, ignorance of culture. It's never an excuse. However, in the case of Thomas "Shifty" McGee, the Former Friendly Neighborhood Undertaker, Arizona, a Ghoul with a Machine Gun and a Mission and Sylphee, ... ummm... well... it's Sylphee, an exception should be made when it came to the current events unfolding in the Wastelands. Thomas had spent a number of weeks spooning a bottle of the ole Shroomshine under a rock somewhere in Rivet City, his mind blasted on the 150 Proof alcohol. Arizona was new to the Wastelands, having migrated there from the West. And Sylphee... ummm... well... it's Sylphee. Had any of them been aware of the ongoing war between the Sylphys and the Garys as well as the mass jettisoning of Raiders from the American Enclave Scouts of America's transport, they might have been prepared for the reception that they received at the gate... namely this:

"Hey! You gonna let us in, or what? We've got caps to spend, and don't plan on causing any trouble." The Old One shouted up to the sentry, her eyes bloodshot and her head pounding from the cranial pounding Sylphee's voice had been inducing the past few hours.

The answer wasn't so much an answer as it was a flurry of Machine gun fire aimed at the small trio of travelers. The staccato of gun fire followed the flurry of bullets that impacted the ground around the three, kicking up a rather large cloud of dust blocking the trio's view of the gate. Though, it should have been noted that it also blocked the sentry's view of the trio that immediately ran for cover.

Crouched behind a small bathtub, Thomas could hear the guard, Timmy calling down his partner, located just behind the gate and looking through a peep hole.

"'Ey Jimmy! It think I popped one of them there Sylphys in the face man! Chu wanna go out there and take a look fer me?" Timmy the Sentry called down to Jimmy who was apparently the brains of the operation since there was a flurry of muffled words that soon followed.

"Others? Oh! They musta been some slavers man! No one would dress up in clothes like and dress his sex slaves in clothes like that unless he was a slaver. I think one of them wuz a zombie, man. That's gross! He's a ghoul fucker and a slaver!" Jimmy answered loudly as he besmirched the good name of Thomas "Shifty" McGee.

Another muffled response came from Timmy down stairs.

"No, I didn' ask fer no names!"

"What in WALT'S NAME is going on?! Why in WALT'S NAME would you shoot at us?!" The Irate Former Undertaker yelled from behind the tub, his voice reflecting the sheer offended nature of his being at having been mistaken for a slaver.

"Oh! Looks like one of them's still alive!" Timmy said as he raised the machine gun again, taking aim towards where he though the voice was coming from, popping off a salad sized salvo of lead in Thomas' general direction.

"HEY! HEEEEEEY! Please, stop shooting at us. I'm Thomas "Shifty" McGee. I'm an Undertaker with the Union! I'm here on business! My companions are Arizona and Sylphee!" Thomas yelled, taking on his old title and hoping that it would at least assist in settling the matter without having to resort to bloodshed. Even the Warner Brothers weren't going to keep Thomas from getting through that gate.

"'Ey Jimmy! One of them says that's he's an Undertaker by the name of Shitty!" Timmy said, not shooting this time and instead waiting for further instructions from Jimmy the Brains, "Says that he's here on bidness."

More muffled responses.

"'Ey you Undertaker. Why're you travelin' with one of them there Sylphys?!" Timmy asked.

"Sylphys? No I'm traveling with just Sylphee!"

"Sylphy!"

"What?!" Thomas asked, his voice clearly sounding quite annoyed by the guard and his mouth.

"Sylphy! That's what they're called, not Sylphee!"

"I don't hear a difference! I said Sylphee! Sylphee! Sylphee! Sylphee!"

"Sylphy! Sylphy! Sylphy! Can't you hear the difference?!"

"No! Walt damn it! No I don't hear a Walt Damn difference!"

"Well, regardless of that, Mister Shitty or whatever you wanna call yerself. You ain't gettin' pass this gate with one of them Sylphys in tow so I suggess you march off!" Timmy said, putting his foot down on the matter.

"What if we just leave her at the gate?"

The question had an obvious effect on the Blue Haired Happy Go Lucky Psychopath, Sylphee the Crimson menace as she hopped out in the open to yell at her Daddy.

"Hey! Hey! Hey! Daddy, you're not leaving me here! I wanna go inside with you. Please take me with you! I wanna go inside Mister Megaton. Please please please please please PLEAAAAAASE!!!!!" Sylphee complained as she hopped up and down, her voice getting louder and louder and louder and louder. At least until she lost her footing, "Oops!"

BAH-BOOOM! Went the Anti Materiel Rifle as it struck the ground and discharged, sending a bullet through the gate. A scream of pain echoed out the hole the bullet had made and was soon followed yelling.

"Man are you sure, Jimmy?"

More muffled yelling.

"Alright! Jimmy says I should let chu in, if you take that there rifle away from that there Sylphy." The guard said, a smirk crossing his face. He never liked Jimmy, not since he learned that Jimmy had been bedding his wife while the guard was on guard duty.

"That's Sylphee!" Sylphee called out, offended that the guard would get her name wrong.

"I still don't hear a difference and I still don't know what in the hell is going on here." Thomas muttered to himself, his voice muffled by the roar of the airplane engine that opened up the gates. Shouldering the Sylphee's rifle, Thomas entered Megaton, relieved that they'd been allowed inside. Since night was fast approaching, Thomas guessed that they'd better go to Moriarty's to get a room before he ran out and in the morning, he'd go check Lucy's house to see if he could find her.

"Let's go get some rooms." The Friendly Former Neighborhood Undertaker stated simply as he walked towards the Saloon whose sign glowed in the distance. The sooner he slept, the sooner morning would come.


The Wild Wastelands | Moriarty's Saloon

It appeared that little had changed since the last time Thomas the Former Undertaker was in Moriarty's Saloon. The drinks still smelled stale and the patrons smelled even worse and yet, despite the obvious lack of anyone taking points in an Interior Design Skill, Shifty McGee felt right at home in the dilapidated building. Entering the Saloon's main room, Thomas noted the uneasy stares that he was receiving as well as Sylphee was receiving.

"Hey there handsome. Been a while." A silky voice said from the corner of the bar, "I was starting to think you forgot about lil' ole me."

Turning to face the voice, Thomas suddenly became nervous as he saw Nova sitting at the bar, cocktail in front of her and a look in her eyes that said "Give me your Caps and I'll give you a great time."

"N... Nova. Yeah... well... has it been that long?" Thomas responded, keenly and uncomfortably aware of the eyes that were looking at him, the eyes that belonged to a certain Crimson Menace, the only one to follow him up to the Saloon since Arizona had complained about a headache and the need for something to quell said headache. "N... Nice seeing you. Ummm... I'm just here for a room."

"You don't want me to come up later? Thomas. I thought we had an understanding." Nova pouted, dipping her chin down to her ample and soft...

"Daddy! I'm tired. Can we get a room yet?" Sylphee whined, thankfully interrupting Nova's game of twist Thomas around her fingers.

"Right... sure... whew." Thomas muttered as he motioned for Moriarty.

"Well if it isn't good ole... WHAT IN THE FUCK IS SHE DOING HERE?!" Moriarty exclaimed as he ducked behind the bar, putting something solid between himself and his previous assailant.

Looking over the bar, the usually wordy Former Undertaker noted that Moriarty was in the duck and cover position, as some sort of Act of God was about to descend upon him and rip his world apart.

"Ummm... rooms? Please?" Thomas said awkwardly as dropped some caps on the bar, the sound of currency bringing the Saloon's proprietor out of his shell, "Three of them."

"This is only enough for 2." Moriarty said, "and to cover the stitches your pal behind you gave me when she sliced me shoulder open like a fish."

"But.. I." Thomas stammered, he was unaware of the fact that Sylphee had been to Moriarty's previously and had in fact impaled the man's shoulder with her wrist blade during her hunt for the Sharply Dressed Man. The realization that something had happened came soon after as Thomas wheeled on the Blue Haired Ditz, "What did you do, young lady?"

"I 'unno." Sylphee responded with a shrug, her smile never leaving her face.

"Fine. Whatever." Thomas said, defeated as he headed up the stairs to one of the rooms, closing it behind him and sitting down on a chair within.

"Bouncy! Bouncy! Bouncy! Bouncy!" Sylphee exclaimed as she found the room's bed and started jumping on it. This was going to be a long night, made even worse by the thinness of the walls.

"Okay, seriously? Where's Kristin?", A feminine voice said, "Couldn't you pay your entertainment first, so she could leave, before you came to visit me?"

Arizona

The Wild Wastelands | The Dunwich Party | Megaton Gates

The answer she got from the gate guards was a flurry of gunfire. She swore under her breath and followed Thomas behind a bathtub. She grimly realized only a few moments late that it probably wouldn't stand up to machine gun bullets.

It wasn't long before she heard the guards start wondering just what they had shot at, and two things immediately jumped out at her: First, that there was apparently more than one Sylph out in the wastes. That, in and of itself, was a nightmare she didn't want to accept just yet, especially so soon after their... Road trip. And second, that they thought they were slavers, and that she was male.

"I'M A CHICK YOU DUMB FUCK! THESE TITS AREN'T FOR SHOW, AND IF YOU DON'T LET US IN, SO HELP ME GOD..." she started to roar out at them, before Thomas decided to pull out the charm.

Or at least, what anyone could pass for charm in a situation like that.

As he explained the situation to them, she rubbed her temples with both hands and audibly ground her teeth next to Thomas. It took a few minutes, and when it seemed like they were going to be turned away from Megaton entirely, Sylph managed to pull an "Oopsie" and shot the guard through the gate with her Anti-Materiel Rifle. Purely by accident, of course.

But the muffled screams made her lips spread in a small, cruel smile and a rough chuckle rumble from her throat.

"Serve's the shithead right." she murmured as she grabbed her things and followed Thomas inside.

"Let's go get some rooms."

She turned to him and nodded.

"Good idea. I'm going to head by whoever happens to be the doctor around here and get something for my migraine. If I don't, I can't be held accountable for my actions." she said, her tone taking an edge as she leveled a glare at Sylph.

"I'll meet you at the bar... Shifty." she added with a small smile.

The Wild Wastelands | The Dunwich Party | Moriarty's Saloon

As it turned out, Doc Church, the man who passed for a doctor in that godforsaken town, was almost as much of a raider as she was if his price gouging was any indication. The price she paid for three syringes of Med-X was tantamount to highway robbery, even with haggling, but she paid it and had immediately took one. So by the time she had gotten up to the building marked as Moriarty's Saloon, she was beginning to feel sweet relief from the migraine.

At least, until she stepped inside and saw the bartender recoil from the sight of Sylph.

"Well if it isn't good ole... WHAT IN THE FUCK IS SHE DOING HERE?!"

Her single eye narrowed on the girl and she shook her head, asking, "Is there anywhere in the Capital Wasteland that you haven't caused trouble in?"

"Ummm... rooms? Please? Three of them."

When Thomas put down a handful of caps onto the bar, the bartender took the chance to come out from behind his cover to take it.

"This is only enough for 2. and to cover the stitches your pal behind you gave me when she sliced me shoulder open like a fish."

At that, Arizona growled low, but she reached into her duffel, pulled out some caps and shoved them across the bar to the man.

"Here. That should be enough for three, and a drink. Gimme a scotch." she snapped.

She glanced back as Thomas and Sylph made their way up to the rooms. When the bartender shoved a dirty bottle in her direction, she snatched it up before promptly following in her companion's wake. All while hoping that Med-X kicked in a little faster.

There comes a time in a person's life that, after a series of stressful events and sudden, turbulent changes they gbelieve that they finally get some time to relax, contemplate on what they went through, catch a break.

And then, as things are going well and dandy, as it seems that the situation isn't as bad as it seems, life arrives on the scene with truimphant horns and dancing barely-clothed exotic beauties, takes a look at said person, lets out a cheeky laugh, and slaps them back to reality.

That's how Jonathan felt right now, minus the dancing beauties, because his life was too shit to have that kind of fanservice.

Just as he had left his room bursting with energy, as though a spring of possitivity had manifested within him, so too had it now been devoured by an endless void of negativity, gluttonously devouring whatever last vestiges of liveliness was left within him. His encounter with #411 was the start of a downward spiral of a steadily increasing in intensity guilt trip, culminating with his interaction with the broken, barely-standing Lucy Black.

And so, Jonathan did what he always did when he was on the verge of despair; withdraw to himself. Had he not left his glasses and hat back at the room -and despite the fact that he'd pretty much be blind wearing them in the middle of the night-, he would, as though hardwired to, put on his mask.

"Moriarty's? You two?" stated Lucy inquisitively as she turned to look at him, only for Jonathan to avert his gaze, barely paying attention and staring an unfocused stare at the ground, letting out a weak, submissive "I can explain." before hearing a thump on entrance and a squeal of pain.

"Stop being so self-absorbed!"

Lucy's words, echo though they were, stung like daggers in the back. Her hitting her head on the floor served as a rude wake-up call for him, the girl could hardly walk, and all he was doing was sulk around like a teenager. Getting better hold of her, he hurried through the saloon and up the stairs, certain that the faster he got her a place to sit and rest the better. Carefully placing the bowl of food on the railing behind them, Jonathan reached for his pocket to get the key. As he placed it into the keyhole, however...

"You shouldn't have saved me. Look at the mess you're in, my mess."

He sighed and shook his head as he unlocked the door, before turning to face her, on his face a disapproving, tired look further emphasised by his half-closed eyes.

"A mess that I started to begin with." he stated flatly, motioning her to enter the room with his hand as he turned to grab the bowl. He was too exhausted to play the blame game. His one-eyed companion was quick to free herself of his grip, opening the door and entering the room, only to abruptly take a 180 degree turn, ready to walk out.

"Okay, seriously? Where's Kristin?" she protested, "Couldn't you pay your entertainment first, so she could leave, before you came to visit me?"

"What?" retorted Jonathan sheepishly, alternating glances between Kristin and Lucy, "But... What? Entertain- what? Huh? Eh?"

It took him a few seconds to get the picture. His face looked as one would expect.

"Oh. Oooooooh. No, no, you don't understand. That is Kristin."

He gave the one-eyed girl a few seconds to stomach that.

"As I said, I will explain everything." he said as he sit on the same chair as Kristin, placing the bowl on the nearby table, "Please, take a seat." he finished as he motioned to Lucy to sit on the bed opposite of him.

"So..." he started hesitantly, reluctant to reminisce on today's events, "After you passed out, we-"

Sounds started coming from wall behind him, stopping him in his tracks. They were loud and were as though... as though...

Sounds like someone's having the night of his life.

"Anyway, as I was saying..." he started again with a sigh and shrug, annoyed, "After you passed-" only to be interrupted again as the sounds grew more frequent and louder.

"Ok, that's it. That does it." Jonathan shouted angrily as he got up and headed for the door, "I've had fucking enough for one day. I'm not going to put up with having to listen to some sexually frustrated whoremonger get it on. Not fucking tonight. I've had too fucking much for one fucking day and this is the cherry on the fucking cake." He grabbed the door handle and flung the door open... "This asswipe is either shutting up or-" ... only to hit something with it.

"Oh?"

He heard something crashing down with force, probably from some altitude. Opening the door more causiously, taking studied glances left and right, Jonathan proceeded to look down the railing, where a person had landed on a table.

"Sorry about that!" he shouted, awkwardly scratching the back of his head, "I didn't expect anyone standing- Wait."

He took a better look at the individual that he had just thrown down the railing.

"I... I know you!" he yelled, shocked and surprised at the same time. Though Jonathan was not one to remember names lest the person left an impression, he never forgot faces. And he knew exactly where he saw that face; a certain video feed, at a certain house...

"You're..." he said as he pointed at the man in disbelief, "You're Thomas McGee!"

The Wild Wastelands | Megaton | Moriarty's Saloon
Then came the darkness...

Sylphee:

WHAM!!! Went the sound of Mister Door slamming against Daddy and sending him flying over Mister Railing down onto Mister Table before a man, Mister Meanie Man to be exact, looked down at Daddy and pointed at him.

You're... You're Thomas McGee Mister Meanie Man declared loudly and if The Crimson Menace had her way, it would be the last declaration Mister Meanie Man made.

"HEY! HEY! HEY!" Sylphee yelled loudly as she charged the Mister Meanie Man, distracting him from hurting Daddy any further before she jumped up and used the door frame of the room's entrance to swing herself up into the air, landing on Mister Meanie Man's shoulders and locking herself into place.

From Mister Meanie Man's perspective, the world went dark as his face was filled with... something... something warm that had been clad in cotton. He would have felt the long legs of the assailant lock her legs around his head and the sensation of a pleated crimson cotton, the sort of thing that would have been all the rage were there school uniforms still around, wrapped around his head. The sensation of two firm yet soft mounds resting upon his head might have been comforting were it not for the fact that whatever his assailant was doing was blocking his airways even as she attempted to ram her fist through his skull.

And then there was the machine gun that had been loaded with words.

"I-dunno-who-the-hell-you-think-you-are-Mister-Meanie-Man-but-no-one-hits-my-daddy-with-a-door-and-lives. Ow! Why-is-your-head-so-hard-Mister-Meanie-Man?! You're-a-big-meanie-a-big-big-big-big-big-big-big-big-big-big-meanie! I'm-gonna-make-sure-you-never-do-this-to-daddy-again! Ow! Ow! Ow! You're-head-is-super-hard! I'm-gonna-keep-pounding-it-with-my-fist-until-it-lets-me-in!" Sylphee machine gunned her words as she continued her valiant assault on Daddy's assailant, Mister Meanie Man, "He-might-be-mean-to-me-but-he-didn't-do-anything-to-you-Mister-Meanie-Man! So-you-better-say-you're-sorry-or-else-I'm-going-to-keep-fisting-this-until-it-breaks!!"

The assault was relentless as the smothering continued as well as the fisting. What was Mister Meanie Man going to do?!


Thomas "Shifty" McGee

The world was darkness, at least for the first few moments after the Undertaker had landed right on top of where Arizona had set her filthy bottle of alcohol. Luckily for Thomas, he had avoided landing directly on top of the bottle and avoided a meeting with Doc Church, who wasn't too gentle with a pair of forceps when fishing broken glass out of someone. Unluckily for Arizona, her traveling companion had landed on the edge of table, breaking one side and turning it into a bottle-pult. The liquor took a high arc in the air, the liquid inside bending the light of the room into little rainbows as it spun. It was to also be an unlucky moment for the Saloon's proprietor as he watched the arcing bottle sail high into the air, never bothering to move, never bothering to make an estimation as to where the bottle would land.

CLUNK!! The bottle landed, the impact of the landing lessened by the fact that it had landed on Moriarty's skull before taking another bouncing tumble back towards its owner, like some sort of demented and fermented boomerang.

CLUNK!! The bottle landed once again, this time on the chest of the ailing Undertaker, knocking what little air he had left completely out of his lungs.

"Ssss... Ssssssss... Sssssssssssss." Thomas attempted to say to Arizona as he pointed a wavering finger in the direction of where he heard the machine gunning of words and thocking of fist against skull, "Sssssss... sto... sto... stop... h...he....her."

Apparently, he was asking Arizona to stop Sylphee from murdering yet another person. But there remained the fact that he was just assaulted by Sylphee's assaultee. Why would the Breathless Blue Eyed Undertaker want to show mercy to a man that had not only almost killed him, but almost committed the cardinal sin of wasting alcohol?

"He... heeeee... he...know...m..m...my...name."

Arizona

The Wild Wasteland | The Dunwich Party | Moriarty's Saloon

Med-X was a wonderful drug. It relieved almost any kind of physical pain in such a way that, even though you technically still felt it, as far as you're concerned, it was happening to someone else and there was no reason to give a damn. At least, that was how it was supposed to work, when the person who took it didn't have an intense migraine due to a little blue-haired maniac. And it certainly didn't help when that person was a Ghoul, and Ghouls were pretty notoriously resistant to most forms of drugs, which was part of why Ultrajet was created, or so some said.

As such, Arizona's head pounding started to intensify as she watched Thomas get knocked back by a flung-open door and land on the very table she had momentarily set her Scotch onto. Her single eye tracked the filthy bottle as it sailed through the air and knocked the bartender over the head, all without somehow breaking in the process, before twirling back towards her.

She smartly stepped back, when it landed on Thomas's chest, making him wheeze out what breath he had. All the while, Sylph had decided to latch onto the face of the man who was responsible for Thomas's fall and was trying to beat his skull in. To top it all off, her mouth was running a mile a minute.

Ignoring the spectacle, she leaned forward and loomed over Thomas with as much of a sympathetic expression as she could manage in her current mood.

"Do you ever have any good luck?" she asked dryly.

"Sssssss... sto... sto... stop... h...he....her... He... heeeee... he...know...m..m...my...name."

She blinked for a moment, then slowly looked up at the scene and sighed.

"Oh good Christ..." she murmured before striding over, grabbing a chair along the way.

She set the chair up so she could stand atop it and grabbed Sylph from behind, wrapping her arms up and around Sylph's.

"Sylph, stop beating on him, and Miss Arizona will give you a treat. Does that sound good?" she asked wearily, all the while trying to tug the girl off of the poor man.

The Three Musketeers - A morning of varying comfort.

*THUNK*

Exactly what sound Dudley Sullivan made as he tried to shift in the child sized bed, cracked the timbers, and went crashing to the floor was up for debate. But *THUNK* is close enough for now. In an instant, Evan and William were in his room brandishing weapons, scanning the area with their eyes for the attacker. In unison they both looked down and saw Dudley lying on the ground in the middle of a broken bed.

"Who've you got in here then Duds? Where have you hidden her, the toybox?" Asked William in a jovial tone, opening the trunk at the foot of the bed to reveal a few scraps of junk. He tapped the lid back down with his foot.

"Whaddya mean?" muttered the heap of Dudley amidst the broken bed.

"You must have been really enthusiastic to break the damn thing in half." Replied William, lowering him pistol.

"Tell us Dudley, how are you feeling? What were the details?" joked Evan, recalling the last conversation they had. Just as quickly as the words left his mouth Evan did a double take at William, as for the first time he noticed what he was wearing. "William... why are you wearing a blanket, what happened to your shirt?" Inquired Evan, who had slept in his clothes, as he always did. William for his part looked like a huggable cocoon with feet, a head, and one arm sticking out.

"My clothes are back in my room, if you sleep in them too long they start to smell. The main bedroom had a bathtub and some abraxo cleaner in it. If you put some water in the tub and soak your clothes overnight in the abraxo for an hour, they dry clean and fresh. I've been wearing those bloody things for over a week now, they've started to smell quite badly." Explained William, before continuing with, "And there's nothing wrong with the blanket, it's comfortable." William gave a defensive shrug and pulled it tighter around his shoulders.

Evan gave his Pip-Boy a quick check and realised it had gone seven in the morning. Any time they wasted now was precious daylight gone they'd lose for travel. "Guys, we'd better start getting up. There's more travelling to do, and we can't waste time. Pack everything up, we'll have breakfast downstairs at eight. No going back to sleep either, this alarm clock was one use only." Evan indicated to Dudley with a wave of his arm.

"I'm already packed, so I'll go back ta bed if ya don't mind. I trust ya to wake me up in time for breakfast." Said Dudley, before rolling over to face the wall and didn't speak again. William and Evan left the room, and William shuffled back into his room.

"In that case, I'm going back to bed too. I'll spend the next ten minutes pretending the world isn't an irradiated husk of dead rock." He said, somewhat sleepily.

"And you're king of an island of scantily clad women, where there's food and water wherever you want it?" Asked Evan, who would be spending his time recording the latest events of their journeys into his Pip-Boy. Record keeping was an important task, and one day people might want to know how all this had happened.

"Yeah, something like that." Yawned William, as he closed the door behind him. Evan heard an audible *WHUMP* a second later, presumably William had just decided to fall onto the bed.

---Some time later---

The Three Musketeers were getting back on the road about half past eight by Evan's reckoning. Riding towards the rising sun, they carried onwards in their quest to find Isaac Black. He was out there somewhere, and these three were going to find him.

Talion - Old Olney

"What, that? They're really not that uncommon anymore. I'm David Davidson, lord of the Empire of Dave. We're a growing thing up north. That mutant was once a crazed Enclave doctor who'd covered the Capital Wastelands in newly-created Behemoth mutants. You can ask anyone. It's true."

Talion thought about it as the man talked. He had heard of the republic of dave and what he knew of them was limited though, he didn't hear anything about them possessing Vertibirds. And then he heard it, in his ears and his minds eye as it came into view the machine sitting on his list as a target for destruction.

Its appearance, what was known of it anyway as it had been described was something that made him wonder now as it opened fire on a deathclaw. So either the man was lying, this was a different machine, or the republic of dave was under enclave control. It was either the first or the third.

"So...lunch?"

What to do? His first thought was to throw the bomb he had prepared earlier at the machine, shoot Dave, and run. But that was something he doubted he would survive, and he doubted simply throwing the bomb would kill it. He thought he would have range to approach it from, but it sitting there what felt like watching him made open hostility difficult at this range.

"Lunch?" was what came out of his mouth unsure of how to act, "Yes. Lunch."

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