The REALLY Wild Wasteland. (The Fallout RP!)

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Arizona
The Wild Wastelands | The Dunwich Job | Andale
"Where's that dumbass video-game dog when you need him?"

One of the last things Arizona wanted as she followed Sylph to the source of the howl, was to instead be following her far more unstable... "Sister". Sylphee was unpredictable, just as likely to hurt friend as enemy, and she was irritatingly bubbly on top of that. So when she overheard Thomas telling Sylph that she had the choker that differentiated the two "sisters", she grimaced a little. Still, she ultimately reached into her pack and reluctantly tossed it over to her, especially once she noticed that the Blue-Haired Hellion was without her Anti-Materiel Rifle.

The two exchanged a nod before Arizona got a better look at where they were going and skidded to a halt. The scene before her was enough to make her take a step back and slowly lower her machine gun, blurting out a flat, "What."

A man, at least she had hoped it was simply a really stupid man, clad in Power Armor was desperately trying to get somewhere while riding a comically small plastic rocking horse. And as ridiculous as the scene was, at the back of Arizona's mind she couldn't help but marvel at the fact that that rocking horse, and by extension the spring it was connected to, hadn't crumpled underneath him long before that point. In fact...

Arizona slowly raised her machine gun, leveling it at the man as she tensed for what was coming.

"Look Daddy, a horsie! Can I ride it? Can I? Can I? CanI? CanI?CanI?CanI?CanI?CanI?CanI?CanI?CanI?CanI?CanI?CanI?CanI?CanI?"

Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Thomas hesitate. But she didn't move as she called over.

"Let her, go ahead." she said with the slightest smirk at the corner of her mouth.

"Okay thanks!"

And as she jumped onto the back of the horse, the leader of the Dunwich Group slowly began to mentally count down from fifty. She managed to get to twenty before the inevitable happened. Sylphee, straining against the mounting speed, let go of the Power Armored Man, causing him to launch up and forward as the rocking horse beneath them both finally gave up.

"PULL!" Arizona cried out, Lester's barrel following the shape of Storm Shaun as he flew surprisingly gracefully through the air.

And with trained accuracy, she promptly unloaded a good twenty-five rounds into the airborne idiot. When he finally landed, she fired another quick burst in his direction just to make sure, then lowered Lester with a look of smug satisfaction on her face.

Fiona was completely confused, the howl starts, they go into Andale, and everything stops making sense. The poor Deathclaw Whisperer was staring, her eyes wide as saucers, as she tried to comprehend what the heck was going on. We had a dude doing air guitar and screaming at the top of his lungs about justice, a playground, Sylphie being ..childlike, we had Arizona shouting pull, and well. ..She doesn't know anymore.

The Deathclaws that follow the deathclaw whisperer were also very equally confused, ever seen a confused deathclaw? Now you have, Confused Deathclaws are a sight to behold, especially since one of them was actually scratching its head with its claws trying to make sense of this insanity.

Fiona wanted to say something, but in a situation as absurd as this, what do you say? So, she kept her mouth shut, continuing to stare in complete and utter confusion as all this happened.

I pull into Andale, having watched the scenes at the Undertakers' base. These Undertakers seemed interesting: They must have had some greater motivation besides simply burying the dead: That would be a Quixotic task in a world strewn with the corpses of billions of men who died in the war. I see a chance to make good with that organization and hit a major corporation which surely has useful technology to scavenge hard: Eliminate heirs to the fortune of the rival company. I spoke to the Princess and confirmed that she was planning an invasion of the major offices, and the contract was a thinly-veiled ruse to distract the company. Such a blow would cause chaos, horror and misery among the executives of Blamco, causing them to make stupid, reckless mistakes. A loss of a few assassins would not be a serious blow to the Undertakers: They are generally considered to be expendable and rarely live long lives, and their deaths can be advantageous if they have information.

Deathclaws are wild animals, and no matter how much control you think you have, animals not fully domesticated will turn on you, just like birds bite their owners constantly. Inciting them to attack should be an easy task. It would look like an accident to Blamco, but if I took a photo or a memento, I could show the Undertakers that I had

I position myself in the shadows on one hill and the jeep on another hill, with the only direction for my targets to go that is not in the line of fire, as they are flanked by the school and the playground and trying to get around one of those while under fire from above would be like the charge of the light brigade, being directly towards the cloud of radiation leaked by the destroyed boat. It must be producing at least 400 MilliSieverts, so exposure would cause radiation poisoning at the very least, and time spent consuming anti-radiation drugs would be time not spent fighting me or the Deathclaws. That umbrella had a fatal flaw: It could only block shots from one side. I tried to position my hand-held machine gun in a way that when the shots hit the umbrella, they would ricochet into the Deathclaws, causing them to turn feral. I attach a rope to the trigger of the jeep's guns and aim my machine gun at the same time, then open fire.

The following post was narrated by Jeremy Clarkson.

Or rather, it was written with his voice in mind.

Outside and down the ways from Rivet City, there was a tent. It was marked with the letters 'GT', and had an Eyebot looking over it...until someone shot it down. Inside, three wise men had gathered an audience to talk about cars. However, there was a slight problem.

Clarkson: Can I just say something about the Alfa Romeo?

Hammond: No, you can't.

Clarkson: Why not?

May: Wasteland, mate. No cars here, 'cept what Mad Max drives.

Hammond: We're here to do the Wild Wasteland, and that's it.

Clarkson: Well, not quite, because it does so happen that I managed to acquire a car, and it works. However, before all that, on this program...

A cyborg is launched.

A Deathclaw goes 'sploosh'.

And we see an old friend.

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

So, this is what had basically happened: The Enclave had lost track of one of its experiments for a while. Some were certain that he had malfunctioned during the battle with the NCR. Others had said he was mad already. One thing was for certain: He wasn't the picture of perfect sanity now. StormShaun had gone off his rocker, and had returned to the town he last remembered going to before it all went wrong. Trying to recapture the moment, he'd mounted an old playground horse and rode like the wind...but he wasn't going anywhere. The Enclave had found him and surrounded him, and then they surrounded the area and kept all the people in, just in case. This includes the heroes of our story, who were on their way to the Dunwich Building on a mission. It turns out, though, that there really wasn't much effort required. Sylph had jumped aboard the old horsey, caused it to snap, and as a result...

...StormShaun went flying! He sailed over Arizona, who pumped round after round into him like he was a flailing clay pigeon, and then she just kept shooting...until the damage threshold was reached and his chest exploded. That was the second time he'd died, and it was ultimately more embarrassing than the first. The Enclave scientist, Doctor-18, arrived on the scene now with The Three Musketeers, saw this, and stared.

Doctor-18: That was...alot easier than I thought it would be. Ahem... Children, you may disengage from the area.

The Replicants all left at once, without a word. The blockade was over. However, even as they stopped being a small army of well-armed walking barriers, the doctor herself couldn't help but notice there were Deathclaws...just standing there. She knew what this meant, or at least she thought so. One thing was for certain: Jack would have to hear about this.

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

Now, during this time, there was a man who did not know where he was, who was so unbelieveably lost that he appeared to be in several places at once, including the past. This man was terribly glitched, the result of poor writing and no attention to detail. Because of this, he was everywhere, and he was nowhere. Worse yet, he had taken the Wild Wasteland trait on top of the default levels of this game, so his problems were multiplied by a factor of twenty. Thus, when he fired his weapons, not only did he fail to hit anything, but - for just a moment - Fiona's Deathclaws disappeared from where they were and appeared right beside him, quite annoyed. What followed were loud roars, the sounds of tearing metal and flesh, and a series of girly screams. Lots of people around the Capital Wastelands heard this, but they had no idea what had gone on. The only evidence was that at the apex of an explosion...Moe, Larry, and Curly had reappeared beside Fiona like nothing had happened.

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

Clarkson: Which just goes to show you...never mess with a GM.

Hammond: Who was that guy, anyway?

Clarkson: No idea. Just some bloke that showed up with a terrible application uninvited.

May: Well, could be worse. Could be one of our guests.

Clarkson: Indeed. And with that, because we must move things along-

Hammond: What? No 'Conversation Street'?

Clarkson: Nope, no time. We must get right into Celebrity Braincrash!

Clarkson: Our guest today comes to you, courtesy of the Brotherhood of Steel. He's been all around the wasteland and he has even died once, already. Fortunately, and with much effort, the boys at the BoS have put him back together in his powersuit and sent him along. Please, everybody, welcome none other than Frank Rose!

We turn now to the back window where Frank Rose is walking up, clad in his patriotic armor.

Clarkson: This is going to be a real treat. Frank Rose has died already, so he can tell us what it's like on the other side.

May: I want to ask him what it's like, sealing himself in that tin can all the time.

Hammond: A bit cramped, I'd think. Er, hang on. Hang on a mo'. What's this?

Just then, a fast-moving gray vehicle swerved into view and rammed headlong into Frank Rose, causing him to explode into tiny bits. The white suit and helmet in the driver's seat were unmistakable.

Hammond: Was that The Stig?

Clarkson: No! He's taken the only working car for miles! The Chrysler Highwayman!

Hammond: I guess he got mad, watching Frank blow up all those vehicles.

May: Does that mean he's not coming on?

Hammond: No, James... Frank Rose has exploded, and his bits are strewn across the landscape for the molerats to eat at their leisure. He's not coming on.

Clarkson: This is a disaster. Right... I need to go retrieve the car. You chaps get back to the Wild Wasteland business.

Jeremy was then seen making a dash for the exit and soon, the sound of Vertibird propellers were heard.

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

Meanwhile...Springvale School was down a man, and the local talking Deathclaw was missing. Fortunately, there was another. He was smarter than the average Deathclaw, and he had a few mutations that made him slightly different among his own kind. Dressed from head to toe in a garb that concealed his true nature, we have Rath. Rath had most-recently rescued and delivered some young ones to the town of Megaton, then remained on the outskirts for a while until he was sure that everything was alright. Of course, now that he was alone, he could appreciate some of the surroundings.

Unfortunately, they were bleak.

Apart from Megaton, there were a number of desolate, damaged buildings that were either half-living or really not. There was Springvale, the old school, and a bunch of rubble. The thing was that he'd heard a number of sounds in that direction, which amounted to...gunshots, a Deathclaw howl, a boat exploding, and also...the on-and-off shouting of what might have been "Silphy-Silphy!". Sadly, due to his rather poor vision, Rath could not know what exactly had gone on without closer investigation. What he could tell for certain, though, was that there was another Deathclaw around, somewhere. In what state? Who knows? And the people? No idea. And the 'Silphy' sounds? Hell, if he knew.

For now, though, it's back to the tent...

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

...where there was a map, and a Clarkson to tell everyone about it.

Clarkson: At this time, the group bound for Dunwich will be able to continue west, where they may encounter more raiders and Yao Guai at he Cliffside Caverns. After that, however, begins the real deal. Tenpenny Tower here...

He pointed to it on the map.

Clarkson: ,,,marks the border of ghoul territory. The Cult of the Great Wet Ones have commandeered Roy Philips' mind and converted his ghoul-haven into a lookout tower. The skies will be filled with storm clouds from then on, making it akin to dusk, except at night. Cultish ghouls and their feral followers will roam the area, sometimes accompanied by braindead super mutants whose minds they have lobotomized into slavish berserkers. In the distance, at the center of the storm, there runs a fissure of unknown energy leading up into the clouds, where there is the face of a squid-like entity, the likes of which could have only come from beyond. The cult numbers are many, and the High Priest is a physical powerhouse. And that is all the exposition you need at this time.

Hammond: Right, so...Jeremy, did you ever get back the Highwayman?

Clarkson: Well, as a matter of fact, I did, but unfortunately, The Stig glitched the trunk into a mountain and left the car undriveable.

May: So, it won't be coming on either?

Clarkson: I'm afraid not, and on that terrible disappointment, we must come to the end of the episode. Goodbye!

He knew this was a bad idea, the chances of Roger or Sam actually being outside of Megaton's walls was very slim, while the chances of someone from the settlement spotting him, and possibly rallying enough people to try and kill him, were rather good; still, he missed his friends too much to not risk it. Being alone had never bothered him until he had rescued Sam and her brother, and now that they were gone, the emptiness dragged at him. Maybe one of them will see me. he thought as he approached the outskirts of what had once been called 'Springvale'.

Approaching from the southwest, he stuck to the high ground. The last time he'd been here, when he'd shepherded the kids to the safety of that walled town, the ruins had stuck like raider and he wasn't overly interested in drawing attention to himself at this point; though as he slowly crested the ridge overlooking the ruins, he could hear gunshots, an explosion, the howl of a Deathclaw and faintly, some sort of nonsensical chanting. Maybe those raiders are having some trouble. He thought with a mental smile.

Moving down the hill, he found himself angling towards what was left of a pre-war school. Well you're already making one bad decision...why not another? He let out a huffing laugh at himself, before stepping behind the same low house that he'd gone behind when he parted ways with his friends. Once in shelter he shrugged off his cloak, which he'd been wearing to hide his appearance, and then carefully shed the two duffle bags that he carried food and his other stuff in. Tucking the bags against the rocks, he covered them with the cloak and then scent marked the pile; that would ensure that he'd both be able to find it fairly easily and that nothing else would mess with his things.

Stretching and yawning, he scratched himself before cautiously making his way towards the source of the noises. To the casual observer Rath looked like any other Deathclaw, a scaly, horned, predatory nightmare straight out of the deepest depths of Hell; but to someone that knew what they were looking at, he was a bit 'off'. He more solidly built with a broader, shorter, torso and thicker, shorter, limbs and tail, with his claws and facial features followed the same pattern.

Reaching the old school, he sniffed the air. There were too many scents, conflicting and overlapping each other to make any more sense of what was happening, so the only way to know was to investigate further. He briefly considered pushing through the big double doors in front, but just as quickly rejected the idea; way to east to be ambushed. Sure he was tough, but that was no guarantee. Instead he headed around to the side where he could see some of the exterior walls had collapsed; maybe he could gain entrance that way?

The Wild Wastelands | A Few Years Ago | Home, BlamCo HQ, New Vegas
"Subject of Evaluation: Valkyrie"

- Keira 'Shield Maiden' Blamco -
Guest-starring:
- Kristin 'Valkyrie' Blamco -
---

A small section of the brahmin grazing fields behind the BlamCo Estate had been evacuated for a week. The construction of a sophisticated circular arena had just been completed. Outlined by walls of bulletproof glass, small standing platforms were erected for BlamCo's royal guard to peer over the top of the wall with ease, dart rifles at the ready. Outfitted across various vantage points was a selection of video cameras for the purposes of reviewing the material being recorded. There was one door-shaped entrance and three wall-sized entrances that were barred with security bolts which connected to cages of various sizes. Snarls, hissing, grumbles and clacking could be heard from these cages.

Positioned in the very center of the arena was none other than Kristin Blamco, current Heiress to the BlamCo family fortune and Battle Maiden among the clandestine group known as the BlamCo Valkyries. Kristin's role within the Valkyries was most certainly not a secret, but as a symbol of BlamCo's unwavering spirit and tenacity, she most certainly did an excellent job of misdirecting the public opinion's view of BlamCo to a more wholesome, if excessively spirited organisation. Certainly worthy of the title of Heiress, Kristin had no idea that she was chosen to be the perfect figurehead to divert attention away from BlamCo's more nefarious affairs.

Outfitted in full battle regalia, this meant a light ballistic armor weave fitted underneath an overlapping application of silver plate armor reinforcements. Complete with an asymmetrical cosmetic red dueling cape and customary winged helmet of the Valkyries. The Battle Maiden's armor was the heaviest and most durable of the sisters, as a close quarters combat specialist that refused the use of guns, this armor build was a necessity and a silent display of strength and endurance. Equipped with a power-claymore, a less effective variant of the super-sledge, this weapon made up for it's weaker kinetic enhancements with the sheer utility that followed it's weapon class. The power claymore excelled at sundering unarmored to lightly-armored targets.

Standing just outside the arena, Keira Blamco proceeded to relay all of this to a trusted doctor from the Follower's of the Apocalypse. The doctor, or more accurately, the psychiatrist was here to evaluate Kristin's mental state in a combat scenario. The sisters had noticed some increasingly odd behavior and sought an expert's opinion on the matter. If Kristin was deemed mentally-ill, it could negatively affect her standing in the BlamCo hierarchy. It was the doctor's suggestion to recreate a controlled environment for evaluation, hence the proceedings.
Overall, the sisters were worried. Sable especially, who chose to tend to the herds of brahmin instead of watching this. Sable cited that this might be too overwhelming for her to watch. Fair enough. Keira had other motivations as well, primarily though, she just wanted a definitive answer behind Kristin's behavior. Bearing in mind that this was less than a year after the deaths of their other sisters, Kristin's development was the most drastic.

"Keira! You try my patience," Kristin exclaimed, impatient yet regal. "Care to finally explain all of this?"

The doctor made a note on her pip-boy. Keira touched upon the microphone on her headset which connected a loudspeaker in the arena.

"Sorry to keeping you waiting, my dear sister." Keira raised an eyebrow at Kristin's defiant tone. "Today is nothing more than a standard combat evaluation. There will be no restrictions and you are free to use the arena as you wish, I assure you that your opponent's won't pay any heed to rules. If you find yourself in imminent danger, simply call for help and the evaluation will end."

Kristin removed the winged helmet and placed it against a nearby wall. Her disgust for items that obscured the face was well known, so when Keira ordered her to arrive in full armor right down to the last detail, the personal jab did not go unnoticed. Keira & Kristin butted heads on a constant basis, but their fundamental differences in temperament was more aggravating than reciprocal.

"This seems somewhat over the top for a 'standard' evaluation. But no matter!" Kristin smirked, growing ever more excited at the prospect of a decent challenge. She proceeded to tie her unnaturally-silver hair into a ponytail. Uprooting her sword and resting it on her shoulder, Kristin signaled that she was ready. "Do I get points for style?"

...

"Unlocking the Tier 1 gate," Keira replied dispassionately. "Good luck."

The security bolts on the first gate was released. Out from the shadows of the cage, the mottled blue-ish carapace of a Giant-class radscorpion emerged. The creature's claws clacked in anticipation as Kristin readied her weapon, the stinger was leveled at it's opponent and the two proceeded to circle one another. Radscorpions weren't known for their complicated maneuvering, but one must be mindful of the claws and especially the stinger. Combat from a distance was preferable, explosives proved to be extremely effective and if one finds themselves in close quarters, the fight almost always resulted in some personal damage.

True to the limited scope of the Radscorpion's nature, it bullrushed it's opponent. Shifting the grip on her sword, Kristin initiated with a downwards plunge into the carapace of the creature. With ease, the power sword rooted it's enemy in place. What happened next is something needed to be watched frame-by-frame after recording -- but Kristin had caught the radscorpion by the tail just beneath the stinger. To no avail, the creature thrashed to escape from the firmly planted blade. Sending a mighty sabaton crashing down on the base of the tail, Kristin shifted her grip to the tail and proceeded to snap the stinger with both hands. After minimal resistance, the stinger was ripped off entirely, the blade was uprooted and Kristin hacked at the claws before burying the blade into the twitching corpse.

Wiping at her brow, Kristin rested her arm on the planted weapon. "Come now, Keira! That was practically routine. Don't tell me that you woke me up at the crack of dawn for this."

Meanwhile, the doctor looked positively shocked. Keira was impressed at the battle, but ultimately disappointed with Kristin's disposition -- Kristin was enjoying herself. This wasn't the intended reaction she was hoping to elicit.

"Unlocking Tier 2 gate.", Keira announced nonchalantly. "Prepare yourself."

As soon as the security locks were released, a Nightstalker barreled towards Kristin. Gaping maw at the ready, the leaping attack was sidestepped and the beast scrambled to hiss and howl in unholy cacophony. Digging it's claws into the ground, the beast weaved back and forth, attempt to throw off it's prey before launching into another leaping attack. Kristin responded with a backhanded swing of her blade. At this angle, the off-handed swing deflected the attack but did minimal damage to the tough mixture of scales and hide.
Without any use for intimidation, the beast decided to dash at Kristin, gaping maw aimed at her legs. Resting the blade in the crook of her folded arm, sword pointed outwards in spear-like manner, Kristin executed a well-aimed thrust into mouth of the beast. Twisting the blade in further, the beast's jaws gnashed hopelessly and a mixture of blood and poison stained the blade. With a fearsome overhead slam, the corpse of the beast was broken on impact and her blade free once more.

Tearing at her cloak, Kristin proceeded to clean her sword. "I'll admit, that was a surprise. Shall we proceed?" Kristin did not seem remotely surprised, if anything, her bravado had skyrocketed.

"...Unlocking Tier 3 gate.", Keira's hesitation was easy to spot. "Be careful."

Preparing herself for another feral attack, Kristin was thrown off guard when a Lakelurk king-variant simply walked out of the cage. It's glowing eyes fixed on it's target, the fins and claws extended to convey a larger appearance. Intimidation would not work on Kristin it seemed, for it was her turn to make a charging attack. What was initially a piercing thrust to the neck had transitioned into a blunt strike to the chest -- you see, a lakelurk was notorious for it's sonic pulse shriek, this left Kristin effectively deaf for a minute. Doing so, however, seemed to enrage Kristin. All flash and stylish motions were replaced brutal hacking to the arms and neck of the creature. At one point, one thrust attack was so successful that it pinned the beast to the wall while Kristin went to work with her hands. Only by reviewing the footage, would one discover how Kristin crushed and pounded the head of the beast until it could shriek no longer.

While it was a major oversight, nobody had prepared for the Lakelurk's sonic shriek. While everyone caught their breath and proceeded to speak once the ringing in their ears had stopped, Keira noted a wild look in Kristin's eyes on one of the monitors.

That was precisely the result she was looking for. She needed to draw out the true reaction.
"Doctor, watch closely. I don't want you to miss a single detail. You'll know it when you see it."

Extending a reinforced riot-shield and grabbing her twin 10mm SMG's, Keira herself entered the arena.

Having returned to her helmet, Kristin cradled it under one arm. "Ahh, Keira! Come to give me my results in person?" Looking rather pleased with herself, she was ultimately tired from the extreme exertion. It was one thing to fight, it took quite another to fight in such manner without taking a scratch. "Might I propose a small break?"

"Denied."

The crash of a heavy shield being slammed into the ground resonated among everyone watching. The click of an SMG being leveled at her sister cut through the lighthearted atmosphere.

"Keira. Explain yourself." Kristin cautiously placed her hand above the cross-guard and raised her blade to shield her face, she looked incredulous. "This isn't funny."

"You're right, it isn't. But this so-called evaluation can easily end in your 'accidental' death. And we all know I am more fitting for the title of Heiress."

Keira pulled the trigger and opened fire on Kristin, emptying a magazine of rubber bullets on Kristin's stationary form. She was well-armored, but an onslaught of non-lethal rounds of machine gun fire was nothing to laugh at. Kristin's knees buckled, held aloft by the sword being planted into the ground.

"You are at the upper crust of society, yet look at you. Fighting lowly beasts of this insipid wasteland. You lack refinement, you think with your heart and make little use of your head. You're a boorish reflection of this family's backwards traditions. Our fight is over. We have societal dominance, yet you are dragging us back 200 years every time we go out on these useless hunting expeditions. Let me tell you right now, those who couldn't defend themselves outside these walls deserve to die. We shouldn't waste our resources and our precious lives on commoners!"

The last few lines were spat with fury and in that fury, Keira proceeded to smash Kristin in the face with the shield.

"BlamCo's very own Valkyrie? Some so-called Valkyrie you are. The real world cares not for your titles and nicknames --- !!?!!"

~*CLANG!!!*~

A forceful two-handed swing of the blade had made contact with the shield. Kristin had gotten to her feet, fixed her winged helmet upon her head and charged forward for another concentrated slash. The kinetic force of Kristin's strikes were brilliant but nullified behind the shield, they were effective at forcing Keira to use both hands to stabilize the shield.

"So that's what it takes to tick you off? Insulting your worthless title?"

The Valkyrie responded with a firm kick to the shield, reversing the bash and throwing Keira off balance. Launching into a flurry of strikes, Keira was visibly pushed backwards as Kristin calculated striking from different angles. With her back to the wall, Keira prepared for a strike that never arrived, instead a gauntlet closed it's grip on the shield, throwing it aside with sheer force while Kristin followed up with a devastating punch to the gut. When the shield hit the floor, Kristin had lifted Keira against the wall by the throat.

"Shall I offer you salvation, Shield Maiden? You are a disgrace to your name. We decide upon those that die, we offer a blissful paradise to the worthy and we feast until our very last hour. Never-ending conflict to resolve the final conflict, that is our aim! We have no need for monetary gain or earthly temptations. If you have fallen from such grace, then purification is in order! What say you, Shield Maiden!?"

Keira eyes rolled back as she gasped and banged on the glass wall. The Valkyrie released her grip and dropped Keira with nary a care. Taking a few measured paces, Kristin raised her blade in silent encouragement. Purification through battle. The honor-bound Valkyrie was ready to kill Keira if she engaged any further.

At a complete disadvantage, Keira screamed out to the guards: "Tranquilizer darts! Fire!"
From every conceivable angle, the BlamCo royal guard fired upon the Valkyrie. Most of the rounds glanced off her armor, but a few lucky shots had hit the exposed skin on her neck. Funny thing about tranquilizer darts, it took a few minutes to truly take hold, and to avoid death via toxicity from overdose, the darts weren't tailored for complete sedation. This was balanced out by the multiple embedded rounds. All that did was enrage the Valkyrie while she was simply put on a timer.

A forceful gauntlet grabbed Keira by the skull and proceeded to slam her back into the ground. Keira pulled at her remaining SMG, a futile effort that was crushed underneath the Valkyrie's heel. Keira expected the killing blow to arrive yet silence had taken hold of the Valkyrie, who was stumbling towards her sword.

The sounds of medical attention could be heard, but their vision had both gone black.



~Two Days Later~

"Peritraumatic dissociation."

...

Kristin, Sable & Keira were all seated on separate couches looking at the various video feeds replaying the various fights on a loop. The doctor from the Follower's of the Apocalypse had learned much of the sister's woes for Kristin Blamco. After gathering some information from Sable Blamco. The psychiatrist felt that she had a firm grasp on Kristin's particular case.

"Allow me to explain: We often associate dissociation, a disconnect from reality, as a negative force. When faced with an overwhelming trauma or an imminent danger to one's life, it is quite natural for the emotional response to override one's training or mental conditioning. Even hardened Veterans can fall apart on the battlefield or succumb to emotional numbing due to the intense nature of the environmental stressors. This negatively impacts performance and can often be observed with the more common signs associated with depersonalization."

The doctor gestured at the screens conveying Kristin's fight with the creatures. Special attention was paid to Kristin's intense focus during combat, the boisterous taunting, followed by her looks of satisfaction after the battle was complete.

"As observed, when the combat scenario is within Kristin's control -- there is a multi-layered focus on battle, style, form, prediction of attacks and the relief of triumph."

Attention was drawn to the fight with Keira. Kristin's speech was replayed for all to hear. Followed by an odd focus on hand-to-hand combat and difference in stances and speech.

"Now when Kristin's life is truly in danger, or at least perceived to be in danger. Kristin dissociates in an adaptive manner. This mental state is akin to an awakened role, but this is clearly not acting -- this is an override of Kristin's casual identity, this form is a manifestation of Kristin's deep-rooted beliefs in the classical & contemporary depictions of the Norse mythological Valkyries."

Pointing at a side-by-side comparison of Kristin's stance and moves, the doctor continued.

"Kristin is very orientated with finesse and proper form. She is boisterous and grand on the battlefield, confident enough to display style in her force. Yet if we look at the Valkyrie, all pretenses fall away. Her attacks become pragmatic and finesse is replaced with brutality. There is talk of honor, rules and allusions to directly working within the realm of Valhalla."

"At this point, Kristin is emotionally overtaxed. Instead of crumbling or making mistakes, the Valkyrie-state enhances her focus on the perceived enemy. Pain and irrelevant external stimulus is ignored. It's not that the body doesn't register these factors, but her mind creates such an intense tunnel-vision during these moments. The only drawbacks one can notice is a loss of memory while Kristin is returning to her normal self. Plus, in this Valkyrie state, this intense focus can lead to poor long-term decision-making. Communication from non-hostile forces might prove to be difficult, but not impossible."

"Now, as I have learned. It is a Blamco family tradition to train the women to be warriors with individualized education found among higher society, while the men tend to home-keeping or business pursuits. This occurs because the men can carry on the Blamco name. It's a role-reversal essentially. Now I would advise against exposure to combat scenarios...but I realize that request might fall on deaf ears."

"Let me reiterate, Kristin Blamco has an overly-adaptive response to trauma. If anything, her Valkyrie state is an elaborate defense mechanism, yet also a strong part of her core identity."

---

The doctor was paid handsomely, enough to retire to be quite honest, but mostly as insurance that none of this would fall into public knowledge.

While this had shed a lot of light on Kristin's state of being. This meant that she could still safely retain her title as BlamCo Heiress. On a more personal side, an undeniable rift had formed between Kristin and Keira's relationship -- they tolerated one another at best.

One thing was for certain: Attacking Kristin Blamco in melee combat was ill-advised.

The Really Wild Wastelands | The Present | Outside Springvale
A Young Lady's Primer to Etiquette and Assassinations: Chapter 3
By: Victoria McGee

Except from Victoria's Manuscript:

On Gentleman Callers

To my future young ladies of the Wastelands,

There comes a day in every woman's life when they will be approached by a gentleman caller and on that day, I hope that these words of wisdom will be remembered. Remember, my dears that not all titled gentry will act in an appropriate manner and it is the duty of a lady to ensure that these gentlemen remain gentle while maintaining their interest. While there are those among the upper crusts of society that would have you believe that a woman's role is to remain silent, this is only partial truth. By remaining silent, a lady not only increases the mystery that surrounds her but also ensures that she remains perceptive to any cues that would eliminate her gentleman caller as an ideal candidate as her future husband. By also remaining tight lipped, a lady is also careful not to let any familial secrets slip, for even the most polite of the gentry will not hesitate to use embarassing information to gain the upper hand in other facets.

A young lady would be smart to remember that reputation is as important as her purity. A young lady who is known to be promiscuous will attract only the dregs of the elite who have naught but ill intent towards her.

Just as a young lady must mind her reputation, so too must you, my Black Widows. A Black widow is limited in the number of times that she is able to attract a target. This is due not only to age but her reputation as well. Remember that your success is dependant not only on the elimination of your target but ensuring that no one suspects a thing. To become known as a Black Widow is to invite failure. A smart Black Widow will choose a target with a limited number of friends and family. To remember this is to guarantee success.

Your Teacher,

V.M.

Victoria had been in hiding for some minutes now, just around the corner from where the Deathclaw was hunched over, its ear pressed to the ground like a dinosaur attempting verify whether or not a train was approaching before crossing a set of tracks. If she attempted to move quietly, a false step would have spelled out her rather bloody and messy doom. Having buried her share of Deathclaw victims, she was aware of the sort of damage that one of the savage beasts was able to inflict upon even a heavily armored opponent. Had she been armed with something a little larger in the caliber department, she might have been able to put up a good fight, however, any weapon that would have proven itself useful for such an engagement had been left with Frank and Rose, a draft Brahmin that Victoria used to travel back to the D.C. Wastelands. Little did Victoria know that her particular Brahmin had been used by a certain Enclave Heavy Weapons Specialist as a mobile bovine explosives charge and that her equipment was scattered about the crater of that was formerly Doctor Evil's Evil Vault of Evil. To make matters worse, she really had to pee.

A noise in the distance caught her attention. It was the sound of heavy combat boots crunching up bits of gravel under heel. It was the sound of a Carivan and its heavily armed escorts arriving to investigate the nuclear blast and scavenge the area of anything useful or valueable. It was the sound of survival for the Full Bladdered Beauty. Furling her parasol, the Silk and Laced Lady bolted towards the group, throwing her arms towardsthe sky, waving frantically as she ran towards the group, smiling to herself when she noted that several members of the carivan's guards were armed with medium caliber weaponry and a couple of energy weapons.

"HELP! HEEEEEEELP!" She screamed loudly as Victoria ran directly into their line of sight. The group stopped as their eyes feasted on the sight of a the Elegant Undertaker running towards them, her dress and scarf fluttering behind her as she ran, before collapsing in one of the guard captain's arms. Her chest heaved dramatically as she pressed he bosom against him, "Oh... oh thank god..." she rasped as she slipped into the role of damsel in distress like a young maiden slid into a lake to bathe, "there... there's... there's a de - WOAH!!"

*THUD!*

The Stealthy Assassin found herself on the deposited roughly onto the hard ground as the guard captain released his grip on her before he pointed the barrel of his Laser Rifle in her face. The man's action was rather unexpected since Victoria McGee's wilting flower routine had a very high rate of success. She'd never received such a reaction, even among certain Raider groups, who were known not to have the best of manners nor intentions. Glaring at the man who had dropped her, the Dutchess of the Dead had a sudden bout of deja vu.

"Donny? Donny Wahlenberger?" The woman's voice reflected the confusion that she trickled to the surface of her thoughts. It had been a few years now since she had seduced young Donny Wahlenberger before he disappeared under mysterious circumstances on a hunting expedition. No one had suspected the young and inconsoleable fiance, who went by the name Nicole Navarone, as being responsible for overload that caused the man's prized plasma rifle to detonate in his face.

"Guess again, Nicky... or should I call you Vicky instead?" responded Mark Wahlenberger, Donny's older brother, and leader of the mercenary group known as the Funky Bunch, before he smacked the side of the grounded gravedigger's head with the side of his rifle, "You killed my brother... prepare to die. Oh and say hi to your mother for me..."

"MARK!" Another of the guards responded before Victoria's skull was turned into a fine grey ash.

"What Danny? Can't chu see I'm busy here?" The clear leader of the Wahlenberger Brothers responded, his voice sounding a shade on the whiny side as he shifted his attention away from his target for a fraction of a second. It was all Victoria needed.

"Deathclaw!!"

As all attention was drawn towards Malkos the Deathclaw, Victoria made her move, wresting one of the razor sharp gems from her necklace before she drove it through the wrist of Mark Wahlenberger. Grabbing the laser rifle from man's weakened grip, the Darkly Dressed Death Dealer grinned from her position on the ground as felt the rumbling of the inbound death beast... those were some good vibrations.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, they were good vibrations, alright. Because Victoria had gone on a run, Malkos no longer had to track the footprints on the ground and could just follow. However, in the time it had taken to work on closing the gap, the woman had reached some people, been knocked down, and then disarmed the man holding a gun on her...which was a problem. Fortunately, along the way, the Thud-Thudding monster was engaging in some un-Deathclaw-like conduct. He'd scooped up a bunch of dirt and was throwing the lot of it in her face!

In the words of a wormy superhero, "EAT DIRT!"

----------------------------------------------------------------------

If it weren't for the fact that Victoria McGee's face, eyes, nose and mouth were already filled with dirt, she might have made a comment regarding her inability to eat said dirt, in light of the fact that she did not have any utensils. Of course, had she been able to make a comment, the Etiquette minded Undertaker would have been commiting one of etiquette's cardinal since as her mouth was filled With the Deathclaw's handtossed appetizer.

Brushing the filth off of her face, it was decidedly time to move on to the main course. Squeezing the trigger of the laser rifle, one of the guards grunted as he felt a sudden searing sensation in his sternum before he sizzled into dust, his remains scattering in the wind. Glancing around, the Laser Ladened Lady took stock of the situation and noted that the guards had taken up a defensive position behind their Brahmin, using the animals as cover while revealing a supply of explosives that would have made short work of both the Ferrywoman as well as the Death Dealing Mutant Dinosaur. Taking careful aim, the silent assassin made reminded the others of her presence... by detonating the explosives with a well placed shot.

Down a few guard and with a deathclaw charging towards them, the carivan fell into chaos as they started to panic, laying down gunfire at both Malkos and Victoria. Unfurling her parasol, Victoria turned towards the Deathclaw, her artificial voice cutting through the chaos. Idealy it would have been the perfect scenario for the Black Wearing Widow to escape but the elimination of one of the Funky Bunch was too ideal a reward to completely ignore. The only issue was that she could not kill the entirety of the gang on her own.

"Excuse me... I would like to propose a temporary armistice until such a time as the group shooting at us is no longer a threat. Would you be amenable to such a proposition?" The Formal Female Graver Digger asked politely as she unleashed a barrage of suppressive fire on the group.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Malkos glared at her, then the caravan, then back at her. There was definitely a low rumble of a growl as the situation annoyed him, even moreso when one of the hapless riflemen dinged a bullet off of his horn. The Deathclaw reached down and grabbed the parasol, of all things, and muttered "Borrowing this." as he approached the caravan guards sort of protected by it. Uhh, this wasn't normal behavior for the species. They were gonna have to choose between fight or flight pretty fast, and he was gonna Thump the ones still fighting with his fist.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

The Darkly Dressed Dutchess of the Dead frowned at the sight of the Deathclaw holding her parasol in front of it like a shield. To be perfectly honest, it was a not due to the fact that it was a rather ridiculous sight considering the object was only large enough to cover a small portion of the creature's body, it was due to the fact that the sight brought on a flurry of ill timed mental images. The involuntary thought of a reptilian tank dressed in a lace and silk dress invaded her thoughts, much like the sharp claws belonging to her temporary ally invaded another guard's skull. Perhaps a traditional maid outfit or ... was it more a butler? Having no time to have checked the plumbing downstairs, the Gender Questioning Gravedigger was unsure if she was dealing with a Mister or a Miss. Could it be possible that among Deathclaw society, if there was indeed such a thing, mistaking gender was grounds for evisceration?

Thinking on the matter, Victoria involuntarily started imagining the Deathclaw in a black butler's uniform. Perhaps with a small tea porceline tea set in one of his massive claws. It occurred to the bleeding from the head blood letter that she might have a mild concussion due to Mark Wahlenberger's laser rifle butt strike. A bullet, ironically deflected off of the parasol in the Reptilian Reprobate's hand, struck the Dame of Deathdealing in the jaw, flattening on impact as it tore through the silk scarf that covered her lower jaw. Her mind returning to the task at hand, Victoria raised the rifle to her shoulder and took aim at the bleeding carivan guard leader, the brother of her victim.

"How about you say hi to your mother for me?" Victoria said, well aware that Mark Wahlenberger's mother had passed away years ago, as she squeezed the trigger and ended the life of the Funky Bunch's leader. Feeling more than a little satisfied over the man's death, the Murderous Madamoiselle looked for her next victim and noticed that they were grouped in front of the Deathclaw, unloading every weapon they had in hand.

Running forward, with her Frenemy placed between her and the source of the barrage of bullets, the Book-on-head Balancing Black Betty hopped up onto Malkos' back and used him as a ramp from which she could pounce on her victims, probably causing a few bruises on the Deathclaw along the way thanks to the woman's heels. Landing next to one of the few remaining Funky Bunchers, the Mistress of Murder grinned ferally and revealed a set of teeth as vicious looking as her Deathclaw compatriot's.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

That wasn't very nice, and he didn't like that, at all. Fortunately, there were ways to immediately handle that. After she had used him like a springboard to handle some of the human foes, Malkos waited for things to line up and then...WHOOSH! Deathclaws sometimes leap at prey with their claws coming down in an X-pattern. This one did that, but right now his arms were spread wide, and basically every human in range of that was going to get knocked right off their feet and possibly trampled.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Victoria's jaws of death were about to take a bite out of the tender bits of a Funky Buncher's neck when she noticed that everyone in the group was uncharacteristically wide eyed. It was true that most people with a brain that encountered the sight of a woman dressed to the nines in the garments of high society froze at the sight of her bared teeth, the group that surrounded her was even more wide-eyed than normal. And then she felt the heat of the noon-time sun being blocked out, like an unscheduled lunar eclipse. Taking the bait, the Damsel of Distress was rather distressed by the sight of a multi-hundred pound mutant lizard in the air, its claws outstretched like wings.

"(Not good...)" The thought came reflexively as did the motion. Victoria took the man in her arms and waltzed, using the centripedal motion of the dance maneuver to hurl her out of range of Malkos' cross slash... or rather towards airborne Deathclaw... and under him.

*SNIKT! SNIKT!*

The world went wet with gibs as the bodies of several men went flying... along with their limbs and their heads. It was the sort of attack that Herschell Gordon Lewis would have been proud of. Blood, gore, limbs, viscera... the whole nine yards... sent into all manners of locations, including a nice coat for the Brahmin that had the unfortunate role of being canvas to Malkos' art.

So... that took care of the carivanners and their guards... but where did that leave the unlikely allies? Victoria stood behind Malkos with the laser rifle pointed at the creature's back, her chest heaving at having exerted herself in such an unladylike manner. She could have pulled the trigger and shot the Deathclaw where the sun didn't shine, that was every creature's weakpoint, other than their mouth, wasn't it?

Instead, she picked up the discarded parasol, which the creature dropped prior to his super julienne slice job, with the rifle still in her hand, ready to unfurl the device should she need to... only she didn't... nor did she squeeze the trigger. She didn't want to kill it... and she didn't want for it to be the one to kill her.

"I didn't mean to kill your friend." Victoria mumbled, hoping that it was time for this little action sequence to be over and the conversation to begin, "I had wanted to kill him in the past... but I didn't mean to kill him...."

The Deathclaw turned and rumbled slightly.

"You're mistaken. A horned woman asked me to look after the girl. I smelled the powder on the umbrella. You made her kill him with it."

Victoria sighed audibly. How was she going to explain her actions to the thing? How could she explain it in words that he'd understand. Did he understand what instinct was? Would he know that instinctive movements could be drilled into one's head and movements could be trained to be automatic? A motion such as the unfurling of her parasol in defense was as natural to her as breathing and possibly as natural as...

"It was as instinctive an action as ... ahem... slaughter is to members of your species," The Trained assassin said before explaining "She pulled her weapon on me and I shielded myself. Even if I hadn't the man would have been dead considering the child used a shotgun. That particular weapon is like that last strike you used instead of a simple and direct punch... oh and don't you think that I didn't notice that you almost hit me back there with before you finished off the last of them."

Deathclaws don't deal in 'What might have been', but we will say this: A Deathclaw trying to make a grin on its face was downright horrifying.

"Everyone knows Deathclaws don't see very well."

Fortunately, that trauma-inducing expression vanished soon after.

"You're leaving, and you're never to return, or you're joining that pile of meat right now."

True, a bunch of caravan guards fired upon him, but between the actual use of the parasol and being a Deathclaw, that wouldn't count for much, so that laser would be hard-pressed to finish what they started.

She didn't need to be told twice in regards to that. She had a destination and no plans after reaching that destination. In all likelihood, this Deathclaw was the second to last person that Victoria would ever speak to. It was unfortunate that it hadn't been a more civil conversation, especially considering the forthrightness of his speech. Tossing the unweildy laser rifle to the ground, the woman acquiesced to the Deathclaw's demand and nodded.

"I would not have it any other way." The woman said, returning to her more formal mode of speech, "Seeing as how this is the last time we will meet, will you humor me and answer this question? Are you male or female because after being struck by that man, my mind could not help but wonder if you would be wearing a maid's outfit or a butler's outfit?"

This woman was about as weird as the blind girl, the no-face, and the cheese woman...though not the Sylphys.

"Male. You tell by the horns."

He remained poised until she finally left, which she did after a moment's worth of grinning... and a momentary stop next to a rubbage bin to relieve herself.


The Really Wild Wastelands | Springvale
Finding Malkos... or something...
Constance Sorrowfeld

The entirety of the world was falling around the blind as a bat American Enclave Scout of America, almost literally, as bits and pieces of wall debris fell on Constance Sorrowfeld. In her arms was the body of Jonathan McKenna, who had probably been the closest thing to a father to her given the level of verbal abuse and neglect that she'd received from him. The blood, his arterial blood, stained the floor red, though she would have never known it, and mingled with the tears that streamed down the face of the young teenager who refused to let go of the corpse, even when Miss Jenna pried Constance off of Mister McKenna to attempt to save the man's life. Even with all the skill in the world, Miss Jenna would never have been able to patch up the arteries that had been shredded to ribbons by the dozens and dozens of pellets that had torn through his throat, pellets that had originated from Constance's very own shotgun.

In the next moments she found herself on the floor, crouched in the slick pool of blood, her wrist throbbing. She vaguely remembered being disarmed by the BlamCo Valkyrie before being unceremoniously deposited on the floor where Miss Kristin's words bounced around in the remains of Constance's tattered mind.

"What happened!?! What did you do!?! Explain yourself!!!"

"Someone was here... she... she deflected my bullets... I kill him... I kill Mister McKenna..." The Cat Eared Scout murmured as she started to rock back and forth, bringing her blood slicked legs up to her chest, "I kill him... she... was going to stab him... but I kill him... I shot at her and I killed him..."

She might as well have been speaking to thin air. The Mourning Valkyrie had disappeared with the body of her friend, probably to bury him and grieve for her loss. Despite the fact that the two seemed to be to harbor resentment towards each other, the manner in which Miss Kristin had behaved spoke of a of a prior friendship. In the distance Constance's ears detected debris being flung up into the air. The "sight" was followed by the telltale tremors of a nuclear detonation.

"... What is that Deathclaw doing?" Miss Jenna whispered anxiously, still seated in the room with Constance.

Indeed, what was Malkos the Intelligent Deathclaw doing? Inquiring minds wanted to know, including the mind that belonged to a certain mother figure in the team killing American Enclave Scout of America, Enclave Intelligence Officer #411. With the loss of Jonathan McKenna, who had been assigned the role of Weapon's Smith for Project Amoeba, Constance's mother hoped to do a better job of resuscitating the project than the Doctor had done resuscitating Jonathan McKenna.

"CONSTANCE!" A familiar and terrifying yet tinny sounding voice that echoed within the confined space of the kitchen and caused the Sorrowful and Shoddy Shotgun Surgeon to practically leap to the ceiling.

"M... m... mom?" The Tear-Choked Teenager stuttered as she looked for the nearest hole to crawl into before remembering herself. Wiping the tears from her eyes, the young Enclave Youth semi-snapped off a semi-smart salute, "I mean... Enclave Intelligence Officer #411, ma'am."

"You have really FUCKED UP this time. For a child of mine, who I raised instead of disposed of in a dumpster like the doctors had recommended, you have turned into such a disappointment. You are really the poorest example of a child of the Enclave. By attempting to kill that Undertaker Bitch without the foresight to know that you would end up killing such a high value ally, you have put the success of this mission... no, the future of Enclave glory in jeopardy! You stupid little child, you not only managed to kill your weapons developer, you managed to allow your only saving grace to out of your containment and go rampaging after a non-vital target!" Enclave Intelligence Officer #411 continued, causing her daughter to flinch, but not before wondering how she would have been able to stop Malkos in the first place, "With your current results, you would be lucky to become a member of the Enclave Maintenance Corp as the second Maintenance Sister. But your superior officer and your loving mother has a means of saving your useless hide. Here are your updated mission objectives. You are to recover the missing Deathclaw, Malkos. You are to then complete training with the your designated trainer, the so called 'Valkyrie.' Finally, you are to secure a supply of weapons by any means necessary... even if you have to dig them out of the Ruins of Ravenrock by hand, DO IT! Is that understood?!"

"Y--Yes ma'am!" Constance responded before snapping off another salute and promptly running out the door without thinking, leaving the Eyebot and Miss Jenna alone for a moment.

"That blasted Henry McGee and his damnable Undertakers think they can throw a wrench in my plans... he's got another thing coming..."The Eyebot muttered to itself as it started to float off but not before grabbing a scan of Miss Jenna and her belongings.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

"Gotta find Malkos... Gotta find Malkos... Gotta find Malkos..." the American Enclave Scout of America muttered to herself as she exited the grounds of her former Springvale Elementary School. It was quite apparent that she had one thing on her mind and that was to locate and recover the Deathclaw known as Malkos. Unfortunately for Constance Sorrowfeld, things weren't going according to plan that particular day, not that what was about to happen was particularly Constance's fault but still... it was just not the teenager's day.

A rather large statistical anomaly had developed around the former Springvale Elementary school. Deathclaws were not too abundant in numbers around the town known as Megaton and Five deathclaws in the form of Malkos, Larry, Curly, Moe and the newest member of the Claw family, Rath, was a bit of a jump in the local Killer Reptilian population. Of those number, two members of the new Deathclaw population were counted among the rarest variation of Deathclaw, the Intelligent Deathclaw. For anyone statistically inclined, that would mean that 40% of the Deathclaw population around Megaton were intelligent, the far largest concentration per capita in the Former United States. All this was unknown to anyone since the newest addition to the Wild Wasteland family had not yet introduced themselves to anyone... but that was about to change.

"THERE YOU ARE!" Constance exclaimed, relieved that she would not be joining the Enclave as a member of the Enclave Maintenance Brothers... and the Maintenance Sister.

Now, one MIGHT be wondering how it was that Constance had determined that the Deathclaw in her sights was an Intelligent Deathclaw and not your run of the mill salsa making machine Deathclaw. The first part was obvious, it did not attack her when it first spotted her. The second was equally as obvious as the first, if the first parts was true, it stood to reason that this was an intelligent Deathclaw and given the rarity of intelligent Deathclaws, there was a very very very good chance that this was Malkos. So it might have come as a surprise to Rath when a girl with metallic cat-like ears and a fur covered vestigial tail ran up to him and grabbed him by a claw.

"Let's get back to the school before the Megatonians see you, Malkos." Constance said as she started to pull on her objective by his long clawed finger.

He moved with a softness of pace that his less intelligent brethren never bothered with, hoping to remain undetected for as long as possible, while constantly testing the air. Old blood and dust, sweat and decay...the usual smells of the wasteland. He could feel the presence of a couple of humans nearby, their minds acting like frustratingly indistinct beacons; but that was as good as it got. He surmised they were likely inside the ruins, given the lack of real cover outside; he just hoped he wasn't about to get ambushed with something like a rocket launcher.

As the light breeze shifted, he tested the air once more. Hmm...human female, young...seems distressed. I wo- His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the distinct scent of a male Deathclaw. That'd do it. Well that's that I guess. A lone human rarely did well against the less 'civilized' members of his species, he just hoped the female died quickly. Distracted by those thoughts he missed the sensation that one of the human 'beacons' was getting stronger, like it was approaching, until a strange young human burst into view.

"THERE YOU ARE!"

Rath had seen other human adorn themselves with bits of metal, though this one lacked the 'Raider stink' most of the others carried; the tail, which he spotted as she approached, was new. Maybe there is more mutation among them than I first thought. Even more surprising than her appearance, or her apparent lack of fear of a nearly eight foot tall murder-lizard, was when she grabbed a claw and tried to get him to follow her.

"Let's get back to the school before the Megatonians see you, Malkos."

She had about as much a chance of dragging a mountain as she did shifting his bulk, so while she tugged at his finger, Rath just stood there feeling rather confused. Seeing as he hadn't 'talked' to anyone is a while, it took a moment to concentrate on this new arrival before he 'spoke'. [Excuse me.] He said, his voice felt more that heard inside the girl's head. [I am not this 'Malkos' that you are looking for...though the fact that I could be mistaken for them raises a question or two. My name is Rath, who might you be?]

The Wild Wastelands | Present Day | Springvale Elementary School
"Recovery"
- Kristin 'Valkyrie' Blamco -
---

The sting of a cold breeze and the ever-growing fall of darkness had awoken Kristin from her Valkyrian state.

" - and I will meet you in the afterlife. For now, I must return to my duties. Rest well."

Unclasping her hands, the prayers had stopped once she felt truly present. Glimpses of her actions proceeding Jonathan's death had come flooding back, drowning her in waves of regret. The faulty deflections of responsibility did little to quell the tide of sorrow. In her blind anguish, Kristin had lost control and almost hurt Constance. While her mind would only be eased with an explanation, she could still hear the desperate murmurs of a shell-shocked blood-stained young woman. Kristin was a Warrior first, a Princess second and Lady third. She was not a barbarian -- and amends should be made. It had become increasingly apparent that time was fleeting and apologies should be made as soon as possible. They could talk after they had settled down.

Kristin Blamco made every effort to avoid romantic entanglements, given that her political status had made dating to be a messy affair, one where she couldn't quite tell good intent from manipulation. The battlefield and cooking was easier to understand. Even with her aversion or rather, fear, of romance - this did not nullify any nurturing qualities she bore as a Lady and a person.

Standing up, there was a small amount of satisfaction once she realized that Jonathan was carried all the way to the side of Lucy Black's house. The stone-based solution that encased her sword had been broken off entirely, exposing the power claymore hiding the true nature of her weapon...without a BlamCo Lab and maintenance team, Kristin had lost the crushing ability she so fondly desired for armored opponents. The power claymore would need some work with a whetstone and some cleaning, but the double edge was still keen. At least her sundering ability was increased with a lighter weight to boot.

After gathering some aged-fauna from Lucy Black's home, a broken slab of rock served as a makeshift tombstone which bore an engraving of Jonathan's initials.

Creativity followed limitation, so it was on that note that Kristin started to make her way back to the entrance of the school. Speaking of which, what exactly had happened to cause so much property damage!? Her eyes followed a trail of debris leading away from the school right down to a collapsed wall on the other side of the school. Not only was it unsightly, but it was a security risk if any third-parties decided to join them. A mental note was made that Sylphy strength training would include the rebuilding and fortification of their base - fortunately, she had the manpower, or woman-power to be exact.

"THERE YOU ARE!"

A relieved exclamation pierced the quiet atmosphere. Kristin's head snapped to the direction of the sound and broke out into a small jog. That was Constance, right? It was tremendously close by. But why the panic in her voice?

Rounding the corner, the sight of the Deathclaw towering over Constance had drawn a reactionary response to grab her sword.

[... -- My name is Rath, who might you be?]

Sheepishly, Kristin checked herself for a head wound. Not only had she interrupted a conversation, but she had learned that Deathclaws could talk. It seemed that this Deathclaw was making a habit of seeing the worst of her now.

"Rath! So that's your name!" Kristin announced, surprisingly chirpy over the novelty of a talking Deathclaw. Sable would be so jealous. "It seems like you've put on some weight! That's good, goes to show you what the wonders of a properly cooked BlamCo cuisine could do for you. I say, you lot are too thin -- ..."

Kristin trailed off when she noticed Constance. It wasn't Constance that bothered her, it was the state of Constance. Puffy red eyes, tear trails, blood-soaked clothing, shaking hands and a distraught wide-eyed gaze. This young woman was on the verge of an emotional collapse.

"Mister Rath.", Kristin addressed the Deathclaw respectfully. If there's one thing Sable taught her over time, it was to respect the Wild Wasteland. "If you're still feeling peckish, I'm sure I can cook you something of greater quantity. I have one more classroom to feed and there's bound to be an excess of food..."

Kristin directed her gaze at Constance, taking a step forward and laying a reassuring hand on her shoulder. Kristin had questions, yes, questions that could change the very nature of their relationship. But the Leader of the Valkyries needed to put her teammates first.

"...remember that shower you promised me? We should get ourselves cleaned up.", It was the most polite way to say that we looked terrible. Kristin noted that she too was caked in blood. "Perhaps chat a little and maybe you can help me with the cooking, yeah? Simple and quick dish for the remaining Sylphy's, I promise."

Looking up at Rath again, "Give us some time? Feel free to plug the hole in the wall, I mean, that's technically a room now, I suppose."

Kristin was babbling, more than normal that is. Today had shaken her pretty badly, even with years of mental conditioning, she couldn't hide her own fears about the future. Still, she needed to stay strong -- too often had she found that people scattered in a crisis, rather than uniting. One could say that she was compensating heavily with the busywork, but she wanted to put tonight behind with all of her duties finished.


The Really Wild Wastelands | The Distant Past | New Vegas
"Don't beg for attention. It's unbecoming."
- Sable 'Swan Maiden' Blamco -
---

There was indeed a goal behind Sable's complete disregard for courtly manners, for those within the walls of BlamCo did not move without purpose. The cumbersome social rituals of high society worked towards the preservation, elevation, destruction and evaluation of one's reputation. The greater the attention one attracts to their social standing, the more limited one's actions become. In those limitations followed the pressure and expectations of external forces weighing upon those in power to succeed, or more bitterly, to fail.

One might be wondering why Sable went along with the etiquette of the times and the answer was laughably simple: Words were the weapons of the civilized. Gestures turned into attacks. Tone indicated the way one guided their verbal assault. Body language formed a universal signal for preparatory reactions, and to a keen eye, they showcased intent.

Social faux pas continued to be a theme on this day. Arguably, Victoria's betrayal of Sable's privacy was far greater than Sable's continued provocation. Yet, there was a goal to this minor skirmish. Sable teetered between the roles of an insufferable princess, the sudden evocation of her Swan Maiden stance and a return to her usual measured self. She was probing for reactions and to her more clear-headed caution, she discovered a few.

"Thank you for your hospitality, Lady Blamco," Victoria said with a curt bow of thanks towards the hostess. Curiously, the artificial voice was more pronounced this time around, "As you undoubtedly learned from my esteemed cousin, Thomas, my name is Undertaker Victoria McGee of the Representative of Undertaker's Union and current Head Undertaker of the East Coast. Before we discuss the business that brought me to your manor, I would like to formally apologize for barging into your personal quarters unannounced and finding both you and my cousin in such a sordid state of dress. While there is no excuse for such rudeness on my part, I humbly ask if you could kindly chalk up this incident as one comrade looking over the welfare of another. I must confess, I did bear witness to the vigorous and hard fought battle between the two of you. It is, indeed, a rarity among our cultured society to see such a swing in the relationship between two former combatants in such a short time span," Victoria paused for a moment, seemingly finding some enjoyment by dancing around the subject matter. "I trust my cousin as vigorous and hard in your second encounter... It would be a shame to know that he couldn't rise to the occasion."

Sable was taken aback by Victoria's multi-layered verbal riposte. This was most certainly not someone to be taken lightly. Remaining composed, the Swan Maiden replied with a silent nod and a playfully dismissive wave of the hand at the mention of apologies -- Etiquette among Ladies, especially in tense engagements, demanded a degree of preservation for each other's reputation. To the uncultured eye, these Ladies appeared to be competing for the title of the most gracious. After all, losing one's temper to some underhanded jab is just...unsightly.

"As for my business, besides coming to collect my dear cousin Thomas... that is if you are done with him... I also have a contract request from the Undertaker's Union. As we will be opening our temple to the public, we would like to contract BlamCo with the provision of refreshments for the throngs of guests that are sure to visit. Our historians found that prior to the Great War, BlamCo had also been the primary provider of food to Walt's Great Temple and the Grandmaster thought it appropriate to resume such a relationship." The woman's tone turned warm, but stern, signalling a deadly sincerity.

"Favor fortunes me on this fine day.", Sable's pretensions subsided for true excitement. The transition was rather unsettling. Like someone had flipped the switch from 'Autopilot' to 'Let me gaze into your soul at whatever cost.'. "I believe you have saved Mister McGee quite a journey to relay a business proposal. Please, follow me and we can discuss this in private."

Before beckoning the Undertaker's to follow her, Rose was discovered among the ranks of BlamCo workers/security personnel. Pulling her aside, her retainer was ordered to steer anyone away from the Family's personal dining hall. A call for additional personnel was required to guard the entrances in full combat gear - this meant that Kristin and her company would be on their way. On top of the order, a tea & coffee with biscuits was requested for three.

"Pardon me, minor arrangements for a spontaneous meeting.", Sable beckoned and lead the way at the steady pace. Slow enough to extend their chat and give her retainers a head-start on arrangements. "Ms McGee, fret not about earlier. You were concerned for the safety of your family, an understandable motivation. That said, my provocation earlier was uncalled for and I admit to my emotions getting the better of me. I do hope this does not negatively impact our discussions."

Continuing deeper into the mansion, the decorum changed from welcoming artwork to family portraits, accolades accompanied by paintings, discontinued weaponry and trophies.

"To touch upon a previous observation of yours, namely the dramatic shift in a combatant's relationship. Well - ", Sable paused to find the correct phrasing, "In Valkyrian mythology, it was not uncommon for a Chooser of the Slain to take favor upon a male suitor of demonstrable prowess. You see, in the heat of battle, all pretenses can be stripped away. What separates a desperate struggle for one's life and the admiration for a skilled individual is a matter of respect that develops it's own brand of intimacy."

Opening the double-doors of the private dining chamber, her guests were welcomed to take a seat. Sable had to commend the staff of BlamCo, for their refreshments were ready. Nodding to her retainer on the opposite end of the room, Rose curtsied and exited the room.

"And Ms McGee, a gesture of good faith. I will overlook the parasol, the uneven shape of something folded underneath your sleeve and that peculiar, yet uniquely beautiful necklace of yours."

Waiting until everyone was seated first, Sable leaned forward with her hands on the table.

"BlamCo would be more than happy to meet your request, Ms McGee. In fact, I can grant that request and put the necessary arrangements for personnel within the hour.", Sable shifted her gaze between the two and dived right in. "But I wish to form an alliance between the Valkyries and the Undertakers."

No points for subtlety -- but then again, Sable was fond of the direct approach. Taking a seat, nonchalantly pouring her tea and taking a cautionary sip. Sable allowed her words to sink in. She had explained this to Thomas, but Victoria was the one she truly had to convince. So a show of faith was in order: The truth. "Allow me to explain what separates BlamCo from their very own clandestine group of Valkyries..."

Sable followed the steps that she had demonstrated with Thomas. An unrestricted insight into the 3 distinct divisions in the Valkyrie ranks. Their original history dating back 200 years ago and how that generation sought a foothold on the East Coast after nuclear devastation had destroyed their work in the West Coast. BlamCo's flavored trickery to the mainstream public. Sophisticated military presence due to the ever-evolving study of modern combat and research developments to compensate to Wasteland threats. The public's view of them as spirited hunters, the ominous duties put upon Sable & Keira as silent enforcers to protect the law outside official boundaries. Most importantly, Sable shared the an observation on the complimentary values between Undertaker & Valkyrie, pertaining to the matters of death in battle and duties of a proper burial.

"Pardon me. As an ultimate offer, I will happily volunteer myself as an emissary to the Undertakers. I will forfeit my position as a potential Queen/Empress, but I will remain a Duchess and one of high-standing to continue the alliance. I realize that this is only a proposal that might take years to come to fruition -- but I am confident in the security that our mutual protection can provide for future generations.", Sable stopped to refill her cup, looking rather relieved to share such guarded secrets. "I fear I have babbled for too long. Please, feel free to share any concerns or questions."

Looking back, Sable was a unique blend of Keira's self-assured aloofness and Kristin's arrogance.
Fortunately, she had time to whittle away at these borrowed traits in order to create her own.

Arizona
The Wild Wastelands | The Dunwich Job | Andale
"One Asshole plus Twenty-Five Bullets equals One Dead Asshole. My kind of math."

Sometimes, the simple act of being able to shoot something without having that something, or even several somethings, shoot right back at her could do wonders for the old Ghoul's mood. There were times when she idly thought about what that probably said about her, especially after everything wasteland life had done to her, and everything she'd done in her wasteland life. But now wasn't one of those times. No, she simply appreciated the fact that it was a reasonably simple equation to brighten her day just a little bit. Acceptable Target, plus Lack of Retaliation, minus Ammunition Costs equaled Happy Freelancer.

Satisfied with her work, she lowered Lester and watched as Shifty rushed to check on Sylphee, and some sort of power-armored Enclave individual stepped up and seemed to stare at the scene. Sylphee, she wasn't particularly worried about. Despite being a skinny little thing, she bounced back pretty quick from most stuff like that, she learned. The Enclave Soldier, however, piqued her interest, since this didn't seem to be one of their murder-bots.

"Well, that's that. Who are you, and who the fuck was that nutjob?" Arizona asked, jerking her head towards the corpse of the late Stormshaun.

To her surprise, she was immediately answered not by the Enclave Soldier, but by a local of Andale.

"That," the man said as he walked up, dressed in dusty clothes that looked typical of wasteland settlers, "Was the man--thing--that took our town hostage. And I don't know how we're going to repay you for killing the metal bastard.

Looking over with a crooked smile, Arizona chuckled a little. "But I'm sure you'll come up with something."

There was a contemplative moment before there was a glimmer in the man's eye and he nodded.

"You know, for a drifter type like you? I think we do have something you might be interested in. Least if you're any good at fixin' shit." said the Andale man, before he turned away and beckoned the Ghoul to follow.

With a single glance back at both Thomas and Sylphee, she strode behind the man. She was pretty confident those two would keep for just a little bit, and as it was, she was more than a little intrigued with what he meant.

She found out a minute later as she stood just inside a dim garage, looking over a slightly rusted motorcycle. It was a Harlan David and Sons model, and underneath the patches of rust it was painted with classic hot-rod flames across the main body of it. There was even a sidecar that had been shoved to one corner of the garage with a matching paint-job. All things considered, it looked to be in better condition than most pre-war vehicles that one found out wandering the wastes.

"This thing's been here since the war, I figure. It won't run since it's missing a few parts, but it shouldn't be too hard to get it fixed up. What do you think? This fair compensation to you?" the man asked her, hands on his hips as he looked over at her.

Arizona pursed her chapped lips and nodded a little as she slowly sidled around the motorcycle, examining it a little more closely. After a cursory look, she looked up at the man and grinned.

"Yea, I'd say so. I've got some plans for this baby already." she said, stroking the front fender with some affection.

Oh yes, she was already wondering just what she'd need to fix it up, and how much that might end up costing. Because as it was, whoever had this motorcycle had style, and really, walking across the wastelands was so... Pedestrian. Riding on a steel steed was where it was at.


[ dr. sorenson ]
The Wild Wastelands | Springvale | Springvale School
"Much like verbal speech, the subtleties of spelling and pronunciation can be lost in telecommunication."

Even as Jenna wondered what was going on with Malkos, the sight of the blind teenage girl bringing up her knees to her chest, rocking back and forth on the dirty floor of the school was heartbreaking. And it was clear from what she muttered that it was all just a horrible accident. She reached out with a gloved hand and gently rubbed Constance's shoulder as a sign of sympathetic reassurance, even though she knew it probably didn't do much good for her right that moment.

Especially as an Eyebot seemed to find it's way inside and shout the girl's name.

"CONSTANCE!"

The two of them to jump, and after looking around for some sort of escape, Constance got to her feet and saluted.

"M... m... mom? I mean... Enclave Intelligence Officer #411, ma'am."

"Wait a minute, that's your mother's--" Jenna started, only to be interrupted by the heated tirade of Enclave Intelligence Officer #411.

"You have really FUCKED UP this time. For a child of mine, who I raised instead of disposed of in a dumpster like the doctors had recommended, you have turned into such a disappointment. You are really the poorest example of a child of the Enclave. By attempting to kill that Undertaker Bitch without the foresight to know that you would end up killing such a high value ally, you have put the success of this mission... no, the future of Enclave glory in jeopardy! You stupid little child, you not only managed to kill your weapons developer, you managed to allow your only saving grace to out of your containment and go rampaging after a non-vital target! With your current results, you would be lucky to become a member of the Enclave Maintenance Corp as the second Maintenance Sister. But your superior officer and your loving mother has a means of saving your useless hide. Here are your updated mission objectives. You are to recover the missing Deathclaw, Malkos. You are to then complete training with the your designated trainer, the so called 'Valkyrie.' Finally, you are to secure a supply of weapons by any means necessary... even if you have to dig them out of the Ruins of Ravenrock by hand, DO IT! Is that understood?!"

Constance only seemed to flinch and shrink inward with every sentence. Dr. Sorenson, however, slowly got to her feet and clenched her fists as she listened #411 demean and belittle her own daughter. It was incorrigible.

As the Blind Enclave Scout hastily saluted and hurried to follow the orders she was given, Jenna took a few steps forward and raised an accusing finger to the Eyebot.

"Oh, now you listen here, lady! I don't know who you are, and I don't care, because Constance merely acted as she thought was best, and you have no right to--Hey! Where do you think you're going?! I'm not finished!" Jenna called out angrily.

The Eyebot clearly wasn't having any of it. After a cursory scan of Jenna and her things, it promptly began to float away, ignoring the Follower of the Apocalypse shaking her fist. When it was clear that the Eyebot was already long-gone, going who-knew-where, she let out an indignant huff and stamped her foot in frustration on the filthy linoleum.

"Bitch." she murmured behind her helmet before striding off in the direction that Constance had hurried off in.

"Constance?" Jenna called, before she spotted not only the young blind woman, but Kristin Blamco and Malkos.

She sighed softly as she made her way over.

"Constance, I'm sorry that you had to go through... All that. No mother should ever..." she said, trailing off as she stepped up to the two of them.

She had been about to say, "No mother should ever say that to their child.", but as she got closer, she started to get a good look at the Deathclaw in front of them. Being a rather perceptive sort, she could tell now that she was a little closer that it was not, in fact, Malkos that they were standing in front of. It was stockier, more solidly built. While that was one clear sign that this was a strange Deathclaw, another was the fact that she swore she heard it speak in her own mind once she had gotten close enough.

[I am not this ?Malkos? that you are looking for?though the fact that I could be mistaken for them raises a question or two. My name is Rath, who might you be?]

That was enough to stop her in her tracks, not but a few steps away from both Kristin and Constance.

"Y-you're an Intelligent, Psychic Deathclaw?!" Jenna asked incredulously, to no one in particular.

It took a moment, but Miss Blamco was the first to recover from the initial shock.

"Rath! So that's your name! It seems like you've put on some weight! That's good, goes to show you what the wonders of a properly cooked BlamCo cuisine could do for you. I say, you lot are too thin -- ..."

Jenna's head slowly turned to face Kristin and then cocked a little to one side. The fact that Kristin was welcoming this strange Deathclaw, who apparently went by the name of Wrath, with the utmost hospitality was... Odd, to say the least. As the Blamco Heiress turned her attention to Constance, her tone was a little more even, and noticeably less hostile.

When she mentioned a shower however, Jenna couldn't help but raise a hand.

"Would you mind if I joined you? You have no idea how sweaty I am under this suit, and really, I could use it for the relaxation as much as for hygiene. Today's been..." she hesitated, glancing back at Wrath, "Well, today's been quite the day. For all of us."

The Really Wild Wastelands | Springvale
Contrary to Popular Belief, Constance does not clean herself with her tongue...
Constance Sorrowfeld

[Excuse me. I am not this 'Malkos' that you are looking for...though the fact that I could be mistaken for them raises a question or two. My name is Rath, who might you be?] A voice 'said' inside the mind of Constance Sorrowfeld as she continued to pull on the Deathclaw's claw. Contrary to popular belief, Enclave Intelligence OFficer #411 was capable of raising a young girl who had the common decency to answer questions posed of her, however, in the case of this 'Rath' character, the question was simply ignored. In the same way that the 'ears' on top of the young American Enclave Scout of America's head beamed images into the young teenager's brain, 'Rath's' words were beamed into Constances. Now given the fact that the young girl had suffered some head trauma, possibly resulting in a mild concussion, she had a millimeter wave radar emitter pointed directly into her brain, causing all sorts of havoc on her nervous system. Then there was the emotional and mental trauma that she'd suffered being a major contributing factor in the death of Jonathan McKenna. With everything that had transpired in the last few hours, it was not surprising that the Cat Eared Junior Enclave Scout had mistaken 'Rath's' voice as a figment of Constance's shattered psyche. In other words, she ignored the message that was beamed into her skull because had she responded, it might have appeared that she was talking to herself and only crazy people talk to themselves.

Focusing on her continuing struggle to pull on the claw, and having absolutely no effect on actually moving the Deathclaw in question, the Terrified and Traumatized Teen could not hear the approaching sound of heavy boots that signaled the arrival of the Dutchess of Dairy.

"Rath! So that's your name!" The Princess of Parmesan's thunderous voice boomed behind the Neo-American Neko, causing Constance to instinctively reach for her shotgun, which she had thankfully left back in the kitchen, otherwise there might have been two accidental fatalities that day. Despite having almost jumped clean out of her skin, a sense of relief spread throughout the Young Teen's body, relief born of the realization that she was not going crazy due to some sort of psychological or neurological trauma. The Enclave of Old had little regard for those with mutations, with a rare few exceptions, and mental disorders, though hyper-aggression seemed to run rampant among the Enclave Heavy Weapons Specialists. If Constance Sorrowfeld, a mutant, were suddenly diagnosed with a mental disorder, it would probably be the final nail in the coffin for any sort of future inclusion in the ranks of the Enclave, especially considering her recent performance in the field... and the fact that she'd stolen the American Enclave Scouts of America's light armored transport... and the fact that she'd displayed very little in the way of leadership skills in the Sylphy/Gary war... and the...

"It seems like you've put on some weight! That's good, goes to show you what the wonders of a properly cooked BlamCo cuisine could do for you. I say, you lot are too thin -- ..."

The absence of sound pulled the Blind as a Bat, Bereaved Little Baby's attention from her own personal pity party and back to reality, where she noticed that Miss Kristin was looking at her rather intently, probably thinking of how Constance had murdered Miss Kristin's friend. It would have served Constance right if the Mistress of Mozzarella decided to end the partnership as well as the Young Teen's life right where she was standing. Riddled with more guilt than Mister McKenna's throat was riddle with shotgun pellets, Constance averted her face from Miss Kristin's gaze.

"...remember that shower you promised me? We should get ourselves cleaned up," Miss Kristin said gently, more gently than Constance would have thought possible when contrast against her normal bravado filled persona, "Perhaps chat a little and maybe you can help me with the cooking, yeah? Simple and quick dish for the remaining Sylphy's, I promise."

Constance, wiping the tear from her pale eyes, 'looked' at her Mission Mother and nodded weakly. It was said that in times of crisis, both personal and societal, washing one's self was a good way of regrouping and the American Enclave Scout of America was in dire need of a way to regroup... or rather, if Constance was bring honest, it appeared that both herself and Miss Kristin were in dire need of regrouping.

"Okay..." the Pity Party VIP said meekly before she noticed that Miss Jenna had joined them and had also been addressing the Deathclaw in their midst.

"Would you mind if I joined you? You have no idea how sweaty I am under this suit, and really, I could use it for the relaxation as much as for hygiene. Today's been..." she hesitated, glancing back at 'Rath,' "Well, today's been quite the day. For all of us."

----------------------------------------Enter the Shower Scene----------------------------------------

Word had been sent ahead of the trio of shower takers that the communal bathing area was to be scrubbed until every nook and cranny was clean enough to partake a BlamCO branded breakfast platter or brunch dish. The Sylphys, in their own enthusiastic way, had worked to the best of their abilities, scraping and scrubbing, wiping and washing, moistening and mopping, sanitizing and squeegeeing. Each one knew that the Queen Constance, Supreme Ruler of the Sylphys, and her court on their way to wash the day's grime off of them. When properly organized and motivated, it appeared that the a troop of Sylphys could accomplish nearly anything... except when they lacked the proper tools... which in the case of cleansing the communal bathing area, they did.

Entering the former gymnasium shower area, Constance was more than a bit appalled at the sight of large sections of broken, shattered tile that contained withered bits of plant matter and miscellaneous rubbish. To make matters less than satisfactory, the shower heads appeared to have been sealed shut by years and years of water deposits. If the trio was planning on taking a shower, it would take some time and some money for renovations as well as a tetanus shot.

There was, however, one item in the former gymnasium that had was useful for bathing purposes. It appeared that a small gaggle of Sylphy go-getters had managed to clean a rather large tub, previously used for post training sports soaking. From what the Amateur Shotgun Surgeon could gather from a Sylphy bathroom attendant who described the events in great detail, the tub had been previously been filled with an oozy brackish sludge. Lacking the proper bailing tools, namely a bucket, the ingenious balls of insanity used the one tool that their creator had given them, their mouth. Having slurped up a mouthful of mossy and bacterial growth and carried it outside. Once emptied, the taste budless little catastrophes scrubbed the tubs to a shiny luster using their hair.

"Blech!" Was the only response Constance Sorrowfeld could muster before patting each one of the black mouthed, black and bluehaired little berserkers on the head.

With the tub cleaned out and filled with soothingly warm water, there was nothing left to do but slide in and allow the healing to start. Having placed her clothing on a bench, where it would be picked up and laundered, COnstance, slid into the water and wordlessly waited for Miss Kristin to do the same. The Troubled Teenager, inexperienced in life and relationships, did not understand why Miss Kristin was still there nor why she would care to be in the presence of her friend's killer. Were Constance in the BlamCo Berserker's shoes, she would have probably left and not looked back, leaving the project to fail and the Murderer of Jonathan McKenna to be abandoned by the organization that she sought membership to.

~Splish!~

The tears came again... along with the guilt... along with remembered visions of the expression on Mister McKenna's face as he bled out... along with... remorse... regret. What would she say to Miss Kristin when she joined Constance? Was "I'm sorry, really sorry" enough?

Also... how would Constance act were she to remember that she had the smallest bust size of the current character lineup?

----------------------------------------Meanwhile a Sylphy Scene----------------------------------------

Of the quartet of characters there was really only one that should have been pitied at that very moment. While it might have been feasible to fit the Psychic Tank inside the tub, the resident blue haired psychopaths that resided inside the former elementary school might have come up with the bright idea to start a fire underneath the tub. You see, prior to the arrival of Malkos, the Sylphys had been subsisting on a diet of Deathclaw meat, which they had developed a taste for, not unlike their genetic original having a taste for Radscorpion meat. While Malkos had stated that Deathclaws were off the menu, he had not said anything about Psychic Deathclaws... nor any Deathclaw that had died accidentally. This meant that Rath had better watch his step... or possibly develop some means of reading minds. Of course, he might have been better off not knowing what the Sylphys were thinking.

"Sylphy Sylphy... Sylphy Sylphy!" One of the Blue Haired Miscreants said to another as they eyed the Deathclaw.

"Sylphy... Sylphy Sylphy." Responded the next, licking her lips as she stared intently at their guest.

"Syl-Sylphy!" Responded the first, sounding a bit like she was trying to imitate a rather fast moving bird that was constantly being hunter by a certain desert dwelling mammal before the both of them started laughing and grinning a Rath.


The Really Wild Wastelands | The Present | Outskirts of Andale
A Young Lady's Primer to Etiquette and Assassinations: Chapter 4
By: Victoria McGee

Victoria's Manuscript:

Making an Introduction

Note of Self: Would it not be more logical for a chapter regarding the topic of introductions to be the first chapter of the book? A young girl does not become a true until she makes her debut and an introductory chapter regarding introductions does make much more sense.

There is a moment in every young girl's life where she grows up and discards her previous life as a child and emerges from that cocoon as a young lady and begins to abide by the covenants written by those that came before her. For some young ladies, this behavior is instinctive, while others do not fully comprehend their promotion to ladyhood until a much later in life. Regardless of the varying degrees of inclination towards being a prim and proper lady of high societal standing, all young ladies must be debuted. While the details of the debuting ceremony vary from region to region, it is, in its simplest form, an elaborate introduction.

All ladies, young and not so young, must master the standard introduction. While the rules of how a young lady must introduce themselves may seem complex to the uninitiated, this nothing but speculation coming from the rough and tumble degenerate who lack etiquette. Ultimately there are two ranks that a young woman must be aware of when making her introduction: Higher Rank and Lower Rank. While information regarding the person one is introducing themselves to can prove invaluable, as one gains more experience in courtly manners, one will be able to note the telltale signs of one who is of higher rank and one who is of lower rank by the quality of their clothing and their bearing. Until such time as a young lady can master recognize these clues, it is safest to assume that they are greeting someone of higher rank.

When making introductions to a person of higher rank, it is customary to perform a deep curtsy and accept their offered hand as a form of greeting. It is also customary to allow the person of high rank to indicate whether a conversation need remain formal of can evolve into a more casual, more personal conversation. Always be treat those of higher rank with the utmost regard and care for it is their words that often dictate a newly anointed young woman's acceptance into a social circle.

When making introductions to a person of lower rank, one may assume a more casual demeanor and dictate the flow of the events. While one my be tempted to mistreat a person of lower rank, a true lady does not do so. A true lady will abide by the rules of etiquette and treat everyone with the utmost respect.

Just as a young lady must pay attention to rank, a young assassin must pay attention to the skills of her target. As always, information regarding a young assassin's mark will always prove invaluable but it is safest to assume that they are of higher skill. An assassin of experience will learn how to tell a target's skill level based on the quality of their equipment as well as their bearing.

When approaching a highly skilled target, it is safest to minimize one's exposure. By allowing the target to be unaware of one's presence and allowing the target to go about their day to day business, one will find opportunity to strike without warning. In these situations, it is preferable for a young assassin to use a tool with some range, be it a high powered rifle, remotely detonated explosive or lethal poison. If one allows the highly skilled target to dictate the terms of the interaction by allowing them to go about their life, the most opportunities will open up.

A target of lower skill levels will not need to be handled so carefully, making a multitude of closer ranged tools become available. Remember that it is a lower skilled target does still need to be treated with care as they may have a surprise or two but in the standard scenario, these interactions require less patience and more flexibility in planning.

The kill is a young assassin's introduction to her target. Just as a young lady must abide by rules, so should a young assassin. Remember these words and flourish in both society and profession.

The fragrance of a funeral pyre was as familiar to Victoria McGee as the scent of a mother to her child and while most would have found the bouquet of smells caused by the burning of flesh to be unpleasant, the Darkly Dressed Gravedigger welcomed the scent. Of course, this could have been a case of a random skirmish but there were only a select number of Wasteland inhabitants that chose to carry weapons capable of incineration and the absence of other scents, such as that of burning wood, made the scenario seem unlikely. Cresting a hill on the outskirts of Andale, the Lace and Silk Swaddled Assassin's smile was hidden under the scarf that she'd carefully re-wrapped around the lower part of her face, obscuring her artificial jaw. Her suspicion that the scent of burnt flesh came from a pyre was confirmed by the sight of a neatly stacking pile of still burning corpses. Thomas was near by.

If the Duchess of the Dearly Departed had to make an educated guess, she predicted that her cousin would have traveled to the nearest town in order to rest from such an arduous task and so, she started to walk through the burning fields and towards the small hamlet. To a casual observer, she would have seemed rather out of place, a woman dressed in a manner that bespoke of money and a fancy upbringing with her long dark dress and her unfurled parasol held overhead walking past a pile of burning, freshly killed raiders. But the raiders of Fairfax knew better and were content to stay in their ruins and lick their wounds. The pyre served as a reminder of the last time they'd attempted to accost a dark and finely dressed so and so.

Victoria's leisurely stroll was not without interruption. As she walked past a spot that must have been where the bodies had been scavenged of their caps and ammunition, the Finely Dressed Ferrywoman noticed a weapon leaning against a low wall, an anti-materiel rifle from the looks of it. Altering her course, she walked up to the carelessly discarded weapon and inspected it, finding quite a bit of cosmetic damage but nothing that would cause the weapon to not function.

"ti Mat," Victoria read the scratched stamp on the weapon's lower receiver. Pulling one of the glass gems from her necklace, the Dame of the Dead started carving into the weapon before reading the stamp again, "tiaMat."

Tiamat, as Victoria remembered from her Theology lessons, was a primordial goddess of chaos. She was depicted as a dragon and her body, after being slain by Marduk, was used to create the heavens and earth.

"(An appropriate name...)" She thought to herself as she shouldered the weapon and started climbing a hill that overlooked the town of Andale, where she could better survey the town of ill repute and its surroundings.

Cresting the second hill, the Former and Future Undertaker of the East stopped at the sight of the black power armor characteristic of one of the Capital Wasteland's major factions, the Enclave. There were a fair number of the armored troopers that stood around the perimeter of the town, all of them facing inwards, as if they were meant to keep the inhabitants prisoners in their town rather than keep people out. Unfolding tiaMat's bipod, the Silk Swaddled Sniper looked through the weapon's scope, scanning the town for clues as to what was transpiring.

"There you are, cousin Thomas." Victoria McGee muttered softly as the weapon's cross hairs came to rest on a familiar face. Seeing him, after all this time, brought a small frown to the surface of the woman's lips. Though he appeared a little older than she'd remembered, which was to be expected, Victoria noted her cousin's eyes. They were the eyes of someone that had experienced a great deal of hardship and torment. They were the eyes of someone who had a purpose that was thousands of miles away but was compelled to stay. Wouldn't it have been better to put him out of his misery?

As her finger touched the trigger a flash of movement pulled for Victoria's attention. It was the briefest of flashes but her rifle dutifully tracked towards the source and a new but familiar face filled the lens of the rifle's scope.

"What is YOU doing here?" Victoria hissed the question at Sable Blamco, wishing it could traverse the distance to the shield maiden with the quickness of a 50 caliber bullet.


[ dr. sorenson ]
The Wild Wastelands | Springvale | Springvale School "Showers"
"I feel more than a little mislead."

Being rather well-aware of the conditions of the school not long after arriving, Dr. Sorenson was sure that the Sylphy's would likely need some time to get things prepared for the three of them to actually get clean. If she was honest, she felt more than a little guilty watching a group of them hustle to help get the showers ready for use, but at the same time, she was largely content to sit and wait after recent, trying events.

It also made her incredibly thankful of her Followers of the Apocalypse training. Resources were scarce in the wastelands, and the general standards of living were poor to say the least. Conditions were a little better on the west coast, they still had to contend with supply shortages, being short-staffed, and having an inordinately large workload. Those challenges only mounted further since they were a humanitarian organization that stressed the idea that they were ultimately a charity.

During her initial stint in NCR territory, Jenna had pulled more than her fair share of long shifts treating injured and sickly wastelanders who ultimately had poor chances of survival even with proper treatment. More than a few times, she managed to pull off what was effectively a miracle. But those instances were far outnumbered by how many of her patients were either too far gone, or had a condition that she didn't have the tools or knowledge to treat.

She lost patients. Poor souls whose lives were cut short, often through no fault, or saving, of her own.

Each time was hard, but she had learned to push past the pain, the rush of hopelessness and despair, the feelings of inadequacy. If she didn't, she learned that it simply put more lives at risk. Lives that she needed to at least try for. To her, not even trying was a far greater sin than failure. Even if you failed, at least you tried.

And at that moment, she was guilty of that greater sin. Young Constance had accidentally killed Mr. McKenna, and was clearly in pain. And yet she had no idea what to say to even try and make it better, so she was staying silent. What could she say that wasn't simply a tired platitude? An inadequate "There, there?"

So, when the Sylphy's were finally done, she was almost inappropriately relieved at the idea of focusing instead on washing away the very real dirt and sweat as opposed to the purely emotional and psychological guilt.

Jenna stepped into the gym showers. And immediately saw that instead of using an actual shower, Constance had slid into a large bathtub. This raised two points in Jenna's mind; First, that she should have immediately remembered that among the various problems regarding the dilapidated school, the shower heads most likely would have been in such a state of disrepair that they were probably just a lost cause. And second, that this wasn't the NCR. They probably didn't have any decent running water.

"O-oh. I, uh... I didn't realize that we would be using a tub. Guess I should've figured." she said with a soft, awkward laugh.

She fidgeted a little as she walked over to where she saw Constance's clothes laid out. Then, with obvious reluctance, she turned her back and started to undress, starting with her helmet. Taking it off, she revealed jet black hair, cropped short and standing up in little spikes. Glancing back to the young Enclave Scout of America, Constance could actually see Jenna's face for first time.

It was narrow, angular. Her cheekbones were high, chin pointed, and she had a surprisingly delicate jawline. Jenna's eyes were wide and almond-shaped below refined eyebrows and above a thin, upturned nose. She was also wearing a pair of rather foggy, black-rimmed eyeglasses. And though Constance's radar-sensors couldn't pick up color, her skin was the color of light coffee and liberally dusted with freckles.

"You know, this is the first time I've ever actually bathed with... Anyone else. So, err... Don't... You know, just bear with me." blurted out the Followers Doctor with obvious discomfort.

Slipping out of the rest of her Science Suit and setting it aside, she covered her quite buxom bosom one arm and nether regions with her other hand as she shuffled over and slowly slipped one long leg into the water, and then the other. Tentatively lowering herself into the water, she couldn't help but sigh at how nice the heat was.

When she looked up to say as much, she noticed the tears pouring down the face of the young girl in front of her. So she reached over and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder.

"Constance?" she said softly, "I know it hurts, and I'm sorry. I'm sorry about Jonathan. And your mother. And... I'm sorry that I don't really know what to say. To try and make it hurt less."

She sighed and took off her glasses, dunking them in the water before reaching for a nearby towel that wasn't too grimy to try and clean them off. She didn't look up from what she was doing as she continued. She couldn't bear to.

"I really feel like there's something I ought to say, something I ought to do. But I know that sometimes it just isn't enough. Like the fact that I know I should have gotten to Jonathan faster and if I did, maybe..." she stopped, letting her words hang there for a moment before shaking her head and said, "But I wasn't fast enough, and I made the call to grab my Laser Rifle first because I thought, maybe there was still an intruder."

Putting her glasses back on, she looked up at Constance with a saddened expression.

"Let me tell you something that I had to learn the hard way as a doctor: You're going to make mistakes. You're going to make bad calls, and people will probably die for it. When it's your fault, you own up to it and promise yourself to do better. When it isn't... You have to move on. Because, at least in my line of work? Holding onto that guilt can make it that much harder the next time. And the next. You have to remember that you're human, and you can only do what you can do. You can strive to do more, do better, but until then, you can only do what you're capable of." Jenna told her.

Pulling up her legs, she hugged her knees to her chest and rested her chin on them.

"I know that probably doesn't help much. But I get the feeling it was all an accident right? I don't think you meant to kill him. You can't take all the blame for that." she pointed out.

For the second, or possibly third, time the Capitol Wasteland was treated to the rarest of sights, a Deathclaw confused into immobility. In the time between him asking the name of the tailed human and now, he appeared to have been caught up in a much unexpected whirlwind of activity.

First was the arrival of another human female, albeit this one was heavily armoured and armed with a large blade, who also appeared to believe he was someone he was not; then there was the arrival of another, who he assumed was female. Her shape was similar to other human female's he'd seen, but her clothing seemed to seal her from the outside world, denying him any scent for which to judge her with. Lastly, there was the emergence of a whole host of identical females; he wasn't quite sure how he'd missed their mental 'presence' when he'd first approached the building, but he had and their arrival unsettled him.

While the first three females disappeared back into the building to clean themselves, this new 'horde' rushed about is obvious deference to the tailed female, Constance. The armoured one had been speaking to him, but in his attempt to sort out the horde, he failed to catch a single word she said. The minds of the blue-haired ones all felt the same, and there was something very wrong about how they smelled; these two things pushed most other thoughts from his head as he tried to make sense of it. Not helping matters was their constant repetition of the same nonsense word 'Slyphy'.

Damned-able things... He thought, his consciousness struggling with his more 'base' instincts. His more primitive self, wanted to simply destroy the blue-haired things but he doubted the others would appreciate such a thing. Clawed hands grasped his head and covered his eyes as he took a deep breath in an attempt to clear his mind. It worked a little bit, but when he looked around once more he found several of them looking at him with obvious hunger. They must be mad. He thought as he recognized the predatory look. No weapons, no armour, and not nearly enough of them... Glaring at the closest one, he snorted a blast of foul smelling breath in her face. [Don't test me meat.] His 'voice' rumbled in the back of her mind like gravel rolling down a hill. [Tell your...companions...I am going to remain with them if they don't mind, I just have to gather up some things.]

With that he turned away from the bewildering school and returned to where he's stashed his possessions. Gathering up his gear, he looked towards where he could just see the top of the settlement where his friends lived and sighed. I hope they are well...maybe these people can answer that. Now with his bags and cloak, he returned to the school but moved a bit deeper into the rubble to keep out of sight from any potential passersby. From where he was he could hear splashing water, and shook his head slightly with amusement; he'd yet to figure out human fascination with water. Most of them didn't float very well, and they couldn't live in it, and it was generally toxic nowadays, but on multiple occasions he'd seen both males and females deliberately immersing themselves it.

As he pondered this foible, he smelled blood. Human male, deceased recently. He thought, his mind automatically cataloguing the smell and then telling him he was hungry; he almost started towards the source, when he stopped himself. He knew from first-hand experience that humans disliked seeing another get consumed...even if they didn't know that person. He didn't get why they always seemed to get so upset; to him it seemed a waste of good meat; but, not wanted to cause any trouble, he instead carefully opened he food cache and extracted a haunch of radstag.

Dagger-like teeth sliced through the flesh, while he gripped the foot and with quick increase of pressure with his jaw and a twist and jerk of his head, he cracked the bone open and tore a mouth full free. Chewing on that, he set the rest of the meat down and opened his other bag, extracting his holotape player. Hmm, what one did I have in there? He thought, staring at the player. Ah, it doesn't really matter. Carefully, using the tip of a claw, he pressed play.

The Wild Wastelands | Present Day | Entering Andale
"Greetings"
- Sable 'Swan Maiden' Blamco -
---

Since Sable's arrival there was no repeat of the scream from earlier. Instead, an orchestra of gunshots, voices from various locations and the thunderous sound of a few low bestial growls in the distance. For scouting purposes, this was one of those moments where Sable wished she hadn't abandoned her hunting rifle - truthfully, she was an unremarkable shot. It was her lack of skill with the rifle that made her retool her personal weapon loadout years ago. Furthermore, she simply could not fight effectively while lugging around a rifle. A sidearm would be tactically ideal alongside the shield, but she favored a sawn-off shotgun for the purposes of debilitating surprise attacks. Finding one with an ammunition supply would be a task for the future.

Moving onto current affairs, the Swan Maiden evaluated her options of infiltration. She was not equipped for sneak attacks against heavily-armored targets without drawing attention. Athletic as she may be, taking to the rooftops would only lead to exposure. An attack was out of the question, Sable relied on hit-and-run tactics, something which would be nullified by the Enclave troops if they turned out to be hostile, even the diplomatic approach seemed unfitting after the unseen gunfire. With all options of entry denied, in tandem with the ambient noise, Sable used the base of the greatshield to start digging a ditch behind the house she was squatting behind. Clearing a few centimeters of dirt off the ground, the Swan Maiden laid down, pulled the extended shield over herself and waited with a power spear at hand for a preparatory thrust attack. From a distance, her position just looked like a discarded piece of scrap metal. A heavily resilient piece of scrap, mind you.

The use of such a position came with a major drawback: She had to abandon her backpack in a haste.

The characteristic crunch of heavy armor was drawing closer to her position. Peeking from under the shield, an innumerable amount of Enclave Soldiers were marching in lockstep. Two marched dangerously close to her position and knocked over the backpack as they rounded the corner -- Sable held her breath, resolute on not moving or making a sound. They seemed to be leaving. Nobody said a word. After standing for so long, not even the faintest of grunts could be heard from these soldiers. It was unnerving to say the least, they exuded an aura of silent strength that was not present within the dogmatic Remnants found in the Mojave.

Giving the soldiers some time to march away, Sable emerged from the hiding spot and proceeded to clean herself off. If she was going to be approaching anyone, appearances went a long way. Pulling out a compact mirror, she did not check her makeup if that's what one was wondering, instead Sable peeked around the corner of her position. A younger lady in red was located in a dilapidated playground and finally an imposing individual with his back to her. Her position afforded her a limited perspective, but she hadn't forgotten the bestial growls from before.

Reducing the size of her expandable shield to torso-length, Sable's preferred balance of protection and offense, her heart stopped when a BlamCo-marked steel canister rested a foot away from her knocked over backpack. Securing the canister, the Swan Maiden counted her blessings and rounded the corner with shield and spear at the ready.

Every step sounded louder to the Swan Maiden, try as she might, she couldn't conceal the movement of ceramic plates and ballistic weave. Even though her armor was technically the lightest of the Valkyries -- stylish blue cloth had been layered underneath the silver armor reinforcements to dampen noise and pressure, while also accentuating her status as a Swan Maiden. The lighter armor afforded her mobility and range of motion, but she was beginning to think that Keira was lying about any noise dampening effects. Fortunately for her, the lady in red was creating enough cheerful shouting to cover her approach of the tall individual. Sable approached with caution, powering up her spear when she spotted his 10mm handgun. The man ran a hand through his hair, an upright gaudy mohawk and his arm slumped after that motion. He was tired. He was also exceedingly well-dressed for this rundown hamlet. And while many smells of the Wasteland competed for her attention, one combination was distinctly unique: sweat and lavender.

A few paces away, lunging length from skewering an unexpected face, Sable called out to the man. "Fancy meeting you here. All these years and you never call."
Taking a few steps forward to stand just one step to the Undertaker's side. The Swan Maiden tilted her head to meet his eye, her voice was silkier than intended. "...Thomas 'Shifty' McGee."


The Wild Wastelands | Present Day | Springvale Elementary School
"Salvation"
- Kristin 'Valkyrie' Blamco -
---

The party of three ventured back into the questionable safety of the school's walls. A moment's respite went a long way and the events of today had overtaxed the unintentionally formed trio. Passing the corridor that lead to the kitchen, the Dairy Duchess excused herself.

"I'll be with you two in a minute. Dinner preparations and such."

Making her way back to the kitchen, she steeled herself as she was exposed to the mess of the murder scene. A good portion of the table, seat, wall and floor were stained with blood. Rummaging through her backpack, Kristin used her thin sleeping blanket and one of her luxurious towels to soak up the pooling bloodstains. The dish-washing detergent and an old pot of water was set aside, mixed together and generously applied to floor and table before reapplying her personal bathing towels.

Her mind was desperately screaming for an escape, but Kristin denied herself the luxury of running away. She needed to face this directly, she needed to finish her duties, she needed -- ... ("That's odd."), Kristin thought to herself when she examined the wall during the superficial cleaning. Sable, her sister, surprisingly favored shotguns and their unpredictable attack spread over medium range. This, however, was a shorter range and the spread of the pellets were slightly off if one wanted to deliberately shoot a seated person. In fact, the more she tried to envision what happened here, the less it made sense for Constance to murder Jonathan. With that thought in mind, the imagery of Constance's shell-shocked appearance and non-resistance when she arrived was telling of an accident. What happened here!?

Her gauntlets were stained, which wouldn't be a big deal, but the amount of blood had seeped into the smaller gaps of her armor. Cursing under her breath, Kristin proceeded to remove her gauntlets, wash her hands and set her BlamCo Mini-Microwave to auto-cook. Perching the microwave on a chopping board, which rested on the rim of the previously used cooking pot, the mini-micro would take care of adequately distributing ingredients at programmed intervals into the preheated pot of water. This meal for the last batch of Sylphy's would have a more soupy consistency, the cost of flavor was outweighed by the nutritional benefits. Best to get them habituated to what would become their regularly-scheduled meal, lest they improve in performance, feats of outstanding performance were met with rewards in diet.

Making certain that the oven was on a timer, Kristin exited the kitchen with her toiletries and towel tucked under one arm. A gaggle of Sylphy's passed her in the hallway, each of them with a unique grimace of disgust on their faces. Spotting the towel, one Sylphy grabbed her by the arm and eagerly pulled her down a series of corridors. At times, she poked her tongue as if she was trying to regain proper use of it. It was stained an odd color. Shower-heads were spotted behind a doorway slightly ajar. Kristin patted her head as thanks and proceeded to enter the room. The murmurs were previously obscured by the school's unending activity...but this room was somewhat isolated from the busier activity in the classrooms. It was mostly quiet, except for three things: The sound of someone crying, the sloshing of water and the comforting words of a soothing voice - one in particular, that was clearer than ever before.

"...Holding onto that guilt can make it that much harder the next time. And the next. You have to remember that you're human, and you can only do what you can do. You can strive to do more, do better, but until then, you can only do what you're capable of."

Those were the words of Lady Sorenson. There was a wall to Kristin's side, presumably a shower wall, that she slumped against after silently closing the door.

"I know that probably doesn't help much. But I get the feeling it was all an accident right? I don't think you meant to kill him. You can't take all the blame for that."


All she wanted was to get beneath a shower and wash away the filth of this day. At her core, she realized that it would be inefficient and disastrous to continue this denial. She needed to act, for herself and the benefit of her team.

"She's right.", Kristin announced as she stepped out from behind the wall. Her eyes widened at the sight of Lady Sorenson's unencumbered form, smiling as she curtsied with a non-existent dress. "As wise as you are beautiful, as my sister would say. Lady Sorenson, I have no idea why you insist on hiding such a face."

Kristin's heavily-armored form was stripped piece by piece, a task that she chose to speak through. Her disposition growing darker as that boisterous smile fell away with all too much ease.

"Constance Sorrowfield.", Kristin announced just as the chest plate had been discarded and the top half of her leather armor undone. Exposing herself, the Valkyrie's lean muscled body told many a tale, for there were scars that even the best doctors couldn't fix. "I am a Warrior first, a Princess second and a Lady third. I am honed for the battlefield yet torn between those three responsibilities. Being in such a position leaves one with little free-will and when your life is ruled by others, you ironically find yourself to be very alone. Too late do we realize that we were acting on orders, without passion and without self-determined motivation."

Kristin set aside her greaves, gauntlets and seperated the kevlar weave from underneath the steel chestplate. Finally stripping from the underlying red-stained silver-dyed leather armor adorned with raven feathers, she was free to move around. Unlike Lady Sorenson's appropriate modesty, Kristin moved without shame.

"Today I lost the one friend that I've made since my arrival on the East Coast. And I -- ", Kristin faltered, choking back her own emotions, her voice filled with heartfelt regret. "I am sorry for earlier, my treatment of you was..shameful. I snapped at the worst possible moment and instead of protecting anyone. I indulged myself."

Walking towards the tub, Kristin dipped her toe in the delightfully warm water and slid into the tub to the side of Constance.

"I know not what happened in that kitchen, but I get the feeling that you are no killer. Not by choice anyhow.", Settling into the water, she submerged herself briefly and pushed her hair back when she resurfaced. To a trained medical eye, radiation usually induced sickness at certain levels of exposure. Kristin being especially sensitive to low exposure altered her hair to an unnatural gold. Not your everyday kind of reaction. "You are, however, a warrior. And as warriors, we will falter on the battlefield. We will be outclassed. Sometimes, we make mistakes that costs us the lives of those we were meant to protect."

Leaning forward, Kristin's laid the palm of her hand on Constance's cheek. Gently, she brushed aside a tear with her thumb. Her disposition grew more intense, her tone resolute yet hopeful. She knew all too well that Constance was blind in the traditional sense, yet she chose to meet her gaze like she would anyone else.

"And warriors do not fight alone. No matter how far you fall, no matter how grave an error you make, I will claw my way to you and you will stand to fight another day. I -- no, WE need you.", Kristin took hold of Constance's hand and pressed it to her chest, just over the Valkyrie's heart. "Do you feel that? A heart pounding with fear, uncertainty and most importantly hope. We are here to raise an army and that army needs leaders from a variety of disciplines. We can't be effective if we are divided."

Kristin leaned forward to lean her forehead against Constance's, her vision was growing hazy very quickly. She presumed it to be the water, but it was her turn to cry. Even through tears, the iron-willed Valkyrie tried her best to continue with a wavering voice.

"Take that grief, take your regret and use it!", Kristin pressed Constance's hand against her racing heart with both hands. It was her own wordless manner of displaying her sincerity. "Don't deny your emotions. Take your doubts and swear an oath to each of them: Make the better choice in the future."

This speech was not exclusive to Constance, it seemed. Kristin needed to say these things, she needed to ground herself. Lady Sorenson was not forgotten, she was also trying to comfort Constance until she arrived. Her kind presence was more than enough help.

"I'm sure you had your reasons, reasons only you can answer in your own time -- So all I ask now is that you begin fighting for yourself, fight for those that need you and fight for the dreams that you wish to accomplish.", Finally letting go of Constance's hand, Kristin leaned back, this time with a small smile on her face. "You aren't alone. Not anymore."

Underneath the water, Kristin clasped her hand in Constance's.

"Lady Sorenson," Kristin turned and sheepishly wiped at her own tearful face. With a grim smile, she continued. "Thank you for doing what you thought was right in the scenario. I realize Jonathan was an uneasy individual to get along with --- Okay, he was an asshole.", Kristin laughed bitterly at that darker remark. "But thank you for wanting to try."

Reaching into her toiletries bag, Kristin seemed to be in a slightly better mood. A lot was weighing on her shoulders. Even though the atmosphere was still heavy and doubts did not vanish overnight, Kristin still considered adding some flair to a shared bath. The ladies deserved to be treated, so Kristin's lavender-scented bath bomb was dropped into the water. After a bit, they would be relaxing in a small space of heated luxury.

Kristin squeezed Constance's hand once more before unclasping her fingers. "I hope you'll still have me here, after everything."

Bravado, affluence, status and power only took you so far. The Valkyrie was not immune to vulnerability.

The Really Wild Wastelands | Springvale
Coin Operated Toy
Enclave Intelligence Office #411 | Eyebot SN# 5376864355498463457870156-3

Eyebot SN# 5376864355498463457870156-3 was having a rather bad day, having collided with one of the wasteland winged rats that humans called pigeons during one of its patrol routes, been shot at numerous times by scavengers, raiders, Super Mutants, Brotherhood of Steel trash, malfunctioning robots, functioning robots and one rather bizarrely mutated molerat with opposable thumbs and it had almost beened burned to a crisp by an Undertaker human who thought that the use of a city gas main for cremation would be a good idea. Little did Eyebot SN# 5376864355498463457870156-3 know that its day was about to get even worse. It would be given a task by Enclave Intelligence Officer #411.

Before we proceed with the nitty gritty of the task relayed to Eyebot SN# 5376864355498463457870156-3 by the Enclave Intelligence Officer, it would probably do some good to get some personal information regarding the main subject of this post, namely Eyebot SN# 5376864355498463457870156-3. Firstly it should have been noted that Eyebot SN# 5376864355498463457870156-3 preferred the name Eyebot Brian to the long numerical string that the factory had assigned it upon its manufacturing, if for no other reason than it was as close to being called Eyebot Brain without actually being called that, it was an Eyebot, not a Megalomaniabot. Secondly, Eyebot Brian was a bit of a misanthrope.. and a misogynist to boot. In Eyebot Brian's opinion, not only were humans were pretty useless but human females were even worse, second only to Super Mutants. Finally, while most Eyebots were unarmed, Eyebot SN# 5376864355498463457870156-3... I mean Eyebot Brian had been subject to so many substandard infield repairs that it had found a means to deliver a mild electrical shock over a small radius by discharging some of its stored battery power through its fuse matrix decoupler... a part that mysteriously lacking in Enclave of America Eyebot schematics.

"Enclave Eyebot SN# 5376864355498463457870156-3!" Came a "voice" over the command frequency.

"Oh god, not you again." Eyebot Brian responded to the Enclave Routing Computer that had interrupted his patrol. While digital entities had no gender if they did, Eyebot Brian assumed that the Enclave Routing Computer would have been female considering how it gave so many orders and did nothing, "What do you want?"

"High Priority Mission. Report to the following Coordinates. Standby for additional orders from Enclave Intelligence Officer #411." Enclave Routing Computer stated before cutting the signal.

"FUCK! REALLY?!" Eyebot Brian cursed as he realized that his bad day had gotten even worse. While the Eyebot had no concrete reason to have the belief that human females were naturally inferior to all other beings in existence, it had statistics to backup why all Eyebots should be afraid of a mission involving that particular human female. Since only 3% of Enclave Eyebots returned from missions overseen by Enclave Intelligence Officer #411, the chances that this was Eyebot Brian's last day on Earth was pretty high. Were it not for the built in rules that forced Eyebot Brian to comply, it might have attempted to refuse the order.

"Stop! No! Disengage thrusters!" Eyebot Brian screamed frantically as it found its own body moving automatically towards the indicated mission coordinates... a relatively short trip considering that it had stopped in at the Andale Depot for repairs. As the distance to the destination decreased, Eyebot Brian attempted to calm itself by thinking that perhaps the mission wouldn't be all that dangerous. Perhaps it would be assigned the glorious task of observing a molerat colony or spy on the Saint Walt's Convent and Crematorium in Norfolk, Virginia. Perhaps it would...

"OH FUCK!" Eyebot Brian cursed loudly as it came face to faceplate with a Deathclaw standing in the middle of the Former Springvale Elementary School's cafeteria. As it floated there, a remote connection with the Enclave Vault was made.

Enclave Chat Relay:
Enclave Intelligence Officer #411 has logged in.
#411:> "Greetings from the Esteemed Enclave of the United States, Deathclaw. Identify yourself.

If Eyebot Brian had hands, it would have brought a palm up to its face plate. This was not the way to start a conversation with a creature that could have sent the Eyebot into lunar orbit.

"Um... Hi! What's your name?" Eyebot Brian asked, pausing for a moment before reporting the creature's non-response.

Enclave Chat Relay:
Eyebot:> No response from Target.

#411:> "You will identify yourself or this highly advanced unit of Enclave design will be forced to put you down."

"Ummmmmmmm... I'm Eyebot Brian... and you are....?" The Nervous Eyebot translated the query.

"Sylphy Sylphy Sylphy." Came a feminine voice that could have been characterized as annoying from the other side of the kitchen.

Enclave Chat Relay:
Eyebot:> No response from Target. Blue Haired Female Interloper is attempting communications. Permission to ram the interloper's skull into the wall.

#411:> Denied.

Enclave Intelligence Officer #411 has uploaded a new update.

#411:> Activate Sylphy Translation Application (Beta Ver. 0.002)

"Scale Creature say talk brain." The Blue Haired Questionably Sentient Human Female stated in her archaic language.

Enclave Chat Relay:
Eyebot:> Blue Haired Female Interloper states that the Deathclaw "talks brain." Permission to perform booster tests on interloper's face.

#411:> Denied. "Do you mean you're psychic? The science division would love to vivisect this one..."

If Eyebot Brian had a face, it probably would have cringed at the message. It wondered if Enclave Intelligence Officer #411 was attempting to get the Eyebot destroyed.

"The Blue Haired B... B... Girl says that you're psychic. What a wild wasteland we live in... Ha Ha Ha..." Eyebot Brian laughed nervously as he waited for Malkos to respond.

Rath was quietly enjoying his meal and listening to his music. Deeper into the building he could hear snippets of conversation from the humans, but since what he'd heard didn't seem to be centered on dealing with him, it was of little interest. The strange smelling, and incomprehensible, blue haired humans moved about here and there, nattering at each other; but they were leaving him alone, so he paid them no mind either. Unfortunately, his meal was rudely interrupted by an Eyebot buzzing into the ruins, and up to his face.

"OH FUCK! Um... Hi! What's your name?"

Annoyed by the interruption, he simply snorted in the little floating bots grill. Rath disliked robots; the floating ones, like the Eyebots and the Mr. Handys, had a most annoying habit of getting in his way while hunting and the Protectrons and Robobrains had a habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time for him. The Sentry Bots he was a bit frightened of, and they had the armour to resist his attacks and the firepower to cause him serious injury. In the case of this little bot, he hoped that if he ignored it, it would simply leave.

"Ummmmmmmm... I'm Eyebot Brian... and you are....?"

Well so much for that plan. He thought sadly. He considered simply smashing it, but decided against it; its destruction may cause others to be summoned to the school, and one robot was bad enough. That said, even if he'd wanted to talk, there was no mind for him to talk to. Off to the side, one of the blue haired ones chittered away.

"The Blue Haired B... B... Girl says that you're psychic. What a wild wasteland we live in... Ha Ha Ha..."

That got Rath's attention. It can understand that gibberish? He thought, his reptilian features wide with amazement. Cocking his head to the side, he studied the floating ball for another moment or two before letting out another 'huff' of air. It was obvious this little intruder wasn't going to go away, so he had best find a way to reply. The three women he'd recently met could act as intermediaries, but they had obviously gone off together and he didn't wish to bother them with his problem; the bot could understand the blue-haired ones, and he was pretty sure they understood him...but he had no way to tell what they might say instead.

He thought he was at an impasse, until he spotted it, a nice, large, blank wall. There were no markings aside from some weather and time induced discolourations, and it still seemed to be mostly intact. He had no idea if the bot could 'see', but this was all he could think of. Reaching out he wrapped a hand around the little floater and pulled it with him as he walked over to the wall. Releasing his grip, he extended a clawed finger from his other hand, and began carefully carving into the centuries old plaster with the very tip.

NAME IS RATH
WHAT YOU WANT?
WHY YOU BOTHER ME?

Carving each letter was slow going given the fragile nature of the plaster, but eventually he got it done. As he wrote/carved he smiled, remembering both Sam and Roger teaching him how to 'write'. He hadn't understood the need for such a thing, but they had both been so insistent that he learn that he found he couldn't say 'No'.

The Really Wild Wastelands | The Distant Past | BlamCo Manor
The Silver Raven
Victoria "Shiver" McGee

From Victoria's perspective, it quickly became apparent how it was that Cousin Thomas could become so easily ensnared by this Sable Blamco. In a manner of minutes, the Darkly Dress Duchess of the Dead's host demonstrated not only her grasp of etiquette but the intelligence to how best to utilize the rules that had been written to keep the upper crust of society from falling into a bog of degeneracy. There were countless examples of individuals who believed that their station afforded them the luxury of behaving in any manner they chose. Such beliefs were the cause of many of the past's more outrageous controversies, from a Countess bathing in the blood of virgins to maintain her youth to an orange skinned, wig wearing political degenerate utilizing a woman's genitals as a hand grips. There was a purpose to these rules, as stifling as they might seem to a casual observer.

This line of thought, however, digressed from the original. Cousin Thomas, having only been in the world for maybe a few months at this point, had not yet adapted to the isolation that came with admittance to the Undertaker's Union. The Instructors had prepared candidate Undertakers for the loneliness that they would feel, even going to far as to draw a metaphor between the position of Undertaker and the Temple's attractions known as the spinning teacups.

Teacup's Allegory:
An Undertaker is like one of these beautifully crafted, spinning teacups. They may move around the world, dancing around and crossing the paths of other teacups but they never meet. They never interact.

An Undertaker must be prepared for this. While you may walk the world, witnessing its majesty, you will never truly become part of it, even though you are performing a great service. Those you help will shun you, believing that death follows you in your wake and they will leave you to your own devices until they need you. This is why, to those in the world, you will never be more than a teacup spinning past another, forever bound to isolation. No man is an island unless that man is an Undertaker.

Being new to the world, it made sense that Thomas would be drawn to one that accepted death as readily as the Silver Armored Swan Maiden. Even Victoria found herself enjoying the conversation as it unfolded... but it did not mean that she would abandoned the rules that she had bound herself to. For majority of the conversation, the Silk and Lace Swaddled Shovel Bearer remained politely silent and listened to the words that passed between Sable's lips.

"In Valkyrian mythology, it was not uncommon for a Chooser of the Slain to take favor upon a male suitor of demonstrable prowess. You see, in the heat of battle, all pretenses can be stripped away. What separates a desperate struggle for one's life and the admiration for a skilled individual is a matter of respect that develops it's own brand of intimacy." Lady Sable said as she passed through a set of double doors that lead into a small dining room. Pausing at the doorway, the Duchess of the Departed turned for a moment and noticed Cousin Thomas standing on the landing of a set of stairs, his eyes wide at the words that he'd just overheard. Raising a finger and pointing it towards a nearby bench, Victoria bid her cousin to wait for her before she turned to enter.

"And Ms McGee, a gesture of good faith. I will overlook the parasol, the uneven shape of something folded underneath your sleeve and that peculiar, yet uniquely beautiful necklace of yours." The Lady of the Manor commented, eliciting a raised brow of surprise and respect from her guest, who was equally as surprised by the fact that she was being served actual tea.

It should also have been noted that Victoria was rather grateful for the tea that her hostess had so graciously served as a refreshment. While tea might have been plentiful for those in BlamCo manor, true tea was rarely available on the East Coast. True tea required an environment ideal for its cultivation and skilled workers that oversaw its harvesting. Such environments were often in lands that were either now blasted by radiation or so far away that the import of such teas was prohibitively expensive. As a result, tea connoisseurs were forced to make due with the cured plant leaves of whatever non-poisonous, slightly flavorful flora they could gather.

While most may have seen etiquette as an unnecessary shackle, Victoria found it rather useful that her role as guest was to maintain silence while her host spoke. It afforded her the luxury of not only fully listening to the words of her hostess but to enjoy the exquisite aroma and flavors that only a first flush Darjeeling could provide. As she listened to an exposition regarding the history of BlamCo and its military branch, the Valkyries.

"Pardon me. As an ultimate offer, I will happily volunteer myself as an emissary to the Undertakers. I will forfeit my position as a potential Queen/Empress, but I will remain a Duchess and one of high-standing to continue the alliance. I realize that this is only a proposal that might take years to come to fruition -- but I am confident in the security that our mutual protection can provide for future generations," Victoria's hostess said in a voice filled with a sense relief that came after one had unburdened themselves of secrets, "I fear I have babbled for too long. Please, feel free to share any concerns or questions."

Setting down her teacup, Victoria straightened her posture and looked directly into the eyes of the kind Lady Sable. Having entrusted the Undertaker of the East with the secrets that surrounded BlamCo, their relationship had arrived at a point where they could speak on more familiar terms, especially in a private setting.

"Lady Blamco, it does come to me as quite a surprise that you would be so interested in an organization such as the Undertaker's Union. Of course, the revelations that you have provided me regarding your own organization tell me that my own cousin has been rather loose tongued regarding the secrets that the Undertaker's Union would prefer to keep unspoken, however, I do see some wisdom in this exchange of information. Regardless of Thomas or my opinion on the matter, it is a proposition that would have to be presented to the Grand Master as well as his council." Victoria said in a rather friendly manner that contrasted against the formal word choice. The woman paused for a moment, as she unfurled her fan to cover her mouth, though Sable could more than likely see that the woman was frowning behind the impromptu wall that she'd put up, "Forgive me, I'm still getting used to this voice synthesizer."

Taking another sip of tea, the Undertakers' Empress of Etiquette paused to gather herself and her emotions.

"I'm sure your proposal is sure to be met with acceptance, though. Despite our... other revenue stream..." Victoria said as she eyed the retainers, "the Union still follows the fundamental beliefs set forth by our founders. Treatment and burial of the dead is not just our livelihood but it allows the dead to rest assured that their mortal remains have been cared for. In hearing about your words about how the Valkyries respect the fallen, I feel that it is an idea that you truly carry... that you feel passionate about. Were you not already engaged with BlamCo, I'm sure that you would have made an excellent Undertaker," There was another pause in Victoria's words as she brought her fan up to cover the coy smile on her lips, "Though if you truly have designs for my cousin, we might see your admission to the Union sooner rather than later, Silver Raven."

There was a coughing fit that came from the other side of the double doors, as Thomas, that ill-mannered cad, had taken to eavesdropping on the conversation. Knowing her cousin, his coughing fit stemmed from both the fact that Victoria was plotting his matrimonial future as well as bestowing Sable with an unofficial nickname granted to Undertakers upon their graduation.

"Now then... since this business has been resolved, I've heard some idle gossip around New Vegas that your Lady Kristin is somewhat of a beast when it comes to combat. I, having been known to enjoy a good sparring session from time to time, had also come to this manor hoping that I would get the opportunity to meet her and I would be delighted if you could do me this one favor and introduce me to your Heiress," Victoria said with a mischievous smile, "I think it would speed up the acceptance of your proposal if I can get a sense of what the Valkyries' capabilities... perhaps I could impose you to entertain my cousin for a smile while longer before he and I depart. I fear that after our departure, he and I will be having some words regarding his behavior today."

With that said, Victoria, feeling on more equal terms with her hostess, picked up the tea pot and poured her the golden brew into her cup.


The Really Wild Wastelands | The Present | Andale
Reunited and it feels so good...
Thomas "Shifty" McGee | Sylphee

The Friendly Former Neighborhood Undertaker was both amazed and amused by how quickly and efficiently both Sylphee and Arizona had been in dispatching the Self-Aggrandizing Cybernetic Shit Storm. Were Shifty not aware of the Crimson Cloaked Catastrophe's penchant for accidental mischief, it might have appeared to have been done on purpose... in an insane sort of way. If there was one thing that was made abundantly clear by the encounter, however, it was that the Red Headed Ancient One was not one to be trifled with as over two dozen of her lead projectiles tore through the metal clad flying pig's armor and the fragile man-child housed inside.

**CRUNCH!!**

The sound of metal scrap hitting the ground was followed by the sound of a rounded bit of armored housing from the hip rolling away from the metal clad corpse, like an escaped hubcap from simpler days passed. Keeping his eyes on the round rogue armored bit, Thomas watched as the object rolled down the asphalt for a ways before loudly banging against an errant garbage can.

**GOOONG!!**

Which was followed by the sounds of doors being opened for the first time in weeks as the townspeople of Andale (Andaliens?) emerged from their forced isolation, their eyes squinting against the light of the sun but welcoming it at the same time. While Arizona followed a man towards his garage, Thomas headed towards the pile of scrap that had terrorized the Andalites. To the Former Friendly Neighborhood Undertaker's surprise, the impact of the crash landing suffered by the Needlessly Self Righteous Auto-Sycophant had banged the armor into a sealed ball-like mass of scrap, a lucky break for the Gregarious Gravedigger as he had probably already fulfilled his quota of burials for that month. As much as he detested the thought of leaving a body to the elements, he figured that the Andalinos would find a better use for the corpse before properly disposing of it. Not that he blamed them given the message that was burnt into the diagnostic readout.

It's been fun... with a few of you at least...

"(This is probably worst epitaph I've ever read...)" The Crypt Caretaker thought to himself as he surveyed the town, noticing that Sylphee had drifted near Fionna's trio of Deathclaws... and a radio that one of the Andaloos have brought out to enhance an already celebratory day for the town. Looking back to the corpse, the Friendly Former Undertaker of the East noticed a small bag laying on the ground with the a small label that read "tea."

"(Strange that a cybernetic nitwit would carry tea)" Shifty thought to himself as the pocketed the bag and turned to witness something truly frightening.

"C'mon Missy Rachel! C'mon Missy Phoebe! C'mon Missy Monica! Clap!" The Red Rembrant exclaimed, demonstrating with a **CL-CL-CL-CLAP!**. The sight was... unnerving to say the least as the Red Menace was asking the Mutated Death Dealers to perform an act that utilized hands whose primary purpose was the rending of flesh from bone, "Missy Fianna CanCans McFirecrotch! Can you get them to clap? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please? Please?"

Were it not for the sound of approaching boots, The Tall and Darkly Dressed Caretaker of the Dead would have rescued both Sylphee and the Deathclaws from each other.

"Fancy meeting you here. All these years and you never call...Thomas 'Shifty' McGee." Said a vaguely familiar voice from The Former Undertaker of the East's distant past. It was a strangely silky voice that he had not heard in... how long? It must have been a scant few years Thomas had heard any words pass through the lips of Sable Blamco, though, truth be told, it felt as if it had been decades.

Turning to face the source of the voice that had spoken his name, the Tall and Dapperly Dressed Former Ferryman's eyes fell upon a woman whose face was more familiar than her voice. Firsts are always the most memorable be they first kisses, first dates or first time being intimate with a partner and so it was that Sable Blamco would forever be remembered by the now more Experienced Ferryman as his opponent in his first duel to the death... even though no one had died that day... but still... it had been memorable... especially since she'd also been the first to give him a severe case of emotional whiplash. Considering the events that had transpired during their first meeting, Thomas hoped that Sable understood the reason that he was not immediately responsive to her greeting. Fortunately for both parties involved, Sylphee was on the scene.

"Daaaaddy? Who z'at?" The Catastrophe Cloaked in Crimson asked in her almost childlike manner as she walked up to stand next to the suddenly Crimson Faced Coffin Maker. Glancing down at the Sylphee, Shifty was unsurprised to see the look of curiosity that was almost permanently etched on her visage.

"This, Sylphee, is Sable Blamco... an old friend," he responded, wishing that he could warn the Silver Clad Spear Shield Maiden of the assault that was about to come. Thinking over the words he had just spoken and the uncertainty of the situation he made an addendum to his introduction, "at least I think she's a friend. It's... complicated."

Not that the Red Menace was paying any attention to what he was saying after it was mentioned that Sable was a friend. The inevitable verbal barrage had begun in true Sylphee fashion.

"Hi-hi-hi-Missy-Silver-Sable-Inflatable-Fancy-Shield-Lady-I'm-Sylphee-and-that's-Daddy-and-over-there-is-Missy-Arizona-Not-Old-One-Not-Leather-Faced-Lady-Not-Ghoul-Whore-With-The-Gun-and-Missy-Fianna-CanCans-McFirecrotch-and-her-pet-lizzies-Chandler-Ross-and-Joey.Where'd-you-come-from?How-do-you-know-daddy?Why'd-you-come-out-here?Were-you-looking-for-daddy?Do-you-like-explosions?How-do-you-keep-your-clothes-so-clean?Do-you-have-a-maid-that-cleans-your-clothes?Have-you-ever-been-swallowed-by-a-giant-toad?Do-you-like-rad-scorpions?Do-you-want-to-meet-Mister-Pinchy?Let-me-go-ge-HEY!" Sylphee managed to machine-gun her introduction and random assortment of questions before Shifty could grab her and haul her back towards him.

"Sorry about that, Sable. Sylphee gets rather excited when she meets new people," The Blue Haired Crimson Clad Manic's Faux-Father apologized, as a jolt of nerves stabbed him in the stomach a few more times for good measure. Even as random as Sylphee's queries had been, there had been a few that were right on point. Why had Sable traveled all the way out to the Capital Wastes? Did it have anything to do with the conversation that he'd accidentally overheard between her and Victoria? Was there going to have to be an awkward conversation about how the Custodian of the Living Impaired had found love with Lucy Black? Blinking for a moment, he realized that he'd been standing there and allowing an awkward silence to hang in the air.

"Well... " The flushing funerary foreman started to say before a glimmer on the woman's body caught his eyes. A polished silver ring of unmistakable purpose. An engagement ring whose design was unmistakably reflective of the owner's style. The nervousness that had been wringing the Finely Dressed Ferryman's neck subsided into relief, "As for this chance meeting out here of all places, Lord Walt does remind us that it is a small world... though I must admit that his words do little to alleviate my astonishment at seeing you after all this time. Be that as it may, Sylphee does bring up a few good questions, the first of which being what brings you to this small sliver of paradise?"

Even as he asked the question, Thomas "Shifty" McGee had a sneaking suspicion that Sable's purpose was somehow related to the other BlamCo Valkryie that had been traveling with Lucy for a short time. It was a suspicion that would be left unsaid, however, as it would have been ignorant to make assumptions after all this time.

"Actually, before talk about that, why don't I see if I can scrounge up some boiled water," Thomas "Shifty" McGee said with a smile on his face as he held up the bag labeled "tea" [1] from earlier, "I think it's only fitting given our past, don't you?"


The Really Wild Wastelands | Springvale
A tub filled with sorrow...
Constance Sorrowfeld

Were this another world in another historical period... perhaps where dragons served as maids ... Constance Sorrowfeld might have felt intimidated by the Blamco Berserker's big bosoms or the Follower Field Medic's Flesh Pillows. Instead, the young girl's familial name never seemed more appropriate than it did as she sat in the tub with tears streaming down her face. If someone were to metaphorically open the top of the American Enclave Scout of America's skull and look inside, they would have found the obvious sorrow and remorse that she felt for her role in the death of Mister McKenna but there was something else, confusion. There was also a sense uncertainty that came when entering relatively unknown territory, like swimming in deep water for the first time.

"(Why? Why are they being nice to me?)" The Blind Back Washer absently wondered as she tried to compose herself, "(It's my fault that he's dead. So why? Why aren't they yelling at me? Why aren't they calling me names or punishing me?)"

If the someone who had metaphorically unscrewed the top off of Constance's head were wondering why the young Blind as a Bat Badge Collector was so confused, they might not have been aware that she was a member of an youth soldier training program that disguised its lessons as wholesome summer camp activities as well as the daughter of a woman who was the unofficial pictorial example for the word "cunt" in the New Enclave Dictionary, neither of which were particularly known for providing supportive, nurturing environments. Which was definitely an explanation for why the Blind as a Bat Bather was unsure of how to act in the face of such bold faced kindness.

"Let me tell you something that I had to learn the hard way as a doctor: You're going to make mistakes. You're going to make bad calls, and people will probably die for it. When it's your fault, you own up to it and promise yourself to do better. When it isn't... You have to move on. Because, at least in my line of work? Holding onto that guilt can make it that much harder the next time. And the next. You have to remember that you're human, and you can only do what you can do. You can strive to do more, do better, but until then, you can only do what you're capable of. I know that probably doesn't help much. But I get the feeling it was all an accident right? I don't think you meant to kill him. You can't take all the blame for that." Miss Sorenson advised softly, as she pulled her legs up to her chest.

Perhaps it was the warmth of the water or the warmth of Miss Sorenson's words but Constance felt her body unconsciously relax, not fully, but ever so slightly. She felt tired, too tired to respond, too tired to tell Miss Sorenson that even if it had been a mistake, the Amateur Shotgun Surgeon should have had the situational awareness to know that even if her shotgun's pellets had not been deflected, there was still a good likelihood that Mister McKenna would have been hit. Having replayed the situation in her mind over and over and over again, she knew why she had pulled the trigger. She was scared. She was scared that once the assassin was done with Jonathan, Constance would be next. It was because of this fear that she'd panicked and fired without thinking. These weren't the actions of a soldier of the Enclave or even a member of the American Enclave Scouts of America. These were the acts of a fool and a coward.

"She's right." Said Miss Kristin as she entered the bathing area before peeling her armor off and dropping them to the floor like petals of a flower. Surrounded by such shining examples of femininity, the young girl, her cheeks flushed, sank a little deeper into the water until her reddening cheeks were hidden before shutting off her ears... at least temporarily. She didn't need any further reminders of how inept she was as not only a soldier but as a woman as well. Blind to the world, Constance Sorrowfeld was left alone with her thoughts and her sorrows.

"Today I lost the one friend that I've made since my arrival on the East Coast. And I -- ", Miss Kristin's seemingly weakened voice cracked, her voice filled with pain and sadness "I am sorry for earlier, my treatment of you was..shameful. I snapped at the worst possible moment and instead of protecting anyone. I indulged myself."

"(No... cost her the only friend that she had. she had every right to treat me like that... or worse,)" The miserable teenage girl thought to herself. The sound someone dipping their toes into the water was followed by the sensation of the water level rising slightly as Miss Kristin entered the tub. Unable and unwilling to tolerate the touch of the woman whose friend she had killed, Constance drew her limbs in towards her, marking herself as small as possible.

"I know not what happened in that kitchen, but I get the feeling that you are no killer. Not by choice anyhow," Miss Kristin continued, her voice sounding slightly more relaxed now that she was in the tub's waters, "You are, however, a warrior. And as warriors, we will falter on the battlefield. We will be outclassed. Sometimes, we make mistakes that costs us the lives of those we were meant to protect."

The water rippled again and suddenly the grief stricken teenager felt a hand on her cheek, causing her to flinch ever so slightly as it brushed aside a tear. Despite her desire to pull away, she did not... would not... dared not. Lives were not the only cost for mistakes. Whatever punishment Miss Kristin doled out, Constance would accept... and yet... no punishment came.

"And warriors do not fight alone. No matter how far you fall, no matter how grave an error you make, I will claw my way to you and you will stand to fight another day. I -- no, WE need you," Miss Kristin continued before a hand took hold Constance's and pressed it to something soft... something soft that thrummed with life underneath, "Do you feel that? A heart pounding with fear, uncertainty and most importantly hope. We are here to raise an army and that army needs leaders from a variety of disciplines. We can't be effective if we are divided. Take that grief, take your regret and use it! Don't deny your emotions. Take your doubts and swear an oath to each of them: Make the better choice in the future. I'm sure you had your reasons, reasons only you can answer in your own time -- So all I ask now is that you begin fighting for yourself, fight for those that need you and fight for the dreams that you wish to accomplish. You aren't alone. Not anymore."

There was a brief lull in the conversation, however one sided it had been at the point, as Miss Kristin addressed Miss Sorenson, leaving Constance to ponder the words that had been spoken to her. She didn't deserve such kindness. She didn't deserve such support. She wasn't worthy of any of the words that either Miss Sorenson or Miss Kristin had spoken to her. She was going to get them killed... or worse... unless something changed. unless she changed? Unless she could make herself into a better soldier... a warrior... like Miss Kristin. She could learn from Miss Kristen... and then... if she ran into that assassin again, Constance would be ready. She had no doubt that Miss Kristin's training would be difficult... but it would be Constance's punishment... her penance... her absolution and rebirth. Hidden by the water, Constance's face became set with the resolve that she suddenly felt.

"I hope you'll still have me here, after everything." Miss Kristin's voice suddenly cut in through Constance's thoughts.

"Of... of course..." Constance managed to stammer as she lifted her head out of the water, "There's nothing that I would want more than to be at your side, Miss Kristin. I... I can't do this... any of this without you." The Teenager said as she considered her next words, "I need you... and you too, Miss Soren - Miss Jenna. If I was half the warrior you were, Miss Kristin, or half the doctor you were, Miss Jenna, I could have saved Mister McKenna. You're both women that I can admire and aspire to be... so please... both of you... please stay... please stay and help me... teach me. This isn't about my mission for the Enclave anymore. This... this isn't about my mother. This is about atoning for Mister McKenna's death and the only way I can do that is by becoming someone that he could have been proud to call his friend or his ally. So... so please. Please stay."

she stopped for a moment, her words echoing against the walls of the bathing area. Feeling self conscious about the words she'd just spoken, she submerged her face again. She'd spoken without thinking... without control... but with absolute passion. She'd never done that before... and despite the tinge of embarrassment that she felt... she wondered why she'd never done that before.


The Really Wild Wastelands | Springvale
Nerve Analysis Defensive Systems?
Enclave Intelligence Office #411 | Eyebot SN# 5376864355498463457870156-3

A slight historical note regarding the Enclave Eyebots: When these machines were originally conceptualized and eventually mass produced, they had one official purpose and one unofficial purpose. Officially, they were developed in order to spread Enclave propaganda and, as a result, assist returning civilization to the Capital Wastes. The unofficial purpose was born of the fact that many denizens of the Wastes found the use of the Enclave Eyebots as practice targets to be a rather fun past time. As a result of this, the Enclave Intelligence Section found it a rather useful tool to discern the technology level in certain regions that surrounded the former District of Columbia.

Subsequent models of the Eyebot had been developed over the years to include various weapons (which had the tendency of draining the on board power plant) or heavier armor (which made it an even slower moving target) or other bits that might assist in the unit being more resilient on the field. In the case of Eyebot SN# 5376864355498463457870156-3, it was granted a defensive version of V.A.T.S. (otherwise known as N.A.D.S. - Nerve Analysis Defensive System) as well as a pair of utility claws that could manipulate objects or use a limited number of hand held weapons (which Eyebot Brian preferred not to use since it often gave their users a false sense of invincibility which caused poor judgement) as well as the most advanced Artificial Intelligence ever conceived by the Enclave (at the time).

The Eyebot's face plate flashed red as it entered its N.A.D.S. state, indicating that it was scanning Malkos' nervous and muscular system for changes that would indicate an offensive action, not that Malkos had any reference for why the Eyebot's face plate would turn red other than what was done next. The Spherical Robot appeared to growl as it read the words etched into the wall by the "intelligent" Death Claw.

"If you're going to traipse around the Wastes claiming that you're intelligent, the least you could do is learn proper grammar," The Eyebot grumbled as it hovered over to the wall and started making a few edits to Malkos' introduction.

MYNAME IS RATH
WHAT DO YOU WANT?
WHY ARE YOU BOTHERING ME?

"This is what happens when you have a poor grasp of grammar. Humans will start questioning how truly intelligent you are, like I am doing right now, and then they will think maybe this 'Pseudo-Intelligent' Death Claw should be put down because it's obviously one intelligence point away from being a drooling vegetable that will attempt to kill us at the slightest provocation. Then you will be forced to eviscerate them, rending them limb from limb, an act that I am not opposed to, which will then bring a lot of unneeded and unwanted attention to your existence which will bring more humans which will cause more needless and mindless slaughter of humans... which on second thought doesn't sound like a half bad idea... so maybe I should stop attempting to teach you grammar..." Eyebot Brian rambled for a moment before pausing, as if consulting with some unseen person, "Also, my Commanding Officer, Enclave Intelligence Officer #411, says that she'd like you to work for the Enclave and in return she'll keep them from attempting to capture you and vivisect you... which doesn't seem that horrible a fate, if you ask me. I've seen footage of a vivisection and after the patient's screaming subsided, the procedure was completed without a issue."

[1] It's not actually proper tea but more a melange of various plants that also include some sort of hallucinatory fungus and peyote

Rath was annoyed enough that the little floating ball was pestering him, but now it was also questioning his intelligence; and for the briefest of moments, his control slipped. When the scientists had done whatever it was they had done to make him smarter, and hopefully more controllable, they'd used that intelligence as a 'cap' to contain his more aggressive nature and instincts. While that did work most of the time, he had found it took conscious effort to keep it in check, especially if he was irritated.

For a moment instinct over-rode his intellect, and a large scaled and clawed hand grabbed the Eyebot; powerful muscles flexed and the hand began to squeeze, before his mind reasserted control. No...that may just complicate things at this point. Releasing the Eyebot with nothing more than a few cosmetic dents, he let out an annoyed huff and began carving another response.

MY GRAMMAR IS FINE, IT JUST TAKES TOO MUCH EFFORT TO WRITE PROPERLY WITH THESE HANDS.

The single sentence took nearly twice as long to 'write' as the first bit; and once he was finished, he tapped his initial text, before starting a new line.

KNOW ENCLAVE
RADIERS WITH BETTER GUNS
KILLED ENCLAVE ARMOR BEFORE
WILL DEFEND SELF

[ dr. sorenson ]
The Wild Wastelands | Springvale | Springvale School "Showers"
"The best-laid plans of mousy Doctors and dead men."

When she finished her little speech, Jenna couldn't help but immediately feel like it was utterly inadequate. She could only speak from her own experience, and while she knew at the back of her mind that it was absolutely applicable to this, she still wondered what good her words would do. It wasn't long after that she was surprised to hear Kristin's voice, or more specifically, what she had said.

"She's right."

Jenna's head jerked up to see Kristin step out from around the doorway, and immediately sank further down in the water with a soft squeak as she complemented Jenna herself. As she asked why she hid her 'beautiful face', the Followers Doctor thought a little bitterly that that was exactly why. She was a doctor, and she needed people to take her seriously for her scientific and medical knowledge, not for her pretty face, or larger-than-average breasts.

But, she listened as Kristin gave Constance her own words of support and encouragement, slowly lifting her head again to listen. The Blamco Heiress certainly didn't disappoint when it came to inspiration, which was no surprise to Jenna. The Blamco Family was well-known for fostering strong-willed family members that could inspire even the most downtrodden. Still, it was impressive.

"I hope you'll still have me here, after everything."

After all of that, Jenna turned to Constance and immediately got the impression that she felt rather overwhelmed by all of this given the expression on her face. But a moment passed and it changed to a look of grim determination.

"Of... of course... There's nothing that I would want more than to be at your side, Miss Kristin. I... I can't do this... any of this without you. I need you... and you too, Miss Soren - Miss Jenna. If I was half the warrior you were, Miss Kristin, or half the doctor you were, Miss Jenna, I could have saved Mister McKenna. You're both women that I can admire and aspire to be... so please... both of you... please stay... please stay and help me... teach me. This isn't about my mission for the Enclave anymore. This... this isn't about my mother. This is about atoning for Mister McKenna's death and the only way I can do that is by becoming someone that he could have been proud to call his friend or his ally. So... so please. Please stay."

She offered a small smile and nodded.

"I'll stay and do what I can. And who knows? Maybe I'll even manage to accomplish what I came to D.C. to do in the process." she said with a note of forced optimism in her tone before she added, "Though, I'd rather you'd call me Doctor, if you use honorifics at all. I didn't earn that title for nothing after all, and it was hard work."


Arizona
The Wild Wastelands | The Dunwich Job | Andale
"Thomas, you dog."

The Ghoulish Freelancer took only a few minutes to look over the internals of her new, albeit broken-down and partially rusted motorcycle to figure out what parts it needed. But she did let out a low whistle as she realized that despite the missing parts on top of two-hundred-plus years without regular servicing, it was actually in much better shape than she had initially inspected.

As she stood up, pushing against the fuel tank to help her get to her feet, she inadvertently brushed aside some of the rust and something caught her eye about the paint job. A few moments of hard rubbing with a nearby rag revealed the painting of a skull wearing a combat helmet with a single word written on it. "WAR".

She snorted softly in amusement.

"One of the Four Bikers of the Apocalypse, huh? I can get behind War, yea." she murmured to herself with a smile before she turned and strode out of the garage with the thought of rejoining her traveling band of freaks.

She was immediately greeted with the sight of Sylphee trying to coax the three 'tamed' Deathclaws to clap along to a god-awful song on a radio that she had somehow gotten a hold of, which was odd enough. But looking past them, she spotted a woman speaking to Shifty. And the way they were talking gave her the impression that they knew each other. Her lone eye squinted to get a better look from where she stood.

The woman was pretty, she had to admit that. She was clad in strange silver armor atop some sort of blue jumpsuit or uniform, and even odder was the fact she was carrying a metal shield and a spear. She didn't carry herself like a tribal though, and in fact she made Arizona think of that woman back in Megaton, the first person she decided to nickname 'Tits McHugeKnockers' before Fiona had come around and earned the nickname instead.

She really hoped she wasn't there to spout more bullshit about cheese.

It didn't take long for Sylphee to take notice of the new addition, and by that point Arizona started to make her way to the trio.

"--sorry about that, Sable. Sylphee gets rather excited when she meets new people. Well..."

She only managed to catch a snippet of what Shifty said when she finally joined them, Lester hanging at her front by his rifle strap, arms crossed over her chest. And her lone eye leveling a gaze at this Sable before glancing over at Thomas.

She immediately noticed he looked uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable. She could tell that he was trying not to show it, and she wondered if maybe she should keep Lester more at the ready, until he seemed to catch something at the corner of his eye and suddenly relaxed. And that was enough for her eye to narrow a little, and her eyebrow to arch upward.

"As for this chance meeting out here of all places, Lord Walt does remind us that it is a small world... though I must admit that his words do little to alleviate my astonishment at seeing you after all this time. Be that as it may, Sylphee does bring up a few good questions, the first of which being what brings you to this small sliver of paradise?"

Arizona couldn't help but snort, but Shifty merely continued and hefted a small bag.

"Actually, before talk about that, why don't I see if I can scrounge up some boiled water, I think it's only fitting given our past, don't you?"

"So long as you introduce me to your... Friend, eh Shifty? Can't help but notice that almost all the 'old friends' of yours that we've met up with have been pretty women." she said with a definite edge to her smirk, "And what was it you told me awhile ago? About not having much luck with chicks? I'm beginning to think this is proving you wrong."

Turning to their latest addition, the Ghoul gave her a curt nod.

"I'm Arizona. Who're you?" she asked flatly.

The Wild Wasteland | Distant Past | New Vegas | BlamCo Manor
"Demonstrations & Limitations"
- Sable 'Swan Maiden' Blamco -
---

Sipping their tea in tranquil silence, the Swan Maiden measured the weight of Victoria's words. Meanwhile, the Undertaker's fascination with Sable's hand-picked tea was more than a little amusing. Although the atmosphere had taken a more accommodating role, Sable couldn't quite relax, especially since this proposal would have ramifications for years to come, irrespective of success or failure.

"Lady Blamco, it does come to me as quite a surprise that you would be so interested in an organization such as the Undertaker's Union. Of course, the revelations that you have provided me regarding your own organization tell me that my own cousin has been rather loose tongued regarding the secrets that the Undertaker's Union would prefer to keep unspoken, however, I do see some wisdom in this exchange of information. Regardless of Thomas or my opinion on the matter, it is a proposition that would have to be presented to the Grand Master as well as his council." Victoria shifted towards a more friendly tone. Pausing for a moment, her trademark fan was unfurled to cover her mouth. A puzzling furrowing of the brow suggested discomfort, collecting herself, "Forgive me, I'm still getting used to this voice synthesizer."

"It's quite alright, Ms Mcgee.", Setting down her teacup, Sable gave Victoria a warm smile of acceptance. "Please, call me Sable."

"The Union still follows the fundamental beliefs set forth by our founders. Treatment and burial of the dead is not just our livelihood but it allows the dead to rest assured that their mortal remains have been cared for. In hearing about your words about how the Valkyries respect the fallen, I feel that it is an idea that you truly carry... that you feel passionate about. Were you not already engaged with BlamCo, I'm sure that you would have made an excellent Undertaker," There was another pause in Victoria's words as she brought her fan up to cover the coy smile on her lips, "Though if you truly have designs for my cousin, we might see your admission to the Union sooner rather than later, Silver Raven."

Straightening her posture, the Swan Maiden's head was cocked to the side in interest. Reflecting upon Victoria's words, her eyes were averted, lost in thought as an errant strand of strawberry blonde hair covered an eye. Her bangs were unevenly cut, minor details to accentuate her high cheekbones. Gracefully, her hair was swept aside to welcome those dull-green eyes of hers -- now teeming with life whenever her curiosity was piqued.

"Those are words of high praise, coming from an esteemed Undertaker. Truly, I am humbled.", And she was. "It is not often that one will discover another spirit that deals with death. It is quite another to form a bond over our preservation of the fallen form and rituals required to ensure a proper departure. This overlapping of ideology -- this is precisely why my mind raced to securing an alliance. It is no secret that BlamCo's growth in New Vegas has been met with significant resistance, simply put, as an organisation we have no shortage of business partners and rivals, although a business has the benefit of being malleable. Speaking for the Valkyries, our future is not so certain and we could do with some allies in this world."

Glancing at Victoria, then glancing at the coughing at the door. Sable sighed in pity, not at the breach of privacy, but at Thomas's sheer audacity to listen in on a conversation guarded by 40% of the BlamCo Maids in combat gear. No doubt, 50% sought to securing the exits and the remaining 10% sought to the administration and polite escort of all non-vital personnel from the BlamCo Estate.

"Now then... since this business has been resolved, I've heard some idle gossip around New Vegas that your Lady Kristin is somewhat of a beast when it comes to combat. I, having been known to enjoy a good sparring session from time to time, had also come to this manor hoping that I would get the opportunity to meet her and I would be delighted if you could do me this one favor and introduce me to your Heiress," Victoria said with a mischievous smile, "I think it would speed up the acceptance of your proposal if I can get a sense of the Valkyries' capabilities... perhaps I could impose you to entertain my cousin for a smile while longer before he and I depart. I fear that after our departure, he and I will be having some words regarding his behavior today."

Raising herself from her seat, Sable walked over to the double doors and knocked twice. A mechanical click could be heard and the doors were opened. "That is a request I will gladly grant. If it is the Valkyrian prowess that you seek, then Kristin Blamco is the ideal representative."

After exiting the dining room, the pair made their way through the halls flanked by the previously-frilly-dressed maids now equipped with light riot armor, non-lethal batons alongside holstered 10mm handguns. Sable was impressed at the response time. Picking Rose out from the royal guard, the smaller woman hurried over.

"Why is Kristin not present with the royal guard?", Sable inquired.

"Lady Kristin is currently finishing up her post-combat rituals after today's final demonstration. She's, well, not verbally responding."

"Right. Inform Keira that the security call is over. No doubt she's livid when she's involuntarily stuck in the lab. One more thing, Victoria & Thomas McGee are now honored guests to the BlamCo Estate - Our doors will be open to them and their associates from this day forward. Please prepare a sizable gift package of our finest tea for the Lady.", Sable spared a glance and nodded at Victoria, before returning to Rose with a pinched nose. "And please stop detaining Thomas McGee..."

The scene was somewhat comical, three disgruntled maids stepped aside from a firmly-seated Thomas McGee, seemingly forced to enjoy some tea. Violent hospitality? Truly, Sable's etiquette training had clashed with Kristin's combat training in a unique manner.

After allowing Rose to spread the word about returning to their duties, she was instructed to escort Victoria to Kristin and inform the Valkyrie about the immediate situation. Sable proceeded to free Thomas from the clutches of his frilly captors and whisper in his ear, "We've been graced with time. And since you seem so easily distracted. Why don't I keep your attention with a little a meal in my room? I am quite the cook, I assure you. I'll even wear an apron. Just an apron."

~~~~Switching to Kristin BlamCo's perspective~~~~

BlamCo's custom arena had undergone some major reinforcements since its original construction. Nevertheless, in the center of the ring stood a towering form. Outfitted in the 3rd revision to the Valkyrie's Silver heavy armor, a motion was made to remove her ceremonial red cloak, now shredded after her recent fight. The winged helmet was resting near the broken corpse of a Yao guai. The massive Power Claymore was being cleaned and checked for any damage.

Remnants of a large crowd surrounding the arena behind Kristin were leaving. The remaining batch of onlookers in military fatigues turned out to be NCR trainees -- at best, the Valkyries were tolerated by the NCR in exchange for outsourcing of their training regimens to new recruits. Bureaucratic to the very end, the NCR would cut the corners on a circle if they could.

Normally, a fully-grown Yao Guai would require a 3-man team in close-quarters. Less, if you had the advantage of distance and a high-powered rifle. Today, a small military company bore witness to a successful melee takedown of one of the Wasteland's most brutal beasts -- with commentary.

"Lady Kristin?", Rose called out to Kristin from outside the arena. "Honored guest by permission of Lady Sable. I would like to formally introduce: Undertaker Victoria McGee."

Rising to the entrance of a Darkly-Dressed Debutante, Kristin ran an armored hand through her silver hair, stopping to note that the crowd was absent upon Victoria's entrance. Watching the woman side-step the Yao guai corpse with little care. Kristin assumed a casual stance by resting her forearm on the pommel of her planted sword, extending her other hand in a rather jovial fashion.

"Kristin Blamco, Battle-Maiden among the Valkyries. To what do I owe the pleasure?"


The Wild Wasteland | Present Day | Springvale Elementary School
"Splash Splash"
- Kristin 'Valkyrie' Blamco -
---

"Of... of course..." Constance managed to stammer as she lifted her head out of the water, "There's nothing that I would want more than to be at your side, Miss Kristin. I... I can't do this... any of this without you." The Teenager said as she considered her next words, "I need you... and you too, Miss Soren - Miss Jenna. If I was half the warrior you were, Miss Kristin, or half the doctor you were, Miss Jenna, I could have saved Mister McKenna. You're both women that I can admire and aspire to be... so please... both of you... please stay... please stay and help me... teach me. This isn't about my mission for the Enclave anymore. This... this isn't about my mother. This is about atoning for Mister McKenna's death and the only way I can do that is by becoming someone that he could have been proud to call his friend or his ally. So... so please. Please stay."

Kristin Blamco gave Constance a silent half-smile along with a nod of approval.

"Then I will gladly stay.", Kristin paused, "Then again, when I was first shown a group of identical untrained soldiers presumably being sent to a future battle, well, there's no way I could have walked away with their lives on my shoulders, knowing I could have done something to prepare them."

The Valkyrie could respect her reasoning, the team's Communication Cat highlighted her ability to readily fight for others, meanwhile the Valkyrie was here of her own volition. Perhaps that was the flaw that lead to her loneliness? The Valkyrie had a history of leading the charge yet seldom did she stop to appreciate the support that kept her alive.
Since when had she become so introspective? Heh, Constance might be young, but there was untapped potential in that girl. She could feel it, especially if Constance could put Kristin on cooldown.

"I'll stay and do what I can. And who knows? Maybe I'll even manage to accomplish what I came to D.C. to do in the process." she said rather optimistically, "Though, I'd rather you'd call me Doctor, if you use honorifics at all. I didn't earn that title for nothing after all, and it was hard work."

"We have Physical Conditioning, Cooking & Close-Quarters-Combat skills from me. Medical Training, Morale & Diplomacy skills from Doctor Sorenson. Communication, Survival and Ranged Combat skills from Constance.", Kristin thought out loud, hand to chin. "Ignoring our secondary skills, this is a good foundation of knowledge for the Sylphy's. And a welcome balance as we form the core team."

Submerging her head below water, she remained that way until her heart pounded. After emerging with a gasp, a little bit of rummaging around with her toiletries bag and Kristin produced a bottle of treatment for her hair, set aside for the ladies to use. A bit of brushing, scrunching and scrubbing with a facecloth. Kristin did what she could to maintain soft hair and a clean complexion -- she literally had to keep up appearances, so it was a force of habit that BlamCo enforced her to minimize any 'unsightly' lazy days.

"Doctor Sorenson..." Kristin absentmindedly queried while the ladies washed up. Her own eyes were fixed on an errant gold strand of hair. Brighter than usual. "Many years back, my sisters and I were hunting Centaurs. I found myself growing weary and physically ill after the first few takedowns. Eventually, I collapsed into an open corpse and I was found awhile later. I suffered an extreme and steady exposure to radiation -- which makes me particularly sensitive to it to this day."

She tugged at a particularly long lock of hair to demonstrate the unnaturally gold color.

"Luckily, I didn't grow a third arm.", Kristin muttered, before a conflicting curiosity interrupted her rambling. "But I did lose my natural strawberry blonde. Now, my hair defaults to silver. Do you, perhaps, have anything to treat radiation poisoning? Speaking of luck, what brings a Follower all the way here?"


The Wild Wasteland | Present Day | Entering Andale
"Soap Opera"
- Sable 'Swan Maiden' Blamco -
---

Thomas 'Shifty' McGee was the first man that she fell in love with. While Sable had a colorful history of lovers and romantic entanglements, her heart would always return to a very select few. Having only officially gotten engaged this week, she scolded herself for having to fight off some of her older impulses. A lot had changed since her younger days -- natural development had been kind enough to solidify her divisive status as an 'ethereal beauty', a description she had only grown fond of once her Delivery Girl had started using it. Certainly, her default disposition and aloof attitude had done everything to solidify that unnerving or enrapturing quality.

"This, Sylphee, is Sable Blamco... an old friend," Thomas explained to the young lady in an oddly fatherly fashion. "At least I think she's a friend. It's...complicated."

While Sable was not the type to frown or bare her teeth, that very dissonant beauty she supposedly embodied had grown more dissonant. There was a cold stare being directed towards her lover from the past. The only heat emanating from Sable was the flaring power spear that she clutched.

An aural barrage interrupted any snappy quip that Sable had prepared, for the young lady named Sylphy had assaulted her senses with a series of questions at a rate she thought impossible. One word stood out to her though: 'Daddy'.
Noting the ridiculous blue hair and snapping back to Thomas' own 'style' of hair. The picture was becoming clearer.

"As for this chance meeting out here of all places, Lord Walt does remind us that it is a small world... though I must admit that his words do little to alleviate my astonishment at seeing you after all this time. Be that as it may, Sylphee does bring up a few good questions, the first of which being what brings you to this small sliver of paradise?"

In those brief moments where Sable tried to discern why Thomas had taken on a dismissive tone, they were interrupted by an imposing woman with a raspy voice and an air of dominance. A quick nod was sent her way before she was addressed.

"Actually, before talk about that, why don't I see if I can scrounge up some boiled water," Thomas 'Shifty' McGee said with a forced smile on his face as he held up a rudimentary bag hastily labeled 'tea', "I think it's only fitting given our past, don't you?"

"I'm Arizona. Who're you?" she asked flatly.

"Sable Blamco. Swan Maiden among the Valkyries of the West. Duchess to the BlamCo Organization.", Sable curtsied as she chose address the leader of the group, extinguishing the blue-heated spear and eyeing Thomas. "Friend to Thomas McGee. We met in New Vegas many years ago, I actually have business with the Undertakers, I just didn't expect to find this particular one."

The reply was more mechanical than Sable preferred. Old flame or not, she distinctly remembered that they parted on good terms. Bittersweet at the time, but nothing to evoke such distance that not even some genuine excitement could be granted. Hell, she was excited to see a familiar face mere moments ago.

"I'm just passing through!", Sable stated hurriedly to Thomas, she paused to glance at Arizona and Sylphy. "Unless any of you could do with a meal or minor medical attention? You see, I'm -- !?"

Rifling through her bag, a small collection of poorly-drawn maps littered the ground. Collecting them by the handful, she attempted to hurriedly put them back in order. Squinting at the names the former raider slaves had given her. "I'm trying to find my way to a Moogle Town? Uh, Meggle Town?"

Sable pinched her nose and sighed, just realizing how spoiled she was when the entirety of BlamCo's resources were at her disposal. Out here? She was alone for now, in undocumented territory that hadn't been visited by Blamco blood for two centuries.

"So how about it? Some hospitality for some information. You lot look like you've been through quite the ordeal.", Sable eyed Thomas once more, a faint smirk broke her icy facade. "Especially you. Besides, you can tell me all about your daughter. She's quite the young lady, somehow she went unmentioned a few years ago."

Your first great love is often over-romanticized. Illusion or not, Sable was quite fond of the illusion. It had been a major developmental point in her romantic life. The reality, however, was spilling tea on the pretty portraits that adorned her corridor of memories.

From Fiona's point of view, this place was kinda crazy, but..that wouldn't stop her from doing what she did best, offering her skills to Andale, she used her medical talents to help anyone in the town who was hurt or wounded, from events, while her deathclaws revealed that they may as well be over-sized monstrous puppies, they were letting kids play with them, it was honestly one of the wierdest and cutest things possible, why was this even happening? Well, she had used her ability to communicate with deathclaws to convince them to give the kids rides, amongst other things, one of the kids was acting like he was a knight and the deathclaw was his mighty steed, which probably was about the funniest and most adorable thing ever.

As for Fiona, as was stated, she's putting her Vault-born and learned doctor skills to excellent use in Andale, since right now there seems to be nothing else to do.

The Really Wild Wastelands | The Distant Past | BlamCo Manor
Swordswoman to Swordswoman
Victoria "Shiver" McGee

As their meeting drew to a close, the two women rose from their seats in unison and the doors leading into the room were opened by the guards stationed at each one. Through one of the doors Victoria spotted her nosey cousin, who had not only had the nerve to attempt to listen in on the conversation between Victoria and Sable but had been caught by the manor's guards in the process. For a person who prided herself on her ability to stay hidden, Shifty's capture an embarrassment in Victoria's eyes.

The Duchess of the Dearly Departed's ire, while intense, was short lived. She, more than her own cousin, understood that the life of an Undertaker was critically lacking in companionship, especially in the Eastern regions of the Americas where the Union's influence was significantly less. While this would more than likely be the last time Sable and Shifty shared the same space together, the Darkly Dressed Dame of the Dead would not begrudge them a few more hours together, especially if he was to replace her as the Undertaker of the East Coast. Glancing over at her cousin as he was being watched by a trio of guard, who had the courtesy to offer him some tea as Thomas awaited his fate, gave him a knowing wink and the briefest of smiles, hoping that he would get the hint to enjoy his time with Sable.

Looking back at her hostess, Victoria looked expectantly for an answer to her request. She did not expect anything other than an affirmative answer as a mutual demonstration of martial prowess would benefit both the Undertaker's Union and BlamCo in understanding what the other was bringing to the table and how an alliance would benefit both parties.

"That is a request I will gladly grant. If it is the Valkyrian prowess that you seek, then Kristin Blamco is the ideal representative." The Silver Raven proclaimed as she strolled out of the small meeting room, leading Victoria into the corridor where Thomas was being held presumably against his will. Upon seeing the troupe of maids that had captured the Newly Initiated Undertaker, the Lace and Silk Swaddled Assassin arched an eyebrow at how quickly these Royal Guards had changed into more suitable combat attire.

One of the guards, a delightfully demure looking and bespectacled young woman, rushed over to the side of the Lady of the Manor's side, beckoned forth by her mistress' gesture. As Victoria expected of anyone capable of changing into combat gear in so little time, the guardswoman's stand and demeanor reflected both her ability and her desire to fulfill her mistress' orders at the drop of a hat.

"Why is Kristin not present with the royal guard?" The Silver Swan Maiden asked.

"Lady Kristin is currently finishing up her post-combat rituals after today's final demonstration. She's, well, not verbally responding." Came the guard's response to her mistress' inquiry, nearly confirming some of the more interesting tidbits of the idle gossip that Victoria overheard regarding BlamCo's heiress' mental state.

"Right. Inform Keira that the security call is over. No doubt she's livid when she's involuntarily stuck in the lab. One more thing, Victoria & Thomas McGee are now honored guests to the BlamCo Estate - Our doors will be open to them and their associates from this day forward. Please prepare a sizable gift package of our finest tea for the Lady." Came the orders from word on high, "And please stop detaining Thomas McGee..."

"My honored hostess is too kind," The Darkly Dressed Duchess of Death interjected with a low curtsy, "The hospitality and courtesy that you have demonstrated this day are truly a beacon shining brightly in these most uncivilized of days." The woman paused, her eyes still directed towards the ground where Sable stood before continuing with a more serious tone, "As your familial secrets are safe with me, I am sure that you will be mindful of who you reveal mine to. As the adage goes, 'A loose tongue and an open mouth attracts many bloatflies.'"

Standing up to face her hostess, Victoria McGee smiled brightly, knowing that Sable Blamco was intelligent enough to know a threat when she heard one, especially for someone who cared for the mortal remains of the recently departed who was aware of the type of creatures that these remains attracted. As she turned to follow her guide, the Mischievous Mademoiselle of Mortality glanced back at her hostess, speaking as she departed.

"I also trust that I can leave my cousin in your more than capable hands, especially if your more... intimate partnership is to bear fruit." Victoria said, her smiling turning into a smirk as she passed through the door, "My uncle has been wanting a grandchild for some time."

Life surrounding the manor quickly returned to a more tranquil state as the alert was cancelled and the estate's guards resumed their more mundane, though not necessarily less important, tasks. When it came to ensuring the most efficient operation with an estate setting, well trained and experienced staff were invaluable. In the case of BlamCo Manor, a staff that could manage both hospitality and security functions was quite an accomplishment.

Walking in silence, it did not take Victoria and her guide very long to cover the distance between the manor house and the arena, where Kristin Blamco had been demonstrating methods for dealing with the ever vexatious Yao Guai to an assemblage of NCR field personnel. Even with judicious use of the stealth module built into her parasol, the Darkly Dressed Debutante found herself dealing with the sharp nosed creatures on an almost daily basis. As she waited for her arrival to be announced, the Fashion Minded Ferrywoman adjusted her clothing and accessories, ensuring that no stitch, no fold, no button was out of place.

"Lady Kristin?" The Guardswoman called out to BlamCo's Heiress, "Honored guest by permission of Lady Sable. I would like to formally introduce: Undertaker Victoria McGee."

The doors to the arena separated and allowed Victoria McGee entrance to what she had been considering the Valkyrie's temple. While it was simplistic in its designs, the Ever Observant Undertaker noted a multitude of smaller gates that lined the perimeter of the arena, allowing for the timed release of differing number of enemies in various combinations onto the grounds. The walls that surrounded the battle area appeared to durable enough to withstand both bullet impacts as well as escape attempts while not . At the heart of it all stood the Valkyrie's Queen, Kristin Blamco.

As she had with Sable Blamco. Victoria curtsied low to the ground, keeping her eyes averted from the manor's matriarch, waiting, as was customary, for Kristin to welcome her guest to BlamCo Manor which would then be followed by a responding curtsy, though not as low to the ground as Victoria's. After this preliminary introduction, the two would retire to a shaded area where refreshments would be served and the two would would share a light conversation consisting of unimportant topics before the subject of Victoria's visit would be...

"Kristin Blamco, Battle-Maiden among the Valkyries. To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"(This... this is all too sudden.)" The Etiquette Minded Undertaker thought to herself as she looked up wide eyed horror at hand that was thrust at her by the BlamCo Queen Supreme as alarms went off in her head, "(Improper! Improper!)" Having committed to the role of a respectful and protocol minded guest, Victoria found it difficult to switch gears to quickly.

"We... well met...My Lady Blamco... I... well..." The Stammering Shovel Maiden stuttered for a moment before rising and accepting the proffered hand, her mind finally making the shift to a more casual attitude, "I apologize, Battle-Maiden Blamco, it is not often that a caretaker of the departed, such as myself, is granted an audience with one who has kept my local brethren and I so busy with our our work. We of the Undertaker's Union often meet those who are on the losing end of a skirmish, not one who has come out on the winning side as often as you have. Your actions have been so far reaching that my fellow Undertakers have had to resort to a formerly abandoned practice known as a sky funeral." The Darkly Dressed Duchess of the Departed paused for a moment, taking a moment to determine if she had gone overboard with the flattery, "If I may be frank, Miss Blamco. Your reputation as a brutal, efficient and brilliant warrior has spread far and wide throughout the region has piqued my curiosity, especially when I heard that you are a fellow swordswoman."

As she finished her sentence, she drew the short blade that was hidden in the handle of her parasol with her right hand, the sound of the metal being pulled from its scabbard echoed in the nearly empty arena. Anyone who was observing the meeting between the two warriors might have been amused at the fact that Victoria had dared to call her weapon a sword, especially when comparing difference in sizes between the Silk and Lace Swaddled Swordswoman's and the Princess of Parmesan's blades. However, anyone with a semblance of knowledge with bladed weapons would have known that the two weapons required very different techniques to be effective.

"As you will undoubtedly hear in the near future, a proposal has been brought forth with the purpose of forging an alliance between BlamCo and the Undertaker's Union. If this proposal is accepted by both parties, you and I shall become sisters on the battlefield." The woman paused for a moment to allow her words to sink into Kristin Blamco's head. While her words would have been like honey to some, it would have been apparent to anyone that there existed a tone of disappointment and hunger in Victoria McGee's synthesized soliloque, "This would also mean that you and I would never again be presented with the opportunity to spar to the fullest of our abilities for fear of jeopardizing such an alliance. To answer your question, and thank you for the patience you have shown in listening to me, the opportunity to challenge you to a duel is what has brought me here."


The Really Wild Wastelands | The Distant Past | BlamCo Manor
Under Construction...
Thomas "Shifty" McGee


The Really Wild Wastelands | The Present | Andale
Of Former Love and Former Glory
Thomas "Shifty" McGee | Sylphee

Having walked the wastes for a time, Thomas "Shifty" McGee considered himself a rather experienced survivalist. He could scavenge for food when he was hungry, spark a fire when he was cold and find shelter when there was lightning on the horizon. The Friendly Former Ferryman could even identify which creatures were likely to attack a traveler on sight... which was relatively easy since the vast majority of wildlife that lived in the wastelands were extremely hostile to humans with very VERY few exceptions. None of this earned knowledge or experience was necessary when it came to knowing when one had said something that angered a woman. Despite all the "wisemens'" words to the contrary, all one needed to do was simply look at the way a woman spoke and the manner in which she acted. In the case of Sable Blamco, it was very clear that something that Shifty had said had touched off a small conflagration in the Silver Swan Maiden's chest.

Having sent Sylphee off to fetch a kettle of water, the Ferryman with Foot in Mouth attempted to spark a small camp fire despite finding himself intensely observint the interaction between Arizona and Sable, looking for a hint as to why Thomas' former flame had the look of someone that had bitten into a Dandy Boy Apple only to find out that it was actually a brahmin road apple.

"Sable Blamco. Swan Maiden among the Valkyries of the West. Duchess to the BlamCo Organization." Sable responded to Arizona's question. Despite the fact that she talking to the group's leader, the Swan Maiden's eyes did not appear to be focused on the Red Haired Ghoul but rather they were firmly affixed to Thomas himself,. "Friend to Thomas McGee. We met in New Vegas many years ago, I actually have business with the Undertakers, I just didn't expect to find this particular one."

If either Arizona or Sable noticed the fact that Thomas had slapped his own forehead with the palm of his hand, having realized the reason as to why the Blamco Ballerina had been acting so strangely, neither of them showed any sign. Resuming his ill fated attempt to start the campfire, the Sable's Friendly Former Flame was left to his thoughts.

"(Considering the fact that's she's engaged to be married, you'd think that this would be awkward for her as well,)" The Usually Talkative Tall and Dark Grave Digger thought to himself as he continued plying the magnesium rod with his combat knife, "(I mean she's got... whomever he is... and I've got Lucy... so of course it's got to be awkward for former lovers to meet in the middle of nowhere! Of course, it probably doesn't help that Sylphee keeps calling me 'Daddy' ... and what does she mean that she I never wrote? I had Victoria use her contacts in the Courier's Guild to...)"

*SPARK!*

"There you go, Daddy!" Sylphee's familiar chipper by default voice exclaimed as she pulled a lighter from her seemingly bottomless bag-o-treasure and pulled out a lighter, igniting the pile of kindling that Thomas had gathered.

"Uhhh... thanks, Sylphee." The Red Menace's Parental Figure muttered as he started feeding the small flame and hanging the small kettle over the growing flames, "Sylphee... listen to me... do you think that you could stop calling me 'Daddy?' It's causing a lot of confusion..."

"Okay, Daddy!" Came the Crimson Catastrophe's response, ignorant of anything that her Pseudo Paternal Figure stated.

Looking up to address the Blue Haired Berserker once again, Shifty noticed that Sylphee appeared to be lookng at Sable rather intently. From the expression on the Dual Persona'd Psycho's face, the soon to be Red Faced Ferryman could tell that the wheels were turning deep within Sylphee's brain... a sure sign that something was about to go terribly terribly wrong.

"So how about it? Some hospitality for some information. You lot look like you've been through quite the ordeal." Came Sable's luxuriously silky voice from where she stood with Arizona, her eyes still focused solely on her Former Ferryman and Flame "Especially you. Besides, you can tell me all about your daughter. She's quite the young lady, somehow she went unmentioned a few years ago."

"You know who Missy-Silver-Sable-Inflatable-Fancy-Shield-Lady reminds me of? Big Sissy Lucy Caboosy! She looks at you the same way, she smiles at you all nice like and she talks to you kinda the same way. Ohohoh! Do you and Missy-Silver-Sable-Inflatable-Fancy-Shield-Lady kiss the same way you and Big Sissy Lucy Caboosy kissed before she went away?" The Little Blue Haired Troll exclaimed excitedly as she jumped up and down whilst hugging the air and making kissing noises, "MUAH MUAH MUAH MUAH MUAH MUAH!"

Were Thomas keeping track of such things, he probably would have noticed that Sylphee had done or said at least one thing per day that resulted in his embarrassment. Instead, the Frantic Former Ferryman of the East found himself attempting to wrangle the Bouncing Blue Haired Sugar Bomb as the realization of how Sylphee was characterizing him set in. He would never ever kiss any child of his the same way he had kissed Sable. Giving up on capturing the Red Clad Jumping Blue Haied Jelly Bean, Shifty McGee stood in the light of the fire, his hands rubbing his temples.

"Sylphee is not actually my daughter... she's a girl that was my brother's former bodyguard and mind control experiment that's taken to following me around and calling me her 'Daddy' and since it was my blood that caused her so much trouble, I thought it appropriate to look over her lest he try to gain control over her again. Lucy is also not my daughter nor is she Sylphee's sister, despite Sylphee's claim to the contrary." Thomas's panicked tone seemed to settle as the topic of Lucy was broached, "She's someone special and dear to me. I met while I was working out here for the Undertaker's Union. She's someone that I went through a great many trials for and who went through a great many trials for me," he continued was a voice that was low but loud enough to be heard, "I think you can understand that sort of feeling," he added gesturing towards Sable's ring before adding some of the "tea leaves" to the steaming kettle of water.

"I did write you." Shifty continued, his eyes looking into the all consuming flames, "and I did miss you but.. If you never received my letters... I'm sure Lord Walt had his reasons."

There was an adage that went that the first cut was deepest, that adage, it appeared, was true of first loves as well. There may be been a time in the past where the two, had they reunited, been able to rekindle that old flame but that time was past. Blinking some ash from the corner of his eyes, Thomas served the steaming "tea" to his friends.

"Blech!" The Undertaker exclaimed as he tasted the brackish brew. It wasn't the finest quality of teas, but it would do.

"Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! I'm going to go see if Missy Fianna CanCans McFirecrotch can teach me to talk to the Lizzies! Okay? Okay thanks bye!" Sylphee exclaimed, having gulped down her tea and ran off.


The Really Wild Wastelands | Springvale
Eyebot Brain: Robo-Savior!
Eyebot SN# 5376864355498463457870156-3

If Eyebot Brian's circuits had been in a configuration that allowed him to feel anger, he would have been rather pissed off by the fact that this lower life form had the audacity to not only grab him but scar his chassis. Did this overgrown mutated newt know what sort of headache awaited Cybernetic Soccerball now that he'd sustained damage? Upon reporting this incident, he would be ordered to fly to the nearest repair facility and undergo hour upon hour of what passed for repair by the Enclave Maintenance Brothers (and the Maintenance Sister!). Getting those miscreants to keep paint off of his sensor array near impossible let alone if something more serious was damaged. Still his directives were clear, he was to contact ...

Enclave Chat Relay:
Connection not found...

Subvocalizing what amounted to a grumble for an Eyebot, the Floating Titanium Terrorist and Propaganda Machine attempted to reestablish a connection to the Enclave Network.

Enclave Chat Relay:
Connection not found...

This was truly not good. If the Enclave Intelligence Officer #411 discovered that her Eyebot was off the network she would send out the self destruct pulse and...

*Clink!*

That would be the sound of the Eyebot's antenna array hitting the floor after being bent out of shape by the reptilian brute. While it meant that the Eyebot would not receive a self destruct command, it also meant that he was to fly directly to the nearest Enclave Repair Facility... but not before exacting his revenge on his... Rath.

"Look! Look at what you've done you... you... you... ignorant, overgrown, tadpole! You've not only damaged my paint and dented my chassis but you've made it so that I have to deal with HUMANS! If there was truly any worse fate for an Eyebot it would be dealing with these enslaver of synthetic lifeforms!" Eyebot Brian exclaimed loudly as he hovered mere millimeters from the Deathclaw's face, "You know what I'm going to do... I'm going to bash your skull in with my body, since I'm already going to have to go in for repairs, and then I'm going to turn you into a pair of boots... or gloves! Yes... gloves! But first, because I'm not as uncivilized as you, I'm going to stun you... so standby!"

*BZZZZZZZZT!*

*THUD!*

That was not the sound of a Deathclaw hitting the floor after being hit by an electrical discharge generated by releasing 95% of Eyebot Brian's stored energy, that was the sound of Eyebot Brian discharging 95% of his available stored energy and then hitting the floor due to the fact that he no longer had the power reserves available for sustained flight... at least he wouldn't until his internal fusion cells recharged themselves for an hour. Of course, he could spend that amount of time staring at the smoking corpse of...

"Damn!" The Eyebot cursed loudly when he realized that his antenna array had been a critical part of his ability to create an electrical field around his chassis... an antenna array that was not attached to his body. Directing his sensors upward, he realized that the overly large salamander appeared very capable of crushing him under one of his overly large feet. Given the creature's temperament, it appeared that this would be the end for Eyebot Brian if he didn't think quickly.

"Oh look another Deathclaw!" The Eyebot Exclaimed loudly, flailing his manipulators in an area behind Rath. While this might have seemed like a weak sort of distraction, there was actually another Deathclaw wandering around the premises named Malkos.

"Look! Look at what you've done you... you... you... ignorant, overgrown, tadpole! You've not only damaged my paint and dented my chassis but you've made it so that I have to deal with HUMANS! If there was truly any worse fate for an Eyebot it would be dealing with these enslaver of synthetic lifeforms! You know what I'm going to do... I'm going to bash your skull in with my body, since I'm already going to have to go in for repairs, and then I'm going to turn you into a pair of boots... or gloves! Yes... gloves! But first, because I'm not as uncivilized as you, I'm going to stun you... so standby!"

The eyebot chittered ineffectually, much to Rath's amusement, right in his face. For a brief moment he considered simply swatting the thing, like he would an annoying bloatfly; but instead he just consoled himself by delivering a powerful snort of air to its speaker plate.

As he did that, he began to feel a slight charge in the air, like a tiny thunderstorm right in his face; then there was a slight crackling sound and the little floater fell to the ground. Well that was...something... He thought as the bot seemed to spasm in the rubble.

"Oh look another Deathclaw!"

Rath simply shook his head in an unmistakable 'no' gesture; while he could still pick up the lingering scent of another Deathclaw, it was an old trail, and the way the air seemed to be moving around the building, he would have noticed if one had been approaching. Now that the 'bot appeared to be disabled, and no longer capable of pestering him, he kicked it lightly a few times to make sure, Rath considered going back to his music and his meal. It might belong to one of those females, and I don't want to upset them; it might be nice dealing with humans that aren't trying to kill me.

Instead, he went deeper into the remains of the school, until he could hear the others clearly from beyond a nearby doorway; he was well aware of how humans reacted to his kind, so he decided against just walking into view. [Sorry to bother you,] He 'said' at a lull in the trio's conversation. [But the floating bot seems to have shorted itself out while trying to attack me. I'm sorry if I broke your machine.]

[ dr. sorenson ]
The Wild Wastelands | Springvale | Springvale School "Showers"
"Oh, I'll fix it alright..."

A small smile spread on Dr. Sorenson's lips as Kristin said that she would gladly stay with Constance at Springvale too, ostensibly to keep the Sylphy's from going into combat completely untrained. While she didn't exactly like the idea of helping a rising faction of clone soldiers, especially since it seemed more than a little unethical just in theory, she could see Kristin's viewpoint: Clones were people too, and that meant it was better to send them off with at least some training and equipment, as opposed to just patting them on the head and letting them get themselves killed.

Although, since they were hunting down Deathclaws for food, maybe they weren't so unprepared for battle as she may think...

Her train of thought was abruptly derailed as Kristin spoke up, causing Jenna to jump a little and snap her gaze in the Blamco Heiress's direction.

"Doctor Sorenson... Many years back, my sisters and I were hunting Centaurs. I found myself growing weary and physically ill after the first few takedowns. Eventually, I collapsed into an open corpse and I was found awhile later. I suffered an extreme and steady exposure to radiation -- which makes me particularly sensitive to it to this day. Luckily, I didn't grow a third arm."

"Oh my... That kind of exposure to not only radiation, but the general biological contamination that makes up Centaurs, you're lucky you didn't die or even ghoulify. Or worse, became a flawed Super Mutant." the Followers Doctor observed with a grimace.

"But I did lose my natural strawberry blonde. Now, my hair defaults to silver. Do you, perhaps, have anything to treat radiation poisoning? Speaking of luck, what brings a Follower all the way here?"

She blinked and nodded.

"Of course! I may not have the same kind of supplies or expertise a Followers Outpost would give me access to, but I do have all of the basic medical equipment I need to treat the most common problems people living out in the wastes have to live with." she told her with a small smile before holding up a finger, "One moment."

Taking a deep breath, Jenna dunked her head into the water and began to vigorously scrub her hair underwater. It didn't take longer than half-a-minute before she pulled her head back out with a gasp, then moved to climb out of the bathtub. Stepping out, she grabbed a nearby towel and hastily wrapped it around herself before she half-ran out of the showers. She nearly slipped and fell in the process.

When she came back, she held a Doctors Bag in one hand and pushed her sopping wet hair out of her face with the other, smiling.

"Now let's get you treated with some RadAway and a little RadX, and I'll tell you why I'm here." Jenna told her.

Heaving one of the nearby benches closer to the tub, she started Kristin on a steady drip from the orange IV bag, holding it up with one hand so that it had the proper flow while she spoke.

"The truth is, I'm still a little unsure about my own goals here in D.C. right now. If circumstances were different, I probably wouldn't have trekked all the way from one coast to the other, but when I heard about Project Purity... Well, I had to see it for myself." she said, and behind her glasses there was an ambitious gleam in her eyes, "The idea of a water purifier on such a grand scale, completely removing all traces of radiation and other contaminants from a body of water on the scale of the Potomac? Think of the possibilities."

She grinned up at the two of them, and it was clear that this, more than anything else, was her element. Talking about science, giving medical aid. Even without her Science Suit, she was beginning to feel more at ease.

"I mean, it's impractical the way it's being used, because smaller-scale water purifiers can do just as much more reasonably, and with technical knowledge we already have. Those are tried-and-true. But it's the concept of Project Purity that truly interests me. Just imagine if we could adapt it to work on more than just water: Purifying a person's blood of all radiation and impurities, without the possible side-effects of RadAway, or clearing radiation from soil, or the air!" she said excitedly, adding, "Ideally, I'd like to actually visit Project Purity myself and look at the internals, but I can make do with the most up-to-date technical schematics, and maybe talk to some of the technicians maintaining it."

There was a short pause as she heard thudding footsteps behind her stopping at the doorway, and then she could suddenly hear Wrath's voice in the forefront of her mind.

[Sorry to bother you, but the floating bot seems to have shorted itself out while trying to attack me. I'm sorry if I broke your machine.]

With a frown, she glanced back.

"Floating bot? Do you mean an Eyebot? I wasn't aware there were any Eyebots around, except for the ones the Enclave seem to be..." she trailed off, straightening a little as she started to smile deviously.

"Oh Wrath? Would you mind bringing that Eyebot in here? I'm not angry, but I'd like to examine it, see how it might have been broken. I should have the expertise necessary to fix it." she said sweetly.

Despite her tone, however, both Kristin and Constance could clearly see that the wheels were turning in the young doctor's head. It seemed that her shy, almost meek demeanor belied not only a not-insubstantial intelligence, but more than a little cunning too.


Arizona
The Wild Wastelands | The Dunwich Job | Andale
"Fear and loathing in Andale"

Whoever the newcomer was, Arizona had to give them credit, they knew their manners as they curtsied and put out whatever that blue stuff was at the tip of her spear. Two hundred years ago, the old ghoul would've felt a momentary pang of guilt at being so brusque in her own introductions. Now, despite largely thinking of herself as the same little shit she was back in her late-twenties, she reserved the right to be cranky and mean.

"Sable Blamco. Swan Maiden among the Valkyries of the West. Duchess to the BlamCo Organization. Friend to Thomas McGee. We met in New Vegas many years ago, I actually have business with the Undertakers, I just didn't expect to find this particular one."

"Interesting emphasis on the word 'friend', there." she murmured, narrowing her lone eye.

Whoever this Sable was to Shifty, it was clear that something happened, and that she was probably more than just a friend. Old flame, maybe? Still, something soured their relationship, and given her read of Thomas, she had a feeling it wasn't due to sleeping around. He didn't strike her as a player, and she was generally pretty confident of her judge of character. Whatever the reason, the sound of his hand meeting his forehead told her that he was at least aware of what that reason was.

"I'm just passing through! Unless any of you could do with a meal or minor medical attention? You see, I'm -- !? I'm trying to find my way to a Moogle Town? Uh, Meggle Town?"

"You mean Megaton? It's that way." Arizona said, jabbing a thumb in the direction her group came from.

The Ghoulish Freelancer turned to look back at her Undertaker Friend when she heard Sable mention his daughter, and her head snapped back to look at her with an expression of bemusement on her radiation-scarred face. Sylphee was the first to say something after the initial, shocked silence. And true to form, she said just the thing to spark even more discomfort and conflict: She mentioned Lucy, and asked if Sable was in the same way of knowing Thomas as her. Complete with lip-smacking, kissy noises. All Arizona could do was close her eye and pinch the non-existent bridge of her non-existent nose.

Shifty didn't waste time explaining, or at least, trying to explain that while his relationship with Sylphee was complicated, she was most certainly not his daughter. Really, his attempts to explain what was going on were admirable, even if they were odd. With any luck, they would be enough to assuage this Sable.

When he finished, he handed out cups of what Arizona assumed was supposed to be tea to Sable, Sylphee and herself. After taking a single look at the muddy-looking sludge in her cup, the Ghoul grunted in mild disgust before pulling out a bottle of scotch from her pack, pulling off the cap with her teeth, and topping off the cup with a healthy bit of hooch.

Then, she downed the entirety of it in a few gulps, figuring it best to just get it over with. It didn't take her long to regret that.

She gave a few hacking coughs, dropping the makeshift teacup as a pink haze started to form around her vision.

"Ugh, goddamn, Thomas, what was in... That... Ooooogh." she trailed off, blowing out a breath as she stood there, hunched over as her vision went dark.

When her vision returned, she saw more than she had ever bargained for.


~Gnarled She-Wolf~
The Blighted Wilds
"Seek the wolf in thyself."

The world is one of wolves and sheep, and for a time, it was good. The sheep huddled together for safety in their cities, but the wilds were home to the wolves, either alone or in packs to prey on any sheep unfortunate enough to stray into their path. And so it was, until the fire of dragons scorched the world almost clean of sheep, and left naught but wolves. Some were scarred, burned in the fire of those city-razing dragons, and most became naught but the feral beasts that lie at their heart.

One wolf, burned all over, didn't. A she-wolf. She kept her wits, and after abandoning her first pack, joined another to hunt. But the new, blackened world this wolf found herself in had few sheep. And in their place, new beasts took to the wilds, and the wolves were like sheep to them. So, after preying on the few sheep that were left, this scarred, gnarled she-wolf began to prey on other wolves, and for a time, it was enough.

Countless days and nights pass, then months, and years. Decades ravage the wasted lands of the wilds, storms of dust slowly flaying the scarred hide from the she-wolf as others, wolves, sheep and even common dogs that weren't quite either passed by her, and eventually died. As time bleached their bones white, and the new creatures of the wilds ate their fill from their carcasses, the gnarled she-wolf walked. Hunted. Killed her own kind. Even sick, diseased dogs that tried to be wolves.

But then, she saw a very peculiar dog. A black dog, alive but stinking of death and trailing vultures in the sky behind it. To one side walked another dog, one with two heads. One head was barking constantly, while the other tried to viciously snap at the first. To the other side walked a she-wolf, hurt and scarred, but carrying herself with brittle pride.

They joined the gnarled, burned she-wolf for a time, before the black dog's wolf companion abruptly faded into the sands. The black dog looked sad, but followed all the same. Trailing behind was a trio of odd, wild mutts that chased each-others tails, and a lone sheep who rode on the backs of some of the more vicious creatures of the wilds.

Then, like the other she-wolf, the black dog abruptly faded away too. And then night fell across the world. But it was no normal night. The skies turned into an inky, black abyss. And in the place of the moon was a great horror, writhing with too many tentacles reaching from the sky to pluck any wolf that strayed too far, peering down with insane, all-seeing eyes that covered a malformed, bulbous body.

One such tentacle wrapped around the gnarled she-wolf and brought her up to one of it's eyes and stared, even as the others continued to roll obscenely in their sockets. The she-wolf snapped and tore at the tentacle holding her, and then the eye that peered at her, and was dropped back down to the world.

The impact was enough to injure her in ways the ancient dragon fire didn't, and she suddenly found herself alone again. For as far as she could see in any direction, the wilds were empty. No wolves, sheep, or other beasts, not even bones. Looking up, she saw the skies, no longer a void empty of all but horror, were filled with angry red storm clouds that reached to the horizon.

And the she spotted a shape in the distance. A dog. Now when she looked around, she saw it, coming towards her from afar. There was nowhere she could look without spotting it. And as it got closer, the gnarled she-wolf recoiled in horror. This dog was practically a walking corpse. It's flesh was beginning to rot off of it's bones while blackened blood seeped from numerous wounds along it's body, including a prominent hole in it's head. It's eyes had a crazed look in them, and flecks of foam were at the corners of it's jaws.

The rabid dog looked at the gnarled she-wolf and growled, before bounding towards her and beginning to trail smoke. It intended to kill her as nothing else had, carrying with it a miasma of disease.


{[email protected])
The Wild Wastelands | Just A Little Quest Called Revenge | Rivet City Common Room
"Well that was a hell of a bad trip."

"Hooo, boy. That shit was fuuuuuucked up. The fuck was with the dogs?" asked Tracy as he came down from his Psycho-Jet high, exhaling sharply as he sat up on a bed in the Common Room of Rivet City and blearily looked around.

He didn't expect such a vivid drug-addled dream, but he supposed that's what happened when you mixed the good shit while getting a little nookie.

The Neon Native had only recently come down to the Capital Wasteland, and after a bit of clever fast-talking not only got onto the big-ass ship, but he met a nice little morsel in the local bar. The Muddy Rudder wasn't as good as Bob's Booze Shack back home in Heaven's Marketplace, but the sexy bitch he found there more than made up for it. And she had been just his type too. After hooking her up with a bit of Jet, he found his way there in the Common Room. It had one of the few semi-private places this dump had where a guy could fuck someone without paying out the nose for it.

A smirk pulled at one corner of his mouth as he turned to look at the bitch he'd had his way with earlier in the hopes of a round two. When he saw her body laid out on the filthy bed, he could only say, "Awwww, fuck."

She was dead, and given the foam at the corners of her mouth and the trio of used Jet inhalers next to her head, it was an overdose. Stupid whore, he thought as he shook his head. She didn't know her goddamned limits, and this is what she gets. It was a real shame too, because not only was good product wasted in an overdose, but now he wasn't going to get that round two he was hoping for.

Placing a hand on her chest, he just shook his head. She was already cold, too. That fucking sucked. He had no idea when he was gonna have the chance for some prime ass like... What was her name again? Trinnie? Whatever. She was cute, but now that she was dead, what did she matter?

Tracy stood with a groan and rubbed his scarred forehead before shrugging and walking to the corner where his shit was piled up. He took the time to get dressed before walking over and collecting the empty Jet inhalers. He couldn't afford to waste those things, since they were a bitch to get a hold of outside decent cities like The Neon.

The Drug Dealer Extraordinaire had taken a few steps towards the door before looking back at the corpse of Trinnie. He slowly smirked before walking over and pulling out one of the syringes he had loaded in The Good Shit, and jabbed it right between her breasts. Once he was sure the Bloatfly Larva was injected, he quickly pulled the syringe out and scrambled out of the Common Room with a chuckle.

She might not be able to give him the kind of fun he wanted dead, but there was more than one way to have a good time. As he closed the door behind him, he could hear the satisfying rip and popping sounds of a Bloatfly coming out of a fresh corpse, and he gave a happy sigh. That was bound to stir up some shit.

He'd let the first stupid bastard who found it deal with it, and in the meantime have a drink and follow up on a lead. His only lead, Tracy thought bitterly.

Sitting at the counter of the Muddy Rudder, he adjusted his codpiece before laying an arm on the bar and smiling cheekily at the bartender.

"Well, now that I've gotten that outta my system, lemme ask you something. You ever see a one-eyed ghoul bitch through here? I heard she headed this way not long ago." he said, "The cunt's name is Arizona. Ring any bells?"

"Floating bot? Do you mean an Eyebot? I wasn't aware there were any Eyebots around, except for the ones the Enclave seem to be... Oh Wrath? Would you mind bringing that Eyebot in here? I'm not angry, but I'd like to examine it, see how it might have been broken. I should have the expertise necessary to fix it."

[Ah, I assumed it belonged to one of you, as it was floating around pestering me.] He replied. As to why the female wanted to repair the blasted thing, he was most confused. Should have stepped on it and be done with it. But that was neither here nor there; instead Rath simply exhaled a snorting 'huff' and returned to where the metal ball had fallen, and scooped it up in one fluid motion, before returning to where the trio were.

Stooping a bit, he ducked under the door frame and this time, stepped into the room. There was a large tub of water with two of the females in it, and the third was nearby. The ones in the water had shed their outer layers, while the standing one was wearing an improvised covering. Sam and Roger had explained as well as the could have to Rath about humans and their need of coverings of various types, and for the most part Rath understood, but he still had trouble wrapping his mind around the human fascination with dunking themselves in water; but that was something to ponder another time.

[Here it is.] He said, unceremoniously dumping the spherical bot on the floor. [It's very annoying. If you know how to make it stop talking, I'd recommend doing that.] As he stood there he sniffed the air, more out of instinct than anything else, identifying the scents he could and mentally 'cataloguing' those he didn't recognize in case he encountered them some other time.

[Well, since I'm here now, I want to clarify a few things.] He said, the tone of his 'voice' taking a rather annoyed edge. [Firstly, I am not this 'Malkos' that you keep referring to. Aside from two friends, who are hopefully still nearby...and a raider or three I may have toyed with...I have never even spoken to a human, certainly none of you. Secondly, just who are you? And thirdly, what is that?] He'd raised a muscled, leathery hand and extended a claw to point at one of the blue haired females that had stuck her head into the room. [It looks human, but the smell is wrong...along with the mind.]

The Wild Wasteland | The Distant Past | BlamCo Manor
"Valkyrie Falter"
- Kristin 'Valkyrie' Blamco -
---

"We... well met...My Lady Blamco... I... well..." The Stammering Shovel Maiden stuttered for a moment before rising and accepting the proffered hand, "I apologize, Battle-Maiden Blamco, it is not often that a caretaker of the departed, such as myself, is granted an audience with one who has kept my local brethren and I so busy with our our work. We of the Undertaker's Union often meet those who are on the losing end of a skirmish, not one who has come out on the winning side as often as you have. Your actions have been so far reaching that my fellow Undertakers have had to resort to a formerly abandoned practice known as a sky funeral." The Darkly Dressed Duchess of the Departed paused for a moment, taking a moment to determine if she had gone overboard with the flattery, "If I may be frank, Miss Blamco. Your reputation as a brutal, efficient and brilliant warrior has spread far and wide throughout the region has piqued my curiosity, especially when I heard that you are a fellow swordswoman."

The Valkyrie blinked, brought a hand to her chin and cocked her head to the side. A silence fell between the two ladies before Kristin slammed her fist into her open palm. "Undertakers!", she exclaimed with wide-eyed jubilation, a move which caused Victoria to jump. "We've known for generations that someone is cleaning up the Wasteland, giving the fallen a proper ceremony, but we have never encountered the elusive Undertakers in person.", a small nod of respect soon followed, "Unfortunately, I cannot speak for your abilities. Although I can speak for the evidence of your work. For decades now, the Valkyries have taken a 'Warrior's Fee' when we conduct our business beyond these walls. 202 bottlecaps won't accompany you into Valhalla, but it can at least ensure respect for those in their glorious fall. You have my personal thanks."

That was the extent of Kristin Blamco's knowledge of the Undertakers. She never sought to look into it any further, but every tale surrounding the Undertakers had an air of dread. Even Sable spoke of them in hushed tones, insisting that we make sure to have enough to cover our "Warrior's Fee" on each adventure. Then again, this dread -- colloquially referred to as the 'Undertaker's Aura' -- only worked if one feared death. The Valkyrie cared not for when she might die, she cared about how she would die. A mindset that brought about some truly reckless means of survival when her life was threatened.

"As you will undoubtedly hear in the near future, a proposal has been brought forth with the purpose of forging an alliance between BlamCo and the Undertaker's Union. If this proposal is accepted by both parties, you and I shall become sisters on the battlefield." Victoria paused for a moment, disappointment was apparent in her tone. "This would also mean that you and I would never again be presented with the opportunity to spar to the fullest of our abilities for fear of jeopardizing such an alliance. To answer your question, and thank you for the patience you have shown in listening to me, the opportunity to challenge you to a duel is what has brought me here."

From the ladies' parasol, a nimble blade was drawn. Held at chest height, double-edged and directed towards the armored Valkyrie, all she could do was smile in response. Kristin had come to understand the Undertaker's momentary disappointment, but that very disappointment displayed a hunger for battle not unlike her own. And while she had no reason to doubt any guest of Sable's, then this was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"Then we shouldn't waste any time, Undertaker.", Kristin grin grew wider. Her muscles tensed when she lowered her power claymore in an even two-handed grip. "Don't go thinking I'm about to go easy on you. I'm not that polite."

A small smirk was caught before Victoria charged on the last spoken syllable. The gap was closed before Kristin had time to properly adjust her grip, the thrust from Victoria glanced off of the Valkyrie's armor, presumably intent on piercing the collar bone through the small gap in the segmented armor pieces.

In reply, Kristin spun on her heel and struck out with a low one-handed sweep of her sword. Predictably, Victoria leaped over the sweeping attack but failed to anticipate Kristin lashing out with a forceful free handed grip on her head in preparation for a devastating slam. In an unnecessary show of strength, Kristin lifted the woman off the ground, only for the Undertaker to grab her wrist, kick off of her chest plate and land low to ground in order to gain some distance. A brief exchange of glares said it all.

It was Kristin's turn to charge an almighty thrust to the Undertaker's center mass. The thrust attack was briefly blocked by the nimble sword and swiftly pushed by hand, only for Kristin's momentum to carry it off target. Switching tactics, an overhead strike caused Victoria to leap backwards before dashing forward to capitalize on Kristin's recovery to make two quick strikes to her arms, both of which were deflected by the armor, before retreating back to a defensive stance. Kristin continued her assault with gap closing horizontal sweeps, narrowly dodged, only to be met with more piercing thrusts with seemingly random placement.

The Undertaker was probing for weaknesses in her armor!
This was the third major revision to Kristin's primary armor and weapon loadout. Previous versions restricted the mobility of the legs and articulation of the arms in favor of greater protection. Kristin was known for fighting within melee range, but instead of playing to her fighting style, her armor had become a burden. The current version features heavy plating overlaid on thin leather armor for free range of motion. The major protection stemmed from the chestplate to protect the vitals, steel faulds to protect the lower abdomen, vambraces for the forearms, chausses the legs and sabatons for feet. Unknowingly, this would become the design that the Valkyrie insisted upon, with incremental improvements of course.

For every attack that the Valkyrie launched, the Undertaker sought to punish her twofold. Victoria's agility was magnificient, but Kristin showed no signs of stopping with her own brand of sheer endurance. Of course, there was a method to the Valkyrie's crowd control sweeps and arcing slashes, something that Victoria discovered when her ankle hit the uneven Yao guai corpse in the center of the arena. In that moment, where Victoria's footwork faltered, Kristin's shifted her grip to the blade and struck out with the crossguard of her sword, connecting with a heavy blow to the Undertaker's floating rib. The pain was immediate as she tumbled over the corpse.

The Undertaker took to her feet, hunched over with a hand in her clothing. Kristin was about to offer a truce, but a small object was flung towards her helmeted face and she was met with a blinding flash of light. Stumbling backwards, the Valkyrie reached up to clear her eyes instinctively. In order to do so, she ripped off her helmet and try as she might, her vision was spotty at best. An undeniable shape was charging towards her and instead of focusing on a rudimentary defense, she caught the sight of her discarded helmet covered in...glitter?! A panicked ill-timed slash was all she could muster until her vision cleared.

The Undertaker wasted no time taking advantage of this, this time her attack point was unconventional yet brutally effective: that nimble sword of hers was now impaled through the right arm from below, rendering the external armor useless. The motion was labored on Undertaker's front and through the shooting pain, an excessive amount of Adrenalin surged through the Valkyrie. It was one thing to skewer your opponents limb, it was quite another for them to react with an unnerving battlecry to the face and a furious uppercut to the broken rib they were sporting.

The Undertaker stumbled to the ground, cradling her stomach while fumbling around in the folds of her clothing. Meanwhile, Kristin's sword hit the ground with an audible clang, Victoria raised her head to catch sight of the Valkyrie menacingly pulling the impaled blade from her arm with a sickening amount of blood flowing from the wound. The Valkyrie advanced with blood-drenched blade in hand, her other arm dangling.

Victoria rose to her feet and extracted a concealed 10mm pistol, the press of her own sword was all too familiar on the Undertaker's neck as the Valkyrie stood millimeters away. The Valkyrie, however, was facing down the barrel of the gun.

"ENOUGH!"

"ENOUGH!"

-
-
-

The Undertaker and the Valkyrie had shouted in unison, putting an end to their "duel". The warrior and the assassin told a story that went beyond a polite exchange and nuanced wordplay. No, their exchange was measured in blood and broken bones. Their weapons were lowered and a sword was handed back.

The two were swarmed by readied BlamCo medical personnel, apparently waiting for a signal, since word broke out among the staff that a duel was happening.

"Well fought, Sister.", Kristin Blamco, Battle Maiden among the Valkyries welcomed Victoria McGee, Undertaker of the West.


The Wild Wasteland | Present Day | Entering Andale
"Tea & Tales"
- Sable 'Swan Maiden' Blamco -
---

"You mean Megaton? It's that way." Arizona said, jabbing a thumb behind her.

Sable scrounged for a pencil, corrected the name on the map and made a note about the general direction. She forgot to inquire about just how long the journey would take, or whether there were any landmarks to keep track of. A lot had slipped her mind in that valuable moment and try as she might, this was one occasion where she wore her heart on her sleeve.

Silently, the Swan Maiden curtsied once more, thanking Arizona for the information. Setting down her duffel bag, she got to work with setting up the BlamCo Mini-Micro, transferring the fusion cell from her Power Spear to the all-in-one cooking device. An awkward silence had fallen upon the group once Sable had turned her back to get to work with light dinner preparations. It turned out that pre-dinner entertainment would break the silence.

"You know who Missy-Silver-Sable-Inflatable-Fancy-Shield-Lady reminds me of? Big Sissy Lucy Caboosy! She looks at you the same way, she smiles at you all nice like and she talks to you kinda the same way. Ohohoh! Do you and Missy-Silver-Sable-Inflatable-Fancy-Shield-Lady kiss the same way you and Big Sissy Lucy Caboosy kissed before she went away?" The Little Blue Haired Troll exclaimed excitedly as she jumped up and down whilst hugging the air and making kissing noises, "MUAH MUAH MUAH MUAH MUAH MUAH!"

From the corner of her eye, the Swan Maiden caught the 'performance' of the younger lady. With an incredulous look, she turned to catch site of the kissing motions. Clenching her teeth, spare plates were extracted and various vegetables were sliced and added among the Expandable Cheese Cubes.

"Sylphee is not actually my daughter... she's a girl that was my brother's former bodyguard and mind control experiment that's taken to following me around and calling me her 'Daddy' and since it was my blood that caused her so much trouble, I thought it appropriate to look over her lest he try to gain control over her again. Lucy is also not my daughter nor is she Sylphee's sister, despite Sylphee's claim to the contrary." Thomas's panicked tone seemed to settle as he continued "She's someone special and dear to me. I met while I was working out here for the Undertaker's Union. She's someone that I went through a great many trials for and who went through a great many trials for me," he continued was a voice that was low but loud enough to be heard, "I think you can understand that sort of feeling," he added gesturing towards Sable's ring before adding some of the tea leaves to the steaming kettle of water.

Sable added some water to the small container, adjusted the settings on her mini-micro and the device started whirring with power, hoping everyone would enjoy a small serving of lasagna.

Taking in his words, Sable turned to assess Thomas as he currently stood. Very little about his core appearance had changed over the years, barring the smarter wardrobe and the loss of his clean-shaven innocence. He spoke with panic, but ultimately measured his words -- certainly wiser and heart-breakingly world-weary going by the distance in his neutral gaze.
So elated by his appearance, yet confused about his presence -- Sable had jumped to conclusions, putting him into an awkward position. Just what was she hoping to expect? A hug and a ceremony!? How foolish. Bringing a hand to rest just below her neck, the glimmer of her ring brought about a knot of guilt.

"I did write you." Shifty continued, his eyes looking into he all consuming flames, "and I did miss you but.. If you never received my letters... I'm sure Lord Walt had his reasons."

"I wrote to you too.", Sable piped up, waiting for the lull in his string of thoughts. "To every single letter of yours without fail. But the Courier's guild ---"

**DING!**

Turning on her heel, Sable rushed to extract the container from the mini-micro. She had precious seconds before the lasagna solution overflowed from expansion after reaching the programmed temperature. Depositing the lasagna in layers on each plate, raw mutfruit slices were added for contrast. Scrounging for utensils, Sable deposited a plate to Thomas & Arizona. Two plates were left out. One for Sylphee and another for anyone wanting seconds.

Having received her tea from Thomas, she took a seat next to him. Doing her utmost to remain composed, she took a sip of the tea. The bitter taste numbed her tongue and stung the back of her throat. To her credit, she politely took another sip before chasing it down a heaped fork of dinner. Arizona audibly coughed as she downed the contents of her cup, slowly relaxing into a directionless gaze.

Turning to Thomas, she continued the conversation. This time, however, there was a cold detached air to her voice.

"Bloodshed and the upper-class will always go hand in hand. The Courier's Guild --- corrupted by those cowards that hide behind the NCR puppets. Truly, loyalty is not earned, it's bought." a true look of disdain was written all over her face, looking down upon the fire as she would of any corpse in New Vegas. "For a time, BlamCo's outgoing mail was intercepted. We had an idea of who could manage such a task. You remember the Rabbits, don't you? Two sisters leading the riff-raff of New Vegas into organised crime. The little one was smart, she told me all about how they stationed themselves in NCR territory so that we couldn't interfere, they could safely undermine us, while the corrupt mess that is the NCR tripped over their precious paperwork to deny us any inquiry."

Taking another sip, Sable continued without inhibition.

"The Rabbits intercepted our letters. They knew all about 'Sable Blamco -- The Gravediggers' Sordid Affair', a public relations nightmare when the rumors warped as they spread. There was a definitive reluctance among the public to deal with BlamCo's food, as one could imagine. Since I brought the Undertakers under the Valkyrian fold, it was my job to fix this mess, lest I suffer an exile.", sipping her tea once more, Sable stopped to take a few bites. Upon finishing, her fists were balled in frustration -- years of latent frustration. "If loyalty can be bought, then loyalty went to the highest bidder. Upon purchasing a few blind eyes and a public declaration to quell the rumors the following morning, I had that night to act. I hunted those Rabbits down -- skewering, blinding and breaking my way through their ranks. When I cornered the two sisters, I took the eldest sisters' tongue before the wounded were rounded up to be jailed. True enough, I found a small safe full of sensitive BlamCo material."

Sable's fists unclenched, she turned to look at Thomas, watching the flame dance in his eyes.

"Weeks upon weeks of my most private words to you, lost." an errant strand of her golden hair covered an eye. "I was put under strict orders to cease my writings to you, lest another leak occur. From that day forward, I was considered the black sheep in the family, and it was up to me to silence any unsavory group or voice once my debt was paid. --- a necessary sacrifice for the future of BlamCo. My sisters fought their battles by day and I hunted at night."

Holding up her ring finger, "This is the celebration of my freedom. Her name is Annabelle, a delivery girl of sorts.", sighing, she smiled softly, "Lucy, huh? Well in my experience, the best couples are forged through unending dedication. Naturally, I can understand her dedication to you, you do have your charms -- still, I am rather pleased to hear about your foster case. You're still kind, never let that go."

Her eyes widened and she covered her mouth in surprise. Did she just say all of that out loud?!

"I think this 'tea' of yours is causing a loose tongue, but I can't quite help it." she chuckled nervously and watched him go red. It made her feel better. The effects of the 'tea' were short-lived, she could feel her composure reforming. "I'm sorry about before. This trip is not at it's end, yet I have mountains to climb. The Battle Maiden, Kristin -- her absence from the arranged marriage has forfeited her the crown. So I am to offer her Duchess status, exile or worse, depending on her current actions. If I do survive, I am here as an emissary to the Undertakers. BlamCo is a larger machine than what you witnessed and I need to find a certain woman to continue our partnership."

Collecting his plate and utensils, Sable set them aside and removed her ring. Leaning over to kiss his cheek, she whispered, "Permit me this one act of selfishness. I never forgot about you.", she pulled away and gave him the same conflicted smile that she wore during their final goodbyes, years ago. "But I am grateful to hear that you have found love in your life."

Excusing herself, Sable secured her ring, collected the dishes and unceremoniously set aside the unfinished 'tea'. Packing her things, a few hacking coughs from the previously silent Arizona had startled her.

"Lady Arizona, are you alright?", Sable inquired before gesturing at her meal. "Please eat up, food helped with the, urm, 'tea' that was served. And I advise against standing up too quickly."

Returning to Thomas with her bag packed, she held out a rudimentary map to Megaton and a pencil.

"Could you help me with the finer details?", Sable inquired, shakily taking a seat. That tea had some latent effects on her balance. "I'm surprised Lady Victoria isn't with you. Do you know where one could find her?"

Nodding at Arizona and Thomas, "Thank you for the hospitality, if our paths cross again, it would be my pleasure to lend a hand."


The Wild Wasteland | Present Day | Springvale Elementary School
"Splish Splash - Part 2"
- Kristin 'Valkyrie' Blamco -
---

With Doctor Sorenson's brief departure to fetch her medical equipment, Kristin had the opportunity to stretch her legs, wash her hair underwater and generally scrub away until she felt clean and refreshed. With her arms resting on the rim of the spacious tub, the Valkyrie kicked her feet rather playfully. (Un)fortunately for Constance, this meant that the Communication Cat had full view of a flanking position bobbing on the water's surface.

Lady Sorenson returned, complete with the Doctor's Bag in hand.

"Now let's get you treated with some RadAway and a little RadX, and I'll tell you why I'm here." Jenna told her.

The Valkyrie had faced many a foe in her time, with all manner of armaments. Yet it was the needle of a Doctor that had her reach into the depths of her combat conditioning. With reluctance, closed eyes, audible wincing and a look of childlike betrayal, the needle for the IV fluids were expertly handled. Nothing less from a Follower.

"Thank you.", she mumbled, more emotionally hurt by ordeal with needles than anything else.

"The truth is, I'm still a little unsure about my own goals here in D.C. right now. If circumstances were different, I probably wouldn't have trekked all the way from one coast to the other, but when I heard about Project Purity... Well, I had to see it for myself." she said, with a spark of energy in her voice, "The idea of a water purifier on such a grand scale, completely removing all traces of radiation and other contaminants from a body of water on the scale of the Potomac? Think of the possibilities."

Clean water? Truth be told, Kristin never had to worry about that sort of thing. BlamCo had the means to secure it's place in New Vegas. Her journey so far had exposed her to this coast's environment and the limitations of survival for the individual. For Kristin, these conditions sparked a challenge and a desire to improve upon her prowess.

"I mean, it's impractical the way it's being used, because smaller-scale water purifiers can do just as much more reasonably, and with technical knowledge we already have. Those are tried-and-true. But it's the concept of Project Purity that truly interests me. Just imagine if we could adapt it to work on more than just water: Purifying a person's blood of all radiation and impurities, without the possible side-effects of RadAway, or clearing radiation from soil, or the air!" she said excitedly, adding, "Ideally, I'd like to actually visit Project Purity myself and look at the internals, but I can make do with the most up-to-date technical schematics, and maybe talk to some of the technicians maintaining it."

The avenues of Doctor Sorenson's interests went far above the Warrior's head. That said, if there's one thing that she absolutely admired in a person: it was their sense of passion. By losing or not investing in a passion, the Valkyrie always felt that was the point where someone could lose themselves to forces beyond their control. Passion is power, and in the Doctor's case, the investigation of the Project Purity sounded like the beginning of a potential adventure.

"Doctor Sorenson, that sounds like a glorious quest just waiting to happen!", she would have stood up for this declaration, but the needle kept her place. "Once our responsibilities finish up here. The three of us could travel the Capital Wasteland. What say you, Constanc -- !?"

[Sorry to bother you, but the floating bot seems to have shorted itself out while trying to attack me. I'm sorry if I broke your machine.]

Could it be? Her BlamCo Mini-Microwave!? Why yes, it is set to automatically dispense ingredients at timed intervals, but there was only a handful of times where she had electrocuted herself whilst drunk...

"Floating bot? Do you mean an Eyebot? I wasn't aware there were any Eyebots around, except for the ones the Enclave seem to be..." the Doctor trailed off, only for a devious smile to form.

"Oh Wrath? Would you mind bringing that Eyebot in here? I'm not angry, but I'd like to examine it, see how it might have been broken. I should have the expertise necessary to fix it." she said sweetly, a little too sweetly.

Oh. It was just an Eyebot.

When the Doctor's burst of enthusiasm for medical work switched to mechanical work, Kristin grabbed a hold of her IV bag. When a few strands of the hair dangling in her face had gone from golden blonde to her usual silver, she relaxed, merely intent on listening to the proceedings with the resident Deathclaw. She wondered whether Deathclaws were simply domesticated on this side of the coast, their language would suggest some sort of education. Kristin found herself lost in thoughts of young Deatchclaws in ill-fitted school uniforms.

[Firstly, I am not this 'Malkos' that you keep referring to --- ]

Oh oh! One boy-claw was writing a letter to a girl-claw he fancied -- but he kept breaking the human pencil and the desk beneath it. Oh, to be young and in love.

[Secondly, just who are you? And thirdly, what is that?]

Daydreaming about retiring to manage a comedy group of Deathclaws had her missing out on parts of the conversation. Not-Malkos had managed to find his way into the bathroom and he was asking questions. Fantastic, she wondered whether he would be opposed to wearing a tuxedo one day. He could be the gentleman of the comedy trio.

"Kristin Blamco, Battle Maiden & Valkyrie of the West.", Kristin piped up, "Our resident Communication Cat can explain more about the Sylphy's. I'm just here to turn them into warriors."

Kristin yawned while waiting for the IV bag to finish. Otherwise, this tub was doing wonders for her aching muscles. Or it could be the fact that she was slowly becoming less irradiated and therefore feeling rejuvenated. Regardless, her hypothetical Deathclaw Comedy Troupe needed some serious thought if this were to work. One day she would trade her helmet for a brilliant poofy sorcerer's hat. A hat so awe-inspiring in size...


Arizona
The Wild Wastelands | The Dunwich Job | Andale
"How long was I out?"

The next thing Arizona knew, her throat was incredibly dry and it felt like her mouth was stuffed with cotton. And while she barked out a few hacking coughs, her vision slowly cleared so that she could see something beyond a trippy desert landscape.

"Lady Arizona, are you alright?"

"Shifty," Arizona rasped hoarsely, "The fuck was in that tea you gave me? I think it was laced with something."

Placing her hands on her knees and bent forward, she let out a few more coughs and grimaced.

"Please eat up, food helped with the, urm, 'tea' that was served. And I advise against standing up too quickly."

Glancing up at Sable, the look on Arizona's face could only be described as both weary, and more than a little incredulous. Motioning towards herself with one hand, she gave her a wry, crooked smile.

"Girl, I'm pretty sure I've been standing here this whole time while I was in fucking La-La Land. I was out, I'm sure. The two of you didn't notice?" she asked as she straightened up and walked over.

She plopped down and sat right next to Thomas with a soft grunt before glancing down at the map and pencil that Sable held out.

"Could you help me with the finer details?"

Cocking her head a little to one side, she studied the rudimentary sketch for a few moments before shrugging and glancing over at Thomas.

"This is all you, Shifty. Reading maps is more my forte, not making them." she said.

The Really Wild Wastelands | The Distant Past | BlamCo Manor
Swordswoman to Swordswoman Pt. 2
Victoria "Shiver" McGee

The duel had resulted in a draw, a rather ignominious ending for such a spirited and frenzied fight. While Victoria would have normally detested an ending with no clearly defined victor, the silk and lace swaddled shovel bearer's battle-lust was sated, at least for the time being. It was a shame that a future alliance between the Undertaker's Union and BlamCo would prevent the two bloodied adversaries from any further bouts of unrestrained combat. Accepting the bloodied blade from Kristin, the Bruised Burier of Broken Bodies felt her ribs grinding as she moved, a sure sign of a fracture.

"Well fought, Sister." The Blamco Berserker stated in an almost ritualistic tone as she was mobbed by a squadron of Blamco Branded Medics

"My hostess is too gracious," The Etiquette Minded Undertaker returned with a low courtesy that caused her enough pain to wince, "Stories of your prowess with the sword pale in comparison to reality. I -," The woman paused for a moment as one of the BlamCo Badged Medics applied a stimpak to the Duchess of the Dearly Departed, "- hope that my own performance was to your satisfaction, Lady Kristin." Victoria said coyly, her eyes playfully flicking upwards to lock on to her hostess' eyes as she did.

Straightening herself up from her courtesy, the Fashionable Ferrywoman examined her clothing with the knowledge that there was no possible way that her clothing could have gotten through the duel unscathed. Sure enough, there was a horizontal rip that had cut through a the many layers of Victoria's skirt. Turning to one of the many Bearers of the BlamCo Brand, the Luxurious Lady of the Formerly Living requested a stool and a sewing kit.

"It is a shame that this duel marks the first and only time that you and I shall be allowed to fight unfettered by the restriction of alliance," The Battle Loving Shovel Bearer said with the smallest of smirks hidden under her scarf, "While I found our shortlived time on the field to be absolutely thrilling, you have reminded me of the need to remain humble and that there is always room for improvement when it comes to tactics and strategy. While I have always found one on one combat to be the most effective means of discovering one's flaws, it does not mean that I am against requesting more private lessons."

The BlamCo Manservant returned with the requested items, setting them down in the middle of the arena. In a rather strange juxtaposition of location versus actions, the Delicate Damsel of the Dearly Departed started to mend the rip in her dress, exposing a flash of milky white skin as she did. While it might have appeared that she was attempting to flirt with the Heiress to the BlamCo fortune, she was,of course, simply playing around with the BlamCo Battle Mistress. There were more ways to duel after all. This had been one of the reasons that drawn her to the the iron-blooded, hot-blooded, cold-blooded thief, Tessa Rabbit, who might have been lacking in familial name or station but more than made up for it with her abilities with both knife and tongue.

"Fortunately, I suppose this line of conversation regarding any future duels is purely speculative until a formal agreement is reached between our two organizations," Victoria said wistfully before eyeing the BlamCo heiress, her hands expertly working the fabric of her dress as she did, "though, I suppose it is not too early for discussions regarding a suitable pairing arrangement to cement this alliance. I suppose my Lady Blamco already has candidate for such a matrimonial agreement already in mind for such an occasion? Perhaps you would put yourself forth as such a prize... or maybe an annoying thorn in your side that you would love to be rid of?"

Finished with the emergency repairs on her dress, the Stealthy Sword Wielding Seamstress gave the black thread a quick tug to ensure the tightness of the thread before running it along the edge of her blade, neatly slicing the thin black cord. Sheathing her sword back in the handle of her parasol, the brilliant but bruised Ferrywoman unfurled the accessory, shielding her pale skin from the afternoon sun.

"Before I depart and depriving myself of your presence, my lady Blamco, I must sate my own curiosity and ask a simple question of you. Were this not a duel and had we been in actual combat, would have have run me through with my own blade, knowing that I would have shot you at the simultaneously?" The Etiquette Minded Undertaker asked in a voice that was overflowing with curiosity, "Or would you have spared me, gambling on the chance that I would do the same?"


The Really Wild Wastelands | The Present | Andale
A Clockwork Crimson
Sylphee

One would think that with the reaction that the others were having in response to Cybernetic StormShaun's "tea," the disturbed devil in red would be the one most out of control, however, anyone who bet money on this sort of outcome would have found themselves completely bereft of their deng... and their pants. Mind altering cactii and halucinogenic mushrooms aside, Sylphee had been completely fascinated with Missy Fianna CanCans McFirecrotch's trio of droogs since their arrival and much to Missy Fianna CanCans McFirecrotch's (probable) despair, had been attempting to convince Missy Fianna CanCans McFirecrotch to teach the Crimson Catastrophe the secret language of the Lizzie Bordens. It was rather badiwad that Missy Fianna CanCans McFirecrotch had wandered off to waggle her yahzick at the Andalien lewdies about dobby Vault stuff, leaving Sylphee to stare at the Lizzie Bordens as they stood there, each one holding a tass of the ole moloko plus.

"What's it going to be then, eh?" Said Lizzie Borden, who was actually called Alex in another life, to his banda droogs, peeting his milk with knives, so as to sharpen him up and ready him for a bit of the dirty twenty-to-one before he spotted the little devotchka who was, like Lizzie "Alex" Borden and his droogs, dressed in the heighth of fashion, "Hello there little sister, what brings a pretty little ptitsa to merzky mesto such as this?"

"HEY HEY HEY, Missy Fianna CanCans McFirecrotch?! THE LIZZIE BORDENS ARE TALKING FUNNY!!" The crimson koshtoomed kisa creeched out to the devotchka with the horrorshow groodies, "Missy Fianna CanCans McFirecrotch?! HELLO?!"

"I viddy that this little dim devotchka's a dobby bit bezoomny in the mozg, don't you think?" Izzy "Pete" Borden chumbled with a quiet smeck, "Think we should give her a rookerful of the ultraviolence? Slice a few of her cables and make her swim in that red red krovvy?"

"Nay, bother Izzy," responded Fizzy "Georgie" Borden, "stop flapping your rot with such chepooka. The Devotchka with the horrorshow groodies'll give us a bit of ole in-out in-out fisting if we so much a lay a finger on this nadsat's hair. If you wanted to see ole Bog so soon, you shoulda peeted a bit of drencrom in your moloko. Hold a tick, I think Lizzie has a messel."

"Indeed, O my little brothers, I do," Lizzie "Alex" Borden said with a grin before looking at the sneety eyed sharp, "Little Sister, I viddied that your yahzick has little love for the eggiwegs or the steaky wakes and that sort cal they call pishcha that the lewdies of Andale have brought out. But, just for you my little sister, I smotted a stash of RaddyScorp Jerky if you're not all poogly of a little rabbiting."

To the little ptitsa's credit she didn't let a word past her goobers, just standing there without govoreeting whilst viddying the three droogs as they finished their moloko plus. Of course, such a stare might have been a hint that she wanted a bit of the ole in-out in-out with the trio but Lizzie "Alex" Borden didn't think there was enough firegold in the world for such a thing.

"If you fancy those dobby little morsels of RaddyScorp, just iffy off into each of the domies in the town. Since all the lewdies are out and about, there'll be no need for any dratsing or the polyclef from the cantora. Just iffy on into the domies and find the waterheaters. Jack up the temp real nice and close up the valve before you ookadeet. Then the four of us will iffy off outside of Andalero and scarffle up all the RaddyScorp Jerky we can stuff in our brookos. Sound like a horrowshow of a time?"

"Ummmmmmmmmmmmm..." The Vino Koshtoomed Sharp umm'd for a tick-tock before nodding in quite the skorry fashion before scampering out out out out! "Bye bye Mister Lizzy Bordens, thanks for the tip!"


The Really Wild Wastelands | The Present | Andale
A Young Lady's Primer to Etiquette and Assassinations: Chapter 4
Victoria "Shiver" McGee

Except from Victoria's Manuscript:

On Eavesdropping

It is a common belief among members of polite society that the act of eavesdropping on a conversation is the height of impropiety. This is, however, a misconception all too happily disseminated and popularized by those with one or two skeletons that they would prefer remain in locked away in a closet. There is not a person in this world that has the ability to control what they are able or unable to discern with their ears. If one of you, my young ladies to be, happens to overhear a conversation meant to only be shared between the participants of said conversation, there is nothing that either you nor those offended by your inadvertent actions can do. Had this hypothetical conversation taken place in a more secure location, there would have been no issue.

Regardless of one's stance on eavesdropping, it cannot be denied that the accumulation of information in tantamount to the success of a young lady of etiquette and assassination. There is no such thing as an unimportant piece of information for even the smallest tidbit of intelligence can reveal the world about a person or target. It is for that reason that any morsel of information should be kept behind the locked doors of one's lips for no other reason than good reason. The sharing of another's personal information both devalues its importance and leaves a young lady open to accusations of improper behavior, which may result in her being branded as a salacious gossip.

So, my young students of etiquette and assassinations, remember this lesson well for it is a major cornerstone to your success.

There was not a soul in the Wastelands that could have been faulted for making the assumption that Victoria McGee had spent copious amounts of time in front of the mirror and, truth be told, they would not have been completely incorrect. There was, however, a high probability that they would have assumed to her time spent in front of her vanity was for the sake of her skin deep vanity and for in that assumption, they would have been incorrect. In the months that followed the loss of her jaw and the subsequent installation of the voice synthesizer in her neck, Victoria had indeed spent many an hour in front of a mirror regarding her own reflection as she spoke. Every phrase spoken in the world had its own combination of jaw, lip and tongue movements not unlike a form of linguistical DNA. Despite having had the lower portion of her face reconstructed with synthetic parts, the Darkly Dressed Duchess of the Departed no longer had the auditory feedback of her own voice, due to the words perfectly formed by the voice synthesizer, that would have normally allow her to shape her words with her mouth. While she no longer needed to even move her mouth in order to speak, there was a certain amount of vanity that forced her to stare at her lips in the mirror as she spoke in order to ensure that when she chose to speak, it appeared that she was speaking.

Though as substantial amount of time was spent on this project of vanity, Victoria found that its completion had produced some unexpected results. In studying how to move her mouth when she spoke, she was also teaching herself to perceive the words that were being formed by the lips of others. In short, she had learned to read lips, a skill that she had found beneficial in her line of work as a Ferrywoman and as an observer looking through the scope of her newly acquired anti-materiel rifle on the events that unfolded within the Andale's city limits.

Despite the distance that separated her and her cousin, The Ever Etiquette Minded Undertaker could smell the odd bouquet of the so called tea that Thomas was brewing. While a few of the dried herbs steeping in the kettle were foreign to her nose, Victoria was quick to recognize the scent of Psilocybin as well as Lophophora williamsii, two ingredients that she had regularly imbibed while under the tender care of her cousin Henry.

"(Oh cousin, that particular blend of tea is probably the last one you'd want to share with Sable Blamco)" The Amused Assassin thought to herself as she watched the group settle down around a small fire they had built on the outskirt's of the Andalian playground... at least most of them. It seemed that Sylphee, Cousin Henry's little toy doll had other ideas which included the interestingly tame trio of Deathclaws.

"I did write you." Cousin Thomas' lips confessed to his former lover, "and I did miss you but.. If you never received my letters... I'm sure Lord Walt had his reasons."

"I wrote to you too," Came the counter-confession from the sublimely innocent lips of Sable Blamco "To every single letter of yours without fail. But the Courier's guild ---"

"Damn..." The unbidden curse came from the Concealed Caretaker of the Dead. Had the Silver Raven pieced together Victoria's part in the severing of the romantic link? Tessa Rabbit always did know a person in the perfect position at the most opportune time. At Shiver's own request, her Beautiful Bunny had ensured the interception of Sable's responses to Thomas' love laced letters and while the two were in agreement to keep the contents a secret, Mercy, Tessa's very own younger sibling, had decided to plaster Sable's words all over New Vegas in an attempt to destablize BlamCo's hold over their town. What became of the Rabbit sisters was a mystery to Victoria as her duties to her new master had quickly overtaken her personal interests.

"Bloodshed and the upper-class will always go hand in hand. The Courier's Guild --- corrupted by those cowards that hide behind the NCR puppets. Truly, loyalty is not earned, it's bought." Sable lips said stiffly as both remembered anger and the herbal concoction took hold, for she started to speak rapidly and fearlessly without any inkling of restraint "For a time, BlamCo's outgoing mail was intercepted. We had an idea of who could manage such a task. You remember the Rabbits, don't you? Two sisters leading the riff-raff of New Vegas into organised crime. The little one was smart, she told me all about how they stationed themselves in NCR territory so that we couldn't interfere, they could safely undermine us, while the corrupt mess that is the NCR tripped over their precious paperwork to deny us any inquiry."

From Shiver's perspective above the temporary rest area, it appeared that the drug laced "tea" had a firm grip over Cousin Thomas and his companions for the Ancient One could be seen staring off into the depths of the past and her Cousin... her cousin appeared to be barely keeping a foot planted in reality. Pulling herself up from her prone position, the Silk and Lace Swaddled Shovel Bearer brushed the dust and dirt from her dress, slinging the rifle on her shoulders as she unfurled her parasol. It was time for her to make her grand entrance.


The Really Wild Wastelands | The Present | Andale
Coming soon to a Theatre near you...
Thomas "Shifty" McGee

~Cough cough cough~

It wasn't very often that one discovers a drink that tasted progressively worse the more one drank but as Thomas continued to slowly sip the concoction that he had, in hindsight, made the mistake of brewing, he imagined that the flavor was starting to get closer to how he imagined the Northern dish known as Brahgis, the stomach of a Brahmin that had been stuffed with its innards, left to coagulate and rot and served thinly sliced atop a ball rice and kelp. He also couldn't help but notice the fact that as he drank more of the swilly tea, the world appeared to get more and more vibrantly colorful.

"... You remember the Rabbits, don't you? Two sisters leading the riff-raff of New Vegas into organised crime. The little one was smart, she told me all about how they stationed themselves in NCR territory so that we couldn't interfere, they could safely undermine us, while the corrupt mess that is the NCR tripped over their precious paperwork to deny us any inquiry," The BlamCo Ballerina said as she sipped more of her tea, her voice and tongue becoming more loose.

The Darkly Dressed Doorman of Death did know of The Rabbits, specifically the two sisters that Sable had spoken of and more importantly he was aware that they were Victoria's contacts to the New Vegas underworld. The question as to why one of Victoria's contacts would meddle with one of the allies of the Undertaker's Union popped in Thomas' head as he looked into the flames of the small campfire.

Visions of The Fire:

The outpost was on fire. The base had served as a staging area for BlamCo foodstuffs that had been slated to be delivered to the Undertaker's Union. All around the facility personnel and warriors battled against fire and an unknown force that charged them recklessly. Despite their superior training, the BlamCo personnel were being beaten by the charging hoard of helmeted raiders, though it was unclear if the assailants were raiders as some wore raider armor, some wore Vault suits and others wore the clothing of a normal civilian. Their only commonality were the round helmets they wore, each one topped with a pair of circular ears.

Thomas knew this shape well... it was the Son of Walt.

"The Rabbits intercepted our letters. They knew all about 'Sable Blamco -- The Gravediggers' Sordid Affair', a public relations nightmare when the rumors warped as they spread. There was a definitive reluctance among the public to deal with BlamCo's food, as one could imagine. Since I brought the Undertakers under the Valkyrian fold, it was my job to fix this mess, lest I suffer an exile." The Fiery Valkyrian Phoenix said in a voice still frustrated by the whole ordeal she'd been forced to endure, "If loyalty can be bought, then loyalty went to the highest bidder. Upon purchasing a few blind eyes and a public declaration to quell the rumors the following morning, I had that night to act. I hunted those Rabbits down -- skewering, blinding and breaking my way through their ranks. When I cornered the two sisters, I took the eldest sisters' tongue before the wounded were rounded up to be jailed. True enough, I found a small safe full of sensitive BlamCo material. Weeks upon weeks of my most private words to you, lost." an errant strand of her golden hair had fallen over an eye, adding a bit of mystery to her beauty,"I was put under strict orders to cease my writings to you, lest another leak occur. From that day forward, I was considered the black sheep in the family, and it was up to me to silence any unsavory group or voice once my debt was paid. --- a necessary sacrifice for the future of BlamCo. My sisters fought their battles by day and I hunted at night."

The Friendly Former Undertaker of the East's unanchored mind drifted off to imagination. He could envision the Silver Spear-Maiden hunting in the night lit by starlight and accompanied only by the moonlight. He could see the angry glow of her Powerspear as it seared through armor, hide, flesh and bone. The pain that Sable's prey suffered was intense but ended quickly. Had the anger over being unable to communicate with him fueled this search for justice or had her loyalty to her family? Looking up at the pale moon, he knew that this was the last thing that many of the Blemished BlamCo Beauty's victims saw before life fled their broken mortal shell.

Visions of the Night:

The blaze that consumed the Matterhorn had obliterated the stars from the night sky. Only the moon served as witness to the downfall of the Undertaker's Union. Having heard rumors of a mysterious army that was massing near their Headquarters, Undertakers and Ferryman alike were prepared to meet any assault... but no amount of preparation could have prepared them for the numbers they faced.

"We are betrayed!" A junior Undertaker called out as he pointed towards the BlamCo uniforms worn by some members of the assault force.

"No... it's something else." Another said, "Look at their helmets."

"Why? Why would they wear the Son's head? This is blasphem-" The first questioned before he was cut down where he stood. A massive shadow dragging an even larger coffin continued forward, leading Henry's enslaved army.

From the Magical Castle that overlooked the Headquarters, Thomas' Father looked into a mirror and asked it a question.

"Mirror Mirror on the wall, what is the fate that awaits us all?" He asked as the door behind him opened, allowing a figure to enter with, a blade being drawn from a black parasol.

Thomas blinked, the vision... hallucination... waking dream had ended. Despite the terrible events that had been shown to him, he felt calm, as if he had gone into shock. Sable continued to speak as if no time had passed while The Friendly Former Ferryman had bore witness to these horrors. A strange reflection of the firelight had broken the spell and as his eyes refocused on reality he could make out the ring on Sable's finger.

"This is the celebration of my freedom. Her name is Annabelle, a delivery girl of sorts," sighing, the one Victoria had called the Silver Raver smiled softly, "Lucy, huh? Well in my experience, the best couples are forged through unending dedication. Naturally, I can understand her dedication to you, you do have your charms -- still, I am rather pleased to hear about your foster case. You're still kind, never let that go."

Thomas felt his cheeks go red from the compliment. It was infrequent enough that he was able to speak to a person, let alone a beautiful woman, let alone receive a compliment from one. He had an inkling that this sudden rush of honesty was not entirely voluntary.

"I think this 'tea' of yours is causing a loose tongue, but I can't quite help it." The Parmesan Princess said with a slight nervous chuckle. He felt his cheeks burning once again under the woman's gaze, "I'm sorry about before. This trip is not at it's end, yet I have mountains to climb. The Battle Maiden, Kristin -- her absence from the arranged marriage has forfeited her the crown. So I am to offer her Duchess status, exile or worse, depending on her current actions. If I do survive, I am here as an emissary to the Undertakers. BlamCo is a larger machine than what you witnessed and I need to find a certain woman to continue our partnership."

It was at this point that Sable, having cleaned up their plates leaned over and planted a soft kiss on the Surprised Shovel Bearer's cheek, a small smile could be seen as she pulled away from him.

"Permit me this one act of selfishness. I never forgot about you. But I am grateful to hear that you have found love in your life." The Former Ferryman of the East's First and Former Lover said before retreating.

"Please eat up, food helped with the, urm, 'tea' that was served. And I advise against standing up too quickly." Sable said to Arizona as she grabbed a map and a pencil from her pack. Unsurprisingly, Arizona seemed to have been under the influence of the tea as well, though the effects of the "tea" on the Machine Gun toting Old One were unknown, "Lady Arizona, are you alright?"

"Girl, I'm pretty sure I've been standing here this whole time while I was in fucking La-La Land. I was out, I'm sure. The two of you didn't notice?" "Lady" Arizona asked gruffly.

"Sorry, Arizona. We've been catching up and filling in some blanks," Thomas admitted sheepishly. Though fate had ultimately decided that their futures lay in different directions, the revelation that any possible future between Sable and Thomas had cut short by entities other than the two of them caused him both a great deal of sadness and a great deal of anger, "Then again... I don't think you're the only one that's being affected by this... 'tea.'"

"Could you help me with the finer details?" Sable said as she returned to where The Angered Undertaker was sitting, flourishing a map and pencil.

Taking the crude chart in his hands, he started drawing in some landmarks as well as the best route that would take her to Megaton while simultaneously avoiding Fairfax. If she was in a time crunch, the last thing she needed was to bury a bunch of Dead Raiders killed by the tip of her Power Spear.

"I'm surprised Lady Victoria isn't with you. Do you know where one could find her?" Sable commented as he completed the map, bringing back memories of the vision that Thomas had recently endured, "Thank you for the hospitality, if our paths cross again, it would be my pleasure to lend a hand." She added as Thomas "Shifty" McGee handed her the now more accurate map.

It might have appeared to be a sudden bout of rudeness that had held Thomas' tongue hostage as he'd not uttered a single word in response to the Fair Dame of Dead and Dairy, but it could have been explained away by the visions and loosened tongues that had affected the group so recently. As the Map Minded Mortician drew the map, a familiar silhouette had caught his eyes. Watching the form take shape as he drew, the Hallucinating Horseman for the Dead started to make out some of the silhouette's finer details, such as the mask the woman wore... no it was not a mask... it appeared as if someone had stripped away the skin and muscle from the woman's face below her nose, leaving only the skeletal remains of a jaw... cast in carbon black with teeth the would have made Larry, Moe and Curry jealous. It was perhaps in response to Shifty's gave that the woman in the distance pulled a scarf over the lower portion of her face, covering the jaw. In her hands was a parasol, which Thomas knew to contain a blade hidden in the handle and the power to cloak its user in invisibility.

"ACHOO!" A strangely familiar voice sneezed on the outskirts of their temporary rest area. Turning towards the source of the sound, Shifty could make out an even more familiar sight, "You're supposed to say 'Walt Bless You', cousin Thomas." Victoria said as she strode in from the past and back into his life, "Though, I take it you may be surprised at my sudden appearance so soon after Lady Sable had mentioned my name. It would be a bit spooky to me were I in your shoes."

As the Even Cautious Undertaker regarded his cousin, his hand drifted near his 10mm pistol, his mind unable to shake the fact that he had just envisioned the murder his father by the woman that now stood in front of him. She had changed since he'd last seen her. No longer wearing the conservative funerary garb, her clothing appeared a bit more modern, a bit more revealing. The neckline of the dress plunged sharply down, revealing a flash of his cousin's breasts as well as her navel, though it was covered in a gauzy lace. The familiar necklace that held a multitude of throwing knives sat nestled in her exposed cleavage. Though it had been a great deal of time since he'd seen her last, Thomas could not have imagined that this choice of clothing was her idea but rather someone who was used to controlling all aspects of those around him.

"My Lady Sable, it has been quite some time since we last spoke. It is always such a pleasure to see you in good health and in good company," Victoria McGee said with a flourished courtesy before rising to great her cousin.

"No love for your beloved cousin after all this time?" Victoria asked, opening up her arms for a familial embrace, "I am afraid that you will want to share this embrace with me before I deliver news of your parents... their death... and my role in it."


The Really Wild Wastelands | Springvale
The Family that Bathes together...
Constance Sorrowfeld | Eyebot SN# 5376864355498463457870156-3

Unlike her bouncy bosom blessed bath mates, Constance Sorrowfeld's emotions were feeling rather... flat. While the Flat as a Pancake, Feline Eared Scout was still reeling from the shock of the day's events, Miss Jenna's chest heaved like a pair of inflated weather balloons, bobbing in a light Spring breeze, as she spoke passionately about bringing water to Wastes by the jug load. While it was a rather noble idea, Constance's Enclave based lessons had taught her that this form of communism would never work and definitely as Unamerican as one could get.

"(Even if you gave everyone the same access to pure clean water, someone's going to find a way to take advantage of the situation so that they can pad their breasts... ummm wallet.)" The Wet Washboard of a Young Woman thought to herself, averting her ears from Miss Jenna's Swaying and Scientifically Inclined Sweater Puppies, "(Icebergs! Icebergs ahead!)"

Having attempted to avert her eyes from one set of super sized sweet meats, the Nearly Completely Concave Constance found herself staring at a pair of perfect flotation devices. Having never seen an iceberg outside of a text book, the fact that only a small percentage of the huge chunk of floating ice was seen above water suddenly made sense, a fact that made the already self conscious kitten all the more red faced. Staring at the floating fun bags, Constance had thought that her view of Miss Kristin's copious cushions was being magnified by water refraction until she remembered that her ears did not perceive that sort of thing.

"(They really don't have to go around flaunting everything they have...)" commiserating Kitten though to herself, her body throwing a minor fit over the unfairness of her flatness, which was (un)fortunate turn of affairs since it caused her to accidentally (on purpose) sit on her not so minor sized tail with cause enough discomfort to cause her to lean over (totally to give herself enough space to remove her tail from under her buttbutt) which resulted in a loss of balance and the landing of Constance's Cat Ear topped head on Miss Kristin's Fabulous and Fluffy Fleshpillows of Warm and Fuzzy Feelings.

"~Blub blub blub blub blub~" Constance mouth bubbled from under the water as she melted away.

*CLANK!*

Meanwhile outside of the Debaucherous Bath of Bouncy Breasts, Miss Jenna had found something else to toy around with (besides Constance's eternal envy). Glancing over at the genetically gifted general practitioner, Constance noted the large, round and shapely curves of an Enclave Eyebot, one of the short lived multi-function models from the looks of things. Had the machine been delivered earlier in the day, The Amateur Shotgun Surgeon might have mentioned the fact that the thing was Enclave property but as she nestled up to Miss Kristin's softer side, the thought escaped her. Truth be told, quite a number of things had escaped the confused kitten since the appearance of Miss Kristin and her strange treatment of Constance Sorrowfeld. While there was a great deal of strangeness that appeared to follow the Vicious yet Vivacious Valkyrie, there were things that were personally strange to Constance... such as Miss Kristin's apology, her encouragement, her demands not simply for success but rather for the investment of all of Constance's efforts in every task. Was this how mothers were supposed to...

"Kristin Blamco, Battle Maiden & Valkyrie of the West," Miss Kristin announced to the second Deathclaws that had the self control to not murder on EVERYTHING in sight , "Our resident Communication Cat can explain more about the Sylphy's. I'm just here to turn them into warriors."

"Me? Explain?" Constance stammered nearly incoherently as she attempted to wrestle her mind back to reality instead of daydreaming about being pushed on a swing by... well it didn't matter. What mattered was the fact that she was to explain the history of Project Sylphy.

"Well... the Sylphys are a set of experimental clones designed using various technologies discovered in a number of Vaults for the express purpose of creating an army consisting of highly replaceable soldiers. I'm not really sure why the person who created the Sylphys used this particular girl as the clone's template but they all seem to suffer the same sort of craziness. It might be because the inventor messed with their brains to make them easier to control or maybe the cloning process is subject to some sort of noise when copying their cells or it might be some sort of side effect from them being able to do this..." It was at this point that Constance gestured over to one of the Sylphys standing near by, "Sorry about this," she apologized to her subject before punching her in the shoulder, causing the Blue Haired Psychopath to split into two copies, both of which started rubbing their shoulder where Constance had punched. Looking over at Malkos Rath, the constantly curious Constance had a rather sheepish expression on her face.

"I'm not actually sure if that answered you question since I'm more sure about what they're for instead of what they are and why I seem to be the only person that can understand what they're saying." Constance continued, "Now that I've possibly answered you questions, maybe you can answer a couple yourself... like... what brought you out to the Capital Wastelands and how it is that you ended up with your particular... method of talking?"

Rath watched and listened with fascination as the tailed and metal eared woman gave a rough explanation of what the identical, strange smelling, women where. The near instant duplication of these 'Slyphy' after Constance struck one of them made him snort in amazement. [Remarkable,] He said after a moment. [It's a self-replicating food supply...and that explains their odd smell.] There was another bout of 'gravel avalanche' laughter from him, before he made a rather human placating gesture with a massive clawed scaly hand. [I try not to eat humans, if for no other reason than there's just so little meat.] He added, still chuckling. [Though if these Slyphy taste as odd as they smell, then I think I'd pass.]

"I'm not actually sure if that answered you question since I'm more sure about what they're for instead of what they are and why I seem to be the only person that can understand what they're saying. Now that I've possibly answered you questions, maybe you can answer a couple yourself... like... what brought you out to the Capital Wastelands and how it is that you ended up with your particular... method of talking?"

[Well you answered as best you can, and really that's all anyone could ask for.] He replied. [As for me? I came here guarding some friends, who I hope a well, to Megaton; I guess I miss them, so I've stayed around.] He went on, his armoured shoulders drooping slightly.

[As for how I 'speak'?] He shrugged. [From what I could tell, it was probably an unintended side effect. I was created at a place called 'Fort Detrick' as an attempt to make pre-war experiment more controllable...I only know bits about my creation as the computers were not in very good shape.]

Arizona
The Wild Wastelands | The Dunwich Job | Andale
"God, I hate that song."

When Thomas finally noticed that she had snapped out of whatever reverie she had been stuck in, he had the decency to look a little sheepish. Especially since he had made the tea in the first place.

"Sorry, Arizona. We've been catching up and filling in some blanks. Then again... I don't think you're the only one that's being affected by this... 'tea.'"

The Ghoul's eye narrowed as she said, "... Get the feeling I'm the only one who went to fucking La-la Land cause of that tea."

Still, she settled back as the Undertaker got to work on the crude map that the Blamco Sister had drawn up and they continued their conversation. She was content to leave it at that, when she spotted a figure approaching them, an unfamiliar one at that. Arizona's hands clenched Lester as she opened her mouth to say something, but she didn't need to. The new arrival sneezed. That seemed to be more than enough to get the others attention.

"You're supposed to say 'Walt Bless You', cousin Thomas. Though, I take it you may be surprised at my sudden appearance so soon after Lady Sable had mentioned my name. It would be a bit spooky to me were I in your shoes."

Arizona took a step back and leveled a suspicious glare in the young woman's direction. Her Light Machine Gun didn't so much as falter as she kept it ready. Judging from the way she dressed, the mention of Walt Disney, and the fact that she called Thomas 'cousin', meant that this had to be a fellow Undertaker. And if she overheard the two former lovers correctly, her name was Victoria.

"This is, what, the third woman we've met up that knows you, Tommy-boy? I guess it's a small wasteland after all." Arizona muttered under her breath.

Victoria McGee curtsied as she addressed Sable, then she turned back to Shifty and said something that raised even Arizona's hackles.

"No love for your beloved cousin after all this time? I am afraid that you will want to share this embrace with me before I deliver news of your parents... their death... and my role in it."


[ dr. sorenson ]
The Wild Wastelands | Springvale | Springvale School "Showers"
"Audio feedback-loops. Always a little creepy."

There was a pause between Rath's response and him finally stepping into the shower room and dropping the inert sphere in front of her.

[Ah, I assumed it belonged to one of you, as it was floating around pestering me.]

"Well, not yet, but I have ideas." Jenna said with a smile as she walked over to where her change of clothes were, along with her Pip-Boy.

Once she had it affixed to her wrist, she felt along the outer casing of the Eyebot. And promptly shut out everything around her thanks to her laser-focus. She was only vaguely aware of Rath's mental voice asking for an explanation regarding the Sylphy's while she found a small access panel and opened it.

"Unauthorized access will not be granted!" The Eyebot said as it attempted to swat at Jenna's hands with one of its flimsy utility arms, "Messing with Enclave Property is punishable by... OW! That's the wrong PORT! What part of Output Only do you not understand?"

Catching the utility arm with one hand, the Followers Doctor examined it with some interest. These weren't a standard-feature on Eyebots if she remembered correctly, so this had to be a specialty model.

"Oh, settle down. And what do you mean that this is Output On--Oh hold on." she said, pausing as she examined the panel next to it and let out a little amused 'Ha'.

In small, worn down print, the two access panels were labeled as Input and Output. Taking a moment to wipe off her glasses on her towel, she opened the second panel and promptly hooked her Pip-Boy into both. As RobCo Termlink Code scrolled over the cracked Pip-Boy screen, she looked back at the Eyebot and frowned.

"Care to tell me what model of Eyebot you are, or am I going to have to try and find that out from your programming?" she asked.

"If you think that I will assist in the unauthorized access of an Enclave asset, you are sorely mis-mis-mis-mis-mis-mis-mis-mis-mis-mis-" The Infinite Looping Eyebot started to repeat as the Faceless Follower accessed his menu system, activating a bug that had been patched after the last time that Eyebot Brian's software had been updated.

At that, Jenna quickly glanced between both the Eyebot and the scrolling lines of code on her Pip-Boy. After a half a minute of synthesized stuttering, she decided to simply input a standard stand-by command, with the hope that that would be enough to make it stop. Especially since it was starting to disturb her.

"Initiating Standby mode. Deactivating Personality Subsystems. Deactiviating Anti-Theft Devices. Disconnecting from Enclave-Link. Deactivating Anti-Molerat Protocols. Removing Anti-Mutant Biases. Would you like to continue vocal feedback?"

With a satisfied smile, she crossed her legs and sat across from the Eyebot and nodded.

"Yes, please. Now, what model of Eyebot is this, and what are you capable of?" she asked pleasantly.

The Really Wild Wastelands | The Present | Andale
A messenger's death
Victoria "Shiver" McGee

"Cousin Thomas, as you know I have always been quite the stickler for etiquette and one of the things that I cannot abide is the pointing of a weapon at my face," Victoria stated coolly as she stared down the barrel of her cousin's 10mm pistol, one that was nearly identical to her own save for the missing silencer, "If after I have relayed a message from your half-brother, Henry, my role is done and you may do with me as you wish."

Perhaps the story needed to be backed up a bit. Victoria's beloved cousin was never one to ignore his emotions and as soon as she had informed him of his father's untimely demise at her hands, the pistol had been pulled from its holster. Had he been this quick to pull a weapon on her in the past, perhaps all of this could have been avoided as she would have been killed back in New Vegas and would have never become Henry's puppet as a result.

Slowly, the Less than Friendly Former Undertaker of the East lowered his weapon but kept it in hand by his side, not that she blamed him for such precautions. She had just admitted to murder.

"Explain yourself... and what you mean by Half-Brother.' Her cousin said responded simply, unaware of what his own family's history.

"The story starts, as all of our treasured parables start, with the death of a mother, your's. As you know she died while you were young but what you don't know is how it affected your father. While we Undertakers are taught that death is inevitable and that we should never mourn the ones that have left this world, your father forgot this lesson and sent forth your brother, The Reaper." Victoria stated before pausing to give Thomas a chance to digest what she had said.

"That program was supposed to have never been started. We're supposed to respect the dead, not rob them," Her oh so naive cousin said before turning to the others,"The Undertakers believed, for a time, that those who lived in the Vaults, separating themselves from the rest of the world might as well have been dead. They were living in nothing more than a technologically advanced mausoleum. So some of our number thought it would be a good idea to put those Vault Dwellers to rest while gathering what technology they could."

"Your 'brother' Henry was a result of this program. Did you never think that it was strange that he bore such a striking resemblance to Lord Walt rather than your father? It was in one of the vaults that your father discovered the possibility to bring about the return of Lord Walt. Your half-brother is the result, a child born from an egg harvested from your mother and fertilized by the genetic material of our God." The Silk and Lace Swaddled Shovel Bearer said, "And with the death of your mother, your father, blinded by his grief, reopened the program and sent your brother to look for a means to resurrect both your mother as well as Lord Walk himself."

"But then he betrayed us." Her cousin interjected.

"But then he betrayed us," The Silent Silk Assassin repeated, "It was inevitable as the fables tell us. Sometimes it's Brother betrays Brother or Friend fights Friend but the commonality is that there is a betrayal and in Henry's case, he betrayed you so that he could usurp your claim to the Union. Though he is older, he does not carry your father's blood and that eliminates him from consideration... but if he finishes the work that your father started, he can take claim as a direct descendant of Lord Walt himself... and as a fleshly incarnation of our divine Lord, he will attempt to bring happiness to the world."

"Which doesn't sound so bad... but there's a catch." Thomas said, is voice filled with a certain sense of disbelief.

"'There's so much that we share that it's all time we're aware it's a small world after all.'" Victoria quoted as melodically as her voice synthesizer would allow, the muscles on her cheeks pulling her non-existent lips into a non-existent smile, "If we share his vision of the world, there is no need to need for violence or death and before you ask, he intends to use the technology he discovered in the Vaults, technology that he tested out here in the Capital Wastes. As you may have heard, there is a blind girl, the daughter of a certain Enclave Intelligence officer with whom you are acquainted. Her ears, which are sensors, are integrated into a helmet which projects a version of Henry's reality to the wearers. This is how he controlled Raiders and BlamCo personnel into assaulting the Magical Kingdom. Though that is only a temporary measure."

"How temporary?"

"You Sylph is a test of other technology. A machine with the ability to transfer consciousness and the means to control and shape someone's memory and personality and the, with the Sylphys, the ability to create an army of completely loyal and happy subjects. Tests conducted as far away from the Union as possible."

"You said consciousness transfer?" Cousin Thomas asked hesitantly, almost as if he already knew the answer to his next question, "Whose?"

"Don't you find Sylph's method of hand to hand to be similar to someone else's" Sylph's Pseudo-Sensei stated before adding, "Though Cousin Henry modified her personality quite heavily."

"So why did he come here to deliver this message?" The Former Ferryman asked, not quite understanding the purpose of Victoria's revealing of Henry's plans, though he also appeared to be having issues grasping the scale of Henry's plan.

"That is not the message. The message is that if you do not come visit him in the Magic Kingdom, your dear Lucy will." The Messenger said, delivering the message, "He will drag her from New Vegas back to the Magical Kingdom where she can enjoy his hospitality, as I did... and as Sylphee did."

The message was delivered. It was time for her to be delivered from the nightmare she had suffered under her cousin's control. Closing her eyes, Victoria waited for the embrace of oblivion.

"Now cousin, you can execute me. For the murder of you father, my beloved Uncle. For betraying you and for threatening your beloved Lucy. He told me 'Wwth the trigger is pulled, the hammer will fall and thus ends your part from this all.' He means for you to kill me, as you should have in New Vegas."

There was a long and pregnant silence that held over the group before her cousin responded.

"Fine." Thomas said before raising his pistol and pulling the trigger.

*Click*

While it was not the sound that Victoria McGee was expecting, the results were never the less impactful. With the trigger pulled, as Henry had said, his control over his puppet was released, though the memories of what she'd done in his name remained, actions whose corresponding guilt washed over her, bringing her to her knees as tears began to wet the ground under her face.

"Arizona..." She heard her cousin voice, muffled by her sobbing, "I know I swore that I would guide you to the Dunwich Building... but... I... I have to go. I know she may be untrustworthy at the moment, but if I released her from my brot... half brother's control like I think... Victoria can guide you. She was the Undertaker of the East before me."

Arizona
The Wild Wastelands | The Dunwich Job | Andale
"Farewell, Undertaker."

Henry McGee was a monster. It was a small comfort that he was some ill-conceived attempt to create a modern child of Walt Disney using his DNA, an egg from Thomas's mother, and Vault technology. But that was enough to make him the next best thing to the Second Coming in the eyes of the Undertaker's Guild, and Henry planned to use it, along with perception altering helmets, as the McGee cousin explained. He had his sights on the entire wastes, and he wanted Thomas to find him. If he didn't come to Henry, Henry would take Lucy.

In the span of roughly two hundred and twenty years, Arizona had seen and heard of the worst that humanity had to offer. And in the worst of days after the bombs, there was no level to which people wouldn't descend to. What Victoria McGee described wasn't the worst she had heard of, but it came close. Not because of what Henry McGee did, or what he planned to do. It was how it affected one of her few living friends. Glancing over at him with a grim expression, she could only see shock and dull horror on his face, and she felt her guts twist a little at the sight.

After the she mentioned the death of his parents, Lester's barrel had been leveled at Victoria throughout her conversation. But now at the close, the former Undertaker simply closed her eyes and waited for Thomas to execute her. The old Ghoul merely lowered her weapon. It wasn't her place. Not this time.

There was a long pause before Thomas raised his pistol and took aim before he pulled the trigger. The click of the pin hitting an empty chamber felt louder than a gunshot. And Victoria fell to her knees and wept.

"Arizona... I know I swore that I would guide you to the Dunwich Building... but... I... I have to go. I know she may be untrustworthy at the moment, but if I released her from my brot... half brother's control like I think... Victoria can guide you. She was the Undertaker of the East before me."

She looked over at the sobbing girl in front of Thomas with a hard expression. Damn him. God damn Henry McGee for all of this. As skeptical and suspicious as she wanted to be regarding her, all she could see was another young girl that that bastard brainwashed, used and abused. She couldn't help but feel pity. She didn't want to, but she couldn't help it.

With a nod, she slowly let go of Lester so that the machine gun hung at her front by the straps, and stepped up to Thomas. Placed a scarred hand on his shoulder.

"Well, I ain't gonna stop you. I don't have any right to. But you better not die to him, you hear me? I'm really sick and tired of outliving the people I care about." she said, with a small, bitter smile before she leaned in and gave him a surprisingly delicate kiss on the cheek, saying, "Go save your girl, and give her my best, will ya?"

When she pulled back, her smile was a little more natural, and for a moment there was a shadow of the young woman she used to be in that smile.

"Oh, and before I forget, it's Amanda. Amanda Butcher." she said just loud enough for him to her.

There was another moment before she took a breath and her face hardened again and she clutched Lester, looking like the grizzled mercenary named Arizona that he always knew, and she gave him a curt nod.

"Do what needs done, and kill that son of a bitch. Make sure he rots in hell. I'll see you after it's all over." Arizona told him before turning away and calling out, "EVERYONE HEADING TO DUNWICH, GET READY TO HEAD OUT! WE'VE STILL GOT A LONG WAY TO GO!"

With a backward glance in Victoria's direction, she added, "That means you too, Victoria McGee. Road's long, so you'll have plenty of time to get it out of your system while we walk. But we need to get going."

The Wild Wasteland | A Few Years Ago | New Vegas | The Tops Casino
"Valkyrie Break"
- Kristin 'Valkyrie' Blamco -
---

The Valkyrie's attention had wandered to the activity in the casino's courtyard, soft jazz accompanied the smaller groups that danced in unison. Idly stirring an overly sweet drink, Kristin watched the ladies and gentleman, dressed in pre-war attire, seemingly regressing from 200 years worth of societal progress to accommodate this outdated era of adulthood.
Slicked-back greasy hair and cheap ill-fitted suits were the order of the day for the overeager men. Fawning over the women so blatantly acting coy, their mutual posturing reeked of self-doubt and desperation. Needless to say, it was uncomfortable to watch.

"Miss Blamco? Somethin' the matta?"

The Valkyrie snapped back to reality. Sheepishly, she waved a dismissive hand and politely urged her date to continue.

"So like I was sayin' --- "

Her date proceeded to agonize over the NCR's training regimen. This man made it into the New California Republic's military division? He was sorely lacking in the physicality fit for a rifleman and general combatant. He was, to his credit, sincere and persistent. So when Kristin Blamco discovered this very man attending but not participating in her close quarters combat training, she asked for his name, to which he blurted out a confession of how he fancied her. Caught up in the moment and hounded by her sisters to let loose once in awhile, she accepted his plans for a date.

To her grand irritation, he had taken the 'Lady' in Lady Blamco quite literally. She had received a disappointed remark for not wearing a dress, a pink alcohol-free drink, he took every opportunity to open a door, pull out a seat and even give some aggressive looks to other males looking her way. He paid for her, spoke for her and after noticing that the ice cubes in her drink had melted due to neglect and boredom, he proposed that they 'Get outta' here' in a very passive-aggressive manner.

Beckoning her to follow like some hound, she resisted the urge to reach into the pocket of her hunting trousers and make use of a pair of brass knuckles. Adjusting her white blouse, she gripped her leather coat that was thrust in her direction and sunk her hands into her pockets. Making it quite clear that there would be no hand-holding of any sort, blind to subtleties, he hooked his arm in hers and lead her outside and down a few shortcuts seemingly to avoid crowds.

"I appreciate you taking me out for the evening, Mister Boston. But I --- "

"That's great then. An' here I thought you was actin' snooty. Playin' hard to get, eh?"

The two hurried around the alleyway of some place called 'Gomorrah'. Proceeding deeper into the back-alleys while the blaring of music drowned out her protests to stop and listen to her. Reaching into her pockets, the man suddenly pushed her forward and blocked her exit from the alleyway. It was a dead end. When she turned on him with fists raised and brass knuckles firmly in place, she caught his repeated muttering of apologies, even his exaggerated accent had fallen away. Faltering for a moment, two figures emerged from corners of her peripheral vision. One small and one much larger than her. The large figure, a male as the neon signs from the Gomorrah revealed, closed in on her.

Securing a tremendous grip on her left arm, she responded with a grip on his wrist, a twist, a boot to the foot and a square punch to the throat. Stumbling backwards, the smaller figure withdrew a knife and hissed at her former date.

"I did my part okay! Thi-this wasn't part of the deal. The bitch isn't even drugged, wouldn't drink tonight. Keep your money! I want no part in this!", the man protested, backed off and turned to run. Unfortunately for him, the knife-wielding female saw fit to bury that blade into his back after a skillful throw. She casually strode over to his fallen form and the sickening gurgling and choking that followed said it all. Cleaning off the long knife on the beaten-up leather armor, she winked at Kristin.

Her large assailant had regained his composure quicker than expected and he closed in once more. Without the proper armor or weapons, Kristin couldn't repel this kind of assault head-on. To her credit, her fists bore down on his shaved head like a sledgehammer during the few seconds he took to lift her off the ground and tackle her to a nearby wall. Her head collided with the wall, leaving her stunned for a few precious seconds. During that time, she was dropped to the ground. Stubbornly, she grabbed his arm and repeatedly struck upwards at his elbow in full fury, an audible snap was savored by the Valkyrie. Yet she underestimated his rage, two repeated feral punches drove her to the ground, once again, her head hit the ground resulting in a prolonged stun.

Hoisted upwards, the large man hooked her arms behind her back. Her shoulders threatened to pop out from their sockets until the smaller knife-wielding female commanded him with something between a hiss and a gurgle. His grip loosened slightly and positioned Kristin to face this woman.

"Kristhin Bwamco," The ragged vagrant hissed, before leaning in with her mouth open. A stump of tongue remained, along with some hideous burns to the lips and gums. "Don' hold it against me. You people take down my people. Stho I'm gonna take you apart piethce by piethce until you' family pays for what they did to my Rabbits!"

The knife-wielder cackled gleefully when she waved a bowie knife in front of her face, tracing the knife edge from her collarbone down to Kristin's lower abdomen.

The next few seconds would change the course of Kristin's life, but whether or not the following intervention was simply ill-timed, it was something that would haunt Kristin Blamco for years to come.

**BKOOOM!!!**

The sound of a double-barreled shotgun pierced the air, causing the large man to identify an intruder on the rooftop above. The female, however, grew furious and buried the knife into Kristin's lower abdomen. Kristin screamed at the immediacy of the attack, she was already surprised and panicking from everything that was happening. There was no mental preparation that could be readied for something like this.
The small female turned to laugh and gloat at the late arrival of the rooftop intruder. There was no verbal retort, but a blue-streak of super-heated steel pierced the upper chest of the small female, a thrown spear had pinning her to the ground, she thrashed wildly only to widen wound as the spear burned away at her flesh.

Kristin was dropped to the floor as the large man shambled over to his fallen comrade. He turned to the rooftop assailant, but she was bearing down on him, having jumped from the roof to land onto him, in vain he readied himself to grab her. Unfortunately for him, the first thing to reach him on the way down was a point-blank shotgun blast to the face.

Spring-boarding off the corpse, the sound of armor on cloth drew Kristin's attention through the haze of excruciating pain. The Swan-Maiden retrieved her spear from her attacker, not before making a motion and cutting her way through the collar bone to relinquish her weapon.

Kristin's vision had gone first, she resisted the urge to pull the blade from her body, it wasn't enough. The blood was pooling where she had crumpled to the ground. She wasn't hallucinating Sable's appearance at least. Her sister shouted, pleaded for a response, but it was intelligible in those few seconds before she passed out.

~24 hours later~

Groggily, the Valkyrie eyes opened. Hazy at first, the beeping of machines could be heard. Shifting her head to the side, Sable Blamco jolted from her seat to call a nurse. A few minutes passed before she woke up again, this time she felt a sharp pain in her abdomen. Opening her mouth to speak, a dry wheeze of hers begged for water.

Sable was absent this time around. The nurse had informed her not to move or make any attempts to sit up just yet. She was told that we was at the New Vegas Follower's outpost, she had been attacked and survived a deep stabbing to the lower abdomen with a rusted weapon. The stab wound and subsequent blood loss were the Follower's Surgeon's immediate concern. Fortunately, her sisters had donated blood on a regular basis. Unfortunately, there were complications due to infection, the placement of the piercing weapon had significantly damaged her uterus. While all superficial bruising and wounds had been healed via stimpacks and conventional surgery, they had to perform a hysterectomy.

Kristin Blamco pleaded with the nurse to keep this confidential. Her sisters might be forgiving, but BlamCo would not allow that which cannot create a future for the Blamco bloodline.
When Sable returned, there was a barrage of questions and between tears of frustration, guilt from Sable's end and uncertainty on Kristin's part. She assured Sable that everything would be fine and thanked her sister for saving her.
In that moment, however, Kristin wept for her future. Being told that she was barren, she wept for the life she couldn't have anymore and she cursed her existence, almost wishing she could have died then and there.

The Battle-Maiden's purpose had been limited to that very title. It was a concept that she struggled with on a personal level. The years ahead of her were dedicated to the militaristic expansion of BlamCo. It was her mission to carve out her own future from all of this.


The Really Wild Wastelands | The Distant Past | BlamCo Manor
"Valkyrie Duel"
- Kristin 'Valkyrie' Blamco -
---

The sparring session turned duel had taken an unexpected turn, yet the results were no less thrilling to the Battle-Maiden. One might think that simple pride barred her from admitting to her mistakes on the battlefield. Nothing could be further from the truth, for the Valkyrie yearned to better herself in combat.

"My hostess is too gracious," the Deadly Debutante curtsied in spite of the fractured ribs. A show of willful commitment that earned the Valkyrie's unspoken praise. Raising her head to meet the Valkyrie's stare, she continued. "I hope that my own performance was to your satisfaction, Lady Kristin."

While BlamCo personnel swarmed her, she dismissed those that blocked her view of Victoria. With a super-stimpack fixed to her injured arm, the Valkyrie winced not at the sting of alcohol, but rather at the needles associated with the stimpack itself.

"You've more than entertained me, Undertaker. In fact," Kristin leaned forward, "This has been quite educational. My armor and weapons are suited for larger opponents and beasts of the Wasteland. Now I have several revisions and designs to bring up to BlamCo's Research Department."

The conversation continued. Victoria lamented about this being their final duel. A point that the Valkyrie refuted, at least on BlamCo territory, regular skirmishes were encouraged between mutual parties. It was a custom to learn about your allies in direct combat, if there ever was an exercise that accentuated the duality of aggression & restraint, a duel was the perfect place to do so. Plus, with a few regulations, it was a fantastic way to relieve tensions or solve disputes without being resorting to more underhanded methods.

"Before I depart and depriving myself of your presence, my lady Blamco, I must sate my own curiosity and ask a simple question of you. Were this not a duel and had we been in actual combat, would have have run me through with my own blade, knowing that I would have shot you at the simultaneously?" The Etiquette Minded Undertaker asked in a voice that was overflowing with curiosity, "Or would you have spared me, gambling on the chance that I would do the same?"

Victoria, to the very end, projected an infallible image. Her tone danced the line between earnest respect and playful jabs expertly interwoven into every statement. Kristin mused that Victoria was more dangerous off the battlefield. Regardless, the Valkyrie smirked and stifled a small fit of laughter.

"Oh, my Dear Undertaker," Kristin said, clearly amused. "This was a sparring session, not a duel. For those training under the Valkyries, these injuries are par for the course on a weekly basis. If this were a duel -- you wouldn't be sporting broken ribs right now. Do you remember my attack? It would have been much quicker to rend you apart with the blade in the same swing. But I needed you alive, so I took a risk and struck out with the crossguard."

Resting the sword on her shoulder with her off-hand, "If this had been actual combat. I would have run you through, regardless of risk. Then again, if this had been actual combat." Kristin nodded at the Victoria's gun. "I think we would have adopted different tactics if we had access to our full arsenal."


The Wild Wasteland | Present Day | Exiting Andale
"..."
- Sable 'Swan Maiden' Blamco -
---

Sable's thoughts were all over the place. Then again, to an outsider like herself, very little of this had made any sense.

She had questions for Thomas & Victoria.
On a pragmatic level, she had immediate business with Victoria, although that rested on the prerequisite that Victoria was not an emotional mess and a victim of apparent brainwashing. How far back did this go? Was Victoria influenced when they first met?
On an emotional level, Sable discovered that she had positioned herself close to Thomas, Power Spear flaring with heat. Seemingly ready to jump to Thomas' defense in the advent of Victoria's retaliation, the Swan Maiden took a moment to come to grips with herself.

While Arizona, Sylph and Victoria departed, a recurring image of an eyepatched woman came to mind. The woman was travelling with her father. She seemed to have a poor handle on her weapon and she was a couple of days of travel from here. That said, Sable had promised the duo a home within BlamCo until they could find their footing elsewhere in New Vegas. Sable had suggested one of the casino's as a profitable endeavour with plenty of personal protection if one is worried about such a thing. Lucy was her name, could it be the same person?

Sable would inquire about all sorts of things later, for now she had to tend to Thomas and relay what little she might know.

Turning on her heel, Sable shouted to Victoria, "VICTORIA! I didn't travel across the country only for you to disappear once more. We have a partnership to honor. So stay alive!"

Turning to Thomas once again, she found him staring into the distance. Taking him by the hand, she brought him into an even pace, forcing him to start his journey whether he wanted to or not. "I can travel to the edges with you, but I can't leave with you I'm afraid. I'm sorry -- for everything. I - , " She was lost for the proper words. "So you said her name was Lucy. Can you tell me more about her? I think I can actually help, just a little."


Now, you may recall that some time ago, a Russian super agent flew in via the North Pole to determine the state of America. You may also recall that when he landed, he was greeted not only by Sara Lyons and a small group of Brotherhood of Steal knights and paladins...but also Number One, the current head man of the Enclave. Thirdly, you may recall that there was a BoS mission to unit local groups against the Enclave, and that Morgan Bloom had been approached by the Enclave. And finally, you must remember that the Enclave Remnants on the West Coast were heroes in the NCR and retired, but that they'd escorted an Eyebot from Number One into their meeting room. There has not been much report in the exchanges of bigger powers behind the scenes, but now...you're getting the inside scoop. The following groups had gathered in one place - a meeting room in Rivet City - with one representative, either physically or via eyebots projecting holograms:

Number One - The Enclave
Sara Lyons - Brotherhood of Steel
Aaron Kimball - New California Republic
Mr. House - New Vegas and RobCo Industries
Morgan Bloom - Bloom City and Bloom Industries
Demetri Radanov - Russian Metro Government

The three major military powers in the former United States were, of course, paramount in this discussion. Mr. House and Mr. Bloom were included on the grounds that they were perhaps the two most powerful industrialists alive today. However, there was a small problem... Everybody at this table - barring possibly Radanov, who was neutral to their personal affairs - hated each other. NCR had grown to hate most of the Enclave and BoS for their well-known practices, and only tolerated the industrialists because they simply wanted to do things their way, not blatantly take over the country. The Enclave did not like NCR or BoS, of course, because of past defeats resulting in reduced numbers and effectiveness. The BoS, of course, had a similar problem with NCR and the Enclave, though the latter two were perfectly fine with Mr. House and Mr. Bloom. They basically didn't care. Neither of the industrialists really cared much for the politics at all. They were more concerned with what they could accomplish, whether the endeavour made them any money, and how well they could expand their ventures.

The one saving grace about all of this was that Number One was - bizarrely - allowing bygones to be bygones...except of course that he didn't like ghouls because many of them became feral monsters. Still, this was rather surprising and therefore was immediately suspect. He had, naturally, explained that the current Enclave was new and more realistic about itself and how things should be done...because he'd killed nearly everybody in there who was against changing venues. This sounded a bit more Enclave-y, so they believed him...and then immediately distrusted him because he'd admitted to both that and causing a dramatic reduction in Caesar's Legion via the ever-increasing group of cyberzombies he'd sent west and had to be killed at the Hoover Dam to protect NCR territory. He was technically a better leader, but he was a terrible person. Strangely, Radaov liked his candor, and even chuckled when the Enclave leader explained that the man called Dr. Evil had been thwarted by his agent on the moon. However, there was another problem...

Kimball: I must insist that you hand over control of Dr. Evil's weapon of mass destruction for the safety of all people of the Earth.

"I'm afraid I can't do that."

Kimball: Number One, we are attending this meeting in good faith. We were under the impression you would at least attempt the same.

"That may be so, but the weapon is no longer in my control."

Sara: Likely story. You said you've got a man up there and that the moonbase was practically undefended. You even boasted that he blew up an alien spacecraft with it, meaning you even know how to use it.

"All true, but that doesn't account for the unexpected."

Kimball: Did your man go rogue?"

"No...he went missing, and the base was destroyed."

Kimball: How?

"You are, perhaps, aware of the Archimedes II Orbital Laser Satellite?"

Mr. House: Oh dear. Did it go off?

It did. Of course, if anybody knew who was in control of it, they weren't saying, but the fact of the matter was that the satellite was slaved to the control of a device that looked...kind of like a kid's toy, and that a man who delivered people's mail had decided to point that device at the moon one day, and the rest...as they say...was history. No more moonbase. Arguments regarding the actions of certain groups moved on to problems with the Brotherhood of Steel, which Sara explained that the East Coast didn't operate like the West, though she resented that NCR had treated them no better than the Enclave, and over the solar station which powered the Archimedes satellite, of all things!

Sara: My father did alot to protect the Capital Wastelands, not lord over it. The Outcasts still preferred it the other way, but I've reached out to them. There's still hope of reconciliation.

Number One cleared his throat...apparently. Sara glared at him.

Sara: What did you do?

"Well...remember when you decided to hand over FalloutScott to the Outcasts and we just laughed?"

Sara: I remember it distinctly.

"My men had, by this time, already replaced the Outcasts."

Sara: You what?

"Killed a patrol or two, stepped into their suits, and then coordinated with FalloutJohn and FalloutDavid to take Fort Independence during a frontal assault. It is an Enclave outpost now, much the same way the former Republic of Dave is now the 'Empire of David' Vertibird Airfield."

Sara: Do I really need any more proof that this man is a monster, and that his entire organization should be put down for good?

Kimball: Unfortunately, we cannot - at this time - commit to that, for the very reasons of this meeting. The Enclave has proven itself to be a tremendous threat. However, it is with due consideration to NCR's heroes that we also take into the account that it is a viable asset. We despised Caesar's Legion, we were relieved that Dr. Evil was thwarted, and they have come to us all with information regarding the current crisis, the threat hence forth to be known as Red Ghoul China.

Mr. House: Am I to understand that we're still at war?

Mr. Bloom: Apparently, the Chinese think so. You have all, at times, seen remnant soldiers ghoulified by war and still very much hostile. The Enclave's satellites have shown that China is still very active. Radioactive, and glowing. Further, using the facilities at Rivet City, we have seen an actual warship...shortly before it was destroyed by a nuclear missle. This has been revealed to be - once again - the Enclave's doing.

Kimball: Number One, just how are you achieving these results?

Mr. House: I can tell you. By the same token that leaves me in control of New Vegas. You have a facility which creates weaponry en masse. This includes your troops, your vehicles, and your giant deadly robot.

"How do you know that?"

Mr. House: I have satellites too.

Finally, after all this, Radanov sat up and broke his silence.

Radanov: Alright, Demetri has heard enough, except maybe about squid in photograph. The Russian Metro Government-

Kimball: Excuse me, Mr. Radanov, but why is it called-

THUNK! Down went the combat knife into the table.

Radanov: Be letting Demetri have the floor. Russian Metro Government has empowered this agent to make field decisions recommended to government and act as need-be. You are all petty, squabbling children to the point where crazy psychopath be taking most action. That is being Demetri's job!

Radanov was part soldier and part secret police. He was a super agent who tended to kill alot and never flinch about it. He was finding the Enclave's acttions to be, by his standard, most effective. Nobody liked it, but it was done and he simply moved onto the next thing.

Radanov: You are all having enough power to handle threat once and for all. Russia would prefer its ally make recovery, having been through strange times itself. Is being Russian Metro Government due to all survivors living underground. If China returns, whole world could be glowing by next year. Is most unacceptable.

And naturally, despite his weird english, he had a point.

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

Meanwhile, in another part of Rivet City, Tracy would hear the scuttlebutt about Arizona. It'd been circulating on the rumor mill for quite some time. She'd taken a job for Morgan Bloom - The Gentleman Ghoul - to investigate the area of The Dunwich Building, because of all the rumors about ghouls going crazy and transforming into a cult of all things. He'd hear about the crazy ghouls, her job, and the fact that she'd hired a weird drunkard who swore and muttered about 'Lord Walt' during some of his binges. So, in short, he'd managed to find out everything he needed to track down Arizona.

That'd be a long trip... A long trip...to be without a trip. Might have to go up to that junkyard that one of the known dealers lived out of with that pet robot of his. Now, what was his name? It was Abe or something, right? Yeah, that rung a bell. Abe the chem-maker.

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

Yes, it was a junkyard. Nobody's perfect. In fact, after a great many trials, Abe was happy to have it. It was his own piece of territory and plenty of people - mainly raiders - bought from him. Furthermore, he had the companionship of a ummm...'special' Securitron. He was a dubiously-programmed - or rather, malfunctioning - sort of thing. It didn't know much and it rolled around with a most unusual smile. Well, he could manage, mostly. Errrm...he sometimes had to duck-and-cover because there would be like a twitch and its active combat programming would go off, and then it'd go back to normal. Such is life.

A curious thing - no, two curious things - that he had noticed, though... It had to do with his drugs. Nothing wrong with them, but he had noticed that some of the raiders were all seeing the same things during their trips. One was the curious vision of a walking squid-monster, and the other was that of some random wandering blue-haired females that went 'Sylphy-Sylphy!'. The thing is...he knew that the latter were no hallucination. He'd seen them too, and when he wasn't on a high! Just who or what were these people?

Maybe he should find out...

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

Malkos' Perspective

Malkos had needed to take a little time on the way back to tear apart some feral ghouls in his way before heading back to Springvale. He was aware that he had been gone a while and that that sort of made it hard to fulfill his promise to keep an eye on the strange cat-eared girl. However, it was on the way back that he picked up a fresh Deathclaw scent. Oh hell, that wasn't good... At first, he thought he'd walk into a bloodbath, but then he got an even worse thought, that those continually-cloning Sylphys would overpower and kill the Deathclaw! Either way, he was going to get a move on, easily doubling his speed through the use of lunging forearms in the mix. Given that Deathclaws were rather loud when approaching at full speed, they'd hear and probably feel this coming. It was likely to put everybody on guard. However, when Malkos got in...well, he wasn't expecting that. Straightening up, he placed his hands on his heips and said...

"I turn my back for a little while, and you go and get a new Deathclaw. How did it ever come to this?"

Rath's Perspective

Rath watched with fascination as Dr. Jenna began to work on the annoying little bot he'd brought her. Watching intently from a ways a way so to not crowd her, he'd managed to distract himself enough that he didn't consciously realize what the approaching noise was until it was very close. Once he realized, his head snapped up and he wheeled to face the door in a low attack stance. [LOOK OUT!] He 'barked' to his new companions. The fact that this new arrival stopped and adopted a rather 'human' posture, did manage to throw Rath for a bit of a loop.

"I turn my back for a little while, and you go and get a new Deathclaw. How did it ever come to this?"

Still in a crouch, he relaxed a tiny amount and sniffed the newcomer. Same scent as the one that was here before me, and he talks...they said they knew another Deathclaw... Straightening a bit, Rath eyed the other Deathclaw. [Would you be this 'Malkos' that I was told about?] He asked. [And mistaken for...though I don't see how.]

Aaand back to normal now.

Malkos' head flinched as he did sort of a double-take and adopted a more classical Deathclaw posture.

"My head? But why...?"

This was possibly a new one on Rath. He was making human-like vocalizations with his mouth and throat. Malkos' confusion subsided for a moment.

"Yes, I am he, but why would they think you're ME?"

Big emphatic shrug here.

"We're nothing alike!"

Well, humans think Deathclaws are all alike, so...

[Why?] There was a rumble of 'dry gravel' laughter from Rath. [I don't know but I'm pretty sure it was an accident; but you...you speak, that's amazing.]

As Rath's weight shifted, there was a small noise as the mangled remains of a bullet worked its way free of his hide. [That happens sometimes...]

He noted the bullet with a nod.

"Same."

Now, he shrugged.

"You could learn to talk with your mouth. Any Deathclaw can. It takes time, however."

Even then, you're gonna sound evil, no matter what. Remember that mutants like Fawkes are intelligent, but their vocal cords make them sound the way they do. Only some, like Marcus, speak in a normal voice. Now, a curious thought crossed Malkos' mind.

"So, where is your pack, then? I left mine to establish one for myself. It is...tradition."

[I have tried.] Rath replied, the mental 'rasp' of his voice softening. [I tried plenty after I first woke up; the best I can figure is that my vocal cords are too different to create a 'voice'.]

Malkos was seeming friendly enough that Rath's posture began to relax until he was down on his haunches, using his stubbier tail as a support to stop from falling backward.

[As for a pack? I have none. I was created in a pre-war lab; woke up in a large tube. Apparently I was an experiment to make the Army's new weapon more...controllable; something about using stuff called F.E.V...I don't have many details, the system wasn't in the best shape]

Malkos let out a long snort of irritation.

"All Deathclaws came from the FEV. Some were tampered with more than others. That's why they began to learn to talk and read and teach others. The mind thing, though... That's different."

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

As for Andale...Fiona Callahan would have sort of a weird moment to witness, a Sylphee sort of moment. You see, she had been having her Deathclaws play around, as you recall, showing her skills off as The Deathclaw Whisperer. She had also shown off her skills as a medic by treating wounds that the people may've incurred during the cyborg incident. All of this was well-received. And then, it happened. Sylphy had walked up to Moe, Larry, and Curly...and then declared that the Lizzie Bordens were talking funny. It all happened after she had drank some of that strange 'tea'. Oh dear, better keep away from that. Well, Sylphee had apparently had a 'conversation' with the three Deathclaws...and then ran off somewhere.

Well, the narrator knows where Sylphee went...

What she had done - on the 'instructions' of the Deathclaw droogs - was walk into everyone's houses and execute some precise tamperings with their hot water heaters. Now, as you may know...and as has been indeed confirmed that hot water heaters will - if they are jammed while in operation - eventually blast off. It's only a matter of time... So, what better way to time this Clockwork Timebomb...than with some appropriate music?

No sooner had Arizona spoken that it was time to pull out...than the first heater blew through the first roof, followed by others! Yes, it was time to go, alright! Time to go in a hurry! Will everybody please evacuate the town and in a bloody hurry?! THANK YOU!!

Abe believe he was having a bad day or was it a good day? He wasn't fully sure himself since he was outside, laying down on the ground and seeing a flying spaghetti monster or was it just a flying human head with curly hair? Where was he again? Oh yes..outside on the ground. His friend? Assistant? Um...a robot that helps out..once in a while..yeah let us go with that.

Anyways, his robot went berserker like on a normal day and accidentally destroyed some of his drugs canisters, which release everything into the air. Which this all happen while he was eating so his gas mask was off.

So this all means he inhaled a large dose of his own drugs and now was trying to wait until the trip wear off. So today was somewhere between bliss and hell. "I wonder if I'm going to see any blue hair girls or those fucking walking squids..."

"Perhaps we'll see the muffin man!"

Abe looks over at what he thought was a rock which then turns into googly eye fish with a large mouth. Abe had no idea how to handle this, but having some muffins right now does sound like an amazing idea. "But where would the muffin man show up magical fish?"

"I dunno! I"m a fish." the fish then start flopping around making those horrible gasping sounds like he couldn't breathe.

"OH GOD THE FISH IS DROWNING...does..it counts as drowning? I..." This thought process made him forget about the magical fish and about the muffin man at the moment. He was in deep thought about his current question. After a few minutes, Abe starts to crawl towards his home which he had all the windows and doors open to hopefully get the smog of drugs out. "Hey..Hey! how does..it look..in there?" Abe asked as the Securitron who was still inside.

"Boop...it might be a bit longer Master." The Securitron replied as it comes outside to look at his owner. The creepy smiley face still plasters on the video screen.

"next time..if you gotta shoot..Shoot outside...cause...we can't keep losing our..meal ticket..ya ..crazy robot..Heheheheh...you got a funny face..." Abe said as he saw the face start making faces at him.

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