"Quick, hurry! Get your ass and that bear inside!"
Cassie reached for her sidearm as she rode by.
"What are you going on about..."
That's when Cass laid eyes on what had the person in a wad. A whole gang of mutated horses were making their way towards her. Now, Rodrick was pretty tough. He could snake a regular horse's neck like a twig, but could he handle a whole mob of them. Does Cass want to find out?
Cassie turned Roddy toward the church to get the way of the stampede and crashes right through the front door, stumbling off her mount when see got in. Not too graceful, but it got the job done.
Cassie got up and dusted herself off before looking around.
"Alright my man. Or woman. Where might you be?"
Staring back in a daze of his own Sully considered the scratched metallic bulk beside him. Having no idea how to deal with robots but remembering something 'Tom of the West' had mentioned he turned toward it hand extended. "Urh? Hey! Name's Sully nice to meet you?" he ventured awkwardly staring doggedly into the bright eyes of the machine. He had no idea if this was one of those super advanced machines that Tom liked to brag about but he sure wasn't about to risk offending the first seemingly sane creature he'd met in the capitol. Jerkily the machine took a hold of his hand a shook it briskly muttering something about communists' lack of manners and basic humanity. Communists again huh? Seems like all the pre war tech had a bone to pick with the Chinese, he thought looking down at his salvaged medical gloves.
'Thimble', as Sully had decided to nickname the seemingly unlabeled robot, dropped his hand allowing him to approach the issue of the junky ghouls lounged around in front of the pair. Sitting around with no mind for their surroundings they continued to ramble coming back to masters, wizards, gates and keys.
'Hey' he started drawing out his words in a desperate attempt to incite some kind of reaction from them, 'This Wizard... where can I find him?'
A particularly moldy vagrant turned his head to stare his mouth hanging open.
'Yes. Yes, the wizard!' Sully perked up glad that it had gotten their attention, not that he thought much of wizards masters or keys but its not like they were going to give him directions to the nearest hotel, if DC even had any.
'Where is the wizard!'
"Hey, just hang in there alright? I'm not planning to let them take your gun." Marlon replied to Lucy. He picked up the pace a little, though was careful to watch his footing so as not to make the trip anymore uncomfortable.
Rolling his eye at the latest round of vitriol from Frank, he looked back at the armored man with disdain. "Simmer down you goddamn loon. What the hell makes you think I'd want to anything that'd mean being more involved with you or the brotherhood than I need to be? And you mock me for being loyal to my family? Priceless."
After a brief chuckle he added, "Relax Franky. There's no chance of that happening."
Brandon kept pacing while he was waiting for the doc to finish healing Rex. The doctor opened the door and looked at him. Brandon walked over to the doctor. "How is he doing?" Brandon asked sounding upset. The doctor took his gloves off as he smiled. "You're dog seems to be fine, he should heal completely if he gets enough rest." Brandon walked into the room and saw the unconscious Rex. He walked over to him, the doctor following Brandon back inside the room. Rex slowly woke up and Brandon began to pet him, very relived that he would be alright.
Brandon heard the front door open. The doctor walked to the front entrance. Brandon looked at the person who had just entered the clinic. He didn't recognize the man, but it was obvious he was a part of the enclave. Brandon looked at Rex remembering the eye bot which Rex had destroyed earlier. Brandon signaled Rex to follow him and placed the payment for the treatment on the bed, as he walked to the back exit. He looked around, and then opened the back door of the clinic. He walked outside, closing the door behind Rex. "Let's get out of here boy." Brandon said smiling. He petted Rex. After that he began to make his way out of the village.
"Relax Franky. There's no chance of that happening."
"If you harm anyone, the same set of threats applies, just replace the castration with having your love-handles lopped off."
Frank and Marlon continued to say hurtful things all the way to the Citadel. Things like how Marlon's a terrible shot due to his lack of depth-perception, how Frank must smell terrible since he never takes off his airtight suit of armor, things like that.
The Citadel. Frank was home. Except Frank lived in his armor, which meant he was always home.
Marlon was taken before Elder Lyons, or as Frank called her "Sugar Butt".
Vikki and Lucy were taken to the med-wing, and some scribes went in with them to ask Vikki about the Doctor.
Frank went to his old workshop, and had some friends help him repaint his armor, some would say he looked gaudy, others would say stupid, others still would say he looked awesome.
Frank had a big smiley face painted on his helmet, wings of fire over his jets, lightning along his arms, hammers on the backs of his hands, and the name Frank written over the image of a single rose on his breastplate.
Frank then got to work modifying Lucy's rifle. By adding coils, he could increase the shot velocity, and by replacing the coils with more efficient materials, he could prevent it from increasing the power drain.
"And now we play the waiting game."
Frank hated the waiting game, so he went off to see Squire Maxson, and make sure he was keeping up on his practice.
The battle had finally died down and annoyingly the only sound left was quite a few remaining voices that continued to say:
"GARY! GARY! GARY! GARY!"
These were were, in all probability, not the type of people that could one could hold a conversation with nor were they, in all probability, the type of people that conversed at all, letting their weapons make up for their obvious lack of vocabulary.
"Ahh... why did THEY have to win?" Shifty asked himself as he looked at the pile of materials that he had gathered and looked at the remaining "Gary" clones. Given their clothing, these clones were from a Vault and had no idea of what an Undertaker did or what one did.
"This isn't going to be good." Shifty continued his one sided conversation with himself before he stood up and waved at the Vault Clones. Probably not the best idea he ever had but there were bodies to be buried and money there was money to be made.
As he waited for them, he discreetly placed his hands near his Combat Knife and Short Sword.
"Hi there!!! I've come for your dead... erm... I mean... 'GARY GARY?'"
Before being escorted in to see Elder Lyons, Marlon turned to Frank. "Lucy made me promise to make sure the Brotherhood didn't take her gun away, so seeing as how you're in a better position to enforce that than I am, do us a favour and see that you're the only one who touches it? Do it for Lucy, I know you won't do it for me."
With that he turned and walked through the doors to see the Elder. It had been an incredibly shitty day with no assurances it was going to get any better. He was also getting very sick of having to repeat himself. First to Frank. Then to his sister. Now Lyons. But he needed to keep his cool. Getting aggravated wouldn't help and if he wanted the brotherhood off his back, Lyons was who he needed to convince. So ever the salesman, he smiled and began his explanation. Again.
"I appreciate you giving me a chance to speak my piece m'am. My name is Marlon Van Graff...and apparently that's the basis of the problem you and yours have with me?" He kept his tone respectful and continued. "Now fair's fair, I know you've heard about what my siblings got caught doing. That was stupid and now they're paying for it. But the point I'm trying to make m'am, is that while I might be part of the same family business, I'm not in the habit of operating the same way my brother and sister did in Vegas. It's like how you aren't the same as the Brotherhood out west. Same principle." He paused a moment before continuing. "See, if I was doing things like Gloria, I'd have been selling to raiders, slavers and the like on the way here. Drive up demand for armament. I haven't done that. My siblings ran their business their way and went sour eventually. I don't plan on being in a position to do the same. I'm making every effort to play by the rules."
He paused again, as if a good example had occured to him. "It's like you and yours and the Brotherhood out west, or even these Outcast types I keep hearing about. Out west, the brotherhood is dying out, cos however noble they try and dress it up, they're just raiders with better gear who kill civilians for their tech. And as a result they're being hunted down. On top o' that, they don't recruit new people from what I'm told, so they just keep getting smaller. Way I hear it from the people round here, the Outcasts are just the same. Stickin' to the same old ways til it kills 'em. But you and yours m'am? You've got the right idea. Adapt. Do things different as the situation demands. Now you control the water and you're basically the local army right? That's good. It's clever. It WORKS. I can respect that. The brotherhood out west, these outcasts? I can't stand 'em. Can't say I've had the best experience with your folks yet but I can respect the set up you have going."
"I guess where I'm going with this is that when my siblings got their shit busted I was still working in the family workshop. Putting stuff together and all that. So I said to myself then and there, that when it was my time to run a branch of the company, I'd do without Gloria's little playbook of dirty tricks. It's like your people and the other brotherhood branches. Adapt or die yeah? The problem I'm having is that since I got here I've had your people trying to drive me away from all legitimate clients, just because of the name. I get the concern, based on what my siblings have done. But I'm not them. That's the distinction. And hauling a man across the coals for having done nothing but be related to someone who has just ain't right." He sighed.
"Look. It's not been a good day. I've had that Frank guy show up, running his mouth to try and goad me into a fight so he could have an excuse to kill me and damage my car when that didn't work, while claiming he was representing the brotherhood. Which I then found out he was lying about when the brotherhood ACTUALLY showed up. With demands to leave town or else in the form of taking all my things and/or killing me. So I tried to be reasonable and negociate. Which got kind of ugly cos Sheriff Simms was happy to have me and a lot less happy when your people told him they'd cut the town's water supply." He paused again, running through the events of Megaton again mentally to make sure he was getting things right. "You'd know all that though I figure, since I managed to wrangle an arrangement with Simms and your people at the scene to store my stock in Megaton and to have a chat to you about the issue. I'm guessing they probably radioed that in."
He sighed again, because this was his least favourite part. "Didn't go down that way though, cos the sort-of-but-not-really-Brotherhood guy Frank stole my car and everything in it. I'm sure you've heard that part too. Basically, what happened next was that he used it as a battering ram and bomb, destroying practically everything I had at my disposal, including my stock. Says he'll pay me back but he sure hasn't stopped with the threats and shit-talking so we'll see."
He shook his head slightly. "So that's how my day's been going m'am. I hope yours has been better. If it's been somehow worse you have my pity. I don't think we need all this fuss though. Look, I'm a reasonable guy. We can work something out. I mean for starters, we all know the Enclave is on the move. That's bad business for everyone. I got no interest in them getting a win in. I'm willing to entertain the idea of working with you and yours against 'em. I know my way around energy weapons and mechanical stuff pretty solid. I mean granted I'm sure you've got plenty of people that do but it's better than having no talent. All I want when this is over is to be allowed to conduct my business without the constant harassment I've run into so far. Maybe do a bit of trade with your folks here from time to time? Same sort of interests in any case."
"So that's it m'am. There's my story, take it or leave it." He stood quietly, keeping his expression neutral and watching Lyons' own expression closely while she considered his words.
"Bright..." Lucy squinted and groaned as the lights obscured her vision momentarily. She heard a nearby female voice mention something about photo sensitivity. She raised her hand to shield from the light as her eyelids fluttered open.
She noted the medical equipment and the smell of sterilized instruments wafted through the air. "This must be the medical facility" she paused and noted the robes "...and you must be a Brotherhood scribe. It's both an honour and a pleasure to be here."
Lucy had begun to instinctively sit up, rubbing her eyes and noted how her body felt more relaxed and significantly less painful. In fact, Lucy felt good. Inspecting her armour, she found a long vertical cut down the torso of her armour, most likely it was necessary to reach her body without pulling a damaged body from tight leather. The leg piece of her armour had also been repaired. "I...How do I repay you? I don't have nearly enough caps to cover such extensive treatme-"
The scribe cut her short with a smile, mentioning how payment wasn't necessary since I fought bravely along side Former Knight Rose. Lucy wouldn't regard hers previous actions as brave exactly, but she felt taken aback by a compliment from the Brotherhood. The scribe also mentioned that Former Knight Rose had left a message by her bedside. "Thank you very much, Frank is the real one who fought bravely, I was merely reckless. It's an honour to be commended by the Brotherhood."
"You could thank us by being unarmed and wearing an explosive-collar, damn outsider! It's wastelander's like you that put us in danger." Lucy's glare darted to one of the few other scribes huddled around...Vikki.
"Listen up Table-cloth, this isn't Paradise Falls, if anything I've proved I'm not an enemy to the Brotherhood. So hike up your skirt and get one of your butt-buddies to pull that stick out of your ass!" She stared Table-cloth down before he gave up and went back to talking amongst the other scribes. It's intolerant members like those that still made wastelander's and traders alike wary of the Brotherhood in general.
She sighed and took Frank's neatly folded note and begun to read it all the way through. Noting Frank's surprisingly neat hand-writing.
She felt a little uneasy about her rifle missing, but if it was with Frank it was in the right hands. The anxiety was forgotten once modifications were mentioned. She had modified the reload mechanism so that a cell could be entered and automatically ejected upon depletion of each cell. Gave her a few valuable seconds between each shot.
Frank was perceptive if he could already sense her mental agreement to regard Marlon as a friend. She was worried about Marlon, regardless of their rivalry. Although Lucy at least understood his concern about the criminal family. All this made her extremely wary.
Truth be told, she only took up a nice facade in order to create a pleasant influence for Marlon if ever a more diplomatic and manipulative information extraction was required for Frank...and for herself if he had any information regarding her Father. This opposite-end approach would be useful if he stone-walled Frank. The facade faded and grew genuine when Marlon revealed his story, so Lucy had decided to abandon any subversion. The ties to criminal family was left out and she wouldn't hesitate in order to bring up the facade again to keep him at arms-length. She would have to consult Marlon about this and get a straight story before she decided to invest a measure of trust again.
Lucy smiled and felt grateful towards Frank, noting his concern, even if he wouldn't outwardly state it. He didn't have to leave her a note or any information. He was looking out for her. She would make it up to him somehow...a loyal friend and risking her life for him would only be the start.
She climbed off the examination table and walked over to Vikki, smiling down at her friend. She inquired about Vikki's condition and her equipment to the nice scribe, fortunately, Vikki was just fine, having healed rather easily and her backpack had been taken by Frank.
"Seems like he has everything of mine these days, including my life" she chuckled but felt sheepish.
She was met with a reply from Table-cloth across the examination table "He should have left you for dead wastelander. We shouldn't have had to waste Brotherhood resources on an Outsider, least of all for a former knight"
"Listen up Dish-rag, judging by your chicken legs, I doubt you have the muscle to back up those words. So before you say anything about my friend, you may want to plug your quivering vagina of a mouth and change into your favourite dress before I kick your ass"
That had shut Dish-rag up. She gave him the finger and snorted when she saw him silently seethe with anger.
Turning her attention back to Vikki, she winked and spoke to her "Glad to see you're doing ok, V..things got rocky back there. If Pretty-Dress-Priscilla over there gives you any trouble, don't hesitate to call. I'm going to try and find Frank."
She smiled and noted that her hair was loose, her pitch-black hair falling down to shoulder length. She looked remarkably more feminine, noticing her appearance in the mirror, the skin-tight leather was making that more obvious.
She inquired about directions and whether it was alright for her to move freely. She was told to stay out of many area's until she found Frank.
She decided to wait in Franks appointed quarters, a private little room, apparently for higher-ups or notable members. The room was a little spacious and decided to prop herself down on the bed, finding her backpack on the floor. She proceeded to fill the various pouches in her armour and sort her contents out while she waited.
Frank found Squire Arthur Maxson.
One of the conditions for Frank's old master to pass on his martial arts techniques was that he too would have to teach someone, so the techniques wouldn't be forgotten. Frank had chosen squire Maxson, because he was a good kid, and he had hoped Maxson could persuade the Outcasts to fall back in line when he came of age.
"Ladybug! Have you been keeping up with your training since I left?"
"Frank! It's good to see you. I've got all the basic forms down perfectly."
Maxson did a few moves for demonstration.
"Very nice, you've grown quite a bit since I last saw you."
"I'm big enough to fit into power armor now! That's part of the problem though, it's kind of hard to pull off some of the moves while armored."
"Tell you what, an hour from now, be armored up and in the courtyard, I'll see what you're doing wrong, and give you some pointers."
"I'd like that."
"So do you know if my mom's around here, things weren't great when I left, I'd like to patch things up if I can."
"Paladin Sophia Rose is currently leading a squad in Outcast territory, she won't be back for a while."
Frank's mother had taken it very hard when her husband left her to join the Outcasts, and took their youngest child with him. When Sarah took over as elder, and declared war on the Outcasts, Sophia took great joy in gunning down Outcasts.
"That's a shame."
"That girl you brought in was kind of hot, are you hitting that? "
"Patience Ladybug, all things in time. I should probably check on her now anyways. It was nice catching up. I'll see you again for your practice."
Frank headed off to the med-wing.
Vikki was still being questioned, and he didn't want to interrupt that.
"Sorry Frank, you just missed her. She's waiting for you in your room. Bow-chicka-wow-wow!"
Frank headed back to his room to find Lucy waiting on his bed. He felt making a comment about it would be in bad taste though.
"How you holding up Mattie?"
William was giving his stealth skills a bit of practice. He had toured the Citadel while Scribe Ramsey and Dudley packed the fake merchandise onto their motorbikes. William hoped Scribe Ramsay had some transportation of his own. William's motorbike couldn't fit an extra passenger.
William had assigned himself five missions to practice sneaking around, looking for places to hide when a Knight or Paladin came down the hall. Memories of past times sneaking into places came back to him. Lessons he had been taught by faces and names he no longer wished to remember.
The first mission had been simple, sneak into one of the kitchens and steal something from the fridge. William was hungry and saw a chance to kill two birds with one stone. It had been simple enough, he had waited until only two Scribes were talking and sent in a broken robot, some crossed wires were enough to get it talking rubbish and make the Scribes take it away. The sweet prize of success was some steak.
The second mission had been to recover components from the robot he had damaged. William had followed the Scribes back to their tech lab surreptitiously and moved between the science consoles to get to the robot. A quick relocation of some tools distracted the scribes and the components were William's.
The third mission was to take a full lap of the outer ring of the citadel without being seen. Despite a couple of close calls with hurried looking initiates rushing through the halls William hadn't been noticed by anyone. He remembered that staying low in the shadows or stepping just out of sight was enough to get past most people.
The fourth mission was to get into the initiates quarters and rearrange the contents of any containers there. William had a fine time moving equipment, ammunition and other miscellaneous items. But he left any personal looking trinkets where they were, the items held sentimental value and it would be much too cruel to move them.
The final mission was to sneak into some of the higher ranking Brotherhood quarters, just to get in and look around. These rooms were more personal and spacious so William decided not to move anything. He had almost finished his last mission when he saw someone in one of the rooms, someone not brotherhood. Someone he faintly recognised, William considered his last mission finished and knocked on the door before entering.
Dudley and Ramsey had loaded up what they were given onto the backs of the two motorbikes that he and William had driven to the Citadel. After loading the stuff all up, he sighed after realizing that there wasn't really a spot for the Scribe to be at. After cursing out loud and kicking a nearby rock, he noticed William had gone off to do whatever on his own.
"Eh, maybe he had'ta take a dump or somethin'." Dudley mused aloud, to no one in particular. "Ah well, as long as he don't get ashed..."
After a bit, he managed to clear off a small spot on the back of his bike for the Scribe to sit on, if he squeezed in. He gave a small apologetic look to him.
"Sorry, it's all I got."
After awhile, he contemplated aloud about maybe going back in to put some moves on Sarah, but changed his mind when he was told that would be a bad idea by a nearby Brotherhood Paladin. Dudley eventually ended up just chatting with some of the Paladins to pass the time while he waited for his travel companion to return.
"How you holding up Mattie?"
Lucy's eyes darted up to see Frank entering the room, his new paint-job made him equally intimidating and hilarious at the same time. She snorted with laughter, barely managing to get her greeting out
"Oh god, that smiley face..cracks me up...suits you...phew...Hey there Frank!" she managed to contain the laughter and settled with a smile "I'm feeling great actually, it's amazing what Brotherhood medical treatment can do."
She stood up and leaned against the nearby wall, figuring it was impolite to dominate his bed-space "You know, most guys would make a sideways comment about discovering a hitherto female on their bed" She shrugged and proceeded onwards "It was your quarters or the medical-wing, I wasn't allowed anywhere else. Plus I think I pissed a scribe off, something about explosive collars and such."
"Anyway, I appreciate the note" she gestured towards her pocket and her speech pattern grew more calculating "I was cosying up to Marlon, luckily you solidified my assumptions. Where does someone out here get that amount of energy tech without either being Brotherhood, Enclave, tied to the black-market or criminal activities somehow? An honest-to-god trader from far out arrives to do peaceful business in Megaton? I don't believe so." she paused and added "Plus, traders generally know other traders, if he had any ties linking to my dad or enclave...well, that's what the information extraction was for."
She stopped frowning and smiled "I have you and Vikki, all I need." She started bouncing enthusiastically "So I hear you're modifying my rifl-"
She was interrupted by her hair flying into her mouth, forgetting how it wasn't tied up "Ok, no bouncing..."
She was interrupted a knock on the door this time "...Expecting someone, Frank?"
"I'm feeling great actually, it's amazing what Brotherhood medical treatment can do."
"It's good to hear you're feeling better."
"You know, most guys would make a sideways comment about discovering a hitherto female on their bed"
"I'm better than that. Besides, it was implied."
"It was your quarters or the medical-wing, I wasn't allowed anywhere else. Plus I think I pissed a scribe off, something about explosive collars and such."
"Yeah, we've got some members who still hold the old attitudes. Most of them joined the Outcasts, but some felt following the elder was a better move."
"Anyway, I appreciate the note"
"You're welcome. I didn't want you freaking out when you woke up."
"I have you and Vikki, all I need." She started bouncing enthusiastically "So I hear you're modifying my rifl-"
She was interrupted by her hair flying into her mouth, forgetting how it wasn't tied up "Ok, no bouncing..."
"I don't know, I kind of liked the bouncing."
Frank handed Lucy her rifle.
"There are more coils to increase damage output, and all the coils have been replaced with more efficient materials, so it won't increase the power drain. The new coils are a bit lighter, but not enough to make a noticeable difference. You're welcome to use the firing range in the courtyard to try it out."
There was a knock at the door.
"...Expecting someone, Frank?"
"Just a pair of scantily-clad women here to fix something or other, only for it to lead to a big old pile of fun."
Frank's comments brought back fond memories of how slutty some of the female knights were. Ah, youth. That was all before Sarah, and well before he had his mental breakdown, and sealed himself in his armor.
Frank opened the door to find an unfamiliar man. He certainly wasn't female, scantily clad, or part of the Brotherhood.
"Can I help you?"
*"ssshmsssh...confound these flippers, oh!"*
"This is the personal log of Dr S. Crawver, I've finally managed to make this vocal recording device function. Our last known location was...I don't know whether it was named, there were no signs; an enormous ship grounded in an estuary, on the periphery of a city district. I have given up any attempt to track time or place, although I once read that time can be discerned from the phases of the moon, but I do not remember how. Pah...I'm being ridiculous, there is no purpose to it."
"Events have been...turbulent. Following the encounter with that dreadful golem and the luminous man, we undertook a grueling march north to the city; for the four of us had been exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, and we had exhausted my supply of medicine, somehow. It seems I had been in shock, perhaps Abraham...confound it. I had done my best to purge any infection on the reporter's skin with broc flower and xander root extract that we managed to forage, but hunger and thirst sagged as if chained around our necks. We had left no food, and little water, clean or otherwise; we tried to ration it equally between us, but...Brahmin are thirsty beasts, especially my Udders...we, I, had to..."
"Time wore on like encroaching rust; my blubber allowed me graciously to at least stay awake, if not alert, while poor Udders struggled beneath me, but I could feel her suffering when I lay a flipper across her shoulders in an attempt to comfort her. Guilt ate at my stomach more than any hunger could. The two men grew emaciated by the day, the reporter hardly woke, and pitched gently with the sway of Udders' shoulders, he didn't have the energy to cry out in pain or hunger or desperation, and in my questionable state I thanked some higher power for his silence. Abraham ranged ahead, hobbling madly, babbling excitedly at first but less in increments by day; madness cannot sustain indeterminitely, it seems. I try to keep it to the back of my memory, but I swear I saw that harsh sun pierce his weathered skin and shine behind him. We halted where we could so as to allow Udders to graze on whatever there was. But I don't like her eating that stuff...But we had to. We had to."
"By the time the ship was in sight, we had not the energy to be jubilant; I doubted then that we'd survive to make it inside. Now people stood between us and the grave. Perhaps due to that, in desperation I thought for a second to relinquish my life, and allow hunger, thirst, dread and fatigue to consume me, and throw my carcass to the quiet earth. They didn't want to let us in. They levelled their weapons, and carved Udders to and fro with their eyes. Malicious, despicable men, I would no sooner see them away by any means than breathe. This is my Brahmin. MY Udders. Abraham tore at our packs and panniers with what little strength he had and spilled what we had left in front of the guardsmen. Bottle caps, and my pistol. He dropped to his knees and bowed his head, whether he was begging or had not the will to stay upright was indistinct; it didn't matter, we would have a doctor, and food. But we would not stay."
"We still were disallowed entry; their doctor, closely followed by a group of swarthy men, traders, couriers and whatever else, came out to bring us our medicine. I could see the way those men's eyes fell heavily upon Udders, but I had not the energy to seethe. I am sure that their eyes fell upon me in equal measure. Sometimes, I do ruminate on what it was that spared me from the butcher's knife; and placed me under the surgeon's knife in place of some poor creature."
"The young reporter...he didn't make it. Not enough Rad-Away to go around, their doctor said; too far gone, he said. He was the last to receive a dose. We had to have enough for Udders, I insisted."
"He helped us to eat, and treated our sunburned skin. He was a kindly man, but I regret that I do not remember his face; I suspect he undercut his own prices to treat us, to use his entire stock of medicine. I do not understand how it was that we elicited such sympathy...but then was not the time to question it. They took his body inside. When the sun began to set, I saw two silhouetted figures push something off of the deck and into the water. No room for a proper burial."
"Was I right to...? No, I had to. I simply...had to..."
"Whatcha got there, fishy?"
"oh, n- nothing"
Frank seemed a little distracted, but at the same time, he seemed more calm. Probably because we weren't killing raiders, blowing up eye-bots, fighting mutants, blowing up cars and taking down a behemoth.
Wow, Frank really knew how to add spice to someone's life. She almost vocalized this, but wistfully chose to keep the pleasant thought to herself. She was having fun, you know, despite the injuries. She even made friends, one semi-mutant and one ex-brotherhood knight. She's even in the Citadel.
She cut her thoughts short when he spoke "I don't know, I kind of liked the bouncing." she was going to add a layered teasing reply when she was gobsmacked by the presentation of her rifle.
"H-o-l-y Hell..." she took the familiar grip of her rifle and trained her sights on the far end of the room. "I can definitely feel the weight difference, the lighter materials prevent fatigue in my arms. You probably wouldn't notice since you could use me as a makeshift sledgehammer and not notice much difference...but for those who don't wear power armour, they would definitely feel a notable difference. Increased damage? To think this baby already packed-a-punch. And yeah, I'd love to try it out soon, maybe in a few minutes?...Just wow, thank you Frank. This means the world to me!"
She pulled out her combat knife and started etching into the side of the rifle, she created the outline of a rose, finishing off finer details. She presented it to Frank, the carving mirroring his own rose on his armour. She hoped he caught the gravity of the gesture, considering what the rifle meant to her "Means you're very important to me"
She got on her tip-toes and hugged him out of gratitude as best as she could, Frank being rather large in comparison to her small frame.
The knock on the door interrupted them
"Just a pair of scantily-clad women here to fix something or other, only for it to lead to a big old pile of fun."
She chuckled at this "I can leave if you need alone ti-"
She stopped short, she frowned and slowly grew pale. Almost dropping her rifle, she wordlessly tried to speak, but her mind was bombarded with a flood of inexplicable emotions. "This couldn't be..." she whispered to herself.
She couldn't see much through Frank and the doorway, but those green eyes and frown were strikingly familiar.
She would answer, but she was momentarily lost for words if her suspicions were confirmed.
William's knock was met by voices inside the room and the door opening. A Brotherhood of Steel Paladin wearing painted armour met him with what could have been an unfriendly tone, "Can I help you?"
From inside the room somebody said something quietly, but William couldn't make it out. He looked into the room and saw someone he knew and turned back to the person he didn't know.
"I'm checking up on past acquaintances, I happened to be in the area." Though his tone was lighthearted, his stern expression stayed. William wasn't exactly sure what he was doing, squaring up to a fully armoured Paladin or trying to have a staring contest with a helmet. Wait, what? A helmet? In personal quarters? Why was this Paladin fully armoured in what was probably his own room? Why did this Paladin have paint on his armour? Was this some new fashion among the Brotherhood? William decided it would be a bad idea to ask the Paladin, instead he pointed into the room and said, "Namely, the past acquaintance sitting there."
"I'm checking up on past acquaintances, I happened to be in the area."
Frank did not know this man, so either he was knocking on random doors, or he was here for Lucy.
"Namely, the past acquaintance sitting there."
"Dorothy, is this the type of past acquaintance I politely let in, or the type whose face I rearrange?"
[Perception]The man wore regular clothing, and was armed with a sword and a pistol. (Of the Bang-Bang variety, not the pew-pew kind) If needed, Frank could break him effortlessly.
"As much as I appreciate the offer to rearrange somebody's face for me, this is the type of... acquaintance...you politely let in." Lucy answered Frank and added "Is there somewhere where my guest and I could talk in private? Or perhaps we could use your quarters for a little?"
Lucy rested her rifle across her back, the magnetic sensors holding it in place, she pulled out her knife and twirled it efficiently before holstering. "No need to worry, Frank. I can handle myself. This is someone...of great importance to me. It's important."
Lucy was clearly nervous, if this man was who she thought it was, she wanted to ask so many questions. However, she tried to watch her words very carefully.
"Alone time?" she posed the question to Frank with the best pleading eyes she could pull off, the skin-tight leather armour and loose hair probably added some benefit to the whole expression.
"As much as I appreciate the offer to rearrange somebody's face for me, this is the type of... acquaintance...you politely let in."
"Please come in sir."
"Is there somewhere where my guest and I could talk in private? Or perhaps we could use your quarters for a little?"
"It's all yours."
Frank leaned in the door before leaving.
"You crazy kids have fun now!"
Frank shut the door behind him, and headed off to the courtyard. It was almost time for Squire Maxson's lesson anyway.
Rex hopped off the table. He could see something on his nose... strings? In his nose? In a cross-stitch? That's what was tugging, anyways. Rex instinctively knew to leave them alone.
He trailed Brandon out of the clinic and into the desert beyond the village. Things had gotten... strange... since he had left the home of Old Master. Rex wasn't sure if he liked it, but it certainly kept things interesting.
Out of nowhere, a black-armored man stepped directly into Brandon's face and started yelling odd words that Rex couldn't make out. He crouched onto his haunches, ready to pounce.
As the painted Paladin known as Frank left the room, he set on some music. He probably didn't know about all of the circumstances then. William stood awkwardly, he had faced down men holding guns to his head and kept his cool, he had been in impossible life or death moments where one wrong move meant game over, but it was times like this he felt most uncomfortable.
Until now, he had not properly looked at Lucy, now he saw each detail. The hair, the face, the tight outfit, hello beautiFOCUS idiot. He looked her in the eye and said, "So here we are, I'm sure you have questions, or maybe just want to talk?"
Lucy smiled at Frank's departure, however her disposition changed as she shut the music off in an irritated manner. The sound was grating and she preferred the quiet.
Lucy finally got her chance to get a good look at the man in front of her. Piercing green eyes which would be perceived as kind under normal circumstances had it not been offset by a frown. She rather liked the harsh effect, it created a nice contrast to her blue eyes. His hair was a mirror of her own, only shorter. Come to think of it, he was rather well groomed in general, holding an air of confidence but not arrogance.
He was also slightly taller than her. This irked Lucy. She was always the short one.
She had been staring for awhile, her expression was emotionless and she grew slightly flustered at her rudeness when he spoke up.
"So here we are, I'm sure you have questions, or maybe just want to talk?"
A pleasant voice.
"Excuse my manners, it wasn't my intention to stare" she grew a little embarrassed, which was visually apparent but kept herself under control, with this she extended her hand "Lucy Black, I have a feeling I know you. If that's the case, I have so much to ask"
She smiled and added "For the record, let it be known that I got a member of the Brotherhood to vacate their quarters for me."
Lucy walked over to the bed, sat down and fixed her own direct stare into his eyes, the effect was probably unnerving since she didn't blink at that point "Two years ago, at what was left of the burning wreck that was Springvale...there was a bruised, battered and severely drugged girl left among the ashes and corpses of her friends and family."
Lucy's stare did not waver as she recounted the painful memory, what was left of it that is.
"She was carried to Megaton. Too drugged up to talk, yet conscious enough to remember the eyes of her rescuer. Green eyes and a glare. She woke up after a few days under the care of Doc Church, the only thing she knew about her rescuer was that he was her very own British Prince Charming as the Doc put it."
Lucy had begun to lean back, using her arms to support herself on the bed, her voice layered with a mix of emotions.
"I'm not about to forget those eyes or that frown. You're the man that saved my life and I'm very curious about your side of it all."
She smiled mischievously and added
"...You never left your name back then. How was a girl supposed to call you?"
She paused and added with a more genuine smile "You're obviously welcome to ask me anything"
"My name? As much as I wouldn't mind being called Prince Charming, I don't think it would do wonders for my reputation. No, my name is William Knight. Oh, for the record, thank you for asking Mr Brotherhood to vacate his quarters, I'm sure he's a nice guy under that armour but still....." William didn't quite know how to communicate that Frank intimidated him without making it sound stupid and get off topic.
Instead, he decided to get to the heart of the matter, "Yes, it was me who found you in Springvale, who took you to Megaton, who made sure you were well looked after. This much you know. You of course also know that I didn't stay around to make sure you got better. For that I am truly sorry, there is nothing worse in this wasteland than waking up one day and realising all you once had was gone or going." William started pacing the room awkwardly, trying to remember himself what had been so important as to just leave.
"There was a job I needed to do, if I hadn't then my neck would have been on the line. I did return to Megaton, much later but I had to be sure. If you have any questions about what happened I'll probably have answers. But first, how did you come to be here?"
"Prince Charming could work as an alternate name for you, either way it's a pleasure to finally meet you, William. As for Frank, it's all about listening to his voice very carefully and watching his mannerisms, otherwise he's an incredible friend and a devastating force to fight along side. Fun fact: Never seen his face."
Lucy pondered on that last thought for a moment, she never had seen his face, she wondered if he liked the armour out of pride, preference, simple comfort or for a deeper reason entirely.
Lucy's heart melted a little at his apology, he didn't need to do that "You don't need to apologise, as pleasant as it would have been if you were there." she paused "I was prepared to simply die that day...It also sounds like you have some experience with losing what's most important to you."
Lucy watched him pace the room in an awkward manner, she laughed lightly and spoke up "You can relax, William. Despite the subject matter, I'm friendly company to be around." she continued "You had something important to do, I definitely don't hold it over your head."
If you have any questions about what happened I'll probably have answers. But first, how did you come to be here?"
"I'll try to sum it up as best as I can." Lucy described how she was wondering the coastline before meeting Vikki and Frank, how they cleared out the Super-Duper Mart in an attempt to escape an Enclave-Vertibird. Their brief fight with a duper mutant and the debacle with the Brotherhood in Megaton. She touched on the reports of a Behemoth nearby, their travel and jumped to the fight.
"So Frank was going to use the car as a battering ram and get up-close while I use the car as an explosive and cripple it from a distance" she pointed at her Gauss Rifle on her back "I started singing and we eventually crippled it, bringing it down to it's knees. Unfortunately, it lashed out at me, breaking Vikki's leg and I was trapped under the rubble of the second story." she proceeded to describe how a Brotherhood patrol found them and that's how they landed up here.
She looked at William "Your turn, how did you land up here?"
She paused and her tone shifted "When you found me, what did I look like? What was your assessment about what had happened there? Were there any details that could narrow down who did that to me?"
She stopped for a moment and grew frustrated "I'm sorry...I just want more insight into what happened." she perked up once more "Feel free to ask me anything though, conversations are rare these days"
William relaxed a bit more as the conversation began to flow, then Lucy bombarded him with questions,
"Hang on a minute, one at a time. Ok first question, I'm here because I need to know the location of the new Enclave base, because I need to sneak into it. I'm also here to pick up some things to help with a distraction, it is a rather long story involving a very rich ghoul and someone called Dudley." When he spoke about it, the plan seemed like it could work, if everything went right, but if everything went wrong.....
"Right then, second question. When I found you, it was like you were broken, you'd been beaten within an inch of your life and I think it might only have been the drugs that kept you going long enough so I could find you and Doc Church could keep you alive. As for what had happened, I'd say more of a professional hit than a random raider attack. Raiders might have made some mark, painted the walls or hung your corpses outside. Raiders would have taken you back with them to sell as a slave or killed you right there, with Paradise Falls having, um, fallen a few years ago, I'd say it is because they weren't raiders that you're here today." William could notice that the tone had dropped, this was a difficult conversation.
"My best guess would be someone hired those people, they would know where you were and what to do. The damage done left little trace, so it looks like a raider attack, but raiders leave signs to mark their territory. Somebody wanted your father dead, they knew where he lived and knew what to do. On who ordered it, think who might have wanted to kill your father."
William decided he'd give as much detail as he could remember. He told Lucy the story of how he had come across her, it had been one of his earlier jobs for Morgan Bloom, there had been a skirmish between Bloom's mercenaries and raiders squatting in what had been the Evergreen Mills stronghold. Bloom had been looking for some notable shotgun rumoured to still be there but his team had been ambushed by raiders and further teams were beaten back. The raiders were in a canyon and the only way in was heavily mined and fortified. Lookout snipers had taken several heads already. Bloom had ordered William to get in and get the shotgun. It had all been made clear that if he refused there would be a mercenary team coming after him too, Bloom wanted to add to his collection.
William had been travelling from Underworld to Evergreen Mills, he had stopped at Megaton for the night and early in the morning he had set off again, travelling on the road through Springvale until the column of smoke rose high, he had found a partially burned home riddled with bullet holes, the only living thing there was Lucy, near dead and drugged out of her mind. The most surprising thing about her was how light she was, as if she was hollowed out inside. He'd taken her back to Megaton and made sure she was in the caring, if harsh hands of Doc Church, convinced the good doctor to look after her for free and had to set off on his way again. If he took too long, Bloom would have simply put a price on his head, there was not the trust that existed now.
It had mostly been in vain, rescuing Lucy was the most productive part of the job. He had gotten into Evergreen Mills by climbing down the cliffs and sneaking in without being noticed by anyone. But the shotgun was not there, he interrogated a raider and after threatening to put that tyre with spikes back on wrong way up learned that there had been a unique shotgun belonging to a trader, but it was long gone. Bloom was unhappy with the result, but satisfied that nothing else could be done.
That was how William had met Lucy, now he decided to ask his own question, "What are you planning to do after you've recuperated here?"
Lucy listened to William's story, deciding to hear the whole story before inquiring further.
"Morgan Bloom, huh? The wealthy ghoul is infamous in trading circles and mercenary groups. My dad, Isaac, would tell me about his trips to Underworld, Rivet City, Megaton, etc you don't get far into the trading business without being mindful about Bloom's ongoing contracts. God forbid if you interfere with one of them..."
Lucy paused, contemplating his words about possible suspects and their style of attack "I'm convinced it's Enclave at the moment. Before the torture - " she choked on her words, struggling to vocalize them "They killed Isaac in front of me. They were militaristic, one soldier said something about and I quote: critical objectives achieved, do what you will with the civilians. They had black power armour, rippers and only the few in front of me had plasma weapons"
"When I inspected the area days after I recovered there was no trace of energy weapon use. Think it could be the Enclave covering their tracks for some reason? When my dad brought home this rifle, he was on edge the entire time, treated the thing like it was a ticking time-bomb. Two weeks later, the attack. I'm not exactly going to chalk that up to coincidence just yet."
Lucy considered his question about her immediate future. She had Frank and Vikki here, maybe she could assist the Brotherhood "Well, I'm all good to go...except I have nothing to do. Perhaps help out the Brotherhood, I'm fascinated with their tech. Plus I have my friends, Vikki and Frank here...I suppose you're off to infiltrate an Enclave base. About that, do you guys need backup or someone to help out with your cover identity?"
She flashed William a sad smile of gratitude "You didn't have to help me, wasting your time on a job for Bloom is cutting it close...Thank you"
"The gesture may be overt, but bear with me here
, ok?" Lucy stood up and walked right up to William and proceeded to hug him tightly "Again...thank you"
Frank headed off to the courtyard.
Walking on his own gave Frank time to think.
His companions didn't know much about him, they know he's ex-Brotherhood, (Kind of, sort of) they know that he's awesome, but that's about it.
They didn't know about his past or his family, or why he wouldn't take off his armor.
Maybe it was time to tell them.
Or he could just tell them one of the more outlandish rumors about why for laughs.
Some claimed that the real Frank died, and his old armor is haunted.
Some claimed that someone killed the real Frank, put on the armor, and took over his life.
Others claimed that inside the armor is a robot programmed to think it's Frank.
One of the more popular rumors was that Frank was ghoulified, and he wishes to keep it a secret.
Frank's big-sister claims it's because he's hideously ugly, and must hide his face to avoid terrifying small children.
None of these were true.
Frank arrived in the courtyard. Many members of the Brotherhood were training, hanging out, or trying to mack on some foxy female members. Ah, youth.
Frank saw squire Maxson, armored up, and ready for training.
"Are you ready Ladybug?"
Frank and Maxson practiced for a bit.
Barry could feel the very life being squeezed out of him. He rolled on the ground flailing ineffectually attempting desperately to get the anaconda like eels off of him. Blood was pouring out of his snapped arm which caused him to feel more and more light headed. He was just about at the end of his rope and he knew it. Any pretention of heroism faded as he desperately clung to life. This was no longer about a man purifying the world of evil. It was about a man fighting to breath one more time. His face was pressed into the cold sidewalk. He saw a figure in front of him, but it was blurred. His eyes focused. It was the man who ran him over. Crushed to death by this giant mutant. But what was that in his hands? Lighter fluid? What was he doing with lighter fluid? Doesn't matter. The container was crushed. The fluid had formed a pool around the man's body. Barry saw one last option. He crawled toward it using every ounce of strength and will left in his body. Finally he reached it. If he could sigh he would. He rolled in the fluid. Step one complete. He looked toward the burning FalloutBob. He crawled toward him. His strength faded. The lack of oxygen was about to finish him. Death for the first time was all he could think about. What would happen to him? He was fighting for good so would he go to a better place or nothing at all? "I at least got to go out fighting" he thought using his absolute last ounce of effort to push into FalloutBob. Barry exploded into a blazing inferno. The eels squealed as began to melt. They released and tried to crawl back to the creature that spawned them but perished before making it. Barry at last took in a breath. One that very well could be his very last. His skin began to melt off of him and drip onto the street. So did the leather of his armor. He looked to his left and saw a fire hydrant. He swung his fist. The hydrant burst. Water collided with him launching him backward into a wall at the other side of the street. This last blast of force further tore through his arm. cracking the two snapped pieces of humorous. He would have noticed the loss of all feeling in his leg if it hadn't already gone numb from the fire. His mask had melted off and so had much of his face. His face was rather reminiscent of cheese that had partially liquefied in the sun. He used his remaining arm to reach into his bag. One at a time he pulled out his half a dozen stimpacks and injected himself with each one. He saw his skin begin to fix itself and the minor damage to his ribs healed. The wonders of modern medicine. But the damage to his arm was beyond mere stimpacks. He would need a doctors bag. Or a surgeon.
William was surprised by Lucy's gesture, but he returned the hug. Sometimes simple gestures like that were much more effective than the most flowery apology, especially in the wasteland.
"It's kind of you to offer to help, but I think they'd spot Frank a mile off. Besides, if it all goes wrong I'd just be endangering more people by bringing you."
William didn't want to leave, but he knew that if he didn't go now, he'd never would. Leaving the hug he quickly turned and walked to the door before pausing and saying, "I hope we meet again, I don't want this to be the end of it." before leaving the room.
The experience had really affected him, of all the ghosts of the past, none had ever returned before and William feared that he was about to walk out of somebody else's life for good. He hoped not, otherwise what would be become except another nameless corpse in the wasteland, someone else whose story would be forgotten in an instant. Just like the dead man William had seen in Kentucky, killed and left as a trap for others. Unless he changed, things would be stuck that way.
Then again, it was also rather likely that William would be turned into some sort of goo after being discovered by the Enclave.
William headed for the exit, ready to travel to, then sneak into, an Enclave base.
Frank continued with the lesson.
[Armor 100/30][Success!] "You're fighting against the armor, you have to work with it."
[Perception] William walked past, on his way out of the Citadel.
The lesson wrapped up.
"And remember Ladybug; I want you to do ten sets of each move every day. In armor if possible."
Frank walked back to his room.
"I probably owe you an explanation about me Mattie."
"It won't be the last time, we'll see each other again, William."
Lucy was sad to see William go, he was already on his way through the door, the haunted expression was a mirror of her own. Lucy had met some special people over the past few days, she never expected this. Maybe she'll see him again, they could get to know each other when things weren't so chaotic.
She sighed, deciding to distract herself at the firing range, she'd need a Brotherhood escort though. With her head down she began walking across the room.
"I probably owe you an explanation about me Mattie."
She was startled by the sound of Frank's voice more so than his sudden appearance. She was glad to see a friend anyway and cracked a grim smile. Things got lonely too quickly in her mind.
"You're back" she remarked and continued "I'm all ears, Frank. Whatever is said between us, stays between us, kinda goes without saying."
"I'm all ears, Frank. Whatever is said between us, stays between us, kinda goes without saying."
"I'm guessing you want to hit the firing range? We'll walk and talk on our way there."
Frank began walking to the courtyard.
"The Citadel is a lovely building isn't it? I was born here in 2256, shortly after the Brotherhood came here."
"When I was five, my dad left to join the Outcasts. Took my baby brother with him. Pissed my mom off to no end."
"I spent my youth being trained under my grandfather. He's gone now. My pistol used to be his. Mom's a Paladin, so she was usually away on missions. My grandfather was crippled in a battle with a Behemoth, and spent his days as a combat instructor."
"I was offered several promotions past Knight, but I refused them all, because Paladins don't get to spend their spare time fixing things. They just break things, people, mutants, and everything else they're told to break."
"I was sent out on a solo scouting mission near Tenpenny Tower, when I came across the ruins of the city of Rockopolis. It was there that I found a dying ghoul named Argyle. He was in a pool of radioactive water that was healing him just a little slower than the rocks were crushing him, and he didn't want his martial arts techniques to be lost when he died."
"I learned what I could from him, then, at his request; I put him out of his misery."
"Shortly after that, I started schtupping our illustrious leader, Elder Lyons. She wasn't elder when we started though, that was her dad."
"Life was good for quite a while, I fought things, I fixed things, I schtupped the boss's daughter on a fairly regular basis. Wouldn't last though, because the universe hates it when I'm happy."
Frank let out a heavy noticeable sigh. He probably wouldn't hate the universe so much if it wasn't constantly working in the background to undermine him.
"Troubles started when Lyons Sr. died, and Sarah took over as elder. It was fun at first, because I was nailing the boss, but her first major act as Elder was to to declare full scale war on the Outcasts, She saw them as her dad's biggest failure, and she was way too eager to live up to him. I disapproved of the choice, but I went along with it."
"I was sent out to hunt the Outcasts, with my sister, and my buddy Jake. He was the fellow at Megaton with the gatling laser. Things were going well at first, we killed a few Outcasts patrols, took their stuff, good times...
Lucy couldn't tell, but Frank was grimacing a lot at this point.
"For the last patrol we encountered, there were three of them. We killed their leader and captured the rest alive. Then, one of our captures starts yelling about how we killed his father, and he would get revenge on us somehow. Then the other said something that made me realize what had just happened, he said "Shut up Rose, David would want you to face your fate with dignity." It seemed I had just killed my father."
"I released them, took my dad's armor, and went back to the Citadel. Me and my sister took it poorly in different ways. She became a colossal slut, and I had a mental breakdown, extensively modified my dad's old armor, and refused to take it off."
"Eventually I felt I needed to get away from the Brotherhood. I left, and went to Rivet City. I spent a few months working as a mechanic there. It was nice, but something was missing. I left, and started wandering the wasteland. Was at it for a few months when you met me."
Frank had been bottling up that stuff for way too long. It felt good to talk about it.
"So you schtupped that guy I let in?"
Lucy walked alongside Frank through the halls and toward the courtyard, receiving many passing glances,glares and stares of bewilderment.
She wondered whether if they were directed towards her, Frank or more likely the combination of both.
Small girl, large rifle. Big guy, large fists.
"The Citadel is a lovely building isn't it?"I was born here in 2258, shortly after the Brotherhood came here.
Lucy was going to work out the age at later point, she was never good with numbers.
"I wish I grew up here. To be apart of all this. Still a little girl's dream, but I always wanted to be Brotherhood. Hence the fascination with the tech." she pointed at her rifle and let Frank continue.
She listened to Frank's story, he was exceedingly difficult to read. Lucy's expressions were not, as they ranged from admiration to the citadel, sympathy with regards to his grandfather and Argyle, sly admiration to the current Elder, surprise at his extensive family and complete sadness with regards to his breakdown and especially his father.
Lucy hadn't noticed that her eyes had welled up with tears. Frank was this pillar of strength and it broke her heart to know that part of his strength was built from so much trauma and suffering.
She wiped at her face "I'm so sorry, Frank" she sighed "It's the estrogen. Emotional nurturing impulses and crap."
"What happened to your Brother and is your Mom still around?" she peered up at the helmet, she hoped she was looking at his eyes.
She couldn't exactly do nothing, so she decided to wrap her arms around his waist and looked up at him "I know you aren't looking for sympathy, but I can really appreciate the fact that you told me all that. It's safe with me and it makes the little engraving on my rifle all the more meaningful."
The contrast between Lucy's small frame against his must have been quite a funny sight.
"Perhaps, and this is a big perhaps, I could be the one to see your face one day" she smiled up at him.
"So you schtupped that guy I let in?"
She snorted with laughter "Wha- No!...'Kinda girl do you think I am?" she broke off the hug and straightened up "Besides, if that were to happen, I'm the kinda girl that spends a few good hours ridi-"
She blushed at her sudden open attitude and fiddled with her hair, finding *great* interest in it. She even started to whistle to herself.
"I wish I grew up here. To be apart of all this. Still a little girl's dream, but I always wanted to be Brotherhood. Hence the fascination with the tech."
"You probably can; the Brotherhood recruits wastelanders all the time. Lots of initiates die to the mutants, so they constantly need replacements. Kind of a shitty gig."
"What happened to your Brother and is your Mom still around?"
"After I released him, he swore revenge. Don't know what he's up to now. Probably hunting me. Maybe he did something crazy like join the Enclave so he could have the means to defeat me. Who knows? My mom's fine. She's off hunting the Outcasts. She really doesn't like them."
"I know you aren't looking for sympathy, but I can really appreciate the fact that you told me all that. It's safe with me and it makes the little engraving on my rifle all the more meaningful."
"No problem. You seemed curious, felt you had earned the truth."
"Perhaps, and this is a big perhaps, I could be the one to see your face one day"
"Maybe once I get over these neuroses, some day. Though if my sister is to be believed, I won't take off my helmet because I'm hideously ugly. If that's the case, you may not want me to. Besides, being fleshy is terrible. Without my armor I'm fragile. A single bullet to the head could kill me. One Bullet. It's a terrible feeling, like being naked in a hailstorm."
"Wha- No!...'Kinda girl do you think I am?" she broke off the hug and straightened up "Besides, if that were to happen, I'm the kinda girl that spends a few good hours ridi-"
Frank chuckled to himself. He had successfully defused a tender moment.
Frank and Lucy arrived at the courtyard.
"Feel free to shoot something. Just not people. Unless they're jerks."
William headed towards the exit, making his way through the great gates of the Citadel. He was keeping up a mask of composure, inside there was only turmoil. Should he go back? Should he give up the mission? Carry on?
If he went back he would be stuck in the past, if he met Lucy again that would be part of the future. If he gave up the mission many would die and many more live in fear. If he carried on he might die. William thought once again to the unknown corpse in the wasteland, no friends or family, an unknown past but no future. He would have to trust in his skills and a lot of luck to survive and succeed.
But that was the job, it needed doing and it needed doing now. He had reached Dudley, Scribe Ramsey and the motorbikes.
It was time to leave.