Fallout: Wild Horses (Started, Open)

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*NOTE TO NEW APPLICANTS: If you want to join the RP, please PM me with your character sheet. Use this template

"War. War never changes. As the fires of Nuclear Armageddon finally settled, the great Vaults that safeguarded humanity's remnants opened, welcoming the survivors to the unforgiving landscape of the Wasteland. In this barren, hostile wilderness, they formed tribes and settlements, establishing new societies from the ashes of the old world. Those who are too weak, perish. Only the strong survive.

From one such Vault came the tribe known as the Khans, powerful, ambitious people, valuing strength and self reliance above all else. Following the wise words of an outsider, the Great Khans headed north from their homeland, into the untamed plains of eastern Wyoming. There, they formed the Great Khan Empire, bringing order and society to the plains. Their skills of survival and knowledge of ancient history allowed the Khans to finally settle in a land that was their own.

But no place in the Wasteland is without conflict. To the east lies the barren remains of the Dakotas, lawless, violent, and expanding. Raiders thick as water flood into the lands of the Khans, driven by some unseen force, some nightmare of the Eastern world. To the south, the remnants of the once mighty Legion strive to exact vengeance on those that wronged them, preying on the Caravans that form the lifeblood of the Empire.

The Wyoming Wasteland has become a time bomb, waiting to burst into a storm of violence. Because, in the end, war never changes."

Day 1: Midday Central Wyoming
The only sounds that could be heard were the buzzing of insects and the cawing of birds overhead. Among the browned grass, small animals darted, feeding on the smaller beasts before being fed on in turn. Set perfectly still among the tall grass, the only thing giving away the gun was a slight glint where the sun reflected off the barrel. And behind said rifle, just as still as his weapon, Ollie waited.

Aiming down the sights, Ollie watched the group settling around their campfire. Definitely raiders. There were a couple tribals out on the plains, but none that Ollie knew of carried the skulls of their victims as trophies. These guys were Rattlers by the looks of things. And they had just broken the unspoken rule of the plains. Stay the fuck out of Khan territory. Ollie took aim at the Rattler he assumed was the chief, marked out by his numerous Diamondback tattoos. Once his head was squared neatly in the gun's sights, he fired.

Several things happened at once. The bullet ripped through the Rattler's head, splattering the camp with brain matter and skull fragments. The rest of the raider party dove to the ground, scrambling for their weapons. And over top of the hill where Ollie was set up, twenty Great Khans came thundering down towards the camp on their Nightmares. Shouting war cries and firing shots into the air, the Khan riders stampeded through the Rattlers tents, running down the few that had scrambled to their feet, making a run for it. Ollie landed another shot into a runner's leg, dropping the bastard before he could get any further.

In less than a minute, the ambush was over. Twelve Rattlers lay dead, and five had been rounded up by the Khans, lassoing the raiders and lashing them to the backs of their mutant horses. Harland waved up to Ollie, signaling everything was clear. Packing up his trail carbine and hopping to his feet, Ollie jogged down the hill to the rest of the group. Anna tossed him a water flask, and he took a long drink before passing it back.

Harland dropped off his mount. "Nice shot, man. Looks like everything went right. What do you think we should do with these pricks?" Harland looked scornfully down at the captured Rattlers. "You think Regis will want to see 'em?"

"He'll only need to see one of them, genius," said Anna. The Khan angled her nightmare into towards the Rattlers, grinning as they recoiled from the horse's split jaws. "How about a contest? We tie them to the back of our Nightmares, and the last one standing gets a ride back to Laramie."

"Sounds good to me," said Ollie. He kicked some dirt in the Rattler's faces. The tribals just hissed at him, but he ignored their threats. They weren't dangerous anymore. And quite honestly, they deserved worse than what they were getting. Burning towns and blinding the survivors with venom to mark them deserved far worse than being dragged along behind a horse for a day.

Whistling for Alegre, Ollie's nightmare trotted around from the back of the group. He patted him affectionately, and then set to tying one of the raiders to his saddle. The Rattler glared at him the whole time, but said nothing. Ollie was content to let the asshole simmer for all he cared.

"It's a three day ride back to Laramie, buddy," said Ollie, hopping up onto the saddle. "Hope you've taken up jogging."

"Fuck you, Khan." spat the Rattler.

"Oh, you can speak. I thought you would be one of those gibberish talking fucks."

"We can understand each other just fine, Khan. Your tongue is crude."

"Yeah, I'm sure it is. Maybe if you understood our "tongue" better, you would have realized that you stay the fuck away from the Khans unless you want your ass kicked. This is our land, understand?"

"For now," said the Rattler ominously.

"Give me a break."

The rest of the war party strapped the Rattlers to the backs of their mounts, and began heading out. The Rattlers had to run to keep up with the Nightmare's canter. They were headed south, to Fort Laramie. Papa Regis would want to interrogate one of the Raiders himself. More kept coming from the east every week, but so far, none of them had given a reason why. Maybe they would get lucky this time. Maybe the Rattler's legs wouldn't give out. Ollie doubted both, but he kept on going. It wasn't worth his time to try and justify stuff he knew couldn't be answered.

Accepted Character Sheets

Soviet Heavy: Ollie Tempson (Male Great Khan scout)

The Doctor455: Vera (Female Program Duraframe Eyebot)

RipVanTinkle: Tessa Rabbit (Female Thief)

PrinceOfShapeir: Sarah Covington/Stockwell (Female Wastelander and former Caravaneer)

Emperor Zuma: Jacob Karl (Male Doctor)

Green Shoes: Marco Brown (Male Ghoul Wastelander)

Athol: Samuel/Sam (Male Ghoul Mercenary)

RuedyN: Markus Brutus (Male former Legionnaire turned Mercenary)

Anti-American Eagle: Martin Fairburne (Male Wastelander)

RobDaBank: Kaiden (Supermutant of Redstone Camping Ground)

Charity Case: Pending

Jokerboy Jordan: Vincent Hastings (Cheyton's Red Eyed Reaper, Mercenary)

Souplex: Ranger Joe (Male NCR Ranger)

mcpop9: Luna Hatashi (Female Vault 73 Samurai)

FalloutJack: A surprise

ImSkeletor: Dave (Robo-Brain)

Ranger Joe was not happy.
What's that; You don't know who Ranger Joe is?


After Ranger Chief Konrad had caught Joe canoodling with his daughter, he decided to give Joe the shittiest assignment possible: To scout out Wyoming and negotiate joining the NCR with its leaders.
Wyoming was strictly Khan territory, and while Regis liked the NCR far more than his predecessor Papa, they weren't about to throw down the welcome mat.
What's worse, Chief Konrad made sure Joe was not properly supplied. His mission budget was given to him in NCR dollars which he had to swap for a a fraction of that in Caps when he hit Nevada. He was short on shotgun beanbags, and he never got his scheduled repairs for equipment.
Worse still, when he made it to a small settlement in southern Wyoming, and decided to get a drink, some thugs with a grudge against the NCR tried to ambush him. He had to duck for cover, and didn't have time to grab his helmet. In the confusion of the firefight, some punk ran off with his helmet. By the time he had dealt with his attackers, whoever stole his helmet was long gone.
[Luck]Joe wondered if his day could possibly get any worse.

A small mole rat innocently made its way around an old bush, smelling the various seeds and fruits that were scattered around it. If it were capable of communication it would have said out loud how happy it was to find food, after searching all day for water, and narrowly avoiding being mauled by a Yao Guai. Instead, it was content to sniff at the small feast and savour each and every bite, the juices of the small fruits penetrating every dry corner of its mouth. A great last meal, for that was when the hulking great figure pounced from behind, pinning the mole rat to the ground, the figures arm locked around its neck. Try as it might to flail, squirm, thrash, bite and gnaw, the mole rat had no chance. The food in its mouth impossible to move, only serving to choke it further, "Ssshhhhhh" whispered the figure reassuringly. Within seconds of that the mole rat stopped moving, it's struggle had come to an end. "Thank you, friend" said the figure as he patted its back.

Kaiden bit down on the last bit of mole rat meat, feeling the last of the warmth from his campfire as it died down he looked over to Cheyton, a good few hours walk. He would soon be there. What he was about to do would be more difficult than taking on a pack of Yao Guai. Standing up he pulled his cloak over his body and pulled the hood over his head. Kicking some dirt over the campfire to make sure it was out he took on last look at the carcass of the mole rat, grateful of the food it provided him then turned to his next destination and began walking.

One, two, three.
A raider dropped unnoticed.
One, two, three.
Another dropped unnoticed.
One, two, three.
A third dropped, but the fourth heard the fall.
One, two.
The fourth died when he went to investigate and a fifth saw the splatter.
One, two.
The Fifth died screaming for help.
One, two.
The sixth died while looking for cover.
Reload
The last one panicked in his cover and raised himself just enough to strafe the hills with his rifle.
One.
He died shooting the wrong direction.

Martin reloaded his magazine and loaded it back into his rifle. He took one last look at the area before "sheathing" his rifle and drawing his revolver. A beautiful thing that he inherited from his father. He got out of his cover and walked towards the raider encampment.

He began searching their corpses, not much of value on them. He pulled a burlap sack out of one of their tents and put any caps, meds, or ammo he found in it. The seventh had an SMG, unfortunately the parts were corroded making them essentially useless. He put out their fire and took a swig from his canteen.

He took another look around, holstered his pistol and drew his rifle again. It would be a long walk to Dry Springs.

Jacob stood at the side of his bed, a stuffed duffle bag sitting on the mattress. In his head, the doctor was keeping track of what he had packed, making sure he didn't forget anything. However, just as he was content with his inventory and was about to zip up the bag, an unknown force grabbed one of the straps on his armor and pulled it back, gagging him.

Startled, Jacob quickly reached around and grabbed the strap to loosen it. After taking a deep breath, he turned to see who had done it. Not to his surprise, it was his clinic's nurse, June, looking smug seeing her boss distressed. "I guess that isn't going to be enough to convince you to stay?" This was a normal routine of hers, doing it every year without fail when Jacob was about to go on his annual excursion. She had been one of the people to help him set up the clinic in the first place, and had actually been one of Jacob's most challenging patients.

Nurse June was a ghoul, and an old one at that. She was one of the first, made by the atomic fire of the Great War. While she was very private about her life in the past 200 years, it was obvious that whatever she did had reeked a terrible cost on her already torn body. The main problem was her skin, most of which had peeled off over the years. The good doctor decided that a skin graft could be done, and June was more than willing to try something to help her condition. After experimenting with several, non-human (due to the amount needed) types, Jacob found that Brahmin hide would be the best fit. After several long surgeries, which put Jacob's medical knowledge to the test, the hard part was over. The graft was a success, and after a year of chem-heavy rehabilitation, June looked like a heavy-tanned human, with slight scarring. With the end cost of her sense of touch being dulled incredibly, June found that she could live with it as long as she could walk about the wasteland without being hunted by bigots.

However, instead of returning to her wasteland wanderings, June decided to settle in Cheyton and continue to help with the clinic that helped rebuild her. Soon she became the manager of things, since Jacob was usually distracted by scientific pursuits. For the past decade, the pair have used their talents to grow what started as a small clinic in a back alleyway to what some consider the first hospital in the Wyoming Wasteland.

"As I've said a hundred times over the years, we need you here more than we need you out there." Jacob was dragged back from his nostalgia by a roll of the eyes from June. "You're the only one who can perform surgery beyond popping bullets out of holes, and don't even get me started on the distillery! You may have been able to turn that thing into a mini-chemical factory, there is nobody here who knows how to work the damn thing anymore!"

"Which is why I had it running for the past two weeks, non-stop." Jacob spoke as he heaved his bag over his shoulder and walked out of the room, coming onto a scene of orderly chaos. Jacob-Approved doctors and their partnered nurses moved up and down the hallway, attending to their patients. His own apartment had been built into the growing clinic when they first started expanding, a logical move when Jacob was the only real doctor. "As for surgeries, I've already worked with T.C to get the Auto-Doc's programmed. You should be able to just strap the patient in and select the operation required."

June was a but off her game now, having to chase Jacob down as she tried to come up with fresh arguments to get him to stay. "Then perhaps we can just cut the chase? This trip of yours is pointless. I saw your reasoning when this first started, gathering exotic supplies you needed, but Cheyton has grown since then! Traders come and go everyday! With the..." June looked around for a moment before continuing. "...you know, we could easily just pay for anything we need."

Jacob turned around so fast June almost ran into him, his hand raised. June half-expected a slap to come across her face, but instead the doctor only gently placed his hand on her leathery cheek. "Don't play dumb, you know that wasn't my only reason for doing this. I need to get out. I can't stay cramped in here, day in, day out. I have to do this or I'm going to start mixing Psycho and Jet into the Stimpaks just for a change of pace." June couldn't help but smile at the morbid joke, relieving the tension. "There's a big, wide Wasteland out there, and I've just got to see it." Jacob turned to leave, but stopped for just a moment and gave June a peck on the cheek. "I'll keep in touch when I can."

With that, Jacob moved away, turning a hallway corner, and was gone.

Somewhere North of Laramie and Khan Territory.

He was in luck.

Big ones, small ones, some the size of your bed. The Tauros herd was mainly grazing in the plains of grass that had managed to grow in these parts. He was downwind, and concealed in the grass, lying on his stomach so that they would not see... There must have been twe- No, more like thirty of them there. Wait, that many hands is 25, plus three... Ah, okay. The point was that there were plenty of them there, and he had seen/heard some men with guns, the few of them armed with rifles, pistols, and knives. They were planning to run a stampede through a town by frightening the Tauros, but that wasn't what HE wanted. This was... He was facing north. He remembered because of the sun. This wasn't the best time for him to be out. It wss only due to the grass that he had any concealability at all. He preferred the night to hunt, even though he was one chosen to spread the learning to the next generation and was meant to study more. While he had responsibilities, it was also his turn, and that meant he had to bring in the beef.

Anyway, he was facing north and the men - Raiders, most likely, given their talk of soughing chaos - wanted to drive it south into a town. Now, the town was not a concern of his, but food was. These raiders were going to drive the herd farther away from his family. Well, we can't have THAT, so out hatches the scheme... The raider wanted to scare the Tauros down south, so why not make them run north instead? Even closer to home! Great idea! Now, about this time, you might be wondering how this will be accomplished. Sure, if he freaked out the Tauros, they would stampede the hell out of the raiders and that's two birds with one stone, but he was alone... How could he possibly manage this himself? Well...that's where a bird's eye view of the area comes in handy. See, from a level terrain like the plain, you largely see the Tauros, the raiders, the grass... But if you were above it all, you'd also see...the dark gray skin, the black horns, and the pitiless eyes of...

Well, that certainly answers alot of questions. There's monster in their midst and he's got his eyes on the prize. Without warning to anyone or anything, this figure springs up in front of the entire herd and gives off a rather intimidating howl! The result is immediate: Both the Tauros and the raiders register in their minds "Oh shit! It's a Deathclaw!" and react without delay. The raiders, seeing that this thing is separated from them by alot of mutated bison, open fire. The Tauros have a better idea, an idea that has been the greated plan ever in the history of herd animal: RUN. They turn and head off for - You guessed it! - the raiders, whose survival instinct is lower, like their intelligence score. They run too, and maybe get about 30 yards before trample city. Afterwhich...

Thump Thump

Thump Thump

Thump Thump

THUMP...

The Deathclaw looked down at the three tenderized carcasses who were messing with his meal ticket. Yes, the herd was getting away, but they wouldn't for long. And as for these three?

"It will do."

He picked them up over his shoulder, caring little over what may fall out of their hands or pockets. Yes, they had a number of trinkets off of the dead back in the Hole-in-the-Wall, but they didn't really care about such things as much as other beings. He could try to fire a gun, but he'd sooner break it in the palm of his hand. Best to just take the bodies back and feed his kind with them. They would appreciate it. Now, the gray Deathclaw headed north...

Cheyton
Samuel stretched and groaned as he passed one of the watchtowers on the edge of Cheyton. Man...It'll be nice to just sit and relax. He thought to himself. He'd spent the last month or so running security for some rich guys as they did business across the Local Federation. It was boring work, but it paid well.

Nodding to the sniper in the tower, he passed into the town proper, and made his way to the Fallen Angel Saloon where he kept a room. As he approached the bar he saw a trio of nightmares tied up out front, with Kahn marked saddles. "Fan-fucking-tastic..." He grumbled. There were a few bigots in Cheyton, there are in any town, but for the most part people here let him be. Khans on the other hand...he'd yet to meet one that didn't insult or attack him.

With an angry harumph he shook his head and made his way inside, removing his goggles and bandana as he went. He'd barely made it a dozen steps inside before his path was blocked by three Great Khans. "Hey worm-bait." One of them said. "You ain't welcome here." Samuel didn't bother to respond; instead he looked past the trio towards the bartender, an older woman named Ruby. Ruby merely gave Samuel a look that said "do whatever you need to", and went back to what she was doing.

"I SAID...GET. THE. FUCK. OUTTA. HERE!" The Khan bellowed, angry at being ignored by this goddamn ghoul. Knowing what was most likely coming, Samuel struck first. [Legion Assault] With surprising speed, he drove the palm of his hand into the first Khans gut, knocking the wind out of the man, and knocking his back a step or three. In response the Khan to his left tried to grab him, only to be met with a vicious elbow to the ribs, breaking several [Super Slam]. The last one was a bit smarter and jumped back in an attempt to get clear and draw the revolver on his hip. Unfortunately for him Samuel was faster, and with one fluid motion, he pulled a throwing knife free and flicked it into the man's throat.

Recovering quickly Samuel drew his gladius, and stepped close to the first Khan. "Listen up shit for brains." He snapped, pressing the blade against the other mans neck. "Take your buddies and fuck off, now or I'm gonna gut you and leave you for the Diamondbacks...we clear?" The Khan, visibly shaken, nodded slightly. "Good...now git!" Sheathing the machete, and retrieving the throwing knife, Samuel watched the two surviving Khans gather up their dead comrade and make a hasty exit.

Once he was sure they'd left, he dropped on to a stool at the bar. "Sorry 'bout that Ruby." He muttered. "Ah, these things happen honey...here, your usual." She replied, placing a Brahmin steak and a Nuka-cola in front of him. With a nod of thanks he began to eat.

A small settlement in Wyoming's southwest.
This trip was already getting costly. Joe had lost 3/4's of his mission budget to currency exchange rates, lost his helmet to a punk, and lost three of his twenty beanbag rounds to dealing with the punks that attacked him.
Joe's mood had improved somewhat when he saw that one of his now unconscious attackers had a replacement for his lost helmet: a worn-out cowboy hat, and some sunglasses. Two of their guns were busted when he shot them out of their hands, but the third one had a 10mm pistol on him.
Joe handed the pistol to the bartender.
[Persuasion 90/50]"I don't suppose this will make us even for the mess I caused?[Success!]
"I suppose. Mike and his gang are always trouble. By the way they called you "Enceyar" before they attacked you. What that supposed to mean?"
"N.C.R. It's the New California Republic. We're a emerging nation based out of California. I'm here on a diplomatic mission for them. where is here anyway?"
"You're in Dry Springs. We're a small fishing community."
"Dry Springs huh."


Joe took out a pencil and marked a "1." on the map where he was. He then flipped over the map and wrote on the other side "1. Dry Springs."
"Thanks. So who's in charge around here? I'd like to speak to them if possible."

Cheyton

As Kaiden walked through Cheyton, he wondered where the name came from. Perhaps it meant mayhem in some other language, fitting, he thought as he made his way through the droves of citizen. The layout wasn't much help either, no organisation, no order. Kaiden much preferred things to be clear, saving wasted time. He walked by a large building, labelled as a hospital. He stood staring at the doors, the first recognisable place he had seen. He looked aside to see a young boy staring at him, holding onto his mothers hands as she talked away to another, something about her husband and his broken arm. The young boy was the first to openly stare, most others either saw him as a very muscular man or a power armoured soldier in disguise. Most had seen all manor of things in the wasteland, others had never left the town, and obviously found it absurd that a super mutant would just walk in among them. This youngling though, had yet to see the absurd, the magnificent, the down right terrifying.

Kaiden leaned forward, revealing some of his green skin in the bright sunlight. "Where is your mayor?" He said in a deep, booming voice. The child was petrified, he tugged at his mothers arm who turned and jumped out of her skin at the moving mountain. "The mayor?" He said again, this time to her. She stood frozen on the spot, unable to comprehend how such a possible danger had gotten around unnoticed. He stared into her eyes, making her feel alone, vulnerable, responsible. She raised a shaking hand and pointed across the street to a tall, well maintained building.. As the people moved along the front of it he could just make out a plaque reading 'Mayors Office', he grinned under the shadow of his hood before turning back to the woman and her child who remained frozen in fear. He pulled up his hand, covered in boxing tape and pushed a green finger to his lips. 'Ssshhhh' he whispered before turning and making his way to the building. It felt great, to be hidden in plain sight.

Were the Master still around, this settlement would have been ideal for growing his mutant army, so many 'recruits' defenceless to resist. Luckily or him and them however the Master was long gone. Kaiden couldn't bear the memories of what he had to do for Him, the screams of the men he dragged back to those cursed vats. He shook out of his memory and took a deep breath and entered the building.

Cheyton

"Okay kids, here's 25 caps for each of you. You see that man over there?" she gestured towards a merchant with various weapon modifications displayed on a table. "Follow me from four different angles and as soon as I get close, cause a little chaos. Make it 15 seconds, then get out of there. Got that?"

Tessa pulled the hood up over her head, shifted her cloak over the slim schoolbag that was currently open on her thigh and walked towards the merchant slowly. She could see two of the four kids run ahead of her, she looked behind her and noticed her being flanked by the remaining two kids who kept their distance.

Arriving at the table before the merchant, she cheerily greeted him, "Good afternoon si-".

She feigned panic as the kids rushed in from all sides, knocking items off the table, throwing stones at the merchant, one even kicked him. Falling to the ground over a certain cylindrical object and what appeared to be a scope, she slipped both into her backpack.

Dusting herself off, she could hear the merchant screaming obscenities at the children as they ran away, heaving a heavy sigh, he spoke to her. "I'm awful sorry about that, ma'am. Oh no need to do tha-! Let me help you then." Tessa proceeded to pick up certain items off the floor and place them back on the table. While bending down, she slipped her switchblade out of her boot, dug into her bag and carefully scratched along the stolen scopes surface repeatedly before snapping her slim schoolbag shut quickly and quietly. "I really appreciate it, miss" came the appreciative reply afterwards.

Looking up and smiling, "Perhaps you can help me, sir. You see..." she opened her school bag and pulled out the heavily scratched scope. "...I'd like to sell this, I don't really have any use for it."

The merchant took a brief look at the scope, noticed the numerous scratches, frowned and commented, "Well, what you got there is a .44 magnum scope, someone didn't take proper care for it though. I'll give ya 400 caps for it."

She may have had a smile on her face, but her tone implied that she wasn't falling for such a rip-off. "Throw in those two Caravan lunches and Fancy Lad Snack Cakes, then we got a deal." After some delay, she made her way home. 300 caps in profits and a large dinner and dessert for two people. Unfortunately, it took 3 hours of wandering around recruiting the street kids and finding the mark with the specific cylindrical object she was looking for.

------

Now why was she doing this exactly? Simple really, she wanted to do something special for her sister, Mercy. Well, half-sister to be exact since Tessa got dumped in some foster-care program at birth. Tessa was still adjusting to this sudden revelation that she even had a father still around until recently. Not only that, but that he had found the time to care and love Mercy...what about me though?

She sighed heavily and shook her head. "You've had to take of yourself your whole life now, Rabbit. No point getting riled up over missed opportunities." this was vocalised in order to comfort her. It really didn't.

Arriving at her dingy apartment, she stopped at the door, knocking on it four times to announce her specific arrival before stepping in and bolting the three locks on the door.

"Tessa! I - I - I was starting to get worried."

She was met with a tackle to the ground by her beautiful younger sister, luckily the goods today were stashed safely in her bag. Laughing, she hugged her newly-found sister tightly and started to unpack while laying on the ground. Presenting the food she had collected for dinner.

"I was only gone for three hours, start to worry if I'm gone for two days! Besides, I have a surprise for you!" she smiled, paused for dramatic effect...and she pulled out the plasma pistol recycler she had gone through the trouble of acquiring today. Of course she didn't know what it was, she just went off what her sister described in her technobabble ramblings.

Even though Mercy's arrival was rather sudden and vastly unexpected, she couldn't help but love her sister regardless. She possessed envious and admirable qualities that Tessa dreamed of having and she was lovable in her own right. While almost seeming like her polar opposite personality-wise, they shared too many similar qualities and an instant bond for it not be special. Not that she would admit something like that though. Sisterly pride and all.

"Now I just got you that because you kept yammering on about it!" That was definitely not the case, she wanted to cheer up her sister. "And if you want to know how I got it. Two words: Zerg Rush."

Dry Springs

Martin lowered his hood, pulled his mask down, and raised his goggles above his eyes. He was in a town now, it had been a week out there at this point, and he shouldn't need them here.

He walked into the general store and put two burlap sacks on the counter.


After a short conversation with the owner he exchanged their contents for food, water, meds, a few caps, and an hour with their reloading press.
There was no need for haggling here, he had enough to get what he needed.

An hour later he walked out of their back room with all of his shells reloaded, and left for the town bar. It hadn't taken long to find it, he had been here before. He kicked the dust off his boots and walked in, there were a few people passed out on the floor, which in Martins view is normal.

He walked to the counter and waited for the bartender to be finished with another one of the customers... Ranger, NCR scout?
It can't be happening here as well right? He shook the thought out of his head and looked at the bartender.

"Whatever you brewed this season, and a piece of fish please."
"That'll be a few minutes."
"I have time."

Martin walked from the counter, went to a table in the corner, and sat with his pack propped against his chair on the floor beside him.

Cheyton

"How many times have I told you? The poster said 500 and I want take a single cap less, ya hear me?!"

"I'm sorry sir, but I'm not authorised to give out more than 250 caps for this particular bounty."

"Is that right now?"

Vince reached down to undo the clasp on his backpack, momentarily disappearing from view as he crouched down to retrieve something, only to return almost immediately.

*THUD*

"AHHHHH!!!"

Now sat on top of the table was a burlap sack, visibly oozing reddish-brown liquid.

"You see..." he said as he took his hand and placed it in the sack, gripping something inside. In a sudden movement, he removed the bag from below, bringing out a severed head still frozen in a hideous death-grimace. It was visibly Khan, having tanned skin covered in many small scars from the beatings they inflict during initiation, as well as having thick black hair prevalent amongst their ranks.

"...my friend here, thinks differently."

Vincent took his free hand, still wearing it's Mantis Gauntlet, and used it to maneuver the severed Khan's gaping mouth like a puppet.

"Garr. I look more like a million bucks.Woah woah... let's not go overboard, I'd say the agreed upon 500, plus the extra 100 caps for bringing back this uh... Handsome mug! is more than enough."

"Y-y-yes sir, 600 caps it is. Here..."

The anxious looking man handed Vincent his modest sum, which he weighed in his hand before being content that it was the right amount. He placed the money with the rest of his gear back into his bag, retrieving a small canister of Jet before replacing it on his back. Placing the inhaler between his teeth, he bit down on mouth guard, taking the gas down deep into his lungs, the world become a slightly more vivid and bearable place.

"Pleasure doin' business with ya..."

He turned tail on the clerk, putting on his tinted motorcycle goggles as he walked to the door.

"Sir! Haven't you forgot something?!"

Vince stopped in his tracks before patting himself down, reaching down and finding something in his pocket.

"Oh yeah..."

He turned and flipped the boy a coin, which he failed to catch, instead falling to the ground and rattling against the concrete floor.

"For the boatman"

And with that he was gone, leaving the hapless clerk staring at the dismembered savage's face with a look of both disgust, and confusion as to what to do with the coin, right until the corpse's mouth flew open, prompting fresh screams from within the building.

A bar in Dry Springs
"In Charge? That would be Elder Tempson. You can probably find him at the town hall if he isn't off fishing. He may not be fond of you though, the last time a foreign group settled here, his son ran off to join them."
"Thank you."
[Perception]A man in Gecko-leather with a fancy rifle had entered the bar, and given Joe a strange look.
"Can I help you sir?"

Not too far from the little town of Lusk.

Well, the Clan had liked the closer herd of Tauros in the area. No sooner had they entered the unspoken territory of Deathclaws than three of their kind jumped the bulls and feasted. Very happy Juveniles... Others had taken the raider bodies, discarding their useless junk. Yes, he knew all about guns and knives, but they were worthless in his hands. For instance, as he was wandering down more south - having time to himmself now - he decided to play around with the gun and-

"Whoops."

As the merchant said to the audience, "It broke.". He'd snapped the rifle into pieces, no effort. He thummped along heavily, carefully inspecting the pieces. Anyone seeing this display would find it odd. A Deathclaw looking down the barrel of a ruined weapon with high scrutiny? It appeared extremely out of place and you couldn't blame people for thinking so. Malkos looked wrong. He looked like a Deathclaw that really paid attention to his surroundings. He was, however, within viewing distance of Lusk, and that was bound to make a few folks nervous. Anyone seeing him hadn't done anything yet...but it could follow.

Dry Springs

The ranger appeared to be looking for Tempson, and the tender confirmed he's foreign.
He noticed the glances from Martin and turned to him "Can I help you sir?"

Martin looked at the ranger "Unless you're hiring, no."
He didn't expect a job, but the only real alternative is pointing out that he's watching him because he's a ranger.

Cheyton: Tessa and Mercy's Home

"*SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!* Mercy squee'd when she saw the plasma pistol recycler that Tessa had gifted her and continued squeezing her sister Rabbit in excitement. Sure, Daddy had gotten her gifts in the past but this was the first time that she had gotten a gift that she didn't need to fix herself.

"Thankyou!Thankyou!Thankyou!" The younger sister with the ponytails squeeled, giving her sister one last squeeze before releasing her.

"Now I just got you that because you kept yammering on about it!" Tessa said with a smile. "And if you want to know how I got it. Two words: Zerg Rush."

Mercy gave her sister a questioning look.

"Tessa, what on Earth do you mean? " The girl asked, clueless on how herding a mass of weak forces towards an objective explained how her sister had purchased this particular item. Still she bannished such thought from her mind as she looked at her gift and pulled out her home made plasma pistol.

"So everytime you fire a bolt of plasma from you plasma pistol, there's excess plasma that's also vented, it's very little, about 25% of the expended plasma is wasted, but there's a build up over time. What the plasma recycler does is trap the wasted plasma and holds it in its energetic state until such time as it builds up enough plasma that you can fire a bolt without draining the energy from your Microfusion Cell. It does this by-" Mercy started to say as she fitted the P.P.R to her home made Plasma Pistol and found that it was a perfect fit. Looking up towards Tessa, the Inventor of the Rabbit family couldn't help but notice the look of confusion on her sister's face.

"I'm doing it again, aren't I?" Mercy asked, the smile on her face vanishing. Daddy would always sit there attentively as Mercy went on and on and on and on about her inventions or emergent scientific theory or -

"I'm sorry sis, I just miss them." The younger sister said, her eyes brimming with tears that she tried to hide behind a pair of grubby hands.

Devil's Tower

Markus struggled with climbing, grunting and flailing his legs as he tried to pull himself on a lip. The rock was hot to the touch, but he would endure. He managed to pull himself up halfway before desperately clawing up completely. He rolled over onto his gut, breathing raggedly, trying to ignore the searing pain on his cheek. He sat up with a bit more effort, taking out his canteen out of habit.

"... Goddamn empty. FUCK!" He threw the thing as hard as he could, regretting a moment later as it soared downward. He repeated the curse, slamming the back of his head on the rock. He sat, simply breathing, and thinking for a moment. He had made it thus far, 'thus far' being about... 2/3rd's up the mountain over the last 5 days. He wanted that damn treasure, though a voice in the back of his head told him there wasn't any, this was going to be an act that killed him because of a damned urban legend. He shook these thoughts, mostly because he knew he wouldn't die, and because the thought of a pile of gold or food or some such other thing gave him small comfort. He decided to lean over the edge, he had started the climb around the same time as another. Some old guy in a duster.

"Hey, old guy, you still around?" Looking down, he saw him. He was vaguely surprised he could keep up, being only a good 9 feet down. He was hanging off the edge with an ice pick, drinking out of his canteen, a bit of water caught in his beard.

"Yeah, and the name's Paul. If you call me old again we're going to see how fast you can get away from my sword. Probably not fast enough, as I came with equipment..." Paul smiled up at him, and Markus returned the gesture, he found his southern drawl at least a bit amusing.

"Good to know. My name's Markus Brutus, ex-legionnaire of Caesars army."

"Hmph, ya know, perhaps people who lost the war shouldn't bang on about past affiliations. A retired ranger might cut you." He managed to reach Markus' sitting place, and sat down next to him, offering some bread. Markus accepted, hesitantly, and chewed slowly as he spoke.

"Perhaps... A ranger, then? I believe you lost every bit as much as we that day."

"Perhaps. The end of that day was chaos. I don't expect you to know too much about that though. You were either not born or a child, by the look of ya."

"Child. I was around, kept away from the fighting."

"Child soldiering the ONE horror Legion won't do?" Markus scoffed at the old man, another simple soldier who thought themselves the archetypal 'Good Guys'.

"No, and those horrors are universal. What right do the NCR have to judge slaves, when they hold farmers against their wills or kick them off their family land, of crucifiction when you have executions, and of evil leaders when yours are just as bad, if not worse?"

"Well that got you going, didn't it? You seem like the type who'd make an excellent brute without your head. We judge because yours are evil. Not because of society dictates so, but because you do it all out in the open, for all to watch. And claiming our sides are similar is incorrect. We offer democracy to the wasteland, you have nothing but tyranny for a people used to horror. Playing to sadists won't fix a damn thing, it just creates more problems when your system fails. Again." Markus sat, thinking for a moment on the mans words, before offering a rebuttal,

"Ironic you speak of failed systems after speaking off capitalism. Both that and Communism created this world, if it takes the fist of a visionary to fix it, so be it. The Legion has fixed Arizona, we can fix the rest of the world too."

"I come from Arizona. Sure, it's drug free, but that includes medicine. Sure the crime is lesser than everywhere else, but that's because people are afraid to be nailed to a piece of wood, and would rather join up with the military to commit crimes for free."

"If that's the price of peace, then so be it. We'd be better off without drugs anyways, and nobody got anywhere without cracking an egg or two."

"With the first, I agree. Anyways, we've sat here for a good 20 minutes, and I want to see what's at the top of this damned death trap." He got up, dusting himself off, and using his pick to get a good grip on a piece of rock, and began his ascent again. Markus finished his piece of bread, following suit.

The rock was hot, though the air was cooler now. The sun was setting now, and he had only taken one other break in his climb, talking with the old man again. Apparently he was a somewhat renowned swordsman who took a bullet to his non-dominant arm during the battle. He had a body count of 21 legionnaires, and another 40 raiders in the days that followed guarding a caravan. They fired him after his drug use got out of control, and he spent a few years mellowing out, as a mercenary. Overall, an interesting life. Perhaps he'd join the man for awhile.

They'd reached near the top, Markus had been following closely, but it seemed he was a foot or two from the top. He saw him pull himself over the edge, and quickened his pace. The million aches he'd developed in his arms flared up, butt he managed to reach the place Paul had managed it, though the vine he used as a hand hold slipped. He felt as though his life would be ended, though his life was saved when his random flailing caught the ice pick of Paul. This caused them to both slip, though Paul managed to grab a tree branch.

"So, about those debates. Not enough to make you drop me, right? All lives are important and all that?"

"Please shut up. Can you find a place you can grip so we both don't die?!" Markus did as asked, holding on for dear life. Paul dug his pick into the cliff face, and began his climb again, silent. Markus had questions, but he would shut up. The guy saved his life, the least he can do is not converse with him?

He reached the top, the old man was sitting, looking over the edge at the kid. When they both reached the top, Markus looked around, the old man simply staring at him, stoicly.

"... There isn't a goddamn thing here! Fuck!" Markus smoothed back his hair, trying to maintain composure. He noticed the old man pointing though... There was a slight glimmer under some rocks. Markus rushed over, pushing it all aside to reveal a hatch.

"Whatcha think's inside?" Markus shook his head, trying to open the blasted thing. Try as he might, the damn thing might as well have been sealed. Paul interrupted the futile effort, showing Markus the Ice pick. Markus moved aside, the pick made a decent pry bar. They both held the latch, slowly but surely opening the thing. The openening revealed a ladder, and a descent into darkness...

"I'll go first, follow my lead." Markus jumped down, grabbing the ladder and sliding down. It was damned dark at first, though his movement made an automatic light switch on. Then it just sort of became poorly lit, with a very blinky light.

"It's safe-ish. Come on do-" a thing in power armor tackled him, sending him sailing to the ground. He couldn't get his rifle off his back, so Markus tried to pry the things helmet off. He partially succeeded, revealing some patchy skin.

"A DAMN GHOUL!" Paul was already sliding down, he moved quickly to help his new friend, sticking the blade into the bit of revealed neck and chin.

"Thanks." Markus got out, between pants. Paul held out a hand, to help Markus up. Markus obliged, accepting the hand and pulling himself up awkwardly. The two got the first look around the place, it was a pretty high tech thing. A vault of some sort, multiple doors framed by neon green and blood decorated the place.

"We'll try every door, maybe look for supplies. This seems Enclave, so there's bound to be some goodies."
___________________________________________________________


On the Road: Cheyton Bound
6 Days later

The two had become a bit chummy over the almost week, sharing stories about life and combat, what it was like around the other side of the battle field. They hadn't had any troubles so far on the road, though it'd been only a day. Some bandits were bound to come piss in their cereal eventually...

Cheyton- Fallen Angel Saloon

Samuel let out a satisfied burp as he finished his meal. Tossing a hand full of caps on the counter, he nodded his thanks to Ruby and made his way to the room he rented month-to-month on the second floor.

After unlocking the door he checked the telltales he'd left behind, to see if anybody else had been in since he'd left. Finding them all still in place, he dumped his duffle bag, rifle, headgear and jacket on the bed before going out onto the little deck that was attached to his room. Lighting a cigarette from the pack he kept stashed there, he relaxed and watched to town.

The mayors office, Cheyton

The first thing to strike Kaiden as he entered the building was the silence. He had never noticed just how constant the noise was outside until the doors closed behind him. The reception area was immaculate, somebody had made an effort. He looked down at his muddy boots, caked from the roads outside. He was standing on a piece of carpet and decided it best to wipe his feet there. Walking toward a woman who hadn't even realised he walked in as she tapped away at a computer terminal. "The may.."

"Upstairs" she quickly snapped. Kaiden was a little thrown off balance by this, how rude she was to interrupt.

He looked around before finding the stairs behind him, his boots thudding hard on the stained wooden floor as he made his way across. He scaled the stairs and walked straight through the door at the top to face two gun barrels pointing straight at him. "Just what in the fuck are you doing here gigantor?" Came the croaking voice of the man sat behind the desk further back. Kaiden kept his arms by his side before taking a few steps further forward. The two men behind the barrels moving to stand at either side of him, mercenaries obviously. One of them reached out a hand to close the door, trying to intimidate him. If only they knew, they will soon enough he thought to himself.

"My name is Kaiden" he boomed, "I come representing my village north of here."

"And what in high hell has that got to do with me?" He almost shouted back.

"I will tell you, but first I must apologise"

"Fer what?"

"This!" Kaiden exclaimed as he thrust a great big green arm flying toward the shotgun to his left, grabbed it and swung it into the face of the mercenary next to him, knocking him clean out before pivoting on his back leg and swinging a knee into the torso of the now unarmed man who fell to the ground winded and debilitated. Kaiden then turned to face the mayor and raised his arms out, pushing the cloak behind his back to reveal his muscular green and bare top half. "I apologise again, but I couldn't reveal what I was with your men pointing weapons at me, I come in peace.

I have come to negotiate a trading deal, and a peace treaty" Kaiden continued "There are many of my people trying to live in peace, but for that we suffer a lack of supplies and remain in fear of being hunted."

The mayor, who had been sat as far back in his seat as he could relaxed a little, realising he had some power in this negotiation. "Just what do you have to offer me, us?"

"War dogs" Kaiden responded "Far cheaper and more easily replaced than these weaklings" He said as he gestured toward the two guards that lay on either side of him. "Plus the fear of any would be attackers from knowledge of a super mutant allegiance. All I ask in return is the right to trade freely with no bounties placed on our heads"

"I can't guarantee the people of Cheyton will accept you"

"Live the people to us, just allow us to enter and exit at will."

The mayor leaned forward, and sighed, thinking carefully. Kaiden understood this, having super mutants in town was going to cause protests, but the start of a peaceful future had to start somewhere. The mayor held out his hand, gesturing a handshake, still looking down at his desk. Kaiden was quick to grab it, his huge hand made the mayors look like it belonged to a baby. "Thank you, you will have four war dogs in three days time as a gesture of good will, you will be trained to control them by one of our handlers. Then you can arrange for your guard captains to be trained also." He turned to leave.

"Wait!" Called the mayor. "You'll need a trade agreement to show the guards, or they will never believe you, at least at first..." Kaiden was glad to hear this, the mayor could easily have let him go to be gunned down later. The mayor quickly and effortlessly scribbled through a piece of paper before signing it, folding it and handing it to Kaiden. He stuffed it in his pocket before pulling his cloak around and heading for the exit, leaving the mayor sat at his desk with his head in his hands, ignoring the groans of the winded man on the floor.

Somewhere in Wyoming. Error. Navigation system failure, attempting diagnostic and auto-repair. Processing... nearby settlement detected. Auto-repair failed. Seek out repairs at nearby settlement.

Vera let out an exasperated series of beeps before starting to head for the nearest settlement, which as far as her visual sensors could determine... was at least ten miles away. She didn't pick up any threats within combat range, so Vera decided to play some music. She started cycling through tracks in her memory banks.

"Yipee-AAAYYY! There'll be no wedding bells for todaaayy!"
Vera cut that one off immediately. No sense tempting history.

"Lemon tree...very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet..."
Vera shut that one off as well. Didn't quite fit her mood.

"And believe me I am still alive!"
Vera listened to that one for a few seconds before turning it off, she had no idea where she had heard that one before.

"Now I only want you gone..."
Odd. Two with the same singer? Oh well, moving on.

"Drove my chevy to the levy but the levy was dry..."
Vera decided to keep her audio playback on that one for a while. She had no idea what it meant (and neither had anyone she'd met up to this point), but it sounded good, so she kept it going as she headed in the unidentified settlement's direction.

After going for about five miles, she came upon a stranger.

A bar in Dry Springs
"Unless you're hiring, no."
"If you have an up to date map of Wyoming with the locations of current settlements, I'll gladly give you 50 caps for it. Otherwise, I can't really pay you for any major jobs; unless of course you're willing to work for pay that will come much later, won't come from me, and may not come at all if my bosses don't feel like it. It's generally not good to work on half-promises."
[Flashback]Surly Gecko (Joe) and the other youth of the Cajones tribe had made it into Nevada on their trip west. They were tired, short on supplies and vulnerable. They came to a settlement called "Nipton." The people there were cruel, and could tell that they were desperate. The children were able to communicate well enough despite the language barrier (Most southwestern tribal dialects are a corruption of Spanglish, so English is moderately understandable if you're reasonably intelligent.) The gouged them, charging obscene amounts for supplies, and before they left, they took Gentle Mantis (One of the older girls) at gunpoint to work in the brothel. The children were helpless, and simply continued to flee west. Surly Gecko hoped somebody would burn Nipton to the ground someday.[/Flashback]

Day 1: Twilight, Great Khan Camp, 50 miles north of Fort Laramie

Ollie fixed Allegre's tether to the log alongside the rest of the Nightmares. The Khans had set up a large bonfire in the center of the camp, while the sentries had set up a torch ring along the riverbank to scare off any diamondbacks that might sneak up on them. Anna and Harland had set up the cooking spit, slowly turning over the fresh molerat they had snagged on the way back. Only three of the Rattlers were still with them. One had managed to stab himself with a venom tipped dart, dying rather than being interrogated. As they Khans had worked to secure the others so they wouldn't do the same, the second Rattler had made a run for it, until Ollie's axe hit him in the back. He'd made a good bait for the molerat however.

Harland cut a chunk of the rodent off and handed it to Ollie. He savored the spicy taste as he chewed. Whatever Harland put in his trail sauce, Ollie didn't want to know, but hot damn was it delicious.

"Hey, Anna, that pip boy of yours still working?" asked Harland. Anna had scored a nice Pipboy 2500 off a Niner a few weeks ago. The damn thing kept cutting in and out, but it was nice to have some tunes while they were riding. Anna pulled the handheld device out of her saddle bag and turned it on.

"What did you want to listen to?" she said, fiddling with the dials. "We've got Cheyton Classic Rock, or the Wyoming Report."

"Put it to the news first," suggested Ollie. They hadn't been back to Laramie for nearly three weeks. The continued bandit hunts had kept the group busy, and Oliver wanted to know what had happened while they were gone. Anna agreed, switching to the Wyoming Report.

"Welcome back, Wyoming, this is Flint Darrel with the Wyoming Report, your go to news station for the Wasteland. Our top story today: Cheyton's own Red Eyed Reaper, Vincent Hastings, brought in the bounty today for Great Khan malcontent, John Ackerman. This marks the third Great Khan this year that Vincent has brought down. While Cheyton locals are relieved to see wasteland Justice being rendered, members of the Local Federation are concerned that the continued actions against the Khans could result in strained relationships with the Empire."

"Damn fucking straight they'll be strained," spat Harland. "What the fuck was John thinking in the first place? Regis told him not to go near Cheyton after the last time. And now the dummy's dead. Fuckin' Hastings is gonna pay if he keeps this shit up."

"In other news, the Teton Bighorner pelt trade has slowed in recent days. Caravans heading into the mountains have claimed poor weather is to blame for the delay. That's all for now folks, this has been Flint Darrel with the Wyoming Report.

"Fucking figures, doesn't it?" said Ollie. We keep the bandits and the thugs out of their towns, and then we're the bad guys any time one of us gets a little too rowdy. If they can't take a little fight, they shouldn't have picked one in the first place. Fucking Hastings."

Harland grunted in agreement, along with several of the others. It was one thing to put a bounty out on known criminals, but another thing entirely to put one out on a Khan. Like Darrel said, it could upset the relationship between them and the Locals. But people like Vincent Hastings didn't give a shit about the trouble they caused. They were in it for the caps and nothing else. If anything, there should have been a bounty out on him.

Anna wasn't as easily convinced. "Ignore the idiot for now, guys. We've got bigger things to worry about than scumbag mercs shooting drunks, even if it was John who bought it. It won't matter what happens with the towns and us if more of these bastards," Anna pointed to the Rattler prisoners, "keep showing up. It's all about stopping the problems at the source. We get these guys back to Regis, and we're a step closer to finding a way to keep them out."

"Find," said Ollie. "But we'll have to do something for John soon. He might have been a drunk asshole, but he was a Khan."

"We can do that later," said Anna forcefully. "It's getting late, and you'll need some shuteye before your sentry shift starts. Grab a few hours while you can. I'll leave the tunes on." She flicked the Pipboy over to Cheyton Classic Rock, letting the music carry on through the night.

Tessa and Mercy's Home...Cheyton...Duh!

Tessa couldn't hide the joy she felt, Mercy's open display of excitement was infectious and more than pleasant. She couldn't help but think back to the contrast of Freeside, how dismissive or downright aggressive the people who had sought her requisition services could be.

She would be lucky if she had gotten off without being threatened at gunpoint at the end of a job. Was there no such thing as honour amongst thieves anymore? Well things had changed drastically when she went solo...

She did note Mercy's dirty hands, so she commented in a teasing tone. "You do know that the shower is working right? We don't have to worry about rent for...well, let's just say awhile."

Removing her riding hood, she folded it neatly and ironically tossed it on the couch. She started to get dinner ready and empty some of the contents of her bag. All the while trying to follow what Mercy was saying. She was lost at the "expended plasma" part.

"I'm doing it again, aren't I?"

She smiled awkwardly, feeling more than a little stupid that she had such a large amount of gaps in her knowledge. "A little bit, but that doesn't mean I don't want to learn!"

"I'm sorry sis, I just miss them."

Her family? Partly their family, technically. This girl's emotional wounds were raw, deep and they were going to scar to badly. As for Tessa? Was she a terrible person for not feeling alone in the world, even if it had to be born out of someone else's loss? She didn't have any connection to her father, she even resented the man for not coming back for her if her whereabouts were known. There was an immediate situation to pay attention to, she could wait...

Tessa recognized the sadness and burden she carried, it resonated with events she would rather not speak about. Losing her first friend, watching chems ruin and destroy the lives of her childhood group, first girlfriend, even her first molerat (Shut up, they were adorable), the accidental kill...

She had placed her day's spoils on the table, took her sisters hand, lead her to the couch and draped an arm around her tightly. Softly, she whispered to her tearful sister, "You're entitled to miss them and you never have to apologise to me...I-I kinda know what all that is like."

She wasn't looking at her sister, instead she was focused on the caravan lunch and snack cake sitting on her lap. It was Mercy's, "Eat something, I can practically hear your stomach packing up and getting ready to protest louder out on the street."

Tessa wondered if she had done the right thing by getting her the present today, she didn't anticipate this reaction and while she was trying her best in the only way she knew how, she was walking on deathclaw eggshells at the same time. That gave her an idea as she added up the caps on the table.

Tessa had a habit of securing certain numbers of caps with elastic bands, in order to prevent them from making noise and for the sake of convenience. With the extra caps she had brought home today, she had a total of 750 caps. She looked down at Mercy's leather-armor, mirroring her own.

On the streets, you either wore some kind of protection or you painted a bullseye on your back, but in this case, "Let's go shopping tomorrow! I still barely know this place. Something fancy for the two of us, I'm thinking two fancy shmanshy dresses for the Rabbit Sisters...and two thigh holsters to boot." she completed that sentiment with a full smile, hoping Mercy would like that plan. Retail therapy always worked wonders for Tessa...especially since she didn't have to strictly pay for the merchandise.

After awhile, she pulled her switchblade out of her boot and embedded it against the door across the room in one swift motion. Yeah, she still had it. After removing her gear, she pulled a thick blanket over them and curled up with her sister.

Many may think that Mercy wasn't the one that wanted to be left alone tonight, but it was actually Tessa that couldn't bear the thought of sleeping alone tonight. "Thank you..." she murmured sleepily.

Outskirts of Cheyton

Jacob took a lot more time than he thought he needed in the Cheyton markets getting some last-minutes supplies. As he expected after wasting so much time, the Free Runner Caravan had already left their usual meeting place. Luckily, Jacob knew what route the Caravan took out of town, without fail.

Sure enough, with a few lucky breaks through the Cheyton crowds, Jacob saw the group on the ruins of I-25, heading north. With a few good shouts, Jacob was able to get them to stall long enough for him to catch up. "I'm really touched you cared enough to wait for me, Jose." Jacob joked to the group as he hitched his stuff to one of the Brahmin.

"You know when we leave, Jack, if you're late, it's on you." A man at the head of the pack spoke up, the other members of the caravan parting so that Jacob and their leader, Jose, could see each other. Jose was a weathered man, ragged, tan skin that covered his face was only covered by his grey beard. He wore a painted-over combat armor, it's color being black with teal edges instead of the standard green. A magnum pistol was at his side, and a shotgun at his back. Though, regardless of his age, Jose's green eyes were still as piercing as they were when Jacob first met him.

"Oh yeah? I like to see how you would treat the oh-so-many injuries you guys seem to get on these excursions." Jacob gave a slight smile and a wink at Jose, who rolled his eyes in response. "Well, since I missed the briefing, might I ask where we're going?"

Jose spat at the ground before turning around to start leading the caravan once more. "New Wheatland first, after that, depends on how things are looking in the Wasteland."

"New Wheatland, eh? Been meaning to keep in contact with Old Issac..." Jacob trailed off as he started to feel a whisp of nostalgia. New Wheatland was a pet project of a fellow Follower of the Apocalypse that Jacob met as the man was passing through Cheyton. He was older than most, but had a dazzling intellect, being unmatched in the field of biology. From what Jacob had heard from the grapevine, the denizens of New Wheatland had somehow came across the means of breathing life into the land around their small town. Issac heard about it and risked a hard journey north to see if he could help. He wielded his knowledge to great effect, and what was rumored to be a few patches of viable farmland became a venerable oasis in the Wasteland. Now and days, Old Issac works in his lab on ways to increase and spread the growth of the life in New Wheatland, which was now protected by the Greenfield Mercenary Company, founded for the express purpose of keeping the fragile ecosystem safe from those who would exploit it.

Jose coughed a bit and brought Jacob back to the here-and-now, spitting out another bit of black liquid, much to Jacob's disapproval. "Yeah, the Issac fellow is growing something I'm pretty sure you want to see for yourself."

Jacob raised an eyebrow. "Then why did you leave without me, if you knew I would be interested?"

Jose shrugged, a cloud of dust falling off his shoulders. "Whether or not you came, I still could have bought and sold the stuff for a good price."

Dry Springs

"If you have an up to date map of Wyoming with the locations of current settlements, I'll gladly give you 50 caps for it. Otherwise, I can't really pay you for any major jobs; unless of course you're willing to work for pay that will come much later, won't come from me, and may not come at all if my bosses don't feel like it. It's generally not good to work on half-promises."

Is he offering me a job?

"I don't have a map but I can update most of yours. I'm assuming this would be guide work. I've worked with less assurances on payment" unfortunately not a lie "my only condition in that regard is that we split what we find."

I could watch him like this, stop him if he tries to cross the line.

Vera hummed, whirred, and beeped to the tune of the music she was listening to as she made her way to... whatever the hell settlement this was. As she drew closer to the largish town, Vera almost crashed into a sign reading: CHE-TO-N.

Vera paused at the sign and tried to make sense of it. After a few moments, the only thing her records would come up with was a place called 'Chevy Town'... or at least a colloquial name for an Old World city. This revelation shocked Vera, as it meant she had gotten farther from the Mojave than she had thought on her little sojourn through the wastes.

Undeterred, Vera soared above the sign, and then set down to a low hover, just a foot off the ground as she made her way into the city (?) of 'Chevy'. She quietly hovered through the streets, looking for a trustworthy-looking repair shop for her to get her navigational systems fixed... or a Followers Camp if possible. Several minutes later... yielded no positive results.

Eventually though, Vera's... mind, wandered, and she wound up flying straight into the closed front door of a small home, knocking the door down. Vera flew up in a panic, stopping her music track instantly, and replacing it with a recording of a 5 year old girl's voice saying one word, 'sorry', in a tone that made you think of puppy-dog eyes, dragging feet around, and nervously twirling small tufts of hair. When no one came out, Vera went in, playing the same vocal recording over and over again, increasing the tempo and frequency as she looked for the inhabitants.

Flashback, Lucky 38 casino

"Why did you choose Ceryni to deal with the safe, he's a rookie!" Tessa muttered harshly towards her friends, "Another thing, these outfits will only get us so far. Oh and another thing, Dannyl can't even get her damn story straight when we rehearsed this!"

"Tessa..." she felt a familiar hand being laid on her shoulder.

"And what the hell are you doing, Rothen!?"

"Tessa!" Sonea's grip tightened as her soft whisper implied caution over aggression, "Just let him be, he took us in-"

"I'll be securing the exit now. Remember, Tessa, you are not the leader here. So, Sonea is now on guard duty, kill anyone that gets too close-"

"You are not putting her in danger dammit! And you put yourself on coward's duty? Your plan is full of holes and you damn well know I could have pulled up something together if you had given me more time!"

"You have your orders, you're on distraction duty, out of harms way. Give your girlfriend a little faith."

"Screw you, Rothen. She was meant to be on distraction dut-!"

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

Tessa and Mercy's Home

Her eyes darted open, she was breathing raggedly and she could feel something on her face. Bringing up a hand to her cheek, it was clear that she had been crying. "Not this again." she muttered sadly.

Slipping out from under her sister without disturbing her, she planted a kiss on her forehead, "That will never happen to you." she muttered ever-so-softly. She intended walk to the bathroom sink, but that's when she heard the music.

Music? Cautiously, she grabbed one of her blades as the music grew louder. She tiptoed to the side of the doorframe and crouched as she readied her blade in a reverse-grip strike. Very few people expected an attack from below and on the streets, you don't wait politely unless you're expecting company.

There was a thud on the door and what sounded like a little girl apologising on the other end. Cute Breaching?!

Cute Breaching was a colloquial term used by gangs to refer to the technique of forcing a young girl or boy to start crying or knocking at the residence they intended to rob. If successful, the child served as a decoy to draw open the door of the residence and then the gang would rush in to rob the place and kill the owners. It was a technique denoted to thugs and less sophisticated gangs. Tessa would know, she was the unwillingly "cute" part of a particular violent breaching when she was 9.

The door was smashed down and Tessa barely managed to stifle a gasp of surprise. The girl outside was still apologizing. A disgusting tactic, in her book. Well nobody is taking Mercy from her!

A large bulbous head had poked it's way into the doorframe at a lower height than she expected. Expertly twirling her blade upwards, she thrusted the blade upwards deeply into the attacker's chin.

Except there was no chin, nor was it a head. It was a machine of some sort, whizzing about, spluttering and showering sparks at the entry point of her embedded blade. Eventually it dropped to the floor and started to play disjointed sounds at increasing volume.

Kicking it across the room, she stubbed her toe greatly, swore profusely and yelled at Mercy. "Sis, what the hell is that thing!? Make it shut up!"

Mercy's House. Apparently. Auto-Repair Bypass systems activated.Processing...

After a few moments of a confused series of images, sparks, and oddly, the sound of eggs scrambling... Vera whirred back to life and raised herself as high as her now recently damaged optics indicated was safe... which was just above the small (?) girl's reach. Vera played the record of the small girl screaming 'sorry' a few more times before she played back the automated message that had been playing in her databanks for a while now: "Navigation and Mapping systems damaged. Report to the nearest Robco Certified Mechanic as soon as possible.

Then Vera played back the 'sorry' record one more time, slowing it down this time, and turning her 'faceplate' down slightly to indicate regret. After a moment of thought, Vera lowered herself towards the door, and pushed her multitool arm at it, and pointed to the fallen door then to the frame it had been in a few moments ago. Then Vera let a few sparks fly from the multitool's welder (away from the girl, obviously).

Tessa's house predominantly...and Mercy's

The talking sphere whizzed back to life and rose well above Tessa's height, taking her embedded combat knife with it.

"Hey! I called dibs like two months ago, give it back!" Tessa backpedalled to the table and grabbed her bowie knife, preparing to throw the blade if need be. She hated throwing her knives since it always meant losing a weapon in worst-case scenarios.

Then it started screaming at her, "Shut up! Can it! Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A!" she knew she was desperate when she resorting to using cheat codes on ancient holo-games.

"Navigation and Mapping systems damaged. Report to the nearest Robco Certified Mechanic as soon as possible."

"Oh...well why didn't you say so in the first place!?" she was annoyed at the ruined door.

Then it apologised and actually managed to look remorseful, "...Fine! Just let me... grah!" that was the sound of Tessa approaching the spherical hover-bot and subsequently reclaiming her knife, with some effort mind you, she was surprised her attacks had such force.

"Now I don't have any Robco Certified Mechanics laying around, but I do have a mechanic of sorts that can take a look at your repairs, okay?" She was talking to a robot, not knowing if it could comprehend what she was saying in the first place, yep she was going insane. "Do you understand me? We're not going to hurt you, you just surprised us."

Mainly Tessa's house.

Vera shook her body back and forth vertically for a moment to indicate that yes, she understood the strange little girl that was mad at her for... some reason. Then Vera turned her attention back to the door, and tried to get some leverage to lift it up herself, but she couldn't find a spot to nudge it up from. To an outside observer, this looked like the eyebot was circling around the door like a helpful vulture. Vera stopped after a moment, and then gently poked the girl with her multitool (enough to get her attention, but not enough to hurt in the slightest), then she nudged the fallen door with it, then the door's frame, then pointed the multitool back at the girl, and finally, Vera sparked her welder to life for a second on the door's frame. She searched her tiny datastorage set for any relevant sound files to help Vera communicate her desire to help fix the door. Vera eventually settled on part of a conversation she'd overheard while she was with the Van Graffs:

"pfzztfutk... Can you piece this together?" Then Vera beeped nervously, worried that she may have just challenged the girl's intelligence without meaning to.

Why didn't dad give me a voice of my own? She thought. Then Vera clicked her surprise: she'd just had a thought process run at a higher level than practical needs or... reactionary subroutines. Now she was thinking about the thought she'd just had. And... now she was thinking about how she could be thinking about the thought she'd just had.

Vera froze for several moments, trying to process the implications of this. She had been so wrapped up in a complicated string of thought processes that she forgot to keep her hover engines running. They shut off, and Vera fell to the ground. Then she started rolling on the floor for a bit until she hit the table. That snapped her out of it. Vera carefully fired her hover engines off in a burst to gently push herself out from under the table, and then started hovering normally again. Then she saw the girl staring at her, Vera turned her faceplate away from the girl in embarrassment.

Dry Springs bar

"I don't have a map but I can update most of yours. I'm assuming this would be guide work. I've worked with less assurances on payment" unfortunately not a lie "my only condition in that regard is that we split what we find."
"Those terms seem fair to me."
Joe put out his hand for a handshake.
"Nice to meet you. Name's Ranger Joseph Medina."
[Flashback]Things were not looking good for the children of the Cajones tribe.
Not only were they tired, hungry, and short on supplies, but they had lost one of their own at gunpoint.
The had decided there was nothing they could do in their current situation to help get Gentle Mantis back, so the simply continued marching west.
Eventually the children arrived at Mojave outpost.
They tried to ask for help, but most of the soldiers couldn't understand them through the crying, nervous stammering and tribal dialect.
Then a man in odd looking armor walked up to them.
<"What seems to be the problem children?"> (Translated from southwestern tribal dialect)
Something about the man seemed to put Surly Gecko at ease.
<"One of us, a girl, was taken by some men in the town down the road.">
<"Well let's get her back then.">
Surly Gecko wiped the tears from his eyes.
<"Who are you mister?">
<"I'm Ranger Richard Medina.">[/Flashback]

Damn right

Machines, especially robots of the autonomous variety was not commonplace in the slums. Anything remotely technical brought in was either scrapped by those who didn't understand the technology, bartered if it was out of their use or abused if the technology suited their needs. Tessa fell within the barter and sabotage fields, respectively. Kinda why she kicked it old-school with her blades she supposed, plus there was always insult-to-injury and high-risk high-reward values in fights.

However, she'd be damned if she didn't find find this noisy ball to be adorable, "You know, for something that just broke my door, you can be quite adorable." she commented while the loud sphere practically mimed its desire to do door maintenance. Well, unlike the NCR, this one at least offers to fix your door after busting it down.

... Can you piece this together?"

"Don't mind me, I just wanted to see you go through the whole miming performance...Yeah, I can help you out." Tessa couldn't help but smile teasingly, imagining the robot's frustrated little thought process as she tried to put on her best best clueless expression.

She walked over and tried to lift the door up, making minimal progress at first. She persisted, squeezed under it and used herself as a support to heave it up against the wall, sliding it back in place and stepping back. The door stood still, she reckoned it was secure, unless a strong gust of wind, another robot or some badass girl wielding a Gauss Rifle burst into the room.

She turned around just in time to pocket her now broken switchblade that was previously embedded into the door, to see the floaty ball fall to the ground. Did she kill it? But...she needed her door fixed! But...it was cute!...Conflicting emotions!

Tessa rushed over to hug the rounded door-killer, but it started floating again, seemingly back-to-normal. It seemed, shy? Whoever built this thing had crazy skills. Mercy would probably have some insight about it, but it seems that unlike her, she was a very heavy sleeper.

She walked over and hugged the circular rectangle-murderer, carrying it over to the door. "If you can reinforce this door, yet somehow make it functional for...well, all of us. Then I would greatly appreciate that. My sister sleeping over there will get you fixed up, she's a genius with tech!" she said with a smile, "I reckon your voice is screwed up, but is there anything I can call you? Oh, and after we're done, I'll put a cushion on the table for you to sleep or sit on."

She couldn't believe she felt bad in the first place, it was a machine for Blamco-sake! "I'm sorry about stabbing, it's an automatic reaction to anything that breaks into my house. Old habits die hard."

Tessa couldn't put her finger on it, but the floating ball was too human to be treated with disregard.

Thinking of her sister and the absence of her family, maybe this is Tessa's way in which she could give her another one. She liked that thought.

CRUNCH...Munch-Munch-Munch...

Soviet Heavy:

"Hmmm?"

He had taken dinner out with him to explore around, to see if he could find more of those curious humans to examine. His readings revealed alot about these things, and he wanted to know more and more... Of course, he knew that humans and Deathclaws would NEVER quite fit together. Something about the teeth, the claws, the howl, and so on... But then, they had the strange tubes with the shot pellets. Ah, what was it called? Guns 'N Bullets, yeah! He read that in a magazine somewhere. Didn't help him much, but it allowed him to understand a bit. Right now, though, the thought going through the gray-claw's head was...

What's that human doing?

To explain: Malkos had never heard music before. He was born in a cave and raised on books and hunting and such. He can read, and he's read a bunch of things. But music? Never heard of it. So, he wondered if this was some sort of human mating call. He listened for a bit, lowering the big leg of Tauros from his mouth. The sound didn't appear to be moving, so some human - or rather, the radio station - was just standing there and shouting in this manner. But what did it mean? To whom was the speaker claiming to never be a beast of burden? And why? Wait... Putting you out of misery? Aha!

"Perhaps it's wounded..."

Deathclaw instincts came into play now. The call was a distress bark of the humans, like a wounded animal calling to its own kind for help. It was trying to get help before a predator took it down, but in this case...the predator was the one that heard. Perhaps it would have more things read as well as meat on its body too... Leg still in hand, the Deathclaw stalked low to the ground. And what he soon found was...fire. Yes, fire scares off some animals, though it attracts others. There's never been a Deathclaw afraid of it. This was something he'd read about in an old book, a campsite. Very interesting... Malkos saw and smelled the Nightmares, as well as the cooked food. Had he not recently eaten, these would be tempting for him to eat alone. However, this was for the Clan. Now, where was the wounded one...?

The Great Khans would have a visitor watching while obscured somewhat by tall grass. Their first real sign that something was wrong would be the disturbed Nightmares, because everything feared the Deathclaws...if it had any sense at all.

Cheyton

Samuel sighed, and flicked a second cigarette butt of the balcony. He never used to be a smoker, or a drinker, or a lot of other things, but after his changes and getting abandoned by the Legion he came to realize that it didn't really matter...none of it did. Just live your life, what else can you do? He thought to himself.

Finally getting up, he went back to the gear he'd dumped on his bed and rummaged through the duffle bag, removing a bunch of stuff he wanted to keep. The bag, now containing only stuff he wanted to barter, was slung on his back as he left the room. Samuel paused briefly at the door and considered grabbing his rifle, but since he wasn't going outside the town, he left it. Locking up behind him he stepped out of the Fallen Angel, and headed for the general store.

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