Fallout: Wild Horses (Started, Open)

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Cheyton Alley: Be Still My Foolish Heart

New Trait Discovered!:

Be Still My Foolish Heart!!: More of a curse than anything, when in the presence of someone the Fool is attracted to, she gains +2 to Charisma but suffers a penalty to Intelligence/Focus.

"C'mon. Sorry I didn't come, one figures a trip to the scrapyard wouldn't need an escort." The Boom Bunny's Knight in Crimson Armor (At least his hand was wrapped in armor) named Squishy McHugglestein said as he offered the Blushing Baby Bunny his hand, a motion that sapped Mercy's entire vocabulary from her brain at that very moment. If she could have uttered anything other than a simple "'Kay" she most definitely would have but even then, she wasn't quite able to say that.

"errrr hi?!" Mercy exclaimed as she took The Handsome Hare's hand and started following him back towards the Rabbit Compound.

If Mister Legionnaire Extraordinaire was miffed about not seeing combat, he should have been rather happen when one of the Keepers, drawn by the sound of combat and the howling of the Pets, intercepted the group, managing to kick Markus in the back while backhanding the Bruised Bunny in the face.

[Mental V.A.T.S]

    -Spinning Kick - Torso (95%)
    -Pistol Whip - Face (95%)
    -Knee - Face (95%)
    -Plasma Burst - Groin (95%)

[Be Still My Foolish Heart]

Time seemed to slow down for the Plasma Rabbit as she used the momentum of the Keepers' strike to propel her into a spinning kick that should have caused the Keeper to double over in pain, had Mercy bothered to note the padded armor that the Keeper was wearing.

thunk

The impact of Mercy's vicious kick did NOTHING! except give the Keeper time to grab Mercy's wrist as she attempted a pistol whip and flip her onto her chest as she brought her knee up for a strike.

"OOMPH!" She oomphed as she squeezed the trigger on her A3P sending out a burst of tiny plasma bolts that struck the wall next to the keeper.

Well that was a rather feeble assault but it did leave the Keeper distracted and open to other attacks.

Cheyton Alley: Casca time!

"errrr hi?!"

Markus bit his bottom lip to suppress laughter, the girl was acting strange. Perhaps she took a blow to the head. A quick moving examination showed that there was no blood, and Vera would've said SOMETHING. He didn't feel like putting the puzzle together at the moment.

The Young Veteran saw the attack coming, as he was pushed out of the way by a keeper. He saw his Legate take a hit to the back, and saw the girl do something actually pretty badass. Unfortunately, armor. Casca took a kick to the ribs, and used the momentum to roll and pop up off the ground. Good thing he recovered quickly!

Casca took a step back, before leaping at his opponent, thrusting out his palm and knocking the man to the ground, without breath. Legion training=best training. Casca kicked the man in the face as he ran to his Legate, to help him up.

Markus was starting to see red, and he picked himself up, with minor unneeded help, and drew his sword. "Casca, help Mercy!" Casca nodded and ran to her, and Markus charged.

The keeper was shaking off the shock of nearly getting goo-ed, when a punch seemed to crack his helmet. Mercy's glove really DID help that! The keeper kept his balance, surprisngly, and turned to face the Legate. Markus dug his sword through the man, the cushioning only managed to slow the blades journey to his heart.

Unfortunately, Markus was hilt deep in Keeper when his buddy swung a pipe at him. He raised his armored... arm, letting go of the blade and letting the body fall. The pipe actually bent on his arm, and Markus gave a swift punch to the man's gut.

Cushioning was starting to get annoying, but it spun him back to Casca, who thrust out his palm, and stood his ground. A classic ranger takedown made it through the armor, and the man collapsed in pain. Markus retrieved his blade, and stabbed the man through his helmet, to the disgust of Casca.

"I gave an order!" The boy gulped, and nodded, returning to Mercy's side as Markus straightened out his coat, and drew his pistol with his free hand. He nodded to Casca, so they could start moving again. Markus noticed an approaching three, and whistled to Casca, who turned and dropped into a fighting position.

Somewhere between the blasted remains of the Junkyard, and the Rabbit Hole.

Having recently been so bashful around Tessa, Vera immediately picked up on why Mercy was being bashful around Markus... and well...

She can do MUCH better than some raping, murdering motherfucker from the Legion. If pressed, I'm sure he's going to tell us how he was the only Legionary that never raped anyone...riiight. Wasn't that the whole reason men joined the Legion in the first place? Vera was still trying to work out why women would join the Legion, ever. She figured either conned into it or just flatout enslaved. Then she realized it didn't matter. No matter how or why you joined the Legion, you wound up a slave. The little eyebot struggled to suppress the horrific memories of walking through Caesar's camp, and seeing The Courier's eyes narrow when one of the slave women warned her that some of the Legionaries wanted to 'try her out' later. Vera blocked out the memories of seeing starving children being made to fight over scraps. Must be where the Keepers got the idea for working with children. Fuckers. Well, whatever happens, even if that asshat does figure out why Mercy is acting this way around him... he's not going to survive trying putting the moves on my Mer-Mer. My... little sister, Mer-Mer, I mean.

Vera whirled around and her visual scanners immediately started analyzing the situation. Five Keepers in the foreground, four in the back. No pets. That was odd.

Did they actually run out?

Then Vera heard them.

HAROOOOO!

The poor abused things cried out... but... they seemed to be getting farther away, not closer. Another bullet claimed one of the nearby Keepers. That's when Vera realized where the Keeper's pets were going.

For Tessa and Vicky...

Vera killed two Keepers in quick succession. The first had been trying to sneak up on Mercy, that one crumpled to the ground after two hits right in the junk, sending his legs soaring into the sky... or at least further down the street. The second had nearly gotten the jump on Vera, who darted out of the way in time to let the sick fucker hit the wall behind her... and a puddle beneath them. Vera wasted no time in firing up her arc projector, electrocuting the guy until his head popped off.

Vera shut off her nav-beacon, then tried to recalibrate the signal so that it said "RUN! DANGER! FLEE!" by reversing the usual signal. Then she got back to blasting idiot, probably pedophile Keepers.

Vicious Rabbit

Tessa was shaking ever so slightly, it was probably the mixture of unadulterated intimacy and excessive vulnerability at the same time. Although she couldn't process that at the time...her mind was elsewhere.

"Tessa... your sisters." Victoria softly muttered as the two broke contact.

"I'm pretty sure a threesome is off the table, the one might be my half-sister and the other is - oh!" Exclaimed the Bumbling Bunny as she finally noticed that Victoria's attention was being directed through a scope. Lucky scope. What did he ever do for her.

"Looks like your sisters are doing what they do best... getting into trouble." Came the calm voice.

"Runs in the family...stick around, we're full of bad ideas." Tessa replied cheerfully while gathering up the loot of the day.

"Raiders... Large Group... headed directly towards Mercy and Vera... too large for them to handle by themselves. I can keep them busy." The Sniper Cat reassured the Blade Bunny.

"I'm armoring up and heading back! Just...you better not get hurt!" The Thief was already on the ground, sprinting the short distance home and shouting back.


Once inside, Tessa got dressed in her blood-stained composite leather armor and resecured all her blades. She dropped off her bag of goodies. Presents would have to wait till later.

"Last resort." Tessa muttered as she stuffed a vial of psycho into her thigh holster.

The fact that there were frequent blasts, shouting and what sounded like a small explosion only seemed to hasten the Rabbit's movement from the house and back to Victoria.


Openly wielding her trench knife, Tessa got back onto the rooftop with Victoria.

"I went as fast as I could! Do I need to go out there!?"

"HAROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

Tessa blood turned to ice as her worst fears were confirmed. The Keeper's Children were nearby. Just like last night.

This time, multiple howls could be heard. This would be nothing like last night.

Positioning her trench knife for slashes and thrusts, she drew her bowie knife for downward stabs and reverse slashes.

Her worries were confirmed when the children, more than she was able to count at the time, had started clawing their way onto the rooftop. From all sides, no less.

[Ferocious Loyalty] "Vicky, Freeside City Shuffle: I go right while you go left!"

Tessa sprinted to intercept the nearest boy that intended to leap at Victoria and gutted him with a vicious dual stab and flourishing slice.

[Ferocious Loyalty] "They can only kill us once! But it won't be today!"

The Feral Rabbit snarled viciously, almost mirroring the children, before slicing at a running girl's thigh. Causing her to tumble onto her back, Tessa wasted no time with crushing it's windpipe under her boot.

It was one thing to threaten her life. But you're going to see Tessa at her most vicious if you threaten her loved ones.

Cheyton Slum Rooftops... a different perspective.

Ulysses clambered onto the rooftops as soon as one of his scouts told him that they'd been sighted around Twisted Hare territory.

Then, Ulysses heard their call for himself.

HAROOOOOO!

Keepers again. Legion imitators... taking the worst of it... and twisting it into something worse still. Their interference is growing tiresome. Time I dealt with this problem more... directly.

He fired a flare towards the Keepers and their pets.

"Kill the Keepers and their servants," he ordered through a radio he'd set up, "Do not attack the Twisted Hares, even in self-defense."

The Knuckleheads ran straight for Twisted Hare turf just as Ulysses jumped to the next roof over and started running along them, back towards the Keeper compound.

This many cells aren't operating alone. Some fool thinks to play Kai-Tzar here... they'll meet my glory.

-----

Twisted Hare Territory

Vera kept firing at the Keepers, but they'd caught onto her, and were dodging her plasma blasts with little effort. So instead of trying to kill them herself, Vera switched gears (not literally), and started focusing on keeping the Keepers from getting too close to Mercy... and Markus... and Casca. Just enough so that the Keepers couldn't get a strike in most of the time, while letting Vera's sister... and allies a chance to finish the job.

Then the Knuckleheads showed up. But to Vera's complete bafflement, and the Keepers' final moments of astonishment... the Knuckleheads started tackling the Keepers and beating them to death, leaving everyone else present to wonder what the hell was going on.

-----
Meanwhile, at the Keeper Compound.

Ulysses couldn't believe he hadn't spotted it last night. The guard he'd knocked out last night in the watch-tower? Not a guard. It was the ring-leader of these Keeper cells; he was giving orders through a one-way radio, and every-time he called through it, the Keepers and their pets responded with a resounding "HAARRROOOOOO!"

Once at the top, Ulysses grabbed the Keepers' leader, and pointed his smg at the bastard's throat.

"Order your Keepers to set their pets free," the old scout growled into the man's ear, "Then let your Keepers die."

The Keeper did so. Ulysses shot the worthless man's arms.

"Now, go back to your masters and tell them that the hunt is over," he said, still aiming his smg at the Keeper, "Tell them that they are under the protection of The Courier of the East. Any who dare come after them will answer to Kai-Tzar's First Scout. The Terror that led Kai-Tzar to the Dam."

With that, Ulysses shoved the monstrous excuse of a human being off of the tower, and watched as he crawled, slowly, and painfully out of Cheyton, eager to follow Ulysses' commands.

Roaring Rampage of Rabbit Revenge

"I don't even know what that is!" The sly feline shouted back to Tessa.

Despite the approaching danger, Victoria still found a way to be seductive. Needless to say, the Thief was impressed with her casual attitude. The sign of a professional. However, Tessa silently swore that bladed rain will descend upon those that dared to hurt Victoria.

"Heh, it's not something you hear about!" Replied the Cryptic Rabbit. "But you got the idea, I handle one area and you handle another!"

With Victoria covering the alleyways, this left Tessa to control the immediate rooftop and intercept any aerial attacks on Victoria. Twirling her blades confidently, Tessa was not under emotional distress, which allowed her to fully focus on the situation before her.

"Come on! Attack me!" Snarled the Vicious Rabbit as she dodge-rolled a two-sided leap.

[Finesse] Using the distance gained by the momentum of her dodge-roll, she aimed a precise attack to the throat of an attacker that had just reached the rooftop.

[Loose Cannon] Having gained significant distance from her attackers approaching from the opposite end of the rooftop, Tessa sent her throwing knives into a wide arc, killing two instantly and disabling one.

"Pathetic! Challenge me!" The Feral Rabbit made her own variation of a pet's leap, although hers was much more more graceful and even more deadly as she spun into a crowd of four.

[Finesse] Her flurry of slashes focussed on suppression and rapid damage, rather than precise strikes. Essentially fighting the Keeper's pets on an improved and equally vicious scale, she quickly learned from her previous experience that fighting defensively was her downfall.

"SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!"

The Keeper's pets immediately started scrambling away from Tessa, those she had injured ran towards the deafening whistle, despite their injuries.

Sounded like a call to home, these pets were merely answering their call. Disgusting creatures, The Keepers in general. Whoever had come up with such an idea was truly despicable. On a frightening note, where had they gotten the sheer numbers?

All in all, Tessa had expended most of her energy in her bloodlust driven assault, so she recollected her blades and tossed the bodies into the alleyway below. She noticed the handiwork of Victoria's suppressed bullet assault, with the bodies of more animalistic soldiers joining the carnage.

After some time had passed, she noticed something significantly more disturbing...an alive, but clearly battered Victoria.

"Vicky! I'm coming down!"

Making her way to the ground, Tessa joined the wounded Bullet Bunny, supported her weight and guided her home.


The Rabbit Hole

"Here we go...are you okay? Looks like we're on the opposite end of injuries today. Let's not make this a daily thing."

Tessa tried to keep things light-hearted as she helped Victoria to the couch, yet concern was very clearly taking a hold of her as the adrenaline of the fight was wearing off. Scrambling for stimpacks, she retrieved two and even brought along Mercy's medical supplies.

"I-I-I don't know what else you need, so I j-just got you everything. Do you need me here to help you? Markus and my sisters are still out there."

Tessa was clearly worried, of course her first true meeting was that of a heavily injured Undertaker, yet this was different. Tessa felt intimately bonded to Victoria and that meant a whole new level of care and adjustments.

[Finesse] Gently and softly, Tessa administered a stimpack into Victoria's thigh. She knew enough about stimpacks for them to target area's of damage, specifically Victoria's heavily bruised knee, bleeding lip and bruised cheek.

With her hand on Vicky's opposite cheek, she finally let out a sigh of relief when the bruising on her cheek had started to dissipate. She was very receptive to stims, must be a medical thingy.

"I'll be back soon, please stay safe. I can't have anything more happening to you, I'm just getting to know you." Tessa blushed, but hid it by kissing the now-healed cheek softly. "Kissing makes all the booboo's go away."


Away from home and onwards towards VICTORY! the scrapyard :(

Tessa was rather drained, turns out that handling groups of vicious attackers was quite tiring. To absolutely nobody's surprise. Turns out that her armor was heavily bloodied, along with her blades. Not the look she was eager to give off...

Tessa was not taking any chances and had two blades dual wielded, with four waiting in reserves.

Rounding the corner, she discovered the pack she was looking for. Thankfully everyone was present...however, they had a stranger in their midst. One dressed in typical Legion attire. Now she was just beginning to trust Markus, origins aside, she had assumed he was ex-legion and had renounced his ways. Yet this new person...

Well, she was no-one's slave...Unless Vicky was into that.

More puzzling than alarming, there were Knuckleheads present not too far away...attacking the Keepers. Huh?

"Ugh, don't have time for this!" Tessa walked behind the Knucklehead, so intent on beating the Keeper's skull in, that he never saw the dual slice to the throat from behind. Keeling over, Tessa finally buried her blades deeply into the heavily wounded Keeper's chest, securing his demise too.

With an exasperated sigh, she finally looked towards the group, smiling at the fact that everyone was okay. The effect was rather jarring, considering her actions, moments ago.

[Ferocious Loyalty] "Let's get home guys...and gals. I'd rather avoid anymore fighting, we can take stock and get some rest...Besides, I gotz presentz!" Exclaimed the Relieved Rabbit.

Getting a good look at Markus' new attire, she couldn't help but make an impressed remark. "Nice threads, Markus! Looks Badass!"

And on that note, Tessa held the floating bundle that was Vera in her arms for the journey home, kissing the top of her metallic head before whispering. "Have I got a surprise for you, Vera Rabbit." Cheerfully smiling back at Mercy, who seemed oddly focussed on Markus. The unconventional group made their way home.

On the way back to The Rabbit Hole

Vera was starting to get thoroughly confused about Tessa at this point. One minute, the Bladed Bunny was coldly accusing the poor little eyebot of endangering her sisters... the next, Vera found herself in Tessa's arms, not once, but twice within the same 24-hour period. Vera wasn't sure what to make of her younger sister at this point. (or older, depending on when you're counting from) Vera kept thinking about it some more, and while at first it seemed like the kind of paradox that would normally clam the well-rounded bunny's circuits shut... and nearly did, Vera eventually worked out that, maybe, just maybe, Tessa really did care for her, and was honestly trying to do everything she could to make up for her mistakes.

Vera wanted, oh so badly to believe that. But... well... experience has taught her to remain... cautiously optimistic about people at best, and completely cynical at worst. Still, Vera allowed herself to believe the best about the comfortably 'Pillowy' Bunny that was holding her now as they headed back home.

The Rabbit Hole

Once back home, Vera was kind of reluctant to leave Tessa's arms. In spite of it all, something about being in the Jaded Bunny's arms made the iBunny feel safe. Vera had never felt that before. With the Van Graffs, she knew that the adults would have scrapped her for parts or sold her off the moment she stopped proving useful, over their children's objections. Even with her 'father', Vera had the feeling every now and then that if he got drunk enough or loopy enough, he might just forget for a minute all he went through and all he and that nervous little man that had helped him, went through to make her the bouncing ball of cheerfulness that she is today.... even through all of that... Vera was afraid he'd get drunk enough to take potshots at her.

Eventually though, Vera knew she'd have to get out of her sisters arms. As she did so, she noticed the way Tessa's eyes lit up when she saw Vicky again on the cot. The little eyebot let out a quiet sigh that she hoped no one heard, but resolved to give Vicky a stern, but fair talking to later on, when it was just them in the room. Then she'd have to figure out what to do about Markus... and Casca.

For now though, Vera simply waited patiently for Tessa to pull the metaphorical curtain aside and find out what she'd won. She also played some Jeopardy music to tease Tessa and Vicky a little.

Cheyton Alley

Markus watched as the Keepers were surprised and beaten by the Knuckleheads. He kept his pistol trained on the back of the Brutes head as he went about pounding the ever loving snot out of him. Casca silently cheered, unaware who this new asshole was, but if he was helping...

Tessa appeared, and nearly took off the guys head. Casca looked at her confused, but approached while standing at attention next to Markus, intent to look somewhat official.

"Let's get home guys...and gals. I'd rather avoid anymore fighting, we can take stock and get some rest...Besides, I gotz presentz!"

Markus smirked, he forgot to take the Gladius earlier. He figured Casca could use it, or maybe he'd just give the sword to Tessa. He straightened out his coat as he holstered the pistol.

"Nice threads, Markus! Looks Badass!"

"I aim to please." The old Legate smiled, and turned to Casca, "Oh, yeah, this is one of my old soldiers, from my Legion days. He's trustworthy, though I think I would've preferred his Sister. She was a better hitter, if I remember correctly..." Casca held in his witty retort, but sunk his shoulders a bit. He hated being compared to her, he was just as good if not better! At least he never cut off a bit of his thumb with a machete...

The group made their way home, Tessa holding onto her robot, Markus simply stayed close to Mercy. She seemed to need protection, more than the others at least. She seemed to be paying more attention to him as well. Perhaps she was afraid of him, or his history in the Legion...

"You know I'm more likely to recruit you two than enslave, right?" Markus said, as they neared the home. "Speculatore is half female legionnaires, and the Blacksmiths would make an exception for one of your skill I'm sure... There's nothing to fear from me." Markus flashed her a smile, and went in.

"Now then, presents time, I believe."

An Alleyway Near the Rabbit Hole:

"Ugh, don't have time for this!" Tessa walked behind the Knucklehead, so intent on beating the Keeper's skull in, that he never saw the dual slice to the throat from behind. Keeling over, Tessa finally buried her blades deeply into the heavily wounded Keeper's chest, securing his demise too.

The Blanching Bunny had never seen a display of such wanton savagery in her life and hadn't been expecting from her Bloody Bladed Bunny sister. But still, Mercy's logical mind kicked in, they were in the middle of a war zone and it helped to make sure that they minimized the dangers.

"Nice threads, Markus! Looks Badass!" The Eldest Rabbit Sister said, commenting on Markus' attire causing Mercy to feel rather proud of herself for helping out with his armored arm.

"He looks kinda spiffy doesn't he?" Responded the Almost Blushing Bunny she as clung to his arm, ensuring that no one else would notice the fact that she was being rather bashful at the moment.

"Let's get home guys...and gals. I'd rather avoid anymore fighting, we can take stock and get some rest...Besides, I gotz presentz!" Exclaimed the Relieved Rabbit.

"We've got a present for you too, Tessy!" The Youngest of the Rabbit sisters said to Bad-Add Bunny.


The Rabbit Hole:

The Busted Bunny was rather relieved to be home as they opened the door and its familiar: "CREEEEEEEEEK!!", a noise that the Pavlovian Rabbit was starting to associate with safety and comfort.

Mercy had made no comment to Markus when he told her that she would have been a great Blacksmith apprentice, but was happy enough at the compliment that he had paid the Blustering Bunny.

"Th-Thanks Markus." The Little Rabbit that Could stammered as she decided that perhaps a little bit of distance between her and Markus was needed and so, she gave Vera all her affectionate attention as she nuzzled the Hare Tease and straightened out her bunny ears and decided that one day, Vera would need a new paint job. She just needed an idea for something good.

"Sissy V? Stop teasing our poor sissy and I wanna talk to you about your chassis. I think we should start repairing the dents that I've been ignoring and buff out the scratches and most of all, I think we should give you a nice paint job." The Caring Little Sister Bunny said as she pulled out some buffing tools from her workbench.

The Rabbit Hole

Vera did not like how closely the Brilliant Bunny was clinging to Markus. She certainly didn't like his mention of 'recruiting' them. Vera didn't care how 'different' he claimed to be; in the Legion, 'recruitment' meant one of only two things for women. Neither were pleasant.

The only good thing so far is that Markus seemed to be oblivious to Mercy's attraction to him. This gave the little eyebot some time to figure out what to do about the situation. Should she threaten Markus? Or... pull Mercy aside at some point and warn her? But, could Vera do it? Could she really tell Mercy all of the horrific stories that the women she and The Courier had freed? At this point, Mercy and possibly Tessa, could be the daughter of one of those former slaves. Vera shivered at the thought.

"Sissy V? Stop teasing our poor sissy and I wanna talk to you about your chassis. I think we should start repairing the dents that I've been ignoring and buff out the scratches..." Vera was with the Auto-Plasma Bunny so far, if a bit confused about how she was teasing Tessa in any way, "...and most of all, I think we should give you a nice paint job."

At that, Vera shot straight up to the ceiling babbling "No! No! No! No-no-no-no-no!" At more of a murmur than anything else. Then, for good measure, Vera activated her magnetic anchors to keep her to the ceiling. Thankfully, these were on her back, which was facing away from the ceiling, and was too far away to attract any of the other metallic objects. To everyone else, it looked like Vera had decided to become the new security camera as her faceplate was stuck facing more or less straight down, and her antennae were scraping gently along different parts of the ceiling.

Unbidden, a memory came to the forefront of Vera's mind...

Van Graffs' Repair and Scrap.

To the outside observer, this small set of concrete buildings didn't look like much more than someone's home as it had the occasional laundry line with drying clothing dangling from it. But when you looked at it more closely, you might notice how the garage had a workstation in it, sometimes with a little eyebot floating around welding a few things together. The Van Graffs claimed to be out of the energy weapons business. It was a lie, they just made sure to only show the good stuff to Legionaries in disguise or anyone with the caps, but no ties to or love for the NCR.

From the back, you could hear the sound of children playing and laughing. Which, as Sir Terry Pratchett once observed, was a comforting sound, as long as you didn't hear what was actually being said.

"Come on Laurie," a ten year old boy said, "This is stupid even for you. We could be playing or gathering scrap for mommy and daddy, but instead, you're here painting this stupid thing."

He tried to kick the little eyebot, but another of his sisters, a sixteen year-old, stopped him by deftly picking him up and gently tossing him aside.

"Now, now," she said, "Play nice, or just piss off little bro."

"I'M NOT LITTLE!" he screamed, throwing up his arms.

"Sorry, but your older sister has spoken, therefore it is so." the teenager said, sticking out her tongue as she leaned forward to bring her face down to his eye level.

"Fuck you!" he said his first mistake. His second mistake was to try and punch his older sister in the face. This time however, she didn't stop him, this time a stranger did. A stranger in a long, dark gray coat. Between the sun glaring into her visual scanners and her position low on the ground, Vera couldn't see any of the stranger's face. The stranger grabbed his arm and brought it down.

"Shouldn't do that," the stranger said in a gruff monotone, "Should show your sisters some respect. World's a cruel place, even more so for women."

The girls of the family nodded agreement, the little brother just threw up his arms and wandered off.

"My path back from Cheyton brought me these," he said, laying down some paint canisters, "Found red and white, but no blue yet."

"Eh, don't worry about it," the older sister reached into her pocket and handed the courier a set of caps, "Two-thirds now, the rest when you find the blue for us. Though you don't need to go right now..." she trailed off, hinting at something that Vera couldn't have guessed at until after spending time with the Rabbit sisters and learning a bit more about herself. The teenager bent down, picked up a brush, and helped her sister finish painting the eyebot after opening the two new cans of paint.

"Yes ma'am," he said without any enthusiasm or any hint of emotion, and he wandered outside of Vera's field of view.

A few minutes later and the teenager and her little 5 year old sister backed away from Vera to get a good look at their handiwork.

"No blue?" the younger sister asked.

"No blue," the older replied, folding her arms, kind of disappointed.

"Hmm..." the little sister said, examining her handiwork, "I think she looks great without the blue. She looks kind of like a floating candy-ball!"

The older sister giggled.

-----

The Rabbit Hole.

Vera snapped out of her little reverie to see some of the group staring at her, and she realized that she'd played the audiologs of that memory while remembering it.

"Ummm..." she ventured, unsure of how to proceed, and gave up, falling into silence again.

The Easter Bunny visited early for Christmas: Happy Valentine's day! (Before Vera hit the ceiling)

Relieved to be home, Tessa quickly rushed to her room and emerged in a fitting red dress, a dinky red cap with a fluff-coated bell adorned at the top and her school-bag of goodies. She still wore her various blades, holstered along her body. Old habit.

While Tessa was jingling around for a moment, she clapped her hands together and spoke loud enough to address everyone.

"For the past few days, I've been more than a bitch."

"I mistreated my friends..." Tessa nodded meaningfully towards Markus and Victoria.

"...And I was offensive and unfair to my family." This time, Tessa smiled apologetically at her sisters, Vera and Mercy.

"Where I come from, we use gifts to win favours, retrieve information or coax someone to get them on the payroll..."

Tessa dropped the smile to opt for a more sincere tone. "But today, I just want to give everyone something to thank you and more importantly, to apologise."



Mysterious Markus

Having picked up the Gladius Machete on her way inside, Tessa presented her gift to him again, in the manner that she wished to do so originally.

"Ex-Legion, I figured you would appreciate this particular kind of blade. You've done a lot for me, Markus. But more importantly, you protected my sister. I took the liberty of finding the best quality version of that particular weapon, I hope she serves you well. Thank you...friend." The Easter Bunny added with smile.



Vivacious Victoria

Tessa hauled up the large and cumbersome anti-materiel rifle and pointed at the pink custom-bolt. She wondered how Vicky had ever managed to use this rifle effectively, given it's size and weight. More confirmation that she was not a gun person.

"You already have my present. It's in your rifle...a custom bolt to increase firing rate. You protected us before we even met you properly, so for that, you have our protection and care." Tessa blushed for a moment, losing her cool. "The other present, well...there are people watching."



Mad-Scientist Mercy

Tessa had been looking forward to this part. "I need you close your eyes and open your hands. Just be prepared for something heavy."

Once she was sure that Mercy had her eyes shut. Tessa laid down a copy of Nikola Tesla and You followed by a laminated hardcover book, which suggested the latest edition, Big Book of Science V2.

Mercy hadn't anticipated the weight of the two very large books, which caused Tessa to laugh. Finally, she laid the two pristine laser pistols on top of it all. "Okay, open your eyes!"

Presenting her now-traditional jazz hands, Tessa started to explain. "I never forgot how you told me about that science book. I still don't understand a damn thing, but I loved your enthusiasm. Apparently it's rare! So I was lucky to have bought it when I did..."

Tessa gestured to the dual laser pistols. "Apparently, laser is faster and more precise than plasma. So that's news to me, however, I subscribe to the philosophy of always keeping a backup. That's why I carry SIX knives on me. I got you two laser pistols, it also looks new, manufactured less than a year ago, according to the shop owner."

"You're always a damn inspiration to me and you make me want to be a better person. Sometimes it's aggravating, but like real sisters, it's one of the many reasons why I love you! Keep making me feel stupid with your technobabble, Mer-Mer..." The Easter Bunny cuddled the Book Bunny affectionately.



Beautiful Ball of Personified Awesome: Vera

"I have to apologise to you the most, I said some really terrible things, but instead of just saying something, I want to show you that I care." The Easter Bunny admitted, before pulling out three large laminated stickers.

Putting them together, she showed Vera clearly. The quality stickers that were resistant to wear and tear, formed the two individual letters "V" and "R", with a robotic rabbit underneath. "Vera Rabbit. I wanted that to be a permanent statement, you're marked with these now. You belong to this family, you ARE this family and I don't want you to ever feel the need to second guess your place in our hearts."

Tessa was crying when she gently applied the stickers, she may have gotten romantic today, but right now, she was really opening her heart to her sisters. Trying to put on a happy smile, she had to blush when she pulled out the final gift.

A holotape labelled "VR". The one where she recorded her singing. An action she would never have done for a thousand caps, but she could make an exception for Vera.

"It's me. Singing. For you. It's a song about us...I don't know what it means or what the language is. But it's my favourite." She slotted in the holotape into Vera's input receiver and sighed in relief when it didn't play automatically. "I'm a little off-key, but when you get the chance. Maybe you can listen to it or even translate it for me."

She hugged her sister that could float endearingly. "I love you very much, Vera Rabbit."



Some dude.

Tessa looked at the legion soldier blankly. Before snorting and cracking a smile. She couldn't stay serious when the guy was wearing a skirt.

"Food and drink is in the fridge. If Markus says you're cool, then we have no problems. Make yourself at home, don't touch my knives or my toaster...I will stab you."

Tessa smirked humorously and welcomed the man. However, the glint in her eye suggested a deep and irrational attachment to her toaster.

Rabbit Home

Markus patted Mercy on the head as she went back to nuzzling her robot, Casca sulking behind them a bit. He really didn't get to show his stuff back there! Back where there were brutally murdered bodies... He vomitted a bit in the back of his mouth, and swallowed it as the (immensely hot) Tessa came out in her red dress. He tried to do a catcall, but failed from lack of tongue. Markus jabbed him in the ribs, and stepped up as Tessa approached him first.

"-Thank you...friend."

'Hear that? You're her friend! She doesn't know your true name, that you still consider yourself a part of the Legion, and that you need to justify your charity with avarice, but yet she's your friend.' Markus blinked, and forced a smile as he took the blade, tested the weight. He rolled up his sleeve and tested it's edge on his armor, making an unpleasant sound. It didn't dull, but it didn't cut through.

"Thank you, Tessa." Markus once more wondered if he should try to give her a hug. She seemed the huggy sort. He dismissed it, and retreated back to the line, to see Mercy get her present. He smiled, figures she would get more stuff. Put in more danger, and some people valued family.

Markus and Casca both watched as the eyebot went to the ceiling, refusing maintenance. Casca snickered, and turned to the Charitable one, who was giving a tape to the robot. He seemed to see a bit of favoritism here... Little sisters get all the cool stuff.

She came to him, laughing at him and looking at his uniform, making him blush and shrink away. The threat didn't help, but he had no plans to go near whatever a toaster was anyways... wasn't that a bread thing? Where did she get bread? He scampered off to get changed to his backup uniform, one given to him by his littlest brother. Casca thought he heard him call it a "Jailhouse Rocker"? He came back out, suit pants black jacket thing and striped button up shirt. He pushed all his hair out of his face, tucking it behind his ears and undoing his ponytail. He looked debatably less silly now, at least.

Markus had gone outside, to the roof for some privacy. He figured he should start an exercise regiment again, if he was going to stay for awhile. He let his mind wander again, thinking about the usual. How could he trust these profligates? Should he train them? Would the Legion accept them? What about his coming back, would they try to kill him again? He sighed, and stopped with the push ups, downing some more of his water. He was being way too angsty lately...

He rubbed his temples, and picked up his coat and arm-or. He kept the gauntlet on, but slipped it off and put it on top of the other two items. Just his merc grunt outfit again. He'd need a damn shower... He made his way there, though he was willing to be interrupted.

The St. Tessa's Rabbit Cathedral: The Blazing Blaster Bunny

"No! No! No! No-no-no-no-no!" The Repair Rabbit's Older/Oldest Sister murmured as she hung from the ceiling in an almost comical fashion. At least it would have been comical to Mercy had it been anyone other than her Baller Bunny of a sister. Wondering just what it was that was happening, the Plasma Revolver Rabbit waited until her sister floated down from the ceiling.

"Ummm..." The Baffled Bunny umm'd , unsure of how to proceed, and gave up, falling into silence again.

Reaching out to her sister, Mercy gently caressed her face panel and smiled before whispering into Vera's ear.

"It's okay Sissy V. We don't have to do that. I just thought that it would be nice of me to pamper you since you've done so much for me and it's my fault that your chassis got as damaged as it did. Maybe we can work on increasing the output on your plasma pistol so that we can make sure you never fall from the sky again, I know I never mentioned it but it really scared me when I saw you like that." The Happy Hare said before she sat down near her Helium Hare sister.


"Okay, open your eyes!" The Bunny Bearer of Gifts and Good Fortune exclaimed before going into Jazz Hands mode.

Looking down at the bundle of squee that was in her arms, the Squee Bunny squee'd her little heart out.

"Oh - my - GOD! TESSA! This is the best gift that anyone in the world has ever given me. How'd you find these! Where'd you find them? What?! OH - MY - GOD! OHMYGOD!! OHMYGOD!! OHMYGOD!! OHMYGOD!!" Mercy exclaimed until she almost passed out from lack of oxygen and an excess of excitement.

Opening the Big Book of Science Volume II, The Bookish Bunny felt a pleasurable shiver go up her spine as heard book's binding crackle and the smell of the book was like - Heaven. Looking at Tessa, the Youngest of the Rabbit Sisters did what any Rabbit would do at that very moment. She placed her gifts down and practically tackled her sister to the ground as she gave her the biggest, nicest, warmest hug imaginable.

"You're always a damn inspiration to me and you make me want to be a better person. Sometimes it's aggravating, but like real sisters, it's one of the many reasons why I love you! Keep making me feel stupid with your technobabble, Mer-Mer..." The Bestest Oldest Sister that a girl could ever ask for said.

"One of these days, Tess, I'm going to make you proud of me. I love you my biggest sissy!" Mercy said as she planted a kiss on the Bestest Bladed Bunny's cheek.


Mercy felt her heart beating wildly out of her chest as she approached the bathroom, the roar of the shower drowning out the noises outside of the bathroom and would, most likely, drown out what the Youngest of the Rabbit Triad had to say to the Markus McHuggins.

*Knock Knock Knock* The Red Cheeked Rabbit knocked, giving the Bruiser Bunny fair warning that he was not alone. Before he could react, however, the Rapid Rabbit was already babbling her heart out.

"Markus - I - um - just really, really, reallyreallyreally wanted to thank you for saving me from those Knuckleheads the other night and being so nice and kind and gentle to me and I just really wanted to thank you and tell you that I appreciate your being here and that I hope you choose to stay here for quite some time because you've been such a kind gentleman to me and you've helped us out and I know that Vera or Tessa might have some reservations about you and your past but I think that we've all got a past and well - I'm babbling - but really I - um - wanted to thank you and tell you that - I - I - I -"

It was in that moment that the normally clear minded and eloquent Rabbit Sister choked on her words and become more of a chicken than a Rabbit.

"I think that you're the man - I - um - I gotta go! See ya!" Mer-Mer exclaimed as she beat a hasty hasty HASTY retreat.


Home: Victoria

"You already have my present. It's in your rifle...a custom bolt to increase firing rate. You protected us before we even met you properly, so for that, you have our protection and care." Tessa blushed for a moment, losing her cool. "The other present, well...there are people watching."

The statement and sentiment brought a smile to the Friendly Neighborhood Undertaker's lips as she remembered the kisses that the two had shared on the roof.

"I am definitely looking forward to my other present, since it'll give me a chance to give you your gift in return." The Enchanted Undertaker's lips whispered in return before she settled in to watch the Leader of the Twisted Hares pass out the remainder of the gifts.

Watching the genuine feelings that this strange family had for each other, the Finely Dressed Woman from the West felt that she had made the right decision in sparing the lives of the Rabbit sisters and made a mental note to pass on the information to the Undertaker Union's Patriarch and her Favored Uncle.

" - however, I subscribe to the philosophy of always keeping a backup. That's why I carry SIX knives on me."

The sentiment not only brought another smile to the Feline Undertakers lips as she thought about asking where the Chocolate Haired Rabbit kept all of her knives but made the Darkly Dressed Gentlewoman to remember something that caused her to open her pack and pull out an object that she hoped that Tessa would enjoy.

"Now that the Easter Bunny has finished passing out her gifts, it's time for her to receive one." Victoria said as she revealed the object that had been hidden in the sleeves of her black dress.

Throwing knives, four of them, designed to look like a silver jeweled hair clip.

"It was a parting gift from my parents before I left to come out to Wyoming and since I'm, frankly, no good with knives, I thought that you should have them." The Undertaker said as her cheeks flushed a bit from being so close to Tessa.

Looking at the Tall, Pale and Darkly Dressed Woman's girl, Tessa would have seen that the knives were polished to a mirror finish and the hilt of each of the knives contained a single red gem that not only balanced the knives but gave the bundle the look of a well crafted piece of jewelry.

"Just as I have your protection and care, I'll keep looking out for you and your sisters, Tessa." The Black Dress Bunny, looking deeply into Tessa's eyes.

The Rabbit Hole.

Vera calmed down a little after hearing Mercy just about plead with her to come down.

"It's okay Sissy V. We don't have to do that. I just thought that it would be nice of me to pamper you since you've done so much for me and it's my fault that your chassis got as damaged as it did. Maybe we can work on increasing the output on your plasma pistol so that we can make sure you never fall from the sky again, I know I never mentioned it but it really scared me when I saw you like that." How could that not tug at... whatever passed for heart-strings in Vera's metallic frame?

"Oh Mer-Mer," Vera said, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to..." she paused again, "I just... don't want to lose the stripes I have now. They're... all that's left of the Van Graff children. And this ribbon... is the only thing my 'dad' ever gave me."

Vera stared at the floor for a moment before turning to face Mercy again.

"I'm kind of a flying memorial at this point."

A place
Joe had dealt with his share of Deathclaws. Despite being much bigger and stronger, and slightly faster than him, they died like anything else when shot enough.
Joe was conflicted about this one though. Killing mindless abominations was one thing, but Joe had reservations about killing sentient creatures. He did occasionally make a kill when it seemed like the best option, but he avoided it when possible.
It was looking like he would have to kill this one.
The beast swung at the new guy, knocking him over.
At the end of the beast's swing, it was quite exposed. It was about as still as he was going to get it.
[Guns 85][Gunslinger][Shoot To Wound][Peace Through Violence]Joe leveled his revolver on the beast's right shoulder.
[Cowboy][Fan The Hammer]...Success! *Bangbangbangbangbangclickclickclickclick* Joe emptied his revolver and reloaded.
Then the new guy careened into Joe's legs.
[Agility]Joe caught himself mid-fall, and prevented him from getting a face-full of ground.
The new guy was injured.
[Perception]The Robobrain from before was back. Moving relatively quickly into the Albino, saving Joe from learning what a claw to the head felt like.
The new guy wasn't looking good. Joe took out one of his stims.
[Medicine40/25]Joe didn't have the time to ask the various medical questions like "Had you eaten today." The man was in bad shape. Joe had however seen what happened when you gave stims to someone who was malnourished. It drew vital proteins away from other parts of the body. Common problems were ulcers and liver necrosis.
[Karma]If the man didn't have food Joe would just have to share some of his.
Joe stabbed one of his stimpacks into the man neck and helped him up. (Stimpacks remaining: 9)
"You're welcome."
[Persuasion 95]"You're outnumbered, and the situation is getting progressively worse for you. I'd recommend surrendering or fleeing.
While this Deathclaw was definitely more intelligent than its feral cousins, Joe doubted it was smart enough to flee or surrender.
"Funny, in Dad's stories, Goris was a lot smarter than you."

The Rapacious Rabbits' Riverside Roost:

It wasn't until the Bashful Bunny found herself rapidly sneaking out of the bathroom that the impact of V's statement hit her.

"I just... don't want to lose the stripes I have now. They're... all that's left of the Van Graff children. And this ribbon... is the only thing my 'dad' ever gave me." The Bodacious iBunny had said before Mercy had meandered off to make a rather huge embarrassment of herself. Seeing that her Older Sister was still floating in the same place, Mercy could only apologize for being so rude for dashing off the best way she knew how, a nice nuzzle.

"Sorry Sissy V. I didn't mean to leave leave you." The Youngest of the Rabbit sisters said as she examined the red and white color scheme that the Van Graff children had painted on her and the thread bare ribbon that was still tied neatly in place.

"I could just restore the paint job that the Van Graff kids gave you and figure out some way to restore the ribbon that your dad gave you. I can see that it means a lot to you and I didn't mean to make you mad or make you sad." Mercy proposed with a hint of sadness in her voice.

"Maybe I could put on a laminant over the paint and ribbon so that they won't be as susceptible to fading over time?" She added, sounding desperate to not only forget about the fool she just made of herself in the bathroom but to do something nice for her Older Sister.

Rabbit Reflection

Tessa was content watch everyone enjoy their gifts, especially Mercy, who she had spent a good few minutes on the floor laughing and tickling one another. Mercy won, curse her overly ticklish body.

So it was a strange departure from her previous state to notice Mercy looking rather flustered, much like herself around Victoria after following Markus. Wait, is she...? No. No way. Really? Tessa would have a heart-to-heart with her little sister later and give her the talk about the boatflies and the mole-rats.


Tessa recalled paying 40 caps at the Scrap and Miscellaneous items stall. She had bought three items: A working holotape, stickers and a white bow. Vera wasn't difficult to shop for, but she withheld the bow out of further embarrassment after giving Vera eternal proof and blackmail worthy material contained in a holotape.

Tessa was listening to Vera's story, while the sight of their temporary security camera was humorous, the recording was not.

It must have been terrible for your personal life to come spilling out like that. She didn't understand the technology, but it was clear that Vera was not just a pre-programmed personality. To Tessa's eyes, it seemed like somebody had ripped the soul out of a young girl and shoved it into the chassis of an Eyebot.

Besides for the physical fact that Vera was undeniably a robot, emotionally, Vera was no less human than Tessa or Mercy, probably more so if her Karma was compared to that of Tessa's.

The Humbled Thief finally spoke up. "I didn't know if you wanted this or if you ever wanted anything from me. You were angry at me the most, for good reason...-I keep going on about how life was for me, I realize now that I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like for you. Outliving your loved ones and watching the most despicable of creatures...people." Presenting the bow for Vera to see, Tessa's voice cracked, but she continued.

"Don't get me wrong, I'm not thinking any less of you. In fact, I respect you a whole lot more, for staying strong and helpful and cheerful. After everything you've been through."

Tessa smiled at Vera once she was done securing the bow, she had even done so on the verge of tears. "I hope you like your presents. I left the last marking of a fellow Rabbit, the bow, for last."

Tessa had made every effort to apologise to Vera, now she had made every effort to show Vera that she belonged, she had even taken it a step further and made an effort to understand Vera.

If this wasn't accepted or thrown in her face, then Tessa would have to give up and realize that she was not going to be Vera's forgive/sister list anytime soon.

The Rabbit Hole

Vera was completely... puzzled? flabbergasted? shocked? amazed? I have no more words, or plenty more but... why? you already get the idea. The little eyebot was speechless for several moments, unsure which of her beautiful, wonderful sisters to answer first. She decided to let Tessa know how she felt at this point.

"Tess," she started, putting what she thought was very convincing fake anger in her voice, even activating the unconscious trigger that made her voice sound more like Tessa's, "What you said to me last night was uncalled for. I nearly died because of it. And if you think you can make it up to me with some cute stickers, an adorable bow, and... and... a holotape of your singing... well... that's just... well..."

Vera shifted gears and tackle-nuzzled Tessa.

"You were absolutely right!" the tricksy little eyebot said as she kept nuzzling her younger sister mercilessly. "Ha-ha! Gotcha!"

After several moments of uninterrupted nuzzling, Vera floated back up and helped Tessa get back on her feet.

"Seriously though, Tessa," she said, coming as close as an eyebot could to looking her sister eye-to-eye, "We're cool. And thank you. I've never actually gotten presents before... I came here. Everyone else I've been might have been nice but... they, kinda saw me as a toy or a tool at best..."

Well, there was The Courier, but... she left me behind. She knew I... or... ED-E would have gone with her. Why did she abandon him? Me? Us?

"But then I met you guys," Vera said, trying to figure out how she could pull her sisters into a group hug, "My wonderful, beautiful sisters. Sure we had a fight, but... what sisters don't get a bit catty every now and then? Right?"

How do I know that?

Vera turned to Mercy, and nuzzled her.

"Thank you for understanding, Mer-Mer," Vera said, the honey-sweet affection entering into her voice, setting off another unconscious trigger that made her sound like Mercy, "I... before I met you guys, I've... never had anyone worry about me before. It's... I'm still amazed by how well you guys have been treating me. *sniff* I... thank you. I love you guys so much! And... yeah... Mer-Mer, I don't have a problem spending time with you, to freshen this old painjob up and do some repairs. Its... kind of like a makeover, I guess? Right? I'd return the favor but... given the only tools at my disposal for that are an arc projector and a welding torch... I don't think that would be the kind of makeover you'd want, right Mer-Mer? Heh."

Vera turned back to Tessa, "After that's done... Mercy and I have something for you as well. I think you'll like it. Though... you'll have to put it together yourself. I don't really know why, but we can walk you through it at least. And..."

Vera just then realized something that had been bugging her since she relived that memory.

She played back a bit of dialogue from it...

"Shouldn't do that," the stranger said in a gruff monotone, "Should show your sisters some respect. World's a cruel place, even more so for women."

"Is it just me, or did that voice sound familiar?" she said before playing the next line the stranger had.

"My path back from Cheyton brought me these..."

"Oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap," Vera chanted to herself, as the dawning horror started to crystallize in her mind. She played an older recording of that same voice from a whole lifetime ago.

"Who are you, that you do not know your history?"

Vera turned to face Tessa.

"I'm... I'm sorry," she said, her voice becoming quiet, and full of nervous, regretful energy, not entirely like Mercy's voice, "I... I... should have picked up on it sooner. BSOD! That man has been following me! He's been to Cheyton before? But why? More importantly... oh no... no no no no... NO!"

Vera dropped to the ground, going inert for a moment as she searched her databank entries from the last 15 years for any other trace of Ulysses in them, any hint at all. Aside from the Van Graffs hiring apparently hiring Ulysses for odd jobs without realizing who he was...

"So how'd you find my little canyon, scribe?" Blake said.

"An old, grizzled courier led me here. Strange guy. Seemed kinda depressed. You know him?" was the answer that Vera's other 'dad' gave.

"No."

"No no oh no... was it really my fault? Did that man guide those Legionaries to dad's house? Did he tip the Brotherhood off about the Van Graffs? He did, didn't he? It... really is my fault." Vera floated back up and hung her faceplate down so that she was staring at Tessa's feet, "I'm sorry Tessa. I'm so sorry. I think... I really did put this family in danger. BSODding damn it! I should have picked up on it sooner! I'm such an idiot! If I'd only been paying more attention then... dad... the Van Graffs... they might all still be alive... they're dead because I was too stupid to see it!"

Just as Vera was about to go into a full-on hysterical self-hatred session... there was a knock on the door, followed by what sounded suspiciously like... dub-step. Vera flew to the door, opened it by manipulating her magnetic field, and...

"FUCK OFF!" the little eyebot growled at the little clap-bot, "I will tear you apart atom by atom if you don't leave this instant you nascent little... uh... booger!"

The other robot didn't even argue, he just ran for it, screaming in terror. Vera magnetically slammed the door behind him. Then resumed hating herself.

The Rabbit Hole:

"FUCK OFF!" The Brooding Bunny growled at the little clap-bot, "I will tear you apart atom by atom if you don't leave this instant you nascent little... uh... booger!"

SLAM!

The slamming of the door cause Mercy to wince reflexively as she considered the information that her Sister Bot had pieced together. It was - disturbing - that this Ulysses would have gone this far to make Sissy V's life as hellish as he had. To have been responsible for the murders of two of Vera's families, it showed a cruelty beyond measure, at least in Mercy's mind.

"Vera. It's not your fault that that monster's such a bastard." Mercy almost whispered as she tried to console the Neo-Plasma Bunny.

If Ulysses was responsible for the deaths of Vera's families, was he trying to kill them as well? No, this wasn't Vera's fault, it was Ulysses' fault and now he had to pay for causing her sister so much grief.

Walking over to the workbench, the Bomber Bunny considered resuming her work. There was still a war against the Knuckleheads that needed to be won and if the Twisted Hares managed to take out the Knuckleheads, perhaps they'd be able to take out the bane of Vera's existence at the same time but decided she needed a little side project first.

Opening the Big Book of Science Volume II the Reading Rabbit began to look at a rather interesting subject that she had flipped to.

"Dual phased laser array." The Mad Bomber Bunny muttered to herself as she browsed the topic, ideas as to how the concept could be used were discarded as quickly as they came to her until one stuck.

"Sissy V? I promise you we'll get the bastard. No asshole is going to turn my sister's life into a living hell. He's gonna learn what happens to people that mess with our family." Mer Mer said, though it was more to herself than any one else as she started laid the two laser pistols her sister had given to her and started toying with them as she continued her thoughts.

"If he only knew who he was messing with, he'd have taken the first Vertibird out of Cheyton the first chance he got." the Rapidly Reading Rabbit thought as she took the ignition mechanisms from one of the laser pistols and began installing it in the second.

"Neither Tessa or I will let that asshole hurt you ever again." The Jury Rigging Rabbit concluded as she modified the pistol to accept one of the many glowing rods that she and Vera had found in the Scrapyard and pointed it towards the distant sound of dubstep and pulled the trigger, causing a blue spear of energy to burn through the walls of the Rabbit Hole and spear the annoying clap bot in the speaker as it continued its retreat from Vera's Wrath.

"Jackpot." Mercy exclaimed excitedly as she started pulled out a fresh piece of drafting paper and started drawing the designs for a bomb that would utilize the energy rods they had found in the scrap yard.

The Rabbit Hole.

Vera was having a hard time figuring how she could possibly love her little Genius Bruiser Bunny sister any more than she did right now. She still wasn't sure if she could believe that she wasn't responsible, at least in some way, for all of the death that had seemed to follow her around, but... it was still... wonderful to hear someone support her for a change; to care enough about her to worry about how she was feeling.

"Vera, it's not your fault that that monster's such a bastard." Vera still wasn't used to hearing her little sister swear, but somehow, Mercy seemed even more adorable making the air blue. Swear Cute, anyone? "Neither Tessa or I will let that asshole hurt you ever again."

Vera really wished she could do more than just nuzzle her sister. Something to really show how much she appreciated Mercy's constant support ever since the little eyebot had arrived. Vera started experimenting with the settings of her hologram projector, and tweaked them so that hopefully...

The holographic woman appeared, smiled at Mercy, and brought her hand to Mercy's cheek. Vera hoped that Mercy could feel it, but she wasn't sure. She'd messed with the projector's settings just enough to provide a little more 'oomph' to the hologram, but again, she wasn't sure if it would work.

"Thank you Mer-Mer," the little eyebot said, syncing the hologram's lips with her words, "You... have no idea how much that means to me... to hear you say that."

The hologram projector cut out, and then, wanting to be certain that Mercy at least got some physical feedback from her if the hologram didn't work as the little eyebot had hoped, she slowly and gently nuzzled the Brilliant Bunny.

Cheyton Slums.

Claptrap had just made it out of Twisted Hare territory when the laser hit his tire, making it pop and sizzle a bit as it melted, bringing his attempted run pointless. That's when the guy in the longcoat came in.

"I see you met the Rabbit family, little machine." The stranger said in a gruff monotone.

"I don't need no help from you, son!" the stupid robot said before attempting to dubstep without anything to dance on.

The stranger lifted an eyebrow, and then raised his smg at the annoying thing. The stranger emptied a full clip into the dubstepper, kind of overkill, but with something this annoying, even Ulysses wanted to be sure it was dead.

Rabbit Home: Markus in; Profligates against Privacy!

*Knock Knock Knock*

Markus was almost done with his shower, and moved his hand towards the nob when Mercy started her kind rant towards Markus. He turned off the shower, and toweled off as she stammered on.

"Markus - I - um - just really, really, reallyreallyreally wanted to thank you for saving me from those Knuckleheads the other night and being so nice and kind and gentle to me and I just really wanted to thank you and tell you that I appreciate your being here and that I hope you choose to stay here for quite some time because you've been such a kind gentleman to me and you've helped us out and I know that Vera or Tessa might have some reservations about you and your past but I think that we've all got a past and well - I'm babbling - but really I - um - wanted to thank you and tell you that - I - I - I -"

Markus raised an eyebrow, what was so important that it required her to charge into a room where she knew he was naked? He wrapped his towel around his waist, and threw on his shirt.

"I think that you're the man - I - um - I gotta go! See ya!"

"..." Markus looked down, to assure himself that, yes, he was a man. The compliment could've waited till he was out of the shower, but who was he to judge? He sighed, and put on his pants. He looked like an unarmored merc grunt again. He didn't even feel the compulsion to have his gun on him...

'Don't get weak.' He quickly scooped up the pistol, and put on his belt and holster. He trudged out to the main room, where of course there was more huggy times with the sisters. They were talking about Ulysses, the eyebot that thought it had a personality was playing a hologram now, and went back to cuddling.

It was quite the twisted display to Markus, playing a human recording and hugging. Who the hell did the programming on that thing, to give it affection? The only answer was a monster.

Still, the Ulysses thing stuck with him. Why would a Frumentarii dedicate his very being to tormenting a thing without true emotion? Had he gone entirely mad, was there no salvaging him? The Legion needed supporters, and the old man had talent, too much to waste on that endeavor.

Rabbit Roof: Legion Meeting, top secret.

Markus left the building, going to the roof. The heavily ignored Casca followed, and raised an eyebrow when he saw him. "Casca, why are you still here? You're of my Legion, how many are left?" Casca blinked, and rubbed the back of his head. Then he began writing. Legion mostly gone, 40 or so members left. Doc's son leads us. Markus sat, quiet and deep in thought. He turned to the boy, who was now sitting cross legged and staring at his former Legate.

"Bring them here." The words were spoken without emotion or feeling, and Casca nodded, taking off without hesitation. He was planning on doing it anyways, the robot still skeezed him out to much. Though, he wouldn't mind another look at that Albino... He shook it off, jogging out of the city towards his comrades.

They were only a dozen miles away anyways... Hopefully he wouldn't run into trouble on the way. Markus watched as he ran off, he didn't want to go back yet. Let them hug it out, while he planned to end the war, and perhaps something else. He would see about recruiting Ulysses, and maybe even find Lanius. Markus vengeance was a long time coming, but he could feel the same black ball of hatred in his heart. The Monster of the East would fall by his hand...

Still here, Lieutenant.

His hide was so tough because it was basically a mutated reptile's hide wrapped comfortably over a slab bulkhead of muscle over bones of the creature whose body produces the toughest natural claws on Earth. Deathclaws take alot of shots - solid hits - to reach things like vitals. Nevertheless, to say it didn't hurt would be a lie. There were a fair number of those pinpricks we call bullets now. And then, as Joe wa about to get a faceful of corpse-

WHOMP!

-Malkos was rammed into by a robot. They tumbled, as one significant force hitting another is wont to do, and tumbled a bit. It ended with the Deathclaw recovering first, because robobrains are not built for tumbles, and he was now holding the robot upside-down and facing it away from him. Now, where have I seen this before? Ah yes, 'David and Goliath'. Only this time, David is overmatched.

CRASH!

Joe's peruasive argument was...slightly-interrupted by Malkos ramming the robot's dome-head and brain into a big rock, full-force. Then, he dropped it and turned to the ranger in a more calm manner. The ranger hadd correctly guessed that this Deathclaw had had some connection to Goris personally.

"I do not live in a Vault, as my ancestor did. When the clan left, educational material became limited. More of the traditonal way had to fill in the gaps. It is only natural."

Now, he pointed a clawed finger directly at Joe.

"But that does not excuse you...you gun-happy, irritating, moron."

Yeah, he was still mad about the dead comrade, but now he was taking Joe's overall behavior personally.

"If you were aware of my kind, then you should not have shot first when I was very obviously talking. And you, a Ranger, of all things! The Vault Dweller sided with them, AND my kind back then. You are a disgrace to the uniform, a fake, an asshole. This situation is entirely your fault. Make your amends now."

This leaves the ball in your court now, Joe. The Deathclaw lays the blame of this whole affair squarely on you, especially since you initiated combat, helped kill one of his kind, and insulted him and his family. You can't prevent him from leaving and he can definitely find a more advantageous time and place to kill ANYONE here, so what's it gonna be? More gunplay? Peace talks? That one episode from Star Trek with the Gorn? That would actually be hilarious right about now.

Wyoming. I guess.
"I do not live in a Vault, as my ancestor did. When the clan left, educational material became limited. More of the traditonal way had to fill in the gaps. It is only natural."

It pointed a clawed finger directly at Joe.
"But that does not excuse you...you gun-happy, irritating, moron."
Joe did not like having his intelligence insulted by mental inferiors.
[Intelligence]Joe wasn't the most educated or book-smart fellow, but he knew his limits. He could tell he was smarter than this thing.
Joe kept his revolver leveled on the beast. Tread softly and carry a big stick.
"If you were aware of my kind, then you should not have shot first when I was very obviously talking. And you, a Ranger, of all things! The Vault Dweller sided with them, AND my kind back then. You are a disgrace to the uniform, a fake, an asshole. This situation is entirely your fault. Make your amends now."
"Hesitation gets people killed. Besides; those weren't kill-shots. Any Deathclaw would recover from the injuries I initially intended in a day. I had no idea dad's stories about intelligent Deathclaws were actually true."
[Karma]Though Joe trusted the creature about as far as he could throw it, if it was stopping to talk, he was obligated to try to reason with it.
[Persuasion]"If you're not familiar with your entire history, you may not know that Goris worked with humans in relatively successful harmony. Any interest in following his example?"

???

He walked down the hall, the amber lit sign above him reading 'Canteen'. A man walked next to him, just out of his peripheral. "We''ll let the guys know the water's good again and get a beer eh?"

The man reached out to press the door switch, the other next to him, looking very blurry. What was he wearing? Was it blue?

Just as the man's fingers touched the button an alarm sounded, filling the corridor, lights flashing. A voice boomed out of nowhere, possibly from some sort of speaker system. "This is the..."

.............................

Redstone Camping Ground

Kaiden shot out of bed, throwing his cover across the trailer and barging his way through the door. He took in a deep breath and steadied his shaking, clammy hands. That last dream had really shaken him up.

Why am I having these dreams? Why now? Could it be the blow to my head? Or those drugs the Doctor gave me?... I must find him. He thought to himself as he leant back against his trailer.

Kaiden composed himself, believing that standing around looking weak wasn't going to help him. He got back in his trailer, quickly tidied everything up, wrapped his hands in clean boxing tape and donned a clean cloak. Heading outside he spotted one of his brother's, a Super Mutant named Julius. Julius was a relatively small Super Mutant of below average intelligence who worked as a scout and usually as a patrol guard at Redstone Camp Ground. 

"Julius friend, what can you tell me of New Wheatland?" Asked Kaiden, knowing Julius had probably seen it on his expeditions.

Wyoming Wastes - Somewhere

"Funny, in Dad's stories, Goris was a lot smarter than you."

Who's Goris?

"I do not live in a Vault, as my ancestor did. When the clan left, educational material became limited. More of the traditonal way had to fill in the gaps. It is only natural."

It's talking again...

"But that does not excuse you...you gun-happy, irritating, moron."

Gun-happy, irritating, moron... Agreed.

"If you were aware of my kind, then you should not have shot first when I was very obviously talking. And you, a Ranger, of all things! The Vault Dweller sided with them, AND my kind back then. You are a disgrace to the uniform, a fake, an asshole. This situation is entirely your fault. Make your amends now."

Agreed.

"Hesitation gets people killed. Besides; those weren't kill-shots. Any Deathclaw would recover from the injuries I initially intended in a day. I had no idea dad's stories about intelligent Deathclaws were actually true."

And yet when it acted in self defence you decided it should die.

"If you're not familiar with your entire history, you may not know that Goris worked with humans in relatively successful harmony. Any interest in following his example?"

Goris must have been a Deathclaw... Now he wants it to join him? What the fuck?

Martin realigned his aim to Joe's head, if they couldn't talk eachother out of another fight, a dead Joe might make surrendering easier...

The Rabbit Hole: Mercy

The Youngest of the Rabbit sisters sat still as her Sissy V's hologram brought a ghostly and glowing hand up to her cheek and touched it, not figuratively, not metaphorically but very much quite literally, causing the Burnt Bunny to wince a bit as the increased power of the Holographic Hare's holographic projection unit cause a barely noticeable puff of smoke to rise from area where the hand touched her cheek.

"Thank you Mer-Mer," the little eyebot said, syncing the hologram's lips with her words, "You... have no idea how much that means to me... to hear you say that."

V's words were quickly followed by a fond nuzzling that Mercy had come to enjoy very very very much.

There was still the matter of the pain that the Holo Hare's projection had caused the Burnt Bunny, a pain that took the form of a minor 1st degree burn that was starting to become noticable in a small mirror that Mercy kept near by to see who was behind her when she was working at her workbench.

"Vera. Your hologram, it burnt me. That's - that should have been impossible." The Amazed Rabbit whispered to her Amazing Rabbit Sister. From Vera's perspective, she could see cogs spinning inside of the Tiniest Little Bunny's mind, like some sort of gGant Super Mutant Rube Goldberg Machine, whoever this Rube Goldberg was.

"That means that if we can somehow tune or adjust your holographic projector and the power settings, maybe, just maybe we can make it so that your holograms can interact with physical objects. It'd me far better than your multitool and if we keep going, maybe we can make it so that you can feel everything that you hologram's interacting with!" The Boisterous Bunny said in a voice that got louder and louder and more and more excited.

"V. This could be the most important breakthrough of the century and it's all because of you, you genius you!" She exclaimed giving the Bunny Ball of Fun a wet slobbery kiss on the face plate, her mind excited to start experimenting. There was one teeny tiny problem. Her mind never quite worked right on an empty stomach. Time to fuel up.

As a child, well more so than she was now, Mercy loved to experiment in the kitchen and often subjected her parents and friends to her creations. She soon discovered she had quite the knack at cooking, well sort of a knack.

Grabbing a cutting board, a knife and some fresh vegitables and meat, the Boiling Bunny was soon hard at work creating what should have been a nutrious soysauce stir fry that consisted of brahmin steak, cut into thin strips, and stir fried vegetables. Should have.

----------30 minutes later----------

Looking at the greyish sludge in front of her, the Recipe Rabbit decided that the dish was done and that it looked ediblish, even though it smelled like warm boiled socks mixed with Rad Away and Blamco.

Spooning a pile of the grey goo into a bowl, the Hungry Hare took a small, experimental bite - and gagged. If the smell was any indication of the taste, the reality was quite a bit worse.

The Rabbit Hole: Vicky

"V. This could be the most important breakthrough of the century and it's all because of you, you genius you!" The Youngest of the Rabbit sisters said in an excited fashion that caused the Tall and Pale Undertaker to smile as she sat there observing the Rabbit Family in their natural habitat. As she swished the pale green Absinthe in the glass the rested in the palm of her hand, Victoria's body informed her that it was time to get up and stretch her limbs. She had been seated for too long and her aching muscles, sore from the wounds that she had sustained, needed to be exercised.

"If you'll all excuse me." The darkly dressed woman murmured as she stood up and headed for the door and eventually the nearby ruins some burnt out buildings, grabbing her holoplayer as she left.

Standing in the shade of the blackened walls, the Undertaker place the earbuds in her ears and started stretching as she heard a symphony orchestra tuning their instruments and as the music started the Undertaker was transformed into a ballet dancer.

The Happiest Place on this Blasted Earth: The Rabbit Hole.

Vera immediately started playing the child screaming 'Sorry' when she realized that she had burned her wonderful little sister. A few moments later, the little eyebot was completely floored (almost literally), when Mercy's face became animated as she described possible improvements that could be made to her hologram projector.

"Feel it?" Vera repeated, stunned, "How could that be possible?"

Vera was still feeling a bit guilty about causing even very minor harm to her little sister, so she resolved to make up for it later... somehow.

"V. This could be the most important breakthrough of the century and its all because of you, you genius you!" The Ego-Boosting Bunny said before giving Vera a big wet kiss right on... where her nose would be if she were human.

Vera couldn't think of what to do except float there, staring at her amazing sister as she prepared a meal for herself. The little eyebot couldn't help but watch, somewhat jealous, even of the pile of gray sludge... as Mercy started eating. Love ya 'dad', but sometimes, you really were an asshole. Like when you programmed me with memories of what eating is like! Gah![/b]

"Umm... excuse me, Mer-Mer," the iBunny said slowly and politely edging herself out of the room, "But I uh... need to go do something real quick."[/b]

-----

Elsewhere in the Rabbit Hole.

Vera floated into the blackened room to find Vicky... dancing. With unbelievable grace and finesse. Vera watched as Vicky practically did a rehearsal of Swan Lake right in front of her. If she had hands, the little eyebot would be applauding... as it was...

"Wow, Vicky." she blurted out, "I can see why she likes you."

Before Vicky could respond to that, Vera starting whirring and sparking as she tried to resist another hacking attempt. It was in vain though. And soon enough, an all too familiar gruff monotone broke through.

"So," the voice said through Vera, "You have chosen your path, Undertaker-Assassin. Didn't expect you to reveal yourself to them so quickly, but... its certainly worked in... our favor, hasn't it? The prize I promised you is still on the table if you want it. All you need do is heed my warning: the Legion has returned. It comes to bring stolen fire to the Khans and their holdings. Cheyton won't be left out of the coming war for long. It won't last long either. Be ready."

Finally free of [i]his influence.

"Fucking asshole!" she screamed, "You know... I still remember the first couple of times he did that to me... well... ED-E. Its... I don't know if there's a good human analog to what its like. Its... like all of your resistance to it is irrelevant. No matter how hard you try to fight back against it... some asshat that knows how to hook a radio into a computer can just..."

She let the sentence hang there as she started to go into a series of angry, somewhat hysterical sobs. Then the little eyebot coughed.

"Sorry," she said, "I didn't mean to intrude. I... understand if you don't want me around right now. I'll... just go..."

Cheyton Hares' Quarter:

The Tall and Lithe Undertaker could barely believe her accursed luck as the voice of the twice accursed Ulysses (Once cursed for getting the drop on her and twice cursed for mussing up her favorite dress) was piped through the artificial Rabbit sister's voice box or what passed for a voice box on an eyebot. It had passed Vicky's mind that Ulysses was able to keep track of her movements and actions somehow and yet, it had never occurred to the Professional that he could be using his designated target as his eyes and ears in the Rabbit Household.

The thrice accursed Ulysses was getting almost as annoying as the - well better off leaving ITS name unsaid. It had been years since she had heard ITS voice and it was definitely best not to draw ITS interest once again.

The friendly neighborhood Undertaker could only stand there and watch coolly as the EyeBunny, as Vicky could imagine Tessa or Mercy designating their sister, went through a rather interesting spectrum of emotions before starting to wander off.

"Vera. Wait a moment would you?" The Undertaker of Wyoming asked as gently as she could. Despite the obvious difference between the two individuals standing in the middle of the burnt out building, there was one common thread that the two shared.

"You're right. Ulysses is an asshole and someone that I would like very much to rid the world of." She continued as she sat down on a bench shaped piece of rubble, the sunlight that sneaked through the cracked walls causing the woman's skin to glisten as it danced off beads of sweat.

"I might now know much about your history or who you are but the fact that we share a common dislike for that - asshole - is good enough for me. But, there is one thing that I can already tell that we're going to argue about one day -" The Undertaker said with a rather serious expression on her face, one that meant business, one that had placed a lot of thought into her next sentence.

"- We're going to argue about who gets to send Ulysses to the after life." Vicky said as her expression transitioned into that of a smile.

"Now that business has been discussed, you sounded as if you wanted to discuss something, something that I can assume involves Tessa?"

The Dark Room.

"I..." the eyebot sort of choked at first, "I don't know what to say. I, really don't know if I even really want him dead exactly... I just wish he'd leave me alone."

"Now that that business has been discussed, you sounded as if you wanted to discuss something, something that I can assume involves Tessa?" the Morbid Honorary-Bunny said, cutting right to the chase.

"Um..." Vera struggled to regain her composure, "I just kind of... noticed how close the two of you were getting, and um... well, she's my sister so... I just wanted to warn you..."

She coughed.

[Terrifying Presence] "You hurt her, and you answer to me," the little eyebot said, sounding oddly like Tessa in both phrasing and voice, "Understand?"

The Black Room:

[Terrifying Presence] "You hurt her, and you answer to me," the little eyebot said, sounding oddly like Tessa in both phrasing and voice, "Understand?"

Sitting on the piece of rubble that was conveniently shaped like a bench and looking at the EyeBot and absorbing the warning that it had just thrown at her, the Morbid Swan was having a bit of a difficult time in that she wasn't sure whether the correct reaction towards the Artificial Rabbit sister would be "Awwwwww" or "AWWWWW!!!"

Knowing that Vera Rabbit was attempting to intimidate her, the Black Jack Rabbit made a show of visibly swallowing the fear that would have been there had the EyeRabbit truly terrified her.

"I understand little Vera Rabbit." Undertaker McGee said gently as she regarded the curious floating robot in front of her. It wasn't curious that the EyeBot would be displaying such fierce loyalty towards its "sister," any programmer worth his caps could mimic that, but what was curious was how intricacies that the Rabbit sisters had to go through in order to gain the EyeBot's loyalty. The two Rabbit sisters had displayed genuine affection towards Vera Rabbit and in return the little Floating Robot Rabbit was mirroring the affection back towards the sisters. It stood to reason that whomever had created Vera's personality had modeled it on someone they knew intimately, inside and out.

"It's quite admirable that you would stick up for your sister like that and in that way, I envy." The Undertaker admitted as she stood up and began stretching out her sore muscles once again.

"Don't get me wrong, my parents were quite protective of me, a bit too protective at times but I sometimes wished that I had someone else in the picture that would also be as protective of me as you are over your sisters. The only thing that I had growing up was a cousin whose sole purpose seemed to be terrorizing me." Vicky continued as she remembered the day that her cousin and her Uncle had shown up on the family door step. Blinking to herself, The Tall and Pale Black Swan realized what she was saying and added a hasty.

"Well - All that's in the past." She murmured before returning to the original topic.

"I would never fault you for burning me to a crisp should I hurt Tessa's feelings. In fact, I would encourage you to do so should I ever act to foolishly as to hurt her in any way, shape or form."

The Black-walled room of the Rabbit Hole.

Vera listened patiently to Vicky's story about her family life. She listened with rapt attention to it as the Black Swan continued, as the tale was the first real opportunity the little eyebot had to compare her current family life with the Rabbits with... anything else that was even remotely similar. Vera was kind of surprised at how Vicky's family life had been like... she'd expected some kind of neglect or abuse to make someone an assassin, but the biggest surprise came at the end of the story.

"I would never fault you for burning me to a crisp should I hurt Tessa's feelings. In fact, I would encourage you to do so should I ever act to foolishly as to hurt her in any way, shape or form."

"I...I wouldn't go that far," Vera stammered before she regained her composure, "I mean, I'd still think of you as a friend regardless, but, well... gotta look out for my sister, so I'd have to put you out or scare you away with as little physical suffering as possible."

Saying all of that really made Vera feel... weird. She decided to nuzzle Vicky.

"But, really," she said, "I'm glad that out of all of the crazy wastelanders out there that Tessa could have found... I'm glad it was you. Heh. If it goes far enough, might end up being a part of the family. Hell, you're already as much a part of the family as I am."

Just as this touching heart-to-heart concluded...

Same room, but a different perspective

A red-haired man with a scraggly beard, torn up pants, no shirt, and long, looping earrings that extended his lobes down a few inches suddenly appeared in the room and tumbled face-first to the floor as though he had been thrown in from the portal that had opened and closed behind him.

"Goddamned Enclave!" he shouted before taking in his surroundings. He looked at Vicky, who seemed to be staring at him for some reason, "Umm... sorry, but do I know you? Umm... oh crap. You wouldn't happen to be exactly 17 years old, would you? No? Oh good. There's that bullet dodged at least."

Then the strange man noticed the eyebot with a red-and-white paintjob and a little green ribbon.

"Huh," he said, pacing through the room while still looking at Vera, "I think I've seen that ribbon before. It belonged to this woman I... uh... knew around Wyoming or New Vegas. I don't really remember which. Umm... gotta say, you are one sexy eyebot. You have a name?"

"Umm... Vera... Vera Rabbit." the little eyebot replied dumbly.

"Vera... that's a cute name," he said, "Sounds like a name I'd thought of if I'd ever settled down and had a kid... sort of."(1)

(1)
Step aside, Mr. Truant. Turn the eyes completely black. And... hollow out the voice a little. Curl lips into a cold smile as I regard the Undertaker-Assassin.

"Good to see you again, Victoria," I say, in a voice she should recognize instantly, "What have you been up to since last we met? You followed your biological father's footsteps, eh? Became an Undertaker-Assassin. Hmm... I don't think Shifty would have liked that. I know that Mr. Truant would be disappointed with you. He never wanted a violent life for you. All that effort he went through to 'raise you right'... hmm... did it go to waste, I wonder? I guess we'll have to see how this tale progresses to see how that particular thread turns out, won't we?"

I turn Mr. Truant away for a moment, and paw at the walls as if examining them, then I quickly turn his head back to face Victoria.

"See you again soon."

I float Mr. Truant's body into the air and chuckle as the portal re-opens behind me and swallows us back into the past, and the Enclave lab-cell.

The Darkness:

"But, really," Vera Rabbit said as she nuzzled the Friendly Neighborhood Undertaker "I'm glad that out of all of the crazy wastelanders out there that Tessa could have found... I'm glad it was you. Heh. If it goes far enough, might end up being a part of the family. Hell, you're already as much a part of the family as I am."

Now it would have been nice to say that the conversation ended with an understanding that was passed between the Undertaker and the EyeBot, however, it wouldn't quite be the interesting scene if that were the case. No, most definitely not.

As the two participants in said exercise of heart warming conversations prepared to leave the ruined hulk of a burnt out building, a seemingly familiar man was ejected out of a portal and into the room. Familiar in that Victoria McGee knew the man that was sprawled out on the ground, only the person that she knew was quite a bit older than the Dad that landed in front of her.

"Umm... sorry, but do I know you? Umm... oh crap. You wouldn't happen to be exactly 17 years old, would you? No? Oh good. There's that bullet dodged at least." Younger Dad said as Vicky could only stand there dumbfounded by what she saw standing in front of her, his appearance in the middle of the room and his appearance as someone quite younger than the Dad that she was used to seeing had sapped the very words from The Undertaker's mouth.

It wasn't until IT started speaking to her that the confusion that the Black Veiled Bunny was experiencing was broken as she started reaching for Milly, only to find that she had left the Silenced 10mm Pistol back at the Rabbit Household.

"See you again soon." IT said before disappearing into the past where IT belonged causing the Black Swan to bathe in the feelings of relief and confusion.

"Dad?" The Young Woman dressed in black muttered as something about the whole scene struck a chord in the back of her mind as being oddly familiar before the answer struck her in the head like a shovel.

"Vera, you'll have to excuse me for a while." The Undertaker said as she started heading for the Rabbit Hole or more specifically started heading for her bags.

----------Inside the Rabbit Hole: Tessa's Room----------

Vicky was sitting in the middle of the floor as she took the pack that had once belonged to her cousin and turned it upside down, allowing the contents to spill onto the floor. Once upon a time, it had held countless "treasures" but now, it only held a large stack of comic books, more specifically, The Adventures of Gauss Girl and Manic Red by J.T.

Pulling out Issue #0, Vicky flipped through the comic book until she found just what it was that was bugging her.

Looking over the colorful page, Vicky McGee stared at the single panel that had bugged her for the longest time. It showed the comic series' illustrator and Vicky's dad being ejected from a portal and into a darkened and ruined room that was occupied by a young and pale woman dressed in black and an EyeBot.

"He - he was telling the truth?" The Young, Pale and Tall Woman murmured as she stared at the page, trying to remember if her Dad had any more incidences of time travel in the comic series.

"Vera, you'll have to excuse me for a while." The Under-Bunny said as she dashed out of the room.

Worried about her friend, Vera slowly followed Vicky. Careful to not be seen, she floated closer until she could see the comic that the Black Swan was reading.

Upon seeing the scene that they had just been in, the little eyebot ran a quick diagnostic on her visual scanners. There had to be something wrong with them, what she was seeing on the comic was impossible. The diagnostic finished, everything was working just fine. Somewhat disturbed by the possible implications... Vera decided to ignore that detail for now. Right now, her new friend was disturbed, or possibly hurt. So...

"Sorry Vicky," she said, "I know you wanted to be alone for a minute, but... I had to make sure you were okay. So... are you? Is there anything I can do to help?"

Along Route 59
5 Miles North of Cheyton

Oooh, Brahmin! Stew licked his lips as he confirmed what his sight had hinted at earlier. He had been following the herd for a while now catching a glimpse over the horizon every now and again, but now they had come to rest where a stream passed under the highway. A bridge over the expanse used to stand, but had long since toppled into the water below. A caravan of Brahmin grazed peacefully on what little scraps of grass they could scrounge. At the head of the column three humans sat wasting time waiting for their herd to recover. Stew approached them hesitantly, aware of how intimidating he can look.

The trio started for a moment as one of the ranchers reached for his repeater as soon as he glimpsed Stew coming up on the group.

"Please, no trouble..." Stew trailed off waving his hands in the air, palms out in a sign of peace. The man cocked an eyebrow and lowered his weapon ever so slightly, still wary of the fact that an almost half-ton killing machine stood before them. "Humans... care to trade?"

"Would you get a look at this sumbitch, Rick. He's biggern' hell, but he can still talk, weird... hehe" One of the ranchers remarked, spitting a huge wad of chew out of his mouth, his smile showed particles of the tobacco still stuck in his teeth...

"I only ask... to trade humans... you have brahmin... yes?"

"Get rid of this fucker," one of the hands remarked, I don't like the looks of him. Besides we gotta get this merchandise to the slaughterhouse, before that rancher..." The man silenced with one look from the third gentleman, his icy stare froze the man's tongue in place and he didn't say another word.

[Sub-Brick] "Merchandise?" Stew mused, "All I see is.... brahmin..." [INT2/4]

'Stolen merchandise you half-wit!" The man with the chew said between spitting.

The third man finally spoke up "Either of you two say another goddamn word, I will shove a rad-roach so far up your ass..." He glared angrily at his two companions as a calm silence fell upon the odd group of cattle rustlers and one lonely super mutant.

"...Stolen..." Stew finally said at last "...Stolen...?" He puzzled again.

The light finally clicked on in Stew's head, and a sense of understanding crept across his face followed by an ill-attempt to hide the truth he had uncovered.

"Shoot this ugly sumbitch!" The cattle thief with the chew hollered. He began to raise his repeater to Stew's chest

Stew was miles ahead of them as he drew the club on his back, and smashed it into the man's head with such a ferocity that made sure his friends would cry identifying the body. Brown brackish liquid flowed from his mouth as the club connected squarely with his cheek knocking him off his feet. His leg twitched once and he passed from existence.

"You... were rude to me.." He said to the two companions as they stood with bewildered looks on their face. The leader drew his pistol, albeit too slowly as Stew's club connected with the hand, shattering it into about a thousand pieces of bone shrapnel. "Dumb human..." he said blankly. Stew watched as the third rustler did a full 180 degrees and ran in the opposite direction. He let him go, there was no use ending his pathetic life. The leader had been brought to his knees and was softly whimpering, clutching his ruined mess of a hand. Blood stained his clothes and the ground at his knees.

Stew shoved his face into the dirt with minor exertion from his massive arm, he wept aloud. Stew rolled over the man's accomplice and collected the satchel around his neck. He looked through it and a small pile of caps sat in the bottom, he stuffed the caps into his rucksack, and watched in amusement as the leader began to inchworm his way out of Stew's sight, clutching his stump. Stew allowed this man to crawl away with his life, but his dignity was thoroughly diminished...

He glanced around at the herd of brahmin and thought this place would do just fine for tonight. He knew what he was having for dinner... I'm sure the farmer these belong to won't notice one or two missing.

Cheyton: Lucky Loser Lane
"Are you sure this is the place?" asked Ollie. "It doesn't seem like the place where a person would go to hide."
The trio of Khans stood at the corner of Lucky Loser Lane, the so-called "high society" district of Cheyton, for what it was worth. The older Khans had talked about places back in Nevada; The Strip, New Reno, and talked about how fancy they were compared to the average settlement. The road was nowhere near as fancy as the places they had described, but compared to the rest of the town, it definitely stood out from the run down, half repaired buildings.

"According to the Bounty Office, yes, this is where Vincent hangs out," said Harland. He pulled out his pistol, popping in a fresh clip, chambering the first round. "Time to collect on a debt. Let's go."

Anna, Harland and Ollie strode brazenly down the street, brandishing their weapons. Ollie had the Govenator in one hand, and his hatchet in the other. The rich denizens retreated into their houses, slamming the doors shut and shuttering their windows. They came to number 53, Vincent Hasting's house. The front yard was littered with used syringes and Jet inhalers. Hastings was a particularly notable customer of the Great Khans, but he had broken their trust when he had killed Jon. The Khans would repay him in kind.

Cheyton: Tolliver's Road
Melissa grabbed the Rattler by his scruff and threw him into the pavement. Four burly Khans surrounded the tribal, delivering vicious kicks and punches to the man. The other Khans and shocked onlookers watched the brutal beating continue for minutes. Melissa watched impassively. Why should she feel pity for scum like this? Every Khan had taken their licks for their initiation to the clan. The Rattlers branded their own with venom burned tattoos. He was getting off easy. They still needed him to talk. "Pull him up," she said.

The Khans hauled the Rattler to his feet. His face was unrecognizable, both his lips were split, his teeth were knocked out, and intense swelling around his eyes only served to pool blood into his eye sockets. The Rattler's breaths were ragged, and he winced with each inhale, evidence of several broken ribs. Melissa grabbed the man's hair and pulled his head up. "Where are you headed? The raiders have been moving west for months, why? Answer me before I give you back to my friends."

The Rattler offered a half toothed grin, spitting his bloody teeth at Melissa. She responded with a punch to the gut that knocked the wind out of him. "I'll ask again: where are you heading, and why are you working with the Legion?"

"You really think we are working with those freaks?" said the Rattler. "You've got it backwards. That Lanius fucker might think that he's the toughest shit in the Wasteland, and he might be. But the Legion has nothing on the rest of the alliance. If you saw what we've been running from, you would side with anybody."

"That's a nice answer with no information," sneered Melissa. "Did you know about the attack on Laramie?"

The Rattler shook his head. "That wasn't one of ours. Lanius had his own little grudge to settle, that was his idea to attack you. Most of the guys I know just want to get the fuck out of the Dakotas. Honestly, letting you shits deal with that would have been better than burning the place. Would have slowed 'em down at least."

"Slowed who down?" pressed Melissa.. "Who is out there, and what is going on?"

The Rattler grinned evilly, even as blood continued to pour from his ruined face. "Everybody. Every fucking person in Dakota. They've changed, and they're coming."

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