Setting & BackgroundEdit
The Jersey-Hoboken Complex. A religious community in the middle of the wastes sits as a buffer between New York and the rest of New Jersey. After the Rain of Fire, it also became home to disparate members of the Crusade, which happens to be when the trouble started.
Groups that used to travel freely from one city to the other suddenly couldn't. Supplies and other goods that once came over the GWB (The George Washington Bridge) were now confiscated and, in some cases, destroyed. The Northeast Enclave, who police the New Jersey Turnpike and the GWB have become a lot more aggressive, demonstrating their strength in order to make a show of their power there.
Until now, none of the surrounding communities really realized, and likely neither has the J.H.C., how important it is. For Newark and its criminal enterprises, it means that their smuggling operation came to a sudden halt. For Yorkrod and the Manhattan Order of Steel it means that their going to start turning elsewhere for supplies and help. For Better Society, Inc. it means that the city they once had a strong hold on must have gone rogue.
Some believe that there's something new happening, something else going on in the J.H.C., something that the world hasn't seen for nearly 500 years.
A spread out group of wanderers will find themselves heading toward the J.H.C. in the middle of what could become one of the greatest disasters in recent history.
Nicole van der Linde sat across from Jip Chryslus, one of the more powerful gang leaders in Slayerville. She was glad that she'd contracted the dumb mutant to come along, because otherwise she and the other guards would be swiss cheese.
"As you can see Jip, the kind of trade routes that we could open up for your factories could be beneficial for all of us. All you got to, is reach an agreement. I can have our people present an initial draft, and if it's amenable - I mean - if it sounds good - really, what have you got to lose?"
The thing about these kinds of people - sometimes the illusion of power is as strong as actual power. It was most likely a settlement of former raiders because even those people need to settle down. They're quick, dumb, and superstitious. The scouts that Better Society sent were right on. Nicole looked up at Roy and thought, "I even brought the best negotiator money could buy."
"The raiders, right, they're camped out in their little tent, their rifles on their sides, all snug as a bug in a rug. Their money counted and their salvage sorted, nothing could go wrong tonight. That is, until one of them stepped out for a piss, and a mine blew up in their faces. A couple grenades flew in and their last breath was a gasp of smoke from the burning tent. That's when the reaper of death, the man they thought they'd killed walks into the tent to get back his stuff. 'I am the Reaper of Death,' he says. 'Justice has been served.'" Blake Wilson finishes his story, taking a swill of whiskey.
"Wait, he walked into a burning tent?" said the man in the Robco jumpsuit. The table had been captivated for nearly an hour, and this jackass ruined the illusion. "How do you walk right into a burning tent in nothing but a duster - wearing grenades?"
"Don't know man, that's just how the story goes." Blake responded. "You got a better one?"
The Frying Pan, a small bar in a boat on the Hudson River, is merc central. It's where the worst of the worst can enjoy a drink just a rifle shot away from those dogooders on the Hell's Kitchen rooftops.
"I've heard crazier." In the corner, a man in a worn suit that fits a bit too small on him approaches the light. Only there did everyone see the scars on his face, the pus-filled scaly skin of a ghoul. "But then, I've lived a long time."
The rest of the group fell back in shock at the man's appearance. It's not that ghouls weren't frequent here, it's just rare that they come out in the light. Blake, on the other hand, seemed focus on something about the man's tie - a swirly, paisley pattern he hadn't seen in, well, how long was it?
"Mr. Wilson, I've heard of your stories," the man said. "I'd like to share a few more with you. In private, you understand."
It was a disgusting display. The huge . . . thing . . . sat, chewing on what could only be described as a mutated Rottweiler. The crunch of bone as the beast dug it's chisel-like teeth into it's meal's bones. It gnashed it's teeth, tearing flesh from bones with a terrible ripping noise. The body twitched and bounced about in the monster's massive, green-grey grasp, as if alive and struggling to be free from this monstrosity's horrifying attack. Another crunch. Blood dripped down the creature's face, slicking it's chin and it's snow shovel-like hands. Another ripping noise as the bewast rent a massive slab of flesh from the dog's flank. A loud belch, showering a nearby slave with spittle, blood and small lumps of raw, half-chewed dog meat. With a rip, crunch and pop, the creature tore the dog's leg clean off. It began feasting on the thigh, massive, broad, and strangely white teeth shredding the raw meat and cracking the top off the femur. With a horrible slurping noise, the great, grey-skinned beast began to suck the marrow from the dog's bones. Another crunch and the creature took another bite, crushing through flesh and bone as if they were nothing. Then, and only then, when it's mouth was full of what had to be half a dog's worth of meat chunks and bone shards, did the beast begin to chew. Crunching and tearing, alternating between chewing with it's mouth open and closed, grunting, snorting and belching in an alternating cycle, it continued it's meal. Those in the room not taking part in the deal were held captivated by this primal display. Like watching a train-wreck, they all wanted to look away, but couldn't. Some left the room. One was dry-heaving. Another sprinted away to vomit violently outside on the pavement.
As far as Roy himself was concerned, this was all great fun. He'd found the dog dead on the road outside and had finally found somewhere comfy to sit down and eat it while the Boss negativitied - no, that wasn't the word . . . ne-go-tee-ate-ed? While she ate someone called Ed? Couldn't be right. Whatever, she was talking to the man about draughts. Maybe the Boss was here to fix the strange man's house. Roy couldn't feel a draught. He shrugged his massive shoulders and returned to inhaling chunks of dog meat while the other Little Uns living in the place stared on at the massive Super Mutant. Roy had only recently discovered that he was, in fact, a Super Mutant, not a Big Un. Maybe it was like a Super Hero. Roy knew he couldn't fly. He was pretty strong though. He kept eating. And eating, and eating. Aaaaooohhh!!!! Roy thought as he finished with the dog and bit his own hand. He shook his hand painfully, splashing blood and spit over the Little Un next to him. Roy then stood up and paced over to the Boss. He stood next to her, arms folded as the strange man across the table looked at a piece of paper with letters on it. Roy took to licking his hands clean when he got bored with trying to read the paper from this way up. It was all topsy-turvy. Or invested. Invertex? Wat was that word?
Roy growled in frustration at not being able to find the word, earning himself some shocked expressions all over the room. One woman leaped backwards and hid behind a table. Roy cast a glance back at them, raising a big, heavy eyebrow in an expression he'd seen used before. People immediately went back to what they were doing, fearful to anger the monster among them. Roy turned back to the door, where the other guard was standing, arms foldered. Roy sighed and sat back down. He was easily bored, but always easily entertained. He found a tray to play with, bending the steel disc over and over until he was left with nothing but a silvered arrow flight. He then put it in his mouth and started chewing. Well, that was another plaything gone. Roy looked at an overturned table in the middle of the room. He reached a tree-trunk-like arm over and pulled a leg clean off the table and turned it over in his hand, contemplating whether or not he should find out how it tasted. So, against his better judgement, Roy took a bite out of the polished mahogany. Tasted terrible. Out of politeness, Roy swallowed, but when he thought no one was looking, he tossed what was left of the table leg out the window, then looked at the ceiling, pretending he'd been sitting there doing nothing the whole time. He was ready when the Boss was. There were more work to be doing to get done up here in New Jersey.
Lucas had been put into a difficult situation. A group of Gangsters had for some odd reason invaded his stash, and killed all three of the armed guards he'd set up. In fact, he was beginning to think it was because he had sold only
a few dozen a couple of jet canisters on their turf!
However, what was really annoying Lucas Moss was this annoying mother fucker yelling at him to get things done. An Italian fuck named "Vittorio Cardanvinolombitchassmotherfucker" or whatever he was called, was yelling his ass off at Lucas to get out and ice some bitch ass Dealer working for the Enclave. Why the hell am I taking this shit? I should ring this bitches neck right now. Oh wait, his family would be on me faster then a gold digger on a old man's balls.
"Now Mr. Lucas, what's it going to be? You scratch my back, I scratch yours. Capeche?" Lucas had just about had it with this guys shit, so he got up off the old couch he was sitting on. "Yes Vittorio. It will be done immediately, as soon as I find this mans location, he will be dead. Send Don Cardanelli my regards." Lucas then left the building, and started heading towards a house, where his old acquaintance hopefully was.
"Ms. van der Linde," Jip said, more civilized than Nicole even expected. "I know what you and your company wants. You think we live in a bubble? Those rejects from up north, in that J.H.C. place, well, they know all about Wagner's megachurch. I'm sorry, but religion is not something we buy into here. You understand that the Rejects really don't want to know."
Jip snaps his fingers and in walks a huge, malformed, mountain of a green ma - almost as big as Roy. The scouts didn't mention that Slayerville had mutants of their own. The rest of the bar begins to breath a sigh of relief - apparently they know this other monster. Nicole turns to Roy, signaling him to stay calm as the new Super Mutant takes his place behind Jip. Wagner was a name Nicole had heard before, though she wasn't sure - wait - the new branch manager at the J.H.C. - Andrew Wagner. He was supposed to be a marketing genius, which is why he was placed on the project.
"Any questions, Ms. van der Linde?" Jip pressed.
"Mr. Chryslus," Nicole stepped in. "I can assure you that Better Society caters each branch to the community it serves. We're here mainly because you provide a valuable service. Ammunition is incredibly important in the world today, and it may even have a place in the Better Tomorrow."
"May have a place?!" Jip pressed. His Mutant growls.
Nicole edged on. "Now now, violence is part of human nature, yes, but imagine a Better Tomorrow where it will only be necessary for hunting, or protection? Can you imagine that?"
"We're more than hunters here, your highness. We've been given the opportunity to redo society from the ground up - our own 'better tomorrow' you bitch. Imagine a world where the things you do really mean something, and aren't lost in your corporate regiments. Imagine a world where we have no need for corporations, we produce as we go, we - "
The man was a fast talker, no wonder he rose in the ranks here. Nicole actually has some work cut out for her. Better Society has given Nicole everything she has, but she's not so naive as to not know that they could take it away.
"Aren't you self important," Nicole began, loudly enough for everyone to hear. "I give you the opportunity to increase your sales, your outreach, to not just supply a few gangs, but supply the fucking state and you think you're too good, you're too high and mighty to sign the fucking contract? Forget it, we don't want your business." Then, to everyone. "This is the guy in charge of your asses? He doesn't have the business sense of a four year old. I wouldn't be surprised if you woke up tomorrow, and the Enclave didn't take the factory. Assholes."
Nicole gets up, turning to leave.
Jip's Mutant, that mountain of a man, had a thought. A dangerous thought, as such things are to Super Mutants. That thought is that Chryslus isn't looking out for Slayerville. And that's exactly what Nicole wanted him to think. "Wot she mean, Enclave take over?"
She looks up at Roy, who's obviously agitated. "Our work is done here, Roy."
It didn't take long for the bar, full of inebriated and frightened former raiders, to begin fighting. Nicole beckons Roy to follow her out.
As the bar erupted into chaos, Roy did what Roy did best. Well, what Roy did best other than referring to himself in the third person while he was thinking. He got to bouncing people away. Casually hefting an indignant Boss up onto his shoulder with one hand and bullrushing the crowd with his pillar-like forearms. He grabbed one old Raider and used him as a bludgeon, lifting him up and swinging him straight at another ex-Raider, bouncing his unfortunate target out through the window. Once clear of the brawling crowd, Roy barged through the door, setting Nicole down next to the other guard and turning back to face the bar. A trio of Raiders charged out after them, but immediately re-thought their decision as Roy pulled his Super Sledge, or Power Hammer as he called it, from the haphazardly-made straps on his back. Roy shattered the leg of the one in the middle, who was unfortunate enough not to have slowed down as fast as the other two. With Roy's strength behind it, the Sledge didn't so much break the man's leg as much as tear it clean off halfway down his thigh. The force of the attack carried on, shattering the man's other leg and cartwheeling the body into the air like a pinwheel. The Raider's long hair and beard looked funny as the man screamed and flailed on the ground, clutching at his stump as it spat blood out in a pretty pattern on the ground.
"Back off," Roy snarled, sending the other two ex-Raiders charging back into the bar with more-than-due haste.
Roy slung his hammer back into it's sling-like straps with a satisfied grin as he picked up the Raider as his eyes glazed over in shock. Roy chuckled. The man looked tasty. With a strange look on his face, Roy lifted the man up, his mouth closing around the front of the man's head with a sick crunch. Bad decision. He tasted terrible. Roy cast the faceless body to the ground disgusedly and spat out the half-chewed chunk of head, wincing. He tasted terrible. Really terrible. Roy shook all over, spitting like a large, discoloured child who had been forced to eat broccolli.
"Les go Boss," Roy said to Nicole after he finally recovered his composure.
"You said you had a story old man?" Blake Wilson followed the strange ghoul out from the dock, along the West Side Highway. A Killer Bee Patrol flies by, dangerously skidding between broken down Highwaymen.
"Years ago, this entire area was a park - what's not underwater." The ghoul began. "It was green, and many would come here, just to catch a glimpse of the Jersey skyline. Though honestly, I really can't remember why."
"Ancient history, one of my favorites," Blake rolled his eyes.
"Mr. Wilson, believe me when I say that it's an honor to meet you the second time, the first wasn't so charming, Oscar Tango."
Blake's eyes unfocus, only for a moment, and suddenly, the ghouls disturbing eyes are right in front of his.
"The job's simple - a get in and grab job. The J.H.C. was never a problem before, but it's an Enclave protected community so any anomaly we have to investigate. We don't like the Enclave."
Oscar glares at the Ghoul through Blake's eyes. "Speedball. This is why you woke me up?"
"I need someone who can get in and get out unseen. You, well, Wilson here is the best in the business. We've made sure of that. There is something or someone controlling the people of the J.H.C. and we need you to get past the Enclave and tell us what it is. Sneak or talk your way in, I don't care, just do it. Those religious kooks probably deserve what they got."
"I don't have any team members?"
"You're resourceful. Blake knows people. He knows people who know people. Use that. Find them. Viva las Vegas."
Oscar's eyes unfocus again, and Blake emerges, unsettled.
"So we're agreed then?" Speedball continues.
"It's easier when I know what I'm stealing," Blake says. "But alright."
"Payment will come to you on delivery. Take this." Speedball hands Blake a silenced pistol, 10mm. He immediately knew how to load and use it, even though he has rarely taken these leftovers from the great war. "You might need it."
"I suppose if I get someone to go with me, we split payment?"
"I suppose. That's up to you." The ghoul turns away. "Jesus H. Christ these people." As he advances over the highway, he seemingly disappears.
Blake turns and walks back toward the bar. New job, huge payday. But he's going to need some people to really pull it off.
Bjorn Gudmundson sat at the bar, fondling the haft of Mjolnir at his hip. Looking into the frothy head of the pint he had been served at the little hole in the wall he was currently sitting in, the skald lamented his recent turn of fortune. Loading a small fortune of his caps into the bar's cash register was bad enough when he had been shortchanged and served half of the pints of ale he had been expecting. Before that, his Sleipnir had died in mid-stride and he had been forced to walk the rest of the way there.
Now, half-drunk and staring into a beer, a man in a dark suit approached the mountainous Viking warrior and tapped him on the shoulder. "Hey, buddy," the man said in a low voice, "you wanna do me a favor?" His accent was heavy, so heavy, in fact, that Bjorn felt every word he spoke like a blow to the gut.
"Leave me be." The viking growled. The Joi-zee guy kept talking, so Bjorn reacted quickly with Mjolnir. His opening attack threw the suited guy into a bar table that looked like it had encountered similar damage before, but nowhere near on the scale that had just been wrought upon it. Swinging Mjolnir again, the huge skald smashed in the suited man's right temple, shouting, "Leave me be!"
WHen the task was done, several large men descended upon Gudmundson as though summoned by the death of their comrade, smashing Bjorn into unconsciousness with heavy black cudgels. When the massive viking awoke, he found himself restrained by two large men, facing the desk of a slick-looking man in a grey pinstripe suit, holding a pocketwatch.
"Was wondering when you'd come to," the man grunted, snapping his pocketwatch shut as Bjorn grunted out several curses. "You killed one of my men." Suit said bluntly, adding, "Normally I would have killed you for that." Pulling a .44 Magnum pistol from beneath the desk, Suit pointed it at Bjorn. Gudmundson grunted, attempting to throw off the shoulders forcing him down. Eventually, the Suit put his oversized pistol away. "But," he added again, "I won't. You look like a strapping young man, so I'm going to put you to work. There's a Better Society Incorporated caravan moving through the lands a little ways north of Atlantic City. A few of our boys tried an attack, but some big grey killed them. Your job is to kill Grey, assault and capture the convoy, and then use this-" here Suit held out a radio reciever/transmitter set- "to hail us when the job is done. Good? Good. Ludwig, Johan, escort our new friend out.
Bjorn decended into unconsciousness again.
When he awoke, he was sitting in the deserts north of the town of Atlantic City again, his weapons strapped to his hips, his armor plates crudely reaffixed by someone obviously meaning to anger him. Standing slowly, the skald stalked off in what he hoped was the direction of a trade road.
"YO! Javier! Get yo Hispanic ass down here before I fuckin' bust my way into that shitty piece of wood scraped together you call a house! Lucas Moss was infront of a small, wooden house built before the war. The windows where redone with wood, and where for the most part bolted shut, probably to keep out spiders or guys with guns. Druggie inside was from Mexico, or some other country south of Texas.
A man soon unbolted the windows on the second floor, and slowly his head creeped out of the window. "W-what do you w-want man. I already g-gave you your c-cash..."
"You know what I fuckin' want! Now get your ass down here and unbolt the door bitch!"
Javier then closed the window, apparently bolting it shut. Bitch seemed like he was trying something different, or maybe it was being in house 24/7, only going out to get his fix. God knows how the sucka got enough money to buy his drugs. As soon as Lucas finished that thought, the front door unlocked, and Javier's head peaked out.
"Are you going to invite me, or fuckin' not?" Javier looked around, before silently signaling Lucas to come into the house. "Now, I got a few questions for you. Wanna guess what they are?"
Javier sniffed the air a few times, then looked at the ground. "What dealer I'm going to, and what chems I'm on..."
"Right! Now, round two. Answer those questions before I get a noose and end your miserable ass right now." Lucas for some reason was being more violent then usual today, probably because of his run-in with the Italian mother fucker from earlier.
"Ok, ok. A new guy, he's from the Enclave. He's sellin' this new stuff to me, I don't know what it's called. Pretty potent, like the stuff tribals use but a lot worse on the nose."
"Quick question, why the fuck do you sound normal? You were talking like a fuckin' canary earlier."
"The stuff makes it sound better. I took some on the wa-"
"What the fuck man? What. The. FUCK. Now, let me see this shit."
Javier went back upstairs, only to come down a few seconds later. "Be careful, this stuff's expensive." Javier was holding a canister with a reddish looking liquid on the inside, probably used to hold jet or something. As Lucas examined the Canister, he put it back on the table. Lucas then took out a Handkerchief, and put it on the table. "Mind if I get a sample?"
"Pay me. 20 caps."
"Fuckin...." Lucas sorted through his pocket, pulling out his cap bag. Spilling some on the table, he sorted out twenty caps and put the rest in the bag. Taking the Reddish liquid canister, he squirted it on the Handkerchief. "Fucking gold digger, after all I've done for you and all that shit... Well, where the hell this Enclave guy at?"
"J.H.C. Left for it today, why do you ask?"
"No reason man. And by the way, do me a favor. Go to my friend Jerry, you know Jerry? Course you do. Anyways, he's got some of my left overs, selling them for me. Go to him, give him the canister, and tell him this." Lucas then wrote something down on a slip of paper, and passed it to Javier. "He'll give you two or three Jet Canisters for it, and DON'T do anymore of that shit. I need to see what the fucks going on." Muttering those last few words, Lucas left the house, heading for the only place he could get into the J.H.C. without the Enclave on his ass.
An acoustic tune echoed across the deserted New Jersey road, gradually fading in the distance. Aaron Ramsey plucked a few more strings and went to tune the rotting guitar. He had found the thing in front of a leveled farm house, luckily still mildly intact. It was missing a string and it's shell was cracked, but it still made music. The dry breeze waved through his thick hair, rattling the 12 Gauge "City-Killer" shotgun that was leaning against his salvaged table. He kept it near in case of trouble, although the gangsters from Newark, which lied a couple miles to the east, rarely caused the Schizophrenic any trouble. In fact, he was even granted the occasional visit by one of the traveling trading caverns, one which happened to have one of Aaron's favorite snacks, Pumpkin. It was led by some merchant and his two children. Mark was his name, along with his son, David, and his daughter, Lucy. They've been coming by Aaron's home for some time now, around a year and a half. Although they won't say it, Aaron knew that they only did it because they felt sorry for the loner. He had told them about his jumbled mind, how he wasn't all quite right up in the head. Lucy used to visit him on Sundays and share some Pumpkin Pie, but that has slowly stopped when she started to work for some farmer down south. Aaron liked his peaceful life as of now, there was never any fighting around these parts, and the people were mainly friendly. Often he considered the theory of leaving this set-up he had, which was a good one, and going back to the oppressive Austin wastes. He'd thought about it long and hard. Sure his family still lived there, but for all he knew they could be dead. And they weren't even his real family anyway, right? He set the guitar down and took a swig of firewater, cringing at the bitterness. The sun was starting to set and his dinner, a yearling he bought from Mark, wasn't gonna cook itself. He stood himself up, stretching his back, and called to Iggy, the stray old mut that's made it's home in Aaron's shack. The dog sluggishly got up and walked inside, Aaron following it. Iggy had to be in it's elder years, most likely around 11. They had a mutual relationship though, Aaron fed him, and he provided Aaron with the companionship he so desperately needed.
The two started eating dinner, nothing like old venison...
The grotesque display of the fight irked Nicole, only a little. She lost her composure, briefly, when Roy's "Power Hammer" broke one raider's head. Crushed it, and it folded like a tin can. At Roy's beckoning, she left the bar, not looking back.
"Good job Roy. I shall recommend a gold star for you when we get back."
Just then, a group of Slayervillains runs out, shouting. Nicole turns, placing a hand on Roy - "Stay calm, this is part of the plan."
One of them, a broodish, thick man - a boxer, or a bricklayer - speaks up. "Calm the fuck down guys. Chill. Ms. van der Linde, my guy inside, I am sorry for his rudeness. We would very much like to look at your pape - your proposal."
"You speak for everyone in Slayerville?"
The other raiders shout "Brody! Brody!" like some savages shout out baseball games. The mutant from inside the bar drags the limp body of the previous negotiator out of the bar. He has blood on his mouth and hands. 'Brody' speaks up.
"I am the Champ here. If you deal with me, I can deal with Slayerville. Give us practi - Time." Brody was exactly the kind of negotiator Nicole liked, the kind that searched for his words.
"We will be back in three weeks time, then maybe we can talk."
"Brody! Brody!" The chant was annoying, but Brody's attention was caught elsewhere as he attempted a nod or a bow. Nicole turned. Two Better Society security officers, heavily armed, flank a tall, muscular man in his forties wearing a black suit and sunglasses. "Roman!" Nicole gasped.
Roman Caldwell was - is - Nicole's fiance, though they haven't spoken in nearly two years. She got him a cushy job with security - he's works in Human Resources now, she heard. Termination specialist. His presence isn't good.
"Hello Nicole, your parents say hello," Roman said. "We have a problem."
Blake climbed into the boat off the docks, entering the Frying Pan again. The mercs have resumed to their revelry, some Elvis Presley lookalike on stage doing his best Jailhouse Rock. Blake's seen the holotapes.
"This guy ain't Elvis."
Though, Blake couldn't quite remember where he'd seen the holotapes before.
"Be careful who you say that about," one of the mercs, a tall man in combat armor, looked Blake up and down. "That guy up there is one of the toughest of us, he could take you."
"He'd find me too amusing," Blake reassured him. "How ya been, Zeke?"
Zeke leaned on the bar next to Blake. "Money's tight. Why?"
"I got us a score."
"That old ghoul hitting you up to get something?" Zeke smiled. "You know ghouls ain't trustworthy."
"Yeah, but they have some great stories. They know the way things used to be." Blake turns to him. "And if this doesn't work out, well, we just keep our cut."
"Right, well, where is it? The Met, Madison Square Garden, Cloisters, what?"
"You muscle always trying to go after the M.O.S."
"They got the best stuff!"
"The J.H.C," Blake whispers.
"No, not that place," Zeke shakes his head. "Those guys are weird, man, weird. What could possibly be of any value in Jersey?" Zeke takes a sip as he looks across the Hudson. "Especially those anti-technology fuckbags."
"Museum of Science and Technology."
Zeke spits out his whiskey. Valuable whiskey. "How can we be sure anything's still in that place? Last I heard they'd raided whatever they could get at and burned it in the street.
"So we get at what they couldn't get at," Blake looks around. "We're just going to need a few people."
"You familiar with Andrew Wagner?" Roman raises an eyebrow.
"Branch manager of the J.H.C., my bosses say he's a marketing guru," Nicole was relieved. They'd walked away from Slayerville, heading north. The two security caravans were getting along, wary of Roy and his Power Hammer. Roy still had some dog in his teeth, which he was trying to pick out with the handle end. Some of the guards attempt to make conversation. It's funny, if Nicole didn't know better, he'd swear Roman's guards were fifteen.
"You're doing well for yourself, I'm proud of you." Roman said, but Nicole turned away.
"So tell me about this Wagner."
"Stirring up trouble, we think. Factory efficiency is down 30%. It's harder and harder for our caravans to come in and out. The Enclave checkpoints aren't allowing a lot that we've greased a lot of wheels. Something isn't happening on Wagner's end and no one is talking."
"This guy here in Slayerville, he says Wagner runs some sort of megachurch."
Roman stops. "Can we talk to him."
"He's dead." Nicole looks back at Roman, grinning. "You should have seen it, really, Roy here packs a mean sledgehammer."
"Wish we had time to drop him off before the J.H.C.," Roman says. "Enclave isn't going to like him."
"Roy comes along. I hear even the J.H.C. has their share of Super Mutants wandering around."
"Nothing surprises me any more." Roman says.
Nicole wraps an arm around Roman's waist. Roman looks surprised as they walk on.
"This is exciting, isn't it? My first termination."
Mission Parameters: I.Survey Outworlder parties.
- Notate military capabilities.
- Notate technology base.
- Notate mutation/radiation levels.
- Prepare a brief on Outworlder culture.
- Prepare a brief on candidates for official contact.
- Notate operational industrial facilities.
- Notate exploitable materials.
- If possible, recover high technology artifacts.
- If possible, recover cultural artifacts.
III.Rules of engagement.
- Do not reveal the existence or location of xxxxxxxxxxx.
- Do initiate official diplomatic contact without authorization.
- Do not engage in Outworlder conflicts.
- Defend your person by whatever means necessary, barring means in violation of previous rules.
Your mission is open-ended, discretely return to Aquaculture when your objectives are complete. All reports and requests are to be made by coded message on WWL
Mark Hazard, special agent of SPECTRUM a man who answered only to the Nu Council, reviewed his orders on the screen of his Pip-Boy once more as if in doubt. After the event the Outworlders called the Rain of Fire there had been a gap in communication. He knew Aquaculture itself had likely survived, probably unscathed. It was the Miami-side metro station that was the weak link, he reasoned that if it had been damaged in the event that it would take some time to fix the radio equipment there if it could even be done. For the time being, he was effectively alone: unable to call for authorization or revisions, he wondered if this qualified as a terminated mission. He did want to go back home, after all. His mission had largely been fruitless: the Capital Wasteland and those who resided there were generally useless to Aquaculture. The Brotherhood qualified as a danger, techno-barbarians who would likely strip Aquaculture apart if given the chance. The Pitt had potential, if only the residents were more agreeable. He had heard of the Commonwealth and their androids, if the Nu Council decided the use of these human-like robots was ethical than he would head further north to attempt to acquire the secret of their construction. In the meantime, he wanted to investigate Better Society, Inc. and the much reviled Enclave.
He silently forged ahead, stealthily plotting out a route to the J.H.C.
"Hallo!" Roy had barked to Roman and the security officers, waving his huge, heavy hands. A jarring backflip from his earlier behaviour, smashing people with his Super Sledgehammer and biting folks' heads in half and whatnot. While it was clear that this was stupidity, rather than an attempt to confuse those around him, Roy's erratic behaviour was no less confusing, and usually scary, as he seemed to snap for little to no reason. Now, he was trundling alongside the three guards, the two agents, and a dog that had been following them for some time. Roy had even begun talking to the dog, and had probably been the only living thing to have done so for a long time, as the dog had been keeping it's distance since Roy opened his mouth. Roy was trying to entice it over, but to little success. And he was hungry damnit! Roy then took to listening to the Boss and the New Boss (Roman).
"This is exciting, isn't it? My first termination."
Termination? That sounded violent. And the two new Guards had a lot of firepower on them. Well, meant Roy would be breaking necks pretty soon. Or guarding the door while these guards were breaking necks. And if anyone tried to get in, he'd break their necks. Either way, Roy'd be getting his hands dirty. In a way, he was looking forward to lunch. People that needed killing were generally well-fed and consequently tasted better than the homeless man Roy had been keeping in his bag for a while. He was still there. In fact, Roy had just pulled out a leg and was chewing on it. When he was eating, Roy could concentrate better. He was trying to form-you-late a plan for how to deal with the sichooashun he was going to find himself in later. Thus embroiled in his own thoughts, Roy had not noticed that everyone else had stopped and walked on for a while, eventually realising he had gone too far when he looked over his shoulder for the dog and spotted Nicole, the Boss, making a confused gesture at him and pointing down a sideroad. Roy nodded, and bounded off in the direction she was pointing. He noted why she was pointing so exasperatedly. There was something, presumably large and heavy, barring their way through a collapsed building. Roy rubbed his knuckle-gloved hands together as he lumbered down the semi-collapsed hallway towards what looked like a large chunk of a city bus. Roy flexed his fingers and leaned against the piece of steel, pushing with all his might.
There was a gradual screeching as the steel scraped along the walls. Not that large a chunk, Roy noticed as he reached to the side and dug his fingers into the gap between the bus and the wall and started sliding it into the next room. With a final roar of twisted metal on concrete, the bus piece, just that part with the doors and the driver's seat, and the first row of seats, and the wheels made life a lot easier, but nonetheless, it was an impressive display of strength. Roy grunted and moved along, the other guards quieing up, with Boss and the other Boss between himself and the other leg breakers. There was a job to do, and they needed to get moving. As soon as Roy recovered from walking face-first into a doorframe.
Mark watched the scene unfold from concealment: a man in a earth-colored uniform, flanked by a pair of figures in advanced looking power armor were questioning some scruffy looking wasteland traders. Another power armored soldier was rummaging through the cargo within their brahmin-towed cart. Mark marveled at the weaponry these soldiers were carrying. Aquaculture scientists had known how to create plasma weaponry for decades, but they were seen as unnecessarily extravagant and dangerous to the underwater utopia. To see this many in service...the Agent wished he could take one with him. The soldiers seemed uninterested in trade and Mark wasn't equipped to deal with power armored adversaries.
The Agent noted that the encounter seemed to be coming to a head, the traders and the unarmored soldier's tones were becoming quite heated and predictably violence erupted. The soldiers opened fire on the traders who were reduced to goo, Mark winced at the horrific sight. The unarmored soldier, an officer Mark surmised, was now talking to the soldier who had been going over the cargo. The armored soldier shook his head and the officer calmly took a strange looking grenade from his belt, pulled the pin, and dropped it into the cart. The troops all backed up and the cart exploded in a brilliant green light.
Plasma grenades,Mark thought as he observed the sight in awe They have plasma grenades.
Lucas stared at the George Washington Bridge from a relatively close distance, from what Lucas assumed to be some sort of dock , pondering over how he was supposed to exactly get across the structure without being shot to bits. Beside him was a duffel bag, inside was a .44 lever action rifle, a large amount of caps, and drugs he needed to use to find where the dealer was. Two of those things he wouldn’t be able to bring into the J.H.C, and he wasn’t sure whether or not he was allowed to bring the Switch Blade. Or his pistol seeing as it wasn’t holstered, instead hidden inside his Jacket.
Lucas, after watching what was going on on the bridge for several minutes, put his hand inside the Duffel Bag and rummaged inside for a few seconds before pulling out a small black case, probably used to hold Cigars pre-war. Inside however, was some shit grown out west. Lucas had found out about it only a little while ago, and had been hoarding the majority of it for himself. It resembled cut up leaves in look, and was smoked (usually) from a cigarette with all the Tobacco taken out. Taking a cigar from the Black Case, he after some time managed to take the tobacco out (with the majority of it falling into a small department in the case) then carefully filling it back up with the Tribal shit.
Just when he was about to light the cigar, he saw a green explosion on the bridge…..
The explosion on the GWB could be heard several miles south of the J.H.C. where a strange machine halted. A large, long, and broken down Bus marked "NJ Transit" navigated up the highway toward the New Jersey Turnpike. Inside the bus, Nicole van der Linde and Roman Caldwell looked out toward the green explosion. Roy was on the outside, holding two strong ropes, hauling the huge monstrous bus behind him.
"Enclave," Roman said, with disgust. "We had enough of them back in Atlantis, didn't we hon?"
"That was a long time ago, Roman." Nicole as she checked her Better Society Brand Pip-Boy for their map.
"Squalk...ksshh...bb-b-BRothers and Sisters...kasdhd.." a radio signal popped into the PipBoy, Nicole readjusted it. "ksssch...the J.H.C. From Jehovah's Lost to the Acolytes to the Rainbow Coalition, to even Mt. Sinai, I welcome you all, for we have come together for a grand undertaking. Yes, I know several of us were lost, confused, seeking answers when the Rain of Fire came from heaven above. The Apocalypse was not the Apocalypse we thought it would be, and it continues to this very day..."
It reminded Nicole of the late President Eden's former broadcasts from the Capital Wasteland, only younger, more robust.
"...and it begs the question, how can we make Paradise if they all continue to fight? What does it mean? What is our Purpose for the Better Tomorrow?"
Nicole and Roman looked at one another, confused. "Wagner?"
"It is not enough that we build Paradise, but it is obvious that God is asking us to do more than make ourselves comfortable. The answer may be obvious, but it would make us all uncomfortable. To the Lost, Paradise didn't require this kind of sacrifice. To the Coalition, where War was never a true answer, War has seeped into our souls. The Tribulation that the Crusade had started is not yet over, and we must work to do our best in these trying times. Brothers and Sisters, we have welcomed the refugees from the Crusade, and surrounded ourselves with the Angels from the Enclave. You have all welcomed Crusaders, those fallen members of God's army, into our peaceful shore. Yet, even now there is danger. My visions..."
"Whoah, Roy, whoah," Nicole told Roy to halt. "Wagner's gone tribal."
"My visions have told me that we shall be expecting some visitors. But beware false prophets! For they may hold the same banner for the Better Tomorrow, but that is not their intent..."
Roman and Nicole look around for someone, anyone that could be looking at them. "Spies," Roman said with disgust. "He must have had some in Slayerville."
"...they are not us. We are not the other Branches. We are the True Tomorrow. We shall build it Today. Brothers and Sisters I ask you all to join in, work hard, have a productive and fruitful day. Do God's work, for Tomorrow. For you. For your Faith. Amen."
"We need to sneak in," Nicole said.
Roman looked over at Roy. "Or we can take the direct approach."
They exit along with the two young guards Roman had with him.
"Officer Kade and Officer Brick, attention." The guards stand tall as Roman orders them. "What we are about to do is not a cake walk, but you are used to this.
"Sir! Yes, Sir!" Officers Kade and Brick are in near perfect unison.
"If you would kindly remove your helmets and prepare for recon," Roman continues, and then talks to Nicole and Roy. "While you were out, dear, I've been pretty busy instituting some programs of my own."
Without their helmets, there is no mistaking that Officer Kade is 15, and Brick is nearly 13.
"I terminated Kade's parents 7 years ago, and Brick's nearly 6. As is the standard Better Society contract, all assets created during time of employment default to Better Society upon termination."
"Including children," Nicole completes.
"Exactly," Roman points to her. "Not too long ago, I created a special charter school. Kade and Brick here are a couple of these graduates. No one suspects kids."
Kade and Brick, with their armor off, were now dressed as normal, every day children. "These two are our best scouts, a lot of Better Society money went into training them. You think they can get Roy in as an insurance policy?"
Nicole turned to Roy. "Roy, I'm going to need you to follow these two, they are your new bosses, Kade and Brick. Roman and I are going to go inside, but you're going to have to sneak inside and hide, do you understand?"
Mark found it remarkably easy to remain unnoticed, despite the typical wariness of townsfolk. It was no wonder, he soon picked up on the fact that these people were divided by factionalism. Along what lines they divided themselves, he was not yet certain. The Agent eventually found the Newport Bazaar, and set out to discretely observe the people to get a better feel for them. He was unobtrusive and fairly indistinguishable from the rest of the relatively clean-cut mob.
Religion, he soon concluded Some of them advertise with little symbols around their necks. I've seen that six-pointed star among the Unsinkables of Miami, and some pirates favor that t sign.
Mark also spied the now familiar logo of Better Society, one of the groups he was interested in learning more about.
Itself a boat, it wasn't hard to charter passage far from the Frying Pan directly across the river. The boat driver, part of a caravanning ferry that brought members of some people called "the Lost" from the Watchtower in Brooklyn to a settlement in the Jersey-Hoboken Community. They were headed to a place called "Gomorrah Viewpoint," Blake guessed that that's what they were calling the Manhattan Ruins. Something in his memory told him that they weren't that far off - if only he could remember "Gamorrah".
Zeke was busy making conversation with a young "Lost" woman making her journey home from her pilgrimage to the Watchtower. She reviled him with stories about the Paradise that they are making on this scorched Earth, particularly what she called the "Garden of Eden" factory in the middle of Journal Square. A "factory" that produced fresh fruits and vegetables. The Lost woman did not seem at all interested in Zeke, but very interested in her faith.
It sounded ridiculous.
Blake, on the other hand, listened. He went through different conversations between these well dressed people, attempting to catch who was in charge. He heard of some Elders, but not as any kind of true authority. He kept hearing about Paradise, and the Reverend Wagner. A few were talking about the "latest episodes" of something called "A Nuclear Family". The J.H.C. was definitely something different.
There was something different about these "Lost". They were happy, content, driven. They all obviously took pride in their appearance - the finest suits they could find (or did they actually buy them?) and the best groomed they could be. Zeke's idea of blending in was almost an impossibility, and yet none of the other passengers seemed to care or judge their appearance. They smiled and shook their hand.
"Have we told you about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?" began one Lost, a middle-aged black man with in an suit and tie, who noticed Blake sidling in a corner of the ferry.
"No, no you haven't," began Blake. "I always like a good story."
The Lost man proceeded to tell Blake some familiar stories about a miracle birth, death and resurrection, the washing away of sin, and the promise of Paradise. He went on to talk about the Apocalypse, the one that had already passed. Blake had heard most of this before - that the bombs were some sort of cleansing or rapture or something, and what was left were the sinners who had to decide where to go. The Lost offered something that sounded right - to build a new world, without the mistakes of the past. He always found it interesting that in every tragedy there are those that would turn it into an opportunity.
Which is precisely why they didn't trust the Lost and their precious Reverend Wagner.
The ferry docked uneventfully, and Blake turned around to see the full scorched remains of the Manhattan Ruins, a sight he hadn't seen in he didn't know how long. Zeke put his hand on Blake's shoulder, leading him off of the ferry. The rest of the Lost departed, lightly stepping, happy - a sight that neither Zeke or Blake were comfortable with.
According to the painted signs, ahead of them was the Newport Bazaar - a torchlit refurbished "mall" overlooking the Jersey shore.
The relative peace, however, was interrupted by several loud screams. Another group, less well dressed then the Lost, were chasing a frightened man out of the Bazaar. One of the mob, a man with a white priestly collar, was shouting at the top of his lungs, making it hard to really hear him.
"Heathen! Heathen! Radioactive! Burn in Hell!"
The running man fell in front of Blake and Zeke, looking up at them, pitiably.
Blake recognized the man from his flashes.
Bjorn carefully withdrew his longbow from the leather sheath on his back, pulling the string up and into the nocks and test-drawing the string a few times. Once he was satisfied with the tension of the string and its current state of lack of degradation (it had been freshly prepared shortly before leaving his camp for the last time, made of specially-prepared Anterk tendons), he withdrew a precious arrow, nocked, and drew.
He had chased the small convoy for days now, Roy and company always remaining one step ahead of the massive skald. Now, just out of sight behind a rock, his targets were just within reach of the not-so-tender grasp of Hel.
His first target, an armed guard, appeared to be too well covered by some of the dead brush littering the area, and the wind was up, as if to carry his arrow away on the winds. Deciding not to risk his limited supply of arrows on a chance shot, Bjorn put his bow away and withdrew Agni, his trusty camp axe. Standing atop the rock, the skald drew his arm back as far as it would go and hucked the axe with all of his might.
The guard caught the axe low in the chest, moaning with lament at the fact that there was now a 200-year-old hatchet sticking out of his guts. He fainted on the spot, falling back onto the hard ground. Bjorn muttered a silent prayer for the fallen soldier before withdrawing Mjolnir and charging at the little cadre of guards surrounding the Large Grey One.
Roy stared at the guard as he collapsed, a stick of some form protrudifying from his chest. Roy raised a heavy eyebrow as he heard heavy, steel-shod boots pounding over the concrete towards him. It took a second for that to register with the dim Super Mutant as the guards around him scattered and he heard the tell-tale bong of a heavy object hitting his armour. Roy took an instinctive step away away to reduce the damage the impact would do. He spun and grabbed the incoming human, lifting him and shoving him backwards. Roy bellowed, immitating a Tribal he'd seen before, pounding his chest and swinging his Super Sledgehammer from it's sling. He riased the massive weapon in one hand and swung it downwards, shattering the concrete as it impacted and tossing up chunks of tortured roadway. The force of the impact warped the handle of the Super Sledge, springing it violently back into place as Roy withdrew it from the roadway and roared again, showering Bjorn with saliva and chunks of Roy's last meal as the immense Mutant tossed his head like a great ape and bellowed, chisel like teeth glinting in the setting sun.
"Come get some, runt," Roy shouted. An intimidating display, but Bjorn took it as a challenge to slay this giant. He turned Mjolnir over in his hands, taking a relaxed fighting stance just out of Roy's reach. That Mutant's Super Sledgehammer would go straight through him if Bjorn made a false move. Perhaps the giant was dim. Bjorn feinted right, then spun on his heel and struck to the left. Even better than he had hoped. Not only was the giant dim, wholeheartedly swinging his own Super Sledge towards where it had thought Mjolnir was going, it staggered and had to stumble for some distance to regain it's footing. Clumsy and dim. Bjorn was almost disappointed.
He reconsidered as Roy charged him full-on. Shocking turn of speed. Those monstrous leg muscles no doubt had something to do with it. Roy barged straight into Bjorn, clenching his hands to the Skald's sides and rushing towards the nearest building, gathering speed like a freight train. Bjorn came to the horrifying realisation that if the mutant did impact the building, there would be nothing left of the mighty Norseman but a smear and some pulp. He pulled an arrow from his quiver and clenched it tightly in his hand near the head. Then he thrust it into the giant's thigh. Roy staggered, his left thigh tightening uncontrollably and pulling his left foot out from under himself. Roy stumbled, tripped and fell, flinging Bjorn forwards, trying to aim him for a wall. The forcce of the throw combined with Roy's speed at the moment of the toss would have crushed Bjorn's body like a grape. But the Skald's number was not up yet, it seemed as he crashed through a decaying door and onto the sofa inside a ruined townhouse. Roy ripped the arrow upwards and out of his leg, snapping it in his grip as he retrieved his Super Sledge from the ground nearby as Bjorn reoriented himself with the world, recovering from the impact with the door and sofa, which was now lying in a ruined heap after the crash with the speeding Viking. Roy stalked towards the house, just in time to take a shower of splinters to the face as Mjolnir smashed through the doorframe and straight towards his head. Roy kept going. He barged through the doorframe and body-checked Bjorn, bouncing the Skald across the room like a child's toy.
"Had enough?" Roy snarled as Bjorn forced himself to his feet, observing the pathetic damage he had done so far. He'd need to kick it up a gear to survive, much less achieve victory. Roy, on the other hand, was pumped from shifting the bus and generally just getting pissed off at the Skald for chunking an axe into one of the guards. Bjorn sighed and shook his head to clear it as he prepared for diving headlong into the hardest fight of his life.
The Enclave Checkpoint was just ahead, and Nicole and Roman were armed but unguarded. There is a lot of trust that goes into becoming a Better Society, Inc. employee, and no one said it was easy. A lot of times, business is cutthroat (most cases, literally), and the only way up is through someone better armed and better equipped. So, neither Nicole or Roman flinched as they walked to the checkpoint, and the Enclave Captain William Cutler asked their business.
"I'm here to fire Andrew Wagner," Roman told the Enclave officer.
"I'm here to search for his replacement," Nicole continued.
Captain Cutler looked them both up and down. The officer had already destroyed one trade caravan today, and there was no reason he shouldn't continue with these two. But they're not carrying anything specific. Barely armed, he knew he could take both of them. But that was not what the Reverend Wagner would want, Cutler thought. Heathens are to be reformed not turned away.
"Do you have any weapons or technology to declare?" Captain Cutler said, avoiding Nicole's confident stare. Three Enclave soldiers in power armor patrolled the area. While their plasma rifles were stowed away, they did carry assault rifles on their back, American quality.
"Just this," Roman considered answering by taking out his 10mm sidearm and blowing away the Captain's face. He grinned at the thought as he gave the gun to the Captain, safety on. Nicole took out a small .32mm pistol, took out the bullets, and also handed it to the man.
"Better Society thanks you for the services that you provide the J.H.C," Nicole began. "We've heard the reports, quite impressive."
"We work hard to not let any undesirables in, ma'am." Captain Cutler continued, reviewing their Better Society IDs. "Do you mind if I ask you both a question?"
"Of course," Nicole said.
"Why would you fire the Reverend Andrew Wagner?" the Enclave Captain said as he rubbed a cross he was given by a Crusader years ago. "He is a great man. A man of Faith."
"Faith?" Roman laughed. "As I knew him he was an atheist."
The soldiers and Captain Cutler halted and looked right at Roman. Several of them had their weapons at the ready in seconds.
Roman had just found that he had said something wrong.
"Reverend Wagner is a great man, Mr. Caldwell," the Enclave Captain began. "I would be careful what you say around here. Search the woman."
Two Enclave officers grabbed Nicole, and, as she resisted, held her down. They pinned her down, making sure there were no more weapons on her.
"I have it on good authority that there are false Better Society members coming into the J.H.C, up to no good." Cutler continued. Even though the soldiers found nothing, they continued to hold Nicole. "I think I'm going to have to detain you for questioning. Are we agreed?"
Roman nodded. One of the officers fastened some handcuffs around him.
The Captain nodded to the other guards. "She's free to go inside. Make sure there's someone keeping an eye on her at all times."
Mark watched the scene unfold impassively, he didn't know who was who and furthermore had been ordered to avoid getting involved with just this kind of thing.
They're cleaner cut and better dressed than most Outworlders I've seen along the way, but they're just as savage and superstitious as any Miami Unsinkable. These people have been...uplifted. Barely, but clearly this is not entirely their own doing. Enclave? Better Society? The two in cahoots?
The agent looked as Blake looked into the fleeing man's face and saw a flicker of recognition? He held his chin and wondered what possible relationship the two might have and if the fleeing man's problems were about to become Blake's.
The lonesome wasteland howled in the dry wind, blowing scraps of paper and dust around Aaron Ramsey's feet. He'd been wandering for some time now, about half a day since his last meal, he was headed to the J.H.C. The reason for this journey was his friend's caravan, little Lucy, Mark, and his son David's trade route would be around J.H.C around now. They hadn't been around his shack in a couple weeks now, something very uncommon for the trader family, especially Lucy. There had to be some reasonable reason behind their disappearance, possibly some raiders taking these trails for their own, although the nearby Enclave would most likely dispose of them before anything truly harmful started. His brow lowered at the thought of the Enclave. In all his years here in Jersey, Aaron had made it his personal goal to avoid any contact with those fascist dogs. No matter what they did, even if they turned the wasteland into a fucking haven, that would never redeem them for their sins in Austin. Just memories of his hometown brought shudders to his spine. Aaron shook his head and concentrated on the road ahead of him, he had to be getting close and Enclave patrols were known to harass any travelers in this area. As much as he hated them, there was no avoiding contact if he wanted to get into the religious settlement, the Austinite just had to keep his head during the transaction.
Aaron began to dawn upon the George Washington Bridge, the sight of a recent caravan slaughter via Enclave. A certain caravan that happened to be connected to poor ol' Aaron Ramsey. The rugged wanderer noticed the smoke on the bridge, and he knew it only meant bad news. Aaron grabbed his shotgun, which was dangling from a strap across his back, and proceeded cautiously towards the bridge. Whatever it was didn't make it far, now nothing more than plasma remains and a burning Brahmin. The Brahmin made Aaron worried, these unfortunate victims could of been traders, and those traders could have been... well... he didn't want to think about that. The Schizophrenic wastelander shifted through the unrecognizable remains, looking for any sign of who these people were. Then, in the corner of his eye, Aaron saw something he wished he hadn't. Down in the dirt and goo, half covered by a squashed pumpkin, was a certain, very unique, skinning knife. He picked it up and looked at the inscriptions on the side, his heart sinking as he did so. It was Mark's knife, a knife that he boasted about more than often when visiting Aaron's home. His fears were right, this horror scene was all that was left of his beloved trader friends, except for maybe Lucy. He knew all too well of the Enclave's ways. Back in Austin, they would always steal the young girls after eliminating a housing unit, officially for "questioning", but everyone knew what really happened. Little Jenn came very close to being taken away more than enough times, it was a good thing him and Jay were there, along with Alec. And if that was still the case up here in the north, than innocent Lucy could still be alive, held hostage as a sex slave for those bastards. Aaron slipped the knife into his belt and grudged off to J.H.C, hell bent on getting that little girl back alive, and hopefully still innocent.
Unbeknown to Aaron though, he just left all that was left of innocent little Lucy back in the burning pile of gore on the George Washington bridge, making him a man after a dead damsel in distress. Poor, poor Aaron Ramsey.
Roy stumbled back as Bjorn slammed the haft of his hammer into Roy's knee, and was sent reeling as the big man struck his hammer into the side of Roy's helmeted head. The heavy-set mutant recovered quickly, not having much brain to addle with the impact and threw a wild hook punch at Bjorn, missing and smashing a chunk from the wall with his boulder-sized, knuckle-gloved hands, showering both combatants with dust knocked loose from the ceiling. Roy's follow-on punch cut off Bjorn's dodge, making a sidestep impossible as Roy went for the headbutt. Bjorn ducked and struck the haft of his hammer into Roy's chest as the immense mutant slammed his own face into the wall with nerve-jangling force, breaking plaster away from the concrete blocks. Bjorn bulled into the stunned Mutant's chest, forcing it back a step and getting himself some space to escape the Mutant's grasp. Roy spun and fired an uppercut. He missed, putting his hand right through the ceiling and the floor above as he reared up til his head scraped the ceiling. With a snarl, Roy cupped his hand and brought it downwards with brutal force, bringing a ceiling beam down with it, and slamming it into the incoming Bjorn's face, flattening the mighty warrior. A Bjorn rolled away from Roy's stamp, he jumped to hais feet and backed away rapidly. The mutant had put his booted foot down through the floorboards and cracked lumps out of the concrete underneath. Roy rpipped his foot up out of the floor, launching a floorboard at Bjorn as he did so. Roy then reached down and picked up his Super Sledge, which he had dropped some time ago in the brawl. He swung the immense hammer at Bjorn, who barely dodged as the hammer discharged on contact with the stairs, smashing a large lump from it and tearing away the bannisters and a long piece of balustrade.
"Stop moving around worm, it's irritating," Roy bellowed as Bjorn charged up the weakened stairs, spinning around and breaking lumps out of it as he went. Roy went to follow him up, but went crashing clean through after two steps, breaking the others to pieces as he flailed his arms to regain his balance and snatch at Bjorn's legs as the Wastelander leaped from the collapsing stairs to the landing to evade his foe. Roy roared, enraged at losing his prey as he stood up from the ruined remains of the stairs. He picked up the television, miraculously unscathed in spite of the brawl that had occures in it's room, and launched it out through th window, to smash to pieces a good four metres away. "i'm gonna crush you like a bug!" Roy bellowed up at Bjorn as he sat and bandaged his wounds in an upstairs bedroom.
Roy stopped and listened carefully. He heard footsteps upstairs as floorboards creaked. Bjorn was moving towards a window to make an escape, or launch an attack from a new angle. Roy waited for another floorboard to creak. There. Geddem Roy thought as he curled and jumped, plunging his head and shoulders up through the floor, wrapping his pillar-like arms aroung Bjorn's waist and pulling him back through the collapsing floor, leaving a gaping hole in the building's master bedroom. Bjorn rolled away from the mutant as Roy spun his Super Sledge around and around in his hands as he approached menacingly. Bjorn leaped to his feet and stumbled backwards out of the house, his head still clearing from being dragged through a floor by an eight hundred pound mutant. Roy barged out through the door, charging head-down at Bjorn. Bjorn dropped to the ground, rolled and knocked Roy's feet out from under him with a wild swing of Mjolnir, sending the immense mutant sprawling as his massive legs went upwards and his body kept on going forwards. Roy hit the ground with a heavy thud, rolling and rolling as his momentum kept him going. They both stood and locked eyes with each other, turning their hammers over in their grips as they circled.
Sitting at the dock, smoking his make-shift cigar, Lucas could hear some shit going on that would probably progress over to his location, so, he packed his gear into his duffel bag and started walking away from the Bridge. The only way he could sneak into that shit hole of a neighborhood was the Train Tracks. And then he'd have to sneak through there, and Lucas wasn't sure about that. He had his Mob connections, but he tried to stay as neutral as possible when it came to the gangs of Newark. Checking his watch, Lucas then started the long walk to the New Jersey Transit Tunnels.
Mikey Gralow clutched his shotgun a little tighter. One, becayse he was about to go into the tunnels as a guard to transport some drugas through the tunnels. You simply just never knew what was going to happwen in there. You could be walking along and *Bam*, a rivial family pop's out of nowwhere and starts shooting at you.
Two, was because Mikey simply did'nt like dark places. It was a legitmine fear to be in a small, cramped space. That was dark.
Turning back towards the small group of other Salafina Mobsters, a mixture of both made-men and wanna-be mademen, Mikey scanned the horozion. seeing a lone figure walking towards the small group, Mikey whistled to catch the other guards attention. Letting twhe figure approach, Mikey saw the face of his old friend, Lucas Moss. They had done a string of Casino Robbery's back in the day, which was'nt that long ago.
"Lucas!" Mikey called out "It's me, Mikey!"
As Lucas was nearing the Transit tunnels, he saw a group of people hoarding around the entrance holding guns. One of them looked rather familiar, and seemed to be staring at Lucas.
"Lucas! It's me, Mikey!"
Then, Lucas noticed his old friend Mikey. Yelling out his name near a tunnel full of Mobsters that might be waiting in the tunnel. Yep, good old fuckin' Mikey.
"Haha! Mother fucker!" Lucas started to shout, and began to walk faster towards Mikey. "What the fuck you doin' here! Ain't you a made man yet? Thought you'd be doing, I don't know, things that couldn't be done by a br-" Lucas then stopped speaking, as he noticed the other mobsters glaring at him. "I don't suppose you need to go through these tunnels and not die on the way there? If so, I can offer you my assistance in all forms of combat, and as a possible bullet shield fo' free!" Lucas would prefer if more people where in there with him. He could ditch them after wards, but the tunnels were dark and filled with guys with guns. Guns most likely loaded and ready to shoot at anyone they didn't like, or carrying goods worth a shit. Things that Lucas had, and was.
"So, how about it? Let me join you motha- err, gentleman for a while, and once we're out of that shithole of a cave we can head our separate ways?"
“Yeah, yeah.” Mikey said, nodding his head. “You can tag along.”
Turning around, he looked back at the group of other Salafia mobsters. The bad part about being in such a small mafia family is that there is never enough guys to help you. The good part, is that none of the bigger families mess with you. If only because they don’t want to waste time or cap’s just to end you.
Slinging his shotgun over his shoulder, Mikey looked over to the Capo commanding the small group of soldiers and associates. The capo was busy talking to the Salafia affialted dealer, so Mikey turned back towards Lucas.
“So, why you wanna head on over to J.H.C? I mean, don’t you normally just sell in Newark or something?” Mikey asked.
"Well, that my friend is a delicate question. Yes, I usually do prefer to sell my wares in Newark. However, a part of significant interest has gotten ahold of my wares, and now they are putting me in significant pressure to go to the J.H.C, and negotiate with a salesman so they will stop pressuring me to negotiate with said salesman."
"In layman’s terms, I need to kill someone so a group who is not going to be named will get the fuck off my back. Got it?"
"No Booze, man." Zeke whispered to Blake, a little louder than Blake preferred. "Barbarians. No respect for visitors."
They stood in a shadowy corner as Blake took out a paint gun, some toys, and some surgical tubing in order to create a makeshift poison dart gun. Luckily Blake managed to procure a few poison glands from a couple of traders in the city.
"I don't think drawing any more attention to ourselves is anything we should be doing right now, Zeke," Blake nodded toward a young woman in a dusty red business suit being escorted by an Enclave soldier, the only indication of any tech beyond the Great War - Even past the 20th century. "Attention doesn't look good around this place."
"Speak for yourself," Zeke looked at her. "Fine piece of ass that is."
Blake laughed to himself. "Be glad one of them acolytes didn't hear that, you'd be strung up in the middle of the Bazaar."
"Ah man, they aren't that bad."
"You mean you didn't just see that episode right when we got here?" Blake said. "The man they just grabbed and brought to prison - something about being too radioactive or something - my Geiger counter didn't go off - did yours?"
"Of course not," Zeke said. "I've seen a lot of things, and that wasn't the worst of it. We come here, they take our weapons, we leave our chems, now there's no booze. Your buyer better pay well."
"Hope so," Blake finished his dart gun, a small, flimsy, crossbow looking thing that should pass, if they're caught, as useless junk. "We're doing a five person job with two people."
While Zeke complained, Blake noticed the man observing the area. Like them, not as well dressed, but also unlike the rest of the J.H.C., he carried himself as a man who's seen the outside world. The man glanced over, and Blake winked at him. He wrote something out in his notebook and openly placed it under a piece of concrete in their corner of Newport, hoping the man would noticed.
"Sir:" it began. "If you would care to join us at the Liberty Science Center, bring this as your invite."
Nicole took a look at this J.H.C. Bazaar. Since Wagner took over, it went from a torchlit mall of crazy into a hydro-electrically lit mall of crazier. The enclave soldier openly walked around in the demon-like power armor, and no one reacted negatively. They were comfortable with their watchful eye.
"Excuse me, Ms. van der Linde?" another young woman in a business suit walked up behind Nicole. "I'm Mary Sojourn, PR Director for the JHC Better Society Branch, Reverend Wagner sent me to give you a tour."
"A tour?" Nicole looked at the woman, confused. "Where's Roman?"
"Mr. Caldwell is in meetings all day. I hope we can keep you entertained."
"Okay, I'll bite." Nicole rolled her eyes at the woman. "I believe I'm supposed to be a part of those meetings, Ma'am. Could I join them?"
"Unfortunately not," the woman answered, bubbly as ever. "These meetings are rather involved. Please, I'll show you the Garden of Eden factory."
At the southeast corner of Newport Square sat a huge industrial factory by the Hudson. Covering the top was the giant Better Society logo. Mary lead Nicole inside the impressive structure.
The factory itself wasn't as much of a factory as much as a conservatory housing a farm - the polar opposite of what you would find in Slayerville. Workers of all races were harvesting from trees, bushes, vines, and the like. It was something out of the many propaganda brochure's she's seen around the factory. It was beautiful - people working in unison to build a better place, and it's almost there.
Aaron looked upon the glowing lights of J.H.C, the heavily-religious community operated, ironically, by the Enclave. There was a checkpoint ahead, a required crossing to get into the town. He knew they would not allow weapons, chems, or even alcohol on some occasions. The more he thought of it, the more oppressive it seemed to be, but they've got all these people damn brainwashed. The distant soldiers were making notice of him. It was this part of his plan that didn't have any substance. Truly, he didn't know for sure if these were even gonna let him in. They could still have the KOS list from the D.C Riots, or even his name listed for operating within The Union in Austin, and God knows that would not go over well. He could always give a fake name, but seldom did that work with the Enclave, for all Aaron knew they could have DNA scanners. After all, he was captured when he was around 5, so they could still have his blood in record. Two of the soldiers were already making their way to the disgruntled Austinite, Plasma Rifles up and ready to fire. "Halt Citizen, drop your weapons and put your hands above your head." The lead one, in full Tesla armor, had a withered voice, he was obviously a veteran. Aaron cursed under his breath, he was so stupid to be standing in plain sight like that, so oblivious. The Schizophrenic slowly dropped his shotgun and removed his .32 Pistol from his waist belt, raising his hands to the back of his head afterward. The Enclave Officer, probably a man of 40(his helmet was off), brought out a handheld Terminal while his companion checked Aaron down. The officer looked down at the terminal, then at Aaron, and back to the terminal. "Now what's you're name there son, and..uhhh," His eyes ventured to Aaron's chest, mainly centered on the Orange Union Fist painted on his Combat Armor's breast plate. Aaron mentally smacked his forehead, how dumb could he be to wear Union Insurgent armor to an Enclave-Controlled town!? "Tell me, from where do you hail?" The officer asked, his eyes never leaving the Fist. Aaron tried to wing it, "I-I'm from.. from up north, M-Maine sir." It killed him inside to call this man sir, but he had to make sacrifices. The officer continued, "Up north, eh? Hmm," his armored hand was scratching his chiseled chin, moving it after a second to Aaron's chest plate, "Now son, this markin' you've got on your chest here is mighty similar to a symbol belongin' to a certain scum in a base of ours down south. This scum did us quite some damage a few years back, and we are very interested on why they got their men up here in our territory!" At this point his voice started to rise, anger developing in his tone. If Aaron had to guess, he would bet top dollar that this man once served in Austin. He knew he was screwed now, he could make a run for it, but that would just get him killed. He wondered if they had a "Room 101" up here, Jesus, he prayed they didn't. The other soldier took his gear while the officer cuffed him, and when Aaron started to protest, he met a baton to the face. And like that, Aaron Ramsey was out cold. They were taking him in for interrogation.
When Mark spotted the power armored soldier escorting the young lady, he took it as an educational opportunity. He discretely eavesdropped on van der Linde and Sojourn and began shadowing them to the so-called Garden of Eden factory. He was able to piggyback his way in several moments after van der Linde entered, simply vanishing into the next shift as they shuffled inside.
Mark was pleasantly surprised by what he saw, this was a promising indication that this party might be worthy of contact, though nothing was certain. He had some experience picking crops from his internship days, so he simply set out to work staying within listening distance to van der Linde and company as he helped out the other workers. He didn't stand out among the workers and he seemed to be doing everything a worker aught, and so nobody gave him a second look.
Paradise, Nicole van der Linde thought as she surveyed the Garden of Eden Factory floor. Wagner created Paradise on Earth. He actually did it. In the disparity of the Wastes lies an Oasis, covered in glass and surrounded by corporate steel with a Better Society brand over it. There is something different about these people, that they've come together to build something greater than themselves. Wagner, Nicole thought. What is his angle? There has to be an angle.
"Impressive, isn't it." Mary Sojourn, her tour guide said. "Upstairs is our Marketing Department." She turned up to a stairwell and brought them upstairs - where men in lab coats were exiting and entering. For a "scientifically phobic society", Nicole thought. They appear to be doing a lot of it.
Nicole looked behind her at the imposing soldier in the Power Armor and winked. She imagined his shocked expression behind the helmet as she attempted to project no fear of her surroundings. She noticed, though, out of the corner of her eye, a man in a labcoat ducked around the stairwell. She noted that to herself for later.
"Ms. Sojourn," Nicole began. "I'm sorry, is it 'Miss'?"
"Missus dear," Mary was insulted. "Three happy years now, as it should be."
"Mrs. Sojourn," Nicole purposely didn't apologize. "I'm confused. Don't you go through Atlantic City for your marketing?"
"Oh please, Miss van der Linde," Mary began with her spookily ever-present smile. "We can't always come to you all for everything, can we? The island is a teensy bit far. We do fine on our own."
Something about the tone bothered Nicole. It was too confident, too self-assured, as if Mary knew something Nicole didn't, and that always bothered Nicole. She looked at the office space, several anonymous cubicles filled with several anonymous people. Some in suits, some in different uniforms. A terminal sat at each desk, glowing. That's when she noticed it.
The suits were not working - they stared at the empty, glowing screens - the lab coats would take notes.
Mesmotrons. Nicole thought. He has them watching Mesmotrons.
"This is one of our focus groups." Mary continued in her horrid, tour guide voice. "Would you like to see what they are watching?"
Roy swung his Super Sledge around in a wide arc, narrowly missing Bjorn as the big Wastelander ducked under the mutant's wild swing. He attacked the mutant again, but Roy had wised up to Bjorn's wilier tactics. He stepped back, avoiding a strike at his knees. He stepped back again, avoiding a shot to his gut. Roy jumped back, then stepped back again, parrying and blocking as he went, his gargantuan steps keeping him just out of Bjorn's attack range. He finally stepped back in, body-checking Bjorn and knocking him back. Bjorn dodged Roy's follow-on attack. And the next, and the next. Both were getting more and more infuriated. Roy made the first blunder. He overstepped, skidding on some gravel. Bjorn stepped in and landed a hit right in Roy's face, denting his helmet. Roy staggered away, pulling his helmet off. Then Bjorn made a blunder. He tried to follow through. Roy intercepted his wild swing with a big, heavy forearm.
"Close enough to hit, close enough to grab runt," Roy bellowed, grabbing Bjorn and lifting him. "Be a shame to kill an artist like you. But I can't have you followin me and the other runts. Ever been to New Reno? They have boxers. You have boxers up here? Ever seen one that's taken one too many hits to the head? Talk funny. Can't walk right. Wonder what'd happen if I hit you once too much."
Roy lifted Bjorn a little higher as the Wastelander came to the horrifying realisation of what was about to happen. Roy drew back one hand and threw a punch. The impact launched Bjorn away, rolling as he hit the ground unconscious. Roy grunted and waved for the young guards to follow him. He needed to get into the Jersey Hobo Kin Cumminists. And how would a big Mutant like him get in?
Roman Caldwell, Nicole's closst thing to a better half, sat in his prison staring at his surroundings. It was dark, away from the rest of the J.H.C.. A couple of torchlamps that lit the dusky hallway revealing very little. The walls were white, beige perhaps, but it was too dark to see. The place was possibly a hospital. Roman noticed that the cell across from him had a shadow, possibly a tall, black man, meditating in his corner.
Some officers pushed in another tall black man, this one with wild dreads and hair.
"Capital Wasteland scum," said the officer. They opened Roman's room, throwing the new kid in. "Have fun with the Better Society man, kid. You two look like you'll get along well."
A scream was heard down the hall. It was too distant to make out what it said, but not too far not to know the victim suffered. Roman cringed, but the man in the cell across from them didn't react.
"You." The officer pointed at Roman. "On your feet."
Roman looked at Aaron Ramsey, got up, dusted off his suit, and looked over the semi-conscious man at his feet.
"It's your turn."
Roman nodded and walked along the hallway, toward his fate. Acceptance and adaptation were the keys to success in the Wastes, and Roman had lived a long life. The stocky man in the cell across from him was mumbling someting to himself. As the uniformed officers walked by his cell, the man reached out- revealing a tall round-faced man with short, curly hair. He slammed against the cell door, holding the bars, looking blankly at Roman. "Locker 314."
"Get down you son of a bitch!" one of the Enclave officers called, pointing his rifle at him. "You'll be next, radioactive man."
The man complied and backed off.
"Another business appointment?" Roman raised an eyebrow.
"Onward," the second officer said as he covered his head with a burlap sack.
Several doors and an elevator away, Roman's head was uncovered revealing an old hospital bed. On one of the beds, a man had his eyes forced open as he stared around franticly, flinching at everything. Another victim, a woman, lay dead in a corner. Discarded like refuse.
Someone behind him pushed him down onto a chair, and they tied his hands together. He looked over at the living man - his eyes were vacant - Ford Lincoln he kept repeating. Ford Lincoln.
"That guy have a thing for cars?" Roman said and was promptly hit in the face with the butt of a rifle.
"We will ask the questions here." and with that, a bright light filled his vision. The shadows danced in front of his eyes, and they didn't look nice.
"What is your name?" they asked. He couldn't tell if it was one person or two. He realized he must have been injected with something. His vision began to blur.
"I am Roman Caldwell. Employee number 5166. Better Society, Inc."
"He's had training," one of the voices said.
"What are you here to do?" ssid the other.
"Roman Caldwell. Employee number 5166. Better Society, Inc."
"Answer the question!" said one voice.
"Answer the FUCKING question!" said the other.
"Roman Caldwell. Employee number 5166. Better Society, Inc."
Vrooom! Roman heard a motor of some sort - a small motor - things began to turn purple around him. He got a vague picture of one of the men, holding a saw, with the blades spinning. He brought it closer and closer to him.
"Roman Caldwell. Employee number - "
And with that, they grabbed his hand and lopped off his trigger finger. Roman watched as the blood left his body. They immediately injected him with a stimpak, and burned the wound to cauterize it - a technique Roman learned while working with the Enclave as a younger man.
"Roman Caldwell. Soldier number 533-433 - AAAGHH!"
The second digit came off. This time his thumb. Make his hand useless the manual had said.
Ever the chameleon, Mark joined a group of labcoats that happened to be going the same way as Nicole, snatching an unattended clipboard along the way. He subtly glanced as his "colleagues'" notes and paraphrased here and there on his own board so as to pass any casual inspection. It had been some time since he had exercised the part of his brain that handled stuff like this, but he was a bit of a science geek at heart and he soon believed he had the basic gist of what was going on here: mind control. Aquaculture's archives held extremely limited information on experimental mind control technologies in development before the war, he wondered if these people had overcome the great trial of the ancients in this matter, or if they had a room full of victims of spontaneous cranial combustion. If these people had to resort to mind control to engender community spirit, then Mark wasn't too keen on suggesting any kind of official communication.
It was 5:30 AM, the next morning.
Various speakers throughout the complex and the Pip-boy's squalked to life, bleeding in some feedback. When it subsided, the familiar voice of Reverend Wagner boomed into everyone's ears.
"Brothers and Sisters, I come to you this morning with sad news. It appears that Better Society, Inc. has chosen to sever their relationship with this branch. A tribulation must come, and I, as your duly appointed servent, have chosen a new direction for God's children. There is an old parable about understanding the works of God, that sometimes the opportunity to follow Him comes to you. The Angels from a nation long past have asked us to join them in their fight to tame the godless wastes. Our purpose is clear, and in providing the wastes, through the enclave, with clean and healthy food, to help them to see the light of our Paradise. The Garden State shall rise again as a pinnacle of human goodness, the most moral of our great society...<<Squalk>>..."
Willis McCoy listened to the words, cringing at every 'good' word. He looked out for some resolution, and he found it - a shiny piece of metal dropped by the occupant he'd heard screaming all night. He grabbed it, and looked at the man across from him. - "He You!" he said.
"...Children of our Lord, we are sitting on the precipice of true change for the Better, a Better Tomorrow Today, the Promise of the Future is now coming true. We can rebuild humanity to its most basic - its most moral - form without the corruption of technology and notions of 'progress'..."
Roman Caldwell slept on a table in the torture room, staring at the corpse of a dead woman. Most of his digits were gone, and he'd been bleeding out most of the night. They've kept him going so they could pump more information out of him.
Two soldiers entered the room, one indicated the very faint Caldwell, and they lifted the large man up to leave.
"...Better Society and its shortsightedness has lost a great friend today. One of their, ahem, termination officers came to us today, and you can guess what for. A higher power guided me through this, and there will be a demonstration of His Will in Journal Square today."
A Protectotron lay in front of the Science Museum, its innards hanging out like intestine as if it were torn apart by wild animals. Blake and Zeke looked at it with disgust. They listened intently to the radio broadcast, until another noise indicated some men heading their way. They immediately hid.
"Brothers and Sisters, we are in a good place. Even though the enemy may lie amongst us, those that have chosen the Lord's Way will be saved. Let your prayers guide you. As they guide me. May the Lord Bless us, and preserve us from harm. Amen."
Nicole woke up in her powered apartment in Society Hill to see her Enclave guard sitting pleasantly in front of the radio. She modestly brought the bed's blankets to cover up as she smoked her cigarette. Leave it to her to be assigned to the only religious Enclave soldier in the J.H.C. that sold chems.
The rest of the day yesterday was a blur. She could barely remember her own name sometimes. Still, something had been nagging her.
"Good morning members of the J.H.C.! We are announcing the public execution of one Roman Caldwell this afternoon for his connection with Better Society.
Nicole continued to smoke her cigarette. She couldn't quite remember what it was that was nagging her, so she rested her head on the shoulder of her new lover, and slept.
Slowly, carefully, painfully, consciousness trickled back into the deep reaches of Bjorn's brain. Standing up as the fuzzy beginnings of his situation slowly began working their way into the Viking's mind. Instead of the rage any normal man would have experienced at the beating he hadjust incurred, Bjorn laughed loudly, then began smiling. "A worthier opponent I've never faced," The massive tribal said to himself, then stalked off in his tracks.
Aaron lifted his throbbing head and looked at his caller, a younger man of around 20 or 30, sporting some gasmask and ridiculous goggles. He was holding some metal object, most likely dropped by the occupant before him, Roman-something as he recalled the guard saying. The man across from him probably thought the object was his, a mistake if any. The dammed Enclave took all of Aaron's possessions before putting him in this rotting cell. All he had now were some dusty jeans, an old white t-shirt, and his shitty sneakers. And to add onto that, they gave him quite the bloody gash next on his forehead. Regaining some of his speech, Aaron was about to answer the foolish-looking fellow, but he was cut off by the guard. "Get up dirtbag, you're commin' with me. colonel has a few words he'd like to share with you." His emotionless helmet covered the obvious anger in his voice and on his face as he talked. Aaron would never have guessed that the Enclave up here would even have the slightest clue as to what the Union was, maybe something happened in the recent years while he was gone. Maybe. Aaron rose and stumbled over to the armored soldier, putting his hands over his head, ready to be cuffed once again. The guard violently put the ragged-looking Austinite in shackles and walked him off to the colonel.
As Lucas marched through the tunnels, he spoke little and hushed the guards when ever some one started to speak. He had a rather bad feeling about this, and was starting to think that he would get shot several times over by a large caliber weapon. Or buckshot. It's always fucking buckshot..... While contemplating what gun he would be shot with Lucas noticed a man up ahead, with a Vodka Bottle in one hand and a shotgun in another. It's always mother fucking buckshot.... Signaling to the men behind him, Lucas took out his Switch Blade, and slowly walked toward the man. He was drunk, had a shotgun, and the sleaziest fucking hair cut he'd ever seen. Probably from one of the Italian mobs. As Lucas quietly sneaked up on the man, his foot steps making little, if any, noise, he was soon with in stabbing range. Grabbing the man and covering his mouth, he barely even twitched as Lucas slit his throat, blood pouring over himself.
Twenty minutes later, Lucas and the gang came across a group of Mobsters, all armed, probably waiting for some one. "So, what are we going to do about these mother fuckers guys? Kill em, o-" Lucas's conversation with the gang was abrupted as gun fire erupted, one of the mobsters on his side firing at the men. Fucking crackers....
As Aaron Ramsey got up to leave, Willis grabbed the piece of scrap metal from his cell and slammed it through the bars, into one of the servos on the Enclave Soldier's hip, crippling the armor, stunning its user. He grabbed the helmet off of the man's power armor and hit his own head with it.
"Grab the keys, man!"
Willis stared at Aaron through his goggles, struggling to keep the man pinned.
"Awww, shit." Mikey said, firing a shotgunshell towards the other mobsters. Another small family like the Salafia's. But, still. If word got back that they were fighting in the tunnels, then there would be a war.
Running back a little to the cover of several boluders, Lucas soon joined him. The rest of the Salafia mobsters were falling back, whuile the mother group of mobsters were moving up. Mikey was firing away the entire time, using the slam-fire technqiue.
"What now?!" Mikey yelled over to Lucas over the noise of gunfire from both sides in the small tunnel.
"What now?!" Mikey shouted over the roar of gunfire, rapidly firing his shotgun at the approaching mobsters. "Run the fuck away or kill them all! I don't fucking know!" Lucas dived to a nearby pillar, taking cover. The rest of the gang seemed to follow his lead, however what the mobsters where escorting was left out in the open. "I don't suppose your carrying grenades or som-" At that point, part of the package was blown open, and several grenades rolled out. Lucas's hand darted out, grabbing the grenade. By the time it was in his hand, he had already started to pull the pin, and tossed it at the opposing mobsters.
A large explosion happened, and before Lucas knew it the opposing mobsters started to jog backwards, taking cover behind various objects. Lucas returned fire from his handgun, clipping two of the mobsters. "Keep shooting!"
(Feel free to end the fight)
Most people were surprisingly unobservant, Mark noted. Many were totally withdrawn into their own thoughts, their own world, walking around on autopilot. Others simply didn't care to process what their senses relayed to them. Whatever the case, Mark easily moved about supposedly sensitive areas of the facility. He typically needed little more than a curious blend of confident swagger and invisibility among the crowd to get by, and in other instances a cursory flash of some other person's ID sufficed.
Throughout his sojourn his opinion was continually reinforced: these people were as morally bankrupt as they were technologically adept. His horror and disgust was hardest to contain in the detention area, especially when he overheard some of the guards talking about what had been done to one of the prisoners. Mark was about to conclude his clandestine tour when some kind of a scuffle broke out.
Hazard ducked into the room where they were keeping the man he had heard of, the horribly maimed Roman Caldwell. His fingers ducked into his interior pockets, drawing out a small kit filled with syringes, small bottles, and other esoteric supplies. He took out some smelling salts and waved them under Caldwell's nose. Once the man was awake, Mark spoke up, out of the man's sight.
"Mister Caldwell? We don't have time for an extended conversation right now. What you need to know is that you're not going to leave this place alive. If you're agreeable, I can see to it that your time spent dead is short and eventually get you to safety. If you're not, well...I think you're out of luck. All I want is some information regarding the region and its inhabitants. What do you say?"
Aaron looked back at the unconscious guard, the strange looking prisoner who had done the deed beckoning the Austinite to grab the soldier's keys. Aaron thought for a second, if he did this he was only digging himself a deeper grave, except in this one he was buried with a shovel. A slight chance of survival. They were going to kill him anyway, after he relinquished vital information of the Union of course.(You always confessed, there was no avoiding it.) So technically, he was saving precious Union secrets and getting a very small chance of escape in the process. Well, it was better than nothing. Aaron shrugged and grabbed the bleeding guard's keys, first unlocking himself, than his unnamed companion. "Hurry, they'll be here any second!" he exclaimed, and it was the truth. The colonel would defiantly be suspicious if his prisoner did not show in the next few second, not to mention the loud noise the soldier's armor made as he hit the concrete floor. Aaron fumbled with the keys, not too used to this kind of adrenaline since a few years back, but finally got the cell door open. The man darted out and stuck a metal broom shaft in the door hinges.
"That'll keep em' for a few seconds, but we got to go, now!" he was frantic, as Aaron was as well. Just as the two turned to the exit, Aaron caught something in the corner of his eye, "Hold up, gotta get something." The odd-looking man started to complain, but Aaron had already grabbed it. His metallic Baseball Bat. They took his guns into the evidence room, but the bat stayed, for reasons Aaron didn't know and didn't care about. It was a weapon nonetheless, and a weapon was something that he guessed the two of them would dearly need.
"Okay, let's get the fuck outta here man, you lead the way." And with that, Aaron followed the other escapee.
Roman Caldwell, bleeding out, looked up at his blond rescuer. His dignity was long lost, but he knew what he needed to do.
"I'm in no hurry to die," Roman coughed up blood. "I have a job to do. I will tell what you need to know if you promise me one thing. Find Nicole. Tell her to finish the job we came here to do..."
Roman coughed some more.
"I will do more good facing Wagner at the execution than dead."
He had trouble breathing, blood was in his lungs, his ribs were broken. His face was mashed up, barely resembling the man he once was.
"What do you need to know? I used to be Enclave. You see how they treat deserters." Roman brought up a digitless hand, the wounds cauterized at the ends. "Better Society stands for something. We bring what we can to the world <<cough>> provide services," he hacked up more flesh. "I joined with Nicole not too long ago. They hired me, found work for me, put me to good use. More than I can say for my time with these people..."
He trailed off a bit, fainting, then back...and with a phantom hand, Roman "grabs" Mark Hazard's leg
"My thanks, don't let the Enclave get this place, you hear me? Don't let them take the Garden of Eden over..."
"I've got one of those, too," Willis Mccoy nodded at the baseball bat. Then he walked toward the downed solder and searched. He found a component from the soldier's Pip-Boy and dislodged it, putting it on his own. He scanned the radio until he found...
"There it is," Willis said, listening to the internal Enclave radio. "They haven't started looking for us yet."
He then took the soldier's sidearm, and some pieces of his armor and helmet. At least he could look the part.
They exited the hall quickly, gun cocked and baseball bat ready to go. The former hospital wasn't too difficult to navigate, despite some collapsed walls and broken doors, but Willis went through it quickly, as if from memory. Then he halted, holding a hand up so Ramsey would stop.
Down the hall, a small patrol of enclave soldiers walks ahead, narrowly missing them as McCoy and Ramsey hide. Then Mccoy starts running down the hall, behind the Enclave soldiers, and into a small armory. In what looks like it used to be a med supply room is now a makeshift armory for the Enclave makeshift prison.
He found a set of lockers - one labelled "314". He opened it revealing an arsenal of crazy tools and weapons.
"What's your name, guy?" Willis said. "Mine's Willis McCoy."
"Also known as the Technician." an anonymous voice behind them said.
"Uh...the Captain told me to get this stuff for him," Willis acted the part of the soldier.
"I am the Captain."
They turned to see the Plasma pistol aimed directly at them.
Mark wrinkled his nose, the part of him that enjoyed being an agent of SPECTRUM was a little disappointed at Roman's response.
"Perhaps I was being unclear. The truth behind my offer was to chemically render you clinically dead to get you out and then revive you. If you're dead-set on meeting Wagner at your own execution though, I won't deprive you the opportunity. Speaking of chemicals though, let's do a little something to make this chat more pleasant."
Mark unceremoniously plucked a syringe from his little kit and injected Roman with Med-X to dull the tortured man's pain.
"Now. Better Society and the Enclave seem to be working in concert here. What's the truth behind that, and why would they do this to you if you're a loyal company man?"
Roman looks at the man, struck dumb, and not just from the chems.
"That's much better. If feigning death could give me a fighting chance, I would be stupid not to take it. Okay, where to begin."
Roman takes a deep breath, taking in his brief reprieve.
"When the Enclave offered the J.H.C. protection, that included Better Society's factory here. We didn't know they wanted to take it over. Better Society's a company, a corporation. We're trying to make a Better World, but we know that it takes time, and work, and pressure. About a week ago, we noticed that shipments were down from usual - and they sent me and some others down here to investigate. That's Nicole. Nicole van der Linde was the other executive here. Don't know where they have her. They just grabbed me and brought me in - I was here to fire the manager and replace him. He seems to have a religious following here."
Roman coughs a bit.
"We'd heard stories. Members being banished from here, some tortured, some naming names. But they were just stories - but look at what they did to these poor people..."
Aaron cursed under his breath. They were done for. This captain had a Plasma Pistol aimed and ready to take the two escapees down, while all the duo had was a couple of old baseball bats. The dreaded Ramsey thought for a moment, either die here begging for mercy, or die trying to at least kill this motherfucker, getting some much needed vengeance. The decision didn't last long. Aaron looked at his baseball bat, it sat halfway off of the bench beside the Enclave Captain. Perfect. In an impulse of adrenaline and anger, Aaron raised his leg and axe-kicked the bat, sending it flailing towards the captain. It hit the man's arm, disfiguring his aim and distracting him for just enough time. McCoy, easily taking advantage of this precious situation, charged the officer. Aaron struggled with his arm to get the Plasma Pistol, which was going off then and there, turning chunks of ceiling and locker into goo. The Technician, as he was called, managed to get the Enclave soldier to the ground, allowing Aaron to bend his arm in a way it wasn't meant to bend. The captain shouted in pain as bone and tendon snapped, scraping against the hard, metal power armor. He released his grip on the pistol. McCoy had started to strangle the officer while Aaron scrambled to grab the pistol, leaving a mangled arm. "Fuck! McCoy, get outta the way!" Aaron yelled, shakily aiming the weapon at the wounded officer. Willis jumped off of him and stumbled back to a locker, leaving the poor Enclave Captain to his death. A sense of justice took over Aaron Ramsey as he fired into the officer time after time again, truly reducing him to nothing more than a pile of green muck, mixed with blood, Power Armor, and bone. The two prisoners looked at each other after the ordeal, "Here man, take this, I'll grab that shotgun." Aaron walked over to the weapons locker and grabbed, coincidentally, his very own "City-Killer" Combat Shotgun. He walked past the Technician and towards the door, "By the way, I'm Aaron. Now let's get movin'".
As the attacking gangsters numbers thinned, eventually few of them where left, and the last started to run away. Lucas peeped out from behind his cover, and took several shots at the running man. The first two missed, however a third shot seemed to implant itself in the mans leg. "Don't shoot!" Bellowed Lucas, as he ran towards the man. Moving his legs as fast as he could, Lucas eventually reached the man, who was now trying to crawl away. "Turn the fuck around. Or I shoot you in the face bitch." The man slowly rolled himself over, and was now looking at Lucas, with tears rolling down his face. "Are you.... you're crying? Oh my god, you're crying! Hey guys! This mother fuckers crying! Oh god.... OH GOD! I can't stop laughing man.... oh god..... Hahahahaaha....... Ha! Ok, ok, yeah." Lucas then pulled out his handgun, and shot the man in the face. Grabbing all the hands guns Lucas could find off the dead men, he put them in various holsters in his jacket, along with taking a sawed off shotgun. "Fuck it, why not go all the way...." Checking one of the rival mobsters pockets, he found a note. Guard Tunnel. Any non enclave gets in, shoot them. Lucas folded up the piece of paper, and put it in his jacket. "Let's go, times wasting."
"So Wagner went local and betrayed your company, and you're the first response? What does Better Society do when they don't hear from you?"
Mark suddenly heard shouting outside and some other muffled noises. There was the possibility he had been discovered, but Mark knew the wasteland was a big and busy enough place that it was entirely probable that the ruckus was unrelated to him. The agent carefully cracked the door open and peeked out into the hallway. When he saw a pair of power armored figures running in his direction he grit his teeth and started scheming as fast as he could. Relief shivered down his spine like cold water when the pair ran past him and in the general direction of the noise.
"Actually, you can answer that question later. For now though, I'm afraid you're going to have to die."
Mark began preparing the chemical cocktail necessary to make Roman's life signs undetectable.
Roy was still outside the settlements, by and large. The two teenagers had demanded Roy find a disgize of some kind. He didn't understand why his usual robot disgize wasn't good enuff. They had seemed mortally offended at the disguise when Roy had simply turned his helmet backwards and immitated a Protecron's voice and movements. Badly, at that. They'd bustled him into some kind of store, they called it Mister Large and Tall. Roy was trying on some clothes, but only the truly massive ones fit around his bulk. He missed the suit the Salvatores had made him. Finally, they found a big baggy dress of some kind that fit over Roy's immense shoulders and pulled it on over the bemused mutant's head, followed by a gigantic overcoat, made for someone so big they'd need to be crane-lifted out of their house to come buy it. Then they planted a fedora on his head and moved him along. They were now carrying his gear, not like the teens could handle the recoil of the minigun though. Made a shotgun's kick feel like a spud pistol. They marched him right up to a Northeast Enclave guard post around the corner, mouthing off to the guards about some radio broadcast.
"Wagner put a bounty on Muties, and we're bringing this one in to collect on that bounty," one of them shouted at the guard.
"And where'd you find him?" the guard inquired, as the other guards struggled not to laugh.
"We let him chase us into one of those flooded underpasses and dropped a cinderblock on his head," the kid responded. It wasn't looking good for the plan. Roy mumbled something under his breath. The kid looked worriedly at Roy, but winged it. "I think we fractured it's skull. It won't last much longer, and we want those caps for it's head!"
At that, the guards waved them on. Roy aided the story by inadvertantly crashing into the guard post's barrier, mangling it and falling over. The guards started taking bets on whether or not Roy would last until they got to Caldwell's littls "settlement". And Roy didn't need to kill anyone. Now all they needed to do was find the Man Boss and the Lady Boss. And that'd be no easy feat. On the upside, Roy thought to himself, he had found some snappy clothes.
Lucas was losing time. So, he decided to do the things the old fashioned way. Walking around town, he looked for anyone, ANYONE, that could be selling drugs. Eventually, he found some dumb ass in a Purple suit with a cane and wide brimmed hat. Since there where no hookers around, Jesse assumed this man was stoned enough to think that the suit looked good. Waving his hands in the air, he started to shout to the man. "YO! Brother! What uuuuup!I ain't seen you since fucking 'NAM!" The man looked puzzled, and stared at Lucas. "Don't you be looking at me like that! You know me man! I ain't seen you in like, ten years!" Continuing to walk closer, the man backed up nervously, right into the alley, blocking off most of the view. Not that anyone was on this street anyway. As the man backed up into the alley, Lucas walked faster, and eventually was only a few feet away from him. "So, what up... man? Do I know y-you or some...thing?" The man said, his back to the wall. Lucas walked up to him, until the man's back was directly to the wall, and than Lucas struck. His hand reached out and grasped the man's neck, while pulling a handgun out of his pocket, and aiming it at the mans forehead. "Now mother fucker, you're going to tell me one thing. Where. Do. You. Get. Drugs?" The man hesitated, staring at the weapon. "Look man. I ain't got nothing to do with my step brother or any" "Wait. Shut the fuck up." Lucas said, as he thought I struck fucking gold. "Now man, what the fuck's your brothers name. "Errr, John. John Carpenter." Wait, how did a waste lander have a step brother in the Enclave? Yeah, he was useless. Shooting his gun several times into the mans chest, Lucas quickly departed and headed for somewhere he could find a lead.