"The Plot Thickens" Jeff, New Vegas,
Passing through Freeside, Jeff somehow evaded the NCR evacuation troops that were heavily blockading the entrance to Vegas. The strip remained deserted, void of any present being that resided within. Those that were on the strip were barricaded in the casino's they stayed in. NCR military police guarded the doors of each casino, watching out for anyone who passed through.
"You! What are you doing?! Leave the strip immediately, can't you see we're evacuating?" One of the guards shouts.
Jeff looks to the guard, if he was caught, he'd obviously be arrested. Within a quick burst of no thought, Jeff sprints past the Gomorrah, the guards shout and take pot-shots at Jeff's feet. Quickly mounting up the walls that divided the road of the strip, Jeff climbs in a rush. Tossing his leg over the other side of the wall, Jeff leans and begins to swing his other leg over the wall. A bullet is fired, making its way into Jeff's leg. Pain shoots throughout Jeff's body as he's bolted over onto the other side, landing on his back. Air is knocked out of his lungs as he gasps in pain.
((Not like the strip police are just gonna ignore a massive fight. Plus it makes things more interesting.)) "The Plot Thickens" Jeff, New Vegas, Piercing the Stimpaks' needle into his thigh, Jeff lets the morphine, antibiotic fusion rush through his veins, almost instantly eradicating the pain of the gunshot. Looking up to the woman, he watches as she mutilates a mans body. Blood gushes from his throat as his eyes stare wide at Jeff. Flinching when the Ranger throws the body to the ground, Jeff's eyes stay glued to the corpse.
"So what? We're just gonna wage war on some mercs?" Jeff responds, looking up from the body; blood still poured out onto the street.
Looking the woman up and down, Jeff can tell she's been in a fight, her tattered armor had tears and slash marks. Her face was still void of any expression, making it difficult for Jeff to decipher what she was thinking. Peeking through the cowl, Jeff's eyes spot the armor beneath her cloak, it resembles the dead guy's armor.
The rest of the hour had been spent with Dinah silently swearing out the contents of the refrigerator as she went about the task of cleaning out the used cigarette cartons. All the while, the Android sat at her beaten dining table, looking down at the box of gumballs procured from the back of the ice-box. As far as she could tell, or knew, they looked clean. The box inside containing several dozen tiny colorful spheres of a dozen colors. Holding one up, she mused over it. Wondering.
"Do ya eat?" Dinah asked, shuffling the spent cartons into a pile outside the door. Using a broken pole to slide and beat several about around her.
"Eat?" Sweet Gin asked.
"Ye, do you be needing food?" the old woman asked again.
Sweet Gin looked at her puzzled for a second. A look of deep contemplative consideration boiling onto her face. "I don't know." she said, breaking the thoughtful meditation.
"Well have you be have stomach pains?" Dinah asked.
Sweet Gin considered for a bit. "My back hurts sometime." she said, "And my side, sometimes when the back doesn't hurt."
"Well, t'at be not stomach pains t'en." Dinah said, swatting a couple more out the door and out onto the street.
"Why would it matter?" Sweet Gin asked.
"You could be a-hungry." Dinah said with a soft smile. Looking at the sky she asked, "You be want to go?"
"Diocese Cathedral?" Sweet Gin asked.
"Heaven's Gate, yeah." Dinah nodded, "It done be gettin' dark 'nuff."
Sweet Gin looked down at her stuff. Closing the box and rising to her feet she stuffed the box of gumballs into her bag, and lifted herself up. "Yeah." she said with softened enthusiasm.
Dinah gave the android a warm smile, "I be get my club."
The two moved out as the sun was setting on the horizon. The long dark shadows creeping over the streets. Bands of orange highlighted the clouds as a deep dark blue overtook the rest of the sky, following by a deepening black marked with the clarity of the stars. And as the sun set, the moon rose into the sky, setting its watch on the two travelers below.
The trip as it turned out soon evolved into the same mundane routine as they snaked through the winding streets of Springfield, past the old homes left standing, or blasted into oblivion from the years. Skeletal frames standing of beams of wood or metal, barely more than dust in the wind. The same applied just as well to the tattered office buildings that lay crumbling and closed tight. Sweet Gin remarked that in an eerie sense, the city was much like that of Worcester, or the deeper parts much the same as the outer as they crawled through. Though as darkness set and an eerie silence took hold, so did its lifelessness.
Only darkness came to rule on the terrain. It was was spooky, eerie. As the shadows advanced and molded together into a single unity the thick blackness took hold on it all. Draping buildings in the same inky sheet that drained the already faded color from the scenery. And with the lack of life, so did the monotony of the voyage grow. And very quickly, Sweet Gin came to miss the old battered truck she had choked all the life from so far back.
Dinah however did not seem to mind, and lead her expertly through the streets. Her confidence showing well. Each move she made, glance thrown to the crumbling buildings around them, held court to the fact. She was the queen of these streets. Going so far as to softly sing a mumbled hymn to herself, just barely audible over the whistling breeze that wrapped through each crack and corner of the city. She did not carry the tune well, Sweet Gin observed. And she slowly found herself wishing for some other accompaniment to her coarse and sub-amateur tune. A distraction she didn't know how to add.
The coarse of the streets shifted rapidly as they drew further in with large barriers erected from stacked cars, or just pile-ups in general. A phantom of Worcester reappeared as well, in the form of a growing concentration of olive-green trucks, with the single white star painted on the doors. The sagging wrecks of the world of before. As just as in Worcester, and elsewhere, they took on the phantoms of organized purpose, just left behind to rot by their owners.
A sort of ancient, forgotten desperation came to as they entered into the city's nexus, taller structures raising up over their heads. Signs left behind, rotted and faded in the streets, pushed aside. A pile-up of cars. Old bullet markings. Something had transpired here, and the evidence lay around in open sight. The culmination of events after the fire, or the events that lead up to it?
And then suddenly, it ceased. As Dinah lead Sweet Gin across an intersection, the signs cut off. Cleaned up off the streets. Some power or influence having cleared aside the wrecks, giving a long straight shot through the streets. An eerie cleanliness in the darkness. And at her toes, ancient bricks. Roads not paved in solid stone, poured concrete, like she had known. But broken and orderly. Withering weeds had broken through, yes this was a given. But the scenic dynamics had shifted, and so did the street sides.
Withered, wilted, and charred husks of trees lined the streets, growing from iron grated holes in the concrete of the walkways. All the trees of which charred and bent from a great wind, bent west-ward. And between the hunched gnarled fingers and their twisted claws. Between the fading structures of eons passed, hiding behind the slumps of the old homes with empty barren lawns, rose a great wall of scrap and ancient wood. Cutting across the street, and forming an outer boundary that stood above the rooftops. Flickering warm lights adorned the top where the shadows of men stood, and above them the fluttering banner. Crossed keys in red, on a field of white.
((Sorry, was at a tournament from 7 A.M. to 1 P.M.)) "Not Just Mercs" Jeff, New Vegas Watching the Ranger perform tactical takedowns with ease; Jeff is impressed by her finesse. This woman was obviously experienced in what she did, Jeff wondered where she learned her moves. Picking up a stray handgun from a decapitated woman, Jeff checks the gun for any bullets; thankfully three resided in the ammo clip. Scanning the body for any more ammo, Jeff comes across two extra clips of handgun ammo and two stimpaks. Regarding the Ranger's words, Jeff keeps his eyes on the lookout for anyone in leather armor. He didn't know why he was blatantly following a random woman's orders considered that he barely knew her, but he went along with them, regardless of its necessity. Picking off one of the soldiers, Jeff watches as one stumbles to the ground, clenching his throat as blood spews out of his jugular. It'd been awhile since Jeff had killed someone, but he still somehow retained the know-how of operating a handgun and using a mental-barrier to bring himself to pulling the trigger.
"So if these guys aren't mercs; then who are they? A secret milita?" Jeff asks the Ranger as they slip into an alleyway.
((Sarg, you can play as Jeff anytime you want to that way you're not bogged down whenever I'm away, just don't kill him.)) ((Oh, and all applications are accepted.))
"Not Just Mercs" Jeff, New Vegas, Following the Ranger, Jeff assists in killing more and more people by the minute, shooting down crowds of Dark Ones. Bullets from the many guns Jeff recovered find their way into the bodies of their masters. Jeff is slightly amused by the Dark Ones tenacity, their cunning ways. For some reason, Jeff had a euphoric feeling as he killed these people, not sexual, but just in general. The thought of overpowering someone was rewarding. Jeff was unsure what he was experiencing, he hated killing, but for some reason. it just felt natural to him at this point.
"It's her! Kill that b*tch!" One of the Dark Ones yells.
Alarms blared across the compound as rising columns of black smoke rose over Vegas as the NCR mobilized a response force. The thunder of Vertibird propellers echoed all up and down the tarmac as pilots and their crews rushed to the ready birds under the blare of raid sirens. A thick panic and necessity drove through the men of McCarran, and whatever they had been doing had to be dropped.
Somewhere on the strip, there was a riot. And visible over the former airport's high concrete walls the signs of a blazing fire rose to the sky, adding urgency to the mission.
"Multiple parties on the Strip are in engagement," the radios blared as Rodney K. Lord and his crew jumped into position, "fire response teams are to be mobilized in quench the fires before they spread to the surrounding casinos. Military craft are to assist in repressing the rioters, and to deploy military police onto the strip to quell the violence before it spreads outwards.
"All units are to be on high alert. Due to the high population density and property value of the Strip soldiers and crew men are advised to not deploy heavy munitions. Command does not want to risk heavy civilian casualties. We want this to be a quick easy clean up."
Lord looked back to see a technician finish loading a tear gas belt canister to the side of Karbadian's turret, the private - still looking out of it, even after some minor therapy - sat by waiting. The ground crewman gave Lord a thumbs up, signalling he was ready to go. The rotors roared as he made lift, and the loading gate shut behind him.
For the second time in a short moment, Lord was again in the air, to address some new problem.
"Intelligence reports on MP crews on the ground have been correlated with Camp Golf," the radio operator said, "it is believed that between prisoner interrogations after Primm, and the on-the-ground reports given that a perpetuating force on the ground is believed to be the Dark Ones. Pilots are to engage them to suppress them so MP can make arrests. If possible, seek and photograph personnel on the ground. Camp Golf wants a concentrated effort to make positive IDs on several Dark One individuals to correlate with acquired intelligence."
"How's the camera, Eddy?" Lord asked.
"It's working fine lieutenant." the co-pilot said apathetically.
"Splendid." replied Lord as the nose of the Vertibird turned towards and moved on Vegas proper. The columns of smoke were growing and getting thicker by the moment, and a small swarm of red-painted Vertibirds were already sweeping to the city from Camp Golf, no doubt burdened down with water or sand in attempt to dose the flames before they took all of Vegas proper.
Lord gave a second look to Karbadian, fearing for his stability. It wasn't long since he had broken down, and the officer corp didn't have much regard for that.
"Stop and speak!" a voice shouted from the darkness as Dinah and Sweet Gin approached, the tone of his voice chilling the android. In the dim lighting of ancient lanterns, several dark shapes could be seen standing around a large chain-link gate in the impressive walls of scrap.
"I be Dinah," Dinah said, respecting the man's orders, "and I done met a andy t'at be somet'in lost."
A small bright light was turned on, hiding the silouhette of the gate keeper in its yellow glow as he he scanned her up and down with the light. The brightness hurt her eyes, and when it was shut off all she could see was blackness, save for the softer glow of those weary lamps by the gate.
"As I see." the man said, "You can lead her in."
"T'ank you." Dinah said, grabbing hold of Sweet Gin's arm as she blinked aggravatingly against the darkness.
"Let them in!" the man shouted, ordering the gate to rattle open.
Sweet Gin stumbled through after Dinah, her eyes slowly regaining their focus in the darkness and opening to the world beyond the wall. Standing back, she looked out at the post-fire community that had grown here in the center of Springfield. Much unlike what she had witnessed before, it was clean.
Though still ruined and gutted houses lined the streets, much of the car wrecks that lined the streets, and the busted and shattered remnants of the old world had been swept away. Promptly moved out of sight, or as she observed in the wall: to another purpose.
All alongside her, sweeping around in a gentle circle the multi-storied wall that guarded the community within was made of a collection of randomly reconstructed items. The hulks of cars sat strapped or nailed to the side of busted telephone polls. Scraps from other things bolted and riveted together to rise gently upwards to the upper face of the ramparts. Amazed curiosity taunted her as she looked on at the architecture, and further toyed with her as Dinah led her through like a child.
Wandering the nightly streets, small clumps of people went to and fro. Some with children, others alone. But all tired and worn. This was a silent sanctity to this place. Even in the light of burning barrels the residents conducted themselves in silence. Sweet Gin found it eerie, if strange that even the words the people passed were done so softly.
As well as them, armed men patrolled the streets. Their leather armoring and guns looking as tired as the man who bore them. Images of the men of Worcester were summoned back to her as she looked into the Wasteland aged faces, with sand-carved scars. They looked almost alike, if it wasn't for a small detail she noticed as she was dragged by fleetingly. Stitched onto their breasts, she noticed a small red cross.
The symbol puzzled her, but the child-like questions were set aside as she moved along.
Deeper into the smaller community she went, then turned down a narrow and long street. It was here at its center there rose a large structure, seemingly untouched by the bombs that hit two-hundred years ago. It was daunting to be sure, and the stone that built its large square structure had turned black with soot and the corrosion of time. And Sweet Gin observed that the windows that were had disappeared from many pockets, opening to the outside its interior, and the soft of its interior. An orange glow shone from inside, holding many in its hypnotism, as Sweet Gin observed from the small crowd that gathered around it.
"Looks like we done got here at t'at time." Dinah said, stopping.
"We did?" Sweet Gin asked, looking at the crowd. The shadows of men and women with their head bowed in the light.
"Aye," she nodded, "We be give t'e father some time." she said, turning to Sweet Gin.
Blaring sound came from above. An explosion followed, and a shaft of brilliant blue light flashed through the night. The crowd of people was disintegrated at the front while the rest of the confused bystanders pushed back in a frenzy of fear. Someone had appeared out of the light and was brandishing a firearm. Others followed, bringing to bear similar rifles. Fox watched from afar as they started shooting.
Bethesda, Capital Wasteland - The Fox 24 Hours Earlier
"You want to put the gun down, home boy?" asked Fox quietly as he met the Mexican's eyes from across the room. The nickel-plated revolved was quite large - a .357 by his estimations. Miguel was unflinching as he held it at arm's length. Evidently, he was a professional.
"Why would I do that? You're obviously in a position of disadvantage, jefe," Miguel retorted as he motioned downwards with his gun. Fox was no stranger to this, and he got on his knees. "I know what I'm doing."
"Evidently. It seems I mistook you."
"Everyone does, jefe."
Fox got down onto his knees slowly, placing his hands on top of his helmet with equal care. Then he looked up at Miguel as he stood towering above the soldier. Fox's rifle was kicked away, underneath a desk. The pistol was still in its holster.
"Pop out your sidearm, Lieutenant," Miguel commanded.
"You know my rank?" Fox asked conversationally, unbuttoning the clip on his holster's strap. Then he withdrew the pistol, it hanging between two fingers as one would repulsively hold a soiled diaper. Miguel snatched the gun and proceeded to tuck it into his leather bandolier.
"Of course. I know everything about you."
"Well, that's a surprise."
Fox was actually extremely frightened by these turns of events. He was subtly quivering in his armor, heart and mind racing. There seemed to be no way out of this. But he summoned his ability to even speak, remembering all of those film noir movies he used to watch to try and maintain a cool demeanor. He continued to think of a way out.
"I know why you're here, too."
"Do you now?" Fox asked, intrigued.
"The Guide is a crazy nutcase, jefe," Miguel continued. "Typical of you to be helping his kind. Crazy-ass traitors."
"Traitors, eh? What, me? Seditious? No way."
"So how'd you escape from jail anyways, jefe?"
"It was easy, really," Fox scoffed. "Your dumbass guards let me out for exercise and I clocked him in the ****."
"That figures. You were always a craft shit," Miguel admitted. "It's what made you so good for recon work."
"Oh, I know," Fox beamed. "I was badass, too."
"Until you decided to defect."
"I wasn't defecting, I was rendering aid to the wounded."
"They were the enemy, jefe," Miguel argued, waving his revolver around.
"So? We could have captured them."
"That's not it, Lieutenant. You were already spouting seditious garbage before that. We were watching you."
"So are you, perchance, Major Gonzales?" Fox asked inquisitively.
"Didn't think you'd remember, Lieutenant," snorted Miguel. "Yes, I am. I tried to NJP you many times."
"How'd that work out for you?"
"It didn't. Which is why I'm taking you back."
"Back to where, Major? Raven Rock is dead."
"Canada. I'm taking you to Canada where the rest of us are."
"Canada?" Fox scoffed. "The commie-haven?"
"We have the majority of our remaining bases there, Lieutenant. You should know."
"I lost my access to the net a long time ago, Major."
"Maybe we'll give it back so you can watch some porn in your cell."
"Now wouldn't that be delightful."
"I'll make the call to the Vertibird then."
"Ooh, a Vertibird?" Fox cooed. "Been a while since I was in one of those."
"You'll have a whole twelve hour flight up, too."
"Goodie! Maybe I won't kill you."
Fox sprung off of the floor and into Miguel before he could react. Within seconds, Fox had thrust his face towards Miguel's neck and had bared his teeth. With no hesitation, the Lieutenant bit down on the taut, tense skin. His teeth pierced through the muscle with a visceral popping noise, slicing through skin and tissue while powered by the sheer brute strength of his jaws. Miguel was now trapped underneath Fox's armored self, writhing and squirming and screaming a gurgling shriek. Fox bit down further, until he felt his teeth break through even more layers of tissue to the pulsing jugular vein. Blood filled his mouth and he gagged while a Miguel's screams were reduced to a frothy gurgle. Fox severed the jugular with his mouth, quickly and violently. When he stood to admire his handiwork, Miguel's mouth and neck were covered in bubbly blood.
"What the fuck!" Miguel wheezed weakly. He raised his hand to try and grab onto Fox's pants, but the Lieutenant smacked it away with his wrist bracer. Then he brought his armored foot down to smash Miguel's forearm into tiny pieces. The bone crunched as it gave way, and Miguel gurgled in pain again. His mouth was filling with blood.
"Sorry, man. You picked the wrong traitor to fuck with."
Fox then proceeded to collect his things and leave. Miguel bled to death an hour later, staring at the ceiling in the vain hope that someone would find him. Nobody ever did.
"Everything Comes With a Price" Jeffery, New Vegas, Pulling the trigger, a quick jolt of fire is released from the handgun he held. The bullet spirals into the shoulder of a dark one. A scream of excruciating pain is released from the man as he grasps at his shoulder. Jeff finishes the job quickly, firing another bullet into his head. Once or twice, Jeff catches the Ranger observing Jeff. A smile broadens across his face with each kill, he enjoyed the killing, it was like a large game that he was winning. Occasionally, a stray bullet grazed Jeff as he massacred the small groups of dark ones.
The Vertibirds thundered into the thick of the smoke that rose from the burning strip. The roars of gunshots and explosives could be heard, even through the vibrating thunder of the vertibird propellers. Lord's bird flew low through a column of smoke, flying just above the tongues of flame as they reached up to grab up. The torrent of the blade's wings kicked through the thick smoke and chopped at the fire, forcing downward a heavy vortex that whirled and spun the acrid black smoke and red hot tongues of fire.
"All units, this is Rodnkey K. Lord," the pilot said into his microphone as he leaned out the window and looked down onto the strip below. The shrubbery and plant life that had been planted there during the reign of House kicked and wailed violently in turbulent fire-cooked air. Dark forms could be seen dashing up and down the street as the fire glowed brightly, "multiple unidentified persons spotted on the Strip. Considerable fire-damage to area structures. I am seeing multiple hostiles with flamer based weapons. Do I have permission to engage?"
"Rodney Lord, this is McCarran" his communications said, "you have orders to make identification on the individuals on the ground."
Eddy looked over, wrapping his fingers around his microphone he shouted: "I got the camera on man."
"Understood, but we have considerable fire-damage on Strip properties sir, and I repeat, we have flamers on the ground. This fire will spread faster then it would otherwise. I am seeking permission to contain and control for fire-repression crews."
There was silence from the other end for a short period. A pensive period of waiting as Lord circled his Vertibird around. Off in the distance, through the hazy heat the pilot thought he could see the scene of combat on the middle of the strip. To make sure, he popped two chalky Mentat tablets into his mouth.
"Lord this is McCarran," the communications said, "You have permission to contain the hostiles on the ground and assist in mobilizing MP and Army units making their way to the scene now. We want this situation cleaned up, and Golf still wants their photographs."
"Copy that McCarran." Lord said. Leaning back to the rear of the bird he shouted out to his loadmaster and buddy: "Karbadian, lock up the guns. We got orders to put these men down. Gas them!"
Karbadian gave him the thumbs up as Lord turned his attention to Eddy, "Camera working?" he asked.
"Yes sir." he said, turning out a counsel in the dash as he directed and controlled a in-mounted camera.
"Get some shots then of those people fighting down Strip before they kill each other." Lord said, "If Karbadian doesn't gas them out before we get to them I'll try to get a better angle."
The soft humming of the cathedral interior rose and fell in hypnotic rhythm. Slipping into a soft chant, a solemn prayer. Then falling silent as distantly a voice echoed from the depths of the spartanly constructed church. A voice soft but echoing, that barely made it faintly into the streets. The words spoken difficult to discern, or unintelligible to Sweet Gin and Dinah at the back. But a unity seemed to have been achieved in it. At its command was a voice of confident calm, with a clairvoyant nature.
Speaking distantly, it conducted the mass to a conclusion. And in muttered unison the gathered crowd uttered their last words. "Amen." they said, before beginning to shuffle. No other sound was uttered, as a crowd of tired, worn wastelanders shuffled out and away from the doors. Looking up to Sweet Gin and Dinah passively, absently.
The two grizzled women stood back, letting them by as the crowd split on the street, going either way as they wandered back to that night's residence. Or to find a light night meal. Or something less pure by the troubled and heavy look in many of their eyes. Sweet Gin could not help but be taken by the build of the group as they came through he door. Old men, women, children. But for a reason beyond her, it did not seem that between the children and the old, there was one adolescent in the group. And in her recollections, she felt that by some chance she had seen them at some time or another; in the brothel where she once worked, or in the service of Bancroft's Host.
The last of the weary residents shuffled out of the old church, taking their tired bodies elsewhere. And taking Sweet Gin by the arm, Dinah lead her through the tall wooden doors and into the structure's interior.
What remained of the building had obviously been damaged on the interior to some force or another, and the extent of the damages that it bore well on the outside could be seen. Walking in, the pair set foot into a large stripped room, that rose above their heads the full height of the building. High above their heads, star-lit holes had opened. Impromptu sky lights, that roughly patched and reinforced by rising columns of bound ancient timbers and plumbing.
What would have been either a main hall, or a series of internal rooms were clearly burned out and torn aside, creating the deepened vault that ran to a shoddily crafted stage, decorated with a number of spare scrap parts torn from elsewhere and laid out in a rough pulpit and alter. The sides of this cavernous chamber was lined with the crisscrossing support beams that rose to the ceiling, and perhaps gave credit to its currently still-standing status. And with the walls and floors removed all throughout, it was even more of a skeletal form holding up the empty shell of the structure.
All along the edges, men dressed in patched together robes busied themselves with the maintenance of fires, candles, lanterns, and battered shop-lights that gave the spacious chamber its light. Giving general illumination, or directing it to a cross suspended on heavily rusted chains above the stage.
"Benedicite, child'en." a voice echoed. Sweet Gin looked down from the suspended object to find a lone figure standing alongside the pulpit of scrap. Standing there stood one of the most worn and tired men she had ever seen. And nearing him, he looked all the more distressed and tired from the years.
His head had gone bald and dry. The skin hanging off of it in heavy sags and his face pocked with uncountable discolorations. Though on contrary, the old man possessed a mangled beard that was double mangled as he was, hanging to below his waste where his bony hands hung clasped together. He regarded the android with calm contented eyes, a tired smile below his bent and twisted nose. And like the rest of the men here, he was dressed in simple robes, cobbled together from a multitude of old-war clothes.
"Excuse me?" Sweet Gin asked, confused.
"We a'he all child'en in the eyes of God." the old man said with a wispy, soft laugh, "Have you been pahsent to pahtake in my se'mon?" he asked.
The android looked at her confused. "Father?" she asked.
"It is mah'ely a title, child." the old man said, "Unless you a'e thinking of a diffe'ent thing all togetheh. By which I can only reg'ehtfully say that radiation has long stihpped me of that ability."
Sweet Gin blinked idly at the man, fighting to figure it out. The man saw her confusion, "I am Ba'naby." he said, waving his long fingers to excuse the struggling in her face, "Bishop of the Cathed'al of Saint Mothah's Mission of Ch'ist's Child'en. And you must be anotheh lost Synth."
"I don't know, I was told to come here, so I'm here." Sweet Gin said uneasily, "I don't know if that means I'm lost. I'm where I'm supposed to be, am I?"
Barnaby laughed, stepping down with ginger feet. "Nay child, you'eh adventeh's only just begun, benedicet.
"All those that find themselves on the rail'oaid find themselves on a lahgeh quest." he continued, "As I've been told, feh fahdom. The Mission he'ah, is but a link in one of many chains.
"I must thank you, Dinah, feh behing this lost soul fah'theh down her trail."
"It be good." Dinah said, "I be offerin' her my side of a deal."
"God bless thee." Barnaby said. Turning to Sweet Gin he redirected his concerns, "Unfo'tunately I am but an ally to the Rail'oad, but I may find the man you we'e sent to see." he said, turning to the door. His steps were gentle as he glided across the vast empty of his mission.
"Barnaby." Sweet Gin shouted out, interrupted him, "Before you do though, can I ask you a question?" she asked.
The kindly priest stopped, turning to Sweet Gin. Still wearing the soft smile. She felt save with him. "You may, caeh to walk with me then? We can talk on the way."
Sweet Gin looked over to Dinah who shrugged, then followed the android as she wandered alongside Barnaby. "Who is this God?" she asked, walking alongside the priest as they walked.
"He is but the all loving fatheh above us." he said, "Though, it is hahd to see in this wehld, but he does."
He looked over to Sweet Gin, smiling at the remaining confusion and dissatisfaction that plagued her. "He c'eated the wehld." he added, "he is the poweh that settled the chaos, and ceated o'der. Crafting it into wehld and the stehs beyond. From his 'ib and clay, he const'ucted man, as we did you, and you kin.
"And I know you'll ask," he said, "how is this made? It is complex, his will and poweh beyond my own, and many's comphension. But as we did the and'oids and the old robots of the wasteland, we ah his sons and daughtehs, and his g'and chilldehn.
"He gave the gift of life."
"What is life though?" Sweet Gin asked, as they stepped out into the night.
The priest stopped, turning to Sweet Gin, grabbing by the shoulders and turning her about. She immediately tensed at his grip as he breath freezed up inside of her. Her body stood tensed, the priest relaxing his grip and dropping his hands as he saw the twisting emotions in her. "You can move?" he asked.
"Yes..." Sweet Gin asked, uneasily shifting on her feet.
"And you can speak?" he asked again.
"Yes..." she repeated.
"And you have the pahcess to think, to have a question, if not an opinion?" he again asked.
Sweet Gin looked puzzled, looking between Dinah and Barnaby. Searching for some confirmation. "I... Think..." she said.
"And you've felt emotion?" he said again. Sweet Gin stared at him, to which he added, "Have you felt fah you'e safety?" he asked, "Had joy?"
Sweet Gin thought back to running from the ghouls, the tremors of terror at being nearly blown up... And the soft silkiness of the pajamas she had stuffed in her pack, and the sound of music on the radio. "Yes." she said softly.
"You can move, and you can speak." Barnaby said, "You can think and feel happiness and fear, if not yet love. You are to me, alive. As much as Dinah here is, and my congregation."
"Really?" she said, she felt unsatisfied. Perhaps still lost or uncertain.
"But maybe you have not discovahed the emotion of it." Barnaby said, continuing down the dark street.
"Of what?" Sweet Gin asked.
"Of life." the priest smiled, "It is othehwise to abtehct to explain fully. The wohds needed nonexistent, and too grey. In time maybe, you'll feel what life is."
"Then what is death?" Sweet Gin asked.
"The denial of life fo' anything living." answered the priest.
"Wrong Path" Jeffery, New Vegas, "What do you mean?" Jeff responds, taking cover behind a pillar with the Ranger.
In the distance, the angered screams of several Dark Ones echoes throughout the strip. Bullets reign over the lands, leaving massive holes into the war-torn, pre-war buildings. Explosions let off somewhere nearby, sending a massive shock-wave, striking cracks into the buildings, debris released from the ceilings as a ball of fire rose high. The sound of propellers slapping the air brings a sudden fear into Jeff; airstrike.
"Wrong Path" Jeffery, New Vegas,
The battle began to die down as the NCR pushed to regain control, wiping out large groups of Dark Ones with their airstrikes. Desert Rangers had been deployed, assigned with picking off stray runners. The Ranger had disappeared, faded into the strips depths. Fire rose high, clouding the sky with smoke and the ground with chaos. Jeff powered through the ruins of a nearly collapsed building, ducking under fallen pillars and dodging the occasional stray bullet. Luckily, nobody currently inhabited the building, making it slightly easier to navigate.
"Did you get that one there?" Lord asked as he passed the Veritbird over a more desolate part of the strip. The health and wealth of the Strip had yet to come here. Much of the land lay barren where the NCR had begun lengthening the strip. Through the crumbling ruins the pilot could see the walls of McCarran beyond those risen by NCR workers to engulf more of Vegas's old strip.
Below, a number of tents had been erected by vagrants, travelers, or the men charged with having to restore this desolated corner of Vegas.
"Who?" Eddy asked in a dry tone, looking through the monitor for the ship's cammera.
"Two chicks coming out the tent behind the low wall." Lord described in his Mentats fueled vision. Behind him Karbadian eased on the gun as he was swept from the action. Two womanly figures were darting out from a tent on the ground. Lord fought to keep the craft directed on them as Eddy lined up the photograph.
"Hey yo," Eddy sneered as he started taking pictures as the Vertibird started sweeping along. "Didn't the reports say too that one of the leaders was a broad?" he asked.
"I think so." Lord said.
"Well I got plenty," Eddy said, "Now let's see if there any more morons standing in the middle of the street.
"I should have been a photographer!" Eddy cheered.
Arlington, The Capital Wasteland - The Fox Ten Years Prior
The soft popping noises of automatic weapons fire, followed by the hissing, high-pitched lasers rung through the destroyed buildings. Explosions came, shaking the buildings rhythmically as members of the Brotherhood launched grenades at Enclave positions. A thin fog of smoke obscured the wide street, cratered and filled with rusted cars. A building had toppled to the earth long ago, filling the ground with rubble. Now he and his team lay low in the shattered second-story of what was an office building before the War. Fox was belly-down, his rifle peeking past an overturned desk. The grey sun shone through the smokey air, casting a surreal light on the whole scene. His target was a hundred meters away at an intersection down the street. Four Brotherhood scouts in light armor, similar to himself. They, too, were looking for overwatch positions on this side of the Potomac. They carried themselves cautiously, sweeping the buildings with their blocky laser rifles as they went.
"This is Lexington Team reporting in, come in command," Fox whispered into his microphone, head cocked to his shoulder as he spoke.
"What's going on, recon? I'm reading loud and clear," replied the crackling voice of the battle manager. Explosions and gunfire could be heard behind his calm, stoic voice.
"Enemy contact," replied Fox in a textbook tone. "A hundred meters due north from Lexington's position on Moore Boulevard, break. Check GPS and estimate on the Net, over."
"Roger: wilco, Lexington Team."
"Estimate about a half dozen. Equal force. They don't see us, over."
"Uh, Lexington Team, I'm getting reports of a Brotherhood recon team in a similar position from Concord Team. They're about half a kilometer up, over."
"Okay, yeah," Fox acknowledged. He checked his wrist computer - it was similar to a military-issued Pipboy, only manufactured by WesTek as opposed to RobCo. A tiny, ice blue blip on the screen labelled "CONCORD" flashed north on Moore Boulevard. Below that, the enemy team had been marked as "BOS RECON" on the Net in roughly the same position. "Okay, so we'll-"
Fox was interrupted by a sudden whistling, followed by six tremendously earth-shattering bangs. The walls shook, whatever glass remained broke, and debris began to fly everywhere. A wave of fire flooded the road for a second before it subsided, and Fox jumped back from his opening.
"What the hell, command!" he screeched into the mic. "That was hella danger close! Fuck!"
"I was unaware of any danger close strikes being called in, Lexington. Over," calmly answered the battle manager.
"It was probably Concord," reassured Fox to the commander. "Don't worry, I don't have casualties."
"Is the recon team dead, over?" asked the battle manager, referring to the Brotherhood advance scouts. Fox poked his head up from the ruins and took a look at the intersection. There was a burnt corpse, as well as a few limbs scattered about.
"Looks like it, command."
"Go ahead and confirm. You're cleared hot. I'll go and tell Concord to wave off and head north to Alexandria."
"Karbadian, lock up the guns. We got orders to put these men down. Gas them!"
Gas them. Kabardian felt his fingers tighten around the grip of the GMG, white-knuckled in anticipation of the high that would surely follow. He hadn't even checked into the medical's office before a warrant officer had pulled him back to the Vertibird with orders to respond to a crisis in New Vegas. This new rebel group didn't give up. And the Strip under attack? Certainly these people were a bigger nuisance than once thought. Foolhardy, too. Kabardian had massacred them before. Would they learn? The young man had seen what they did to his friends, and he was going to make them suffer for it. Tear gas wasn't supposed to kill anyone, but nothing non-lethal ever was. How much tear gas did it take to kill someone? Maybe their lungs would choke up: they couldn't breathe anything except more gas. They would choke on their mucus and their vomit. They would asphyxiate. Painful enough, for murderous, mutilating Raiders.
He depressed the lever of the launcher seconds later at the mob of people on the Strip. He tried to aim for the enemy, but the gas explosions soon engulfed practically the entire strip. He was aiming at people now. He wanted to see the metal shell explode some heads. He wanted the Dark Ones to choke on their own vomit in the tear gas clouds. Still drenched in the bloody battledress he had been wearing for almost twenty-four hours, Kabardian was engulfed by a white-hot rage. He fired until he ran out of ammunition - a two hundred round belt took only seconds to shoot through. With brutal strength, he ripped the ammunition can out of the holder and tossed it as hard as he could at the crowd below. Then he loaded another and repeated until he ran out of ammunition canisters. By the end, the barrel was warped and glowing red hot. Like a penis with erectile dysfunction, the barrel drooped towards the ground under the weight of itself.
Kabardian didn't care that he had just wrecked a precious piece of equipment. Instead, he fumbled for the carbine that hung off of the cargo netting on the ceiling. His vision pulsed red and black, blurring and then becoming suddenly sharp and focused all within moments. A box of magazines was nearby, and Kabardian jammed his hand into it for munitions. He came up with a thirty-round magazine, which he promptly began thrusting into the rifle. Then he switched to automatic and began shooting. He didn't see where his rounds landed, except for one instance. A teenaged girl, he saw acutely. A pretty face, scarred and dirty. Matted black hair stuck to her filthy clothes. She held a knife to the throat of an MP. One of Kabardian's rounds pierced through the top of her right ear and went out the left. Blood exploded in a fine mist, coating her body and the newly-saved MP. But before Kabardian could reload, Eddy came barreling out of the cockpit screeching: "What the fuck are you doing!"
Kabardian felt the Asian copilot yank the carbine out of his hands and throw it behind them. "I got one," the gunner boasted. "I saw her ing face explode."
"What the fuck is wrong with you?" shouted Eddy. "Where did... Oh fuck."
Eddy gazed down at the Strip, now hidden by a fog of tear gas. People everywhere were scrambling away, coughing and vomiting and yelling.
"How many rounds did you shoot?!"
"Four hundred," duly replied Kabardian, a blank expression giving away his inner emptiness. Then Eddy eyed the flaccid barrel of the GMG.
"What the hell did you do?"
"I cleared out the fight, you fucking dumbass Chinaman," Kabardian spat. "I even killed a few! That'll fucking teach 'em."
And then Kabardian stopped. He looked back at the barrel, then at Eddy. Then he cried again.
"Dammit Lord!" Eddy shouted back to the cockpit, "Your damn friend is breaking down and he destroyed the gun!"
Lord looked back muddled in confusion, to find to his shock Karbadian leaning over the flacid remains of the rear machine gun sobbing into his arms. Lord looked back at his buddy, ensnared in the conflicts of anger and pity for the crying man at the gun's seat. It'd been too soon.
Lord looked back out on the street. Tear gas rolled in massive waves up and down the Strip. The over saturated clouds were even beginning to seep in through the broken doors and windows, and the post-war cracks in the towering casino's structural integrity. With their crowd control officially wilted in a soft smoking mess, they weren't much use anymore except for photographic documentation for NCR Rangers.
Lord turned to the vertibird's communications as Eddy say down, swearing angrily back at Karbadian. "McCarran this is Lord." the pilot said.
"McCarran copies." his radio reported back.
"Reporting sustained damages on our rear armaments, requesting permission to return to base for repairs."
There was a pause on the radio.
"Explain your situation, Lord!" the other end demanded harshly.
Lord shot another pensive concerned look at Karbadian and his cooked gun. His mind panicked and raced as he fought to find a reasonable explanation. "Rioters hit the turret with a thermal grenade." Lord lied half-assedly. The captain waited anxiously as silence again ruled over the airwaves.
"Request to return to base denied, Lord." the radio reported, "Climb to a higher altitude and continue searching the crowd for Primm suspect. That's an order."
Springfield, Massachusets - Heaven's Gate
Though as slow as the old man moved, he had come to escort Sweet Gin and Dinah upon a towering structure, situated just at the edge of the wall that guarded the enclave. Built from the remains of an old brick house stood a tower of scrap and wood, transforming into a mishmash of metal scrap that rose higher into the skies. The darkness of the night had shrouded the tower against the inky blackness of the sky, and even on the ground its towering spire rose invisible into the night. a domed cap appearing to float as the weak moonlight and stars illuminated off its distant surface.
"This is whe'e you' link in the rail'oad resides." Barnaby said softly, like a father, "It is the home of one Conneticut, or Connie.
"I heard him on the radio!" Sweet Gin exclaimed.
Father Barnaby only smiled and nodded, "I shall leave you to the next stage of your journey, child." he said warmly, placing a gentle hand on Sweet Gin's shoulder as he turned to leave. A chilling reflex shot through Sweet Gin's spine at the old man's touch, and she turned with apprehensive nervousness as she watched him off.
Sweet Gin turned as Dinah put her own hand on her shoulder. The old black woman looking at the android with a warm smile. "Well, I done always wanted to have been meet Hollering Connie." she said, "Le's go."