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Mission Recap


Chapter 1: Duty Calls
  • Recon Squad Zero set off to find the missing squad, Artemis
  • Encountered a radstorm in the Glowing Sea, resulting in a crash landing
  • Split into two groups, Zero struggled against feral ghouls and raiders to survive
  • Knight-Sergeant McDowell and Initiate Grimshaw discovered tunnels housing strange super mutants with captive deathclaws
  • Squad managed to escape with minor injuries and damaged armor
  • Knight-Sergeant McDowell was Killed in Action during the retreat
  • Senior Lancer McCarthy was Killed in Action during the crash


Chapter 2: Genesis 4:9
  • Recon Squad Zero took refuge in a USGS Outpost along the Charles River
  • Squad members grapple with Paladin Moss's decision that ultimately led to McDowell's death
  • Knight Daniel Estevez was field-promoted to Knight-Sergeant, acting second-in-command
  • Initiate Laura Grimshaw was field-promoted to Knight, designated sharpshooter
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Lo Pellegrino
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Lo Pellegrino The Pilgrim

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Owen leaned against the metal railing. A skinny spliff peaked out from between his fingers, dangling precariously over the edge as he tapped the ash off into oblivion. He took a slow, deep drag. Strange how the cherry’s dull glow burned brighter than the lights below. Like a reminder of humanity’s resilience and downfall all at once. The thought lingered a while before Owen stamped the spliff out onto the rail and turned toward the doors.

It took weeks for him to trust the metal grate floors out here. Seeing through them as he walked was unnerving, especially during the day when the skies were clear and their distance from the wasteland was unmistakable. That’s part of the reason he preferred coming out here at night. None of that seemed to bother the young squires ahead of him.

A young boy and girl crouched low onto the grating. The girl held half of a T-45 helmet in her hands, its flashlight shining down into the night sky. Neither looked older than ten. Owen frowned a little and waved to the kids.

“Good evening, sir!” the boy exclaimed, jumping to his feet.

Had Owen startled him? “It is a good evening, isn’t it?” the scribe replied, watching the girl continue whatever it is she was doing with the helmet. “What are brings you both out here after dark?”

“Proctor Teagen said if we can find the White House he’ll teach us how to shoot,” the girl answered without looking up.

Nervously, the boy nodded. “He really did, sir. It’s our mission.”

“Proctor Teagen said that, huh?” Owen sighed, then looked out into the wasteland. You couldn’t see much from up here after sunset. “Wait, move the light. Yeah, over there, there you go. I think you found it. See?”

The girl squinted hard, then glanced at the boy and smiled. Together, they laughed, “We’re going to learn how to shoot!”

Owen smiled, continuing toward the door as the kids dreamt aloud of what they’d learn to fire. Perhaps he smiled a little bigger imagining Teagen’s confusion, but it was all in good fun, of course. The old proctor might benefit from some time around the energy and excitement of two squires. He was a good man, if a bit of a curmudgeon. Most of his brothers and sisters on the Prydwen were good people. Some bought into hating mutants and ghouls a little too easily for his taste, but hate was a tempting drug. He couldn’t blame them for indulging a little.

Climbing down onto the main deck, Owen took a moment to savor the sounds and smells. The laughter and gasps as knights recounted past missions, the mouth-watering and vaguely nauseating aromas from drifting from the mess hall. It had all its charm. He knew this “extended mission” would make him appreciate it all that much more, assuming they survived.
“You’re early, Algarín.” The scribe looked around, spotting Paladin Moss at a two-person table hidden away near the back. “Take a seat. I took the liberty of getting you a drink.”

“That’s very kind of you sir, thank you.” Owen studied at the unfamiliar beer then glanced at the bar.

Moss grinned and popped the caps off both of their bottles. “Neriah told me you pick up on things fast. I take it you have some idea about our mission already.”

“Just inference.” Owen took a sip from his beer and gave a quick nod of approval.

“Go on,” Moss ordered, eyes fixed on the scribe.

“Well, there’s the timing first of all. I worked with Scribe Faris, you know. Helped him do research into the Boston area ahead of Artemis leaving. I also haven’t heard anything about their progress since they left,” Owen explained and pointed to the beer. “That research I mentioned included common food and drink. Common like this lager, for example.”

“Impressive.” The paladin smirked and raised his beer. “So you worked out the why and the where. What about the need for secrecy?”

The words stopped, teetering at the tip of his tongue. Owen noticed the subtle look of satisfaction just behind the paladin’s stoic expression. This wasn’t an interview or opportunity to prove himself for the mission. No, the message was quite clear. Owen had already been chosen. Moss was trying to determine how to handle him. Maybe looking for a reason to remove him before the mission even began. If Owen answered honestly, suggesting the young Elder Maxon might want to keep losing touch with a squad quiet, he might be digging his own grave. Rumor had it Moss was the religious type. A New Canaanite. What was the saying? Pride cometh before the fall.

“I asked about the importance of secrecy for our mission,” Moss repeated. “You understand secrecy. Considering your background.”

“I haven’t told anyone about the mission, if that’s what you mean.”

Moss took a deep breath and stood. If his tone and unyielding stoicism weren’t intimidating enough, the foot or so he had on Owen sent the message home. Owen kept eye contact, even if that meant craning his neck upward. After a few moments they seemed to find an understanding.

“A vertibird will be ready and waiting at 0400 hours,” Moss explained “I’ve already sent messages to the rest of the team with details. I expect they’ll want a drink before the mission, and since you’re already quite familiar with the details, I trust you will see to it that everyone gets enough rest.”

Without so much as a nod, Moss turned on a heel and left the mess hall. What strength Owen had summoned left him the moment the paladin was gone. He sank back into his seat. The conversation replayed in his mind until he realized the beer wasn’t going to be enough.

“I’ll take a scotch, please.” Owen took a seat at the bar and scanned the room. He’d wait a few hours for anyone else to show. After that, he’d hit the sack. “So, got any good stories?”

The mess officer chuckled to himself. “I used to be scribe like you, you know. Until I took a hit from a deathclaw. Snapped my femur right in two.”
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Odin
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Odin Death is the only God that comes when you call

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With the tip of his tongue hanging from the corner of his lips, Knight-Sergeant McDowell drew careful, deliberate motions with his pen on the sheet of paper laid on his lap. Despite his slow movements, the handwriting was near indiscernible from the drawings of a squire. A particularly young squire, even. It was a good matter that nobody else had to read this particular piece of paper. “Weapon…?” he slowly asked himself, sounding out what he had just written down. On his bed laid Atomic Annie, his trusty supersledge. He nodded affirmatively to nobody else but himself, as if he had to pair his thoughts with a physical movement of sorts. “Check…” he sounded out again, putting a checkmark next to the horribly written word.

Gregory, or Greg for short, had received a written notice not too long ago that he had been appointed to a mysterious squadron of sorts. A normal knight-sergeant of particular wit or intelligence might have been able to deduce, at the very least, what this squadron was meant to be doing – or, indeed, had questioned why such a mysterious squadron needed to exist to begin with. For Gregory, on the other hand, such an appointment meant that he had a chance to the Elder Maxon – who was most likely not familiar with Knight-Sergeant Gregory’s appointment on a personal level regardless – how good a soldier he was. It didn’t take much brainpower for anyone – besides Gregory himself – to determine that his soldiering ways were probably why he was assigned to this squadron.

After all, who better to send to unknown territories than a brave or suicidal scribe to catalogue their findings, and a hulking knight-sergeant or two to protect the nerd?

“Armor…?” For a moment, Gregory put his pen to his lip, mindlessly coloring a part of the corner of his mouth blue, before he nodded again. “Yes, I saw it somewhere. Check.”

It was at that point that his ‘roomie’ walked in, scribe Greenfield. He was a twig of a man, barely breaching 5’5”, and not weighing much more than a handful of radroaches would. The two were… an unfortunate duo. On their assignment in the barracks, McDowell had hoped for someone like him – tough, strong, brave and above all, really interesting. Greenfield was none of those things and for the most part seemed to be the opposite of those things. Talk about bad luck.

“Hey, Greenfield,” Gregory said without looking up. There were only a few people on the Prydwen that managed to walk so loudly without the physical stature to back it up. Greenfield was rather clumsy, though, so there was some sort of explanation, sometimes. “Read any of those nerd-books today?”

“Sure, Gregory,” was all Greenfield could get out before Gregory laughed that thunderous laugh of his that, if the engineers that were down a floor were to believed, could shake the Prydwen hard enough to shake some of the bolts out of their holes.

“Haha! Of course you did!”

“Yeah, great, laugh it up. You know, without those books, the engineers couldn’t fix your power armor when you break it for the fourteenth time. So yeah, go ahead, keep laughing at me for daring to read books, something you probably can’t even do,” Greenfield responded, taking great care to bring his point across as well as he could.

Gregory, however, did no such thing. “Haha, bet you typed some words into a computer too, pansy!” He slapped his knee very hard, making it even more obvious he was very amused with the prospect of a scribe doing scribe-y things.

“Sure, Greg. What are you doing, I didn’t know you could write?” Greenfield sneered back, although the jab was lost on Gregory, who seemed more amused with Greenfields ‘genuine’ interest in what he was doing.

“Oh, I’m just checking if I have all my equipment. Us big guys have big important business to do,” was the cheerful reply, making it all the more apparent that Gregory had misunderstood that what Greenfield had said was a thinly-veiled insult. “If I write it down, I can’t forget anything. Smart, right? See, it’s not just the scribes that come up with intelligence stuff.” He presented the paper with illegible scribbles on it to Greenfield, who briefly raised his glasses to get a better look up close.

“You mean intelligent, and yes, I suppose that this is smart. But if you’re just writing down things off the top of your head, you could still forget stuff. For example, you didn’t write down “rations,” or “canteen,” or “brains.” Those are important, although I’m not sure you have any.”

Greg scoffed at the notion. As if he would forget his rations and his drinks. In fact, he had already prepared those and attached them to his power armor frame. “Sure, just like you forget your sledgehammer. Oh wait – you’re a nerdy scribe, you don’t get any! Ha!”

The hard part about arguing with someone who is, putting it lightly, not as smart as you, is that no matter what smart rhetoric and intelligent way of insulting them you can come up with, it won’t land. The only way to beat them, or indeed, even participate would be to lower yourself to their level, and that was something that Greenfield would never do.

“Right. Have a nice evening Greg, I’m going to tend to my duties.” Greenfield dropped off a clipboard on the small shelf that hung next to his top bunk, and disappeared as quickly as he had appeared. If anything, Greenfield was likely very happy that the bottom bunk was going to be empty for a while. Some peace and quiet would be nice for him.

Greg focused on his paper again, but could not muster the energy to continue his checklist. It seemed done for the most part anyway, and he was hankering for a cold beer. With a loud thump he slapped the paper on the sidetable next to the lower bunk, and patted his supersledge. “I’ll be right back, Annie,” he whispered to her, before standing up and marching himself over to the canteen. As he walked through a hallway – if it could be called that, since they were actually just walkways – he passed by Paladin Moss.

Within a second he had come to a full stop, perched his chest out and stepped aside for the senior officer. “Paladin Moss!” he said, standing at attention and performing a Brotherhood of Steel salute, pressing his fist against his chest while extending his elbow up to the side, “Ad Victoriam!” Once the idol, err, officer had passed, and Gregory was sure he wasn’t coming back, he relaxed and continued his way into the mess hall.

Without much finesse or subtlety he sat down in one of the red barstools that they had most likely “appropriated” from a diner somewhere long, long ago. He was just in time to hear the tail end of the bartender sharing some insight on how he had once been a scribe, but had a run in with a deathclaw. “Hey, pal,” he said, “do me for a pint, if you can?”

Once a glass had been filled with a cool, refreshing half liter of beer, the mess officer would most likely have continued his story, but Gregory rudely inserted himself into the conversation, lacking any manner of tact. It was generally well known that the Knight-Sergeants were of a more direct sorts, but Gregory truly took the cake in that regard.

“A deathclaw, huh? Well, you should’ve been wearing power armor, obviously! And a big gun, or a sledgehammer. Something to make that overgrown lizard think twice about smacking you around like some sort of little snack,” he interjected, before raising his glass and pouring at least half the glass into his mouth before setting it down. “Would’ve ended much better!” He glanced at the scribe to his side, who had been the subject of this mess officers’ tale but didn’t recognize the man. “The name’s knight-sergeant Gregory McDowell,” he opened the conversation, “pleasure to meet you.”

He grinned at the man, before continuing. “For however long this meeting may last. I’m shipping out and getting off of this metal coffin in a few hours to do some actual work.” He looked at the mess officer then, before realizing the clumsiness in his words. A little too late, probably. “Not to say that working on this ship is not actual work. Who else is gonna hand me a beer, am I right?” he told the man, slapping the bar with his oversized hands as if it were something hilarious he’d just said. The mess officer seemed unenthused, but given the frequency with which Knight-Sergeant McDowell came here for beer, he probably was used to his antics by now.

Greg turned to the scribe to his side again, and decided to ask him something instead of continuing on about himself. “So what about you? Doing anything interesting recently, besides reading books and typing into the computers?” He held back a slight laugh at the notion of a scribe doing nerdy things like Greenfield would, and instead did his best to maintain a serious, curious look.

The attempt went over horribly, and he couldn’t help but stifle his laugh, barely so. But at least he tried…?
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Hank
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Hank Dionysian Mystery

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The creaking of the Prydwen’s hull and the dull throbbing of its engines as it maintained anchor over the Capital Wasteland were only interspersed by the sound of Laura’s pencils flying across the off-white pages of her sketchbook. Bold lines, drawn with confidence, carved out the countenance of Knight-Captain Reddon while soft shading and gentle touches of the graphite filled in the blanks. Her eyes, wellsprings of crystalline blue, flitted between the drawing and Reddon’s own face and she frowned, pressing the bottom of her pencil against her pursed lips.

He was seated opposite her in the unused nook of the Prydwen that she used as her studio. The Scribes that dwelled and worked in this part of the airship had initially grumbled at her intrusion but quickly changed their tune and tolerated her presence after she’d drawn them each a flattering portrait. Reddon’s face was cast in a stark contrast of light and shadow by the light fixture that hung from the low, rivet-studded ceiling. His makeshift seat was an empty crate that Laura had confiscated when no one was looking, and his empty suit of power armor stood by the entrance into the cranny, as if standing sentry for nosy intruders.

There was something intimate about drawing someone’s portrait, Laura thought, and she hated being disturbed while she was working. As such, she was quietly grateful for the notion that the sight of the Knight-Captain’s suit would scare off the Squires that roamed the lower decks of the Prydwen and did their best to be a pain in everyone’s ass… as adorable as they were.

“Is there something wrong?” Reddon asked, having noticed the frown on Laura’s face. He glanced away from her face when she met his gaze and went back to looking straight ahead like she’d ordered -- it was much easier to draw someone if they weren’t moving, after all.

She smiled and motioned reassuringly with her free hand. “No, everything is alright, you’re doing great. I was just thinking about which technique to apply, that’s all.”

“Oh,” Reddon said. He cleared his throat and shifted on his crate a little. “That’s good.”

The truth was that Laura wasn’t giving Reddon’s portrait her undivided attention. She took a deep breath and straightened up, putting her thoughts about the mission out of her mind. It wasn’t fair to the Knight-Captain. They’d set the date for his sitting weeks ago, after all. That this happened to be the last day before her departure to lands unknown was a coincidence and a consummate professional wouldn’t let that affect their work.

But it was so very hard not to think about the mission…

After an hour had passed, Laura cleared her throat and got up from her own seat -- a real chair, of course -- and gently tore the page from the sketchbook. Paper was hard to come by so as much as Laura would have liked an easel with a large canvas to work with, she had to make due with a supply of sketchbooks that the Brotherhood had liberated from an old factory a few years ago. Her heartbeat quickened as she handed the portrait to the Knight-Captain. That first moment of judgement always made her nervous, no matter how many times she’d gone through it by now, and no matter how sure she was that her work was good. Reddon’s face embodied several of the noble qualities that Laura admired in the Brotherhood of Steel and she’d had to suppress her awe while she worked on immortalizing the Knight-Captain’s strong jaw and heavy brow. She’d been with the Brotherhood for a few years now but that feeling never changed. They were still nothing short of heroes to her.

Fortunately, his face lit up immediately when he looked upon Laura’s rendition of himself. “Wow, I don’t know what to say,” Reddon said and glanced up at her with sincere gratitude in his eyes. “Thank you, Initiate.”

Her tense shoulders sagged with relief and she reciprocated his smile with a wide one of her own. She hadn’t known the man before he approached her with the familiar commission for a portrait; evidence that her fame was spreading throughout more than her own circle within the Brotherhood. “You’re very welcome, Knight-Captain,” she replied and inclined her head, still beaming.

“So what do I owe you?” the man said as he got to his feet as well and reached into his pockets.

“Standard rate is thirty caps,” Laura answered. She hadn’t known Reddon before he’d approached her, but she had made sure to do her research on the man in the weeks between their first meeting and this appointment, and discovered that he was something of a rising star in the Brotherhood’s ranks. “But you were so well-behaved -- as a model, I mean, sir -- that twenty-five caps is all I’d be comfortable accepting. Most of the men… well, you know what they’re like,” she continued, rolled her eyes and laughed. “Nothing short of a miracle if they sit still for more than two minutes.”

Reddon laughed and nodded as he counted out the caps. “That’s very kind of you, Initiate,” and she saw the glint of budding affection in his eyes, much to her satisfaction. One could never have too many friends in the Brotherhood, especially someone with a little ambition.

After Reddon re-entered his suit and stomped away, Laura gathered up her drawing instruments in her arms and made her way back to the Initiates’ quarters, which was little more than a few rows of beds and footlockers over the power armor bay -- loud, crowded and filthy. Laura longed for the day of her Knighthood and the much more private quarters that such a rank would afford.

She ignored the other Initiates that were there, who were stood in a circle and yelling at something with great and unintelligible enthusiasm. It could be anything, from an impromptu wrestling match to an intense round of dice or cards, but she had greater things on her mind. Much to her chagrin Laura discovered that one half of the finest pair of boots that she owned was missing and she was forced to exchange her leisure shoes for her second-best pair of boots, muttering an aimless insult at the imaginary Squire she pictured in her mind as having made off with her boot while smoothing over some severe creases in the leather by the toes of her left foot. Instead of going back into their usual place in the locker, Laura stuffed her pencils and her sketchbook into the rucksack she’d already prepared for the mission.

The mission…

The pace of her heart quickened again. She glanced at the time on her pocket watch and hastened to tie her shoelaces. Thaddeus would already be waiting for her in the mess hall.

Unbeknownst to her, she missed Paladin Moss by a hair’s breadth and stepped into the mess hall to the usual raucous noise of Knights recalling their glory and the excited, animated conversations of Scribes discussing new discoveries. The loud voice of the Knight-Sergeant that she knew as McDowell carried over the din but she wasn’t listening to him, for her brother Thaddues beckoned for her to join him by one of the tables. A bottle of lager already awaited her. She met his grin with a grateful smile and the two siblings clinked their bottles together as soon as she sat down.

“Ad victoriam,” they said together.

“Spill it,” Thaddeus said immediately, wasting no time. His hair was the same shade of black and his eyes were the same hue of sapphirine, but they were evidently not twins; Thaddeus had their father’s gaunt cheeks and deep-set gaze as opposed to Laura’s full and open face. A scar across his mouth had once split his lips in twain and he spoke with a slight lisp. He must have only just finished his shift, Laura realized, for his overalls were still stained with oil and grease.

“I’m leaving tomorrow morning,” Laura responded in kind. Her eyes were brimming with equal parts excitement and nervousness. “Really early. Mission details were sparse. Very sparse. Something’s up, Thad, but I don’t know what. Apparently this came straight from the Elder. You know what that means.”

He took a few seconds to digest what she’d said and leaned back in his chair, eyes wide. “From Maxson himself? Damn, Lau.” Thaddeus whistled appreciatively. She could see the conflicting emotions in his eyes: sadness that she would be leaving, concern that it would likely be something dangerous, but also a generous understanding for what it could mean for Laura’s career. “Where are you going?”

She threw up her hands. “See, that’s the thing,” she whispered and bit her lip. “I don’t know, the briefing didn’t say. I think I’m not even supposed to talk about this with you. If it hadn’t stressed secrecy so much I’d have asked around with some of the officers that I’m friendly with. But it said to pack plenty of rations and ammunition, so… probably not downtown D.C.”

“Probably not,” Thaddeus agreed and took a large swig of his beer while his mind worked. “You know,” he continued, thinking aloud, “one of the vertibirds never came back. I overheard Kells complaining about that the other day. Been wondering who they’re gonna send to get it back ever since.”

Laura frowned. “What are you suggesting? That this is a rescue mission? When does that ever happen?”

He shrugged. “Never, but isn’t that exactly why they’d be all hush-hush about it?” He rapped the table with his knuckles. “Who’s leading the mission?”

Feeling foolish but rather being safe than sorry, Laura looked around the room to see if the man in question was there, watching her, waiting for her to slip up. He wasn’t. She saw Senior Scribe Owen, who the briefing had mentioned, but he was embroiled in his own conversation. “Paladin Moss,” she answered at length.

Thaddeus raised an eyebrow at that. “Doesn’t that basically confirm that this isn’t an ordinary operation? Moss has Maxson’s favor, I hear.”

“You hear a lot of things,” Laura muttered sardonically.

Her brother sniggered at that. “People forget about the Lancer in the driving seat all the time, Lau. They say all sorts of shit they shouldn’t around us. Don’t underestimate what I might know.”

“Fine, you braggart, let’s say that that’s true,” she replied, humoring him with a half-smile. “What do they want with an Initiate like me, then, if this is so important? You know that I’m not about to turn down an opportunity to prove myself, but--”

“But why isn’t this a team of veterans, right, I know,” Thaddeus interrupted, finishing her sentence for her. “Have you forgotten how we came here? The briefing suggested extended field ops, right? Who better than the girl that trekked from fucking Montana all the way to the Capital Wasteland? You’re not just an Initiate, Lau. You’re good at this and you know it. We both are.”

Laura sighed. “So why aren’t we both on this mission?”

Thaddeus laughed. “Because, for all of our experience and grit, there is still a very real chance I might crash the vertibird against the very first building we encounter.” Before Laura could tease him about it, he held up a silencing finger. “That shit is harder than it looks, alright?”

She chuckled. A moment of silence fell as both Grimshaws nursed their drink.

“Hey,” Thaddeus said softly, and Laura was roused from her reverie to see the sincerity of feeling in her brother’s eyes. “Don’t do anything stupid, okay?”

Laura took his hand into her own and brushed her thumb against his skin. He’d developed so many callouses since they got here. There was precious little left of the younger brother Laura remembered from their days in the Vault. As she so often did, she saw their father in him. Don’t do anything stupid. It had been Deckard’s motto.

“I won’t,” she promised and tucked a loose strand of black hair behind her ear. “I’ll be back before you know it.”

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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Andreyich
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Andreyich 𝕿𝖍𝖊 𝕽𝖚𝖓𝖊𝖘' 𝕲𝖑𝖔𝖜

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The Knight didn’t know exactly what was in store for him, but it didn’t matter much. He was given orders and they’d be followed to their very letter. He looked over his shoulder to see if old Roderick was there but… alas, he’d never be there. Daniel smiled in gratefulness that he wasn’t there to have seen the missive being read out, until feeling a strong shame stab into his heart. “Poor lady.” the lad muttered under his breath as he massaged his temple. He was a great Knight, the man shot better than Daniel in spite of his practice from youth. But what excellence he had in the field did not translate to a better nature back here. He did not have a high alcohol tolerance, but that didn’t stop her from drinking more than those that did have one. He’d almost fallen over the railing in the past but he didn’t take that as a warning apparently. He had a feeling the man would be having a serious talk with a Paladin soon but that was neither here nor there. Well, he still had a fair while and the schedule he’d prepared for himself was thus still in effect. He grabbed his rifle, a few magazines and his bag before heading off.

The Prydwen didn’t have anything like a dedicated shooting range, but with a little thinking one could improvise. He knew nobody would be using the flight deck right about now, and thus it was a perfect place to get in the practice mandated by his parents all those years ago. A metal plate was propped up just perfectly to insure it wouldn’t fall over upon being shot, and then Daniel walked up to do just that. He placed his M14 on its bipod before taking aim and pulling the trigger in an ever practiced manner. BANG-Tink, came the report. The bullet struck fairly close to the drawn on target, but not the bullseye. A magazine was expended before at last the desired red smidge of paint in the centre of the plate turned grey with flattened steel. Daniel exhaled with satisfaction, standing up and walking over to the chunk of metal. He took out a roll of old tattered cloth and put it on the plate. A match was produced and lit, before being brought down upon where the bullets had hit on the metal below. The cloth was taken off before being compared with a similar piece to a frown from the young Knight. His grouping had worsened from his last session and that was very much a nuisance to the Knight. After flipping over the plate he went back with some determination to his position, loading in a higher capacity magazine and flicking his select-fire. Fifty bullets in five seconds spat out from the weapon’s barrel, earplugs just barely protecting the Knight’s hearing from the monstrous sound. He went over again to the plate, taking out a different roll of cloth and was about to repeat the same little routine when it occurred to him he wouldn’t be here tomorrow to repeat this. It was a feeling that brought some unforeseen anxiety, but also much excitement. Quickly he went out of his daydream and compared the grouping of his rifle’s automatic fire with yesterday’s. At least here he was approximately the same as before, perhaps improving by a hair or two. Daniel packed up his things, and then went off to his quarters.

Roderick was back it seemed, or at least a snoring lump about his size on Roderick’s mattress. Shaking his head Daniel went to maintenance of his rifle. Parts were taken out, brushed and then returned. A longer brush was produced to go down the bore of the barrel cleaning out every rifled groove and then a swab was used for other bits he couldn’t get out more easily. A regimen of exercise followed; rusty weights bobbed up and down with the strain of muscles. Both aesthetic and practical parts were trained the tone visible from forearms to biceps to pectorals to the gluteals all the way down to his feet. A pillow was thrown at him by Roderick, something on the themes of “shut the fuck up” coming from his neighbour. Shaking his head Daniel used it to wipe himself off, before throwing it back. “Sorry, boss.” He said, with some sincerity. Anyone else would have called Roderick an asshole, but Daniel took him on calmly. Daniel drained his canteen and then promptly went to bed himself.




Daniel awoke. Or, well, so he thought. He combined yawning and stretching before rubbing his eyes like a princess in a pre-War film. It was dark, but only past a perfect circle of light from an unknown light source above. “Roderick?” Daniel called out, standing up on his bed to look at the bunk where his roommate would be. Gone, apparently. Daniel sat in his bed, only to get quite the startle. He was quite literally surrounded! Ghastly figures surrounded him, figures of soldiers many of whom were in old uniforms and armour he only saw in books. A few were present who weren't soldiers, but all present bore wounds that were most certainly enough to bring an end to their receivers.

"Look at him." A voice said.

"Pathetic." came another.

"Sleeping away his failures? Won't be, can't be, how?"

Pffft, as if.”

“The little shite hasn’t thought of that, no. He accepts his incompetence!”

“Though you’d be bigger, boy. Our family always had a great stature.”

As the words were said, a creeping suspicion came over Daniel as he looked in the assembled unlifery to find a familiar face he had seen but once in a photograph. Yes, the unmistakable moustache from cheek to cheek of Alexander Joaquin Estevez — this was the grandfather of Daniel Estevez and he seemed most grim of all.

“What the hell are you talking about?” the young man demanded, making sure he seized the initiative from the berating spectres. “Leave me alone, you’re all just my imagination… just shit flowing wrong in my head!”

’Cor, at least you’re honest with that last bit!

“Shut up!”

“Quiet lads, we don’t have much time. Aye, but a few moments of his sleep, let us get on with it.”

“With what???” Daniel screamed.

“Quiet, you’ll wake the bugger above! Now, shut up and listen!” A voice exclaimed, the latter part a chorus of all those present.

“You failed, today. Your shots wer-don’t try interrupt me you worm!” this came from Anne Becker, grandmother to Daniel.

“You’ve not a lick of war my boy, let alone a real taste. The end of days has come and passed yet somehow you who is to go on some great mission have not even fired at a man. You’ve never beaten a man who wanted to kill you with your fists. I cannot rest knowing you can let down those whose lives depend on you. Do you think we had room for failure when we fought the fascists?” This part of the tirade came from a man with an exaggerated intercontinental accent, a foraging cap on his head whilst one hand was occupied keeping his liver from falling out of torn ribs.

“The communists!” Cried a man in pre-war power armour.

“Heathens o’erseas!” Boomed a man behind Daniel, his translucency not preventing his Knightly full plate from gleaming as if it were real.

“You are as we. You do not have the right to give up, the right to surrender. What will you do when the real world comes forth, what of you when your feeble body is set upon by supermutants and ghouls?”

“You’ve not earned rest, Danie. Have you seen how the Paladin Moss looks at you? Men give better glances to shit they stepped on! A soldier’s life is for the hardest and you are not of the hardest you are of the weakest yet it is your’s. It is too late to turn back coward, and you shall not know rest, peace or solace until you join our ranks.”

“Defeat it! Stop it! End death with death!”

“Go, now. Sleep. Recover what you have lost and think upon what you heard. Do not fail us, do not fail those you serve with. Our honour is on the line, and though you are but a single grain of sand in the dunes of time, the fate of all humanity is in part borne upon your shoulders.”

Daniel wanted to ask them questions that started with “what the fuck” or “how the fuck” or “why the fuck” but he was hushed. Fading hands were placed upon his shoulders, and gently he was pushed down towards his bed. His eyes were closed by cold hands, and the depths of sleep came to him.




He awoke with a start, sweat coming down his forehead and cheeks. Cautiously he got off of the bed and circled the room to see if ghosts of the past were here to talk more shit but he found only the sleeping Roderick who may or may not have soiled himself. Stumbling over to his desk Daniel rooted around in the mostly impeccable arrangement until he came upon a can. He looked upon it, until he found what he deemed the culprit of his dreaming. A hole was in the top, ever so tiny! Yet it would surely have been enough to over the centuries make its contents go rotten enough to give fever dreams.

But… something of his supposed ancestors’ message did take root in him. He once more took to his rusted weights, before reading through the manuals of maintenance for all of his weapons.

Perhaps he accepted the message of his forebears, but he certainly acted upon it far from how they wanted.

After the quick attempt to right himself Daniel took to preparing to finally leave. He shaved his head absolutely clean of hair save that on the very top which he trimmed and combed. Cans were stuffed into bags along with stimpacks and Med-X. He grabbed his rather unimpressive savings in caps before working on stowing his galting-laser away. He dressed in his Recon Armour, wrapping long bandage-like cloth around his feet: the knee high footwraps-puttees were much more comfortable and lasting than some shitty socks when going into boots. So far as he could tell that was everything. He’d have to run over to grab some water for the journey and don his power armour but that was about it.

“I’m not going to be about for a while, Roderick.” he said, nodding in thanks at the gurgles he hoped were an “I’ll miss you.”

He went to refill his canteen and water bottles before going to the power armour station. The Knight gave thanks to the Scribes and Initiates present for fixing the servo in his left arm, stepping into the suit. It felt fine, and great in fact and thus he stomped along to Proctor Teagan for his dog-tag and gasmask. It was still an hour until 0400 but Daniel nevertheless came to the waiting Vertibird. After all, the Knight didn’t want the boys from his dream to have another excuse to mosey into his head.
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Stormflyx Avant-Garde

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The clinic of the Prydwen was quiet for this time of day. That wasn’t unusual. Most people were too busy now to swing through unless they were frightfully ill or injured. Today was quiet, which was a relief for the Senior Scribe who had been on duty.

The senior scribe was one that most knew to avoid if it could be helped. She wasn’t particularly stern or obtuse - just strange and with an eerie nature to her. Her movements slow and precise and conversation whispery and seldom. While it was common to express that people had a hard shell and soft centre, for this senior scribe the opposite was the truth. She was outwardly soft, but nursing something hard and bitter inside. Like a peach, easily bruised.

Her eyes could be off putting too. At first, they had the power to draw you in. The ocean blue hue was resplendent in its quality - like a jewel both rare and valuable. But the redness in the corners upon closer inspection, and the smoky glaze told that the woman had simply seen too much. She didn’t look at you, she looked right to the core of you, and shrugged off the truth of you that she uncovered with an indifferent sigh.

Today, as was the case on any other day, she wasn't sleeping, she was simply basking. Laid atop the hard solid steel of an examination table in the corner of the clinic. Knees drawn and pointed at the ceiling, a fan blowing white noise in her direction. Long and unkempt auburn hair was spread around her like a pillow. The natural light drawing attention to the few strands of silver that framed her face — only visible in the light, and retreating back to the warmth of the flames when it was dark.

It had been approximately thirty-two minutes of shut eye. She would occasionally drift off, her mind creating banal situations that always had just enough of a strangeness about them to remind her it was a dream and not reality. Like Elder Maxson approaching her with a serving of processed cheese slapped across one cheek, his voice humming bizarre words in her ear “I don’t wear the cheese, the cheese wears me…”

Whatever the scenario, they were always just surreal enough to draw her out of slumber. If it wasn't curious imagery, it was someone clattering apparatus - the harsh sound bursting the elusive bubble of sleep..

It was at exactly forty-five minutes that she felt the familiar cold, wet nose pressed against the hand she hung over the table. Regular as clockwork. Dr. Harper Kinsley slowly opened her eyes, letting the light from above spill in through the skylight, bright blue freckled with clouds, the slot of a window provided warmth too.

She glanced down at her happy looking dog, Chowder. A medium sized creature, his coat coarse in a mixture of browns and blues - a dark patch over his eye. He was as unique a dog as any, and still at eleven years old, as mischievous as a puppy. He dropped a stolen boot for her, nudging it closer with his nose in her direction.

Kinsley sighed and groaned; “Chowder… I can’t keep doing this…” she spoke at last - her voice laced with exhaustion and exasperation. She rubbed at her eyes. “Where’d you get this thing from?” She asked him accusingly, sitting up on the table. Chowder simply stared up, panting - his mouth so wide and the corners so high that he appeared to be grinning at her.

As her legs swung over the table, he briefly closed his mouth and whimpered ever so quietly, placing a paw on her thigh, pushing his claws against her.

“Alright, alright. You can get your feed when we take this back…” she said, patting him three times on his head. He panted happily again, skittering off in the direction of the door, waiting there for her to catch up. “Got stuff to plan for you know… Missions. Shouldn’t be playing treasure hunt with you, Chowder.”




“Dr. Kinsley!” Came the cheerfully chirpy voice of a young initiate, the soles of his shoes squeaked against the alloy flooring as he hopped, stepped, and jumped to greet the Dr on her way around. She blinked in surprise, taken aback by the abundant bounciness in the boys heels. Like a coiled spring, taunting her with his youth and motion. Her blue eyes were drawn to the pad in his hands. She vaguely recalled sending the youngster off with a mathematical problem some days ago.

“Initiate…” she croaked out quietly from behind clenched teeth. She released the grip of her thumb and forefinger so that the boot fell on the ground beside her with a clattering thud. Chowder parked himself beside it, panting happily, a wagging tail dusting the floor beneath him.

“I solved it!” He said, triumphantly, chest puffing out with pride as he handed the paper over, waiting in anticipation for her praise.

Kinsley’s eyes barely skimmed the page when she shook her head, and gave a small yawn. “No. Your answer is incorrect, actually” she said with a sigh and a tired shrug, working her jaw over the words while her fingers reached for her own pen that was spiked through her ponytail.

“The limit as x approaches zero... Of the natural log of one minus x… Then minus the sign of x over one… Minus the cosine squared of x…” she muttered under her breath, the softness of her voice little more than a gentle whisper. For a moment, there was an uptick at the corner of her mouth, the ghost of an impressed smile. Her wide, doe eyes narrowed as she worked through an internal rolodex of equations, pressing the nib of the pen to her lower lip - her brow furrowed.

The initiate exhaled with unmistakable disappointment, deflating like the very last, sad balloon at a child’s party.

She tilted the pad to his direction, and began drawing over his notes, the red ink creating lines over the paper that drowned out the grey pencil of his own. “When evaluating the limit as x approaches zero, it should look like this on the graph…” Kinsley’s slender fingers turned over the pen, an easy flick of her wrist to demonstrate her calculations - meanwhile, the Initiate seemed more disheartened with every level of her explanation.

“From the left your graph should appear to be reaching positive infinity, whereas on the right it is approaching negative infinity.” His eyes glazed over, watching Kinsley’s mouth make the shapes and speak the words he didn’t understand. Her words not crossing beyond that, so whatever she was trying to teach him, fell on deaf ears. His cheeks grew a hot pink in colour, and his hands fidgeted.

“The limit can not exist unless the graph is approaching the same point from both sides. Maybe try a table of values next time to solve this.” Kinsley handed the pad back to the boy, looking him up and down slowly - trying to remember his name. “Peter, isn’t it?” She asked, raising a brow. The boy may have been wrong, but he showed some promise, and she wasn’t entirely without respect for those who chose a scholars life.

“Paul, actually,” he said, nibbling on his lower lip. Last time she’d called him Percy, so this was... almost an improvement.

“Keep at it, anyway. Next time you won’t be so far wrong,” she added awkwardly in an attempt to reassure or encourage the boy. She gave another shrug of her shoulders again, turning her foot on the floor as she stooped to pick the boot up again. “Anyway. I have things to do, and so do you.”




Kinsley was busy watching Chowder make his way through the Prydwen, that she just about missed a gentleman walking in her direction. An older gentleman, perhaps only two or three years older than her. A fellow Scribe, only one of those technologically adept ones.

He was absolutely conventionally attractive. A nice haircut, a well groomed beard. In novels, tall, dark, and handsome was an attractive trope - and frequently used for heroes and anti-heroes alike. Women swooned over such idealised fantasies. And so, when he stopped Kinsley in her tracks, her reaction was a quirked brow, and to lean out of the space - (out of her own space), that he had intruded.

“Dr. Kinsley,” he said, with a warm and welcoming smile. A perfectly straight and gleaming smile. His hands were held out in a friendly gesture. Kinsley took a step back, and Chowder took a seat again since his master was momentarily occupied.

She eyed him up and down suspiciously, “yes…?” she asked unimpressively, attempting to side step past him - a drool covered boot in one hand, and her pen in the other. She was grateful she was not empty handed.

He eyed her up and down too, sure — she was shabby, her hair was… less than groomed. But she was by no means ugly. She had good teeth too, nice cheekbones, decent enough lips that he would have liked to see in a smile, but her aloof character was the real draw...

“You know, I’ve seen you around so often, yet we’ve never really had a conversation…” His voice came out smooth, flirtatious. Overly so, in fact. “There is so much more to the Prydwen—“

Prud-when,” Kinsley interrupted by raising a finger in front of his face, when he moved his mouth as if to laugh, she remained serious - and his smile quickly dropped. “Contrary to what just about everyone else here says. It’s Prud-when. A Welsh word,” she blinked, nose twitching. “If you were to study up on your Arthurian history a little more, then you’d know that. We have to preserve cultures, you know. We can’t just make things up willy nilly…”

He scoffed, unsure of how to add to that, or what could be added. All he could do was step aside for the eccentric doctor to make her way past - in the direction she was keen to go. He’d simply been a blockade and nothing more.




Eventually Chowder led her to where he wanted her to be. The Mess Hall. Unlike her quiet clinic, it was as crowded and loud as it always was, and instead of working up the energy to speak to anyone, she gave a judgemental glance to Chowder. “The onus is on you to find the owner of this, dog.” Kinsley slipped down to her knees to hold the boot in front of his nose. As if he knew exactly what she wanted, the heeler took a good, healthy sniff. After that, he signalled his presence with a bark and trotted off, his head and tail held high in a smug fashion while he weaved around the crew that he passed. For the most part, he was a recognisable figure - and the crew knew him well.

Kinsley rolled her eyes as she watched him find his victim, stopping at a table, alerting a young woman to his presence — nudging her with his nose in the side, his big brown eyes inviting, and his smile even more so.

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Hank Dionysian Mystery

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featuring the ever-lovely @Stormflyx

“Oh!”

Laura drew her arms up around her and stiffened in her seat as she felt something wet and enthusiastic pressing into her side. She pressed a hand to her mouth, embarrassed at her exclamation of surprise, and glared at Thaddeus as he sniggered into his beer. He stopped and cleared his throat as he looked away. Grown up or not, he was still the little brother.

The wetness turned out to belong to the nose of a very happy-looking dog. “Hey, boy, you gave me quite a fright there,” Laura cooed to Chowder and leaned down to pet him. That’s when she saw what it was that he’d dropped by her chair: her missing boot. Laughing, Laura pinched his cheek. “So you’re the little rascal that stole my stuff! And here I was blaming the Squires. It’s a good thing you’re so adorable! How can I stay mad at that face?”

Chowder expressed his gratitude by licking her hand.

Meanwhile, Thaddeus, aware of who the dog belonged to, looked around the mess hall and swallowed when he saw Dr. Harper Kinsley standing by the entrance. His head whipped back around and he whispered: “You do know whose dog that is, right?”

“One of the doctors?” Laura said absent-mindedly as she and Chowder were play-wrestling with the boot. It was already covered in drool, she reasoned, so a little more wouldn’t hurt. She would have to clean it up anyway -- but at this point she was just glad to have it back.

“Yeah,” Thaddeus hissed, “and not a nice one. Dr. Kinsley is her name. Just take your boot back and send the dog on his way.”

Frowning, Laura straightened up. “Surely this Dr. Kinsley person can’t be that bad.” As if sensing the doctor’s gaze on her, her eyes were drawn to the auburn-haired woman by the door. Putting on her most affable smile, Laura gestured for Harper to join them.

“Jesus Christ,” Thaddeus muttered.

From the back of the hall, Kinsley took in a sharp breath, drawing her lip into her mouth to bite down on it. Chowder had damaged the boot. At least, that’s what she thought as she pushed her pen back into her ponytail and slipped her free hands into the pockets of her lab coat.

She made her way to the table with measured steps, her eyes were heavy lidded and there was a ringing in her right ear, but she walked onwards regardless. Stopping but a pace from the siblings. Kinsley’s eyes switched between the two of them, and then landed on Chowder, who was rubbing up against Laura happily, his fur sprinkling out like snow with every pet and scratch. Kinsley’s brow creased and she groaned.

“Did he chew a lace out?” She asked, pointing her intense gaze at Laura. “Or did he pull a buckle free?” As always, her voice was mellow. She did not move from her spot, nor did she remove her hands from her pockets - her fingers twitching idly in the comfort of the fabric.

Just to be sure, Laura glanced at the boot again but confirmed that everything was still there -- just slimy and glossier than normal. “No, no, the boot is fine, it just needs a wash,” the Initiate said reassuringly. She felt her smile waver beneath the doctor’s piercing stare, however, and was suddenly aware of why Thaddeus had been so apprehensive. “I love dogs,” she blurted out and gave Chowder another vigorous rub on his head as if to emphasize her point. “It’s just... you see, we didn’t have any in the Vault, and most of the dogs we’ve seen weren’t exactly cared for very well--”

Thaddeus snorted and shook his head. “You can say that again. I’ll never forget that pack of ferals that took Donnelly’s leg off.”

Laura shot him a disapproving glare. “Hush, you,” she hissed and smiled back up at Harper. “I just wanted to say that your dog is very cute.” She scratched Chowder beneath his chin. “What’s his name? Where’d you get him?”

It had been Alex who'd found Chowder. It had been Harper who'd helped him to put the wriggling pup into a box with a ribbon for their daughter. She remembered cutting the holes in the box for the run beforehand. A breath caught in her throat when her mind conjured up the image of her then toddler's face pulling at the purple fabric.

She remained staring at Chowder, never blinking as she waited for the moment to pass. "I found him in the wasteland," she lied, following it up with as much of a smile as she could, for the second or two before it felt too heavy to hold up. "His name is Chowder," she said with a slightly embarrassed sigh. "He has his own backpack," she added, looking at the young Initiate again.

"He likes you," she commented, removing a hand from her pocket to gesture. "He likes most people… But he seems to really like you."

Laura audibly gasped. “You have your own backpack?” she asked Chowder and tried to picture him with it on. “Aww, that’s adorable!” She looked back up at the doctor and grinned. “Well, I really like him too. I bet he’s smart enough to tell. He seems like a man that knows who his friends are,” the Initiate said. Sure, the lady had an odd manner, but she didn’t seem so bad.

“You did a good thing, rescuing him from the wasteland,” she added with sincerity.

Still visibly awkward, Thaddeus got to his feet. “I saw someone I know at the bar. You mind if I…?”

Laura waved him away. Relieved, her brother made his way through the crowd. “I’m Laura and that’s my brother, Thaddeus,” she explained. “Don’t mind him. He gets shy around strangers. You’re Dr. Kinsley, right?” she asked and glanced at the now-empty chair.

Finally, Kinsley blinked - several times in quick succession before taking the seat. She watched Thaddeus walk away, sensing that it was her, and not something else that had really had him leave. It mattered not.

"That's me." Her eyes drifted to Chowder, who was in a state of absolute bliss with his new friend. Reclining himself onto her with his eyes closed and tongue hanging from the side of his mouth. Droplets of his own drool at their feet, beaded down his legs. Kinsley shook her head and laughed slightly. "It's nice to meet you Laura," she said as she placed her elbows on the table, pushing a thumb to the corner of her eye. "You may see his backpack soon… We're leaving for a mission before long. Off the Prydwen, that is."

Laura’s smile widened. It was her experience that people, even the gruff and standoffish types, opened up with a little effort. “It’s nice to meet you too, doctor,” she said, but what Harper told her next made her eyes widen. “Tomorrow morning at 0400?” she asked in a hushed voice.

Kinsley nodded slowly, "got my request today… I believe that's what it said. I have to pack our things tonight," she hadn't cottoned on to the implication immediately, not until there had been a pregnant pause. She twisted her head to Laura's direction, pointing a finger at her; "ah!" she realised. "You too. Well then, you'll have him with you for company." The doctor pressed that finger against Chowder's nose.

"Have you got your medical clearance?" She quizzed, shifting in her seat some. She hadn't seen this Initiate in the clinic before. Although, even if Laura had been there… Kinsley didn't always pay attention unless they were on her table. Maybe the girl had been along earlier and that was where the dog had got her scent in the first place.

Her initial excitement at the prospect of traveling with Chowder and Dr. Kinsley was replaced with a rush of heat to her cheeks as it dawned on Laura that she’d forgotten something. “Fuck,” she whispered and clamped her hand over her mouth for the second time that evening. “Pardon my language, doctor,” Laura added sheepishly and ran a hand through her hair. “That’s something I should do, isn’t it? I was so caught up making sure I had all of my gear and supplies and drawing Knight-Captain Reddon’s portrait that I forgot all about it.”

She tapped a finger against her lips and frowned. “Is there still a doctor on call at the med bay at this hour? Or… do you think you could…?”

So that's who she was. The artist. The doctor had heard whispers of an Initiate offering her services. It all felt a bit like the more narcissistic members of the crew were enjoying that a bit too much… Showing off their portraits to each other. It had become something of a fashion statement.

Kinsley stared at her again, differently this time - it was the stare of brief examination. She moved closer to the girl's face, squinting as she took in the details over her skin. "Hmmm… You're young, you look healthy. Unblemished. You won't need too much of an exam, Laura," she said, pulling away swiftly. "Come by whenever. I can do a formal sign off following some questions." She then got to her feet, and as if by a silent command, Chowder shifted from Laura's side back to Kinsley's.

Grateful, Laura nodded. “I’ll come by in a little bit then, doctor. Thank you.” It wasn’t just the willingness to complete the formal sign off that she was grateful for and she resisted the urge to smile. Unblemished. That she was, and proud of it, too.

Thaddeus returned to the table after the doctor and her loyal pet had left with two new beers in his hands and a puzzled look on his face. “Well?”

Laura sighed and flicked a beer mat at him. “She’s not bad at all, Thad! You should really be more patient with people. She agreed to sign off my medical clearance, you know.”

He snorted. “Better you than me.”




An hour later, after Laura and Thaddeus had said their goodbyes, the Initiate knocked on the doorframe of the med bay. “Dr. Kinsley? It’s Laura, I’ve come for that sign off.”

Meanwhile, the doctor had been keeping herself busy with the task of sterilising her tools. They were all lined up in a hot water bath, doused with disinfectant, doing their time until they were ready to be packed into her surgical roll. On the side of her desk, a number of bandages and other medical supplies - also waiting to be packed.

Having anticipated Laura's arrival, Dr Kinsley had placed a paper sheet over her exam table, and for good measure had rolled out a cloth partition. It was unlikely that anyone else would come by at this hour - but she was stringent in following her processes.

"Come in," Kinsley called out - her voice still quiet and slightly fragile. In the furthest corner, Chowder had curled himself into a tight ball, fast asleep. Only the bubbling of water and his snores could be heard within the med bay. "Just take a seat on the table… I'll be a moment," her tone and mannerisms pithy as always.

Laura did as she was told and made herself as comfortable as possible on the metal table. Even through the fabric of her fatigues she could feel the chill of its touch on her buttocks. That's one thing she didn't like about life with the Brotherhood. Everything was so spartan. But she smiled at the sight of Chowder fast asleep and forgot all about the cold metal. The idea that the bond between humans and dogs has survived the apocalypse gave her hope. Not all good things were out of the world just yet.

She considered Dr. Kinsley for a moment. The older woman was obviously intelligent, otherwise she wouldn't have been a doctor, but Laura couldn't help but notice a dullness where there should be a sharpness, in her mind, and a sharpness where there should be a softness, in her eyes. Laura had seen that look before, when she was a child. A recon team had come back decimated -- fortunately not her father's. It was the first time the Vault had learned of the existence of Deathclaws, though they came up with a different name.

It was all the men had been able to day. A demon. Dr. Kinsley had seen her own demons, but what could they be?

"Ready when you are, doctor," Laura said.

Kinsley picked up a tray carefully, several tools were placed across it. Nothing sharp, nothing that looked painful - just standard fare. A torch, a tongue depressor - amongst other things. The woman quietly shuffled to Laura, peering around the partition with a small smile. "I think you're fine, but I have some questions… Illness is commonplace in the wasteland. Better I know about you in case, well…" she stared blankly at the Initiate on the table, regarding her with a more curious gaze than she usually would - letting her eyes linger longer.

The doctor placed the tray down, and stepped in front of Laura, her eyes upon a pad of paper now, far from focussed on Laura at all. "Have you been ill before?" She asked first, and without waiting for an answer she followed it up herself; "are you prone to stomach aches, headaches, muscular pains, sore throat…?"

There was something about Kinsley’s gaze that made Laura want to squirm, as if to avoid her scrutiny, but she forced herself to sit still. “I had bronchitis once, as a child,” she answered the question and frowned as she tried to recall more instances of illness. “But I’m not prone to any of those things, no. I mean… I have nightmares,” Laura added, her voice dropping a little. “Sometimes… well, often. Does that count?”

“Depends,” Kinsley said with a shrug of her shoulders, placing the pad down as she placed her hands as carefully and unobtrusively as she could on Laura - starting with her neck, placing two fingers either side of her - just below the ears. “How often? Is it recurring imagery? Accompanied by other symptoms? Sweating, shaking, chest pains…?”

Satisfied with her findings, she picked up her torch, placing a finger below the girl’s chin to tilt her head upwards. She shone the penlight at Laura’s blue eyes - just enough to check that her eyes too, were fine. Her manner was meticulous and clinical - leaving little room for small talk or comforting words.

The way Kinsley went about her examination reminded Laura of the doctor in the Vault and she relaxed a little. “I get them about once a week. Used to be more frequent right after… right after we got here,” she explained and exhaled slowly. “Right after we got to D.C. And yeah, sweating, uh… what do you call that, shortness of breath? That, and it’s like I can’t move when I wake up.” She bit her lip. Her fingers fidgeted with the fabric of her pants by her knees. “Like there’s something standing at the foot of my bed.”

Laura took a deep breath and smiled. “Silly, I know, they’re just dreams,” she said, followed by a brave attempt at a laugh.

"Well, yes. They're just dreams. But once a week is well over excessive for such night terrors… Usually a symptom of another problem…" Kinsley explained, suddenly interested in gazing into Laura's eyes again, the clinical and cold visage slipping to reveal a worried frown.

"So," she began, clucking her tongue as she broke eye contact and looked up. "They're also not just dreams. If we're to leave and venture out I may need to prescribe you something to… keep the things away from the foot of your bed." With pen and paper in hand, she scrawled against the paper, the corners of her mouth twitching to a half smile. "Can't… Can't promise it'll cure you of it completely, but it will at least help…" she folded the script, and placed it beside Laura on the table.

She blanched at that and swallowed hard. Medication? Laura wanted to open her mouth and protest, to say that it wasn’t that bad, she’d managed this far, how being with the Brotherhood helped, they’d be with Paladin Moss, everything was going to be fine, and most importantly, that she didn’t want to look weak to the others. But she bit her tongue. She was raised to trust the doctor and their orders and if Kinsley thought that it was necessary to help her keep her wits about her in the field, then so be it. Seeing the doctor’s impassive expression momentarily reveal a glimpse of concern was unsettling enough.

“So,” Laura said, echoing Kinsley, and cleared her throat. “What else? I promise I don’t have any further medical concerns.” She looked down at her hands sheepishly.

Kinsley placed her hands at her sides and tilted her head, giving her one last look over. "No. You're in very good health. Good eyes, healthy nodes, temperature is fine, positive spirit… Is your cycle regular?" She asked, glancing sidelong at the girl as she began collecting up her equipment from the table.

Suddenly and without warning, Laura missed her mother terribly. She nodded at first before realising that Kinsley wasn’t looking at her as she was packing up her tools. “Yes, it’s fine,” she said. “It’s… I’m not…” Laura took a deep breath and conjured a smile. “I’m focusing on my work and my training. It’s regular.”

“It’s healthy to stay busy, but remember to rest,” the doctor answered - oblivious to the shifts in Laura’s demeanour, and especially so to the longing that she was experiencing for her mother. Kinsley simply walked away from the table, tools in hand. “Recreation is healthy too, a balanced life... You know, blah blah,” she found herself saying aloud - as if her words were simply recited from the same page she’d been reciting from for over two decades. She looked over her shoulder, “I just mean — don’t focus so much on one thing and miss out on others while you’re young, is all.”

Kinsley approached the back of the room, turning off the burner for her equipment. The bubbling subsided. “Monotony is...” her already soft voice drifted even more so as she found the irony in her own words, “a dangerous, slow burning illness.”

Laura considered herself pretty good at reading people and prided herself on that skill, but she thought that even a total blunt could have sensed the hard vacuum in the room centered on Kinsley. She felt a pang of sympathy for the doctor and wondered again what it was that she’d been through that had burned the life out of her eyes.

“Then maybe a change of scenery will do us good!” she said brightly, her use of the plural pronoun an educated guess. “Do you…. know anything about the mission? The message was so sparse, but, well, you’re a Senior Scribe, so…” Laura got to her feet and, before Kinsley could even respond, waved dismissively with her hand. “But if you’re not allowed to tell me, that’s fine, I understand.”

Kinsley sighed, narrowing her eyes to try to recall any specifics beyond the meeting time and place; if there were any within the message, she hadn’t paid enough attention - clearly. “Only the when and where, Initiate,” she answered, her tone slightly clipped as she remembered that - not only was she the doctor, but that she was seen as some kind of authoritative figure in the hierarchy of the Brotherhood. She didn’t care too much for it, not at all. Her mind was only ever occupied with the vial, and with Chowder’s remaining days. It was never too exhausting to act the part, however.

“Just the time and place,” she repeated as she looked down and away from Laura. “So I’ll see you there,” she spoke, setting an air of finality down between them both. No smiles, no goodbyes, just sterile silence.

“Oh,” was what escaped Laura’s lips without thinking. The tone that Kinsley adopted was sufficiently similar to that of the drill sergeants for Laura’s training to kick in and she straightened up, pressing a clenched fist to her chest. “Of course. Thank you, doctor. Ad victoriam.” She inclined her head in a final gesture of gratitude and she swiped up the prescription from the table before turning on her heels and marching out the door.

Once she was out into the bowels of the airship, Laura exhaled the breath she had subconsciously been holding in and rubbed her temples. “Damn,” she muttered. Overfamiliarity with a senior officer was an inherent risk in her personable way of dealing with people and it wasn’t the first time she had been subtly reminded of that fact. Pausing beneath an overhead lamp, Laura unfolded the piece of paper.

Canine companionship, each evening, as long as required.

Laura had to read it twice before it sank in and she began to laugh.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Cazzer1604
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Three more turns should do it. Afterwards, the job was complete, and what a well done job it was. There was definitely a drink well-earned beckoning at the bar. Sami admired his handiwork with his hands on his hips and a smirk on his face.

"And that's how you fix the pistons on a Vertibird", Sami proudly stated. Pistons were his bread and butter, a life spent on the lower decks of Rivet City made sure of that. They weren't difficult to repair, but the young Initiate stood next to him didn't know that.

"Were you actually paying attention? Do you think you could do it next time?", Sami asked, being playfully condescending to the fresh-faced young lad. He couldn't have been older than 18, his poor excuse of facial hair attested to that. "Yes sir! At least I think so, sir!", replied the Initiate, overeagerly, he was obviously enjoying not being scrutinised by a stern commanding officer. The last few hours spent with Sami had relaxed the kid a bit, but he still had a military-sized stick up his ass.

"Cut the 'Sir!' shit, alright? I don't care about any of that. Just call me Sami, please". The Initiate hesitated, seemingly unsure on whether or not it was a test. Presumably he had been subject to such deception before. However, he gambled: "Alright, Sami then. Thanks for showing me, I learned a lot today". Sami huffed, but felt nice after being appreciated. "There's only so much staring at manuals all day can teach ya. Gotta get your hands dirty to really understand what's going on with this sorta stuff."

The sun had long set, and Sami had finished his scheduled work well before that. The young recruit had come to him personally to ask him to impart any mechanical knowledge. Clearly word had gotten around that he'd been relocated to the Prydwen. He never fancied himself as a teacher, but the kid was eager to learn and Sami was more than happy to oblige. Maybe one day, when he needed to settle down, he'd consider it an option to pass on his skills to the next generation. But that day was far, FAR away. Speaking of which...

"Anyway, best you run along. It was nice meeting you kid. What you say your name was, again? George?".

"Danny."


Sami chuckled at his own failure to remember the name. He was never good with names, and it's landed him in trouble plenty of times and probably will plenty more. "Close enough. See you around, Danny. I'll let you know if I need any help with fixing anything". With that, Sami waved the boy away and began to pack his tools up. He wasn't going to see the kid around anytime soon, tomorrow was the day that his mission would begin. Whatever it was, Sami felt that it would take a while. The Brotherhood is never usually this secretive about assignments unless it was something big and/or important. He wasn't so sure now just why the hell he had volunteered, he chalked it up to just another dumb spur-of-the-moment decisions in a long line of them. Besides, he could use the break from the whole Jessica-Rhia-Kiki love polygon situation that had become heated back in the Citadel.

His tools packed, Sami walked back to his cabin to drop them off before heading to the bar, it's metallic siren song calling to his ears. Along the way he passed many familiar and friendly faces, and exchanged waves, clicks, winks and inside jokes appropriately. It was nice to be known and to see the same people frequently, and nicer still to be viewed in a good light by most. Sure as hell beats wondering if a stranger is going to put a bullet in your back if you turn around. Sami eventually reached his cabin, opened the door, and threw the bag of tools by his bed, still predictably unmade from the previous night. There was no time for cleanliness. He had a date tonight.

He didn't know who she was, and she didn't know who he was. She didn't even know that she was having a date. But some lucky girl somewhere on this floating giant was about to strike gold. At least for the night. Sami made sure to throw on some cologne, but not too much. The aroma of the spirit laced his skin with the smoky yet florally odor that had become notorious among the denizens of the Capital Wasteland. Or so Sami liked to think. If he was indeed going on a dangerous mission to Fuck-Knows-Where at the crack of dawn, Sami was going to make the best of his secured time left on this Earth.

With a self-assured smirk to his reflection, Sami left his cabin and headed towards the Prydwen's only watering hole. There were not many there at this time of night, it was just after evening meal and the mess hall was suddenly void of hungry grunts that needed their daily fill of gruel only to go back to training or shooting. Sami had eaten his own food prior to helping young Danny out with his practical homework. His stomach already lined, he approached the bar and sat at one of the tattered red stools. There was nobody else in sight actuslly at the bar, and the bartender looked half shocked to hear Sami order a vodka on the rocks. The slim barman obliged, however and slid over a short glass filed with transparent cubes covered by equally transparent liquid, with the faint wisp of some sort of vapour emitting from the meeting of ice and spirit. Sami effortlessly caught the glass and raised it to his lips, letting the vodka pour into his dry mouth and overun it with the taste of sophisticated, smooth potato nectar. That hit the spot.

His thirst quenched, Sami looked around to see who else was lurking around the mess hall at this unsocial time to be here. There was a middle-aged scribe sat scribbling into his journal something about something else, two Knights in fatigues sat silently and melancholically next to each other over a couple of beers, and a young female Initiate sat reading over a dark spirit of some kind. There was only one obvious choice of companion. Before he approached, Sami ordered a bottle of the vodka he had just sampled, leaving a pile of caps on the bar as he caressed his new purchase as well as pinching two glasses between his thumb and finger.

Confidently, Sami strided over to the woman and sat opposite her, placing both bottle and glass down onto the bench table carefully but assertively. The woman glanced over her book and raised an eyebrow, before casting her eyes back at the book and placing it page-down on the table, her attention fully aimed at what Sami had to say for himself.

"Hi." No fancy words, no need for cheesy pick-up lines, no random facts aimed at icebreaking. Sami didn't need that superficial bullshit. He's gotten by just fine with his good lucks and natural charm. And the smile, the smile gets them every time. And it was absolutely on show right now.

"Hi", the woman retorted, clearly expecting an explanation from such a bold entrance. She looked unimpressed, but they all usually do, at first.

"I'm Sami, my moms called me Samuel, but I don't think I suit that, do you?". His dark eyes scanned what was in front of him, but they didn't break contact with the Initiate's hazle ones. In his peripheral, he could see a pretty young woman who knew it but didn't flaunt it. She had a light complexition and skin like porcelain, with her woodish brown hair tied in a high ponytail, typical of a military girl. Her face was bordering on gaunt as her cheekbones were very prominent and her jawline well-defined. She'd have made an much-desired fashion model in the Old World for sure, however this New one doesn't allow for such professions to exist.

"I can think of a few names for you right now", she icily replied, but with enough hint of playfulness to not be perceived as outright dismissal. These Brotherhood girls were often as cold as the Steel they represent and just as difficult to get through to, but Sami had evolved to become quite the metalsmith in his time at the Citadel. He knew exactly how to play it.

Sami chuckled in response, and started to pour the vodka in each glass. "So, what you been reading there..." Sami intentionally traild off to allow for the Initiate to state her name, which she did after a quick pause. "Jill". Sami repeated it, careful to not make the mistake he did with David earlier. He slid over the second glass to Jill, who accepted it gladly. The two chinked their glasses in salutations, with Sami giving a cunning nod and a smirk as they did.

"Strategic guidelines for small arms contact. Don't suppose you'd know much about that, would you, flyboy?", Jill teased. It seems that the ice and spirit had melted her cold guard, ironically enough.

"Ooooh!, the Lancer cracked his head back and howled in faux-shock while chuckling. Did you just insult a higher-ranking officer? You're on your way to a Court Marshall, Initiate", Sami replied, his threats quite clearly without any seriousness. Jill smiled and looked downwards towards the table before looking back at Sami. Sami continued with his verbal chess, "BUT! I think I can let you get away with such a crass display of subordination on one condition".

"And what's that, sir?", retorted Jill.

"Have a few free drinks with this 'flyboy' who's away on a top-secret and dangerous mission tomorrow. If you're not too busy with anything else?". Sami cracked the smile once again, he was almost within checkmate, he just knew it. "Alright, I think I can handle that", the young woman responded.

The two talked about everything that came to mind over the next couple of hours. Jill was an orphan from some ruin in DC, her parents slain by Super Mutants while she was barely out of her teens. Her story was one of the many similar ones that occurred before the Brotherhood had managed to secured the area and exterminated or relocated the Super Mutant scourge. It didn't make it any easier to hear, and Sami of course felt saddened by her history. They bonded over shared stories of wacky things around DC and their love-hate relationship with Three Dog on the radio. Things got deeper as the vodka set in, talking about their parents and how they missed them but didn't need them in the end.

She was a nice girl, and Sami felt genuinely fond of her by the time they realised they had finished the bottle. Jill had left behind the cool, calculated persona she had fronted against Sami's incursion. Now intoxicated, she found herself uncontrollably giggling at the most mundane of things, and Sami was giggling right with her. In between the chaos of their hilarious conversations, Sami had managed to convince her to sample a some "Mar-Tie-Nigh" that he had back in his cabin, and promised that when paired with vodka, it was liquid bliss.

Jill was more than happy to accept the invitation, and the two just about managed to order another bottle of vodka through heavily-slurred words and clumsy gestures. The pair fumbled their way through the Prydwen to Sami's cabin, singing songs they had heard on the radio together, much to the grumbles of soldiers long since in their beds.

One can probably assume what eventually happened after the door closed.

__________________________________________________

The hangover hit before consciousness did. Before Sami had even opened his eyes, he felt an solid iron ball rolling about in his skull and the echoes of good times long since passed ringing in his ears. Agonised groans soon followed as he rotated his uncooperative corpse upwards, grimacing throughout. It took a few moments before he dared let the light in, however dimmed it was.
As his senses rebooted, the revenant man laid still, waiting. Eventually, his body informed him of quite a draught that caused his muscles to contort and shiver, his head slowly rising supported by an unwilling neck as he inspected the reasoning behind why he was suddenly cold.

Oh. He was naked. That'll be why.

Feeling somewhat more like a human being, Sami turned his attention to his surroundings. It was his room, of course, but he doesn't remember quite how he got there. Usually that means a 50/50 chance of it being a good thing or a great thing. He glanced right to determine which it had been last night. To his smug amusement, it had apparently been a great one. Laid next to him was a similarly naked woman, still zonked out and possibly drooling, but certainly hogging the majority of the bedsheets. To alleviate his shivers, Sami slowly shimmied out of the bed, taking care not to wake his company, and found some clothes to put on. He settled for some black fatigue pants and a woolen jumper that was baggy and cozy.

After getting some water (quietly) from the sink on the other side of the room, Sami sat in silence as he tried to battle the disease occuring inside of him stemming from his trademark hedonistic overindulgence. In between, he tried to recollect the events of the prior evening. Shitty stew. Vodka martinis. Steamy bed activities. Seemed like a standard affair.
He attempted to identify the young lady who's face was half buried into the mattress and the rest into her own armpit. She was Initiate, Sami was 70% sure, but where was she from again? Megaton? A Vault? The details escaped him, as did her name. He was pretty sure it began with J. Or was it G? He knew that he liked her regardless, he remembered that much.

Shit! What time was it?!

Sami dashed across the room to check his bedside clock, all pretense of subtlety and consideration for the sleep of his companion vanished. She stirred from the noise of Sami's panic, but did not wake. Sami clumsily picked up the clock, and almost dropped it repeatedly in his hurry.

03:34. He'd almost completely fucked it. But not quite.

This phrase had pretty much become his motto at this point in his life, but it's all worked out pretty well so far. Sami quickly got dressed in his Lancer overalls, shredding the cobbled together garments he had previously settled for, and scrambled to find the rest of his gear. He put on his grey woolen coat, collected his ammunition and belt, and grabbed his tool bag and submachine gun as he stumbled out of the door, leaving Jill (he had somehow remembered in the franticness of his getting ready) to snooze. There wasn't time to say goodbye, but for once, Sami wanted to. He didn't usually have the courtesy.

Walking the corridors of the airship, Sami was still very much drunk. He hoped to whatever gods above that he sobered up within the next half an hour. The Lancer cursed as he rushed to the docks and to the Vertibird that he was due to fly, or so he assumed. He arrived at the bay to see a Knight waiting by a Vertibird, fully clad in the signature power armour the Brotherhood of Steel was known, and feared, for. Sami guessed that he must be one of his passengers for the mission, why else would he be suited and booted at this hour?

Sami cleared his throat and rubbed his face and eyes before going over. 'Get yourself together, Samuel', he could hear the ghosts of his father and mother say. The Knight was distant, lost deep in thought as Sami hobbled towards the Vertibird, but as he came closer he caught the attention of the armoured soldier. His face wasn't recognisable, Sami hadn't really spent a lot of time with the Knights and soldiers of the Brotherhood, he merely dropped them off. He knew a fair few though, but not this one.

Ever confident, doubly so when attempting to compensate for his groggy state that he hoped nobody would notice, Sami dropped his bags and offered his hand to the Knight for a introductory handshake.

"Hey. Name's Sami. I'm the pilot for this mystery flight to Nowhere."

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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by lavenderdame
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Patty pressed a lit cigarette to her lips and let the smoke swirl its way around the inside her lungs. One, two, three. It all came out in a smooth puff of billowing white-grey smoke that floated high above her to come resting at the upper limit of the enclosure of the Prydwen’s main deck. She sat against the edge of her bed, elbows rested against her knees, head buried in her hands. The ashes from the lit cigarette fell by themselves onto the metal grate below her and floated down to the lower limit of the Prydwen’s hull.

While she watched the ashes flutter down into the abyss, anxiety clawed at the inside of Patty’s stomach – like a sharp pang of hunger that wouldn’t leave. She wasn’t the anxious sort, not like some sort of scrawny scribe. Yet, the message repeated itself over and over in her mind. In the Capital Wasteland, missions all seemed so simple. You knew where you were going, which brothers would have your back, but most importantly you knew what to expect. They were raiders or rotskins mostly; but at least you knew what they were. No such luxury this time.

“What the fuck are you worried about,” she said at a half-whisper, “Pull yourself together Patty. You’re a goddamn killing machine, the toughest damn thing out there.”

Pushing that feeling deeper down, Patty lifted herself off the bed and took another drag of the cig, “Let’s get down to fucking business.”

She meandered down to the lower decks, in a spot she had cleared out to store her duffle. She ran through her packing list once more, listing off each item in a whisper with the cigarette hanging loosely from the corner of her mouth.

“Blanket? Check. First-aid kit? Check. Rations?

The “rations” were little more than prewar tins of Instamash, Pork n’ beans and Cram. Not the tastiest, but it’s lasted this long, it’ll last until its needed.

“Gas mask? Check. Energy cells? Check. Fusion cores? Check. Tools?

Thankfully Proctor Teagan had signed off on those when she asked. A long deployment far away from home would be hell if one of their laser rifles broke down during a firefight. Better to be prepared than be caught with your ass out.

“Check. Rifle? Check. Ripper?”

She gave the ripper a quick rev, the teeth swirled faster than her eye could follow. Besides being useful as all hell, the ripper was also damn fun to play with. Just holding the thing in your hand just made you feel… powerful. She chuckled a bit to herself and reset the safety, stowing it back into her bag.

“Check.”

Besides the big stuff in her bag, Patty kept a few miscellanea: a couple packs of cigarettes, a lighter, a small knife; two sets of tags hung from her neck beneath the recon suit: the set of holotags Proctor Teagan had given her, and a trio of tags. She patted herself down to check that they still hung tight to her body. Out in the wasteland, you never knew what you’d come across or how long you’d be out.

Patty took a third long draw from the cigarette, holding it in for as long as possible before exhaling and letting the cigarette fall over the railing and into the abyss. Only one more order of business. The mess hall was bustling with activity, but there was one more man she needed to see.

---

The mess hall was busy that night, as usual. There’s precious little else to do on the Prydwen than sit around, get drunk, or take potshots at raiders from the flight deck – or all three some nights. Marching up to the barstools, she arrived just in time to overhear Greg’s lame attempt to get to know the scribe sitting across from him. She knew Greg, of course, they were both regulars around the bar; he was her senior, both in years and rank, but with some of his antics it was hard to think of the man as anything more than an over-grown child.

Poorly attempting to hide her amusement, she stepped right between Greg and Owen, smacking both the men on the back with a hearty laugh.

“Good evening gentlemen! So sorry to interrupt,” she said.

Nodding to the mess officer and lifting three fingers high above Owen’s head she said, “Three whiskeys – no, not glasses, the whole damn things.”

She reached behind her back with the other hand, digging into a pouch she kept strapped close to her body. When her hand reemerged, she tossed a hefty fistful of caps onto the counter. The caps jingle, jangle, jingled and scattered across the bar in all directions, some bounced happily against the floor with a soft chiming sound. “Should be plenty there, put the leftovers on my tab.”
Turning back to the men while the mess officer took the time to collect and count out each cap by hand, she said, “Antagonizing the eggheads again, McDonnell? You know, if you put half as much energy into your duties as you do picking on scribes, you’d have made Paladin by now.”
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Andreyich
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Andreyich 𝕿𝖍𝖊 𝕽𝖚𝖓𝖊𝖘' 𝕲𝖑𝖔𝖜

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Daniel broke out of his thought, looking upon what - from his time in the wasteland - he at first assumed to be a beggar of some sort that snuck on board somehow. He faintly cocked his head to examine the fellow, in disbelief at the words the man uttered. “For… for real?” the Knight asked, the mask of military strictness he put on quickly shattered by this walking, talking spit in the face of the known order. Having lived with Roderick, Daniel knew more than enough about the states of alcohol based intoxication and this was one of them. “Are you sure?” came the dumbfounded followup. Sam looked like shit to Daniel, given how easily he made parallels to Roderick — this made the young man reach to his bag to offer the man water just as to distressed Wastelanders. At least it would help him pass the last of the booze….

Sami paused in an awkward shock, like a Radstag in the spotlight. His cover was clearly blown. 'You're losing your charms, you fool', he thought to himself in a reprimanding tone of self-critique. He had to win over this soldier, he couldn't be thought of a drunk for this mission, because he honestly wasn't one. He'd just indulged a bit too much on his last hurrah.
In replacement of a handshake, the Knight offered a bottle of water, which Sami was happy to accept instead. He opened the bottle and let the lukewarm water gush down his dried-up throat. Much better. He returned the bottle to the Knight, who returned it back to his large holdall once more.

"Don't worry about me, man. I just had a good night last night. I can still fly no problem... if you give me a little bit of time to recover."

As he said that, Sami sat down on his tool bag and yawned. Hopefully there'd be a copilot that would allow him to catch up with existence, but there was no guarantee. He'll be fine. He just needs to shake it off.

He turned to the Knight and said "I didn't catch your name, big man."

“Oh, alright then.” Daniel replied, mollified. He didn’t have it in him to consider maybe Sam was bullshitting him, and so he unquestioningly went along with what his counterpart said. The Lancer just needed a quick breather, that was all!

But then he yawned. Now the Knight wasn’t going to bring this up, but he didn’t like it. There was given how the world worked an equal chance the man had recently awoken to be like this… or he was deprived of sleep by the very same “good night last night”. But though he didn’t say anything, Daniel knew he was much like Socrates and knew he knew nothing about poker faces. So to hide away the inkling of dread he’d crash to the ground thanks to a quick mid-air snooze from the Lancer he instantly got to talking. “Daniel, Sir. Daniel Estevez, Knight. Ad Victoriam.

Sami was so busy battling his hangover that he the Knight's proclamation of his name was dulled, as if coming from another room. But he heard it well enough. The name Estevez didn't ring a bell, but plenty bells were ringing in Sami's head that would have drowned it out regardless.

[i/]Ad Victoriam.[/i]The Lancer didn't give a shit about the phrase. The Brotherhood's signature catchphrase went rarely spoken by him, Sami thought it was pretentious and dorky. However the people behind the words were usually not to be trifled with, so he kept his mockery to a minimum while surrounded by angry men in power armour. However, in his state he didn't find the strength to repeat the words back, as is the custom. At least not fully.

"Yeah, Ad Victor-whatever", grumbled Sami. "Brown's my surname. I don't think I've heard of you, Estevez. Where you from?"

As he spoke, Sami studied the soldier before him. He looked fairly standard for a Knight, bulky but not gargantuan, and had a plain appearance. He certainly wouldn't turn any heads outside of his armour, but he wouldn't repel them either. Sami wondered why he felt Daniel's appearance so important, he'd just gotten laid and he was far from that desperate. Overall, Daniel Estevez appeared to be a standard Brotherhood soldier on the surface, although a bit young. The Knight had let slip a little of his personality through the use of "Sir" when it didn't need to be said, as they are equal in rank. A polite and well-mannered lad, it seemed. A nice change from the usual rank-and-file hothead that was typical of a Tin Can Man of Steel.

Chances are, there'd be one of those soon to arrive. Knight Estevez didn't look like the sort of soldier who could be fielded alone to get a job like this done. He was young, green and naive in his youth, no doubt. Sami pondered what sort of characters would be making their way to the Vertibird bay momentarily, or so he would expect

Surely they can't all be as hungover as him, right?

Daniel for his part raised an eyebrow at the man’s casual dismissal of the motto. He didn’t hold it sacred but it had fairly powerful symbolism and one’s attitude to it was telling of other things. This Sam clearly wasn’t an ideologue, he wasn’t a believer in the cause. While this obviously didn’t detract from his abilities, it made him suspect and unreliable in the long term. If it was found that somebody had sympathies outside of the group, this would be a prime candidate.

Again to mask his thoughts he quickly replied to what Sam had asked with his own question. "Pardon, what do you mean where am I from?" then he remembered that much time had passed from bunker days, and it wasn't a default that everyone was born into the Brotherhood of Steel. "Oh, Lost Hills Bunker. Born and raised by the Brotherhood. Yourself? It's my first time hearing of you too."

Ah. A Bunker Boy. That explained a lot. He often forgot that many in the Brotherhood led very sheltered lives inside their hidden subterranean domiciles. This often led to narrow-mindedness and a xenophobic sort of naiveté, but sometimes to a misplaced wonder of the dangerous and often cruel world above. No doubt we'd soon see which type Daniel was.

"Rivet City. My pa was a mechanic in the lower decks, so that's what I was too, for a time." Sami rarely thought about home or his past. The chaotic whirlwind of his existence didn't usually offer much time for reflection, but he felt some heartstrings tug at the mention of his home. He wondered what his parents were doing now, as he waited for the activation of what could have been a suicide mission. He didn't know if they'd even still be alive, or whether they'd drank themselves to death long ago.

Rivet City? That must have been nice.” Daniel replied, though he knew it wasn’t and merely said what he did out of politeness. He hadn’t been there, but he knew it was a veritable shithole. A lot of recruits to the Brotherhood came from there and in all the training and sparring those emaciated and irradiated people would get their asses beat quite handily by the well fed and trained Daniel. It seems the grass was greener in the city than the open wastes, but it was even greener when you could witness it through the lenses of power armour or a vertibird.

Sami's mind snapped back to the present as he cleared his throat, refocusing himself. "Anyway. It's good to meet you Daniel". Sami wasn't exactly sure where he was expected to be when the presumably hard-ass commanding officer showed up, so he asked Knight Estevez, who seemed to be the type to read between the lines of even the most mundane and simplest of orders or dossiers.

"You think we should hang around outside, or get on the 'Bird?".

Likewise, Samuel.” The Knight said. “Let’s get in, I suppose. No time to waste.” Actually, there was. Both of the men had come early, but time not wasted was time added to use later. He placed his helmet on his head and sealed it, before effortlessly sliding open the door of the Vertibird with the soft noise of servos and hydraulics. A metal hand gestured for the Lancer to get in. “After you.” Daniel said, before getting in himself and grabbing a seat. He opened Henry the Eighth, but then closed it thinking back to his dream. With a sigh he shuffled over to take the responsibility of gunner.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Odin
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Grinning proudly, the mess officer slid a tumbler full of amber scotch down the bar. Owen couldn’t tell if the officer was joking about his run-in with a deathclaw or merely proud of surviving. Either made sense, really.

“Hey, pal do me for a pint, if you can?” asked a mountain of a man, taking a seat at the bar.

With a few practiced motions the mess officer produced the beer, nodding as he presented the golden ale. The talking mountain, a knight by the looks of him, smiled in approval.

“A deathclaw, huh? Well, you should’ve been wearing power armor, obviously! And a big gun, or a sledgehammer. Something to make that overgrown lizard think twice about smacking you around like some sort of little snack,” he suggested before raising his glass and pouring at least half the glass into his mouth before setting it down. It reminded Owen of a pre-war myth he’d found involving a god and the ocean. The daydream ended as the man shifted his attention. “The name’s knight-sergeant Gregory McDowelll, pleasure to meet you.”

The knight-sergeant continued before the scribe could make his own introduction. “For however long this meeting may last. I’m shipping out and getting off of this metal coffin in a few hours to do some actual work. Not to say that working on this ship is not actual work. Who else is gonna hand me a beer, am I right?” Gregory looked around, perhaps realizing the insinuation of what he’d said, then focused on Owen.

“So what about you? Doing anything interesting recently, besides reading books and typing into the computers?”

Owen took a sip of his drink, studying Gregory over the glass. Rough around the edges seemed an apt description, but he couldn’t deny the man was friendly. The good-natured sort. There was worse company Prydwen.

“Pouring over old maps and holotapes. Anything I can find referencing Boston,” Owen explained quietly. He leaned in close and extended a hand. “Senior Scribe Algarín. Call me Book, it’ll be easier out in the field.”

Gregory was about to reach for the hand and shake it, but the moment his hand was close to the mans hand, a voice rang out. “Good evening gentlemen! So sorry to interrupt,” came a woman’s voice. “Three whiskeys – no, not glasses, the whole damn things.”

Her name was Knight Brown. Owen remembered working with her, if only briefly. She tossed the caps onto the counter and leaned against the bar. “Antagonizing the eggheads again, McDowell? You know, if you put half as much energy into your duties as you do picking on scribes, you’d have made Paladin by now.”

Gregory could do little more than raise his glass and grin at the woman, as if he were proud of his abuse of the scribes. Of course, it was all a joke to him, although there were more than a few scribes that had taken offense by now.

“Speaking as one of those eggheads, I’ll say folks like McDowell here are helpful. What else is going to remind me to get away from my books?” The senior scribe smirked. “Feeling festive, Patty? That’s a lot to caps.”

The mess officer, after gathering up all of the caps strewn across the bar and floor and counting them up by hand, reached behind the bar, setting three full bottles of whiskey up on the counter. Patty unscrewed one and replied,
“I like to keep my own stash, can’t spend all my nights cooped up in here drinking. Variety’s the spice of life or so I’ve been told.” She lifted the bottle to her lips and took a quick swig.

She nods towards Owen's drink and says, "You're not exactly being frugal either, huh? What's the occasion?"

“I just met my new CO,” the scribe cocked a brow at the glass. “It’s a first and we’ll be in the Waste’s for a while. This felt necessary.”

Owen turned to the knight-sergeant, trying to glean some sense of his emotional state. “You said you were shipping out soon. I am too. I don’t want to be rude, but I also want to get some sleep. So, why don’t you ask me one question. Anything. I’ll answer, conversation achieved, then rest. Deal?” Owen glanced at Patty. “You already asked yours. Straight for the pocketbooks, too.”

Gregory frowned at the man, pondering what he’d ask. “What’s so interesting about Boston?” Of course, it was a little known fact that Gregory himself was from Boston, or at least the area around it. For him, the question was more aimed at finding out what he had missed in Boston when he was living there, growing up, as to him Boston had always been a boring affair. Not enough muties for smashing, not like downtown DC.

But to the scribe, it would likely seem more like a question aimed at finding out what the mission was about. After all, the amount of recruits from Boston were few and far between, and all that Gregory’s files would’ve betrayed was that he had been picked up near the Pitt -- not near Boston itself, as the Brotherhood was not particularly active in the Commonwealth or even near the Pitt. His recruitment had been a stroke of good luck for both parties involved.

“Ah,” Owen chirped, eyeing the knight-sergeant. He thought the name McDowell sounded familiar. “I’ve heard a lot about Boston-area being relatively livable. Like Rivet City. I’m not sure if I believe that, but it’s not impossible. Boston was really something before the world went to hell. A lot of culture there. Anyway, if I’m hearing these rumors that means the big wigs are probably hearing a lot more. Or hell, maybe Maxon just wants to take the ship on a vacation.” The scribe drained his glass and stood. “It’s been a pleasure, McDowell. Maybe we’ll see each other again.”

The senior scribe placed a handful of caps onto the counter. “Don’t get too wild, Patty.”

"Heh, no promises," she said as she gave Owen a pat on the back, "Going wild's all I fucking know."

She reached out to take the two remaining bottles of booze from the countertop, as she did the mess officer shot her a disapproving scowl and returning to wiping down a glass. She turned to McDowell and sighed.
"I should be heading out too," she said, "I've got to rise and shine tomorrow too, long fucking day ahead. I'll catch you around, McDowell. You too, Owen."

She clinked her open bottle against McDowell's glass. "Ad victoriam," she said, nodding to both the scribe and the knight-sergeant. Something tickled at the back of her mind; she was almost certain these two would be fighting alongside her. They were a capable sort and it set her stomach at ease to know there'd be at least a couple of familiar faces on the long road ahead.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Lo Pellegrino
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Exhaustion overcame Owen halfway up the stairs. Physically, he was spent. When a squad left the Prydwen their work remained. Projects might be delayed or temporarily transferred until the original scribe returned. But Artemis had not returned and little of what Scribe Faris handled was considered ‘low priority’. Owen took on the lion’s share of the new work. Spent long nights pouring over work well outside of his own specialties, trying to divine whether Faris was insane or simply attuned to another way of thinking.

He must have given a third of his sleeping hours to the extra work. At first in an effort to do his duty, then to avoid the nightmares.

They always started with an anxious thought. In this case, what if Faris doesn’t come back? Then the dreams became more vivid. He saw the fields of wheat waving in the breeze outside their cottage. A great and gentle golden sea below the crisp blue sky. Beauty and satisfaction and the overwhelming feeling of a life he’d never thought attainable. Night after night, these perfect dreams. And then the anxious thoughts returned. What if you don’t come back? The dreams feel just as real as they turn grim. Calming blues flash to horrifying reds. Rich golds to putrid grey. All of the world changes to those simple colors: red and grey. Fire and steel. Blood and ash.

Owen laid in his bunk, restless. Despite all of the comforts and luxuries that the Prydwen guaranteed, he still found himself wanting. The night sky most of all. Real, honest to God darkness and maybe even a flash of a star. At least, he thought they were stars. He heard once any glimmers in the sky were just small radiation storms. That nuclear war choked the light from stars in most places. And yet Owen swore he had seen stars while lying on the rooftops in Olympia. Again on a mountain in California where he’d gone so far as to name one after his son. Maybe he was being romantic.




While most shuffled or stumbled their way out of their bunks, a few managed to collect their things and leave with some semblance of subtlety. Owen waited for the last member of the squad before signing off of the shared terminal. One last message for Oliver. One message for the scribe who would cover his duties. One draft in case, like Faris before him, he did not return.

Owen stepped onto the flight deck and took a deep breath. Most of the squad waited near or inside the vertibird. The irony of knights with their power armor, all polished, repaired, and ready for war, standing patiently for the mission to begin. He might laugh if not for their weaponry. Hell, he thought twice before making light of anyone in the squad. A strange tension loomed behind the familiarity already beginning to form. Owen knew the feeling, saw it on their faces as well. They had questions. Some might’ve even worked it out.

“Helmets on,” ordered Paladin Moss. His voice barely audible over the beating wind and the vertibird’s engines. As the squad complied, the paladin descended the stairs from the main deck. “Coms are now live. Welcome to Recon Squad Zero. Mount up.”

Whatever shred of resistance Owen felt against Moss melted. The paladin stood inches taller than anyone on the squad without armor. That was no small feat considering they had McDowell. Add a bulky set of T-60 and Moss made Grognak the Barbarian look like the common rabble. When the paladin approached, Owen could only think to rush toward the vertibird.

Moss waited for the others to board before climbing in last. “Lancer Brown take the co-pilot chair. Grimshaw’s on the right minigun. Esteves on the left. You will not open fire without my permission.” Turning toward Owen in the back of the vertibird, the paladin pointed to a window. “Rest of you try to make yourselves useful.”

“Cleared to launch.” Grinning, the pilot gave Lancer Brown a thumbs up. “Watch how it’s done, kid.”

“By the Will of the Elder and God, take us away!” Moss declared, grabbing a rail to stabilize himself.

The vertibird shifted and lowered as a metal arm extended from the docking bay, putting distance between the chopper and the airship. Anyone not already strapped into the ship did so quickly. All except for the initiate, too green to know any better until the paladin took it upon himself to drop the harness over her shoulder. Methodically, he ensured the rest of the squad was prepared by scanning them one-by-one until satisfied. His check completed moments before the engines shifted into place. The dull hum came alive suddenly, erupting into a roar as the vertibird left the safety of the Prydwen for pre-dawn skies.

Nobody spoke at first. It took awhile for the engine’s noise to fade into the background and one glance around the vertibird revealed most everyone was enraptured by the view. He even found Moss gazing out into the early morning darkness.
While the magic of flight did not fade, the anxiety of a mission ill-understood grew too powerful to ignore. Owen felt around the left ear of his helmet until he found a small button.

“Paladin Moss, a question.” Owen looked around, confirming that the rest of the squad could in fact hear him. “I wonder if now is a good time to go over the mission details.”

If the question annoyed the paladin, he knew better than to show it.

“The sole purpose of Recon Squad Zero is to locate and, if needed, rescue our lost brothers and sisters. Recon Squad Artemis went dark three months ago. They were tasked with surveying the Commonwealth, what was formerly known as Boston. We have intel saying there are settlements there. We have also have word the area is infested with super mutants, ghouls, and desperate wasters. We do not know is who or what is responsible for our missing brothers and sisters. The only people you will trust are on this chopper. Anyone else is a potential hostile. We will find our comrades. We will make anyone involves pay. Failure is not an option.” Moss performed the salute. “Ad victoriam!”

“Ad victoriam!” the squad repeated.

Nodding in approval, the paladin continued. “The last message received from Artemis came moments before entering the target area. We believe there is a trading hub in the area. Our search begins there.” Moss paused, before handing a bulky, handheld screen around the group. It displayed the names of the missing squad with photos from their dossier. “We have a couple hours until we arrive. Get familiar. Ready your weapons. Talk. Whatever you need to prepare... Go on!”

Grunting, the paladin turned to Grimshaw and Esteves. Without looking, he gestured for McDowell to approach as well. Once they collected, each one quicker than the last to meet the paladin’s gaze, Moss awarded their eagerness with silence.

And nothing else. He said and did nothing. Not so much as a nod of approval. Either it was a test or Moss was just woefully inept at small talk.




The two hours passed in a blur. Outside the grey-and-green rubble signature of the Capital Wasteland changed. Conversation changed with it. First, as the eerie glow poured in from the red sky, the conversation stopped. They stared out into an impenetrable haze the color of fresh blood. It seemed as if the world itself threatened to consume them. And then, like that very thought occurred to them all at once, the conversation restarted.

Loud and frantic. Short and afraid.

Light shot through the left rotor. The vertibird jerked counterclockwise, then dipped forward and barrelled. Shouting, so much shouting. The lead pilot pulled back, levelling off the vertibird suddenly and stumbling the passengers. Some fell. Others held themselves in place.

Then nothing.




Red clouds hung in the distance. South, assuming the T-60’s compass was functioning properly. Moss wondered. The geiger counter flared during the flight. Before the light. Quiet as a Sunday morning afterward.

Didn’t matter. There was work to be done — God’s work. He rose from beneath a warped sheet of metal, which appeared to have been part of a shack before he came barrelling through. He stared at the collapsed structure a while until lifting a large piece of aluminum. It was Esteves. Wrapped in the arms of his power armor, Grimshaw. Both breathing. Neither appeared injured.

The paladin split the area into sections. Lifted every bit of scrap from the old shack dutifully. Found McDowell partially sunken into the ground, as if he’d fallen straight down while the others were flung and skid to a stop. At least the knight-sergeant was stirring. He returned to Esteves and Grimshaw, dragging them one-by-one to larger building, then did the same with McDowell. It was a sort of warehouse. Assumed the shack had been related. An old cabin, maybe.

Didn’t notice the piercing the searing headache until the work was done. Until realizing that half of the squad and the vertibird were missing.




“Oh thank God,” the pilot whispered, his voice hoarse. He was bathed in red light shining from the top of the cockpit. “You’re a knight, right?”

Owen stumbled to his feet, uneasy. “Scribe, actually.”

“Shhh!” Disappointment washed over the pilot’s face as he pointed out the window.

It took a moment for his eyes to adjust. The light outside looked strange, almost tinted pink, and not too far from them blood red clouds loomed high above. Like they sat in the doorway between Hell and Earth. Owen glanced back at the pilot, who again jabbed his finger outside. That’s when he saw them.

Owen’s mouth fell open as he peered out of the cockpit. He tried the doors of the vertibird immediately, but neither would open. Scanned the interior with a panicked expression, hoping for a sign of what to do next. Barely noticing as the others slowly came to.

“Put us down in a ravine. Probably why we’re still alive,” the pilot groaned. “Don’t think those ferals have spotted us yet. Counted... maybe fifty.”

“Why didn’t you try to wake us up?” the scribe scolded, approaching the pilot’s chair then abruptly stopping.

He saw the jagged tip of the tree protruding from the back of the pilot’s chair. It was a wonder the pilot was even alive, let alone speaking. Owen pursed his lips, then confirmed the co-pilot was alright. He looked to the back of the vertibird and found Kinsley and Patty getting their bearings.

“We’ve got a situation, guys.” Owen unholstered his tactical pistol.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Cazzer1604
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Fortunately for Sami, a seasoned pilot took the reins of the Vertibird, allowing Sami to focus his concentration on assisting with navigation and checks mid-flight, as well as fighting the urge to throw up. He succeeded in all tasks, and after a little while he felt much better; his hangovers thankfully had a quick turnover most of the time. He was pretty sure he hadn't seen the pilot before, although he only had a quick glimpse of his gruff face before he covered most of it with a flight helmet. His confidence behind the wheel demonstrated his experience and capabilities, which Sami was all to happy to let the man show off. Lancer Brown wasn't a natural pilot, nor did he feel completely at ease guiding the rotors of a mechanical avian beast. He was much better suited in the garages, tinkering and fixing. Nonetheless he needed to fly as part of his role, and thus he did, when required. But not today, which Sami thanked the heavens for.

There was an uneasy silence on board the Vertibird at first. Slowly, it evolved to cautious small talk and murmuring, which then developed into conversations which Sami could hear behind him but not comprehend, the white noise of flight preventing the language from being coherent to the pilots up front. With himself gathered, Sami opened up dialogue with his Captain.

"So, how long you been flying?", he enquired. The pilot was focused, but relaxed enough to turn to face Sami as he responded.

"Thirteen fucking years. I've loved it every since the first time. There's nothing quite like the feeling of flying, don't you think?" Sami grimaced, it was a sentiment he certainly did not share. "Nah. It always feels a bit fragile to me, man. I feel like a crow about to get ganked by a scattergun."

The pilot laughed upon hearing Sami's reply. "Then I think you might be in the wrong job, my friend", he remarked. Sami didn't exactly disagree. Chuckling, with a hint of morbidity, he replied "Maybe you're right there".

"I'm hoping this'll be my last mission", the pilot stated, after a moment of silence. "I've got kids back home, you know? A girl who's eight, and a little boy who's four". He paused, before taking out a small, square photograph and handing it over to Sami with one hand while flying with the other. "Wanna see?", he asked, rather rhetorically.

Sami took the photograph and inspected it. Within, there were four people. In the centre and sat on a chair was the pilot, with dark, curly hair and his chiseled jaw; Sami had definitely never seen the guy before. On either side of him, sat on his knees, were two young children. The girl had her father's hair, curled and the shade of mahogany, with a button nose and a gleeful smile. The boy had lighter hair, with a gormless expression of a toddler refusing to cooperate with what's expected of subjects of a photo. Stood behind the trio was a woman, presumably the mother, who had fair, rose-gold straight hair and a warm face. A happy family, by all appearances.

"That's my wife, Sarah. Cancer took her around 14 months back", the pilot narrated. Despite the helmet, it was easily noticed that the pilot's joyous demeanor was soured by the mentioning of it. "Shit. I'm sorry", Sami sympathetically retorted.

The pilot kicked himself back to his positive manner. "Yeah well, she'd want me to carry on smiling. I'm trying my best". Sami passed the photograph back to the pilot, who tucked it back into one of the pockets on his flight suit.

"It's Frank, by the way", he said while outstretching his right hand, rather awkwardly, over to Sami, who shook it in turn. "Sami".

The two pilots chatted for brief moments here and there. It was rare to find someone so positive and friendly, so Sami appreciated the jovial company while he could. Frank was from the Citadel, born and raised, and had met Sarah when she had passed through as part of a caravan selling meat. Sami shared parts of his history two, and the two men bonded over tales of various women they had met and bedded on their travels.

____________________________________________________________________________

Frank was recalling a story about meeting the Lone Wanderer one time, before they were interrupted by blinking lights on the monitors and the sight of a red mist on the horizon. Despite being men of many words, both were astounded and speechless with what they saw. They could do little but frown with mouths agape as the Vertibird severed towards the clouds of crimson before them.

Frank cursed as he tried to inform the Paladin of what lied ahead, and attempted to turn the vessel around before they entered the worst of the storm. Before he could do either, a great flash blinded the crew, and a intense feeling of heat emblazoned the cabin as the hull shook and the left rotor suddenly caught on fire. Sami could feel his organs rattle around inside him as the Vertibird shook and jarred in reaction to the gales that gripped the wings. He could hear the tumbling and crashing of hunks of metal behind him, and desparate cries of surprise that quickly faded. Throughout was abhorrent amounts of cursing that pierced through the chaos.

Frank finally managed to somewhat stabilise the vehicle momentarily. The respite was brief, however, and the storm threw the Vertibird in a violent manner yet again. The pilot furiously sweared as he managed to guide their rapid descent, leaving the strangely-hued storm above.

The landing was not smooth. Despite Frank's efforts, the Vertibird clashed with what remained of a tree on the way down, the jagged branches forcing their way through the glass, the squelch of flesh was audible amongst the acapella of metallic clanking and miscellaneous rattling of both object and persons. Sami hit his head against one of the monitors, his seatbelt doing well to prevent him cascading through the glass and turning into a red paste against a solid wooden trunk. The Vertibird eventually laid still, after a few more twists, turns and drops, and an eerie silence followed after the frantic noise just prior.

Sami groaned as he touched the warm rush occuring on his forehead. He checked his fingers and there was indeed some crimson blood dripping off them. Cursing, he began to look at his surroundings. In front of him, there was the trunk of a barren tree, although not barren enough to allow the Vertibird to win in the collision that just occured. It was a miracle that they hadn't been obliterated on landing, the crew had Frank to thank for that, Sami alone wouldn't have been able to manage that situation. To his right sat said pilot, whose moving head indicated that he was alive, which Sami felt great relief to see. However, as he glanced downwards, he gasped, as Frank had violently merged with a sharp part of the tree, which had been strong enough to also pierce the chair Frank was sat on.

Sami couldn't find words to express the symphony of emotions and sensations he was feeling right now. He tussled and wrestled with the seatbelt, attempting to get free of the tangle. He felt a tap on his shoulder, which caused him to jump in alarm. He snapped his head to see what had touched him, and sighed in gratitude as he realised it was Senior Scribe Algarín who had perpetrated it. Without the need for words, not that he could find them at the moment, Sami nodded his head and gave a shaky thumbs up to the concerned Scribe. He knew of Owen and recognised his signature dreadlocks instantly when he had arrived before takeoff. Sami believed that the had even flown with Senior Scribe Algarín a couple of times for missions.

Sami managed to unbuckle himself from his seat and stumbled after getting up, his legs shaking and his balance unset after the freefall of the crash. He went over to Frank, who still maintained an aura of positivity despite the current situation.

Sami clasped the pilot's left hand as he said "You're gonna be alright, man. We'll get you out of here". Frank could only chuckle as his spat out a mouthfool of blood and rested his head.

Sami collected his gear from beside his co-pilots chair, which he had thankfully strapped to the wall. He slung his SMG over his shoulder and checked it was loaded upon witnessing the feral ghouls staggering in the distance, his stomach sinking as he did. He could still feel the warmth of blood tricking on his forehead, but ignored it for now. There were bigger concerns at the moment.

He approached the Senior Scribe, who was similarly ready with his weapon unholstered. The crew had somehow halved during the crash. They were a Paladin, two Knights and an Initiate down, which meant that most of the crew's combat capabilities had been flung out of the Vertibird as well as a significant portion of their chances of survival, especially with two score of ferals lurking outside.

Only Dr. Kinsley and a female Knight bearing the colours of an Outcast who was unknown to Sami remained, as well as himself, Owen and what was left of Frank. The two women were quickly gathering both their senses and equipment upon Senior Scribe Algarín's proclamation of urgency. It wasn't exactly a crack squad of hardened veterans, but it would have to do for now.

"So, what's the play?", Sami nervously asked to anyone who could take tactical charge. He certainly had no idea what to do.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by lavenderdame
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Patty climbed aboard the vertibird and strapped herself in securely. It had been a long, restless night. Her unnerve with the mission had reemerged during the night, it weighed down on her still. However, with the paladin and the others around her she felt some of that weight seemingly lifted from her shoulders. Before arriving in the Commonwealth proper, she figured she should get some rest - thankfully she had not been ordered to man the guns. Strapped in firmly and upright, she would be able to rest her eyes behind the helmet without being too obvious.

Throughout the flight, she found herself drifting in and out of consciousness as she stood strapped against the back of the vertibird alongside the good doctor and Senior Scribe Algarin. Occasionally she would awake long enough to understand what the conversation was about and add her two cents before drifting back into a stupor. She had just begun to drift off to sleep again when the craft was struck by a flash of light. It pitched to the side and Patty woke up with a start, just in time to watch as the paladin and her fellow knights were thrown into the strange new landscape below.

“Woah, shit, what the fuck?”

Patty’s language was lost in the crunch of metal-on-metal and the shattering of glass that filled the cabin of the vertibird with a cacophonous din. Patty’s field of vision darkened and blurred as her head was thrown back and forth by the force of the impact. When she awoke minutes later her ears still rung and the first words she could make out were Owen’s.

“Why didn’t you try to wake us up?” he said.

Patty roused herself and removed her helmet. A burst of air whispered out as the helmet depressurized. She blinked wildly and took deep breaths until her vision finally stabilized. Before pulling back the buckles that held her firmly to the cabin of the vertibird, she took a moment to look around the cabin to assess the damage. Everybody seemed fine, a little shaken but nobody seemed terribly injured – even the dog was still kicking for what its worth. Lucky for us.

What wasn’t lucky, however, was what she could just barely make out the front windshield the branches of the tree that they had landed into. Panic began to rise in her chest as she hastily undid her buckles and gripped her laser rifle in her arms. Sami came stumbling out of the cockpit, his pre-war SMG gripped in his hands. She made her way past him and towards the front of the ship to assess the situation.

In the cockpit, Patty found Frank. She looked him over with sympathy in her eyes; it seemed her cursory inspection of the cabin was incorrect. Blood pooled on the front of his uniform where a tree limb had impacted with the windshield, Frank and clean through the seat behind him like an iguana bit kebab. The first causality - well, at least the first recorded casualty of the mission. There's no telling how the others were faring. Most of them had power armor and it'd take more than a little drop to stop the Brotherhood.

She shook her head to snap out of it. She couldn't dwell on them, not now. Her comrades-at-arms needed her here.

“We're going to help you Lancer, just stay calm,” she said, rushed.

Despite her attempts to stay calm, her own anxiety was close to breaking through the surface. She stopped and took a couple deep breaths. She had been through worse, panic was dangerous in the field. It makes you do stupid things, things that put everyone in danger. She breathed in and out. Refocused on what had to be done, she reached down to her waist and removed the ripper from a loop on the side of her power armor where it had been hanging.

The vertibird made a hell of a sound when it came crashing down and the ghouls seemed uninterested in it so far. Seemed safe enough to rev up the ripper for a little bit. She removed the safety and started up the tool’s motor. Revving the chain-blade with a pull of the lever, she worked her way through the tree branches, carving away at the wooden prison that held the pilot in its grasp, but every time the branch
vibrated a little too much for her liking she shot a nervous glance in the direction of the ghouls to make sure they hadn't caught on to their presence.

If her first-aid training had taught her anything it was that you shouldn't remove a bullet until you can close the wound – same for tree branches, she assumed. She cut away just enough of the wood to be able to maneuver around Frank and eventually pull him out of his pilot's seat while still leaving the branch embedded in the wound. Once a way had been cut, she motioned to Doctor Kinsley in the back of the vertibird to take her place in the cockpit.

“Let's go doctor, we need medical assistance up here,” she said, practically barking the order.

---

She exited the cockpit to look around at those who remained: the doctor, two lancers, Owen, and herself. They were not ideal fighters, to put it lightly. This crew needed a leader and she was going to give them one. Although technically outranked by both the doctor and Owen, this was a war-zone, a wasteland. This was her domain. If there was ever a time to stand up and show that the Outcasts were more than a bunch of ideologues and renegades. They were true grit, soldiers who knew how to take charge of the situation, and who fought tooth-and-nail for their brothers. Rank be damned, they were in the shit now.

“So what’s the play?” asked Lancer Brown.

Her hands shook, as much as the servos of the power-armor would allow them. The burden of responsibility weighed down on Patty unlike anything before. Before she let her fears overcome her, she took a deep breath and sent a power-armored fist up to the ceiling of the vertibird, sending a ringing throughout the cabin to calm the panic – both between the remaining members of the crew and the panic building within her own chest.

She pointed her other power-gloved finger out the front windshield or what was left of it anyway, cleared her throat and mustered a commanding tone.

“We need to take out those god damn rotskins and secure this position,” she said, ‘The vertibird is too damn valuable for us to lose and we’ll need it airborne again if we want to regroup with Paladin Moss and the others.”

Patty stood and looked around the cabin once again, this time instead of checking on the status of the crew, she was more concerned with their defenses. Sitting crooked on one of the supports welded to the side of the vertibird was one of the two miniguns that seemingly survived the crash. The other must’ve been thrown out the window along with the paladin or had been smashed against the ground when the bird flew through that tree. Either way, it was gone now.

“Seems to still be in working order, for now at least. If we can lure them towards the business end of this bad boy, we can cut the bastards down to size,” she said tapping the top of the gun for emphasis, “Any objections?”
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Andreyich
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One by one the team filled up, other Knights coming in alongside another Lancer, Scribes, an initiate, and the gargantuan figure of Paladin Moss. The Scribe brought a dog with her, which Daniel was very tempted to play with. But he knew it wouldn't be seen as something very professional and thus he quickly set to rationalizing not playing with it in his head. He was in power armour, the little thing might not be friendly, its owner might not let him.

In truth, this all rang very hollow. As a child Daniel's reading informed him of kittens and puppies and quite understandably he felt they should be part of his life. With hopes of receiving one as reward little Daniel did his very best in his studies and training. Yet, he still did not receive the desired pet. In retrospect it was understandable of course, but Chowder still reminded the young Knight of unfulfilled childhood. He didn't ask for play time, he did not ask for comics or radio or anything of the sort. The boy just wanted a fluffy friend yet he got none. Maybe one day, when I am Paladin. That was a lie of course, and he knew it. His adolescent dream wouldn't be incarnate, he knew he'd continue the spartan cycle of his family.

The flight happened. There was chatter of course, but Daniel didn't participate. Moss's emphasis on God raised alongside the Elder raised and eyebrow from the Knight. His parents always had a cross manufactured pre-war in their quarters and among the books they made Daniel read was the Bible. But beyond that he never received any religious instruction. Given all that happened in this world, it really did seem some divine judgement had come upon Earth. But for all the things Daniel didn't know, he knew he wasn't a Mormon like it was said Moss was.

He looked at the landscape below with much curiosity, but also apprehension. He didn't let his fingers off the minigun for he knew at any moment he might have to unleash a lead storm from its barrels. Though no targets came into his eyesight or the targeting modifications of his helmet there were other things to give the Knight pause. The colour of the sky changed, and the landscape too. Much faster than it should have, and very nastily. It was a hellscape exactly like what Daniel had read of before and he didn't like it one bit.

Not much time passed before Daniel's wariness proved fruitful as great turbulence hit. He was flung upwards hitting his head on the roof of the Vertibird and he knew if not for his power armour he would have had his neck snapped. After the hit it was clear he was falling out, and quite powerless to do anything about it. Mid-air he scanned the veritbird, noticing Grimshaw was meeting the same fate as him.

"Initiate!" he roared, a hand shooting out to yank her by a limb before wrapping his arms around her protectively, the pair plummeting helplessly to the ground.




Daniel's eyes opened, but they saw only darkness. Now he knew he wasn't dead, he'd either feel nothing, feel pain or feel joy depending on who was right regarding life after the grave. Instead, that nothing he saw was punctuated by the HUD of his power armour, false positives left and right by virtue of the mud upon it. His hands rose to touch his helmet, clearly covered in mud. With a roar he took it off, the action followed by a very slight increase in light and a soft hiss.

A bit better.

He touched his head which hurt a little, before looking about. The Knight noticed Laura and Gregory in the same building while Paladin moss was outside. Daniel came further and further to his senses, and realized in part his recent error. He cleaned out the visor of his helmet, before putting it right back on and noticing there was a very noticeable reading of radiation. Thankfully his suit was modified with lead plating, and so he was more or less safe from the RADS around him.

Then he looked to the Initiate who hadn't been nearly as fortunate as him. Walking over to her Daniel made sure her gas mask was fastened properly lest she inhale a cancerous death delayed by a decade. That done, he gave her some meaningful taps. "Hey there, wake up Initiate. You alright?" he asked. She looked okay and he believed he could get to looking for his rucksack soon but Daniel didn't know what she might have contacted in the skid along this new wasteland dirt with him. "Something happened with the Vertibird. Paladin Moss, the Knight Sergeant, you, and I all fell out of it." the man said by way of explanation.
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Where the others might've had concerns, nervosity or fears about the mission ahead, Gregory was too mind-numb to think about those things. He had preoccupied himself with drinking a few more beers once the scribe and knight had buggered off, before retiring to his chambers to retrieve his Atomic Annie sledgehammer. Then, the soldier retrieved his power armour, thanking the mechanics for taking care of it by giving them a hard slap on the back and a resolute “thanks, wrenchman,” before testing the armor by moving the arms around, seeing how well they rolled. There were a few hickups in the armour -- to be expected when you were using mechanisms that were at this point old enough to go into a museum -- but it wasn't anything that Gregory couldn't brute force his way through if the need arose. The same went for the legs. Once this final checkup was done, he made his way outside towards the hangars, and sat down on a crate, spinning his sledgehammer while everyone else slowly trickled in from whatever they had been doing.

They were quick to take flight after paladin Moss had given them a last second briefing on the hangars, and this was part of the process that always scared McDowell. McDowell was a man that wasn't easy to scare -- throw a hundred ghouls at him and he'd call it a party. A quick job before moving on. Supermutants? He'd be glad to rid the world of those freaks of nature.

But sitting in a metal deathcage hanging from a thin piece of metal they called 'mechanical arm,' that never sat well with McDowell. Unfortunately landing the Prydwen was a massive pain in the ass, a pain in the ass they weren't really meant to repeat, so this was really the only way off the slightly bigger metal deathcage apart from jumping.

It could be done with power armour.

But it would not be a fun trip down for the rest of the squad.

For once, McDowell shut the hell up and simply listened, or at least feigned to. Paladin Moss's words were about all he picked up, and he leaned in to take a look at whatever he was showing them on the device he held, but at that point most of it was lost on the man. They hadn't invited him for his spectacular technical insight, so it was probably for the best that McDowell wasn't in a talking mood, lest he had pissed off every member of the team instantly by making fun of how they read books. Most of all the doctor. McDowell had had very limited run ins with her, and he preferred to keep it that way. She was good at her job, he thought, so it wasn't that that made him wary of her. It was the fact that, unlike most other scribes and technical personnel on the Prydwen, Gregory had quickly gotten the feeling that she might actually be able to hurt him if he mocked her a little too much.

Small woman, compared to Gregory. But a whole lot of fire behind those eyes. He respected it -- fury of a knight trapped in the body of a scribe. The same could not be said for the others on board.

Rather than participate in the discussions, Gregory looked out the side door of the vertibird, peering into the distance. The color of the sky was changing there, and it reminded him of home. It wasn't, he knew, not anymore. He had seen those lights thousands of times before, peering out the window of his shitty shack when he still lived here. But he didn't tell anyone -- not for fear of 'being found out,' more so than it just not occurring to him. The lights might've scared or bewildered the others, but it did nothing to McDowell save give him some nostalgic feelings.

He was eerily calm by the time the others caught on to the fact that the air was changing. It wasn't just the lights, it was the air, the scent and taste of it was permeable in the cabin. The rad-lights came on, and the T60 power armour Gregory was wearing turned on it's rad-light too. Again, Gregory was unimpressed. What might've seemed a typical stoic reaction from soldierman Gregory to the rest was, in actuality, just his innate awareness of their location, and survival instincts kicking in. “Hmph,” was all he could muster before reaching upwards for a leather strap to keep him somewhat steady.

He knew the vertibirds were janky, but that they were this janky, he had no idea. All it took was a sudden surge of a rad storm into the engine, and they were going down. The ship shook left and right and it seemed like they'd freefall their way down, which would've been fine for Gregory since he was wearing power armour. Unluckily, during one of the jerkier movements of the vertibird, he was slung to the right, the leather strap he was holding onto breaking and sending him barrelling off after paladin Moss and the rest of the unlucky passengers.

Some of them, at least.

He closed his eyes, braced for impact, hoped he'd land on his feet so the power armour could work it's magic. The weight of the power armour did the trick, and he landed feet first, the power armour catching the entire force of the fall and then some. Unluckily, the blast of the landing caused whatever shit-shack he landed in to collapse around him. He opened his eyes briefly, trying to see what happened, but all he saw was darkness, and all he heard was the beeping warning sounds of the power armour. Something had gone terribly wrong. The mission was over before it even started. He closed his eyes again. Dying in this yellow-green field covered under destroyed building would be as good a way to die as any.

He was out for a few minutes, maybe, although 'out' was perhaps not the best way to describe it. He was conscious, but elected to just lay there and wait. The sudden shift of the rubble and a familiar face behind the visor of the T60 power armour that pulled him out of it was enough to revitalize the soldier. “Paladin Moss,” Gregory said, “good to see you here,” he jested. It seems the paladin has need of me yet, Gregory thought. Perhaps not all was lost, but just the vertibird and half their crew. But Paladin Moss gave no answer. Had Gregory even managed to speak, or had he just made noises? Moss disappeared again, and Gregory closed his eyes again.

When he came to, Moss was dragging him, and his heavy power armour, all the way to a nearby structure. Gregory did what he could to 'help', trying to push off against the ground and start walking himself, but it seemed that the landing had really shook him. For once, this wasn't something that Gregory could just shake off. He needed a moment -- a long moment. “Just give me a second, Paladin, I'll walk myself, I'll help you find the re-...” Out again.

He came to a second time, this time due to the yelling of one Daniel. "Yelling." It was little more than a regular conversational tone, but the headache Gregory had made it infinitely worse. The constant cracking of the radiation, and the annoying beeping of the radiation meter in the power armour did little to help that. “Hey kid,” Gregory said, sitting up and awkwardly rising to his feet, doing his best not to let the power armour fall over with him inside it. “Shut the hell up.”

Gregory scanned the area around him, and found that his sledgehammer had gone missing. Maybe it was still in the vertibird, or maybe it was lost forever. He shook his head, but that only made the headache worse. “Where's the Paladin?” he said, in an angry annoyed voice, despite Daniel having just given the answer to the question already. He didn't wait for an answer, and stomped outside, the power armour kicking up dust with every step.

During the walk, Gregory noticed the power armour wasn't functioning as well as it should've either. It still worked but the mechanics were probably going to chew him out for real this time. Usually it was just a complaint, “whe whe, Gregory keeps breaking the joints by forcing them,” but it was nothing they couldn't fix. But this seemed a little worse than a forced joint. The entire thing just kept throwing up red warnings in the visor that Gregory had no idea what they meant. He ignored them.

He thumped his fist against his chestplate when he had found paladin Moss, and bellowed as loudly as he could, “Ad Victoriam, Paladin Moss!” He really only made his headache ten times worse, but he found that paladin Moss didn't need to know that. Nor the fact that his weapon was gone, or the fact that his power armour had gone to hell. All of these things made him less combat effective, or so the officers claimed, and it was wholly possible that Moss might've decided to make Gregory sit the next part of the impromptu search and rescue mission out. No, Gregory wasn't going to do that. He'd do his best to make sure that Moss knew he was going to put everything on the line to finish this mission.

“Knight-Sergeant McDowell ready for orders, sir!”

God, his fucking head hurt.
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Hank Dionysian Mystery

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Everything that was up became down and vice versa. A split second later, Laura became aware that she was falling. Bizarrely, her first instinct was to clutch the laser rifle holstered across her chest with both hands. What had happened? It had all happened so fast. The sky, the turbulence, the engine.. she remembered seeing the engine catch fire. But why? What was --

Something grabbed her, mid-air, something attached to a voice that the wind snatched away immediately. They were still spinning and falling but Laura suddenly felt strangely safe and sheltered. She couldn’t feel the air tugging on her skin and her clothes anymore. All she could do was clutch her rifle. All she could do was --

Her bones rattled inside of her skin and her brain felt like it was trying to escape through her ears. A terribly loud crash and a sudden sensation of having stopped in the most definitive sense of the word were the last things she heard and felt.



"Hey there, wake up Initiate. You alright?"

Laura’s eyes opened slowly, blinking as her swimming vision slowly resolved into focus. The expressionless helmet of a suit of power armor stared at her. “Paladin?” she murmured inaudibly and sat up straight, her hands going up and down her body and her head to check for injuries, her training kicking in and taking over. Fortunately, almost miraculously, she was free from grievous injury, but her left ankle felt tender and a patch of dark wool on her upper right arm told her that she was bleeding -- but not severely. She blinked a few more times and looked at the soldier again. Not the Paladin, she realized, but the Knight. What was his name? Estanza?

Her fingers found the grip of her laser rifle, its sling still across her torso, and she exhaled slowly, trying to steady her shaking hands. She was armed and alive and she wasn’t alone. That was already more than could be hoped for considering the circumstances. But… how had she ended up here? Where was she? The place looked like an abandoned warehouse.

"Something happened with the Vertibird. Paladin Moss, the Knight Sergeant, you, and I all fell out of it,” the Knight said. Esteves, Laura remembered, that was his name.

“Hey, kid. Shut the hell up,” came another voice, belonging to McDowell.

Laura glanced at him but said nothing. Even without the super sledge, the Knight-Sergeant was intimidating. She looked back at Esteves and nodded. “Yes,” the young woman managed, louder this time, and rolled her jaw. “Yes, I’m alright.”

She climbed to her feet, using the implacable steel of Esteves’ suit for support, and looked through the scope of her rifle. Even the glass lens had survived the descent, and a quick pat-down across her thigh confirmed that her 10mm pistol was still in its holster. That, too, was a miracle. She frowned and tried to recall the details. Someone had grabbed her… she looked at Esteves again and realized that it was his voice that had called out to her during the fall.

“You caught me,” she said. It wasn’t a question. The realization caused her heart to quicken; she’d survived a horrible crash-landing in the arms of a knight in shining armor. She’d be dead, if it weren’t for him. A mixture of gratitude, admiration and embarrassment washed over her. Forcing down the urge to look away and crawl up into a ball, the Initiate placed a hand on the Knight’s arm and conjured the bravest smile she could muster -- before realising that he couldn’t see it behind her gas mask. Maybe it'd extend to her eyes. “Thank you, sir.”

“Where's the Paladin?” McDowell said, but this time he was already gone before she could say anything, stomping out of the warehouse to look for Moss. Laura exchanged a glance with Esteves, his eyes barely visible behind the visor of his power armor, and she chuckled, grateful for the distraction. She desperately needed an objective, something to focus on, and searching for the Paladin was as good of a goal as any. After a final check to make sure that she still had all of her belongings and that she could put her weight on her painful ankle (which she could, but not for too long at once), she followed McDowell outside and took stock of their surroundings.

The sky was red to the south. That was the first thing she noticed. Laura’s eyes widened at the sight and she breathed a curse into her respirator. She’d seen something like that before, when they were forced to divert around the battered slag that was all that remained of Minneapolis. “Rad storm,” she said out loud, and only then looked away to find McDowell presenting himself for duty to the Paladin. Following in his example, Laura clicked her heels together and saluted.

Oddly enough, this was her forte. Deep into unknown territory, potentially surrounded by threats, with nothing more than a few allies to rely on. Laura steeled herself with the knowledge that she was useful now, even if she wasn’t wearing power armor or carrying a gatling laser. Figuring out the lay of the land, steering them clear of trouble and surviving out in the wilderness. It wasn’t what she’d expected out of the Commonwealth, but then again, none of them had.

“Ad victoriam! Initiate Grimshaw, ready for orders as well.” Having said that, Laura looked around and an icy sensation crept into her bones. “Where is the vertibird, sir?” Her thoughts went out to Dr. Kinsley and Chowder. She'd been so excited to see them again.
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Before the crash

featuring @Lo Pellegrino and @Hank


She had never spoken to Paladin Moss before and the silent treatment that she and the others received aboard the vertibird did little to incentivize her to change that. Still, Laura couldn’t help but glancing away from the landscape below her -- the weight and killing power of the minigun alien and uncomfortable in her hands -- and to the armored form of the towering soldier, inscrutable behind the dark steel of his helmet. His exclamation before their departure had informed her of his religious beliefs and that was interesting to her. There had been religion in Vault 49, for sure, but its flock had been in the minority. Most of the Vault Dwellers, whether consciously or subconsciously, saw little reason for faith in the underground bunker that they called home. She wondered what had instilled faith in the Paladin, and she wondered how much of the world he had seen. Thaddeus had been right, of course; Laura often forgot that she was very well-traveled compared to most of the Brotherhood. But even she didn’t know anything about Boston. The idea that they were traveling to lands unknown as as exciting as it was anxiety-inducing.

“Paladin Moss, sir?” she said at length, keying the inter-squad comm so that her voice carried over the roar of the vertibird’s propellers and engines. “What else do we know about the Commonwealth?” Laura figured that there had to be more intel than what Moss had shared in his brief summary of the mission details.

“Nothing solid, initiate. Artemis should have given future missions a clear picture of the area and the players. Without them,” Moss trailed off, his frown hidden by the helmet. “We prefer intel from our own people. Rumors are tricky. You never know when a tip from a trader is actually a lie or even a trap. All that said, I have heard talk of the Commonwealth’s thriving towns. As in multiple.”

Laura nodded to herself. She identified with the Paladin’s inclination towards caution, having witnessed enough on the way from Montana to justify it. She wondered if Moss was aware of her journey and of the experience she did have. She’d refrained from groaning out loud at her own stupidity when Moss had to fasten her harness before the departure. Laura hated feeling stupid. “Very good, sir. It’s heartening to know that we’re not heading out into an abandoned wasteland. Are you... looking forward to meeting new pockets of civilization?” she asked cautiously, trying to get a feeling for how Moss looked at the world and its peoples.

The question made Moss tremble. Small movements, too subtle for the power armor to show, but not so faint that he didn’t notice. She found a nerve. Struck a tender spot he hadn’t known was there and with an innocent question no less.

Finally, the paladin nodded. “It will be informative,” he answered simply, as was his way. Yet, seeing the curiosity in the initiate’s eyes, he realized the opportunity before him. “I came from a place called New Canaan. There the people rallied behind an idea. Not so different from the Brotherhood. I believe that similarity is why both communities are strong. I hope we can bring that strength elsewhere. The Commonwealth, for example.” Moss paused a moment. “What have your travels taught you, initiate?”

Unaware of the effect her question had had on Moss, Laura pondered his return question instead. It was a loaded query. There were loads of practical things she’d learned along the way but she figured the experienced Paladin wasn’t interested in hearing how she’d come to fear packs of dogs, to watch for Mirelurks at the water’s edge and what the difference was between ripe and rotten mutt fruit. He’d know all of those things already. It was life lessons he was after, and not for his own gain. Moss was trying to suss out how wise she was. Laura was determined to rise to the occasion.

“That there’s no difference between bad people and desperate people when you’re out in the wasteland,” the Initiate said. “Maybe it’s like you said. People need something to believe in, to unite them, to save them from desperation. I believe in the Brotherhood’s mission, and… and I believe that humanity is good,” Laura continued, gaining steam and confidence as she went on. “People can be bad, but humanity is good.” She glanced up at Moss with the same curiosity in her eyes. “You believe in something else as well, don’t you, sir?”

“Humanity is good like a child is good. Too ignorant to realize the great gift it’s been given. Left without guidance, we’d surely scorch the world again.” Moss leaned in close. “I believe in the Brotherhood and its mission to protect humanity. However, my soul belongs to our Lord. Elders speak of a better world like dreams. Only God can grant true salvation.”

With that the paladin drew back. A little more satisfied, curious, and hopeful that the seeds found fertile soil.

It seemed to Laura like a strange thing to say. It implied that there was an inherent unworthiness to anyone's actions if they weren't fueled by the grace of God. "There wasn't much room for God with us in the Vault," Laura said while she stared out of the vertibird. "I don't see much of him out here, either."

Only then did she realize how insensitive her words were and the red flush of shame crept up on her cheeks. "I'm sorry, Paladin, I didn't mean… I'll think about what you've said," she settled on and shot him an apologetic look.

Had he been so foolish? “What you see out here is the Lord’s gift, squandered,” Moss sighed deeply. “Don’t apologize. It’s easy to mistake... this with an absent God.”

It was hard to argue with that. Whether God’s gift or not, humanity had definitely squandered the Earth. She thought wistfully, as she did often, about the pictures in the books of Vault 49’s library that depicted white beaches with bright blue seas and meadows full of flowers. It had looked like such an idyllic place. Now, the wasteland down below was hardly as inviting...

---

After the crash


Hearing what was left of the squad fall in line was just the reminder Moss needed. He turned toward the warehouse, then to the hills a little ways out. Uncertainty on all sides. That wouldn’t do.

“McDowell, Grimshaw. See what you can find in the warehouse. We may need to shelter tonight. Is it liveable? Is there ammunition or anything we can use to make repairs to our armor?” The paladin turned to the young knight, who’d already proven useful. “Esteves, I want you to explore the perimeter. See if you can spot the wreckage. Keep an eye out for signs of activity, who knows what we fell into here. I’ll stand guard in this position. Check in. We’re not losing anyone else today.”

McDowell maintained the salute, like a mannequin posed a certain way, throughout the orders that Moss would give them. Only in the end would he respond, thumping his chest in affirmation, followed by a loud and clear, “yes, Paladin Moss, sir! Ad Victoriam!” He dropped his arm to his side again, and turned face to move back towards the warehouse. His power armour squeeked slightly as he did so, balking at the weight it was meant to be carrying while damaged. Another warning popped up. “Energy critical,” it said. That was a warning that Gregory did understand, and frustrated him to no end. “Initiate, with me!” he commandeered, almost immediately pulling rank on the poor woman. It seemed she’d be on the receiving end of his force now.

With the thunderous thuds of his footsteps echoing throughout the half-destroyed warehouse came the sudden realization that it was very quiet here. It gave Gregory another bout of bad juju, like he had felt before the crash. Something was wrong here, but he wasn’t quite sure what. For a moment he thought he heard a sound, far in the distance, echoing just like his footsteps, but it was faint and didn’t last long enough to be worth making a note of or even mentioning it to Initiate Grimshaw. Lacking a weapon, Gregory felt naked and vulnerable, though did his best not to let on to that in the presence of anyone else. “Stay close, initiate,” he commandeered again, “we don’t know what manner of inferior beings lurk here.” For a moment it seemed like Gregory had turned serious all of a sudden, perhaps faced with the sudden realization that death could very well be lurking behind every corner they turned. “... would love to smash me a ghoul or mutie right now.” Well, perhaps not.

The first floor was relatively clear -- in the sense that there wasn’t anything directly dangerous to the two as far as Gregory could see. The further into the warehouse they moved, the darker it became, and so he was resigned to turning on the gigantic floodlight-like lamps on his helmet. They clicked once, twice, before turning off again, prompting the man to slap the helmet -- and his head -- in an attempt to get them to work. “Damn mechanics,” he swore, “can’t even fix a fucking lamp right...” In the brief moment that his lamp did work, all he could see was piles and piles of shipping containers.

He marched on, and almost forgot that Laura was with him, occupying himself with barrelling through the maze of containers with little regard for stealth. Not that there was a possibility of it since the half-broken power armour creaked like an old door. “Let’s go up,” he mumbled, more to himself than anything, but easily audible to Laura. The stairs almost gave way when he stepped onto them, the heavy concrete being no match for the portable tank Gregory was wearing, but luckily they held, allowing them to pass onto the next area -- an upstairs office of sorts. Most of the high-tech computers, at least in the eyes of a techno-incompetent such as Gregory -- were off, but there were a few shimmering screens still alive somewhere here. The Knight-Sergeant paid no mind and carried on, waiting at the door to the next room for Laura.

For her part, the Initiate kept her laser rifle slung by her side and unholstered her 10mm pistol as they stepped back inside the warehouse. Laura had been forced to swallow her disappointment when the Paladin ordered her and McDowell to explore the location instead of searching for the vertibird, but it wasn’t her place to question his orders, nor the Knight-Sergeant’s. When he ordered her to follow him she did so without comment. He didn’t sound like he was in the mood for advice or resistance anyway, and she could hardly blame him. It had been a hard landing, his armor was obviously damaged and his weapon was missing. She’d be pissed off too.

Fortunately his armor wasn’t so broken that he couldn’t make his way through the sea of shipping containers and Laura gratefully followed in his wake through the path he’d cleared, towards the back of the warehouse. She wondered what the shipping containers held but the Knight-Sergeant didn’t appear interested in finding out.

“Did you hear that?” she almost said, but the words died in her throat. Laura had cocked her head and froze when something caught her ear, a vague, distant sound, but Gregory didn’t stop and Laura didn’t feel like him bothering him. She checked the safety of her pistol, fingers briefly brushing over the name etched into the side of the barrel, and carried on, ears straining for the sound, should it return. It was hard to listen for anything over the din of McDowell’s implacable advance, however.

The rows of terminals, on the other hand, were something she couldn’t ignore. Her time with the Brotherhood of Steel had only intensified her natural curiosity when it came to relics of the Old World and she sat down at the first still-functioning terminal that she encountered, eyes wide and fingertips eager to start typing.

“Just a second, sir,” she called out, almost as an afterthought, without looking at the Knight-Sergeant. “Could be valuable intel in these terminals.”

After wiping away the dust and bringing the ancient machine back to life with a few deft touches on the keyboard, Laura was presented with a series of dates on the screen. They all shared one common characteristic: the year. 2077. The year of the Great War. Laura whistled appreciatively. “You’ve been running for a long time, haven’t you?” she whispered quietly to the terminal. “Just waiting for someone to show up and extract your secrets. Well, here I am.” Her curiosity got the better of her and she started at the bottom with the last entry. October 21st, 2077.

The rising fuel costs are a disaster for our operations. How are we supposed to run a shipping company when the overhead expenses have practically caught up to the fees we can charge our customers? Nevermind them being willing to pay more, they simply might not be able to. We’ve petitioned the Senator but to no avail. I just hope that this war is over soon, before there isn’t any fuel left.

And then there’s the roadblocks. “Security,” the Army says, but they don’t have anything to fear from us. The Chinese aren’t on the mainland, right? It’s all a big puppet show to make us feel safer but it’s just a giant pain in the ass.


Laura sat back after she was finished reading. Just two days before the Great War had ended the world, these people had been worrying about their business. It was a sobering reminder that it had all happened so fast. In a matter of hours, everything had changed forever. She took a deep breath and checked a few of the other logs. More of the same, really, and nothing that told her anything about what they might expect from this place today, more than 200 years later. She powered the terminal back down, got up and sat down at another terminal.

More logs, but the dates were scrambled. Laura raised an eyebrow and looked at the terminal more closely. The layer of dust that coated the keys was less thick and she hadn’t had to wipe the screen clean anywhere nearly as vigorously as the previous terminal. Her heartbeat quickened. Had someone else been here since the bombs fell? With her nose almost touching the screen, Laura opened the most recent log.

Shipping containers are stuck. Macklen says he might be able to move them if he had some power armor. Good joke. Where are we going to get power armor here?

I don’t know why he’s so obsessed with moving them. We can all hear the sound coming from below them but I’m not exactly eager to find out what’s making it. Damn fucker might get us all killed.

If there weren’t so many rad storms I’d sleep outside. The sound continues through the night. It’s driving me crazy. Maybe it’s driving Macklen crazy too and that’s why he’s obsessed. But he was crazy already. Damn jet. I’ll never touch the stuff again.


“Sir?” Laura said and looked up to find McDowell waiting for her by the next set of doors. “These logs… they’re recent. Somebody’s been here before us. I heard something when we were down on the first floor, and these people heard it too. A sound coming from underground.”

She paused and rubbed her neck, trying to make the hairs that stood on end there back down. “What should we do?”

Gregory turned round to face Laura, contemplating what she said. “I don’t know,” he said, in a way that was less profound and more just genuinely stupified. “We should probably tell paladin Moss, but I’m sure he has more important things on his mind now. The leaders always do,” he told her, before turning his head to face into the next room. He briefly turned on the flashlight again, allowing it to flicker once or twice, only to note a large hole in the center of the floor. “We’re done here, we should go back down.”

He immediately moved back towards the stairs, and began walking down them. On the way down, he contemplated some of the lessons he had picked up in the Brotherhood. One of them had to do with initiative, or something to that effect. “Did it say how to get down there?” He asked it slightly more polite than he had been previously, perhaps because he was occupied trying to mill over whether taking initiative in this case would go over well with paladin Moss or not. Even in this life-or-death situation, he was trying to impress the paladin, one of his heroes. “If so, we should check it out and make sure we’re not sitting on top of like… a bunch of muties.”

A little ways behind him, Laura kept her finger close to the trigger guard of her pistol now. She couldn’t shake the feeling that they were above something that was bad news. But now was not the time for cowardice, she reasoned, and she was able to follow McDowell’s line of thought. Returning to the Paladin with half-completed reconnaissance might not go down well with the hardened veteran. “Not exactly,” Laura said, “but it’s supposed to be below the shipping containers.” She’d peeked past the Knight-Sergeant before he decided to go back downstairs and seen the hole in the floor for herself. An idea came to her.

Once they were back in the large hangar that contained the shipping containers, Laura searched the ceiling for the hole and found it about halfway back towards the entrance, a little off to the side. After that she followed the path Gregory had bludgeoned through the containers and realized they hadn’t walked beneath the hole in the ceiling. It wasn’t a waterproof theory, but the most likely place to start searching for an entrance to something underground would be there.

“I have an idea,” she said, caught up to McDowell and took point. “Follow me, sir.”

Keeping an eye on the ceiling, they made their way through the labyrinth of shipping containers until they came to a halt just a few meters away from the hole in the ceiling above them. Two containers blocked their path. Laura figured she might be able to slither through the gap to move on, but why bother when you have power armor on your side? Before she asked the Knight-Sergeant for aid, Laura pressed up against the containers and looked through the gap to what lay beyond.

Darkness. Shifting a little in place so that she could look down and onto the floor, Laura took a deep breath when she realized what she was looking at: the floor was missing. Just like the ceiling above them, there was a hole in the floor as well. She took a step back and looked at McDowell with a wary look on her face. “Just through here, sir,” she said, unsure of how to describe what she’d seen. It was better that he saw for himself. “It’s… it’s through here.”

Gregory’s face shriveled up slightly when they arrived at the spot, that feeling of dread and bad juju that had filled him before now growing ever larger. Laura, of course, could not see that through the visor. All she’d see was a hulking Knight-Sergeant that braced himself against one of the containers before giving it a mighty push. With a loud, screeching noise the thing slid against the concrete floor, before Gregory gave it one big, final shove. With a loud clatter the thing went airborne, entering the large pit behind it and clanging itself all the way down, banging against the concrete at first before concrete became bedrock. After what felt like an eternity, the damn container finally stopped, thunking loudly as it did so.

For a moment, Greg peered down the deep hole. If there’d been a scribe present, he might’ve joked about it. Reminds me of your mom, or something stupid like that. But not now, not because Grimshaw was an initiate, but because for once, the safety of the Prydwen had been replaced by… whatever this was.

He finally looked back towards Laura, and gave her a resolute nod. “Right,” he posited, turning his head back towards the hole, “let’s descend.”
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Andreyich
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Andreyich 𝕿𝖍𝖊 𝕽𝖚𝖓𝖊𝖘' 𝕲𝖑𝖔𝖜

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As the Knight kneeled by the Initiate he looked up to see McDowell rebuke him angrily to which Daniel gave a non-confrontational "Sorry, Sir." before returning his attention to Grimshaw. "Good!" he replied when she said she was indeed alright, helping the woman to her feet. "Don't worry, Initiate. You'd have done the same if you had the opportunity. Ad Victoriam." he said, before following his two comrades to rendezvous with the Paladin.

Daniel saluted to Moss, calling out his name and station reporting for duty as had Laura and Gregory. The Paladin gave them their orders to look through the warehouse, before turning to Daniel. “Esteves, I want you to explore the perimeter. See if you can spot the wreckage. Keep an eye out for signs of activity, who knows what we fell into here. I’ll stand guard in this position. Check in. We’re not losing anyone else today.” Elliott barked, to which the Knight quickly responded with a "Sir, yes Sir!"

The Knight was unarmed save for the Recharger pistol and combat knife with him, but he was also in power armour. He held both weapons in either hand before going off to explore the Wasteland. Truly this was a vile landscape, every single step through it incrementing the reading of radiation given to him by his helmet. His targetting HUD picked up a few readings of enemies in the distance, but it was mere radroaches, molerats and bloatflies which he ignored for the most part. The few that he came upon in his travels would easily be dispatched with a single swipe of his knife or a pull of the trigger. But there was much worse in the locale. Much larger bugs were flying about, stuff he did not want to interact with. He didn't know if they could get past his power armour but he wasn't particularly interested in finding out. At the very edge of his sight range he saw the all too familiar ghouls and Deathclaws.

Yet, in spite of the all out hostility of the land there were signs of civilization. But not just the relics of the Old World across all of America, somebody was here recently. Remnants of tent pitching, trashed fire pits, cans of foodstuffs with moisture still in them. There was even a rucksack that looked very similar to his. He approached it with his headlight shining upon it, and upon further examination it became clear it was in fact his. He rejoiced momentarily at having found his gear, quickly looking through it to make sure all was intact. Satisfied, he put away his pistol and knife and took out his M14.

The find invigorated Daniel, and with renewed strength he sped along the ground. He headed towards the red clouds finding much more of the same as before, the buttstock of his rifle used as a club to splatter what bugs impeded him. He considered turning back until eventually he came upon a creek of sorts, with much metal bits lying about in it. It was pristine rather than rusted by this wasteland and this made the lad hurry over to it. It was some sort of crate from the Vertibird which after stowing away his rifle he heaved onto dry(ish) soil. With little effort the man opened it, and voila there was McDowell's hammer. What had he called it again? Atomic Anne, yes that was it. Well, it certainly was a beauty of pre-war technology. He gave it a light twirl and a few experimental swings. Yes, Daniel was a marksman but with his training he could certainly appreciate the brutal efficiency of the weapon. It almost made him want to seek out foes on his way, to journey on and find something to splatter with each strike on a heroic search for the Vertibird.

But this was mere fantasy, he had orders and he would follow them. This weapon had to be returned to Gregory and he had to report his findings to the Paladin. In truth, he thought he was figuring out what had happened to the previous expedition. If they had flown the same way Moss's squad had then chances were they too came upon this radioactive hellhole and malfunctions would have struck them in a similar fashion to this squad. Since nobody would willingly live in such a place, the fact that there were signs of human life could only point to the presence of the Brotherhood of Steel.

Super-sledge in hand, Daniel sprinted back to the warehouse witch each footstep hitting the soil to much noise produced. True, he might arouse the interest of some local fauna but as remarked previously he had a subconscious interest in this. The warehouse entered his vision, but the built-in Geiger counter of his helmet seemed to spike far more than it had on his way to the creek.

Strange, perhaps, but soon apparent as to why. From the earth sprang a radscorpion, one glowing green. It didn't roar of course, bugs didn't tend to have the vocal chords to do so but it most certainly chittered menacingly. The young man was momentarily lost, but quickly resolve entered him and with a broad overhead swing the super-sledge hit the beast and flattened it's exoskeleton. Ichor splattered all over the Knight which he quickly wiped off for he knew lead plating wasn't an excuse to keep wet radiation upon himself.
It was a very, very satisfying encounter. But he had wasted enough time and quickly got to sprinting back towards the warehouse. He entered it hammer in hand, calling out to his team.

"Hey! I found something! I saw a bit from the Vertibird, I got the Knight-Sergeant's hammer out of a crate and I found my rucksack. I think if we keep going past the creek that the box was stuck in we might find the bird or... well, what's left of the rest of our team."
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Stormflyx
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Stormflyx Avant-Garde

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“I’m still alive. Dog still alive… Die another day, I suppose,” Kinsley breathed out into the atmosphere, a hapless statement whispered towards the flicked ear of her canine companion as she spotted him close to her, as always - his eyes out on the horizon and on the looming threat amidst the mists that they were entrenched in. He whimpered quietly.

Trauma.

Her round doe eyes scanned instinctively for someone in the ship and in the torn shreds outside before narrowing. There were more aboard, she knew that much. She hadn’t given it too much thought, she’d just sat and glazed over as she always did - Chowder had been sat between her knees - his own backpack fastened over his rough blue and white coat. As always, his tail was wagging furiously at the salutes - yelping as if in unison with them.

The ringing in her ears was thicker than usual, louder too. Or was that a different sound? As she turned on her heel, she saw in the cockpit the young Knight, gardening apparently. A deep crease formed over Kinsley’s brow and she made a dash for it.

Still in the pilot’s seat was Frank, pinned in place by the sharp and knotted arm of a tree - punched through him. Kinsley stopped at his side, her eyes moved over him, and the remaining buzz of Brown’s weapon was the undertone of her evaluation. A young Kinsley would have looked at this as a challenge, and a younger Kinsley might have been more prepared to accept it. But not this Kinsley. Her lips pulled to the side, and she took hold of Frank’s hand.

“It’s Frank, right?” She asked in her disturbingly gentle voice, before turning her face to catch Brown’s gaze, it was a single look — with strength enough to demand her attention.

Patty nodded and matched the look, strength for strength. Dr. Kinsley might be older than she, but she was no soldier - hell, a few years ago Patty would’ve considered her a local. Still, she had seen the things she could do in the medbay. Brothers went in, shot, sliced, and burned to hell and are still kicking. That warranted respect, of a sort. Patty stepped aside and motioned toward the cockpit with her free arm and said, “He’s all yours, doc.”

In the meantime, Lancer Brown had made his way back over to the cockpit. He wasn't going to be much use for Knight Brown's plan, so he thought he'd offer his help seeing to his pilot-in-arms with tree-in-torso. He brushed past Patty, giving a nod of respect for her command and lack of objection to her minigun-centric tactics. He then crouched next to Frank, on the opposite side to Dr. Kinsley, and sincerely asked "is there anything I can do to help?". As he said this, he gave Frank, who was losing his wits as if they were located in his blood, a worried look. The man was uncharacteristically vacant, breathing heavily and roughly.

Frank indicated the chest pocket of his flight suit. Breathing labored, blood pooling in his chair, the pilot had no illusions of survival. His mouth tightened into a thin red line. “My kids. Give them,” he groaned until his words faded in the air. Eyes glazed, devoid of light and aimed at Lancer Brown. The doctor held his hand, but the burden fell onto Brown.

Sami reached into the pocket that the late pilot had gestured towards, knowing full well what it contained. He somberly looked upon the photograph, and felt his heart sink as he realised that the two siblings it depicted had just been made orphans. They may never have an idea of why dad didn't come home if the rest of the crew didn't make it out of this desolate land. Either way, their lives just got a lot harder.

Sami struggled to hold back a tear for his fallen comrade. He'd known loss of friends before, and Frank was barely even an acquaintance, but he felt upset by his death that had so suddenly come about, if only because it exemplified the fragility of life and of its enjoyment. One moment the Lancer was cracking jokes about good times, the next he was choking to death on his own blood.

And with that thought, Sami wondered what the fuck he was doing here.

The crease in Kinsley's brow relaxed and she slowly blinked, placing a hand flat over their now deceased pilot's eyes to gracefully close them. "Ad victoriam" she said quietly, once again the words blanketed under her breath.

His blood perfumed the air, and then Chowder was beside her too, his eyes bright and attentive. "No boy, no," Kinsley said, rubbing his ear with only a sliver of the affection that Grimshaw would have. He placed his chin in Frank's bloody lap, a weak whimper came out of him again.

"Are you hurt Brown?" She asked, turning to face the Lancer who had made his way to them. Sami shook his head, and murdered a faint 'no'. "You too Brown… Other Brown. Are you hurt?" A brow quirked in the Knight's direction, and she had something of a word or two for her, but even she had enough tact about her to not do it while someone was in a state of grief at her side. She knew that look, those eyes. Her entire life had been spent under the deep scrutiny of those eyes.

“I’m fine,” said Knight Brown.

That wasn’t the truth - well, the whole truth anyway. Her head was pounding and she was a little dizzy, but she’d be damned if a little headache was going to stop her. She shook her head to erase the thought from her mind. A man had just died and here she was thinking about a damn headache.

“Guys,” Owen shooshed, waving a hand back toward the others. “Keep it down. Damn doors won’t shut... We’re screwed if they hear us.”

Craning his neck out of the left door, he caught a glimpse of the area. Tall trees stripped down into lithe, blackened things. Puddles that seemed to glisten eerily close akin to glass. The ruins here appeared particularly devastated. Skeletal remains of a forest the scribe imagined had once thrived here.

Owen turned back to the group and gestured outside. “I don’t know if trying to mow them down is the best move. What if something goes wrong?” The scribe rubbed the dreadlocks running along the top of his head. “I mean, could we try to fix the damage? Maybe patch it up long enough to hop out of here?”

“Best way to find the others is from above,” Kinsley chimed in, in as hushed of a tone as she always did. Pointing up to the sky before placing that finger upon her temple, half scratching at her hairline, and half tapping as if in thought. “They could only have gotten so far away from us, based on the speed of the bird here and whatever direction we were facing when they were flung… And how far up or down we were.” She shrugged, eyes moving left to right as if she was already putting together an equation for maximum distance fallen in the moment of silence between speaking again. “I also do not wish us to fire a gun if it can be helped. Could be more of those things lurking out of sight. Fifty counted does not mean fifty in total. Don’t be the hare in this situation.”

“What other equipment do we have onboard?” Patty asked, “If we won’t go in guns blazing, at the very least I want to be ready for them when they finally notice us. I’ll be damned if one of you brings down the horde on us with our pants down,” she said in a half-whisper, so as to avoid drawing the attention of the ghouls.

She shook her head and turned to Lancer Brown, “You know how to fix these things, right? I’ll have your back if you want to try to repair it quietly.”

"Yeah I can have a look at the wing. It's probably just a case of fixing the servos. But it might be loud and attract those rotskins. I don't wanna be a sitting duck out there", replied the (co-)pilot.

“If we need to, Chowder can do a run around and force them from the area but it’s risky for him…” Kinsley offered, despite her beliefs that he was the luckiest dog left -- he really was still in danger if they had to use such a tactic. “He’s a good herding dog, he’ll know what to do so just say the word…”

"That could be an idea", Sami responded. "But Ghouls ain't Brahmin. Are you sure you wanna risk his life like that?". He scratched the dog on his chin as he spoke. Chowder was certainly a very good boy. He always liked dogs, and mistrusted cats. "Are you up for that, boy?", Sami asked the dog, rhetorically of course. Though if Chowder spoke back, it wouldn't be the weirdest thing to happen in Sami's witness.

Kinsley brought herself down to Chowder's level, placing a hand on his head, before meeting Lancer Brown's eyes with her own, "he's made for things like this, just like you're made to fix this broken bird." Sami stuck his bottom lip out and slowly nodded his head in acknowledgment. "Well ain't destiny just a specific bitch", he mumbled to himself, but audibly enough so the rest of the group could hear him. "Alright then. I'll need as much time as you can give me, it could be a quick fix or a while if it's something substantial. And I won't know until I see the damage".

“So, we send Chowder out as a distraction. I can cover you while you check things out, Brown. And if things go to shit.” Owen pointed to the minigun. “Patty will be ready with the big gun. If you’re sure about this Kinsley, then I think we’ve got a plan.” He could notice Sami already nodding in his peripheral.

“We’re between a rock and a hard place… We have to get this fixed to find the others. If running off the ghouls gives us our best shot, it’s the best shot,” Kinsley sighed wearily, “He’s fast, and has more stamina than you’d expect, and a good drive. He’s hardy. But just in case…” The doctor reached into her own bag, removing a notepad and pen - and on it she began to scrawl out a message.

Vertibird down. Algarin, Brown, Brown, Kinsley alive. Surrounded by ghouls. Fixing the vertibird. Look to the skies.


She carefully folded the paper, and slipped it into one of the pockets on Chowder’s own lightweight backpack. “If he can’t make it back to us, he’ll keep running. Maybe he’ll find the others and they should know we’re alive. Or that we were. It’s a shot in the dark.”
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Hank
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Hank Dionysian Mystery

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Laura took a deep breath and exhaled slowly before nodding. “Yes, sir.” Everything about the dark pit that yawned in front of them felt wrong, but it would be equally wrong to ignore it. What would they tell the Paladin? ‘We found a giant hole that led underground but we were too scared to explore it?’ They were Brotherhood, damnit, and that counted for something. If Knight-Sergeant McDowell wasn’t afraid then neither was she.

That said, she couldn’t follow him exactly the way he did, for Gregory threw himself into the pit feet-first, the battle cry of the Brotherhood of Steel echoing off the warehouse’s walls -- and the underground tunnel’s shaft as well. “Ad Victoriaaaaaaaaa...aa..aa..m...” She waited until she heard the satisfyingly loud and earth-trembling thud that indicated that he had hit the bottom before she turned around and began to climb down the hole. She wasn’t exactly a natural-born rock climber or anything, but there had been plenty of rough terrain to cross on her way to Washington and she was limber enough to have relatively little difficulty making her way down. The walls of the shaft weren’t smooth and provided plenty of hand- and footholds for her to use.

She reached the bottom and wiped her hands on her trousers before turning back to face the looming darkness ahead. Beyond the armored shape of McDowell a tunnel stretched away from them, surprisingly large -- wide enough for them to easily walk abreast and so high that the Knight-Sergeant didn’t have to crouch -- and remarkably… natural. The word popped into her mind and Laura took a second to ponder why. A soft ‘ah!’ escaped her as she realized why; it wasn’t just the shaft that led down to this level that was hewn roughly from the dirt and rock, but the tunnel too. The difference between this and the underground Vault that had been her home, her whole world, for most of her life, was remarkable. It was almost as if it hadn’t been carved out of the earth by human hands.

That thought did nothing to assuage her anxiety. She brought her laser rifle to bear and it hummed to life as she flipped the safety off. Without looking at McDowell, her eyes fixed on the gloom, Laura cleared her throat and said: “Ready.”

The bad juju vibe McDowell had been feeling hadn’t gotten any better, and seemed to only progressively get worse. It was like he’d swallowed a stone -- probably not outside of the realm of possibilities when McDowell was involved -- and it had firmly lodged itself both in his throat and his stomach. But the switching off of the safety of Grimshaw’s weapon pulled him back to where they were, which was to say a giant cave in a warehouse which looked suspiciously like a tunnel dug by fire ants, or something to that effect. There had been reports once, of a crazed scientist in a sewer somewhere asking for help with his crazy fire ant experiments. Perhaps they had escaped and moved here?

McDowell’s armour slowly whirred up and he began moving forward, the incessant thumping of his armour alerting everyone and their mother in the tunnel that he was arriving. Something like a knight in shining armour, or a tank rolling into a village. No matter the analogies he would come up with, it didn’t take the edge off. Whatever they were about to find was… bad. If even McDowell could realize that, it meant they were really in the shit.

After a few minutes of walking, things had seemed to be quiet enough for McDowell to presume that perhaps the place was safe after all, but he couldn’t have been further from the truth. The sound was characteristical, at least to McDowell, who had heard the sound a hundred times while he still lived out here in Boston. The burrowing under ground, that annoying screeching sound they made when they surfaced. He raised a hand momentarily, signalling to Laura that they were to stop. “Rats. Molerats,” he warned her, before mumbling off to himself, “fucking dirty creatures.” Well, no hammer to smash them. He pushed one of his feet back through the dirt, getting ready to start using his fists.

What came next was a group, no, a horde of molerats scurrying through, their sound drowning out any command or order McDowell could have given to Laura had he seen the need. There must’ve been ten, twenty, maybe even thirty of them, large and small, and even a broodmother somewhere in the mix. But rather than fight the would be intruders that were Laura and Gregory, they just sort of ran past them as fast as they could. In the distance, a soft humming noise was barely audible, just barely. More of them?

“What the…?” Laura breathed. Her finger was so tight around the trigger that the laser rifle could have gone off at the slightest provocation, but the sight of the molerats avoiding them, swarming past their legs, and even climbing on top of each other along the sides of the tunnel in their haste to get away, was enough for her to stand down. If they weren’t going to fight her, she wasn’t about to turn them into ash. But that left a burning question in her mind: what were they running from?

Slowly Gregories head turned back to see if Laura had come out unscathed, and once he confirmed it for himself, he lowered his hand and pushed onwards through the hundreds of particles of dust the molerats had kicked up. Disgusting creatures. Probably wallowed in their own shit, probably even used it to tunnel their disgusting little tunnel networks. He pitied Laura, who was probably breathing in shit particles as they moved.

Slowly but surely, they came closer to their mark, and slowly but surely, the markings on the wall would become clearer, more fresh, deeper too.

Laura stepped closer to the wall and ran her fingers along a jagged edge in the bedrock. “Sir,” she said, even a whisper almost deafeningly loud in the confines of the tunnel, and turned her head to look at McDowell. “These markings… don’t they look like… like claw marks to you, sir?” She took a few steps back to behold the wall in its entirety and followed a grouping of lines in the stone with her eyes. One, two, three, parallel to each other, four inches deep and six feet long. She had to crane her neck and look up to see where they ended, near the ceiling of the tunnel… easily ten feet from the ground.

All Gregory could do was shrug a shrug that went hidden by his armour. “Dunno.”

A memory flashed through her mind’s eye and she heard the words of men she used to know echo through time. A demon.

“I think we should turn back,” the Initiate whispered. Now, she was well and truly afraid.

For a moment Gregory would hold back while Laura worked on her little theory. He couldn’t deny that he felt the same way, or at the very least, that there was something to be wary about here. Fear did not consume him -- that was not his way -- so he held his ground as she studied the markings. The humming noise continued, as if something was deeper down, breathing. Perhaps a dragon, like the Grognak comics used to show, but minus the fire.

“Claws, maybe,” Gregory responded, “turn back, no. If paladin Moss wants to make camp here, the last thing we need is a horde of shit-tunnelers underneath us, disturbing the earth where we sleep.” He thought about what he said, his head slowly turning back towards the deeper end of the tunnel, where the breathing sounds came from. Admittedly, whatever was down there seemed a little bigger than a molerat. Maybe an overgrown one? With giant claws? It must’ve been pretty obvious to Laura what they’d find here, but McDowell did not seem to give the impression that he knew, or even that he cared.

After a meaningful silence of a few seconds, he turned back to face Laura. His entire body turned with it, the power armour whirring loudly. “You should go back and inform paladin Moss of what we’ve found,” he ordered her, and while his wording was friendly… enough… it was very clear from the way he used his voice that he wasn’t asking her, he was telling her. This was unusual for McDowell, who would usually be the first to resign command to someone else, preferably more senior and older and… just generally more like the leadership of the Brotherhood. He followed orders, that’s who he was and that’s what he did. But this whole situation stank. Maybe if Laura had been a lancer or scribe, or even a knight, he might’ve ordered her to stand her ground and fall in line. But sending an initiate to face off unknown threats was hardly realistic, even for a man like McDowell.

He turned back to face that great unknown darkness in front of him. If there was one way to convince paladin Moss and elder Maxson just how capable he was, Gregory figured, this might just be it. If only Atomic Annie was here. “I’ll hold the line here, see what I can’t find out. Ad Victoriam, Initiate!” He thumped his chest again, saluting her, and then turned around.

Laura straightened to her full height, as short as that might be, and cleared her throat. She wasn’t one to disobey orders readily but this was beyond foolish; it was suicidal. “Respectfully, sir,” she said, the sudden loudness of her voice even more penetrating than her whispers, “you don’t even have a weapon, and the only creature I know of that’s tall and strong enough to do this to bedrock,” she continued and gestured to the wall, “is a Deathclaw. I don’t say this to diminish your skill, Knight-Sergeant, but if that’s what’s waiting for us down there… I don’t fancy the odds. Our orders were to explore the warehouse, not to exterminate whatever we found. We should return to the Paladin. Both of us.”

Without any further commentary, he stepped forwards again, slowly but surely fading from Laura’s sight until all she would hear was that mechanical whirring of the pneumatic joints of the power armour, and the low bass of the breathing further down the tunnel.

“McDowell!” she hissed, using the man’s name for the first time. She almost set off after him, stopped, took another step and stopped again. “Fuck!” A hot flash of anger at Gregory’s dismissal of her words flared up inside her gut and that which had been made weak by fear in her mind turned to steel. “Oh, no you don’t,” Laura said through gritted teeth and raised her rifle to her cheek, her heart pounding against her ribs and her fingers tight around the grip of her weapon to stop them from trembling. She followed the Knight-Sergeant. The big dumb idiot wasn't getting a hero's death.

Not on her watch.
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