Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Andronicus23
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Cincinnati - The Breaking of The Dam

Knight-Commander Braxton looked up and over the barricade, scanning the fog-choked no-man’s land that lay beyond its protective shielding. Corpses of ghouls, mutants, and all manner of abominable FEV-spawned creatures were scattered about in heaps, piled nearly as high as the barricade itself. The last wave attack had been brutal, and they’d expended all but the last reserves of their fusion cells in repelling it, yet he knew this was only a taste of the slaughter to come.

Braxton turned to look at the weary eyes of the men and women around him. Brotherhood soldiers and civilian combatants in broken armor and tattered blood-stained clothing: exhaustion, fear, and desperation evident in their blood-shot eyes. They’d gone without sleep nor food for many hours now, and most were running on sheer adrenaline alone. The few Calculator robots among them were just as battered and beaten, missing limbs and dangerously low on power reserves. They had no more cards to pull, no more gambits to run, this was it. If the mutants broke through with their next wave, and they almost certainly would, there would be nothing stopping them from taking the city.

Braxton steeled himself and gripped his laser rifle tighter, saying a silent prayer to whatever god would listen - so long as it wasn’t that unholy monstrosity the mutants worshiped as their deity. A god whose voice, if the abominations were to be believed, wormed its way into their thoughts and compelled them into action. UNITY, they said, fight for UNITY, die for UNITY, kill for UNITY.

A siren sounded, and Braxton’s heart sank. They were coming again, he could already hear the inane gibbering and half-crazed shrieks of the ferals. They always used them as cannon-fodder, sending them in uncounted droves to soften up a position before the mutants attacked. The soldiers around him nervously took up their positions, steading their weapons upon the top parapet of the barricade. Some prayed for a reprieve, others begged for a mercifully quick death - but none truly believed in victory.

The pounding of Brotherhood artillery came next, followed by distant explosions and inhuman shrieks of pain as the rounds found their mark. It would slow them, thin them out maybe, but it would never stop them. Nothing ever did. Braxton had been there at the fall of St. Louis - watched his home overcome by the cavalcade of monstrosities as he and the remaining Brotherhood forces fled across the river. Once he’d seen The Brotherhood lines break back then, he knew there was no real hope left. The wall had been breached, the dam had broken - and now the enemy would pour in.

“Here they come!” someone shouted, voice tinged with fear.

The thundering horde of screeching ferals began to break out of the fog-line. Braxton saw a glimpse of life in their still human eyes - the tattered remains of Midwestern civilian clothes clinging to emaciated bodies. These poor souls were the result when the Mutants deemed someone unworthy of being turned into one of their brute soldiers - they instead forced them into chambers where they were slowly, and painfully, flooded with radiation and turned to ferals: then hurled at their former comrades. Killing them was a mercy, but no less horrific for that.

Braxton closed his eyes and thought of home for a brief moment, picturing his once peaceful homestead on the banks of the Mississippi.

Then he opened them again, fierce determination filling him once more. He and his soldiers would die, no doubt, but not without a fight. He refused to be captured alive and hauled off screaming to the vats to be dipped. He would die standing his ground.

“For Barnaky!” He shouted, “For The Brotherhood! And for humanity! OPEN FIRE!”

Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Andronicus23
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The Pitt - Haven

“Ashur preserve us. Ashur save us. Ashur grant us life.”

Marie stood silently beside the ornate forged steel coffin which was about to be lowered to her Father’s final resting place. It was a simple, yet powerful symbol of his iron rule over The Pitt for these many long years. The monument that would be placed overtop it would be an even greater one; a mighty marble statue of Lord Ashur clad in his power armor looking ever onwards towards a new horizon just beyond. It would forever stand tall in front the courtyard of Haven - allowing Ashur to watch over the mighty city of iron, steel, and fire that he had created from nothing. His tomb to be guarded day and night eternally by a loyal cadre of his most trusted warriors.

As the coffin was lowered, Marie turned to face the assembled mass of warriors and workers who had gathered to watch the burial of their monarch, no: their Lord and Savior. The God-King was dead, long-live the God-Queen.

Twenty years ago this massive host before her that clogged the streets of Uptown would have been nothing more than murderers, chem’d up junkies, and psychopaths: there were still plenty of those, of course, but now there was also so much more: standing before her now was a more populous and productive citizenry of The Pitt: forever grateful to her family for their deliverance. The cure for the Troglodyte Degeneration Contagion had been found: her Mother, Sandra ‘The Blessed Queen’ as the people called her, had managed to engineer a vaccine from Marie’s “miraculous” blood. It was not miraculous of course, no more miraculous than her Father was a god, but the mutation that had given rise to her immunity to the disease was a rare and unusual one. Perhaps, that in of itself, was miraculous.

The distribution of the cure had meant that The Pitt could stop fearing the contagion that had been brutally culling their people for a generation. They could have children again and the ranks of the Trogs stopped growing. That much her Father had delivered on his promise in spades. Others, such as freedom for The Pitt’s slaves, he had not. The Pitt despite its progress was still a hellish smog-choked city scorched by the heat of a thousand blast furnaces. The slaves were still needed to work the mills, run the smelters, and feed the always hungry fires of industry. Slaves were a necessity, and would likely continue to be so until conditions stabilized enough for the work to be tolerable.

Until then, she would have to harden her heart and bear the same burden her father once had.

“Citizens of The Pitt,” She began, her voice echoing throughout Uptown via the network of speakers that were installed on nearly every walkway which connected the upper floors of the pre-war buildings that made up this part of the city.

“Lord Ashur has gone to Paradise, beckoned home by those who he once left behind in order that he might descend unto this hell and raise up a city from its ashes.”

A great wail arose from the assembled crowd, which continued unabated until Marie raised a delicate white-gloved hand up to halt the display of mourning,

“His work is not yet done, however, and it has fallen to me to continue it. I promise you that while there is breath yet in me, The PItt will never fall back into the horror and despair that once reigned here unchecked. Our industrial might is unmatched in the waste and the Raiders which wield the bounty of our furnaces march forth unopposed to bring civilization to the wastes beyond our borders! The Pitt is strong, our great city unassailable, and our future brighter than ever! Glory to Mighty Ashur! Glory to The Pitt!”

Marie outstretched her hands, the long white dress she wore making it appear as if she were unfolding a pair of wings. She was the picture of angelic grace radiating in the depths of hell: a symbol that her Father had gone to very great lengths to cultivate about her person ever since she was a baby.

“All Hail Lady Marie! All hail the Queen of The Pitt!” The crowd cried, their tone taking on an almost zealous fervor.

“Queen of The Pitt! Queen of The Pitt!” They chanted.

Marie lowered her hands and collapsed them together, allowing herself a moment to take in the undulating adoration of her people. Her hands trembled slightly, though she would never allow anyone to see such weakness from her. To her people, she was the daughter of a literal god, a Queen now in her own right and a divine figure worshiped as such like one of the mighty ancient Pharaohs of Egypt. Marie knew the reality - she was not a god, not the daughter of one either and whatever right she ruled by was certainly not divine.

The crowd's fervor reached a boiling point, goaded on by black and red-robed preachers amongst their midst that fanned the flames of devotion. Multitudes of workers and raiders alike surged forward like a tidal wave, breaking through the first cordon of Uptown raiders that had tried to stem the flow. They were now rushing the gates of Haven itself with manic desperation: not out of hatred or rebellious intent - but with outstretched hands begging for a single touch from the Lady of The Pitt.

Marie felt sick, hearing their pleas and cries for any number of things: the cure of an ailment or the deliverance of a family member who had been mortally injured in the Mill. She wished somehow, someway, she could be the miracle-giver they believed her to be. That with a sweep of her hand she could fix all their problems and more. But she could not, she might be ruler of The Pitt, but right now she was only a mortal woman, and a daughter who had just lost her father.

The Haven guardsmen revved their auto-axes and strode forward, intent on ensuring that any fool who dared step a single toe into the sacred grounds of Haven would be swiftly dealt with. Meanwhile Uptown raiders armed with infiltrator rifles took up positions on the gantry above the streets, and began taking pot-shots at anyone who had crossed the cordon. Several workers were hit, and the crowd nearest the gates erupted into a panic.

“Lady Ashur I think its best if you retire now,” One of her advisors, an elderly ex-Brotherhood scribe named Abaddon whispered to her, “Your presence will only incite them to further acts of zealotry. We should return to Haven, let the guard do their jobs..”

Marie thought for a moment and nodded, turning her head only slightly to meet the eyes of her wizened advisor, “Yes...yes you’re right of course. Let's go.”

The old scribe motioned for several of Marie’s female attendants to grab the hem of her long dress and begin making for the doors of the palace. Marie halted them for a brief moment however, and turned back to the guardsmen that were formed up on the steps of the palace.

“Captain!"

One of the Haven Guard, a man covered head to toe in heavy PItt-forged steel armor strode forward and knelt before her.

“Your command my Lady?”

“Ensure there is no unnecessary bloodshed. These people are not here to cause harm to us, they have simply been caught up in the moment. I do not want a massacre to mark my father’s funeral, is that clear?”

“Yes Lady Ashur,” the Captain replied swiftly before beating his chest in a salute and returning to oversee the defense of Haven’s grounds.

Marie left then with her advisors and attendants in toe, closing the heavy doors behind them as they retreated inside. Marie could hear the wails of her people as they watched her leave, begging her to return and grace them with her presence. She could also hear orders and commands of her raider guard ordering everyone back to The Mills.

A new dawn had come for The Pitt, and Marie feared that this was perhaps an ill omen.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by BangoSkank
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Richard Moreau


He cried shamelessly. Shoulders heaving. Head down. Hands in his knees. Snotty nosed. Trying but failing to speak.

"Well Richard? What do you have to say for yourself?"

He shuddered anew with the finality of it all. He knew what was coming. They'd done this before. In the last year. Since the opening. All the empathy was gone. They didn't have to just go along to get along anymore. They had a new solution for the troublesome. They could be made to disappear.

"I...." these would be his last words recorded for posterity. They would ask him if he was done. He would tell them he was. That would be recorded curtly. It didn't matter if he swore or cursed them all the way to the door. It would be recorded as "Former Citizen Moreau confirmed he had completed his final statement and so began his exile on this the 28th Day of September 2093"

There was only one suitable answer.

"I loved her."

His head sank again. Lower, under the weight of all those eyes. They had seen him all his life. All the little wrongs, all the bad habits, all the good deeds too. Everything. But within the next few moments they would never see him again and he would never see them. And she wasn't even here. She could have been, but dammit she wasn't. She was probably with him. Still. Even now. Hand on his gravestone instead of here with him. With her Richard.

"Richard Moreau, have you finished your statement?"

It was Edmund Burke. Once a teacher. Once his teacher. And hers. Now he was the kindly face they put on exile. An expression of embarrassed pity on his face but a stern posture. Maybe it helped them sleep at night.

"Yes. Yes Mr. Burke, I'm quite done."

He'd not give them the show they wanted. He wouldn't be carried out of here kicking and screaming. Not screaming at them, not for himself, not for her. He'd not make it any easier for Mr. Burke either. Sending him out into the wastes to burn, to starve, to die, alone.

"Richard Moreau," Mr. Burke intoned in his familiar voice, "It is the judgement of those gathered here, a panel of your fellow Vault 8 Citizens, that although you were born and raised here to love and respect your fellow man and to be loved and respect in turn, you have turned from these ways. You have been found Guilty of the crime of Murder and you have left your fellow Vault 8 Citizens with no choice but to exile you. It is with a heavy heart that..."

Mr. Burke went on a bit longer about the heavy burden of such a choice. About the gravity that their considerations had had and about how though he was to be hereby exiled they would not just throw him to the wastes. He would be provided survival materials. So much of this and this much of that. Whatever they hadn't run out of after outfitting the previous exiles. He wasn't the first. He has heard it before. From the other side of the room. This speech, it wasn't for him. It had never been for the Exile. It was for the others. So they could tell themselves they'd done all they could. He kind of hated them for that. All the fake feelings.

The new stuff came next. The stuff you only saw once. Unless you were Burke and his little team. He'd seen them escort or drag, sometimes even carry, Exiles through that big metal door before but this time it was him and before he even really appreciated that he should remember the moment it was over and he was through. The Blue and Yellow of Vault 8 left behind forever.

He'd never admit it but he missed it immediately. The stupid gleaming happy clean colors he'd grown so sick of. Now it was a long utilitarian hallway stripped of all the niceties. Shades of grey and black. Occasional highlights of yellow but not the Vault happy showy yellow. Purposeful yellow. Tying together this or that bundle of wires at regular intervals. Then he was in front and a second later he was through that big Vault Door he had only seen before in paintings and educational videos.

He'd never admit it but here he pushed back against the escort momentarily. Suddenly more aware that yes this was really really actually happening. It was the dirt walls on the other side that did it. Dirt walls with big concrete beams spaced at regular intervals. He'd expected a shove but instead they just stopped for a moment like it was a normal part of the process. Maybe it was.

"It's alright son," old Mr. Burke who had grown a stomach that pushes his Vault Suit out in a most undignified way said, "Gather yourself up."

He'd never admit it, but he began, "Can. Can we."

"No son. I'm sorry. I'm real sorry. I am. But no, we can't."

"I could.."

"You take a moment now. We can't be too long. They'll send more after us if we take too long and then it'll all go too fast. I hate it when it goes like that. You take that moment but don't take too long now."

He kind of hated him for that. The real feelings. He stood there for a moment waiting for a last second reprieve that never came.

"We need to get a move on now."

A bit further and there was a seam of light shining through a door at the end of the tunnel. A door set between a long length of heavily reinforced steel beams and concrete. With an armed guard on either side. Both holding guns a lot bigger than the pistol Mr. Burke's helpers had discretely on their waists. These weren't discrete and they weren't the old long guns or the six shooters from those old Cooper Howard films. They weren't ray guns from Captain Cosmos . They weren't even those blocky jumping things from Sgt. Granite. He didn't know what to call them but he knew what they were for and the faces on the men holding them told him they knew how to use them.

This was it then. This was the door. Heavy and reinforced. He stood before it as Mr. Burke explained again all of what was in the duffel bag he was being presented. He wasn't really listening. But he did hear one thing. One thing that sounded like maybe it wasn't the regular rigmarole.

"Listen now Richard. We're only a few years from opening up proper. We were supposed to a couple years back but, well, you know how things can be in a Vault. You be careful out there. Find shelter. Try and make friends. You'll never be allowed back in the Vault, but might be we could let you sleep in the little trading hub we want to build. We got a plan Richard and a doohickey. Might be real nice. Come on back in a few years if you can."

Burke gave a nod of the head to the two armed men and each pushed a button resulting in a blast of air and a depressurizing sound as the door unlocked and slowly ratcheted open.

"This is it now Richard. Get that bag comfortable on your shoulders. Take a deep breath. I'm afraid you won't be coming back through that door son but that doesn't mean you can't make something of yourself."

With halting steps he crossed the threshold. Burke offering last pieces of advice from behind him as the door began ratcheting closed once again.

"Try to stay out of the wind. Head South. Boil your water. Make something of yourself son."

And then a faint and weak goodbye.

Richard Moreau began walking, following the old man's advice though he would never acknowledge it. From disaster to massacre to graveyard he traveled, and then again, and then again, from one fresh hell into another. Not making "friends" so much as temporary travel companions. Often losing them when they betrayed him, or he betrayed them, or they were attacked by raiders, or wild animals, or traps set up by some clever but cowardly scavengers.

In just that manner Richard Moreau traveled into the wasteland never to be seen again, and in just that manner a new man was born. A learned wasteland doctor. Doc Grey, Doctor Richard Grey.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by RobCoProtectron
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Far Harbor-near Pine Crest Cavern

It certainly was an odd sight. As far as he could see, there was clear forest behind them. For nearly 55 years Doctor Theodore Wright had lived on this island. He had seen the edge of the Fog roll in and out, lapping the forest's edge as consistently as waves that came upon the rocky shores of the island itself. But never before had the Fog receded so far inland. The more he thought of it, never before had he been so far inland either-and for good reason too. The interior of the island was no place for a townie. Sure, like all Harbormen he considered himself tougher than your average mainlander. But as the Far Harbor's physician, he saw firsthand what the Fog could do. Chemical burns to the skin. Bronchitis in the lungs. And whatever the hell it did to the mind. And that was (to his understanding) just radioactive water. Add in the gulpers, the crawlers, the anglers, the crabs...place was a goddamned gumbo stew from hell. Ten years ago, he was almost sure the entire town of Far Harbor would be added to the mix. Fog had swallowed so much of the island and people naturally blamed the rad-worshiping Children of Atom. Tensions got high. Thankfully after the whole Acadia fiasco, things never got as tense as they were back then. But with the Fog recently turning tail so fast after only a matter of weeks...he started to wonder if the blaming fingers might start getting pointed in the other direction…

“If you wanna convince me to stop and sight see with you, better have a souvenir flask handy..Never mind, got my own” Dr. Wright looked back to see Longfellow, -his grin barely hidden by the bottle of whiskey at his lips.

With a roll of his eyes, Dr. Wright resumed his hike. “We truly are too old for this shit”

“Well doc…you owe me one. All them medicinal herbs don't pick themselves. Besides, haven't you ever been curious about what the Island is really like?”

The more he thought about it, the more he had to admit it-he truly was curious. How could he truly consider himself a true islander if he only ever experienced its coasts? But then he saw it -the edge of the Fog. Within its hoary pall was the visage of a derelict Trapper’s fort. He could hear the faint buzzing of flies. He could also detect the faint stench of decaying corpses.

Dr. Wright sighed “I was honestly banking on your liver giving out before the favor would be called in”

“What can I say Doc?” Longfellow said with a chuckle and friendly pat to the doctor’s back “You got healing hands” Longfellow looked deeper into the shadow before them. “You know, even with these Trappers gone, never thought he'd leave the old camp. Much nicer in my opinion.” With a disgusted whiff, he cleared his nostrils. “Certainly smelled nicer”

Dr. Wright squinted his eyes, the cave entrance within the Fog barely visible. He turned to Longfellow. “You know I make no promises, right? This is far outside the realm of my expertise”

“I know”, said Longfellow. “He’s an old friend though. I promised I’d at least try.”

Dr. Wright pulled a bottle of Rad-X from his pocket. With a deftness that only comes with years of popping open pharmaceuticals, he lifted the lid with his thumb and shot a single pill out to land under his tongue. Taking Longfellow’s bottle, he poured a shot into an empty flask, handed the bottle back and raised his flask. “To old friends and bad promises”. And with a smile and a toast, they headed towards the cave in the depths of the Fog.

From the looks of it, Dr. Wright guessed the Trapper corpses had to be at least a week old. Putrefaction had set in. Some early signs of skeletonization. It did seem odd that none of the wildlife had taken hold of more.

“You’d think he’d at least clean house if he was expecting visitors”

Longfellow signed “Like I said doc, something’s not right with him.”

There were right at the cave’s entrance. A sharp crack suddenly took Dr. Wright’s attention. He looked down to see that he had stepped on a partially decomposed human tibia. “Well, I certainly don’t disagree with that diagnosis”

As a wasteland doctor, Dr. Wright never considered himself too far removed from the backwoods shamans of the more remote parts of post-apocalyptia. Perhaps the title "doctor" was putting on airs. Sure, he had a copy or two of the Massachusetts Surgical Journal. A dog-eared copy of the 2076 D.C. Journal of Internal Medicine compendium. But who the hell had a functional “pluripotent stem cell bank,” “targeted liposomal microsonicator and re-aggregator” or “Autodoc rapid qPCR interpretation module” anymore? Pre-war medicine was near magical. What Dr. Wright knew were the things he learned from his father (and likely what his father had learned from the mentors before him): Keep wounds clean. If you see bleeding, apply pressure. Never cut a vessel with a short name. Use all five senses, (and sometimes your gut too). If the Geiger counter clicks come your way, break out a box of rad-away. And when in doubt-stimpak it. Thank God they could still make stimpaks. But psychiatry was a different story. For all of modern science’s advances in twisting nature to its own devices, even the pre-war doctors might just as well have been wasteland shamans when it came to the human mind. At least, as far as Dr. Wright could gather from the pre-war books. He never found much useful there. Sure you could reduce the brain to a bunch of biochemical reactions but what did all that thermodynamic mumbo jumbo mean when it came to a broken heart or melancholy spirit? Drugs could scrub the surface of it and maybe mask things for a time but in Wright’s experience it all came back to talking it out. And when that failed, hell, back to shamanism and pray to whatever power made this cruel world.

When Dr. Wright saw what was in the cave, he certainly made a few quick invocations.

The corpses there were much fresher. For the more intact ones, some even appeared to still be in rigor mortis. But they weren’t human. Emaciated mongrels. Pit bull mixes. What may have been a German shepherd. Bits and pieces of them strewn about the cavern haphazardly as though they had been torn apart. At the far end of the cave between two boulders stood a Super Mutant gowned in a bloodied Yao Gui pelt. It was hard to see completely through the Fog, but Dr. Wright could faintly see the crumpled form of an old dog cradled in the mutant's arms. The mutant was crying uncontrollably.

“Erickson, my god, what happened?” Shouted Longfellow. “Look, just sit down, I brought you a doctor. We can get this all sorted out.”

The mutant looked up at his guests. “They were…imperfect. I couldn’t…fix them. My dreams.” Near the mutant Dr. Wright saw a stack of holotapes. He slowly began to move towards them but he was suddenly caught off guard. A gust of wind blew whistled through the cave entrance behind them, the pressure change suddenly thinning the fog in the cavern. Dr. Wright then realized that the boulders beside the mutant were not boulders, but giant green dogs in sternal recumbency, their glowing eyes piercingly fixed towards the two human newcomers. In unison, the beasts turned their heads to the master between them. There was a sudden resoluteness in the Super mutant’s face. But Dr. Wright could see it beginning to break. A fresh tear began to fall from the mutant's eye.

“You must leave this place” The mutant said firmly.

Their eyes still fixed on their master, the mutant hounds cocked their heads synchronously in curiosity. A pair of growls began to echo throughout the cavern.

“NOW!” roared the mutant. Dr. Wright could only faintly see the two green blurs dart towards each other before he was yanked by Longfellow in the direction of the cave’s entrance. The growling echos in the cavern were suddenly interjected with vicious snarls and the screams of the great mutant in an agonizing cacophony. Then came the cracking of bones. The screams fell silent. Dr. Wright could see the moonlight break through the cave’s entrance, but the echoes of his footfalls along the rock floor reminded him that he was not yet out of danger. Two bone chilling howls shook the walls of the cave as his feet finally met the soft traction of the forest floor. His geiger counter clicked madly as he dove into the depths of the Fog. God he hated psychiatry.

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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Andronicus23
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Haven - The Pitt

The throneroom of Haven was packed with supplicants, a high toned chant resonating from a balcony along the base of its vaulted ceiling. Like a great basilica of the pre-war world, it was wreathed in the glow of a thousand candles and perfumed with wafts of incense burning from a multitude of censers held by furtive priests in black and red robes - the hands and faces of these mysterious prelates covered in a myriad of scars and tattoos.

At the center of this great chamber lay an elevated stepped platform, upon which stood the Black Steel Throne of The Pitt: Ashur’s great throne forged from the melted remains of the ruins whereupon he had emerged after having been buried alive and abandoned by Lyons. Next to the throne stood his now empty power armor, surrounded by candles and offering bowls, underneath which was written the words “Eternal Lord of The Pitt.”

Now for the first time, seated upon her father’s throne, was the regal figure of Marie, her hands clasped firmly on either side of the chair’s armrests. Upon the brow of her raven-haired head she now wore the uncomfortable crown of Ashur: a weighty thing of bone and iron, surmounted by the black horns of an Alpha deathclaw. Surrounding her throne on all sides were a heavily armed contingent of The Pitt’s finest warriors, The Haven Guard, each man and woman of the guard covered head to toe in heavy metal armor and wielding sharpened auto-axes which they kept close and at the ready.

In attendance as well were the Lady’s many advisors, powerful political forces in their own right coming from a great variety of origins but all having found their place amongst the court of Haven. Among three of the most prominent was Uriel Abaddon, the old scribe, who stroked his long gray beard thoughtfully as he stood to Lady Ashur’s left side. The altered Brotherhood scribe robes he wore barely recognizable as anything Lyon’s men would wear. Next to him stood High Priestess Lulu, leader of Ashur’s Church and a devoted disciple of his faith who had started out as little more than a cook under Lord Ashur, but who’s zealotry soon catapulted her into power. The last of the trio was Captain Harlock, a young raider who commanded the Haven Guard and a former slave of Downtown who had earned his freedom in the Arena. Instead of an auto-axe he had a ripper belted at his side and his heavy welder’s helmet was cradled in his left arm.

The droning chants from atop the choir balcony suddenly lulled to a stop, and then High-Priestess Lulu stepped forward, raising a long metal staff that was surmounted by a blackened human skull: the grisly charred remains of the Arch-traitor Werhner. She lifted the grim totem upwards with outstretched hands to address the small crowd gathered before Marie’s throne.

“You stand before The Lady Marie Ashur, daughter of the God-King, she-who-wades-the -Three-Rivers, Lifegiver, Queen of Haven, Commander of Ashur’s Army and Ruler Immortal of The Pitt. Let the first supplicant come forth.”

At that, a finely dressed woman stepped forward, her long red hair tied up in a ponytail and her high-heels clacking against the wooden floor. She knelt reverently before Marie’s throne,

“Lady Ashur, my name is Ellie de Blay, daughter of Crag de Blay, King of Luth, who sends his deepest condolences to you in light of your father’s passing.”

Ashur’s Holy name be praised, for he has returned to Paradise.” Came a chant from all around the throne room, led by the High Priestess.

Ellie seemed unnerved by the outburst, but quickly continued, “....my father hopes for a continuation of the trade agreement that has brought wealth and prosperity to both our peoples. He adds that you have but to send word, and he will supply you with a cohort of his finest warriors should you ever need them. He remains your firm ally.”

Marie smiled and slowly nodded, careful not to let the heavy headdress slip from her brow, “Tell your father his friendship is always welcome and that the Ore Road will remain open as long as I am Lady of The Pitt. The raw ore your family provides is vital to our industry, for without it we cannot forge our steel. Please tell King de Blay as well that he has but to ask, and the forces of The Pitt are at the ready should he call upon them. We remain his ally.”

More than satisfied, and perhaps inwardly relieved, by Marie’s response, Ellie of Luth stood up and gave a final bow before retreating back into the crowd.

“The next supplicant will step forward…” Lulu announced to the crowd once more.

The crowd parted, allowing an armored warrior to stride forward. He had removed his helmet so as to allow Marie to see his scarred face and shaved head, and an orange-side cape bearing the winged symbol of the Gear and Sword was fastened to his left pauldron.

“Lady Ashur,” He began, kneeling down in front of the throne, “I come to you on my knees in desperation. My name is Traven, Paladin-Lord of The Brotherhood of Steel and commander of the garrison of The Cincinnati Bulwark. I humbly request, no…I beg you to send your great raider army east to aid my forces at the Bulwark. Please, you must help us.”

Marie was taken aback by the request, unsure of how to respond. She had no idea who this man was or what enemy he could possibly be facing. Her father had told her of The Brotherhood of Steel, but only that they were not to be trusted and that they only brought stagnation - not progress- whenever they went. Abaddon had told her a little more of his former life there, but his statements were always prefaced by how restrictive and inept his leaders had been.

Thankfully the silence did not last long, as Abaddon immediately chimed in,

“Are the Brotherhood so ill-equipped now that they can’t stand against tribals beating down the doors of their bunkers? I knew that the Chicago chapter was decadent and backward…but I never knew how far they’d really fallen.”

Paladin-Lord Traven scowled, looking up at the old scribe with barely-concealed contempt, “You cannot possibly understand the enormity of the enemy we face. Who are you to judge the valor of my men?”

“Someone who just happens to be in a position to do just that.…I myself was a member of The Brotherhood once. A scribe of the Order of The Quill - and a member of Elder Lyons' misguided expedition to the east, until I left and pledged my loyalty to Lord Ashur instead and took a new name….and a new title - Head Scribe of The Pitt.”

Elder Lyons?” Traven replied thoughtfully, his brow wrinkling as he considered the name, “There is no one with that title in our order.”

“I wouldn’t expect you to know of him, his expedition was long after your heretical elders were sent on that foolhardy airship escapade…” Abaddon waved his hand dismissively at the paladin-lord then turned to Marie, ‘We shouldn’t waste any further time on this man. It's obvious his little band couldn’t handle themselves without the guidance of the Western Elders and has fallen on hard times. We should….”

“What enemy do you face?” Marie asked suddenly, interrupting her advisor’s tirade.

“A great mutant host known as The Unity,” The Paladin-Lord replied gravely, “I only know what was shared to me thus far, and that which I’ve seen with my own eyes…which is enough to know they are a mutant army from California - hell bent on the wholesale elimination of the human race.”

California?” Abaddon scoffed loudly, “Now I’ve heard everything. My Lady this is nonsense, I was a young man when I left California and I remember it well enough. There is no mutant host infesting it. Obviously this ‘Paladin-Lord’ is just facing a band of mutants that migrated west from The Capital Region - or more likely he and his incompetents are high on some experimental chem. If what he says is true such a force would have had to cross…”

“Half a continent?” The Paladin-Lord interrupted, “Indeed.”

“How many invaders?” The Guard-Captain Harlock suddenly stepped forward, his blue-tinged mohawk a stark contrast to Abaddon’s stately white beard and hair.

“I don’t know…..” Traven shrugged, “I have no earthly idea. Thousands perhaps besiege my city alone, maybe more to the south and north…they are hulking abominations who fight and kill like possessed beasts. Any who manage to survive their attack are dragged off and turned into more of their kind. It's how they reproduce.”

A quiet shudder ran through the assembled court, and even the skeptical Abaddon seemed taken aback by the Paladin-Lord’s words.

“Well I for one don’t believe it,” Abaddon said firmly after a time, “And I don’t think we should send our army out chasing ghosts at the behest of this man who isn’t even really even Brotherhood of Steel!”

“Why would he lie?” The young raider captain shot back, “And what if he’s telling the truth old man?”

“Lady Ashur, permission to speak before the throne?” A voice called from the crowd, and Marie held up her hand to stop her bickering advisors. A raider woman with purple pigtails strode forward, armored in heavy industrial ‘iconoclast’ armor. She knelt down next to the Paladin-Lord, facing towards Marie.

“Go ahead Vikia,” Marie nodded to her Chief scout.

“I believe the Brotherhood man is telling the truth. My scouts that have returned from the north say that they’ve encountered groups of feral ghouls and other, stranger, creatures roaming the wasteland. They’ve been unusually organized, attacking some of the outlying villages that send us annual tribute…”

“Unity fodder,” Traven nodded, “They’ve started probing your defenses then. They know our forces are going to break soon, and are planning ahead.”

“I still urge caution,” Abaddon sighed, “We’ve no reason to go tramping off to this ‘Paladin-Lord’s aid and if there are scattered raiding forces probing our defenses then all the more reason we should ensure our army is where it needs to be: at home, protecting Lady Ashur and not gallivanting off to steel-knows-where.”

We protect Lady Ashur…the army defends The Pitt,” Guard Captain Harlock scowled, “The Haven Guard are all the protection she needs.”

Ashur! Ashur! Ashur!” Came the enthusiastic chant of the surrounding guard raiders, startling Abaddon - though he quickly regained his composure.

“Hmm indeed,” the old scribe sneered, “I meant no disrespect to the guard, of course. I meant only if there is, actually, a present threat to The Pitt then home is where our army should be deployed - defending The Ore Road and the city itself from any possible incursion.”

Silence,” Marie said sternly, immediately halting the debate of her qualsome advisors. A complete and total stillness descended on the throne room, as everyone waited on her word.

“Vikia, you and a contingent of your best scouts will return with The Paladin-Lord to Cincinnati - you will be my eyes and ears and inform us all as to what sort of threat they face.”

“A wise decision my Lady,” Abaddon said, looking to Harlock with a sly smile of vindication.

Vikia bowed respectfully, but the Paladin-Lord seemed to chafe at her order, “Lady Ashur, with all respect, that will not be nearly enough....and by the time we return it may already be too late…”

“That is my decision Paladin-Lord,” Marie replied, holding up her hand to quell any further protest, “I will not commit my raiders to war without understanding what the situation is. If what you say is true, and the threat is as grave as you say, then, and only then, will the army of The Pitt march.”
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The Simulation - Washington D.C.

As the great door to Sutler’s office slid open, Granite waited a respectfully for his two ruffle and flourishes to conclude before stepping over the threshold. It was a monstrous chamber, far vaster than it needed to be and dimly lit. Plain metal columns rose up and pale blue fluorescent lamps hung down from ceiling that vanished into darkness. Sutler’s desk didn’t move as Granite approached.

Striding professionally between a pair of colonnades, he caught the stern expression of the portraits which hung from them from the corner of his eye: General Pershing, General Le May, General Chase, and other obscure revenants from the past that only the bookish sort like Sutler could be expected to remember—there was notably no post-war figures amongst Sutler’s pantheon. It took precisely forty seconds, Granite coming to a halt with the final cymbal of Stars and Stripes Forever; without the piccolos, much of its cheer had been gutted.

Sutler’s desk was modelled on those used by Vault Overseers, a large torus on a raised column that would give 360 degrees of vision over some kind of Combat Information Center. The column descended into the floor almost silently until it nestled into a nook in the floor. As it descended the great glass window was gradually revealed. Beams of flickering light fell on him—sickly blue and wavering from the water outside—in a way that kept Sutler largely consumed in silhouette.

“Good Afternoon, Commander Sutler,” he said, snapping to salute.

“Good Afternoon.”

“Ashur is dead,” Granite continued after Sutler had sat back down. Sutler’s thin mouth pulled into a smile.

“You don’t say,” he sneered. “How long ago?”

“Uncertain, Continental Army posting at the Pittsburgh rail site heard it from them. But I’d wager within the last 48 hours.”

“Well…” Sutler said. “Good news at-last, with Ashur dead all traces of the Brotherhood of Steel had been eliminated this side of the Ohio River. Do we know who has succeeded him?”

“His daughter, the mutant girl.”

“They’re all mutants,” Sutler said dismissively, his smirk uncontrollable. “Well, we’ll see how long that lasts for. Can’t have someone that inexperienced in command, regardless of their pseudo-religious pretensions. Imagine if we gave that level of command to someone from the First Company—they must be around the same age as the girl.”

“Should we consider some kind of condolence… even if it’s merely tactical,” Granite said even though he knew the answer.

“Of course not, we can offer nothing which could be interpretated as recognition. Just get confirmation that our scheduled shipments will continue. There’s little we can do now until we get more information. Our file on her is small…”

“She has kept a relatively low profile beyond their propaganda.”

“Indeed. We’ll pencil it in for the next meeting of ExComm and determine our strategy going forward. Trouble is befalling all of our enemies it seems. You’ve read the latest dossier on the western front?”

“Or lack there-of, yes Commander. What does the Service make of it?”

“Their eastern perimeter unmanned, no patrols sighted, massive drop off in SIGINT. Current theory is some kind of internal unrest, but that’s unverified… it’s a shame that such timely misfortune befalls our enemies now whilst we are still unready to exploit it properly. I suppose we can’t have expected Ashur to have lasted another ten years—when the Joint Forces would have been at strength—but it would have been nice.”

Granite stood silently as Sutler spoke to himself. Before Sutler had been a cautious officer, over-cautious even, and didn’t have countenanced anything but mild operational risks. Now, with American blood becoming increasingly more plentiful as each Company reached majority, it seemed even that part of the old Sutler was dissipating into this place. He had been the lead on the mission to recover the equipment from Vault 112 and he knew that this programme was capable of producing pretty much anything. But Sutler preferred it to be a ghoulish mausoleum to a place long since gone.
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Cincinnati - The Breaking of The Dam

UNITY


A great siege unfolded before the mutant’s lidless eyes. A terrible battle, great fire, death and devastation - just as The Master had predicted. As it always was - as it would ever be.

Sammel, Nightkin Warlord of The Unity, stood upon the high hill overlooking the Cincinnati Bulwark. His heavy two-handed bumper sword was sheathed on the back of his overly muscled torso and his entire upper body and legs were covered in thick sheets of scrap plate armor that had not so much been "forged" as they had been forcibly bent and shaped by great strength to fit his body. Upon the heavy bladed helmet he wore was mounted a bloodied human skull - still slick with gore.

“The human lines falter,” He sneered, his deep guttural voice echoing out and reaching the ears of his waiting Lieutenants: all of them 1st Generation mutants, though none of them superior Nightkin like he.

“Their resolve breaks, my Nightkin Lord,” One of their number, a large pale green mutant with a heavy metal eyepatch covering his right eyed named ‘Talmok’ spat disdainfully.

As if to undercut his point, Sammel observed one of the human’s many barricades failing: overrun by the numberless hordes of enthralled feral ghouls. Screams of pain echoed out over the battlefield, drowned out quickly by the shrieking of the ferals, before Brotherhood artillery was zero’d in on their own completely overrun forces to try and halt the growing breach.

It would not be long now.

‘Talmok,’ Sammel grunted, “Ready your mutants for the final assault….but before that let the humans feel true fear.”

Talmok grinned, his upper lip held back by a thick strap that wound its way around his head. He pounded his massive chest and strode forward, bellowing a bestial command to a troop of waiting mutants with sadistic glee,

“Release The Master’s progeny!”
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Cincinnati - Breaking of The Dam

It took a moment for Braxton to realize where he was: lying flat on his back on the ground staring up at a rapidly darkening sky. His T-45 power armor was covered with a thick layer of dirt and debris, and all around him smoke blurred his vision. He looked down to see that, thankfully he had not lost any limbs, but his power armor had certainly taken a beating.

With a grunt he lifted himself up out of the small crater in which he had landed, the damaged servo-motors on his legs barking in protest as they strained to move his armored form. Suddenly he saw someone materialize in the smoke, a female soldier in combat armor ran up to him shouting desperately, clutching at a bleeding wound in her side.

He realized couldn’t hear her, why couldn’t he hear her?

....axton…” He suddenly heard, the deafening ringing in his ears slowly subsiding and allowing him to hear bits of what she was shouting.

“Knight-Commander we need to move!” She screeched as his hearing came crashing back all at once. Suddenly he was cognizant of a hundred different sounds around him: screams of the dead and dying, the unearthly shrieking of those damned ferals, and other inhuman sounds that made his skin crawl. Artillery batteries in the distance continued their relentless pounding, followed by explosions that were far too close to mean anything other than their position was completely lost.

A muscled green mutant hound ran in from somewhere behind them, bellowing a bestial howl before tackling the soldier. The woman screamed as the hound bared its teeth preparing to rip out her throat, until Braxton raised a power-armored fist and smashed the thing's head; knocking the creature completely off her and sending it whimpering in a bloodied heap to the side.

“Fall back! Fall back to the inner line!” Braxton yelled out over the din. It was a completely pointless command, and he knew it. Anyone that could still hear him and act on it was already running; yet he felt the need to take some measure of control of the situation even if it was hollow.

Braxton reached out his hand and pulled the fallen soldier up to her feet, and together they started running. Sprinting over broken terrain, shattered defensive barriers, and the dead bodies of fallen comrades and Unity creatures alike.

“Forward Command this is Knight-Commander Braxton,” Braxton huffed, speaking quickly into his helmet radio as he sprinted, “Gamma Quadrant is overrun we’re falling back to secondary positions. Do you copy? Over.”

Silence. He heard nothing.

“Command, do you copy? Over,” Braxton asked again, this time more frantic.

“..THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!” came a terrified shout in reply from within his helmet com. Braxton immediately stopped and turned to look over towards the forward command bunker, which was about half a mile west of his position. His blood froze in his veins as he saw that there were now things swarming over it like a colony of ants. Fleshly, malformed, and multi-limbed FEV abominations of great size roared in animalistic delight as they tossed aside officers and soldiers like ragdolls, and pried open damaged pieces of power armor to feast on the bloodied meat within.

Braxton kept running, hoping against hope that the secondary line would somehow hold.

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The Institute - Director's Quarters

"Sir?", Codsworth said, "Miss Madison is here."

Nathan reached over to the speaker on the end table next to him and turned it down. It was playing the tactical radio channel the Minutemen were using in it's attack on Nuka-Town USA. He would have liked to continue to focus on it, but Madison might take it wrong, and to be honest, it was a forgone issue anyway. Of the three Nuka-World gangs, the Pack had been literally overrun in their beds, the Operators had fled the field, mostly escaping through a escape tunnel they had dug long ago, leaving behind only a holding force that had been captured. That left the Disciples and the Overboss, Coulter, holed up in and around Fizztop Mountain. Unlike the others, they were dug in deep and took full advantage of the defensible position. When the initial attempt to storm the place with T-51bs backed by infantry failed in the face of missile and LMG fire, Macready drew the correct conclusion and sent for his Forward Observer...to let the guns they hauled out there with them do the work. Nate knew the place, he'd been to Nuka-World dozens of times before the war, a howitzer section would make short work of Fizztop Mountain, which in fact is a thin concrete shell made to look like a mountain.

Nathan then turned in the recliner he was sitting in, so he could look at Codsworth, hovering quietly behind him. Unlike most of the ultramodern decor in what had been Shaun's apartment, it was the ancient recliner from his old house in Sanctuary Hills, the synths had recovered it with what furniture was still usable, and repaired and reupholstered it for him. As far as the house, the Longs lived there now, he'd given it to them as living there was impractical even if he had wanted to, which he didn't...the place only reminded him of what he had lost. Last he heard, Marcy was pregnant, which was good.

"Thanks, Codsworth", Nathan replied, "See her in, please".

"Right away, sir", the Mr Handy burbled contentedly, and hovered off. Ayo, typically, had a cow when he moved Codsworth in, as if he had any say in the matter, which he didn't. He trusted the ancient robot far more than he trusted Ayo, he really didn't care what he thought about Codsworth.

After a moment, Codsworth reappeared with Madison Li, carrying several binders and folders, right behind him.

"Good Morning, Madison", Nathan said affably as she placed her papers on the coffee table and sat on the chair next to him, "you had something for me?"

"Yes", she replied as she selected the correct binder and opened it, "Peabody over at the Switchboard sent this to me...I find it rather concerning. You recall how her team got the seismic nuclear detection system they were using working again? The Geology Department took it over, and they've been using it since for the Earth Studies program." She paused to cough. "Well, they've found something, and I wanted to talk to you about it before I presented it at the next Directorate meeting....unlike the others, we know what it's like up there and frankly, I'm concerned the other Department heads won't treat this with the concern they should."

Nathan sat up straight and looked at Madison with rapt attention. He already knew he wasn't going to like this, Madison didn't play the "fellow Wastelander" card unless it was serious. "Go on...", he said.

"Four months ago", she began, as she unfolded a map of the Pre-War US and spread it out on the coffee table, "the system picked up a earthquake of 6 on the Richter Scale...here," pointing to a spot marked in red ink near Colorado Springs, in what was the Four States Commonwealth. "Two minutes later", she continued, "a second earthquake of the same magnitude occurred within a mile of the first one." Nathan's blood froze when he heard this, though at first he could not determine why. He racked his memory to recall what was in that area that would be of importance.

"Cheyenne Mountain...", Nathan mused aloud, "...NORAD?"

"Yes, exactly", Madison, replied. "The first event took place on the surface somewhere around a mile from the facility, the second was underground and at the exact location." Madison paused for a moment, then continued. "Further analysis gives a estimated yield of 1 Megaton each...we suspect warheads scavenged from ICBMs were used. The students who recorded the events didn't realize what they had found, they weren't trained on the original function of the system. If you hadn't pushed through the program to revive the History and Earth Science Departments, we wouldn't have ever learned this had happened. Peabody had only repaired the system to get access to the data it picked up for the Great War...though it also revealed some disturbing actions by unknown parties in what was West Virginia. From 2102 to 2105, until the failure of the system in 2140 four nuclear detonations were detected at the same spot about thirty miles East of Watoga, West Virginia and one on a mine shaft just north of Monongah, in the same area. But that is a different discussion." She then tapped the map again, this time pointing at Chicago.

"This happened three days ago", Madison continued, "three separate surface detonations. These were smaller than the first, 100 kilotons as opposed to the earlier 1 Megaton detonations, but any settlement there had to have been completely destroyed."

"My God", Nathan exclaimed, "someone out West is waging a nuclear war....and they've advanced to a thousand miles from here!"

"Eight hundred and fifty-odd miles, to be more precise", Li corrected him, "but you see the problem. Something has to be done, and we don't have much time."

"Ayo", replied Nathan, with some distaste as he really didn't like the man much, useful as he may be. "We need to brief him ASAP."

"Not quite yet", Madison replied, noticing that Codsworth had glided in behind Nathan from the kitchen, carrying a food tray. The old robot was surprisingly a pretty good cook, and she found the ration packs the people born here ate tedious, "If I have to speak to that man, I'd rather do it on a full stomach."

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Haven - Sealed Upper Story Quarters

Marie stood at the door, the large bar which normally secured it had been pushed aside. She felt her hand faltering with hesitation as she balled her fist and reached it forward to knock. She wasn’t sure she wanted to do this, but knew she needed to. She knocked twice, just as she always did, then let herself in.

“Hello?” She asked, to the darkened room beyond.

She heard a rustling in the darkness, and a shadowy figure crossed through a small corner of sickly pale light streaming in from a nearby window. She stood there for what seemed like hours, waiting, watching, until a voice called back,

“Marie?”

A hunched, robed figure stepped forward into her view. The creature's face was covered in lesions, and the skin around its mouth was pulled back in a rictus grin. Marie stared at the half-trog thing, and lowered her head, unable to meet its terrifying gaze,

“Yes Mom,” She said, whimpering, “It's me.”

The thing that was once Sandra Kundanika stared at her with eyes that were filled with recognition, but still unable to fully comprehend her surroundings. Her mother shifted back and forth between states of awareness - but she always seemed to regain it briefly whenever Marie was around.

“Dad is dead,” Marie said simply, not wanting to draw it out any more than she needed to, “Your husband…..Ishmael…is dead.”

Sandra cocked her head, as if confused by the words, “Deeead?” She hissed, her voice hollow and unnatural. Its tone sent shivers down Marie’s spine.

“Yes,” Marie nodded, “He’s gone mom.”

Sandra slunk back into the darkness, a pained groan emanating from her, “Not dead. Not dead. Not dead. Leave….bring meat,” the thing snarled.

“I’ll send up one of the guards with a bucket of brahmin meat for you,” Marie replied, fighting back tears. She was gone again, Marie knew it, and so she slipped herself out of her mother’s room and barricaded the door once more.

Her mother had given everything, quite literally, to see the cure for the TDC completed. A sacrifice that had ultimately led to her own infection with the disease. Her father had tried and struggled in vain to see the cure completed quickly once Sandra became unable to work on it...but by the time he and the newly arrived Abaddon finished her work it was already too late. The vaccine could prevent TDC infection, even reverse its effects to a degree: but it could not cure it completely. Once someone was on the way to becoming a Trog - it was too late.

Her father, and now Marie, had been unable to end it - to give Sandra the peace she deserved. Perhaps they both hoped vainly that, one day, a full cure for the Trog condition could be found. Maybe that was true, but more than likely it wasn’t.

Marie fell down in a heap against the door to Sandra's room sobbing. How could she possibly do this by herself?

Uriel Abaddon - Haven Laboratory

Abaddon threw open the double doors to his lab located on the basement floor of the Haven tower. Two yellow painted steelyard factory protectrons beeped in cheerful salute as he strode past them and into the lab proper. Abaddon never liked to trust the Haven guard to his own protection, and so he’d ensured that he would have his own, personal, robotic guardians to defend him if needed. It had been all but trivial to override the bots’ old programming in the steelyard to serve at his command and there were many other such robots in rest of the ruined city.

“Midwestern Brotherhood of Steel..hmph indeed. Bunch of tribal-fucking traitors,” He growled as he strode up to a long table with a variety of jars, vials, tubes, and various other lab equipment splayed out on top. He grabbed one of the jars, half full of some unknown green liquid, and prepared to toss it against the wall in anger.

He stopped himself and looked at the jar, thought better of it, and set it back down. He then grabbed an empty Nuka cola bottle and tossed it instead. It hit the wall with a loud thud, but didn’t shatter as he'd intended.

“The fuck is your problem dude?” A half-dressed raider woman with the left side of her hair buzzed off stumbled out of the nearby doorway that led to his bedroom. She was clutching a nearly empty bottle of beer in her right hand and took a swig of it as she leaned against the doorframe.

“My problem is that I’m the resident expert here on The Brotherhood of Steel and nobody here seems to recognize that!’

“Ugh what now?”

Abaddon continued his rant breathlessly, “At least I convinced Marie to act more cautiously...but she should have just ignored that idiot Paladin-Lord all together. I’d trust that heretical gaggle of fools even less than I trust that rat bastard Sutler. Vikia and her scouts could be walking into a trap for all she knows!”

“Dude…what the fuck are you on about,” The raider woman replied, clutching her head in pain as she nursed an obvious hangover, “You want some Jet or something? Take the edge off?”

“Not now!” Abaddon snarled, then added more quietly, “Later...maybe.”

“Well come back to bed at least and calm the fuck dow-”

“It's that Guard Captain Harlock, he’s poisoned her against me,” Abaddon interrupted, “He’s going to become a problem in the future. Oh yes, don’t think I don’t see it. Young, brash captain of the guard…oh yes…he’s playing the long game. He thinks he’ll be able to take Ashur’s place - usurp Marie and have me exiled when he’s Lord of The Pitt well I’m the one who plays kingmaker around here!” Abaddon shouted, practically frothing with rage.

“Man I’m waaay too hungover for this bullshit…” the raider girl mumbled, turning around and stumbling back into the bedroom.

“Don’t forget who pulled your ass out of scav duty in the Steelyard and got you reassigned here!” He called after her, only to be met by a middle finger jutting back out from the doorway.

Abaddon sneered and then turned back to his lab equipment, looking thoughtfully at one of the terminals which was connected to a large row of data banks that lined the entire far wall of his lab,

“Unity…” He said mumbling to himself under his breath, “What an odd name..perhaps there is something in my archives that could shed some light on it.“
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The Long Watch, Think Machine 3600r—The Commandery, Washington D.C.

The Executive Committee conference room was clearly a Sutler creation. Like his office, it was needlessly voluminous space—dimly lit—centred around a single table and atmospheric spot lighting. The sole criteria for membership was being born in the earliest years of the century. Sutler himself was actually the youngest; he was born in 2222. They were the last generation that knew the Oil Rig.

The usual affairs were dealt with swiftly, denizen affairs, a hearty cheer at Ashur’s death, a teleconference with the Party’s Steering Committee. Granite watched the two dozen or so committee members, shabby and nervous, delivering their reports to Sutler who—they couldn’t see—looked somewhere between bored and repulsed at the indignity of the whole thing. Granite saw Sutler examining his finger nails, whilst the Party rep bleated out some potato-yield statistics—finger naials didn’t even grow in here, and there wasn’t any dirt.

“Mainland vermin,” Sutler said dismissively; the vid-link shut off after the committee had finished their rendition of “Hail to the Chief”.
“Now that that’s dealt with, is there any other business?”

“Sir,” Granite said. “I’ve been thinking more about the Brotherhood of Steel situation. I had a report from the Peace Force garrison at Twin Lakes concerning some refugees—from the Brotherhood of Steel territory. They said that there was fleeing from mutants… their description bore a strong resemblance to the Mariposa Mutants.”

“Mariposa? Some of the remnants of the Vault 87 strain then?” Sutler said.

“They said they’d come from Cincinnati.”

“Cincinnati? Well then probably not. And they’ve came east, all this way?”

“From what I can tell, they made it sound like there’s war. Full mobilisation by the Brotherhood of Steel. They’d heard about us and our state, and figured the Enclave would be a more secure place.”

Sutler leaned back in his chair.

“It would certainly be an explanation as to why their border-zone with us is so short-staffed,” he said finally. “But, really? Mariposa-strain mutants? In large numbers? That lunacy was confined entirely to the Mariposa base… and Vault 87 for some reason. You’ll have to send me the report, circulate it around us all.”

“I was thinking sir, that maybe we should take a more proactive stance on this one. Maybe conduct some reconnaissance. If something is large enough to concern the Brotherhood of Steel, then it must be serious.”

Granite saw the steely look already forming on Sutler’s face before he’d even finished.

“The western-most area of the pretenderate Brotherhood of Steel state is being threatened by some unknown force. Who cares. Even if they topple the Brotherhood, what difference will it make? The Mariposa-strain mutants are mindless animals, we saw it here. They’ll burn themselves out, I’m not risking any of our personnel for this.”

The National Mall, Washington D.C.

Of all the things that they’d accomplished in the last 20 years, Granite considered the great green expanse of the National Mall to be their greatest. He looked out from the sidecar as Denizens toiled away at tomato vines growing around rebar and fields of potato bushes—all looking so small against the looming monolith of the new Pentagon in the distance over the Potomac. Thundering booms and sirens in the distance heralded more and more of old Washington falling. The entire city was to be systematically razed—buildings and roads—and then reconstituted into the new city. Granite’s destination was the only building that had been spared.

The Party’s headquarters had been, perhaps fittingly, been located in the Department of Agriculture building. As the motorcycles pulled up outside, a few Peace Corps officers loitering around outside snapped to attention, placing their fist over their heart. Before Granite had even had time to get to the building, a Party official was almost tripping over himself to arrive and greet him. They never announced when they were going to drop in, and after a recent purge the Party was very eager to please.

The "Party” had been a Sutler idea, a middle-rung between themselves and the denizens. Truthfully, the remaining Enclave did not have the experience, or the numbers, to manage a commercial operation. Fortunately, there had been no shortage of lackeys, boot-lickers, and hangers-on amongst the growing circle at the Jefferson purifier whom had been more than happy to avail themselves in return for concessions. Despised equally by the Enclave and the Denizens, they were a self-serving clique that dispensed the Enclave’s orders and soaked up most of the resentment.

“Sir, Colonel Granite,” the official said standing to attention. Granite and his guards didn’t break stride, and the official stumbled about himself to turn around and keep pace. It was genuinely gruelling to keep the pace, Granite’s muscles stung and ached after his stint in the simulation—but no weakness could be shown in front of the rabble.

“Welcome back to Party Headquarters sir. Should I call Commissioner Gustavo?”

“No. I’m here on other business. There should be eight Peace Force officers waiting for me in a conference room. Do you know which one they have booked?”

It was a bit cruel he had to admit as he saw the colour drain from the official’s face, his fatigues and blue party armband utterly powerless in the face of their actual masters.

“No sir, but I can find out for you right away.”

There was a brief look between them, before the official made a squeaking sound and scurried off ahead of them to make his enquiries. It didn’t take too long, Granite stood silently in the atrium, watching various officials scuttle around looking appropriately tired. Before long, some hurried looking official appeared and usher him towards a conference room. Granite and his guards marched through the corridors, watching as anyone in the vague vicinity jumped out of the way. Bidding his guards to remain outside, Granite entered the conference room.

As he entered, the assembled Peace Corps officers dutifully saluted.

“At-ease,” Granite said with a casual wave and they returned to their seats.

Granite momentarily caught the portrait of Sutler on the wall, sternly staring down anyone that may be present and felt a pang of unease.

“I’m sure long-timers like yourselves are more than acquainted. Some of you have been with us since the very beginning I believe. Daniels, you were one of Gustavo’s boys at Twin Lake’s I believe?”

“Yes sir,” Daniels said, his neck stiffening.

“And that’s why you’re all here, you’re all veterans and possess between you several lifetimes of experience. I’ll cut to the chase; the Enclave has a mission for you. One which you are uniquely suited too. There have been disturbing intelligence reports coming from the west in the lands occupied by the Brotherhood of Steel. They’ve completely redirected their forces to their western-most territories to fight some-kind of mutant uprising, and we need boots on the ground intel as to what is happening out there.”
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Dawn - Mendon Ponds Park - 10 miles south of the ruins of Rochester, NY

The crows circled the clearing for nearly an hour, before finally landing on tree branches, or other convenient spots. There wasn't a living soul around, though even if there were, they wouldn't have noticed how the three birds landed exactly the same distance from the other two, and the spot between them was in the center of the clearing. No-one looked for patterns in the behavior of birds, after all. The birds, just stood, looking about or preening themselves...and waited.

Moments later, a blue spark arced up out of the ground for a moment, then vanished. Seconds later, a blue tinted ball of energy suddenly appeared in the same spot, then with a loud electrical sounding snap and a blinding light, it vanished as quickly as it came, replaced by two people, a man and a woman, and a pack brahmin. Aside from their method of arrival, there was nothing remarkable about them, just another pair of wandering traders in the Wasteland. They looked around, the woman spotting one of the birds, then tapping the male on the shoulder to get his attention, and pointing it out. The male faced the bird, then made a thumbs up gesture to it. After producing a compass and consulting it, they headed West, towards State Route 65. The birds took flight and raced ahead of them, at least one bird keeping the pair in its sight at all times.

Institute - SRB - Operations Center

In the darkened Operations room, The technician closely followed events on his monitors, the feed from the three watchers, as they scanned ahead looking for threats to the Team he was entrusted with. Aside from a small caravan heading south along Route 65, the road was largely deserted. Satisfied his charges were not in imminent danger, he reached up and activated his throat mic.

"Ops, Watcher 2", he said quietly, "Team Bravo successfully deployed, en route towards first objective".

"Very well", the Duty Controller replied, "maintain surveillance."

Harrison, the Duty Controller leaned over the map table, illuminated by a red florescent light from above and placed a small metal cube marked B at the point marked as the insertion point on the map. There already was two cubes, marked A and C, at their insertion points, placed A placed NE of Montreal, and C placed near Loganton, Pennsylvania. Bravo was the last, as it was the furthest relay shot of the three....any further and they would have had to risk a brownout.

"Hopefully Advanced Systems will get a new beryllium agitator fabricated so the Mass Fusion plant can be brought online again", Harrison thought sourly, "the power requirements to shoot a relay into the Midwest would be astronomical. As it is, it's going to be at least a week before the teams can get us answers." He rather suspected A and/or B would be reporting first, The Lakes were a major avenue for commerce before the War, he doubted that had changed significantly. If Chicago had indeed been destroyed by nuclear weapons every lake port settlement would know about it.

He picked up a phone and dialed a number. It was picked up on the second ring.

"Dr Ayo?", he said, "Harrison, the Operations Duty Controller here. All teams sucessfully inserted without incident, and visually verified to be proceeding to initial objectives." He listened to the response then added, "You're welcome, Doctor. I'll inform the Director at once. Good morning, sir." Once Ayo disconnected, he pushed and held down the cradle then released it and began dialing a different number.

Directors Quarters - a few minutes later

"Excellent", Nathan said into the phone as he absentmindedly retied the strap on his bathrobe, "Thank you for informing me...please keep me advised of any further developments." He then hung up the phone, and walked over to the stereo, a top of the line Radiation King console that Nora's parents had given them as a wedding present so long ago, and turned it back up.

"You're listening to WBZ, 1030 on your AM dial" exclaimed Kent Connolly, "100,000 Watts straight out of Goodneighbor! It's eight AM, and you know what that means...Sliver Shroud Morning Hour! I've got a whole new episode for you all...Episode 83, 'The Return of Mister Abominable'! Originally aired March 11, 2070...I thought it was lost to the ages, but a good buddy sent it and a bunch more episodes to me a couple days ago! Anyhow, lets get started, and don't forget to stick around for the news at nine! Got some great news from out Springfield Way."

As the into music for the Silver Shroud began, Nate grabbed a chair from the nearby table and plopped into it.

"Codsworth!", Nathan called, "I'm ready for my shave now!"

Codworth glided into the room, shaving cream and straight razor attachment ready.

"You have a busy schedule today, sir", Codsworth said as he shaved him, "So I prepared a quick breakfast."

"Remind me", Nathan replied as he moved his head obligingly so the robot could do his job.

"At Ten, you're visiting Miss Cruz at the Robco facility for an inspection tour", Codsworth replied, at two you're expected at the Nuka-World transit Center to travel to Nuka-World, then at eight it's a full meeting of the Directorate."

"Hmpf", mused Nathan, "Perhaps I should have Binet make a copy of me so i can be two places at once."

"Please no, sir", Codsworth replied as he held up a mirror to enable Nathan to inspect the shave, "One of you is quite enough to look after."
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Andronicus23
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Vikia - On The Road to Cincinnati

Vikia sat lounging within the Paladin-Lord’s large tent, picking her teeth with a broken sliver of bone taken from the radstag she’d hunted only a couple hours earlier. She watched Paladin-Lord Traven pacing his tent with growing frustration and stared at him with complete disdain. She got the distinct impression that these Brotherhood types didn’t like anything to fall outside of whatever tightly ordered structure they lived by, and any slight deviation from it made them nervous. That kind of thing got on her fucking nerves to no end.

“Your men are late,” Traven hissed as he continued his endless short patrol around the tent’s small interior.

“Relax your lordship, take a load off, ” Vikia mocked as she tossed her makeshift bone toothpick to the ground and then put her feet up on a nearby footlocker, “Bloodhound is my best scout. He and his boys will be back before sun-up. Until then, just chill the fuck out.”

“I should have never allowed this….” Traven mumbled to himself, “Using goddamn raiders for scout patrol. What the hell was I thinking?”

“Careful asshole,” Vikia growled, “You came to us. Remember? Besides my scouts could run circles around those tribals of yours. I’d love to see them track a pack of Trogs through the underground.”

Traven opened his mouth to retort when they both heard footsteps outside, followed by a flap to the tent opening. A short raider in light armor with an infiltrator rifle strapped around his shoulder entered the tent. The raider spat on the ground, and looked to Vikia first, “We saw it.”

“And?” Traven interrupted, stomping towards the scout.

Bloodhound glanced over at the Paladin-Lord with a sneer, then turned back to Vikia, “Whole cities fucked. Viky….I’ve seen some nasty shit in my time, but there’s a whole other level of fucked-up shit going on there. Must be thousands of those mutant things all over the place. I only caught glimpses of them through my scope, but what I seen was enough for me.”

“And the defenses?,” Traven barked impatiently, “Are the outer lines holding?”

Bloodhound turned and looked to the Paladin-Lord, as if finally recognizing he was there, “If by that you mean those smashed barricades. No. Looked to me like those mutant fuckers just broke through. Whole western side of the city looks like it got leveled.”

Traven collapsed into his chair, despondent, “Then it's over. The city is lost. The inner lines won’t hold,” the sadness etched on his face quickly turned to anger, “I told that savage Queen of yours it would be too late. She should have listened to me.”

“Watch it, that’s the second time you’ve mouthed off,” Vikia growled, getting to her feet, “Not gonna be a third time so if you want a bullet hole in your forehead keep on talking.”

Bloodhound leaned in and whispered to her, his voice slithering through the air like a venomous snake, “Let’s just gut the fucker and be done with it Viky. His tribal guards out there ain’t even armored. They probably got some decent enough loot between them for us to split. We can toss em’ in a ditch somewhere and say the muties got him - ain’t nobody gonna be the wiser.”

“No, Blood, we still got a job to do,” Vikia replied loud enough for the Paladin-Lord to hear as she brushed past Bloodhound to address Traven directly, “So what are you going to do now?”

“Me? Nothing.” Traven replied without missing a beat, looking Vikia straight in the eyes, “Run as far away from here as I can get maybe. I’ll be branded an outcast and put in front of a firing squad if I’m captured for abandoning my post, but at this point that’s a preferable alternative to being taken alive by The Unity. Once Cincinatti falls nothing will stop them.”

“Good. That makes this next part easy then,” Vikia smiled, drawing her sawed off shotgun from its holster and pointing the business end at Traven, “From here on out you can just consider yourself an honored guest of Lady Ashur.”

“Send word to The Pitt, tell them what’s happening at Cincinnati. We need to be ready.”

Mags Black - At the Gates of The Pitt

Mags wasn’t proud of her escape from Nuka World. The attack on the park was just as quick as it was brutal. Ostensibly it was just The Minutemen under that damned Colonel MacCready that had led it, but Mags knew that the precise well-oiled nature of the operation had The Institute’s fingerprints all over the place. Whatever defenses the gangs had managed to throw up had been overwhelmed in short order, and that just left The Overboss and a few holdouts at Fizztop Mountain. Mags knew the game was up long before then, Fizztop was no fortress - and so she’d split with her Operators and turned tail, escaping through a tunnel dug underneath the park’s wall.

After that it’d been total chaos. All she knew now was that William was dead and the remnants of her gang were either captured, killed, or scattered. She was a gang leader without a gang - but she had a plan - just as she always did. The Nuka World raiders had long been doing business with a place known as ‘The Pitt’ which they bartered slaves with in exchange for guns and ammo. It was a city of raiders, apparently, a place someone like herself could no doubt take advantage of. So she’d made her way there, confident she’d be back on top in no time.

Mags had smelled the city before she’d ever laid eyes on it. It was unmistakable, the stench of heavy industry filling the air for miles and miles around. When she finally rounded a hill and laid eyes on the city proper, it looked like a fiery wound in the earth, tearing through the landscape and sky around it. She could see great plumes of fire from the stacks and pillars of black smoke spreading out in all directions underneath the sickly orange hue of a smog choked sky. Mags knew the wasteland very well, understood its miseries and hardships: but this was different - there had to be a new term invented for the blasted landscape that surrounded the ruins of Pittsburgh.

Her gaze was finally torn from the distant sight by the bellowing of a steam engine whistle, and she looked down at the bottom of the blasted hillside to see a ramshackle black steam engine barreling down a set of tracks leading towards The Pitt. The words “DC Express” had been crudely painted along the side of the coal-car hitched to the engine. Raiders armed with scoped assault rifles sat perched atop the tops of the cars, or manned light machine-gun turrets mounted at different points along the train's length. Most of the train's many cars were filled with shackled slaves, while the last few flatbeds were stacked high with 50 gallon drums stamped with a strange symbol and the words ‘Augustus Autumn Water Treatment Center.”

Mags hesitated, fearful of just what she was getting herself involved in, before she made her way down the hill.




The bridge leading to The Pitt was packed tightly with traders, slavers, and all manner of cutthroats looking to ply their various trades within the city. Mags was only one of many seeking entrance to The Pitt, and the first gate to pass was just up ahead: a large fortified steel gate that completely blocked the entrance to the bridge. Pitt soldiers patrolled its parapets and ensured that anyone attempting to pass through it was properly searched and vetted: sometimes turning people back for one reason or another. It was a strangely well-ordered operation.

Of course the fact that occasionally someone would end up tossed over the side into the ungodly filth of the polluted river below was reason enough to ensure compliance.

Mags thought she knew how to handle this situation though. She just needed to be brash, confident and always make it seem like she knew something that everyone else didn’t. It had worked in Nuka World with Colter quite well - it would work here too.

When it finally came to be her time, Mags stepped up and addressed the two guards who had just allowed in a brahmin rancher driving in some of his herd to sell.

“I’m Mags black,” She said proudly, a wry smile spreading across her face, “Leader of the Operators gang of Nuka World…I’m sure you’ve no doubt heard of us through your trade network. I request an immediate audience with your leader Marie..mmpppfff!”

Mags buckled over as one of the hulking raider guards knocked the wind out of her by smashing her stomach with the butt of his assault rifle.

“You don’t speak the name of the Lady of The Pitt outsider… you request nothing, you demand nothing, you ARE nothing,” He sneered.

“I…just want to….to join up,” She gasped out through sucking breaths.

“Heheh did that bitch just say she’s a raider? Don’t look like much,” The other guard chuckled darkly, opening his mouth in a crooked grin to reveal a set of filed yellow teeth, “She’s a real pretty one though…nice smooth skin and lovely hair. Is that a blue bow in her pony-tail? Aww how cute. You know, she’d be a great addition to the Second Circle…The Madam is always looking for new talent to make her some caps. Maybe she could put those pretty red lips of hers to good use…”

Mags snarled and got up to her feet, throwing a punch at the raider and giving a confident yell as she swung. She caught him off balance and knocked him square in the jaw, sending a couple of his nasty yellow teeth flying to the pavement below.

“FUCK!” The raider shouted while clutching his jaw, “The bitch just hit me!”

In a flash, the hulking guard was on her, pinning her up against the side rail of the bridge and holding her hands behind her back in a vice grip. Mags felt him tie a rope around her wrists tightly and then she felt herself being lifted up and over the railing.

“Beg Ashur’s Mercy you die quickly. You don’t want to know what happens to those who survive the plunge.”

“Stop!”

Mags heard someone call out behind her, and the raider guard set her back down and turned to the origin of the voice. A raider woman with dark hair and heavily tattooed skin approached, a large caliber scoped revolver holstered at her hip.

“Bridge Captain Sulpha - this wretch attacked Zero. She should be thrown from the bridge as punishment,” the large raider protested.

“Yeah knocked out three of my teeth too…fuggin bitch,” the skinny yellow-toothed raider added.

“And I’ll knock out a few myself if you don’t stop whining,” the raider captain, Sulpha, snarled hatefully, “So are you two idiots in charge of recruitment now? Did Lady Ashur anoint you as judge over her?”

“N-n-no Captain Sulpha but….I mean just look at her she ain’t no raider.”

“Shut up. Are you so stupid that you think Our Lady would deny any fighter the chance to join her army? This woman wants to join up…well she can and prove herself in The Hole just like the rest. If Ashur deems her worthy…he’ll grant her victory. If not….” Sulpha smiled, a cruel grin spreading across her features, “Well…the Trogs need to eat too don’t they?”
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Andronicus23
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Cincinnati - The Dam Breaks

UNITY


Sammel strode triumphantly through the broken remains of Cincinnati’s defenses. He sheathed his bumper sword, still slick and dripping with fresh blood, as he watched his mutants rampaging through the ruins of the last true stronghold of The Brotherhood of Steel. Screams of the dying filled the air intermingled the pleas of survivors being forcibly dragged from hiding places in the ruins and rubble of the destroyed city. Sammel forgave them for their ignorance, their feeble minds unable to comprehend the full glory of what they were about to experience - to join The Unity and become one with the master race. Soon they would understand though, all would know the everlasting peace which The Master had promised to bring.

Sammel and the cadre of Nightkin guards shadowing him halted their march in front of a long line of prisoners, each of the human's hands tightly bound behind their backs and their heads lowered in defeat. A mutant with a large spiked club patrolled the line, watching closely for any sign of rebellious intent and ready to tear flesh the bones of any foolish enough to test their restraints.

The mutant warlord sneered at the pathetic sight of those cowering before him. Such weakness was only to be expected from the humans, but he still found it detestable. No matter, it would soon be remedied.

“Your time of suffering is at an end,” Sammel began, stretching out his oversized arms before them, “For The Unity has finally come. The Master brings an end to all conflict, the struggles of survival in the wastes, and to the frailty of the human body and mind. Do not be afraid, for soon you will know the sublime perfection that of the super-mutant. The true next step in evolution.”

The prisoners collectively trembled in terror, knowing what came next.

“Bring forth the Vat!”




Braxton watched helplessly one after the other as his Brothers and Sisters were each lifted up by the small crane and then dropped feet first into the roiling green vat of FEV. A few went silently, simply staring out into space or gibbering quietly as the crane lifted them up, but most screamed or pleaded until the final moment their head was submerged.

No matter which way they went in though, they always came out the same. Their bodies grossly enlarged and dripping with FEV, with the shredded remains of their clothes clinging to their new green hulking bodies. All trace of their humanity completely gone, the new mutants would simply step out and fall in line behind the rest of their kin.

This continued one after the other, until it was his turn. Braxton said nothing, he didn’t beg or plead, but like an exhausted animal caught in a trap he simply went limp and gave up. He felt the strain on his arms as the crane lifted him skyward, and saw the glowing green of the liquid below him as it shimmered like some otherworldly substance.

There was a pause as the crane hovered over the vat. A silent stillness that felt like it could last forever.

Suddenly Braxton dropped and in only a moment he’d splashed into the abominable FEV, submerging him completely within its mutating grasp.

Braxton’s last conscious thought as a human was how warm the FEV felt against his skin: and then came the pain.
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Mr Enclave
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Peace Force Away Team
Anderson looked back east—any sign of civilisation swallowed by the darkness of the night. They were only one day into enemy territory, with another week to go before they reached some place called Sin-Sinaty. Warrick, the lead of the County Patrol fireteam, had built something called a Dakotafire; it was some kind of stealth fire that was “something you wouldn’t need in the Urban Patrol”.

It was hard not to be nostalgic, sat around a campfire again so far away from everything which had become the new normal. Out here it was like the old days of the Capital Wasteland; before checkpoint stamps and ID papers, before the Party and the Peace Force, before the Enclave and the surety of a clean water.

Looking back, he wished that Sonora and the bosses had joined the majority in moving over to the Peace Force; the Enclave’s concept of justice was the same as their own, and even most of their crimes were. There had been scattered reports and rumours about the conduct of Enclave soldiers in those first few weeks since they’d emerged—from where-ever. But in retrospect, they didn’t make any sense. Most of the people they’d killed for the Enclave were genuinely bad, though others (like Father Clifford and some Rivet City civilians) who’d been vanished admittedly made less sense.

Anderson watched Warrick, sleeping soundly and spooning a .50 cal rifle he’d been issued for this mission—he had never let go of it since it was issued, even to eat. He’d known of Warrick by reputation for nearly twenty years now, since the Regulators. But now here he was, guarding someone whose finger he’d have taken the last time he’d ever taken watch-shift around a campsite whist Sonora and the one’s who’d stayed had eventually been declared as “Enemies of the Peace” like any other common raider.

They met few people as they moved forward, but then that was the plan. Warrick and his “posse” of County Patrol on point; they were good at this kind of thing, being out on the range. But they had relatively little in the way of major combat experience as Anderson delighted in reminding him. He could tell that Warrick was chomping to use that rifle he’d been given—almost certainly for use against a Brotherhood soldier in his fighting suit. As the days went on, and the numbers on the signs saying “Cincinnati” got smaller, his chance to blow their cover would only become more and more prevalent.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Andronicus23
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UNITY


The blood red and sickly yellow radiation banners of the Unity flew outside the Cincinnati city hall building, once the Brotherhood’s citadel in the heart of the city: now headquarters of all Unity operations in the region. Inside the war room of his new headquarters, Sammel’s lidless gaze shifted between each of his mutant lieutenants, sizing them up carefully. He weighed their recent actions in the last battle, mentally dividing up spoils and punishment between them - great deeds equaled greater rewards, whilst cowardice and incompetence was to be met with demotion or death. More than one of his Lieutenants had become centaur food since the push from St. Louis, and a few more had joined them after the Siege of Cincinnati. More would no doubt follow as others took their places and the war continued - Sammel would tolerate no incompetence in The Master’s army.

Ghoul servants in heavy iron chains passed between each of the mutant commanders, offering up great trays of fresh bloodied meat taken from the corpses outside. Some of the mutants took the offer, but most abstained, seeking instead to focus on the large crude hand drawn map in front of them which had been etched into the wooden table with a knife.

Sammel’s fingers traced the map, pointing out the locations to which The Master’s great horde would be bound next.

“D-C,” Sammel said, his finger lingering on an area of the map that had been marked with a standing miniature pre-war flag, “The Master has said that a new source of the great procreator may be found there, along with fresh untainted prime normals led by a man named Sut-ler. We will turn them all, and they will join The Unity. Priority target.”

Sammel’s finger rolled up the coastline, landing on a spot far to the north denoted by a fusion cell placed on the table,

“Boston,” He sneered, “More of our kin are found there, meaning yet another potential source of the procreator. Traders we’ve captured mention a place of great science and technology called The Institute. We will crack this place of science open, and take their technology for The Master - use it to further The Unity. Priority Target.”

Finally his finger traced downard once more, landing on a location upon which sat a 5.56 shell,

“The Pitt,” He said, “A place of great industry. We will use it to arm ourselves - create more weapons and ammunition for the horde. The city is polluted- no prime normals, but the people there will make good strong slaves.” Sammel’s gaze landed on the chained ghoul nearest to him, and he chuckled a deep throaty laugh, “Priority target.”

“Our forces will begin moving,” He continued, “My legion will push straight through West Virginia towards D-C. And take it,” He reached over and knocked down the miniature pre-war flag with a snap of his finger.

“The behemoth lord’s forces will begin pushing towards The Pitt - a two prong assault,” with another snap of his finger he toppled the bullet and sent it rolling on the table.

“Finally,” He said, moving his hand up to the radiation symbol nearest the great lakes, “The ghoul-eater will cross the great lake and begin attacking from the north. Combined our onslaught will be unstoppable, and with the fresh captures we’ve taken our numbers alone will overwhelm them.”

The mutant lieutenants around him murmured their agreement, each of them eager to begin the final bloodletting - the war to end all wars that would finally see The Master in control of the entire breadth of the continent. Soon the remaining lands to the north and south would fall as well, and all of what was once North America would be under the firm control of The Unity. What lay beyond that inevitable triumph then? Only The Master could say.

“We will begin sending out advance forces to probe for weaknesses and scout the way ahead,” Sammel announced finally, “Talmok” he pointed to the hulking green first generation mutant who was his most trusted commander, “You will lead the vanguard.”

“Yes, my Nightkin.” The mutant replied with a bloodthirsty smile.

“Do not fail…ergh!” Sammel suddenly clutched his head in pain, and his surrounding commanders all did the same. A powerful, all consuming voice filled their thoughts and wormed its way into their conscious minds like a great serpent - leaving them unable to do anything but tremple in its presence.

“Its….him,” Sammel stuttered, a potent combination of fear and reverence taking hold of him.

He heard only one phrase uttered, it voice like the chorus of a thousand throats all screaming in unison,

“ATTACK. KILL. FOR UNITY.”
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Guard Captain Harlock - Haven Throne Room

Lady Ashur had called for her advisors immediately after the disturbing report from Vikia and her scouts had come through. Cincinnati was indeed overrun, and the Midwestern Paladin-Lord had apparently not been exaggerating the strength of the mutant host. Now Captain Harlock stood alongside Scribe Abbadon and Head Priestess Lulu before the seated Marie. Each one of them offering their own advice, whether solicited or not, on the matter in question. Though Harlock had his doubts about the quality of advice being so freely given by The Pitt's resident Scribe.

“I still think we should take this report with some measure of skepticism - while the mutant host might be confirmed the situation may not be as dire as Vikia’s report suggests. We should not act rashly without further intelligence.” Abaddon offered dryly.

Harlock glared spitefully at the old man's bullheaded stubbornness. The scribe had obviously just been pulled out of bed and it was a fucking miracle that whatever potent cocktail of jet and mentats he’d probably been habitually partaking in was allowing him to stand at all.

“Vikia and her scouts are the best in The Pitt,” Harlock countered, “And they ain’t the only ones reporting in. I’ve gotten word from our boys in Cleveland that the port of Chicago is gone - not taken - gone. The whole place is a crater.”

“What exactly are you implying Captain?” Abaddon interrupted with an annoyed huff.

“That the Midwestern Brotherhood might have done something drastic as a last resort: nuking their own city to deny the mutants a victory.”

Abaddon scoffed, “Nonsense. Deploying a nuclear weapon would be in direct violation of the Codex. Even those backwards heretics wouldn’t dare do something so abhorrent. Its inconceivable.”

“Either way it doesn’t matter,”Harlock growled, “Whatever happened to the city, it still means that there’s something larger going on here. The Paladin-Lord was right, this ain’t just one Brotherhood city under siege - it's a full scale invasion. The entire region is under attack, and we're likely next. It's a strategic fact - and it's about damn time we faced it.”

Lady Marie then turned to Abaddon, speaking softly with a tone of voice in which Harlock thought he could detect the slightest hint of fear, “Did you discover anything in your archives that might shed some light on the mutant army?”

“Well only one, potential, reference my Lady. The oldest my chapter retained in fact...” Abaddon cleared his throat, hesitating for a brief moment as if the chem-addled codger was reluctant to share this particular detail, “Roger Maxson, the founder of The Brotherhood, made reference to a source of FEV located at the Mariposa Military base. Meaning that while there have not been mutants known in the West before now...I do suppose it's possible that someone, or something, got its hands on the substance via Mariposa. However unlikely it would seem to be.”

“And used them to create an army…” Harlock continued, finishing the thought, before he then turned to Marie. Looking straight into her eyes, “Lady Ashur we should take this threat seriously. We need to be ready.”

Marie sat silently for a few moments, looking between the faces of each of her advisors before finally staring at the empty armor of her father that stood just off to her left. Harlock wondered fitfully what was going through her mind, and was desperate to do anything he could to help her make the right decision. Ultimately though, it was entirely up to her will.

Finally Marie turned to Lulu, projecting a well-rehearsed voice of confidence - one which could only have come from a lifetime of tutelage under her father.

“Lulu...take down my words and relay them as appropriate.”

“Yes my Lady,” the high-priestess nodded, bowing respectfully before the throne.

“Inform The Foreman at The Mill that production quotas are to be increased: we must ensure a steady supply of ordinance coming off the line. Furthermore, recall Commander Krenshaw from Cleveland: he’s to report to The Pitt at once to take command. The army is to be mobilized and made ready to fight as quickly as possible. ”
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The Colonels were gathered around the table in the expansive ExComm briefing room, nominal equals arranged around a round table. They were all, inherently, survivors of the Enclave’s greatest calamities over the century—people who survived by virtue of being on post somewhere else. They were all leafing through the briefing packs before them, examining the glossy photographs in detail as Granite chaired the meeting.

“Mariposa?” Colonel MacDonald said. “It’s absurd, that’s over 3000 klicks from Cincinnati.”

“There are no other sources of FEV.”

“There was some research conducted in West Virginia, so the records say.”

“Clearly that must be the case. The Brotherhood of Steel, in their ignorance, has created this army locally. Probably as a vanguard to attack us.”

“The transcripts from refugees that have been turning up indicate that the mutant army came from their west, fighting them back to Cincinnati.” Granite said, cutting over the general chatter.

“They are rabble, and probably mistaken,” Colonel Ortiz countered. “Do we even know what the western most extent of their occupation was? Would you place the same level of geographic knowledge in the denizens under our control Granite?”

“It is immaterial,” Colonel Fuentes said. “These are so many semantics. The present facts indicate that there is a large army of mutants occupying Cincinnati who have moved in a westerly direction. They clearly have the capacity for self-replication—from *somewhere*. Look here,” Fuentes indicated one of the photos captured by the recon team.

Super Mutants were moving through a lightly urbanised area, but rather than the shambolic fashion that was typical, they were exhibiting a greater degree of organisation—so much as could be ascertained from a single photograph.

“They are maintaining some degree of formation; they are keeping close to cover. They are clearly more advanced than the those produced from the Vault 87 strain; even those dumb brutes had enough going-on to abduct people to bolster their numbers.”
“Indeed Colonel Fuentes,” Granite said, silently grateful that someone seemed to be taking this more seriously. “Look at three.”
Dutifully, the Colonels turned back to photograph no. three, taken by the recon team on their approach to Cincinnati. A column of refugees were pouring away from the glowing city against columns of rising smoke.

“This level of damage, the entire city was assaulted in a coordinated campaign across the entire line of contact. These are not the shambolic monsters lumbering around D.C. They appear well armed, with heavy weaponry, now bolstered by the Brotherhood’s arsenal.”
Granite cast a quick side glance at Sutler, whom had been largely silent through-out the proceedings. His calculating mind doubtless processing what he was hearing.

First had been the revelation that Granite had conducted this operation without his knowledge. Then the confirmation of the mutant threat—the refugee columns streaming into their western-most dominion had been causing alarm even before Granite’s team had come back. Then someone mentioned Mariposa.

Mariopsa was an old army base in California. The source of the FEV from which the Project, the unrealised salvation of the American people, had required. The place where Sutler’s father had was KIA to retrieve those samples. Sutler hadn’t really spoken much about his father, even before ’77; now their parents belonged to an entirely different age. Granite had always privately felt, for decades, that Sutler’s inability to put ’42 behind him were perhaps holding them back. Now, it seemed like the ghosts from the past were coming back for them all.

“How is the SIOP configured for this threat?” MacDonald again.

“Much of the initial stages can remain,” Granite said. “The Shenandoah Valley will be our primary defensive line, blow every bridge standing north of Charlottesville, FOL at Harpers Ferry.”

“Can the Peace Force be relied upon?”

“They handled the mutants in downtown well enough.”

“It’s not the same,” Granite said. “We had the advantage of numbers in D.C. The Mariposa Mutant hide is thick, but they’d go down under sustained fire. We may not have the advantage of being able to concentrate our fire like that… the Peace Force is largely about maintaining order, not offensive operations.”

“We are going to DefCon 3,” Sutler said finally and everyone fell silent.

“We are going to mobilise the Peace Force reserves Granite, and I will summon the Party Select Committee to expand the reserve list by 50%. All Peace Force leave is cancelled. All transfers are cancelled. All Party HQs are to conduct censuses of numbers. And we are going to call an All-Hands Congress.”

There was a moment of pause at that, it had been a long time since all the members of the Last Watch had been in-sim.
“Who is furthest away?” Sutler directed the question at one of the mute constructs that the simulation could create, and they used generally as aides.

“Captain Richter,” it returned flatly. “He and elements of the Second Troop are conducting peace keeping operations in vicinity of Walkersville.”

“They’re cancelled. Send them return orders, and the rest.”

The aide construct scuttled away.




When the meeting was over, Granite was asked to stay behind.

“You’re *team*,” Sutler said, “are to be remanded for extensive decontamination.”

Granite knew what that meant, and had them confined to quarters beforehand anyway—at least they weren’t going to be killed.
“And you are to prepare an unclassified version of this report for transmission to the Pittsburgh occupation.”
That however was unexpected.

“Sure Alan… you’re going to bring them in on this?”

“Pittsburgh is downstream of Cincinnati down the Ohio. Plus, if any Brotherhood elements did withdraw, where do you think that they are likely to go? They certainly weren’t going to come here. They may have access to additional intelligence that we don’t have. We always make use of local sources when we can.”

“Very well Alan. We can present it with the next water shipment.”

“Indeed…” Alan said finally before a long pause. “You didn’t have your team deployed, to the extent of friendly territory, by Vertibird Granite.”

“Yes… sir. Because I knew that you were aware of all Vertbirid flights,” Granite confessed, “and I figured that you might pull the plug.”

It was pointless to lie to Sutler, even more so when he clearly already knew everything.

“Don’t make me clips your wings Granite,” Sutler said calmly. “I’ve known you too long to want to do that. So don’t wilfully keep things from me again—regardless of your intentions.”

“Yes Sir.”

“Now I’ve got to inform the Party. You’re dismissed.”
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Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by Andronicus23
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Southbound Cleveland Express

Krenshaw sat in the rear observation car of the Cleveland Express train, which was barreling down towards The Pitt with all possible speed - her raider engineer coaxing as much steam power as he could from the ancient boiler. Meanwhile Krenshaw did his best to enjoy the ride, kicking his feet up on a footrest and leisurely relaxing in a comfortable chair. His body ached, as it always did, but he did his best to relieve it with a few swigs of a lukewarm bottle of beer. He was nearing his fifty-sixth year at this point - ridiculously old as far as raiders went. He himself had never believed he’d ever see life past forty.

“And to think I ended up outliving you in the end,” Krenshaw said as he lifted his bottle up as if in toast, “Here’s to you Lord Ashur. Bottoms up.”

The train suddenly shifted as it raced around a bend in the track, and Krenshaw nearly spilled his beer, clutching it tightly before taking another swig. He brushed off his overly-decorated uniform: an old pre-war Ohio National Guard officer long coat acquired from the looted Camp Garfield Arsenal, though hardly recognizable as such anymore. It was covered in raider insignia, various gaudy medals, as well as a black and yellow diagonal cross patch sewn onto the right chest.

Satisfied nothing had spilled on his always immaculate uniform, Krenshaw leaned back again and let out a deep sigh.

“I’m too damn old to be doing this…racing off to war..” He muttered.

He’d been with Ashur since the beginning, sworn loyalty to him the moment he’d climbed out of that pile of steel and rubble which had left him trapped and buried in his power armor. He’d never bought into Ashur’s godhood, not like the rest of his gang, but he’d always had absolute faith in Ashur’s ability to lead and forge a future for The Pitt. He’d never wavered in his loyalty, never doubted him for a moment - but now he was gone, and his daughter was in charge.

Krenshaw wanted to believe in Marie, wanted to trust her the same way he trusted her father: but the reality was that no matter how much Ashur had groomed her for leadership there was no amount of preparation that could replace hard experience. She was young, too damn young, barely a month beyond twenty. Ashur had never planned to die so early, he’d expected to have more time to ensure Marie was ready for the throne.

Shit happened though, as it always did in The Pitt, and now Marie was thrust into leadership: right before a war that was the greatest threat to The Pitt since Werhner’s rebellion. Krenshaw could only hope the new Lady of The Pitt was up to the task.

“Commander Krenshaw! Commander Krenshaw!”

Krenshaw looked up to see his female “secretary”, Emily, opening the door between the railcars and running towards him as quickly as she could in those high heels he’d given her to wear along with her suit and skirt: all completely necessary for her role of course.

The raider woman brushed aside her long hair and handed a manila folder to Krenshaw.

“This was just radio’d in as an encrypted message from The Pitt, I decrypted it myself. Apparently they wanted you to have it as quickly as possible.”

“From ol’ Abaddon I’m guessing…” Krenshaw said, furrowing his brow as he began looking over the page, then turned to look back at her, “Boy I’m sure fuckin’ glad we pulled your smart ass out of that Vault.”

Emily beamed with pride before Krenshaw continued reading down the page. Confusion quickly crossing his weathered features,

“Wait, what is this? ‘From the United States Secret Service'? The hell?”

“Well I believe it's a report received in from The Enclave sir…”

“The Enclave?” Krenshaw whistled, “Then I’d say shit must be really bad if they’re sending us intel. Normally we don’t get anything from Sutler’s boys beyond asking when the next steel shipment is due to arrive.”

Krenshaw quickly read through the intel report. Evidently whoever had sent it from The Pitt had greatly summarized its contents for brevity, which was no doubt the doing of The Pitt’s resident Scribe, but the meat of it was there. Details on mutant troop movements, apparent strategies employed by the mutant army, and the unfortunate confirmation that Cincinnati had indeed fallen. Much of it was already known to them either through interrogations of fleeing Brotherhood members or Vikia’s scouts, but there was still a good deal of new info as well.

“Looks like they’re expecting an attack on their territory as well…that’s good,” Krenshaw said with a relieved sigh.

Emily looked confused, “Sir?”

“It means we’re not alone in this fight, The Enclave has a reason to fight with us at least. Whatever our animosities - they know damn well just as well as we do that we’re all facing annihilation if these mutants get through.”

Krenshaw walked over and looked down at a map he’d been furiously notating on throughout the train ride. He ran a finger down along the length of the Ohio river as he snaked through Steubenville and all the way down into West Virginia. He’d already ordered the army to form a defensive line along part of its length. They’d attempt to stop any advance on The Pitt there dead cold. If the worst should occur or if a flank from the south seemed imminent, the next fall back point would be the Monongahela and The Pitt itself.

The problem was Cleveland, if the mutants instead went north to take the city, there was little enough to stop them. He couldn't position more forces north without risking The Pitt’s protective line: and that was unacceptable. He’d left his best Lieutenant, O-Dog, in charge of the cities defenses and told him to dig in and hold as long as possible if they came under siege. Krenshaw was confident O-Dog would do his job - and so he needed to do his as well. The Pitt had to be protected along with Marie, at any cost.

But there was still too much damn territory to effectively cover; sacrifices would need to be made somewhere. He looked over the map yet again, glaring at it as if he could change the situation just by sheer will alone,

“Fuck,” Krenshaw cursed, “I need more goddamn men.”
Hidden 29 days ago 29 days ago Post by Tiberius67
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Glowing Sea - Virgil's Cave - morning

Brian Virgil sighed sadly and closed the binder, then looked up at Nathan, sitting patiently in a chair by his lab table. Now he understood why he had come out here himself after all those years. Not that he had abandoned him, he had seen to it that supplies were delivered regularly, including extra items to trade with the Children at the crater. Even a Rad suit so he could leave if he wanted.

"Where did you get this?", Virgil asked, wiggling the binder, "It reads like a pre-war military document. And what is this about the United States Secret Service? After two hundred years?"

"It was transmitted by radio from Pittsburg, or The Pitt as they call it", answered Nathan, "to the commander of their forces in Cleveland....our analysts believe it is the summary of a larger document." He then added, "It was encrypted, Advanced Systems was able to crack it without undue difficulty."

"Has all of this been confirmed?", he asked.

"Partially, though we have yet to get a direct report from one of our own people", Nathan replied matter of factly. "Confidence is high, however. We have a synth on the team that collected the intel that report. We know G4-20 went West as far as what was Ohio and returned, but we cannot access him for debriefing. The entire team is under some sort of close arrest. Until he is released, if he is released, we cannot verify the report."

"However", he continued, "Both the Pitt and the Enclave are mobilizing and moving troops to their West. We have confirmed that settlements all along the Great Lakes are being evacuated, as well as the rumors that the Midwestern Brotherhood destroyed their largest city, Chicago, with nuclear weapons rather than let it be captured by this "Unity".

"What does it have to do with me?", Virgil asked, adding quickly as he saw a flicker of emotion cross Nathan's face, "what I mean is, why are you telling me this? I'm a exile, what can I possibly do to help?"

"Fair enough", Nathan replied, relaxing a little. He then reached inside his jacket and pulled out a envelope, which he offered to Virgil. "By unanimous vote of the Directorate, your sentence of Exile has been commuted to time served. In addition, we are offering you a unconditional pardon and full reinstatement in the Institute. This "Unity" is a threat to the very existence of Mankind, we need your expertise to help stop them."

Virgil took the proffered envelope, opened it and scanned the document inside. It was as Nathan said, a full pardon...all the department head's signatures were on it, even that insufferable prick Ayo...he could finally go home. Joy and hope began to rise in him, but also fear of the price he would have to pay. He looked Nathan square in the eye.

"I regret my actions, and appreciate the Directorate's mercy", he said, "but I will not kidnap innocent people and turn them into mutants again. I'd rather spend the rest of my life out here than do that."

"Then we are in agreement", Nathan replied flatly, "I've spent over ten years cleaning up the mess left by the FEV program, I won't tolerate repeating past mistakes. I have specifically forbidden that practice."

"I accept then", Virgil said. "When can i go home?"

"Now if you like, Brian", Nathan said as he pulled a field transmitter out of a pocket and handed it to Virgil. "Relay in some synths to pack up for you. Get some rest, then meet with Dr Holdren, he will help you with staffing and budget details. I want a survey of the FEV lab and what it will take to stand it back up in three days." He then walked over to his T-51b power armor suit and opened it then stepped inside. "I have another stop here before I return, see you back at home." He then relayed out in a flash.

Virgil packed up his notebooks and a few other essentials, then pulled the transmitter out of his coat pocket and activated it. Keeping his voice as steady as he could, he spoke.

"This is Dr Virgil, one to relay inbound".

Much to his relief, he immediately was enveloped in a crackling field of electricity, and when it dissipated he was in the relay chamber back at the Institute. Home. Leaving the chamber, he found Dr Holdren, carrying a stack of folders under one arm, waiting for him.

Virgil began to vocalize an apology, but Holdren interrupted him.

"There's no need, Brian, that's all in the past", Holdren said sincerely, extending his free hand, "I'm glad to have you back. In any case, ten years topside is punishment enough, especially as the project was going nowhere to begin with."

Virgil reached out and shook Holdren's extended hand, "It's good to be back, Clayton".

"I'll show you your new quarters", Dr Holdren said, "Your effects from before have been moved there from storage. Once you're settled in, I have with me some dossiers for staff rfor your review that we think would be helpful, if you have any additional personnel requests let me know." He added, "Also have the interim budget figures, the Lab is high priority, so you'll find it adequate at this stage."

"What results are the Directorate looking for?", Virgil asked.

"Your serum", Holdren replied, "we want to know if it can be weaponized against them. The intelligence we are receiving is quite disturbing, they suggest that the strain of FEV the Mutants are using seems to be producing at least some mutants with their cognitive abilities permanently intact. It seems the developers of this strain succeeded where we failed. We need to understand the effects of this strain, hopefully a path to counteract it can be found. Also, you'll be working in conjunction with Dr Binet and his project to create synth mutants as infiltrators."

"I'm going to need mutant test subjects", Virgil said, "both our strains and the Unity strain. And most importantly, I will need samples of the Unity strain itself."

"In progress", Holdren replied, "SRB has redirected Coursers from synth retention to retrieving mutants, it has the added benefit of contributing to ongoing stabilization ops. Advanced Systems is projected to have the Mass Fusion reactor back online in three days, that will give us the power to relay out to around 550 nautical miles, into what was Ohio, just behind the current contact line." Having reached the destination, Holdren handed him the stack of folders and took his leave.

Virgil walked into his quarters, finding them suitable for his position. In the center of the room, stacked neatly next to the coffee table, was several gray metal boxes, marked "EVIDENCE-INCIDENT V - NOT TO BE UNSEALED WITHOUT DIRECTOR AUTHORIZATION". On top of the boxes was a clipboard, Virgil picked it up and found it was a inventory list. He put the clipboard back down, and placed the armload of folders on the desk. He checked the terminal, finding it accepted his login and accessed most of the old lab files, including some he was sure he had destroyed when he left...apparently Father had backed them up on his own initiative. He logged out, and took a look around at the bare quarters, only the usual furniture present. When his eyes fell on the bathroom door, he knew what he must do next.

"Fuck", Virgil thought, It's been over ten years since I had a hot shower!"

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