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Free Commonwealth – Capital Wasteland

The march from the railway station had not been long. They didn’t receive any surprise welcomes from anyone, neither friendly nor hostile. After all a force this size would make one think twice before attacking. Charon admired the column of Free Commonwealth troops marching southward, with the glistening big golden cross, being at the front. The cross being pulled by Brahmin, was large and overshadow those that stood close to it, as it was roughly the size of 4 to 5 men. He found it spectacular to say the least, a relic of a time gone by.

Charon turned southward and moved out with his personal guards and a small strike force, provided by the Free Commonwealth. His fortunes had turned, the commonwealth had bought his contract and shredded it to pieces. All they asked in return was for his expertise and skills in exchange for some hard cold caps, and plenty of them. He recommend that they take the abandoned Fort Independence, once home to the outcasts, and now refuge for a few settlers.

He led his men at a quick pace, they would arrive before the bulk of the expeditionary force. The settlers would be no issue, they were just a handful. He felt he needed to let them know, and inform them they could stay but would have to work for their housing and food. That was more of a secondary mission, his primary mission was to head west from the Fort and take Tenpenny Tower. The men ran at a quick steady pace and soon reached the outer wall of the tower.

They raised their assault rifles and slammed the gates open. It seemed they were left unlocked, as the inhabitants most likely fled the area when the cult attacked. They slowly filtered inside, carefully watching for any movement. It was eerily quiet, nothing but the sound of the wind. They split into groups. One would go around back and look for a rear entrance, another would remain on the grounds, securing the yards. The third group would go through the main doors.

Charon clutched his shotgun, and held it as a commonwealth soldier opened the main door, and another threw in grenades. They stormed inside, but like the outside, it was quiet. They flipped on the lights on their rifles, and looked around, to an empty hall. They scoured the nearby rooms, and as they entered the area marked bar, they were met with a most obscene stench. Charon headed in, as smell didn’t bother him. Laying on the floor, surrounded by empty booze bottles was the rotting body of a man. Charon gave the all clear, and they continued to scouring the area. The men scoured the rest of the tower and found it empty. The Commonwealth command would be most pleased with the peaceful acquisition of the tower.

Charon approached Fort independence. The army had arrived, and they had promptly entered the facility and set up shop. Outposts were being set up in area between Tower and the Fort, and a large contingent of troops made its way to the tower to set up defenses and make place livable once again. Engineers were busy setting up turrets around the fort, as well as security towers. Charon headed to the main room, as it was busy with activity. These soldiers were quick o get to work. They had pulled up maps, and reports of the area and of their target at Point Lookout. There was a great debate as to what strategy they should take. Charon took a look at the map, and stood there with his arms crossed. He could feel the men staring at him, he could tell his presence made them uneasy. He was used to Softskins looking down on his kind, and these men and women were no different.

It seemed they wished to attack the area in force. Charon disagreed with that point of view he shook his head and pointed to the map, “This area is filled with swamps and marches. We are a force unfamiliar with the terrain, it would be disastrous for us to just storm the area.”

He looked around as the officers viewed the map and nodded in agreement. The colonel looked up, nodding, “agreed, we would be slowed down to a halt in the swamps, and these men there are familiar with the area and could easily ambush us. What is your suggestion?”

“I propose we send out scouting parties to find out the size of enemy troops and just how well guarded the area between us and Point lookout is. Also, once we have the reports, I propose we set up multiple small strike groups to strike at various parts of the enemy defenses. One, to test out their response and two to keep them on edge, Small strike groups can easily move through areas undetected and do some damage.” Charon said as he pointed to possible areas where enemy might be located, based on older reports.

“Very well, we shall go with your strategy Charon. IF you have any other ideas please let us know.” The colonel said as he crossed his arms and shook his head in approval.

Charon turned to leave, but as he was walking he stopped as a thought came to him. He turned around and motioned to the Colonel, “Actually, I know of one excellent little strike group that would be of most benefit to your men. They are pricey but they are worth every cap. They are called Reilly’s Rangers, I highly recommend you send a messenger out to them in DC and hire their services.”

Free Commonwealth Expeditionary Force

Black clouds of smoke trailed the train as it chugged down the tracks. Every so often it word tear apart some barricade foolishly placed in the way by raiders, thinking they could stop the train. The pilot positioned in front of the train, pushed aside obstacles with ease. The train pulled cart after cart of soldiers. Mobilizing from the comforts of the Free Commonwealth, to the battle torn south. Their allies in Florida requested aid, and the Commonwealth answered the call. The men clutched their weapons as they sat on the ground of the railroad carts. Just listening to the clacking of the wheels on the tracks. They were packed tightly, as only a few Locomotives were available to take them on their journey. Most had traveled west, and had yet to return.

The journey from Philly to Baltimore was completed with relative ease, the next leg of the journey was the more perilous one. Asides from the ever so often barricade, shots could be heard hitting the sides of the train. For the most part they were reflected by the armoring but every so often a bullet would hit a weak spot and make its way inside, hitting some unlucky soul. For many of the soldiers, it was the first time they had ridden the Iron horse, and most just couldn’t believe they were travelling such a long distance in a short amount of time. Well short when compared to walking.

The train began to screech as the brakes were applied, and it began to slow down. They had reached their destination. They had arrived to a rail yard in the outskirts of Washington. This was as far as the Commonwealth engineers had gotten to repairing and re-laying tracks. They would’ve kept going, but the closer you got to Washington, the more perilous the journey became, and they had to be recalled so they could lay train tracks leading west to the Pitt from the old capital of Harrisburg.

As the trains came to a halt, the gunners located atop the train carts kept vigilant eye for raiders. The doors to the armored carts opened up and soldiers began pouring out, they were relieved to be out of such a tight confined space, and having room to stretch. The officers were shouting commands, telling the men and women to line up by platoons, and to get ready to move out as soon as possible. They didn’t want to waste time in this old railyard. They wanted to quickly move and take on those that defied the rule of the Most Serene. The men quickly grabbed their weapons, and lined up. The support train with supplies were being unloaded, and they were ordered to assist.

The Intel they received from the most Serene’s messengers, indicated that there was a large force located at Point Lookout. That was roughly 100 miles from their current location, 2-3 days marching. However, traversing DC would be a hassle, sections were highly radioactive, and the raider roamed the wasteland. The idea was to split up in various groups and descend upon the city like a tempest, and shoot and kill any that opposed them. This way and attack from the rear would be less likely, and their Friends, the Children of Atom that resided in the area, might welcome the aid. However, whatever route they took, they were on a time table. They were the land force sent to attack from the north, but a landing party, and attack vessels would attack from the east.
Halls of the Capitol – Bethlehem – Free Commonwealth

Many votes had taken place in congress, almost one after the other, all debating whether to aid the keys or let them sink. The Governor’s Cabinet had narrowly voted to recommend to congress that they aid the Keys. As divided as the Cabinet had been, congress was even more so. There were shouting matches, threats and almost breakout of violence among the delegates.

The Guild of Miners and Bethlehem Steel supported the sending of aid to the Keys. After all, they were big trading partners, partners they did not wish to lose. They were pushing their respective backed delegates to vote in favor. However, they were facing stiff resistance from Farmers United, the main body representing agrarian interests.

Lt Governor Daniel was working hard to convince delegates, but right now he faced his biggest hurdle. A large number of delegates belong to the Amish & Quaker League. They were a large voting block and worse of all they were pacifists for the most part. Unlike the ones from the past, they sometimes do vote in favor of conflict.

“Look, we know you are against conflict. All we ask is that you give this proposal a chance or abstain from voting. If your delegates abstain, we will be able to pass this vote through…” Daniel pleaded with an elderly gentleman dressed in black, dressed in typical Quaker fashion.

“You are asking us to silence our voices by abstaining. You are asking us to give our right to either disagree or agree by doing this. How do you expect us to face our constituents if we do as you say?” The man replied.

Daniel took a moment to ponder, and think of a response, “Simple…You know that this is the right move for this situation. Your constituents demand that we all abstain from violence, yet at the same time demand security. If you vote, you’ll have to go either way, if you abstain…Well, you maintain their wish for peace by not voting for the conflict, and at the same time you’ll keep them secure…”

“You say we’ll be secure, how can you guarantee that? A large number of our forces are out west, if you take another chunk and head south, we’ll be more exposed!”

“Look…Down in Maryland and tin that area, the treacherous Suttbray is raising force, and allying itself with the Cult. If we allow them to gain a foothold, we’ll open the war on two fronts regardless. This way we’ll take the fight to them…If they form in the south, your people’s lands will be the first to be attacked, let us protect you. We’ll vote for the aid and the draft.” Daniel replied placing a hand on the man’s shoulder.

“…Very well. We’ll abstain…” The quake replied with worried look on his face.

Bethlehem, Free Commonwealth of PA – Congress

There was a great bevy of activity within the halls of congress. People were scurrying about delivering messages from the front and the outposts along the border. Lt Governor Daniel was reviewing recent communiqués from the front; Governor Sam was sending frequent messages with orders and intel.

He was unsure about the whole campaign against the Cult, however Governor Sam had ensured to swell the ranks of the military with loyalists and had charmed or threatened most congressmen into approving her plan. The Commonwealth had for the longest time, focused on defense and rarely if ever ventured outside its borders. However, Sam had made it her goal to reunite the whole of the state.

“It seems the army is progressing slowly but steadily. Minimal losses,” the governor said to his chief of staff who just nodded as he was deep in thought while reading some reports. Before he could say anything else, a messenger arrived and handed the Daniel a note, “Ah, we seem to have a visitor from the Key Republic.”

His Chief of staff looked up, “What do they want? Come to ask for more coal and steel? Another discount? I swear, that’s all they care for”

“Does not say, they just said it was urgent matter and needed to speak to us. They are in the lobby, come let us go see what they wish.”

Daniel headed down to the lobby and there they stood waiting for him, “Gentlemen, sorry to keep you waiting…”

Before he could say anything else, the envoy handed Daniel a sealed letter. He opened it and read its content. His face turned pale as he read of the situation in the south. He looked at the Envoys, ‘This couldn’t have happened at a most unfortunate time… I’ll have to convene a council with the governor’s cabinet immediately and recall her from the western front.”
He moved at a quick pace and had one of his aides fetch the members of the Cabinet.

State Capitol – Cabinet Room – Bethlehem PA

“Gentlemen, we must act immediately. We cannot stand by while our allies lose control of their land.” Daniel said as he addressed the members of the Cabinet

“You surely jest, the bulk of our armies are currently engaged in battle out west. The remaining units must remain to secure our borders and towns. Our internal security MUST come first!” replied the Secretary of Agriculture.

“We cannot leave them to fend for themselves. That group under…what was the name … Sutt something,” Said the Secretary Commerce & Industry as she scratched her head trying to remember the name.

“Suttbray” Spoke up one of the Secretaries.

“Thank You… Yes Suttbray, he worries me. He is a cult Sympathizer. Last thing we need is those beast on our southern border.”

“Yes, but should we send troops south, we would stretch ourselves thin and risk the stability we have struggled to obtain. Are we willing to risk the safety of our people because some hicks down south failed to stamp out dissent? Because their leaders lacked fortitude and a backbone?” Exclaimed the Secretary of Education.

“Our Holy Crusade in the west would come to a halt if we were to aid. Worse, we might have to retreat back to our border and our walls. We have a duty to push forward and destroy the infidels, let the keys fend for themselves, they worry me not,” Said the Secretary of the Cross.

“Gentlemen, let’s look at this from a financial standpoint. Our trade with the Keys is vital. Our miners and smelters would suffer, if we lost the Keys as a trading partner. Plus, we need the bio-fuels and goods they provide…” replied the Commerce Secretary as she leaned on the table looking at her co-workers.

“They are luxury goods, nothing else. Our people will have to get used to not having some additional fruits and tobacco. As for fuel, we have the largest deposits of Anthracite coal, I think we’ll be fine,” Replied the Agriculture Secretary condescendingly.

“We must protect our homeland,” said the Secretary of Defense as he removed his glasses and stood up, “We cannot risk the cult being both at our west and southern border. If that were to happen, we would be stretched thin. We must act now and prevent them from gaining a foothold. I recommend we send an expeditionary force south, and strike.”

“Agreed, I recommend we send part of our navy south, our current defenses along the Delaware and the bay are strong we can send them to aid them along with barges of coal and steel.” Replied the secretary of the navy as he nodded to the statement of the Secretary of defense.

“Ladies, gentlemen… let us just take a vote.” Daniel spoke up as he rubbed his temples.

Free Commonwealth of PA

During the day, things remained quiet and still, but as soon as night fell, madness broke loose. These cultists scurried about like rats, hiding in sewers and tunnels they had dug. For now, they were nothing more than a pest they had to deal with; their numbers were few, as if the Cult dismissed the Commonwealth and hadn’t really thought it would invade. Every so often you’d hear an explosion, as soon as troops came upon a sewer or tunnel, a grenade would go in. For the most part it would seal the hole, but there were instances where it was like stepping on an ant hill, as cultist poured and were a pest.

The men gathered the dead bodies of the cultist, and placed them on great piles far from where the main body of this battle group stood, and set them ablaze. The bodies of their own men, were carried to the rear to be given heroes burials back home. They had marched a few miles across the border, and had a quite a bit to go, based on the Cults tactics, they would need to go slowly or risk being struck from behind.

Whistles rang, and the men picked up their gears, and they continued their march. Near the southern part of the main line, workers were fast at work. They were laying down a railroad track that connected to Harrisburg. The idea being that this line would follow the progress of the men ahead of them, providing a supply line. The down fall being that it meant keeping a slow pace, but since they would need to move slowly due to the cult’s penchant for hiding and attacking at night, this would prove beneficial.

General Samuels marched forward with his men; he was responsible for Battle Group Jericho. His group located dead center of the main battle line. He was a kind man towards his men, but relentless towards his enemies. He gave no quarter, surrender equaled death. He was formerly an officer with Talon Company, he had fought in DC, but once he was given an offer to join the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for a hefty amount of caps, he couldn’t say no.

Unlike most of the soldiers and officers, he wasn’t a religious man. He only believed in caps, and completing the mission he was paid for. He was unsure how he felt about this religious zealotry he saw in his man, but it was beneficial as it drove them to fight. This he would be able to work with.

Rick Matthews – Salina

Rick was on his bed looking at the ceiling. It had been some time since he had slept in a real bed. For the past few weeks, he had spent most of his time on the road, sleeping on the ground or beds that didn’t deserved being called a bed. This one was soft and comfortable, which to him felt odd but satisfying.

He was hesitant to et up, but had no choice, he needed to fetch Civil and feed him, unless he had found some food on his own. Plus, he needed to keep an eye on those foreigners, see what their true intentions were. Also, should he come across a ghost rock mine, he would need to let his superiors know.

He got dressed, and the enticing smell of bacon called to him. He headed to the dining room and requested a breakfast plate, nothing like some good bacon and eggs in the morning. He quickly scarfed down his food, and followed it up with some dark coffee. He headed outside, the sun shining high in the sky, relentless as always. He pulled out a pre rolled cigarette and lit it as he looked around for his horse.

He let out a distinct whistle and waited for a bit. Soon he saw his black horse turn the corner walking nonchalantly down the road. He had left the saddle by the Inn, and picked ‘em up and saddle Civil up. As he was adjusting the straps, the town folk seemed to be gathering together. The foreigners had been offering job opportunities for their venture, and it seemed another group was headed to hunt a mountain lion.

Normally, he’d be mighty tempted to go out and shoot himself a mountain lion. But, the mine issue was more pressing. He pulled out his revolver and snapped it to the side opening up the barrel. He checked to ensure he was loaded, and snapped it close again, and re-holstered. He took a long drag of the cigarette, and then threw it on the ground and snuffed it with his boot.

Rick had listened in on the meeting these foreigners had with the priest. They were after highly sought-after Ghost rock. He may not be in US territory, but it was his duty to find out of their intentions and what they planned. He joined them after they left the church, no one seemed to object to his presence or perhaps hadn't even noticed him.

When the priest had shown the stone, he was left awestruck. He never had seen the stone, he wasn’t an engineer or miner. But he had heard stories of it and its volatility. Those stones could power some pretty school stuff but some highly deadly contraptions as well. Under the wrong hands, this rock could pose a threat to the safety of the Union.

They headed to a cemetery and stood before the grave of the priest’s friend. Rick removed his hat as he listened to the priest speak of him. He wondered whether the rock had cursed him and caused him to die or if he had been cursed by one of those magical folks. Rick found it best to shoot first and ask questions later when it came to folk like that.

Rick looked at the priest, “Was it the rock that did this to him?” He was curious, and it made him wonder perhaps if the rock was responsible for some of the dead rising again. He wanted to ask the priest if Charlie ever walked after dying, but that would’ve been exposing the folk here to too much information, information that was his duty to suppress.
Rick - Bar
Rick downed his second glass of bourbon. It was the cheap stuff, but it did its job. He was about to pour himself a third glass when he heard a loud shout and clattering. Seemed like one of the patrons got handy with waitress. Rick didn’t pay it much attention, it was common in most places, and he wasn’t one of those romantics that went on about protecting a women’s virtue.

As he poured his third glass he sat up on his chair as a man came through the door of the adjoining store. He started to pummel and kick the groper. He was agitated, and everyone in the bar was afraid or intimidated by the man. Rick stood up and walked over to the man while holding his drink in his hand. He firmly placed his hand on the man’s shoulder, “I think he had enough? How bout you lay off him?”
Rick - Selina

Rick stood outside the town’s bar, small looking place, just like the town. He got off Civil, and the horse went about to wander around town. Rick had nothing to worry about; the horse knew how to protect itself, last bandit that tried to steal it, ended with kick to the head that nearly killed him. Besides, Civil hated being tied up and tended to get itself loose.

Rick walked into the bar and sat himself down on a table overlooking the entrance and window that looked outside. He leaned back on the chair, and put his boots up on the table. A waitress came along, older woman, looked annoyed at him. Probably didn’t appreciate him putting up his feet on the table.

He looked at her, and handed her some coins, “Bottle of bourbon and a cigar.”

He waited for her as she returned and handed him a bottle, a glass and a cigar. She poured him his first drink, and after lighting his cigars and giving it a few puffs, he leaned further back and tilted his hat down, covering his eyes. He just sat there smoking and drinking as the town went about it business. He listened as people talked. Nothing interesting, just your usual small town chatter; how crops were growing, cattle prices, who was shagging the local school teacher, nothing of interest to him.

He was nodding off, when there was some commotion outside. It made him wondered if someone tried to steal Civil, and had been knocked out cold. He tilted his hat slightly up, and could see some wagon pulling up, with a dead cougar on top. Rick just smirked, and tilted his hat back down, and poured himself another cup.

Free Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

There was a great lull across the border. Not a sound to be heard, not even birds chirping in the air. It was as if all nothing wanted part of what was about to happen. Nothing that valued its existence would want to be here, nor would it want to witness it. Just days ago, the sounds trails of smoke clouds rising from trains could be seen, but today there was stillness.

The thousands of men and women that made up this army group, was reflecting on what was to come. Many clutched their tricord hats or double checked their Kevlar vests that would provide some protections from the enemy. Yet they were all silent, only the gust of the wind could be heard, and soon even that died down. Had this been the Wild West, tumbleweed would roll across the distance.

Sam looked towards her general, who were closely affixed to a communications station. Suddenly a phone rang out. The ringing sound rang out loud, breaking the stillness, the soldiers below stared up at the tower were the governor and her war council convened. They knew that the ringing phone would be sealing in their fates.

The communications tech answered the phone and handed it to Sam. Who remained almost silent throughout the call, once she hung up she just nodded her head, and one of the generals flipped a switch. A red light bulb lit up in the tower and across various locations across the border. This was the signal they were waiting for.

The artillery stations began to hum and grind, as the silence was broken and they began to move. They faced west, but needed their elevations to adjust. Within minutes of the light bulbs turning on, the artillery guns came alive and great thundering sounds echoed across the border. Following the thundering bangs, the horizon lit up in flames as the shells began striking the ground.

The field saturated in exploding shells, surely pulverizing anything that stood in its way without remorse. The shelling continued for what seemed forever. After an hour of continuous, almost nonstop shelling, everything quieted down, just according to plan. Everything had been planned down to the last second, and everyone knew their part.

As everything quieted down again, the silence was once again broken by the sounds of whistles. As the whistles rang, the gates along the walls opened up and on came the troops, marching by platoons, following the Banner of the righteous. As the straight lines of soldiers made there way onward, the artillery began thundering again, providing protection ahead of their steps, this would continue for as long as their range allowed. The war for the Commonwealth began.

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