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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. ”

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,

Cincinnati - The Dam Breaks


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.
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.”


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?”
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,


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.“
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.

Cincinnati - The Breaking of The Dam


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!”
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.”
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.


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.
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!”

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