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Monika gave a half smile at Emil' words, though his words were strained they seemed... genuine like he understood at least in part where she was coming from. Monika knew that dry chuckle all too well, an attempt to lighten the tone of something that brought out the darkest memories one could have. it was clear that these words didn't come easily to him so she thought about putting a comforting hand on Emil's shoulder but hesitated, giving comfort to others was not something she was used to and with how she would react if someone she barely knew did that, she felt it best that she kept her hand down.

Monika chose her next words carefully. She knew Emil was right her family was everything to her now, they were her reason to get up in the morning, her reason to keep going even through her darker moments and they were the reason she was there in Necropolis. Her life had changed so much in two years; she'd gone from a scared and alone woman who was afraid to put faith in anyone for fear of losing everything again, to someone who was far more confident and friendly with those around her, someone who'd come out of her shell so much that she was almost unrecognisable to those who met her two years prior but no matter what she couldn't shake the past no matter how hard she tried. She gave a deep sigh and nodded her head to Emil's words "You're right Emil I shouldn't let it poison them, but whether they like it or not they're intertwined with it now as much as I am. Unfortunately for my son, my past is his past no matter how much I wish it wasn't. There's simply no escaping the reality of who his father was and that's the unavoidable truth."

"And as for my husband." she says bringing her wedding ring up to her mouth and kissing it before giving a little smile. "Whether he quite imagined just how deep my demons lurk, he was tainted with them the moment he fell for me, the fool." she said with a slight dry chuckle. Throughout her little talk with Emil, she noticed the larger BoS member shift positions to watch her and Servius. Obviously, he caught a glimpse of her bumping shoulders with him and for good reason doesn't want anyone starting a fight in his home. Monika had no intention of starting anything with Servius, she planned to make it out of this hell hole alive if possible. Although she wouldn't admit it deep down she wanted to talk to him, he was the only one in those five years who showed her anything in the way of compassion; the friendly smiles, the thank yous, the not treating her like the dirt beneath his feet. Whether it be her own morbid curiosity as to what's happened to the Legion since she fled or just to talk to someone she knew and doesn't want to kill immediately.

Emil was probably the first stranger who understood to an extent what she'd been through, it was a nice change if she was honest with herself. She probably wouldn't open up about anything, but she guessed he would understand not to pry too deep if she ever said anything else to him. She got up from the floor and turned to Emil. "You want any food or maybe just some booze?" she said with a small smile.
"Hmpf, Woman of the Marchlands. That's a new one. But at least he knows who I am." Monika thought to her herself as she sat against the wall giving a half smile. But behind that half smile, there was something much worse, a sense of fear. One she hadn't felt in a long time, seeing Legion armour coming out of the hazmat suit had been a horrifying thing to watch, like a Deathclaw clawing its way out of a dark alleyway towards her, only she'd have preferred the Deathclaw. Ever since she had heard his voice her mind had been running rampant with memories long suppressed, but the one that kept coming to the forefront of her mind was the one she remembered him for most.

**

A cool summer breeze rolled its way through the camp. Monika stood in the middle of the command tent staring at the floor with a now all too familiar thousand yard stare. Her focus only coming back when she noticed Lucius Had left the room. "I suggest you do it properly next time, now get back to work." He said in a disgruntled tone from behind the tent flap. A weak and feeble "Ita." was about all Monika could muster. As she wiped the blood from her nose she heard one of the Legionaries address Lucius as he entered the tent.
"Ave, Centurion"
"Salve, miles. Speak."
"I wish to report a disruption within the Castrum, Centurion. One of Sedonus' Decani has been using their authority to deprive those fit Legionarii of their access to the slave women."
"Decanus Servius?"
"Sic, Centurion, it is he. The interferences of this Decanus, that run contrary to your own instruction, have become a significant disruption to the Legionaries of the Century and I thought it best that this be brought to your immediate attention, that the matter be resolved according to your will."
"Gratias Tibi, you were right to bring this to me, he's been a thorn in my side. I shall see to the matter immediately."

And with that, she heard the tent flap open and the heavy Centurion boots stride off down the hill from the tent. As she stood there she couldn't help but crack a small smile at the fact that a Legionary had stopped a slave from being attacked. She had always thought that the one called Servius was different than the rest. When she first met him he seemed friendlier than the others, he even smiled and said thank you to her, which was certainly something new. Though she stayed away as a friendly smile could have hidden something much more sinister. He was the first to decline Lucius' offer of her company for the night and now he'd stopped a slave from being attacked. Her smile was quickly wiped from her face however as when she left the room Vipsanius was still standing there in the entrance way to the tent. She was never sure whether to be "thankful" or not for Lucius being around as he made it abundantly clear many times that he was all that stopped any Legionary in the camp from... trying her out, especially the younger recruits like Vipsanius. She put her head down as she left the tent, doing her best to avoid his gaze but she could feel him watching her the whole way, his eyes never wavering.

The walk from the tent wasn't a long one, but it was long enough for her to watch Lucius tear into Servius. At a glance, it looked like Lucius stood nearly a full foot taller and weighed nearly twice as much as Servius did. She couldn't hear everything that was said, especially when Servius spoke. But when Lucius vented his frustration at him, she and everyone else in the camp heard every word and she most certainly wouldn't want Marius to learn any of them. The argument didn't last long as when Lucius pointed off towards the camp entrance and Servius' face changed to one of shock she guessed Lucius had threatened to put him on a cross. Wouldn't have been the first time Lucius used a cross to threaten those who got on his bad side.

She didn't want to think about what actually happened to him since he never was put on a cross, but she'd seen and experienced some of the other forms of punishment the Legion would dish out, but it still didn't earn him any sympathy points. Whatever happened, Servius certainly kept his head down whenever he was at the camp from then on.

**

Her attention was suddenly garnered when she finally noticed that Emil was standing next to her. "Huh... yeah sorry, a helluva day is one way to describe it." His next question threw her somewhat, she had hoped but never expected anyone from a group of strangers to be tactful with any questions about herself, she had imagined them being a lot blunter than the way Emil was. She certainly didn't like talking about anything beyond four or five years ago, it just hurt too much. But after what she did just and back in the tunnel, more questions were bound to come, and if they thought she was hiding something who knows what might happen. So getting herself in the mood for the sort of things she was going to have to say was probably better than putting on a fake smile and keeping it all in.

She let out a sigh "Honestly Emil, I've been better. I don't want to talk about it much so I'll give you it in brief. Some demons, or rather a demon from years ago has reared its ugly head, and to say I ain't impressed would be an understatement."
To describe the tone of the conversation between the two Paladins as uneasy would have been the biggest understatement of the century, the two clearly had some sort of history and from what Monika could hear, it wasn't exactly one filled with joy and friendship. And here she thought the Brotherhood all got along like one big happy family. The group she had encountered at the university seems to have such cohesion, they knew each other's actions before they even made them. But maybe that was the exception rather than the rule she thought to herself.

She followed closely behind Servius all the way to the bank, honestly, she was surprised he hadn't asked her to back off a little but maybe he didn't suspect that she had it in for him. He'd be a fool if he didn't, every time he opened his mouth her body language changed for the worse, she might have kept her mouth shut, but her hands and the subtle movements did all the talking for her. The walk to the bank that had been fortified by the Brotherhood soldiers. The hum of machinery filled the room as she took off her helmet and proceeded to unzip her radiation suit. She let out a sigh of relief as she released her hair from its tie and proceeded to check the patchwork tape on her suit to make sure it was still covering the hole. She had tried her best to keep that incident out of her head, but she knew someone was bound to ask. The only thing she wondered about was whether whoever asked would be tactful with their question or not.

Then she saw him, she was sure now. The skirt, the armour even without its markings. It was him, she had no bad memories of him specifically, their interactions were usually brief and he would be one of the few who actually said thank you as she would serve food or drink whenever his unit would visit the camp. And even though he seemed to be a real diamond in the rough when it came to the Legion even once witnessing him stop a legionary from attacking another slave girl, he was still guilty by association in her mind, there was very little a Legionary could ever do to warrant continued living while she was around. She suffered for five years at the hands of some of the most depraved animals imaginable, and she'd be dammed if she was gonna let a single one of them go without paying for the horrific things that happened to her.

She had never actually seen a decontamination machine before let alone used one, never really had to use one anyway. Herself and everyone around her was already radiated, it was just part of being born in the wasteland. But She thought the Paladin was right, better to limit the radiation. Stepping out and picking her gear back up she moved into the main sleeping area, there was a multitude of bunk beds three of were clearly still lived in but four of them were eerily quiet. made properly and cleanly maintained, but with a fine layer of dust resting on the blanket. A sad sight to be sure, these men looked like they'd seen things that would make her demons cower in fear and to go through it with fewer and fewer allies as the days went on surely weighed heavily on the minds of the team. She watched as Servius and... John, she was sure she heard the name John back at the subway station, looked at the holotags hanging from the bunks. Feeling curious herself she too went to investigate, even pay some form of respect, She moved along inspecting the tags. Alexandria, Thomas, Ruben, Girard Nothing caught her eye at first until she looked closer at Thomas's tag, she'd seen the last name somewhere before but couldn't remember, then it hit her. She reached into her shirt pocket and lifted out the Brotherhood holotags, keeping them close to her person so no one else specifically the Brotherhood soldiers could see what she had. She flipped the Paladin tag over, nothing. She flipped the knight tag over and there it was, same last name. Possibly a relative, if she remembered rightly the knight was a male at least his cries of pain sounded male, a brother, son or even father possibly. or maybe no relation whatsoever, she didn't know. Putting the Paladin tag back in her shirt pocket she hung the knight tag on the hook same hook that Thomas's was on, she felt it was a fitting gesture. She had no need for the tags really, she just kept them as a reminder that the Brotherhood weren't the saviours they claimed to be. But the knight at least deserved to be put to rest and remembered by his comrades in a fitting way.

As she turned to walk away she noticed that Servius was standing facing the rest of the group, she knew she couldn't off him yet especially not here. But she could at least let him know he wasn't in her good books, to say the least. She picked her gear back up and walked past him, quite forcefully bumping into him with her shoulder and giving him quite a deathly glare. If looks could have killed his brains would have plastered the wall behind him. before putting her gear down against the wall and unrolling her bedroll to sit down on. She went to light up a cigarette but just as she had her lighter to the end of it she noticed what looked like a distillery in the corner and decided it was probably best if she didn't light up in there. Mildly annoyed she leant back against the wall and awaited a possible reaction from the Legionary or someone else to pick her brains about her mental stability.
Monika scoffed when she heard Prism thank Servius for honouring the death of her teammate. Talon company may have all the morality of a raider gang, but even they weren't as bad as the Legion in her eyes. Nobody and no group ever could be. And would Prism even be talking to him if she knew the true extent of what the Legion did to people out west? She knew how Prism felt, she'd lost dozens of comrades on operations over the last few years. Most she never knew outside of their name and where they were from, but they still died on her watch. That feeling would always resonate within her but even though she thought he had done her best there was always a niggling doubt that it was her fault people had died.

But she kept quiet, it was an odd position she found herself in, where the monster from her past was seen as a nice guy who was being kind to others in the group and she was seen as a mad woman who screams at thin air in a foreign language. If she tried anything now or before she had explained what the Legion was and the role Servius played in it, she would certainly either be killed herself or just left behind. She thought for a second as to whether some of the more alert members of the group like John had figured there was some sort of a connection between Servius and herself, but even if they hadn't it didn't matter. She was sure that soon enough everyone would know of her burning hatred for him.

She moved with the group to the top of the stairs. Glaring at the back of Servius' head the whole way. The stairs opened into what was surely a once grand city bustling with life. Now it was dead, free of any form of civilization. Monika noticed the rain hissing as it hit her suit. "200 years, 200 years and the rads still make the rain melt your face off." Monika trained her eyes onto a dark alley on the other side of the street, she couldn't see anything but it was best to stay as alert as possible. Her concentration was shattered by a gunshot. She spun around to see Prism aiming off into the distance. "Were you dropped on your head or something? Firing a gun when whatever the fuck just attacked us could still be lurking above us. Monika looked up, hoping that the monsters were far enough away or were too busy with the dead man to bother coming back.

She looked back down to see actual people coming towards them. As they closed in she could see as clear as day they were wearing Power Armour and bore the crest of the Brotherhood. Monika put her hand to her breast pocket where she kept the BoS holotags and gave a smirk. "Oh boy more Brotherhood, this is where the fun begins" she thought to herself as she clenched her hand around the pocket. She heard Servius speak to the three individuals who were approaching. She couldn't quite tell what he had said as her knowledge of Latin was mostly insults as she had devised what they meant to be after having them shouted at her year after year. She knew he had introduced himself since she heard him say his name, And from that, she suspected he was asking them their names. She clenched her rifle grip again and glared at him out of the corner of her eye and waited to see how the Brotherhood soldiers would respond.
Monika sat under the desk as tightly as she could. Still clutching her rifle she thought about praying for safety, but what God would take her after some of the things she's done. The tension in the room was like nothing she'd felt before. She doubted if even her machete could cut through it, but on top of that. There was the deafening silence, Interrupted intermittently by the deafening clicks and the thudding footsteps of the creature.

Then a clattering, like a stone being thrown against the tiled floor and off down the stairs. Followed by a very alarming cry over the radio. "Fuck this" a voice she hadn't heard before came over the radio. Then she heard someone start running. She peaked her head out over the top of the counter to see someone running off. After a moment the creature went after him. Not paying any attention and being purely focused on the Idiot who tried to run, she nearly lost her head as the creature's wing flew past her. Monika fell backwards as the monitors from the desk came smashing down around her and the creature let out a roar that shook the ground around it and would put a Deathclaw to shame. Then the creature stopped, the deafening silence had returned. Only to be shattered seconds later by a loud crack, like bones being crushed, Monika gagged. The guy may have been an idiot but no one deserves to go like that. Well, some people, or rather someone. She thought to herself.

She didn't dare move again, quite literally frozen out of a mix of fear and disgust at what the creature did and how the fool died. The loud thudding footsteps came past again and ascended up the stairs. There was a long pause. No one moved, no one made a sound. Then Khaliya came over the radio "They're gone." "Everyone to the top of the stairs, and let's try this again. Stick together." "Low and slow, watch the shadows and the skies. Let's not take any more unnecessary risks."

Monika stood up and picked her rifle up from the floor. Everything she had ever been afraid of, every nightmare she endures. They had all just been shattered. If something like that and the other beast that Emil described earlier can survive in this city. What else could be out there waiting to tear chunks out of the group? She moved out from behind the counter and watched as one of the mercs turned and went to the red pool that was once a group member. He knelt down and placed what looked like a small silver coin in the pool of blood. She looked at him puzzled as he walked back past her, the "formation" the group had, had was all but gone now. It was survival now until they get to the bank. She filed in behind him still confused as to why he would do something like that. Then it all became clear when he spoke. "Ita, Imperatrix."

It all made sense now she knew who was in front of her. He was honouring the idiots passing. "Great." she thought to herself. She's traded being close to one monster for another. It must have been a denarius that he placed in the blood. Monika's grip on her rifles grip tightened. She hadn't been this close to legion scum in a long time. It could be so easy, an "accidental" weapon discharge. A "slip" of her finger and another part of her perpetual nightmare would be gone. But she couldn't, the group were no fools. Well, maybe the Talon company ones were. But the rest were certainly not, she loosened her grip and settled for hopefully burning a hole in the back of his head with a glare as they all moved to the top of the stairs.

Monika watched on in utter amazement as Khaliya sped off after the idiot who ran up the stairs. She knew Power Armour could shift but she never imagined it was quite that quick. The tiles on the floor cracked as she sprinted over them and the ground around her shook a little as Khaliya ran past.

There was a moment or two of calm after the Paladin disappeared up the stairs. Then there was a very loud Crash. It couldn't have been the Paladin, whatever it was it was far heavier than her. Then her voice came over the channel.

"Don't speak. Don't fucking move. Don't even breathe. Make a sound and I let you go."Everyone hit the fucking ground or hug a wall. Make yourself as small as possible and don't make a fucking sound." It was the tone that frightened Monika more than anything else. What in gods name could make someone like Khaliya duck for cover instantly? Monika didn't hesitate if it scared the Paladin it was definitely gonna terrify her, she spun around and scrambled back behind the ticket desk that hse had been stood behind a few moments ago. There was something big coming, It stomped its way down the stairs and, the sound of cracking tiles could be heard under its heavy steps. Then is stopped. Whatever it was was at the bottom of the stairs and in the lobby with them. Then it let out a sound, like a click, loud and echoey in the confines of the lobby, then another. It was searching for them.

She peered her head around the corner of the counter to see what this monstrosity was. Monstrosity was certainly the right word she thought to herself, it was huge, looked like it would make your average Deathclaw its bitch in no time at all. It didn't appear to have eyes of any kind but she quickly withdrew her head back behind the counter again just to be safe; A pack of Mole Rats, Wild dogs, Ghouls, gunfire and even Yao Guai. Monika could maintain a sense of calm when engaging them. But this, whatever this was had filled her with a sense of dread that was stronger than she'd ever felt before.

"It. uses. sound." Came across the radio. She didn't see where anyone else had taken cover but she recognised Emil's voice even in its hushed tone. If that was the case and it certainly seemed like it since the creature didn't appear to have eyes, then Emil was taking an awfully big risk even trying to talk while it was in the lobby. Monika pulled herself as close as possible to and clutched her rifle. 5mm probably wouldn't even tickle that thing. But if it came to it and she really hoped it wouldn't she would be ready to shoot.
Monika listened to the Male BoS Paladin speak about forging on and killing whatever beast lay ahead of them. There was bloodlust in his voice and although she could not see his face, she reckoned there was a burning passion in his eyes, one fueled by pure hatred, she knew of it all too well. Monika wondered whether he was right in the head, however, charging in to face the monster that Emil had described did not sound like her idea of a fun time. Nor did it sound like anyone else wanted to volunteer to go with him on the suicide mission.

"Not ideal by far, but yes we have to go above ground. What was on the other side of the collapse will likely not be the worst the city has to offer, but so long as we play it safe and only engage when we have to… "We will reach our objective, and we will make it out of this city alive."

"Fucking finally." Monika thought as she moved with the rest of the group into the lobby area. She looked around at the skeletons still sitting on the benches and behind the desks. They would never have known what hit them, She only hoped it was quick for them. It certainly didn't look that way for some of the skeletons down below. She made her way to the row of terminals behind the desk. Wiping away centuries of dust and grime from the screen she looked at the screen. "Password required" it read "Of course, waste of time that was."

"Mea Culpa. I await orders." She had hoped he'd stay quiet for a little while longer. The words brought back... Memories, that she wanted to stay away. Monika smacked the top of the monitor quite audibly in frustration, both at it not working and at someone from the Legion still being alive. A few looks came her way "Wasn't working, sorry." She said in a rather unconvincing tone. To her surprise, the Monitor flashed and went to its main screen. "An interesting password choice" She gave a smirk before skimming through the various entries. Nothing interesting, no juicy 200-year-old employee gossip or workplace drama on the emails. She closed the terminal back down and moved back with the rest of the group to ascend the stairs to the irradiated hellhole they'd be calling home for the foreseeable future.

@Dread

Monika was still shaking slightly. Her mind was most definitely not in the present any more, all she could hear was his voice. It was like shell shock, a deep ringing in her ears overlayed with his voice tormenting her and a blurring of her vision. She took her finger off the trigger of her gun, just in case. She didn't want to go shooting a teammate accidentally. But she just couldn't shake his image from her head, it clouded her every thought. She hadn't been this bad for at least a year and a half; the dreams, the flashbacks, the general bad memories. They had all mostly subsided. Could a simple change of surroundings and companions do that to her she thought?

"Hey there.”...“Monika, right?" The voice was soothing, it cut through her visions of Lucius and brought her back to reality. As the ringing and the blurring faded she spoke again. "I-uh, just wanted to see how you were doing, and, ask if there was anything I could do to help.” Everything came back to Monika. The tunnel, the collapse, the looks from the others at least she imagined the looks from the others. "Yeah, that's the name. You're... Frankie right? I can't tell in these fucking suits." Monika looked to the girl and through the visor she thought she could see... a smile "I'm-I'm fine, honestly, it's nothing. Besides, now isn't really the best place to go picking my brains, is it?

The scouts came back in a panic and cut their conversation short "Something coming eh? I suggest you get behind me. We can't risk you getting killed this early. Monika said as she ushered Frankie behind her with her arm and brought her rifle to the ready.
"Is everything okay over there?"

"That voice, the tone, the accent. It couldn't be, surely not this far East." Monika thought to herself as she continued to avoid looking at the others in the group. She wasn't 100% sure that she heard it right. Then he spoke again.

"So, what do you all think we'll find in this consulate? USSR - those were one of America's rivals, weren't they? I don't think they would leave any vital data or blueprints of their own in enemy territory so what do you think they had hiding down there that the Pariah wants? They got some documents through espionage maybe? Stolen prototypes?"

Now she was certain. It was him, she couldn't remember the name and couldn't see his face to get a proper ID but she'd never forgotten the voice. How could she, she was sure he was an important man, the dumbass headdress he wore would certainly suggest it. Last time she saw him he was getting kicked in the stomach by Lucius for something or other, she tended to turn off when she wasn't being addressed directly.

The voice hadn't changed a bit. The man she saw "save" a slave girl from being raped. His face looked disgusted at the thought of what was about to happen to the girl. It made Monika slightly hopeful. Hopeful that all Legionaries weren't scum. Of course given half the chance, she'd quite happily put a bullet or two in him. He was at the end of the day still a walking, talking embodiment of the most horrific part of her life so far. But that moment has stayed with her for all these years. And occasionally reminds here that maybe, just maybe a diamond can be found in any amount of rough.

Monika watched on as Emil and the quiet girl who never introduced herself went down the narrow passage to scout ahead. She knew it had to be done, as going above ground was not exactly desirable and so far they hadn't encountered a thing that wanted to kill them. Monika sighed with relief that she could take a minute or two to relax while they scouted ahead. All of a sudden she became overcome by lightheadedness which made her slouch back against the wall behind her.

She looked down at her suit and noticed a small tear in the right leg. "Shit, must have caught it on something on the way." she thought to herself. As she took her pack off to reach in and get the repair kit out she noticed a set of feet in front of her, clad in Centurion boots. She looked up and saw Lucius, her captor, her tormentor, her abuser. His face was still bloody and his neck still had the Machete wound she made in when she escaped. He looked down at her with pure rage in his eyes. "You know you can never escape me, I own you, I branded you and that little brat of ours, Vacca stulta." He raised his leg as if to kick her and Monika closed her eyes and braced for the impact. "NO! futue te ipsum!" She exclaimed in return.

She waited for what felt like an eternity for the impact of the kick yet it never came. She opened her eyes and the monster standing in front of her had dissapeared. She realised that it had all been an illusion, a figment of her imagination brought about by whatever had gotten into her suit. She looked up to see some of the others looking down at her and although she couldn't see their faces through their helmets she could tell most of those who looked had utter surprise on their faces at the seemingly alien language she had just uttered in front of them. She was also glad they could not see her face for the tears coming from her eyes would have been most unbecoming.

Quickly patching her suit up she retook her place in the formation she did her best to hide from the gazes of the others and began muttering to herself "Stupid, stupid, stupid. Why the hell did you ever think he was real you know he's dead you killed him." She let out a sigh and tilted her head back and began thinking of ways she could either avoid questions or explain what just happened in a way that others would understand when the group stopped to rest when night fell.
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