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Exhaustion overcame Owen halfway up the stairs. Physically, he was spent. When a squad left the Prydwen their work remained. Projects might be delayed or temporarily transferred until the original scribe returned. But Artemis had not returned and little of what Scribe Faris handled was considered ‘low priority’. Owen took on the lion’s share of the new work. Spent long nights pouring over work well outside of his own specialties, trying to divine whether Faris was insane or simply attuned to another way of thinking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ad victoriam!” the squad repeated.

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

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

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

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

Loud and frantic. Short and afraid.

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

Then nothing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We’ve got a situation, guys.” Owen unholstered his tactical pistol.
@Cazzer1604 Expect feedback later tonight.

I'll be moving us along with my next post on Saturday. If your character isn't already at the vertibird by then, I'll move them along (or you should PM me with whatever crazy alternative you have in mind). At that point I intend on doing more updates/conversation in the Discord.

We've got a couple more applicants pending. My Saturday post will be the cut-off for recruitment for the time-being.
Great posts so far friends!

Hey @Lo Pellegrino could we get a Discord for plotting and planning purposes maybe? I... I very rarely jump on here unless it's to post.

Good idea. Full disclosure, I've never made one of these before. Let me know if there's something I'm missing?
Folks still working on character sheets: I will continue to read submissions. If your character brings something new and fresh to the team you've got a chance. Once we leave the Pyrdwen that door will close until later on.

@lavenderdame@Chrononaut Show me something convincing. We’ve got a pretty talented bunch here, so I suggest seeing what already exists and how you see your character adding to the current squad. Please note the warning above.
The first IC is live and the Mission Log is updated in the OOC. If you'd like to interact with Owen or Moss just let me know, otherwise, feel free to mingle or explore what your characters would do before the mission. We do not have a posting order, but once everyone has had a chance to post I move us from the Pyrdwen. Just a reminder, the goal is about one post a week.

Folks still working on character sheets: I will continue to read submissions. If your character brings something new and fresh to the team you've got a chance. Once we leave the Pyrdwen that door will close until later on.
Owen leaned against the metal railing. A skinny spliff peaked out from between his fingers, dangling precariously over the edge as he tapped the ash off into oblivion. He took a slow, deep drag. Strange how the cherry’s dull glow burned brighter than the lights below. Like a reminder of humanity’s resilience and downfall all at once. The thought lingered a while before Owen stamped the spliff out onto the rail and turned toward the doors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The mess officer chuckled to himself. “I used to be scribe like you, you know. Until I took a hit from a deathclaw. Snapped my femur right in two.”
I only just stumbled upon this roleplay; missed out on the interest check unfortunately. Think there would still be space, accounting for all of the people who did express interest that haven't submitted yet?

Andreyich is right. As long as your character sheet is submitted by the 5th you will absolutely be considered. We have accepted a few members by now. It would pay to read over their sheets to see what's being done. I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Pyrdwen Internal Network
Moss MS-357PR PM-071

Fr: Paladin Moss MS-357PR
To: Blocked

I am writing to inform you that a member on your team, _________, has been drafted for an operation. Details are confidential. I can assure you this is a top priority for the Brotherhood and that any inconvenience their absence may cause will be repayed in spades upon our success. Please do not share this information. Acknowledging the existence of this operation from this point on may viewed as insubordination.

Thank you for your cooperation.

The Squad

Moss, Elliot Paladin in charge of Recon Squad Zero | Age 42, In Excellent Condition, Modified T-60 Power Armor
Squad Leader

Algarín, Owen Senior Scribe with Recon Squad Zero | Age 28, In Good Condition*, Field Armor
Communication and Field Navigation

Suffering night terrors and occasional sleep irregularities

Kinsley, Harper Senior Scribe with Recon Squad Zero | Age 43, In Good Condition*, Brotherhood Fatigues
Designated Medic and Intelligence

Suffering symptoms of insomnia and depression

McDowell, Gregory Knight-Sergeant with Recon Squad Zero | Age 35, In Excellent Condition, T-51B Power Armor
CQC Heavy and Survival Expert

Esteves, Daniel Knight with Recon Squad Zero | Age 20, In Excellent Condition, T-45 Power Armor
Squad Gunner

Brown, Patricia Knight with Recon Squad Zero | Age 26, In Excellent Condition, T-45 Power Armor (Reformed Brotherhood, Outcast)
Resources and Urban CQC

Brown, Samuel Lancer with Recon Squad Zero | Age 27, In Excellent Condition, Lancer Uniform
Co-Pilot and Weapons Specialist

Grimshaw, Laura Initiate with Recon Squad Zero | Age 23, In Excellent Condition, Field Armor
Designated Marksman

@Hank Beat me to the punch!

@tangletail@lauder@stormflyx Please aim to have your character sheets submitted here by Saturday (5 October). The IC will begin rolling on Sunday (6 October). Thank you everyone!

CC @Odin @Andreyich

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