Recent Statuses

14 hrs ago
Current nothing is safe, nothing is sacred, nothing to pray for


in the end i always feel alone

but the sun is also alone
and he still shines
so why not me

Most Recent Posts

I like using good art though.

Really? I like using bad art.
featuring @Hank

The journey through the tunnel was uneventful, which to any seasoned wastelander was never a good sign. When things got too quiet there was generally a reason for that, like a gang of muties holed up ahead or a deathclaw nest preventing anyone from settling or exploring an area. The molerats escaping the area had been a good sign of that, but McDowell had pressed onwards, perhaps hoping for a good death, or perhaps because he sought to impress the paladin. Slightly surprising to him, but perhaps less so to anyone that knew her, he had taken notice of the soft crunches of footsteps behind him. Perhaps these initiates were less cowardly than they’d been in DC. Or perhaps the crew had just gotten lucky with a decent initiate for once.

The stompy footsteps of the power armour were like an echoey alarm going off, at least to McDowells ears, but at least the background noises of the tunnel, such as dripping groundwater and other background noises from the blowing wind above did a halfway decent job of drowning it all out. These footsteps, however, would very suddenly stop, almost so sudden that in the darkness, it was hard to tell where exactly Gregory had gone.

“Initiate,” he suddenly said in a very uncharacteristically hushed tone, “there’s… something ahead.” The description was about as vague as it could get, but the reasoning for that would become abundantly clear when Laura would come to see for herself.

Ahead, a decently sized group of deathclaws of varying sizes were chained up to the bedrock as if they were slaves. They seemed to be sleeping, so at the moment they were not quite as big a concern as they would have been had they been free and awake. What was more distressing, however, was the group of… humanoids that were huddled around something in the distance, not too far from the deathclaws. They had gone unnoticed, for now, but if they were to go any further, that was unlikely to continue being the case.

The swarm of molerats had elicited a verbal response from Laura, but the chained-up Deathclaws simply stunned her into silence. The tunnel opened up ahead into a larger cavernous formation with plenty of space for the huge, dreadful beasts to curl up next to each other. It was dark and hard to see anything in the cave, but the slow rise and fall of the sleeping behemoths was unmistakable. Every muscle in her body was telling her to run, a primal instinct embedded into the most ancient parts of her brain that fired on all cylinders when confronted with the apex predator that was a Deathclaw, but she forced herself to stay put. McDowell wasn’t afraid either.

The obvious question, once she had recovered from the initial shock and regained some of her composure, was who or what the hell had managed to capture and restrain the monsters? Laura’s gaze followed to where the Knight-Sergeant’s visor was pointing and she spotted the congregation of shapes at the far end of the cave as well. Willing her hands not to shake, Laura brought the scope of her laser rifle up to her wide, unblinking eye. It took several seconds for her to recognize what she was looking at. The humanoids were dressed in long cloaks and plate armor and were of such size that she initially mistook their forms for power armor, but the reality was far more absurd and bizarre.

They were Super Mutants. The green skin and exaggerated features were found on no other creature that she’d ever heard of. It was a deeply unsettling realization. If they had been clad in power armor they could feasibly have been Enclave remnants. Laura had heard of the way they’d turned Deathclaws into living weapons. But Super Mutants were… well, they were idiots. How could any of them have the intelligence and cunning to chain up multiple Deathclaws and live to tell the tale?

Before she could say anything, she winced as the comms-unit in her helmet suddenly came alive with a wash of static and a barely distinct voice: “Get up -- now -- combat!” Laura took a step back and glanced up at McDowell. It hadn’t just been her earpiece, it had been his too. Whose voice was that? The Paladin’s? The only people with access to the close-range frequencies that the Recon Squad used were the other members of the squad and the comms-unit was tuned out of any other frequencies. “Shit,” Laura whispered. Trouble was brewing topside.

A glimpse of movement from the corner of her eye caught her attention. She quickly looked through her magnifying scope again and her stomach dropped into her shoes. The Super Mutants had turned their heads and were looking straight at her.

“Go! Go!” she hissed and slapped a flat hand against McDowell’s armor, her respect for the man’s rank entirely forgotten in the fear of the moment. “The Paladin needs us and we’ve been spotted!”

Gregory seemed lost in thought when Laura called out to him, and the message barely registered. He stared at the figures huddled around… something in the distance, before half-mindedly taking a step back. At the last second he turned his body and began maneuvering the heavy power armour towards Laura. A task that was easier said than done, the gyro’s whirring under the pressure. Whatever had happened to them in the crash, it was Gregory that would pay the price for it now. He tried to go easy on the mechanisms, but there really was no helping it, so he started forcing it.

Normally, someone in power armour would be moving at roughly the same speed or slightly faster than someone without one, but in this case Laura was probably better off running ahead at the snails pace Gregory was going. It didn’t take long for the muffled, but audible screams behind them to be heard. “Stop moving, stupid man!” Footsteps followed quickly, about as muffled as that of Gregory’s own power armour.

Well, there were many things that Gregory would do, but stop moving was not one of them. It took every part of his undersized child-like brain to control himself and actually do the smart thing for once, rather than stopping, turning, and fighting like he was trained to, but he managed under the wisdom that he was unarmed and not particularly keen of boxing with a deathclaw. “Laura!” he yelled under his ragged breath. The fact that he was forcing the power armour to move made it a bit more strenuous than it should have been, after all. “You better have a damn plan if you’re gonna make me keep flee- tactically retreat!”

Laura’s brain frantically rifled through the available tools and options at her disposal while they turned and ran back into the tunnel, but those were mercifully limited and it took her no more than a few seconds to figure out what the best course of action was. Even so, her throat constricted at the desperate nature of it. Under ordinary circumstances Laura would never have resorted to such drastic measures but she didn’t see another way out.

“Keep moving, Knight-Sergeant! I’ll collapse the tunnel behind us and obstruct the enemy’s advance!” she yelled, intuitively turning to military jargon to match McDowell, subconsciously aware that her plan was likely to go down better with him if she dressed it up as a legitimate tactical maneuver. There was no way that he would be able to outrun the Mutants or, God forbid, the Deathclaws if they were unleashed to hunt them down, and she wasn’t about to leave him for dead. Not on her watch.

But they needed more time for that plan to work. Laura skidded to a halt and pulled one of her unlit molotovs free from a pouch on her abdomen and, thinking quickly, set the cloth rag stuffed into the bottle on fire with a gentle squeeze of the laser rifle’s trigger. She turned and threw it towards the cave. The bottle sailed through the air, missing McDowell by a few inches, and exploded into a roaring pool of flame near the mouth of the tunnel, wide enough to cover the breadth of the underground passageway. She prayed it would buy her enough time. It had to do.

While McDowell forged ahead, Laura produced the rest of her explosives arsenal from her tactical vest and, with trembling hands, forced the pins of the fragmentation mine into the wall of the tunnel, embedding it into the rock. Using a piece of combat webbing Laura wrapped her two frag grenades around the mine. She turned her head to look at the temporary inferno at the tunnel’s edge and she could swear that she saw the towering forms of the Super Mutants on the other side of the flames, their faces distorted by the shimmering air.

“Come on... “ Laura hissed as she tied the knot to the webbing, her gaze flitting to McDowell and back -- he was almost out of the impending blast’s danger zone. With one last punch she hit the mine’s arming switch, got to her feet and ran after him. Behind her, the molotov cocktail’s fire died out.

“Get them!” one of the Super Mutants yelled.

Laura wheeled around, dropped to one knee and raised her rifle to her face. She took a deep breath and closed one eye shut. Her heart was racing but she willed it to slow down. Three, two one…

Thud-thud, thud-thud, thud-thud--

In-between two heartbeats Laura pulled the trigger and the searing beam of laser energy ignited the explosives.

The shockwave that raced up the tunnel hit her like a brick wall and she was thrown to the ground, her laser rifle prevented from flying away and out of her hands only by virtue of the strap slung around her torso. With an almighty crash and the roar of a subterranean god awakened, the roof of the tunnel caved in and sent a cloud of dust and debris to follow in the shockwave’s footsteps for good measure. Laura closed her eyes and let it wash over her. If the entire tunnel was going to succumb and bury them there wasn’t anything she could do about it anyway. She had to trust that her gut feeling had been correct and that the power of the fragmentation devices was only enough to collapse a portion of the tunnel.

And so she waited, the agonizing seconds creeping by as the rock and dirt that surrounded her groaned and rumbled in complaint, for the dust to settle, her ears ringing and her vision swimming from the impact.

“Oh no you don’t.” A hulking figure stepped through the dust and the falling pebbles that very well could have pre-empted a larger rockslide. With a very heavy-handed touch, he grabbed Laura by the collar of her uniform, and dragged her backwards out of the danger zone, or at least as far as he could before the roof collapsed even further. The spot where she had been previously was now covered in rubble, but there was no time to contemplate life and death at the moment. Not their life and death anyway. Paladin Moss and Estevez were at this point a far more likely concern, at least for Gregory.

“Get up, Initiate,” he commandeered again, having regained his composure. “There is work left to do.” He let go of her collar and turned to the large wall that they’d need to scale up to re-enter the warehouse. Right now he sure as hell wished he wasn’t in power armour.

“Thank you, sir,” Laura mumbled as she got to her feet, half-aware that she would have been paste if it weren’t for McDowell’s compassionate intervention. She steadied herself until her head stopped spinning before she looked back the way they came. Visibility was practically zero, but there were no sounds of furious pursuit coming their way. Her plan had worked and they were still alive.

“Ladies first,” he offered, not because he was trying to be prince Charming -- although even if he had been, it would not have come across that way at all -- but rather because he was dreading the experience of trying to go up that wall. Power armour was made for jumping off of stuff, not going up stuff.

The brief and unbidden question of whether the Knight-Sergeant wanted her to go up first so that he could enjoy the view flitted through her mind but she squashed it immediately. McDowell didn’t seem the type and it wouldn’t do well to think ill of her squadmates without provocation. Laura still didn’t agree with his decision to push ahead and ignore the warning signs of the claw marks, and her explosives arsenal was now down to a single molotov cocktail and pulse grenade, but it had turned out well in the end. Now they knew what was down there, and with any luck they had trapped the Deathclaws and Super Mutants forever. Despite the risks, Knight-Sergeant McDowell had acted gallantly. Laura felt herself warming up to him. She nodded and started to climb.

It would take Gregory several minutes to reach the top of the hole, climbing out of it with a very, very ragged sigh following. The sounds of gunfire weren’t too far off. Did the muties follow them? Have another exit? Whatever it was, Gregory wasn’t about to wait for things to come to them. Not after having just fled from a bunch of uglies. Maybe it was foolish of him, but his frustration about being caught with his pants down got the better of him. He stomped past Laura, a different tread in his step now, no longer careful, casual, or anything of the like. This was the step of a man that was seething. She followed him cautiously and decided not to say anything.

Where he had previously shoved an entire container down the hole, he didn’t bother going through the same hole he made. Instead, he went directly to the area that would lead to the front of the building. As he approached the container blocking the way, he gave it a good one-handed shove, and by combining his natural strength and the power armour, casually threw the container to the side. It had probably been empty, which allowed him to do this, but it looked impressive nonetheless.

Through a stroke of good luck and coincidence, he noted a super sledge leaning against the wall, unknowingly to Gregory his own, and grabbed it with a new ferocity. With a loud bang he rammed his arm into the large, red warehouse doors that separated the warehouse storage area to the shop front where Estevez and Moss were now holed up, or at least trying to hole up. Louder than he had spoken the entire duration of the mission, he shouted, no, screamed, “AD VICTORIAM, PALADIN MOSS!” Without waiting for orders, the frustrated, seething caricature of a pre-war jarhead raised his foot and planted it firmly against the very door paladin Moss and knight Estevez were trying desperately to keep closed. He pushed it forwards, and kicked the door open with a power that shook the hinges of the door, only barely holding on to the doorframe.

Almost immediately, a rain of gunfire started pinging off his chestplate, although that wasn’t so worrying. Knight-Sergeant McDowell was wearing what one could only call a pre-war tank on his chest, so small-arms fire were not quite the concern they would be to someone running around in their knickers and some leather armour. No, the real problem was the heavy handmade anti-materiel rifle that went off somewhere in the mix, planting an easy .50 round square into McDowells chest. Whatever the shooter had shot at him, it left a sizeable dent and kicked the air out of McDowells body. For a moment, the gunfire stopped, as if they were waiting to see whether McDowell would go down or not. Hell, it seemed like even McDowell was a little confused as to what had just happened. It felt like someone had just thrown a fat man at him.

Slowly but surely, McDowell stumbled backwards, keeping himself upright but only just barely, as he struggled for air. “Mother… fucker...” Still, there was no second shot, so perhaps they were hoping that McDowell would just fall over and die already. It must’ve been surprising that McDowell stepped forwards again, readying his sledgehammer, only to end up reaching for the large door and pull it back as he stepped back inside. For a moment it looked like he was going to shrug off the hit, and perhaps he might have done so had it not been for the fact that paladin Moss was watching.

Once the door closed, that second shot did ring out, punching a hole the size of a mutfruit right next to the other mutfruit sized hole. Bits and pieces of metal flew through the air, but McDowell seemed completely unphased by that, or perhaps just entirely unaware as he stumbled back towards a wall and leaned against it with his hand, trying desperately to catch his breath. “Kni-knight-sergeant McDowell, sir,” he managed to push out of his throat, “reporting for... duty.”

He neglected to tell them about the supermutants and deathclaws below the structure. Whether that was by choice or just because he forgot, nobody could tell, but it seemed like they had more pressing matters to attend to at the moment anyway.
Before the crash

featuring @Lo Pellegrino and @Hank

She had never spoken to Paladin Moss before and the silent treatment that she and the others received aboard the vertibird did little to incentivize her to change that. Still, Laura couldn’t help but glancing away from the landscape below her -- the weight and killing power of the minigun alien and uncomfortable in her hands -- and to the armored form of the towering soldier, inscrutable behind the dark steel of his helmet. His exclamation before their departure had informed her of his religious beliefs and that was interesting to her. There had been religion in Vault 49, for sure, but its flock had been in the minority. Most of the Vault Dwellers, whether consciously or subconsciously, saw little reason for faith in the underground bunker that they called home. She wondered what had instilled faith in the Paladin, and she wondered how much of the world he had seen. Thaddeus had been right, of course; Laura often forgot that she was very well-traveled compared to most of the Brotherhood. But even she didn’t know anything about Boston. The idea that they were traveling to lands unknown as as exciting as it was anxiety-inducing.

“Paladin Moss, sir?” she said at length, keying the inter-squad comm so that her voice carried over the roar of the vertibird’s propellers and engines. “What else do we know about the Commonwealth?” Laura figured that there had to be more intel than what Moss had shared in his brief summary of the mission details.

“Nothing solid, initiate. Artemis should have given future missions a clear picture of the area and the players. Without them,” Moss trailed off, his frown hidden by the helmet. “We prefer intel from our own people. Rumors are tricky. You never know when a tip from a trader is actually a lie or even a trap. All that said, I have heard talk of the Commonwealth’s thriving towns. As in multiple.”

Laura nodded to herself. She identified with the Paladin’s inclination towards caution, having witnessed enough on the way from Montana to justify it. She wondered if Moss was aware of her journey and of the experience she did have. She’d refrained from groaning out loud at her own stupidity when Moss had to fasten her harness before the departure. Laura hated feeling stupid. “Very good, sir. It’s heartening to know that we’re not heading out into an abandoned wasteland. Are you... looking forward to meeting new pockets of civilization?” she asked cautiously, trying to get a feeling for how Moss looked at the world and its peoples.

The question made Moss tremble. Small movements, too subtle for the power armor to show, but not so faint that he didn’t notice. She found a nerve. Struck a tender spot he hadn’t known was there and with an innocent question no less.

Finally, the paladin nodded. “It will be informative,” he answered simply, as was his way. Yet, seeing the curiosity in the initiate’s eyes, he realized the opportunity before him. “I came from a place called New Canaan. There the people rallied behind an idea. Not so different from the Brotherhood. I believe that similarity is why both communities are strong. I hope we can bring that strength elsewhere. The Commonwealth, for example.” Moss paused a moment. “What have your travels taught you, initiate?”

Unaware of the effect her question had had on Moss, Laura pondered his return question instead. It was a loaded query. There were loads of practical things she’d learned along the way but she figured the experienced Paladin wasn’t interested in hearing how she’d come to fear packs of dogs, to watch for Mirelurks at the water’s edge and what the difference was between ripe and rotten mutt fruit. He’d know all of those things already. It was life lessons he was after, and not for his own gain. Moss was trying to suss out how wise she was. Laura was determined to rise to the occasion.

“That there’s no difference between bad people and desperate people when you’re out in the wasteland,” the Initiate said. “Maybe it’s like you said. People need something to believe in, to unite them, to save them from desperation. I believe in the Brotherhood’s mission, and… and I believe that humanity is good,” Laura continued, gaining steam and confidence as she went on. “People can be bad, but humanity is good.” She glanced up at Moss with the same curiosity in her eyes. “You believe in something else as well, don’t you, sir?”

“Humanity is good like a child is good. Too ignorant to realize the great gift it’s been given. Left without guidance, we’d surely scorch the world again.” Moss leaned in close. “I believe in the Brotherhood and its mission to protect humanity. However, my soul belongs to our Lord. Elders speak of a better world like dreams. Only God can grant true salvation.”

With that the paladin drew back. A little more satisfied, curious, and hopeful that the seeds found fertile soil.

It seemed to Laura like a strange thing to say. It implied that there was an inherent unworthiness to anyone's actions if they weren't fueled by the grace of God. "There wasn't much room for God with us in the Vault," Laura said while she stared out of the vertibird. "I don't see much of him out here, either."

Only then did she realize how insensitive her words were and the red flush of shame crept up on her cheeks. "I'm sorry, Paladin, I didn't mean… I'll think about what you've said," she settled on and shot him an apologetic look.

Had he been so foolish? “What you see out here is the Lord’s gift, squandered,” Moss sighed deeply. “Don’t apologize. It’s easy to mistake... this with an absent God.”

It was hard to argue with that. Whether God’s gift or not, humanity had definitely squandered the Earth. She thought wistfully, as she did often, about the pictures in the books of Vault 49’s library that depicted white beaches with bright blue seas and meadows full of flowers. It had looked like such an idyllic place. Now, the wasteland down below was hardly as inviting...


After the crash

Hearing what was left of the squad fall in line was just the reminder Moss needed. He turned toward the warehouse, then to the hills a little ways out. Uncertainty on all sides. That wouldn’t do.

“McDowell, Grimshaw. See what you can find in the warehouse. We may need to shelter tonight. Is it liveable? Is there ammunition or anything we can use to make repairs to our armor?” The paladin turned to the young knight, who’d already proven useful. “Esteves, I want you to explore the perimeter. See if you can spot the wreckage. Keep an eye out for signs of activity, who knows what we fell into here. I’ll stand guard in this position. Check in. We’re not losing anyone else today.”

McDowell maintained the salute, like a mannequin posed a certain way, throughout the orders that Moss would give them. Only in the end would he respond, thumping his chest in affirmation, followed by a loud and clear, “yes, Paladin Moss, sir! Ad Victoriam!” He dropped his arm to his side again, and turned face to move back towards the warehouse. His power armour squeeked slightly as he did so, balking at the weight it was meant to be carrying while damaged. Another warning popped up. “Energy critical,” it said. That was a warning that Gregory did understand, and frustrated him to no end. “Initiate, with me!” he commandeered, almost immediately pulling rank on the poor woman. It seemed she’d be on the receiving end of his force now.

With the thunderous thuds of his footsteps echoing throughout the half-destroyed warehouse came the sudden realization that it was very quiet here. It gave Gregory another bout of bad juju, like he had felt before the crash. Something was wrong here, but he wasn’t quite sure what. For a moment he thought he heard a sound, far in the distance, echoing just like his footsteps, but it was faint and didn’t last long enough to be worth making a note of or even mentioning it to Initiate Grimshaw. Lacking a weapon, Gregory felt naked and vulnerable, though did his best not to let on to that in the presence of anyone else. “Stay close, initiate,” he commandeered again, “we don’t know what manner of inferior beings lurk here.” For a moment it seemed like Gregory had turned serious all of a sudden, perhaps faced with the sudden realization that death could very well be lurking behind every corner they turned. “... would love to smash me a ghoul or mutie right now.” Well, perhaps not.

The first floor was relatively clear -- in the sense that there wasn’t anything directly dangerous to the two as far as Gregory could see. The further into the warehouse they moved, the darker it became, and so he was resigned to turning on the gigantic floodlight-like lamps on his helmet. They clicked once, twice, before turning off again, prompting the man to slap the helmet -- and his head -- in an attempt to get them to work. “Damn mechanics,” he swore, “can’t even fix a fucking lamp right...” In the brief moment that his lamp did work, all he could see was piles and piles of shipping containers.

He marched on, and almost forgot that Laura was with him, occupying himself with barrelling through the maze of containers with little regard for stealth. Not that there was a possibility of it since the half-broken power armour creaked like an old door. “Let’s go up,” he mumbled, more to himself than anything, but easily audible to Laura. The stairs almost gave way when he stepped onto them, the heavy concrete being no match for the portable tank Gregory was wearing, but luckily they held, allowing them to pass onto the next area -- an upstairs office of sorts. Most of the high-tech computers, at least in the eyes of a techno-incompetent such as Gregory -- were off, but there were a few shimmering screens still alive somewhere here. The Knight-Sergeant paid no mind and carried on, waiting at the door to the next room for Laura.

For her part, the Initiate kept her laser rifle slung by her side and unholstered her 10mm pistol as they stepped back inside the warehouse. Laura had been forced to swallow her disappointment when the Paladin ordered her and McDowell to explore the location instead of searching for the vertibird, but it wasn’t her place to question his orders, nor the Knight-Sergeant’s. When he ordered her to follow him she did so without comment. He didn’t sound like he was in the mood for advice or resistance anyway, and she could hardly blame him. It had been a hard landing, his armor was obviously damaged and his weapon was missing. She’d be pissed off too.

Fortunately his armor wasn’t so broken that he couldn’t make his way through the sea of shipping containers and Laura gratefully followed in his wake through the path he’d cleared, towards the back of the warehouse. She wondered what the shipping containers held but the Knight-Sergeant didn’t appear interested in finding out.

“Did you hear that?” she almost said, but the words died in her throat. Laura had cocked her head and froze when something caught her ear, a vague, distant sound, but Gregory didn’t stop and Laura didn’t feel like him bothering him. She checked the safety of her pistol, fingers briefly brushing over the name etched into the side of the barrel, and carried on, ears straining for the sound, should it return. It was hard to listen for anything over the din of McDowell’s implacable advance, however.

The rows of terminals, on the other hand, were something she couldn’t ignore. Her time with the Brotherhood of Steel had only intensified her natural curiosity when it came to relics of the Old World and she sat down at the first still-functioning terminal that she encountered, eyes wide and fingertips eager to start typing.

“Just a second, sir,” she called out, almost as an afterthought, without looking at the Knight-Sergeant. “Could be valuable intel in these terminals.”

After wiping away the dust and bringing the ancient machine back to life with a few deft touches on the keyboard, Laura was presented with a series of dates on the screen. They all shared one common characteristic: the year. 2077. The year of the Great War. Laura whistled appreciatively. “You’ve been running for a long time, haven’t you?” she whispered quietly to the terminal. “Just waiting for someone to show up and extract your secrets. Well, here I am.” Her curiosity got the better of her and she started at the bottom with the last entry. October 21st, 2077.

The rising fuel costs are a disaster for our operations. How are we supposed to run a shipping company when the overhead expenses have practically caught up to the fees we can charge our customers? Nevermind them being willing to pay more, they simply might not be able to. We’ve petitioned the Senator but to no avail. I just hope that this war is over soon, before there isn’t any fuel left.

And then there’s the roadblocks. “Security,” the Army says, but they don’t have anything to fear from us. The Chinese aren’t on the mainland, right? It’s all a big puppet show to make us feel safer but it’s just a giant pain in the ass.

Laura sat back after she was finished reading. Just two days before the Great War had ended the world, these people had been worrying about their business. It was a sobering reminder that it had all happened so fast. In a matter of hours, everything had changed forever. She took a deep breath and checked a few of the other logs. More of the same, really, and nothing that told her anything about what they might expect from this place today, more than 200 years later. She powered the terminal back down, got up and sat down at another terminal.

More logs, but the dates were scrambled. Laura raised an eyebrow and looked at the terminal more closely. The layer of dust that coated the keys was less thick and she hadn’t had to wipe the screen clean anywhere nearly as vigorously as the previous terminal. Her heartbeat quickened. Had someone else been here since the bombs fell? With her nose almost touching the screen, Laura opened the most recent log.

Shipping containers are stuck. Macklen says he might be able to move them if he had some power armor. Good joke. Where are we going to get power armor here?

I don’t know why he’s so obsessed with moving them. We can all hear the sound coming from below them but I’m not exactly eager to find out what’s making it. Damn fucker might get us all killed.

If there weren’t so many rad storms I’d sleep outside. The sound continues through the night. It’s driving me crazy. Maybe it’s driving Macklen crazy too and that’s why he’s obsessed. But he was crazy already. Damn jet. I’ll never touch the stuff again.

“Sir?” Laura said and looked up to find McDowell waiting for her by the next set of doors. “These logs… they’re recent. Somebody’s been here before us. I heard something when we were down on the first floor, and these people heard it too. A sound coming from underground.”

She paused and rubbed her neck, trying to make the hairs that stood on end there back down. “What should we do?”

Gregory turned round to face Laura, contemplating what she said. “I don’t know,” he said, in a way that was less profound and more just genuinely stupified. “We should probably tell paladin Moss, but I’m sure he has more important things on his mind now. The leaders always do,” he told her, before turning his head to face into the next room. He briefly turned on the flashlight again, allowing it to flicker once or twice, only to note a large hole in the center of the floor. “We’re done here, we should go back down.”

He immediately moved back towards the stairs, and began walking down them. On the way down, he contemplated some of the lessons he had picked up in the Brotherhood. One of them had to do with initiative, or something to that effect. “Did it say how to get down there?” He asked it slightly more polite than he had been previously, perhaps because he was occupied trying to mill over whether taking initiative in this case would go over well with paladin Moss or not. Even in this life-or-death situation, he was trying to impress the paladin, one of his heroes. “If so, we should check it out and make sure we’re not sitting on top of like… a bunch of muties.”

A little ways behind him, Laura kept her finger close to the trigger guard of her pistol now. She couldn’t shake the feeling that they were above something that was bad news. But now was not the time for cowardice, she reasoned, and she was able to follow McDowell’s line of thought. Returning to the Paladin with half-completed reconnaissance might not go down well with the hardened veteran. “Not exactly,” Laura said, “but it’s supposed to be below the shipping containers.” She’d peeked past the Knight-Sergeant before he decided to go back downstairs and seen the hole in the floor for herself. An idea came to her.

Once they were back in the large hangar that contained the shipping containers, Laura searched the ceiling for the hole and found it about halfway back towards the entrance, a little off to the side. After that she followed the path Gregory had bludgeoned through the containers and realized they hadn’t walked beneath the hole in the ceiling. It wasn’t a waterproof theory, but the most likely place to start searching for an entrance to something underground would be there.

“I have an idea,” she said, caught up to McDowell and took point. “Follow me, sir.”

Keeping an eye on the ceiling, they made their way through the labyrinth of shipping containers until they came to a halt just a few meters away from the hole in the ceiling above them. Two containers blocked their path. Laura figured she might be able to slither through the gap to move on, but why bother when you have power armor on your side? Before she asked the Knight-Sergeant for aid, Laura pressed up against the containers and looked through the gap to what lay beyond.

Darkness. Shifting a little in place so that she could look down and onto the floor, Laura took a deep breath when she realized what she was looking at: the floor was missing. Just like the ceiling above them, there was a hole in the floor as well. She took a step back and looked at McDowell with a wary look on her face. “Just through here, sir,” she said, unsure of how to describe what she’d seen. It was better that he saw for himself. “It’s… it’s through here.”

Gregory’s face shriveled up slightly when they arrived at the spot, that feeling of dread and bad juju that had filled him before now growing ever larger. Laura, of course, could not see that through the visor. All she’d see was a hulking Knight-Sergeant that braced himself against one of the containers before giving it a mighty push. With a loud, screeching noise the thing slid against the concrete floor, before Gregory gave it one big, final shove. With a loud clatter the thing went airborne, entering the large pit behind it and clanging itself all the way down, banging against the concrete at first before concrete became bedrock. After what felt like an eternity, the damn container finally stopped, thunking loudly as it did so.

For a moment, Greg peered down the deep hole. If there’d been a scribe present, he might’ve joked about it. Reminds me of your mom, or something stupid like that. But not now, not because Grimshaw was an initiate, but because for once, the safety of the Prydwen had been replaced by… whatever this was.

He finally looked back towards Laura, and gave her a resolute nod. “Right,” he posited, turning his head back towards the hole, “let’s descend.”
Hey, I have been a roleplayer for a long time. I have a long past of letting other roleplayers down by leaving roleplays abruptly. A lot of it was my life at the time. Now, I always feel like I don't know what to do when I roleplay with someone for a very long time. I'm worried I have not accumulated enough long term experience to understand how to make a good roleplay.

I don't understand the question you are trying to ask.

If you're asking how to accumulate enough long term experience to make a good roleplay, the only way to do that is by doing it.
Where the others might've had concerns, nervosity or fears about the mission ahead, Gregory was too mind-numb to think about those things. He had preoccupied himself with drinking a few more beers once the scribe and knight had buggered off, before retiring to his chambers to retrieve his Atomic Annie sledgehammer. Then, the soldier retrieved his power armour, thanking the mechanics for taking care of it by giving them a hard slap on the back and a resolute “thanks, wrenchman,” before testing the armor by moving the arms around, seeing how well they rolled. There were a few hickups in the armour -- to be expected when you were using mechanisms that were at this point old enough to go into a museum -- but it wasn't anything that Gregory couldn't brute force his way through if the need arose. The same went for the legs. Once this final checkup was done, he made his way outside towards the hangars, and sat down on a crate, spinning his sledgehammer while everyone else slowly trickled in from whatever they had been doing.

They were quick to take flight after paladin Moss had given them a last second briefing on the hangars, and this was part of the process that always scared McDowell. McDowell was a man that wasn't easy to scare -- throw a hundred ghouls at him and he'd call it a party. A quick job before moving on. Supermutants? He'd be glad to rid the world of those freaks of nature.

But sitting in a metal deathcage hanging from a thin piece of metal they called 'mechanical arm,' that never sat well with McDowell. Unfortunately landing the Prydwen was a massive pain in the ass, a pain in the ass they weren't really meant to repeat, so this was really the only way off the slightly bigger metal deathcage apart from jumping.

It could be done with power armour.

But it would not be a fun trip down for the rest of the squad.

For once, McDowell shut the hell up and simply listened, or at least feigned to. Paladin Moss's words were about all he picked up, and he leaned in to take a look at whatever he was showing them on the device he held, but at that point most of it was lost on the man. They hadn't invited him for his spectacular technical insight, so it was probably for the best that McDowell wasn't in a talking mood, lest he had pissed off every member of the team instantly by making fun of how they read books. Most of all the doctor. McDowell had had very limited run ins with her, and he preferred to keep it that way. She was good at her job, he thought, so it wasn't that that made him wary of her. It was the fact that, unlike most other scribes and technical personnel on the Prydwen, Gregory had quickly gotten the feeling that she might actually be able to hurt him if he mocked her a little too much.

Small woman, compared to Gregory. But a whole lot of fire behind those eyes. He respected it -- fury of a knight trapped in the body of a scribe. The same could not be said for the others on board.

Rather than participate in the discussions, Gregory looked out the side door of the vertibird, peering into the distance. The color of the sky was changing there, and it reminded him of home. It wasn't, he knew, not anymore. He had seen those lights thousands of times before, peering out the window of his shitty shack when he still lived here. But he didn't tell anyone -- not for fear of 'being found out,' more so than it just not occurring to him. The lights might've scared or bewildered the others, but it did nothing to McDowell save give him some nostalgic feelings.

He was eerily calm by the time the others caught on to the fact that the air was changing. It wasn't just the lights, it was the air, the scent and taste of it was permeable in the cabin. The rad-lights came on, and the T60 power armour Gregory was wearing turned on it's rad-light too. Again, Gregory was unimpressed. What might've seemed a typical stoic reaction from soldierman Gregory to the rest was, in actuality, just his innate awareness of their location, and survival instincts kicking in. “Hmph,” was all he could muster before reaching upwards for a leather strap to keep him somewhat steady.

He knew the vertibirds were janky, but that they were this janky, he had no idea. All it took was a sudden surge of a rad storm into the engine, and they were going down. The ship shook left and right and it seemed like they'd freefall their way down, which would've been fine for Gregory since he was wearing power armour. Unluckily, during one of the jerkier movements of the vertibird, he was slung to the right, the leather strap he was holding onto breaking and sending him barrelling off after paladin Moss and the rest of the unlucky passengers.

Some of them, at least.

He closed his eyes, braced for impact, hoped he'd land on his feet so the power armour could work it's magic. The weight of the power armour did the trick, and he landed feet first, the power armour catching the entire force of the fall and then some. Unluckily, the blast of the landing caused whatever shit-shack he landed in to collapse around him. He opened his eyes briefly, trying to see what happened, but all he saw was darkness, and all he heard was the beeping warning sounds of the power armour. Something had gone terribly wrong. The mission was over before it even started. He closed his eyes again. Dying in this yellow-green field covered under destroyed building would be as good a way to die as any.

He was out for a few minutes, maybe, although 'out' was perhaps not the best way to describe it. He was conscious, but elected to just lay there and wait. The sudden shift of the rubble and a familiar face behind the visor of the T60 power armour that pulled him out of it was enough to revitalize the soldier. “Paladin Moss,” Gregory said, “good to see you here,” he jested. It seems the paladin has need of me yet, Gregory thought. Perhaps not all was lost, but just the vertibird and half their crew. But Paladin Moss gave no answer. Had Gregory even managed to speak, or had he just made noises? Moss disappeared again, and Gregory closed his eyes again.

When he came to, Moss was dragging him, and his heavy power armour, all the way to a nearby structure. Gregory did what he could to 'help', trying to push off against the ground and start walking himself, but it seemed that the landing had really shook him. For once, this wasn't something that Gregory could just shake off. He needed a moment -- a long moment. “Just give me a second, Paladin, I'll walk myself, I'll help you find the re-...” Out again.

He came to a second time, this time due to the yelling of one Daniel. "Yelling." It was little more than a regular conversational tone, but the headache Gregory had made it infinitely worse. The constant cracking of the radiation, and the annoying beeping of the radiation meter in the power armour did little to help that. “Hey kid,” Gregory said, sitting up and awkwardly rising to his feet, doing his best not to let the power armour fall over with him inside it. “Shut the hell up.”

Gregory scanned the area around him, and found that his sledgehammer had gone missing. Maybe it was still in the vertibird, or maybe it was lost forever. He shook his head, but that only made the headache worse. “Where's the Paladin?” he said, in an angry annoyed voice, despite Daniel having just given the answer to the question already. He didn't wait for an answer, and stomped outside, the power armour kicking up dust with every step.

During the walk, Gregory noticed the power armour wasn't functioning as well as it should've either. It still worked but the mechanics were probably going to chew him out for real this time. Usually it was just a complaint, “whe whe, Gregory keeps breaking the joints by forcing them,” but it was nothing they couldn't fix. But this seemed a little worse than a forced joint. The entire thing just kept throwing up red warnings in the visor that Gregory had no idea what they meant. He ignored them.

He thumped his fist against his chestplate when he had found paladin Moss, and bellowed as loudly as he could, “Ad Victoriam, Paladin Moss!” He really only made his headache ten times worse, but he found that paladin Moss didn't need to know that. Nor the fact that his weapon was gone, or the fact that his power armour had gone to hell. All of these things made him less combat effective, or so the officers claimed, and it was wholly possible that Moss might've decided to make Gregory sit the next part of the impromptu search and rescue mission out. No, Gregory wasn't going to do that. He'd do his best to make sure that Moss knew he was going to put everything on the line to finish this mission.

“Knight-Sergeant McDowell ready for orders, sir!”

God, his fucking head hurt.
Grinning proudly, the mess officer slid a tumbler full of amber scotch down the bar. Owen couldn’t tell if the officer was joking about his run-in with a deathclaw or merely proud of surviving. Either made sense, really.

“Hey, pal do me for a pint, if you can?” asked a mountain of a man, taking a seat at the bar.

With a few practiced motions the mess officer produced the beer, nodding as he presented the golden ale. The talking mountain, a knight by the looks of him, smiled in approval.

“A deathclaw, huh? Well, you should’ve been wearing power armor, obviously! And a big gun, or a sledgehammer. Something to make that overgrown lizard think twice about smacking you around like some sort of little snack,” he suggested before raising his glass and pouring at least half the glass into his mouth before setting it down. It reminded Owen of a pre-war myth he’d found involving a god and the ocean. The daydream ended as the man shifted his attention. “The name’s knight-sergeant Gregory McDowelll, pleasure to meet you.”

The knight-sergeant continued before the scribe could make his own introduction. “For however long this meeting may last. I’m shipping out and getting off of this metal coffin in a few hours to do some actual work. Not to say that working on this ship is not actual work. Who else is gonna hand me a beer, am I right?” Gregory looked around, perhaps realizing the insinuation of what he’d said, then focused on Owen.

“So what about you? Doing anything interesting recently, besides reading books and typing into the computers?”

Owen took a sip of his drink, studying Gregory over the glass. Rough around the edges seemed an apt description, but he couldn’t deny the man was friendly. The good-natured sort. There was worse company Prydwen.

“Pouring over old maps and holotapes. Anything I can find referencing Boston,” Owen explained quietly. He leaned in close and extended a hand. “Senior Scribe Algarín. Call me Book, it’ll be easier out in the field.”

Gregory was about to reach for the hand and shake it, but the moment his hand was close to the mans hand, a voice rang out. “Good evening gentlemen! So sorry to interrupt,” came a woman’s voice. “Three whiskeys – no, not glasses, the whole damn things.”

Her name was Knight Brown. Owen remembered working with her, if only briefly. She tossed the caps onto the counter and leaned against the bar. “Antagonizing the eggheads again, McDowell? You know, if you put half as much energy into your duties as you do picking on scribes, you’d have made Paladin by now.”

Gregory could do little more than raise his glass and grin at the woman, as if he were proud of his abuse of the scribes. Of course, it was all a joke to him, although there were more than a few scribes that had taken offense by now.

“Speaking as one of those eggheads, I’ll say folks like McDowell here are helpful. What else is going to remind me to get away from my books?” The senior scribe smirked. “Feeling festive, Patty? That’s a lot to caps.”

The mess officer, after gathering up all of the caps strewn across the bar and floor and counting them up by hand, reached behind the bar, setting three full bottles of whiskey up on the counter. Patty unscrewed one and replied,
“I like to keep my own stash, can’t spend all my nights cooped up in here drinking. Variety’s the spice of life or so I’ve been told.” She lifted the bottle to her lips and took a quick swig.

She nods towards Owen's drink and says, "You're not exactly being frugal either, huh? What's the occasion?"

“I just met my new CO,” the scribe cocked a brow at the glass. “It’s a first and we’ll be in the Waste’s for a while. This felt necessary.”

Owen turned to the knight-sergeant, trying to glean some sense of his emotional state. “You said you were shipping out soon. I am too. I don’t want to be rude, but I also want to get some sleep. So, why don’t you ask me one question. Anything. I’ll answer, conversation achieved, then rest. Deal?” Owen glanced at Patty. “You already asked yours. Straight for the pocketbooks, too.”

Gregory frowned at the man, pondering what he’d ask. “What’s so interesting about Boston?” Of course, it was a little known fact that Gregory himself was from Boston, or at least the area around it. For him, the question was more aimed at finding out what he had missed in Boston when he was living there, growing up, as to him Boston had always been a boring affair. Not enough muties for smashing, not like downtown DC.

But to the scribe, it would likely seem more like a question aimed at finding out what the mission was about. After all, the amount of recruits from Boston were few and far between, and all that Gregory’s files would’ve betrayed was that he had been picked up near the Pitt -- not near Boston itself, as the Brotherhood was not particularly active in the Commonwealth or even near the Pitt. His recruitment had been a stroke of good luck for both parties involved.

“Ah,” Owen chirped, eyeing the knight-sergeant. He thought the name McDowell sounded familiar. “I’ve heard a lot about Boston-area being relatively livable. Like Rivet City. I’m not sure if I believe that, but it’s not impossible. Boston was really something before the world went to hell. A lot of culture there. Anyway, if I’m hearing these rumors that means the big wigs are probably hearing a lot more. Or hell, maybe Maxon just wants to take the ship on a vacation.” The scribe drained his glass and stood. “It’s been a pleasure, McDowell. Maybe we’ll see each other again.”

The senior scribe placed a handful of caps onto the counter. “Don’t get too wild, Patty.”

"Heh, no promises," she said as she gave Owen a pat on the back, "Going wild's all I fucking know."

She reached out to take the two remaining bottles of booze from the countertop, as she did the mess officer shot her a disapproving scowl and returning to wiping down a glass. She turned to McDowell and sighed.
"I should be heading out too," she said, "I've got to rise and shine tomorrow too, long fucking day ahead. I'll catch you around, McDowell. You too, Owen."

She clinked her open bottle against McDowell's glass. "Ad victoriam," she said, nodding to both the scribe and the knight-sergeant. Something tickled at the back of her mind; she was almost certain these two would be fighting alongside her. They were a capable sort and it set her stomach at ease to know there'd be at least a couple of familiar faces on the long road ahead.
With the tip of his tongue hanging from the corner of his lips, Knight-Sergeant McDowell drew careful, deliberate motions with his pen on the sheet of paper laid on his lap. Despite his slow movements, the handwriting was near indiscernible from the drawings of a squire. A particularly young squire, even. It was a good matter that nobody else had to read this particular piece of paper. “Weapon…?” he slowly asked himself, sounding out what he had just written down. On his bed laid Atomic Annie, his trusty supersledge. He nodded affirmatively to nobody else but himself, as if he had to pair his thoughts with a physical movement of sorts. “Check…” he sounded out again, putting a checkmark next to the horribly written word.

Gregory, or Greg for short, had received a written notice not too long ago that he had been appointed to a mysterious squadron of sorts. A normal knight-sergeant of particular wit or intelligence might have been able to deduce, at the very least, what this squadron was meant to be doing – or, indeed, had questioned why such a mysterious squadron needed to exist to begin with. For Gregory, on the other hand, such an appointment meant that he had a chance to the Elder Maxon – who was most likely not familiar with Knight-Sergeant Gregory’s appointment on a personal level regardless – how good a soldier he was. It didn’t take much brainpower for anyone – besides Gregory himself – to determine that his soldiering ways were probably why he was assigned to this squadron.

After all, who better to send to unknown territories than a brave or suicidal scribe to catalogue their findings, and a hulking knight-sergeant or two to protect the nerd?

“Armor…?” For a moment, Gregory put his pen to his lip, mindlessly coloring a part of the corner of his mouth blue, before he nodded again. “Yes, I saw it somewhere. Check.”

It was at that point that his ‘roomie’ walked in, scribe Greenfield. He was a twig of a man, barely breaching 5’5”, and not weighing much more than a handful of radroaches would. The two were… an unfortunate duo. On their assignment in the barracks, McDowell had hoped for someone like him – tough, strong, brave and above all, really interesting. Greenfield was none of those things and for the most part seemed to be the opposite of those things. Talk about bad luck.

“Hey, Greenfield,” Gregory said without looking up. There were only a few people on the Prydwen that managed to walk so loudly without the physical stature to back it up. Greenfield was rather clumsy, though, so there was some sort of explanation, sometimes. “Read any of those nerd-books today?”

“Sure, Gregory,” was all Greenfield could get out before Gregory laughed that thunderous laugh of his that, if the engineers that were down a floor were to believed, could shake the Prydwen hard enough to shake some of the bolts out of their holes.

“Haha! Of course you did!”

“Yeah, great, laugh it up. You know, without those books, the engineers couldn’t fix your power armor when you break it for the fourteenth time. So yeah, go ahead, keep laughing at me for daring to read books, something you probably can’t even do,” Greenfield responded, taking great care to bring his point across as well as he could.

Gregory, however, did no such thing. “Haha, bet you typed some words into a computer too, pansy!” He slapped his knee very hard, making it even more obvious he was very amused with the prospect of a scribe doing scribe-y things.

“Sure, Greg. What are you doing, I didn’t know you could write?” Greenfield sneered back, although the jab was lost on Gregory, who seemed more amused with Greenfields ‘genuine’ interest in what he was doing.

“Oh, I’m just checking if I have all my equipment. Us big guys have big important business to do,” was the cheerful reply, making it all the more apparent that Gregory had misunderstood that what Greenfield had said was a thinly-veiled insult. “If I write it down, I can’t forget anything. Smart, right? See, it’s not just the scribes that come up with intelligence stuff.” He presented the paper with illegible scribbles on it to Greenfield, who briefly raised his glasses to get a better look up close.

“You mean intelligent, and yes, I suppose that this is smart. But if you’re just writing down things off the top of your head, you could still forget stuff. For example, you didn’t write down “rations,” or “canteen,” or “brains.” Those are important, although I’m not sure you have any.”

Greg scoffed at the notion. As if he would forget his rations and his drinks. In fact, he had already prepared those and attached them to his power armor frame. “Sure, just like you forget your sledgehammer. Oh wait – you’re a nerdy scribe, you don’t get any! Ha!”

The hard part about arguing with someone who is, putting it lightly, not as smart as you, is that no matter what smart rhetoric and intelligent way of insulting them you can come up with, it won’t land. The only way to beat them, or indeed, even participate would be to lower yourself to their level, and that was something that Greenfield would never do.

“Right. Have a nice evening Greg, I’m going to tend to my duties.” Greenfield dropped off a clipboard on the small shelf that hung next to his top bunk, and disappeared as quickly as he had appeared. If anything, Greenfield was likely very happy that the bottom bunk was going to be empty for a while. Some peace and quiet would be nice for him.

Greg focused on his paper again, but could not muster the energy to continue his checklist. It seemed done for the most part anyway, and he was hankering for a cold beer. With a loud thump he slapped the paper on the sidetable next to the lower bunk, and patted his supersledge. “I’ll be right back, Annie,” he whispered to her, before standing up and marching himself over to the canteen. As he walked through a hallway – if it could be called that, since they were actually just walkways – he passed by Paladin Moss.

Within a second he had come to a full stop, perched his chest out and stepped aside for the senior officer. “Paladin Moss!” he said, standing at attention and performing a Brotherhood of Steel salute, pressing his fist against his chest while extending his elbow up to the side, “Ad Victoriam!” Once the idol, err, officer had passed, and Gregory was sure he wasn’t coming back, he relaxed and continued his way into the mess hall.

Without much finesse or subtlety he sat down in one of the red barstools that they had most likely “appropriated” from a diner somewhere long, long ago. He was just in time to hear the tail end of the bartender sharing some insight on how he had once been a scribe, but had a run in with a deathclaw. “Hey, pal,” he said, “do me for a pint, if you can?”

Once a glass had been filled with a cool, refreshing half liter of beer, the mess officer would most likely have continued his story, but Gregory rudely inserted himself into the conversation, lacking any manner of tact. It was generally well known that the Knight-Sergeants were of a more direct sorts, but Gregory truly took the cake in that regard.

“A deathclaw, huh? Well, you should’ve been wearing power armor, obviously! And a big gun, or a sledgehammer. Something to make that overgrown lizard think twice about smacking you around like some sort of little snack,” he interjected, before raising his glass and pouring at least half the glass into his mouth before setting it down. “Would’ve ended much better!” He glanced at the scribe to his side, who had been the subject of this mess officers’ tale but didn’t recognize the man. “The name’s knight-sergeant Gregory McDowell,” he opened the conversation, “pleasure to meet you.”

He grinned at the man, before continuing. “For however long this meeting may last. I’m shipping out and getting off of this metal coffin in a few hours to do some actual work.” He looked at the mess officer then, before realizing the clumsiness in his words. A little too late, probably. “Not to say that working on this ship is not actual work. Who else is gonna hand me a beer, am I right?” he told the man, slapping the bar with his oversized hands as if it were something hilarious he’d just said. The mess officer seemed unenthused, but given the frequency with which Knight-Sergeant McDowell came here for beer, he probably was used to his antics by now.

Greg turned to the scribe to his side again, and decided to ask him something instead of continuing on about himself. “So what about you? Doing anything interesting recently, besides reading books and typing into the computers?” He held back a slight laugh at the notion of a scribe doing nerdy things like Greenfield would, and instead did his best to maintain a serious, curious look.

The attempt went over horribly, and he couldn’t help but stifle his laugh, barely so. But at least he tried…?
Made an edit (courtesy of Hank) that puts the caravan a lot further South towards the Pitt making pickup by BoS forces much more likely along the way.

I intend for him to be a 'local' that is too dumb to tell anyone 'hey I'm a local' to make some hilarious remark after they just got done defeating the big bad enemy asking why 'they didn't just take the alternative safer route'.
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