War... War never changes. Violence has always captivated the human mind.From the dawn of time, since the first flame was kindled, man has waged war upon itself, determined to eradicate those different, in opposition, or simply because they had the power to.And at the end of the 21st century, humanity showcased its ultimate power in one amazing display that ended the world.But as the clock ran out for mankind, in Seattle lay a different story.Seattle clawed its way out of a beginning as a lumber town and rose to a powerhouse famous for gold and built on a thriving technology industry.With skyscrapers built to last the test of time and an economy that never faultered Seattle was a beacon shining into the future, a diamond in the rough, an Emerald City.But despite persistent growth in the City of Goodwill, well it’s war, war that never changes…
You are a new comer to the lands of the Royal Wasteland, it’s border drawn by the line of the Cascade Mountain range.On the West coast of the United States, stranded alone with hundreds of miles of uninhabited wastelands in every direction, lies the remains of Seattle. In the decaying husk of what was once called the Emerald City, rival factions vie for power, some trying to protect the wasteland’s inhabitants, while others want to rule or enslave them.These same factions will desire to use you to their own ends as a free agent, in order to promote their agendas, either to preserve or to destroy the Royal Wasteland.All the while something sinister moves in the background.What happens next is up to you, this is your story.
To help you navigate this new and exciting world you have a RobCo Pipboy 2000 or 3000. Which contains a map of the area and its surrounding settlements. (press the map to enlarge)
Space Needle: It is home to a mysterious monastic order, who have fortified the outside and made it near impossible to enter. They only let in who they want in, and very rarely do they let visitors enter or join.
Bug Safari: A place no one comes back from. It is given a wide-berth, and legends have begun to crop up about it. Before the war, it was a children's museum.
Troll Warren: A peaceful Super Mutant community, created by remnants of the Master's army who had journeyed north. They are aligned with the Cause.
Mercer Island: Guarded extensively by well-trained soldiers. A large settlement is on it. Visitors are allowed to the island, but only with permission from the guards. Trespassers are shot.
Queen Anne's Hill: An abandoned neighborhood. Scavengers poke around it, but it is usually ignored.
Fort Lawton: An old military fort with it's robotic defenses still intact.
General Atomics International West Coast Headquarters: The headquarters of General Atomics, as Seattle had a booming tech industry before the war.
Fort Williamette: The stronghold of the Brotherhood of Steel operating in the Royal Wasteland.
Beacon Enterprises: Taking it's name from Beacon Hull, it is a mysterious organization that operates out of an old castle high in the mountains, built to resemble one from the European Middle Ages. They supply various high-tech weapons and armor to those who can pay well.
The Undercity: A city of it's own. What remains of the Seattle underground has evolved into a massive settlement. The darkness has led to battery-powdered lights being lit all over the Undercity, which is in a perpetual state of party.
Pioneer Square: Before the war, Jackson Street of Pioneer Square had twenty one Jazz clubs. Recently, they've all be reclaimed by the descendants of the Vault 212 dwellers, and most have been fixed up and opened as clubs of their own. Pioneer Square has been imbued with it's own vibrant life. It is aligned with the Cause.
These are only a few of the many locations to explore.
1. The Date is: 2287 (Ten years after the events of Fallout: New York “At World’s Fair”, one year before Fallout 4)
2. The Races you can be: Human, Ghoul, Supermutant
3. You can have a pet, be it a dog or something more exotic.
4. Don't get too many characters, just as many as you can handle.
5. Don't be OP (should speak for itself)
6. VATS is disabled
7. Guns and gun wounds work like real life. You cannot survive three bullets to the head...etc. Armored characters be it metal or skin obviously have the edge.
8. New Frontier, New Characters... I count on you people to interact with our self-made NPCs. They don't need a backstory per sé.
9. Large bodies of water are irradiated (the lake and ocean)
10. No random Teleportation
11. You can be in any faction that already exists here or in the Fallout universe, aside from the Midwestern Brotherhood of Steel chapter (you can be in a chapter not from Seattle).You may create your own faction, but don’t make it some kind of secret society bent on conquering the world.
12. (Optional) add points to your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. or Tag Skills. Feel free to customize it anyway you wish, just don’t make your character ridiculously overpowered, so to speak.This is just for me to have a better idea of their strengths and weaknesses.
13.There is one radio station, the “Seattle Broadband Emergency Frequency,” with a repeating message.
14.Given how far away Seattle is from the East Coast, the events of Fallout 3 and other Tales of the Wastes have little to no effect on the Royal Wasteland.Interpret that any way you wish.
S. P. E. C. I. A. L. (Optional):
Tag Skills (Optional):
William Van De Poorter comes to the Royal Wasteland, in order to explore the wonders of the Emerald City. Instead, he runs afoul of Kheiroin Mt. Hood and is warned of a 'prophecy' by a wise old man. Incidentially, Kheiro infects William with a deadly virus in order to force the former secret agent to complete the prophecy for Kheiro, whatever that might mean. Heading to Pioneer Square in search of seven adventurers who came together under strange means. The Apocalyptians arrive in the Royal Wasteland in search of a raider gang to kill, but it may have simply been a lie told to them by their leader to get them here to investigate something different. They join Rick Deere and Duncan in Queen Anne's Hill and immediately murder Mathias, although their reason for doing so was likely entirely justified. They head from their to the Cause's HQ, being brought in by a Causer to investigate a strange message being broadcast over the radio, a phrase they keep hearing: "Four men come to the Emerald City." Timothy Ashford is also brought to the Cause, after being rescued by the Royal Army from Brotherhood of Steel knights. There, they are hired by the Cause to investigate the strange message, and now all eight of them have descended on Pioneer Square to track down the message's source.
Jim Hailey mets with the High Lama of the Shambhala in the Seattle Space Needle, and was sent to meet up with the group at Pioneer Square. Together, the Outsiders head for Vault 253, which Old Jack revealed to them to be the probably source of the signal. Along the way, they pass through the abandoned area north of the Emerald City and Lake Washington, dubbed the Badlands. There, they run into the Frumentarii and are forced by their leader, Praetorian Gracius, to capture a Legion criminal hiding out in a roadside pub. The group suspects Gracius is withholding information, and are unsure what to expect, until they are forced to confront the psyker Hades. After a scuffle, the group uses a psychic nullifier, given to them by Gracius, to capture Hades. Gracius attempts to double-cross them, but Tim unleashes Hades, which results in the Frumentarii's demise. Hades, feeling merciful and wary of the group, leaves after this.
The Outsiders headed for Vault 253, where they encountered the oddly dressed denizens of the Vault. Dressed like vikings, and living side-by-side with Siberian tigers, the Outsiders had to plead to their leader, Queen Tigris, Mother of Beasts, to enter the Vault. The Vault proved a danger, but the ground made it througn mostly unscathed. Discovering the Prophecy of Four for what it was, they left the Vault by nightfall. They spent the night at Alois Don's campsite, and the Canadian acrobat joined the party. In the meantime, Duncan had stolen a tiger cub from the vault, and gave it to Deaphanie as a gift, which the pair named Morty, despite soon learning the cub was a female. Desiring more information, William led the group to the Issaquah Nation, so he could meet with the Indian's elder. The Elder explained the meaning and story behind the Prophecy of Four to them. The group wanted to learn more about Kheiro and what his true motivations were. The Elder directed them towards the Crimson King, the leader of the House of Devane. There, on Mercer Island, not only would they fulfill part of the prophecy, but they could also learn about their enigmatic enemy.
On the road there, they ran afoul of a Brotherhood outpost. Deaphanie was taken captive, although had little concern, as the Outsiders were right on her heels to take the outpost out...
"Son of a..." Hindert muttered. "Thomas!" He snapped, pointing a finger at Deaphanie. "Search her for weapons then ziptie her."
"Sir." Thomas nodded, stepping forward to give Deaphanie a pat down with his free hand. "Please remain still, miss."
"You two." He aimed two fingers in a V at the knights eating lunch. "Get in your armor, lock and load, we're expecting company."
"Michael!" He called up to the Knight on watch. "Hostiles in the area! Eyes sharp!"
"Affirmative, sir!" The Knight on watch, Michael, shouted back. The two knights at the table immediately abandoned their lunch, hopping into their armor.
"Everyone, coms on, orders relayed through helmet transciever." The Paladin said, reaching over and picking up his helmet, putting it on, then going to his terminal. "Sending a message out now, alerting headquarters. Let's show them not to fuck with the Brotherhood of Steel."
Beyond on the tree line was a wide open space of rolling, grassy hills. They could try to go the long way around to the other side of the outpost, whilst staying far enough away to remain out of sight, but it would waste time and the lookout would still have a good shot at them. They'd have to think outside the box in terms of incapacitating him.
"It's protocal, miss, please don't interfere." As he was patting her down, his thumb brushed something. His hand hesitantly strayed to her butt, which he uncomfortably prodded, feeling the outline of a slim pistol hidden there.
"Seriously." The Knight muttered in disbelief. He stepped back, lifting his rifle to aim at the small of her back. "Remove the firearm from your trousers and drop it on the ground. Slowly." He ordered her, no question in his voice. He was prepared to shoot.
"Take it out of your pants or I will tear them off to remove it." Knight Thomas likely had no desire to struggle to fit his gauntleted fingers down Deaphanie's tight jeans in order to remove the pistol himself.
The watchman didn't intially notice Ward, but once he saw the man's vague shape moving in his direction, he looked down the scope, looking to see what this was.
"11 o'clock." The watchman muttered into his transmitter, alerting his four comrades to their sighting. The two knights who weren't frisking a woman came to that end of the outpost, to aid the watchman if need be.
Ward glared threatingly at the man firing the plasma gun, sidestepping slightly as he saw the green rays swiftly approaching. He fired one of his high caliber revolvers towards the plasma rifle, aiming to take it completely out of action.
Deaphanie shuddered as she felt the metal hand down her back. "Easy on the good stuff, officer."
She then heard a familiar gunshot.
"Huh, sounds like Ward has finally awoken from his slumber."
Ward's first round missed, the second glanced off the side of the rifle. Despite being the deadeye he was, the distance was just too great for a revolver to be accurate-- the bullets had natural dropoff.
Duncan's grenade arched through the air. The first slammed into the Knight, stumbling him. He made to side step for his machine gun to mow them down, but the second grenade had unforeseen conseqeunces. It collided with the platform the Knight was standing on, and the resulting explosion practically evaporated his lookout. The Knight made a noise of surprise as his feet were pulled out from under him, and he slammed into the ground on his chest.
Two more Knights appeared in the compounds entrance, one with a laser rifle, the second with, unfortunately for the Outsiders, a minigun.
The Knight with the rifle immeidately begin to fire lasers at the Duncan and Ward. In cover as he was, he would be difficult to hit.
The one with the minigun stood exposed, the barrels cycling, gaining speed, as he prepared to tear the pair of them to pieces. They likely had to think of something or become paste.
Ward had increased in speed, making a dash for the Knight on the ground as he grabbed him by helmet, pulling him up with surprising strength before delivering a ringing punch that would more than likely knock whoever was inside the suit senseless or at the very least cause the poor bastard to become severely disoriented, intending to use him or her as a human shield against the minigun.
"Such a ruckus out there", said Deaphanie, still playing with Morty. "You sure you don't need me to back you all up?"
"Don't have time for this." The knight muttered spinning Deaphanie around, pulling a ziptie from a pouch at his waist, and hurrying to snap it onto her wrists. Morty clung to Deaphanie's jacket, claws digging in to the hard leather, when her arms were pulled away. She looked back at the knight with wide, curious eyes.
"Sit down and don't move." He order her, before rushing off to aid his comrades.
Ward slid into position in the knick of time. He had accidently pulled the Knight's helmet free, which left the man partially unarmored and made Ward's punch all the more effective.
The Knight had been following Ward's movement, and the minigun roared to life. The bullets rained against the unconscious Knight Michael's armor, ricchoting and bouncing off the plates, a defeaning cachophony in Ward's ears. He and the minigunner were only give or take ten feet apart, and he could hear the Knight cursing as the gunner let go of the trigger, not wanting to shoot his unhelmeted comrade. The hail of bullets slowly died down.
Ward saw his chance and wrapped an arm around the unhelmeted soldier's throat, pointing Justice against his temple with his other hand. "I want my sister back", he said threatingly, but never raised his voice. "Else the only round table this brave little knight will ever see is the empty chamber of my gun."
As Ward threatened the two, Duncan and Rick got into position. Duncan knelt down with his Grenade Launcher aimed at the two. Any sudden move would result in explosive hellfire from the scotsman.
Rick was just now moving from the bushes, with his trusted Shotgun in hand. "I think I'd listen to Cowboy here!" The marine told the knights, laughing. "You don't wanna fuck with him, he ain't playin'!"
The Knight with the gauss rifle, Thomas, joined his tom comrades, each one of them taking a different target.
"Paladin, they've got a hostage?"
The Paladin appeared behind his men, a Tri-beam laser rifle in his hands.
"You want the girl?" He surveyed the three of them, probably assuming Ward, Duncan, and Rick were Deaphanie's three brothers. "I already put a report through to command. I can't let a civilian caputre go once they're in the system. It's against orders. You three would do better to run while you can, reinforcements will be swarming this sight any moment."
"Not an option." The Paladin called back to Rick, the T-51b helmet distorting his voice. "I suggest you release my Knight and remove yourselves from the area immediately. One hostage will not protect you from a full platoon of Knights."
"You are in an exposed position facing an advanced enemy, if the Knight dies you will follow him shortly. And then we will kill the girl." The Paladin said inflectionlessly with the confidence of someone who knew they held all the chips.
"You apparently don't know me that well", Ward growled lowly. "But you will get to know me a lot fucking better up close and personal, unless you release my sister this very instance and then we will be on our way."
"Oh, finally", Deaphanie commented upon seeing William. "I was getting rather bored here."
(In short. After we left 253 and Kheiro offed the Tiger Queen with his mind we went to the Issaquah nation again on request of Will, who had run into them earlier. Thinking the elder there would know more about the strange message we obtained in the Vault than The Cause.
The Elder then told us that in order to learn more about Kheiro and his hoodlums they've have to Talk with the allegedly eccentric Crimson King on Mercer Island to the South-West.
Unfortunately A Brotherhood of Steel outpost on the road blocks the path and they have engaged with the gang and are now in a standoff with them.)
(In the top post, Red, the paragraph summing up Part 3 also has a few details)
The Knights were entirely unaware of the commotion behind them.
"The Brotherhood of Steel does not give into demands." The Paladin said to Ward. "You made the biggest mistake of your life the instant you opened fire. I'm giving you a chance to walk away before that mistake ends up being your last."
The Knights had taken their time lining up shots, each with their weapons pointed a different target. The Paladin himself had his tri-beam laser rifle aimed in their direction, the weapon held on his hip.
"I opened fire?" Ward grinded his teeth. "You need to check your fucking privilege, you tin-clad cunt. This could have gone smooth if your men hadn't fired their pea-shooters at me first. And I think you must be mistaking me for the common Raider rabble you deal with daily. I ain't walking. I want my sister."
Ward tightened his grip around the soldier's throat, pressing the revolver pipe so hard against his temple that it was likely to leave a nasty mark afterwards.
"You stole her from me. And I am getting her back. Simple as that. You can either give back what you fuckers stole, or I will wade through every last one of you false knights. Won't be the first time, won't be the last."
Deaphanie took her rifle and hung it over her back once more. "There we go. Now, let's go and see if Ward has caused any mayhem yet. It's been a couple of minutes since I heard that gunshot, but with a little luck he might be in a good mood today. Unnecessary causalties is quite a nasty piece of business."
(That "heap of metal" probably will withstand plasma bolts, yes, as evidenced by Fallout gameplay)
"Can everyone please stop tossing around empty threats?" Tim interrupted.
"Both sides are well aware that opening fire is going to get us all killed. If you Brotherhood lads release Deaphanie, your hostage won't take a bullet, and Ward, if you release the hostage, they won't shoot Deaphanie. Why does everyone always insist on solving problems with gunfire?"
ReDquinox wrote: (That "heap of metal" probably will withstand plasma bolts, yes, as evidenced by Fallout gameplay)
(7. Guns and gun wounds work like real life. You cannot survive three bullets to the head...etc. Armored characters be it metal or skin obviously have the edge.(To be fair an actual plasma shot would destroy anything to a certain level, a couple if to me roughly 3-4 of a rifle based weapon with a high cooldown period due to the immense amount of heat a plasma weapon would release heatseems fairly accuarate following fallout lore))
Strauss shrugged and muttered loud enough for those nearby to hear "The xenophobic aggresive militaristic faction will only respond to force"
"Then what am I keeping this meat around for?" Ward growled as he was just about to pull the trigger.
However, before he had the time to do so, Deaphanie's head popped up around the corner behind Ward. "Hoo-boy. Why don't we all just lower our weapons a bit and check for clean underwear?"
Ward raised an eyebrow, but didn't let his dead eyes wander off from the soldiers. "You okay, Deaph?"
"Please", she shrugged, walking up to Ward's side. "I am never in any immediate threat. One would think that you should know this by now. Still quite an unpleasant experience to be held hostage upon first sight." She rubbed her wrists and looked with a surly expression on the Paladin, before she started to cuddle with Morty. "If this is how you treat all your guests, I'd rather have a tea party with Raiders."
"Make your move!" The Knight with the minigun shouted at Rick in reply.
"Then what am I keeping this meat around for?" Ward growled as he was just about to pull the trigger.
"Don't do something you'll regret." The Paladin replied darkly.
"Hoo-boy. Why don't we all just lower our weapons a bit and check for clean underwear?"
Ward raised an eyebrow, but didn't let his dead eyes wander off from the soldiers. "You okay, Deaph?"
"Paladin, Michael's vitals show his heartrate picked up." One of the Knigths said over the comm line, which William, close enough to the terminal, heard. It appeared the BoS ran their communications through that computer.
"Please", she shrugged, walking up to Ward's side. "I am never in any immediate threat. One would think that you should know this by now. Still quite an unpleasant experience to be held hostage upon first sight." She rubbed her wrists and looked with a surly expression on the Paladin, before she started to cuddle with Morty. "If this is how you treat all your guests, I'd rather have a tea party with Raiders."
"Affirmative." The Paladin replied, and William could get a feeling of what was going to occur in the next moment.
"Let's waste these fuckers." The miniguner muttered over the comm channel.
It happened all at once.
Lasers immediately came flying for Duncan, beams if hard light that seared and burnt flesh on contact.
Tri-beam lasers blasted forth from the Paladin's weapon, deadly prongs of red light, in Rick's direction.
The barrels of the minigun started to spin, as the Knight holding the weapon prepared to make people soup on the outpost's front line.
Ward's hostage had apparently been playing dead for some time. One metal hand came flying up inhumanly fast and slammed down, gripping his hand and the gun in one steel fist. At the same time, the Knight jerked his head out of the line of fire, basic procedure for disarming a hostile. The Knight rolled over, gripping Ward's wrist, and wasn't suddenly no longer a human shield but a one ton behemoth of metal that was more than a little upset.
The Knight with the gauss rifle set his sights on Tim, likely planning to take out of the man before he could bring up his rifle.
Ward snarled inhumanely and instead jerked his head up near and close to the man's throat as if he was going to give him a hickey, instead he sankhis teeth in underneath his chin as he fiercely shredded and tore through tissue and muscles, ripping the man's jugular out.
"Time to spread a little love, assholes!" a voice laughed from the sideline.
Pestin and Famian, had crept up from the side of the Knights as they let out a barrage of shotgun shells and high-caliber bullets flying towards the now hostile Brotherhood of Steel soldiers. Plague and Hunger sang in unison with the clear intent of not showing any mercy.
The man's other hand flew up and caught Ward's head before he could get close enough. He lifted the gunslinger from the ground, standing to the full height his armor offered him. Ward could feel pressure on his temples as the strength of the Knight's grip increased.
The minigunner turned his weapon on Pestin and Famian. Sparks flew as shotgun spray and bullets caught the power armorand riccoheted off. The minigun screamed, and came to life, the sound of it's rounds leaving the barrel enough to pop eardrums.
The Paladin cursed he saw Rick toss a grenade his way, taking one massive leap, first bending at the knees and then using his enhanced strength to launch himself into the air. Paladin Hindert landed a few metres from Rick. The impact caused the ground to shake, and the Paladin had to struggle for a minute to balance.
The Knight ducked behind cover as Duncan's grenades slammed into his barricade and the ground near him. The outpost wall quivered as the Knight hid behind it, before darting out of cover on the other side and returning fire to Duncan.
There indeed a little microphone hooked up to the computer, likely so the Paladin, when unarmored, could give orders to any Knights that left the outpost.
As the paladin stuggled to balance, the much lighter Rick recovered quickly and seized the moment. As he was stumbling, Rick raised his boot up and tried to kick the rifle out of the unbalanced man's hands, before quickly aiming his shotgun at the man helmet and firing. He would hope it either knocked the man helmet off or seriously damage it.
Duncan fell back a little bit to avoid the spray of lasers. He watched the wall quiver, and he got an idea. "Get back, you ninnies!" Duncan fired his grenade launcher at the barricade and at their feet, trying to back them up towards the wall.
Ward showed not a single emotion of fear as he was being lift up. The Knight would have little time to enjoy his temporary victory however as Deaphanie had decided to enter the fray by blowing his brains out with Requiem from behind.
Famian and Pestin split up into two directions.
"And here comes the pitch!" Famian exclaimed as he pulled out what appeared to be a cylinder from within his hoodie which he tossed at the minigunner.
The cylinder fractured against the hardness of his armor and if that had been it, it would indeed have been laughable. However, as an expert of chemical warfare, Famian often modified his own grenades. In this case the cylinder contained highly pressurized molecular acid which started to rapidly eat through the man's armor, as if it had the intention of devouring him whole.
Ward was dropped to the ground as the Knight slowly teetered, and then fell over with a thunderous crash.
Steel didn't have a very high acid resistance, and while the man was cursing his poor luck, he was obviously determined to wipe out of Famian and Pestin so that he could safely exit his armor. However, he suddenly dropped his weapon, slamming his hands to his ears, as if he'd heard some terrible noise. The minigun hit the ground and spun in a circle, firing sporatically, before dying.
The Paladin's lost his weapon, and reached forward to seize Rick, just as he got a shotgun blast to the face. The Paladin reeled backwards, sirens and wails going off inside his helmet, warning how of the damage, and was momentarily blinded by the muzzle flash.
Right when it seemed like he'd recovered, he suddenly held his head, as if to protect the sides of his helmet, and doubled over.
The Knight with the laser rifle contiued to fire at Duncan, before he abrupted dropped back behind cover, as if something had hit him.
William's plan worked. He could see the Knights and Paladin in various arrays of pain. However, they'd recover momentarily.
Strauss rushed foward his eye once more filled by a red light as his cybernetic enchancments let him move at a unhuman speed and accuaracy, he passed the Murdelizer to his left hand and proceeded to use his cybernetic arm to grab the mans helmet and attempt to rip it off,
(Max, power armour outscales regular armour by a mile. Rule number 7 hardly applies to it.)
When the Knight raised his weapon, Tim immediately dropped to the floor to get out of harm's way, while bringing up his own rifle in the process. Seeing as it was obvious 5.56mm bullets would never even dent his opponent's power armour, he chose a different target: the Gauss rifle. He quickly took aim and fired a trio of rounds a the weapon, hoping to destroy it and remove the threat that the Knight posed.
Tim had to do very little. Once it was clear the Knights were the losing side, Tim's attacker must've recieved an order from the Paladin, because he suddenly turned tail and beat a hastily retreat, as did Duncan's opponant, which left Rick battling the Paladin.
William found nothing that would allow him to end the battle, although there was some good dirt on the Brotherhood here if he wanted to take a look through that.
Rick decided to take aim at the exposed backside of the man, and more specifically, the fusion core that powered his suit. He placed the tipe of the shotgun right on the core and quickly pulled the trigger.
(The minigunner was no where near the Paladin, he and Rick were off fighting on their own. Ward would have to lug the minigun a far distance to reach him, and a minigun is too large and heavy to make a good blugeoning tool, not to mention the Paladin is wearing a helmet.
I assumed you meant the Knight Famian and Pestin had been attacking and just wrote 'Paladin' on accident)
The Paladin stumbled again as the fusion core began to glow, overloading. He whirled around to face Rick, not quite finished yet.
"You stupid son of a bitch, I'm going to fucking kill you." Hindert snarled, reaching out with one hand to snag the ghoul.
There were schematics of some kind. At first glance it was difficult to tell what, he would have to peruse the file more closely.
There was also information on just what the Trans-Alaskan pipeline's purpose was, why the Brotherhood needed people to send north.
And thirdly, there appeared to be operational orders, explaining just what this outpost was doing here, and the Brotherhood's strategy.
However, if the outpost was being abandoned, the retreating Knights likely would radio in it was compromised, and the feed to the terminal would be cut. William would have limited time to spend with his findings.
The Brotherhood of Steel had set up several similar outposts throughout the wasteland. The outposts had standing orders to engage the Cause and Red Hand patrols on sight. Judging by what William could see, such as the placement of outposts and other orders that had been sent out, it appeared the Brotherhood was planning for some kind of offensive assault, but what they were planning to attack or how they were going to do it--such as the logistics of how they were going to move all their soldiers quickly enough to overwhelm the Cause&Red Hand--wasn't covered here. The Brotherhood was outnumbered by their enemy, making up for that by controlling a fortified position at Fort Williamette and having superior technology, but was unable to cover any ground. Their planned offensive would account for that, and would be enough to quickly disable and annihilate any opposiition. Whatever the Brotherhood had in mind, it was big.
Abruptly, even before William could read the whole file, the unauthorized access to the outpost must've been reported, as the terminal's screen went black and the microphone lost power.
"I've been hearing that shit for 200 years," The ghoul jumped back, though he didn't do anything else except get back. The reason for this came in the form of a loud thunk!, as Duncan launched another grenade from his trustee grenade launcher right at the last brotherhood member.
Even before Duncan's grenade landed, the Paladin went ka-boom in a spectacular explosion, getting his own little mushroom cloud. Rick would've been roasted by the resulting radiation, had he not already been a ghoul, instead it was like a warm bath.
The outpost lay quiet, even the Knight who had been mostly eaten alive by chemical acid had finally stopped screaming.
They could pick around and try to find good stuff to bring with them, or press on to Mercer Island.
"Brotherhood of Steel scum", Ward spat. "Doesn't matter what colors they wear. They are all murderers. They just like to play house with their shining armor and try to justify their killings for a noble cause."
"There, there", Deaphanie yawned. "They are all... uhm... well at least some of them are in a better place." She then massaged Morty's ears, reckoning that the deafening sound would have been traumatizing for the poor little creature. "Don't you worry, Morty Mortigress. I wouldn't let those kniggots harm you."
"Can I eat now?" Famian asked.
"Knock yourself out", shrugged Pestin, motioning for one of the bodies with his shotgun. "Just don't make a mess. I'd rather have my apetite still intact.
The youngster in the hoodie crouched over the man Deaphanie had shot in the head. and began to remove pieces of the armor he wore on his arm.
Morty immediately tried to leap from Deaphanie's arms directly onto the table, where the two Knights had been eating their meal. Morty's keen nose had smelt it from far off, and since the cub hadn't eaten in over a day and half by this point, she'd been incredibly hungry.
The Outsiders had just killed three people for their food.
William refrained himself from saying: "I told you so." to Deaphanieand walked over to the rest of the group.
"Ok, so the Brotherhood's been setting up these outposts all over the wasteland. Apparently they're gonna try to do what they always want do when they arrive someplace new. Become the boss by defeating the competition. The Cause for example."
"In case you hadn't gotten the memo, pal, we are working for the Cause," Tim reminded the rather odd scientist, tapping the badge that displayed the Cause insignia on his vest. "You're suggesting we blame this on ourselves."
"Work for the Cause, not are the cause. If someone is hunting for a group of outsiders like us the Brotherhood may find us easily but if they are looking for a group of the Cause" Strauss said pointing at the rest of the group "We don't exactly fit the profile and could move with more discretion"
"D'aaw, come here, you", said Deaphanie as she gently took the little cub in her arms, first by holding onto its neck skin, rendering it docile enough to be carried anywhere. She then looked around for something soft.
With a banner with the Brotherhood of Steel's insignia she created a simple piece of cloth she could carry on her back like a hammock in which Morty could rest. She put the little bundle of fur inside and then hung it over her shoulder.
Will curled his lip up when he saw Famian resort to canibalism. He'd seen it before in the frigid wastes of Second City and no matter how hardened he was, it was always unpleasant to look at. Even worse was listening to it.
"Yeah well, so do explosive experts," Duncan murmured, pushing some wrapping off the table. "I earned that food. Wasted 2 damn clips of grenades on these guys and I can't even get a morsel for mah' troubles..."
And so the Outsiders pressed on for Mercer Island.
They arrived at the bridge in the late afternoon, as the Sun sunk lowerer in the west. They arrived at the bridge to Mercer Island, a relatively short crossing, only perhaps half a mile long and six car lanes wide. The daylight had dulled to an orange colour that cast itself across the fog gathering on the bridge. Mist rose up from Lake Washington, and looked eerie beautiful as they crossed the bridge, like they entering some forgotten kingdom out of a fairytale.
"I'm just ragging on you, mate." He said, resting his rifle across his shoulders nodding back the way he had come. "Come'on, let me take you down to the toll booth, they'll get you on island in a jiffy." He shook his head, chuckling as he turned away. "'Papers please.' Oh, that's good stuff, it is."
The Handsman led the Outsiders down the bridge, whistling to himself as he did so.
"First time on Mercer Island, is it? Lark wouldn't've worked otherwise. Finest place in the world, it is, don't let anyone tell you otherwise."
They came to the end of the bridge, where a few concrete dividers had been set up as makeshift barricades. The bridge itself had been entirely cleaned of cars or any kind of debris, likely so the Red Hand could see whoever was coming and so any attackers wouldn't have any cover in an assault.
There was a toll booth at the bridge's end, and they could see a group Handsmen hanging around. Two were inside the toll booth, apparnelty doing work at some kind of desk, and the rest had taking up positions along the concrete barrier.
"How's it going gents?" Their guide greeted his fellow Handsmen. "Got a few who says they're Causers that want in. One ov' 'em's even got a badge."
"We ain't expecting any Causers today." One of the soldiers sitting behind the barricade said, sounding annoyed his lounging on duty have been interrupted.
"Well go check with the Sarge and radio it in." Their escort said throwing a glance in the Outsider's direction, and they got a feeling he was winking at them from behind his helmet.
The soldier sighed, rising to his feet, and entered into the toll booth.
"They're gonna need you ta turn over your weapons." The Handsman who guided them across the bridge said, turning to the Outsider's. "Causers or not, only Red Handsmen are permitted ta carry on island." He then added, as a joke, "We're always looking for recruits if you want to join."
The canted his head cruiously at Ward, wondering what that meant, since he hadn't been there the first time they'd been disarmed.
"This isn't the wasteland, fellas. You can't walk around packing grenades and assault rifles. Most on Mercer Island haven't even touched a gun. You get caught with any of that on island and they'll toss ya in the dungeon."
The soldier returned with a man that had sergeant's stripes on his shoulder, obviously the aforementioned Sergeant. He paused at the sight of the Outsiders.
"Tim Ashford?" The sergeant asked, surprise audible in his voice.
"Aye it is, sir." Pepper said, giving Tim a nod. "I didn't think I'd run into yourself either, especially not wearing a Causer badge." The Sergeant waved for the soldiers to push the barricade aside so the Outsiders could enter. "Let'em through, boys, no need to wand'em. Turns out they're expected, anyhow. Ole' King Crimson is sending a carriage down for 'em and everything."
ReDquinox wrote: (King Crimson, yet another reference)
(You have no idea)
"I imagine that's what this is about." The Sergeant nodded as the soldier pushed the barricades open, and he waved the Outsiders through. In the distance they could see a horse drawn carriage approaching. "Brass was real interested when it spouted bunch ov' nonsense then shut off."
"Well I don't know much about any prophecy or Kheiro, but me and the lads'll keep any eye out for anything that comes our way." Sergeant Pepper said, nodding to Tim. "Good luck with the King, Tim Ashford."
"I don't like it", Pestin complained as he and his siblings got into the carriage. "I would much rather prefer to be on horseback... or a motorcycle."
Ward's head nearly bumped into the roof, even while sitting down. Though his expression of constant displeasement or bitterness spoke for itself that the tightness of the carriage was most likely not the cause of his brusque demeanor.
(Recommend listening to song, mood setting and it's a very good song)
Once the Outsiders had piled into the carriage, the driver cracked the whip, and it was off.
Leading from the bridge was an immaculately kept dirt road. Bushes lined it, and all they could see in either direction was trimmed, neat grass. They began to pass houses, squat, pleasant homes that looked like they were designed by architects in the 1600s, but constructed yesterdays. They passed hamlets and small communities which were set up on the outskirts of farms. People in clean, washed clothes came outside their homes or stood up in their fields to watch the carriage as it drove past.
Eventually the communities ended, and the rolling plains of green grass began again. They could see gardeners in blue, denin overalls wearing bright yellow canvas gloves tending to it in the distance, either mowing or trimming it. Caps were pulled low over their faces to protect them from the sun, which shown beautifully through the clouds here beneath a blue sky. The gardeners did not look away from their work, and the carriage rode by.
They passed estates of beautiful Elizabethean design, massive houses. Men and women in clothing that likely hadn't been in style for the last six hundred years stood out front, perhaps eating a meal, or tending to household business. Children in little doublets ran through rose gardens and around marble fountains. A couple strolled through a hedge maze, the woman carrying a dainty parasol. Men rode side beside on the Sled-Horses, touring the grounds of their estates. Servants in black&white outfits roamed the grounds on various duties, whehter a governeress watching over the children, or a servant carrying a meal from the kitchen to his lord's quarters. It was a Charles Dicken's novel come to life.
The carriage paused at a rode that bisected the one they were on. The sound of horses and marching boots reached their ears as a battalion of the Red Hand marched by. Officers on the back of Unicorns came first, their uniforms decorated, polished, and wonderful. Heads held high with helmets or hats that were decorated by feathers or other plumes. Behind them marched the soldiers. Rifles held in the crook of their arms, the battalion marched in rows ten men across, their discipline perfect, every movement coordinated. They looked only forwards as they proceeded on their march. There must've been no less than five hundred men there as they passed the carriage in a column, marching single file.
The battalion passed, and carriage started again, hooves of it's horse clip-clopping on the raked dirt of the road. Their destination became clear.
A massive palace rose in the distance. Surrounded by a wall that would've made East Germany blush, a keep of undoubtedly European design towered over them. When the sun set behind it could cast a shadow that would be capable of reaching down the road to them. Composed of cut and polished stone, it consisted of beautiful spires, fortifactions, bastions, towers-- anything a monarch would want for his palace. It was a combination of all the beautiful aspects of a castle, and it worked. There was, perhaps, nothing comparable to it in existence.
The sheer size of the palace became only clearer as they road up to the iron gate which was set into the wall. It swung open as they approached, likely automated, and the carriage drove into the courtyard of the palace, no less beautiful than the structure built around it. There was a small carriage house nearby the gate, and path that lead up to a gratuitous set of stairs, which when climbed led to the keep's broad set of doors. On either side of that path were two large, identical marble fountains, in the center of each stood the statue of Bacchus as Michelangelo had sculped him, although it was unlikely anyone recognized the work. Even here, nobles milled about, some sitting by the fountains, others coming and going from parts of the courtyard not visible from the Outsiders' location.
The driver hopped down from his seat, and began to unharness his horse.
"The King’s servant shall be with you shortly." He called over his shoulder to the group.
Even as the man spoke, someone approached then. An interesting individual, he was a stooped, short man, with a thin face. He wore tight, yellow outfit, which gave him a slim appearance, and had a jester's hat, with bells that jangled when ever he turned his head. A permenant grin was plaster on his face, and it was one of joy, judging by the wrinkles around his eyes. Wide silk cuffs hung around his wrists, making his hands look small and dainty, which he held out in front of his waist, as if he was preparing to catch something.
"Greetings, welcome guests." The Yellow Jester said, bowing deeply to them once he came to a stop in front of their carriage. "The House of Devane, and the Crimson King, appreciate your attendance."
"Now isn't that the question?" The Jester responded to Duncan, grinning wider.
"These aren't redcoats," Tim pointed out to Rick. "These are renaissance impersonators."
"Oh, poor form." The Jester tsked. "Renaissance impersonators? Mercer Island is so much more than that. It draws influence from a period in time. The citizens don't believe they are impersonating anyone-- they are living the lives that have been alotted them. To them, this might as well be the reinssance." He then added, with a laugh, "And you are in the piece de resistance of their reinssance, eh?"
He clapped his hands suddenly, perhaps startling a few of them. "But enough talk. You guys want to check out the castle right? Everyone wants to check out the castle."
William was annoyed by the fact he knew very little of the words that were being tossed around. He wasn't stupid, but his knowledge of the world before the war was like the average wastelander minimal.
He wasn't trucking about with average wastelanders though.
"Let's just go ahead and meet with your King." He cut in
"Oh ho, no no no, Blond Boy." The Jester abashed William, wagging a finger at him. "One does not simply meet with the Crimson King. No, we have the formalities first! For example, names." The Jester motioned with both hands. "I insist you give me them. And I don't take no for an answer!" He laughed joyously, which slowly tapered off into a grimace. "I really don't."
"Not as much as you make me want to puke though!" The Jester replied, and then cracked up at his own retort.
"It's pretty nice. I'm not gonna bother to ask how you all managed to build this. Or restore it," Duncan said.
"The original estate was built by the DeVane family over a hundred years ago now." The Yellow Jester informed him. "This palace was only constructed within the last forty years, and there are still additions being made to it. The cost and work it took to build was enormous, but as you undoubtedly noticed, Mercer Island can easily support it."
Will inhaled sharply through his nose when he heard that nickname but kept his cool. He couldn't allow to get in trouble now. Or show that it annoyed him imensely to the others lest they'd also tease him with it.
"Mercer Island was a state park before the war. Radiation didn't clear the lake or most of the towers in the city, and no one lived here to begin with. It was left virtually untouched. It also had a large deposit of granite, rich woods, and plenty of equipment left over for managing the park and from previous construction efforts. The DeVane family got Mercer Island started. But the Crimson King..." The Fool gestured to what was around them and beyond, "he's what made it like this. Forty years ago, it looked only vaguely akin to what you see today."
They came to the large, brass, double doors of the keep, which the Jester pushed open.
"Please, come inside, come inside. That's where the party really starts. Right, Billy?" The Jester grinned at William as he held one door open for them to enter.
The doors opened immediately into a massive throne room. Empty except for support pillars, Red Handsmen standing at attention, and a throne, it was clearly more of a status symbol than anything. A large yellow rug led right up to the throne, which sat up on a dias. It was gilded wood with red velvet cushions sown into the back and seat of he chair. It currently sat empty, the Crimson King was apparently not in attendence.
"Good Timothy, you are dirt and unwashed. When was the last time you shaved?" He asked, inspecting the man's mask with a critical eye. He clapped his hands, spinning away. "No matter! Your suites will have full bathrooms. Have any of you seen clean, running water before? Unlikely! You outsiders are always so uncultured."
As the Jester guided them down the hall, approaching the throne, a man came off from the side, likely from one of many doors that lined walls of the throne room. He was in his late thirties, with a handsome face and short dark hair, was dressed expensively, and carried himself in a dignified manner. The Fool grinned wickedly as the man approached, and stepped off to the side, as if to give the newcomer unrestricted access to the Outsiders.
He came to a stop a few feet away, frowning, and threw a suspicious glance at the Jester, to which the Fool only grinned.
"These are the Crimson King's... guests?"
"Indeed." The Jester nodded fervently. "Tell me, Duke Adamar," the Fool snickered abruptly as he used the man's name, "what do you make of them?"
"They look like a collection of freaks and weirdos." Adamar said bluntly, taking in the cowboy, guy wearing a hockey mask, a robot-man, and a ghoul.
William could feel his zen-face crack with each pounding of 'eccentric-ness'.
"Can we see the king, please?" He asked, cracking a small smirk in the same way he would've done decades ago when he had to command a brainwashed Wasteral. Back when he was more aloof. Before the frigid Crossroads hardened him.
"Nope, sorry." The Jester frowned, touching his fingers to his face and pulling his mouth into a frown. "You're gunna have to be paaaaatientttt." The Jester slid over to him, wrapping an arm around William's shoulders. "Consider it this way, Billy. It'll be so much sweeter when you finally do. Besides, you sound like a whiny kid in a toy store. 'Can we see the king, pwease?' Yikes."
Adamar evidently got bored, as he went his own way. The Jester was front and center stage again.
"You guys were right, you're too smell and gross to see the King. He's far too important and successful for you losers in the first place, so you're going to have to freshen up before you do. If you follow me, I'll show you to your rooms."
William quickly took hold of the Jester's arm and twisted it until he heard a sickening snap, causing the fool to bend over, after which the agent raised his knee in his stupid face causing bits of teeth to dislodge and brittle.
he then kicked and punched him again, and again, and again...
William thought as he restrained the urge to act on these desires.
They took one of the doors down along the side of the throne room into a corridor. Here the ceiling was lower, but still tall, and the hallway still wide. The carpet was blue and the walls and ceiling cool stone. Smooth wooden doors lined the hall on both sides, each leading to a different suite. Handsmen patrolled up and down the hall.
"That one is your's, your's, your's, your's..." the Jester pointed a suite out for each group member, assigning them at random. "Baths have already been drawn and beds made, outfits are in the cupboard. If you need anything, ask a guard, they'll send a member of the wait staff to you. I will send for you in two hours for the evening meal. Perhaps the Crimson King will even be there." He tipped his hat to them. "Farewell!" Before the Outsiders could ask any more questions, the Fool scurried away.
"Huh, a luxury spa. 'Tis been a while since I visited one of these places", Deaphanie told Duncan, looking rather amazed by the outline of the enviroment she was currently in. "Morty certainly seems to like it."
"Uhm... It's..." Deaphanie scratched the back of her head. "It's complicated. I suppose it would be no harm to tell you, seeing as the truth is far from what most sensible people are willing to comprehend and accept."
She looked as if she was about to open her mouth and say something, only to quickly slide to the side and away from the conversation. A clear feint.
Morty had awoken, the smell of horses and new humans having coaxed her out of a slumber long ago, and now was poking her head curiously out of the bouncer Deaphanie had constructed for her.
The elder’s door creaked as it was opened.
“Who is it?”He called out in Sammamish, the language of the Issaquah, taking a sip from his water glass.
“An old friend.”The man answered in English, coming through the door and entering the sitting room. He pulled the hood back from his face, revealing a head of crew cut brown hair, an intense browline, and rust colored eyes. The mask which sat below them covered the rest of his face, making him impossible to read.
“We not friends.Strangers of worst kind.”The elder analyzed Kheiro with tired eyes as he set his glass down.They had never met, but he was not surprised to see Kheiro here.He knew well enough from the many descriptions the hunters had given him to recognize the Hundred-Handed One.
This seemed to disappoint the Masked Man.“You expected me.”Kheiro noted as he took the seat across from the elder.
“Easy to guess you would follow them.Easier then to guess you would visit after they did.”
“Ah. I did not realize how predictable I had become.”Kheiro said mournfully.He learned forward in his chair and clasped the arms of it. Kheiro drew in a deep breath, a mechnical, whining noise. “He sat here, didn’t he?”The masked man asked, running a hand along the grain of the wood.He took a moment to appreciate the chair, before looking up at the elder. “And you explained the prophecy to them?”
“Issaquah have old saying.”The elder said, ignoring Kheiro’s question.“’One rain does not make a crop.’”
“If you think you can assuage me with proverbs, old man, you would be wrong.”
“No assuaging.Warn you.Your victory, not assured.”
“Oh, but it is.”Kheiro said, rising, setting his hand on his pistol.“Because no matter who completes the prophecy, my dream is achieved.”
He drew the weapon, lifted it up, and extended it towards the elder’s head.The Issaquah leaned back in his chair and stared down the barrel of the gun.His expression did not change.
“I know you’re not afraid to die.”Kheiro said, lowering the weapon.“And I would gain nothing from killing you.”He holstered the pistol.“I only wanted you to know who’s in charge.”
Kheiro turned towards the door and began to walk out.“But do not involve yourself further, elder.Or it will be the Issaquah who shall suffer for your sins.”
After Kheiro had left, the elder reached for his water glass with fingers that were shaking not only from age.
"Oh, but lookie here!" Deaphanie exclaimed jovially, glad that she was saved by the bell. Or in this case a tiger. She lifted the little cub up from her resting place and held her up in the air, like she would a baby. "Duncan here wants to interrogate me, but you will protect me from him, won't you? Yes, you will. Yes, you will!"
"Hmph!" Deaphanie acted insulted and pressed Morty tightly to her over her shoulder, patting her on the back. "Come here, sweetie. Let's find our room. You better not chew on the bedspread or anything."
Ward walked up to Duncan's side, apparently having overheard the conversation.
"You may not like what she has to say", he told Duncan, towering over the man like a dark cloud of just pure... misery.
Once Deaphanie stepped into her room, she was likely rather surprised by what she saw.
To her right, was an elegant queen-sized bed, the sheets drawn up, four plump pillows awaiting her head. To the right of that, between the bed and the wall, was a small seating area, two straight-backed, cushioned chairs and a loveseat to match sitting around a coffee table. The far corner of the room was her bathing area, a blurred glass divider blocking it completely from the view of the front door. A small kitchette with a cupboard, iron-cast stove, counter space, and ice box completed a different corner, the one between the bed and bathing area. Along that wall, between the kitchette and bathing area, were two lounge chairs situated so they could look out the window, an end table position for drinks. The final wall, the one to her left, consisted of a bookself, stocked with reading material.
None of that was what was surprising.
What was surprising was the strange man sitting in one of the longue chairs by the window, an open bottle of scotch sitting on the end table. He looked half-asleep, his hand losely gripping a lowball glass, nearly drained of it's whiskey. He obviously wasn't one of the inhabitants of Mercer Island, as he lacked the period dress.
"Close the door." He nodded with his head in a lazy gesture, his eyes half-lidded. "Please."
He was tall, with a robust, muscular build which was only disernable because of the tight-fitting recon armor he wore. Over the armor he wore a thick winter coat, the tail of which reached down to the back of his thighs. He had dark, black hair, tossled, and a rough beard around his face that wasn't a style choice, but because he didn't care to shave. A light scar traced down over one of his eyes, from above his brow to the top of his cheekbone. He would've been incredibly good-lucking, had he taken care of his appearance, or discarding that, a few years younger. Instead his features seemed worn, and tired.
"I'm not dangerous." He promised sincerely, although the truth of that was damaged by the clearly visible .45 revolver that sat in a shoulder holster, barely concealed by his jacket. "And I won't be long."
Deaphanie sighed, clearly tired of being interrupted. She just wanted to enjoy being alone every once in a while. Sadly, being an omni-present entity meant that she had very little to say about that.
She reluctantly closed the door and sat down in the chair opposite of him, stroking Morty in a way she had seen villains do in the old Jack Bunt movies back when the world wasn't reduced to a nuclear wasteland.
"To help you." The man said, scratching his eye, then gave a dry laugh, looking away. "So you can help me." He sat up in his chair and looked her in the face. His eyes were a vibrant green color, exceptionally so. "Before I start, you need to understand something. Mercer Island, the town-- it's a good place, it's what it looks like. It's a thriving post-war civilization. There's nothing wrong with it. The palace though, it's a different story." He lifted the glass to his lips and drained the rest of the scotch before setting it aside. "It's not like the rest of the island. It's some sort of game. It's like... it's like we're in a play put on for the Crimson King's entertainment. It's all one big set piece, and we're going through assigned roles. Does that make sense?"
"I am not much for internal struggles within politics", Deaphanie said in all honesty, scratching Morty behind the ear. "I've been around for long enough to know what happens when people without power wants to gain power, or when people who has power suddenly makes use of it."
Ward raised an eyebrow. "Even if the truth might mean your demise?"
It was strange to gaze upon the muscular gunslinger's face. Though the retinas of his eyes were completely white and lifeless as if the man was blind, they shifted and moved ever so slightly. It was impossible to tell whether he was blind and had just really honed his other senses to perfection, or whether he could actually see but that his eyes just seemed as if they were dead.
"I don't want power." He laughed again, as if the very idea of it amused him. "I want to get out of here." The man told her, rubbing his eyes. "You came here because you want something from the Crimson King. That's only reason people like you would. I came here for the same reason. Three months ago. He's holding what I need over my head, keeping me here."
"Look, lady, are you even listening to me?" He asked, sounding frustrated, furiously scratching the back of his head. "He doesn't have to make you do anything. I could walk out anytime. But I what I came here for, I would have to give up. It doesn't matter how tough or smart you are. As long as he knows something you don't, he's got the upperhand, and it means you have to play the game."
The man drummed his fingers on his scotch glass, and glanced outside, checking the sun. "I'm running out of time." He turned back to her, his large emerald eyes fiercely intense, arresting her's. "It's game, which mean it has stages. You've met the Duke and Jester, I'm going to guess. Next there's the assassination attempt. You came with people. An assassin's going to try to kill one of them. Don't fly off the handle and start shooting everything in sight, that's how you lose. Do you get all of that?" He put heavy emphasis on the last question.
"Uh-huh", Deaphanie said, paying all her attention to Morty.
She was either completely ignorant, or she just played that way while in reality she took in every word he said. In either case her demeanor seemed to be that of someone who was completely oblivious of what danger they had put themselves in.
"Someone's dying. Got it. I am on it."
As if I had a choice.
"All I am saying is that it's better to let dead dogs lie", Ward replied enigmatically. "And shooting me won't be the answer to any question you might have."
If Ward was indeed blind, it would have been an impossibility for him to take notice of Duncan's actions, but then again stranger things happened in the Wastelands.
"You may not like what you will hear and it might just... well... Let's just say that any answer she might give you, could cause a serious impact on your life as a whole. To the point where you not only pose a threat to yourself, but to others as well."
Whatever Ward had meant by that was left open for intepretation.
The gunslinger tipped the brim of his hat. "That's all I've got to say about it."
"I'm so fucked." The man muttered, rubbing his brow. He rose lethargically, glancing at the scotch bottle. "Took that from your liquor cabinet." He paused. "Oh, and it'd be best if you didn't tell anyone I was here. That'd save us both a lot of trouble." With that, he approached the door, stuck his head out, checked both ways, and then was gone.
William had omitted the drama in the hallway by going straight into his room after his last remark about tigers. Even though he'd rather have this whole prophecy debacle over and done with, a bit of peace and quiet was most certainly welcome.
He slowly walked into his room, it was probably the most lavish place he had ever stayed at. The bed was enormous and everything was so clean. The Broadway clubs in the Empire Wasteland could only dream of being this neatly kept. Will's attention was whisked away from the king-size when he noticed the drinking cabinet.
He took the biggest crystal clear decanter with golden fluid swirling around inside and pulled the top off. Carefully he put his nose to it and sniffed. If there were poison in it he couldn't tell. He didn't need to be doubly poisoned but he was quite thirsty. In a disregard of manners he then put the bottle to his mouth and took a swig even though some perfectly adequate glasses were right next to him.
William then took three huge gulps and gasped for air afterwards. He could feel the warmth go from his throat down into his chest. He inhaled sharply through his stuffy cold nose and let out a short barely audible belch. With the decanter still in hand he made his way to the bathroom and saw the large old ceramic bathtub with steam softly drifting from the water within.
The former agent placed the decanter next to the bath so he could still drink from it as he bathed and then started taking off the layers of his outfit. First his weapons, which he kept next to the decanter and then his thick army green Chinese solider uniform. Air touched his scar riddled shoulders for the first time in weeks, maybe months. It was incredibly liberating, but not as liberating as when he pulled off his boots, revealing awfully unkempt feet. Dirt sat between his yellowed nails and his feet were practically gray from the lack of sunlight they had seen for the better part of maybe a year. He groaned softly as he curled his freed digits.
He got rid of all his clothes, stripping down completely to his bare physique. Scars tissue could be found pretty much anywhere, cutting soft lines through his body hair where it had seized to grow. William had officially become middle-aged a year ago but he was still in very good shape. The body of an athlete, even though it showed premature signs of 'softening up'.
Now, completely defrocked the former Thongzi agent lowered himself in the warm bath and completely relaxed for the first time in a long while. Closing his eyes as he rested his head on the ridge with one arm close to the bottle of whiskey.
"I'll take my chances," Duncan said, turning and selecting a room at random. He quickly closed the door behind him.
Rick found himself a room and sat on the bed, getting mud and bits of debris all over the bed. He calmly removed his mask and sat it down on the nearby nightstand before taking in a large breath of fresh air. It was hard to breath in that thing.
"No Radio..." Rick noted. "Lousy pricks...."
Back On the Bridge....
The men who were guarding the toll booth that lead to Mercer Island could see a new figure approaching, dressed in black approached with a large sniper rifle slung across his back. He didn't have the mask in the image, but his eyes were hidden behind a set of aviators. He was African-American, with a bushy moustache growing out to the side of his lips and a fde haircut that fed into a very small afro. A bandana hung tied around his neck.
The first thing Tim did when he entered his assigned chamber was unbuckle his kevlar vest. The damn thing had been itching as all hell ever since he first set foot in the Royal Wasteland. He gladly tossed it onto a seat when he had taken it off.
As he sat down on his clean, properly made bedsheets, he got a streak of homesickness to his old hometown of Merceton, which was the place where he had last seen such things. With a sigh, he took off his mask and gazed at it as he held it in his hands. He felt the fresh air streak over his scarring, and he sighed once again.
"Your name is Vance Childs." The Handsman repeated what must've been the fakest sounding name ever. "Okay, 'Vance Childs,' going to need you to hand over any firearms and munitions you have to the Handsman there." He nodded to 'Vance's' guide, who gave 'Vance' a little wave. "Don't think about trying to cram a grenade up your bum or anything, 'cause we wand you once you get through."
The Handsman, Vance's guide, didn't reply, since he was a professional and probably had to deal with ass holes everyday, and passed Vance's weapons to a different guard across the barricade. The one he'd passed them to dropped the sniper rifle 'on accident,' and 'accidently' kicked it when he was trying to pick it up, before stowing the weapon inside the toll booth.
"Don't get smart with us." The soldier in his foldout chair said, glaring at Vance from behind his helmet. "Down here, maybe something happens, you tried to get clever with a pistol. No one's going to ask any questions."
"You know, you're not being very polite." The Handsman said, standing up, an odd edge of menance to his voice. "I think I deserve a little more respect than that. Don't I, lads?"
Only one or two of them nodded their heads, the rest didn't seem to be paying attention.
"Why don't I come over there and we see how you tough you are then?"
"Enough of that." A soldier exiting the toll booth snapped. Stripes on his shoulders identified him as an officer of some kind. "Open the barricade, you louts, I've no patience for this sort of thing."
The Handsman who had been attempting to instigate a conflict with Vance immediately backed off, and went to work with a few others to push a gap in the barricade for Vance to pass through.
"Sorry about that, sir." The officer said with a nod to Vance. "Don't think too poorly of them. Can't see it with their gear on, but they're not much more than kids. Get stuck with guard duty 'cause they lack the experience for anything else."
Vance nodded back, and was about to proceed before he stopped and turned back to an officer. "There was group that came through this door not too long ago... you wouldn't happen to know where they went, would you?"
After cleaning herself up and having washed the reluctant tiger cub, Deaphanie wrapped Morty up in a bunch of towels. She then sat down in the lounge chair and had something to drink from liquor cabinet as she waited for Duncan, expecting him to be the gentleman to approach her if he wanted answers, and not the other way around.
"Crimson King sent a carriage for 'em. He had business with them, or they with him, evidently. They're up at the palace. It's a five mile hike, you'd be better off heading to one of the hamlets up the road and getting yourself a horse." The seargent frowned. "You don't have any gold, do you?" He scratched his head. "Well I suppose walking five miles isn't too bad. You'd get there in two and half hours, and it's only five o'clock now, so they'd probably let you in." He held up a finger. "But only if ya say you've come to bargain."
"You know what," Duncan said. He grabbed a chair and slung it down in front of her with the back facing her. He sat so that his arms and head were resting on the back of the chair. "This little... secret of yours. I don't mean to pry, but this seems a little... threatening. Your brother said this little secret would be my demise, and your reaction to this makes it all the more stranger.
He took a drink from his bottle that was almost empty at this point. "I ain't a big fan of secrets. Especially ones that'll apparently kill me. I've had to deal with one two many of those kinds'a secrets."
He sat his bottle down and looked her in the eyes. "So what's the deal here?"
"Careful now", Deaphanie said steadily, her otherwise cheerful demeanor swiftly shifting towards that of a predator ready to pounce. "Prying for answers I am not willing to give might just give you what you seek. Yet once the truth has been revealed, whatever fate befalls onto you will be out of my hands."
"See, see, that's what's gettin' me," Duncan pointed out. "That little threat. Secret'll be my demise, Fate will take care of you if you find out."
Duncan sighed. "Look, I ain't... I ain't trying to force an answer outta' ya. Truth be told, I trust you a lot more than anyone else in this building, maybe other than Rick, but this... this has got me worried. So whatever you have on your chest that's so, mind blowing and possibly fatal, I wanna know. I just want my peace of mind."
"Not a threat", Deaphanie said calmly. "A warning."
She then sighed. She had encountered his type before throughout the centuries. The kind of man who would stop at nothing to get the answers he was seeking, even if a possible outcome was death... or possibly madness.
"Ask your questions then... but know that the answers you will receive will put things in motion that may well jeopardize your very existence."
A man in black and white servant's clothes was holding a bundle of towels, as well as an outfit.
"Towels and a change of clothes for you, sir." He nodded behind himself to a cart where he had towles and outfits for the other guys. "May I come in and turn down the room?" It was like a pre-war resort.
Deaphanie calmly stroke Morty over her head, looking upon the cub tenderly. "I've had... many names throughout the existence of mankind. I was never really given one of my own. People kept applying their own to me all the time. The Fourth Horseman, the Pale Rider, Mot, Thanatos, Ankou, Liemannen and... Death."
She looked at him with her set of pale eyes. The longer one stared into them the more her youngish appearance seemed diminish around them. Almost as if one was sucked into those eyes, unveiling ages of experience and unfathomable knowledge.
William, with his secret agent training, was able to hear a barely audible click outside his door.
Tyrus arrived in a community of seven families. Thatched roof cottages sat in a semi-circle around a well at the center of the village. Little children, those under the age of five, ran around, bareass naked, playing. Everyone else was at work. Men and their sons tended to fields surrounding the hamlet, and women and their daughters kept the household in order. Tyrus was paid very little attention as he arrived.
At first, Duncan rolled his eyes and almost slammed his bottle on the ground at such an insane comment. "You know, if you're gonna fuckin-"
He looked her in her eyes, and something stirred within him. He wasn't sure what that feeling was exactly, but whatever it was, it seemed to have stopped his heart cold. And for some reason, he couldn't look away. He was almost entranced as he just stared and got sucked in.
Soon enough, however, he shook himself out of it and rubbed a hand over his eyes. "What the hell..." He murmured.
Thes servant slapped the pistol aside, leaning out of the line of fire, clearly trained. As the door flew open, the servant stepped forward, inside William's guard to put him off balance, and drove an elbow into William's liver. Out of the bottom corner of his eye, William could see a suppressor poking out from underneath the remaining towels resting on the servant's arm.
There was a sound like a nail being hammered into a wall as the servant's pistol went off, discharging a shot into the floor. The servant crashed backwards into the door, reeling from the blow, and caused it to shut behind him. He jerked his arm back, trying to free his weapon or pull William off balance, and at the same time threw an uppercut towards William's chin.
William took the jab, his beard pricking the assailant's bare hand as he connected with the chin. The former agent realised he couldn't keep tanking hits so he used the momentum of the man's desperate struggle to get his shooting arm free against him and swung him around and on the floor, facing up, with Will kneeling down on top of him
William was quick to keep the servant from aiming his weapon up at him so he kept his arm in check with one arm and his other hand gave a quick but brutal jab to the man's throat. after which he held him down.
The servant gagged as his windpipe was momentarily blocked, his free hand flying involuntarily to protect it. He wasn't finished yet though. William took two painful knees to the middle of the back, directly in the spine, one after another.
The agent had enough of this, he gritted his teeth through the pain to the point he was almost growling like some feral animal. He pressed down and put his hand on the servant's and used it to choke himself.
The cold-blooded assassin of the Thongzi appeared again.
The servant struggled, lifting his legs so he could try and grip William's sides between his knees, perhaps to jerk the spy off him. The move was lethargic though, it only took twenty seconds to cut off the blood flow to the brain enough to knock someone out and the servant was clearly feeling it.
Deaphanie massaged the bundle of fur in her lap. "For as long as something has been created, I have been there to see it end. For every creature born; be it man, woman or beast, I am there to take them away when their time is right."
She leaned back into the chair, resting her head in her hand, supported by her arm. "And now I am here... with my brothers. You are probably familiar with them as well, in your own past experiences. We are here to maintain the balance. To mend the rupture caused by the sudden destruction mankind brought upon itself before its given time."
"I am not at liberty to tell you why. Just know that there are forces at work which might seem trivial to mankind, but plays a far much larger role in the universe as a whole. This task in which we've all gathered to accomplish, plays such a role."
Deaphanie smirked. "Perhaps..." She then adjusted herself in the chair. "So what will you do now with this information I have bestowed upon you? Will you be comfortable knowing that Death's at your heel?"
"Comfortable?" Duncan asked before chuckling. "Nothin's changed. I mean, I've had death.... you, on my heels for a while..."
He suddenly turned quite serious, turning his chair around and scooting closer to her. "I've accepted the fact that I'll always be dangerously close to death. World's been trying to put me in the ground since I was born. Raiders ran into the vault I was born in and started slaughtering everyone when I was like 2 weeks old, and that train ain't never slowed down."
He finished off his drink. "Only difference between now and the last 30 years is that you're a woman," He smirked.
Deaphanie cocked her head and looked at him quizzically. "Woman?" she shrugged. "Perhaps I am? Perhaps I am a man? Perhaps I am nothing but an unseen force without a conscience or agenda at all, like gravity or magnetism? I have never questioned my own nature. I only know what my purpose is. Because all things must eventually come to an end. Good or bad, they are all equal to me."
William's breathing had gotten loud and fast in all the excitement, the moment he realised he 'won' he let go of the limp body and sat back for a while, quickly trying to slow down his breathing again.
He was still wet but he could swear that the bathwater had evaporated and it was all just pure sweat, he felt incredibly warm, adrenaline still pumping through his veins.
After he had calmed down somewhat he got up and first of all pulled the pistol from out of the dead assailant's hand to check it out.
William showed a small frown as he professionally checked how many bullets were still in the magazine. Seven from the looks of it. Sadly his Shanxi Type 17 Chinese broomhandle pistol used 10 mm's and loaded stripper clips. Having a silenced pistol was useful though.
After he had checked out the pistol he looked down once more at the lifeless body of the servant. Will sighed but he didn't feel remorse. Afterwards he walked to the corner where his own pistol had slid towards and got it too. Now with two pistols casually in his hands he walked back to the bathroom and placed them down next to the bottle of whiskey, from which he then took one last swig and then got dressed.
Back in his regular chinese uniform Will decided it was time to do some snooping around. But not before pulling the body of the servant out of main area where it'd be noticed immediately.
The former agent had thought about informing the others but considering he best worked as a lone wolf he decided to go look for answers alone. The moment he got out the door though he could see Duncan come out of Deaphanie's room.
"There is an outdoor area on the south tower." The guard said, pointing back the way William had come, down to the other end of the hall. "If you wish to enter the palace proper, you will need an escort."