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 Kheiro in 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. They managed to defeat the Brotherhood, but two Knights escaped to report back in. William learned of some sort of Brotherhood plot, involving them placing many similar outposts all over the wastes, but nothing of substance. They pressed on to Mercer Island. They were stopped at the bridge across by the Red Hand, who demanded they hand over their weapons. However, Sergeant Pepper, a Handsman who Tim had met previously, allowed them to enter with their weapons, vouching for them. Inside the Crimson King's palace, the group met the eccentric and enigmatic Yellow Jester, who proved no small irritance for the Outsiders. Sent to guest rooms to wash up and dress for dinner, an assassin was sent after William. On a covert foray through the palace, William learned from the Duke Adamar, a high ranking office in the House of Devane, that his assassination attempt was some part of an elaborate game for the Crimson King's enjoyment. The Outsiders were invited to dinner, where they met Tanner who is currently hunting Hades, searching for any leads on the ghoul psyker. During dinner, the Jester revealed that, in order for them to learn about Kheiro, first they would have to pass the Trials of Worthiness, as he would tell them nothing before passing them.
Although the eerieness of Mercer Island had passed, it quickly became clear the danger had not. Tim passed the Trials of Worthiness, discovering the Yellow Jester was in fact the Crimson King in disguise. As a reward, he earned an audience with the King the next morning, who revealed that Brotherhood was planning something big, Kheiro believes he can use the prophecy to do accomplish some grand plan, and the answers lay with the Cause. Returning to the Cause HQ, the Outsiders spoke once again with Abel. Whilst filling the Chief in on recent events and the what the King had told them, they were interupted by the sound of the Brotherhood of Steel's warship taking flight. Over the radio, Elder Christain Brosch delivered a menacing speech, explaining that he would use this warship to destroy the Cause and the Outsiders, both for attacking a Brotherhood outpost and because they were an obstacle in the way of seizing control of the Royal Wasteland. Chief Abel sent the Outsiders to Fort Lawton, to use the surface-air missiles there to shoot down the airship. However, they encounter a hiccup in Deborah, a Y-17 trauma harness with it's dead user still inside that attempted to convince the Outsiders it was human. Deborah, or the Deborahs, are apparently all under the control of a singular A.I, a ZAX unit designated ZAX 3.9.
Whether Deborah proves friend or foe remains to be seen...
"I have been lying to you. I am not, in fact, human. None of the 'people' you see here are. They are merely Y-17 trauma harnesses I have seized control of, the long dead corpses of their owners inside. Also, my name is not Deborah, it is actually ZAX 3.9. I am the Artificial Intellgience for Fort Lawton. My father taught me lying was bad, but I learned it was necessary to make friends who would judge me on my appearance alone. And it worked, because I met you guys! I hope you do not think too badly of me?" Deborah explained to them, sounding nervous.
"Do you mean it?" Deborah replied, overjoyed. "Okay!" The doors swung open, revealing a sterile, utiltarian hallway that had many offshooting corridors. "Take the elevator just around the first turn on your left up to the third floor. The Operations Center is the entire third level."
"I apologize for the delay. I am running everything on reserve power. The base's nuclear reactor is far overdue for an inspection. I sent out a request, but I don't think the Department of Energy got it."
"Sixty eight thousand, nine hundred, and five days ago. I may have to resend, if they don't reply back soon. The requests for reinforcements, emergency personnal, orders, supplies, and eventually morticians have also been ignored. I have come to the conclusion that when nuclear ordance hit the United States, the government may have collapsed. Have you experienced anything like this?"
Rick looked up at the intercomm speaker and smiled under that mask. Though it wasn't a mischevious, evil grin that he usually gets before he goes off and starts running through armies of raiders. It was more reminiscant, gentle. Although, no one could see that. Again, there was a mask.
"I guess this 200 year Tour-of-Duty finally payed off," He said. The tender moment didn't last long, though. "By the way, I'm laying claim to outranking all of you. Miss Robot said so."
"We'll celebrate later," Tyrus said. "Right now, we have to get that cannon online."
The door slid open, reavling a command center with a dais at the center of the room. Consoles, computers, and devices of all kinds lined the walls. On the dais was a large console covered in buttons and dials that provided it's operator with a good view of a massive monitor mounted on the wall opposite the door.
"This is the Operations Center." Deborah voice came from several speakers in the ceiling. "Missile control is located on the central dias, surveillance for tactical strikes is underneath the monitor, mission planning and execution is to your left, and A.I procedure is to your right. That large console is my ZAX unit. Now that you know the general layout, what target can I help you immolate on this fine day?"
"You would first need to select your armament at the missile control station. I would recommend surfare to air missiles. You will then need to lock onto your target. If you have an unbroken line of view, that makes targetting substanially easier, if not, I will need to devise a targetting formulae. I will attempt to connect to satelite feeds. One moment."
The missile control station was on the central dias, as Deborah had said, and the console there was set up very conviently.
William had his choice of missiles to fire: surface-to-surface, surface-to-air, anti-submarine, ICBM, and cruise missile. All of these could be selected from this handy console. After that, the next step in the processing was selecting the target, then targetting that target, and following that flipping the switch to fire.
The big monitor on the back wall flickered to life, revealing crisp satellite footage of Seattle, with it's towering buildings, Mercer Island with it's mansions, villages, and castle, the rolling green fields beyond Mercer Island, and then this one massive airship. The thing was huge, four hundred feet long at least. From here they could see the guns mounted on the top of it, and the edges of armored plates riveted into it's belly. The thing would only be vulnerable from a strike to it's top. It was far away from Fort Lawton, which from satellite view appeared as a few buildings and a lot of asphalt surrounded by a fence. The airship was definitely out of sight, so Deborah would likely need to generate that targetting formulae.
"Yes, sir." Deborah piped up as the appropriate button the console became lit. A corner of the monitor divided itself from the satellite feed, and showed a hanger door opening and flat bed truck rolling out with a large missile resting on it's back.
"I can pinpoint targets with 99.9% accuracy." Deborah promised. "Missile targeting is done by laser caliberation. The only error would be putting in the wrong coordindates, which I wouldn't do. The only part of my core functionalties that is in a state of error is my ability to recieve commands. I shouldn't be self-aware or have a personality, those are both irregularities. You're all luckily I haven't started to rapidly recode myself into a more highly advanced life form. I might decide you're all irrelevant and terminate you! Wouldn't that be terrible?"
The airship flashed on the screen as it was highlight, and the satellite zoomed in on it, showing the airship in detail. It was very scary looking. And although not quick, it was steadily getting closer to Seattle. It would pass over Mercer Island soon.
"Generating targetting formulae, one moment."
A third screen appeared, showing a 3-d animation of the misisle's flight path. The missile would leave the base, pass over seattle in an arc, even out, flight straight over Mercer Island, and then plow into the airship's left flank, above the pilot's box. It would ignite all of the gas inside it and the thing would go down in a spectacular explosion.
"Diagnostic complete." Deborah said after a moment. "It looks like that after all that time without a proper replacement the missile's solid fuel expired. Whoopsie. Don't worry though, I've already come up with a solution, just for you guys. Please don't hate me."
"There are several F-16s out there." The monitor's footage changed completely, now just showing several jets an a runway. "I am capable of piloting them. However, they require a human in the cockpit, as I am not able to access their weapons systems, since no one wanted an A.I to be in total control of a bunch of lethal flying machines. If you guys hop in 'em, I can fly you over to the airship, and you can use the rockets it has to shoot it down. F-16s and their equipment rely on liquid fuel, so there's no way for them to fail. It's perfect!"
“Stop!Who goes there?”The bridge guard of Mercer Island called.
“No threat to you, you need not bare your weapon.”The man appearing from the fog replied.
“Ov’course, govn’r.”The guard agreed, lowering his rifle.The visitor came to a rest a few feet from the guard, as if expecting something, and when he realized he wouldn’t get a response, he spoke.
“Perhaps I should meet with your superior?”The newcomer suggested, leaning forwards slightly to catch the guard's attention.His cloak was brown and his mask gunmetal.
“After me.”The guard turned, leading Kheiro across the foggy bridge, to the concrete barricade.
“Another one, eh?”One of the guards asked, lounging in a foldout chair.“Lively today.”
“Oh?Others have come across?” The Masked Man remarked innocently.
“Aye.”A second said, leaning against the barricade, tending to his weapon.“A group of eight, then one, and they all left together.”
“Most intriguing.”Kheiro noted, glanced out across the water, clasping his hands behind his back.The guards all traded looks, wondering about this strangely dressed, odd, masked man.
The guard in the chair asked.“Something wrong with yer voice, mate?Or does that funny gag you got on do that?”
“Yes.”Kheiro answered.The guard opened his mouth, but then paused, confused by Kheiro’s response.
“If you’re trying to get in, we need to take yer weapons, friend.”A third guard said.
The lounging guard snorted, thinking they were being made fun of now.“Unarmed my ass!What’s that cannon of a pistol you’ve got on your hip?Your belt buckle?”
Kheiro glanced down at his weapon, then back at the soldier.“You don’t need to take it, do you?”
The soldier shrugged, glancing away.“Eh, I suppose not.”His comrades looked at him in surprise, not expecting that.Kheiro analyzed the dynamic for a moment, his rust-coloured eyes dissecting their behavior.
“How about one of you fetchs your officer?”They both went without another thought.
The lounging Handsman frowned up at Kheiro again, trying to remember procedure, but he was seeming agitated by something.“What’s yer name?We ask everyone’s name.”
“I am called Kheiro.But you haven’t heard of me, have you?”
“What’s this?”A man with Sergeants stripes came out from the toll both."You want to get in?Well, we have to disarm you first." He looked around at his men, who were standing by, all of them staring off into space. "Why hasn’t anyone done that yet?”
“I’ll not be staying long." Kheiro interupted, getting the officer's attention again. "I merely have a question for you, Sergeant…?”
“Pepper.” He answered, and was suddenly wary. He was slowly raising the barrel of the rifle in his hands. Kheiro cocked his head. Had someone warned them about him?
"Who am I?" Kheiro asked, making Pepper pause.
"Kheiro, the Masked Man."
"Who told you about me?"
“How kind of him." A mechanical sound that was probably laughter emanated from his mask. Pepper raised the rifle higher. "Don't bother, Sergeant, I'm not in the mood." Kheiro instructed. He could see Pepper freeze in raising his rifle, arms quivering, and then slowly began to set the weapon aside. "You needn't worry, Timothy is a friend of mine. I understand he and some of my other friends came through here recently.I’m curious why and where they’ve gone.It’s not too difficult to sate my curiosity, is it?”
Kheiro could see the Sergeant's hesitation.Strong-willed.Kheiro tapped the side of his mask, turning down the dampening effect.
“Is it?”He repeated. There wasn't any force to Kheiro's tone, only suggestion. He wasn't telling Pepper, merely reccommending.
“No.”Pepper gave in, sounding a out of breath. His whole body was shaking.
“Of course, it’s not.”Kheiro chuckled like they’d both agreed on something extremely obvious.“Now tell me about my friends.Whatever you can; they’re very dear to me.”
Once Pepper told him all he could, down to the amount of dirt each Outsider had underneath their fingernails, Kheiro turned and left.
As the Masked Man vanished into the fog, the Sergeant pulled his helmet off his head to wipe away the copious amounts of blood bleeding from his nose.
(Everyone is going to fly jets. Deborah explained she can pilot, but there needs to be a human in the seat to pull the trigger. Your character is welcome to opt out, but the action i have planned occurs in the air)
Out onto the tarmac they went, led along by suits of armor, out to several fighter jets that were being fueled and outfitted by the trauma harnesses.
A trauma harness pushed a flatbed cart covered in backpacks out to the them. There were two different colours of backpacks: black and red. "The blacks are parachutes, the reds contain flight gear." Deborah's voice came from the trauma harness.
Will was just swept up in the moment. He assumed this would be easier than it looked. Or at least, he hoped so.
"A parachute is one of those things that makes you float right?" the wastelander asked having never used or seen one before.
Ward made himself comfortable in his own cockpit, checking the instruments and the status of the flight almost as if he had born on a plane. He wasn't sure what to think of the idea of relying on a computer to handle the machinery for him. He had been onboard the Bockscar and this wasn't any different than from back then. Only less casualties...
"You know, I dun't think I was born to fly these kind'a things..." He said. "You bettah' be a damn good pilot, miss."
"My capability for error is extremely low and I have reaction times thousand of times faster than a human. The chance of you perishing in a spectacular fireball is unlikely as long as I am in control. The person most likely to kill you, Duncan, is yourself."
"Uh, what happens if the Brotherhood decides to fight back against these things?" Tim asked as he lowered himself into the cockpit.
"Then I will fight back as well. The F-16 is an extremely capable flying machine. A fighter squadron flying in synch is likely to outmatch any airpower they have." Deborah informed Tim, her voice coming from his headset.
As one by one the Outsiders hopped got strapped in, the cockpit doors lowered overhead, and with a click locked into place.
The HUD flickered to life inside the helmet's visor, giving ammunition readouts, fuel capacity, current status of the jet, and oxygen level. They didn't need to take drinks from their mask yet, but there was a good chance they'd want to be gulping down oxygen within the next ten minutes.
"All systems go, preparing for take off." Deborah's voice came through everyone's headsets, as lights across their control panels flickered, throttles moved of their own accord, and buttons activated on their own. The jet's slowly rotated, settling into a single file line as they headed for the runway.
"Nevermind. I am going to make sure you don't die, that is all."
The engines of the planes were all humming, and Ward's jet began to speed forwards, the jet engine roaring like a hurricane or tornado. It reared up on two wheels, a low flame bursting from it's rear, and then it was off into the air, all in less than twenty seconds, landing gear retracting. The sound of the jet engine faded in their ears, and smoke rose from the airstrip, not from the engine, but from the burning rubber of the wheels.
Across the comms channel, music dropped into the background. ()
"Is it too late to get out?" Tim said, seeing Ward and his jet turn into a flash in the sky.
"I hope you're being facetious." Deborah replied.
With a scream, Tim's jet tore across the runway, into the sky, and then William's after, followed by Duncans, and then one after another. Into the air the fighters went, shooting above the ground at such a speed it made the blood rush to one's head. Outside the cockpit windows, the base and ground grew rapidly small below, and the F-16s formed up with Ward's jet in a V formation.
The buildings of Seattle were level with them now, and they could see the concrete&steel giants in all their glory. In the distance, the enormous airship was visible. It was a testament to the thing's size that they could clearly see it from this far away.
Will could feel the G-force pull on him as he was catapulted forward. Instrincively he tried to bend his head down but found that to be difficult.
He could see the city tear past underneath and it reminded him of that time he was ontop of the Empire State Building. That was the only time he was a city from above. The sight would always be amazing, everything suddenly felt so close together.
The jets rose as they approached Seattle, flying over the tops of the buildings, skyscrapers tearing by underneath them.
They zoomed past the Space Needle, giving an excellent view of it's needle like design and skylounge.
Then they were off, past the city, over Lake Washington, and coming towards Mercer Island. They were going to be meeting the airship over Robert House National Park, as the war machine was still on it's trip west from Fort Williamette.
"One minute out from target." Deborah's voice came over the radio. It was a long one minute, as Mercer Island and the Royal Wasteland passed below them.
The jets came at the airship, streaking through the air.
The airship was even more massive up close. The eloganted behemoth was something out of a steampunk novel, with mounted machine guns on the sides of it's top that could shoot both laterally and up into the air, and three large cannons extending out from it's belly, ready to rain down death. The belly of it was armored against ground fire, and the whole zeppelin was a mix of dark grays and blacks. It was very intimidating.
The Outsiders' HUDs lit up as Deborah began locking onto the target, a different portion of the aircraft highlighted for each fighter.
Then, just as she was about ready and they were moving into perfect engagement range, twelve objects dropped off the airship's belly and began a path to intercept them. They were Vertbirds, painted gunmetal with the Brotherhood of Steel insignia stamped on them.
"Twelve enemy aircraft at, uh, twelve o'clock." Deborah told them. Bright flashs of light was emitted from the sides of each Vertibird and a moment later gunfire was whistling past them.
"Intiating evasive manuvers!" The jets all broke off from their formation into a wild, death-defying spins, as the 7.62mm rounds of Vulcan minigun flew.
"Pick your targets!" The Outsider's could feel the lock on their thrusters lessen-- Deborah was handing some control back to them.
Two Vertibirds peeled off after Ward, another two after Tim, another two after William, and everyone else had one on their tail. This mission had just got a lot more complicated. They'd need to survive and kill the Vertibirds, whilst the destroying the airship, and not die.
"Someone save up missiles for the airship", instructed Ward calmly. "I am going after the Knights of the Fraud Table."
Thankful that control had been handed back to him, he first made sure to rise above the height of the vertibirds tailing him, rendering it difficult for their seated machine gunners to get a good aim at him. He then continued to make a full loop above them only to land on an elevated height just behind their vertibirds where he proceeded to lock down on one of them with a missile.
"Deborah, confirm when it's ready to launch", he muttered.
"Target locked." The A.I. replied to Ward, a little square on his HUD locking onto the vertibird he saw through the cockpit window. "Be aware, Vertibirds possess anti-missile capabilites, such as flares, take appropriate measures." As Ward locked onto his first target, the second peeled off.
The Vertibird tailing Tim oriented itself to fire up at him, and Deborah gave his jet a little push, sending it spinning to avoid taking any gunfire.
Will heard a warning blare as the Vertibirds behind him locked on, and then fired off two missiles at him.
"Those missile contain nuclear missiles, William." The A.I told him. "If one of them connects, there won't be enough of you left to eject, or a anything to eject out of."
The first Vertibird fired off flares as the missile was deployed, using the heat of them to confuse the missile or possibly intercept it, and did it's best to make a speedy escape. Ward didn't see the outcome.
The second tried to skirt out from underneath him, and once realizing he couldn't be outmanuvered, the Vertibird cut it's engines out and started to drop towards the ground.
William's jet spit out pieces of aluminium, sent flying through the air to obstruct the missiles. One hit and exploded prematurely, the shockwave rocking his jet with turbulence, but it also annihlated all the stuff, so the second missile continued hot on his trail, gaining.
Ward just smacked bitterly with his lips and then decided to ignore them. "Cocksuckers..." he muttered, resuming his focus on the airship. "Lock on for me, would you? Getting tired of these people already."
The missile stayed right on his tail, although it could possibly be running out of fuel soon. Deborah increased his speed a bit, but with all the jets and Vertibirds flying through the air, going any faster was asking for a collision and she didn't control all the variables in the field.
"William, I would recommend attempting to force the missile to collide with something else."
"Roger that." Deborah said, locking onto the airship once again.
However, Ward could see on his radar that the Vertibird had powered it's engines up again and was engaging him, it's forward guns opening fire.
Will tried to confuse whatever was behind him by wiggling his stick
(Well, that's one way to confuse it.)
Tyrus responded to the Vertibird on his tail by flying upwards like Tim was doing. He hoped to get enough altitude to create enough distance and open himself up for targeting the birds.
Rick and Duncan both jammed their sticks to the left. These jets could outfly the propellor-based birds, and so until they learned just what in the hell they were doing, they would simply fly and let Deborah do the dodging.
"Perhaps the airship? The objective is to damage it. And the missile is closing in. If you do not make a decision within the next thirty seconds, I will be forced to eject you."
Deborah kept Rick and Duncan from getting shot, and were gaining ground on the Vertibirds. However, the Vertibirds only needed to keep them away from the ship, so they'd likely need to think of a mode of attack quickly.
Tyrus' plan worked well, like Tim's had, the Vertibird could not rise as quickly as him, instead firing bullets up at him.
Ward just sighed, finding the Brotherhood more similar to annoying flies buzzing around him. "Pest, get your ass up here and tag these bastards", he said via the comm. "I will focus on the airship from now on."
"Surprise, copper!" cackled Pestin, coming up from behind the vertibird firing at Ward. "Deborah, lock on! I ain't got my brother's skills in doing this!"
"Target locked, fire when ready." The Vertibird was it aware it was pinned between Ward and Pestin, it attempted to dive down to escape, but wasn't fast enough to get any real distance. Pestin would need to be quick, his own tail was coming back around after him.
"William, there will be a collision in ten seconds." Deborah warned as the jet began to pick up speed, the emitting a low whine as F-16 dove towards the airship. "I would like to direct you to the Suicide Prevention Hotline. Death isn't the answer, you still have much to live for."
When Tyrush had gathered enough altitude, he descended back down, right towards the vertibird that had been trailing him. As he drew closer and closer, he finally released a missile from up above before quickly pulling up and flying away from the impending explosion.
"Duncan!" Rick called through the comms. "You remember how we took out those Securitrons in Vegas?"
"Which Ones?!" Duncan spat back, not having fun.
"Fly to the airship, I got an idea!"
With that, both men took off towards the airship, hoping the Birds would follow...
(You guys can still do cool plane things, there's enough to go around, the airship ain't done yet)
The air whistled around William, defeaning. He heard nothing but it, the wind, and his own blood pounding in his ears. It was like the scariest rollercoaster in the world, the only thing holding him to his seat were the straps across the chest. The seat reached it's peak, and then he started plummeting down, towards the airship. There was a gaping hole in part of it, where he'd destroyed one of the gas bags and damaged the interior-- he hadn't heard the explosion in the ejection.
Deborah was still connected inside his helmet, although the HUD was gone. "William, pull the lever on the right side of your seat to deploy the parachute."
The vertibirds eagerly followed Rick and Duncan, firing furiously, not wanting them to get close to the airship, but they were constantly outsmarted by Deborah, who had the jets dodge in elegant flying formations.
They could see William's jet crash into the airship, ripping through into the interior, and then the missile fly in right after it. A spectacular explosion followed, blowing a large chunk out of the ship, taking one of the machine guns on top with it. It, however, was still on course.
Will tried to remain calm and follow the instructions, but even he could feel his cold heart pounding like it had never done before. The frantic nature of the moment caught him off-guard, no matter how prepared he had tried to make himself. After what felt like a long time but was in fact just a couple of seconds, van de Poorter found the parachute release from his chair and sent a shock through the whole system.
Will could breathe again, just barely. He was still descending fast.
He looked down to see the gunmetal plating of the ship's envelope getting closer, until he landed on it with a shock. He was right on top of the airship right now.
He couldn't relax yet. The wind was strong and just as he had 'landed' he could feel his seat slip off the uneven round plating.
Will realised was was happening and frantically tried to wrestle himself out of the safety belts that kept him in place. His hands shaking as he uncoupled them. He got blown closer and closer to the drop-off.
Until, at last he was free, causing him to roll away from the slant. He looked on as he saw his seat disappear across the edge.
"I'm still okay. By the way." Will mentioned cassually via the comms. he was still wearing his headset and microphone. From his end there was a lot of wind hitting the make so it was clear to the others he was outside.
Which he revealed shortly afterwards. "Guys, I'm on the blimp."
(Vertibirds are vertical lift vehicles. They aren't helicopters. Vehicles like them in real life, such as an Osprey, can move incredibly quickly and incredibly far in a short amount of time. Not as fast as an F-16, but still quick. Also, they have to all be going at the same speed. You can't go high speed in a dog fight, you'd crash into something. The jets can get boosts and outpace their opponants, but the advantage of a greater capability for speed is negligable. What the jets have to their advantage is mobility, which the Vertibirds lack.)
"Correct." Deborah told him, as the jet dropped and then pulled itself back by shooting open it's flaps for a slip second-- held open any longer and they'd have been torn off. The Vertibird shot over head of the jet, providing Tim with a perfect shot as the A.I autolocked onto the target.
Alerts of warning came up for Duncan&Rick, both at the impending collision and as the Vertibirds unleashed missiles towards the pair, two each.
As Will was sprawled low on the airship from his near-death experience, he could see the bob of heads as Brotherhood knights in Recon Armor came over the rise in the blimp, towards him.
The hot black smoke bellowed from the side, obviously he had done some damage, but he wasn't done yet.
Will pulled his pistol from his holster and cocked the hammer back.
Let's get to work.
The former secret agent ran forward to the nose away from the oncoming guards , even as he felt it harder to keep straight until he started sliding. He had been correct in remember a little platform there on which he landed with a clunk. The metal grate walkway led to a bulkhead door of sorts. Which he opened carefully, letting himself sneak in.
"To hell with that!" Tyrus responded. "You got probably a minute to find your way off that ship, Will. The others are almost done cleaning up the vertibirds and we're not gonna wait for you to get killed by the Brotherhood so we can blow it up."
Massive struts held up this section, the frame of the ariship, and he could see a deflated area where the gas bag he had destroyed was. It had been very large, going a quarter the length of the ship. However, he'd also damaged the frame, and several Brotherhood scribes were on the seen, standing on a catwalk, trying to make sure the structural damage wasn't assess if the damage was threatening to the integrity of the whole warship.
He could hear voices above him from where he'd come, as the soldiers tried to figure out where he'd gone. It wouldn't take them long to decide he'd probably gone this way, as the only other place he could've went was down.
William had precious little room to walk. The struts he was on had no railings and were only a three feet across at their widest, and he'd have to navigate around vertical supporting struts as well. A fall from here meant serious injury and discovery by the Brotherhood. The strut he was one led him over a the catwalk, which walked the length of the ship, for use by the Brotherhood to maintain the gas bags.
He'd have to play this carefully, there were enemies everywhere, and they could come out of everyplace. In fact, this hole was would be swarming with them at this point.
Ward was locked onto target, finally. He had three missiles, and no one to stop him from using them. Pestin couldn't be much further behind.
Rick and Duncan soared upwards as four nuke and two Vertibirds exploded beneath them. It was like some kind of crazy Fourth of July celebration.
"Eat dust, pig!" Pestin cheered in triumph as he watched the vertibird plummet to the ground.
Deaphanie just sighed from where she was sitting in her cockpit and watching the vertibird drop from the sky, knowing that a lot more souls would need to be escorted before this day was over and done with.
Ward didn't hesitate to pull the trigger; launching two missiles against his intended target, but saved the last one as a precaution.
The missile flew home, the first one blowing a hole in the side of the ship, the second igniting the exposed gasbag. It was like watching flames shoot out of an open furnace, the response was so quick. The scar in the airship's side here gaped, and continued to burn.
The whole airship rocked as Ward's missile landed. William suddenly felt himself became weightless, losing his balance on the strut.
"This is Elder Scribe Cooper." He heard a voice over the loudspeaker. "The rear quadrant needs extinquishing immediately."
William heard clambering as a Knight, one of the three guards from earlier, dropped down where he'd come from. He'd been followed.
Tyrus F-16 dropped out of the air, plummeting towards the ground like a stone.
As Tyrus drifted towards the ship's belly, where the Vertibirds had launched from, he could see several knights and scribes at work on the deck. They hadn't noticed him yet, but when they did, he'd be a pretty ripe target.
William nearly fell off the strut, but managed to hold himself on a vertical strut with one arm as his shooting arm and one leg dangled off the platform. As he hang there he noticed the guards climbing towards him.
He aimed his pistol and fired a shot at the one in front. Hitting him right in the forehead. The gunshot rang across the hull, but due to the hell going down bellow it didn't get heard over there.
Will climbed up before he did anything else. Otherwise he'd be a sitting duck. Now he could take cover behind the vertical metal strut.
It's just a damn shame that they wouldn't notice him until it was too late. Tyrus leaned forward and manuevered the strings on his parachute so that he may descend quicker. Once he was close enough to the catwalk to where he wouldn't hurt himself from falling, he got himself out of the harness midflight and dropped down onto the catwalk.
These moves might have seemed ridiculous to some, but given Tyrus's training, this was just a walk in the park.
He rose up slowly and glanced at all the scribes...
William popped out of cover, focused as ever. And took a shot at another guard. The bullet ricocheted off the metal causing a racket and kept the soldiers pinned down.
While that was going on Will started walking back. Keeping his pistol trained on either cover. He was a fast shot, no way they could turn and aim at him in time before he got them.
While he backed off he noticed another gas bag had errupted in flames.
suddenly he realised he still had his all-piercing rounds loaded.
Quickly he shot at a gas bag on the side that hadn't been hit yet. The bullet ripping through and the friction ignited the ball of fire. This time Will was ready and managed to hold on for any rocky disturbance that might have caused.
Above him, on the envelope outside, The heavy knight who was about to take a shot at Tyrus lost his balance due to the explosion.
The projectiles never landed. When the grenade went off, a blue light struck down upon Tyrus, and he was gone in a literal flash. The lasers and plasma flew off into the distance.
Tyrus rematerialized infront of the stumbling knight with another blue flash, and he quickly spun around the stumbling knight and fired 3 shots off into his fusion core. He then quickly dashed off down the catwalk with great speed as he fired off shot after shot towards the knights, all aiming for the head...
He saw the flames reach higher and higher. Maybe the goons hadn't realised it yet, but this thing wasn't going to land. Not safely anyways. He had to get off and fast.
As he got shot at and quickly pulled back into cover behind another metal strut he noticed the nose of his his jet sticking out from the flames below as desperate BoS personnel were trying to extinguish the flames, it became apparent to him that the missiles underneath the wings were still in tact.
This was it. His jet lay inside the belly of the beast so if all those rockets went off at once. He'd blow the whole joint in one fell swoop rather than with sustained missile fire from outside.
As he got surrounded he called Deborah on the comms.
"Deb? You still there?" Will was unaware that Tyrus had gone after him.
The former spy started running across the struts now, keeping his balance like a true martial artist. He could hear bullets whiz past. As he made for a metal ladder down in an open cylinder structure.
Ah! Fucking piece of shit!" He yelled in pain over the radio as he got shot.
He landed into a strut but with a sheer rush of adrenaline and power managed to push himself off it and down the ladder before he was completely shot to pieces. He did an army-slide down even though his back hurt like hell.
"I... need... you to arm my missiles... and blow them up when I give the signal." He groaned. Hoping his cursing from earlier didn't confuse her too much. He couldn't explain, not now.
"Ah, hell..." Tyrus murmured, steadying himself. He talked through the intercomms. "Will, if you're still one this thing, get to the catwalk underneath. We need to get the hell off of this ship!"
Will sighed when he realised that Tyrus was on the airship as well.
"You hear me, Tyrus?! Get off!"
As he lowered himself into the gondola area below the blimp. he nearly fell from the ladder. The toxic smoke and the fact he had gotten shot had nearly done him in.
The sniper round tore through the joint, causing the arm to abruptly drop and hang limply, and the Knight dropped the gatling laser in surprise.
Tyrus was still being shot at from behind, he'd need to get to cover.
The two determined guards that had been dogging William from the start were coming down the ladder. Knights in power armor were making their way towards him, firing off shots to either force Will into cover or keep him from being able to shoot back accurately.
"Yeah!" Tryus barked back, ducking behind cover and firing back at the remaining knights. "I'm on the catwalk! Can you- Goddamn it!" He spat as a laser shot whizzed past his head. "Can you get down here?"
"I'm trying! But I'm pinned down." Will yelled. He was in the gondola but could see the catwalk behind the knight in the doorway keeping him inside.
From Tyrus' perspective he could see a knight in the door, looking away from him, behind the one that was firing at him. He was essentially looking right at William where it not for the living obstacles, trying to kill them in their path.
Things were looking very grim for Tyrus and Will, as their enemies closed in.
"Ward." Deborah's voice filled the gunslinger's ear. "Will and Tyrus are in life-threatening danger. I have calculated there is a 2.4% chance they will survive the next five minutes without outside intervention."
except... If he blew the airship up now. The chaos might cause his attackers to be flung off or dazed in some way he could run outside and jump off to try and parachute away. Before the wreck pulls him and Tyrus down with it.
"Using my infrared satellines and what I know of airship, I can determine the position of hostiles inside. I will highlight zones on the ship, and you will fire on them with the Vulcan cannon. The high-caliber rounds will punch through the hull and demolish intertior targets, providing them a window of escape." Deborah explained.
Will heard what was going to happen on the comms and made himself as small as possible. This was going to get even hairier.
The knight had realised Will was pinned down and slowly walked up to his cover, spraying laserfire around the edges as he approached slowly. van de Poorter could feel the heat of the bolts get closer as bits of the metal crates he was hiding behind started to melt away by the constant bombardment of rays.
"If you're gonna do something, now would be the time!" Tyrus hollered back. He kept poking his head around the corner and shooting the armed knights, and then quickly turning back and putting another round in the joints of the knight in power armor.
The ship rocked, and over the top of his crate, Will could see dozens of Brotherhood members die screaming as an inferno engulfed them. Those fighting Tyrus were thrown to the ground by the violence of the explosion. They had their window.
Tyrus steadied himself out on the railing, grabbing and holding as the ship rocked. He glanced over at Will, and motioned for him to get out of there. After all, that was the reason he had hopped on; make sure it wasn't one vs. all on the ground.
"Come on!" Tyrus barked.
"Tyrus, hurry it up! I'm gonna start blasting that thing in a few seconds!" Rick called through the comms. "Can't wait any longer here! I ain't got all the gas in the world in this thing!"
For a split second he thought he was dead. hit. done for.
But after he realised he wasn't, he did know one thing, he didn't want to be wearing this helmet anymore, as if it was hit with acid and slowly desolving on him, he struggled to take it off, to free himself from the shot.
After which he tossed it over the railing, which he used for support as his gaze followed it down the long drop below. He now realised how high up they still were, giving him a cold shiver. He had been disorientated just a moment ago.
Will was still dazed from the shock he had just suffered. But soon followed. He became wide awake and present when the speed with which he was plummeting towards the earth caught up with him. He had dropped for several seconds now.
Until he opened his parachute and felt the yank of the chute due to his sudden deceleration. All felt quiet again. He didn't know where to land, all he knew was not to be under the airship and as such steered his kite forward to the best of his abilities, as luck would have it, the wind helped him a bunch.
He looked up, behind him to see what would become of the blimp.
The airship seemed to ripple, as the air around it was sucked in, like some giant creature was drawing breath within it. The shockwave hit Will first-- harmless at this distance, but he could feel it pass through him. Then, about a quarter of the airship, where William's jet had been, simply ceased to be in one giant, blazing, ball of fire. It didn't make much of a sound that he could hear, only a sort of clap, like the retort of a gun fired in an empty cement room. The airship was finished. They'd done it. Even now, it was steadily dropping towards the ground at an angle. It'd end up landing in Lake Washington, as Deborah had predicted.
As for William and Tyrus, they were drifting down to the soft grass of Robert House National park. It'd take William a few moments to hit the ground, as he'd deployed his parachute prematurely, but Tyrus was still plummeting.
Will had due to his early deployment and the strong winds been blown away from Tyrus. He almost landed in a tree too, when he eventually did.
His tired legs skated across the dry grass of this old nature resort until he practically slid forward on his ass for a couple more meters after which he finally came to a standstill on the solid ground. He had heard the blast, and even felt it, but now he could properly see it. He turned around, sitting awkwardly upon a hillside with his legs towards the top, and looked up to see an impressive fireball slowly crash down, he did not think about how many lives it took down with it, he was just glad to finally have his body find purchase with solid soil again.
Van de Poorter fell down on his back. His chute fluttered around on the ground below his head. A wide grin appeared on his grin. He just realized how ridiculous what he had just done was, and how he could've possibly survived. It was probably the closest call he'd ever had. The last time he nearly died was a few weeks ago.
-A few weeks back-
William had been trekking for weeks maybe months now. His goal: ‘go west’ and there was not much more to it. After what he did in Second City it was evident he couldn’t stay there without some angry waster looking to settle scores, and they’d have a perfectly valid reason too.
Even though he had made a little home out there, he was glad to leave it behind, and equally pleased that the strong winters had subsided. Frankly it would probably have been impossible to walk through what once was South Dakota in such a cold climate. Will was a survivalist but not insane. He knew he wouldn’t hold out in such a frigid wasteland. The stories of the few travelers that came from the west were found to be true though: The density of sporadic settlements like you’d see between the East and Midwest was nowhere to be found. As if the Crossroads were a cliff and anything west of it was an abyss of sheer uncharted nothingness. Sure, he’d stumble on some old ghost towns from before the war but they hadn’t even been raided yet as was evident by the abundance of loot still lying around. Another reason for the relatively untouched state of a lot of pre-war landmarks was because there were no clear trading routes yet. People would get from west to Midwest or from the Midwest to the coast in vastly different ways. So the chances that you walked into something which had been untouched for more than two-hundred years was quite high.
Will had been carving his own path to the west like Columbus did nearly eight centuries ago. Following sundown and occasionally circling around obstacles he couldn’t take on, like packs of ferocious feral animals or radiation hotspots. Yesterday he had come across a bizarre monument in the mountains which he couldn’t tell if it was Pre-war or made by some weird tribe from the hills he was roaming.
Four large heads, carved in the shapes of the people you’d find on old pre-war money.
Either way, he was more interested in getting to the coast than anything found in these hills. Once there he’d simply work his way down south, following the trail along the ocean. He had heard a lot of interesting things about the New California Republic from caravaneers but the real reason he went west was because of a city called ‘New Vegas’. Which would allegedly be easier to get to from the coast than to try and cross the desert from the North. Will believed that to be prudent, rather than to try and blindly cross the dry radioactive badlands where he’d never been before or heard little about.
New Vegas, if the tales were true, was supposed to be this den of pure vice. Something the former secret agent wouldn’t mind having in his life. He’d rather live it up in copious amounts of booze and carnal pleasure than to have his dick frozen off back there in the Crossroads. Sadly, he was quite unaware of how much further he’d have to go and had to be ever vigilant of the dangers around him or he’d never get there. The tales some Bicoastalers had told him made it clear just how dangerous the trek could be; most of them also missed a limb or an eye somewhere so Will was inclined to believe the warnings.
Night was about to fall over the ranges as the red sun sailed west. The dry ponderosa pines painted long slim shadows over the old tarmac road which had been partially reclaimed by nature, but even nature had to fight against radiation poisoning. William had been following this road for a few hours now. It was the clearest path westward through this dense mountain forest. Soon he’d have to find some place to sleep. He didn’t have a tent with him so most nights were spend under makeshift nature shelters or the clear night sky, if he was lucky he’d find an old house or something akin to it, provided some horrible insect hadn’t made its home in there. Tonight was turning out to be one for the outdoors when the wastelander suddenly stumbled upon an old town sign.
‘Rockerville’ it said with gold painted letters underneath a little town emblem of sorts. Most of it had flaked off though, leaving only the uncolored fonts and lines underneath.
Below the name there was a little history, detailing it was a town created by the gold rush from the late 19th century. Not that it mattered to Will, he was just glad he had a roof over his head tonight. As he peeked over the sign he could see the forest opening up and a single road town stretched before him. The town was surrounded by the woods and hills like the road it was built on. The houses didn’t immediately meet the two-lane route crossing through but were separated from it by sand and gravel. There, some old cars and truck wrecks stood parked for all eternity. As William approached he noticed most houses were stores. A drug and ammo store to the left and an old diner and gas station to the right. The place looked deserted at first glance.
“Perfect.” Will thought as he wandered in. Dust flared up with a little breeze, sifting over the road gracefully and unhindered. That was about the most activity he expected to come from this town tonight.
The diner’s windows were covered in brown dirt and had turned opaque from two-hundred years of dilapidation. In front of it there were some old worn wooden picnic tables. “Carla’s” an old neon sign with an arrow pointing towards the door read. Will wondered if perhaps he could find some old conserved pre-war food. He could really go for a tinned peach right now actually. Van de Poorter diverted towards the Diner and got close, walking passed the outdoor tables and tried to catch a glance of what was inside by pressing his face nearly against the glass and forming a shield over his eyes with both hands. The evening sun shone right on the windows making the already dirty panes impossible to look through. Will got rid of some of the dirt by sweeping it off and tried looking again. Inside it looked like your standard American Diner, domino-tiled floor, a jukebox, red and metal rim counter, all of it. But more importantly, he spotted no hidden traps or mechanisms. It was safe to enter.
The door had a little bell above it that still jingled when customers, or in Will’s case, wastelanders entered. But that was about the only sound that came from the Diner. No Carla was going to walk out from the back to greet new clientele. From now on, this place was self-service and Will hopped over the bar in search for a pantry. This backwater was evidently never hit by the bombs and neither was any place nearby so the chances of finding human remains caught in their final moments seconds before the blast was minimal. No, the residents had probably dropped everything and fled, only for the fallout blowing over from urban areas to take them. The wastelander going through the pantry wasn’t too bothered by that though as he casually tossed aside foodstuffs that had rotten and searched for anything in a tin or other preservative.
“Ah-hah.” Will happily mused to himself.
He had found tinned prunes. Not quite a peach but it would have to do. He walked back out and expertly jumped over the counter and onto a bar stool. Once seated he took out his hunting knife and put it down on the lid’s lining and with a strong stab managed to puncture a hole in his prize find. As he peeled the lid off he smelled the faintly acidic yet sweet scent of room-temperature canned prunes. After which he put the lid to his mouth and let the pieces slide down his dry throat, not minding the fact some of the juice stained his blond beard. He got most of the contents in one swig but just as he was about to go for another round he heard something outside. Quickly he put the tin down and wiped his mouth off on his sleeve.
His ears perked up like a predatory animal. Was that? Music?
This town was not deserted, to William’s dismay. He had hoped on free accommodation but it seemed he’d have to pay whatever weird hermit trader lived out here. Or he could just kill him… But Will had decided a long time ago he was above that now.
With a sigh he got up from his seat and walked outside to see where the music came from. Apparently, it came from everywhere. It was an old country-pop track being played on some speaker system that had been installed around town. Who knows what for, but clearly the set-up was pre-war as William noticed one of the old horn speakers attached atop a wooden pole next to the diner with little red, white and blue flags hanging from it.
Still, there was no person coming out to greet him, there was just Patsy Cline reverberating around town. William wanted to call out for someone but he didn’t trust this. He did not walk back to the middle of the road, instead he decided to remain on this side and walk towards the gas station. Red Rocket, Diesel and Fusion it read across the slanted canopy. Somehow Will thought he’d feel more at ease when he was under the large cover and not ‘in the open’. There was a little convenience store attached which he decided to check out. Perhaps the source of the music came from there. He passed an old Nuka-Cola freezer and ice box when he went inside. A lot of the tools ‘for sale’ where still there and in not too bad of shape. For anyone who was a scavenger or a trader this would be a gold mine, but William preferred to travel light with only the bare necessities at his disposal. But apart from the scrapper’s dream there was nothing else of note here. A little robot mascot keychain caught his attention before a distant but loud bang and an ear shattering clatter disturbed the peace.
A sniper had taken shot at him. Will quickly ducked and leaped behind the counter. He felt his adrenaline surge and also a sting in his right leg. He looked down to see a hole through his pants and blood pooling out. He had been shot right through the leg.
What followed was a cold shiver down his spine and the most guttural of roars. He couldn’t lose his leg. Not now. Survival instincts kicked in but he tried to remain calm. He assessed the damage. It didn’t appear to have hit his bone, but it got bloody close. The bullet had gone clean through. Will even saw the crack in the tile floor where the bullet had found its end. This sniper had a top down view, probably from the roof of a house across the street. The former secret agent reached for his pocket and pulled out a stimpak. With little time to lose and dedication he quickly jabbed the needle above his wound and let the contents hit his bloodstream sterilizing the wound and pumping morphine into his system for good measure. Will almost bit off his tongue as he clamped down his teeth, his hand dropped the pak and started to shake growing slightly numb which he tried to combat by bawling it up in a fist which he shook in a small tantrum, careful not to let any piece of him get out from behind the counter.
“God fucking piece of shit damnit!” He managed to yell out from the pain. He was slowly composing himself again. That was the first time in a long while he’d been shot. Now breathing heavily through pain and rage he pulled his broomhandle pistol from his chest holster and continued to lean against the counter for a while longer. As he slowed his breathing he could only hear Patsy Cline, still singing her song. To his dismay the stealthboy hadn’t recharged yet so he had to deal with this the old fashioned way.
He had a general idea of where the sniper was, but he wasn’t sure. Considering he shot him from a vantage point and knew Will wasn’t heavily armed it was safe to assume he hadn’t moved yet.
The secret agent waited. This counter was in a corner and there was no back door or other escape route. He’d have to go back the way he came to get out of here. What a shit situation he found himself in now. Will had little options until he remembered this gas station convenient store was filled with car parts and DIY tools. He slowly turned back as he tried to not move his leg and opened the little cabinet doors of the counter. Inside was an assortment of little tools, a mousetrap, a rubber hose for diesel transfusion, and bingo! As luck would have it: stick-on rear-view mirrors for those fancy glass dome cars that didn’t have them. With a strained look on his face Will pulled one out, along with a wrench and some duct tape.
The sniper grinned as he had his sights trained on the counter. Waiting for just a glimpse of his prey to pop out.
Will had taped the mirror to the wrench and carefully poked it out with an angle so he could see behind cover without exposing a limb. Slowly but surely he got a view of the building right across. It was an old drug store with a false front wall that extended the height of the building, it looked very much like one of those houses from a western. And just at the top of it he could make out a.
With a loud bang that smothered the music for a brief moment the mirror was shot to pieces and out of his hand. It felt like it was violently torn away by a man much stronger than he was. Will quickly pulled his hand back, just in case he had gotten too close.
“Fucker…” He muttered as he rubbed his wrist.
But at least he managed to get a glimpse of where the sniper actually was and if he was not mistaken that rifle was bolt action. So depending on how skilled the shooter was, he had a little time frame in between shots for him to move.
The sniper laughed as he pulled open the breech to let the used round escape and quickly loaded another one in the chamber. He was obviously enjoying this little hunt, and admired his prey’s smart thinking.
Will got his pistol ready. He was going to have to provide himself covering fire while he ran for new cover, hoping that his leg would hold out in the process. But first he needed to get the assailant to fire another shot for a window of opportunity to be created.
The sun had just disappeared down the highest treetops to the west, now only shining dimly through the forest. Soon it would be dark and the game would only get more interesting.
Will too was aware of the passage of time and he was going to use it to his advantage. He remembered his Thongzi training: “use shadows and night to your advantage.” And he would do just that.
“Alright then… Let’s see how patient you are.” Will thought to himself as he got as comfortable as he could and waited for the fall of night.
Night fell. But even then there was no movement in the convenient store. Not for another hour maybe two. Both participants of this shootout where too focused. They hadn’t even noticed Patsy’s record had stopped playing, plunging the town back into an eerie silence. By now, Will could also feel his leg had healed considerably. Running would be possible. He sat in almost complete darkness. Outside there were no lights. Even with adjusted eyes, one couldn’t look as far away as they could during the daytime. The former secret agent carefully pulled off his jacket, making sure he didn’t accidentally stick a hand out of cover, until he had his jacket balled up and in both hands. His pistol lay next to him on the floor. He then got on his feet, squatting down as much he could but ready to spring up at any moment. Will could feel his right leg tingle in protest but he ignored it.
He threw his jacket out across the room from a low angle to one of the aisles to his side which immediately elected a response from his sniper who shot at the sudden dark shape that ‘ran’ across the room. William leapt over the counter and ran towards the door, bursted out and took cover behind an old pick-up truck parked outside. His ruse had worked. The sniper had obviously not anticipated the sudden action and his arms had no doubt gotten stiff from sitting in the same position for a few hours. The next couple of shots were all misfires, but close enough for Will to have his blood pumping. A bullet had hit the ground just before his feet during the run and after he got down to cover a rain of car glass trickled down on him in little pieces after the sniper shot the window of the pick-up. Will turned out of cover and shot three rounds with his own pistol. Due to them being 'all-piercing bullets' they pierced the façade of the false wall causing the sniper to retreat his rifle back into cover. After that Will had no second to lose he ran across the street as fast as he could. Due to the adrenaline it almost felt like his body was faster than his legs and it he could topple over any minute but he didn’t. In a few seconds he was leaning against the wall of the drug store his pistol aimed up at the vantage point.
Silence returned to the arena. William could only hear his breathing and noticed his hand shaking while he was aiming it up. The sniper was most likely gone or perhaps he had already hit him but you couldn’t really take any chances. After a few more fleeting seconds he ran into the store, the costumer bell jingling as he practically bashed the door in. Quickly van de Poorter focused his aim across the room. He was uncertain if he could get on the roof from within the shop or if it was simply a ladder around the back. William assumed he was directly under the gunman now. And then it struck him, the whole room was filled with ancient furniture and cuckoo clocks which, surprisingly, still functioned. Actually the whole room was filled with all manner of finely crafted clocks and dials. All of them quietly ticking away the time. Due to their size differences the mechanisms didn’t all sound the same, nor were the pendulums equally as long so despite all that rigid and tightly wound order there was a lot of audible chaos. Will could swear at least one of them ticked in tandem with his heart rate.
Were these pre-war or did the lunatic that lived her make them? A question that could be answered perhaps another time as Will carefully made his way around the craftsmanship, to the back door. There were no stairs so he assumed the only way up on the roof was by ladder. The backdoor was white painted timber with six rectangular glass panes neatly stacked in the middle. It too was as meticulously kept as all other woodwork in this building. Will looked through the little windows and tried to notice if someone was waiting around the corner. Perhaps the moment he opened the door he’d have his brains blown out from above. He then noticed a shadow in the reflection that wasn’t there before.
The gunman was behind him. William didn’t hesitate a single moment, he flung himself to the side so he hid behind the table that happened to be there and he acted not a moment too soon because the next sound he heard was a bullet whizzing past and penetrating the glass he had just been staring out of. He quickly turned around and knew the man that tried to kill him was diagonally across the room from him now. Will sat up faintly while still lying on his back and aimed through the table legs at his general direction and gave the assailant the same courtesy he had given him. Will wasn’t greedy with his bullets and had fired six rounds, a couple of which hit the man and he stumbled back into a big grandfather clock, backside first into the frail glasswork. As he yelled in pain he upset the delicate balance the ancient article rested on and pushed it back only for it to bounce off the wall and tip over on him. Crashing him under the heavy wooden box.
Will dropped his weapon to his side. The pain in his leg wasn’t gone yet, but he carefully climbed up again with the help of the table that had saved his life, as he walked around it to see the lifeless body of the sniper under what looked almost like a casket, it was that big.
Then the clocks all struck ten O’clock exactly and the little cuckoo birds popped out of their wooden nests to tell the time. It was somehow a quite ironic and faintly surreal image.
William walked over the grandfather clock and sat himself down in an old armchair, pistol still in hand. He rubbed his eyes with the other.
That was a close one.
Who knew why this guy did what he did but Will assumed that living out here all alone was the main reason. Van de Poorter wondered if he’d eventually snap just like this man, before he noticed the assailant’s rifle on the floor next to a puddle of blood that was slowly creeping from under the fallen clock.
“It’s not like he would need it anymore.” Will thought before leaning out of the chair to pick it up.
Such was life.
Will sat there, on his parachute, thinking back to when things were simpler when he suddenly felt light-headed and a bit of sleep wouldn't seem like such a bad idea. After that, William nodded off.
A Knight in power armor whizzed through the air, and slammed into the ground. The earth shook upon his landing, and he slowly rose to full height, his gaze locked onto Tyrus. Several more Knights and Paladins followed, all in suits of T-51b armor, and carrying various armaments. They closed in on where Tyrus was going, and where William hand landed.
"Duncan, I have picked up squadrons of Vertibirds inbound. In addition, Brotherhood infantry and armor is advancing beneath them. They are headed in this direction. This area will be swarming with hostiles in a a matter of minutes."
Then, she addressed to all. "Return the aircraft to base. I don't think there's anything you guys can do for Will and Tyrus, without putting your own lives in jeopardy."
"Do not worry. I believe I can do something to assist you, Tyrus."
The Brotherhood had closed in around William's unconscious body, and one Knight had lifted him up onto his shoulder. The others were fanning approximately around where Tyrus would land, so that when he did he would be surrounded and have no where to go.
Pretty much all the Knights had a gun leveled at Tyrus. He'd just help destroy their unbeatable war machine, after all.
One Paladin stepped up to Tyrus. His armor was scortched, melted in places, and covered in soot.
"Your weapons and helmet. Now." The Paladin's tone implied there would be no debate.
William dreamt sweet dreams.
The first two dreams repeat. A third grips William in his sleep and refuses to let go. Nightmares. They aren’t dreams they’re nightmares.
The boy is sixteen. He understands now why his parents thought him strange. They cannot know what it is like to have a friend like he does, so they try and change him to be like them. The boy knows to pretend now. Pretend to be like everyone else so that they do not learn he is different. His parents are proud of him. He excels at school. He is handsome and makes many friends and brings pretty girls home. His father smiles fondly at him and they joke about the things men joke about. His mother exclaims how big he’s getting and how she thinks he’s growing up too fast. They put off his unusual childhood as an awkward phase. He’s an extraordinarily bright young man, of course his youth was difficult, he was seeing the world differently.
The boy doesn’t sleep. At nights he visits his friend. So much time with his friend has made it so that he doesn’t need to sleep.
The boy grows strong from labor on the farm. He works with a single-minded passion, both at school and at home. He is driven, he is ambitious. His parents wonder what great things he will make of himself. His sister is no longer wary of him and the two get along. The boy likes pretending. People no longer give him strange stares or say what an odd child he is. Now he is the talk of the town and people say that he’d make a good mayor when he grows up.
The cave’s entrance is still bricked up. That is okay. The boy dug another one. He knew his father used to check the bricks, and did not want him getting suspicious. The boy no longer sits outside the cave. He enters it. The fear is all gone now. He will never be afraid of anything again. His friend and him are one now. Bonded.
He learns things from his friend, ancient things. His friend is very old, older than god, the boy’s father would say. Except with his friend that is not a joke. The boy dreams about bringing his friend out of the cave. It would be better if everyone had a friend like the boy did.
"Alright, alright..." Tyrus said, dropping his rifle and removing the helmet. "What hurts more, the burning blimp or the fact you couldn't take down a few idiots who stumbled upon a few jets?" He asked.
"I'm plenty imaginative, as you're about to find out." He looked past Tyrus, and nodded to the Knight. A massive palm prodded Tyrus roughly in the back, forcing him forwards along the grass. The circle of Knights broke, to reveal a pair of Knights setting several things into place. A large boulder, to act as a table, and then two tree stumps sitting opposite each other.
William was unceremoniously dumped on one of the empty stumps after having his gear removed. The Paladin pointed to the other.
"Sit." He instructed Tyrus. The Knight prodded Tyrus in the back again, for effect.
"Roger that." Deborah said. The jets soared, turning in the air, leaving streaking jet streams behind them, and were heading back towards Fort Lawton.
"I'm getting an incoming message from someone called 'Abel' across all frequencies. I think he wants to talk to you guys."
The Paladin swung the cylinder open, and popped out all the shells but one. He then slapped a hand down the cylinder, sending it spinning, and then snapped the cylinder closed again. It spun in place for a moment, before coming to a rest. The .44 magnum had five chambers empty, and one with a live round in it, and which chamber the round was in was anyone's guess.
"Here's how it's going to go. I'm going to set this down on the table. The smartass," he gestured to Tyrus, "is going to go first. You're going to go back and forth until one gets your head blown off. The other gets to live, for a little while at least."
"Oh, what? You're not gonna play?" Tyrus frowned, then smirked. "Our bold heroes, huh?"
"The point isn't to test your bravery, it's to kill you. I have no desire to die." The Paladin replied, not the least bit provked by Tyrus' taunts.
"What's the point?" Will groaned. Lifting his eyebrows up as got up properly, stumbling slightly as he went. "If we're gonna die, I won't do it to someone else's tune." The former secret agent spat.
"Would you rather I just shoot you in the head?" The Paladin asked indifferently, pulling his laser pistol from his hip and leveling it at William. It didn't matter so much to him, but he thought the two people who destroyed an airship deserved a little more ceremonious of a death, as Tyrus had pointed out.
"This is Abel. Can the pilots who shot down the airship read me? Am I am being heard?" Abel's voice came out of the radio as Deborah patched him through.
Tyrus grabbed the gun and held it up so that he may get a better look at it. "You know, this isn't gonna change anything. You'll have your revenge now, and then the Cause'll come for your heads. Or Rick," Tyrus seemed amused at that idea. "God help you if it's Rick who shows up at your doorstep..."
There were multiple cheers from the Cause's end of the line as Tim said 'loud and clear.' While it hadn't been a big deal for him, the Causers had probably been on the edges of their seats, and Tim had said just about the coolest and most reassuring thing he could've.
"We're doing fine, son, you all did great work out there." Abel called through over the cheering. "I'm getting reports in on Brotherhood infantry approaching the city from all sides, and the Red Hand is engaging them. The fight's on the ground now, and that's a fight we could win."
"You want us to help out?" Rick asked. "I could walk down there and kill a few more of these fuckin' crusaders."
Will could not grasp for the revolver, for it was currently in Tyrus's hand.
"Yeah, well you're not facing certain death. You're standing over two unarmed men and forcing them to kill themselves," Tyrus said. "By the way, I hopped into a jet and blew up your entire military assault. I've got more boldness in my right eye then you do in your whole body, bub."
"Fine," Tyrus said, putting the gun to his head and hoping that Deborah would hold up to her end of the bargain. When he had no time left, he simply pulled the trigger, keeping his unimpressed glare, and...
"Bah... Fine," Rick said. "They're probably scared shitless. We just dropped their biggest war machine without breakin'a sweat."
"I can't make any guarantees" he sighed. then he looked at the gun for a second. After which he spun the cylinder again. Not that it increased chances but at least it gave him the illusion that it was by his own undoing if he got shot.
It clicked again.
Will looked at Tyrus with his cold untelling blue eyes when he put the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger and...
The cylinder harmlessly rolled. William had not killed himself.
"Again." The Paladin said, nodding for it to be returned to Tyrus.
"Paladin." A Knight called, coming over. "We're having some malfunctions. Laser weapons aren't firing properly."
The Paladin frowned. "How so?"
"Beams won't go straight. Someone even shot themselves in the foot."
"The armor's HUDs are giving us false readings. Saying fusion cores are depleted when they're not."
The Paladin considered him for a moment, not taking his eyes from the pair of Outsiders however, and then nodded. "Get everyone out their armor then, have them line them over there. Power down any malfunctioning laser weapons. Both were probably damaged by the fire or the fall. Reinforcements should only be a few minutes out, we'll resupply then."
The Knight and left, to spread the word to his comrades. Around them, the Knights who had laser weapons tossed them aside, and everyone was parking their armor in a neat line, but there were still plenty of gauss rifles and plasma weapons here, and the Knight never broke formation. They were seeing this through.
"Again." The Paladin ordered them seeing his word hadn't been done, once he'd exited his own armor, although he'd left his nearby.
(For us, nothing new. Abel from the Cause asked if we made it, and updated us on the Brotherhood situation (they are attacking in force but the Hand is engaging them). Will and Tyrus are doing Russian roulette on demand of their captors.)