Robobrains are rather mysterious creatures to the average person of the wasteland. Few know where the brains came from, how these robots are still running, or why they behave as they do. The average person of the wasteland has little understanding for the advanced programing that went into these creatures. Adding programs to the mind while retaining the intelligence was something scientists struggled with for years and even the final models have been known to go a bit haywire every now and again. But, in the end the experiment was worth it. Machines that would obey what they were told to do, but could also make split second decisions in combat that no other machine has the capabilities to make.
One of these technological marvels made its way through the desert with no idea of what it was doing or where it was going. It was painted red, white, and blue but these colors had faded a bit over time. A steel powdered wig stretched across the creature's brain case. A flame thrower tank was strapped to it's back with the nozzle laying just under what could be called the robot's "wrist". It shook wildly as it traveled across the ground. It sang The Star-Spangled banner as it trekked. He came to a sign that said "Dry Springs" and continued inside until he stumbled upon a bar. It slammed its body into the door until it opened. It entered and rolled to the counter and said to the bartender, "I'll have some of your finest wine." The bartender chuckled and placed an shot glass filled with water on the table. The robot reached up and attempted to pick it up, crushing it in the process. "Thank you" it said now splattered in fluid. It turned to Ranger Joe and Martin. "Greetings ladies, gentlemen, and/or children. My name is Dave. I will be your guide on this tour through "Kenny Vanson's Rushmore Gift Shop and Educational center. Where History is the Greatest Adventure of all!"
Mostly in Tessa's house.
Vera kept her hover engines going just enough to make sure the small girl wasn't carrying the brunt of the eyebot's weight. Seeing that the door was back in its frame, Vera set to work, welding the hinges back together. Once that was done, the little white-and-red striped eyebot backed away from the door and nodded at the girl so she could test it out.
"I reckon your voice is screwed up, but is there anything I can call you? Oh, and after we're done, I'll put a cushion on the table for you to sleep or sit on."
Vera played back a record, this time an old man's voice, speaking as if calling out to someone very dear to him, "Vera, it's okay. Come to daddy, Vera. Come on, come to daddy, Vera. There's my girl. There's my Vera!" One could just about see the beam of pride in the old man's eyes as whoever he was addressing came to him.
To answer the other question... Vera picked a spot on the ground that looked out of the way, and utterly unimportant, and blasted the letters 'N' and 'V', far enough apart from each other to make it clear they were not supposed to be part of the same word, nor were they initials for one of the last great cities in the American Wasteland.
"I'm sorry about stabbing, it's an automatic reaction to anything that breaks into my house. Old habits die hard."
Vera nudged her body in a way that gave one the feeling that she would be scratching her one of her shoulders if she'd had any. Then she played back a record, this time of a nine year old boy saying... a bit too nonchalantly (as if trying to impress someone with his very bad impersonation of The King), "Don't worry about it."
Cheyton: Predominantly Tessa's House
The last thing that younger Rabbit remembered was being held tightly, a feeling that was rather comforting and conveyed that no matter what, Mercy was safe from the dangers of the world. It was:
The next thing she remembered was the door being battered down, or rather the next thing she remembered was Tessa and her receiving an unexpected guest.
It wasn't that Mercy was a heavy sleeper, nor was it the fact that the girl had a been silently triggered to kill, nor was it the fact that Mercy had just gone mute due to some as of yet unknown emotional or mental trauma. Mercy had spent the entire period of time that Tessa and the Hoverbot had spent interacting staring at Vera and her spherical hovering body, her mind going through everything that she knew about the Eyebots.
Eyebot: n. 1) A Spherical autonomous system created by RobCo used primarily as a mobile transmission system.
armarmaent: 1) Electrical discharge arm
propulsion: small frame class hover engine
Pushing her glasses up with an index finger to get a better look at the Eyebot that had just battered the door down, she noted that this was non-traditional, that wasn't to say that she had never seen this upgraded variant of the MK I RobCo Eyebot, it was a rarity. It was such a rarity that Mercy could only stare reverently at the metal sphere that had just battered its way into Tessa's and Mercy's lives.
"Navigation and Mapping systems damaged. Report to the nearest Robco Certified Mechanic as soon as possible." The Eyebot called Vera had mentioned.
"Now I don't have any Robco Certified Mechanics laying around, but I do have a mechanic of sorts that can take a look at your repairs, okay?"
Was Tessa talking about her little sister? Most likely. Was this an a lot of pressure to place on a girl that had just lost her family? Maybe. Was this a good way of getting Mercy's mind off her recent loss? YES!
"I.I.I. I could try to make some repairs but I can't guarantee anything since you don't seem to be a standard Eyebot Variant." The younger sister muttered, looking at her older sister for a bit of of a pick-me-up smile. Actually the fact that Tessa, who had only known Mercy for a couple days maximum, had spoken of Mercy's skills in repairs with such confidence that brought the smallest of smiles to the smaller of the Rabbit sisters.
Walking over to the table that would be a makeshift workbench, the inventor Rabbit opened up her tool kit and pulled out a set of tools and a magnifying glass on an armature.
"Vera, could you please land on this table? I'd like to take a look at your parts without the possibility of your engines malfunctioning again." Mercy said.
"Also. Diagnostics check. Please list your Navigation System's reading on your current location."
Kaiden exited the mayor's office and found himself back on the streets with the bustling crowds of people. He glanced around to make sure nobody was following him and set off towards the city limits. It would have been easy for it all to fall apart right now, and nobody was going to believe he was just an innocent trader until the mayor got word around.
He made his way to an abandoned building, the one he used to enter to avoid the guards checkpoints.
Finally free he checked around again to make sure nobody had seen him, he could feel paranoia tugging at his nerves by now and forced himself to push forward, up north to begin with, choosing to take the I-25, or at least run parralel with it.
It had taken some time to get clear of the city when he came across a travelling caravan, made up of a large number of people. Of course he didn't want to attract their attention, but he didn't want to wait until it was clear either, Kaidens people would begin to fear the worst if he was too late and perhaps even relocate for fear of repercussions which would leave him all alone. Instead Kaiden opted to follow the group from a distance, allowing them to draw the attention of any threats along the way so Kaiden could remain unharmed and undetected.
Mostly Tessa's House... but sort of Mercy's as well.
Vera whirred and beeped cheerfully as she gently put herself to rest on the table. Readout. Hmm...
Surviving Navigational Databanks indicate that this is the town colloquially referred to as 'Chevy Town.' Eastern Sea Board.
Still trying to make up for accidentally breaking down the door, Vera decided to play some cheerful country music.
Vera chimed, whirred, and beeped in time with the music.
Cheyton: Tessa AND Mercy's house...and possibly Vera's
It seemed that in all the commotion, Tessa had mistaken Mercy's immobility to be that of her sister being a particular heavy sleeper. She was awake and had probably witnessed the entire event. While nothing was staged, that was Tessa in her most natural state...and if the intruder had been human.
That was a killing blow, meant to deliver the blade between the beginning of the chin and the start of the throat. In a flourish, she would have followed up with a slash to the throat.
Mercy had waited to assess the situation, Tessa rushed in to prepare a vicious attack. What did that say about the bladed Rabbit sister? It just meant that she had to survive and adapt to worse conditions on her own. Nothing more, Tessa.
Yet how did she look to her newly-found sister, rushing in with surprising precision and agility to prepare a bladed strike? She didn't know. Yet she feared scaring her sister.
"I.I.I. I could try to make some repairs but I can't guarantee anything since you don't seem to be a standard Eyebot Variant."
Tessa flashed a radiant smile at her, flashed was the operative word since her stomach had rumbled rather loudly in that moment. Snack time. "You made your own Plasma Pistol, that's no easy feat as far as I'm concerned. I'll try and snag you another modification for it. Anyway, I'm curious about what else you've done, I'm...interested." That was how a good sister spoke, right? She was still working out the many kinks of getting to know a hitherto unknown sister.
Clearing out the table for Mercy to work on, she stowed the essentials in her bag and put the leftover food in the fridge. She hadn't eaten her portion of dinner, she wasn't quite sure how hungry Mercy would be. She just took the Snack cakes and nibbled on that, talking in between eating.
"Eyebot? So that's what it is? What does it do? Please tell me it's floating-toaster, can it cook?!", Tessa's eyes practically sparkled at the idea of owning a portable-musical-toaster. Warm food, mmm.
While her sister worked, Tessa quickly counted her caps, arranging them into piles while she laid out all her blades on the table. Except for the one which was being casually twirled between her fingers. "So how did you learn all this, Sis?"
She admired her sister's intellectual gaze and tone while she worked.
She made one last quip to Vera, "See? I told you she was skilled. You're free to stay here once my sister, Mercy, is done. Just keep the screaming to a minimum...or I'll be referring to you as a flying toaster."
"Those terms seem fair to me."
The man put his hand out.
"Nice to meet you. Name's Ranger Joseph Medina."
Something started banging on the door outside
"My name's Martin."
Martin started shaking the man's... Joe's hand.
Then a... Robobrain(?) came in through the entrance and went up to the bar.
"What in the..."
"I'll have some of your finest wine." The bartender chuckled and placed an shot glass filled with water on the table. The robot reached up and attempted to pick it up, crushing it in the process. "Thank you" it said now splattered with water. It turned to them. "Greetings ladies, gentlemen, and/or children. My name is Dave. I will be your guide on this tour through Kenny Vanson's Rushmore Gift Shop and Educational center. Where History is the Greatest Adventure of all!"
Martin just kinda sat there dumbfounded, staring at it, almost tempted to open fire on it.
Tessa House of Orphans and Orphaned Robots
"So how did you learn all this, Sis?" The Bladed Rabbit asked smiling at her sister, Builder Rabbit, who waa busy looking for parts that would be applicable to the repairs that needed to be made.
"Well, um-sis, since dad was a scav-er-prospector, he always brought home little interesting bits of tech, at least the pieces he wasn't able to sell at market. Being a prospector, there wasn't a lot of money to go around for gifts so I used to have to build my own toys out of the stuff he brought home." Mercy said as she found something in the bottom of her bag that might work for localized mapping.
"Well Daddy, noticed that I kind of had a knack for taking things apart and putting them back together, more or less - I mean what's an extra screw between builds - so he got me a real gift once. It was a book called the Big Book of Science. Tessa - I mean sis - it was the most wonderful thing in the world. It showed me how stuff works, like old before the bombs stuff worked and I just started making stuff from there." The younger sister said with a smile.
Even though she smiled, inside she was scolding herself for how open she was about
her their dad. Even though Tessa was the stronger sister for it now, Mercy couldn't help but feel that the opinion that Tessa was better off now wouldn't have been an opinion that the two shared.
Perhaps it was time to change the subject.
"You know, if I could find a could of heating coils and a variable storage capacitor, I could make Vera here into a flying toaster." The skinny sis said laughing at her own joke as she finally finished fishing out the parts that she could use to fix Vera's navigation and mapping system but since they weren't he exact parts that were needed there would be side effects.
"So Vera - I've got some good news for you. I can fix you, mostly. Back home - well the home before this one - I had a RoboDog that I built. The only problem was that real dogs were scared of her. I was working on this ultra sonic emitter that would attract dogs so that my RoboDog could play with them. Now I can modify the emitter do that it emits ultra sonic pulses that you on board localized guidance systems can use, sort of like radar. But - um - there's a catch. You'll be super attractive towards dogs and they'll come running from every direction if you use it too long." Rabbit Minor said slightly smiling at the mental image.
"The other option is to reset the timing on your hover engine to create sub sonic pulses that you can use as well. The problem is that your hovering eill be less stable and so if you're in the sort of situation where you have to fight, your targeting's going to be less accurate." Mercy explained, leaving the option totally up to Vera.
"If you want to go with the first option, just poke the Ultra Sonic Emitter. If you want the second option, just spin three hundred and sixty degrees."
Finished explaining the partial fixes for Vera's localized mapping system, Mercy still had yet to explain the issue with Vera's long range navigation systems but that would be another issue for after her first decision.
Turning back to Tessa, the sister looked at the knives that the older sister had brandished when she though that they were in danger.
"Sis? Where'd you learn to do that thing with your knives. It looked really neat - dangerous but neat. I've aways been afraid of big knives but you make it look so easy - and - well - so cool." The younger sister stating showing how in awe of her older sister she was.
There was another reason why she was amazed at Tessa's precisious with knives. Back when her family home was being attacked, Mercy had tried to fight back using her Plasma Pistol, she really had, but when it came down to a matter or life and death, it failed her, it was just before her daddy had thrown himself at the raiders to buy Mercy enough time to get away, her Plasma Pistol had jammed and daddy died because of it, because of Mercy.
Mercy and Tessa's small scale orphanage, now under the protection of Vera, the Duraframe model Eyebot with candy-coated paintjob and one, hot... precision laser.
Vera remembered dogs. They had always been a problem before she figured out how to fly higher... and later, how to get along with them. Well... the trained ones that is. Wild coyotes weren't too much trouble, they usually left her alone... rabid ones, well... humans had trouble with them too. Hmm...
Vera poked the Ultra Sonic Emitter with her multitool. Then started humming happily. She liked dogs. They were fun to play with once you got to know them. And... being able to summon them at will... could come in handy when Vera's time of reckoning came. (That was a joke)
A radroach skittered into view. Vera fried it inside and out with a few short blasts from her precision laser. Then she played an old record she'd... inherited from her previous incarnation.
"Ding!" said the unknown voice uneasily, "Turkey's done!"
Then Vera started playing a track of smooth jazz.
Tessa's Homeless Shelter for stray humans and otherwise
Tessa had never heard Mercy speak so plainly about
her their father, was it because she was distracted? Nevertheless, Tessa's blade stopped spinning as she listened intently. She was creating this imagery of a doting father, bringing back whatever he could for the daughter he loved, regardless of his personal situation. The enthusiasm over a book that inspired Mercy's passion for technology and repair-work was simultaneously endearing and saddening. She wished for such a life, for such a balanced beginning.
Selfishly, Tessa was very happy to not be alone in her life, especially after Sonea. Yet under these circumstances? This was a girl that did not deserve to have a life ripped away from her, she especially did not have to build her life from the ground up like Tessa had to. Outwardly, in an almost sing-song voice, Tessa took inspiration from something her more poetic girlfriend would say, "Your life had structure, yet you gave it depth. My life had obscene amounts of depth, yet I gave it structure..." she hesitated, "Sorry, our Father sounded like a loving man. I wish he never had to leave you."
Tessa wasn't one to leave many personal matters unattended and she had never properly addressed the matter of their deceased Father. Now, even if the moment was fleeting, it was a good a time as any. Tessa Rabbit was her remaining family and she would see to it that her sister was loved.
Sensing the change of the topic, "Maybe we'll stumble upon something for repairs in the market tomorrow. I've been meaning to get a good look at everything Cheyton has to offer in the way of businesses and trading. Still up for getting something a little more stylish? My treat." a small smile started to develop in hopes of cheering her up. "We can get you a bonnet, Vera!"
"Sis? Where'd you learn to do that thing with your knives. It looked really neat - dangerous but neat. I've always been afraid of big knives but you make it look so easy - and - well - so cool."
Understandably, Mercy was reluctant to talk about her past. Tessa, not so much, except for certain topics.
"On the streets, anything you can hold is a weapon. Or so the saying goes. They're wrong." she leaned forward and placed all four of her blades on the table, side-by-side, "A blade isn't just a weapon, it's a tool to achieve specific goals."
Tessa always got slightly philosophical and tactical whenever she approached a plan or described attacks. "My switchblade here can trigger the delicate mechanism in weak locks, it's my only weapon for delivering drops of chems into drinks, or covering the blade with poison. It's also great for piercing strikes to vital area's, it's a weapon of surprise, not for main combat, hence why I keep it in my boot if I'm ever disarmed." She pulled up the next blade, "Combat knife, general purpose blade, you can force your way inside relatively quietly with applied pressure to a door. It's also light, which personally makes it perfect for throwing and maneuverability, since I like to change my grips and stances depending on how I want to attack someone." Finally, she picked up the more weighty and clearly cared for, Bowie knife, "This is a pure combat blade, it's weighty, so throwing it precisely is more difficult. However, that weight allows me to switch between different grips much easier like mentioned before. It can pierce light armor with ease, force open lockers, break locks and it never dulls. Perfect for piercing and slashing from any angle."
Tessa realized she was rambling on and moved over to the the next part.
"Have you ever read a book called Pugilism Illustrated? Supposedly it's book dedicated to teaching fighting stances and proper techniques in hand-to-hand combat. Since I'm no good in a fistfight, why not apply those same techniques to knife combat? That's where I started experimenting and developing my own style." she smiled nostalgically at the next part, "Turns out, I needed a helping hand and my girlfriend was more than willing to oblige. We wrapped our knife's in ductape and went at each other for hours, each day, learning our weaknesses, where to strike, how to position the weapon's...we taught each other to survive and how to protect ourselves from the dangers of the streets."
Tessa got up and lifted up the armor to reveal her slim stomach, which would be attractive, if not for the numerous white scars along the sides and the more recent pink scarring slashes alongside them, some looked positively devastating, "It wasn't always easy..." she covered herself up again, "You learn that if you can put your complete trust in a loved one, enough to strike at them, knowing you are putting your life in the other's hands...then you can face no other opponent with fear."
Sharing this with her sister didn't bother her, if anything, it was a relief to finally reveal parts of her true self to someone again. And if she couldn't trust her sister, then who else? No, Mercy had a right to know who she's living alongside. Mercy is allowed her secrets, she's hurting and she can reveal them if she ever wants to. Tessa on the other hand, she had to look out for her, that's what sisters do, right?
"All in all, knives are a symbol of trust and grace to me, their use and meaning is personal." She smiled wistfully at the very faint S-shaped marking on one of the Bowie Knives, "Energy weapons I can respect and admire, even if I can't use them, your Plasma Pistol is - beautiful! Does it have a special meaning to you?" she still marveled at the fact that her sister made that weapon, it was a testament to her ingenuity and the Bladed Rabbit admired the Plasma Rabbit's sheer skill, it was very much apparent in her voice.
She paused, before scowling and added, "As for conventional firearms. I hate guns."
She yawned, stretched and concluded with something more positive, "So tomorrow, we're going fashion shopping and hopefully we can 'pick up' a new weapon mod for you and a replacement switchblade for me. My treat! I'm spoiling you tomorrow, okay!?"
Tessa walked over to her sister and hugged her tightly. She also gave Vera a thumbs up while commenting on the good music choice.
Vera chirped appreciatively at the thumbs up. She'd been listening intently to Tessa's ramblings about her favored weapons, and the meaning they held for her. Vera took a moment to admire Tessa's switchblade and Mercy's plasma pistol. They were indeed, beautiful to behold. Not so much for what they were in of themselves... as much as the clear signs of care and attention that both girls had lavished upon their favorite tools. Vera thought of her own multitool and precision laser. They... weren't her choice. They were simply a part of what she was, not who she was. Vera fell silent for several moments after that.
Tessa House of Good Tunes, Hugs, Sisterly Bonds, Orphanarium and Robot Repair Centre
Hugs. The very word brings a smile to the face of the majority of people in the world as it denotes the tactile sensation of closeness with a loved one be it family member or otherwise. I say majority because for our Plasma Rabbit, it was a mixed bag. The older sister's hug was like an ambrosia from which the younger sister could slake her thirst for familial bonding and comfort.
There were other hugs - well, Mercy didn't want to think about the other hugs at the moment. Looking at her hands and the rest of her body, she noticed the days worth of grime that had been built up over the last few days of travel from California to here.
Disentangling herself from her now sleeping sister, she nodded towards Vera, indicating that they would work on the mapping issue very soon but first there was something that needed to be done. Pulling off her boots, the littler Rabbit performed a rather practiced looking tiptoe through the room so as to not wake her sister; her destination, the "bathroom."
The "bathroom" wasn't the most modern, nor the most decorated, nor the most convenient, since it was detached from the home but still it would do, after all beggar Rabbits couldn't be chooser Rabbits.
Stripping down to her undergarments, the Plasma Bunny took a look at her reflection in the mirror and sighed to herself. She definitely wasn't as cute as her older sister, nor did she carry herself with the same confidence as her sister, nor did she even had the same "don't fuck with me" look as her older sister.
"(Why is she even helping me out? I mean, I was a total stranger to her up until a couple of days ago and now I'm in her space, eating her food, drinking her water, taking up her time. I'm just a useless sack of meat.)" She thought to herself as she removed her undergarments, placed them on the chips counter nearby and got into the shower.
"OH MY GOD! WHY'S THIS WATER SO COLD?!" The young girl silently screamed as her body adjusted to the shock of the icy spears that tried to pierce her flesh.
It took a moment but her body finally got used to the shock of the water and the showering could continue, albeit with chattering teeth as the background music.
Watching the grimy water flow down the drain and listening to the sound of the water hitting her body and the tiling of the shower, Mercy couldn't help but remember.
San Diego, New California Republic: The Past
*drip - drip - drip - drip*
The hole in the roof of the Rabbit family home had been begging for a patch for some time now, a fact that was made even more apparent by the rainstorm that raged outside. The home had once been a modest but lovely home that had been carefully decorated by the matriarch of the three person family.
Mercy found herself on the floor of the living room, the blasted hole in the roof having wormed its way into her sleep. No, not sleep, judging by the pounding headache that she had woken up to and the wrecked living room that her eyes found upon being uncovered by her heavy eyelids.
"Wh - what happened?" The young woman asked herself as she tried to pick herself off of the ground and found herself face to face with her father, or rather what was left of her father.
Screaming, Mercy retreated from the sight, her voice hoarse due to the punishment she had put her vocal cords through earlier in the night. The film covered eyes of Mercy's and Tessa's father could only stare at her blankly, devoid of emotion, as the girl continued to retreat until she had backed herself against the wall.
"Daaaamn, girl. You really did a number on him." Said a chuckling voice from kitchen entryway, the light revealing his face and his uniform.
"I'm afraid, I'm going to have to take you in now, unless you and I can some up with some agreement." The uniformed man said as he approached the young Rabbit.
*drip - drip - drip - drip*
Mercy's brown eyes opened. The rest of the sequence was darkness. A detached and cold thought informed her that, psychologically speaking, it meant her mind had blocked some sort of traumatic event. It meant that what ever had happened after that was too terrible for the young woman to remember.
Turning off the water, Mercy tossed her dingy clothing in an autowash and wrapped her still damp body in a robe that her sister had thoughtfully purchased for her on the day of her arrival.
With a rather practiced looking tiptoe through the room so as to not wake her sister, Mercy Rabbit crawled into her sister's bed, wrapped the warm arms around her body and fell asleep.
Cheyton-Heading for the store
Samuel was moving quickly, hoping to get to the store before it locked up for the night. Passing a house, he heard music coming from inside, and on impulse stopped to listen for a moment...that proved to be a mistake. "HEY ZOMBIE!" An unfortunately familiar voice shouted behind him. "I thought we tol' you be for...you. Ain't. Welcome. Here. Now get the fuck outta town or we're gonna have to kick your ass again?"
Turning around, he came face to face with two of the local bigots; Billy West, and his retard brother Frank. "Funny." He replied calmly. "The way I remember it, I kicked your ass Billy. Quite badly in fact. Now why don't you go back to fucking your Brahmin?" "Don' you say stuff like dat about my brudder!" Frank yelled, rushing Samuel.
He could have easily dodged or deflected Frank's clumsy charge, but instead Samuel used it to his advantage. Sprawling to the dirt, he dropped his duffel bag, and under the pretence of getting back up, kicked up a cloud of dust to hide the fact that he'd just pulled the combat knife from his boot. Complacency has made you soft. He thought to himself. You should've at least brought your throwing knives. Shaking such distractions off, he got to his feet. This time when Frank rushed him, he side stepped easily. "Call off the retard Billy before I get angry, and hurt one of you." He growled. "I'm sure he'd like to get back to fucking your momma!"
"DON'T YOU TALK ABOUT MY MOTHER LIKE THAT YOU GODDAMN FREAK!"Billy roared, as he went for the gun on his hip, which was a big mistake. If he'd come at Samuel with his fists, that was fine, he'd just get sent away with new bruises and maybe a few broken bones; but a gun? That meant death. [Melee Hacker] Before the pistol could even clear the holster the knife was away, with an underhand throw. Samuel hated throwing the combat knife; the balance was off, and the grip felt too thick for that purpose. As a result, it didn't his quite were he wanted. Instead of hitting Billy just below the sternum and hitting the bottom of his heart (and killing him within moments), it hit his stomach.
Screaming in pain, Billy collapsed to the ground clutching at the wound, and pulling the knife free. "YOU 'URT BILLY! I'M GONNA KILL YOU!!!" Frank howled, charging headlong at Samuel again. [Unstoppable Force] In one fluid motion Samuel drew his gladius that was still at his hip, and flipped the blade, brining the edge to the top side. This time as he sidestepped Franks charge, he rammed the blade up under the other man's ribs, destroying his heart and killing him instantly.
The whole thing had taken only two minutes, and now one man was dead, and another would be shortly. After pulling the gladius out of Frank, Samuel went and collected his combat knife. Billy lay there groaning, his blood pouring onto the dusty ground. Samuel was going to do the only kind he could with a wound like that and make the end quick, but before that happened, he heard the infamous 'death rattle', and Billy went limp. Well fuck He thought. I do not need this.
Mercy/Tessa's house. SHH! They're sleeping!
After the other two went to sleep, Vera decided to go on patrol. She found a hole in the ceiling and flew out of it and back outside, where she started patrolling the outside of the little house until the sun started coming up. The night had been uneventful after her arrival, so Vera flew back inside and slowly set herself down on the floor at the foot of the bed.
I miss sleep. Vera thought, the memories of the girl she'd been based on intruding on her thought processes. Vera had no idea what the hell the old man had done to use her to resurrect his dead daughter, but whatever he did... seemed to have worked. Used to sleep all the time. Short naps on the porch with... dad were the best. I... wonder what she looked like.
Vera didn't realize that she was whirring quietly while she thought, and remembered.
Flashback, Hell, Lucky 38 casino
To no surprise, Ceryni had not only broken the lockpicks, but he had jammed the physical lock on the safe. Dannyl who was working alongside Tessa on distraction duty had failed to rehearse the story and two NCR guards had slipped past. Sonea, being non-confrontational was not suited for guard duty.
If the plan didn't work out, everyone should head to Rothen's exit. That was the plan. "Your plan sucks, Rothen!"
The sound of a familiar scream, followed by gunshots echoed from another hallway. The 'defence line' where Sonea was stationed.
"Not my problem, seeya!" smiled the cowardly rat, before he shut the door behind him.
Tessa ushered for Dannyl and Ceryni to make a run for it as she made her way for Sonea. Rounding the corner, she saw Sonea firing a pistol at an NCR guard towering over her, to no effect whatsoever. The second guard was standing closer to Tessa with his arms folded, complete with a smug look on his face.
She moved silently towards the closest guard, unnoticed as she slipped his combat knife off his belt. Subtlety was thrown out the window when she violently pulled out the baton to slam it into the guard's temple, sending him crashing to the floor. Bridled with fury, Tessa rushed the other guard with the combat knife, she dodged the swing of his baton to left and countered by sinking the blade into his throat.
The victory was short-lived when two bullets fired by the not-so-unconscious guard entered Tessa's stomach, sending her slumping over. Her vision caught a bullet entering the skull of the guard, presumably taken off the body of the previous guard. Her vision had grown dark and had faded at that point. Oh god! Tessa! You're not dying like this!
Apparently Sonea had dragged her back most of the way before Ceryni and Dannyl rushed in to help. Rothen had filled the gun with blanks, knowingly put Dannyl in a useless situation, gave Ceryni brittle lockpicks and knowingly cut a deal with those two NCR guards to sell them all out for a hefty sum of caps.
Tessa and Mercy's
Brothel Rabbit Burrow. How may I take your order?
Tessa's eyes darted open once more, tears had once again taken their commonplace lately. "Dammit" she muttered under her breath before realizing the robed and more clean Rabbit had chosen to sleep next to her. Primarily, she was concerned if her sister had heard her say anything in her sleep, not to mention noticing the tears. Secondly, Tessa had been taking the couch for the past few days since Mercy had arrived, she wasn't quite sure how close her sister physically wished to be.
But she enjoyed it, nevertheless, hence why she kissed her sleeping sister on her forehead. It was shower time.
"Oh!" she exclaimed, almost tripping over the spherical jukebox, "Morning Vera. Come with me."
It was still early morning from what she could tell, but the hustle and bustle of Cheyton had probably started earlier.
Despite the intrusive memories and recurring nightmares, she was excited to go shopping with her sister, teach her a few tricks of the trade.
Tessa wasn't particularly shameful about her appearance as she undressed midway to the bathroom. Don't get her wrong, it wasn't a matter of considering herself attractive. She's had to spend some of her nights sleeping in mud and drains. For the most part, there was no place in her life to feel insecure about her appearance, such thoughts were not necessary to her survival. She was still never comfortable with presenting her scars though.
"Vera, I know you don't have a voice, but I'm guessing you can use soundtracks stored in your memory? I don't know the technicals. Look, I like the jazz, but can you maybe give me some Beethoven, Mozart, hell, I'd even settle for some Vivaldi...keep it classy, you know?".
Flicking the shower on, Tessa got onto her tippy-toes and pulled a lever on the showerhead for hot water. She wondered if she ever told Mercy about that, oh well.
After Tessa was done, she started to use the basin to clean out minor bits of her leather armor, it gave her hair time to dry her hair naturally while she was freezing in a towel, plus it was nice to talk to someone, "So tell me about yourself, Vera, how did you end up here?"
Vera followed Tessa, humming along with the music for a moment, trying to gather her processes together, searching her databanks for relevant files. She found a few. She decided to tell the whole story. Vera started with some of the earliest logs of her 'father.'
"Data corruptedBlake's fucking journal. 2287. April 7th. Novac," the old man's voice began, "Found a wrecked eyebot. No markings, so I'm guessing it doesn't belong to anyone. Hoping really. Not sure what I'm going to do with the poor thing. Sell it for scrap maybe? Keep it as a pet? I dunno. Guess I'll sleep on it."
Vera clicked the next record to life without delay.
"Blake again. Pfft," the old man snorted, "Who the fuck else is it going to be? Ehh... shouldn't take it out on the logs. Couldn't sleep. Been drinking a bit. Not much else to do when the hour of the wolf comes. God I miss my baby girl. Veronica. I hate to think what happened to her in that stupid war. Been thinking just now. Scary I know. But... well, I've been poking around in that trash heap's innards, and it looks like the cpu and ai core were heavily damaged. I have the replacement parts, and could just boot it back up, like nothing every happened." the old man sighed, "Be nice to not be on my own anymore, even if it means just having a machine around to watch me die." there's a sloshing noise, like a liquid leaving a bottle, "Gah. Maybe I'm just too damn drunk right now, but I've hit on this crazy idea. Instead of booting up the standard personality... I think I'll write a new one from scratch. Base it off my daughter. I doubt it'd be a perfect copy... there's just some things you can never get right. But... maybe I can get close enough to make the tin can into a sister... or at least... a tribute to my poor baby."
Vera hesitated for a moment with the next record.
"Come on Vera, come to daddy," the old man said, as if greeting a beloved child, but there was an odd... strained quality to his voice, then he coughed, "It's okay Vera. They're gone. You got 'em. It's okay. And don't worry about not being enough like Veronica. That's okay too. It's my own fault. I'm not as good a programmer as I thought I was. It's not your fault," Vera apparently interrupted with a series of worried beeps, "Vera, honey, calm down! It's going to be okay. You gave those goddamned footballers an ass-kicking they'll remember right up until they find themselves knockin' on the devil's door. I'm... proud of you, child." Blake coughed and apparently died, as the next thing we hear is Vera in the record, beeping gently for a moment, then she fell silent. Record ends.
Vera stopped moving for a moment, and turned to face the rising sun. She let out a drawn out whirring noise. Then continued.
"Hey, what's this thing?" said a 5 year old boy's voice.
"Cool! A robot!" said a 9 year old girl's.
"Is it still working? Poke it with a stick or something," says a 10 year old boy's voice.
"No!" the 9 year old girl yells, "She's my new friend, and you don't poke your friends!"
"All right, jeez, Ashley," the 10 year old replies.
"How do you know it's a she?" the five year old asks.
"Because she's wearing a green ribbon, Josh!" the 9 year old says.
"Okay okay, hey... what's your name?" Josh asks.
"Come on Vera, come to daddy," Vera supplies in the record.
"Huh, that's kinda creepy."
Vera beeped as if trying to sound nonchalant about something. She was really remembering all the times she played hide and seek with the kids.
"Baptiste, this is crazy," said a hard woman's voice, "The Enclave made these things to spy on people. Why would it be able to help around the house?"
"Gloria," said Baptiste, putting on a placating tone, "look at her, she's got a multitool, she might not be able to build weapons from scratch for us, but she can modify and repair the lasers and plasma-shooters we do have. And the better the weapons, the more we can get for them."
Record ends. Vera hesitated again before playing the next record.
"Quiet initiate," a heavily filtered voice said, as if its owner were wearing power armor, "Your opinion is irrelevant now."
"We didn't have to kill all of them, damn you!" the rookie replied, his voice was unfiltered, "The adults, sure, the guards, sure. Anyone that actually posed a threat to us, I can understand. But the kids? What the fuck is wrong with you Roarke?"
"Shut up Jenkins," said a third voice, this one gruff, and just as filtered as the first one, "It was the commander's call. The Codex clearly says we must obey the chain of command."
"Fuck the Codex!" the rookie shouted, "It's what got us into this mess to begin with! Gah-!"
There was a crumpled, metallic noise, followed by a thud.
"You're a rookie," the commander said, "And we're low on manpower at the moment, so I'm going to let that kind of insubordination slide for now. But watch it, initiate. Now, Jared, please explain to the initiate why we had to kill the entire Family."
"The Van Graffs have been selling energy weapons with impunity for decades. Weapons that we need right now if we hope to rebuild our order," the gruff Jared began, "The guards were in our way. Gloria and Baptiste have had this coming for years..."
"But the children? Come on! What did they do?!??"
"They were... unfortunate witnesses," Roarke took over, "And besides, do you really think children could survive on their own in the wastes? We're in a two-way canyon at the moment. The nearest settlements are 50 miles in either direction from here. What we did to the children was mercy, not murder."
"We could have taken them with us," the rookie said, "We could have made sure they were taken care of..."
"How?" Roarke said, "We're openly reviled by every major faction, and we're probably the last of our order. What? did you just expect us to waltz right into a town and drop the brats off?"
Their... discussion was brought to an abrupt halt when, in the record, Vera screamed out a loud series of beeps and chirps, each getting shriller than the last... followed by a laser going off, and something very heavy crumpling to the ground.
"Fuck me!" the two remaining soldiers said in unison before apparently running.
"That machine got Roarke!"
"I know. Shut up rookie."
Vera... went silent after that for several minutes.
Dry Spring's bar.
A robobrain had entered the bar, requested wine, and been served water.
Joe disliked Robots.
"Greetings ladies, gentlemen, and/or children. My name is Dave. I will be your guide on this tour through "Kenny Vanson's Rushmore Gift Shop and Educational center. Where History is the Greatest Adventure of all!"
Joe remembered hearing something about how most robots could not comprehend the apocalypse, and assumed that everything was still fine and dandy.
"Rushmore? Isn't that in South Dakota? What are you doing all the way out here?"
Joe shot the barkeep a look, motioned to his revolver, then motioned at the robot.
Hopefully I'll get to trash this thing.
Somewhere on the road
"I spy with my little-"
"Please stop. Just... stop. We both know it's going to be 'road', or 'mountain'. Please just don't."
"I was actually going to go with 'People', smart ass. Over there, I can see some smoke." Markus shot Paul an incredulous look, before pulling out his hunting rifle. Sure enough, the drug addled ranger spoke the truth. A swirling cloud of grey was rising over the horizon against the setting orange sun.
"Okay, I'll give you this one. So, you want me to stay back, or both go at once?"
"Quite the conundrum... Climb the tree an snipe em down, I'll be right back." Paul slowly drew his blade, murder frenzy clear in his eyes. He was woken up by Markus clearing his throat.
"... Well, so much for pillar of human goodness. We could just go around?" Paul shook his head, taking out his backpack and unzipping it. They were nearly out of food.
"Okay, fair enough. Highway robbery just seems pointless. We could try and talk them into a deal, then wantonly murder them. We could even wait for them to go to sleep."
"Don't be a damned sissy, they see us and they shoot. Now, find a good place to cover me." Markus shrugged, looking around for a second before noticing a nice rock. He jogged over, approaching from the back it was almost rock- like. He got on it, crouching and using the edge as a stand for his rifle.
He watched his partner in crime slowly approach, his chinese officer blade drawn. Markus hadn't really bothered to look at it, but now he could notice how well kept the thing was. He seemed to polish it and sharpen it every day. It looked better than a Centurions blade. Paul's movements were snake like, as he stayed low to the ground and approached at first slowly, but building up speed.
Markus took the first shot when Paul was close enough, taking out a mans eye. At least he thought it was a man, his scope was dirty and the figures far away... Paul got two, as the startled figures looked around for their attacker with their rifles drawn. Paul descended on them quickly, using the flat of his blade to raise the barrel of the figure closest to him, as he kicked him in the gut. The other figure turned around to get a sword in his heart. Markus aimed and fired, taking out the man Paul had kicked.
Another two figures emerged from the tent, near the fire. One huddled close to the other, who seemed to be wielding a pistol. Paul drove his sword through the armed ones hand, and made the two get out of the tent. Markus sighed, getting up from his position and jogging over to see the spoils of their raid.
Markus saw the two bodies, one was a surprisingly big dude in common raider armor, the other... Well, he couldn't exactly tell what he looked like, but there were a broken pair of glasses hanging off what remained of his face. Paul had forced the two survivors back into their tent as he dug through their things, muttering to themselves.
"No goddamn food!"
"So, this was pointless then?" Markus sighed, and Paul shook his head vigorously. He pulled out something, it seemed to be a needle. Psycho.
"Didn't you say you quit?"
"Did. Didn't say I didn't get back on."
"Did you?" Paul ignored this, going through the backpack again. Med-X was the only other drug he managed to find. Markus sighed as he went on scavenging, deciding to talk to the two. Markus was vaguely hoping they would be a couple of kids, star crossed lovers in an apocalypse. he was disappointed, then, to see he was a man in his mid thirties, with died purple hair holding onto a girl who looked barely in her teenage years.
"You two are raiders then."
"Damn straight! And you'll goddamn pay for what you did to Stone and Pendrew!"
"Promises of vague revenge? It seems cliches live in the wasteland. You DO know how those stories go?" Markus chuckled for a second, before continuing, holding eye contact with the man.
"Those stories are usually; a hero finds a villain, destroys villain after being wronged, villain promises revenge when he escapes, cause the hero is simply so damned nice! Well, we're not heroes and we skipped step two. Me and my friend are hungry wanderers, and frankly you didn't have anything to appease our hunger. Now, we can totally live without food for a day or two, sure, maybe let you live your sad life. But in killing you, you inconvenienced us. I lost two bullets. Now, to know how many bullets I'll have to use now, little girl, do you want to follow us, make us pay for our actions?" The girl shook her head, no. He turned his gaze to the man, who also shook his head no.
"Liar." Markus put the still hot barrel of his rifle in the mans mouth,. The man began shaking his head again, more violently while choking out threats and promises. Markus pulled the trigger, and there was a click. His gun jammed.
"Huh, Legion always warns us about this. Now, it seems your deity favors you. I'd suggest running, after you wake up." Markus pulled out his gun. The man sighed with relief, as he circled around behind him and hitting the back of his head, causing a small, wet, crack echo through the waste.
"Now, let's get going Paul."
Day 2: Before Dawn, Great Khan Campsite
Ollie was on watch now. He was sitting completely still, letting his peripherals do the looking for him without moving. With a hand to the ground, he could feel the slight vibrations of the animals and humans as they tossed idly. But there was something else in there as well, moving slowly, purposefully. Whatever it was, it was a predator. And it was big.
Brady rolled over, yawning. It was his turn for watch before they headed out in a couple of hours. Getting to his feet, he heaved a great sigh and stretched his arms. "Well, Ollie, time's up. Grab'em while you can." Oliver hadn't moved, or even said a word. Brady frowned. "Something up, man?"
Ollie's face was frozen rigid. "Don't move a muscle, Brady." he ordered. Brady snapped still, not stupid enough to ignore the tracker's words.
"What is it?" he whispered, his eyes darting around, trying to find their unseen stalker.
"I don't know," said Ollie. "But the Nightmares have been dead silent for the last hour. It takes a lot to get them spooked."
"What are we going to do then?" hissed Brady. His hand was creeping towards his bowie knife, staying as still as possible. "It can't be bandits, they'd have just shot us."
Ollie barely turned his neck to get a better view behind him. Just out of the corner of his eye, he caught a flash of something in the grass, illuminated by the campfire. A large, yellow eye. Oooooh shit, he thought. He'd know those death glare eyes from anywhere. "Wake the others, now."
Brady crouched down and began shaking the other khans awake, hushing them to keep silent. They were on the clock now, but they had no choice. They could either sit here until the Deathclaw got bored of waiting, or they could try to make a run for it and at least some of them could get out. Ollie loaded his revolver slowly, deliberately. It wouldn't do much against the mutant, but nothing liked lead flying at it. The Khans were all awake and remaining perfectly still. They would have one shot at this.
Three... Two... One... "GO, NOW!" shouted Ollie.
The Great Khans leaped to their feet, guns and knives in hand. Ollie turned around just as the Deathclaw jumped from its hiding spot in the long grass.
Tessa and Mercy's House of Blades and Plasma and Lovin': Over One Billion Served (AKA the House of Damaged Goods)
*ting --- ting -- ting - tinglelingleling*
The bottle cap had landed on the ground and rolled for some distance before settling on the cracked tile floor underneath Vera's chassis, its owner, one very wide eyed looking Plasma Rabbit, stood there staring at the Upgraded Eyebot. She hadn't meant to eavesdrop on the recording but she had meant to simply go in and grab her now clean and now dry clothing from the auto wash.
"Uh - Sorry, Vera." The skinnier Rabbit said, a look of concern on her face as she realized what the recordings meant. Vera was an orphan like Tessa and Mercy. Perhaps orphan wasn't the right word but at that moment, Mercy wasn't concerned with vocabulary.
Grabbing her clothing, the younger Rabbit slipped on the clean holey pants and ill fitting shirt, opting not to have to wear the even more ill fitting leather armor.
Letting silence settle once again, despite the sound of the water hitting the tile from Tessa's shower, Mercy looked at Vera.
"Vera, is there something that you'd rather me repair for you instead of your navigation systems? Perhaps we could outfit you with your own voice?"
It was distinctly possible that they had noticed him. He thought maybe that one of the was looking in his direction, and then grew more nervous. The Nightmares had been behaving sort of this way for a while now, spooked despite their spikey exterior and such. Still, he couldn't confirm this, but maybe it was about time to take some action. he just needed the right moment...
Like that one! Yes, the gray Deathclaw leapt out of the grass and brush, and it seemed that these people were armed and desperate. Couldn't exactly all the dangerous unless they had some of the harder stuff. But then...Malkos didn't know what the harder stuff was until it hit his body. These...calibers he read about. He couldn't make heads or tails of it. So, the Deathclaw leapt out, the weapons were ready, it crouched in readiness for the next leapt and...strafed!
Since when to Deathclaws strafe their tatgets? Well...since never, really. This one was, though, because it knew something. Malkos knew that humans rode animals, and that the Nightmare was especiallly popular in this area. He wasn't charging the Khans right now. He had gone into a strafe and a run to head directly for the spikey horses! Yes, he was chasing off and/or killing their rides! What Nightmares immediately outran the Deathclaw were getting the hell out of there in full gallop. Those that didn't would not get very far. Here, take this one right now on the ground.
The growls and gronts of the Deathclaw continued as it DID cause a few Nightmare fatalities. None of the Khans would have EVER seen a Deathclaw act this way. Because, with it after the horses, they were slow-going, and the Deathclaw seemed to know it!
"What the fuck?" mouthed Ollie as he watched the Deathclaw completely forgo the Khans and head straight for the horses. The rest of the band, now watching their mounts scatter, instead dove for their weapons. Ollie was still trying to fathom a dodging Deathclaw, and one that ignored the relatively easy kill of a human for a high speed target like a Nightmare. A few of the horses had already dropped, but Ollie was relieved as he watched Allegre gallop over the hill with the rest of the beasts. Their black manes were silhouetted by the rising sun. A much larger shadow marked the Deathclaw.
"He's going after the horses!" exclaimed Harland. "If they get too far, we're done for. Kill this fucker now, or we're walking."
"Hell yeah!" shouted Brady. The twenty Khans brandished their weapons, pumped up on adrenaline. Taking on a Deathclaw would be tough, but right now they didn't have much of a choice. Ollie and Anna rushed over to the torch picket. Sharing a glance, a spark of an idea flashed between them. Harland and the rest of the party opened up on the Deathclaw, unloading shots after shot at the monster. Most of the bullets barely seemed to faze the creature, but it at least got the thing's attention.
It kept exhibiting the same strange behavior Ollie had noticed earlier. It was actively trying to dodge bullets, and something about the way it moved seemed less feral than it should have. Ollie and Anna darted past the Deathclaw, taking a wide loop to get behind it and further up the hill. They were between the mutant and their Nightmares now, a bad position for any sane person. But no sane person seemed to share the mad plan the pair had concocted. At the count of three, they flung their torches at the ground, sending up a wall of flames as the long grass erupted.
A Deathclaw wasn't afraid of fire, or at least, the flamers that raiders sometimes used. But there was a big difference between a flamethrower and an uncontrolled grass blaze. The two Khans continued to make a wide circle around the Deathclaw, building a wall of flame between it and the nightmares. They would funnel the bugger down towards Harland and the rest, where hopefully they had enough guns to deal with the mutie.
It was a good plan. It kept the Deathclaw off their mounts, and along the riverbed, they would be safe from the fast traveling flames. Their wall of flames complete, the Deathclaw indeed began to back off, almost too cautiously for an animal, Ollie mentally noted. Curious. Regardless of the weird specimen, he flipped his revolver's safety and started shooting at the Deathclaw's legs. An old trick he was taught by the Mojave Khans, it seemed the best way to drop a 'Claw in a protracted fight was to take out his feet. Shame he didn't have a V.A.T.S system, but on the plains you couldn't always get what you wanted.
"Bring the fucker down!" shouted Harland, blasting away with his hunting shotgun.
Mercy and Tessa's Intergalactic House of Pancakes.Vera serving today.
Vera let out a stunned series of beeps, followed by a record of Ashley saying "Thank you."
Then Vera paused to consider how she might communicate the problem. In the end, she figured the error message would help things along.
"Voice synthesizer intact and functional. Enter new data.
Then... Vera used her precision laser to blast the word 'Record' into the dirt, followed by an arrow pointing to the two sisters.
Vera fell silent again, realizing the audacity of what she had just asked. She couldn't possibly... oh no, no no... she'd probably just imposed far too much now... now they'd make her leave. Vera tried to make her growing worry hidden from Mercy and Tessa.
Tessa and Mercy's House of Plasma-cooked meals, Bladed-cutlery and a Hovering-Waitress. NEXT!
Tessa looked her leather armor up an down, inspecting it for tiniest of imperfections. Nope, it was squeaky clean and smelled of strawberry's. Inspecting her appearance in the mirror, she tied her hair into a messy bun with two loose strands of hair framing her face.
While she was listening to Vera, she was expecting a singular piece of information or a simple tale of a robot lost from its owner. What she had made sense of was truly sad in it's own right. For all intents and purposes, Vera was abandoned, just like she was. Reaching up to lay her hand on the Eyebot, she whispered, "I'm so sorry, Vera. For what it's worth, I know what it's like to be left alone in this world."
A singular bottlecap had announced the arrival of Mercy, "Morning!" chirped the Elder Rabbit clad in a towel-too-short.
Walking over to her cupboard, Tessa took a gander through her severely limited wardrobe. (Mental note: steal more clothes) Deciding that if she were going to be potentially thieving today, then functionality always took priority over comfort.
Dropping the towel, she pulled on her leather armor, holstered her blades, pulled her bag across her body and finally put on her favorite item of clothing, her grey riding-hood.
Some may say it's impractical. Some may say it's too dramatic. But some can shut the fuck up! It was stylish!
Dividing the 750 caps and leaving 400 caps on the table for her sister. Tessa put the rest in her backpack, alongside the med-x and combat knife. "That's for you and Vera. Use it if you absolutely must buy something and we can't get the Rabbit-discount, okay? Otherwise, tell me if you spot something you want."
"Voice synthesizer intact and functional. Enter new data."
Vera proceeded to blast the word "record" and two arrows pointing towards each sister. "Y-you want us to be your voice?" she was taken aback by the sudden gesture, it was a strange and unorthodox request coming from the hovering jukebox that she had stabbed just the night before. Nevertheless, Tessa found personal value in the gesture. "I'm up for it, I think it'll be fun. We can stretch our acting skills!" she chimed at Mercy cheerfully.
Cheyton: Onto the streets, towards the markets and onto VICTORY!
Before Tessa had a rough idea of what 1/4th of Cheyton looked like, she had specifically chosen this house. It was removed from richer areas that brought along security that could impede her activities. She removed herself from the seedier parts of Cheyton she had to spend in initially, as to avoid unfamiliar gangs and violence. Overall, her house was far enough removed from the inner city to go unnoticed, there was limited traffic in the way of people and nothing in the way of nosy neighbors.
"Vera, could you go through that small hole in the ceiling and bolt the door three times from the inside? It's a bitch to squeeze through there." she requested while smiling up at the Eyebot.
Rubbing her hands together in anticipation, "First off, I'm stopping at the local bar...erm...you'll see what I mean in 5 minutes. Just wait outside when we get there."
Sure enough, 6 minutes and 43 seconds later (Tessa was getting rusty), hooded (in order to prevent possible identification later) she was helping some poor man to the back-alley, arm draped around her, he obviously had too much to drink and needed to purge his system. "Whoa there, buddy." she winked at Mercy while rounding the corner, simultaneously patting down the man's pocket for valuables with her free hand. "Looks like you had a bit too much there."
The man had passed out and she slipped his bag of bottlecaps into her backpack, looked to be just around 140 caps if she had to estimate.
Casually walking back to Mercy and Vera, she lowered her hood, "Med-x and hard alcohol do not go so well together. Hit the boozehounds who intend to drink the day away in the morning and they'll have plenty of caps for you." she smirked at how she sounded like a teacher. "Come on, lets blend in, there's plenty more to see!"
Vera chirped in a salute-y sort of way, and flew into the hole, and used her multitool's gauss screwdriver to magnetically seal the door. Now it would only open if Vera undid it herself. Or if someone blew it up. Vera hoped that wouldn't happen.
While Tessa was out hitting the bars, Vera explored her new... home (?). It reminded her of the Van Graffs' workshop, though... this place was... much kinder than the old workshop. It felt, well... like home. Once that was done, Vera hurried to catch up with Tessa and Mercy. But... she got sidetracked by a small junk-pile nearby. She was originally designed for recon and salvage, after all.
Vera thought she'd just do a quick scan, but when she swept the area with the sound-imaging processor on her multitool, she found amid all of the power cells and bits of turbines... there was a pair of bunny ears buried in the wreckage. Even better, against all probability, the ears looked like they would fit her.
Huh. I guess someone in the Pre-War Era kept an eyebot for a pet or something. Hmm... Vera no longer questioned her new strain of thought processes. She just ran with them.
Vera carefully started digging the bunny ears out with her laser pistol, and nudging the more delicate and more volatile bits of scrap carefully out of the way with her multitool. Once they were out, and rolling onto the ground behind her, Vera turned around and started bouncing in the air, chirping excitedly.
Cheyton- Out and about
His second attempt to go to the store went much better. Last night, after the altercation and answering questions from the local law, Samuel had decided to just go home. Fortunately the West boys were not exactly popular around Cheyton, so nobody was going to get that upset that they were dead...well maybe the people they owed caps too, but that doesn't really count.
His excursion had been profitable, he'd managed to snag five more .308 rounds for his rifle, a stimpak, three bottles of irradiated water, and miracle of all things, a bottle of Nuka Cola Victory, as well as 60 caps. He was approaching the Fallen Angel, when he saw old Zeke leaving under the arms of a hooded female figure. Well that's not right. He thought. Zeke could out drink a Super Mutant...something's up. Moments later the female appeared, alone.
Quickening his pace slightly, he moved cautiously towards the hooded one, and her companion, from the rear. "Med-x and hard alcohol do not go so well together..." He heard the hooded one say. A rip off job then...well Zeke's a friend, can't let that pass. Drawing two throwing knives, he closed to about 10 feet from the pair, and spoke up. "YOU! IN THE HOOD!" He barked "Drop what you took from Zeke...NOW!" Even though he was in full gear now, the distinctive 'Ghoul Growl' of his voice gave away what he was.
"YOU! IN THE HOOD! Drop what you took from Zeke... NOW!"
As soon as Vera heard her new friend being threatened, she zoomed straight back to her side chirping and beeping with the speed and fury one might normally associate with a mother yaoi gui protecting its cubs. As she flew over there, Vera prepared the appropriate audio logs for what she had in mind.
[Terrifying Presence] "Who are you, that do not know your history?" said a gruff, monotone voice in the log, which was promptly followed by a series of logs that consisted entirely of something threatening Vera or someone she cared about, and her blasting it to pieces. At this point, the list includes: 15 molerats, 10 lakelurks, 5 Legionaries, 1 Brotherhood of Steel fully armored and armed Paladin (whose buddies promptly ran away), and 3 Yaoi Gui. Every time, you could hear Vera blast them with her precision laser, and every time, you could hear her attackers' dying screams.
Vera started priming her laser.
Cheyton: OMG MOM, I'M SHOPPING WITH MY FRIENDS!
"YOU! IN THE HOOD! Drop what you took from Zeke...NOW!"
There was a reason the Rabbit name was infamous among the NCR in Freeside and revered by gangs and orphaned children alike. She was unmatched in her agility and propensity for sheer luck, but Tessa's had enough close calls in her short time to play it smart like a con always does. She could tell whoever had spotted her was a ghoul, now while ghouls weren't known for their speed, she didn't know if a gun was pointed at her back.
Fortunately, this person shouted before she could adequately pull down the hood, which she pulled straight back up again. "Fine! It's in the bag, I'm tossing it back and then I walk away!" She wasn't lying, she was going to toss the bag of caps back...just not all the caps. Opening, turning, tipping the contents, judging the weight and amount, sealing it with her nimble fingers and silently she pulled out the little bag of caps that clearly belonged to this "Zeke".
If a Deathclaw could be a robot, it would take the form of Vera as she rushed to Tessa's aid, sounding truly terrifying as the horrific mixture of pre-recorded deaths at Vera's
hand laser. That's when she noticed Vera's own laser start to glow as she prepared an attack on the ghoul...running in front of the Eyebot, she hoped she would stop. "Vera! It's fine...I screwed up, but that's no reason to attack someone."
Then Tessa turned on the ghoul with fury, walking towards him, disregarding his drawn throwing knifes, noticing the familiar bulge of a knife in each boot. Utter contempt for the ghoul ran through her voice as she channeled her protection for her sister, "I have a little sister to feed! But taking a few caps off someone who was going to piss it away through booze, that's not fine?" she slammed the bag of caps against the ghouls chest, "You know what, I don't want to hear it. You got what you wanted and just leave me alone."
"Come on guys, I guess we aren't having breakfast." she retained the contemptuous anger as she motioned for Vera and Mercy to follow her. All of them storming off into the crowd before the ghoul could answer.
The Streets of Cheyton.
Friends need food. Got it. I remember food. Can even remember brhamin steak... Vera tried to shrug the strange memories.
Vera beeped and clicked several times to get Tessa's and Mercy's attention after they had put sufficient distance between themselves and the ghoul. Then, she used her laser to draw a large 'C', and under it, three smaller letters, 'T','M', and 'V'. Then she drew an arrow leading away from the giant 'C', and towards a small cluster of 'B's. Vera was looking forward to having a voice of her own... it was frustrating to know something that could help her new friends, but not be able to communicate it.
Regardless, Vera waited patiently for the Rabbit sisters to piece it together.
Oh boy, the captcha said 'Small Fries'.
The plan - Yes, the Deathclaw had a plan! - was that the prey would be hardly mobile if they didn't have their mounts to mess with, so he had faked them out and gone for the Nightmares. They were running off, some of them falling to his claws. Then, it was working, right? Well, not exactly. You see, the thing about humans was that they were just so unpredictable. As the sun came up, the Khans went for their guns and then Malkos felt the pinpricks of fast-moving lead against his toughened, muscular hide. He tried to get out of their way, getting dodgey, because he knew that eventually bullets penetrated and hurt for real. Deathclaws DO die, and that was a reality that he had to face.
Another reality was that while he was distracted by the gunners along the riverbank, two exceptionally-clever humans had gone and started a brushfire ahead of him, one which spread towards him rapidly. The wind... It was against him, and the humans made the fire wider! This was more than a pitiful flamer. It was a barbecue. They were driving him back towards the guns. He could understand them too, because he heard the command to aim for the legs. He looked down for a second, and noticed...A ROCK! PERFECT! He picked it up and hurled the rock at Harland, the one that shouted. The rock was about the size of a small fist.
Wait, that's not gonna do it! I need a better plan, something to handle this fire. Something...hey!
As shots continued and dirt exploded and bullets or pellets zinged, hurting his legs, Malkos ran over to a dead Nightmare - somewhere off to the side of Anna and Ollie - and hauled it up, throwing it into the flames. It went pretty far, and he followed it with a leapt. Why? Because he knew about fire. He'd made plenty himself. He knew that suddenly dropping a big 'something' on top of a fire stifled it, and Nightmares were rad-horses, tough things. The dead horse flopped down and there was a hole in the fire. Malkos jumped onto it, and then leapt off, because the rest of the flames were already trying to claim it. They would see the Deathclaw make it almost to the edge of the growing flames. He was close enough that when he caught on fire, he could roll and struggle out of it.
Very loud growls and roars followed, and then a hellish sight... They would see the gray-skinned Deathclaw rise up, its head above the flames and body smoking from the burns. They would see it glaring at them, specifically. Then, it turned its gaze to Anna and Ollie.
It was like hearing...one of those movie Predators talk, a growl forced into human speech with visible effort from the throat. And...apart from how freakish it was to see a Deathclaw SPEAK - like...pants-wetting, maybe - there was the simple and problematic fact that the Khans were now on the wrong side of the flames, a line of fire which would eventually run out of brush to burn, but maybe not soon enough. The Deathclaw appeared to be waiting for something, like the fire and gunshots were just a 'Shit happens' moment for it. In reality, that fire HURT, but the adrenaline hadn't worn off yet, so now he wanted to see what the humans would do NOW.
The Great Outdoors of Cheyton: SHOPPING THERAPY?!?!?
Mercy was glad that her sister had been able to diffuse the situation before it got out of hand. The last thing that the Rabbit sisters, and yes that included Vera as well, was a puddle of burnt ash and green glowing goo. There was something that had surprised the younger of the Rabbit sisters though.
"(Tessa was stealing that man's money? That's - that's - horrible!)" The Plasma rabbit thought to herself before a more rational line of thinking overtook her jerking knee.
"(Mercy! She's your sister. She's had to survive on her own without dad. It's not like she had the luxury of picking up inventing, unlike some people here, and just look at how she's been taking care of you over the last few days.)" The girl scolded herself before looking at her sisters.
"Tessa, that was really clever to only give the man back some of his caps. It was really quick thinking perfect at getting that ghoul away from us." Mercy said with a smile on her face.
"If it wasn't for you, I think that Vera and I would be going to the market for a plasma resistant bucket." She added with a grin, her hand resting against the grip of her Plasma Pistol.
It was then that Vera started drawing in the dirt.
C ----------> b b b
t m v----------> b b b
Mercy looked at the drawing that Vera and scorched into the ground. The "T," the "M" and the "V" obviously stood for Tessa, Mercy and Vera. The Big "C" must have stood for Cheyton. What puzzled the younger Rabbit sister was the cluster of b's that were on the outskirts of the town.
Cluster? Group? Herd? A herd of b-rahmins?
"Vera? Do you mean that we should go to where the brahmin pens are?" The younger sister asked before adding another note.
"Vera, can you record the words, Vera, Tessa, Mercy, Cheyton, Rabbit and Brahmin?"
Vera had been recording much of their previous conversations after the Rabbit sisters had agreed to let her use their voices. Not enough to synthesize her own voice, but... well... Vera hurriedly edited and reassembled different parts of their conversations up to this point.
"Brahmin? Yes. Pens... no," she replied, then thought for a moment. Then she used her laser to draw a circle around the cluster of b's, and another arrow pointing to an 'f', and 'n' and 'm'. Hoping that would help clarify things a bit.
First thing I need to do when I can synthesize my own voice... is give these two a big verbal hug.
Cheyton marketplace: Just your average day! :D
Pleased that the trio had made a considerable amount of distance from the uninvited guest. She couldn't help but berate herself for making such a rookie mistake, always have a lookout when working someone over. If this were Freeside, she'd have the children serving as alarms and distractions while she might hire muscle if something grew too hairy, but she always avoided killing where possible, it was messy and it wasn't worth the caps.
However she couldn't help but hug the floating ball of doom, "You are literally a lifesaver, Vera! You saved the backup plan of the con. I got..." she started rummaging through her bag, estimating the amount of caps she had separated from the bag. Huh, seems she was a little generous. "...98 caps give or take."
"Tessa, that was really clever to only give the man back some of his caps. It was really quick thinking perfect at getting that ghoul away from us."
"Thank you, but that was only the end of the The Poison Rabbit." she curtsied in the cutest manner possible with her cloak "Now usually I would have lookouts and muscle to back me up to prevent against that kind of situation ever happening. Buuuut, the backup plan for The Drunken Rabbit usually goes: get really angry, put the person who spotted you on the defensive, make them believe they got what they really want and get out of there." she frowned at the bar in the distance, "We aren't going back there for awhile though."
Looking down at Vera's scorched drawing, she wondered if Vera had a secret artistic side. Sadly, there wasn't a black-market for laser-scorched paintings created by Eyebot's as far as she knew. Perhaps Vera was inferring about breakfast? "If this is about breakfast, I was just using that to sell the I-need-to-feed-my-starving-sister and I'm right because of bullshit-moral-high-ground-crap..." She realized how terrible that sounded, especially since she had adopted such a casual tone about it all.
She was not running with a gang anymore and her sister was not an acceptable scapegoat for her less-than-legal activities. This was definitely something she still had to adjust to, boundaries, where did they exist or end with Mercy?
Looking genuinely guilty for what she had said, she quickly apologized. "I-I didn't mean it like that. In Freeside, it was common practice for everyone to rely on each other when things got messy. But...this is me and this is what I do." she sighed, "You are not a scapegoat, a tool and you are never a means to an end. Alright, Mercy?"
Looking up at the Robotic Rabbit Sister, "You too, Vera." pausing momentarily and looking down at the drawing, "So you want the three of to get breakfast? We can pay for that one. There's plenty more discounts to acquire today. Lead the way!"
Cheyton Markets. Hive of... something. Error, adjectival noun not found 404.
Vera quickly blasted her little map out of the dirt, and then slowly led the way out of town, and towards a group of wild brahmin she had found on her way into Cheyton.
Outskirts of Cheyton.
It was a small group, mostly calves, but... easily rounded up, and herded to the nearest butcher or rancher... who'd likely pay for them. If they have any sense.
Vera figured she could easily goad the small group towards wherever the Rabbit sisters wanted them to go... but better be careful about that... spook them too much, and they'd run. Hmm...
Vera turned to face the two Rabbit sisters, as if to say 'well, what do you think?'
I-25, Heading North
Under Jose's leadership, the caravan had a very awkward time schedule. If there we nomads along the planned route, and they could be reached in a days time of one another, than the group would travel during the night to get to the tent-towns in the morning to sell their goods. If there weren't any stops along the way, then the caravan would travel during the day, pulling off the major roads to find shelter for the night, or to make their own. The lynchpin for this odd plan were the Free Rangers, a group of trained mercs that Jose brought with him from a time before he founded the company, a time the Jose didn't like to talk about.
Regardless, this time around it appeared that there was at least one nomad town along the route, as the doctor took notice of a rather energetic young man, his lightly tanned face stuck in a map. "Hey, kid." Jose spoke up from the front of the group. "Get up here for a second."
The nomad immediately charged up to the captain, his hands keeping the map tight to his chest. "Whaddya need, sir?" Jacob couldn't but get a slight smirk as he watched the kid. He was eager to please, reminding the doctor of his time growing up at the Old Mormon Fort.
Jose pulled the kid aside and loosen his grip on the map, so both of them could see it. "Your town, they set up camp right about here, right? Just south of that exit?" Jose pointed to a spot on the map where a road split off to join a Loop that seemed to encircle the ruins of Cheyenne.
"Yes sir! They said they'd put a marker by the highway so we'd know where to get off. I think the elder said it would just be a simple blue flag."
"Like that one?" Jose pointed to a torn up sign not that far ahead of the caravan, with only a bold "EXIT" on it being legible. Jose gestured for a light to be put on the sign, where a short stake in the ground held up a blue flag. However, Jacob's attention was attracted away from the flag, and what was beyond it, an orange haze in the distance. The nomad saw the same glow soon after, but didn't understand its implications right away. Though, when he did, he grew stiff and was frozen in place.
"Damn it." Jose cursed under his breath, raising his arm to silently call his security forces to him. Jacob joined in as well, much to Jose's annoyance. "Squad 1, you're with me, we're going to see what happened to the town. Squad 2 and 3, stay-"
"I would like to come as well, Jose." Jacob spoke up, and could see the irritation grow on Jose's face. "You know me well enough that I won't burden you in a firefight. If you leave me here, the survivors might not get help in time."
Jose closed his eye for a moment, but the expression on his face didn't change. "Fine, you're coming too, but don't stray until we've scouted out the area. No point in losing our own just so you can feel like a hero."