Empire of Ash

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Teridactyl
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Empire of Ash

Post by Teridactyl » Wed May 01, 2019 4:44 am

Hm...is that my ENB that does that sparkly godray effect at the top of the stairs in the Cambridge Police Department? Every time I'm there, whether it's day or night, rain or shine, I get that heavenly glow from the crack in the ceiling. There's a few places around town like that... Boylston Club, for sure. I've been in there at 2 AM game time, and it always looks like 6:00 PM as the sun is setting. It's kinda neat and magical.

Nathan perks up a bit when he's got something to do, something to shoot, or someone to make fun of, and he does plenty of that with Danse. The guy's such an easy target, it's hard not to. :D

Next up, ArcJet!
Entropy -- it's not what it used to be.

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Teridactyl
Knight
Posts: 286
Joined: Tue May 22, 2018 7:41 pm
Location: Denver, CO
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Contact:
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Empire of Ash

Post by Teridactyl » Sat May 11, 2019 6:16 pm

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Journal 0015 | All Thrust, No Vector

Turns out our mission was over at ArcJet Systems. Scribe Haylen needed something to boost the beacon from the top of the police station so they can radio their superiors, and Danse was convinced we'd find something at ArcJet to help them out. I figure we'd be lucky to find them a piece of tinfoil and a coat hanger they could maybe fashion into rabbit ears, but I agreed to go look around with him.

Mostly because I'd always wanted to go in there, especially after hearing they were contracted for the Mars Shot Program. I was even thinking about submitting a resume, since I'd had security clearance. I was slowly reaching the conclusion that I had to do something after retirement to keep from getting bored...and keep Nora from strangling me. I suppose a real paycheck would've also been nice.

(Jesus, bottle caps, really??? I'm still not over that.)

So, this Brotherhood of Steel probably not just five guys with a water gun. It sounds like they have some serious firepower. Is this what became of the armed forces? And yet they have ranks like "Paladin," and "Knight," and "Elder." Who the hell came up with all this King Arthur bullshit? Probably the Marines. Hip hip, Oorah.

"Scribe" seems to be a title that's sorta halfway between civilian contractor and Chief Warrant Officer. Haylen kinda reminds me of Cooper, if you stand across the room and squint really hard. Not in how she looks, necessarily, just in that way she doesn't take anyone's crap. Sam could roast you like a Thanksgiving turkey and be gone out of the room before you even realized it. Haylen hasn't quite reached that master level of snark, but she can definitely take care of herself. She's all right.

This Knight Rhys, though... Ugh. Reminds me of every asshole that enlisted just so they could play with guns and have a reason to rack up their kill count.

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Not entirely sure what to make of Danse yet. I think he's like most guys I served with——enlisted because they didn't know what else to do with their lives. Couldn't see themselves sitting behind a desk, or sitting at all, really. "All thrust, no vector," we'd say, like an unfettered balloon that flies erratically around the room before it runs out of air.

But after a few years of old-fashioned Army structure and brainwashing, some of them got control of themselves and became decent commanders, even officers if they decided to crack open a book or two and use their brains. Or they became like Rhys: just there to collect a paycheck and a pension, bossing subordinates around that he'll eventually kowtow to in a few years because he has no other skill. All thrust, no vector.

So, aaaaanyway...ArcJet.

We booked it over to the ArcJet HQ, clearing a path of raiders and mutant bugs along the way. I didn't want to tell Danse he was probably drawing attention to us by stomping around in all that armor, but a little late for that now. Besides, it sure as hell came in handy later.

I pulled off a few ace shots that surprised me just as much as it did him. Firearms are a part of the job in the Service——never thought much else about them one way or the other. They were just as important and relevant as any of our other tools. I was the okayest gunman in my unit: I got the job done, but I was definitely not a sharpshooter. Hell, sometimes my method was more "spray and pray" than skill depending on the day, but I think I'm getting better now with every shot. I'm certainly getting a lot of practice.

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When we got to ArcJet, Danse stood there a moment sizing me up. "You're pretty skilled with that laser rifle," he said.

"Thanks! You're not so bad yourself," I remarked. I knew he wasn't paying me a compliment, and my dumbass wisecrack only annoyed him further. Stupid mouth.

He frowned, those heavy eyebrows almost knitting themselves into one big unibrow. "That's because I've been conditioned by the Brotherhood to be so, and I've had years of field experience since. I can also spot someone who's been formally trained in combat when I see them. What's your story, civilian?"

The way he'd said "civilian" struck a nerve with me. He was putting me in my place, and I wasn't in the mood to take it from this...kid. I dropped what Nora used to call my "banquet smile," the one I reserved for dinner parties with her attorney flunkies, and let my inner old fart take over. At 245 years old, I think I’m entitled.

"Look...first of all, my name is Nathan Rook, and until we establish a different relationship, I prefer you call me by either of those, not 'wastelander,' or 'vault dweller,' or 'civilian,' or anything else. Second of all, this ain't my first rodeo. Your Brotherhood's modus operandi used to be my Tuesday, so you're just gonna have to trust me to watch your six, and I'll trust you not shoot mine. When we're done, I promise I'll answer any questions you have——in fact, I have a few of my own. But now is not the time if you want that transmitter, Paladin."

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He blinked hard like he was trying to hold back a sneeze. Even though I have no idea where a Paladin is in their chain of command, I'm guessing it's high enough that it'd been a while since someone had pulled rank on him. And I fell right back into it like it was, well, Tuesday.

"Very well...Rook. I'm glad we agree. And since you seem to be familiar with our protocol, we'll do just fine as long as you follow my orders. We do this my way, by the book. No heroics. Is that understood?"

I told him it was, and we walked right in the front door.




Part 2
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It was a wreck inside. Kind of sad to see, really. It's as if the moment the bombs were announced, everyone went collectively nuts and said, "Well, I've always wanted to dump everything in my trashcan onto the floor. Except this desk fan...that belongs safely locked away in this file cabinet. Next to this hot plate. And this spoon." WTF.

Can't blame them, though. Not sure how mentally stable I would've been in the days following the attack, either. Not sure how mentally stable I am now.

Danse felt the need to provide commentary and a history lesson as we walked through the main lobby. "It was corporations like ArcJet that put the last nail in the coffin for mankind. They exploited technology for their own gains, pocketing the cash and ignoring the damage they'd done."

Well, yeah. If you wanna be all pessimistic about it. It was also corporations like ArcJet, Lockreed, and WesTek——government defense contractors——that kept us in the game as long as they did. What did he think, WE were out there on the front line building our own tanks, vertibirds, and weapons? Who does he think made the armor he's cocooned himself in? Our soldiers were great at finding uses for our toys, and our engineers were even better at keeping them up and running, but we sure as hell weren't the ones that designed and put them together. You're talking about a bunch of adult children who can’t keep a straight face long enough to get through the phrase, "Insert tab A into slot B." We're lucky we could strike a tent. (Though in our defense, some of those tents were unnecessarily complicated.)

I didn't bother to correct his history, though. Didn't seem worth it.

We walked into a room that had a pile of robot parts on the floor. ArcJet's defense systems had already been cooked. Danse assured me it wasn't one of his Brotherhood buddies, and said it was the work of "Institute synths."

"Uh...what's the Institute?" I asked him.

"They're a group of scientists who went underground when the Great War started. They've spent the last few decades littering the Commonwealth with their technological nightmares."

"Uh-huh," I said. "And what's a synth?"

"They're an abuse of technology created by the Institute. Abominations meant to 'improve' upon humanity. They're unacceptable. They simply can't be allowed to exist."

"You, uh...didn't actually answer my question."

He sighed in irritation. "Synth, as in synthetic. They're machines built to emulate humans in every way."

I looked at the pile of robot corpses littering the floor. I did a little studying on robotics for my degree, and I remember running across the term "Uncanny Valley." I pretty much regretted looking it up right away. Some examples were nightmarish, most just laughable, but it was clear the industry had a long way to go before machines could be mistaken for people. "So, synths are just robots? Doesn't sound so bad. Kinda creepy, maybe..."

"'Creepy' doesn't begin to cover it. They are extremely dangerous. The earlier generation synths are little more than a collection of wires and screws. But the later generations you could literally mistake for your own mother."

"My mother's been dead for a really long time," I said. "I think I'd suspect something right away if I saw her again."

He grunted. "I meant——"

"I know, I know, you meant figuratively. No worries. Common faux pas. Used to drive my mom crazy, as a matter of fact. She was an English teacher. She used to correct me all the time."

He gave me a strange look. I shrugged breezily. Hey, the gun comes attached to the whole package. I make no apologies.

"Just...remain vigilant and keep your eyes open," he said tiredly.

"Right. And shoot at anything that looks like my mom," I nodded. "Does the Brotherhood also offer therapy?"

"Moving out," he ground out through his teeth, but I thought I saw a tiny hint of smirk before he turned away.

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A few more rooms later, we came to a lab with a couple of functional terminals in it and a sealed door. "Lemme guess... One of those probably opens that," I said. "That's usually how these things go."

"See if you can get it open. I'm going to reconnoiter the area."

"I'm on it."

I checked the first terminal. I'd barely turned on the screen when right in front of me was an unprotected password in an email chain...

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A tiny little pinprick of pain stabbed me behind my eyeball as I read that. I sighed loudly and mumbled a string of curse words under my breath as I moved on to the next terminal. Granted, it made my job a lot easier, but that’s not a good thing. God knows what sort of sensitive information had been stored in these terminals. This was sloppy. I hope their Sys Admin is rotting in Hell.

There was a globe sitting next to the terminal on the desk. I reached over and idly spun it while I waited for the CRT to warm up. I wondered how accurate it was anymore. It gave me something else to brood about for a moment.

"What is it?" Danse asked from across the room.

I put my hand on the globe to stop it. "What, this?" Feeling cheeky, I said:

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Ba-dum-tss.

I grinned at him. Danse wasn't impressed. "Was that supposed to be funny?"

"Yes. Tremendously. One of my personal best, in fact. My heart is breaking that you're not at least a little amused."

He rolled his eyes. "Do you take anything seriously?"

"I take a lot of things seriously. Doesn't mean I've lost my sense of humor. Come on, Paladin. You're a commander——you had to have been caught in some tough spots where a little gallows humor between comrades helped boost morale a bit. It's saved my life more than once."

"How so?" he asked skeptically.

"I haven't climbed into a bathtub and slit my wrists yet."

He was quiet a moment as I examined the terminal and tried to page through to the door security controls, banging the keys a little harder than I wanted to. The Enter key wouldn’t press down all the way, and I was dreading having to pry it off to clean it.

"Interesting philosophy," he said, flatly. "What are you doing now? Do you have that password yet?"

"Password's not the problem," I said. "This keyboard's really sticky and I'm really, really, really trying not to think about why."

He snorted. "Now you know why I always wear Power Armor."

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I chuckled. "Okay, see? That was pretty good."

"I’m glad you were entertained, but I don't want to be here all week. Hurry up."

A few overaggressive keystrokes later, and I finally got to the door controls. "All right, all right. Hold yer horses...or whatever it is people hold these days."

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Well, it wasn't a new car, but it wasn't a goat either. I kinda wish it had been. On the plus side, I got to meet my first synth today. I'm becoming quite the socialite. On the minus side, they weren't any friendlier than ghouls. They ambushed us, and that's when things lit up. Literally.

Ladies and gentlemen, for your viewing pleasure, let the laser light show begin...

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Soooo, that's a synth. I gotta agree with Danse here——"creepy" doesn't even begin to tell the full story. They're suicide drones. What's scarier than a rogue psychopath who's motivated by rage, addiction, and determination? Or a ravenous animal driven by insatiable thirst and territory? One that isn't. One that isn't motivated by anything at all. They have nothing to lose. They don’t even know what loss is. Codsworth has more character in one eyeball stalk than a whole squadron of these things.

What's even worse to me though is that it was obvious these synths were...disposable. Some of them looked like they'd been pretty beat up long before we got in their way. Where do these things come from? What kind of resources are needed to make one? What is the value of a synth?

You wanna talk about the last nail in the coffin for humanity, it was our willingness to just throw anything anyway for the next new widget. Unfortunately, that also included our whole planet.

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Part 3
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Deeper into ArcJet we went, dodging the oddly placed turret here and there until we reached the Engine Core room. There it was, the Mars Shot rocket. As I stood under it, I felt like I was a 10-year old kid again, dreaming about spaceships and other planets and meeting new lifeforms. And after everything I'd seen and experienced and grieved for in the last week, I still couldn't help but get a little excited and choked-up over it.

President Lyndon Johnson said that guns and bombs and rockets and warships were all symbols of human failure. And like Danse blaming ArcJet for putting the last nail in the coffin for mankind, Johnson had a significant point.

But they also symbolize ingenuity, curiosity, collaboration, and perseverance.

Robert Goddard didn't tinker with rockets because he wanted to blow something up. From when he was a little kid staring up at the sky through a crappy telescope right here in Boston, Mass, to the middle of the desert in B.F.E. New Mexico where he did his most significant research, he hoped to send something he'd built to a place humans had never been before——to outer space.

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Goddard was also extremely secretive to the point of paranoia about sharing any of his work, so he fully understood the applications. Nothing is ever as black and white as it seems. People are far more complicated than that.

Danse came over to me. "Rook?" he said. "What is it?"

I looked over at him and pointed up at the huge cone. "It's a rocket," I said. I could feel him scowl at me through his helmet——he’ll either learn to stop asking me that, or I’ll die trying him.

I offered a friendly smile to show I wasn't completely out of my gourd. "Space flight was a big interest of mine. I thought we'd actually be able to pull it off within my lifetime. I always thought it'd be cool to die on another planet...just, y'know. Not on impact."

Another beat, then he cautiously changed the subject. "The access elevator is out. We need to get back up to the top-level control room. Since you seem to be competent——technically——can you look around and see if there's a way to restore power?"

His backhanded compliment had me fighting to keep a straight face. Danse either has a far deeper sense of humor than he lets on, or he’s just incredibly socially awkward. Or both. I suppose those aren’t mutually exclusive. It felt familiar, though. It felt good...like the kind of crap my team and I would give each other when we were at our best——Daniel, Sam, Navvy, Lopez... Rook’s Crooks.

"I got it, I got it," I said, dragging myself out of my own little reverie, and trudged off down the access tunnel to the control room.

I found a terminal in the back that interfaced with the aux power and hacked my way in to reset it. The system hummed to life as the lights blinked on. "Tah daaah," I said to the empty room. But almost immediately, I heard a loud commotion back toward the assembly bay.

I ran back to the control room and, to my horror, saw Danse surrounded by synths through the window. He was firing as fast as he could. As soon as one went down, another two would take its place. In mere seconds, there were already more than I could count.

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I ran down the corridor ready to jump in and lend him an assist. A synth saw me running toward the open doorway and fired at me. I had to duck behind the wall again to avoid getting a laser blast to my face. I readied with my rifle and peeked around the corner just in time to see the synth disintegrate from a hit from Danse’s gun just as it was lining up another shot at me, and as it vanished and dropped its weapon, a stray spark ignited the rocket fuel residue on the ground. Suddenly, a huge wall of fire flared up and blocked my exit to the assembly chamber. I had to dive back into the hall to avoid the flashover and flying debris and the dismembered synth part or two.

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"I can't get through!" I yelled, not even sure if Danse could hear me over the commotion.

I couldn’t see him but I could hear multiple laser rifles discharging. What these synths lacked in fortitude or firepower, they made up in sheer numbers. "Do something! Anything!" I heard him shout. "Push buttons! I don’t care!"

I felt like I was moving in slow motion and everything else was on high-speed. Every millisecond it took me to run back down the corridor to the control room was a whole minute too late. I remember thinking this was a terrible idea, but that every other idea I had was just as bad as this one.

I remembered seeing a button in the center of the control console. If I’d stopped to really think about what I was doing, I would’ve chickened out.

So, I punched it...



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...and the enormous 200-year old rocket roared to life...

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...and vaporized everything in its path.

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Time sped up for me again but slowed to a crawl for everything else. The noise was deafening. The burn seemed to go on FOREVER. Long enough for me to go waaay past worrying about Danse and straight on into being angry with him for having the nerve to tell ME "no heroics" while he was currently standing under a shower of flames, then wonder if the terms of my assignment included getting that Deep Range Transmitter back to his unit even if he didn’t make it, and then feeling terrible for even thinking that because OF COURSE I would, and picturing myself breaking the news to Haylen and Rhys, telling them that it was an honor to serve with their Paladin, and that he seemed like a great soldier and a leader, and he died a hero, and full circle back to angry with him again because I HATE THAT PART OF MY JOB, and by the time the goddamn rocket finally burned out, I’d known Danse for five years.

Finally, the rocket burned out.

I booked it over to the heap of Power Armor kneeling in the corner. The heat radiating off the metal suit was still toasty but not the blistering temperature I expected.

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"OH MY GOD! Are you all right? Can you move? Say something! Danse...?"

"I’m...all right. Got...cooked...by those flames. Fortunately, my Power Armor saved me."

"Holy shit! I am so sorry! I didn't know what else to do——"

"You did good. Quick thinking."

"I can’t believe you’re still alive!"

"I’m fine."

"You need a stimpak——"

"I’m okay——"

"No, dammit, I’m not ASKING you, I'm TELLING you——you need a stimpak." I held one out in front of him. "Take it."

He paused a moment, still obviously weak. "My Power Armor has an automatic medic pump modification. It’s...undoubtedly...why I’m still talking to you right now," he said, "Rook. Put it away. I’m fine. Thank you."

"Well, okay..." I said skeptically and put it away again. I held out my hand to him instead. "At least let me help you up. It’s the least I can do for trying to deep fry you."

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He made a noise of protest but took my hand anyway. He recognized I wasn’t really trying to assist him——he was way too heavy in that armor; he would’ve pulled me right to the ground if he really needed help standing. I was extending my hand in a peace offering. He stood up in front of me and dropped my hand, the creepy, expressionless stare of his helmet vaguely pointed in my direction. Another reason I hate Power Armor.

"Take off your helmet a sec," I said.

"What? Why?"

"Indulge me. I wanna make sure I’m not talking to a skeleton under there."

"You can’t be serious."

"After the week I’ve had, I actually am."

"Oh, for crying out——" Danse removed his helmet and looked down at me. "Loud. Satisfied?" His nose and cheeks had a bit more of a sunburn than they did earlier, and I hadn't really noticed how deep that scar over his eye from an older injury really was, but he was more or less intact. He wasn't nearly as mad as I thought he'd be, either. Kinda amused, if not a little self-conscious. And though his eyes were a little bloodshot, they were warm and sincere.

I got the distinct impression he would’ve never let his guard down like this around his unit, but I was just a lowly civilian. So what?

"Yeah. All right. I'm satisfied you're not a talking skull. Or at least, not just a talking skull. I assume you have one of those, too?"

"Can we go now?"

"A rather thick one, I would imagine," I muttered as I headed to the service elevator and punched the call button.

"Watch it, Rook," he said, jamming his helmet back on. "Don’t get too familiar. Let’s keep this professional."

We entered the elevator, and as the doors closed, I snorted and shook my head. "That’s just like you to say something like that."

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Part 4
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At the top of the assembly shaft, we spotted more synths gathered in the main engineering lab. Fortunately, this time we saw them first.

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I took point and crouched down low to stay out of view through the viewing window, then we charged through the corridor and pinned them in the room, giving them everything we had. Soon, the only thing that remained of the synths was the smell of burning plastic and rubber lingering in the stale air.

"Dammit! The transmitter isn’t here," Danse said standing next to one of the consoles. "Fan out and check the remains. They may have been after it as well."

"Huh. Don’t you think that's a little...convenient?" I said as I moved around the room nudging things with my toe.

Danse opened a desk drawer and kicked it closed again. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, how long has this prototype transmitter been sitting here in this derelict building? And this Institute only now cares about it when you need it, too? Kinda weird."

Danse stopped and seemed to consider this. "You...have a point."

"Hey, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you."

Most of the other synths had been reduced to ash. I came to the one left in the room where the Deep Range Transmitter had to be...if it was still here at all. I looked down at the dead, naked synth, golden eyes still glowing and staring into nothing. I kept waiting for them to move and aim at me.

"Well?" said Danse impatiently behind me.

"Yeah, Yeah. I know. Make the FNG do it."

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I braced myself and reached in and felt around. "EyyyywwwwwwACTUALLY, it’s not that bad," I said when I felt the device. "I mean, it’s gross, don't get me wrong, but not gross like gutting a fish-gross, more like...peeling a rotten orange-gross——don’t ask me why I know that."

I stood up and held up the device, about half the size of military-grade circuit board, but a lot heavier. "You're in luck," I said, handing it over to him. "All that for this little box."

"Outstanding."

"Can we get the fuck out of here now, please?"

"Absolutely."




Part 5
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When we exited the facility, the sun was close to the horizon. We'd been in there longer than it felt like. I exhaled and watched my breath puff out in front of me, mildly surprised that it didn't feel colder outside. Guess this Vaultsuit is more effective at retaining body heat than it looks.

Halloween is just a couple days away, and then comes the crazy rollercoaster ride to the sudden stop at the end of the year. I wondered where I'd be by Christmas... Will I have Shaun back? Will we stay in Boston? What's left for us here anyway, except for memories and heartache? But what else is out there, even? Or is every place like this——a desperate, desolate wasteland scarred by a single act of enmity, further eroded by apathy. And those who try to rebuild their lives and thrive and carry on are cut down by those who abandoned humanity generations ago. Is this all that’s left?

"Don’t take off yet," said Danse behind me, as I heard him secure the door to the facility. "I have a couple things I need to discuss with you."

I chuckled quietly to myself. "I wasn't about to," I said. Where would I go?

He came around and stood in front of me, blocking my path as if to further make his point. Jesus...

"Well, that could've gone smoother," he said, removing his helmet and setting it on a crate nearby, "but mission accomplished."

I shrugged. "I thought we did all right."

"That sweep was sloppy. We were caught unprepared more than once, which is unacceptable."

"You can't plan for every detail in a recon, Danse. Sure, you can always analyze and plan until you think you've thought of every contingent, but planning comes at a cost: prepping for a mission takes time, and at some point, you're also risking your window of opportunity. What matters is how prepared you are, and how well you work with your team. And I think we worked pretty well together."

"Spoken like a true professional," he said. "Semper Paratus, 'Always Ready.' United States Coast Guard, 1927."

"'Be prepared'," I said. "Boy Scouts of America Handbook, 1910."

He chuckled and nodded. "The important thing is we secured the device and made it out alive. I don't think I would have been as successful alone without your help." Then he held out the rifle he'd been using toward me. "As compensation, I'd like you to have this. I think you'll find it useful. It's my own personal modification of the standard Brotherhood Laser Rifle."

...which was a slight modification of the old Army issue AER9 laser rifle, like the one I one I carried for more than half my career...still even painted the Army's trademark ugly, drab olive green. I didn’t examine it too hard——that saying about gift horses, and all——but could tell just by handling it that it had a studier stock and a way better scope than I’d been able to find.

"Wow, this looks...almost new." I looked back up at Danse. "Are you sure you don't need it?" We weren't out of the woods yet, so to speak. We still had to get back to the station.

"This isn't the only weapon I have at my disposal. Brotherhood soldiers always carry a backup."

I looked down at it again and noticed an engraving etched into the titanium barrel: Righteous Authority. Heh. Cute. I wondered if Danse had come up with that. I looked back up at him. He wore a tight smile, obviously proud of his own handiwork. Yeah...he definitely came up with that name himself.

"If you're sure... Good parts have been really hard to come by out here. I've had to scrap and glue together what I can pick off raiders——not exactly top-of-the-line. This is...nice. Thank you."

"May it serve you well in battle, civilian."

Oh, God. We were back to that again. "Oh, come on, really? Enough with the ‘civilian’ crap. I’ve been doing this longer than——"

He smirked knowingly and held up his hand to cut me off. "Calm down, Rook. That’s what else I wanted to talk to you about."

He knew that’d piss me off, which set me up for the next wind-up and pitch... and now I knew exactly where this was going. "Ohhh?"

"I wanted to make you a proposal," he said. "We had a lot thrown at us back there. Our op could have ended in disaster, but you kept your cool and handled it like a soldier. There's no doubt in my mind that you've got what it takes. The way I see it, you have a choice: you could spend the rest of your life wandering from place to place, trading an extra hand for a meager reward. Or, you could join the Brotherhood of Steel and make your mark on the world. What do you say?"

I fought to keep a straight face. I clearly remembered the day I agreed to my recruiter’s offer. Sgt. Alan literally had tears in his eyes. I’d been a hard sell——I feigned interest for weeks before I finished high school, and throughout college, just when I was sure Alan had forgotten about me, I’d come back and bait him with a barrage of questions and string him along some more. I finally "caved" after I got my degree. It had always been my plan, I just wanted to write my own ticket, first. I knew once I signed on the dotted line, there was no turning back.

Back then, I was a selfish smartass kid just looking to get out from under my dad’s thumb and outta my parents’ house. I was full of hot air and vitriol, looking to prove to myself, to my dad, to all the asshats that had ever called me a skinny ginger, or nerd, or boring that I knew better than them. Like a rocket without a trajectory——all thrust, no vector.

But I’m not 21 anymore. Technically, I’m even too old to recruit now; one year too old by Army regulations. When Shaun was born, that trajectory flipped upside down, anyway——all vector, no thrust. Just a satellite in orbit, tethered by a force bigger than it, too strong, too great to escape. And I was just fine with that.

A crow cawed as it flew overhead. I wondered if that was some kind of omen. I watched it land next to a murder of its mates on a telephone wire and stare down at us. Awfully attentive for birds. They say crows are intelligent. Maybe they know where Shaun is——

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"Well?" prompted Danse.

My thoughts were wandering. I was tired. Danse was catching me off guard and using it to his advantage. But I wasn’t willing to be pressed without knowing the catch. "What would be expected of me?" I asked.

"You'd be under my command, and I'd expect you to follow orders. No more mercenary work...this is the real thing. You'd have access to advanced military weapons, as well as your own personal suit of Power Armor. Most importantly, you'd have the Brotherhood at your back...ready to spill its own blood to keep you alive."

"Advanced weapons, huh? How big is this Brotherhood of Steel? We talking a couple platoons? A battalion? A regiment? Do you...know the difference?"

Danse frowned, a little confused. "Thousands. We span across the entire continent and we're growing by the day. There are some minor regional differences, but we all unite under the Brotherhood’s banner and code of ethics."

"Oh," I said, a little surprised. So, it's a proper army after all. This isn’t Minuteman play school.

"You’ve really never heard of us?" he said.

"I’ve...been out-of-it a while."

"Ah. Well, as a Vault-dweller, I can see——"

"Yeah, sure. I’d be honored to join," I interrupted. At least it’d stop his condescending Vault-dweller/wastelander/civilian bullshit.

Truth is, I liked the familiarity of being on a team that knew what it was doing. It felt good. It felt comfortable. And I know Danse. Whether I like him or not remains to be seen, but...I understand him. I served with others like him——even considered some of them my friends. Hell, at one time or another, I’ve been him. I know which buttons I can push and how far. And if we can help each other out along the way, I’m in.

"Excellent. That’s what I wanted to hear," he said. Not exactly tears in his eyes, but this was the happiest I’d seen him so far. I gotta admit, it’s kinda nice to be wanted, still.

"Meet me back at the station and we’ll go over the details."

"Where are you going?" I said. "It’s getting kinda dark, and the station isn’t exactly next door."

He hesitated. "I’ll be there in a bit. I need to survey the area and make sure we haven’t overlooked anything."

Image

"I'd be happy to help you," I said. "We can head back together. Strength in numbers, after all." Not that anything was looming nearby at the moment, but that tended to change fast around here.

"I have complete confidence in your skills," Danse said flatly. "I wouldn’t have asked you to join us if I didn’t. You possess two highly effective weapons and plenty of ammo. Just stay near the road. You found us once before on your own, you’ll be fine."

I grinned at him. "I wasn’t worried about me," I said.

He rolled his eyes and turned around, but not before I saw that grudgingly amused smile of his again. "Dismissed," he grumbled over his shoulder.

Fine, fine. I’ve pushed enough buttons today, anyway.

Image



EDIT [7/6/19]: I'm cross-posting this to another site, and my image files for this one chapter were a MESS, so after some file maintenance, I had to go relink them. Plus, I did a new picture at the top, so what the heck? I edit these so much anyway, it's a good thing we're not docked for it. :D
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Post by Teridactyl » Sat May 11, 2019 6:30 pm

Holy crap this was long. You really kinda have to suspend disbelief here that Nathan had time to write this little mission debriefing overnight. He's an amazing typist, I guess. So maybe read slow. Or read it again. It took a while.

The whole thing orbited around that "Dark Side of the Moon" picture. It's a once in lifetime shot. I tried and tried to get it again, because it's actually an older shot and he's not wearing all his armor, but it's just so damn cool. I'm not the biggest Pink Floyd fan, and I'm not suggesting you turn on "Dark Side of the Moon" to read all of this--it's not the Wizard of Oz, after all--but if you HAD to listen to music during this, it's not a bad one to go with. I ended up listening to it a LOT...probably more than I've ever listened to Pink Floyd in total the rest of my entire life. Turns out, it's pretty all right. It may come back. There may a test.
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Post by Brambleberry » Sat May 11, 2019 7:04 pm

That was Heroically funny, "snarky" and the best read. I find it amazing the different take everyone has with the same storyline which is one of the best things about Fallout or TES for that matter. Depending on one's character's approach it all changes to different colors, moods and most importantly humor! ;) Keep 'em coming Teri. These stories of Nathan's really brighten my day!

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Post by Serethil » Sat May 11, 2019 10:38 pm

Hoo BOY Teri, that was good! I loved the snark back and forth between them, and wow, lighting up the rocket was niftily dangerous, but turned out okay! You write the best stuff!
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Post by Aireal » Sat May 11, 2019 11:33 pm

:clap: :clap: Love it!! Great story telling.. love the attitude! ....amazing pictures! Love the Crow/ Raven... and...and and.. well all of them!
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Post by Teridactyl » Sun May 12, 2019 3:59 pm

:hug::heart::hug::heart: Hugs to all! Thank you for reading and the comments. It really keeps me going! I was particularly fond of many of these screenshots, and they really helped drive the narrative. I'm please that it works! :)

And now it's time for my

Ethical Conundrum rant
The main reason I started going through the game again was to refresh my memory and replay these missions so I could hear the dialogue again. It's one thing reading through dialogue text files. It's a whole 'nother to experience it in context. A lot of the dialogue I write are things I wanted to be able to stop and talk about with other characters in the game since you're so limited by the lack of things you can say. However, "Press X to Debate Ethical Responsibility" isn't a popular game mechanic most people want, so I get to do it here. Lucky you!

Danse's comment offhanded comment that
"It was corporations like ArcJet that put the last nail in the coffin for mankind. They exploited technology for their own gains, pocketing the cash and ignoring the damage they'd done." - Paladin Danse

sent me down an ethical rabbit hole of introspection and research. This might be a situation where I disagree with my player character. Then again, I have information Nathan doesn't.

I got to wondering if government contractors should be held accountable for their role in creating weapons of mass destruction. In the case of the Atomic bomb, DuPont was a mega-player in the Manhattan Project. They mined and refined the plutonium needed, they contributed a large amount of real estate for the project's labs, and a poured a ton of resources into the project. They were a LOT more than "just" another government contractor. So, should Japan have held DuPont accountable for their role in the destruction of Nagasaki and Hiroshima?

That in itself is a pretty big ethical question, particularly taking Corporate Personage into account. Should Raytheon be held accountable for developing the SCUD missile? What about Lockheed Martin for their war machines? How many civilian casualties have resulted from these things? Nathan has a point...these companies greatly contribute to our nation's defense, and it's not like the troops are out there building their own tanks and bomber airplanes. Someone has to make them, and someone--or, several someones--have to give the order to commission them. So does the diffusion of responsibility go right to the top of the chain of command, or should some of that responsibility fall on other players and contractors, as well? I think Danse's position is a little hyperbolic--that's just how he rolls if you talk to him enough--but I don't entirely disagree with his statement here.

Now here's some new info to chew on: on May 2, 2019--10 days ago--a story broke from Israeli news source Haaretz, that
"DuPont was one of an estimated 150 American companies that provided Germany with patents, technology and material resources that proved crucial to the German war effort. DuPont maintained business connections with various corporations in Nazi Germany from 1933 until 1943 when all of DuPont's assets in Germany were seized by the German government along with those of all other American companies. These connections continued even after Germany declared war on the United States in 1941." - DuPont Helped Nazi Germany Because of Ideology, Israeli Researcher Says
Furthermore, the article goes on to say that members of the du Pont family were supportive of a dictatorship in Germany and even Hitler, himself. They financially contributed to anti-Semetic groups, and strongly supported theories of eugenics. DuPont corporation also had stakes in two companies responsible for making the gas Zyklon B, which was originally a pesticide but was used for mass murder in the gas chambers. At the same time they were manufacturing the bomb.

Woah. That's not just a minor case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. That's some serious conflict of interest there. DuPont has barely a paragraph in the history section of their website about the whole Manhattan Project: 1942 Manhattan Project.

DuPont's TL;DR: Manhattan Project was a thing. We only made $1 from it all.

*cough* bullshit! *cough*

You may say that that was 80 years ago and nobody in DuPont's leadership today could have possibly been involved with that back then, let alone even still alive. But there's no statute of limitations on war crimes or treason, and if this information is verified, I'm wondering if the U.S. doesn't have a case to sue DuPont. This is why the diffusion of responsibility would have to fall to the entire company as an entity.

Problem is, it's been a difficult story to follow because NO major US news sources have picked it up. DuPont has a huge lobby and influence on the EPA for the current administration, so I personally think it's still relevant. DuPont has been under scrutiny many times since their formation in the 1800's, and this is just another transgression in the history of DuPont's contribution to crimes against humanity and the environment.

So I don't know what to think about all this. I don't even know what I think DuPont should do about it. But I found it interesting anyway the amount of stuff I learned because of a flippant remark some animated character made in a video game.

Also, after all this I saw this a few days later. First I laughed because I thought it was funny, given the thought I've put into Fallout 4. And then I laughed because this might seriously get me to play Call of Duty--if only it wasn't an Onion article. :lol:

New ‘Call Of Duty’ Career Mode Lets Player Join Raytheon’s Board Of Directors After Military Service
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Post by Brambleberry » Sun May 12, 2019 8:18 pm

Hmmm Food for Thought. Nom nom nom, ptui! Ewwwww this stuff is awful it tastes like PAINT!

Ah Teri that is a rabbit hole that if one goes down it they find the whole warren with holes leading to holes leading to assh**** oops. ;)

Back in the day when they still taught about the holocaust when I was in school movie news clips and all it was very real and no one doubted it, nowadays it's often difficult for some to believe it ever happened. Societal memory is very short lived unfortunately.

And I agree, it is amazing the thought provocation of a simple video game character making a comment. There are a few of them that elicit the ol' "And how would you like a smack up against the head with a bag of caps!" comment. :evil:

Like the vid you recently linked the flow of that back-and-forth through the sole survivor's memory gave a completely different perspective on the game experiences I've had and hope to have.

Give Nathan a mental hug NOT cuz he'd just laugh, so sock him in the arm instead. :D Looking forward to more of his banter with whomever he happens to be snarking.
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Post by Andra Hawksdaughter » Mon May 13, 2019 11:09 pm

Ah Teri, you've done it again. That was spectacular, and in more ways than one! Funny, hair raising, great to look at, and very thought provoking. Long yes, but I loved it, not having to wait for the finish of the event! I adore your Nathan! (and your Danse is no slouch either, lol, he's learning) You have a great talent, please never stop using it!

As for the rant, much of that info was unknown to me, but sadly that's not surprising. Governments are good at hiding such info from us 'poor dumb souls' under the arrogance that it's 'what is best for us'. *sigh* Thanks for the articles!

Nathan, keep on keeping on!! Well done!
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Post by Teridactyl » Mon May 20, 2019 5:50 am

Image



Journal 0016 | Oh, Brother(hood)!

I got back to Cambridge PD just a little before dawn. Danse just barely beat me back. Rhys was congratulating him on finding the transmitter when I walked in, and Danse turned and commended my skill and cooperation, and welcomed me as the newest member of their recon unit. Aww, shucks. I didn't bring him anything.

Danse asked me where I'd been, since he'd expected me back before him.

I said, "I ran across a settler sitting alone outside on the way back. She was sick so I gave her some Rad-Away and stayed with her a few hours to make sure she was safe."

"Oh, I see you managed to recruit the last bleeding heart in the whole Wasteland, too," said Rhys.

Image

I laughed wryly. "Yeah, well. I've already mastered being an asshole, I thought I'd branch out and try something new."

That stumped him for a moment. I could almost hear the hamster wheel in his head turning trying to figure out if I'd somehow just insulted him. The best way I've found to diffuse a bully is just beat them at their own game. They can't insult you if you do it for them.

I thought I heard Haylen snicker softly in the background.

"Knock it off, both of you," Danse scolded. "I expect you to work together. We have a lot to do before the Brotherhood gets here. Initiate, report to Haylen and Rhys for your next assignment."

"Initiate" now, huh? Ohh, brother...

A few minutes later, I approached Danse. "Hey, Paladin... Is this a good time to talk?"

He turned, towering over me in that Power Armor suit. "Yes, go ahead."

"Er, maybe someplace else?" I said, trying to gesture subtly over my shoulder at the other two in the room.

"We don't have secrets here, Initiate. Whatever you have to say to me you can say to them."

I glanced over at them again. Haylen was playing with her new toy, and Rhys was staring at a wall and practicing his scowl. They didn't seem terribly interested in me at all. Still...

Image

"Uh, no sir. I can't. Look, I'm not hiding anything, but this is a personal matter. I have a hard enough time talking about it without having to worry about...audience participation. I need to talk to someone who can objectively listen. Please?"

After an excruciatingly long three seconds, he agreed.

He instructed me to head down the end of the hallway, and for a moment I wondered if he wasn't just going to kick me out and lock the door behind me. Wouldn't have been the first time one of my COs did that. But a few steps later, I heard the unmistakable hiss of Power Armor hydraulics and servos grinding behind me; I looked back and watched as Paladin Danse literally and figuratively came out of his shell. "Hold up a sec," he said. He pulled off his hood and threw it aside, raking his fingers through thick, black hair, and briefly scrubbed a gloved hand over his face, wiping away some of the grime——or at least smearing it in a different way.

Sarcasm aside, he totally caught me off guard. He was tall, dark, and intimidatingly handsome. The kind that makes you wonder if you even belonged in the same species together. And I was staring.

Image

He glared at me. "What."

"You're...still...tall," I said like an idiot.

He rolled his eyes. "You are very observant. Thank you for informing me, but I have been aware of this for some time. Six-six, to be exact, the weather is fine. Any other obvious remarks you'd like to make?"

I tried to give him an apologetic smile. "People definitely look up to you, sir." I mean, I had to say something to save face. My own face, that is.

Image

There was a moment when I thought he might yell at me for that. He definitely appeared to consider it. "Your surveillance skills are truly a gift, Initiate," he deadpanned. "Now, end of the hall and left. Before I change my mind."

Yeah, yeah. Don't have to tell me three times...

Image




____________________________________________________________________________________



ROBCO HOLOTAPE TRANSCRIPTION
CAMBRIDGE POLICE DEPARTMENT
29 OCT 2287 06:10


// Begin Transcription


[Ambient noises. Rusty door hinges squeaking as door closes. Footsteps, shuffling around, etc.]

Danse: This is as private as I'm willing to risk. There are still feral ghouls and hostiles in the area.

Nathan: Yeah... This is fine. I, um...really like what you've done with it.

Image

Danse: Good. Because we haven't done anything with it.

Nathan: I was...yeah. Hey, do you mind if I record this? It's not that I don't trust you. It's just to help me remember where I've been and where I need to go next.

Danse: Normally, I would say no if this was strictly Brotherhood-related. But if you must. It's your show. You have the floor.

Nathan: Thanks...

[Soft shuffling of footsteps Stops to full silence.]

Image

Nathan: [Heavy sigh] ...Sorry. Now that I'm here, I...don't know where to begin.

Danse: Well, you're clearly from a Vault. Why don't you start there?

Nathan: No, I only lived in a Vault. I'm from Boston. Born and raised, lived here my whole life... Go Red Sox.

[Silence]

Nathan: Not a baseball fan, huh?

Danse: Cut the crap, Rook. Get to the point or get lost, but stop wasting my time with your nonsense and deception.

Nathan: Okay, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Look, I know I kid around a lot. I use humor as a defense when I'm stressed...and lately I've been really stressed. I used to censor myself more, bottle it in...and I was a lot angrier back then. I can't...let myself go down that path, again... I need to stay relatively positive, or...well, I don't wanna think about the alternative. Really, you should hear what I don't say.

Danse: Something tells me I'm glad I can't.

Nathan: But I'm not deceiving you, Danse. I'm sorry I gave you that impression. I know you don't want to hear my whole life story; you want to know why I didn't lose it at ArcJet when everyone else would've run the other way. You clearly saw something in me worth trusting for us to get this far. So, are you still willing to give me the benefit of the doubt and hear me out?

Danse: Very well... I am curious. Assuming you're telling the truth, this is, of course, off the record. Any details you wish to disclose to me, I will keep confidential. Just know that while I am willing to wipe the slate clean for you, I can't make the same promise for any other Brotherhood personnel.

Nathan: ...Wait...what? What do you mean, "wipe the slate clean"? What are you talking about?

Danse: Well, despite your...nonchalance, your apparent military training suggests you're an Enclave deserter. Or NCR, though we weren't aware their presence had spread this far.

Nathan: Deserter? Woah. Hold on a sec. I don't even know what those are...and by the look on your face, I don't want to. Let me tell you everything and hopefully that'll clear up any...misunderstandings. It just...requires you to suspend your disbelief for a few minutes.

Danse: Well, until Haylen gets that transmitter installed, I'm not going anywhere.

Nathan: Right. Right. [Exhales slowly] I am...a veteran of the United States Army. I served for 14 years on active duty, 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment, during the Sino-American War, until I was medically retired in '76.

Danse: Wait. The U.S. Army hasn't been around for decades. Are you...are you saying you're...pre-war?

Nathan: Well, I guess if by ‘pre-war' you mean before the bombs fell, then yes. I was born in 2041. I'm 245 years old. No, wait——246. I just had a birthday... Or another birthday. [Chuckles softly] Jesus. My cake would look like a prairie fire...

Danse: How is that possible?

Nathan: Don't worry, I'm getting there... The morning the bombs fell...I was home in Sanctuary Hills. I was with my...my wife, Nora. And our infant son, Shaun. It was just a regular morning——we watched news on television. Had some coffee. Read the paper... A little later, a Vault-tec salesman came by. He said we'd been pre-selected for a space in one of their Vaults, thanks to my service to our country. Turned out to be really damn convenient he'd showed up. Not an hour later, we were running up to Vault 111 just up the hill behind our house. They lowered us on the platform into the to Vault just as we watched...as Boston...went up in a huge fireball...

Once...we were all down in the Vault, the scientists told us get in these...pods...before they would be taking us farther underground. They told us they were decompression and decontamination chambers. I remember thinking something was...off. It just didn't look right. Like...they hadn't taken everything into account for pressure and heat, or oxygen toxicity; there just wasn't the...equipment, or the space, or the mechanisms, or-or even staff to handle that kind of undertaking. But I'd just seen my hometown blow up. I was a little distracted. And...we didn't have much of a choice.

Image

Well... I was right. They hadn't accounted for any of that. They'd never meant to. The pods were...cryogenic chambers. They froze us... I found out on their terminals that we were only supposed to be in there for six months, but something went wrong. The staff abandoned us. We were left there on ice for over 200 years...

I woke up to see my wife being...murdered. Shot. At point-blank range. And then they took our son. Our baby... He was...is...only four months old. He's just so tiny...

I was trapped. My door wouldn't open. I couldn't do anything. All I could do was...watch... Watch her die. Trying to protect our son...

My pod finally opened, and I found my way out of the Vault. Everyone else was dead. Except me...me and my son. Wherever he is. That was a week ago. I've been looking for them ever since.

[Long silence]

Danse: ...Wow. That is a...hell of a story.

Nathan: [Sniffling] Yeah. Sounds nuts, doesn't it? I'm not sure I'd believe me, either.

Danse: I didn't say I didn't believe you, Nathan... I am very sorry for your loss. Your losses. I can't imagine seeing that, and then waking up to this...this Hellscape.

Nathan: [Chuckles softly] Yeah. That's a good way of putting it... Thank you, though. That means a lot. You're...actually the first person to say that.

Danse: Well, unfortunately, losing loved ones due to acts of violence isn't a rare occurrence these days.

Nathan: Yeah. I've noticed.

[Silence]

Danse: You...said you were Infantry?

Nathan: Huh? Yeah, Infantry. And Special Forces. And Recon. And Communications. And Electronic Warfare... We wore a lot of hats, depending on how our headcount, um, fluctuated. Seems like my job title changed every day for a while.

Danse: Were you stationed in Anchorage?

Nathan: Of course. When I wasn't deployed, I was here in Boston working between Fort Hagen and Fort Strong. I did three tours in Anchorage while on active duty.

Danse: What was your rank?

Nathan: ...Does it matter? Doesn't sound like it's a one-to-one translation to the Brotherhood.

Danse: Not exactly, but there are similarities. Mostly, I'm just curious.

Nathan: I retired at the rank of captain.

Danse: Captain?

Nathan: Would've been promoted to Major if I decided to stay. But...I found out Nora was pregnant. And then the next day a building fell on top of me. And then I got shot trying to protect my second from so-called 'friendly fire'. That's another story... But I took that as a sign that it was definitely time to get out.

Danse: Indeed... Your second? You had your own command?

Nathan: Yeah. It was a small unit——only five of us——but we were highly specialized, so we were on standby a lot. Most of them were Chief Warrant Officers, except Danny——er, my second. I was the highest-ranking officer, so kinda by default I got to babysit a bunch of special genius snowflakes. I was the dumbest one in the room.

[Both chuckling]

Danse: I find that hard to believe.

Nathan: [Chuckles softly] Well, glad I've made an impression, but they'd be the first to tell you that.

[Both laugh]

They are...they were...all really good people. We called ourselves the MICE Unit: Mobile Intelligence & Communications Experts. ...And yes, before you ask, we came up with the acronym before we came up with the words to put in it. It was just a cute way of saying we were all hackers——electronic and physical. Most of our missions were to infiltrate an enemy base, mess with a bunch of shit, and sneak out again before anyone realized we'd just ruined their day. My specialty was cryptography and phreaking——er, telecommunication manipulation. Really does me a lot of good now.

Danse: Well, the cryptography certainly did today.

Nathan: Yeah. Nobody’s bothered to update their passwords in the last two-hundred years. So I got that going for me.

Danse: Well, that certainly explains your skills. You have quite an impressive record.

Nathan: Thanks. Heh...so now that you know, do I outrank you?

Danse: Actually...we'd be peers, I think. [Silence] I...do have the authority to promote you to Knight. It would be a field promotion——nothing finalized until Elder Maxson gets here.

Nathan: 'Elder', huh? Are you offering, or...?

Danse: I'm stating a fact.

Nathan: You really think that'd be a good idea?

Danse: You'd have to learn the Brotherhood tenets and customs, but with your tenure and skills——

Nathan: Woah. Woah. I'm gonna stop you right there. Danse, I have literally been living under a rock for the past 200 years. I'm not exactly the super-soldier I was in the war... The first thing I ran across when I got out of the Vault was a goddamn housefly that nearly killed me. I'm still trying to get used to the idea of a Bottlecap Exchange System, for crying out loud. I don't know what the Hell is going on out here. I was looking for a recruiting office——just someone who could fill me in on some details——when I picked up your S.O.S. on this Pip-Boy thing.

Danse: Well, you found one.

Nathan: Heh...yeah. I guess I did...

When I signed up with the Army in '62, I knew what I was getting into. I knew people who'd served that I could talk to. I researched my options. And frankly, the Army gave me a really good deal. It's why I went with the them instead of the Navy, much to my dad's disappointment. Or the Air Force, which actually sounded more fun.

But——with all due respect——I don't know what the Brotherhood of Steel is all about, yet. I mean...it sounds familiar? Some of it, anyway. But there's some pretty significant differences that I don't want to get too far over my head, yet.

And...[Sighs] I'm gonna be completely honest with you, because you've been more than tolerant with me. My priorities in the military were completely different when I enlisted than when I left. Paladin, you know what it's like getting your own command...everything stops being about you, and all about your squad. You tend to get a little...overprotective. Or in my case, a lot overprotective.

But it's nothing——nothing like bringing your own kid in the world...

My son is my priority now. I left military life behind to be a dad. So Shaun would have a dad. And now...I'm the only thing he has. I will do anything and everything I can to find him, even...leave my post, if I have to.

Danse: [Exhales] Well... I appreciate your candor. And I sympathize with your position. But, before it comes to that, please try and let me know. You shouldn't have to make that choice. I'll do everything I can to help you; you're in the Brotherhood, now, and moreover, you're under my command——you are not alone, Nathan. At the very least, I'll give you the clearance you need to go do whatever you need to do...and I won't ask questions. But I need you to be honest with me at all times.

Nathan: ...Thanks.

[Silence]

Nathan: I don't have to go to bootcamp again, do I?

Danse: [Chuckles] Well...new Initiates do usually attend training at the Citadel in the Capital Wasteland, but I don't exactly have a way to send you there now, and I think it would be wasted on you, anyway.

Nathan: 'Capital Wasteland'? Where's that?

Danse: Oh, uh...formerly Washington D.C.

Nathan: Formerly? Formerly? [Whispers] Jesus, it's really all gone, isn't it? The White House? Congress? Supreme Court? ...The IRS?

Danse: [Quietly]...Distant memories, I'm afraid.

Image

Nathan: God... So many people...died in Anchorage. And for what? People have been laying down their lives for this country for centuries——I had ancestors that fought in the American Revolution, right here, in this town! And for what? Freedom? Justice? The American Way? That means nothing now. [Muffled sniffling] I'm... so sorry.

Danse: You have nothing to apologize for, soldier. You served your country, bravely.

Nathan: Oh, no? I think have plenty to apologize for. My generation did this. And wasn't that part of the problem? Nobody wanted to take responsibility for their actions. And this is the result. I played my part. My hands aren't clean.

Danse: Rook, take it easy. You're understandably in shock. You should know better than anyone how that catches up to you. Just take a moment——

Nathan: I don't need a moment. I need to find my son. [Silence] ...And then I'll...and then I'll deal.

Image

[Heavy silence]

Danse: [Sighs softly] How can I help you now?

Nathan: Well, I dunno. Seen any kidnappers come through here with a baby?

Danse: I'm...afraid we haven't gotten out much. I'll certainly keep my eye out, though. What did he look like?

Nathan: He's a baby——he's small, pink and wiggly.

Danse: [Laughter] I meant... [Laughing] Sorry... I meant the kidnapper.

Nathan: [Chuckles softly] Oh. Yeah. That makes a lot more sense...

He was bald. Had a huge scar over his right eye. Terrible teeth. I'm not sure how tall he was. It was...hard to tell from inside that pod. Wore brown leathers... He had a .45 magnum, bull barrel, non-standard stock. It looked polished. Almost new.

Danse: Something tells me that you're one of the few people who's ever seen it up close and, uh...lived to describe it.

Nathan: Yeah. Probably... Any ideas?

Danse: Well, there are rumors that raiders abduct children and raise them as their own, or...as slaves. Sometimes sell them on the black market. They don't usually take them that young, though. And this sounds too targeted to be raiders. They're not typically that organized. I would guess he's a mercenary, but finding out who he's working for could prove difficult. Did he say anything?

Nathan: Yeah... He looked right at me and said, "At least we have the back-up."

Danse: "The backup?" Did he say anything else? A name, maybe?

Nathan: Yeah, but I don't remember what.

Danse: What do you think he meant by "we"? Who was he with?

Nathan: He was with a woman. She was the one that took Shaun from Nora. I couldn't see her face. She was wearing like a—a bunny suit.

Danse: A what?

Nathan: [Chuckles softly] A bunny suit, you know, like a—a clean room suit. Like something you'd wear in controlled environment? A hospital or a lab, maybe? We used to call them 'bunny suits' because they make you look like a six-foot rabbit.

Danse: Ah. That's...very unusual.

Nathan: Yeah. A six-foot rabbit is pretty unusual.

Danse: [Exhales sharply] I meant the clean room. You've probably noticed there aren't a lot of controlled or clean environments out here. Unless...

Nathan: Unless? Unless, what? What do you know?

Danse: The Institute... They're...known to abduct people.

Nathan: The Institute? Those synth things we fought over at ArcJet?

Danse: Well, they're not just 'those synth things.' Someone had to build them. They abduct people and replace them with synth clones.

Nathan: Oh, come on. That sounds like paranoid, superstitious boogeyman bullshit. Why would they do that? What could they possibly gain out here by doing that? They'd have to be pretty technologically advanced enough to even pull off those sythns, let alone a real human look-alike. That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

Danse: I realize it sounds that way, but we have supporting evidence.

Nathan: Okay, okay. So, say this Institute kidnapped my son. What would they want with a baby?

Danse: I DON'T KNOW... But isn't it worth finding out? If not for your child, then someone else's?

[Silence]

Danse: I'm not asking you to make it a priority, Nathan. If you get a different lead about your son, then by all means, follow it. You're in a unique position right now that allows you to move about freely. All I'm asking is that you keep your eyes and ears open while you go about your own damn business.

Nathan: [Sighs] Yeah. Of course. You're right. Ugh, I just feel like I've wasted so much time, already. And now I'm chasing...ghosts and goblins. You really have no clue where they are?

Danse: I wish I did. If you find out, please come and tell me. Part of our mission here was to gather intel on their whereabouts, if we could. We've had...not much luck.

Nathan: Just the three of you?

Danse: ...We started out with seven of us a month ago, when we first got here. We...just lost Knight Keane right before you showed up. That left three of us still standing.

Nathan: Oh. God. I am so sorry, Paladin... I know firsthand what it's like to lose people under your command.

Danse: ...Thank you. They were...good soldiers and they will be remembered and honored. But, as you know, that doesn't make it any easier on the living. It does make your timely presence all the more appreciated, though.

[Silence]

Nathan: I just...don't know where to even look. Where should I even start?

Danse: Well...I know this is going to sound incredibly self-serving, but...I suggest you work with Haylen and Rhys to complete their missions. It'll help reorient you to the area, and the missions aren't terribly critical, so if you happen to investigate other locations nearby, I can't exactly stop you. And since I can't afford to send anyone out with you, I can't really complain about your rate of progress, either.

Nathan: So...busy-work.

Danse: Not exactly. It is a significant part of our mission. But there will always be tech to dig up. And there will always be raiders, and ferals, and Super-Mutants to take down.

Nathan: What's a Super-Mutant?

Danse: [Exhales loudly] Hoooo, boy... Well, you won't miss 'em when you see 'em. They're big, green, and...volatile.

Nathan: Gr—green? Did you say green? Jesus. Should I be worried?

Danse: You should be cautious. Always.

Nathan: I'm never gonna get another solid nights' sleep again, am I?

Danse: Hopefully that won't always be the case. I'm looking forward to a little R&R myself when the rest of the battalion gets here.

[Silence]

Nathan: Well, it's something, I guess. I've already talked to them both. Haylen identified some doodad she wants way across town, so it may be a few days before I get there and back again. Rhys wants me to clear out Hahvahd Squeh. Or College Square, as he insists. He's not terribly impressed with my knowledge of local landmarks. Or...anything, really.

Danse: Don't let Rhys bother you.

Nathan: Oh, please. I've dealt with assholes like him before. You serve long enough, you know plenty of them, if you aren't one yourself.

Danse: Well...he's been under a lot of pressure.

Nathan: And the rest of us haven't? That's no reason to treat people like gum on the bottom of your shoe.

Danse: I know he's...irritable, but right now I need him. I actually took him off disciplinary action because he wasn't doing me any good sitting in a brig. He knows how to hold and shoot a laser rifle, and right now, that's what I need.

Nathan: Yeah. Yeah. I get ya... He's not the first person I've run across that deals with grief that way. I guess we all do it different. Some lash out. Some withdrawal. Some...move into gas stations.

Danse: ...Huh?

Nathan: I moved into a gas station. It was the first building I found that still had all its walls standing.

Danse: Oh. Well, those buildings are solid. Most of them still standing and relatively easy to secure. Sounds like a tactical choice.

Nathan: It has a cool rocket on the roof.

Danse: [Chuckles softly] Well, I think I've stood under enough of those for a while.

Nathan: Aw, you'd love it! I'll have you over some time. We'll throw some mole-rat on the grill. Play some badminton. Watch a ballgame. Or I can tell you about one, anyway. Have some 200-year old warm beer... Wow, I'm really selling this, aren't I?

Danse: It sounds delightful. I'll be sure to keep an eye out for my invitation.

Nathan: [Laughs] Uh-oh, Paladin. Your sense of humor is showing. I might be a bad influence on you.

Danse: Don't let it get around.

Nathan: We're still off the record. Don't worry. Your secret is safe with me. As far as Haylen and Rhys are concerned, I still think you are a surly and completely humorless hard-ass.

Danse: ...You just can't help yourself, can you?

Nathan: [Chuckles] Nope. It's like someone pushes a button and my mouth just takes control.

Danse: Well, I appreciate you preserving my reputation.

[Both laugh]

Nathan: I should go. If I'm gonna clear out Havahd Squaeh, I gonna need some backup. No friggin' way I'm doing it alone. Those things are fast.

Danse: Smart decision.

Nathan: Are they really 'pre-war' people? Like...like me?

Danse: They are nothing like you are now.

Nathan: I just keep wondering if I knew any of 'em, you know? Like...there used to be this swwet little old Italian lady behind the bakery counter at the Super Duper Mart. She just adored Shaun. Couldn't wait 'till she could bake his first birthday cake. She said I reminded her of her late husband; she used to call me 'Bello'. I think she just liked to make me blush. She'd save me two fresh baked chocolate croissants on Sunday mornings to take home to Nora after I was done doing the weekly shopping——

Danse: Nathan, don't go there. You...can't. Mourn for them as you knew them if you must, but keep those thoughts at bay. They are gone. I'm sorry... Like I said, I can only imagine how difficult this is for you, but they can't come back. There are, however, plenty of people who are still alive that you can help.

[Silence]

Nathan: Yeah... Okay... You're right... Um, I have to backtrack to last settlement I stayed to get my help. Can I bring you anything? Food? Meds? Ammo?

Danse: As a matter of fact, yes. We're good on supplies and ammo, but we could really use some provisions. We've been low on food for a while. I...had to ration gumdrops yesterday.

Nathan: Gumdrops? You're down to rationing 200-year old gumdrops now? Oh, for Pete's sake. Look, we'll bring you some fresh food. I've been working with some of the settlements around here, and we got extra. Ever eat a tato? It's not bad. Still don't know exactly what it is, but my robot makes a pretty good grilled one.

Danse: Your robot?

Nathan: Well, yeah... I never said I was alone. He was our babysitter robot before, well, before everything. Amazingly, he still works after all this time. He's friendly and not at all bad with extra fire support, either, he's just a little...too chatty, sometimes.

Danse: I can't imagine what it's like to work with someone like that.

Nathan: ...Our special skill in the war was stealth, you know. We were like ninjas.

Danse: That must've been very difficult for you.

Nathan: [Chuckles] Hey, I spent 210 years not saying anything. I've got a lot to make up for.

Danse: Well, pace yourself, then. You don't have to do it all in one day.

Nathan: [Laughs] ...No, you're right. But thanks. Really. It means a lot to me to be able to tell someone all that.

Danse: You're welcome, soldier.

Nathan: All right. Time to hit the road if I'm going to make it back before it gets dark again. That's if Codsworth hasn't blown a circuit from worrying about me——

Danse: Nathan?

Nathan: ...Yes?

Danse: What was it like...fighting in Anchorage?

Nathan: ...Oh. Well? Aside from the bone-numbing cold, the same as now, I guess.

Danse: ...I don't follow. What do you mean?

Nathan: Well, every war boils down to one of three causes: you're either fighting over territory, fighting over resources, or fighting over a difference of opinion. And nine times out of ten, that difference in opinion is over who controls the other two. The rules of engagement and the technology may change, but the reasons never do.

Tell me I'm wrong. Tell me that's any different than now, or any other war in history.

Danse: Hm... I can't definitively say you're wrong... But I'm not exactly willing to say you're right, either...yet. It's certainly a conversation I believe merits further discussion.

Nathan: Well, then, I look forward to debating with you in the future, Paladin.

Danse: Likewise, Captain.

Nathan: Captain? I thought we agreed I was an Initiate.

Danse: We're still off the record. Good luck to you, Rook.

Nathan: What's...that? What're you doing there?

Danse: This is the Brotherhood salute.

Nathan: Oh, yeah? Hm...interesting. I'm sure I'll learn it. Eventually. But until then, I'm gonna stick with the one I'm used to...if you don't mind.

Image

Danse: I'll let it slide this time.

Nathan: Permission to go about my own damn business, sir!

Danse: [Chuckles] Permission granted, soldier.

Image

Nathan: Thank you, sir. I'll be back soon. Don't let Rhys eat all the gumdrops before I get back.

Danse: [Sighs] Dismissed.

// End Transcription

Image
Last edited by Teridactyl on Tue May 28, 2019 2:57 am, edited 8 times in total.
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Post by Teridactyl » Mon May 20, 2019 6:01 am

This is one of those conversations that's been lingering around my head for a couple years now. Felt good to finally get it out! I think Danse was a little too gung-ho about signing the Sole Survivor on, knowing how many other factions are out there that despise the Brotherhood of Steel. "Nate" can even tell him he was in the military almost as a verbatim dialogue option, and Danse doesn't even blink. (Brotherhood of Steel does not swipe right...they'll take anyone!) Anyway, this fixes for that.

Headed into Goodneighbor next! :D
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Post by Brambleberry » Mon May 20, 2019 12:49 pm

Teri, that was just incredible. I luv the banter and the "moments". I'll be living Fallout 4 through you until I get my computer sorted, so keep 'em coming! :7:

Question: did you console command Danse out of his PA at this stage or does one of the mods like GTFO Your PA work before one has Danse as a follower?

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Post by Teridactyl » Mon May 20, 2019 4:49 pm

I'm really glad you like it, Bram. :hug: I hope you get your computer up soon, but until then, I'm more than happy to play Wasteland Tourguide for ya! :D I see a couple typos in there I need to fix, but nothing too terrible. It was super late when I was posting this, and I was literally falling asleep as I was trying to go through one more proofread. Finally, I just hit Submit and decided I'd read through again later.

Story-wise, I wanted to show how a deep friendship could develop from these two prior to when Danse really begins to demonstrate his overt bigotry to Sole Survivor's friends. It is possible to be friends with jerks. I have many, as a matter of fact. :lol: I also hoped to get in a little hero-worship on Danse's part toward Nathan...kind of in the same way we tend to venerate World War I & II vets. I personally like to think that's why he rolls over so easily and allows Sole Survivor to take command when he's technically still his CO after he becomes available as a companion. Just another in-world explanation of game mechanics. :P

As far as how I did the screencaps, I did a bunch of stuff, actually. Here's the "director's behind-the-scenes commentary" for anyone who's curious. :)

My first attempt to get these shots was with my NathanPrime Insanity Level game. Danse has had 100% affinity for many levels now, so with GTFO Power Armor, and that one mod that prevents other Brotherhood soldiers from shooting at him, it's easy to get him in and out of PA since I can just take him anywhere, and I just modpos the other Brotherhood soldiers who occupy the PD out of the shot. But for some weird reason, the grime setting on the Looks Menu won't fade for me now--it just defaults to 100% no matter how low you set the percentage. So Danse's face looked like he'd been been standing right under the Exxon Valdez oil spill no matter what setting I used when I tried to give him that same grime texture the vanilla model has.

So I went back to that actual moment in the game and I used the console command to get Danse out of the suit for these shots in the hallway (I don't remember what that command is now...I have to look it up every time I use it). I was surprised it actually worked because I've seen that one bug where Danse ends up looking like Slenderman. :shock: Fortunately, that never happened for me, so I just used [setscale to 1.08] to get him 8% taller than standard height (which does mathematically work out to be close to 6'6" tall assuming 1.0 is 6', because it's a nice even place to start...yes, I'm that big of a nerd. I even set Nathan at 3% taller, which comes to about 6'2"), used [player.additem] to give myself that black BoS officer's uniform in my inventory, used [openactorinventory 1] since you can't trade with him yet, to give Danse that uniform (which, as a Paladin, he should have had anyway instead of that hideous orange one, IMO) and take off that stupid hood off his head, and that's how I was able to get those shots in the hallway using some of my own poses.

Now. Remember that the interior of the PD is an interior cell, and Danse won't follow you out to the garage unless he's a full companion, which is still pretty way far away in this part of the story. I could have used my own 100% affinity Danse since I just did the grime by hand anyway, but the garage actually changes after the end of the BoS storyline (who knew!). An armor crafting bench shows up in there (along with the PA one) and some of the other pieces of furniture get moved out, so I had to go back in the story timeline to get the right setting. :) So to get pre-Companion Danse out in the garage with me, I used another cheat.

I downloaded Animated Mannequins, and used the FaceRipper Looks Menu to transfer Danse's face to one of the male mannequins via [player.placeatme], and then scaled it up to make him appear bigger and taller. The mannequins are SO much easier to work with than the actual actors. They still use the idle standing still animations, but the AI is turned off so they don't sandbox around or talk to you, or you can use [playidle] to put them in any pose you import through Dave's Poses or your own or whatever. The grime still doesn't work (actually, thinking about it right now I think I know why...I have the clean face Better Settlers pack installed, and I bet that's what's doing it), so I Photoshopped it on instead in post-production. The scene is set early in the morning [set gamehour to 630], and it's very low lit, so you don't notice it too much, anyway. Then I used [modpose x/y] and [modangle z] to move and turn him wherever I needed him in the room. Since it's only a couple poses, I didn't have to do anything terribly fancy. (Though modposing Nathan's beret in his hand was a royal PITA. It's not my favorite shot or pose ever, and his armor is gone again because these are old screenshots, but I used it anyway because it took me so long to do! :lol:)

And there ya have it..."movie" magic! 8-)
So, to answer your question, Bram (the long way around), you can use the console command to get Danse out of his armor pre-Companion. BUT, you have to be sure to put him back in it before you go to the Prydwen the first time, since he can't get on the vertibird, apparently, and since he's required to do the mission at Ft Strong, it won't start if he's not with you.

After that, though, you can have him jump in and out of it as much as you want, I think. :)

------
Edited: A CRAPLOAD of times because I am a dork. :P
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Post by Brambleberry » Mon May 20, 2019 10:39 pm

LMAO! I can just hear you, "Okay Danse are you ready?"

Danse: "For what?"

You: "GTFO your PA!"
You: *giggling*
You: "Okay, get back in your PA"
Rinse repeat ad nauseum.

Sometimes it's just fun to order HIM around for a change! This I totally get!

Thank you for the explanation. Those are all familiar commands to me I just never get so deep into monkeying with my game yet. It'll be another 5 years before I'm even ready to do that as I'm still trying to do things I've never done just in the regular ol' game. :7:
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Post by Serethil » Mon May 20, 2019 11:28 pm

Teri, you did it again. You got me GOOD - again. Damn. You make both of them sound human, and then the tears start. Poor Nathan.... poor Danse, and poor Shaun. RIP Nora....

*grumbles about something in her eye*
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Post by Teridactyl » Tue May 21, 2019 12:07 am

:rofl: No, not quite. Once I got Danse out of his Power Armor, I never put him back inside again (wait, that sounded kinda wrong... Nope, I'm keeping it!). :mrgreen:

Whether I'm tabletop RPing or video gaming, my characters are almost always the covert/white-hat hacker/nimble thief/supernerd type, and PA is SO annoying to me. The HUD feels claustrophobic, the clang-clang-clang annoys me, and the animations for getting in and out of it anytime you want to pick a lock or use a keyboard is like waiting for continental drift. And I don't think anything can happen to you while that animation is playing out, but it always makes me feel vulnerable, you know?

But I also hate seeing it on my companions, too. I crouch and sneak around everywhere, because I want my PC's to have bad knees when they get older, and you can only get so close to the ground in that Power Armor. It looks like a ridiculous fat-suit on them. And if you scale the sizes of your companions like I do, Danse is like a damn nuclear-powered metal Yeti running around in that suit. Even if he likes you, it's terrifying!

...which is kind of sad, because Danse's Power Armor, like most of the PA sets I've found, is the Fallout equivalent of an old Chevy sitting up on blocks outside my gas-station-house. But it makes a seriously bad-ass scarecrow!
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Post by Teridactyl » Tue May 21, 2019 1:17 am

Serethil wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 11:28 pm
Teri, you did it again. You got me GOOD - again. Damn. You make both of them sound human, and then the tears start. Poor Nathan.... poor Danse, and poor Shaun. RIP Nora....

*grumbles about something in her eye*
:broken_heart: :broken_heart: :broken_heart: I know. Pretty much everyone in the Wasteland is a walking tragedy. And like a lot of disaster stories, it either brings out the worst in people, or the best. I'm going for the latter, but that doesn't mean they don't have their doubts or low points. If it helps, Danse and Nathan, well... they hook up. ;) It takes a long time, and it gets waaaaay worse before it gets better for pretty much everyone, but there are better times ahead, and I don't see myself getting bored with this ongoing saga any times soon. :heart: :heart: :heart:

To paraphrase Cap in Avengers: Endgame, You gotta move on. You gotta... Otherwise, it should have just killed us all. :hug:
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Post by Serethil » Tue May 21, 2019 2:32 am

Yeah.... I can't play the FOs.... but I do get the whole fucked up backstory. And I also get that if no one GETS IT GODDAMNIT - WE are going to be them.

Gah.
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Post by Aireal » Tue May 21, 2019 3:16 am

:cry: :cry: :please_no: ... very vey good read!!
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Post by Andra Hawksdaughter » Tue May 21, 2019 1:14 pm

Ah Teri, that was....absolutely great! Like Sere, you got me again. I love the posing, but most of all, the dialog/interaction was superb! I've only fiddled with the Brotherhood once. ('course, only on 3rd playthrough here!) but never went far with them. So much to look forward to! Unfortunately (or not), Rafferty will not be joining the BoS, LOL.
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