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vampire4 last won the day on February 24

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  1. All i will say is that her powers will progress over time and will have limits, severe ones. Also, I think the emergence of her powers will add to the levels of emotion. Lol. I think they will. I know they will. Anyway, I'm glad you're liking the journey.
  2. She dreamed again. The same dream she had been having for some time. A woman screaming, someone telling her to run. A little boy trying to speak to her. She knew somehow, she could tell that this was one of her dreams. She didn’t know who the boy was. At first glance, she thought it was Miles’ son, Aiden. However, this boy was different, he had longer hair, less dark, though he looked about the same age. Besides, she could tell that he was connected to her, not Miles. He was trying to tell her something, but she couldn't hear him. She could hear……footsteps? Yes, echoing footsteps. Everything was blurred, like her memories were flashing by too quickly, and she couldn’t make anything out. She awoke, not screaming as she had in the past. Only a light gasp escaped her lips. She sighed, resigned to the fact that she might never be able to piece together the shattered remnants of her mind. It was like a jigsaw puzzle, taunting her brain with pieces of information, but never all the pieces. At this point, and after nearly three years, she had practically given up ever remembering her past. “Another dream?” Tali asked from beside her. Miyuki had told her about the Miles incident, and she had been all over her since, doting on her more than she usually did. She was no doubt hoping to pry out what had happened. Rain had stayed quiet though. She figured Tali knew about Miles and his murdered son, but the vision was still too fresh in her mind to talk about. It was Aiden and his death that would forever fuel Miles and his need for battle, meaning that Tali would never get her wish. She would never settle down with him…..and he would never stop fighting. Rain sighed and turned to her. “Yeah. Another useless dream that told me nothing.” “Don't worry. I'm sure it's just a matter of time. You'll figure it out.” Rain stood up and walked to her dresser, picking a new pink diaper for the day. She handed it over to Tali and laid down for her routine change. “I don't really care at this point. From what I've seen, memories and pasts are full of pain. From what I've gleaned of my past, it's no different. Whatever happened, it ended up with me fleeing and a hole in my gut.” Tali looked at her inquisitively as she opened up the diaper and began cleaning her up. “What do you mean? What you've seen?” Rain sighed again. “Look, I told you, just talk to Miles.” “I’d rather talk to you. If this is about what you can see…..Miyuki told me.” The knowledge hit her like a truck. “She told you?! She told Rocco, now you, Miles knows too, mind as well fill Gabe in while we're at it!” Tali finished diapering her and rubbed her shoulder affectionately. “She was worried about you, I'm worried about you. Why didn't you tell me? Did you not trust me or something?” Rain sat up suddenly. “That’s not it! You don't get it. It's just…..everyone seems to think I'm something special and I'm not. Miyuki was freaked out when she found out, Rocco wants to avoid me, and Miles and the old Oro lady think…..I don't even know what.” “You are special, Rain. We all saw that. Look, I'm just saying I would have understood. You can talk to me about anything, you know that right?” Rain shook her head, annoyed that Tali didn't understand. “I don’t want you to see me…..differently. At least with you I could just….be. I could just be me, without all this other stuff.” Tali took her face in her hands. “Listen to me. What you can do isn't extra stuff as you put it. It's part of who you are. You shouldn't ever feel the need to hide a part of yourself. We're your family now, and I promise you, we will love and accept you no matter what.” Despite her assurances, Rain didn’t feel any better, although she accepted Tali’s embrace happily enough. She was afraid though. She was afraid of the things she could do and the things she could see. It was also incredibly frustrating that she could see the events of others pasts, yet her own constantly eluded her. Tali stayed with her for some time, stroking her hair and trying to console her, before she got up to go back to……whatever she had to do. Rain stayed in bed, unable to shake the sense of melancholy that had fallen over her the last few days. Tali looked at her helplessly. She wanted to help, to say anything that might help, but she just didn’t know what to say. “Look, I'm gonna go check on some things finish my little project I've been working on, you know, the one you interrupted the other day. I'll come by and hang out with you later, okay?” She said, trying to pry out a smile from the girl. “Yeah…..I guess.” Tali grimaced and hesitated to leave. “Did you see something about Miles? Is that why you're so upset?” Rain curled further into her covers. “I know about his son now. Aiden. I guess that was something I was gonna learn about eventually? Nobody tells me anything until I stumble on it on my own.” Tali sighed and leaned against the doorframe. “Aiden is……tough for Miles to talk about. He took about a year before he told the rest of us. I’m sure he didn’t mean for you to see it the way you did.” “Too late, I already did! Rocco told me not to spy on people, like it was my fault, and said I should just have conversations with people. But everyone hides…….everything!” Rain had sat back up, for some reason seething with anger. “Hey, hey….calm down. Everything's……” “Everything's not okay!! How could anything be okay?! I can’t even remember my real name, but I get to be haunted by the terrors and tragedies of everyone else. All of them in my head, so vivid they might as well have happened to me. It's not my fault! I didn't ask to be this way! It's not fair!” Rain could feel something inside her, a force, a whirlwind violently trying to break free. She looked around a bit panicked. She felt like she wouldn't be able to contain it any longer. She felt herself flood her new diaper, she could see fear in her caretaker, but Tali quickly overcame it, rushing forward and enveloping her in a tight hug. “I know…..I know it's not fair, baby. I'm so sorry. All I can do is promise to help you if I can. Please don't be upset, I'm here for you. It's okay.” Whatever she had felt suddenly dissipated as she let out a choking sob. “I'm sorry, I’m so sorry. I don't know what's wrong with me. I've just been so bummed out lately. I feel out of control and I don't know why.” “It's probably just cabin fever. Trust me, it gets everyone. Look at Rocco, he's going through withdrawal now that he drank all the booze.” Rain felt exhausted, despite so recently having woke up. She could feel her eyelids getting heavy and before she could reply, she fell asleep once more. * Tali held the sleeping girl in her arms for a little while, wishing with all her heart that she would have pleasant dreams. She felt guilty that she hadn’t sensed the torment that Rain was living with. She had been so buried in her own projects, she had failed to see it. She gave the girl another quick diaper change, this time into a heavier diaper, and then tucked her back into bed. As much as she wanted to stay with her, she had other things to do. She headed for the door and was nearly out when something caught her eye. The wall had cracked ever so slightly, starting from the bed and travelling all the way to the door. Not only was Tali sure that the crack was a new addition, she was nearly positive that it hadn't been there moments ago. It was like……Rain caused it. When Rain had gotten upset, there was something……something that had made the hairs on the back of her neck stand tall. It felt like an air of danger, surrounding her. Tali gave the girl a final glance before turning off the lights and heading to the medical bay at the far end of compound. Rocco was already there, looking as pale as his ghoul skin would allow. He was paying for his drinking habits terribly, the withdrawal of his unfulfilled addiction forcing him to stay hunched over a bucket. “Ughh…..it's about time, woman! I’ve been here for ages, you know.” The ghoul groaned. “I was busy with more important things.” Tali was more than a little miffed with him at the moment. His careless words had hurt Rain, and Tali was not the forgiving sort. “Oh, well I sure hope my agony hasn’t inconvenienced you in any way. I'm dying here.” Rocco complained, heaving into the bucket once more. She searched her medicine cabinet until she found the Addictol, a chem that would flush a person's system clean and relieve the nasty side effects of withdrawal. She strode over to the ghoul, needle in hand. “Listen here, ghoul. You hurt Rain’s feelings the other day. She's going through some stuff right now, so I expect you to make it right and apologize, got it?” Rocco looked up with bloodshot eyes. “Rain? When did I talk to her again? Things are all bit muddled together.” “With how you've been carrying on the past months, it's hardly a surprise you can't remember anything! Really, it's embarrassing. Get ahold of yourself for pities sake.” “Ugh…..I just keep dreaming of that chick back with those creepy cultists, you know? I think she was really into me, but stupid Arax……chopped her head off.” Rocco shook his head a bit, still groggy. “Anyway, I don't remember talking to little Puddles.” Tali smacked him over the head and leaned in close. “You'll apologize or I'll put something in your food that will make a hand grow out of your stomach!” Rocco looked at her with wide eyes. “Okay okay……I'll apologize. Although, I could think of a few things I could use an extra hand for, you know what I’m sayin?” With a satisfied smile of her own, she jammed the needle into the ghoul’s arm. He yelped and jumped away from her, rubbing his arm. Luckily for him, the chem was already working it's way through his veins. After a few moments he was looking like a new ghoul. Whoo boy! I feel fuckin fantastic. Thank you for that. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go for a run. I'll stop by and see Puddles later, yeah?” Tali fixed him with a glare that said he had better and then ushered him out of her office. Miles walked in after, he must have been waiting. The way he smiled at her still made her heart pound as it did the first time she had seen him. Back then she had been the village idiot, or mad scientist depending on who you asked. She was someone that was whispered about by children and dismissed by her elders. She was considered crazy for her endless work on a certain robot, one that she was convinced would save her village from the ever frequent bandit raids. Then two men came to the village. Miles and Gabriel. They offered to take care of the bandits themselves, and to her surprise, the elders agreed. They probably had more confidence in Gabe and his power armor than the dark haired man beside him, but they agreed. Tali had been hidden amongst the crowd, but as they were leaving, Miles had looked at her, his beautiful blue eyes locking onto her, and she knew somehow that he was who she was meant to follow. She had rushed the completion of robot, her frantic pace incidentally causing the disaster that made Mr. Happy homicidal, and rushed after the two. She arrived right on time to help. Once the bandits were dealt with, Miles had looked at her and smiled, extended his hand, and asked her to join them. Nearly five years had passed since then. Their little group had grown and Tali had slowly grown even closer to Miles. She was proud of the work she did, she loved helping people. But she was getting tired too. Before she left with Miles, she hated the slow and boring life she had at her village. Now, after years of throwing herself in harms way, she was beginning to understand what she had lost. What she wouldn’t give for that kind of peace now. She shook herself out of her own thoughts as Miles sat down on the cot. He knew the drill and quickly removed his shirt. As she always did, she measured the length of the corruption on his arm, seeing if it had spread further. As a result of his body rejecting the implant that made him effectively immortal, every time he healed, the sickly corruption spread. “You look better, Miles. The rest has been doing you good. You look less pale, anyway. How are you feeling?” Miles shrugged. “I feel fine. I do feel more rested, but I tend to sleep a lot. I’m not coughing as much either, so that's good.” Tali grimaced at his arm, at the purplish veins ran through it. Since the fight against the Disciples, the corruption had spread to the top of his back, mostly around the neck. On his front, the yellowish sickness had only moved a few centimeters. The important thing though, was that it wasn’t spreading during times of rest. She put on her stethoscope and moved to his back, listening to his breathing. “When you do cough, is there any blood?” “A little, yes. Less and less everyday. How’s my arm looking?” Tali sighed. “It's not looking good. It hasn’t gone away even a little.” “But it hasn't gotten any worse.” Miles pointed out. “That’s good right? That means it's not getting worse.” Tali sighed and put her stethoscope away. Things were worse than she had thought. “It’s not getting worse……not getting better. You know what that tells me? It means the effects of this implant are permanent, Miles. There's no healing from this and it will only get worse with every fight and every wound.” Miles raised a hand. “Tali, I know what you're gonna say.” “Well you should know! There's no coming back from this, you understand? When is it going to be enough? How much longer are you going to put yourself on the frontlines for?” “As far as I'm concerned, I should have died when Thorne attacked. So every time I don’t die, I consider it a damn privilege. I have a gift, and I think it should be used to the benefit of humanity.” Tali shook her head bitterly. She used to love hearing him talk like that, but lately the words seemed to ring hollow. “So that's it? We'll just keep fighting until one or all of us die?” At that moment, the radio crackled to life and make voice began frantically begging for help. “Is anyone there? To anyone who is listening, please, we need help. Super Mutants have been attacking us all winter. We've tried to hold them off, but the attacks keep coming. If anyone can hear this, we're desperate and need help immediately.” Tali closed her eyes in frustration as she heard the plea for help. Of all the times for that damn radio to go off. Never mind that it was still winter, or her lecture about taking it easy, Miles was already set on going, she could see it in his eyes. Miles clasped her hand tightly. “I want you by my side, Tali. I know you're worried about me, not yourself, but please….understand I cannot stop yet.” Tali nodded sadly and squeezed his hand back. She couldn't leave him, couldn't abandon him no matter what. If he insisted on continuing down this path, then destructive or not, she would follow him every step of the way. She wanted to say something else, but the radio already had Miles on the move, he was ready to fight again. “Lets get everyone ready. Especially Rain. She may end up being our trump card.” Tali nodded, keeping her own suspicions about the girl to herself, and headed to wake up Rain. Once again, she was dragging that young girl into danger. This fight promised to be just as bad as the others, maybe worse. At the very least maybe the action would help knock Rain out of her own thoughts, if she lived through it. * It had been nearly dawn when she had been awoken. Dr. Veronica Sellers, the woman who had found her bleeding and wounded in the rain, looked for the first time since she had known her, afraid. “Get up, Rain. Hurry now. We don't have much time.” Rain shook her head groggily. “What's wrong? Did a brahmin get loose or something?” But Dr. Sellers had already yanked her out of bed, throwing her clothes and packing her belongings. By the time Rain was lucid enough to understand that something was seriously wrong, she was being pushed to the back door of their shared hut. “I don't understand, what's happening?” Rain cried. “There's no time, child. Super Mutants are heading this way, far too many for me to fight off on my own. What on earth is keeping such a large pack together is beyond me, but you must escape before they get here.” Her bags were forced into her hands as she was forced outside. “Give me a gun, I'll help you!” “No, no! I never taught you to shoot, you can’t help. That's on me. For now, you just run. I'll slow them down, give them a show for as long as I can. You get gone, girl, and do so right quick, ya hear?” “No! Please, come with me! I can't just leave, I can’t be alone, please!” Rain clutched at Dr. Sellers clothes desperately. For nearly two years, this woman had given her shelter and food. She had given her a life, it seemed inconceivable to leave her now. Victoria Sellers just spat contemptuously. “I ain't got time for this now, Rain. I didn't patch you up to let you die here. Get running, don't stop, you just keep running. Go on now! Please.” Rain glanced over the woman's shoulder, seeing the large mutants rushing toward the hut. They were screaming and bellowing. A group stopped to slaughter the brahmin. Dr. Sellers pushed her further before turning back, her knees shaking as she took up her shotgun. She didn't look back. Instead of running, Rain hid behind a tall tree, crouching in the overgrown bushes. She felt compelled to witness the last stand of Veronica Sellers. The old woman threw herself in the fray, blasting one mutant after another. For their part, the Super Mutants were too shocked by the sudden assault to do much aside from stare slack jawed as the woman tore into their ranks. By the time they snapped out of it, Dr. Sellers had taken cover. Still, the fight didn't last long. A group of four rushed her, unconcerned about the danger or the certainty of death. All it took was the last mutant swinging a wooden plank. The board knocked her weapon away, and as she stood defenseless, the next blow hit her in the side. Dr. Sellers skidded across the ground and lay still. From her hiding spot, Rain watched on through tears, her hands clutching her mouth as she forced herself not to cry out. That’s when the leader stepped forward. At first glance, many Super Mutants tended to look the same, large green skinned abominations. To those who paid attention, this was untrue. Each one had their differences. Rain knew right away that this mutant was different. He was just a bit taller than the others, who deferred to him and stepped quickly out of his path. This mutant had a curious intelligence behind his eyes, which were fixed hatefully on the beaten woman laying in the mud before him. Finally, the leader had deliberately made himself distinctive by wrapping the American flag around his right arm like a tourniquet. It was fitting in a grim way. It was the mutant’s way of saying that the old world was dead. The flag, which once held such meaning, was now fit only to decorate the new masters of the world. The creature looked down at Dr. Sellers with such disgust, as though she were a bug that he detested to look at. In his right hand he held a large hammer, too huge for any ordinary person to bear. He raised it high above his head, clasping it with both of his enormous hands and brought it down with such force that the woman at his feet seemed to explode from the impact. That was the last sight Rain saw before turning and running. As she fled, she could hear the mob of marauders roaring in victory. * Rain opened her eyes and stretched from her sleep. She was seated quite comfortably on Gabriel's shoulder, his massive power armor the perfect perch. She had only dozed for a few minutes, and she wondered at the dream she awoken from. But really, it made sense. They were on their way to save a village from a particularly large group of Super Mutants. Now, since large groups were mostly abnormal, it only made sense the think that this group was the same as the one that had attacked the farm. If that were true, she would have ample opportunity for revenge. Rain was no stranger to winter, and it was always an interesting time. They had all bundled up in their warmest clothes. They had also done their best to cover as much of their bare skin as possible, but every once in a while, some snow would make contact, giving a strange burning sensation. It wasn't painful exactly, but it wasn't pleasant either. The winter was dangerous in more insidious ways. The freezing temperatures would sap a persons strength if they weren't careful. They had travelled far quickly, and soon their destination would come into view. The village was known as Hope’s Folly, a decidedly grim and fitting name. As they made their way to the town, they encountered two things that stopped them in their tracks. The first was a massive pit containing the burned and charred remains of untold numbers of Super Mutants. Clearly, the town had been fiercely defending itself. Yet just a few yards away stood a large graveyard that stretched on into the distance. The team stood in its presence for a good few minutes, as though they were obligated to take in as much of the destruction and loss of life as possible. They had to see, so they knew what they were fighting for. “You still good up there?” Gabriel asked, his voice distorted from his helmet. “Hell yeah. I'm ready to go! We've been cooped up too long. I can’t wait for some action.” “Hmmm. Maybe. Just be careful, yeah? Remember your training and don't let the battle go to your head. This is beginning to look like it's going to be a hard job.” Rain smirked to herself, still excited at the prospect of annihilating some Super Mutants. “You don’t have to worry. Now that we're all here, the battle is as good as won. Don't tell me you aren't a little excited?” “I'm a soldier. Have been my entire life. I don't relish fighting or killing, but I've accepted that it's something I'm good at. As long as I can help make things better, that's all I care about. That's enough for me.” Gabriel didn’t give much away about himself. Ever. But occasionally Rain sensed a reservoir of regret from the old man. At first, she thought it was simply due to his departure from the Brotherhood of Steel, his family of over twenty years. However, she was beginning to sense in him a feeling of…….self-loathing almost. He was a soldier, he defined himself as a soldier, it was integral to his very being. But it seemed that this soldier was not at peace with some of the things he had done. Maybe that's why he left the Brotherhood and joined Miles, for a chance to atone for whatever wrongs he felt he had done. And he wasn’t the only one either. Miyuki seemed to be both extremely proud of her skills, and also bitter at how she had gotten them to begin with. Miles was full of regret for his failure against Jericho Thorne. Rocco…..well…..he was hiding things, but what they were, Rain couldn’t guess. The ghoul caught her eye and gave her a thumbs up. He had come to her earlier and apologized for an interaction he didn't seem to remember. Either way, the thought was appreciated. He clearly wanted to make sure they were good with each other, and hey, it was a nice thought. It took another hour before Hope's Folly came into view. The name truly didn't do it justice. It was a mess of destroyed buildings and charred rubble. The people were in even worse condition. They huddled together in the squalid remains of their homes, beaten and broken by both the cold and the violence. Rain stayed perched atop Gabriel as they made their way inside. Guards with bloodshot eyes watched their every step. The exhausted inhabitants looked at them with mixed feelings. No doubt the merc team looked odd to them, in their black combat armor, with their weapons, and their robot. They made an impression to say the least. But the man who came to greet them was not impressed. He was, oddly enough, a ghoul and he introduced himself as Samuel Agrippa. He had become the leader of the community by virtue of being the last man standing. He had evidently been part of a council when it existed, and was not well liked by a portion of the city due to his appearance. Yet now they needed him, and he had answered their call without hesitation. Rain saw Rocco nudge Miyuki and whisper to her. “Damn, he's ugly. I mean, I thought I was ugly, but this dude is like, the king of ugly dudes.” “Idiot.” Miyuki muttered. “What? I’m just saying.” Agrippa practically walked by them, motioning them to follow. “Yeah, I know who you are. Don't think I'm not grateful for you coming here, but I doubt it will help.” “Why do you say that?” Miles asked. “We've fought Super Mutants before.” Agrippa scoffed. “Of course you have. Everyone and their grandma has fought them. Their numbers are the issue. No offense, but I need bodies for the defense of the city and you're not enough. I need weapons and people to use them and you're not enough.” “Hold up a minute and talk to me.” Miles asked. “How many men do you have now?” The ghoul sighed impatiently. “About sixty, but a good number of them are farmers or boys barely old enough to hold a rifle. We have a few wanderers who got stuck here when the snow came. We also got about twenty guys who are wounded in the medics tent, and another thirty or so in women and children.” “We're fucked.” Rocco whispered with a shrug. Agrippa nodded. “Even with all the damage we've done, they still outnumber us three to one. We won't be able to stop them again. I'm not even sure how you all got past them, but then again we don't know where they are based. Can you believe that? How can they hide a force that massive?” “There’s a way to win, Samuel.” Miles said. “We just have to find it. We can use what resources you have to mount a defense, a defense that will utterly break this army. If you trust me, we can win this.” Agrippa thought for a couple minutes, looking at his destroyed city. “Do you know that we had prepared for the winter better than usual this year? We had ample food reserves, medicine, clothes. We were set. It’s all gone now, we have caps for payment sure, somehow our money has survived for all the good it will do us. Even if we somehow win, I don’t know that we can rebuild.” “Winter is nearly over. The snows are melting, it's not as cold, that's why these creatures are roaming about. We travelled here, so that means you can travel as well. You can hunt, buy food, buy clothes, whatever you need. But not if we don’t triumph here, right now.” “You think we can win? Nobody has spoke of victory in some time. Alright, it's not like we have a choice. They'll be back either way. We're up for the fight. What's your plan?” Miles looked around the town for a while, trying to come up with a plan. Oddly enough, he had the faintest of smiles as he did so. “Someone told me once that I needed to think more defensively. Well, here's what I got. I'm assuming the Super Mutants always charge the front gate? They never attack the sides?” Agrippa nodded. “Yeah. They aren't one for strategy. They like charging straight at us and crushing us to bits. If they were smart enough to come at us from all sides, I doubt we'd be having this conversation.” “Sixty men…..okay. We need to set them up where they can do the most damage. We will set up three lines of defense. We'll move the children and wounded to the furthest part of the camp. The first line, closest to the gate will consist of Myself and Gabriel, along with twenty men.” Gabriel nodded as Agrippa considered the idea. The ghoul nodded with a sigh. “Fine. I'll be in the frontlines as well. I'm not one to lead from behind.” “The second line will also have twenty men, lead by Miyuki and Rocco. The third and last line will have the final twenty, lead by Rain.” Rain hopped down from Gabriel at this point. “I don't want to be in the back! I can fight just as well as the others.” The others shot her a disapproving glance. She could practically feel Gabriel staring her down. One didn't question the captain in the open like this, but Miles didn't seem to mind. “It's not an insult, Rain. Mutants will get past us, that's a fact. If even one crosses the last line, it will butcher defenseless people. You are going to make sure that doesn't happen. Am I clear?” “Yes, captain!” Rain shouted. She was still frustrated, but she would do her job to the best of her ability. Miles looked over to a bridge that ran across the village. “Tali will take position up on the bridge with five of your best shots, I don’t care from which lines.” Mr. Happy moaned unhappily. “What about me? Am I to be kept out of the action when I'm so good at annihilation?” Miles looked at Gabriel and shrugged. The power armored knight thought for a moment. “Happy should patrol the perimeter in case they do attack from the sides, but assuming they don't he can attack them from behind and cause a bit of chaos.” Agrippa nodded grimly. “Well, we have a plan then. I guess all that's left is to wait and see whose left standing at the end of it.” In record time, sandbags and debris were piled up into three lines, ready for the storm that would soon come. Rain was about to walk to her post with her twenty fighters following behind her, when Tali found her. Tali looked extremely proud of herself as she handed over a long object in a canvas bag. Rain had wondered what it was as they were travelling, but she hadn't bothered to ask. Now she took the object warily, figuring it must be something great for Tali to have her grinning her “mad scientist” smile. The object was a curious device. It looked like a rifle, but there was a large glass dome in the middle of it which housed what appeared to be a concentrated ball of electricity. “What is this thing? It looks like a gun.” Tali smiled wider. “It is a gun. This is what I was making that day that you interrupted me and got me shocked.” Rain winced and raised an eyebrow. “To be fair, you didn't really look like you knew what you were doing.” “Bah. I never do. I tinker, that's my thing. This baby is my masterpiece. Gabriel brought a lot of cool blueprints from the Brotherhood, including something called a Tesla Cannon. However, those things were massive, way too unwieldy. I needed to make it smaller without sacrificing too much of its power, no easy feet I might add. Hit something with this baby and it'll be blown to bits in glorious fashion!” Rain held up her hands with a laugh. “Whoa, okay. I can see your very proud of your new toy.” Tali held up a finger. “Your new toy! I made it just for you. I call it……the Electro Blaster!” Rain winced a bit, but hugged her friend anyway. “Thank you so much. We'll work on the name, okay?” “One important tidbit. I haven't been able to figure out how to reload the thing on the go. It has to charge on a specially designed charging station back at the base. I'd say you have twenty shots at most, so make them count. And hey, kick ass today.” * “Here's another crate of ammo.” Agrippa grunted as he set the box by the others. “You think we can win this?” “Nope. We'll be dead by sundown.” Rocco said with a grimace. “Maybe you should focus on yourself, Agrippa.” Miyuki watched the pair of ghouls closely. There was something different about how Rocco was acting. He had an attitude and it only seemed to be around Samuel Agrippa. He pointedly refused to even look at Agrippa, and the other ghoul had noticed, although he refused to dignify it. Miyuki interjected, shooting Rocco a look and leading Agrippa away. “Don't listen to him. I don't know what his problem is.” Agrippa laughed. “I know what his problem is. I'm used to it. He hates ghouls. Most of the people here hated me. Now I'm their only hope. If that isn't ironic.” “That's ridiculous. Rocco is a ghoul too. How could he hate ghouls?” “I'm guessing he's pretty new at being a ghoul. Probably only became one a few years ago? I'm old, pre-war in fact. Does your buddy own any mirrors by chance? No? New ghouls often hate any reminders of what they've become, I know I did. Seeing me is an unpleasant reminder of what he looks like now.” Miyuki nodded, a little surprised. She had known Rocco for a long time, since before they had hooked up with Miles. He had never struck her as a particularly deep person. He liked to fight and drink mostly. When Agrippa left to head for the front, Rocco decided to elaborate. “I was serious by the way. We're screwed here. Agrippa was right before. In a situation like this, he needs bodies, not us. We don't do defense, we sneak up and hit the enemy before they know anything.” “Don't worry so much, Rocco. If anyone can turn the tide, it's us. I think we'll give these mutants a surprise they won't forget.” Rocco sighed. “Right. Well I'm out of smokes anyway. This is as good a day to kick the bucket as any.” * They heard them before they saw them. There must have been at least forty of them. The mutants came running at full speed, green skinned, roaring as loud as possible. The first wave was armed with blunt objects like bats or wooden planks. They rushed in expecting an easy win. They soon learned differently. Miles waited for them to get close before ordering the first line to fire. They fired and short burts, the bullets stopping the monsters as though they had run into a wall. Many of the creatures were torn down in a barrage of gunfire, but many kept running, wounded and despite all odds. “Keep firing! Don't let them get close!” Miles yelled. The line kept firing, felling more and more of the creatures. More fell once Tali and her snipers joined in. By the time the mutants reached them only fifteen or so were left. “Get ready. They're gonna be on us any second!” Agrippa yelled. The Super Mutants tore into their ranks. Men were thrown into the air like toys as the green monsters wreaked havoc through their line. Miles and the rest found themselves trying to fend off the monsters in their midst as another wave, this time with firearms, came screaming at them. Miles ducked as a mutant swung a metal crowbar at him, falling to his knee before aiming his rifle upwards and tearing the green abomination down with a hail of gunfire. He heard a yell from behind him, turning as another Super Mutant bore down on him, knocking him over with a swipe of it's hand. He aimed once again but the mutant grabbed the weapon by it's barrel and flung it aside. The monster's foot stomped down on his ribs, shattering his body, but he was already healing fast as he rose up and pulled one of his pistols free. One shot later, the monster had fallen, dead at last. In the split second he had fallen however, the rest of the mutants had arrived at the line, some rushing past and heading for the second line. Miles could only hope the other lines would hold. He brought his second pistol out and began firing at any creature who was near. He looked for Agrippa, but didn’t see him in all the chaos. He fired rapidly, taking down three, then four of the enemy in mere seconds. But they just kept coming. Gabriel was fighting a losing battle, surrounded on all sides, as he tried in vain to rally the fleeing villagers to him. His laser rifle took down creature after creature, but soon the monsters had their hands on him. Miles tried to rush to him as the mutants closed in, but was suddenly knocked off his feet from behind, feeling an intense agony through his whole body. He looked up, vaguely realizing he couldn't move. His fingers twitched uselessly. The blow had broken his spine. Standing above him was one of the biggest Super Mutants he had ever seen, wielding a massive hammer. There was an aura of intelligence about it, an air of superiority that seemed to radiate from it. He moved over bodies of humans living and dead with no care whatsoever, as though they were ants beneath his notice. The beast didn’t even look down at him, already moving on, pausing to adjust an American flag it had tied around it's arm. He watched helplessly as the horde of monsters made their way further into the village. * The second line held longer. The fight had moved into a stalemate as the defenders had hunkered down behind their barricades. Survivors from the first line had joined them and now a firefight of attrition slowly ebbed on. Rocco and Miyuki directed their fighters as best they could over the noise and chaos, but with every four or five mutants they brought down, they lost one of their own. Tali and the snipers were pinned down above them, and even worse there was no sign of Miles or Gabriel. Rocco almost poked his head out of cover when the man beside him was suddenly gunned down, making him hunker down more. Two more fell shortly after, their blood staining the grayish snow. Miyuki let off a salvo before rushing over to him. “We're getting slaughtered here! We need to move back to the final line before we're overrun.” Rocco barked out a laugh. “We'll die back there just the same. Why bother?” “Rain and a bunch of wounded are back there and too many enemies have gotten by us as it is. We need to move now!” Rocco leapt up, killing a mutant that had a dismembered human arm in it's hand. “Fine, fine! Fuck it! Everyone fall back! Move back to the final line!” The others didn’t need much prompting and they began a slow retreat, firing back at the advancing horde. They saw a bigger mutant walk to the front and give an order. The creatures smiled wildly as they began tossing small objects into the air. “Grenades!” Miyuki shouted as the explosives began raining down on them, showering her in gore and debris, as people were blown to bits and body parts were thrown into the air. In panic, everyone gave up a tactical retreat and started fleeing as fast as they could. The mutants rushed forward to gun down them down unopposed. Miyuki ran, stumbling and blind, trying to get the blood out of her eyes. She felt a gnarled hand grab her arm and pull her along. “Come on, come on. I got ya.” Rocco muttered, sounding out of breath. “I don't know about you, but I'm not having fun anymore.” * If Rain had been upset at being put in the back, her disappointment didn't last long. Super Mutants began trickling in at a steady pace, and suddenly the lives of the wounded behind her felt heavier. The men and women she was in charge of, to their credit, didn't seem to mind following the orders of a small, diapered girl. Also, for farmers and others who had rarely held weapons before, they were decent shots, proving how adaptable the village had been forced to become. Rain had taken aim at the first mutant who stumbled in, her weapon belching an arc of electricity that literally tore it's arm off, killing it instantly. She soon learned that even if they survived the initial shot, the current of electricity coursing through their bodies normally finished them off. But as more and more kept charging at her line, she couldn't help but feel frustrated. She had no idea what was going on up front. Were the others alive or dead? She could hear distant gunfire, and suddenly heard explosions and screaming. She kept her focus as her group continued to gun down the charging behemoths. Despite the situation, Rain was having a literal blast with her new weapon, imagining every creature as the one that killed Dr. Sellers. Then there was a lull, and the screaming free louder, came closer, and Rain ordered a cease-fire. The snow was growing fiercer, obscuring their vision. Each snowflake that touched her skin left a faint tingling sensation, and left an ashy smudge when she rubbed it away. For what seemed like an eternity nothing happened. The screaming had stopped, the gunshots had ceased. The world had descended into an eerie silence. Finally, she saw them, a staggering group of survivors, maybe ten or twelve in all. Among them she saw Rocco and Miyuki, and she took some comfort in knowing that they were still alive. Her relief was shattered when she saw large figures emerging from the snowdrift behind them, stalking them and waiting for their chance. Rain waved her hand forward and yelled to her men. “Let's go, they need back up. Move up!” As one they surged forward, firing at the monsters as they went. The unexpected assault seem to stagger the beasts back, and they reached the survivors without a problem. As they moved back to cover the bullets started flying on earnest l as the mutants renewed their assault. Three people died before making it back to the sandbags and Rocco took a hit to his right leg. Rain kept firing, sending arcs of electricity whenever she saw a monster get close. The snowfall gave the creatures camouflage however, and yet they didn't seem to have a problem aiming at all. Finally back to the sandbags, they waited in tense anticipation as the towering abominations slowly closed in. They had nowhere else to go. Behind them lay the village’s wounded and weak, it’s young children, cowering in the large brick building just a few feet behind them. There was nowhere else to go. * Miles kept playing dead as his body fixed itself. The mutants had mostly moved on, though he could see a few of them trying and failing to reach Tali and her snipers. He looked over to where Gabriel had stood but all he saw was a mountain of Super Mutant dead. He was about to make his move when the mountain seemed to move. The bodies were shifting upward and falling away. At once a metal arm burst through and Gabriel emerged, shrugging the large corpses off of him. His armor was blackened and scarred, riddled with bullet holes, but Gabriel didn't seem worse for the wear. Miles stood up and moved to his second in command, staying crouched and hoping to avoid notice. As he moved over the bodies of the fallen, he found the body of Samuel Agrippa. A quick check showed that the ghoul still clung to life. He was covered in blood, making it tough to ascertain his injuries. His leg was twisted to an unnatural degree and Miles was forced to move on. Gabriel gave a wave when he saw him coming wiping his helmet to get the grim and gore from his sight. “Captain. Glad to see you in one piece. Damn muties fell on me, thought I was gonna get crushed in my own armor. Things are looking bad.” Miles went to speak but began coughing roughly. He fell to one knee clutching his chest and unable to breath. Gabe knelt down beside him, showing as much concern as he could under his helmet. Finally, the attack subsided. Miles ignored the blood in his palm, wiping on his leg before Gabe could see. “Tali is pinned down and who knows what's happening with the others. It’s time to hit them from behind. You with me?” Gabe smiled and helped him to his feet. “Captain, you don't even have to ask. Let's get back in there. I don’t know where my rifle is, but this suit of mine can still pack a punch.” As they prepared to move, Mr. Happy flew by them his saw blade whirling. “I got tired of waiting! Let me at the beasts!” They followed behind the crazed robot, the three of them smashing into the mutants trying to reach the snipers. Not expecting an attack from men they thought were dead, the mutants quickly fell to their furious assault. With Tali and the others safe, they called the snipers down and together they sprinted to help the others. * They were losing. Badly. The Super Mutants moved inexorably forward, giving no care to losses or wounds. They drew closer and closer, their fire cutting down the ragged and desperate defenders. Rain had switched to a fallen soldier’s hunting rifle, hoping to save the last three shots of her electric weapon. They were running low on ammo and fighters alike, but still they fought on. That's when she saw him. The mutant with the American flag tied to his arm. The same one that killed her guardian almost a year ago. A primal rage filled her, a heat, a tightness in her chest. Without thinking about what she was doing, she scooped up her electric gun and slung it over her shoulder. She gripped the hunting rifle and leapt over the barricade. Miyuki called after her. “Rain, what the fuck are you doing?! Get back here!” Rain kept moving forward,, ignoring her heavy and saturated diaper. She kept moving, firing as she went, her eyes focused on the monster who had haunted her dreams. When she ran out of ammunition with the rifle, she tossed it aside and knelt down, pulling a sawed-off shotgun from her boot. She was getting ridiculously close to the mutant’s line. They noticed too late the danger the small girl posed. Her first shot destroyed a mutant’s head and as it fell she reloaded and fired at another. She could feel bullets hitting her armor, which thankfully stopped most from getting through, but the impact took her breath away nonetheless. A shot hit her in the arm, another grazed her thigh, and another still her shoulder, almost spinning her around. But she kept moving, kept firing. The leader had finally taken notice of her, moving toward her with a determined gait. Unable to reload, she dropped the shotgun and sent an arc of electricity at her foe. He staggered for a moment then began to sprint to her. Before she could get another shot off, the creature knocked her into the air with one arm. She landed heavily and found herself in between the two forces. Her weapon was too far away and the mutant leader had fixed his forces on her. She saw guns pointed squarely at her and knew that this was the end. What happened next couldn’t be explained. Just when she thought it was over, the mutant leader…….smirked. Something about that smile enraged her further. She wouldn’t back down, not to this monster. There were too many people who would die if she failed. She screamed helplessly and raised her hand in a weak attempt to defend herself as gunfire erupted for a final time. A silence descended once more, so silent in fact, that Rain thought she was already dead. Yet when she opened her eyes, a different sight awaited her. The bullets had halted in mid-air, yet they still spun in place as though they retained their velocity. Rain stood in the open field, her hand still raised, dumbfounded. The mutant leader moved forward, as unable to understand what it was seeing as she was. The defenders behind her looked on in awe and disbelief. Rain could barely comprehend what was happening, but she noticed that when she lowered her arm a bit, the suspended lead seemed to lower as well, as though responding to her movement. Her head began to pound and throb worse than ever before, and in a moment of pure instinct, she pushed her arm forward, and the projectiles responded in kind. A hailstorm of lead death went hurtling back at the ones who fired them, killing scores in a single wave. Their leader rose slowly, bleeding from a dozen wounds and now……missing an eye. It stormed to her in a rage, yet the others were too shocked to follow. Similarly, the defenders behind her were rooted in the spot. She was alone. With her head pounding and her vision fading, she tried to repel the creature with the same force she had used before, but it wouldn’t come. A meaty hand reached forward, grabbing her by the face and lifting her off her feet and into the air. She felt the monster’s hand begin squeezing, but at this point she was almost beyond the pain anyway. She couldn’t see what was happening, but the grip on her skull seemed to lessen a bit. She heard renewed gunfire and suddenly she fell to the ground again. Miles stood in front of her and the mutant leader was roaring in pain. Miles kept firing with both pistols, his fire tearing the mutant’s arm to shreds as it sought to defend itself. With a final shot, Miles shot off its arm at the elbow. Still struggling with consciousness, she looked around weakly. From what she could gather, Miles and some survivors had attacked the creatures from behind. She saw Gabriel literally punching his way through the surprised mutants, his steel fists red with blood. Their arrival emboldened the remaining defenders and they too rushed into the fray. She heard the leader give one final roar of rage, it’s deep scream reverberating in her chest. Then they fled, what was left of them anyway. Miles and the rest followed and harassed them until they were out of the village. She felt Tali by her side, gathering her up into her arms. “We did it, Rain. We won. It's over.” Rain squinted at her surroundings. For every person cheering for victory, another was staring at her with questioning eyes and terrified thoughts. Her head was pounding, all at once she was assailed with voices coming from everywhere and nowhere at once, from people whose mouths weren't even moving, but she could hear them anyway. That's when a final revelation hit her. A panicked thought from somewhere among the survivors. A male voice filled with panic and fear. “This can't be happening! How is this possible?! She should be dead! How can it be her?!”
  3. I'm happy you're enjoying the story. With my posting speed, I almost think it's better to read in bulk. I'm really excited for the next chapter. There's going to be a huge battle and at the end, everything will change!
  4. Hey, it's always nice to hear, amigo.
  5. For Miles it was more about establishing a connection. Old lady Oro kinda irked him with the accusation that he wanted to use her. So he certainly didn't expect anything, but it did confirm suspicions. Until now, only Miyuki and Rocco knew that Rain could see their dreams. Miles is starting to think there's a bigger picture, with a bigger player than himself. Call it some destiny shit, I guess, although he's probably the only one who believes it.
  6. It turned out that winter was not so awesome. Surprisingly enough, it turned out that spending weeks inside a stone compound with the same people, with no ability to go outside, could turn pretty maddening after a while. But it was the boredom really. That was the worst part for sure. Oh sure, some of them found things to keep busy. Miyuki pushed herself to her limits everyday. Training, practicing, beating the punching bag until she nearly tore it from the ceiling. It looked exhausting, but Miyuki seemed to enjoy herself. Tali buried herself in her work, inventing stuff and working on tech. She wanted to work on Mr. Happy, but the robot refused to let her near. Rain didn't blame him. Tali was a genius to be sure, but a lot of her inventions had a habit of blowing up. The first few times anyway. Tali also spent some time making medicinal chems like stim-packs. Gabriel was the only one who went outside, his power armor let him roam the outside, through the feet of snow that would burn a person's skin. He would be gone for weeks, coming back with supplies or scrap. When he wasn't outside, he was in the garage fixing his armor, sometimes upgrading it. For the first week or so, Rain thought Miles would go crazy with all the sitting around. He paced about the place like a caged animal, his thoughts a whirlwind. His anger was always bubbling just under the surface. Then one day he just…..stopped. He stopped and settled down and did……nothing. He just sat back and relaxed day after day after day, and that was the most surprising thing Rain had seen. He seemed totally at peace from the outside anyway. Rain was stuck doing nothing. She didn't have the skills to really help the others. As a result she tended to end up getting in the way. Even Tali had “suggested” she find someone else to help. She had read all of her books twice over. She cleaned all the armor and weapons even. But eventually there was nothing to do but stare at the ceiling. She didn’t want to sleep. Her sleep was plagued by nightmares of her shapeless, formless past. So she did nothing. Pulling a Miles is what she called it. The only problem was she sucked at it. She felt like she was going crazy. Then there was Rocco. He sat in his room down the hall and added to her madness. He drank constantly. Maybe he was the only one that cabin fever was affecting more, but it didn’t change the fact that he was becoming a huge pain in her diapered ass. His damn whistling had started up again. Every time he did it, Rain felt like her head would split open. There was something…..something about the tune that filled her with such a sense of dread. And he knew it too. Normally he refrained from doing it, although he would occasionally whistle the song as he was about to finish off an enemy. Rain pulled her pillow over her head, trying to block it out. Why did it hurt her head so much?! When finally she could stand it no longer, she rose from her bed and stomped over to the ghoul’s room. He was in an…..unflattering position to say the least. Clad in only a shirt and boxers, his legs resting upwards against his bed, his back on the floor. It looked as though he had fallen from his bed, and simply not bothered to get up. He lay there amongst piles of bottles of every conceivable type of alcohol. Rocco groaned as he saw her, stopping his infernal whistling. “Puddles! Look everyone, Miss Puddles is here to visit! How’s the winter treating you, Puddles?” Rain clenched her fists and sighed, trying her best to remember that this was the man who had saved her, not just once, but many times since. Still, she hated that nickname. Rocco had thought it up one drunken night and he just loved it. Puddles was not only a play on her name, but also a jab at her condition, as she tended to make….puddles, albeit in diapers. She clutched the side of her head, ignoring the pounding in skull. “You have to stop that whistling, Rocco, you have to stop! I can't take it anymore!” “Oh Puddles! This again? I don't…..get it. It’s a lovely tune, don’t you think? You could use some song in your life, really.” “You know it bothers me. I hate that stupid song! It's like you do it on purpose. Why are you like this? All the drinking, all day, every day. Why?!” Rocco closed his eyes. “Not all of us do so well being cooped up. Too much time….to think. I need action, Puddles.” Rain didn’t know what to say. Seeing Rocco in this condition was just…..sad. “You're going stir crazy, I get it. I am too, believe me. But you can't keep this up. Look at yourself! You're a mess.” Rocco didn’t respond at first. He tried to get right side up, but ended up slipping. Rain sighed to herself and helped him back into bed. He looked like he was fading fast. “My mother used to sing that song to us, me and my brother. We didn’t have a pot to piss in, but we had each other I guess. When she died and I left home, that song was the only thing I brought with me. I can't……I don't remember the words anymore though, just the tune. So now I make sure it's the last thing people hear before I kill them, a little taste of home.” “That's a real sweet story, Roc, but you.......you can’t do it around me. Every time I hear it……my head……hurts. No more, okay?” He groaned again, shoving his face into his pillow. “Fine, whatever. Can you get gone now? I feel like I'm gonna pass out at any…..any minute. I don’t need you around….poking in my dreams, yeah? Miyuki told me…..that's some weird talent.” Maybe she shouldn't have felt hurt, but for some reason she did. “Why? I mean…..I don’t know very much about you and it's been almost a year.” “Because, kiddo…..not everyone appreciates having their dreams spied on. You want to know about me, you can just ask me. Privacy, Puddles….it's a thing.” Rain nodded slowly, but the ghoul was already snoring. She covered him up with a blanket and moved for the door. She headed back to her room a bit glum. At least her head had stopped pounding. She took her skirt off and climbed back into her bed. Burying herself in her covers. The bear that Tali had given her was nearby and she grabbed it and hugged it to her chest. “Mr. Fluffyface……why am I so sad?” She sat up a bit as she felt a faint twinge in her bladder. These were rare, as most of the time she never knew she was wet until it had already happened. She almost got out of bed, sure that she could hold it long enough to get to the bathroom. She reached down and felt the pink diaper attached to her waist, a little disheartened that it was already a bit damp. “What's the point?” She asked herself out loud. She let herself relax and felt a steady stream of urine flow into her diaper. Just like that, she was soaked again. She sighed and got up to go find Tali. She headed down the hall. She could hear sparks flying and glass breaking before she even reached the door. Entering Tali’s workshop when she was working was a bit like walking the wasteland. Any step could be your last. Most of Tali’s experiments were volatile at best, and Tali herself was less than an expert in her field. She tended to cobble things together just to see what happened. Rain walked in slowly, stepping over various metal parts and instruments. Tali was at her workbench, a pair of goggles protecting her face. She was muttering to herself as she worked. Whatever her project was, sparks were flying from it. “No…..damn, which wire goes here? These blueprints are so……no that's not right.” Rain had reached her by now. “Tali? Can I borrow you for a minute? Tali? Tali!” Tali was too engrossed in her project and the workshop was too loud anyway. Rain moved a bit closer and tugged gently on Tali’s jumpsuit. “Tali?” Unfortunately, the contact seemed to surprise her. She jumped and sparks flew once more. All the hair on her head seemed to stand up a bit. It was tough to see in the gloom, but it looked like her clothes were smoldering a bit too. “Oh shit. I’m so sorry! You okay?” Rain asked, afraid to touch her again. Tali turned back to her, twitching ever so slightly. “I think my wiring is off…..that hurt a bit.” Rain looked down bashfully. “I was just gonna see…..if you could help me with um…..my diaper real quick?” Tali blinked, her eyes unfocused. “My wiring is off…..damn blueprints……ugh…..I gotta lay down for minute. Bye for now. Wait. Should I sleep? Duh, Tali it's not a concussion just a minor shock. Don't be silly. Sleep is good for the body……yes…..very good. Night.” With that she sat in an old rusty chair and her chin slowly rested on her chest. Rain almost ran for help, but her caretaker seemed to be resting well enough, even if her fingers did twitch a bit. Rain stepped carefully out of the workshop. Miyuki was her next stop. She passed the garage where Gabriel was hard at work with his power armor, attaching something to it’s back. He kept having to lean so he could see with his only eye, as though he forgot at times he was missing his other. I didn’t notice her and she went on her way. Miyuki wasn't in the training room for a change, and Rain thought bitterly that she had grown too accustomed to having her diaper changed by someone else. She should have just done it herself. Instead, she was walking around in just a shirt and her wet, pink diaper, no doubt looking ridiculous. When she turned around she nearly ran into Miles. He seemed in good spirits, and most importantly, he looked healthier. His skin was less pale, there was more life in his eyes than she had ever seen before. Even if he hated it, the rest had clearly done him a lot of good. “Hey there, Rain. If you're looking for Miyuki, I think she went to clean up after training.” “Oh. Well…..I guess I'm going back to my room.” “The mad scientist too busy to help you?” Rain smirked. “Tali’s sorta…..taking a nap. You….may want to check on her in a bit.” “Wait.” Miles said. He looked around, as if trying to figure out what to say. “You….uh….want to do some target practice with me? I got the range all set up.” “Uh……yeah okay. Why not?” She followed Miles into the adjacent room where as promised, the range was set up with mannequins. She was surprised to be honest. Miles was normally very detached and withdrawn. Ever since she had arrived, he had watched over her, but always from a distance, and always she could feel this…..wall that he seemed to project around him to keep everyone at bay. Tali was the only person she had seen him open up to and that was rare. The weapons were lined along the walls. Miles chose an AK-47, a weapon she had never seen him use before. For her part, Rain never liked automatic weapons. She wasn't great at sustained fire and the recoil always hurt her shoulder. She selected her preferred handgun, a 9mm Beretta. She took her spot next to Miles and took aim, taking a deep breath and exhaling as she fired. She had gotten considerably better at aiming with most of her shots connecting square in the dummies chest. She tried for a headshot, but ended up hitting the shoulder. They practiced for some time. It was loud, so talking wasn’t an option. Probably for the best. Rain didn’t think either of them knew what to say to each other. “Sorry. I don't…..well I'm not a big talker as you know. Plus……I don't know, I guess I've always been better talking to boys. I don’t really know what to talk about. I guess I just wanted you to know how glad I am that you joined us. It's been a great pleasure to see you grow and improve. I mean that.” Rain blushed a bit, completely unsure of what to make of this. Miles had never talked like this before, and there was an awkwardness in his speech, as though he was just as uncomfortable as her. Still, he was trying to establish some kind of connection, that was clear. Why was he acting this way? “Uh…..thanks, Miles. Are you okay? I mean…..is everything alright?” Miles thought for a moment before answering. “I joined the Regulators as a child. The man who took me in, George Maxwell, taught me everything I know. He even taught me how to read, which my real father thought was a waste. I remember loved to read about the old Greek myths. Stories of gods and monsters, of great heroes. When we left and came here, I think I felt like a hero, going forth to fight evil. I think we all thought we were heroes.” Rain shrugged. “That is sort of your thing.” He looked at her with an amused smile. “See though, this whole time I thought that I was the hero, I thought everything I did was part of my story. But when I met you……I began to think differently. More and more I began to think that this isn't my story. It's yours, Rain. There’s something about you. I don’t know what, but I'm not the only one whose sensed it. That's why Lady Oro wanted you. You're special. And I know that you're going to be vital for the future of the wasteland.” Rain couldn’t understand what everyone seemed to see in her. There was nothing special about her, she was utterly normal, boring even. The only thing unique about her was the wound that kept her in diapers. Now Miyuki or Gabriel maybe, they were special, they had skills that set them apart. Or hell, Miles was immortal. What could be more unique or special then that? “Why don't you try this gun?” Miles said, pulling one of his distinctive handguns from it's holster. Jet black, trimmed with gold, in anyone else's hands they might have seemed gaudy, but they were, in a way, symbols of what Miles stood for. She took one of the guns he offered, feeling it's heft in her hand. The leather grip formed to her hand quite well, though the barrel was a good bit longer than her gun, which made it a bit heavier. Miles looked on with interest. “It was custom made for me by an old friend out east. It has a bigger kick than you're used too, but it’s a fine weapon. Give it a shot.” Rain took her time and aimed. The gun had a smooth trigger, making it remarkably easy to fire. The recoil was greater, but it almost worked to her advantage. “Well done. You handle the gun better than I thought you would.” She handed the gun back after some more shooting, and as she did, her finger brushed against his. Her muscles tensed suddenly, her vision blurred, and the world began to spin. * “You sure he'll be here?” A grizzled, old voice asked. Miles smirked and stretched against the wall he was leaning on. “You ask that every time, George. Every time, he shows up.” George Maxwell, leader of the Regulators, shrugged and frowned. He was a serious man, and pessimistic by nature. Despite the dangers of the wasteland, the fact that their informer was late could only mean some horrible disaster. They had arrived at the meeting spot early. Aside from the two of them, they had brought four others who were patrolling the perimeter. Maxwell insisted on arriving early to scout for traps. Smart probably, yet now he paced and fretted like an old woman. Miles couldn’t help but notice how old he looked. His waist was thicker, his remaining hair was white, and…..his hands tended to shake. The day was coming when he wouldn’t be able to lead from the front as he did now. The day was lovely, the sun shining. Even the roars of wasteland beasts that echoed in the distance couldn’t damper his spirits. The Regulators had cut a bloody swath through the raider gangs of the north. Soon……very soon…..the people would be free to choose their own destinies without the constant fear of being raided and murdered. Miles had been hesitant to leave the main force back east, but with the Brotherhood running things, it had seemed like a good idea. With every victory, it appeared the choice was a good one. There were so many people they could help here, and they had only focused on the north so far. Ten minutes later, their informant finally arrived, stepping over the ruin and debris with the ease of someone used to navigating and exploring the wastes. The man looked small, his thin body betraying hard, compact muscles. He wore a long sleeve dark blue shirt, over which he wore black, leather armor. He had a young looking face, despite his scraggly beard, and short dusty blonde hair. “Tobias! Glad you made it. Have some trouble?” Miles asked, clasping hands with the new arrival. Tobias smiled, then nodded grimly. “Got chased by a pack of ghouls, ended up running into a band of Super Mutants as I ran. Almost didn’t make it.” Maxwell stood up, suddenly alert. “You didn’t lead them here did you?” Tobias looked at the old man before cracking a guilty smile. “Yeah…..I made it up. Sorry. I just had to take a shit. What?! It's harder then you'd think to find privacy out here, last thing I wanted was for some mutant to catch me with my pants literally down.” Miles couldn’t help but laugh, but George was less amused. “Miles, find out what he knows and let’s go. I'm gonna check on the others.” “Hey, could you send Aiden over with the cooler?” Miles asked. “Brought some beer with us. Besides, I don’t like him out of my sight.” George grunted disapprovingly at the mention of beer, but didn’t say anything. He gave a disdainful look at Tobias, then walked off. “I don’t think he likes me too much.” Tobias noted. “Ah, he's a grumpy old man. You shouldn’t tease him though.” “Probably. But it is kinda fun. Anyway, it looks like the Crimson Hands didn't give you much trouble. There was a good bit of them too. As always, you fellas are impressive. Cocky ass name, the Crimson Hands. Pah!” “We suffered a few losses, but the element of surprise saved the day. Freed those slaves you told us about too.” Tobias nodded. “Good. I fucking hate slave traders. I…..used to be a slave myself, for about three years. There's nothing worse than having your freedom taken from you. It's better to die in my opinion.” Miles nodded somberly. “No doubt. Ah, there’s Aiden. Over here, bud!” “Mini-Miles! How are you?” Tobias asked cheerfully. Aiden truly looked like a miniature version of Miles. He had the same black hair, the same bright, blue eyes. He smiled back at Tobias like an old friend. “I’m good, sir.” He said shyly. “Sir? You're making him quite the little soldier, ain't ya, Miles? Few years and you'll be taking on raiders beside your dad. What, you're ten….elven?” Aiden grinned. “I'm eleven, sir. I doubt my dad will let me though. He won't even give me a gun.” “You can stick with practice for now, Aiden.” Miles told his son. “There's no need for you to carry a gun otherwise. Besides, I thought you said you didn't want to join the Regulators?” Tobias chuckled. “That's right! You want to be an explorer, right?” “Yeah! Like Raz Ramirez! You know, the guy from the radio?” “Huh. I recognize the name…..I think.” Aiden lit up. “He's so cool! He travels all around, exploring ruins, fighting mutants and stuff. He records everything and plays it over the radio.” He said, with all the excitement of an eleven year old super fan. Tobias nodded warily. “Records everything huh? Interesting.” Miles shook his head secretly. The show was made in a studio, probably written. Either way, it was very much staged. Miles hadn’t had the heart to tell him. Unless this Raz dude had some really fancy technology, there was no way to record and broadcast on the road. Judging by his face, Tobias knew it too. Tobias recovered quickly though. “Yes, well, I have a gift for you, little explorer.” He reached into his bag and pulled out a faded postcard. “Check it! That's what the White House used to look like! Although, I guess you haven’t seen what it looks like now, huh?” Aiden jumped happily. “I have, sir! Dad traded for a picture last year. Look dad, now I'll have my before and after set.” “That's a….kinda grim hobby you got, kid, ain't gonna lie. Whatever makes you happy though.” Tobias said. “Anyway, how about you pass me one of those beers and let me chat up your dad?” Aiden pulled out two bottles and ran off after promising to stay near the other guys. The two sat down on some rubble, ready to talk business. “Is it tough for him? Being the only kid with all of you?” Miles shrugged. “I don’t think so. He wants to grow up too fast I think. He's eager to see the world, explore and all that. Then again, I guess kids can’t be kids these days.” Tobias shrugged and changed the subject. “Well….cheers I guess. By my reckoning you guys only have one more group to take care of, the Nukes. No, I'm not kidding that's their fucking name. Brutal bastards though, real into torture and shit.” Miles nodded. “Where are they and how many?” “Four days west, in an old glass plant, I'll mark it on your map. I don’t have a number, but there's a lot. At least……seventy men.” “Jesus. That’s more than I was hoping for.” “Yeah, I wish I had better news, my friend, I really do. At least they're the last ones. Then the north is free.” Miles frowned. “Tobias….I thought you promised to be honest with me. There’s another group you haven’t told us about. I’m curious as to why. Tell me about Jericho Thorne.” Tobias sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “You didn’t need to know. Look, just….leave him be, okay? He's not a problem.” “That so? The raiders we interrogated said otherwise. They told horror stories about him. Shit, his nickname is Demon of the North. How could you leave that out? We heard he butchered a whole town of people, some stadium.” Tobias scoffed. “A stadium of slavers. They ran a makeshift arena, forced slaves to butcher each other for sport.” Miles nodded. “So he's a good guy? Is that what you're saying? He's not a raider?” The informant blanched. “Call him a necessary evil. He's not an enemy you want.” “We'll decide that. Besides, we aren’t going to leave any evils around, necessary or not. We're fighting to free people from raider gangs.” “Freedom without order is chaos. You can’t just destroy everything and then leave. Thorne is the best chance anyone has here.” “I don't believe that, and neither will George. Trust me, good people will find a way. Are you going to help us or not?” Tobias gave a frustrated look before standing up. “Not against Thorne, I won't. I beg you, Miles. You're making a mistake. Please reconsider. If you go against Thorne, that's it. Trust me when I say you won’t survive it.” “We've handled worse. Like I told you before, the element of surprise can overwhelm even larger groups. I won’t lie though, any info you can give us could save lives.” “You don't get it, Miles! He will see you coming, you won’t be able to surprise him. It’s a fools errand.” Tobias sighed. “I'm getting out of here. You aren't listening anyway.” Miles held out a hand. “Hold up, Tobias, don't leave it like this. Look, I've talked to George…….and all the info you've given us had been legit. Now, the old man may not be your biggest fan, but he knows how much you've helped. You have a place with the Regulators if you want it.” “I…..I'm not sure what to say.” Tobias said. Miles put an arm around him. “Say yes. Aiden would love to have you around. He thinks you're a pretty cool guy, that's a direct quote.” Tobias gave a small laugh. “Nah…..I'm not a cool guy. I appreciate the offer……. But I have……..responsibilities.” Miles nodded and stuck out his hand to the man. “If you change your mind let me know. Be well my friend.” Tobias looked a bit sad as he returned the handshake. “Yeah……you too, Miles. Watch your back, yeah?” * “What are we going to do, Miles?” asked another Regulator. “Every scout we've sent to check out this Jericho Thorne guy has vanished. Now George is gone too. What now?” Miles looked over the map strewn across the table. “Okay……We need to keep everyone inside until we know what we're dealing with. Hopefully someone will make it back. If not……I guess we'll go out in force, find out what's going on.” Aiden came bounding in, goggles over his eyes, toy gun in hand. He crouched down suddenly, his gun raised like Miles had taught him. “What are you doing, bud?” “I'm exploring…..gotta keep an eye out for mutants.” Miles knelt down and kissed the boys head. “That’s very true, but can you take it outside? I don’t think any mutants are hiding here.” “Okay, dad.” Just then, two men came running inside. “Miles! You gotta come quick. There's a goddamn army outside the gates! There’s hundreds of them and they got George with them.” Miles responded quickly. “Take Aiden to the sturdiest building here, the uh…..the storehouse and watch him. Everyone else, to the walls. Aiden, you stay out of sight no matter what, okay. I'll come for you soon.” How could this be? They had been so careful that no one knew where their base was located. The only explanation was that someone gave them up. One of the scouts maybe? Or George? Miles booked it for the wall. It was worse than he feared. The others hadn’t been exaggerating. Hundreds of men and women stood outside, weapons in hand. They were packing some heavy firepower. But it was the man who stood at the head of the horde that surprised him the most. He wore the same armor as usual, but had no shirt underneath now. His body was a tapestry of tattoos. Miles grabbed a pair binoculars to see closer. Monsters of various types decorated his body, fire raced up his arms. It was as though Hell was painted on his body. “I told you not to mess with me! I didn’t want it to be this way!” “What is this, Tobias?” Miles yelled down. Tobias gave a grave look, sighing and looking at the army behind him. “Fellas! What's my name?!” Like a crashing wave, the answer came. “JERICHO!! JERICHO!! JERICHO!!” A beaten and bound, George Maxwell yelled up to him. “It's over, Miles! Just give up. We can’t win against this!” Tobias, now revealed to be Jericho Thorne, shook his head. “It's too late for that, I'm afraid. Look around, Miles! There's a lot of people here you've met before. Survivors of your many raids. And they have a score to settle with you lot. Get ready, cause we're coming in!” * Miles stared defiantly as Thorne approached. His body was broken, blood poured from a dozen wounds. He had tried to force his way to Jericho, but he hadn't gotten far. In the end, someone had buried a fire axe in his back and brought him to his knees. He couldn't even stand anymore. Around him, his fellow Regulators fell one by one. They had put up a valiant defense, but the numbers were simply too overwhelming they were crushed by a storm of bullets. Jericho Thorne, the Demon, looked down on him with something resembling pity. “I meant what I said, Miles. I didn't want this. I had convinced everyone to leave you be, to stay out of your path. I told all the tribes that you Regulators were all done in the north. But……you couldn't listen, could you? You sent those scouts to spy on me, and threw everyone into a murderous rampage. They demanded vengeance…….I couldn't stop them a second time.” Miles could barely laugh. “How many……do you think…..know that you're the one…….the one who……sold them out?” “Doesn't matter now. Once you're gone no one will know of our arrangement, no matter what they suspect. You were meant to clear up the competition, but you got greedy. You wanted to bag the infamous Jericho Thorne and this is the result. What a goddamn waste.” “Aiden……let my…..let….” Miles couldn’t finish. Jericho knelt down. “I'm not going to hurt your son. He shouldn't pay for your mistakes. Tell me where he is, I'll take him some place safe, I swear.” “Storehouse……south side of the compound.” “You got it.” Miles managed to nod. “Just do it then. Just do it already…..or I'll keep coming after you.” Jericho nodded and took a moment to look at the destruction around him. Somehow a fire had started and it had quickly spread to the surrounding buildings. Jericho let out a big sigh. “Goodbye, Miles.” He said before firing a round directly into his chest. Miles slumped down into the dirt, the smoke from the flames was choking him, but he couldn’t breath anyway. Everything was going dark. * “Stay with me now, Miles. Stay with me. We're gonna get you patched up. Don't worry. You'll be back on your feet before you know it.” Miles opened his eyes, barely registering the face looking down on him. He was an old man with large glasses. Miles couldn’t figure out where he was, but he still smelled smoke, so he knew he was still in the compound. “Who are you?” The old man smiled. “I'm the person who's going to save your life. We've been watching you, my associates and I. We're going to help you.” “Why?” Miles croaked. “Because......we want you to keep helping people. True, this venture didn't end well for you, but that doesn't mean you should stop. There are only a handful of people who can stand up and make a difference, a real difference in this world, and Miles, I believe you are one of them. That's why I have a gift for you, to help you stand up and do what no one else can.” “I don’t understand…..I'm not….” The man injected him with something and the world grew dark again. “Sleep now, Miles. Sleep……and when you wake……keep making a difference.” Miles awoke in a dark room. The old man was gone. He was alone. He tried getting up slowly, expecting a wave of pain to force him back down. It never came. He looked himself over and was surprised to find that he was completely fine. His wounds were gone as though they never existed, he didn’t have a mark on him, not even stitches. He got up and walked outside. There was an unearthly quiet as he wandered the ruined compound. There were bodies everywhere. Men and women who he had known for years. Some had followed him from out east, others had been recruited. They had given everything they had in order to try and make the world a better, safer place. In the end, they had given their lives for it. He walked over to the storehouse, hoping for some reason that Aiden would be there, that Jericho would have hidden him or maybe left some clue of where he might be. He walked slowly, being careful not to step on any of the bodies. He didn’t want to inflict anymore disrespect on them then they had already suffered. The building was still standing, so that was a good sign. What wasn't a good sign was the man he had assigned to watch over Aiden. He had been shot more times than Miles could count, the torn remains of his body laid facedown in the mud. Swallowing hard, Miles opened the door and stepped inside. Aiden was laying in the middle of the room. His skin was pale and cold. Miles sank down and gathered him up, holding him like he did shortly after he had been born. He looked him over, finding a small hole in his chest where the bullet had struck. He was too numb to move, too numb to cry or scream. He just sat there, holding his son…..until the sun slowly rose. * Rain gasped and sat up, her head still spinning. The vision had been more clear and vivid than any others she had experienced before. She felt a wave of nausea and turned over on her side and began dry heaving. She felt her hand touch something warm and wet and realized with a resigned frustration that her diaper had leaked. “I wasn’t sure you'd wake up.” Miles said. He was sitting with his back against the wall. When he met her eyes she knew they had seen the same thing. But it didn’t faze Miles. He saw it all the time anyway. Miles gave a sad, bitter smile. “You know what I should have learned from all those stories about heroes that I loved as a kid? Heroes die young. Sometimes too young.” Rain could barely formulate her thoughts. Images kept flashing before her eyes. The destruction of the Regulators, Aiden, and Miles clasping hands with Jericho Thorne. “He was your friend. Thorne. You and he……you were friends?” Miles shrugged. “I thought we were. That mistake cost me everything. It cost my son everything.” They sat in silence for what seemed like hours. Miyuki came wandering in at last, standing slack jawed, unsure of what to make of what she was seeing. “What the hell going on here? Rain, you okay?” Rain couldn’t speak, so she just shook her head. She wasn’t okay. Too much was happening in her head. She just needed things to stop. “Miyuki. Take Rain and help her get cleaned up.” “Is anyone gonna tell me what this is all about?” When no one spoke up, she shook her head and walked over and picked Rain up. “Oh, and you leaked. Well that’s lovely, I just cleaned up. Okay, let’s just get going, okay?” Rain laid her head on her shoulder, her eyes still on Miles. He looked at her and smiled. “I knew you were special, Rain. Now I'm starting to understand why.” He didn’t say anything else, so Miyuki carried her back to her room. Rain didn’t speak, she didn’t respond when Miyuki tried to talk to her. Eventually, Miyuki gave up. She laid her down and got and went to fetch a clean diaper, perhaps wisely choosing one of her thicker diapers. She wordlessly opened the diaper and began cleaning her up. Rain looked at the ceiling, still digesting what she had seen. She didn’t even feel any relief as she felt herself being lowered onto a clean diaper. Once it was on, she just crawled into bed and covered up. “Rain, you got to talk to me. What’s going on between you and Miles? Rain? Hello?” Rain had her face half buried in her pillow. “Could you just……uh…....could you stay with me a while?” Miyuki looked exasperated, but she nodded and climbed under the covers. Finally the dam broke and Rain began sobbing and cuddled into her confused friend. “Rain…..kiddo, I can't help if you don’t tell me what's wrong.” She said, stroking Rain’s hair. Then she gave up and just whispered in her ear. “It'll be okay. You'll be okay. Everything's okay.”
  7. I like it so far. I like the setting especially. I'm eager to read more.
  8. Nope. He's just a merc. Got a cool backstory though. lol. aside from having factions from the game, or mentioning them anyway, like the BOS or Regulators, all my characters are 100% original.
  9. Lol. Well I'm glad you liked it. Oh, and I'm gonna go ahead and say it, cause I really don't consider it a spoiler. It's Viktor, easily and by far. He doesn't leave Jericho's side often, but when he does.....oh boy.
  10. Rain stretched and relaxed, her body enjoying the warmth of water. She was reclined in a large tub, filled with water from the river, heated up. After weeks of marching from one place to the next was exhausting, and it felt wonderful to wash off the dirt and the grime. Tali had brought her some soap even. Unlike soaps of old, this kind had an almost medical smell, but it still got her clean. She wasn’t sure who in the wasteland made it, but it was wonderful. It was getting colder each day, and soon another winter would be upon them. Nuclear winters sucked, really sucked. The temperature would most likely be below zero, any snowfall would burn the skin ever so slightly, and the desolate wastes would somehow be worse than it already was. At the farm, with Mrs. Sellers, winters were rough and terrifying. Going outside was unpleasant or even dangerous. Anyone who had a brain stocked up for the worst of the season. Luckily, that part only lasted about three months. Rain remembered the horrible cold that seeped in from every crack in that place, and how the fire never seemed to warm her, no matter how large it was. But here she felt safe. She was in a fortress with a high fence and thick walls, gun turrets, and surrounded by some of the greatest fighters in the wasteland. Once winter got here, the river would freeze and there would be no more baths, or very few at least, so Rain was determined to live this up. Meanwhile, the days passed slowly, peacefully, so they almost blended in together. Miles spent most of his time training, cleaning weapons, preparing for when winter ended and he was free to pursue his mission once more. He did spend more time with Tali though. They spent most nights walking together or just being together. It was nice to see. Miyuki had seemed almost bummed out since returning from the Oro. Despite everything Surra put her through, she clearly meant something to Miyuki, and there was a longing in her gaze most days. There was a melancholy she couldn’t seem to shake. Rocco and Gabriel bickered like children, each finding new ways to bother the other. Rain had watched as Rocco soundly beat Gabe at every poker game they played, taking almost everything the old man had, including his eyepatch at one point. Which he eventually have back. Gabriel was sure the ghoul was cheating. He was, but he was so sly about Rain didn’t have the heart to tell on him. On the flip side, there was one thing that Rocco loved above all else. He loved iguana bites, he bought them any chance he got, and he had amassed quite the stockpile for winter. So when they had begun to vanish, he tried to hide them, but it didn’t seem to help. He was convinced that Gabriel was stealing them. He was right, but again, Rain didn’t have the heart to break that news. Poor Gabriel didn’t have much after all, aside from his old power armor. Still, it was hard to miss the old bear wandering around every day, rooting out the ghoul’s hiding spots. She felt her skin being wiped down with a wet cloth, and heard Tali humming. Rain had nearly been asleep when her motherly friend had surprised her. She let out a moan of relief as Tali rubbed her shoulders. “I was wondering when you'd show up. You're all excited about that stupid dress, aren't you? I told you before, I'll only wear it in my room. I think I would die if Miles or Miyuki saw me in it. Or Rocco, especially him.” She heard Tali laugh softly from behind her. “It's not a big deal. Honestly, what's wrong with making yourself pretty every now and then? You're a pretty young woman, Rain. You'll look so adorable trust me. Just wait, we'll get you clean, changed, and looking your best. You might even like how you look.” Rain sighed, moving her hand through the rapidly cooling water. “Bathing me, changing me, and dressing me? You're really in mommy mode tonight, aren't you?” Tali hesitated. “I'm…..I'm not trying to make you uncomfortable. I'm not trying to act like your mom. I just like taking care of you. It makes me feel good, like I'm needed. Plus, I'm not old enough to be your mom. You're older sister, maybe, but not your mom. Geez, I’m only twenty-seven.” Tali leaned her head back and Rain closed her eyes as water was poured through her hair. Even though she had been joking, it had put her in a melancholy mood. “I can't remember my mother. I don't know what she is like, or even if she's still alive. I think about her a lot though, wondering whether or not she was kind like you. Maybe she was more stern, but still loving. Then I wonder if I had brothers or sisters. I have dreams, but all the people are blurry and formless. So I just wonder. I do think she was kind though, my mother. I miss a family I can’t even remember.” “That's understandable. You're parents may be out there somewhere, thinking and worrying about you, and maybe you'll remember one day and we'll find them. But until that day comes, you have me and everyone else. This is your home, and we are your family for as long as you want us.” Rain looked up and grinned. “You're a good mommy, Tali. I don't know what I would do without you.” Tali blushed. “Well….better me than Surra, right?” Rain shuddered at the thought. She could hardly believe that Lady Oro had tried to give her away to Surra. Just imagining having her as a mother was terrifying. With her harsh ways and mocking smiles, Surra had never shown anything other than contempt for her, and had made it clear she held no affection for her. Rain scoffed. “I'm not an object to be traded away. Miles would never have sold me to them. I'm just happy the Oro didn’t try to force it. You didn't see her Tali. Surra was just…..incredible. No one could touch her she was so fast. I don’t think we could have stopped her.” Tali had her get out of the tub and began drying her off with an old towel she had made herself. “I agree. Surra is not someone I'd want to cross. Believe it or not though, it's said there are two people who could beat her in a straight fight.” “Who?! I can't even imagine.” “The first is a mercenary named Leo Stener. He's a loner, but if the money is right, I hear he's the best in the business. No scruples, y’know? Not like us. He'll take any job if the money is right. Supposedly, he's unbeatable at night. Weird rumor, but that's what I heard. Either way, I hear he works mostly down south or in neighboring states.” Once she was dry enough, Rain followed Tali back to her room, laying down on the bed while Tali fetched one of her pink diapers. For a moment, Rain reflected on how little modesty she had around her caregiver. Here she was, naked as the day she had been born, but it felt normal enough, given how Tali treated her. Soon enough, she felt herself being laid down on the familiar cushy feeling of a diaper, smelt the familiar aroma of powder as it was applied, and heard the familiar crinkle of the plastic garment as it was brought up and taped on. All normal. All safe. “Who's the second person who could beat Surra?” Tali stopped, looking pensive. “Viktor. He's Jericho Thorne’s bodyguard and oldest friend, and recognized by most as the deadliest fighter around, certainly in our state. No one knows how he fights…..because no one has ever lived to tell the tale. People say that if you see Viktor walking toward you, you're already dead.” “It’s weird that I don’t know anything about this Jericho Thorne. Who are his allies, who should I worry about?” Rain asked as she covered up with a blanket. She was trying to hold off the inevitable dressing that was sure to follow. In the meantime, she could learn. Tali nodded and obliged her, perhaps unaware of her real motives. “Aside from Viktor, he has four generals that guard his territory and command the tribes under them, or at the very least, collect the tribute they owe. These four, along with Viktor, were with Thorne as he attacked the Regulator compound nearly five years ago.” “Indara is a beautiful raider who controls his eastern territories. She’s known as a great hunter, she’s determined, ruthless, and absolutely loyal to Thorne.” “A large super mutant named Barnabas is in control of the north. Not too bright, but he doesn't need to be. Anyone who wanders from other states above us finds a monster waiting to greet them.” Rain shook her head. There were few things she hated more than those creatures. “A super mutant? It's hard to believe he can even control such a monster. Those…..things only care about destruction and chaos.” “Which is why he's so effective. The southern border has a man named Lucas Hudson in control. He's known as the Axe due to his preference for killing with a fire axe. He's the closest to us, but to be fair, he's the best of a bad lot, somewhat reasonable.” Tali stopped again. She seemed hesitant to talk about the last general. Her skin had gone almost pale. “The last general is Thomas Yates, the Doctor.” Came a voice from the hallway. Miyuki let herself in, how long she had been out there listening was unclear. “Jericho Thorne has no more terrifying general than the Doctor to the west. He's pitiless and solitary, ruling from an abandoned asylum. He seems to take no interest in his rule though, instead driven by his sole passion.” “What's that?” Rain asked, looking between the two women. Tali spoke up. “Torture. Whether it's madness or something else, he likes to capture and perform horrible, grisly experiments on any unlucky fool he can.” “He’s no joke, Rain.” Miyuki said, sitting beside her. “Like I said before, I'm afraid of only three people. Surra, Garret Tucker, who stole my life from me, and Yates. If we ever come across him, you don't let him capture you. Kill yourself if it looks like he might. You understand? Don't let him get you.” Tali raised an eyebrow at the mention of Garret Tucker. She didn’t know what the man and his brothers had done to Miyuki. Nonetheless, she didn’t say anything, sensing perhaps that it was best not to pry. “Yeah. I get it.” Rain said quietly. It was more daunting now that she knew the odds. Jericho Thorne was but one man, yet his bodyguard Viktor was claimed to be someone more deadly than even Surra. Then his four generals that ruled his territories, each more terrifying than the last. Indara, Lucas Hudson, Barnabas, and the Doctor, Thomas Yates. That wasn’t even adding all the tribes under his command. But it was Thorne that Miles wanted, his ultimate goal, for the destruction of the Regulators. It didn’t seem possible to assault such a man. Tali seemed to sense her thoughts, running a hand across her cheek. “You don't have to worry. Oddly enough, Jericho doesn't seem to have any interest in us. As long as we leave him be, there won’t be any trouble.” But it was a lie. Rain knew it. They were deluding themselves if they thought Miles would ever stop. Rain had seen it one day as she watched Miles practicing on their makeshift firing range. Jericho Thorne was all Miles could see. He saw him in every enemy he fought, living or not. He saw his face every time he closed his eyes. That's what she felt. He would never be able to rest until Thorne died at his hands, and maybe not even then. Even Miyuki scoffed at the notion. She knew better, and Tali knew it too deep down. But the woman couldn't bring herself to believe it. She would always dream of a day when they didn’t have to fight anymore, where she could just be with her family, safe and happy. She dreamed of growing old, having children of her own. She didn’t care how silly such a dream was, how unrealistic. She dreamed anyway for what would never be. It was admirable and also very sad. She was brought out of her reverie by Miyuki clearing her throat. “Hey uh……are you naked under there? And if so….why?” Rain clasped the blanket closer to herself as she blushed. “Not naked…..I got a diaper on.” “Ah that's right! We were about to get you dressed.” Tali said, finally perking up. “She's dressing you now?” “I made a deal with her, and I had distracted her with all this Jericho Thorne talk before you showed up, Miyuki.” “Like I would have forgotten.” Tali snorted. “I've been looking forward to this for weeks.” Miyuki looked at Tali, then to Rain. “Why? What’s going on?” “It's girly stuff, Miyuki. You wouldn't be interested.” Rain said pleadingly. She really just wanted her to go. It was bad enough that she was willing to go through this ridiculous trial, but she figured she owed it to Tali. Miyuki, though, looked offended. “Why not?! I'm a girl too, dammit. Just because I can fight like a boss and out drink Rocco, doesn’t mean I don’t like girl stuff.” “Plus, you're so humble too.” Tali joked. “Well, Rain? What do you say?” Rain made a show of pouting. She was too nice, that was the problem. She knew the smart move would be to say no and send Miyuki off. But she felt bad. Miyuki had been depressed lately, and if she was going to humiliate herself for one person she loved, why not two? Reluctantly, she nodded. Tali vanished with her cheshire grin, only to reappear moments later with the dress. Obnoxiously pink, with white frills on the arms and near the bottom. It was the very opposite of everything she strove to be. Cutesy instead of tough. Adorable instead of feared. Miyuki looked at the dress with wide eyes. “Holy fuck. That’s a lot of pink. You're gonna wear that?” “Yes she is!” Tali exclaimed. “She's gonna look so beautiful and cute. Just wait and see.” “Oh, kill me now.” Rain moaned. She sat up and allowed the dress to be slipped over her. She didn’t know for sure how she looked, but judging from the others, it was worse than she feared. Tali looked ecstatic, smiling wide with an all too pleased look on her face. By contrast, Miyuki held her hand over her mouth, looking shocked, like she wasn’t sure whether to laugh or gag. “Look how adorable she looks! This is better than I could have imagined!” Miyuki nodded very slowly. “Y’know, it's not so bad. I mean, it is kinda cute. A bit short I guess, it doesn't cover your diaper that well. The frills are the worst part I guess. All in all, you look cute, very pretty.” Rain glared, feeling ridiculous. “Would you wear something like this?” “Oh, fuck no. I'd rather die.” “I knew it! This can’t get any worse!” Tali looked offended. “What are you talking about? Rain, you look great! Okay, maybe the frills look a bit…..infantile, but I can fix that.” “Rain! I need your help!” came Rocco’s voice from down the hall. His voice sounded slurred, meaning he had probably hit the vodka pretty hard. They saw the doorknob begin to turn, but none of them moved. It was like everything was happening in slow motion, like everything was out of their hands. The door slowly opened and Rocco stumbled through. “Rain….I need your help. You're the only one I trust in this shithole. Someone keeps stealing my iguana bites….my one joy. It's gotta be the one-eyed old man. He's mad about the card games, I know it…..or maybe Miyuki. She’s crafty….sneaky. Never trust someone that hot who can beat you up. There are thieves everywhere.” He looked at her closely. Maybe he thought he was hallucinating, she wouldn’t blame him. Finally, his eyes seemed focus. “Bwhahaha! What the hell are you wearing?!” Rain stood up furiously and strode over to the ghoul. She smiled her sweetest smile, then kicked him in the balls. She shut the door on him before he even hit the ground. “Why?!” Rocco moaned from the hall. “Rain, I thought we were friends. Why is everyone here so mean to me?” Rain turned, her dress flowing with her. She went to the mirror and looked at herself. As much as she looked like an overgrown toddler, she decided she sorta liked it after all. She did look cute, but what was wrong with that? Maybe she was simply tired of worrying what everyone else thought of her. She looked over to the two sitting on her bed, their jaws almost hitting the floor. Rain sighed and then smiled. “I like it. Miyuki, you should help Rocco to bed so he can sleep and get sober. I'll talk to him then about what he saw. Tali, should we do my hair?” Tali’s mouth worked silently until she found her voice. “Uh…sure. That sounds great.” She smiled and sat back down on the bed, a small smile across her lips. “Fuck it. Make me look pretty, don’t hold back.” * The next morning the group gathered around for breakfast. The three of them had been up most of the night chatting. Miyuki had done her hair in a braid and she wore it proudly. Tali was the best part though. She spent so much time helping everyone else, it was nice to see her just relax and have fun. It was a rare night. Once she had stopped worrying about how silly she looked, Rain actually enjoyed herself. The trio made their way to the table. Miles and Gabriel were already there. It looked like breakfast was going to be canned fruit. They had a ton of canned fruit stored away for the winter, and while she would no doubt get sick of it later, but it looked pretty good now. “What were you three up to last night?” Miles asked. “I heard you giggling when I passed by.” “Girl stuff, Miles. You wouldn’t be interested.” Miyuki said smugly, echoing Rain’s words from the night before. He chuckled. “Oh, okay. Keep your secrets. I hope you're not too tired from your little sleep over though. There’s work to be done today. The snow has already begun to fall. Soon, it could block us inside the compound. Before that happens, all the training equipment outside needs brought in and stored. Rain, you will attend to this. Miyuki, you can help Tali check over our security and sentry guns. Gabe and I will be heading on one final patrol, a few miles in each direction just to be safe. Rocco….where is Rocco?” “I know where he is.” Happy said, his voice sounding as annoyed as ever. “The ghoul is passed out in front of my chamber door. He wouldn't wake despite the severe beating I gave him. He groaned….and called me a bucket of bolts. Me!” Miles ran his hand through his hair. “His drinking is becoming….problematic. I know he's bored, but I hope he doesn’t keep at it the whole winter.” “I took him to his room last night.” Miyuki sighed. “He must have wandered out again. I'll take care of his duties for today.” Gabriel scratched at his beard, a cunning glint in his eye. “How passed out is he? Do you think he'll wake up anytime soon?” Happy scoffed. “Unlikely. The ghoul has insulted my honor. I demand the right to cut out his liver.” Tali sighed and rolled her eyes. “No. Obviously the answer is no. The answer is always no. Did you expect it to be different today?” “Of course. Why not?” Happy asked. Somehow, the robot couldn't conceive the possibility of being told no, despite being denied over and over again. Gabriel stood up. “I uh……need to check some things, Miles. I'll be ready to go when you are.” “Right. I need to check our maps anyway, plan our routes. I should be ready to go in an hour or so.” “That's plenty of time. Yes, so I will…….just…..be back shortly.” Gabriel said as he left, smiling. Miles watched him go, looking more confused then ever. “What’s up with him? What's wrong with everyone today?” Rain knew where he was going, and had an idea of her own. “I'll be right back!” She said as she ran after. Miles threw up his hands. “I live with a bunch of crazy people.” “I know.” Mr. Happy said. “Sometimes I feel like the only sane one here.” Miles grimaced. “I'm going to my room.” Rain crept around the corners of the compound. Gabriel was nothing if not predictable. He no doubt planned to track down the rest of Rocco’s snacks while he was incapacitated. Sure enough, the big man was creeping around Rocco’s room on his tip toes. “Watcha doing?” Rain asked sweetly. “Oh! Geez, Rain. You scared me. You shouldn't sneak up on people. When I was a kid, I scared my sister and she accidentally poked my eye out.” “I’m sure that's a true story. Listen, I need you to move the training gear inside for me.” “But Miles….told you to do it.” “And I'm asking you to do it. Unless of course you want me to tell Rocco you're stealing from him. Let's face it, manual labor is tough for me. I'm so small after all.” Gabriel’s one eye narrowed. “Blackmail is very unbecoming of a young woman.” “Creeping around and stealing is unbecoming of an old man.” Gabriel tapped his foot as he tried to find a way out of his predicament. Eventually he gave up. It worked out well for everyone, Rain figured. He could get the work done in half the time, and she had time to get into a new book. She headed to her room, stepping over the passed out Rocco on her way, smiling in victory. She heard Mr. Happy yelling as she shut her door. “Is no one going to remove this ghoul from my doorway?! Damn and blast you all! Up you rotting bag of flesh, up I say!” She heard Rocco moan. “Ugh….stop hitting me, dammit. The hallway keeps spinning. Just kill me instead.” “I wanted to kill you! As usual, the Enslaver said no, the wicked harpy.” “Someone…..stop the spinning. How am I still so drunk?” Rain laughed as she laid back on her bed, new book in hand. She felt her diaper, a bit annoyed at how wet she was, but she knew Tali would change her before too long. Winter was gonna be fun.
  11. I for one, can't wait for more. This is glorious.
  12. Well, I'm happy that people are enjoying the story so far. There's a lot coming up that I'm really excited for. Just a warning, one thing that's coming up will be about Jericho Thorne and his allies. There's gonna be a lot of names dropped so do your best to keep track. Although I can always do a little refresher thing and of course I'm happy to answer questions. This arc took a lot longer than I intended but everything needed to be just right. To everyone who reads the story and enjoys it, thank you so much, but we ain't even close to being done.
  13. Rain sat happily on Gabriel's shoulders, her aching feet happy for the rest. It had been a long walk back, but the Oro village was only a few miles away at last. Gabriel had recovered after about a day of rest, and had been melancholy about his role in the op ever since. For her part, she was happy to have her friend back, not the least because of his massive shoulders. “Is your head feeling better yet?” She asked, inspecting the wound she had inflicted on him. “It's okay. Honestly, coming off that damn water was worse. When I drank it, I felt like I was in a fog, everything was……strange. I couldn't think straight, but I didn't care. Thanks for getting me out of there, Rain.” “I'm just glad you're back.” “No kidding.” Rocco said from ahead. “You damn near broke my neck back there, you damn giant.” Gabriel sighed. “I'm sorry. I really don't remember.” Rain called Rocco closer and whispered in his ear. “Could you imagine what would have happened if they had gotten Surra?” Surra was further up ahead, with Miyuki close by. They had been nearly inseparable since the group had moved out. It was strange to see her so close to another person. Normally she would have been close to Rocco, but the ghoul had been left to hang out with Arax instead. Rain yawned, looking forward to getting some rest. She hadn't slept well since they had left the church. The whole ordeal seemed like a bad dream, but it was the last sight that kept her awake. As they had left that horrible place, she had turned to look one last time at the ruined battleground. That's when she saw it. The fields behind the church had bloomed once more. Vegetables sprouted from the earth, the very ground around the church began turning green as grass grew as if by magic. Whatever that thing had been, it kept it's end of the deal. Surra and Miles had agreed that the fields should be burned. Arax and Rocco protested, but in the end, the group had agreed to dispose of the ill gotten food. The nights that followed had been rough. They traveled fast and long, eager to get home, and at night Rain found that dreams and nightmares plagued her rest. In some, she was being chased by the monster of the church. In another, she again saw the little boy from her previous dream. In yet another, she found herself under attack by Surra, who ended up tearing out her heart and eating it, as she had done to Joyce. Tali had been staying close to Miles, but she would come running if she heard. And as the terror left, Rain found herself cuddled and hushed and rocked like a small child. Then she would spend the rest of the night reading, too shaken to go back to sleep. She could have sought out others to cuddle up too, but who? Surra kept Miyuki to herself, Rocco was normally up late partying, and Gabriel snored like a dying yao guai. Rain focused on the present, enjoying the view of the countryside from Gabe’s shoulder. They heard the cheering as they grew closer to the village. The tribe had evidently seen them coming and had mobilized to greet them. Surra raised her fist in the air and gave a hearty cheer in return. They walked up the large hill to the camp, with Rain hopping down off of Gabe. It became evident rather quickly that the welcoming party was more for Surra and her brothers then them. Rain faded into the background, hiding behind Gabe’s massive form. As before, the smell of cooking meat was on the air. Her stomach rumbled, but she was far more interested in sleeping than eating. As Arax and Surra lavished in their glorious return, the rest of the team moved toward the main building where Lady Oro stood, hunched over her cane. Her face lit up as she saw her grandchildren returning. The old woman reached up and gave Hanno a light kiss on his forehead, which the silent man accepted with a blush. Lady Oro also locked eyes with her as well, and Rain could sense that the elderly leader had some plan working in her head. “Welcome home. I trust that the situation with the Good Priest is done?” Surra smiled and nodded. “He won't be an issue anymore. We left him and his entire fucking congregation in flames.” Lady Oro nodded grimly. “I look forward to hearing all about it. Surra, we need to speak. Miles, stay near because I wish to speak to you as well.” “Now? We just got back, Granny.” Surra complained. “Let us rest a bit first.” “No. We talk now. Hurry up and let's get to it.” “Have fun, sister.” Arax mocked. “Maybe I'll save some booze for you…..but I doubt it.” Surra glared at her brother, giving him the finger before following her grandmother inside. Miles shrugged and the team found themselves standing awkwardly outside building. With a sigh, Rain headed to the entrance of the village and sat down at the top of the hill. The sun was setting and the countryside was bathed in a soft orange light. Her diaper was pretty wet, but she didn't mind. Drawing her legs up to herself, she hugged her knees and let out a deep breath of relief. Rocco sat down beside her, adjusting his fedora a bit and stretching his limbs. “What a sight, Rain. Look at this. For all the bloodshed and general, fucking chaos, this world has some beauty left in it.” Rain rested her head on the ghoul’s shoulder. “Yeah. It's hard to find, harder to appreciate…..but it's there if we look for it.” “It surely is. This, Rain. Look at this sight. When I eventually get myself killed, I hope I get to go out to a sight like this. This or the sunrise. Wouldn't that be a nice final thing to see?” Rain nodded somberly. “Maybe that's the best we can hope for. Something nice to see before we go. Sometimes…..it's hard to believe I’m here. I wake up sometimes, and I expect to be back on that bed where you found me. Or maybe back on the farm with Mrs. Sellers.” Rocc kissed the top of her head. “You're here, kiddo. You're one of us, family. Miles and Tali. Me. We'll always be here for ya.” Rain smiled softly as her eyelids grew heavy. When she awoke, probably a few minutes later, it was to the sounds of yelling. She let Rocco help her up and they investigated to source of noise. Miles and the others were still outside of the building, where the sounds of yelling and crashing furniture could be heard. “Should we go check it out?” Tali asked quietly. Gabe shook his head slowly. “Surra is in there. Whatever ruckus is going on, I bet my other eye she's pissed off at someone. I sure as hell don’t want to get in between.” Miyuki nodded in agreement, looking almost fearful. “She'll be wanting to take out her frustration on someone.” She muttered under her breath. Rain tried and failed to stifle a yawn. Inside, Surra’s voice rose to new height, her anger frightening to hear. “I wonder what's gotten her so mad.” Maybe she should have been more concerned, but to be honest, she just wanted to go back to sleep. Finally, a red faced and furious Surra came storming out. Her clansmen were smart enough to stay out of her way, but she was headed towards them. “She's lost her goddamn mind, Miles! She’s finally going senile, the crazy old bitch.” Miles raised an eyebrow. “What's the problem, now?” “My grandmother is the goddamn problem! Get in there already, she wants to talk to you anyway. Speak sense into the old witch.” With that, the blue haired heir stormed off, stopping once and directing a fearsome glare toward Rain. The look was bad enough, but there was an almost murderous animosity behind it that made her jump back, despite her exhaustion. “Miyuki! Get your ass over here, now!” Surra growled as she kept walking. Miyuki cursed quietly, closing her eyes for moment before following hesitantly. Rain looked around at the others uneasily. “You all saw that, right? What the hell did I do to warrant that look? She looked like she wanted to rip my spine out.” Rocco grunted. “This is Surra we're talking about. Does she even need a reason?” Miles sighed at the entrance. “I'll go see what's going on. The rest of you should get some rest, you especially Rain. You look dead on your feet.” Rain gave a light chuckle. “Thanks for noticing. Sleep sounds nice right about now.” Tali lifted her up, placing her on her hip, her hand under her diapered bottom, and let the tired girl rest her head on her shoulder. Normally, Rain would have been embarrassed, but she was too tired to care at the moment. Sometimes it was nice to be small. “Let's get you off to bed, sweetie.” Rain rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand. “Yes please.” She said sleepily. She was fast alseep before she reached her tent. * The room was at the back of the building, far from the hall the tribe used for their feasts. Only once had Miles been allowed back there. It was a large room, normally beautifully decorated with the flags and tribute of tribes beholden to them. Now it was in a state of disrepair, chairs and tables had been smashed and the pieces strewn across the room. Miles took in the sight as he gingerly stepped over the debris. Lady Oro sat on a wicker throne, waiting for him with a smile. “Take a seat, Miles. I'm fairly sure my impetuous grandchild left a chair in one piece. Tell me, how did your mission go? You look dour as usual so it's hard to tell.” Miles grimaced as he found a chair and sat across from the old woman. “The threat is gone. The Good Priest is no more. But so are many lives that might have been saved, had your grandchildren not slaughtered everyone who could stand.” Lady Oro grinned wide. “Am I not blessed to have such fierce grandchildren? Surely they bring great honor to my clan.” They sat quietly for a few moments. Miles knew she up to something, although he wasn't sure what it was. The old woman was always up to something, always playing an angle. He felt on edge in this place, as though he were walking into a trap. “How long have we known each other, Miles? Seven years? Six?” “With all due respect my lady, let's not beat around the bush. I know you didn’t ask me here to talk about the old days. I'm tired, my body aches, and I've spent far too much time around your family.” Lady Oro grinned a bit, yet she nodded anyway. “As you wish. I want you to tell me about the girl, obviously. Tell me about Rain.” “Rain? What about her? We took her in after we saved her from some raiders.” “Ah, but why? That is what I want to know. What was it about this girl that caused you to…..enlist her on your team?” “She needed our help. She's proven to be a great asset. That's all.” The old woman rolled her eyes impatiently. “No, Miles. You're deliberately avoiding my question. The Miles I know, the fearsome Miles the Deathless would not drag a young child into battle with him. She ain't even potty trained yet.” Miles ran his hands through his hair. “It's a medical thing. She can’t help it.” Lady Oro’s eyes narrowed. “There's something special about that girl. You know it, and I know it. Perhaps you can't tell what, but you can sense it.” Miles bristled. “So what if she is special? Why have you taken such an interest in my charge anyway?” The leader of the Oro didn't respond right away. Her eyes focused on her gnarled hands. “I'm getting old, Miles. I don’t know how much longer I have on this earth.” “You always say that. Every year I've known you. Every year you're still here, too stubborn to die.” “It is true this time. Each winter becomes more terrible for me, and this winter may end me. Yet I cannot go to my grave knowing that Surra has no heir.” Finally, things were beginning to fall in place. Miles felt a knot in the pit of his stomach. The old woman was looking him in the eyes now, a familiar look of cunning across her face. “Give her to me, Miles. She will be Surra’s daughter, a princess of our tribe. She'll be safer here than she would ever be with you, guarded by a horde of warriors who would die for her if she asked. One day she would marry and have children of her own, and her gifts, whatever they may be, would become Oro’s.” Miles looked at her stonily. “Absolutely not. Rain has chosen to be with me. I would never hand her over to you. Besides, something tells me she wouldn't relish the idea of being Surra’s daughter.” “What does that matter?” She gestured to the wrecked room. “Surra didn't like the idea either, as you can see. She's young and wild still. She cannot see through a mother's eyes, but given time, I believe she will accept the girl. Hanno is quite fond of her as well. He'd make an excellent uncle.” “She's not even a member of your tribe. She's not related to you at all. How would anyone accept her?” Lady Oro laughed quietly. “Have you forgotten? I am the incarnation of our goddess. I would only need to say the word and she would be accepted. It would hardly be the first time someone was adopted. If the goddess wills it….you get the idea.” Miles rolled his eyes. They had just dealt with a religious fanatic, but this was a more calculated use of religion. As with most things, the beliefs of the Oro were just another tool for her to use. “She will not go of her own accord, and my team and I will honor her wishes. That's final.” Lady Oro stood slowly from her throne. “You're here, Miles. In the heart of my home, the seat of my power. We could simply…..take her instead. I'm being polite…..in asking.” Miles stood as well, his hands brushing against his weapon, the black and gold pistols on his belt. If he had too, he was prepared to fight his way out. “How long have we known each other, my lady? Are you truly ready to throw that away on the flimsy hope that you might win?” The two leaders stared at each other for some time. Finally, Lady Oro sat down with a laugh and a smile. “Oh, sit down, Miles, you stoic bastard. You may keep the girl for now. I have no intention of fighting with you. However, should you ever prove unable to protect her, I will intervene, I promise you that.” “I'll protect her. No matter what. You know that, Amelia.” Miles said, using her name for the first time. “Do I? Perhaps the better question is can you protect her? Do you even want too?” Miles shook his head angrily. “What the hell does that mean you crazy old woman? Get to the point and stop wasting my time.” “It means exactly what I said, boy!” She said, raising her voice more and more. “You're sick, Miles. You're sick and you're growing increasingly bad at hiding it as it eats away at you. Maybe your immortality is finally catching up to you, but either way you're far from what you used to be, don't kid yourself. And I can’t help but worry if Rain might not be your answer to this problem, that maybe you see that child as a weapon to use in your long standing vendetta with Jericho Thorne up north.” “Enough of this, goddamn you. You don't have a clue what you're talking about!” She stood up once more, crossing over and pointing her bony finger in his chest. “I do know. I know very well the rage that drives you, maybe better than anyone else because I remember the days before the Regulators fell.” “Stop, Amelia. I'm warning you, stop before you go too far.” Miles said, seething. “Will you protect this girl, Miles? Or will she end up like the last child who followed you into battle, whose body lies in a small forgotten grave that you can't bear to visit?” “Enough!!” Miles roared, pulling his gun from his holster and pointing it at the small old woman. It was one thing to question his motives, and quite another to bring up his past. In that moment, he was prepared to do anything to make her stop. “I've heard enough! Shut your fucking mouth!” Amelia Oro stared at him, unflinching, with not a trace of fear. “Calm yourself. Killing me…..killing Thorne, won't bring your child back, nor rid you of the guilt that you feel.” “What do you want from me?!” Miles asked. His body shook as he began coughing violently. He could almost feel the war that was occurring within him. Lady Oro sighed and squeezed his arm. “I want you to be better. What are you doing? Do you really think that you can change how things are here, in this wasteland? That's the kind of thinking that brought you so low before.” “I just want to make things better for those who can't help themselves. That's all I’ve ever wanted.” “That's what you say, but you walk a thin line between justice and vengeance. You could be more, you could be a father to that girl, if you would only see her as she is, instead of a soldier in a war you lost a long time ago.” “That's not how I see her. I….I….saw something in her, something I felt could be used in making this wasteland a better place.” Miles said as he raised a hand to stop his coughing. Lady Oro sat back down again with a heavy sigh. “I hope that is true. She's important, I know this. Much will depend on her, although what, I'm not sure yet. You saved her and now you will have a role in her future. It's up to you to decide what that role that will be.” “You know, this whole act, pretending to see the future bullshit? It's really annoying.” “I don't see. I feel. We are both leaders, Miles. We lie as needed, we are honest as needed. It is our words that send others into danger, violence, even early graves. The burden on our shoulders is not a light one. To others, we are mere human beings, but both of us are more than what we appear to be, no?” Miles stood rooted to the spot. He wanted nothing more than to get out of this accursed place, but he was numb. His past was not something he had ever fully shared with his team, but the Regulators had run across the Oro long ago, and it's matriarch knew him far too well. “Go home, Miles. Winter is upon us and contracts will be scarce. No one likes to travel in the winter. Use the time to rest your body and soul. Spend time with her. Maybe you'll surprise each other.” Miles nodded slowly and turned to leave. Despite everything the conversation was enlightening. Lady Oro sought Rain as an heir. If nothing else it confirmed his own suspicions. Rain was more than she appeared. * Rain had enjoyed her first night of uninterrupted sleep since they had left the church. Even better, they were finally leaving the Oro. They were going home, which meant home cooked meals from Tali, Brotherhood of Steel stories from Gabe, and Rocco had been teaching her poker. All in all, she was in a fantastic mood. It was a bit spoiled by Miles, who seemed almost desperate to leave, forcing everyone to rush and pack. He didn't say why, but he was pretty short with all of them. Either way, all their tents were packed up along with most of their belongings within an hour. Miyuki was the last to show up, and she looked worse for the wear. Her hair was disheveled, her armor was attached incorrectly, and she was walking like a feral ghoul. Oddly enough, she had a dumb goofy grin on her face. “What's with you? You look….” She stammered when Miyuki glared at her. “You look…….so pretty?” Rocco was nearby, looking amused to no end. “You look worse than I do, is what she means. What's up? Long night? Can I get details?” “Not in front of the baby, damn.” Miyuki said, slapping him over the head. “Hey! I got enough of that baby shit from Surra, cut me some slack already.” Miyuki walked over to her gingerly and kissed her forehead. “You know I love you. Finish packing and let’s go. I'm just a bit sore, probably from the last fight.” Gabe laughed as he passed by, carrying enormous bags across his shoulder. Payment in food and medicine from the Oro. “One tends to be sore after they get penetrated…..by bullets or…….other things.” “What's that mean?!” Rain asked. “Gabriel, I will kill you! I swear I will. Shut the hell up!” Rocco and Gabriel began laughing their asses off, but Rain remained thoroughly in the dark. Miles stopped as he heard them, looking unhappy as ever. “Enough with the chatter! I told you we need to go. Hurry up already. We leave in five minutes.” “What's up with the captain?” Rocco asked as he stormed off. Tali was close behind, looking worried. Rain could have sworn she was looking at her specifically.” “It's a long story. We just need to go, quickly. Hurry up then, no time for shooting the breeze, trust me.” Once she was gone, they picked up the pace, albeit unhappily. Once everything was packed they headed for the entrance where most of the tribe had gathered to say their farewells. “Something is up.” Miyuki muttered under her breath. “Surra was pissed, but she wouldn't say what. Now Miles is pissed too.” “Hmmm……They both talked to the old woman last night. Can't be a coincidence.” Gabriel mused. “Tali seems to know what's up.” “I guess her lover is more talkative.” Rocco quipped. “God, you're an ass sometimes.” Miyuki said. “Most of the time, actually, and that doesn't mean I'm not right. Trouble is in the air, gents. Since we don't know what that is, I guess we gotta listen to the captain and get gone.” “I'm not sorry to leave to be honest.” Gabriel said. “Me either. I can’t wait to go home.” Rain cheered. One of the group was less happy about leaving, judging by the theatrics he was employing at the gate. “It's not fair! Why must I go back with these ingrates?! They don't appreciate my amazing talents for carnage and mayhem!” Mr. Happy moaned. “Yeah, I know.” Surra said with a grin. “But that's why you gotta go back. If you aren't there, they'll be dead before the winter is out.” “That's true. At least I'll be close to them. I need to be close by when I'm finally able to kill them.” Surra chuckled. “Well, good luck with that. Next time we meet we'll have to really tear things up. The chaos at the church was the most fun I've had in ages.” Lady Oro stood by talking to Miles, but Rain couldn't hear what she was saying. They both looked real serious though. Plus Tali was looking over at her again, looking more concerned than usual. Surra strode up to Miyuki and planted another kiss on her lips. “Well, it's been fun. Try not to get yourself killed before we meet again.” Miyuki blushed and nodded her head silently. Rain jumped when Surra came up to her next, but she wore a strange look on her face, uneasy, her smile was more forced than Rain had ever seen it. Surra sighed, almost physically suppressing a grimace. “Take it easy, brat. You're not totally hopeless……I guess.” Rain had to force herself from laughing, but if anything, she was just shocked. “Uh……yeah thanks.” Surra scowled again in response. Rain wasn’t sure if she really meant it or not, but she seemed to be trying to be somewhat nice, and the look she gave was so different from her usual glare of contempt. In a way, it was like she was looking at something disgusting that she felt the need to be nice to. Not exactly a flattering thought. “Hold up!” Arax yelled from further in the village. Hanno was beside him, looking out of breath. “See? I told you we would catch them. Go on, then.” Hanno didn't seem likely to move though. He kept glancing nervously at his brother, and it didn’t look like anyone else knew what he was doing either. Arax sighed and patted him on the back. “Go on, she'll love it, I promise. Don't be a coward.” He shuffled up nervously, a piece of paper in an extended hand. Rain looked at the others, seeing almost all of them smiling as he continued to extend the paper to her. With a slight smile, she took it. It was breathtaking. He had drawn her, standing on the hill outside the village, the sunset behind her. He had even painted it, getting the exact color of the sunset. “Uh…..wow. I don't know what to say. Thank you so much.” “That's impressive stuff.” Rocco said over her shoulder. “It looks like he added a diaper bulge too. That's either some artistic integrity or he thinks you have a fat ass.” “Get out of here, stupid!” Rain scoffed as she pushed the laughing ghoul away. “ I love it Hanno, thank you so much.” Without thinking she ran up and wrapped him in a hug. He didn’t jerk away, but he did blush a bit, while his brother looked on with a hint of pride. Surra, on the other hand, rolled her eyes. “It's time to leave.” Miles said stonily. “We have a lot of ground to cover.” Lady Oro smiled a toothless smile and patted his arm. “Don't be a stranger now. I expect we'll see each other again some day.” Then the old woman came up to Rain and cupped her face in her hands. She didn't say anything at first, just stared deep into her eyes, like the first time they had met. “Be safe, little one. Be strong. I fear there will be much sadness and pain in store for you, child. And who can say if you'll ever find what it is you seek.” There was something in the old woman's eyes, a certainty, that made Rain believe that she knew, somehow knew what she was talking about. And it was frightening. She had spent so long feeling like she had no control of her fate. She didn't even know her real name. The last six months had made her feel like she finally had control, she had a place where she belonged. She didn’t want to lose that. She had suffered enough. There were no more words left to say. They left the village of the Oro behind and began the long journey back home. There was a chill in the air, a biting cold, and she hoped they would be able to settle in for the winter, at least for a while.
  14. Yeah! My nerd knowledge is all powerful! Can I also point out that as I didn't have a name for my creature, calling it the Eldritch Horror makes me so happy. Perfect name for it right there.
  15. I would politely disagree. A side mission in Fallout 3 revolves around a mysterious book and an ancient obelisk in a building called the Dunwich building (Lovecraft reference) So yes, in a way, you're right. Fallout doesn't do magic per say. However mysterious creatures, you bet. Plus, I mean aliens dude. You asking me about rules when little green men are in the game?Come on. I would also point out that I never said it was a god. I kept it mysterious for a reason. I would argue that Fallout is quite good at blurring the lines of possibility from mutants to clones, what have you. If it will make you feel better, I can assure you that this was a one off kind of thing, not something to be repeated. I just happen to be a big Lovecraft fan and this was my tribute.