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vampire4 last won the day on February 24

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  1. vampire4

    The Lost and the Broken (Updated 2/23/2019)

    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!
  2. vampire4

    The Lost and the Broken (Updated 2/23/2019)

    Hey, it's always nice to hear, amigo.
  3. vampire4

    The Lost and the Broken (Updated 2/23/2019)

    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.
  4. vampire4

    The Lost and the Broken (Updated 2/23/2019)

    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.”
  5. vampire4

    The Chikan

    I like it so far. I like the setting especially. I'm eager to read more.
  6. vampire4

    The Lost and the Broken (Updated 2/23/2019)

    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.
  7. vampire4

    The Lost and the Broken (Updated 2/23/2019)

    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.
  8. vampire4

    The Lost and the Broken (Updated 2/23/2019)

    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.
  9. vampire4

    The Domme on the Bus

    I for one, can't wait for more. This is glorious.
  10. vampire4

    The Lost and the Broken (Updated 2/23/2019)

    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.
  11. vampire4

    The Lost and the Broken (Updated 2/23/2019)

    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.
  12. vampire4

    The Lost and the Broken (Updated 2/23/2019)

    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.
  13. vampire4

    The Lost and the Broken (Updated 2/23/2019)

    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.
  14. vampire4

    The Lost and the Broken (Updated 2/23/2019)

    Well, the creature was meant to be somewhat mysterious. I think with eldritch horrors, they tend to lose their mystique if you know too much about it. You weren't meant to know. Also, just a general statment here. I know it's taken a while to get through this arc. This was for various reasons, but a big part was because I had this portion less planned out. I had the shadow of an idea and it took a bit for me to figure out all the scenes as well as cram in character development. I know I've said this before, but future installments should take less time.
  15. vampire4

    The Lost and the Broken (Updated 2/23/2019)

    Miyuki and Surra were back to back against one of the rusted houses. Bullets flew all around them, barely giving them time to return fire. They seemed to come from all directions, through the maze of homes. A few had guns, enough to be a threat, but most carried simple melee weapons, knives and pipes, rushing at them again and again in suicidal charges. With their automatic rifles, Miyuki and Surra mowed down any that got close, but the sheer numbers were almost overwhelming. Miyuki leaned from the corner, putting down another three as they ran at her. A spray of bullets hit the building just above her head before Surra pulled her back. In the distance, she could hear another firefight happening, either from Miles and his group or Rocco. It was hard to say. She was more worried about Rain, who had run off and could be anywhere now, surrounded by enemies. Her thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of pounding feet above her. The cultists were using the catwalks to move over the roofs. “Above us!” She yelled. Surra didn’t need told twice and they both aimed upwards, unleashing a storm of fire that killed those who came to ambush them. “I think they're slowing down a bit. Or maybe their simply getting smarter.” Surra stopped to reload. “It doesn't matter either way. I'll hunt every single one of these freaks down. I'll scorch the very ground they walk on. I'll leave nothing but corpses and ruin so that no one will ever forget why it's unwise to cross the Oro.” Miyuki shot down another enemy peeking around a corner. “What about Rain? She needs our help.” “Your pet doesn’t interest me. Maybe she'll make it, maybe not.” “Surra, please. If you care about me at all, please, go find her. Help her. I can hold off here.” Surra barked a laugh. “Who said I care about you? You're a toy for my amusement, Miyuki. That's it.” Miyuki glared at her, hurt in her eyes. “I don't believe that.” “Oh, fine. Don't look at me like that. I'll go save the diaper girl.” Surra looked around for a moment. “It sounds like my brothers are making their way here. Don't get killed before they make it to you.” Miyuki nodded. “Thank you. I'll cover you. Get going.” Surra raced out, shooting the whole time, while Miyuki laid down covering fire until she made it around a corner. * The team of Arax, Hanno, and Rocco fared better. They drove forward with such fury that their enemies were caught off guard. The few that had guns were taken down before they reached cover as the trio advanced. Arax and Hanno shot calmly into the crowd, their automatic rifles making short work of most, while Rocco took down any who got close with his shotgun. “Look at them run.” Arax spat. “Pathetic. Hardly any guns among them, too. Did they really think they were going to take us down?” “Think they planned on surprising us. Not to mention they have the bloody numbers.” “Yeah well…..fat lot of good numbers have done them. Maybe one them will get lucky though, shoot my sister. Not kill her y’know, just wound her. Like in the ass. Can you see that? Surra going back home with a bullet hole in her ass? Hard to claim glory like that.” Rocco rolled his eyes as Arax laughed to himself. “Sibling love is a beautiful thing, I guess. What will you do when she takes over?” Arax paused as another cultist ran at him, but Hanno shot him down before he got close. “I don’t know. Maybe I'll leave, maybe not. Surra is a damn psychopath, but it might be interesting to see her fuck things up.” They stopped suddenly as they heard a familiar maniacal laughter heading toward them. A gore spattered Mr. Happy soon came into view. In one of his pincers, he held numerous decapitated heads. “Miss Surra! Where are you, my love? I’ve brought gifts, so many gifts.” “Ah, man. I forgot about Happy.” Rocco sighed. “Get over here, you crazy robot!” “Oh no. You aren’t my beautiful Surra. Blast. I don’t have time for you lesser creatures. Stand aside, knaves!” “Your obsession with my sister is freaky, robot. Just saying.” Arax said. “Come on, Happy. Join with us. We're making our way to them now. It looks like resistance is dying down. Literally in this case.” “Why didn't you say so immediately?! Forward! Forward for love!” Mr. Happy exclaimed before hovering full speed ahead. “I'll be there soon, Miss Surra!” * Rain ran, firing at any shape that came into view. The buildings were a maze that seemed to close in on her. Enemies with knives appeared at every corner, slicing and stabbing at her. Despite her firepower, she had been cut several places. Her right leg, her left shoulder, a deep gash across her back. Still, she ran on. She developed a pattern. Firing her rifle at each robed form, pausing only to reload. On and on it went, through each claustrophobic alleyway. She came to an opening only to find a high fence blocking her. Two men rushed her before she could raise her weapon, she felt a dagger rip across her arm. With a cry she dropped her rifle and scrambled backward, falling over on her butt. They came after her, but she had already drawn her pistol from her boot. She took one down with a shot to the head. The other took four shots to bring down. Unfortunately, he fell on her. Rain screamed with frustration as more robed men seemed to appear from every corner. She managed to push the lifeless body off her, but her but lost her pistol in the process. Her hand ran over the ground in a desperate search. “Dammit, shit, come on!” Rain cursed as she rose to her feet. She yanked her combat knife from its sheath as the cultists moved ever closer. She was surrounded on all sides, wielding a knife in her left hand, her right arm dangling uselessly. Her diaper was wet enough that it sagged, probably enough too peek out from her skirt. Her hair had fallen from its ponytail. What a way to die. “Come on then, come on you bastards! I'm not afraid of you! Kill me if you can!” To her surprise, they backed away. It almost made her giggle. She could see their fear, and it made her smile. That's right. She was no ordinary girl. She was a warrior. She was powerful. A familiar laugh came from behind her. “Very well said, little one. Very intimidating, to be sure. Still…..maybe you should let me take over.” Rain cursed under her breath. Peeking over her shoulder, she saw the blue haired woman sauntering up, rifle at the ready. The cultists, who were all armed with knives, backed away, uncertain about what they should do. Surra smiled viciously. “Let’s see here, how many are here? Only ten?” Rain watched as Surra moved in front of her, casually tossing her rifle aside and drawing her machete. “What the hell are you doing?!” Rain whispered. “They only have knives. The fight isn't fair. Okay gents, come at me. All at once if you like.” Rain watched as the enemy circled, more confident now that their opponent didn’t have a gun. Surra stood firm, holding her blade loosely at her side. She didn’t seem the least bit worried. Two came at her first, from both sides. Surra cut the first down instantly, dodging the seconds knife and bringing her blade upward, slicing her attacking up the middle. Then she went on the offensive, charging into the enemy with a joyous cry. As each robed knifeman fell, Rain started to understand a bit better. Surra was feared by so many because she wasn’t like anyone else. She was less than human, more like a force. A force that couldn't be stopped, only endured and weathered. When she had first joined up with Miles, Rain had been in awe of the rest of the team, Miyuki and Miles especially, their fearlessness and skill were incredible. To some extent, she still was. Yet Surra was something else entirely. She wasn’t in awe of her, she was terrified of her. Surra took such joy in killing, and she was good at it. The knives never came close to her. She pushed them back with such ferocity that it looked like they were moving in slow motion. The last tried to flee, but Surra tossed her machete, the blade spun through the air before hitting the robed man in the square of the back. As the last enemy fell, with Surra cackling insanely, covered in blood, Rain couldn't help but think that nothing in the world could stop this woman. “Whoo….that was a rush! Nothing like living on the edge a bit. It’s just a shame there weren't more of them. Hey, grab my machete will you?” Rain barley heard her. She had slumped down to her knees at some point during the fight. Suddenly, she felt a light slap hit her right cheek. Surra stood over her, looking annoyed. “Machete. Now. Go.” She stood up numbly and complied, pulling the blade from the man's back and wiping the blood off on his robes. She felt herself waddling as she returned to Surra. “That's a good girl. At least you can fetch well enough.” Surra said with a smile. “You're moving a bit slow, girl. Need a diapey change?” Rain heard the sarcasm, but didn’t seem to process it. Instead she only nodded. “I….uh….I lost my bag somewhere. When I was running.” “I found it. Looks like you cut yourself a decent path through here. Not bad I guess, considering you had an automatic weapon and they didn't. Get yourself cleaned up. Quickly. I'm gonna get back to Miyuki in two minutes, so don't fuck around.” Rain rushed to comply, finding a patch a dirt that didn’t have a corpse near it. Surra had turned her back, to give her privacy or to look for enemies, she wasn’t sure. She grabbed a pink diaper and some wipes and got to work. She was finishing up attaching the clean diaper when Surra began leaving without her. Rushing to get her skirt on, she grabbed her bag and slung it over shoulder, grabbing her fallen weapons on the way. By some luck, she managed to catch up to Surra. Biting her lip, she managed to inject herself with a Stim-pack, and sighed as she felt her wounds close up. “Thanks…..for coming to help me.” Rain said meekly. “I didn’t want to.” Surra said bluntly. “Miyuki whined about it though. I'm too nice, that's my problem.” Rain grunted and rolled her eyes. “Right. That's your problem.” Surra spun back around and slapped her across the face. Hard. Rain staggered back in surprise, hardly understanding what happened. “In case you haven't noticed, I just saved your soggy ass. Keep mouthing off, girl, see where it gets you.” Rain fought the urge to retort, she fought back against the humiliation she felt. She was being baited, just like Miyuki warned. She needed to appease her, as awful as that seemed. Surra certainly had an ego, and so maybe being a bit more respectful would work. “I'm sorry.” She said quietly. “ I am really……thankful…..for your help. I couldn't have handled that on my own.” Surra glared at her suspiciously, before shrugging her shoulders. Looking a tiny bit uncomfortable. “Eh, it's fine. Like I said it was fun. Don't sweat it, damn.” * “No, no, no! You're not Surra, either! Where is she? I've been carrying around all these heads around just for her.” “Pipe down, robot.” Miyuki barked. “She'll be back with Rain soon. I'm trying to figure out where Miles, Tali, and Gabe are.” The four had appeared just in time, the number of enemies had been close to overwhelming her when her reinforcements had arrived, driving them off or killing them. Arax stretched and pointed to the church. “Ignoring the fact that we just pulled your ass out of the fire, I would bet they went in there.” “I know that, idiot. I just don't why they haven't come out yet.” Miyuki wanted to head to the church, but she was waiting for Surra and Rain. She figured it was best to have all their strength before they went inside. “Maybe they're dead.” Arax said. “I doubt it. Between the three of them, I can’t see how.” Rocco said as he lit a cigarette. “Maybe we should stop talking and get in there.” Surra said as she walked up with Rain. The small girl was bloody and looked a bit worse for the wear, but at least she was alive. Miyuki gave a nod of thanks to Surra, who shrugged it off. “Oh, so great to see you alive and whole, dear sister.” Arax muttered. “And it's nice to see that Hanno had kept you alive, dear brother. You’re hopeless on your own.” Mr. Happy pushed the others aside. “Miss Surra, I’ve brought you a gift, my lady. A small token of my esteem.” Surra smiled at the decapitated heads that he presented to her. “Well, now this…..is the most thoughtful gift I've received in some time. Why don't you get me gifts like this Miyuki?” “She doesn't love you like I do, obviously.” Mr. Happy retorted. “You're delusional.” Miyuki said. “It's really concerning. Tali needs to fix you immediately.” “Maybe you're simply jealous that Miss Surra respects me as an individual and values my talents.” “Aw….don't fight over little old me.” Surra chuckled. * “I'm going after Tali and the others.” Rain said as she began moving to the church. “I’m tired of standing around listening to this love triangle drama.” “I’m with you, Rain.” Rocco said, wrapping his arm around her shoulders with an easy smile. “Glad you made it okay, kiddo.” “Thanks.” Rain said, waving a hand in front of her face to blow away the cigarette smoke. Behind them, Hanno was already following with Arax. After a shrug, Miyuki and Surra also followed with Mr. Happy. The church was empty and silent. A quick search turned up a single red door at the end of a long hallway. Rain had to pause at the threshold. A wave of discomfort hit her as soon as she opened the door. Danger. She wasn’t sure what they would find in there, but everything was screaming at her to stay out of this place. Surra scoffed at the hesitation and moved to the front. “You were almost impressing me, little one. Leading the charge and all that. I guess it couldn’t last.” “Something is wrong with this place.” Rain quivered. “Something bad is through this door. Something……old….and hungry.” “Well……that was creepy and unhelpful.” Arax muttered. “Thanks for that.” They went through the door and proceeded down a long spiral stairway. It seemed to go on forever, and Rain could feel the tension building among them. Except for Surra, who was annoyed. “Whoa! Hold up a minute.” Miyuki said. “Is that blood?” There was indeed a great deal of blood splattered on the wall, going downward as though a body had slumped against it to the floor. But there was no body to be seen. “Keep moving.” Surra ordered. “There's gonna be a lot more blood by the end of this if I have my way.” As they moved down again, the air grew colder and colder, and the uneasy feeling Rain felt only increased, becoming ever more tangible. After a bit they stopped again. They all stopped, their attention focused on the walls, or rather, what was on them. Figures and symbols were carved into the earthen wall. “The hell is all this? I ain't never seen symbols like these before.” Arax said. “Fuck the symbols. Look at this.” Rocco said with a point. The carvings depicted what looked like a ritual sacrifice. The scene showed an altar with a human form laid on top of it. Then there were scratches, light scratches, that seemed to serve as fog over top three giant eyeballs, arranged in a triangle, and dyed a deep red. “Stay away from the mist…..that's what your scout said right?” Rain asked. “He said a lot of things.” Surra said. “But he was fucking bonkers and so are these people.” Arax shivered and rubbed his arms. “Call me crazy if you want, but I'm starting to wonder if he was bonkers. And I'm starting to think maybe the kid is right, and we should get the hell out of here.” “You picked a great time to lose your testicles, brother.” “Fuck you, I ain't lost shit. I'm not talking about running either. I brought these fuckers a gift.” Arax opened his bag and dug deep, pulling out several sticks of dynamite. “I say we get gone and blast these fuckers to kingdom come.” Surra smiled. “This is one of those rare moments where I'm happy I haven't killed you in your sleep. Yet.” “No!” Rain cried. “Miles is probably down here. Tali and Gabriel too. We can’t just blow everything up.” “Cost of victory, kid. I say we cut our losses and be done with all this.” Rocco gave a harsh laugh. “I thought you Oro were famous in battle. To hear this cowardice is quite a disappointment.” Rain saw Surra look up sharply. The gears were moving in her head now. Rain figured she had never been accused of cowardice. Rocco had a look on his face that said he knew it too. He had hit the one spot that Surra would never allow to be tarnished. Her honor. “Fine. We keep going for now and blow shit up after. I won't have it said that we abandoned our allies.” Hanno nodded emphatically, and Arax was forced to concede. Rain moved forward once again, but she was curious as to what was happening. Where were Miles and the others? What in the hell was going on? It seemed like ages before they finally reached the bottom. After passing through an iron gate, the room opened into an enormous cavern. They stood on a ridge overlooking a large gathering. All of them wore robes of deep red, and at the center of the congregation was the Good Priest, also in a red robe. They saw the altar, a gigantic slab of greenish stone. Further back were two large obelisks of the same green stone, parallel to each other. “So this is where the rats have fled to.” Surra said. “Let's finish things up here, butcher the lot of them.” “Not yet.” Came a voice from nearby. Miles stood crouched against a large stone, having apparently been there for some time. “They have Tali and Gabe. Down there.” Rain saw Tali in the gloom. However, it was Gabriel who held her in his grasp, the small woman unable to even wriggle. “What is going on? Why…..I don’t understand?” “It was the damn water. It’s drugged. Long story. We need to knock him out somehow, give him time to snap out of it. The same goes for the rest. We get rid of the priest first. Maybe the others can be saved.” Arax checked his rifle. “Well then, what are we waiting for? Let's get down there and cause some chaos. My blood is boiling.” Surra pointed to a female figure standing by the priest. “That one is mine. I have a promise to keep to old Joyce.” “Not yet. I want to see what they do.” Miles ordered. Below the Good Priest had moved to the front of his flock. He raised his arms and spoke. “Once again we prepare to give our Lord his just due. Once more we offer the blood of the wicked and the vile. For it is by our God’s will and favor that we live and thrive. Our fields are healthy and bountiful. We are united behind something truly greater than ourselves. Bring the first sacrifice!” They dragged forward a woman in white robes, though she had clearly been roughly handled. She tried to fight back feebly, but soon she was laid on the altar and bound with thick leather straps. “That's Bethany. Our other scout.” Surra whispered. “It seems she was kept prisoner after all.” “We need to move. I'd rather not see what comes next.” Arax said. Everyone looked at Miles, but his eyes were still on Tali. “Very well. We need to move fast though. I’m going for Tali and Gabe. Rain, Rocco, back me up. I trust you can handle the rest, Surra?” “Oh, yes. Wait for my signal. You'll know it, trust me.” Surra, Happy, and her brothers moved stealthily down the ridge. Even in the gloom, Rain saw the wicked smile on her face as she moved closer to the group, still distracted with the spectacle. Rain moved with Miles, creeping closer to where Gabriel held Tali. They waited as the Good Priest continued to speak. “Do not fear.” He said to his captive. “You make the most important sacrifice today, and it will ensure the continued prosperity of the righteous. We thank you and love you.” He turned his back and stood between the two green obelisks and knelt down to his knees. Slowly, he began to speak. His voice grew deep and distorted as he uttered a guttural, strange language. Then the strangest thing happened. A mist seemed to form on the ground near the pillars. But it encroached no further, only slowly grew thicker and higher. “The gate is open! Now let us rejoice, as our God comes forth!” He produced a dagger from his robe, raising it high in the air, but a scream cut him off. Surra stood with Joyce in her grasp. Arax and Hanno flanked her, rifles at the ready. Happy circled, checking his various instruments of death. “You will find no salvation here, Surra of the Oro.” the Good Priest said. “Our God protects us.” “Let's test that theory shall we? I have a sacrifice of my own from the looks of things. No one can say I don’t keep my word, isn't that right, Joyce?” Surra spun her captive around, plunging her machete into her chest. The whole congregation stood in shock as Surra shoved her hand in the wound. The screams were terrible to hear. The whole display had everyone frozen in place. Rain felt sick and wanted to turn away, but somehow she couldn't. After a few moments, Joyce fell to the ground as Surra held her heart in her hands. The blue haired warrior bit into it, nearly devouring half of it in one bite. Then she threw the rest near the pillars. Surra smiled, wiping the blood from her chin. “Kill them all!” The congregation fell one by one as Arax and Hanno began firing, their rifles tearing into the unarmed crowd. Miles cursed at the slaughter, standing to his full height. “Damn it, Surra! Just the priest!” The Good Priest looked at Miles in shock, belatedly snapping his fingers to Gabriel. “Stop them, Gabriel! You must defend us.” Gabriel threw Tali aside and moved to obey. He ran toward Arax first, knocking him several feet. Hanno aimed his weapon and prepared to fire. “Hanno, don't. Don’t hurt him!” Rain cried. Hanno hesitated and Gabriel swung a left hook that sent him sprawling. Rocco ran up and grabbed him by the arm, but Gabriel grabbed him by the throat and tossed him aside. Miyuki and Miles ran up next. Miles punched his old friend in the stomach, while Miyuki delivered a kick to his head. Still, the large man rose, and despite his sluggish movements, fended off both of his former allies. Rain had his back, and seeing her chance, she ran up and swung her rifle like a club, hitting him in the back of the head. Gabriel stood still in shock for a moment, then fell to the ground. Tali ran up and embraced her, before rushing to Miles, kissing him for the first time in full view. The Good Priest stood with what remained of his flock, looking fearful now, as the wolves closed in. It all seemed about over. But something had changed during the battle. The fog had grown thicker and now encompassed the whole back of the cavern. A loud, low growl filled the air. The Good Priest smiled fanatically. “I told you! I told you all! Our God watches over us! Now you will witness glory!” A feeling of dread filled the cavern. Even Surra lost her crazed smile. Something was coming. “Uh……can we get the fuck out of here?” Arax asked uncertainly. Rain and the others backed up a few steps. The mist was so thick, they couldn’t see through it. Except for the eyes, three eyes glowing red, deep in the fog. The bloodshed must have called whatever it was into action. “Can we get the fuck out of here please?” Arax repeated. That’s when people began disappearing. One of the cultists was suddenly ripped from his spot and into the mist. Then another……and another. The Good Priest looked around in horror. Next, the bound scout, Bethany was torn from the altar, barely having time to scream before vanishing forever. “Well, shit.” Surra muttered. “That’s a bummer.” The Good Priest stood with his mouth open in disbelief. “No, no, no! Master! Don't you know we who serve you?!” It didn’t seem to matter as the mist continued to fill the cavern. Whatever this thing was, it was ravenous and possessed no thought of it's own. Or maybe it did have thoughts, but they were too alien for Rain to understand. “What is it?” Rain asked, clinging to Tali and Miles. “For fucks sake! Can we please get the fuck out of here?!” Arax cried. “Run!” Miles cried as he gathered Gabriel with Rocco’s help.” So they ran. Although Surra had to be pulled along by Hanno. They left the priest and whatever creature he had called forth. They ran back up the long stairway pausing at the top. The mist had followed them, they could see it edging around the corner. Arax dug into his bag, pulling out the dynamite inside. He was about to light them when the Good Priest shambled of the mist. A light had gone out of his eyes, he seemed smaller now in defeat. “I….I don't understand. What did I do wrong?” Surra moved forward, grabbing him by his robe. She held him in her grasp before running her blade across his legs. “Go be with your God, Priest. I'm sure he's still hungry.” With a grunt, she tossed the Good Priest down the stairs. He vanished back into the mist and did not return. Arax happily lit the dynamite and threw it, before the team ran out of the church. The explosion rocked the very ground beneath them, as the church collapsed in ruins. Still Rain was afraid. She feared that the mist would still rise up, the monster following after. However, nothing happened, and the feeling of dread seemed to dissipate. “What was that thing?” Tali asked, still holding tightly to Miles. Miyuki shrugged, looking tired. “I don't know. I don't think I want to either.” “Sorry about your scout.” Rocco said. Surra raised an eyebrow. “Who? Oh, yes, her. Such a shame.” The town was almost deserted. There were a few of the cultists left wandering about, but with the destruction of the church, they seemed lost, moving sluggishly around the wreckage. Miles coughed softly into his hand, casting a weary gaze at the others. “I'm really tired of this place. Let’s get out of here.” Rain wanted to leave as well, her legs felt like they were made of jelly. She just wanted to lay down and sleep. First, there was a bigger concern. Her diaper. She tugged on Tali who nodded and followed her to an abandoned hut. Tali had her lay on a thin mattress as she got the changing supplies from the bag. After everything that had happened, a diaper change seemed somewhat normal. “Thanks for the rescue, Rain. I thought I was gonna end up on that altar.” Tali admitted as she began cleaning her up. Rain stifled a yawn. “Of course. We wouldn't have left you there.” Tali smiled and slid a new diaper under her. “Either way. I appreciate it.” “Will Miles be okay? I saw him coughing.” Tali have a sad smile and taped the diaper up. “Miles is always okay.” Rain sighed and sat up. “You remember when I told you I was a little bored? I changed my mind. I can’t wait to be bored again.” “You and me both, sweetheart.”