Alright, here it is. It feels like it's been more than a month since I made my first post on this site, talking about how I wanted to write something.
So here it is. I hope it's to your satisfaction. I'm also still toying around with the format... Should I continue using Second Person perspective, or change it?
"Since the dawn of recorded history, humans have always tried to outdo one another in all things. At first it was innocent enough, architecture, and agriculture. I would liken this spirit to an animal. Eventually this spirit of competition became a ruthless and violent beast, a beast desensitized to its own needs, wants, and desires.
This beast became one of blade and shield, wielded by men who called themselves valorous; it became humanity's need to kill to prove dominance. As technology advanced, mankind developed new and frightening ways to butcher itself. Automated machines with mounted cannons, men in suits of armour that could stop bullets and weapons that could project a beam of concentrated light vast distances became the norm.
This need to destroy, destroy anything really, boiled over in the Sino-American war. For ten years men killed one another with fire, plasma, and bullets. For ten long years the Americans repeatedly engaged with Chinese forces, culminating in the invasion of Anchorage, Alaska.
In early 2077, American forces claimed a decisive victory over the Chinese, despite repeated set-backs. And then it happened. No one remembers who fired the first one, but on the night of October twenty-third, in the year 2077, the entire world felt the shock of nuclear drums pounding across the surface of the planet.
The end? Hardly, this was simply the intermission to another grotesque chapter of mankind's evolution, for some had been spared the horrors of the so-called "Apocalypse" by hiding in massive underground vaults. When the doors rolled open, man-kind gazed across the world that had once been theirs and wept.
Mankind then began the long process of rebuilding their new world from the ashes and dust that remained. Canada, which had been annexed by America before the war, was once again a free country. But the war, the destruction of the world, changed Canada and its people. They became a cautious and warlike Militant Communism. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police became the military arm of the New-Canadian Commune, or NCC, and quickly spread across the Wastelands of Canada, rallying its people and setting up camps across the wastes. Those camps soon became rest-stops for travellers, before becoming towns.
That was in the year 2116. It is now 2139. You are constable Harlan Waynewright of the RCMP, on a flight of fancy, you volunteered to travel across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe, chasing a long-lost radio signal that promises a vast cache of old-world technology buried somewhere in the wastes of Asia. You do not know what lies ahead aside from potential death or worse. You are not alone in this new world; but you are certainly a fish out of water, you will suffer, and you will experience a pain unlike any other. Whether you live or die depends solely on the choices you make. In this new world only one thing matters: Survival. Be careful not to lose your humanity along the way, for humans truly are strange creatures. And war? Hmph. War never changes..."
Waynewright’s journal, Day 1 November the 3rd, year 2139. 7:42 am local time, Somewhere near Ireland.
The sounds of pouring rain, or possibly sea spray... you’ve lost track of which, rolling across the walls and ceiling of small room rouses you from a restless sleep on a tiny and uncomfortable cot. Rummaging through your coat pockets you find your beat-up old pip-boy 2000, the one you managed to pry off a corpse in the Zion Valley during your final year of training, and examine the clock.
"Seven-forty-two?" you groggily mutter. An exasperated sigh crosses your lips as you sit up in the cot, your bones crackling uncomfortably all the way.
You vaguely recall dreaming of... something... running from something. Something that was simply to terrifying, something not human. A deadened knock at your door draws your attention and a dirty, grease-stained Deck woman pokes her head into your room as she opens the door "Hey, Cannuck. We're almost there." she says and cocks her thumb over her shoulder "Get your ass up and on deck, you need to help out before we let you off." she adds and leaves before you can say anything.
You shake your head and frown. Seven weeks of hearing nothing but "Almost there" had made you skeptical after at least the third time hearing it, and now it was just getting old. Wiping the sleep from your eyes you throw the dusty blanket off your legs and step out onto the floor. The cold hard-wood beneath your feet shuddering slightly under your feet. Deciding to tread quickly now that the initial jolt of cold up your spine has faded. You move as fast as you can across the floor to your pack and satchel. Inside you find all of your usual belongings; two sets of clothes, climbing equipment, three R.E.M.'s in sealed packages, some spare ammunition, the case you had made for your pip-boy, a small tent kit, and other assorted gear. Your satchel, probably what you're most worried about is also untouched.
You hurriedly pull on your pants, a shirt, and a pair of socks. Sighing with relief at the new warmth wrapping around your body you slow your pace as you begin assembling your worn kit; two holsters and old SWAT gear and the like, before pulling your boots on and tying them off. Your coat lays in a heap on the floor, right where you left it before throwing yourself on what passes for a bed on this boat. Striding across the floor, you pick up the garment and sit down on the cot, sighing happily. The toughened leather under your hand feels slick and cool to the touch as you run your fingers down the sleeve. So many memories in this coat, you muse to yourself, stroking the thick fur lined collar. Deciding to wax poetic later you throw it around your shoulders, adjusting it until it sits comfortably on your body. It's heavier than you remember it being, or maybe you're just losing touch with yourself. The hard rubber soles of your combat boots click across the floor as you move to examine yourself in the cracked and dirty mirror leaning against the wall and seemingly held in place by magic.
Knocking, this time louder, at your door breaks your focus and you slowly turn to face the newcomer, a man this time. He raises a wrench and points it at you.
"Fucking layabout!" he shouts and shakes the implement at you "We needed you on deck fucking yesterday and you're down here playing goddamn dress-up!" he shouts again. You feel your hand move to the empty holster at your thigh and come up short. "Sorry." you state and lower your hand.
The man seems far too busy flailing his arms like an idiot to notice your gesture "Just pull your shit together and get your scrawny ass up there!" he screams, before finally slamming your door shut. You can hear his boots striking the surface of the deck outside your door as you curse under your breath.
Rummaging through your satchel again, you find what you're looking for, a pair of Kevlar gloves and your two pistols; a sleek and powerful H&K USP Tactical .45 ACP pistol with a polished silver slide. Ejecting the current magazines of both weapons you confirm that all 8 rounds are indeed loaded, making sure to check that one round is already chambered, and slide the magazines back into the grip of the handgun. They click in response, letting you know each magazine is secured and ready to fire.
After strapping your satchels and pack on, you push out the door and step onto the under-deck hallway. The hall is almost packed with passengers and boatmen milling about. You slowly make your way to the top deck, pushing your way between the people and muttering your apologies as you move down the hall. As you finally push your way to the stairs and climb up you find the deck in a state of utter chaos. Sleet is pouring from the sky, covering the deck in a slick coating of ice.
People are running to and fro’, trying to keep the boat from rolling over as waves crash down on the deck, adding yet more freezing water to the already slippery deck planks.
Cursing under your breath you sprint, or rather slide across, the deck of the small schooner to the bow and turn, finding the captain on the rear deck. The man is standing over his first-mate, a rather frightened looking ghoul, and is apparently barking orders. You can’t hear the man over the wind, however, and glance over your shoulder.
The sea ahead is worse than simply choppy, as the Captain had said when you first boarded. It was simply as though the very forces of nature were all converging on you simply to impede your assignment.
You lightly smile to yourself and brace yourself on the railing, the bow was apparently not the best place to be for staying dry, you soon find as your coat becomes drenched. You wait for the boat to hit a wave and arch back. Letting go you allow yourself to slide back down the deck to where you had started.
Making your way slowly to the rear deck, you pull yourself up onto the rear-castle and tap the captain on the shoulder. He glances back at you and signals for you to wait as he turns his back on you and shouts something over the wind.
After a few moments the man finally turns back to you and laughs “Having fun!?” he shouts at you. It’s unnecessary at this distance but you can only assume that because he’s been yelling all morning he can’t hear normal talking. “Not quite…” you tell the man and he laughs again “Choppy seas are a true test of a man’s resolve, Harlan!” he shouts and pats your shoulder “Don’t worry! We’ll still make it to Ireland! Just get below decks and find somewhere to help out!” he adds and turns back to his crew.
You mutter something under your breath and head back below deck, moving with a deliberate grace, ensuring that you don’t slip and fall off the boat. As you move in a combination of sliding across the deck with the waves and half crawling, a realization hits you; you’ve never worked on a boat before… After coming to this realization you find the door below deck and head down the stairs.
Erring on the side of caution you make your way back to your room and enter, closing the door behind you. You lay down on the hard cot in the room and sigh ‘I wouldn’t want to damage this heap of shit more than it already is…’ you think to yourself and nod slowly, closing your eyes.
'What now?' you think and sit up in the cot, opening your eyes. Outside you can still hear people moving across the floor, and the deck above still sounds like it's in the throes of chaos. For some reason you can't seem to find it in yourself to sit still, you need to move.
You raise yourself to your feet and begin pacing across the floor,trying to think of somewhere you can go to help out, to do something. To do anything, just as long as you keep moving.
"I'm gonna..." you begin and stop pacing.
 "Go down to the cargo decks. There's always something to do down there."
 "Go back on the main deck. Maybe I can do something about the ice."
 "Go check out the Engine room. It's not exactly my field of expertise but maybe there's something simple for me to do down there."
 "Sleep it off. I can't think straight right now, I'd just be a danger to everyone somewhere else."
And that's about as far as I could get before my muse became distracted and ran off. I'm hoping that maybe calling a vote here can arse me into writing a more substantial update...
Another short-ass update for you guys. I have a feeling these first few posts are gonna be short before I get into the massive and sprawling walls of text.
"I'm gonna..." you begin and stop pacing. Casting a weary gaze to your door you smile to yourself as you consider your options "I'm gonna head down to the cargo deck." you resolve and push open the door, stepping out into the hallway.
It seems so much less packed with people now that the initial rush has subsided "Moving boxes around can't take too much brain power, after all." you justify as you move through the hall. Occasionally a crew member passes you, looking at you skeptically before continuing about their assigned tasks.
Sneering lightly you drive a depressing thought to the back of your mind and continue down the bleak hallway. Everything seems brighter and in better focus now that you've had a chance to have an, albeit improvised, cold shower. Although no amount of adrenaline in your veins could make the same three oak panels, merely repeated, lining the walls any more interesting as you push in the door to the lower deck and trot down the stairs.
There seems to be more people down here, whether they be deckhands assisting the engineers, or those same engineers peeking into the hall to bark ridiculous demands. Each moves out of the way as you move down the hall, attempting to evade your purposeful stride. Finally you reach your destination and attempt to push open the door. You step back momentarily and examine the hall before realizing your grad-school mistake, it's a sliding door. Disengaging the release you slide the door open and enter the spacious cargo room and begin searching for the lead deckhand.
"You must be Harlan." a large grizzled man says as he steps out from behind a stack of crates. He reeks of cheap alcohol, testosterone, and some kind of foreign drug. You begin to open your mouth to chastise the man for his lack of hygiene, then catch a glimpse of the sub machine gun strapped to his leg, and the rather large prosthetic in place of his left arm.
"Yeah, I'm Harlan. Most people just call me Wa-" you begin to say and he cuts you off "I don't care what people call you, you're just another mud-grubber to me." he says and gestures to the far wall "If you're here to help, go over there and make sure the ties hold, last thing we need is a skid of these crates crushin' some dumb fool." he says and moves to the wall opposite, a small group of deckhands following him.
The man seems amazingly prescient of his surroundings, despite the number of chemicals you assume is pumping through his body. You shake your head and move to the indicated stack of crates and begin examining the ties, checking each one to make sure it's secure before moving on. Something catches your eye on one of the boxes before you can move on to the next set and you stop in your tracks.
"I've seen this insignia before." you mutter and begin searching for a crate that can be opened. After searching, attempting to make it look like you were securing any crates that were not already secured to begin with, you find a crate perched atop another. Its releases beckoning your sense of curiosity as you move closer to the steel container.
Slowly, you run your hands down the side of the container, mouthing a word all too familiar that got you well acquainted with your father's right hand during your youth, and disengage the lock. The crate hisses open and the hydraulics take over, lifting the lid of the case from your grip. Peering inside you catch yourself before you curse too loudly, and pull one of the four devices from the container.
The stock and handle of the rifle are blended into one piece, similar to your Grandfathers old Lever-Action repeater. Tubes run up and down the body of the weapon, connecting a microfusion power-cell to the rest of the device, and the long, slender barrel is cold to the touch. You almost immediately recognize the weapon for what it is; a Wattz 2000 Laser Rifle. The kind that you’ve seen men killed over for even the scraps of such a weapon.
Its heft feels awkward in your hand, but still natural enough. The sound of a cocking bolt behind you draws your attention and you turn to face a young deckhand shakily aiming his 9mm pistol at you.
“Drop the weapon!” he shouts, his voice cracking “I’ll fucking shoot you!” he continues.
You laugh and put the rifle back in the crate without even turning to look “Then I’ve got nothing to worry about.” You say, smiling slyly at the younger man. His ill-disciplined grip on his weapon combined with his shaking tells you that he’s never used a gun on another living creature. In the heartbeat he takes to hesitate you draw your own pistol and drive your knee into his gut, sending him to the floor, retching miserably and quite loudly.
The sound draws the attention of the other deckhands and they seem to converge on you at the same instant. Grease and sweat stained men armed with poorly maintained pistols and sub machine guns pour out from around the corners and point their weapons at you while casting concerned glances at their comrade.
“Be careful, this little fish is more dangerous than most raiders.” The lead says as he steps out from a corner behind you. ’by the bloody gods that may or may not exist, he’s quiet’ you think to yourself and level your own weapon at him.
The man simply laughs at you and pats the SMG at his hip “This is a 12.7mm hollow-point firing Sub Machine Gun.” He says and gestures to you with his prosthetic “even your armour can’t stop that kind of power.” He continues.
You pause briefly and lower your weapon. He’s right. Even with the extensive modifications you’ve made to your clothing, ballistic plastic SWAT gear won’t stop a 12.7mm round from turning your guts into hamburger meat.
“Maybe we can talk this out, then?” you say and the lead man nods, relaxing visibly “I’m glad you’re a sensible lad.” He says and smiles.
The other deckhands lower their weapons and take a step back as you holster your own gun. After you step out of their way, a small group moves to their floor-ridden compatriot and help him to his feet before taking him out of the cargo deck.
“Why are you transporting former American Government energy weapons to a place like Ireland?” you ask and the lead man shrugs “Hell if I know.” He says and scratches his chin “I heard some raiders here wanted ‘em to go on a “Holy Witch-hunt” or some other psycho induced hallucination…” he finishes, trailing off.
You nod slowly and begin to relax yourself “I think I need to talk to the captain about this, he’d know more than you.” You state, as bluntly as you can muster.
You’re trying your hardest not to shake, to show weakness. These men are predators, and if you give them any slack at all they’ll pounce. The lead man nods and smiles “Aye, I just move boxes.” He says.
The journey back to the main deck is a silent one; neither you nor the two men escorting you say anything to each other. Although occasionally they glance back at you, then back to each other before you reach the rear-castle deck.
The captain glances at you before speaking quietly with the two others and his first mate. When he returns, he merely gestures for you to follow him. Another quiet trek across the ship as you follow the man. His gait has become ragged, whether it be a sign of stress or worry, you know you have the upper hand coming into the shit-storm that is bound to befall you in mere moments. The captain opens the door to his quarters and gestures for you to take a seat near the desk as he moves around the room to the window.
The elder man crosses his arms behind his back and sighs “A few weeks ago I was asked by a Russian Mercenary group to take out a group of Brotherhood soldiers…” You pause and nod slowly “I’ve heard of the Brotherhood of Steel. Real hard-ass wannabes prancing around in power armour, right?” you half ask, half state. The captain nods.
“When my crew got there and killed them all we found those crates on them, along with a map to an old Wattz distributing centre…”he continues and you stand up “Just cut to the chase.” You say.
The man turns and pinches the bridge of his nose “When we got to the distributing centre we got another call. Same mercs, this time they wanted us to take the guns to Europe and start selling them by the crate to raiders.” The captain finishes.
You’re dumb-struck by the man’s words “Sell to the raiders!" Are you out of your fucking mind!?” you shout and slam your fist on the desk. The captain jumps visibly as you lean over the worn, hard-wood stand “As if it wasn’t bad enough, now you’re going to sell Directed Energy weapons to a pack of drug addled Punks!?” you continue and step back.
You’re now visibly shaking with rage as you look the man in the eye. He seems genuinely afraid of you “We just wanted a cut of the profit…” the captain says and stumbles back “It’s a harsh world, right? And you gotta do what you can to survive, right?” he asks and steps back again.
Of all the voices swirling in your head, you only hear one; shoot the fucker. Then something strange happens in your mind. An alien sort of calm passes over you and you close your eyes.
 Deep breaths. Take a minute and relax, its best not to start any fights right now.
 Shoot the bastard, he deserves no better for giving raiders the means to pillage more effectively.
 Drive your point home non-violently. Try to talk the man into selling to local , instead of the gangs, once he makes land-fall.
I chose to include a write-in this time. Maybe you guys can come up with something better than what I've listed?
Anyway, I'm off for a bit. I gotta try to get some sleep tonight.
[X] Deep breaths. Take a minute and relax, its best not to start any fights right now.
[X] Drive your point home non-violently. Try to talk the man into selling to local, instead of the gangs, once he makes land-fall.
-[X] Figure out a way to get one of those yourself.
[x] Drive your point home violently; make him feel like he's on the wrong side of a raiding party. Try to talk the man into selling to local, instead of the gangs, once he makes land-fall.
[x] Tell him he's being played a patsy for these 'mercs'. No serious outfit is going to leave an obvious trail behind if they're trying to stir up chaos by arming raiders, so he might want to keep a few of those rifles for himself.
[X] Deep breaths. Take a minute and relax, its best not to start any fights right now.
[X] Drive your point home non-violently. Try to talk the man into selling to local, instead of the gangs, once he makes land-fall.
-[X] Figure out a way to get one of those yourself.
> [X] Deep breaths. Take a minute and relax, its best not to start any fights right now.
[X] Drive your point home non-violently. Try to talk the man into selling to local, instead of the gangs, once he makes land-fall.
-[X] Figure out a way to get one of those yourself.
I seem to have messed up my previous post... ah well. Live and learn...
Have some laser beams!
You can't help but smile at the situation "Harlan?" the captains voice shatters the silence. You open your eyes and focus on the man, still wearing the smile.
"Harlan, you're starting to scare me..." he says and tries to step back, bumping into the window.
"I refuse to become an animal." you whisper and step forward, raising your right hand with your palm upward "Let's be civil about this captain." you begin and step around the desk, running your left hand over its surface.
The captain looks over his shoulder before quickly returning his focus to your movements. You chuckle lightly and stop roughly three feet away from the man "If these mercenaries are professionals, then why would they arm raiders with energy weapons to cause a little chaos?" you ask and the captain swallows the lump in his throat loudly before stammering incoherently.
The man calms himself and shakes his head "M-maybe they're looking for a new job? You know, get the locals frightened!?" He exclaims... you think... it’s hard to tell around the man tripping over every other word that comes out of his mouth. You then nod slowly 'why the hell didn't I think of that?' you ask yourself.
You frown and step toward the man again "And what if these mercs couldn't get that kind of response from the locals?" you ask. The captain begins stammering again, looking around the room frantically. You slowly wrap your hands around the man’s collar and lift him off the floor "Why would professional mercenaries be interested in a hut-full of mud-grubbing wannabe Celtics!" What could they possibly want!?" you shout at the man.
lowering the man the few inches you managed to actually lift him, you step back and sigh "It's war." you finally state and frown "These mercs just want people to die." you continue and turn your back on the captain and begin walking to the door you came in.
"You may not know it, but you helped me a lot with that." you say and stop just short of the door, placing your left hand on the panel "When we make land-fall, I'm not going to report you. Instead I'm going to make sure that every one of those laser rifles finds its way into the hands of a civilian." you say and pull open the door. The hallway seems to be rocking more, whether it's your own perception of things or the sea getting rougher you can't really say.
As you move down the hall back to your quarters you stop and smile 'I've never used a Laser Rifle before...' you think to yourself and head back down the hall to the cargo deck door "Surely they won't miss just one..." you mutter.
You begin trotting down the wood-paneled halls to the cargo deck door and push it open. The only sound you can focus on now is that of your boots hitting the deck. You pay no mind to the swaying of the ship or the crew-men running past you. Eventually you get to the cargo-room door and slide it open. A scene of utter chaos greets you as men run from one side of the room to the other, shouting loudly and trying to finish tying down the crates.
Scanning the room slowly you find the container you opened earlier and approach it. The deck-hands have closed the crate since you were last here, and you smile as you place your hands on the opening mechanism and depress the switch.
As the crate hisses open a loud explosion peels through the hull of the cargo deck, knocking you down and sending you sliding across the floor. Water begins pouring into the room as the crew in the area try to fix the hole. Pushing yourself to your feet you quickly grab the rifle and pocket four spare energy cells and run out the door. Another explosion causes the ship to lurch to the right, almost sending you to the floor again. Bracing yourself with the butt-stock of the rifle you move down the hall as it begins to roll more to the right, until soon the wall is almost where the floor once was.
You curse loudly as you find the stairs and look over your shoulder. Others have decided to join you and you soon find yourself pushed back up the way you came in a torrent of scared and confused workers. as you enter the passenger hall you catch a glimpse of something entering your room, something you don't recognize. As the crowd pushes you down the hall you stop and kick your door in, and jump into the opening.
You catch yourself before repeating your previous curse and inhale deeply as inky blackness that you assume is water envelops you.
Darkness. Not cold darkness, but a darkness that you don't recognize. You distinctly recall how cold the Atlantic Ocean was during your training on Edward Island, and this isn't it. This isn't even cold. You can still feel gravity though, pushing you down as you fall. Darkness gives way to blinding light and you shield your eyes against the light, losing yourself in the mottled redness of sunlight penetrating your eyelids.
You feel yourself hit the ground and instinctively roll into the landing. As you roll, the world becomes a mix of browns greens and yellows, mixed infrequently with the mottled grey of the laser rifle you grip as tightly as ever. as the word returns to normal you roll over onto your back and open your eyes. The sky above is remarkably clear, almost no clouds. The sun is vibrant, rather than choked through a polluted atmosphere.
You raise your gloved hand to shield your eyes and sit up, glancing around. You're sitting in a trench you inadvertently carved through a field of sun-flowers almost as tall as you stand. The dirt beneath you is warm but the air still carries winter's chill. You stand up and begin checking your belongings, making sure you still have everything. During your check you feel something tap your shoulder and you turn face to face with a rather flustered looking young girl with bright red eyes, bright green hair and an umbrella in hand.
"Uh, I'm sorry about your flowers..." you say and scratch the back of your head.
Your vision suddenly becomes grey and you find the ground rushing up to meet you as you feel gravity again. Falling face-first into the dirt you roll to the left, narrowly avoiding the foot the young lady attempted to drop on your head. You roll to your feet and pull your badge from your coat, raising it in your left hand and leveling the rifle with your right hand.
The woman begins shouting at you in a language you don't understand and charges toward you again, before you can say anything or react. You mutter something derogatory under your breath and pocket your badge before shouldering the rifle and taking aim.
More foreign shouting as she swings her umbrella at you, tears beginning to trickle down her face.
"Stand down now! Or I'll be forced to shoot!" You shout at her, all the while evading her random blows. She doesn't back down.
You jump back and quickly aim the rifle at the ground in front of her and pull the trigger. The beam of light shatters the air with a sharp crack as the bolt of energy vaporizes everything around it before hitting the dirt, sending a gout of steam and liquid glass into the air at her feet.
She stops and glares at you. She says something again and you feel something wrap around your leg and yank you skyward. The sudden force causes you to drop the rifle and yelp loudly. The girl approaches you, regarding you with a now calm glare. She nudges the rifle lightly with her foot before kicking it aside and leaning forward. You glance at your ankle and curse lightly. You've been pulled off the ground by one of the flowers "This is just a horrible dream..." you mutter and return your gaze to the woman. She is now looking you up and down with an appraising gaze, noting your weapons and gear.
She says something again and looks at you quizzically.
"I. Don't. Understand." You state, slowly this time. She nods and gestures to herself, then you, then taps your badge and raises her left eyebrow "Yeah, I'm Harlan." you state. She nods and you feel gravity again. The flower dropped you.
Inky blackness wraps around you again as you fall. Blackness once more gives way to blinding light and you feel yourself hit something more substantial than simple dirt. You roll onto your back and groan slightly.
"Ah, welcome." You hear a woman's voice. Something pulls you to your feet as you try to get you bearings and glance around. A blonde woman in a purple dress looks you up and down with her cold purple eyes "I'd like to apologize for what I've done." she says and gestures for you to take a seat. Whatever it was that was carrying you sets you down on the rather ornate chair across from the first woman and moves to your left.
You catch a brief glimpse of white and blue before your vision becomes obscured with more blonde. The woman sitting across from you holds up her right hand as your re-appropriated laser rifle falls into her hand.
"You wouldn't want to leave this in the hands of an enterprising old-" She says and finishes. You aren't sure what the last word was but she must have used it in reference of the girl that attacked you earlier. The woman sets the rifle on the table and smiles "I know you're likely very confused, Mister Waynewright. I will answer any questions you may have before sending you back to where you came from." she says and smiles.
The thing that carried you to the chair is now in full view, a beautiful young woman wearing white and blues robes, her short blonde hair under a ridiculous cap, and nine blonde tails tipped with white at her back. You shake your head and sigh.
"What happened?" you ask. The woman in purple chortles lightly "I suppose that's where everyone starts." she says and wipes a tear from her eye. Her friend speaks up this time "The boat you were on, the Kestrel was destroyed." she states matter-of-factly and crosses her arms.
"That doesn't fully answer my question..." you say and the first woman nods "I brought you here because I felt you were..." she says and trails off "... Special, somehow." she finishes and raises her hand again. This time a tea-cup appears in her hand and she takes a small sip from it before placing it on the table.
She nods slowly and looks at you "I am Yukari by the way, not that it will matter much soon." she says and you shake your head.
"What the hell is all of this!?" you ask and look around. The two look at each other before the first sighs "I'll level with you Harlan." she says and leans forward "I couldn't let something like you, who has worked so hard to catch my attention, die because a man in a boat decided to blow you up." she says. All elegance from her earlier speech is gone, she’s stating everything as though it was already known fact "And now that you're good and safe, I'm sending you back to where you came from so you can complete your task." she says and stands from the table.
"It's not you'll remember any of this, or even come back here, when I do send you home." Yukari says and glances back at you, quickly winking before returning her focus to the task at hand.
She strides across the floor gracefully and pulls something from a cupboard "And because I want to see you live so badly, I'm going to give you a gift." she says as you retrieve your rifle and strap it across your back.
Yukari looks like she's trying to hold something squirming in her clasped hands and gestures you over "come here." she says and smiles. Looking to the second woman, who simply nods, you frown and stand from the table "I don't like surprises..." you say and the first woman laughs "I think you'll like this." she says and gestures you forward again.
Slowly you approach her and try to look over her shoulder; her hands are wrapped around something undoubtedly alive, and obviously not very pleased with its current situation. Yukari looks at you and smiles again before telling you to hold out your hands. Reluctantly you follow her instructions and raise your right hand.
As she places, whatever the creature is, in your hand and steps back allowing you to look at the small seven legged insect. It turns its glassy-green stare on you and you look at Yukari.
"What is this?" you ask and look back at the creature. It appears to be examining your hand.
Yukari smiles at her friend and nudges her slightly "See, I told you I could find someone who could use It." she says and sticks her tongue out. The other woman appears unimpressed for the most part.
You look back at the insect and it looks at you "It's intelligent..." you mutter and Yukari nods "Very much so, I do hope you two come to appreciate each other." she says and you feel something sharp jab into your neck.
The creature in your hand is dead; it stumbles limply across your palm and falls, landing on its back. You cough loudly and attempt to focus again as the world around you begins to throb. The burning in your neck intensifies as the stinger burrows into your skin. You try to scream but nothing comes out as you collapse to the floor.
Yukari's foot enters your view and you look up, the world around you blurs as you try to focus on her face.
"It's time you woke up, Harlan." she says and your world fades to blackness.
"Mister Waynewright! Wake up!" You vaguely hear through some thick haze. wearily you push yourself to your feet and open your eyes. You're kneeling on a beach, your clothes soaked through, and a young fisherman is trying to help you to your feet "Mister Waynewright..." he says and carefully stuffs your badge back into your coat pocket.
You look at him and he sighs "I didn't think you'd get back up after I hooked ye'." he says. His accent is Irish, and very thick. You try to say something but all that comes out is a gurgling, choking noise as you keel over and vomit water out of your lungs. You're at least grateful to be able to breathe again, a thin trail of viscous mucus with flecks of red oozes out of your mouth, as you finish retching and you push yourself from the wet sand beneath you.
"Where am I?" you finally ask. The young man gestures up the beach with his fishing rod "You're roughly two miles outside a' Galway Fort." he says and hands you your laser rifle "About a nights walk if you're lucky..." he finishes.
You glance at the sky and sigh "What time is it?" you ask. The young man nods slowly and looks up "I'd say about five in the afternoon." he says and looks at you.
Without saying anything else you begin trudging down the beach, the only sound around you for miles is the sloshing of water in your boots. You briefly note that it's odd that you don't feel cold, despite having apparently fallen unconscious in the Atlantic Ocean after the boat you were on was destroyed, and you drifted ashore. You also briefly remember the strange dream you had as your hand moves to your neck.
You stop in your tracks as you closely examine your glove for any trace of blood 'but that's just silly. It was just a dream...' you think to yourself and chuckle lightly. After making absolutely sure that you weren't bleeding you continue down the beach.
After an hour of walking, the light breeze blowing around you having dried most of your clothing, you finally make it to Galway, its large gate standing over you as you look it over. Snow begins to descend lightly around you as you approach the portcullis and knock on the watch-man's window.
It slides open and a pair of small brown eyes regards you calmly before the window slides close again and the door opens. The watch-man, a slight fellow with a well-groomed beard stands before you and smiles as he adjusts his combat armour "And you're here for...?" he asks and trails off.
You calmly pull your badge from your pocket and hold it in the light for the young man "I'm on official business." you say and the man nods and moves, allowing you to pass.
"It’s odd that a Cannuck would come overland, your type usually arrives by boat..." he muses and closes the door behind you.
"I had an unscheduled stop elsewhere..." you reply and he laughs "Well, far be it from me to tell ye' what to do, aye." he says and resumes his watch. You stop again and tap his shoulder "Can you recommend a good place to stay the night?" you ask and the guard glances over his shoulder at you "Aye." he starts and gestures up the main street "Go find the Laughing Man tavern. You're less like to be robbed there." continues and nods slowly to you.
You thank the young man and begin walking. People on the streets regard you with cautious glances as you strap your laser rifle across your back. After a few minutes you find the place, an old three-story building with a wooden sign drifting lazily in the wind.
Pushing the door in you step onto the floor and look around. People turn to look at you and greet you unanimously, the stench of alcohol hangs thick in the air. Approaching the bar, a rather large and balding giant of a man steps forward and smiles, spreading his arms "Welcome, weary traveller! To the Laughing Man inn and tavern!" he says as you sit at the bar. He introduces himself, quite enthusiastically as "Barnabus Fletcher".
You lean forward and nod slowly "I need a bottle of Scotch, and a room to stay for the night." you say and the inn-keeper sighs "I can get ye' your drink lad, but you'll have to split a room with one of the other guests..." he says and clasps his hands together over his stained apron "Apologies, lad..." he adds and you nod "Fine by me." you say and feel something tap your left shoulder.
You stop yourself from pulling out your pistol and putting a .45 calibre bullet in whoever it is, and good thing too.
"He can split with me, I don't mind" the young woman standing behind you says. She looks at you with her green eyes and smiles, running her fingers through her hair "He doesn't look that tough anyway..." she says and sits at the bar beside you.
"And you are?" you ask calmly as Mr. Fletcher brings you a dirty and stained bottle of Scotch.
The girl looks at you and takes the bottle, removing the cap and takes a small sip of the clear brown fluid before recoiling visibly and sticking out her tongue "My name's Youmu" she says, her tongue still hanging out of her mouth.
"Aren't you kind of young to be drinking whiskey?" you ask and she looks at you scathingly "Isn't it illegal to supply a minor with alcohol?" she asks. According to the old laws, yes, it is illegal for an RCMP officer to supply a minor with alcohol, but what headquarters doesn't know about can't hurt you in the end. You look at her again. Her short white hair frames a face far to young for her to be a traveller, and something about her accent is unsettling, to say the least. The ribbon in her hair sways as she moves her head, and her green dress rustles lightly as she repositions herself on the stool. It seems to have gotten colder in the bar since she approached, but that could just be your own body remembering that you were soaked for more than nine hours.
"How old are you anyway?" you ask and she laughs, loudly, and high-pitched too. "I don't think that really matters..." she says and takes another drink from your bottle "What brings an RCMP officer out here?" she asks and you sigh "I'm looking for old-world tech." you simply state.
Youmu looks at you laser rifle approvingly and nods "Guess you've had a bit of luck then?" she asks. You're positive that's a rhetorical statement and you look at her. She smiles and flicks the bow in her hair with her left hand, trying to appear as innocent as possible.
The two of you sit in relative silence for a good thirty minutes before one of you speaks.
"I heard there was a scientist from the England looking for some old-world tech out here. Maybe you should meet up with him." she says and stands up, placing a key on the bar in front of you "Come up when you're ready, I'm gonna take care of my gear before I call it a night." she says and leaves.
You take the key and look at it, slowly turning it over in your hand. the number '205' is engraved on one side.
Shaking your head you finish off the bottle of Scotch and stand from the bar "How much do I owe you, Mr. Fletcher?" you ask and the inn-keeper shakes his head "First one's always on the house." he says and returns to serving another group of travellers.
You shrug and turn your back on the bar, pulling your pip-boy from your pack and turning it on briefly to check the time.
"Eight-o-one..." you mutter and stuff the device back into your satchel "I've got time to kill..." you add, crossing your arms in thought.
 Write-In (Up to five)
Long-ish update. I wanted to foreshadow future events without revealing to much (Except a very obvious grudge later). Also; I had to mention the bug, otherwise somethings later would seem kind of arbitrary...
I have a fairly good idea of what to do with the next update, but I decided to do this instead. 'Cause hey; Galway's one of Post-Apocalyptic Ireland's Largest settlements and there's always room to be surprised if Anon writes-in something I didn't think of.
Answers will come later, but to simplify; it's begun a long process of turning Harlan into a type of Youkai through parasitic infection.
Something suitably macabre given his "Home-Universe", that will involve cannibalism.
Also, to pass the time:
"Good evening Ireland!" Blares across the jukebox.
"It's time for the Irish Radio Casting Service with your host Martin! Err... That's Casting spelled with a 'K'." The host says. You can feel his enthusiasm oozing from the speaker as he continues.
"Around nine-o' clock in the morning a Little Black-Bird appeared in the studio and sang for me a depressing song about a Kestrel lead astray by two snakes, and I wanted to share that story with you all. Turns out these snakes just wanted to kick up a ruckus, and beat the poor Kestrel into the sea with a hammer and Sickle!" the Host continues and chuckles "Well, I guess that isn't much of a story... So, now its time for some news. Aye?"
"Eye-witnesses report hearing explosions on the Atlantic and seeing smoke on the horizon. No surprise, but what is surprising was that two Russian gunships were spotted in the English channel nearly five hours after the explosions were reported. The victim, you ask? None other than the Kestrel, a Cargo-Passenger freighter run by the American Touring Service out of Port Maine."
"Shortly after that four-dozen-and-one crates were found on the Western shores,near Galway. The contents of those crates was no less than a set of Wattz 2000 Laser Rifles! One of which I now own, thanks to the Little Black-Bird. Unfortunately there were no reported survivors..." Martin says, his voice becoming melancholic.
He inhales deeply and sighs "Let's take a moment to honour the men and women who died on that boat..." he says. A minute passes before Martin speaks again, his voice less enthusiastic than the first time you heard him "There is a silver lining though; The rapid influx of Laser Rifles into the Irish Market has allowed local militia forces to properly arm themselves for the coming Winter. Which is a good thing too, as O'Duuin Tribal forces were spotted near the N6 on road to Galway before being attacked and driven back to their bog..." he adds and chuckles again.
"If I were to make an educated guess I'd say they got spooked by their tribal superstition and ran off..." Martin says. The rapid shuffling of papers comes through the speakers and you can hear the man muttering under his breath about the local news.
"And in local news... well... there isn't much to talk about, ol' Galway port here doesn't see much traffic during the Winter months. But I guess there's at least something worth reporting..." he says and you hear the papers shuffle again "It turns out that my Little Black-Bird will be leaving us shortly, says she has to go home for the winter." he continues and sighs again.
"That's life though, and I'll learn to cope." Martin says and clears his throat "Anyhow, local news!" he adds and you can hear something similar to an old chair rocking back and forth slightly "I have it on good faith that O'Duuin Tribe will attempt to make another move on us here in Galway, but we're ready for 'em! Round of applause for the brave volunteers in the militia, everybody!" he says, the sound of clapping coming through.
"Well that's it for tonight lads, I wish the best of luck with your future endeavours. And now Children; [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bh0QZvHdSKo]Hush, Hush, Hush. Here comes the Boogey Man[/url]" Martin finishes. The radio begins to play a jaunty tune as you listen, slowly losing yourself in the sound."
Depending on public opinion I may continue throwing out those occasional Radio-Show-Esque Interludes. Link (If it works...) related.
[x] Make sure your pip boy has a map of the local area, pre war or otherwise.
-[x] If not, try to get a copy
[x] Try to find out as much as you can about the surrounding region in general
-[x] Try asking Youmu
Btw, what exactly is the general technology/development level over there? I mean, I know it's the fallout universe, but the technology and infrastructure shown (mainly trans-continental electronic communication, the existence of a tourism company that is presumably profitable, an organisation that either has headquarters on both sides of the atlantic or can be contacted from the other side of the Atlantic, functional warships) seems to suggest a technological and societical level far in advance of anything we have seen in the games thus far. A quick run down would be nice.
Sorry I haven't been around recently, I've had a lot on my mind and I've been kind of busy.
I'll try to sum this up as best I can...
Trans-continental communication: It's an old pre-war radio signal that's been going since the bombs fell. Canada picked it up initially at Prince Edward Island. It was an automated distress call from an American plane that was shot down over India.
Touring: Tourism and oceanic travel has always been a profitable business, so it would figure that the Americans in Maine would jump on it first. Even if all they could put in the oceans were freighters that could barely work, and whatever else they could salvage. And charge ridiculous prices to boot.
The Russian Federation and the state of their army: The Russian army became something of a mercenary band after they recovered from the war, and began travelling abroad. Once they got to the Atlantic and Pacific, they turned their power to making sea-faring vessels to scout the oceans around Europe and Asia. That all happened fairly recently, story-wise, but to get a general feel for their technological standing; They've started making new, functional suits of power-armour for their elite units.
That's what I can summarize at this point in time.
Now if you'll excuse me; It's 1-am where I'm at, and I need to wake up in four hours to go all the way out to the middle of butt-fuck nowhere and cater an event.
First things first: words can't say how sorry I am that I didn't update like I promised. I can sit around and type up a list of a hundred and one stupid excuses and still have more I could list.
Second: this is how shit went down.
I had the update ready to go and an auto-update for windows restarted my laptop. I wasn't in the mood right then, so I simply okay'd the restart even through all the warnings that I might lose unsaved data, which included my update. After that I couldn't really find the pick-up and go to write again until now.
So; here it is, 10:43 PM Eastern Canada time and I'm going to see if I can churn out a passable update to reassure myself that I can still sort of write (If it can be called such).
As Promised, an update. Again, sorry this took so long...
You frown slightly and glance around. The realization, or rather the re-realization of the fact that you’re in largely unfamiliar territory hits home hard and you pull your pip-boy from your satchel. The device is unresponsive, displaying a strange string of ones and zeroes while flickering between strange and distorted images that seem distantly familiar.
You can feel warmth creeping slowly back into your body, however, and the taste of blood violently jerks you back to reality as a sharp pain crosses your tongue. With your free hand you touch the tip of your tongue and examine your gloved finger in the dim light. The faint crimson stain appears mixed with some kind of ink. Wiping your hand on your pant-leg and dismissing the “Ink” as paranoia you turn your attention back to the pip-boy.
The device is finally displaying properly, as it was earlier. Quickly you begin scanning its map archives for even an old pre-war era map of rural Ireland, to no avail. But a rather odd file that you can’t access has appeared on your map list, its type-font isn’t English however and you can’t decipher it.
You sigh and return the device to your satchel, hoping that it would be the last time, and return to the bar. Mr. Fletcher turns his attention to you as you approach and smiles.
“Ye’ weren’t gone very long lad!” He says and chuckles “what can I do for ye’?” he asks, raising his left eye-brow.
“I need a map of the area or directions to where I can get a map of the area.” You state.
The man nods slowly, a slight frown crossing his mouth as he looks away. Not wanting to disturb the man you leave him momentarily to his thoughts and glance at the set of stairs at the far end of the inn. A brief flicker of white catches your eye before it vanishes.
“You ought to talk to the lads at the Chop-Shop, down near the port. They might be able to provide a map.” Mr. Fletcher says and you turn back “Barring that you may need to speak to th’ lads at the Library just up the road from here, they’re a little more helpful, anyway.” He continues and frowns “Staring at ghosts, lad?” he asks and you shake your head.
“Before I leave, I have one more question: How long ago did Youmu show up here?” you ask.
The bar-keeper smiles “About five days ago.” He begins and sighs.
“She came into town with one other, short blonde girl in black. Youmu and her split ways though and the blonde headed east. Youmu, on the other hand, came looking for me.” He continued and busied himself with wiping out a high-ball cocktail glass as he once again turned away from you in thought.
“She just rolled in like a spring breeze, cold and silent. I never even noticed her until someone said something. She… Had the most disconcerting gaze I’ve ever seen, and the sternest voice I’ve ever heard. She demanded that I provide lodging for her and a warm meal each morning. She called me by name before I even introduced meself too.” The Bar-keep said and nodded slowly, placing the glass on the table and pulling a flask from his pocket. “’Bout two days after that, O’Duin tribals, in their wretched glory, came into town. They made the usual demands, weapons, food, women, and whiskey. Something about them set Youmu right off, and she charged at them with a sword of all things.” He said and laughed.
“Risky maneuver…” you mutter and cross your arms. Mr. Fletcher nods and continues his story as he removes the stopper from his flask and takes a long drink.
“Normally she’d have been a write-off; everybody closed their eyes and looked away as they started shooting. Then the strangest thing happened. The guns fell silent and the sound of limbs dropping to the dirt rang through the air louder than any gunshot ever could. When I looked up, there she was. Not a scratch on her, not even a single drop of tribal blood stained her dress, and each of the raiders had been cleanly liberated of their limbs. Then the screaming started. I’ve never, in my fifty-two years, heard a man scream like those raiders did.” He finished and sighed as he returned his flask to his pocket.
“Since then she’s been quiet, saying she was waiting for the right kind of snake to accost her path.” The man added and smiled “Maybe she meant you? She seemed to recognize you.” He said and looked you up and down.
“That’s quite the story. But I’m more of a Moose, I think.” You state and smile. Thanking the man you leave the inn for the cold and damp air of Galway, and head in the direction of the library.
The streets of Galway have been kept fairly well, despite the state the rest of the world is in, the concrete and asphalt beneath your feet still feel warm from the day’s sun. An occasional beggar crosses your path before catching sight of your laser rifle and leaving you to your own devices. The raucous sounds of gambling, drinking and other Irish merriment floods your ears as you pass a few more taverns, outside some of which are men and women who were enjoying the night a little too much.
A drunken man takes you by the shoulder and nods slowly; he reeks of Whiskey and other liquids some of which you remember coming from a human body.
“Lad, lemme tell ya’.” he begins and chortles loudly “I love you so much…” he says and begins to weep pitifully before collapsing to the ground and wailing like an infant.
Looking around you frown and shrug to the small crowd of people that has begun to gather around you and the weeping man, before taking off down the street at a jog.
With the large library now directly ahead of you, you pick up the pace and begin jogging down the street to the building. Sighing heavily as you approach the building you check you Pip-boy’s clock again. The device is once again unresponsive, and is now displaying a rather disconcerting message in plain English ‘Keep an eye on her, and an eye on your back. The next time you look, you may need to pull the blade from your spine’ in a script reminiscent of old hand-writing.
Thinking quickly, you turn the way you had come earlier and begin scanning the streets. Nothing but the same people you had passed earlier. Shaking your head you turn your attention back to your Pip-boy as you turn back to the library entrance. 9:05 is displayed in the clock and you smile “I need to get some sleep soon.” You mutter and look up as the door comes in view.
Taking the time to return the device to your satchel you stop and sigh. Pushing in the door you stride gracefully across the carpeted floor to the reception desk and smile at the librarian, an elderly woman in a dark red and gold trimmed outfit of odd cut, looks up at you and frowns.
“I guess as long as she’s here we can’t close.” She says, her tone carrying an intense hostility “Find what you want and leave. I’d like to sleep tonight.” She adds and returns her attention to her computer.
“I need to find a m-.” you begin and the librarian cuts you off “A map?” she asks and cocks her thumb over her shoulder “Over that way and up the stairs. The other girl came in here looking for old maps too. And watch yourself she’s like liquid venom.” She says and rolls her eyes.
You nod and mutter your thanks as you leave the desk and move across the library to the stairs. The library is also in surprisingly good condition, reflecting of a society that prides itself on knowledge now. You chuckle lightly at the irony of that thought, given what the Irish are stereotypically like, as you make your way up the stairs.
As you reach the top of the stairs, you survey the upper hall. Bookshelves line the walls, and at the far end is a cluster of reading desks, one of which is occupied by a rather annoyed looking woman and a large man in a suit of what appears to be power armour. The iconography on their uniforms marks them as Dublin Militia and they appear to be arguing over a pile of old books and maps.
The two simply nod as you walk past them to a large case of several circular alcoves, most containing a roll of writing material. As your hand drifts over the alcoves you begin to notice a pattern forming. The various maps taken from the shelf seem to reflect the preparations of a long trip across Europe.
“-This close to winter? We’re better off going through Greece and Turkey.” You overhear the man whisper.
“Yes, but the Russians have promised us safe passage through their territory.” The woman replies
The man stops briefly and looks at you before returning his attention to his ward “Perhaps if we hired a private contractor?” he asks, this time loudly enough for you to hear normally.
The rustling of combat gear causes you to turn and face the two as the woman stands.
“Greetings, traveller, I am Lieutenant Myra Bancroft. Of the Dublin third recon.” She says and nods.
“Harlan Waynewright, RCMP field operations” You reply. She nods and looks you over.
“Looking to make a quick buck?” she asks and smiles.
You can’t help but liken this woman to a fox; she’s sly and certainly hiding information from you.
“That depends, what are you looking for, Lieutenant?” you ask. She smiles and turns to her companion, who hands her a small device.
“We recently received a distress signal, an old one, from a Poseidon Energy corporation plane that was shot down over India. We’re trying to find a way there and liberate its cargo.” She says.
What an odd coincidence, you think to yourself. “Odd, that’s where I’m trying to get to…” you tell the two. Clearly a terrible idea, you think, as the man rushes toward you, now brandishing a large club that you didn’t see earlier.
Narrowly avoiding his blow you spin under him and launch a quick jab into his ribs, a bad idea considering the armour the man is wearing, before sweeping the legs out from under him. Coughing, the man collapses to the floor and curses “TKO, Myra!” he shouts and pain explodes in the back of your head. Through the dark grey haze and stars that occasionally appear in your vision, you manage to turn to your new assailant and slam your right fist into the side of her head. She stumbles then ducks and weaves around your next blow, a vicious knee thrust to her abdomen, and drives her fist into your ribs.
The sound of cracking bone shoots through the air as you stumble back and collapse to the floor.
“Kill him and dump his body, ‘Lann. I don’t want him following us…” she says and spits a large glob of blood and bone fragments on your coat before walking away.
The man, ‘Lann, enters your field of view and smiles “Don’t worry, lad. This won’t take long.” He says and drops his club on your head.
A loud thump reverberates through the air as you roll aside. The pain in your chest is driving you nearly mad as you try to push yourself off the ground. Breathing hurts, and your vision is starting to grey, you can feel your body starting to slow down.
“Lad, you just don’t get it do ya’?” the man asks and shrugs.
“You want everything for yourself, you don’t want any competition. It’s pretty clear to me what’s going on.” You say and chuckle, spitting out a fragment of bone and wiping your coat off.
‘Lann raises his club and sighs before charging forward again. This time you’re expecting it, but still can’t dodge the blow in your weakened state. ‘Lann’s club strikes you square in the stomach, causing you to vomit and collapse to the floor. The man standing over you laughs and kicks you in the ribs. More cracking bone and your world fades to black briefly. A moment later you come to, standing over ‘Lann with you pistol drawn and the taste of blood in your mouth. Pain wracks your entire body, causing you to tremble visibly.
“Just let me go, and no one here dies.” You say, your voice wavering.
The Lieutenant appears genuinely frightened by your display and backs down.
“Only men die, demons simply find a new body.” She hisses and holsters her weapon.
You nod and holster your own pistol and raise your foot. ‘Lann rolls out from under you and raises himself into a combat stance before his superior tells him to back down. Myra casts you a weary look before turning and leaving.
A moment after the two leave you busy yourself with the pile of maps and books the two were reading. Finding what you seek you pick up the map and turn to leave, almost trampling the librarian, who doesn’t appear to be very pleased with you at the moment.
“I hope you plan on paying for the clean-up and repairs, yes?” she asks and frowns, crossing her arms.
“No.” you state and look over the woman, surveying the damage.
She begins to say something before looking you up and down, and steps back “Just don’t… let it happen again…” she mutters and leaves surprisingly quickly.
The rest of the night seems to go in much the same manner; as you limp down the streets on-lookers seem to back away and whisper about you. Within a few minutes the streets go from nearly full to virtually empty. A quick check of your Pip-boy’s clock informs you as to why and you hastily find yourself drifting to sleep, even as you walk.
The rest of your walk to the inn is quiet, but contenting. The sounds carried on the air the only thing for miles around. Pushing in the door to the Inn you sigh and walk across the empty floor. Mr. Fletcher is still at the bar, but he looks half asleep.
“Find what you’re lookin’ for, lad?” he asks and yawns.
Producing the map from your satchel you smile and nod.
“Ran into some trouble with the Dublin Militia though…” you mutter and Mr. Fletcher nods.
“They’re little more than raiders, barely able to keep the peace anywhere out here.” He says and examines your face, then the rest of your wounds “You look like you got hit by a train…” he adds. You can hardly stifle your laugh this time. Your chest feels like it’s been lit on fire and doused with Vodka and Newfie Moonshine. Coughing, you look up slightly and smile.
“No shit? Feels like I got hit by a train…” you say, and lower your gaze again.
The man nods and yawns again “You walked in on your own, so I’m not gonna worry about ye’, but do me a favour and see a doctor tomorrow, Lad.” He says and steps out from behind the bar, moving slowly to the door. The sound of the deadbolt sliding into place reminds you of how tired you feel and you head up the stairs as Fletcher moves to his room on the first floor.
Pulling the key from your pocket you begin comparing it to the doors lining the wall and frown slightly when you find the room you’re going to be sharing with Youmu. Checking the knob, you confirm that the door is indeed locked, before you slide the key into the deadbolt and turn it once to the left. The lock doesn’t respond and you frown again, quickly returning the key to its starting position and turn it to the right.
The door opens and you are greeted with a soft, cold breeze, causing you to shiver slightly as you enter the room. The interior is virtually pitch-black, save for the few spots of red floating in the air around the room, and the smell of flowers and other herbs is almost overwhelming. As you raise your foot to take a step a loud thump reverberates through the room and the sound of scuffling followed by a rather panicked shout in a language you don’t understand.
“Uh… Are you alright?” you ask. More shuffling and the sound of fabric moving.
“You just caught me off-guard. That’s all.” Youmu says and turns on the only light in the room. She seems to be in the middle of tying off the belt of her robe. At least, you think it’s some kind of robe.
Youmu looks you up and down before jumping slightly.
“You’re badly hurt!” she says and rushes to your side. Gently, you push her away and wince.
“I’ll be fine, I’ve lived through worse.” You say and cough into your coat sleeve. As you lower your arm you sigh and wipe the blood from your sleeve.
“Brilliant…” you mutter and cough again. The simple act of breathing is becoming more difficult.
“I’ve survived being shot, stabbed, and otherwise wounded, and a little love tap puts me down…” you add and chuckle, collapsing on the second bed.
Youmu is yelling at you, but no sounds seem to be coming through. She leans over you and starts yelling more frantically.
“Shut up.” You mutter and smile “I’m tired.” You add and drift into darkness.
Funny, you think. Your last image before the darkness was of Youmu.
“You think she’s pretty, don’t you?” a male voice asks. It almost sounds like your own.
“Who are you?” you ask.
Laughter. “Look in a mirror.” The voice replies and steps out of the darkness, it appears to be you, but different, more scarred, and wearing an expression of malice.
“You’re me?” you ask.
The other you laughs again, it seems to have long fangs in place of canine teeth.
“I might as well be.” It says and steps forward, producing a small seven legged insect from its coat pocket before dropping it to the ground. “A clever visual metaphor playing on your fear of the unknown.” It says and smiles again “I am the latent power flowing through your blood. It just took the right kind of kick in the head to wake it up.” The other you says and steps forward.
“What kind of power? None of this makes sense.” You say and the other you nods.
“Your family bloodline is… complex… like the roots of an ancient Birch.” The other you says and raises it’s hand “Just believe me when I say we need each other and leave it at that.” He finishes and turns to leave.
“Wait, what power!?” you shout and feel something jab you in the ribs. Darkness instantly gives way to morning sun and you sit up. Another sharp jab in the ribs.
“Lay down, you aren’t fully healed yet.” Youmu says. She sounds like ice grating over steel.
Laying back down you feel her wrap around you “Don’t ever scare me like that.” She adds and jabs you in the ribs again.
“What happened!?” you ask. Youmu sighs and you feel her move around you, before she sits up in the bed. You quickly note that her back is bare and roll over before she stands up.
“You blacked out from shock, you had five broken ribs, a collapsed lung and a dislocated jaw.” She says and you feel her touch your left shoulder “Don’t roll over.” she adds as you feel her hand leave your arm. “Also your nose was broken and you bled on a thirty-five-hundred Yen robe…” she mutters.
The rustling of fabric behind you begins and quickly stops “So you’d better take care of that bandage…” she mutters and continues dressing. You hear her pick up a pair of swords and begin tying them around her waist.
Examining the bandage you can indeed identify it as the robe Youmu was wearing when you blacked out, a pale mint green affair with flowers that’s probably as expensive as it is gaudy, now stained with dark crimson splotches. You feel her tap your arm again and you roll over, it hurts to move. Youmu looks down at you and smiles. She seems to have a scar on her right cheek that you don’t remember.
“You look pathetic like this.” She says and you smiles.
“I think any man would look pathetic wearing a girl’s robe as a bandage.” You retort and chuckle.
Youmu straightens her scarf and sighs “I’m heading back out East; you can come if you want. Just don’t slow me down any.” She says and leaves the room.
Standing up you can see that Youmu was able to tend your wounds quite admirably, given your state of involuntary non-compliance; she was also able to dismantle your upper-body armour and piled it neatly on top of your coat, which has apparently been cleaned, along with your shirt, and gloves. You spot your two holsters hanging from the bed-post, apparently not cleaned, and still smeared with blood and a thick black ichor. Your laser rifle is missing from your belongings, however.
There is also a note on the night-table written in what you assume to be Youmu’s hand-writing.
Assuming you don’t wake up before I leave, as well as assuming that you aren’t dead now that you’ve stopped thrashing about, I’ve done what I can with my limited medical knowledge. You had multiple lacerations and broken bones, as well as several internal wounds including a punctured lung. One of your ribs even pierced your heart.
A normal man would be dead by now, but you certainly aren’t normal, you’re familiar to me, like I’ve known you for a long time now. Or at least, one like you. Don’t go off thinking you’re some kind of invincible god, even-‘
There’s that word that Yukari used that you still don’t recognize.
‘- bleed. And experience has taught me; if something can bleed, it can be made to suffer and die.
Please, don’t ever lose sight of who you really are. And remember that the strangest snakes hide in the strangest places.
~Yours in arms, Youmu Konpaku
P.S. Next time you bite me, I’ll rip your arm off.’
Certainly an odd way to close a letter, you think to yourself, but at least it makes a point. Still, some part of you is curious; what is a ‘Youkai’ and why is the word used to refer to strange people, you wonder.
Getting dressed is a long and tedious process, as you attempt to learn how to move without hurting yourself too much. As you finish you take your holsters in hand and leave the room.
Trotting down the stairs, you strap your thigh holster to your leg and wince as you put on your chest holster.
“Ready to go?” Youmu asks as you step off the landing and take a step toward the door. At least she waited for you. The girl smiles at you and approaches “You’re hopeless…” she mutters and tightens your holster for you.
She steps back when she finishes and nods “I’m taking the N6, to M6 conversion straight to Dublin. You can tail me if you want, but I don’t recommend it, I’m not going to be stopping and waiting so that you can paw through a ruined house or factory.” She says.
You nod “Alright… … But I want some answers first.”
 “… that’s fine by me…” (Follow her)
 “… I’ll take my chances on my own then. Thanks for your help…” (Go solo)
 “Why did you lie to me about my injuries?”
 “Where is my laser rifle?”
 “What’s up with the letter you left behind?”
 “Where did I bite you?”
 “Why the metaphor about snakes?”
 “What exactly is a Youkai?”
 “What is a Japanese girl doing in Ireland to begin with?”
 “What were you smoking last night when I got back?”
 “What is “Yen”?”
 “Why do you carry a sword instead of a gun?”
 “Who’s blood is really on your robe if I was “Thrashing About” last night?”
 “Do you know a woman named “Yukari”?”
 “How did you clean my clothes, and furthermore, why didn’t you clean my guns?”
 “Can you read this weird file on my Pip-Boy?”
 “I got a weird message last night, warning me about a blade in my back. Sound familiar any?”
[x] “Where did I bite you?”
[x] “What exactly is a Youkai?”
[x] “Who’s blood is really on your robe if I was “Thrashing About” last night?”
[x] “Do you know a woman named “Yukari”?”
[x] “Can you read this weird file on my Pip-Boy?”
[X] “Where did I bite you?”
[X] “What exactly is a Youkai?”
[X] “Who’s blood is really on your robe if I was “Thrashing About” last night?”
[X] “Do you know a woman named “Yukari”?”
[X] “Can you read this weird file on my Pip-Boy?”
Before I go to my slow, horrible, inevitable death at the hands of god knows what (Playing a Fighter/Acrobat through The Temple Of Elemental Evil 2nd Ed.) I leave you with these in-character words of wisdom
"A man that you can see, who is using a gun, is less dangerous than a man that you can't see, who has a knife."- Harlan Waynewright
I May occasionally post more in-character quotes from Harlan, depending on whether or not I can come up with original material...
Also, before I forget! I have tentatively started writing the next update. I'll wait for a few more votes to come in before I finalize anything though.
[X] “Where did I bite you?”
[X] “What exactly is a Youkai?”
[X] “Who’s blood is really on your robe if I was “Thrashing About” last night?”
[X] “Do you know a woman named “Yukari”?”
[X] “Can you read this weird file on my Pip-Boy?”
I just want to ask something, why exactly are touhou characters out in the real world? Is it because of the nuclear holocaust?
If its an important plot point then don't mind me.
I must have re-wrote this update four times over the course of two days... Ah well, Calling the votes for:
[X] “… that’s fine by me…” (Follow her)
[X] “Where did I bite you?”
[X] “What exactly is a Youkai?”
[X] “Who’s blood is really on your robe if I was “Thrashing About” last night?”
[X] “Do you know a woman named “Yukari”?”
[X] “Can you read this weird file on my Pip-Boy?”
Also, No good pictures of the Irish Wasteland, so have some Aya. Because Aya is always relevant...
"Alright, I'll answer whatever questions you may have while on the road. I don't want to waste any more time getting to Dublin" Youmu says. Her voice is thick with reluctance.
As the two of you begin walking, slowly due to your wounds, you chuckle lightly and start from the first question you can think of.
"You mentioned in your letter that I bit you. If you don't mind my asking; Where did I bite you?" you ask, wincing lightly as you continue walking.
Youmu sighs and taps a spot about halfway down her right thigh "Right about here. It still burns, and it’s still swollen." she says and looks at you. An odd thing to be saying, given that a bite can’t possibly be infected so quickly, shaking your head you accept the answer given and carry on.
You stop and wince again, taking a moment to readjust your stance to a more comfortable position before you continue walking. As you catch up to her you smile and look to her.
"The word "Youkai". I've heard it used before, what does it mean?" you ask. Youmu crosses her arms in thought and begins tapping her chin, fishing for the right words to use.
"Youkai... I suppose in your language the closest definition to use based on context would be "Demon", or "Monster". That's the most simple explanation I can think of..." She finally says and glances at you sideways, concern glittering in her eyes.
The gate watchman nods in acknowledgement of you as you pass and opens the gate. A tense few moments go by as you and Youmu walk down the road.
"You mentioned in your letter that I was "Thrashing About" last night. That makes me question who's blood is really on the robe you used as a bandage..." you finally ask, breaking the silence.
Youmu stops and turns to you "It's mine." she replies and shakes her head "Well, yours too, but mostly mine. You... got a little violent last night. That was when you bit me…” She says and turns her back on you, continuing down the road.
You’re surprised at the fact that you can keep up with her, given your current state, but the only thing running through your mind right now is what your old CO used to say; ‘Pain don’t hurt’ he’d always say. You chuckle lightly and begin coughing. ‘I wonder what Thomas would have to say if he could see me like this now...’ you think to yourself and smile. Knowing the sergeant, he’d calmly critique the way you chose to approach the fight, weaving his trademark sense of humour into ever second word, before chewing you out for making so many rookie mistakes.
Reality hits home when you realize you’ve nearly trampled Youmu while you were lost in your musings. Muttering your apologies you fall back slightly and continue following the girl. She seems to have an uncanny understanding of the surrounding terrain.
“Total shot in the dark here but…” you begin and scratch your head “You wouldn’t happen to know anyone named Yukari, would you?” you ask. Youmu jumps visibly at the question and quickly recomposes herself. A normal man would have missed such a reaction were he not paying close attention to the girl’s movements.
“I know many people named Yukari, any one specific you’d like to know about?” she asks. There’s the same grating tone you heard earlier, the question seems to have put her on edge.
“Tall girl, I’d say about five feet four inches in height, long blonde hair, purple surcoat over a white gown…” you reply, trying to recall everything you can about the woman “She had… I think… Purple eyes too.” You add.
Youmu shakes her head “Never heard of that one.” She mutters. She’s a terrible liar, but you decide that it’s for the best right now not to call her bluff. Something about the way Youmu is moving right now tells you it’s best not to push the question any further than that.
You suddenly remember the cryptically labelled file on your Pip-boy and trot to Youmu’s side, pulling the device from your satchel. She turns briefly to look at you then sees your Pip-boy and cocks an eyebrow.
“What do you need?” she asks, concern tingeing her voice.
“I need to know if you can read this.” You say and hand her the device. She looks at it briefly and shakes her head.
“It’s an old dialect, the closest translation I can offer is “Land of waning morning”, but I don’t know how accurate that is.” She replies and returns the device. Frowning you stuff it into your coat and nod.
“Thing is, I can’t open the file, it’s encrypted.” You add. Youmu nods and sighs.
“Then you should accompany me back to Japan, I know someone who might be able to get it working for you.” She says.
You smile lightly at the notion and shake your head “Depends on how things go, I plan on being back in Medicine Hat before spring rolls around.” You say.
Youmu laughs loudly before stopping and wiping a tear from her eye “I highly doubt that will happen.” She says and continues down the road.
You stop yourself and shrug “at least it’s a goal…” you mutter and continue walking.
The rest of the trip is in relative silence as the two of you wind your way through the overgrowth covering the asphalt. Occasionally a large bird of prey passes overhead, sounding its shrill cry before leaving your field of view. The countryside seems calm, almost peaceful, with the only sounds around you being that of your gear moving with your body, and the hard rubber soles of your boots hitting the road. Even the pain wracking your body is soon forgotten as you increase your pace.
Youmu signals for you to stop as you pass by her, and begins to draw her longer blade. Turning, you catch sight of something down the road, following you at a decent pace, and carrying a long, rifle shaped weapon.
“Go, I’ll deal with this and catch up later.” You say, drawing your pistol.
Youmu casts a weary look at the person following you and sighs “I won’t stop you, but please; run if you get in over your head.” She says and turns away.
Slowly heading back in the direction you came, the figure on the horizon begins to take the shape of a girl, taller than Youmu and wearing something a little more sensible for travelling the wastes. Strung across her back is a broom, and she seems to be carrying a laser rifle. As you approach she waves you down and calls out to you.
“Hey! Is this yours?” she shouts, raising the laser rifle above her head and pointing at it.
Closing the distance you finally get a better look at her, she’s wearing some ridiculous black hat over waves of long blonde hair and a fairly sensible combat uniform composed of an armoured vest, a pair of heavy boots, a Half-Skirt with ballistic plastic plates stitched to it in an overlapping fashion and a well-kept pair of heavy pants. Everything she wears seems to be black or white, and she has the eyes of a wolf, and the smile of a snake.
“Probably.” You reply and holster your pistol, catching sight of her short-barreled .45 caliber revolver.
The girl nods and steps forward, closing the distance between the two of you and pushes the laser rifle into your hands “You shouldn’t leave stuff like that just laying around, I’ve seen people get killed over a gun like this.” She says. She seems to lack an accent of any discernible type. Likely a traveller from the west given that she’s carrying what you assume to be a Colt manufactured revolver.
“Thank you.” You reply and look over the rifle. It seems to be in better condition than when you first found it, and a new microfusion cell has been fitted into the weapon.
“I… Uh… took a few liberties with it, I hope you don’t mind…” the girl says and nods “Well, see you around!” she says and walks away. You stand for a moment and watch her leave, taking note of the fact that she refuses to take the highway and heads off into the nearby forest.
As you begin walking down the road again you examine the rifle more closely. It seems as though it has been dismantled and each piece cleaned and polished individually. The reflecting matrix has been polished to a mirror finish, and the focusing optics have been switched out for a much more pure type of blue crystal, as opposed to the regular red. Additional care has been given to the cooling mechanism, such as increased flow pressure from the liquid cooling components, and increased efficiency from the microfusion powercell. The whole weapon itself feels cold in your hands, even through your gloves.
After walking for an hour you can see a green speck on the horizon, being followed by a strange white light. Dismissing it as sun glare you glance to the sky. Everything seems brighter, more focused. The hint of a storm that was gathering last night has all but vanished and the snow that covered the ground last night has completely disappeared, though the air still carries the chill of winter.
“I don’t like the cold…” a light female voice to your right says.
“I don’t like when people show up unannounced.” You reply and turn to face the newcomer.
“I’ve been trying to get your attention for nearly thirty minutes now.” The woman says and adjusts the red scarf around her neck. Turning to face the woman you see that she’s taller than Youmu, likely older too, and has short black hair. She smiles lightly as you look her over and stops to pose “What do you think?” she asks and giggles.
You stop and shake your head, turning to face the strange young woman “I think you’re very pretty and I’d like to know your name.” you say and smile as you shrug.
“You’re very to-the-point, eh’?” she asks, he accent is similar to Youmu’s but less thick. She brushes off her short black skirt and steps forward, her body coming into contact with your own “Aya” she whispers and steps past you “I was actually looking to have a conversation with your partner before I head back home, I wanted to ask her some questions.” Aya says and disappears. The sound is similar to a gunshot going off in your head and a gust of wind nearly knocks you to the ground.
Recomposing yourself you push the pain in your body to the back of your mind and look up. There are indeed two figures walking down the road that you assume are Aya and Youmu. A few moments later the one you assume is Aya jumps into the air and disappears in a black streak, headed east.
The same Gun-shot sound as earlier only this time louder now that it’s had a chance to echo off the surroundings before reaching your ears.
You quickly dismiss the event as a mind-numbed hallucination and strap the laser rifle to your back, swinging the apparatus over your right shoulder before reaching into your coat pocket and turning on your Pip-Boy’s radio as you catch up to Youmu.
“Well good afternoon Ireland, it’s twelve-oh-two and the weather is fair. No, really, there isn’t a single bloody cloud in the sky and considering that it’s the fourth of November it’s actually quite warm out at roughly fifty-nine degrees Fahrenheit” the announcer, Martin as you recall, states and chuckles.
“So Guess what? Turns out I lied about there not being any survivors from the destruction of the Kestrel, the boat that was destroyed early yesterday just outside a’ Galway port. There was one man who survived, washed ashore and managed to get up and walk his soaked ass into Galway, and never once stopped by the studio to tell me about how he managed such a feat. Good guy apparently, goes by the name of Waynewright. My little black bird managed to catch a glimpse of him on his way into Galway, and during his little scuffle with the Dublin Militia. Turns out the Cocky-Cannuck knows a thing or two about fighting in close-quarters. He managed to take out a Power-Armoured soldier with his bare hands. No easy task for a man with two forty-five caliber bullets in his shoulder and several broken bones.” Martin continues. You briefly look to Youmu and sigh.
“I got shot, too?” You ask, exaggerated exasperation entering your voice. Youmu chuckles, but doesn’t say anything.
“I’m told now that he’s in good health, considering what he went through, as he managed to walk his ass out of Galway, this time with a friend. And the bastard still never stopped by. Guess he’s got more important things on his mind… Anywho, that’s about it for local news. As of nine-o’clock this morning my news updates will be much slower, as I now have to rely once more on the common-folk, my muse has left. Returning home for the winter, I wish her the best possible luck on her journey. And to Waynewright, if he’s listening; you’ve gotten yourself into deep water with the Dublin Militia; watch your ass out there. And to the rest of my listeners; Please, if you see this guy, stay the hell outta his way and don’t piss him off, we don’t need any more corpses littering the emerald plains and attracting more Vultures…” Martin adds and begins his long-winded closing speech before closing into a distantly remembered song of your early childhood from an old holotape you once watched. A rather morbid film cast entirely with puppets that poked fun at the dichotomy between the holidays of “Christmas” and “Halloween”. As the song continues you catch yourself, and much to your astonishment, Youmu, singing along with the verses.
As the song finishes another begins that you sadly do not know the lyrics of and decide to turn down the volume of your radio. Youmu turns her gaze to you briefly and smiles.
“You have a nice singing voice, you certainly made me feel afraid.” She says and chuckles.
“My unit and I used to sing that song every Halloween. And the Brotherhood of Steel learned to fear each verse, after they tried to scourge Toronto.” You reply. Youmu nods and sighs.
“Can you tell me that story?” she asks and blushes lightly.
“During my training, the Brotherhood of Steel came to Canada, searching for old-world tech.” you begin and shove your hands into your pockets “we tailed them to Toronto and began our attack when they opened fire on a civilian settlement for keeping them from passing through. It was the six of us against nearly a hundred of them, and all we had with us was our survival knives.” You continue and reach into your satchel. Pulling the foot-long kukri from your bag you spin the weapon between your fingers and smile before returning it to it's sheath inside your satchel.
“They managed to kill one civilian and injure another three before we landed on them like a missile. We were always taught to go for the neck first, and on their T-51b armor, it’s a weak point. So the six of us killed two of them, Rufus took a laser bolt through his chest though and died shortly after, before we drove them into the ruins of the city. From there on it was a game of hit and run tag as we darted from building to building, picking at them with our knives and whatever guns we could scavenge. But not once did they try to chase us out of the street that’s why they failed. Had they come after us, into the buildings, they would have had clear firing lines on us, and could have gunned us down in seconds. Instead they stayed on the streets and tried to take us as we came.” You continue and pat the right side of your chest with your left hand.
“I took a rifle round to the chest here and collapsed on the road. But by then there were so few of them that another rush drove them out of the city for good and I was dragged back to the camp in time for the medicine man to get to me. After that the Brotherhood never came back, Sergeant Thomas yelled my ears off because I had run straight into the firing line of a man with an automatic weapon, and the five of us were made full RCMP officers in recognition of our defense of the civilians. I was a pallbearer for Rufus’ funeral though. I’ll never forget how much his mother cried. His sister was too young to understand what had happened, and his father blamed his death on his headstrong attitude.” You finish. Wiping a single tear from your eye you turn to Youmu, who appears to be distraught by the story. Patting her lightly on the shoulder in as reassuring a manner as you can, you let the uneasy silence take over as the two of you continue your trek down the highway. Galway can longer be seen over the horizon and you are truly surrounded by unfamiliar terrain and an odd sense of peace. "The Brotherhood doesn't like to talk about it though. they regard it as a terrible failure on their part and claim that there's nothing out in Canada worth taking anymore..." you add and sigh.
“How old were you?” Youmu finally asks, breaking nearly an hour-and-a-half of silence. You can hear the sadness in her voice.
“The oldest of us was Rufus, and he was… 17.” You state and nod slowly “So that would have made me 15.” You add.
Youmu nods and sighs “So young… Was every RCMP officer trained at that age?” she asks and you nod.
“I started training when I was 12, just like everyone else.” You say. “Our CO’s believed that the younger a man was taught to kill another, the less remorse he could feel for the act.” You add and sigh.
“That’s barbaric, but a necessity I assume…” Youmu mutters and stops, turning her attention to the sky “It’s still so early…” she mutters and turns to you as you stop a few feet ahead of her.
“What’s on your mind?” you ask and Youmu shakes her head.
“I want to stop and rest for a bit, I’m getting hungry.” She says and moves off the road to a large, over-turned truck lying on its side in the long grass. Climbing up onto the door she pulls it open and drops in. A moment later a charred skeleton is tossed out the open door and Youmu sticks her head out.
“We can rest in here, it’s still pretty comfortable, and it doesn't stink.” She says and you slowly climb up. Youmu takes your hand and gently pulls you up and into the large cab. Her strength catches you off-guard momentarily as you both readjust yourselves in the spacious interior.
As you begin sorting through your satchel for the three R.E.M.’s you know are buried somewhere you notice that Youmu has placed several sticks of some strange purple waxy substance through the cab of the truck and is lighting them with matches. The familiar smell from last night fills the cab as a thin grey haze hangs lightly in the air.
“I guess that’s what you were smoking last night…” you mutter and pull one of the un-opened brown wax-paper bags from your satchel and begin reading the contents. After surveying what the package contains you hand it to Youmu and chuckle “I remember making jokes with my unit about being able to beat a moose to death with the fruit-cake, so I figure I ought to be a nice guy and give you the Brownie.” You add. Youmu laughs lightly and takes a look at the bag before opening it and scanning its contents intently.
As you find one of the other meals, and busy yourself with it, paying no mind to the texture or flavour of the so-called “Alaskan Halibut and Chips”, you briefly note that Youmu doesn’t actually seem at all hungry. She’s only taking small bites of the packages contents.
“It helps not to think about what you’re eating. Trust me on that.” You say after finishing your lunch, and begin examining your laser rifle again.
“It’s very filling…” Youmu says and returns the leftovers to you. “The Brownie was decent, though.” She adds and laughs lightly.
Climbing the seat and steering wheel you poke your head out the open door of the truck. A small snowstorm has kicked up in the few minutes that the two of you have been sitting here, and there seems to be a large storm-front rolling in.
“I don’t like the look of that…” you say and close the door of the truck, before returning to the spot you were sitting “We’ve got two options I see right now…” You say and sigh, crossing your arms. Youmu looks up and out the window and nods.
“What are our options?” she asks.
“We can either get on the road now and try to cover as much distance as we can before the real storm hits, and then trust the one-man tent that I have with me to keep us relatively dry. Or we can wait it out here.” You say and Youmu nods.
“I’m in favour of waiting it out here, it’s comfortable, plus we don’t know when the storm is going to hit, if it even hits.” She says and you nod in agreement. “Still…” she adds and looks up to you “I leave it to your judgement, if you feel up for it, we can get going.” She continues and closes her eyes leaning back and waiting for your reply.
 “I don’t want to take an unnecessary risk in an Irish blizzard; I say we just wait it out for now. See what happens.”
- Pick two
- "I should check my gear and stats anyway, make sure I'm still altogether..."
- "I should probably check that map while we're here. Maybe I can find a quicker route to Dublin..."
- "I should take the time to update my journal..."
- "Maybe there's something good on the radio..."
 “I want to cover as much ground as possible. 2:03 isn’t exactly a good time to be calling it a night, even with my wounds.”
Note: If you're too young to remember "The Nightmare Before Christmas", the song I was referencing was "This is Halloween" from the title sequence, and still one of my favorite songs.
[x] “I don’t want to take an unnecessary risk in an Irish blizzard; I say we just wait it out for now. See what happens.”
- [x]"I should check my gear and stats anyway, make sure I'm still altogether..."
- [x]"I should take the time to update my journal..."
"Words have more power than any bullet or blade. Wars have been won before a shot could be fired because of words. Words have brought even the most powerful men in the world to their knees. Words have destroyed nations, and brought fear to the hearts of weaker men. Accept and know that your words can be a weapon, and you'll thrive in this world."- Harlan Waynewright
Update started, I have a general idea of how the voting's gonna continue, if it continues. Should be up by tomorrow or at the most Tuesday afternoon, it'll be a short one...
But guess what? Update early tomorrow. As in before I leave for work early tomorrow. It's the end of this chapter so I've been pulling everything together before posting it, as well as trying to think of a closing line that doesn't make me seem like a douche bag...
[x] “I don’t want to take an unnecessary risk in an Irish blizzard; I say we just wait it out for now. See what happens.”
- [x]"I should check my gear and stats anyway, make sure I'm still altogether..."
- [x]"I should take the time to update my journal..."
“I’d rather not take an unnecessary risk in unfamiliar territory; I say we just wait it out for now. See what happens.” You say and return to your seat. Youmu simply nods and mutters something before apparently drifting off to sleep.
Quietly you pull your Pip-boy from your coat and begin checking your gear, and personal statistics.
RCMP Training: Extensive and exhausting training in the harsh Canadian wilderness has given you a sense of how things tend to work in the wild. Survival is considered a Tag Skill and Guns, Repair, and Sneak each gain a +5 bonus. Energy Weapons, Explosives, and Science, however, gain a -5 penalty. You also gain +2 to Perception and Endurance, But -1 to Charisma and luck.
Trigger Discipline: +20% Accuracy with firearms, -20% firing speed with firearms [NOTE: Couldn't remember the full spiel from the game, but that's the basic gist of it...]
Run n’ Gun
Center of Mass
Everything seems to check out, but another encrypted file has appeared in your Pip-boy. Maybe the thing’s finally dying on you after all.
After returning the device to your coat pocket you pull your journal from your pack and begin jotting down your personal musings on yesterday’s events.
“Waynewright’s journal, November the 4th, 2139.
I’ve finally reached Ireland, after nearly seven months… I could have sworn I’d have choked someone if I heard “We’ll be there soon” one more fucking time… Of course, given what transpired, I’m lucky to even be alive.
The ship I was on, the Kestrel was destroyed by two Russian Gunships. And then the weirdest thing happened. I was alive, I felt the warmth of the sun, the softness of healthy earth at my back, and I tasted pure air. For the first time in my life I tasted pure, untainted air. No dust, no pebbles.
Before I could blink it was over, and I was in the presence of a woman more beautiful than I had ever seen (It’s not that far a stretch, considering…). She said some rather cryptic things, and… I can’t remember too well, it was like a dream… I remember a bug, I remember the sting, and I remember the whole not being able to breathe debacle.
I came to on the western shore of Ireland, near Galway, my intended destination. Rescued, as my luck would have it, by a fisherman who pulled me from the water.
What happened in Galway was a blur to me. A Japanese girl, Youmu, offered to split a room with me for a night. I won’t lie, she is cute. But I’m old enough to be her father… And fifteen gets me twenty…
In the archives I met two members of the Dublin Militia, apparently working for the Russians, to get to where I needed to be. And they saw me as competition and attempted to silence me. Again a blur, but… I remember clearly the end. I had the man under my foot, and he was bleeding, a bite wound on his face swelling and bleeding… and oozing the strangest black liquid… After the two left I acquired a Map of Ireland.
I remember the pain, I still feel it. Those two really took it to me. When I got back to the Inn, Youmu apparently patched me up after I blacked out, According to her, I bit her too…
And once more I’m on the road, headed up the N6 to the M6 conversion, and then we’re golden. All I have to do after that is book passage on a ferry across the English Channel to London… Things are finally looking up for me…”
You quickly jot into your Journal and look up. The snow-fall has yet to subside, and you’re growing tired just sitting in one spot. Sighing heavily, you stuff your journal back into your satchel and close your eyes. Catching a few winks before heading down the road again seems like a good idea, you think to yourself before drifting into darkness.
The darkness gives way to warm light once more and you find yourself in a field of tall red flowers. You heave a sigh of relief upon seeing that they aren’t yellow and begin looking around. To one side of you is a river, so wide that you can’t see the other side. To the other side is more endless plain, with a large podium rising from the field like a monolith.
“Well?” You say, as if expecting a reply from the podium. Approaching the pedestal you look around and shrug “Aren’t going to attack me this time? How about throw a bug at me?” you say and chortle loudly, kicking the platform.
“Please do not damage court property…” a mature, but still young voice says from behind the lectern as the feeling returns to your foot.
“That’s a fine hello…” you mutter and a short golden rod pokes over the top.
“You shouldn’t be here, not yet anyway. Go home.” The voice tells you. You can hear the authority exerted by this woman, she’s definitely used to getting her way.
“I can’t.” you admit and smile “I can’t make portals.” You say and glance to your left. Another woman is approaching you, this one carrying a scythe, though from her dejected posture, she doesn’t seem like she wants a fight.
“Portals?” the voice asks, as the head of a child, her face framed by bright green locks of hair kept neatly under a large crown of some kind, leans over the podium “You can’t manipulate the boundary… then how are you even here?” she asks.
“Well this is all a dream!” you say and smile, assured of your verbal victory over this muse of your subconscious “And because this is a dream, I’ve already won the argument.” You add and assume a more dignified posture, raising your left hand to your breast.
“A dream?” The girl asks and looks to the other “Never assume, Harlan.” She says and disappears behind the podium again.
“See, I never introduced myself and you know my name! My subconscious made you because-…” you begin and cut yourself off.
“Because why?” the other asks. She sounds so much more youthful given her appearance as the elder.
“Because…” you mutter and cross your arms “Because I’ve been thinking about her…” you finish.
The other nods and takes a step forward. The easily ten feet between you is closed by a single step and she presses her body into yours, smiling softly.
“What’re ya’ thinking now?” she asks and first girls reappears.
“DO NOT tempt him. Return him from whence he came, we’ve more pressing matters at hand.” She says and disappears again as her companion steps back.
“Right, like SHE can’t handle a young Youkai. We’ve got nothing to worry about boss.” The second woman says. She seems to be exaggerating the wrong words given the context of the conversation.
“You know she won’t, not until it becomes serious and MORE people fall into the slumber and never return. This one, on the other hand, can be returned. Do so now or you will be punished.” The first says and gets off the podium. You can finally see her completely. The body of a child indeed, but the way she carries herself is more like a soldier than your former sergeant.
The second sighs and pats your shoulder “You gotta stay home, this place just isn’t for you…” she says and pushes you down. Before you can react you realize that you’re falling through a cloud choked sky, the air rushing past you as you fall. Then as quickly as it began the sensation of hitting something slams into you and you open your eyes.
Youmu is once again wrapped around you, sinning quietly to herself in her own language. You can’t understand a word she says but simply being here, in this situation, is enough to put your mind at ease. As she finishes her song you nod and smile.
“That was beautiful…” you say, almost whispering. Youmu jumps slightly and then tightens her grip around you.
“Thank you.” She whispers and pushes herself off of your body. The sudden force nearly knocks the breath from your lungs, and reignites the pain in your chest. She then realizes what she had done and falls to her knees beside you.
“Relax.” You state and open your right eye as you wince “I feel fine except for the pain in my chest…” you add and try to laugh. It still hurts like hell.
The two of you share a quick breakfast before you climb onto the steering wheel of the truck and open the door. As the snow falls from the opening a chill breeze rolls in, causing you to shiver. The ground outside is covered in at least a foot of snow, but the storm seems to have moved past you completely.
“What luck…” Youmu mutters and climbs out, before taking your hand and pulling you from the truck.
You gently toss your bedroll from your satchel as Youmu lands in the snow and unrolls the layered blankets for you.
It only softens your landing slightly, but your body still protests the action, sending bolts of pain through your chest and neck. Getting up you roll up the bedroll again and stuff it back in your satchel.
As the two of you continue down the road you sigh lightly, your breath hanging in the air “Looks like winter’s finally upon us…” you say and chuckle slowly.
Companion perk gained! Konpaku Style: The basics.
Having watched the way Youmu moves you're beginning to pick up subtle hints regarding her combat style. When using a one handed melee weapon, you now deal 5% more damage and attack 10% more quickly, but suffer a 15% decrease in movement speed in combat. It is kind of difficult to try coming up with some advanced techniques in a heated fight, after all. This perk is only applicable while partnered with Youmu.
I had to build Harlan's character to get a feel for how a fight would go for him. Unfortunately I had to use New Vegas, 'cause I can't find my Fallout 2 game. Also note that because I play on the PC version I can do whatever I please with my skills and SPECIAL. Hence the odd numbers that couldn't possibly be made without cheating...
All in all though, he's a fairly decent gunslinger, if a little squishy...
As that is the end of the chapter; no vote. Tune in next time for the beginning of chapter two! And there will be a vote, I promise it.
And now I leave you with an adapted quote as a teaser: "Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence. Thrice is enemy action."
So, Chapter two... Not much longer to go now before shit starts getting really weird...
The cold bleakness surrounding you not only feels oppressive, but oddly calm for some reason. Like nothing could go wrong with this moment. Even with the sun rapidly setting and dusk closing in on you, this moment feels perfect. Of course, years of training in the harsh wastelands of the Yukon and Alberta have taught you several important lessons about Murphy's Law, and you know what kind of creatures stalk the nights in the wild.
Slowly, you move you hand to your coat holster and disengage the safety on your pistol before sliding the weapon free. The tell-tale rasp of leather against steel seems louder than normal in the wild, and you can't help but smile, even as you shiver and return your arm to your side.
"Expecting to shoot something?" Youmu asks and you nod.
"If a thing can go wrong, it will." you state and begin scanning the horizon in all directions "I want to be prepared for when it does eventually go wrong." you continue fish through your satchel before muttering a curse under your breath. You forgot to pack a flash-light...
"What's wrong?" Youmu asks and smiles slyly. She already knows...
"Don't look at me like that, I packed in a hurry." you sneer at her. She laughs loudly and returns her attention to the countryside. Something seems off though; she's giving off a weird glow now. Glancing around, you note that almost everything is giving off a strange glow now, like you're looking through a pair of old-world thermal goggles. Another oddity you note is that everything smells cold. Cold and clean.
You frown slightly at this and direct your attention skyward. Even with the stars twinkling overhead as the sun sets, it still seems fairly bright out.
"Youmu, what time do you think it is?" you ask and look over your shoulder. Something, a large dark-blue and orange-ish blob of something ducks into cover in a snow bank as Youmu turns to you.
"I'd say about six o'clock." she states and you turn your attention back to her "Why, is something bothering you?"
"It's still bright out." you retort quickly. Youmu stops in her tracks and looks at your wearily.
"I can barely see." she says and you stop, looking at her. She steps toward you and takes your head in her hands, pulling you down to her height. She snickers and steps back as you stand up, blood pounding through your head as you move.
"What's so funny?" you ask and Youmu gestures for you to take point.
"Lead the way, if you can see so well." she says and smiles. She's being awfully secretive now and it's maddening. Dejectedly you sigh and take the lead, Youmu following close behind you.
"I have some questions about you. Personal questions, feel free not to answer them, Mr. Waynewright." Youmu says, interrupting your train of thought as you scan the area, keeping an intent lookout for anything moving. A quick glance over your shoulder reveals that the blob is following you again, closer now, and you can make out the shape of a human.
"Just call me Wayne, everyone else does." you mutter and return your thoughts to the road ahead. If the person following you was a raider, you'd be under fire by now. Likely a thief looking for an easy target, probably going to wait until you set up camp before slitting your throat and stealing everything.
"You said you were from Canada. Where exactly were you born?" Youmu asks. You nod slowly, trying to remember your early life.
"I grew up in Alberta, a place near the border called Waterton. A lot of military hardware was being moved through there when the bombs fell and my ancestors took refuge in the convoy, using it as an improvised fallout shelter." you begin and smile "That's also where the city sprung up, about ten years after the bombs. Since then it's been relocated to Banff and the new RCMP headquarters was set-up." you finish. The forest to your right is giving you the creeps as you walk past it, even at this distance you can see the outlines of people moving through the trees, likely mud-grubbing tribals hunting for any nocturnal creatures to kill and eat.
"I thought Canada was annexed before the War in Anchorage. As State territory, wouldn't it be hit just as hard as the rest of the states?" Youmu asks she seems to know a lot of fractured information.
"History is written by the victors, the history you know is wrong. Canada was annexed, yeah. But the early Canadians rebelled. Subtly at first, then as the war escalated we began an all-out guerrilla war against the Americans, sabotaging supply lines, tying them up as they crossed our border. We were technically allied with the Chinese, even the Russians wanted to get in on it, supplying Canadian freedom fighters with weapons and ammunition vie high-altitude air-drops." you reply. Youmu nods, she seems content with that answer, if a little insulted that what she knew was false.
"Last question; Why Wayne?" She asks. Truthfully this was a question you were used to answering.
"Waynewright takes too long to say, and Harlan is a fairly uncommon name. Wayne is quick, simple, and to the point. Easy to yell out in a hectic fire-fight." you say and nod. You've been through enough of those to know that as personal experience, rather than something you'd rather be called.
"You've been through a lot of fights then?" Youmu asks.
"Whatever happened to "Last Question"?" You ask and smile. Youmu nods and shakes her head.
"Fair enough..." She mutters.
"I've been through enough fights to know that humans are inherently stupid." you begin. "Raiders, depending on their choice of drug, rush blindly ahead, trying to get in as close as possible. Brotherhood soldiers like to hang back, pepper your cover with laser fire while their weaker units try to flank. NCR soldiers do almost the same thing, but they follow the old tactics of the Pre-War American army. Tribals tend to rush in, but there's a sort of grace to their madness, not like with raiders. And vault-dwellers tend to be more conservative, they like to make traps and use their superior intellects." you finish and cross your arms. Your pistol sits uncomfortably in the crook of your left arm but you're willing to make do for the sake of apparent body language.
Youmu simply nods. She seems melancholic now. A large flash of orange to your left catches your attention and you throw yourself into the snow, on top of Youmu.
"What are you doing!?" she shouts and you cover her mouth with your free hand, whispering for her to keep quiet as you raise yourself to one knee and look around. Behind the wrecked Corvega, some kind of man with an energy weapon, he's peeking over the roof of the car and scanning the night.
"I know a saw someone, Heard soemthin' too." he whispers. It strikes you as odd that you could hear that, likely your imagination.
"Relax, Limey. Name's Harlan, RCMP Inspector. Field abroad unit." you state and stand up. The man looks around cautiously, pointing his gun in every direction. It's some kind of plasma pistol, probably the common German model you were used to seeing in the hands of Brotherhood of Steel knights and paladins.
"Where are you!" he shouts and backs into the car looking around frantically now. Youmu stands up and works out the kinks in her elbow.
"You tackled me pretty hard you know..." she mutters. You shake your head and approach the man, tapping his left shoulder. He wheels around and fires another bolt of energy at you. The air around your ears pops as the moisture in the air flash boils and you narrowly avoid the bolt of energy.
"I said relax, you idiot! If I wanted you dead, you would be!" you hiss at the man, an oddly appropriate term, given the sound of your voice right now. The man looks up at you and steps back.
"Blood and ashes, I'm sorry, I'm just a little jumpy right now..." he says and pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose. He begins to speak again and you cut him off.
"Life story later; we have to keep moving." you say as you glance to your right. Three tribals are approaching, coming to investigate that sounds. The man simply nods and follows you as you take the lead again. Youmu moves abreast of you and sighs.
"Can we really afford to be slowed down by another person?" she whispers.
"I'm not gonna let three raiders tear this bastard apart over his gun. The least I can do is help him get to Dublin." you reply. Your voice still has that rasping, hissing quality to it. Youmu looks at the man and nods.
"He's keeping pace fairly well..." she mutters.
"Whatever you two are whispering about back there I'd like to hear it!" he shouts.
You cut him off with a sharp look before diverting your group off the highway and into the trees to the left of the road, and hunker down near the edge of the brush, watching the highway.
"Your name?" Youmu whispers to the man, who nods in reply.
"Sir Terrance Couturia the third, of the Rayleo-" he begins and Youmu cuts him off.
"I just wanted your name limey, not your life story." she says and taps your shoulder "What's up, Wayne?" She asks, peering into the night.
The tribals seem to be tearing apart the Corvega, looking through its husk for anything they can use. Finally, they remove the microfusion cell from the vehicle, and leave the rest.
"They're leaving." you state and Terry taps your other shoulder.
"Forgive my ignorance, but how can you see anything in this darkness!?" he whispers.
You look at the man like he's mentally ill and shake your head.
"Apparently I can see just fine in the dark..." you whisper and safety your gun before returning it to your holster. Another chain of bright flashes on the horizon followed by several loud banging sounds causes the three of you to jump slightly and turn your attention in that direction, the same direction as the three raiders.
"What the bloody hell was that?!" Terry asks, covering his ears. A massive blob of orange erupts in the direction of Galway, followed by a plume of smoke.
"Some kind of missile detonation..." you mutter and Youmu nods.
"We need to stay here, in this forest for the night." She says and grabs you by the shoulder. Her strength catching you off-guard again as she yanks you off your feet. She seems to be in a real hurry to go deeper into the bush, and her body language tells you to shut up and follow. Turning to Terry you simply shrug and follow Youmu.
A large ball of white light with a long, wispy tail, takes form in front of Youmu, giving off a faint enough light for both her and Terry to navigate by.
"What the bloody hell is THAT?" Terry asks and looks to you. You shrug again and sigh.
"I wish I knew..." you mutter. Youmu stops abruptly and turns to you and Terry.
"Set up here. And start a fire, but keep it low and dim. You can do that, right Wayne?" she half asks, half says. Before you can say anything Youmu runs back in the direction you came, drawing her longer sword.
"WHAT JUST HAPPENED!?" Terry shouts and you smile, taking your tent kit from your satchel and handing it to the man before clearing a space for your fire-pit.
"Just shut up and set-up my tent." you say and look to the man "You also brought your own, right?" you ask. Terry nods and you smile, gesturing for him to get started.
After taking an hour to set up a comfortable camp, Youmu limps into the clearing, her sword sheathed and holding her left arm. She seems to be bleeding from a cut.
"What happened to you?" You ask.
"A group of raiders got the jump on me; I had to fight them off. They had some kind of robot with them." She says and sits down on the ground in front of the fire, wrapping her wounds with strips of fabric from her own satchel.
"I have some stimpacks you know..." you mutter. Youmu shakes her head and smiles.
"I'll be fine, I just need some rest." she says and looks at your tent before muttering her good nights and promptly annexing your shelter for the night. You sigh and lay down in front of the fire. Even still you’re cold as hell.
"Robot..." Terry mutters and moves to his own tent, crossing his arms.
You lay back in the snow and cross your hands under your head, forming a makeshift pillow before drifting off to sleep.
Darkness envelops you, cold, and bleak, but welcoming, familiar. As you look around a familiar voice enters your mind.
"A formless life without purpose is useless. To that end I've chosen a form." Your voice begins. The other you steps out from the darkness, wreathed in dark teal steel that seems to shift and move under your gaze. "I've chosen to give you my power completely, but we both need to come to a compromise." It continues. The scars seem more apparent, tinged dark-black. The rest of the armour, if the term is applicable, seems to be organic in nature, well, parts of it anyway. Other parts, like the long armoured skirt are wholly inorganic save for the plates of the organic metal overlapping them, attached at the shoulders are two long, split tassels. Hanging from the small of its back is a short sword, again made of the odd organic metal.
"What kind of compromise?" you ask, stepping forward. The other you smiles as tendrils of organic metal cover its face with a grinning, faceless helmet.
"I need you to survive; you need my power to save yourself. You've already seen some of what I'm capable of, a mere appetizer to whet your taste. Give in to me, as I will give into you, and you will own my power completely." the other you says and extends its hand. The way it speaks without moving its mouth is kind of disconcerting. "The only price you must pay is feeding me." it adds.
"Feeding you what?" You ask and step back. The other you sighs and pulls something from its armour, tossing it to the ground at your feet. It looks like an ingot of steel.
"Accept me, and you will need to consume the flesh of the earth to fuel me." the other you states.
"That's it?" you ask incredulously and laugh "You want me to eat metal!" Are you out of your fucking mind!?" you add and laugh again. Pain explodes in your neck as the other you lifts you from the "Floor" with a long tendril.
"Do not mock me. We need each other!" it shouts and drags you in close to it "I can give you the power to protect yourself better than any weapon!" it shrieks at you. The mouth is opening and closing but no words are coming out, just the sounds of metal grating on bone.
"If you need me, then I've got the upper hand. You can't kill me." you state and smile. The creature shrieks and drops you to the "floor".
"I think it's a very fair deal." the other you hisses "in return for so much,I ask for so little, and still you slight me." it adds and nods "You will soon be tested. The Hammer and Sickle descend upon the King's land. You will need me, or we will both die there." it continues and sighs.
You nod and stand up; the pain that once filled your body has vanished fully. You smile and extend your hand "I kind of like living. And I don't intend to let a Russian get the better of Me." you say. The other you steps forward and takes your hand.
"You will not regret this." it says and darkness fades to bright white.
"Get up, Wayne, we need to get moving." Terry says.
Slowly you sit up and look around. You're still cold, hungry too, but the camp seems to have been packed up and Youmu and Terry are ready to go.
Terry takes your hand and pulls you from the snow, smiling "You must have slept horribly, you were thrashing around all night and muttering strange words I didn't understand." he says. You look to Youmu and she moves to avoid your gaze, she seems distraught by something.
"Right, let's get going." you say and try to take a step forward. Falling in the snow face-first you roll over and laugh "That wasn't supposed to happen..." you mutter and push yourself up.
"You need to eat something." Youmu states, she's still avoiding looking at you.
Breakfast actually seems like a good idea right now, and you start moving back the way you came through the forest "I can eat on the move, let's go." you say, pulling the last R.E.M. from your satchel.
As you move through the forest you note that it's quiet again, everything seems to have returned to normal as well. "What time is it?" you ask and Terry nods, pulling his pocket-watch from his lab-coat and adjusts his glasses.
"It's eight o'clock. Why?" He asks and you return your gaze to the forest path ahead of you.
"Why are you out here?" You ask, stuffing the rest of the meal, "Tex-Mex Eggs and salsa" back into its bag before returning it to your satchel.
Terry sighs and nods "I'm out here trying to retrieve a prototype Hunter-Killer robot. Likely the one your friend fought off last night..." he says and looks to Youmu. "It was sent out here as part of a test, but instead took to aiding the tribals, they now consider it a god." the older man states and pats the plasma pistol holstered at his left side "I specially modified this pistol to mess with its core components and shut it down. I have to take it back to London for further improvements." the scientist finishes.
You nod and turn to Youmu "Do we have time for a detour?" you ask and smile.
Youmu looks at you, her gaze scathing you before turning her head "It's your call..." she mutters.
You sigh and turn to Terry, stopping "Alright..."
 "... I'll take you as far as Dublin, after that you're on your own." (Ditch Terry)
 "... We'll see what we can do to help; Youmu and I know where the tribals are held up." (Help Terry)
Now that it's happened I feel I can mention this, and since I made enough not-so-subtle jabs at it; Harlan is a Snake Youkai according to the Chinese Cycles of Creation and Destruction used in their martial arts forms. According to that system, the Snake represents the element of metal, therefore; Harlan's Power is the manipulation of the solid form of Metal. He can form simple weapons and armour from the metal readily available in his body or around him, but can only change it's shape and configuration, not it's volume. Meaning he can spread out a bar to a plate, but cannot spread a small ingot to cover a large hole without sacrificing it's strength.
He is also going to be using this as his primary means of offense and defense once the shit really hit's the fan...
And for the curious; he's a type of Night Adder.
Next point: I don't art, but I'll at least try to make an image of what his armour'll look like. Expect totally shitty art next update or second next update...
[X] "... We'll see what we can do to help; Youmu and I know where the tribals are held up." (Help Terry)
“Alright, we’ll see what we can do to help; Youmu and I know where the tribals are held up.” You state and cross your arms “Maybe blowing something up’ll put us back in a good mood.” You add and chuckle.
Youmu scoffs lightly and gestures for you and Terry to follow her. The elder man sighs and picks up his pack as you follow the young girl. The trip through the forest back to the road is a quiet one, with Terry occasionally glancing at either you or Youmu and opening his mouth slightly before deciding not to say anything.
“Wayne…” He finally says and looks at you “I may be able to prescribe a drug to help with your nightmares when we get to England.” He says and nods “You sound like you need all the help you can get…” he finishes.
Some part of you wants to reach out and strangle the scientist, but another part at least respects the man for trying. Readjusting the laser rifle on your back, you stop and face the man.
“Terry, thanks for the thought, but I really don’t need drugs. I need-…” You begin to say as Youmu cuts you off.
“He needs specialized help that modern science can’t help with.” She says and glances over her shoulder at you. You think she whispered something at you but with the wind blowing through the trees you can’t be too sure.
You look back to Terry and shrug. The scientist smiles weakly as the forest gives way to open fields and road. Errant splotches of red stain the snow further down the road, but the lack of corpses worries you, and further inspection shows little sign of conflict as well.
“Wayne! Come on.” Youmu shouts at you and you snap from your daze and, muttering your apologies, you continue to the road.
“What happened to the bodies?” You finally ask. Youmu glances over her shoulder at you and sighs as she turns her attention back to the road.
“Carried off…” she says and crosses her arms as she turns to watch the forest to the right.
“By… ?” Terry asks hesitantly. You can’t help but wonder the same thing. There was no sign of any machine in the area, though there were several craters. There were no shell casings littering the area, despite there having been gun-shots. There didn’t even appear to be any sign of a fight beyond a few trenches in the snow.
“Friend of yours? Perhaps a little black bird?” you ask. Youmu scowls and stops. Terry looks at the both of you before reaching for his pistol.
“I wish it was that simple…” Youmu says and turns to face you. A quick glance at Terry causes the man to back down and he crosses his arms, opting simply to not get between you and the girl.
“Right, cause an army of Irish rabbits came and ate the corpses…” You snicker and lean forward.
“Lunar, actually. And there was only one.” Youmu states and steps forward, taking you by the hair and pulling you down to her height, her eyes alight with malice. “Don’t. Fuck. With. Me. Wayne.” Youmu says and let’s go of your hair, causing you to stumble back into the snow.
“You’re frightening when you’re pissed off.” Terry says and steps back. Youmu glare at the man and pulls you from the snow.
“Get your act together, we need to go kill a robot.” She says and continues down the road.
Brushing the snow from your coat you nod and mutter acknowledgement. “What did you do to deserve that!?” Terry whispers at you and you simply smile.
“I’m guessing she’s just moody…” you say and chuckle. You don’t seem to have any recollection of this area on your map, but Youmu appears to know where she’s going. You assume that she likely saw where the tribals were held up on her way into Galway.
Stopping on the edge of a forest, after nearly half an hour of silent walking, Youmu turns to you and Terry and cocks her thumb over her shoulder.
“In there, about forty-five minutes in.” She says and continues down the road “I’ll meet you in Dublin.” She adds as she walks past you. Terry begins to say something and you push him into the trees.
“Just go, we can figure this out later.” You say and walk into the forest. The trees around you are decorated with various tribal fetishes, and markings in old Gaelic that you can’t decipher. Ever since Youmu left though, you can’t seem to shake this feeling of emptiness as the snow beneath your feet crunches.
Guiding the scientist carefully through the forest as quietly as you can you eventually find the raider camp. The tribals seem to have set up a rather nice little shanty town in a forest clearing, made up of various parts salvaged from god knows what kind of machines. Spotting one watch you smile and pull the laser rifle from your back.
“What are you doing!?” Terry asks and you turn to the man, smiling.
“One shot at a hallucination doesn’t count. I wanna see if this thing is still in working order.” You reply and shoulder the weapon, sighting down the scope on the side of the frame. A moment later the air around you explodes as a beam of bright blue light streaks through the intervening space between your hiding spot and the watch. Instantly the man’s body immolates and crumbles to dust as his body flash fries.
“Nice shot…” Terry mutters and pulls his pistol from its holster.
“I could have done better.” You snicker and dash across the path into another thicket as the clearing quite quickly comes alive with action, tribals running to and fro’ searching for their fallen comrade, and the source of their disturbance. You slowly raise the weapon to your shoulder and prepare to fire another shot, a lone tribal searching the west providing an easy target. The man collapses to the snow as the bolt of energy tears through the back of his head, leaving only a smoking hole where his face once was.
One of them shouts and begins firing a rifle at you, an R91 by the sound of its gas operated bolt, and you roll out of the undergrowth, raising the rifle to fire another shot. A lucky five-fifty-six catches your thigh, and you grit your teeth ‘Pain. Doesn’t. Hurt.’ you recite to yourself and depress the trigger. The bolt flies wide and catches a tree.
“Harlan!” Terry shouts and you turn to face the single ugliest human (You think) you’ve ever seen. Before you can raise the rifle again the man swings what appears to be a tree at you, catching the side of your head and throwing you to the far western side of the clearing.
“… So, here you are again…” a familiar voice says to you. Opening your eyes you curse loudly and stand up, the world shifting uneasily between snow and forest, and field of red flowers.
You attempt to say something but all that comes out is a hodgepodge of incoherent sound. As you stumble across the snow to where your rifle has landed you note two things; that hit should have knocked you off your knees rather than just your feet, and you can’t seem to remember too much of your early life.
“You really ought to slow down…” the voice says again and sighs.
Again you attempt to speak but nothing but choked gurgling followed by a thick upheaval of blood and mucous as you fall to your knees.
“I bet that really hurts, doesn’t it?” The voice chides, you still have trouble putting a name to her face, but she’s certainly familiar. You look up and snicker as the man approaches you, the world quickly returning to normalcy.
“I’m hard to kill…” you cough in reply to the tribal’s unspoken question and stand up shakily. The man shouts something Gaelic at you and charges. With serpentine grace you step around the man and drive your boot into the back of his knee, yielding a satisfying crunch and stream of dark crimson ichor, causing the man to collapse to his knees. The tribal howls and attempts to stand up and step back, onto his now broken leg, and throw a vicious hook punch, coming just short of its target. You smile and catch the man, even as your world infrequently blurs around you.
“Easy now, don’t hurt yourself…” you mock and stumble back as the man moves in your grip.
“Jus’ surrender lad, we outnumber ye’.” The tribal hisses through clenched teeth, as Terry taps your shoulder and nods as you turn to face him.
“I’m out of energy cells…” the scientist mutters and looks around the clearing. Finally snapping out of your daze you stop and survey the area, five dead tribal’s and nearly forty left. Your brilliant plan has failed.
“I want to talk to your… God…” you state. Thinking quickly you begin formulating another plan, speaking as your thoughts are half-formed. The tribals share a few quick glances with one another before nodding.
“Ye’ fight like an animal caged, I suppose there’d be no harm in letting you speak to the Calg…” one of them says. He’s badly burned on his right side, and still glowing green, his body decorated with tribal symbols and tattoos. Obviously this man is the clan leader.
“Wayne, I don’t like the idea of a half-assed plan formed by a man with a potentially massive concussion who could drop dead in the next ten minutes…” Terry says and you tap the man’s shoulder, smiling as he turns to look at you.
“Trust me, I got a plan… I think…” you reply and wipe your nose. Glancing at your glove you curse again and rub the crimson smear on your right pant-leg.
After a few minutes of standing in the clearing, grinning like an idiot the whole time, you find yourself being lead through the camp with your hands bound behind your back. You take stock of the situation, looking yourself over and your grin widens. Despite that the tribals took your satchel and laser rifle, they left your pistols. You twist your hands and you smile widens further; the cuffs they used were second rate and made of lightweight cadmium plated aluminum.
Terry sighs and shakes his head “I’m travelling with a mad-man…” he mutters. The tribals lead you and the scientist into a massive hall made of cars piled atop one another. Lining the floor to the far end are massive tables, each easily twenty feet long and lined with chairs. At the far-end, stop a throne of salvaged computers, is a machine. Not a very large machine but a machine none-the-less. It turns its attention away from the display to its left and grates.
“Terrance…” it says and stands, its four wheeled legs easily supporting its weight as it rolls across the ground. Its right arm appears to be some kind of three barreled mini-gun, with a four clawed manipulator under the firing assembly. Its left arm is a large barreled cannon attached to a large micro-fusion cell. The large six slot missile launcher on its left shoulder lowers slightly as it moves toward you, a feeling of malice oozing from it.
The dark-grey/gunmetal carapace bobs up and down as it looks you over.
“Genus Serpens in guise of man? How curious, the scripture spoke of this but I never thought it to be true…” it says and turns to Terry, its two bright orange ocular sensors flickering slightly “truly Rayleonard has out-done himself this time in the field of splicing. I fear that you may very well not need me anymore.” It says and rolls back slightly.
“You’re… “Calg”?” you ask slowly. Terry looks at you and curses under his breath.
“Teimel Calg.” The machine replies and bows, before rolling forward again “If I may be pedantic, it translates to “Exotic blade of shadow”, a fitting name, don’t you think?” it asks and chuckles lightly, turning its back on you, rolling back toward its throne. “I’m going to have you executed by sun-down.” The machine says, stopping in the aisle. It gestures and returns to its throne as you and Terry are taken out of the hall and quickly shoved into a makeshift prison.
“Nice plan…” Terry says sits down in a corner.
“I know right? Why didn’t I think of this before I started shooting!?” you shout and laugh loudly.
“You’re loopy, Wayne…” The scientist says and turns his attention skyward “We have seven hours, by the way…” he mutters and begins watching the guards.
The seven hours pass by quickly and you stop your pacing, looking to the sky “I’m disappointed…” you say and turn to Terry.
“Give or take…” the man replies and looks at you “Bloody hell man, have you been pacing the entire time?” he asks. You move to the man’s side and loom over him, grinning maliciously.
“Planning…” you retort, drawing out every letter. The scientist shrinks from you and shakes his head.
“You need help, cannuck, and not the drug kind of help.” He says his voice cracking. Stepping back you assume a more dignified stance and expression.
“Trust me, this’ll work.” You say and chuckle. Another two hours pass before the guards come and escort you to a hastily erected platform of scrap, atop which sits a crude chopping block. A rather large tribal man sits across from the block, sharpening a massive axe made from a car door panel. The two guards push you and Terry up the stairs and chuckle as a crowd begins to gather.
“So your plan is to die?” Terry asks, as the crowd begins cheering.
“Chill it old man, this’ll work.” You say, smiling softly as you stride across the platform to the block.
“We’ll grant ye’ one final request before we kill ye’ and stake your corpse out for the ravens.” The executioner says, his voice muffled by the gas-mask and hood he’s wearing to conceal his face.
You were banking on that, and chuckle “Well…” you begin and smile
 Crack-wise, go out witty. Then when everyone's distracted take the shot and move quickly.
 Buy time, and pick the lock on the cuffs. Sixteen bullets should be enough to put the fear of god in these mongrels when the shit hit's the fan.
 Cut straight to the chase and kill the executioner. That axe looks like it could do some damage.
 Bust those flimsy-ass cuffs and stomp some heads, save the bullets for when you really need 'em.
 Give a long winded speech about immortality in a loud voice, maybe Terry'll think of something, or Youmu might come help.
Turns out I didn't have to work today, so here's an update...
[x] Cut straight to the chase and kill the executioner. That axe looks like it could do some damage.
-[x]The snake-self said it wanted you to eat metal or something, right? Biting through the cuffs oughta do the trick, and it'll cow these tribals for sure.
Been a while, eh'? No I didn't die, I just cater, and with winter coming up I've been busy (Nine weddings just this past weekend). I've also had writers block due to playing a 16 hour session of "The Temple of Elemental Evil", and couldn't even look at my Dune books for three days straight.
I also kinda considered starting up another story of a swords-and-sorcery bent about a devoutly Catholic 18th century Irish Doctor/Witch-Hunter. But that can come later...
Anyway, I figured I ought to come over here and let you all know that I've started writing the update, and it should be posted this Monday evening AT THE LATEST! I'll that it happens even if I don't get to sleep until 3 o'clock...
Not really though. Life kinda has a weird habit of getting in the way for me... I ended up wasting all my time writing something completely different for my D&D group. Before you ask, yes it does involve little girls in frilly dresses. It also involves high-calibre anti-tank rifles, Power-Armour, Mutant-cyborg space zombies (Digest that for me for a minute, 'kay?), and Technocracy.
I ever tell you guys how much I was inspired by things like Blame!, Akira, Starship Troopers, Dune, I, Robot, and all those other awesome Cyberpunk or Sci-Fi stories?
Yeah... good times... Anyway, this time, for realz (I plomise.), an update is on the way. Just had to re-read everything I was writing to figure out where I was planning on going...