Posts Tagged ‘casual swearing’

The air crackled and popped.  A thunderclap.  A flash.  A hulking steel figure filled the room.  Nick looked up from his paper.  “Hey there, stranger.”  Ash stood there for a moment, clenching and unclenching her mechanical fists.  Nick raised an eyebrow.  “So, it went pretty well then, huh?”  Ash didn’t say a word.  She lumbered into a corner, and the armor beeped and hissed.  The back opened, petals on a blooming steel flower, and she climbed out of the machine.  Her face was bleak like the Glowing Sea.  Maybe less green.  Maybe more stormy.  “You, uh, wanna talk about it?”  He folded the paper and set it on his desk. 

Ash plopped down on the couch with a heavy sigh.  “I blew it.”  She looked up and met the eyes of the artificial man.  “I lost my cool.  Just about killed him on the spot, Nick.  It would have been easy.”  Ash looked down at her hands.  “I might even have made it out.” 

“Maybe.”  Nick pulled out a cigarette.  “I mean, yeah, in that tin can a yours, you coulda escaped.”  He lit the smoke, took a drag.  Faint wisps leaked out of his tattered chest covering.  Nick never tried to hide who, or what, he was.  “You can’t just shoot the Boogey Man, though.”  He examined the ember at the end of his cigarette.

“Oh, I wasn’t talking about shooting him.”  Nick’s eyes flicked to the hands of the robot in the corner.  the faint click and whir of his eyes searching and finding flecks of white – paint transfer from the life support and bed.  “I let him get under my skin.  Did I tell you that he thawed me out just to see what I’d do?”

“Yeah, I recall something about that.”

“And then he questioned my competence when I said the Railroad wasn’t dead yet.” 

“You are a pretty high-scoring killer.”

“The Railroad aren’t a bunch of two-bit thugs.”  Ash put elbows on knees, and her forehead in her hands.  “I came out of that fucking vault aching to find my son.  I didn’t want…  All of this.”  She waved one hand above her head.  Nick stood, crossed the room, and rested a mechanical hand on her shoulder. 

“Listen.  You remember when we did that Eddie Winter thing?”  Ash looked up at him.  He crouched down to her level.  “You remember how mad I was – am – about just being a copy of Officer Nick Valentine?”  Ash nodded.  “I didn’t ask to be made, but the Institute doesn’t care about that.  We’re the same.  They made you too.  The only question is, do they get to toss you out with the trash?”  Ash clenched her teeth. 

“I thought I could just play all the sides and come out on top without having to kill.” At that, Nick chuckled. 

“You can’t make an omelette without breaking any eggs, Ash.” 

“I want to kill the Boogey Man, but not all synths are bad.  I can’t just go in guns blazing.” 

“Are you kidding?  I’ve seen you do just that!”

“You know what I mean.  Raiders are one thing.  This…  This would be something else.” 

“Yeah.”  He stood.  Took another drag of his cigarette.  “Listen.  So there’s the innocents down there.  Do you know who the not-so-innocents are?”  Ash nodded.  “So we start there.  I’ve seen you out in the world.  You’ll sort it out as you go.  You always do.”  Ash sat up.  She rubbed her eyes.  “Besides, you don’t have to do it alone.”  Ash stood, stretched, and hugged Nick.  He chuckled again. 

“You’re the best, Valentine.”  She paused.  “If you really want to help, I think I’ve got something for you.  It won’t be safe, though.”

“And here I was worried I’d be bored,” he said with a wry grin.  Ash headed for her armor. 

“I just have to figure out how to get you in ahead of the Brotherhood.”  The armor opened up and Ash crawled in.  The plates locked in place behind her. 

“Sounds like a good time.”  Nick dropped the butt of his cigarette in the ash tray.  “And Ash,” he said.

“Yeah?”

“Don’t let all that horsepower go to your head.”

The bed was all white, like everything in the Institute.  Machinery crept up the sides and over the top, maintaining Shaun’s bodily functions.  His heath had been on the decline for some time, and he’d named Ash his successor, pending her proving her loyalty to the Institute’s mission.  Except, Ash hated the Institute.  Ash loomed over the bed, looking menacing as ever in her armor.  Shaun had often said it was unnecessary inside the Institute.  Ash remembered the armed and armored synth guards and the negotiations in the Bio Tech labs too well to believe him. 

“Ash, are you listening?”  Shaun asked.  He coughed weakly.

“Sorry.  A lot on my mind lately.”  She shook her head.  “What were you saying?”

“I need a progress report.  We have quite a number of things I’d like to see completed before I’m gone.” 

“Right.  Where do I start?”  Ash got ready to lie through her teeth.  She’d been a lawyer, two hundred years ago.  She could spin a hell of a story. 

“The Railroad,” Shaun prompted. 

“Right.  Gone to ground.  Prior to my arrival here, Tom had me setting up sensor suites all over the city.  They must have seen me coming.”

“Ridiculous,” Shaun spat.  “I can’t trust my own mother with a simple task?”

“You little… ”  Ash was instantly angry.  “You’re asking me to kill a bunch of people who have consistently slipped through your fingers, Father.”  His title came out of her mouth like a curse.  “Tinker Tom cracked the algorithm that got me in here in the first place.  I’ll find them, but this kind of shit takes time.” 

“Maybe I was wrong to bring you here.” 

“Maybe you were fucking wrong to leave me on ice for forty fucking years!” Ash yelled.  Her heads up display started tracking potential targets.  Guards.  “You let me out to wander, just to see what I would do?”  She grabbed the bed frame with gauntleted hands.  The frame crumpled with her augmented strength.  “And then you order me to kill people who are helping the slave race you’ve created to escape!  I am so goddamned ashamed to be your mother!”  Ash was screaming.  Alarms were lit in her helmet.  This wasn’t going well. 

Ash swallowed her rage.  She let go of the bed and stepped back.  She raised her hands to show the synths that she was yielding.  “Father, the Railroad is not a threat to your operation any more.  The Brotherhood of Steel is not a threat to your operation anymore.  The largest threat to the Institute is now you and me.  I’ll get the goddamned reactor working.  I’ll sabotage Liberty Prime.  I will find the Railroad.  If it’s what you want, I’ll follow in your footsteps.”  She dropped her hands to her sides.  “But I am not one of your minions to be used and abused.”  She turned and brushed past the synth guards at the door. 

“Mother…” Shaun started.  Ash paused.  “You have a lot to do and little time.  Work fast.”  She clenched her mechanized fists. 

“You won’t believe what I’m capable of,” she whispered.  She thundered out of the room. 

Desdemona was not happy.  She had played everything so carefully.  She had heeded PAM’s every warning, kept careful track of all of her assets, and burned oh so many resources with safe retreats.  It was all for nothing; everyone knew where she was and everyone had ordered the Professor to kill her.  On top of that, the Professor – a mechanized tornado of destruction – had hijacked her whole operation.  God fucking dammit.  It was like she suddenly didn’t matter.

Wait.  That wasn’t true.  If she didn’t matter, no one would care that she was alive and that clearly wasn’t the case.

Des took a long drink from the ancient wine bottle and leaned over the rail of the bell tower.  This would be her last breath of fresh air for a while, and she was determined to savor it.  She set the wine on the railing and pulled out a cigarette.  The one silver lining in all this was that the professor had gotten her some pre-war cigarettes.  There was a time when she’d have been concerned about the soft orange glow giving away her position, but the dual kill orders from two of the other big three players in the Commonwealth had made her fatalistic.  Besides, her executioner was busy setting up a scam of epic proportions.

She leaned on the railing, and blew a plume of smoke into the darkness.  Fuck it, she thought.  Yeah, they’d save a shitload more Gen 3 synths this way.  She did want that.  She started mulling over alternate names for the Synth Retention Bureau.  Synth Placement, maybe?  After all, the Professor wanted Desdemona to be the new head.

“Doctor Ayo,” Ash said.  The angry little bald man stalked back and forth in the SRB office.
“Doctor Ayo!”  Ash yelled.  The bald man whirled on her.  He leaned in close to her face.

“Tell me again how you managed to lose a Courser!” he shouted.  Spittle flecked Ash’s face.  She had gotten some truly nasty liquids on her since she thawed, but it still made her skin crawl.  “You do not just LOSE A COURSER!”  His entire head had gone red.

“Doctor Ayo, I understand that you’re upset,” Ash said very quietly.  “But if you continue to talk to me like this, you won’t live to see me become the Director.”  She smiled as sweetly as she was able.  The dried blood on her face made for a terrifying visage.  Ash had a burn across the right side of her head, and her vest, shirt, and pants were all burned down to the plates sewn into them.  Everything but the hair was an easy fix, but it was important to be convincing. 

“Are you threatening me?!” He shouted, shoving Ash against the wall. He pressed close.

“I am,” Ash whispered.  Faster than thought, she whipped her 10mm pistol from her right leg, and pressed Ayo’s mouth shut with the suppressor.  “You are a tiny little bully, and I fucking hate bullies,” she whispered into his ear.  “Every raider and super mutant and scientist who preys upon those weaker than them.”  She backed him into the opposite wall.  “I would love to solve this problem by civil discourse.”  Ash sniffed.  She smelled like a garbage fire.  She needed a shower regardless of whether she ended up covered in Ayo’s blood.  “Do you think we can do that?”  She pressed the suppressor against the underside of his jaw so hard that he couldn’t nod.

“Yes,” he said through clenched teeth. 

“Good.”  Ash stepped back, releasing the man.  She holstered the gun.  He cleared his throat, smoothed his black and white Institute frock.  “Now.  X6-88 was destroyed.  A super mutant with a mini nuke got the drop on us.  I was saved by my power armor.  He… was unrecoverable.” 

“I… see.”  Doctor Ayo frowned.  Maybe.  Ash had never seen him when he wasn’t wearing some sort of scowl.  “X6-88’s experience will be missed.  But I will assign you another Courser.” 

“Can I pick one?  Or…  Design one?”

“What is wrong with the standard models?”  Ayo asked through clenched teeth. 

“Nothing!  Nothing.”  Ash wanted to keep this civil.  Sort of.  Everything would be easier with a little cooperation.  “It’s just – the Coursers only have a couple of faces and they’re pretty distinctive.  Not good for covert operations.”

“Hmm,”  Ayo narrowed his eyes at her.  “That… is actually not the worst idea.”  He visibly relaxed.  “l’ll let Robotics know you’re coming.”

“Thank you, Doctor.”  Ash moved for the doorway.

“You should go to Medical for those burns.”

“They can wait.”  Ash disappeared into the atrium.

I was beginning to doubt the necessity of my power armor in the hospital. I had managed to creep on the positions of every raider and turret, even inside several hundred pounds of steel plating. My gear is efficient; my fusion core would last me another full day of constant movement. Still, I was contemplating the wasted fuel even as I checked the wires running from the door control in front of me. I traced the wire up to the ceiling and was about to head down the hall to my left when I heard Dogmeat let out an angry bark. My blood ran hot. I whirled about, pistol already in hand. A fucking Deathclaw. Ten feet from me. My blood ran cold.
I remembered the last time I had seen a Deathclaw this close. I was wearing a patchwork set of typical wastelander’s armor. I had just picked a rocket launcher off of a dead raider, and I was feeling cocky. That Deathclaw was busy with the remains of… well, something. There wasn’t much left. I shouldered the launcher and drew a bead on the back of the monster’s head. FWOOOOSH! The poor bastard didn’t even have time to turn as the warhead detonated on the thing. I cackled as the flames enveloped the beast. I stood, bathing in the rush of hot air. Dogmeat barked. The billowing smoke was split by a charging and angry, not to mention seemingly unharmed, Deathclaw. “Fuckfuckfuckfuck!” I tried to drop another rocket into the launch tube. The lizard charged right into me, sending me flying across the ruined street. I landed, rolled, lost the launcher. I fought my way to my feet, drawing my pistol. I recall firing a few times, even as the thing pierced my shoulder clear through with its claws. It reared back, roared, then turned. Dogmeat had latched his jaws down on the thing’s hind leg. I scrambled back, turned, and ran for all I was worth. The flight was a blur, but I eventually locked myself in the trunk of one of the endless rusting hulks of cars, and stanched my bleeding. I blacked out.
Even as I reminisced about that particular time that I nearly died, I raised my right hand and fired with the pistol, even as I drew my favorite rifle with my left. Just as before, the beast lunged, slashing at me with its fistfuls of bayonets. They scraped against my armor plating, but did not penetrate. I smashed against the locked door with a crunch of breaking glass, but held my footing. I raised my plasma rifle, firing as fast as my mechanically enhanced reflexes could squeeze the trigger. The energy burned a stripe from groin to neck as I fired, ripping the beast apart. Smoke and the scent of burning flesh hung in the air. I looked down at the rifle, and back at the blackened, scaly corpse. I looked over at Dogmeat. “Good boy.” I turned and started following the wires again. Bringing the armor was always the right choice.