Author's Notes- Holy crap. 9 favorites and 16 followers? You guys have officially made my day. As a thank-you present, here's the next chapter!
It had taken Elijah, Dogmeat, and Cait the rest of the afternoon to make the journey to Jamaica Plain, and the sun was beginning to set by the time the unlikely trio reached the town's outskirts. Luckily for her, it seemed that Elijah was at least smart enough to forego a night raid, instead choosing to settle down for the night so they could be at full strength for tomorrow. Even more fortunate, they'd stumbled across an abandoned campsite - probably the launching ground for a previous, failed heist, Cait figured - complete with cooking anemities.
And damn if Elijah wasn't a good cook. He'd set up a stew pot after managing to get a roaring fire going, and the savory aroma of whatever-the-fuck-he-was-making was enough to make Cait's and Dogmeat's mouths water. She honestly couldn't remember the last time she had eaten a proper meal. Her parents, may their souls burn in Hell for all eternity, had never bothered to feed her while she was growing up; she made do with scavenging anything edible in the woods around the trailer park where she lived. The people who came after that were little better, usually only feeding her enough so she wouldn't die on their watch. And Tommy... well, why should he bother feeding his combatants properly, if there were so many desperate traders out there willing to sell expired food at cheap prices? At least the Combat Zone had a working stove.
So she wasn't surprised when she found herself gluttonously consuming bowl after bowl of the carefully prepared brahmin and vegetable stew, not caring in the slightest at the looks Elijah and Dogmeat were giving her.
"Hungry, aren't we?" her companion smirked.
He'd stripped himself down to his shirt and jeans for the night, his backpack and pile of armor organized neatly next to his bedroll. She noted the black tattoo stretching across his neck designed to look like throat stitches. Cait was no expert on cosmetics, but she privately thought it was a nice touch.
"You have no idea," she responded, pausing to slurp the last of the broth from her bowl before moving to refill it yet again. "This is without a doubt the greatest thing I've ever eaten in me life."
Elijah's smirk grew into a smile. "While I'm flattered you say that, you might want to consider slowing it down a little. I don't want you to end up sick in the morning..."
"What, you some kind of doctor or somethin'?" she snapped at him. "I'll eat as much as I damn well please!"
He'd gotten full a while ago, or so he claimed. Whatever. She had no issue if he was hungry again, but there was absolutely no way she was sacrificing such a good meal for his sake. Bastard probably just wanted to save the rest for himself, she figured.
"I'm not telling you to stop eating, Cait. I'm just advising you to take it easy. The stew's not going anywhere." Elijah told her calmly.
"Ya don't know that fer certain."
"... You're right, I don't..." he trailed off, taking his gaze off of her and gazing out into the vast wasteland surrounding them. A dangerous, unpredictable wilderness they both knew to be inhabited by hordes of wild mongrels, rabid mole rats, hungry Yao Guai, and plenty of other nasty things that considered wayward humans a tasty snack.
The man shrugged. "Ah, fuck it. Eat as much as you want. If we get attacked by starving raiders during the night, we'll just shoot 'em dead."
Now there was the Elijah she could tolerate. Not the protective partner who showed false concern, but the guy with the "I'm going to kill everything that gets between me and my goal" kind of attitude.
He was... strange. That was really the only way she could describe him. While on the outside he appeared to be your everyday traveler, Cait just couldn't shake the intrusive feeling that something was a tiny bit off about him. Sometimes during their trip to Jamaica Plain he would randomly stop and stare vacantly into the distance, as if there was something fascinating out there that only he could see. She wasn't able to make out his facial expression beneath his goggles and bandana, though the slight sag in his shoulders and little sighs he made every now and then were telling enough hints.
During her three years in the Combat Zone, Cait had grown quite adept at reading body language - it was necessary to learn who was being honest and who wanted to literally stab you in the back out of some petty grudge. The barest tremble of an opponent's body in the arena could give away their fear, something she had exploited more than once in the past to help her earn a victory, however ill-gotten it may have been. She could tell a liar at a moment's glance; she saw how Tommy couldn't keep eye contact with her for more than a few seconds when he explained how her payment that week had been diverted to "maintenance funds".
Something about the wasteland bothered Elijah immensely. Either that or the chems and stressful changes in her life were beginning to make her paranoid; she wasn't sure which one it was.
Finally, after polishing off two more bowls of stew, Cait decided it was time to hit the hay. She crawled inside her sleeping bag, silently wondering if tonight would be her last. She didn't trust Elijah not to slit her throat with a knife while she slept.
It wasn't like anyone would miss her if she died, though.
"Mum? Dad? Who are these people?! Where are they taking me?!"
"Shut the hell up, ya little brat. I didn't waste eighteen years of me life raisin' you just to hear ya scream like a stuck pig!"
"What did I do to deserve this?! I tried to be good! I always stayed out of yer way! Do something; don't let 'em take me away! Please!"
"Why should I? A thousand caps for one lousy kid was more than a fair deal. Wouldn't ya say so, honey?"
"For once, I agree with you."
"You... you bastards. You FUCKING bastards! Let me go! I'll kill you! I SWEAR TO GOD I'LL KILL YOU BOTH! LET ME GO!"
"Goodbye, Cait. Wish I could say it's been a pleasure."
Cait woke up without a sound. She'd long since learned to stop screaming whenever she had that hellish nightmare; there were always more important things to worry about instead, like how she would survive until the next day.
Still... the fact that she so vividly remembered the events of that day, more than eight years later, was a testiment to how utterly fucked up her childhood had been.
But things were different now, she kept telling herself. Her parents would never be able to hurt her like that again. Never. She'd personally made sure of it.
She sat up in her bedroll, rubbing the lingering sleep away from her eyes as her drug-addled mind tried to process where she was. Cait took in her surroundings, finding herself in a vaguely familiar campsite. It was still dark outside, a steady fire being the only thing illuminating the area. Seated on a log was... what was his name again? Oh, right, Elijah. He sat in front of the campfire, seemingly oblivious to her waking up, his attention focused instead on reading a sheet of paper.
Her contract, Cait realized.
She felt anger flare up inside of her as she watched him read in peace. Maybe things weren't as different as she first thought. Actually, it was the exact same scenario all over again: an asshole who gave her a home (albeit a shitty one) sold her over to a complete stranger, not giving a damn about her own opinion in the matter. Elijah was no better than the men who stole her life away on her eighteenth birthday. He owned her contract, which basically meant that he could legally do whatever he wanted with her, and the idea of that secretly terrified her. Cait didn't think she could live through that hell a second time.
So imagine her shock when Elijah tore her contract in two, crumpled the pieces up into a ball, and threw it in the fire.
"What in the bloody fuck did ya just do?!" Cait screeched hysterically, springing to her feet in a second and pointing an accusatory finger in the man's direction.
Elijah blinked owlishly. "Uh... set you free?"
"Yes, but..." Cait stammered, desperately trying to gather her thoughts into a sensible reply. "I mean, thanks, but... then you... then I can't... but... I don't understand!"
"I refuse to own someone," he shrugged, acting as if what he just did didn't have potentially life-altering consequences for her... for them both. "There's one more thing I forgot to mention if you're going to travel with me: do so only if you want to, out of your own free will. I'd understand if you decide to leave. My problems are my own, and I don't want anyone accidentally getting mixed up in them, you know what I'm saying?"
Slippery bastard. He must've figured out how piss-poor her life was up to this point, and probably hoped that granting her her freedom when he knew she had no place else to go would've helped make her warm up to him. Well unfortunately for him, she'd figured out his little plan! Sure, she never received a proper education, but Cait liked to think she was smarter than people gave her credit for.
And yet, a small part of her still felt... grateful for what he'd done. Fuck, why did this guy have to be so weird?!
And what did he mean by getting her mixed up in his problems? She remembered him mentioning having some "important business" to attend to in Diamond City, so where did that leave her? Was it something sensitive that he didn't want her to know about? Although she didn't care too much for the man, she couldn't help feeling curious as to what his agenda was.
Finally, after much thought, Cait gave him a reply.
"Just wake me up when it's time to move out, Elijah. I'm too tired to think about all this shite right now."
Her companion chuckled. "Sounds good to me. Sleep tight; don't let the bloodbugs bite. No, seriously, they hurt like a bitch."
"That's not funny," Cait groaned, settling down to go back to sleep.
She'd follow him for now, she decided. At least until she found something more worthwhile to do.
Cait was awoken the next morning by the lovely feeling of a wet tongue sliding across her face, accompanied by the oh-so-pleasant odor of dog breath.
"UGH! Get the hell away from me, ya damn mutt!" she cried, forcefully shoving Dogmeat away from her.
She could hear Elijah laughing out loud a short distance away.
"Ya think this is funny, do ya?" she growled, already searching the ground around her sleeping bag for her shotgun. "Would it still be funny if I filled yer chest with buckshot pellets?!"
The unshaven man immediately stopped laughing and held up his hands in surrender. Cait noted idly that he was back in his armor, somewhat lessening the value of her threat, but her point still stood.
"Whoa, whoa, calm down! I wasn't expecting Dogmeat to do that, I swear! I was going to wake you up in a few minutes, anyway." He tossed her a piece of mutfruit, which she caught with one hand. "This'll have to do for breakfast. I want to get an early start on today's treasure hunt."
While she longed to eat more of the delicious leftover stew (come to think of it, she didn't see any left in the pot - the implications did not please her), she didn't argue with him and instead chowed down on the fruit in silence. Hmm, maybe traveling with Elijah for a while longer would have some perks after all. He was a bit unpredictable... but he knew how to make decent food, for one thing.
It was only a short walk down the hillside from their campsite to the outskirts of the settlement. Jamaica Plain was average as far as post-nuclear apocalyptic towns were concerned: entirely devoid of life, with many of the buildings either lying in ruins or in various other states of disrepair.
And it was quiet. Almost too quiet. No sound could be heard except for the occasional banging of a shutter whenever a breeze would blow through the empty streets. Cait felt unnerved simply by being in the town, constantly checking over her shoulder to see if anything was trailing behind them. Nothing was, though she could've sworn she heard faint scratching noises coming from inside the seemingly vacant homes and shops.
"I knew a bloke at the Combat Zone who claimed he would find the treasure here once. Never saw him again after he left," she spoke up to break the silence.
"You think he found it?" Elijah inquired.
"I kinda doubt it. This place is givin' me the creeps..."
"Tell me about it," the drifter agreed with her. "We're just going to find the stash and leave. No dilly-dallying."
Cait couldn't agree more. The tension in the air was palpable, and only grew thicker the further they trekked into the ruins of Jamaica Plain. Eventually, Dogmeat, who had taken point and was sniffing at the ground in deep concentration, raised his furry head and started snarling.
"What is it, boy? You find something?" Elijah asked his pet, scanning the empty street ahead of them in search of potential threats.
Dogmeat barked in response, and that's when they heard it. The sound of rustling footsteps and raspy growls echoed from both sides of the street, steadily growing in volume and number as the trio of explorers tensed up in preparation for a fight.
Moments later, a pack of clearly feral ghouls burst through the doors of the houses on both sides of the street, joined shortly by more of their brethren emerging from the shadowed crevices between buildings. Rotted, starving, and obviously having lost their sanity, the ghouls were creatures that never should've existed. Cait once heard that they were originally pre-War humans who suffered from massive radiation exposure during and after the bombs fell; the radiation was rumored to increase their lifespans almost indefinitely, but also carried a risk of decomposing their brians, leaving them as nothing more than savage cannibals who attacked anything in sight.
Nobody who entered this accursed town ever came back. Now she knew why.
"Shite! Shamblers!" she yelled, unholstering her shotgun and taking aim at the ferals. It didn't really matter in hindsight; the gun could only hold a maximum of two shells at a time, and that obviously wouldn't be enough to take down the mob of ghouls storming towards them. There must've been at least twenty of the damn things!
Dogmeat bared his teeth, hackles raised. Elijah, on the other hand, kept his cool and seemed oddly unconcerned. The armored man took a few steps forward and raised a placating hand in his companions' direction.
"Relax, you guys. I'll handle this."
He quickly whipped out a Molotov cocktail and a flip lighter from pockets on his leg armor. Lighting the rag, he tossed the makeshift grenade between them and the ghouls, blocking off their route with a towering wall of fire.
Several of the feral ghouls, already in the middle of one of those infamously fast sprints they're known for, couldn't stop in time (or didn't try) and ended up running straight into the flames... only to continue through them, now set ablaze.
"Huh," Elijah commented while he watched the flaming ghouls rush even closer. "I honestly thought that would do more."
"Nice job, genius! Now we're not just facin' a pack of shamblers; we're facin' a pack of shamblers that are on fire!" Cait shouted, roughly hitting her new partner with the butt of her shotgun.
He said something in response, but she wasn't paying him any more attention. She took aim at the ghouls again and squeezed the trigger. The blast hit its mark, impacting a ghoul's chest and sending it flying backward. She fired again, this time taking out another feral's legs.
She felt furious as she reloaded her weapon, both at herself and at the world in general for having such a sick sense of humor. As if it wasn't bad enough she'd been born in an apocalyptic hellscape, she'd been born to an unloving family who utterly failed to provide even the most basic forms of love and care. Her adult life was little better, killing whoever she was pitted against in the cage and stealing whatever neccessities she could get her hands on - chief among them being chems. Then her contract was given away to some idiot who not only ended up freeing her, but would now be the death of her only a few hours later.
Cait was snapped out of her pity-party when she heard the familiar sound of a minigun spooling up.
"Okay, time for Plan B. The 'B' standing for 'Big-ass motherfucking weapons'." Elijah announced.
She'd seen the results of the minigun's handiwork back in the Combat Zone, but watching it firsthand was... a little nauseating. The weapon roared to life, tearing the ghouls apart in the single biggest showcase of gore she had ever seen. Limbs were violently ripped from their sockets, torsos were shredded down to the bloody innards, and heads exploded like ripened watermelons. Cait could only watch, unblinking, as the pack of nearly two dozen feral ghouls was reduced to meaty chunks in a matter of seconds.
Another reason to stick with Elijah: he could defend himself.
"That was fun," the aftermentioned man said cheerfully. "I hope that was the last of them, though. Remind me to restock on ammo when we reach Diamond City."
"Sure," Cait replied absently, still trying to figure out how a self-proclaimed gearhead with a minigun could so easily kill an entire settlement's worth of ghouls.
Elijah put the heavy weapon away and walked towards one of Jamaica Plain's more notable buildings, a church situated across from the town hall. He tugged on the door handle, but it refused to budge.
"Locked," he murmured. "Darn it."
"What makes you think this old church has anythin' good inside of it?" Cait asked, watching as he stepped back to get a better view of the building.
"Call it a gut feeling, but I think we might find a clue to the treasure's exact location in here." He took notice of a half-demolished house next to the church, where a crude wooden bridge linked their rooftops together. "Bingo!"
He made his way inside the former home, Cait and Dogmeat following close behind. Once they were on the roof, the three of them steadily crossed the bridge - Cait's heart skipped a beat when she heard it creak under their weight - and made their way to the church's side, where they found a convenient hole that led inside.
Elijah deposited his backpack on the roof and turned to face Cait.
"Okay, here's the plan: I'll take Dogmeat and sweep the rest of the town for stray ghouls. You drop into the church, see what you can find, then make your way to the steeple and establish a sniper's nest. Once we're certain we've cleared them all out, we'll randevous by the town hall," he instructed.
Cait gave him a flat look. "I use a shotgun, dumbarse. How the hell am I supposed to snipe anythin' with that?"
He wordlessly knelt down and rummaged through his backpack before producing a new weapon. It was a horrifyingly crude and complex piece of engineering; capacitors and exposed wiring ran along the length of the gun, and it appeared to only be held together by duct tape and glue. What looked like an oversized suppressor was fastened to the weapon's barrel, though she didn't know what it was for certain.
"Ever use a gauss rifle before?" he asked.
"Then today's your lucky day! It's actually very simple. All you have to do is hold down the trigger, and the magnetic-"
"I'm not usin' that, Elijah." Cait cut him off, warily eyeing the mechanical deathtrap he was offering her.
"What? It's harmless!" Elijah sounded genuinely surprised. "Trust me, I've used it plenty of times before-"
"I said I'm not usin' that!" she snapped defiantly. "The damn thing looks like it'll explode in me hands if I try to fire it! There's no way I'm touchin' that piece o' junk!"
The black-haired man huffed, storing the rifle on his back. "Fine. Then you can clear the streets with Dogmeat, and I'll handle the sniping."
"Now that ain't fair!" Cait kept up the argument. "Yer the one with the armor; you can take the brunt of their attacks! You should be the one runnin' around down there!"
"Says the woman who won't take the cushy sniper job."
She could hear the victorious smirk under his bandana, and she privately seethed while she watched him load a magazine into the gauss rifle. He wasn't smirking a second later, however, after he dropped down inside the hole. A loud crash signaled that he'd probably landed his stupid ass on a pew or some other furniture.
A pained moan echoed up to the rooftop.
"You okay down there, Elijah?" Cait called down, not exactly caring what his answer would be.
"I think so... Owwww... These buns ain't made of steel..."
"Then quit actin' like a damn baby and go get yer job done!" she yelled at him.
"Yeah, yeah, I hear you..." came the reply. "... Oh, gross! There's a dead guy sitting next to me, and he's starting to look a little green!... I'm taking his stuff."
Cait sighed in exasperation at her partner's antics while she picked up his heavy backpack. She would carry it around for him while she scouted the town with Dogmeat; it wasn't part of her orders, but having some extra firepower never hurt.
Inhale, charge shot, point crosshairs over target's head, fire shot, exhale. Watch in satisfaction as the target's head was blasted apart. Rinse and repeat.
He was never the greatest with a sniper rifle in the military, but then again, his particular position never mandated that kind of training. Besides, in this new, post-apocalyptic wasteland he found himself stuck in, he now had all the time in the world to grow accustomed to their use.
Of course he hadn't settled for the standard-issue rifles. Nope; in true Elijah Fardale fashion, he'd gone and gotten his hands on the biggest, heaviest, most lethal sniping tool he could afford to purchase in the market. There was a fine difference between an enemy being mostly dead and being supremely dead, after all.
On a totally unrelated note, he was still no closer to making a personal connection with his new traveling companion than he had been yesterday.
Cait was a total mystery to him. He'd already gathered that she hadn't had the most pleasant life - not if her living in the Combat Zone was any indication - but aside from the few facts she'd already told him about herself before their departure to Jamaica Plain, he didn't know a thing about her. He had freed her from her service to him; not only because he was dead set against the idea of being what amounted to a slaveholder, but because he hoped she would see it as a gesture of goodwill, and maybe ease up on her cynical attitude. He wanted her to know that despite his quirks, he held no ill intentions for her. Ripping up and burning her contract seemed like a good idea to prove that, since he doubted using only words would work.
Hang on a sec, ghoul at eight o'clock.
No more ghoul.
Well, that plan had sort of backfired. If anything, Cait was more suspicious than ever about him now. Elijah privately admitted that her viewpoint wasn't totally unjustified. He was a man who held many closely guarded secrets; he didn't just go prancing around spilling his life story to anyone who would listen. Preston was currently the only one he trusted enough with his backstory, and he supposed that Piper woman meant no harm in asking for an interview. He planned to give her one when he returned to Diamond City, grinning to himself as he thought about how she would react when she learned the truth about him.
He wondered how Cait would take the news, if she stuck with him until then. He would really be laying his cards out on the table by coming clean with such sensitive information. Elijah secretly wished she would stay with him; sure, she definitely had some issues to work out, but she seemed to know how the wasteland worked, and she was a much better conversation partner than Dogmeat. No offense to his furry friend, of course.
It also helped that she was... oh, how should he put it... rather pleasing to look at. She was pretty in a rough-and-tumble sort of way, a stark contrast to the plastic women of his time who often used up an entire can of hair spray each day. That was another check in the long list of reasons why he'd married Nora instead of some beauty queen. She was comfortable with herself and her own natural appearance, something he liked about her greatly.
Elijah felt a painful ache in his heart at the thought of his dear wife. When he found the bastard who'd fractured his family... there would be blood. And lots of it.
Hold up, another ghoul.
Tango down. This one was just half a block away from Cait and Dogmeat, and he snickered softly when he saw the former jump up in fright. He could hear her angry swears all the way up from his spot in the steeple.
He shook his head to clear away his thoughts. Nora was gone, and nothing he knew of could bring her back. But he was still here. Shaun was still out there... somewhere.
Cait shouldn't have gotten swept up in any of this. Elijah silently pledged that the least he could do was try to protect her in the coming storm.
The trio regrouped outside the town hall's front door twenty minutes later after they finished mopping up the last remaining pockets of ghouls. Cait breathed a sigh of relief when she finally handed Elijah's backpack over to him; the damn thing weighed a ton! She didn't know how he put up with carrying it for so long, or how the weight seemed to have no adverse effects on his back. If they found the treasure - when they found it, she corrected herself - then he would definitely be playing pack mule with all the goodies.
"So, did you find anything useful while you were out there?" Elijah asked her.
"Nothin' much," she shrugged. "Just some keys on the corpses of previous treasure hunters. A party of about five, I'm guessin'. Apparently they scattered the moment they saw the ghouls."
She grinned mischievously at her companion. "I guess not everyone can afford to have a handsome bloke with a minigun covering their arses..."
The man visibly blushed under his bandana and looked away, causing Cait's grin to widen. So he didn't know how to react to harmless flirting, eh? She could have a lot of fun with this.
"Uh, yeah. So, um, remember when I said I would take the dead church guy's stuff?" Elijah tried steer the subject back on track. "Turns out he had the mayor's ID card on him. I'm not sure what that or the keys do, but I do know one thing: the treasure has to be in the town hall somewhere. All the signs seem to point to it."
Cait was already moving inside the half-destroyed building before he even finished speaking.
"Then let's get movin'! I can't wait to get out of this damn ghost town."
"I hear ya. I'm half tempted to burn this place to the ground once we're finished here," Elijah agreed, walking in quick strides to keep up with his nimbler partner.
The interior of the town hall was a total wreck, like someone had managed to conjure up a tornado and somehow keep it confined within the building's walls. There were overturned file cabinets everywhere, most of them having spilled their contents all over the floor. She was lucky enough to find an unopened box of shotgun ammunition in one of the open desk drawers. Elijah, on the other hand, was preoccupying himself with collecting everything that wasn't nailed down. It wasn't the kind of junk that you would sell to collectors, either - none of it held any kind of notable value or significance whatsoever. Desk fans, pencils, ceramic bowls, packs of duct tape, even a typewriter; you name it, Elijah would find room to cram it inside his bag.
"Leave that junk behind! You're not gonna have any room left when we find the treasure!" Cait scolded.
"It's not the junk that I want; it's the stuff inside the junk that I want. You'd be surprised by what you can make with a few sticks and screws," he replied. "And don't worry about me running out of space. These pants have really deep pockets."
She couldn't tell if he was messing with her again. He likely was, though, so she rolled her eyes instead of answering before resuming her exploration.
They searched around for a few more minutes when Dogmeat suddenly picked up a scent. It led them up a flight of stairs to an office containing a computer terminal, along with the body of a dead Gunner. Searching her belongings rewarded them with a holotape, as well as a password for the mayor's terminal.
Since Cait wasn't well-educated in the field of electronics, it fell to Elijah to sit down at the computer and make light of their findings. He loaded the personal holotape in first, and a message began to play:
"Damn it. Worthless bastards. Scattered like radroaches the moment they saw their first ghoul. I've spent months prepping for this op. There's no way I'm backing out now. That treasure will be mine! Even if I have to dig it up with my bare hands!"
Elijah turned his head to look at the woman's lifeless corpse slumped against the wall.
"Sorry hon, but I'm fresh out of fucks to give. I metaphorically spit on your grave." He said calmly.
Cait snorted in laughter as he loaded up the next holotape.
"Bingo. The treasure's in the basement, right beneath us. We're getting close!"
They hastened out of the room and made a beeline downstairs. The locked basement door may have been a problem for some, but fortunately for the terrific trio, one of the keys Cait had found earlier fit perfectly in the keyhole.
Elijah kicked the door open and Cait immediately took point, sweeping the dusty interior with her shotgun drawn. Nothing. It seemed like the ghouls hadn't made it down here. Good, that would make their job a hell of a lot easier.
"This place is in pretty decent shape compared to the rest of Jamaica Plain," the armored man noted, taking a few steps into the old basement.
"I dunno. If anyone's been here recently, they haven't left a trace in all this dust!" Cait threw in her own obsevation.
Dogmeat just sneezed when he accidentally inhaled some of said dust.
The next few rooms were mostly empty, save for some more miscellaneous items that Elijah was hell-bent on scavenging. There was also another terminal in a smaller room that he briefly examined; he told her there was nothing important on it when she asked him of its contents, although his body language suggested he was mildly disturbed by whatever he read on there. She didn't care enough to press the question.
Eventually, they rounded a corner into a long hallway... which was rigged with approximately fifty laser tripwires and flanked by three dormant turrets.
Elijah muttered something under his breath that would've gotten him kicked out of Goodneighbor, which impressed Cait. She thought she was the only one who knew what that particular piece of pre-War slang meant; evidently she stood corrected.
"Well fuck," he cursed again, kneeling down next to one of the tripwires to get a closer look. He sighed heavily in annoyance. "I know how this kind of security system works. I can disarm the triggers, but I'll have to do them one at a time, so it'll probably take a while."
"Whatever's in that stash must be worth a fortune," Cait commented, the thought of the treasure being within reach outweighing her irritation at their current roadblock. "I've never seen anythin' so tightly guarded before! What do ya suppose is in there? Weapons? Heirlooms? How about money?"
Her accomplice stood up and straightened his back. He must have noticed the greed in her eyes, because he shook his head as he started to head back into the previous room.
"If it's money, it would be the pre-War kind instead of bottlecaps, so that's something we can rule out looting. But I bet we'll find a couple of intact weapons, and maybe a few gold bars or something... All I know is that whatever this treasure is, the mayor thought it was worth almost $40 million to construct and maintain." He paused thoughtfully as he reached a large computer console. "Although the janitor's terminal said that only three visitors came to see it after the display opened... I guess there's no way to know what's in there until we find it for ourselves. Hang on a moment."
He fished the mayor's ID card out of his pocket and ran it through the swiper. There was a beep, and the tripwires in the adjacent hallway blinked out of existence one by one.
"Thank god that worked. I really didn't feel like disabling the whole security system manually," Elijah breathed in relief.
"Nice job," Cait complimented.
Reason number three to travel with him: he seemed to know what he was doing, even when he didn't, if that made any sense. Or maybe he was just lucky.
With a quick reply of "Thanks", the three treasure hunters proceeded down the hallway to the next area. After passing through a few more rooms and a short, half-finished maintenance tunnel lit by red emergency lights, they found themselves in a large, open antechamber. A pair of solid steel doors was located at the far end of the room, with locked pods containing two inactive Protectrons situated on both sides of them.
"Soooo close..." Cait whispered. Feeling lucky herself, she produced her own scavenged key card and swiped it through a similar terminal to the one Elijah had used a couple of minutes earlier. She was awarded by the terminal's interface flaring to life; not what she was hoping for, but it was still progress. Elijah, sensing that his skills would be needed again, pulled over a nearby folding chair and set to work unlocking the door.
Thirty seconds later, his hacking expertise paid off, and the metal doors opened. Behind them was another set of identical doors, along with a big red button that was practically screaming, "Press me!"
"You do the honors, Cait." Elijah said, gesturing with a nod to the button's stand.
The former pit fighter felt absolutely giddy with excitement as she approached the stand. Here she was, an unemployed chem addict, about to get her hands on the Commonwealth's biggest haul; many had tried to claim the same prize over the centuries, but none of them came as close as she was today.
Well... she figured she couldn't take all the credit. Elijah had definitely been a big help on the road to getting here, thanks in no small part to his technical knowledge and heavy weaponry. Even Dogmeat had proved useful with his heightened senses. While she was wandering the streets in search of goodies earlier, she hadn't noticed a ghoul sneaking up on her from behind until she heard it cry out in pain. The German Shepherd had its powerful jaws clenched around the shambler's leg, snarling viciously as he tugged the creature away from Cait's direction. The Irish woman promptly smashed the incapacitated ghouls's head into pulp with her baseball bat, and after making sure Elijah couldn't see her from his sniper's nest, she gave Dogmeat a pat on the head well done.
While she still didn't trust him, perhaps she could get used to living as Elijah's companion. She already came up with three separate reasons as to how it might benefit her, after all.
And speaking of benefits, she would need to make sure he didn't try to take a majority of the profits for himself. She'd let him know that she wouldn't settle for anything less than half the cut.
Her hand pushed down on the button. Elijah joined her as she stepped into the treasure exhibit...
And her newfound optimism was replaced by outrage.
"Oh, you have got to be fuckin' kidding me!" she roared in fury. "This worthless pile o' junk is the treasure?!"
The fabled "treasures" turned out to be anything but special. It was just a tacky display of pre-War activities and lifestyles, complete with associated items related to fields such as sports and science. Hell, the only thing that looked even remotely valuable was a pristine microscope at the back of the display, and she could find several of those scattered throughout many other places in the Commonwealth.
She had nearly gotten killed by feral ghouls over a bunch of useless garbage. A vein bulged in her forehead as rage continued to wash over her in waves. She almost wished she was back at the Combat Zone - at least she could kill some poor bloke to vent her anger on in there, and get paid for doing so. Fuck Elijah and his stupid fool's errand!
Elijah, for his part, calmly skirted around the room in a clockwise direction, stopping at each display to carefully examine each artifact of the certainly-not-treasure. He even bagged the microscope, the idiot.
"I'd write this off as a bad case of false advertising more than anything. This stuff was never a treasure to anyone; all it is is a greatly exaggerated time capsule," he explained. "Not worth the $40 million in my opinion."
"Why the hell are ya even botherin' to look at that garbage? It's all a sham! Let's just get out of here before I lose me temper." Cait huffed, still bitter over the recent turn of events.
"We'll leave in a bit. We busted our asses to get here - literally, in my case - so we may as well look around while we can." He stopped dead in his tracks when he saw what was inside one of the open display cases. "Hello, what's in here...?"
He reached into the case and came out holding a baseball bat similar to Cait's, only this one was made of oak wood and emblazoned with a logo reading "World Champions".
"Well I'll be damned, a 2076 World Series baseball bat. Never thought I'd see one of these things," he commented, idly turning the bat over in his hands to inspect the craftsmanship.
"Okay, two questions: how did ya know that, and why is it important?" Cait inquired. She rested her hands over her hips, signaling to Elijah that he'd better answer her or else.
"... Uhh... I like history. Almost as much as I like electronics," he shrugged.
He was a terrible liar. She didn't say that out loud, though.
"As for why it's important, I know a certain moron in Diamond City who would trade the clothes on his back for this thing." Another pause. "I kinda hope he doesn't, though. Seeing an old man's floppy dong would scar me emotionally for the rest of my life."
Cait struggled to hide a smirk. His "Elijah-isms", when they weren't being directed at her, were highly entertaining. This guy could easily win an insult contest.
"How much do ya think we can get from that?" she asked.
He tilted his head to think. "I reckon I can get about... oh, say 300 caps if I rile him up enough. Shouldn't be difficult; he talks tough, but the guy's a pussy."
"So yer sayin' this trip wasn't a total waste of time, then?"
"I guess not. If anything, it was a lot more enjoyable having someone along with me... You know what? We'll split the reward 25-75. You probably need the caps more than I do." Elijah said sincerely.
Cait blinked. Then blinked again. "... Yer frontin' me. There's no way anyone would pass on that many caps!"
"Believe it or not, Cait, I'm not some crazy hobo who lives in drainage pipes and drinks his own urine. I actually make a pretty comfortable living doing odd jobs and mercenary work," he informed her. "Trust me, I'm not losing much by giving up a few bottlecaps. "
That was the problem, though: she didn't trust him, and she didn't know if she ever could. Letting your guard down around a stranger was a surefire way of getting mugged when you had your back turned. He had to have some kind of inner motive for the selfless acts he had done for her, and she was determined to find out what it was. She would get the drop on him if he ever decided to try and hurt her.
Nevertheless, there was no way she was refusing over 200 caps.
"Thank you," she smiled at him. "I promise I'll put 'em to good use."
Maybe she could buy some more Jet, or a few bottles of Buffout... ooh, or some Psycho! That drug kept her energized for hours.
"I'm sure you will. Ready to head back out?"
"Ready," she confirmed.
As they left the time capsule chamber, Elijah purposely lagged behind and watched Cait and Dogmeat disappear around a corner. Briefly glancing behind him at the dusty exhibit, he unclipped a fragmentation grenade from his belt. Without another look, he casually tossed the grenade over his shoulder back into the display room. The resulting sound of the explosion indicated that the so-called Treasures of Jamaica Plain were no more.
Mission accomplished. Next stop: Diamond City.
I'm proud of how much I can write for pointless miscellaneous quests. 7500+ words for Jamaica Plain!
I'll admit I rushed a bit to get the second half of the chapter done, and I made up most of the content on the fly, but I think I did a satisfactory enough job. I also wasn't planning on including an Elijah POV, but I'm glad I did, since it will help set the stage for the next chapter.
Just an FYI: the actual romance isn't going to happen for a long time. There will be teasing moments between the two here and there, but nothing concrete will start occurring until the events of "Benign Intervention".
As for the structure of this story, I plan on flip-flopping between the main and side quests. I already have an ending thought out which I'm sure everyone will love, regardless of whichever faction you prefer.
Chapter 3 will likely be shorter, but have lots of juicy content. But before that, I want to see if I can get Call of Skyrim updated again. As always, make sure to fav, follow, and review!
3/23/16 update: All writing has come to a halt until Easter is over. Spring break for me means double the hours at work. On the bright side, I know exactly how the next chapter will play out, so it shouldn't take as long for me to write.