Fallout 4: The Rise of the M.C.R

Chapter Twelve

Stockpiles

The journey south with the two new recruits was by no way a pleasant experience as the weather was only getting worse and the journey made slower as both Brandis and Haylen were carrying everything they could from the bunker on their backs.

As they passed within a mile of County Crossing, a ramshackle farming settlement that fell under the Minutemen Protectorate Treaty, Dogmeat alerted them to a hidden danger. Following the canine's keen senses, they discovered that the settlement was about to be attacked by a dozen members of the Forged.

Despite their urgent need to hurry to the Castle, Alec couldn't just ignore the threat to one of the settlements under his protection. The two former Brotherhood members looked to Alec for orders, but he wondered if they were testing him in that moment, looking for insight into his intentions.

But it took only a look to Brandis for Alec to communicate his decision and what they must do, and the old soldier had followed his silent order without question.

Using the veil of swirling snow as camouflage, the two of them had managed to each take down a gang member without being noticed. The third however managed to get off a shot which just narrowly missed Dogmeat before he was taken out by a long distance shot from Haylen. With the element of surprise lost a gunfight ensued and they had killed them all to the last before the guards of County Crossing had arrived to investigate.

They did not linger at the settlement, merely accepted their thanks, and quickly moved on and eventually they reached the river where Alec decided to split up. He told his new recruits to cross into Charlestown and stop at Bunker Hill to get additional supplies and to introduce themselves before then moving on to the Castle.

Alec however crossed the other river as he needed to go to the Airport to make some other arrangements but also because he wanted to ensure everything secure and to arrange for a delivery of supplies and resources left by the Brotherhood were sent to Hagen.

Despite the falling snow and dark skies, it was easy to spot the airport terminal, even from a distance. Electric lights glowed brightly around its perimeter and illuminated everything in sight which would prevent anyone from stealthily trying to infiltrate the site.

The Synth Patrolmen and Coursers were quick to approach Alec thinking him hostile, but they soon recognised him and allowed him to enter the secured compound.

When he had made the decision to come to the airport Alec had hoped to meet with Valentine and X6-88 to discover what their investigation had yielded but was disappointed to learn that they had yet to return. Learning this Alec felt a niggle of fear and hoped that his old friend was alright and hadn't been caught by Maxson.

While the lack of Brotherhood soldiers and the small army of synths guarding the terminal were obvious changes since the last time Alec had been here, they were not the changes that stood out to him.

It was clear that the Institute had put synths to work rebuilding the old terminal walls and adding a new roof while doubling the amount of available space, but they had also made repairs across the entire structure.

Numerous aisles of shelving racks had been constructed and installed within the building and stacked high with boxes and boxes of the amassed treasures of the Brotherhood of Steel.

One of the groups of Synths were sorting and boxing up an assortment of chemistry materials, once done they placed a neat label onto the box and placed a lid on it before they placing it onto a shelf and beginning again.

It was hardly surprising to find boxes and boxes devoted to weapons technologies, but he saw many others that were devoted to other fields of study such as medical, energy and communications technologies.

He eventually found his way to the main archiving room, it was a square room within the terminal filled with dozens of filing cabinets, piles of boxes upon boxes, shelves filled with an array of technical components and weapons and a number of crates of who knew what.

In the centre of the room was a large well-lit desk and sat behind it was Dr Madison Li who was studying a thick roll of blueprints which even at a distance Alec could tell were clearly for the Prydwen.

"You look engrossed Maddison, what has caught your eye about the Prydwen?"

Madison jumped at the sound of his voice having been completely engrossed in her work and she frowned at being disturbed but refrained from commenting on it.

"Director." She said in a stiff greeting, "I was studying its fusion powerplant, but that is not important to you. You will have seen that the Prydwen has been docked successfully on a metal framework we had constructed. It was fortunate we had an easily accessible source of high-density metal close to hand, otherwise the ship would be consuming coolant like a fish does water."

"We have also begun to build a hangar around the airship, but it is slow going now that the weather has changed. We have emptied the airship of everything it had stored inside, and I can tell you we have barely made a dent."

Alec saw on her face that she looked excited about the fact that they still had a great deal to sort through and learn, hardly surprising given her interest in intellectual and scientific pursuits.

"I am sure there is a lot here that the Institute would be interested in." Alec said looking around the room at all of the cabinets that no doubt were full of scientific wonder. "But surely there is not much the Institute can learn from, after all the Institute is more advanced technologically than the Brotherhood."

The look Dr Li gave him made Alec bristle as she judged his intellect and seemed to be considering how she would answer.

"The Institute has pushed the limits of science and technology further than any organisation but there is still much to learn and develop. Science is always evolving, every new thing we learn can lead to something new or broadening our knowledge." She stated, "You name any field of study and you fill find some form of research or prototype devoted to it amongst the weapons we have found here. Every division of the Institute will find materials here that will help with their ongoing projects but also open other avenues of scientific pursuit."

"I am sure they are greatly interested." Alec said tersely, "for now, I don't want the Institute devouring everything here in a frenzy. This treasure trove belongs to everyone in the Commonwealth and will be used to benefit all."

She didn't look surprised by his directive if anything she looked to have expected it.

"I should also say thank you." Alec continued, "for overseeing the decommission of that monstrous robot and it is now safely hidden within Vault 88."

She acknowledged that with a brief nod before she stepped over to a rack containing numerous metal cylinders and she pulled one of them out and placed it on her desk.

"I found these this morning, they are the schematics for Liberty Prime." She told him, "it holds not only the original plans for the Mark I but also the Brotherhood Mark II. I was impressed with the modifications they made to the design since I last worked on it, although they hadn't successfully fixed the flaws in the power systems."

"I would rather Liberty Prime was forgotten." Alec said tapping the cylinder gently, "it was a devastating weapon, and it's not one that I would have in the Commonwealths arsenal. I would imagine there is still much to learn from these?"

"More than you know." Li stated, "had the Brotherhood obtained the beryllium agitator then Liberty Prime could have easily enabled them to infiltrate the Institute,"

Alec raised his eyebrows in surprise having never considered the possibility that the robot could have found the Institute hidden under Cambridge, but then it was common knowledge that the Institute was born out of the remnants of CIT.

"How?" Alec asked.

"The Brotherhood fitted Liberty Prime with a devastating laser weapon." Dr Li explained, "It was adapted from a Tunnel Boring Laser, if the beam was maintained it would be capable of boring straight down through the earth and breaching our subterranean structures."

A shudder overcame Alec as he remembered the robot powering its laser weapon and realise just what power it had and what it could have done to him.

"Director, while you were able to defeat Liberty Prime you must remember that it was not fully operational given its power constraints." Li warned, "It is still possible that the Brotherhood could construct another, and if they fix the power issues then it may be a good thing we have not destroyed the robot."

Alec blinked at Dr Li; he never would have thought it possible for the Brotherhood to construct another monstrous robot. It had been built before the war, and hoped the means construct such a thing had died with the United States of America. But then if the Brotherhood could construct something as large as the Prydwen…

"If they could build the Prydwen from scratch then it would be no small thing to build another Liberty Prime, so long as they had access to the materials needed."

"Exactly, it is entirely possible." Li acknowledged, "It would take a lot of time to do but they will not forget what we did here."

Distracted by the fantastical thoughts of a Brotherhood led invasion of the Commonwealth by an army of robots, Alec paced the room and looked around at everything with new eyes and Dr Li let him recognising that he needed to process the information.

"When the Brotherhood left Washington, it couldn't possibly have brought everything with them, even with the Prydwen. Maxson won't have abandoned the Pentagon either, it is a Brotherhood Stronghold, and I imagine that is where they are all intending to regroup. But what could they have there that might still threaten us?"

It was said aloud but Alec was talking to himself, but Dr Li was watching him pace and talk and she tilted her head in contemplation and studied him like a scientific problem that needed to be understood and he called her out for it.

"It is odd to hear you use the old names, especially up here in the Wasteland." She explained awkwardly, "most wastelanders are ignorant of what once was and use the bastard names of what now is. I forget that you are a man out of time."

Despite his turbulent thoughts he couldn't help but laugh at her words especially given the Institutes familiarity of his history and remembering Piper's choice words about him.

"You are right to worry about what else the Brotherhood might have at their disposal." Dr Li warned, "Since the end of the Great War the Brotherhood has scoured the wasteland taking anything they could get their hands on, there is no telling what they might have found. Now shall I tell you what we have so far inventoried?"

o-FALLOUT-o

The change in weather saw the Commonwealth Minutemen mostly disbanded as the civilian militia returned home to wait out the winter. This meant that the Castle was quieter than normal, but it still maintained an active garrison all of whom were hard at work making winter preparations.

Over the last month, work had been carried out under the Castle to stabilise the old tunnels with concrete and several new areas had also been painstakingly excavated for additional secure storage and a new communications room. The latter was so that the radio operator could work more comfortably and to stop the equipment being damaged by the elements.

Within the rebuilt walls were the barracks which housed the Castle garrison for which Ronnie Shaw had sourced numerous beds, mattresses, blankets and even had the Atom Cats create heating lamps at no small cost to ensure that the garrison would remain warm and well rested and not abandon them for home.

The Castle now also boasted a kitchen and canteen that had been built into another section of the rebuilt walls. It was rather ramshackle having been sourced from the ruins of commercial kitchens in the city, but they had the equipment they needed to feed the garrison so long as they had food in their stores.

It was the food stores that had brought Preston and Ronnie down under the Castle and they were overseeing a full inventory of all their supplies, they were suspiciously lower than they should be and suspected someone had been helping themselves.

Under normal circumstances the theft of food wouldn't be so serious but the supply routes that stocked the Castle with food were running dry as settlements were stockpiling their food and resources and the Minutemen were far from being self-sufficient and were dependent on the generosity of the people they protected and bartered for the rest.

It took them a while to complete the inventory and the two of them locked the stores and posted a guard to the door, theft could not be tolerated now and if the thief was caught they would be punished in some fashion, they had to set an example.

Leaving the stores the two of them went up onto the walls of the old fort despite the cold so that they could have a conversation without fear of being overhead, the artillery placements were no longer manned as they couldn't see the signals which would indicate a target anymore.

"Well we have confirmed what we thought, we do not have the necessary food to last the winter." Ronnie scowled in a low voice once sure they were alone. "We will need to ration what we have left, but even then things will be tight, and I worry that our people might think to leave."

Preston nodded deep in thought, he knew that such a decision would not be popular among the garrison, but he couldn't see an alternative. They had been blind to the thefts and had reacted after the damage was done, something that plagued the Minutemen in almost everything they did.

Food is the only resource we are lacking." Ronnie continued, "We have heat, water, medicine and shelter aplenty, I think this might be the one of hardest tests the Generals Minutemen have faced. Call the General, this needs to be fixed and urgently, maybe he has the contacts we need."

"No." Preston said firmly, "Alec placed me in the command while he went to Vault 88, I failed when he went north but I will not fail in my duty now."

"That was a no-win situation, so the blame for the Warwick situation doesn't fall on you." Ronnie stated grimly before pointing out the obvious, "If we cannot feed our people then the Minutemen will not survive. If you are taking this burden on then you must have a plan Colonel?"

Usually it was Ronnie who found solutions for the resourcing issues of the Minutemen, she was the one who got them everything they needed to protect the Commonwealth and a minute's notice. If Ronnie Shaw couldn't find a solution Preston began to doubt if he could and wondered if his pride was stopping him calling the General.

Pushing those thoughts aside he forced himself to think while he stood looking out over the Commonwealth, it was barely visible through the snowfall and the cold chill that creeped through his bones went unnoticed as he was so caught up in the matter at hand.

Eventually he asked, "what funds do we have?"

"About two thousand Caps." Ronnie told him, "however if you are thinking of buying the food we need it won't be that easy. People are stockpiling and will not wish to sell their produce. I spoke with a Cricket from Bunker Hill two days ago, you wouldn't believe the cost of food right now, its extortionate."

It was hardly surprising that she had already considering buying the extra food needed to solve their shortage, she wouldn't have been Ronnie if she hadn't. Preston began to walk to try and warm himself back up in the hopes of unfreezing his brain so that an idea would come to him, but all he could think was that Ronnie was right, the issue was people stockpiling.

Shifting his gaze from what he could see of the ruined cityscape of Boston to out behind the water where an old boat sat bobbing on the waves and being buffeted was the wind and wondered what lay beyond the horizon. What did the world look like beyond the Commonwealth, how far did the water stretch, was there a better life beyond the Commonwealth where food was a plenty and you didn't have to fight to survive?

Suddenly completely unbidden an idea came to him, and he began to wrestle with a solution that he knew sounded mad and thought it likely to be the Generals influence. Alec often spoke about the old world and its numerous wonders and everything that had been lost.

"How many among the garrison are able engineers, builders or mechanics?" He asked Ronnie suddenly, he wanted to know if his idea would even be feasible given the small number of available men and women and silently wished Sturges was here, he would definitely be able to do it.

Ronnie had been startled by his sudden question, but it didn't stop her from answering diligently despite not knowing what he was thinking of trying to do.

"A few, we have them working on the communication rooms construction, but we can reassign them if needed."

With that fact everything began to fall into place as he considered the issue again and wondered if it could possibly be that simple.

"You said that the issue is people stockpiling, well let's take people out of equation." Preston ordered, "I was you to outfit a Provisioner Caravan and send them out to Graygarden. It's run by Robots; they only require enough produce to reseed their fields and greenhouse everything else is surplus. We will buy what is left and we must hope that no one else has got there before us."

Ronnie nodded and he could see her working through what he said but if she found fault in his orders or his plan she kept it to herself and instead added, "It will not be an easy journey, the roads will be dangerous."

"I know." Preston said quickly, "the caravan will need additional guards to ensure its protected. I would also have the provisioners attempt to hunt. If they can bag a Radstag we will have ourselves some meat, it's too good an opportunity to pass up."

"I will assemble the caravan and guards." She said acknowledging his orders, "what about the workers? Do you have something in mind for them, assuming you don't want them sent with the caravan?"

Preston smile now and pointed out into the water.

"I want that boat out there brought over the docks here at the Castle and I want to see if we can possibly salvage it. The earth cannot provide us with food but it's possible the ocean just might." He told her happily, "If we can get that boat working we might just have found ourselves a source of food, how do you like fish?"

"Fish?" Ronnie stuttered, "You want us to fish? Do you even know how?"

Before Preston could elaborate a bell rang from the Castles front gate signalling that someone was approaching via the road, the two of them made their way over the battlements and looked down the pathway to see two people approaching from the city.

o-FALLOUT-o

While the people of the Commonwealth had been outraged by the Brotherhood of Steels attacks on Warwick and Spectral Island they had been completely unaware of a third attack that had been orchestrated by the militant faction.

The group targeted had not been without defences, but they didn't count for much when put against the strength of a power armoured battalion converging on them at once, they were lucky to have received a minute's notice before the entrance exploded, and soldiers rushed in and began to butcher everyone.

Just as the Brotherhood had breached the front entrance, a small number of the group had managed to use small amount of advance notice to slip away through a secret passage built in case of such an event some time before due to a security concern.

It had been an extremely near thing, but the survivors of the attack managed to escape the Brotherhood by fleeing deep into the undercity of Boston, using the labyrinth of tunnels to hide from any scout who might be sent through the passage if it was found.

For a month, the survivors resided under the city, making us of what supply caches they had hidden away for such an occasion, but it was hardly living, especially with the reeking smell and the danger of Feral Ghouls lurking around every corner.

Eventually with the weather changing, the lack of further supplies and the need to escape the danger of the tunnels they were forced to return topside and they made their way to their current home.

There were risks with them coming to the surface in Cambridge, but they had no choice, they needed to find a place that was dry, warm, clean, and well supplies but above all else could provide secrecy and security.

When they had entered the building, they had almost been met with weapons fire, those inside had been shocked to discover the survivors standing before them having thought them all dead in the massacre.

They had been brought inside and quickly caught up on everything that had happened since they had been driven underground and had barely been able to believe just how much has so suddenly changed.

None of them, could have predicted that the Brotherhood attacks would have culminated to their defeat at the hands of the both the Minutemen working alongside the Institute. Or that Alec Carter would return and lead the attack, let alone the strange rumours of the time that said he was meeting with various settlement leaders.

The survivors remained in Cambridge longer than they thought they would, a few of them had picked up a sickness in the tunnels that required some intensive doctoring so instead used their time devouring the news coming from Diamond City Radio.

With the position somewhat more permanent they had decided to keep their existence a secret, they did not reach back out to their network and allowed them to continue to be believed dead. They needed time to recover and a plan for what would come next which seemed very vague at that moment.

When the news came that Alec had not only summoned the Commonwealth Leaders to a meeting to the south but had managed to create the NCPG bound by the terms of the Accords, they had all be as shocked as the rest of the Commonwealth and arguments and debates broke out on what it would mean for the future.

Alec Carter was known to the group, over a year before he had found them while following leads looking for his son. He had used them in order to achieve his goals and they had also used him for his skills. In the end he had cut off communication with them and last they knew he had made his way into the Institute, but they didn't know what happened.

A bald man walked into the room that had been set aside for the leaders of the survivors, it had large dirty windows that offered a surprisingly beautiful view of the city and snowstorm. The room was not empty though, a woman stood seemingly admiring the view.

"How are the repairs progressing." The woman said without turning around.

The bald man took a seat and casually picked up a copy of Guns and Bullets and flicked through the pages.

"Still ongoing." He reported, "Should be back up and running soon, we had to salvage some parts from a protectron, it rekindled that old debate, you can imagine how it went."

"Deal with it." The woman said firmly, "that repair is our topmost priority, without it we are working with our eyes closed, we need it."

"Right you are boss." The man replied easily not looking away from his magazine, but it was hard to tell what he was looking at behind his glasses. "Tom gave me a list of materials and components he needs, not just for the robot but also for repairs to the old generator. We need to go to Bunker Hill for supplies and people are talking about getting our network operational again."

The woman glanced at him for a moment before resuming her study of the city, her expression unreadable.

"No, you will do the supply run yourself and you will wear one of your disguises." She told him in a voice that made it very clear it was an order, "We are not ready to resume our normal activities, we cannot even make contact with Patriot, for now we must lay as low as we can."

Despite the tone used on him the man didn't seem bothered by it and just shrugged.

"While you at Bunker Hill, use that mouth of yours to get more information from the traders and if you can Kessler herself. I want to know more about this NCPG and Accords, what is their intent beyond what's on the radio. More importantly, I want to know more about the Institute and its involvement, why have they suddenly come out of the shadows?"

The bald man nodded, he understood his mission was not only to get the supplies they needed to survive, but it was also to get news which would serve as data for the robot once it was repaired.

Just as he was leaving the room she said quietly.

"Do you still think it was worthy vouching for him when he came?"

The man turned back and replied.

"I do, not only because of what he did for us, but also because if I hadn't we would be dead. It was because of the Professor that we built that passage that allowed us to escape, if he had never joined us we would have been cut down with the others."

o-FALLOUT-o

The journey from the Airport to the Castle was not easy nor was it quick, by the time Alec and Dogmeat were travelling up the road that led to the forts door they were very cold and tired.

Not for the first time that day it occurred to Alec that it would have been faster and easier to travel between the two points if he could make use of the water. But the only working boat he had seen belonged to the Nakano's and he made a note to speak to Brandis about it.

When they entered the parade ground of the fort they were met by Preston and Ronnie who quickly told him that they had two members of the Brotherhood imprisoned awaiting his attention and were startled when Alec told them to release them immediately and to meet him within his quarters.

His quarters were positioned in one of the bastions of the fort, it was well-lit and comfortable if furnished spartanly. In the middle of the room sat a large antique table and onto it at some time had been carved a map of Boston and the outlining areas.

Despite being made General of the Minutemen, Alec had rarely had much use of the room given that he spent most of his time on the road and mostly led from the field only coming and going as he needed or as requested via Radio Freedom.

On one of the rare occasions he had been in the Castle he had helped with the ongoing repair and clean up following the Castles Liberation and had begun to sought through the rooms contents to see what had survived the mirelurk occupation of the fort. It had come as quite a surprise to discover a box filled with hand carved wooden figures and realised that at some time a General had likely used the table to plot out minutemen deployments.

Not that Alec had ever used it, the figures were within the old bureau against the wall and the table was used as a place to sit, eat, and write when necessary.

He was not made to wait long, Preston and Ronnie returned and brought with them Brandis and Haylen who had been relieved of their belongings and weapons but were unarmed and looked thoroughly amused by everything.

"General why did you order them released?" Preston questioned, "The Brotherhood is an enemy of the Commonwealth. We tried to question them when they arrived, but they refused to say anything until you yourself arrived."

"We didn't tell them anything General Carter." Brandis said calmly not at all worried about the situation, "We knew you would need to explain some things and didn't want to make things more complicated."

"Thank you Brandis." Alec said and gestured for them all to take a seat, "Colonel Preston Garvey, Ronnie Shaw might I introduce Colonel Jacob Brandis and Captain Rachel Haylen of the Commonwealth Engineer Corps."

The two veteran Minutemen blinked in surprise given the familiarity between Alec and Brandis and balked at the introduction.

"The Commonwealth Engineer Corps?" Preston questioned, "what is that?"

Alec gave a rueful smile and began to brief them on everything that had happened, from the formation of the NCPG and the creation of the Accords to an overview of his intentions and what he planned to build in the future.

They had questions, which was natural as some of what Alec told them was now common knowledge and they had heard about it on the radio. But for the most part they just listened and tried to take it all in.

"So, you're building a new military, one that would rival the military power of the Brotherhood of Steel." Preston said looking shellshocked, "but what does this mean for the Minutemen? Are you forgetting all the work you have put into rebuilding it since you became General?"

"Not at all." Alec reassured him and considered how best to answer and relieve some of Preston's fears before he continued. "My goal is to successfully unite the Commonwealth, if I am to succeed I will need a strong but diverse military to deal with any and all threats, especially the Brotherhood."

"When the Brotherhood attacked the Warwick Homestead and stole the resources from Spectral Island the Minutemen were powerless. The Brotherhood had superior numbers, organisation, equipment, and resources. It took the Institutes technology along with the Minutemen artillery to take down the airport, but it was coursers on the ground fighting not our men."

Preston did not argue with his point but there was a stubborn set to his face that meant he was not yet convinced the Minutemen were not the answer. On the other hand, Ronnie looked intrigued by his proposal.

"Our future military will be formed from four separate branches: Army, Navy, Airforce and Engineers." Alec explained, "The Minutemen have served the Commonwealth with pride and honour, but it can only ever do so much. We need a new military force that will be better trained, better equipped and better placed to help the people which means it is time for change."

It looked like Preston was about to argue with him, but Ronnie cut him off before he had the chance.

"I understand what you're trying to do." She stated, "but what does this mean for the Minutemen now? Do you have a plan for this transition?"

"The Commonwealth Minutemen will be disbanded and be reformed into the Commonwealth Armed Forces which will be made up of several different branches which will provide a diverse and versatile ground force of troops. Should any Minuteman wish to continue their service with this new military then they may do so. Most will be assigned to the Armed Force Branch but any with a technical background will be assigned to the Engineer Corps.

"What of the Minutemen Protectorate Treaty?" Preston demanded, "most of those settlements are not a signatory of these Accords you made, what happens to them?"

"Nothing at all." Alec replied simply, "the NCPG and I are committed to upholding the protectorate."

"Colonel you should know that as we made our way here the three of us stopped a raider attack on the County Crossing Settlement." Brandis interjected, "The General might be looking to change the Minutemen but the principles on which it was built remain unchanged. The Commonwealth Military will serve to protect the people, which I think is why you likely joined the Minutemen yourself."

Preston nodded in agreement despite himself which made Alec relax slightly, Preston was devoted to helping people if he could see that is exactly what they were trying to do he would eventually get on board.

"This is ambitious General, even for you." Ronnie said looking over the map etched into the table, "I never thought I would live to see such a thing but then I never thought the Minutemen would come back."

"You want to help people Colonel Garvey, which is admirable, but think of the good a fully trained and equipped force could do. From what the General has said you are forever dealing with raiders and super mutants attacking settlements, what if rather than being defensive and reactive you could strike first and root out those that threaten the lives of those you wish to protect?" Haylen pointed out, "I too want the same thing which is why I left the Brotherhood."

"I understand." Preston said at last, "You have always helped those who couldn't help themselves, I remember when you found us in Concord. Very well, if this is what you think you must do General then I will stand with you."

Breathing a sigh of relief Alec went to the sideboard and pulled out a bottle of whiskey and some cups and poured them all one before resuming his seat.

"The command structure of the Commonwealth Military will evolve as it grows but for now it will remain simple, but it will have a very clear hierarchy." Alec explained, "I will be General of the Commonwealth Forces, overseeing all four branches. But each branch will also need a leader, I made Brandis a Colonel and will be giving him command of the Engineer Corps."

"Who will command the Armed Forces?" Preston asked, "you are our most seasoned leader."

He couldn't help it, but Alec laughed loudly.

"Preston you are already a Colonel." Alec stated, "I am placing you in command of the Armed Force branch of the new military."

"But I…" Preston stuttered.

"You won't be alone." Alec reassured him, "We will need to grow the military and you will have to recruit those who will be able to support you. You made me General three years ago because you didn't feel you deserved it, but you have served me well and I am giving you a position I think you are still suited for."

Haylen cleared her throat now and looked nervous.

"What is it?" Ronnie asked, "Don't be shy girl."

"I mean no disrespect but if you are to succeed in building a strong military you will need to train your soldiers, install discipline in them to ensure that everything runs smoothly." She said, "I have heard of what happened in Quincy…"

Ronnie laughed loudly at the girl and smacked the table with her hand.

"You girly, have more balls than half the men I have seen strut about this fort." She laughed, "you're not wrong, most barely know how to clean or maintain their weapons."

Alec remained silent he had already thought about the training of the military branches and remembered his own time in Basic Training in the US Army. He had hated it, but it taught him the basics and he never would forget those lessons.

"That is a problem for another day." Brandis said firmly, "we must turn our attention to preparing our move to Hagen."

Preston pulled out a bottle cap from his pocket and placed it on the map etched into the table and began to point out some of the known threats and strongholds known in the area they intended to claim.

"The town is abandoned I believe." Preston told them, "But that doesn't mean no one is there, to get that place operational you are going to need people, especially if you are to make it secure otherwise you're asking for the Gunners or Raiders to try and take it."

"Not just people, we are going to need resources." Haylen added, "We have a rough idea of the lay of the land, but the General didn't exactly take an inventory when he was there. Besides, we will not take the whole town, not yet. We instead will focus our efforts on just the Hagen Hangar."

Brandis nodded at his young protégé, "It's a smaller fortification and from what the General has said it has everything we need to begin to build the Engineer Division so we can support the other branches once they are established. I hasten to add that we must begin immediately if we are to claim and secure the site before the snow stops us."

The weather was worrying Alec, it was the worst winter he had experienced this side of the Great War but in the back of his mind he kept thinking on what Mama Murphy has said, this wasn't the winter to worry about and if that was true what was to come!

But Brandis was right about the Hagen Hangar, if they could claim it and get the resources they needed there before the worse of the weather hit then they had all the time they would need to clean it out and make it structurally safe to begin growing the division in the spring.

Ronnie placed her clipboard containing the inventory of the Castles resources on the table and then pulled out a dirty old notepad to make notes.

"What resources and supplies will you need." Ronnie asked the two engineers, "We cannot provide you with food as our own stores are low, but we have a surplus of everything else so we can at least get you started on what you will need."

That was news to Alec, and he turned to sharply to Preston, "why is there a shortage of food Colonel?"

The man flinched slightly from the steely look Alec gave him, but he didn't back down. "I am handling it General." Preston said firmly, "I have already made arrangements to secure us the food we need to for the garrison here. Now, if Colonel Brandis will be taking some of our people we will not have as many mouths to feed which means we might not need as much as I previously thought."

It was at the moment that Alec suddenly realised that it wasn't only his responsibility to ensure that the Castle had everything it needed to last the winter. He was so used to having to resolve and fix things himself it had become second nature but now Preston was taking on that responsibility.

He could force the issue and might be able to assist but then to do so would completely undermine the authority and position he had bestowed on his friend and to do it in front of everything would be unfair and harmful to their relationship.

Instead Alec changed the subject which took Preston by surprise having clearly thought he would have to explain himself.

"How many Minutemen are garrisoned here?"

"Twenty as of an hour ago." Preston said, "We sent out a provisioner caravan and guards."

It was a pitiful number, but the Minutemen were voluntary, and people wanted to be home with their families in the winter in case of any trouble. The issue was Alec didn't know what the current status of Hagen or the Hangar was, and they might need boots on the ground to deal with any resistance.

"We will need support to claim Hagen." Brandis said, "Not only to root out enemies from the Hangar but we also will need a work force."

"I can only provide one squad." Preston said firmly, "That's five Minutemen with normal provisions and whatever extra Ronnie here says we can spare. To give you more will mean the Castle is undermanned and we will not be able to help anyone who calls for aid."

"We will take it." Brandis accepted easily thinking it over.

They continued to discuss the future and make plans for the future but more importantly to Alec was to foster a good working relationship between the two Colonels as they would need to work together quiet often in the future.

Ronnie was given an official rank for the first time, a Sergeant of the Commonwealth Armed Forces and was appointed as the Castle Quartermaster but would also oversee the overall provisioning of the Armed Forces as it developed. The usually stoic and no-nonsense woman was moved and refused to look at anyone for a good five minutes.

Brandis and Haylen also used the time to discuss what Ronnie and Preston thought they needed in order to be able to respond to the defensive needs of the settlements of the Commonwealth more easily.

There were two main areas that they pointed out which was transportation and communication.

Currently the Minutemen could only broadcast messages via radio broadcast to the deployed units, but there was no way for the people to call for help. A flare gun was only good if the Minutemen see it, and they only received word from settlements via caravans or travellers on the road.

It was a problem that Haylen and Brandis had understood before coming to the Castle but wanted to learn more before they began to work on a solution. Judging by their expressions Alec thought they might already have an idea, but it would come after Hagen was claimed.

The second area of development had to be for a means of fast transportation across the Commonwealth. In time the NCPG would expand, and everything was to succeed then they would need to be able to transport materials, resources and troops as quickly as necessary and currently they lacked any means apart from on foot or the back of a slow moving brahmin.

Well that wasn't entirely true, but Alec was not about to reveal to the room that there was a method that he alone had access to, and it was one that he would be using to transport some of the Brotherhoods former resources to Hagen.

The Molecular Relay was not a technology that could be allowed to become common knowledge, he said that as both Director of the Institute but also as General of the Military. If the Brotherhood ever discovered the secrets behind that technology then the Commonwealth would lose the only advantage it had, and it would also make the increasingly vulnerable.

Brandis wondered idly if they had any old maps of the Commonwealth that might show the old pre-war rail network. He recalled seeing them in Washington and on his journey to the Commonwealth and from what he had learnt trains once had crisscrossed most of the USA before the war and it might just be what they needed.

However, Preston then pointed out that they could use the water as a means for transportation indicating to the waterways around the city and then explained how he intended to salvage an old fishing trawler to serve as a way to catch food out in the bay, but it could also travel to other settlements if needed.

Both ideas were good ones, but Alec realised that Preston's idea was more workable for now given that the boats already littered the shorelines and just needed to be salvaged. Whereas Brandis's plan would be more long term given than it would require a lot of work to get the tracks dug out or the earth and repaired, let alone restoring a training to a functioning condition.

When the talks eventually ended Alec was exhausted and found himself jealous of dogmeat who was curled up on an old rug in front of the heater Ronnie had installed in his quarters without a care in the world apart from resting after the day's exertions.

Stretching his weary body Alec pulled off his outer layers and lay himself under the blankets of his cot and was shocked by how cold the bed was and silently wished for his warm bed in Vault 88 or even the Institute.

Before he had further time to think he felt something jump up onto the bed and felt the cold nose of Dogmeat touch his hand as he lay himself down next to him.

"Well at least I won't freeze to death alone hey boy." Alec snorted and rolled himself over into a more comfortable position all the while thinking what the next day would bring.

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