Note: this obviously takes place much later in the main quest. Beware spoilers!
"What is he doing?" Nina gripped the stock of her assault rifle, but its familiar, worn grip did not comfort her. A few, frustrating feet away, her father was talking with some guy in a trench coat. Dad looked calm, as he always did, but the stranger was caressing the hilt of a pistol at his hip. And those two armored guards…
She turned to Dr. Li, whose face looked pale and pinched. "What is he doing?" the younger woman repeated. " Open the glass shield!"
"I… I can't," the older woman stared through the glass as if to bore a hole with her eyes. "He's locked it from the inside." She looked up, saw Nina handling her gun and added, "It's bullet-proof glass. It was designed that way incase Raiders or super mutants ever got inside the Memorial; we could barricade ourselves against attack."
"This place is not safe," Charon said behind them. He was eyeing the two armored guards with his usual impassivity, though he too kept his shotgun close at hand.
"We're staying here until my dad comes out," Nina reminded him sharply.
"Who are they anyway? What do they want?" Nina turned back to the Rivet City scientist with impatience. She could barely hear her father's voice over the hum of machinery and the panicked thudding of her own heart.
"Enclave," Dr. Li whispered. "How in the world did they know about this place?" she said, almost to herself and then, to Nina, "What do they want? Isn't it obvious? With access to an unlimited supply of purified water, their so-called president wouldn't have to even use force to take over the country: people would beg to follow him."
"What country?" Nina snapped, fear for her father making her irritable. "Has this 'President' looked out the window lately? He'd be president of Yao Guai and mole rats!"
"I don't know!" Dr. Li snapped back, her graying hair glinting in the dim yellow light that filtered through the Rotunda. "People that want power bad enough will do anything to get it and keep—James!"
Nina whirled to the window. The stranger had taken out the pistol and was pointing it at her father's head. She leapt to the glass, pounding her fists against it.
His eyes glanced up for the merest moment to meet hers; they crinkled at the corners like when he was getting ready to smile. Then his fingers moved quickly over some controls that she couldn't see well, and the stranger and his two armored guards staggered.
Her father stumbled over to the glass door where Nina watched in horror as his eyes went glassy.
"Run!" he mouthed. "I love you. Run! Get out of here!"
In the distance she heard her Pip Boy's Geiger counter tick get louder and faster. Somehow, Three Dog's drawling voice erupted in her memory. "Tick, tick, tickety, means run your ass out of there…"
"Dad!" the scream ripped from her throat, but her father was slumping to the ground and someone was still screaming.
Someone slapped her. Nina blinked dazedly to see Charon's stoic features above her and his hand hanging limply at his side.
"This place is not safe," he said again as Dr. Li shoved past him.
"We have to get out of here. More Enclave are coming, and my team and I have no fighting experience. Can you move?"
Fight? Enclave? Dad—
"He's dead. There's enough radiation in there to level D.C. again," Li said, a sound like a sob and a shriek in her voice. "Get up! We have to move now. The Enclave is here but we can still escape through some tunnels in the basement."
"Right." Nina pulled herself heavily to her feet, checked the chamber of her assault rifle, and gestured for Charon to pick up the rear. "Let's go."
Nina found herself unusually calm as she and Charon scouted ahead of the group of frightened scientists. The tunnel system beneath the Jefferson Memorial seemed dry, thank goodness. Radiation sickness on top of Enclave soldiers hunting them did not sound like a good idea. Water might also mean mirelurks; one of her least favorite Wasteland nasties.
A hiss off to her left. Charon roared a challenge and leapt forward, Nina not far behind. A couple of feral ghouls fell quickly beneath their combined shower of bullets.
"I suppose if ferals are the worst we encounter down here, we'll be lucky—"
"There they are!" A mechanized shout made Nina turn, gun ready. At the far end of the tunnel stood four Enclave soldiers, their black armor glinting. As usual, Charon charged wildly ahead, heedless of the fact that he was outnumbered. Nina took advantage of the momentary distraction her companion caused to unclip her scoped .44 Magnum. From discretely studying the Brotherhood of Steel knights at the Galaxy News Radio station, she had realized that their armor had weaknesses in the joints, particularly where the arms joined the shoulder and at the neck and this Enclave armor looked similar. Taking a breath to steady her arms, Nina aimed through her scope and fired. The Enclave soldier she had targeted staggered but didn't fall. She didn't waste another breath to curse but fired again; this time the armored soldier fell back, blood pooling rapidly beneath his body. She didn't have time to relish the fierce rush of pain and triumph at his fall before the other soldiers zeroed in on her position and ran forward, their plasma rifles firing.
Charon made short work of two of them, and Nina whirled to find another Enclave soldier nearly on top of her, hands grasping. Nina ducked under his reach and stuck her shotgun in the armpit joint of his armor and fired. He staggered back with a scream. She fired again and the Enclave soldier fell, blood splashing up to her face. Staring at the armored figure, like the one who had stood beside her father and threatened to kill him over stupid water, she felt something dark uncoil inside her, something that promised to stop the pain that was even now shredding her heart into tiny pieces…
Charon shook her arm. "You shouldn't waste your ammo on that one. He's dead."
Nina looked up, startled, and realized she was breathing hard and the barrel of her shotgun was hot to the touch. She looked back down at the soldier, realizing with surprise that she had unloaded a full clip of her combat shotgun into the Enclave soldier's body.
"Let's go get Dr. Li and the others," she said after a moment, her voice hoarse. Why was her face wet? Perhaps this sewer wasn't as dry as she first thought.
It wasn't until later in the tunnels as they finally reached the entrance nearest to the Citadel, that she realized her mission had been changed from finding her father to avenging him.
Author's note: Another random one-shot. Honestly, I wish that the main quest with Dad could have been drawn out more--I wanted my character to spend more time with him, have him as one of the companions maybe, but with this scene in the game came the idea for this fic.