Heart of Steel

Chapter 8: Invading Alexandria

The newly formed Brotherhood of Steel Intelligence Operative Services had made a rally point outside of Arlington Library. The knights that were stationed there remained on duty, two of them were outside the doors to make certain no raiders were going to sneak up onto the operation from behind. Star Paladin Bael had requisitioned three knights with him, Knight Captain Galeas, Knight Ban, and Knight Bors; they were to remain on his staff and oversee the protection of Alexandria after they took it out of raider control. Bael had fought with all three of these men and trusted them because they could take orders and thought in a similar mindset to his. They had also been there at Battle of Chevy Chase, something the eight operatives were glad to hear about when Knight Bors informed them it was him under the helmet that assisted with the retrieval of J.R. Ban and Bors also informed the operatives that Knight Roderick had been a close friend of theirs, and that they only agreed to this new appointment because it was better than being put into one of the meat grinding places along the Mall outpost.

Knight Captain Galeas was a taciturn woman that saw the value of words and used them sparingly to make their meaning more important. Her visage was blocked by the power armor helmet that filtered the air and protected her cranium. Ban and Bors had their helmets off and were talking with the operatives about past operations for the Brotherhood. Still a bunch of greenhorns, she thought as she checked the crystal array of her military issue AER9 Laser Rifle one last time. Star Paladin Bael walked out from Arlington Library and patted Galeas on her shoulder; she stood up and held the bracer of his forearm.

"Do you think they're ready," she asked, her power armor not allowing her to whisper as it was reduced to a metallic projection.

Bael looked her into the protected visage of the power helmet, "they're good and resourceful," he replied flatly as he slowly placed his helmet on and locked it in place for an air tight seal.

"They're still impressed by war stories from Ban and Bors," she commented with a notable sneer.

"Ban and Bors like telling their stories, specially about the Scourge," said Bael, his voice now metallic like Galeas.

They stood around the operatives, Ban and Bors, with Scribe Yearling joining them caring two large metal containers in each hand; her assault rifle on her back. Bael took out his minigun and tapped it against his thigh making it clang loudly. Ban and Bors stood at attention, the operatives took more time to get in their positions.

"That was unacceptable!" Yelled out Star Paladin Bael, the two crossed swords were superimposed on large five pointed star denoting his rank on his power armor, "next time you form up faster, and put on your helmets Knights, don't let these sloppy operatives make you lax in your training."

"Sir, yes, sir," replied Ban and Bors as they attached their helmets and sealed them; the operatives followed suit, placing on their helmets, still moving in awkward motions as they got used to the servos moving the suit with them.

"Will someone fix Operative Pop's helmet?" Ordered Bael, disdain was noticeable in his metallic voice.

Knight Bors helped out the Lolli Pop, the young kid gave a sheepish thank you before they both reformed ranks. Bael walked passed them and back, as he looked up and down the ranks. Tapping his minigun to the side of his leg as he walked, thinking in his head before he addressed the group.

"Listen up, because I'm only going over this once," he continued as he kept walking, "when we get to the door we open it as casually as we can. I will offer these squatters a free pass. IF, which is a long shot, they do leave quietly they are not to be harmed. However, I expect heavy resistance. These people have made Alexandria Arms their home, and we are going to take it from them. When met with resistance, I want us to break into four groups.

"Knight Captain Galeas will remain in the front lobby with Scribe Yearling and Operative Zimm as they set up the mobile communications unit and interface, " he turned to Knights Ban and Bors, "I want Schieber and Newton with you Ban. Alvarado and LaCroix, I want you with Knight Bors. That leaves Pop, J.R. and Roe with me. When we get in their, follow your team leaders, got it. Anyone that gives up, you detain, from their we'll figure out what to do. Got me."

"Sir, yes, sir," they all said as they began to walk over to the court yard.

They were standing in double file, Knight Captain Galeas and Star Paladin Bael at the front of the twin columns to the double door. They pushed forward to open the door, Bael was on the left and was unable to budge the door, Galeas on the other hand went straight through hers. She was in the front of the lobby, five pairs of eyes and dirt covered faces were looking at her in shock. The others Brotherhood members filled in right after her and formed a piercing arrow head with their weapons at the ready.

Bael stood to the forefront and projected loudly, "by order of the Brotherhood of Steel, we are taking this building by eminent domain. Please vacate the premises and you will be afforded your lives."

"Fuck you, tin can," said one of the raiders that had a mattress for a shoulder pad.

"We do not wish to shed blood here, but if you do not leave we will be force..." Bael stopped as the man that had told him to fuck off unloaded buckshot from his sawed-off shotgun into his abdomen plate mail, "hard way it is. Clear the lobby, Ban to the left, Bors to the right, I'll get up-top."

Bael started to lay down a suppressing fire, the first thirty rounds ripping the raider that had shot him into two mutilated pieces. The four others dived for cover, behind the concierge desk and support pillars. Ban and Bors flanked the desk immediately and took out the two female raiders that were hiding there when they tried to shoot a .32 caliber bullet at their power armor. Those that were hiding behind the support pillars were able to escape into the remainder of the building, run through the passage at the left, the other up the stairs. Yearling quickly set the boxes down at the concierge desk, her noise crinkled at the smell of dead and decaying matter that hung from the rafters and in cages.

"Guard the nice Scribe," said Knight Captain Galeas to Zimm as she began to mount the stairs.

"I got up-top," said Bael as he pushed up the stairs with J.R. Pop, and Roe.

"Covering from a vantage," replied Galeas as she looked over the whole of the lobby.

"Good strategy," complimented Bael as he and the recruits walked to the main double doors.

"Star Paladin Bael," said Knight Bors said as he followed Bael up, Ban already taking his unit to the left, "the right passage is caved in, what are you orders."

Bael scanned the area and noticed a door to the far left from the double doors, "far left, top portion, meet up with Ban if you can, we'll take top center, move."

"Covering," replied Galeas as she scanned the lobby and top section, moving her rifle with her eyes.

Yearling and Zimm were setting up the communication equipment so that the teams could talk with each other directly. Zimm saw the tire iron from the corner of his eye, but because he wasn't used to the new armor couldn't turn in time. The loud metallic clink alerted Galeas, who took her eyes from the two teams up-top to see a raider strike Zimm. She charged her rifle, but new that Yearling and Zimm were too close, she could hit them and seriously wound them.

Zimm recovered from the blow quickly and brought a fist straight up to the raider. The lack of appropriate armor allowed the metal power armor to knock the raider out cold. He grabbed the femail raider by her hair and dragged her to one of the rusted cages. Zimm through her in and tied a grenade to the front to booby-trap it. He than reached in and slapped the raider hard across the face, she stirred slowly and looked up in confusion.

"This cage is wired, you try to escape you die," he said flatly and walked away, the raider reached out of her cage and tried to find a different opening; failing to do so, she clenched her knees and fell over into a fetal position as she heard more gun fire.

Up-top, Bael kicked open the double doors to a cafeteria like away, with many tables set with food. There was also a balcony that overlooked what was gaming area. Several of the tables were overturned with raiders firing small caliber bullets at the men in power armor. Bael turned to J.R., Pop, and Roe.

"Take them out," he said simply.

"We can neutralize them without killing them," said Roe defensively.

"I said take them out," ordered Bael, just as a lucky pot shot hit his helmet, "you have got to be shitting me," he turned and unloaded a clip of covering fire.

J.R., Roe and Pop proceeded slowly with their R91 assault rifles and began firing into the seven raiders that tried to fortify the cafeteria. Pop saw an operating terminal and ran to it. He started typing away furiously as Bael checked the dead, kicking their guns from their hands as he set up to over look the game room. J.R. checked the back hallway popping his head out to scout. Roe walked back to Pop, resting his gun to the side.

"What do you have there," he asked his voice in an odd metallic tune.

"Seems like they had a makeshift armory, just hacking the access code," said Pop as he continued to fiddle with the terminal as he found lines of code that were in patterns, "and that should...be...it," the door opened.

Roe checked inside, making sure it wasn't booby-trapped. Ammo crates were stocked on top of each other along a wall, including food just lining the shelves. Roe looked closer at the ammo, some of the crates had the Brotherhood of Steel logo on them, others had the tell tale symbol of Talon Company mercenaries. In the far back there were three or four Enclave crates of ammo. He stepped out to the main chamber.

"Sir, you might want to check this out," he said, Bael walked over.

"You hack this terminal," asked the leading officer to Pop.

"Sir, yes, sir," replied Pop.

"Good job, Operative," he acknowledged as he walked into the room and whistled, "well at least we have more of a reason now to kill these thieves."

"Sir, we didn't know this was here," replied Roe slowly.

"Certainly is fortunate we found it, Operative," he said as he patted Roe on the back, "now we can kick some more ass out there."

"Com's are operationally," reported Operative Zimm over the headsets.

"Ban, Bors, report," ordered Bael as he continued to scan the area.

"Ban here," called in the Knight on the bottom left level, "met some resistance no injuries, four kills, two captives."

"Keep it neat," replied Bael, "and finish up."

"Sir, yes, Sir," replied Kinght Ban.

"Bors, what's the situation?" asked Bael.

"Encountered fierce combatants as we are at the suites. Nearing the end of the hallway, will rendezvous with Ban downstairs," replied the Knight Bors, "none injured, nine down, one detained with leg wound."

"We'll bring 'em to Yearling and get patched up," Bael said as he began walking to the stairs, "we've got a game room to clear, and then well all meet out in the lobby."

"We got a game room in this place?" Asked Ban over the communication unit, "I must say this is a great assignment."

"Your welcome, boys," said Bael as he continued to walk down the stairs, the Operatives behind him, as they avoided the hanging hooks, "and Galeas."

"Fuck all of you," she said calmly through the coms.

"Love you too, hun," said Bael as he reach the landing and scanned, "Pop and J.R. through that door, clear the room. Roe, check that hallway."

J.R. and Pop hurried to the door to enter the room. Roe could make out the blackboards and desks inside. He turned left to the hallway that Bael wanted him to go down. He opened the door to see a collapsed tunnel. Along with the collapsed tunnel was something else that shocked Roe.

"Sir," he said, his metallic voice trembling.

"What is it, Operative Roe?" Asked a disgruntled Bael as he shoved the operative from the entrance way, "oh."

"I think we have a problem, sir," replied the manhandled Roe.

Back at the lobby, Zimm was working on the radio transmitter as Yearling kept trying to raise Citadel Control. They weren't paying attention as they brought up the refurbished Enclave radio equipment, now tuned for use of the Brotherhood. Yearling turned to Zimm, wanting to yell at him that he was doing it all wrong, and that sensitive equipment like this should be for the Scribes. Zimm was still having issues with his power armor, the servos not allowing him to make the easiest movements.

"Perhaps we need to put it on the roof," he thought outloud, "to get a stronger signal."

"After you're done destroying it, we'll try that," snapped Yearling, blowing some of her hair from her eyes.

"Well, pardon-fucking-me," quipped Zimm as he continued to work.

Galeas saw the raiders with their arms raised as they entered the lobby, there were two of them with their hands raised in the air. She focused her rifle on them, until she saw Ban and the operatives with him. She motioned down to the two people she was guarding on the coms. Yearling and Zimm looked up, nodded and pointed to the cages on the floor. Ban, getting the message as he saw their captive, forced the two others into the cages.

"You two seem busy," said Schieber.

"Stuff it, Operative," said Yearling as she got more frustrated.

Zimm turned to look at the new arrivals, "not as busy as Bors, Alvarado, and LaCroix hit heavy pockets of fighting in the suites. No injuries, yet, but their fighting over the last room now. They don't want to blow it up, cause it will being a living area."

"You invaded our home!" Shouted one of the raiders from their cage, "what gives you a right?"

"We warned you when we first entered," said Ban as he kicked the cage, "then your lot fired upon us."

"We've been living here for years, you can't just kick us out," said the same raider, he rub his face, moving the dirt around.

"You've been squatting for years," he said, "and feeding off of the communities like parasites."

"It's survival of the fittest," pleaded the raider, "we need that stuff to survive."

"Clearly we're fitter than you," replied Ban as laughed and turned away.

"Sometimes I wish the Enclave won," grumbled the raider in discontent.

"What the fuck did you say?!" Raged Ban as he returned to the cage and kicked it over; he took out his laser rifle and began to charge it as he aimed it at the raider, "I lost friends fighting the Enclave, brothers in fucking arms! What have you lost you bastard? Huh?! You scrounge for a life like a fucking radroach. I was never sent here to help your uncivilized ass, but that's all we've done. And now you insult me like this. I should cauterize your head from your neck right the fuck now!"

Schieber ran over and pushed the rifle down so it pointed at Ban's foot, "not here, not now," said the Operative sternly; Ban's breathing could be heard through his helmet.

He pushed Operative Schieber off of him, "he just saved your life, fucker," replied Ban as he walked away.

"That's right, walk away you bucket of metal," replied the raider with bravado.

Schieber kicked his cage making it roll over as he said, "shut the fuck up," and returned to the others.

Bors pushed through the last suite, firing his laser rifle into the chest of a raider that was surprised at the surge. He looked around the room as the two Operatives joined him, Alvarado supporting the injured raider they had captured. All the occupants were down, Bors counted ten in total, making the large suite rather cramped. The raider broke off from Alvarado and hobbled to a female raider that was lying in a pool of blood.

He picked up her head in his lap as he feel down in her blood. He stroked the side of her face as he wept, a trail of blood on her face and hands. He cried as he cradled her close to his chest. The operatives and Bors collected the weapons before their prisoner could use them.

"She was my wife," said the raider as he cradled the dead woman's head, her body leaning on him limp and bloody.

"What was her name," asked LaCroix with concern that the metallic voice did not allow her to express.

"Why do you care," replied the raider with exhaustion, "would it have stopped you from killing her?"

"If she put down her weapon like you did, than yes," replied Bors earnestly.

"This was our home," said the raider, "I told her to put the weapons down when invaders got near. I told her," he continued as he rocked back an forth holding her body.

"What was her name?" LaCroix asked again.

"Hasna'," said the raider, "it means beautiful."

"What language is that," asked Alvarado.

"We were both from a tribe on the Eastern Shore," said the raider, recollecting his life, "we came over together because we heard the pastures were greener. The cities here were...not friendly to us, but we were able to fall in line with the this group. They took us in, with out question, as long as we could provide."

"Provide what?" Questioned LaCroix.

"Food, scavenging," he choked up and gasped before saying, "safety, though we all failed at that."

"We need to move back to the lobby," said Knight Bors calmly.

"Here, give me your arm," said Alvarado as he lifted the raider up.

"What happens now," asked the raider.

"What's your name," asked LaCroix.

"Elias," said the raider, "the name of a prophet."

"What's a prophet, Elias," asked LaCroix curiously.

"I have much to teach you," he said with a smile.

"Not before you get patched up," commented Bors, "no let's get to the lobby."

Back in the game room Bael and Roe stood at the entrance of the hallway, J.R. and Pop joined them. They looked on in shock to see ten women, between the ages of sixteen and early forties, along with five babies and two children between the ages of nine and thirteen. No one moved, just staring at each other with blank faces, thought the raiders didn't see it under power armor helmets of the Brotherhood.

"Fuck," was all Bael could say.

"What do we do," asked Operative Roe.

"They can't stay here," said Bael in a matter-of-fact manner.

"It's their home," replied Roe looking at Bael with disdain.

"It's our base of operations," replied Bael, "we need to get them all to the lobby now."

"We need a plan," began Roe.

"Operative First Class, Roe, I have a plan, now shut your mouth before you're demoted," replied Bael, "get them to the lobby now. That's an order."

"Sir, yes, sir," said Roe as the operatives motioned for the women and children to move ahead of them, as Bael lead the way to lobby.

The unit met together at the lobby. The raider, Elias, was lying on a counter top, his trousers torn open with a fresh bandage on his leg. The other raiders were under guard by the Knights and Operatives. To the four captives that were out there, a ten women, two children and five babies joined them. The total number of prisoners was now twenty-one. There was no way that this station could watch out for all of them, let alone the babies. Yearling took Galeas and Bael aside.

"Twenty-fucking-one mouths?" Asked Yearling, in disbelief, "what the fuck are we going to do?"

"They can't stay here," said Galeas, "not all of them anyway."

"Where do they go now," asked Yearling, "they'll just wander till they join other raider gangs."

"We can't have that," agreed Galeas.

"I had an idea, have you been able to reach Citadel Control?" Asked Bael.

"Not yet," said the Scribe, "that fucking operative doesn't know his ass from his vacuum tubes. I'll have to work on it all night to get it working."

"What if we escort them to Grayditch," said Star Paladin Bael, "Lyons would love it, and they do need scavengers and workers there."

"True, Lyons would love that," said Yearling.

"Why are you trying to get on Elder Lyon's good side now," asked Galeas, suspicious at Bael and Yearling.

"We'll tell you later," commented Bael, "let deal with the issue at hand."

Star Paladin Bael turned to the captives. He pointed to the booby-trapped cage and Zimm undid the trap. The raider however did not get out of the cage, she just clung to herself in a fetal position in the filth. Bael looked over the prisoners. This would never had happen if they were super mutants, he thought luckily humans could be useful.

"Listen up you dirty raider scum," said Bael with dominance as all eyes turned to him, "you captives have three options. One, you can take a bullet in the brain and be put out of your misery; two, you can stay here under our protection but you'll have to work and make this place clean and inhabitable; or three, we can escort you to a nearby settlement that needs to bolster it's population. Raiding caravans, killing people, and stealing from the Brotherhood is no longer an option for you. You have your lives, unlike the others that fought us, so make a good choice for you future."

"What is the settlement like," asked one of the raider mothers that held a baby.

"It's the settlement of Grayditch," said Bael, "there is no longer an ant issue; the Brotherhood provides direct protection there, and there is plenty of jobs available for scavenging. Likewise, there are multiple dwellings for you all to live in."

"What assurances do we have if we chose to stay here," asked Elias, "and what will happen to our dead?"

"If you chose to stay, we will provide safety," said Bael, "all that we ask is that you maintain this place, remove all this raider crap, and establish some order here..."

"They're looking to enslave us," said the raider in the knocked over cage, "don't listen to them, they're the enemy."

"Shut your mouth," ordered Bael, "you'll get option one."

"Fuck you, Brotherhood of murder!" Said the raider as he started screaming obscenities to Bael.

The company leader walked over to the cage and point his laser pistol at the raider. The man kept on cursing the Brotherhood, swearing them out for being murders, pillagers, thieves. Bael kept his cool and let the man keep on talking for a little while long. Just as the raider began to talk about how all they did today was unjustified, Bael squeezed the trigger and silenced the man permanently.

"I gave him a second chance," said Bael as he holstered his pistol, "and he refused. Like I said, you have three options, I don't suggest option one."

"Sir, about our dead?" Asked Elias, "my wife, is among the dead. I...I don't want her thrown to the dogs."

"We can not bury the dead," replied Bael, "but we can't keep them around in the open, that is how disease is spread. We will burn their remains, if you wish to collect the ashes of those you lost today, it will be done. If not, their ashes will be scattered into the wind."

Elias nodded as he shifted his weight off the desk, "I wish to stay," he said as he hobbled forward, "this is my home, I will stay here, even if it is to help you. It's not like I could walk to Grayditch, anyway."

Bael nodded in appreciation. He turned to the others to see them make up their minds. In the end, all the raiders that fought, except Elias and the catatonic girl raider in the cage, decided to move to Grayditch. Three young women, one around sixteen, the others around twenty and mid-thirty, respectively, decided to stay. However, the women with babies and kids decided to move to Grayditch.

Bors handed two satchels containing all the weapons from the dead to Operatives Pop and Alvarado. Knight Captain Galeas, Knight Ban, and Operatives Pop and Alvarado would escort the new citizens to Grayditch. They walked out of the front door in a single file line as they planed to walk through the plaza and up the road to the settlement with new citizens to populate the ruins. Schieber and Newton began to recover the dead, bringing the bodies from the lower level to the front lobby. LaCroix, holding up Elias, along with two of the other women went to collect the dead from the suites. Bors and the other woman went to clear the cafeteria.

In the cage, the catatonic raider rocked in a fetal position. Bael turned to Zimm and Yearling pointing his thumb at the pathetic creature. Zimm flipped his hand in the air as if to shoo the pest of a raider away. Yearling shrugged.

"Could be shock," she said.

"I can't have someone unable to work," said Bael in disgust, "I wanted to put a bullet in that gimp, but he was able to help the others chose. We can't have a fucking nutcase in this outpost."

"I think we've already got one," commented Roe to J.R., making the other operative chuckle.

"Get your ass over here, Roe," ordered Bael, "and put a bullet in her worthless head."

"Sir, she's not right," pleaded Roe, "but she's not harming anyone."

"She tried to knock me out with a tire iron," commented Zimm as he pointed to the scratch on his power helmet, "though my punch could have done some damage."

Roe knelt down took out some of his water from a canteen. He poured it in her mouth slowly so she didn't choke. She kept her eyes close, but drank the water all the same, even from the dirty floor. Roe went back to one of the fountains and sat down next to J.R. J.R., like usual, was smoking. To do so, he had to remove his helmet. Roe followed suit and took his helmet off, his wet matted hair clinging to his head.

"That was some shit, today," said J.R.

"Yes," replied Roe.

"Man, I don't know if I can actually sleep in this place now," said J.R.

"We didn't do the fighting in the suites," commented Roe as he drank from his canteen, "not that it isn't less gruesome."

"You have to have a steel heart for this shit," idly commented J.R. as he took a long drag from his cigarette.

"That should be your nickname," commented Roe with a little bit of a chuckle.

"Not me, man, maybe Bael though," said J.R. with a smile, "good ol' Steel Heart."

Roe snorted as he took another sip of pure water, "do you feel like this is a chapter of our lives that is ending, J.R.?"

J.R. thought for a second as he continued to smoke, as he exhaled he said, "nah, man, this is just a volume in our long and fruitful lives for the Brotherhood."

"Get back to work you two, we need to clear those bodies or we won't be able to use this place," ordered Bael, his helmet still on his metallic voice cling, "and put your damn helmets on!"

Roe snapped his helmet back on; J.R. put out his cigarette, rubbing it into the cheek of the dead raider that was still in the cage, he patted Roe on the back, "time to get to work."

A/N:

First off, let me say thank you to everyone that has read my fanfiction novella. I hope you have been entertained and enticed. I look forward to continuing this into multiple volumes, series, and possibly spinoffs. It is clear by now that the purpose of this volume was to give you a world of turmoil, espionage, action, adventure, and introduce a band of protagonists/antagonist that will follow throughout this post-Lone Wanderer world. I look forward to reviews, comments, or questions. Constructive criticism helps me write a better story. Also, any ideas you'd like to share will be appreciated as well.