"You know... I would've aimed for the head FIRST." said Doanette, "Just sayin'."
Doanette, Ralph, Elder Lyons and his daughter, several of the Paladins who had been on the mission and the Scribes who had worked with Prime were crowded into the laboratory. The mood was somber. Not exactly funereal, as it was difficult to write an appropriate hymn about a giant robot who may or may not have a soul and who nobody was even sure was actually dead.
"Well, if they had done so, he may not have survived at all." said Scribe Rothschild, "His BIOS chip survived. Almost all of his vital data is intact. We have enough notes on his development to rebuild him. Of course, it would require significant resources. Even if we had such resources, it would take years."
"And you can understand that we don't have time, what with our responsibilities to the people of the Capital Wasteland."
"Stands to figure." Doanette snorted rather derisively. Sarah Lyons glared at her.
"Of course, you could speed up the process considerably if you helped us collect scrap metal." said Rothschild.
"And, of course, if you helped us with our duties. We're planning a big raid on the Super Mutants tomorrow..." said Elder Lyons.
"You guys really don't get it, do you?" she replied, tapping her armour, "I'm not just wearing this because my old armour costs too much to fix and I can't get the parts for it, you know."
"Wh... what are you saying?"
"You declared me a full Paladin, right?"
"Indeed, you've more than proved yourself worthy!"
"And a full Paladin has the right to declare themselves Outcast." she said, swinging her hair back.
"... Why?" It was the only thing Rothschild could think of saying.
"Why? A number of reasons, I guess. I admire your cause, but it isn't mine any more." she said, "I've protected people all my life, made their lives better, helped them go about their daily lives as normal. I get thanked for it, maybe given some more food and ammo so I can go on one more day. I survive, get stronger and stronger, go on bigger and bigger missions. Larger scale, but still the same. But there gets to the point where nobody can give me what I don't already have. I give it back to them because they're still going nowhere. This whole Wasteland... civilisation... its going nowhere. I don't ever want to reach that point where I can't go any further. But to go further, I have to look for things that'll further me. Better technology. More information. Things bigger than me and my tired old crusade. The Brotherhood can't give me that."
"But most of all... at heart, I'm an exile. I've been cast out of my home. Permanently. Twice." she continued, "Sure, people welcome me to their settlements, invite me to stay, but I'm not like them. I don't belong with them. I don't belong with you either. I'm not a Paladin, I'm an outsider called in to do a Paladin's work."
"From now on, if you want me, you do things on my terms." she said, "If you want me to lead you... follow me into exile."
"IT'S ON!" yelled Rothschild, causing Doanette to jump and completely ruining the dramatic tension. They all turned around to see what the fuss was about.
Liberty Prime's eyes were wide open. Staring. Staring directly at Doanette. There was something expectant about that look, something that commanded her to carry on speaking.
"Or if you won't follow me into exile." she continued, "Know what you're leaving behind and that you're responsible for the decision to stay behind. If you give up on the journey... this country will never be restored. Know why?"
"Because we're supposed to be exiles." she said, "All of us. Always have been, always will be. We thought if we could settle somewhere, we wouldn't be exiles any more, we would just have a home somewhere else, but you never stop being an exile. Its a human archetype. Its a destiny. And this place we called home, we went and destroyed it. It doesn't even exist any more. So we're back to square one. Makes you feel even more like an exile, doesn't it?"
"What the hell are you suggesting? You sound like the goddamn Enclave!" yelled Sarah Lyons.
"No, the Enclave just want their old home back. What they think is their old home, in their perverted little collective mind. I want the journey back. I want to see where it really ends. 'Cause I don't think its a place. Not like goin' to Rivet City or Paradise Falls. I don't know what the hell it is that drives me on but some days I just see a glimpse of it and I think its the big one, the thing I was talkin' about, the mission that's big enough for me. Maybe I'll never come out of exile but God help me I'm gonna be the best damn exile this Wasteland has ever seen."
Ralph began to cheer, waving a bottle of beer – his tenth this morning – in the air. Nobody else spoke. Liberty Prime blinked, then closed his eyes.
As she was leaving, the gates closing ceremonially behind her, Doanette wondered where the hell all that had come from. She never made speeches. The neural implant chip had so far done nothing when she tested it a few times in battle but it did do weird things to her head sometimes.