Author's Note: Back by semi popular demand. What belongs to Bethesda render to Bethesda. Furthermore, some up coming characters will belong to different authors who will be noted when appropriate. If you got used to the lightning updates of Dusters I'm sorry that I cannot provide that this time with Half Moon, studying and all. However, with no further ado...
Way back when, a few centuries before the bombs fell, an explorer from across the sea sailed up the river on a ship propelled by the wind. The intrepid explorers crossed many dangers, being on a small wooden vessel, tossed about by the waves and storms of the ocean for so many months. However, having made the daring passage, the men were rewarded by finding this river that cut into a new land. The captain of the men was named Henry Hudson and the river would soon bear his name. The ship he commanded was called the Half Moon.
The Hudson river had always been instrumental to the people who lived on or near it. European explorers who came after Henry Hudson would find many of the natives living on the river, which provided transportation, food and a means of trade. Even during the modern era and after the advent of atomic power, the Hudson river continued to act as a water route for transportation and even provided a handy coolant source for nearby nuclear power plants.
After the bombs fell and humanity was dispersed and separated into broken, desperate pockets, the river continued to flow on. Now laced with radiation, it continued to cut its path through what was once New York and the now desolate Hudson Valley only seemed to echo an equally lifeless river.
Some are starting to learn that the "lifeless river" icon of the post-Great War is actually becoming out of date.
A man draped in an olive green coat crouched behind a rock. The sounds of the river's water slowly washing by hit his ears as he tried to avoid some of the shallow, irradiated pools of almost life giving liquid. The man carefully brought his Chinese assault rifle to his shoulder and waited to spring his move.
The man was a regulator, one of the roving vigilantes of the wastes two hundred years after the Great War. Most people called him "Mark." Raiders tended to call him other things.
The new river pirates? Well, the phrase "curses like a sailor" still has not lost one ounce of its meaning after two hundred years.
Mark stepped away from the rock and started firing his assault rifle. The interrupted roar of the gun spat off fire into an ancient hull of a ship, perhaps one of those ferries back in better days. Now, the old wreck had been commandeered and patched up for a new illegal trade that the New York regulators had been running into; the river pirates.
Not much different from their land based raider cousins, these scum from the waters only differed in that they spent much of their time on the river. Also, they tended to engage in a few more appalling behaviors.
Firing back at regulators was one of the more benign ones, though still one that Mark did not appreciate as he crouched back behind the rock again.
Mark shot up once more and aimed towards the decks on the beached ship. He was proud on how much he was able to restore of his trusty Chinese assault rifle. The barrel was straight as a die and the rifling was cleaned out, making his bullets much more accurate. The moving parts, heck, everything, had been cleaned out to prevent jams and he made sure that the firing pin was in pristine condition. The trigger was connected superbly.
The scored hits? Apparently deadly. Perfect.
Running out of ammo, Mark hid behind his cover again and popped the magazine open. He had super glued two of the magazines together, one fed the opposite direction of the other. In other words, having spent one magazine, he simply flipped it over so the other, unused magazine could now be loaded into the chamber. This rapidly cut down reload time.
It did not, however, get him out of the problem of being outgunned and outnumbered.
The regulator pressed his back closer to the stone, hearing the sounds of the hostile bullets ricocheting off the hard surface behind him. He could not stay like this forever and he could not risk jumping out again. All of those pirates had his location figured out by now and were relentlessly firing on him, preventing him from stepping out. Gritting his teeth, unless something happened, he was not going to get out of this one.
"Here's your high tech ticket to hell, you pinko commies!" a mechanical voice cracked, green flashes of plasma erupting on the decks. Mark drew a sigh of relief. It was good to have a team again.
Mark's Mr. Gutsy hovered up the gang plank, its plasma gun spitting superheated gas into the raiders while another arm lit up a flamethrower, ready for use. Mark was now able to step from his cover and started providing covering fire for his war machine. The robot could easily take a few hits but Mark was in no mood to go buff out any dents the machine might incur. Suddenly, Mark noticed a pirate off towards the stern with a bunch of others already starting to make their way towards the droid. One of them had a deadly looking missile launcher trained on the it.
"VR-5! Your right, watch your right! The stern!" Mark warned the machine. VR-5 turned and set its speakers to the highest volume.
"Designate which specific target you are highlighting, soldier!" the robot retorted. Mark started firing in the general direction of the particular pirate but he was unable to drop the enemy.
Instead, the entire stern section seem to light up in an explosion, followed by several more all across the ship. Very soon, the whole ship went down into silence. Mark looked behind him to find another regulator rushing up to him holding one of those uncommon, but not unheard of, improvised weapons. This one apparently was made to launch grenades and sticks of dynamites.
"Good job, Cindy." Mark said.
"As usual, sir." Cindy replied. They slowly started to walk towards the ship to claim their fingers as well as look for any other goods. Halfway there, VR-5 stormed up to them.
"Detonation sequence detected! Communists trap detected and scanning. Analysis: Get your sorry organic hides out of here!" the Mr. Gutsy screamed. Cindy, Mark and the machine immediately started high tailing it in the other direction.
The ship suddenly lit up in an inferno, throwing all three of them flat on their faces into the sand. When the roar finally died away, Mark looked up to find the beach littered with bodies, many of them in numerous pieces. Few of them were whole.
"This seems to be way too many people for that small band of pirates." Cindy remarked. Mark noticed a severed wrist with a shackle still on it.
"They were smuggling slaves who were chained to the lower decks. Most likely they rigged it to explode to keep any rival bands of pirates from capturing the ship." Mark explained. The three slowly sat up, brushing the muddy sand from off their coats while watching the now burning skeleton of the ship. The VR-5 hovered, cursing the communists while Cindy watched in amazement.
"Well. That was eventful. Pirate raiding." Cindy remarked.
"Get used to it. This is where all the bad guys are going now. This is the future." Mark replied.
A large New York rat scampered along the river, keeping its nose up to catch any particular smells it needed to be aware of. It had been a year since this particular rat had decided to adopt a group of humans. Apparently, it turned out to be a pretty good deal. The humans gave him food, shelter, relative safety, medical care when he started absorbing a few too many rads and even guaranteed amusement. (Because any creature who has hung out with humans long enough knows that they're either very peculiar beings or very hilarious and occasionally, both.)
The only thing in return was that he occasionally had to help lead the one hunter-gatherer towards the scary, armored water creatures that lived near the river. The rat also learned to keep its eye out for other dangers, such as groups of bad humans, or other dangerous animals and on occasions, the frighting green humans.
In this case, the coast was relatively clear. The rat was able to pick up about two of the armored water creatures, perhaps a little more. Its sense of smell was getting a little dull, spending all that time in that very hard rock human den. Regardless, it sat on its haunches and stretched its front paws out. It had watched the other humans communicate to each other like this and eventually figured out that this was how the humans told each other something was about. Of course, he realized his paws were not as well articulated as the humans' paws were.
"Hey rat, you think there's something ahead?" Carl asked the rodent. The mammal continued to hold its paws out. Of course it thought something was ahead, the rat could practically smell it. Geez, these humans were hopeless.
"How many mirelurks you think we got there?" Carl inquired, watching his fuzzy little friend. The rat really would have tried to signal how many it could smell with the digits on its paws but it only succeeded in waving its claws. The rodent chirped in frustration and decided the human could figure it out on its own.
"Haha, you stay right here. I'll be back with some food." Carl ordered. The rat sat further back on its back legs and licked its front paws. Of course it would wait here. The rat probably didn't have such a developed cerebrum as the human did but that at least meant it had an easier time deciding to avoid danger rather than go straight for it.
Carl stepped down into the river bank and looked ahead. He pulled out his new toy that he had been able to buy off a passing merchant trader. It was one of those super sledges, a vast improvement over his old one that he had lost in the city a year ago. Unfortunately, he found himself staring at two mirelurks guarding their eggs. As if on cue, the river's edge rippled and suddenly a full blown hunter also stepped onto the shore, all three of them quickly noticing him. Carl just smiled and returned the high tech hammer to his belt.
Thankfully, he also was able to acquire yet another new toy, this time from an dead Enclave soldier.
The mirelurks rushed towards the lone, giant man, expecting to rend him to pieces. However, before they were able to get too close, Carl pulled out his new favorite weapon: a gatling laser. Yes, the shredded mirelurk meat just wasn't the same as the mostly unblemished flesh from one killed with a sledge. On the flip side, at least these would come pre-cooked.
Scribe Lex sat in an old underground office copying down information from a holotape onto a specially treated brahmin hide manufactured to act as a sheet of parchment. The ironic thing was that after so many years of man copying his information on holotape, now they were trying to copy it back down on parchment since it was much harder to manufacture the high tech stuff in the wastes. Abruptly, he noticed a silhouette form in front of him and he carefully looked up. Standing before him was a young woman in the worn down robes of a Brotherhood Scribe.
"Scribe Kail? Julia? You've come back!" Scribe Lex cried joyfully, first calling his younger friend by her last name before switching to her first. Julia smiled and gave him a hug.
"Yes. I'm here to drop off my latest notes from the research I've been doing out in the wastes." the younger scribe replied, handing a stack of notes to the older man.
"Oh yes, thank you. Your notes have proven to be very helpful, Julia. We've been able to make medicines from common ingredients around the wastes that we would never have thought about. I was especially surprised with that homemade version of radaway. We still have not had the time to test out that weapon you described, though." Scribe Lex described. Julia blushed a bit.
"Well, I didn't do all of it myself..." Julia admitted.
"So, when will you be returning from your adventures and be joining us full time again, Scribe Kail?" Lex asked. Julia chuckled a bit before turning around and motioning for someone to join her. Lex looked up to see a regulator step from the shadows and take his place by her. The lawman removed a pair of shaded glasses from his face though he kept his brimmed, pre-war hat on. The older scribe also thought it curious that the man had a glove on one hand but not the other.
"It's Vanderbraun now, Lex. You can now called me Scribe Vanderbraun." Kail explained. Lex looked like his brain did a flip.
"W-what? Oh...oh my. Well, it looks like our little girl has gone out and married a wastelander. Well, good for you! Uh, what's your name again?" Lex asked, extending his hand to the regulator.
"James. James Vanderbraun." the regulator answered, returning the gesture.
"Scribe Lex, I'm here to pick up some stuff I left from awhile back. Could you please send for my rifle?" Kail asked.
"Oh yes, just let me quickly copy down your name for the records." Lex stated, quickly scribbling down "Julia Kail Vanderbraun" off to the margins of his parchment before disappearing in a back room.
"Here, I'd like you to have this." Julia said quietly to James, handing him one of her plasma pistols.
"I think you're going to need both of those." James replied.
"No, take this one and tuck it into your belt. You never found anything to replace your old shotgun anyway. Besides, this is much better." Julia asserted, strapping the weapon onto James' belt.
"You're really confident about this rifle, aren't you?" James asked.
"Yes." Julia smirked. Suddenly, Scribe Lex returned.
"Here you go, Julia." Lex stated, handing her the weapon. James' mouth immediately dropped.
"Y-you had a plasma rifle this whole time and you never told me?" James blathered.
"Oh yes. She's quite a good shot with that." Lex nodded seriously.
"I didn't think it was that important." Julia replied, making sure everything on the rifle was in place. James continued to stare at the weapon.
"Just be happy I let you have one of my pistols. Nice seeing you again, Lex. I'll return soon. Bye!" Julia bid farewell while leading James who was still coveting after the plasma rifle.
James and Julia stood on the outskirts of New York City, waiting on the bank of the Hudson River. They were enjoying the warm sun of the mid-afternoon though they also kept an eye out for any of the passing ships that might go by. Pirates were becoming notoriously busy in this area.
"I wonder what is taking Adam so long." James asked, sitting on a sizable stone.
"I'm pretty sure he's spending a little more time with Marilyn." Julia answered, taking the spot next to him.
"He didn't say he would take that long, though I'm impressed on how the Brotherhood was able to take over the surrounding harbor around the wreck of the Defiance." James commented.
"Yeah, I heard that they turned the whole place around it into the base as they still use some of the computers on the old cruiser. Of course, everything they can use is on its side now." Julia explained. The old cruiser had capsized on the dock, resting on its side.
"I see." James murmured, rubbing his mechanical left arm.
It had taken him awhile to get used to the fancy thing. Julia was just glad he no longer looked at it like some sort of tumor growing out of him though it still seemed that he was uncomfortable around it. Yes, she did know he appreciated having two limbs again. He even enjoyed a few more unexpected perks that came with it. His left arm now was completely steady when wiring machines or making repairs. This even meant that when he aimed, the drift of his rifle was kept to a minimal as it was now a machine that was holding it steady.
Yet, every now and then Julia caught him making uncomfortable glances at it, as if he somehow felt a little less than human now with a machine growing out of his side. She was impressed when he brought his mechanical and human hand together and interlocked his fingers like most people waiting would do. She had seen few people outfitted with the prosthetic achieve that kind of dexterity with it.
"Hey...thanks again for doing that operation." James murmured.
"What operation?" Julia smiled.
"You know, giving me this new arm."
"James, you don't need to thank me every four months." Julia giggled.
"Yeah well, I was just thinking on how lucky I am to have two arms." James admitted.
"Really?" Julia asked.
"Yes, but that also means I'm the luckiest guy on earth to have you." James whispered. Julia only smiled and rested her head on his shoulder.
"I think that's Adam right there." James announced, pointing to a shadow in the distance, the tails of a coat clearly falling behind it.
"Sure looks like him." Julia stated.
"Hmm...something's wrong." James murmured.
"What? Whatever could be wrong?" Julia asked in mild alarm.
"Something about the way he's walking. There's something wrong."
A few moments later, Adam was much closer to them. He appeared tired though it was clear to both of his friends that the man was not exactly in the best of moods.
"So how did the visit to the House go? Did Ramirez report any trouble?" James asked, trying to be cheerful.
"They're fine." Adam grumbled.
"Oh." James stated, suddenly deciding to tread carefully.
"Come on, lets go. We're burning daylight." Adam muttered, trudging forward. Both James and Julia carefully fell into step behind him.
"So...how's everyone else over there?" Julia asked.
"Fine." Adam grunted.
"So...you doing all right, man?" James inquired.
"I'm just awesome." Adam shot, his voice practically radiating sarcasm. James sighed.
"Well, if you say so." the man shrugged. They continued to walk on in silence.
"She bloody broke up with me!" Adam suddenly announced. James winced while Julia's mouth dropped.
"M-Marilyn broke up with you? Whatever for?" Julia asked in shock.
"She sends me on this whole goose chase saying that I'm never around, even though you guys knew I was visiting every single bloody weekend, giving me such a hard time about it, decides to break up with me before I can convince her otherwise or make any offers and then finally admits that she cheated on me!" Adam ranted, still trudging along.
"Ouch. Dude, sorry about that..." James apologized.
"Oh Adam...well, you deserve better than that anyway." Julia consoled.
"Darn straight." Adam grumbled and continued walking.
So other than the recent relationship hiccup, Adam would describe that everything had been going just fine. Francis, the head of the regulator corp based in the New York region, still had him in charge of this unit. Originally, Francis had put him in charge of James Vanderbraun, Carl Thompson and a pyromaniac named Sven. James still provided battlefield medicine and marksman support while Carl handled the heavy weaponry. When they needed to make something explode or burn in spectacular fashion, they sent Sven in. Of course, over the past year they picked up Julia who had been a Brotherhood scribe. She still was on the Brotherhood's roster but she was also one of the latest recruits into the regulators, joining in her husband's lead. She split the medical duties with James but they also learned that if the situation had anything to do with high technology, she would probably have an idea about it.
They had also picked up a rat. However, they all personally believed that in a way the rat had instead adopted them because it started following them one day and had not run away yet. Adam refrained from calling the rodent a "pet" because the furry little creature seemed to be extremely intelligent for an animal with its brain size. It had even saved their lives at one point. Still, until it learned how to operate weaponry, Adam also refused to call the rodent a full time member as well.
Otherwise, Adam himself provided the leadership and shadier skills to the unit. Before he was a regulator, he was an assassin and some swore he could become a shadow, not simply blend with them. He was skilled in the art of the silent kill and even preferred his throwing blades and daggers to his silenced pistol and his SMG. Recently, he managed to find an old Chinese longsword which he spent his spare time sharpening.
Sighing, he put down the new weapon and contemplated getting a snack from the pantry. Of course, that was different now that Julia tended to keep the kitchens a little tidier than the guys were used to. Now, he could just take a can of Pork n Beans and tossed the thing in the scrap metal pile-
Adam braced himself as a sudden explosion rocked his room and jarred a few objects that were not bolted down. There was some silence as every soul in the Vault wondered the same thing, did their local pyromaniac finally go out with a boom? Sighing in exasperation, the man tapped on a nearby intercom button and spoke into the transmission.
"Sven, are you dead?" Adam asked. Whole Vault was filled with the noise of Sven's maniacal laughter over the intercom. Adam didn't want to think on what kind of explosion Sven set off that would jar the Vault like that but not kill the pyromaniac.
It was good to have things back to normal.