States of Being
"I'd put that back if I were you."
Doanette hissed, a feral, guttural noise, and whirled around, power fist already extended to rip the intruder's face off. She looked straight into the barrel of a gun she didn't recognise, some sort of oddly shaped laser pistol... and into the hollow eyes of an expressionless metal mask. As she sprang backwards, her spine arched like a startled cat, she was surprised when the power armoured figure stepped back too, their movements betraying just as much confusion.
"What the fuck is a Paladin doing here?" she growled.
"I could ask you the same question." came the reply, a female voice that sounded slightly mechanical over the power helmet's speakers and would have been intimidating to the average person, "Who are you, why are you stealing my stuff and since when did I have an evil twin?"
Doanette gave the stranger a puzzled look. In response, she flicked a switch on the side of her power helmet. With a hiss, its release mechanism unlocked and she pulled it off. It was like looking into a faulty mirror. They shared the same fine bone structure and delicate features, the same short raven-black hair in the same serious bowl cut. However, the other woman's eyes were sky blue, rather than her own flashing green, without that haunted look. There was none of the screaming madness, lurking just beyond the threshold. Her pupils weren't dilated from prolonged Psycho misuse. None of her teeth had been sharpened to a point. She also didn't have a Slaver's Guild tattoo on her forehead.
"I was hungry." Doanette shrugged, "Nothin' personal. Ain't nothin' to hunt for miles and nobody else to rob, 'cause nobody else goes down here. I really wouldn't bother goin' this way if I was you. There's nothin' here."
It was true. Doanette had been walking for miles now and there were no people, no animals, not even the usual pathetic shrivelled stumps that passed themselves off as trees in this Godforsaken hell hole. She had only gone this way because she had heard a voice in her head telling her to. Maybe, she philosophised, the voices inside my head are treacherous lying bastards just like the voices outside it.
"There's you here." noted the woman, "Who are you, anyway? You haven't answered my question."
"I'm Doanette." What the fuck do the Brotherhood want with me?
"What the...? Doanette's MY name! You really ARE my evil twin, aren't you?"
She shrugged, "I'm human. Humans have darkness in them. I refuse to believe you're little miss innocent yourself, dressed up all fancy like that, packin' that much heat. Wonder how much you'd sell for..."
"How much I'd WHAT for?"
With a black cackle, she brushed her hair away from her forehead. Comprehension failed to dawn on the other woman's face.
"Ain't from around here, are ya?" she asked, "Didn't think so. Brotherhood don't come here."
Doanette stopped. She scratched her head. She looked down at her PIPBoy, which went 'ernk' and displayed an angry flashing error message. She looked up at the inconveniently overcast sky.
"I have no fucking idea." she admitted.
Doanette was surprised to find herself in Chinese stealth armour, wielding a Chinese General's shock katana.
She knew she possessed both items. However, she never wore them. Being invisible to the untrained eye was useful and she had been told several times that she looked sexy and/or terrifying in the armour but stealth required moving slowly and quietly, something she rarely had time for, the armour wasn't that tough once you had been spotted and she had enough problems with overzealous military robots mistaking her for a Chinese Communist as it was without actually dressing as one. As for a sword, she hated the things. They broke whenever you hit people in Enclave Power Helmets on the head with them.
The confusion paled into comparison when she considered that she was now hiding behind a boulder in a rocky valley somewhere, when she swore she had been asleep in a hotel bed in Rivet City last night. Was this a dream? She doubted it. Her butt hurt too much.
Suddenly, she heard voices. She froze still. Below her, in the valley basin, two women walked past. One wore Brotherhood power armour without the helmet, the other looked like she was wearing, of all things, a Vault suit. She couldn't make out the conversation but from their gestures and the tone of their voices as they yelled at each other at the tops of their voices, they were lost. Lost and arguing over where they were. It occurred to her that she had no idea where she was either. She thought she had the Wasteland pretty well mapped by now. She asked her PIPBoy where she was. It said 'ernk'. Scrambling carefully down the rocks, she edged closer to the strangers, katana raised just in case.
Doanette had never seen anyone jump ten feet in the air in full Brotherhood power armour before.
"Oh yeah. Invisible. Sorry." she said, lowering her stealth field.
"Is that armour Chinese? Cool. I guess we must be near San Fran." Doanette frowned, "Man, I hate doing business with them. Ninety percent of the time they don't buy, they'll rip you off as soon as spit on you and they try and pay you in Opium."
"Did you say Doanette?" asked Doanette, regarding the Opium-smoking lady in the Vault suit, "My name's Doanette too. You look tough. Are our abilities equal? I've never fought someone equal to me. Wanna fight?"
"Winner sells the loser." said Doanette.
"Huh? I ain't a slaver."
"Wanna join the Guild?" she grinned, revealing her sharpened teeth.
"What, you're a cannibal as well as a slaver?" asked Doanette, wiping her brow.
"Grave robber and pickpocket, too. Oh, and mass murderer."
"Um..." began the power-armoured figure, "Is anyone at all worried about what's happening here?"
"I'm talking to a slave-trading grave-robbing homicidal kleptomaniac cannibal. Why should I be worried?" asked Doanette wryly.
"Well, for a start, my name's Doanette too."
The other two Doanettes looked at each other.