The Lighthouse Perspective

Chapter 11: Brave New Wasteland

Hannah Newton awoke slowly, the fluorescent lights hanging from the ceiling caused her to squint. Shielding her eyes she swung her legs off the gurney, the cool floor chilled her bare feet. Sawbones, the Mr. Gutsy unit converted for medical treatment, hovered nearby and turned to her. She didn't remember being brought into the medical wing or the treatment of the wound to her hip. The med-x given to in the vertibird had knocked her out, but clearly this was where she was located. Newton checked behind her and released her backside was bare for the world to see, apparently the Brotherhood deemed it necessary to strip her.

"Operative Newton, return to your bed soldier," barked Sawbones as it motioned two of it's arms to block any motion than back to the gurney, "orders from Sentinel Lyons."

"I order you to get out of my way," said Newton as she made to push forward but Sawbones did not budge.

"Orders from Operatives does not supersede orders from Sentinel Lyons," the computerized medic answered, "return to your gurney or this unit will use force."

Newton gulped and sat down on the gurney, her bare backside was against the linen, "can you answer some questions for me Sawbones."

"Affirmative," replied the machine as it kept one of it's 'eyes' focused on the Operative.

"How bad was I wounded," she asked, the tenderness in her hip was felt when she took her first step.

"Extensive epidermis, muscular, and nerve damage occurred from the laser bolt," rattled the machine, "secondary damages occurred from continued motion, armor weight, and concussive force from detonation of explosives. Complication arose in surgery requiring partial restructuring of hip bone."

"What do you mean partial restructuring," asked Hannah as she rubbed her hip, felt the padded bandage underneath, and looked at the machine.

"Steel based alloy of medical quality was grafted to remaining bone structure of Operative Hannah Newton," Sawbones showed no emotion, the subroutines had been rerouted by the Lone Wanderer and Paladin Glade, "damaged section of hip was removed. It is recommended by medical protocol that Operative Hannah Newton remain on sick leave for one week, barring complications."

"What complication can occur," Hannah was now worried about her wound.

"Sepsis, bacterial skin infection, gangrene," the machine was rattling again.

Newton raised her hand, "stop, just stop."

"This unit will comply," answered Sawbones affirmatively.

"What are your standing orders," Newton was curious what else Sentinel Lyons wanted of her.

"Primary operating orders are, one, the defense of members from the Brotherhood of Steel," Sawbones began listing the orders that were hardwired into its programming, "two, the defense of the Citadel; three, the medical treatment of members of the Brotherhood of Steel and those designated by senior members; four, insuring the well being of all those giving medical care..."

Newton rolled her eyes, "Sawbones, what are your orders from Sentinel Lyons?"

"To ensure the safety of Operative Newton, even from herself," replied Sawbones mechanically, "and to await further orders from Sentinel Lyons."

"Great," Newton sighed to herself as she swung her legs on to the gurney, she tried to relax but all she could feel was being in a constant state of tension.

The dust had yet to settle in the underground tunnels at Friendship Heights, the three Brotherhood members combed through the remaining opened chamber till they were halted at the entrance to the metro tunnels. The air filtration units allowed Schieber, LaCroix, and Kodiak the ability to breathe unpolluted air without harming their lungs. Visibility on the other hand was not more than five feet in front of their visors and the in helmet communication units were more than necessary. The held onto their weapons tightly, not knowing if the explosion had forced several ghouls into the main chamber.

Kodiak spoke into the comm system, "watch your footing, there is a lot of loose rubble around," his voice was young, like that of the Operatives, a testament to his prowess on the field of combat to be in Lyons' Pride.

"Aye, Sir," replied the Operatives as they combed the ruins.

"By this map, this door way will lead to the maintenance tunnel system that goes to GNR," Paladin Kodiak commented as he pointed to doorway that had a lot of concrete and rebar in front of the door, "we'll need clear it and reinforce the door way, see the cracks above it?"

Schieber moved closer and wiped his visor clean from the particles clinging to it, he could just make out the series of cracks above the closed door, "looks like the load bearing supports are under stress."

"Good eye," said Kodiak as he patted Schieber on the shoulder, "we'll get some jousts in there, make sure there is a route opened to GNR."

There was a bought of coughing on the line, Schieber turned to LaCroix, "is your air filtration alright?"

"Yea, it's fine," replied Anna LaCroix, "I thought it was one of you two."

"Wasn't me," said Kodiak as he turned to the other two.

"I know I didn't cough," answered Schieber as he tilted his head, "Anna...do you think that..."

"I don't want to get my hopes up, Quin," she answered as he moved closer to her, his hand on her shoulder.

"What are you two on about," said Kodiak as his helmet turned from Schieber to LaCroix.

The smile on Quin Shieber's voice could be heard in the communication units, "he's alive, Anna, he has to be alive."

"Who's alive," asked Kodiak as he shrugged his shoulders under his power armor.

"BAN!" Yelled Schieber into his comm unit, "KNIGHT BAN! BAN! If you are on this line, please respond!"

Schieber held his hand to his helmet pressing the earpiece closer to his ear. He walked away from the other two and around the large rubble piles at the metro tunnels. Pacing and yelling into the communication unit. Kodiak moved closer to LaCroix and offered his hand out to point where Schieber was pacing. LaCroix nodded and put her hand to her helmet and began to request Knight Ban, though not as loudly as Schieber.

Knight Ban was breathing heavy from all the work he was doing to remove the rubble. He had gotten a good three meters deep cleared. Ban knew it wasn't enough and that his energy was faltering. The adrenaline coursing through his veins was beginning to subside and the real pain from his wounds began to effect his work. He couldn't pick up the larger pieces of rubble, just roll them down and let gravity help. The dust was getting thicker in the air, which was not helping the injured and trapped Brotherhood Knight.

Ban coughed loudly as he tried to move a heavy piece of concrete down and let it rolled. The light from the head lamp of his helmet was showing the different particles in the air. He kept moving, forcing himself to work his way out. No sleep, no food, no water, and now the air was becoming thick with dust and allergens. Knight Michael Ban couldn't help but cough as he worked, his chest heaved as he kept working. Saint Jude preserve me, Ban kept working harder and harder, wasting energy he didn't have, give me hope, give me strength, he thought as he kept working hard.

Coughing, moving, his blood pumping so hard that it was all he hear in his head. Ban's thoughts were becoming jumbled as he kept moving. Need to clear rocks, need to get out, his mind was set on one thing and one thing only. Between coughs and heavy breathing, Knight Michael Ban was loosing himself. Trapped, he truly felt trapped in the section of metro tunnel. Hopelessness pervaded Ban's mind for the first time.

Pain, hopelessness, weakness, and fear filled Knight Michael Ban. He was on the verge of giving up, for the first time in his life. Even after the march from the State of Maxson through the Core Region, the Scourge of the Pitt and establishment of the Citadel, Ban had never felt so helpless. He sat down, sliding backwards against tunnel. His head in his hands as he continued to heave and cough.

Ban began to cry, breaking down, in what he thought would become his grave. Spittle sticking to his hands and nose. The sobbing slowly stopped and gave way to coughing as Ban tried to breathe again. Slowing down, sighing as he tried to suck in as much oxygen as possible. The pounding in his ears stopped as he whipped his tears away and regained the air in his lungs. Ban oddly felt better as he resigned himself to the hopelessness of his situation.

From the corner of his ear heard something faint but constant. It sounded like small voices. I'm going crazy, he thought as sickening smile plastered his face. Ban stood up gingerly, not putting pressure on his injured leg. His ears perked as he heard the voices still, but the general direction was coming from his helmet. He rushed towards it, falling on some rubble. Ban scrambled on the ground and made his way to the helmet as he heard voices from it.

The smile on his face became genuine. Blessed be the Lord, Saint Jude, thank you, though Michael Ban as he let out a small laugh over the communication unit. The shouting on the other end stopped. One of them yelled to another an 'I told you so' as Ban just laughed softly. He wiped the spittle, tears, and drool on his gloved hand against the rubble.

"You don't know how good it is to hear you," said Knight Ban into the communication unit.

"Ban, is that you," asked the familiar voice of Schieber.

"Affirmative, Mr. Drayden," said Ban confirming to Schieber that is was him as he referenced his hometown.

"Jesus' Spirit," exclaimed the Operative, "we thought you were a goner after the explosion."

"Still here," confirmed Ban with a wide smile that could be heard in his voice, "wounded but still going."

"Knight Ban, this is Paladin Kodiak of Lyons' Pride, it is great to hear from you," Greg Bear said into his comm unit, "what's your situation?"

"Good to know the Pride has my back," answered Ban as he sat up straighter in his tunnel, "the situation Paladin Kodiak is that I'm trapped in a tunnel. I've removed a good amount of the rubble, but I don't see any sign of exit. I have no food, no water, my leg and arm have a hole in each...in other words, the situation is bad."

"Understood, Knight Ban," Kodiak confirmed on the comms, "can you tell us anything about your location?"

"None sir, I was heading west in the tunnels but the explosion threw me and knocked me out," Ban was reminded of how horrible his situation was, "I just don't know."

"It's okay, just take your time, do you think you can do some light work to continue to extract yourself?" Kodiak was thinking fast on his feet.

"What are you plans, Paladin?" Ban was getting nervous.

"We have some ordinance with us, we'll do controlled bursts to remove debris. You can then tell us which sounds closer," Kodiak knew finding Ban was important.

"I don't think that's a wise idea," answered Ban as he inhaled deeply, "the tunnel I am in doesn't look structurally sound."

"Shit," breathed out Kodiak, "do you think you can dig out more and knock on the debris?"

"That I can do," answered Ban as he stood up and walked over to the hole in the debris he made.

"Good," replied Kodiak as he turned to the Operatives, "LaCroix, I want you to get up there and get all the members of Lyons' Pride there and some able body men down here, we need to move some rock."

"I'll get some spare wood for joists as well," she answered as she moved to the exit at Friendship Heights.

"What can I do," asked Schieber, eager to find Ban now that he knew the man was alive.

"Listen and if you hear anything report it to me," the Paladin answered.

Operatives Daniel Roe, Zachary Zimm, and Scribe Actaeon were sitting in the jail cell. They wondered what to tell the warden when he returned. Roe thought that the truth would be the best thing to tell, considering all the lies they had been telling were starting to catch up with them. Harden Simms and the Stahls made that notion abundantly clear. Zimm on the other thought the truth would just put them in more trouble than their present circumstance.

Actaeon didn't know where he stood. He was not a member of the Intelligence service, but it was certain that he was being grouped with them. Therefore, this decision was vital to him. It was vital to the hunt that he remove himself from this cell. The Operatives were split in their decision, and he decided to inject his opinion.

"I say we lie," stated Actaeon firmly as he stood up and looked down the hallway.

"Who says we follow you," questioned Roe.

"Calm yourself, I'm not looking to infringe on your place," growled out Actaeon, his nerves wearing thin as he felt his prey slipping through his fingers.

"He's right, Dan," Zimm picked up Actaeon's argument.

"I'm through with lying," answered Roe firmly, "I've done way to much of that."

"Then let me handle it," answered Actaeon firmly, "because the best lies are always based on part truths. Granted, I don't know as much as you two do, but just give me something to work on."

"Well, we know that Mister Burke killed Lucas Simms," answered Zimm as Roe squinted at him, "and that Simms gave reports to a Sonora Curz..."

"Senora Sonora, always seems to get involved somehow," commented Actaeon with a small smile.

"You know, um, her?" Asked Roe in disbelief.

"No, not personally," he answered as he turned around, letting his head rest against the cool cell bars, "but most of us in the Brotherhood have heard about her organization. She heads the Regulators, a collective of bounty hunters. They were well established in the Capital Wasteland before us, Sonora Cruz is the head of the organization since her father died in 2262."

"Bounty Hunters, Lucas Simms was a bounty hunter?" It seemed too simplistic for Roe to accept, every called him a man of honor but he was just there for a pay check, does not jive, he thought.

"You're from Canterbury Commons, the Roes' are well known," Actaeon said, answering the question before Roe could ask it, "and the Regulators never stopped by your town?"

"Dominic and Machete handle things around town very well," replied Dan.

"Consider yourself lucky," Actaeon loved that his experience gave him more knowledge and an edge over these reformed wastelanders.

"How does this help us," asked Zimm, trying to bring the issue back to the present.

"You're original lie, we modify it based on some truth," answered Actaeon, "basically we say that Sonora Cruz hired us because the raider deputies would hinder those in the brown dusters."

"Sounds like a good idea," answered Zach with a nod.

"You tell this lie," Daniel Roe didn't think it would be a great idea but he rather the scribe tell it than him, "and I'll back you up."

"Good to know you have my back," sneered Actaeon as he turned back to the hallway, awaiting the warden.

"These lies are just making our mission harder," commented Roe, "my regret has been how often I do it."

Always trying to get the last word, Actaeon added, "my regret is how bad you are at lying."

John Harkness, Knight Captain Galeas, and Knight Bors were still at the Alexandria. Dinner was being served by one of the servants. Everyone, except for Kimi Mahal who preferred to eat alone than with the Brotherhood of Steel, sat around the table to eat a simple meal. Harkness had told the Knights that their home and office were in a great situation. The servants were something new to Harkness, especially the one male servant that introduced himself as Elias.

"So if I am to understand properly, because this is your home you'd rather work, help and protect than move to another township or settlement," asked Harkness as he stirred the stew with his fork.

"More or less," answered Elias with a benign smile, "we are people of peace, do not confuse that with passivity. We will always protect what is ours. The only difference is that we have elected to change our boundaries."

"Slaves by choice," commented Harkness as he tucked his upper lip under his lower lip.

"Not quite," answered Galeas before she took a mouthful of the stew.

"Agreed," said Elias as he tipped his water to the Knight Captain, "we think of ourselves as caretakers or keepers of the Alexandria. It has always been ours and shall remain so, ana fahim."

"Not all of us agree," said one of the young servant girls, the one that Bael had scared earlier.

Elias looked at her with disapproval on his face, as Galeas perked up, "what was that, dear?" She asked with an attempt of sweetness in her voice.

"I...mean...the comatose woman...she doesn't...feel much of anything," the young servant guarded her words, though Elias knew she implicated Kimi and if her hate could grow in the others than surely he should not underestimate her.

"Alas, I pray for her recovery," Elias calmly replied, "but I do not receive answers."

"Perhaps I can assist," answered John Harkness as he thought about his sensors to pick up any damage.

"Security force, escort, pool shark and a doctor now?" Asked Bors with a chuckle.

"Nothing major, just enough to fix cuts and bruises," lied Harkness with a smile.

"It's more psychological than physical," answered Elias, "but thank you for offering."

"I figured that as long as I'm a captive here, I'll help as much as I can," offered Harkness with a sad smile.

"You're more of a guest than a captive," said Galeas.

"Do all members of the Brotherhood of Steel have deceivingly different words for their treatment of wastelanders?" Harkness was curious.

"Your question is biased in such a way that any answer would be self incriminating to actions of the whole Brotherhood, specifically ones that have not been shown to you, or the citizens of the Columbia Commonwealth," Knight Captain Galeas answered politically.

"I think you just did," said Harkness as he raised his glass of water in mock respect.

Star Paladin Bael entered a destroyed building that must have been a bank, jail, or holding area of some kind because there were several hip high safes, larger vaults, and wrought iron caged areas. The air tight holds of the vaults were not appropriate for prisoners, but proved a good place to hold the armory and lock it down quickly. The Grayditch guards were walking around, several sat at desks with their feet up and a wide brim hat covering their eyes to catch a nap. The Brotherhood Knights stood outside the wrought iron cell that held the three prisoners. Alvarado had been laid out on one of the rickety cots because he was still medicated. Lolli Pop was siting on the cot, his head in his hands and his elbows on his knees. The prisoner in rags just leaned back against the wall, arms crossed over his chest, a cheap smile on his face.

Bael sneered at the prisoner, upset his men had to be housed with the same low life. Lyons and his fucking politics, he thought to himself in anger, making examples when only force should be shown. He nodded to his men and gave some quick words that just told them to continue what they were doing. Bael turned around as one of the guards passed him, the man had a purple or maroon sweater on with a leather vest and military ammo belt tied around his waist, and the Star Paladin grabbed his shoulder.

"Uh...what?" Stumbled the man not expecting to have a strong grip on his shoulder, he looked up at Bael with disdain, "get your claws off me, steel head."

Bael raised his right eyebrow, "where is your commanding officer?"

The guard scoffed and removed his shoulder from Bael brushing it off, "and I'm the commanding off..."

"Listen you little mole rat shit," whispered Star Paladin Bael softly enough for the guard to just hear, "if you could earn the respect needed for being a commanding officer I'd have given it to you. Point me in the right direction and you'll find yourself in a better position for the day, otherwise my boot is going to find a new resting place in your ass."

The guard scowled deeply at Bael just as an older man wearing a brown duster that was well worn, beat up, and patched in several places. The old man wore a wide brim hat like the other guards in the office that was made of the same tanned and treated brahmin leather. He was a little shorter and than the deputy and Bael, but his face held more character than either the Grayditch guard or Star Paladin Bael. His hair was longer curling out from under his hat in a mix of salt and pepper that matched his thick beard. His skin was weather beaten and tanned to leather like the duster and hate he wore, his dull grey eyes were unremarkable except for the crescent scar around his right eye. It extended down beneath his beard, hidden in the aged jungle and face.

"Do we have an issue, Jonas," the mans voice was as soft as a whisper and breathy.

"The steel head wanted to talk with you, Marshall," The guard said as he sidle away.

"Don't mind that boy, Jonas," said the old man, his mouth barely moving under his long beard, "all these boys are still new to the game. Come to my office."

"Barely a day and you already have an office," commented Bael in a snide comment.

Marshall opened the door and motioned Bael into the office, "I was here before the incidents that occurred, I was here before the incidents, and I was here before the Lone Wanderer cleared out the fire ants. I just provided a service when the time was right..."

The door was closed and Bael turned around, "bullshit! I am calling you out right now. That's a regulator duster you wear and I'm certain Sonora is pulling your strings some where. You might think you're helping these people, organizing them, instead you're impeding them like a cracked bolt in a rifle."

"Your metaphors can be used on your troops, I prefer straight talk," Marshall said as he sat down behind a desk, "I respect the Brotherhood and what you have done here in twenty years. Just remember who was here first before you and your people crossed over from the West. Now what can I do for you?"

"The regulators hardly control themselves, shooting up settlements to get their bounties, how can I believe you control these people," commented Bael, "I have men here and I need to know that this town and your guards will not attack them. We got enough troubles facing us that we don't need a stab in the back."

"Let's start this conversation over," answered Marshall as he tweaked the corner of his mustache with his left hand, "I'm Marshall Lawson, what is your name Paladin?"

"Name's do not matter, Marshall Lawson, just the security of my men and avoiding a full fledged fire fight in the middle of Grayditch," Cristiano Bael was point at the Grayditch regulator with his left index finger, "I don't want to see any more of my men die, nor do I want to see us needless kill people in this town."

"I think we can find agreement in that," answered Lawson as he pulled out a thinly rolled cigar and put in the corner of his mouth, he offered a second to Bael who shook his head, speaking as he lit a match and then the cigar, "you sure, not the stale tobacco you get here in the wasteland, it's grown and rolled in Drayden. Nice community there, close-knit, family. You'll find Grayditch is similar, though I doubt you've been near Drayden, unless you were on the Andrew's Air Force Base station. You're men will be protected, the last thing either you and I want is a war to erupt between this settlement and the Citadel."

"I can agree to that," confirmed Bael with a stone face expression.

"Your men will be the security of the prisoners, I'll make sure my boys understand," continued Lawson as he smoked his stogie, "I just hope you and your boys will remember that the Citadel doesn't own this town, nor did it ever."

"Without us, Grayditch would not be where it is today," replied Bael in consternation, "without us it was an empty lot of concrete and steel."

"You sped up a process that was already put in place years before," chided Lawson as he smoked, "the Brotherhood isn't the only force in the Capital Wasteland."

Bael decided it would be best to bite his tongue, knowing that most wastelanders didn't know the dual role he played as a member of the Brotherhood and the head of field operations for the Brotherhood Intelligence Operative Services. He nodded to acknowledge the words from Marshall Lawson and began to stand up. Lawson opened his desk draw and took out two glasses and a bottle of whiskey as he blew out smoke through his whiskers. The law of Grayditch motioned to the cups as he filled them both and passed one to Bael.

Holding the glass up so the amber liquid reflected in the light, Lawson toasted with the representation of the Brotherhood, "to our mutual understanding, may it be forever beneficial."

Bael held the glass up and put it back on the desk, sliding it to Lawson without taking a sip, "I don't drink when I'm on duty," and with that he walked out of the office as Lawson continued to blow smoke upwards as he drank the whiskey alone.

Sentinel Tristan had returned to the northern border where his special operations team had created an outpost at the train tunnel that led to the Pitt. Each of his Centurions wore a set of 'Dillo Wear, the combined armors that Scribe Bowditch had fabricated. Three of his squad members patrolled the outside, they had a combination of plasma rifles and heavy weapons. Perched above the tunnel in a makeshift alcove was the squad sniper, the scope was to their eye as they scanned the wastes for any hazards. Tristan walked passed the erected barricades re-purposed from the shacks and holding pen his men had put up. He opened the metal door and walked in.

The chain link fence had been broken down and served as trap to funnel would be attackers into a bottleneck. Tristan walked through the security measure, running his armored fingers across the chain link fence. The service entrance to the train tunnel proved to be a good headquarters for the northern operations because it was secure enough to prevent a direct attack and it's location underground gave a cool relief from harsh sun and weather of the radiated wasteland. The train tunnel itself served as a large open room. The hand cart that his team secured remained locked in position. Two more of his men were standing at a damp wall, moisture and water were seeping through the tunnel wall. Two sets of chains were also secured to this wall with the two slavers that were captured a few days ago hanging from it.

Bent forward, their arms pulled back above their heads with their legs unable to hold a footing on the floor, the prisoners dangled like cured meats. The moisture of the wall soaked their backs, their hair hung limply around their face and crown of their head. Even in the dim light, the bruises and cuts over their upper torsos, face and arms were apparent. A third member of the squad saw Tristan approaching and grabbed a folding metal chair to set up in front of the prisoners. Tristan held out his hands and the squad member passed him a clipboard, Tristan removed his helmet and began to read it in the dim light.

He read it over, line by line, before he turned his bald head up to slavers, "you have not said a thing since I have been away."

The prisoners mumbled incoherently, Tristan nodded to the squad member that hand him a chair punched downward in the face of the nearest slaver. The slaver jerked down, the chains cutting into his skin. Tristan shuffled in his chair.

"Let's try something easier, and you tell me your names," said Tristan as he twirled his pencil in his hand.

The prisoners again did not answer and Sentinel Tristan nodded. His Centurion moved over to the other prisoner and repeated the same downward punch into his face. A loud crack was heard and as the squad member moved away the open wound with a piece of white bone protruding from jaw was visible. The prisoner was whimpering with hot tears running down his face.

The Centurion turned to his squad leader, "Sentinel, I believe his jaw is broken."

"That is clear to see, Travis," answered Sentinel Tristan with a sick smile, "looks like he won't be telling us any more information anyway."

"How can you, you can't do this...you're supposed to be the good guys," garbled the other prisoner as he spat blood on the floor, "we don't even treat are stock like this!"

Tristan took no time in standing up and kicking the folding metal chair aside, he lounged forward and pulled the slaver's head back to the wall pinning it, "I don't need to make a profit from you, slaver," he hissed as he drew his plasma pistol and held it to the gut of his prisoner, "you're the worst this land has to offer for humanity."

"Go a head an kill me, murderer," whispered the prisoner, the bruise covering his left eye made it completely closed and the blue of his right eye was even more intensified, "we know what you did at Dickerson, murderer."

Sentinel Tristan let go of the prisoner, walking away with his plasma pistol in hand. His thoughts turned back to the dark night, the words from the prisoner haunting him. It may only have been a short time in the North, but the land and people changed him and his more daily. With only super mutants, deathclaws, and slavers as the local population, the Centurions saw more war hazards than most of the Brotherhood combined. There were only three bastions in all of the northern wasteland; Big Town and Arefu to the south near the Potomac, and the The Republic to the farther east. Then there was Paradise Falls, the only collection of humans in all of the north though they lacked any humanity as the main slave selling hub in the wasteland. Despicable people, despicable place, and Julian Tristan loved operating with a nigh free reign as Sentinel of his squad.

The time in the north can change a man, he may hide it, but it ultimately changed him; Tristan turned around and aimed the pistol to the prisoners knee and pulled the trigger. The plasma pinch hit the knee of the prisoner at an awkward angle and exploded the whole knee cap into a bright ball of green light and pink mist. The slaver screamed out, throwing his own head back as his sweaty and damp head shook as droplets went everywhere. The opened wound that was where the slaver's knee once was located began to pool with blood and bent back at an odd angle. All the nerves, tendons, ligaments, and muscles were exposed.

Sentinel Tristan holstered his pistol and reached down to the slaver's head and pulled back on his hair, "I won't kill you, like at Dickerson, I'll make sure you live through everything so we can pull all the information out of that head of yours," to stress his point, Julian Tristan pushed his index finger on the forehead of the slaver and turned it back and forth.

There was a lot of noise over the in-helmet communication units that one of the Centurions handed Tristan his helmet; as he put it on he heard his sniper in the middle of a report, "I've got three boogies, hundred yards out and closing in at three yards each minute. Visible light arms, melee weapons, light to no armor. Threat assessment minimal."

"Keep an eye on them Sparrow," ordered Tristan as he motioned for two of the men in the tunnel to follow leaving one behind, "defensive positions, put one in the chamber."

He walked out to see his three men outside with their weapons drawn. He motioned for them to rest and they all hunkered down and sat with their backs against the metal barricades. Sentinel Tristan took off his plasma rifle and sat on a rock that had been placed near the service door. Looking out to the wastes, Tristan leaned back against the cool wall as he spoke into his comm unit.

"Sparrow, at fifteen yards out, give them a warning shot," he ordered and sighed, "do not, I repeat, do not shoot them."

Assistant, or in another time Deputy Mayor, Thomas Notley was talking to the others gathered around the table. Most of them were sycophants to the newly appointed Mayor Henry Fleet, trying to gain power and prestige in the nascent regime. Scribes Jameson and Mendel were sitting with Elder Lyons as they watched the procedure for the conference go on. The main conversation was focused on the presentation to be made by Mayor Fleet. Considering the Brotherhood would have minimal representation for the opening ceremony, certainly no talking role and barely visible, it was a conversation they didn't need to be apart of.

Elder Lyons felt his age and wished to turn the conference into more progressive talks about the trial procedure, "Mr, Notley..."

"That's Assistant Notley, Elder Lyons," corrected the man as he adjusted his vest.

"Assistant Notley," corrected Owyn Lyons with a false benign smile, "I think we need to move on to pressing matters of the actual trial."

"This is as important to the actual trial, which we all know your men are guilty..." retorted Notley.

"I would like to remind you, Assistant Notley that one of your townsmen was also arrested for the murder of one of my men who was in charged with protecting Grayditch," returned Lyons with enough anger in his voice to shut up the petty assistant, "and you're mayor wouldn't have this great press if it was not for this Brotherhood. The sooner we have out plans injected and out of the way, the sooner we can have this presentation."

"What are these ideas of yours…that you'd like us to take into consideration," finished Notley after a long pause.

"I was under the impression that your Mayor gave us full authority to plan the trial for out concessions," interjected Scribe Jameson, her ire getting the best of herself.

"You should watch your people," commented one of the sycophants at the conference table.

Elder Lyons rubbed the bridge of his nose, "Scribe Jameson is correct. The correction is yours to make, or we will no longer seek to host this event here."

"But the prisoners are in our custody," Notley had a smug smile on his face as he nodded to the others at the table that agreed with me.

"Again, you are mistaken, Mister Notley," Elder Lyons was becoming increasingly tired by this man, "Mayor Fleet made sure that security would fall into our jurisdiction; you are contradicting his terms which does not weigh for these proceedings. Forgive me I am old man not so prone to these forms of politics and egoism. My Scribes, Knights, prisoners and myself shall now leave this town."

Assistant Notley slammed his fist down on the conference table; it's over 200 year age made it flimsier than when it was in its prime, "you will not leave."

"You forget your place, Notley, you can not order me," Elder Lyons voice was stern and strong, his eyes fiery as he stared deep into eyes of the petty assistant.

"I…I…uh…I," spluttered Tom Notley.

"I believe the words you are looking for are, 'I'm sorry,'" said Scribe Jameson with a wiry smile.

"Uhm, yes, quite right," he answered as he removed a cloth to wipe his forehead.

"I want to hear the words, Mister Notley," the steel glare from Elder Lyons turned the assistant ten shades of gray.

"I…um, I'm sorry," answered Notley, looking down at the table his notes a skewed.

"Better, now we'll be able to continue," commented Elder Lyons, "however, the next sign of disrespect, disdain, or cross words you have me or my people will require us to leave with the prisoners."

One of the people around the table, an auburn haired woman in her late thirties was the first to comment, "Elder Lyons, please forgive Assistant Notley's previous comments. The importance of these trials are clear. For our town, it will make a much needed system of order which is needed as we grow. It will also help with our growth, bring in more individuals that this settlement needs while keeping out the elements that do not belong in peaceable society."

Elder Lyons also knew the underlying issue was the economic gains these trials, and projected executions, could bring, "the comments have been forgiven, but not forgotten, now can Scribe Jameson please impart the ideas of these trials and the role of the judiciary in Grayditch?"

The board members all nodded and looked to the Scribe with gray hair, Jameson tried to keep her composure but she was more used to working with books and terminals than with people, "oh, um. Yes, my…my, where to begin. Well, perhaps the foundation of law? Or the Rule of Law? Oh my, I'm terribly sorry, I didn't realize I would be put onto the spot like this... I wasn't really prepared to give such a presentation…."

Head Scribe Rothchild was sitting in the communication center known as Citadel Control. Scribe Yearling was with him, something relatively new for the logistical and strategic head of the Brotherhood Intelligence Operative Services. The relationship between the two of them, if one could call it a relationship, was tenuous at best because of the history the Yearlings and Rothchilds had for over three generations. Reginald knew the family feud, as petty as it was and as he kept it alive was going to end someday considering he made sure his family did not come out east to enjoy the relative safety of the west coast. The Yearlings had mad the journey and were survived by their daughter, but the feud would have three thousand miles between the scions of these families. To have the two of them in the same room in good spirits would never have crossed each others' mind.

The reason for their good spirit was by Rothchild figuring out that the coded message was just that, a coded message, and it was Yearling that was able to use the stack of information from the Arlington Library to decipher the code and reply in like. Morse Code was originally developed by Samuel F. B. Morse and Alfred Vail between 1836 and 1844 with the creation of a electromagnetic coil and receiver combined with a code of pulses that translated into letters and numbers. However, Morse and Vail's machine was more complicated than the magnetized coil, switch and receiver created by Yearling, lacking the paper and reader the two American inventors had developed. The code itself was easy to look up, and it was the genius of Yearling to tell the difference between the Morse and Vail code with the internationally recognized Gerke code. The difference between two clearly showed that the BCSS Justice was seeped in the history of the United States of America.

Yearling was thinking fast of the scenarios that could come of this meeting, the one true fact she knew was that the Commonwealth had advanced technology, something the Brotherhood needed and a possible alliance if the Enclave were able to rise again. Rothchild's concern centered around technology and the repair of Liberty Prime. The machine sat in his laboratory no where near complete since the announcement from Owyn Lyons that he would be succeeding him upon retirement or death. Every note, article, and terminal entry that the Elder had collected, recorded, or wrote in his tenure as leader of the Brotherhood of Steel on the east coast. He looked over at Yearling, his long seated hatred buried in the thanks he felt for assisting in bringing the third great step to the east coast Brotherhood.

There was a crackle over the radio as a rather breathy voice came on the radio, "Call sign: Citadel Control, this is the BCSS Justice; I repeat Call sign: Citadel Control, this is the BCSS Justice."

Rothchild looked over to Yearling and leaned forward to press the talk button on the radio, making sure the channel was open, "this is Citadel Control, reading you loud and clear BCSS Justice. You're speaking to Head Scribe Reginald Rothchild, Scribe Janice Yearling is listening in."

"Copy Citadel Control," answered the communication from BCSS Justice, "please hold a moment, Head Scribe Reginald Rothchild."

Rothchild nodded and Yearling slapped his arm and he depressed the talk button again, "copy that, BCSS Justice," answered Rothchild.

The two scribes waited around five minutes before the channel crackled again, "Head Scribe Rothchild, this is Communications Officer Bell, it's wikid good to hear someone else on the line."

Not used to some of the dialect, Rothchild did the best he could, "it's good to hear from you as well, Communications Officer Bell, the BCSS Justice has been of interest of us since we heard your broad cast."

"We apologize for the coded message, but we learned quickly as we crossed the Jersey Shore that not places are friendly," answered CO Bell as his sigh was heard over the speaker, "but hearing friendly and educated voices over the ignorant tribals are such a relief."

"How long have you been traveling from the Commonwealth, Bell," asked Rothchild as Yearling was taking notes.

"We left Providence Plantations a little over two years ago," answered CO Bell, "we crossed the Eastern Shore into the Chesapeake two months ago. The weather has not helped at all."

"What do you mean the weather didn't help," asked Rothchild as he looked over to Yearling.

"The bombs changed the sea patterns," began CO Bell, "currents have shifted and intensified, squalls have become common, this has made sea maps completely useless. We've need to hug the coast the whole time and anchor for weeks on end."

"We'll we're glad you stuck with it and made it," answered Rothchild, "in your message you said you needed a deep water port, how deep are you talking about?"

"We need a sounding of fifteen to twenty feet to give the draft of our smallest vessel enough room to dock in the Potomac," answered Bell.

"Wait, what about the the Justice," asked Rothchild in confusion.

Bell laughed over the speaker but stopped himself, "I apologize for that. The BCSS Justice would not be able to fit into the Potomac nor maneuver well."

"How big is the Justice," Yearling asked taking over the comm unit.

"Who is that, Head Scribe Rothchild?" Asked Bell over the speaker.

Yearling took charge, "I apologize for the interruption, my name is Scribe Yearling, I work with Head Scribe Rothchild."

"It seems my subordinate failed to mention that," answered Bell before he returned to the question, "the BCSS Justice is a Nimitz class aircraft carrier that was refurbished by Electric Boat Dynamics on Quonset Point, Providence Plantations."

Rothchild was reaching for the talk button but Yearling grabbed his hand, "don't touch that! They have a working Rivet City in striking distance of us. We were able to fight off the Enclave and steal their tech. What they have...what they have is an invasion force!"

"You don't know that, Yearling," answered Rothchild as the younger Scribe held his hands back from the talk button.

"They have more than one ship, this is news to us," answered Yearling as she stared down her superior, "Bell already admitted they open fought people on their way here...they might be rebelling this invasion force."

Over the radio there was a crackle, "Head Scribe Rothchild, Scribe Yearling, are you there? Hello?"

The warden's office was crowded, Ashkelon sat behind his desk as the three Operatives and the Scribe Actaeon stood in front of him. The warden looked to J.R. and the Brotherhood Operative nodded, he then turned his eyes to the others and rested his gaze on Roe. Dan squirmed under his gaze and gave a little jab in the ribs to Actaeon. The scribe straightened up before he opened his mouth.

"We've decided to tell you everything, Warden Ashkelon," he said with a curt nod as he put his hands behind his back.

"Hands where I can see them," commented the Warden as he limply twirled two fingers in Actaeon's direction.

The scribe complied and held his hands forward against his thighs, "we, my compatriots and I that is, are part of a covert mercenary band known as Alexandria. Our operations are classified, but standard, no suicide missions, one third and operation costs up front, final two thirds upon completion. Failure to pay leads to a forfeit of… contract."

The warden's eyes bore into Actaeon, "are you done feeding me shit? I've already got this information about Alexandria from your compatriot, Moriarty," lied Ashkelon, better through his experience, "however, that doesn't answer why you four are all here."

Actaeon continued, unfazed, "Sonora Cruz hired us, to find out why one of her men wasn't reporting in for a long time. Something that was uncommon for Lucas Simms."

For the first time in the conversation, Ashkelon looked surprised, "Sonora has wanted to shut down Moriarty for a long time, perhaps it is time for her and I to have similar goals. That of course would mean I would employ you four."

"We're not cheap," said J.R. snidely, "we don't operate for anything less than a thousand caps per man."

"That seems fair," Ashkelon agreed, "thousand caps each month for all four of you. Consider it a retainer, to be on my pay roll and work for my interests."

"What exactly would be your interests," asked Actaeon, not one to turn away caps.

Ashkelon opened a draw to his right and put four pouches containing a thousand caps each on the table, "I want to take control of Springvale from Moriarty."

Actaeon reached forward to grab the bags and tossed them to the Operatives, "we'll take the job..."

"On one condition," pushed J.R. as the other Operatives and Ashkelon all looked in shock, "you release the kids from Vault 101 and the doctor they were escorting."

Ashkelon put his hands on the desk tapping his fingers, "interesting proposition, that would certainly undermine Moriarty and his campaign against the vaulties. You can escort them back, all four of you should wait in out processing for the them."

The Operatives nodded and turned around to head out the door way. Roe grabbed J.R. by the elbow and whispered into his ear.

"What do you think we're doing," he asked squeezing J.R. elbow hard.

"We're going get Burke and save Megaton," answered J.R. as he pushed the pouch of caps into his pocket, "we both know we have to do something, and this is how we'll get it done."

"By putting a man like Ashkelon in power?" Pointed out Roe in disdain.

"Temporary solution to a long term problem," waved off J.R.

"I'm not really supporting this," Roe was upset by the back door dealings that J.R. had worked out with Ashkelon.

"Just take the money for a little while, donate it if you want," replied J.R. firmly, "my father's power needs to be checked on this front and it will help us get to Burke."

"I don't see how," lamented Dan as he rubbed the stubble on his face.

"When Megaton starts to lose profit, someone will come to investigate," J.R. smiled and clapped Roe on the shoulder, "until then, we now have a source of income to actually purchase ammo and supplies."

Roe thought it over as they were escorted to the open area near the main gates, he leaned over to Zimm away from the others, "I don't like the way this smells."

"Neither do I," agreed Zach but he rattled the pouch in his pocket, "feels nice to have some caps though. I'm thinking about checking out that whore house in town."

Scribe Actaeon leaned over to the two Operatives whispering, "make sure their clean before you do anything rash, or else you may wind up with one."

"You're disgusting," said Zimm as he shoved the man away.

"Just being honest," Actaeon held his hands up before he leaned back to Roe, "I still have the holotape. I'll make the delivery, just remember our deal. You get me information on Harkness."

Roe nodded and Actaeon turned to leave, the guard at the front gate handed over his weapons and ammo and as he tucked his French hood to cover his mouth and nose the scribe disappeared. Roe turned to the others, hearing Zimm as he jangled the caps in his pocket. J.R. was talking with a guard and signing papers on a clipboard as several people wearing blue jump suits and a very sickly looking doctor in a white lab coat. As they got closer and had their cuffs and chains removed, the doctor began to cough. He fell over and a woman with blonde hair helped him up, J.R. rushed to her other side and helped the doctor as well. She gave him a smile and he returned it as he hoisted the weight of the doctor who was holding his side.

Zimm leaned over to Roe, "I think things just got interesting," all Roe could do was nod his agreement.

The underground metro tunnel of Friendship Heights Settlement was crowded. All of the members left from Lyons Pride, except for Paladin Vargas, were lifting rubble away from the collapsed areas. The caravan driver with his pack brahmin was down in the tunnel as well. The brahmin was strapped with empty drum barrels that were filled with cement, rocks, and rusted steel. The caravan guard was had the goggles of his roving cap down to protect his eyes with cloth around his mouth and nose. There were around ten residents from the former raider camp helping to transport and move the rubble as well.

The Brotherhood members continued to talk with Ban, keeping his conversation going as they removed rubble looking for the hole he was stuck in. Ban, for the best of his ability, was talking back with the other members of Brotherhood. He was clearly in distress and suffering from exhaustion and possibly shock from his wounds. Ban continued to remove as many top stones from inside as he could. He kept on digging, more and more, slow and steady to not burn himself out. Knight Ban kept on digging and digging.

"I've got a breakthrough," yelled out Paladin Glade into the in helmet communication units.

Schieber and LaCroix rushed over to him, along with the other members of Lyons Pride. Vargas heard the commotion on his helmet and turned to the settlement leader he was talking with about the new defenses that needed to be designed. The quick conversation brought a sad smile to her face. Boadicea was glad to hear that the member of the Brotherhood that helped them defend the settlement was alive. But she also knew that neither of her men would be coming out of that hole in the ground alive.

Schieber was furiously tossing the rubble, cement and rock from the top of the pile that Glade was working at. The others were taking the debris and tossing it into the drums of the brahmin. The small hole began to open up more from the finger width to a whole hand. Ban was widening the hole on his side as well, trying to fit his hand through it. Schieber leaned forward to look down the hole, aiming his head lamp down it.

Through the blackness, Schieber's head lamp illuminated the working fingers of the entombed Knight. The Operative started to dig faster and faster, the hole became wide enough for his hand to move in. Quin Schieber pushed his armored hand through the hole stretching to feel the fingers of Ban. His middle finger brushed up and he could hear the Knight through his comm unit exclaim. Schieber pushed his hand forward and grasped onto Knight Ban's hand, palm to palm with their fingers wrapping around each other.

"I feel you, I feel you," exclaimed the Knight as his hope and faith was restored, thank you Saint Jude, thank you, Lord.

"We got you now, Ban," soothed Schieber over the comms, "we got you, brother."

John Harkness, former Rivet City Officer, was in the kitchen of the mess hall, helping to clean up from the meal. There was a servant he hadn't seen before drying the dishes and silverware as he passed them to her. She was short, compared to his height, with raven black hair and a dark tan. Attraction and sex was never something programmed into Harkness, he was made to be a hunter and his predatory nature also made him love to chase. As his neural pathways grew into full sentience, so to did his predatory nature increase to liking other forms of chasing. However, sex as an act was something that did allude him, though an upgrade from Pinkerton would make it possible.

He gave a soft smile out of the corner of his face to this servant. Her dark eyes caught his, a frown was on her lips. She pulled the silverware from his hands, drying it with a cloth with frustration. He took a sideways glance at her again, the soft smile still on his synthetic lips. In exasperation she slammed down the silverware and stared at him.

"What is it, why are you looking at me like that," she turned to him and drilled her index finger into his chest, "if you think you can get a poke, you have another coming, pal. I'll give you a new hole so you become the most popular raider toy in the wastes."

"Whoa, just, whoa," answered Harkness with a wider smile on his face, "while you are attractive, miss, that was not looking for at this time."

She slide her hand onto one of the knives, "then what is it?"

"I was wondering if you were one that disagreed with the other caretakers," replied Harkness as he went back to washing the dishes, "they didn't mention your name, but I could hear the hesitation in their voices."

"Very perceptive of you," she said, still holding onto the knife.

"Also, that knife won't protect you, it's only good for spreading butter," he said as he handed her a cleaned dish, "what is your name?"

"Kimi Mahal," she answered as she took the dish and began to dry it.

"It's pleasure, Miss Kimi Mahal," the sentient android said as he kept washing, "I'm John Harkness, are you a captive here as well?"

"Slave seems more of an appropriate," commented Kimi.

"Agreed," said Harkness with a nod as he handed over another plate, "so why not leave?"

"This is my home," she said as she patted the plate dry, "I could never leave my home, and I rather not set up in Grayditch with nothing. Wondering the wastes is dangerous, I could nick some weapons and ammo, but it's way too much of a gamble."

"I could protect you," answered Harkness as seriously as he could, putting the dishes and soap down to look at her.

Kimi batted her long eye lashes as she slide up close to him and put her left hand on Harkness' chest, "you'd do that for me?"

"You're unhappy here, and I want to get out," said Harkness as he put his hand to her waist and another on top of the hand on his chest.

Kimi tapped the steak knife she had between Harkness' legs causing him to sigh, "I think this one will do more than spread."

"Listen, I just want to get out of here," replied Harkness as he let go of her and stepped back a little, "and if you were unhappy as they might have suggested..."

"I'm unhappy at our situation, I'm unhappy at the atrocities we faced," ranted Kimi, edging the blade closer to his leg, "we were invaded, murdered, then cast out into the wastes to start anew or bend our heads in servitude. I don't want to leave, I want to destabilize these bastards."

"Then help me escape," offered Harkness in a last attempt, "the head guy gave orders for Galeas and Bors to keep an eye on me. If I escape it'll achieve what you want, slowly."

"I'll think about," she said as she removed the knife and went back to her corner.

"What would make the offer a deal," asked Harkness, just looking to get out of Alexandria.

After a long pensive moment, Kimi said, "take her with you."

"Her who," questioned the former Rivet City Officer.

"The comatose girl," the former raider said as she turned to face John Harkness, "she needs real medical care, despite what the others think, find a doctor for her."

"I was on my way to Megaton, before I was detained," answered Harkness, with a pensive thought he remembered meeting the doctor there in another life, "Doc Church is a fair man, he'll find out what's wrong."

"Come with me, we need to get her," said Kimi as she opened the back door of the kitchen and walked to the servant quarters.

"What about my weapons and personal belongings," asked Harkness.

"I'll get them for you," Kimi said calmly, "but we need to get you two to the front door first."

"You can still come with me, Kimi," he whispered into her ear from behind as he followed her down the hallway, the hair on the back of her neck standing on end.

"No, Mister John Harkness," she said as she lifted her head to the left making her neck longer, "this is my home."

In the jail cell at Grayditch, the Prisoner and the Operatives were all sitting in the cell. Alvarado was stirring in his cot, the drugs finally wearing off. Lolli Pop was lying back in his cot with his eyes in the crook of his elbow. The Prisoner was sitting with his legs crossed and back against the wall. He was humming a tune to himself off key, to the ire of Pop and the stirrings of Alvarado.

"Will you please cut it out," asked Pop with his eyes still in the crook of his elbow.

The Prisoner shrugged and stopped humming; he then began to whistle lowly, just loud enough for Pop to hear. The Operative sat up and stared down the Prisoner, who through his rags just looked back and smiled wide.

"Quit it you murderer," said Lolli Pop as he clenched his fists.

"Or what will you do?" Asked the Prisoner, his false smile flickering, "beat me like you did Lesko? You'll find I'll put up more of a fight than that egghead."

Pop's knuckles were getting whiter as he clenched harder, he breathed deeply, "you're not even worth it."

The Prisoner became noticeably agitated and stood up, "who are you to tell me I'm not worth anything tin can? I did something no average waster can do on their own!"

Alvarado stirred more and opened his eyes, Pop shifted from his cot to his colleague and looked back to the Prisoner, "you hid yourself in a crowd and then attacked a man before he could even move. You call that honor? Courage? Bravery? No, you don't posses those. Just a cold blooded murderer."

"Don't you judge me!" The Prisoner was standing up and moved into a fighting stance, "you attacked a man that was not trained in fighting! I took down a member of the Brotherhood of Steel! Single handily!"

Pop leveled his cold glare at him, "you killed a man that was protecting you in blind hatred."

"So did you," sneered the Prisoner.

The Knights heard the conversations but decided to not intercede. The Grayditch guards were also taking an interest as they watched the commotion. One of the guards approached the cell and tapped the butt of his rifle to the metal. The imprisoned men all looked up at the guard.

"Keep it down, now," ordered the guard, holding the butt of his rifle to the cell bar.

The Prisoner looked at Pop with an evil smile and lunged for gun. He got his grimy hands on stock of the gun as the guard began to pull it back. Pop stared with shocked eyes as he tried to grab the man in rags. The Knights opened the cell door quickly and began to rush in. The Prisoner's hands fumbled around the trigger guard, trying to find the trigger as the Knights' threw Pop off to get to the homicidal prisoner. His fingers found the trigger and jerked it back creating a large bang as the bullet spun out of the barrel and went through the Grayditch guard's upper arm. The Knights pulled the prisoner away and began to beat him with the stocks of their laser rifles to subdue him.

Lawson rushed out of his office when he heard the gunshot to find his guard Jonas on the floor with one of his guards applying pressure to the wound. One of his men approached him to tell him he already sent for Doctor Hopkins. Lawson looked into the cell and saw the Knights standing over with their rifles pointed to the prisoner in rags. A bloody grin was on his face that matched his eyes as he struggled under the Knights. Lawson pointed to the Brotherhood of Steel Knights.

"Subdue that man," he ordered before he turned to his men, "get me the Paladin in charge now!"

The Knight closest to the prisoner's head kicked him hard to knock him unconscious. Lawson looked over his shot deputy who was breathing heavily as his colleague prevented him from looking at the wound. Marshall Lawson took out his cigar and fumbled for a light, dropping his box of matches. Cursing under his breath he bent down, took of his hat off and wiped his brow as he picked up his matches to light his cigar. He had planned this too long, and now, more than ever, the progress that could be made was in jeopardy; someone needs their ass chewed out for this, he though as he rolled the cigar on his lips, this job can be too taxing.

Scribe Rothchild was in the comm room still talking with Communications Officer Bell as Yearling was ordered outside. She was upset that the Head Scribe was not heeding her warning. Rothchild had given her a task, one she did not want to take. Her objective was to gain more information and Rothchild was hindering her mission. Yearling chewed the side of her cheek and then proceeded to storm down the hallways. She kept on walking until she saw the Lyons Den had some occupants inside.

Sitting around a table was Sentinel Sarah Lyons, Knight Captains Colvin and Gallows with their helmets off as they shared silence and some of the local rot gut. Yearling looked in on them, Gallows she figured had already noticed and Colvin was looking up to her. Lyons turned around and greeted her with raised mug.

"Care for some whiskey," she asked as she took one of the overturned tin mugs and began to fill it without a response.

Yearling sipped the harsh liquor and apparently made a face that caused Colvin to laugh and Lyons to smile, "it's funny that you guys should be here..."

"Not really," smirked Colvin which caused Janice Yearling to cock her head to the side, "had to rescue one of your Operatives from Friendship Heights."

"I'll have to admit it, Scribe," began Sentinel Lyons as she took a sip of the whiskey, "you're team does seem to know how to handle a firefight."

Too bad firefights are not all, or even part, of intelligence gathering, thought the Scribe as she pensively took a sip from mug again, "thank you, Sentinel."

Lyons nodded and pulled the scribe into a chair near them, "so why has Rothchild locked himself in the communications office? Alone now, it seems."

Yearling took the time to effectively organize her thoughts, "well, we've made contact with that Commonwealth ship. And one of their ships are making arrangements to dock here in the Potomac."

"What do you mean 'one of their ships,'" questioned Lyons as Yearling silently celebrated in her head, "do you mean they have a whole fleet."

"We don't know," answered Yearling, feeding half-true information to continue to swing Lyons into her camp, "what we do know is that the Justice is an air craft carrier in the Chesapeake."

Gallows looked up, taking interest for the first time. Colvin rubbed the stubble on his jaw as he eyed Yearling up and down. He examined her like the information she was telling them. Lyons took a sip of whiskey, and sighed out loud.

"If it's not the Enclave," said Sentinel Lyons as she sipped again, "it'll be someone else."

"Let's hope they come in peace," said Colvin with a laugh, "and prepare for war."

Yearling raised an eyebrow to Colvin's comment as Sarah turned to Yearling, "what preparations are being made?"

"The wooden dock on the plaza needs to be converted to a larger dockside," answered Yearling, "and I'm going to need some help with this project."

"I wish we could help, Scribe," said Sentinel Lyons, "but we already have our marching orders, need to rendezvous at Friendship Heights."

"Understood, Sentinel," replied Yearling as she sniffed at the whiskey.

"You still have your Operative in sick bay," answered Colvin.

"That won't be enough, I'll spread the word to the Knights on patrol to help this," answered Lyons as she drained her mug, "Bowditch will also want a say I gather. C'mon Scribe, let's go."

Yearling put the mug down and pushed it away slowly as she followed. Colvin picked it up and dumped the remnants from Yearling's cup into his. Gallows made a clicking noise in his throat, that did not sound like anything as he turned his eyes to the other team sniper. Colvin just smiled and drank the rot gut whiskey.

Tristan was waiting for them as they approached the archway. He didn't raise his rifle as they were closer, but he could tell now exactly who it was that had made their way to him. Sparrow was in her nest, keeping an eye on the boogies as they approached, having already shot a round through the waist coat of the man in the lead. His feathered hat mad him look rather ridiculous, though distinct from the other two people in mercenary gear. The black skinned man, who two hundred years ago would be called an African American however without an America, nor news of Africa, approached Tristan with a smile.

"Good day, Brotherhood of Steel," he greeted, "I'm assuming introductions are not necessary."

Tristan did not say a word but nodded, the woman with a crew-cut next to the man in the red suit spoke up, "thanks for the warning, I'd like to return one to you."

Sentinel Tristan cocked his head to the insolent woman, Eulogy Jones held his arm out to Carolina Red to stop her, "I'm sorry for my associate, but you did put a sizable hole in my coat."

Tristan pointed upwards, "wasn't me, but thank you for the credit."

"An honest man," said Eulogy preparing for a sale, "and I like to deal honestly."

"Slavers don't know the meaning of the word honest," answered Tristan as he coughed a little, his air filtration a little overworked, "nor would the leader of the slavers and defamer of humanity know that word."

"Sir, I must say you bestow unfair titles on me," Eulogy could never let anything someone said rattle him personally, all he really cared about was money and insuring that money was made, "I'm just here because you have two members of my trading post."

"Slave farm, you mean," corrected Tristan.

"The Brotherhood always has different words for east coast items," retorted Eulogy, "perhaps it's just that west coast mentality you all have."

"You said there was business," continued Tristan.

"Well you have two members of my trading post and are blocking the main trading hub for labor on the east coast," answered Eulogy slowly, "I understand that the Brotherhood has made base here. I will not stop it, nor will I try to force my staff to sell laborers through to the Pitt."

"You wouldn't be able to anyways," commented Tristan.

"Likewise, starting an armed conflict between the Brotherhood and my trading post would not be good for business or longevity," said Eulogy in his verbose terms.

"Listen, Head Slaver," said Tristan as he stood up and held his plasma rifle, "I appreciate the civility you have shown. But this is a Brotherhood of Steel bass of operations. Likewise, all subjects found in the defense and operation of this base that are non Brotherhood personnel will be detained."

"If you do this, I would have no other options," answered Eulogy as his associates lifted their weapons up.

Tristan nodded and his man raised from behind the barricades with their guns at the ready. Sparrow, perched in her sniper nest focused her aim on the head of the leader from Paradise Falls. The plasma rifles and energy weapons were powered up and aimed level at the less protected slavers. Eulogy Jones' hand was on his scoped magnum that was still holstered to his hip. He looked at the Brotherhood squad and counted a total of six members outside. Eulogy smiled faintly.

"What's the word for this," he asked to no one in particular, "there has to be a special title for this...situation."

"It's called return to that hell known as Paradise Falls," answered Sentinel Tristan as he stepped forward, "or be put down here and now."

Eulogy looked to his men and knew that this fight could not be won and motioned to lower their weapons, "we'll take our leave, but trust me, I will get my men back."

The Centurions watched as the slavers returned to the wastes. They remained at the ready until Sparrow gave the all clear sign. Tristan recalled his men and gave them new guarding orders. He returned into the tunnel with two other men. The interrogation of the captured slavers began.

The new day was halfway through as noon sun was at it's height in the sky. There were several chairs set up and a podium. Elder Lyons was sitting next to Scribe of the Quills Jameson and man that looked to be in regulator clothes. Bael had been called in to oversee the prisoners personally since the incident the other day. The committee had put forward the plans for the trial and then they focused back on this ceremony. The crowd was sizable, though not everyone in the town had showed up. Mayor Fleet was talking onwards for over an hour from his podium.

"This town is on the precipice of greatness," said Henry Fleet from the podium in the best three-piece suit he could manage to put together, "we can forge a new world within this township. Forge a future for the greatness of humanity. We must look forward, yes, but also look upon the past for guidance. No great nation can exist without law. True law are the codes of conduct enforced by those that govern, it can no longer be the way of the gun and bullet. The way of independent and direct reprisal are over. We are a town in the midst of a rule of law..."

Elder Lyons turned his ear away from Fleet as he looked upwards in the sky. The sun shown with brightness that hid and appeared from behind cloud cover. The heat was getting to him now more than ever because of his old age. Owyn pulled a folded cloth from his robes and patted his head to clear the sweat away. Five judges, he thought to himself, who will be chosen and voted in. The Mayor can not be, however his right-hand-man...what was his name...Notley can be a Judge. The town doctor, Hopkins, he can prove to be a useful unbiased opinion. Though his past certainly concerns me, contemplated the Elder on the former Enclave doctor.

Lyons creaked his neck to the side, his neck throbbing a little, the LaCroixs would be good as well, though only one could be a judge...which one would be better? I should recommend a list of people to Jameson, he filed into his mind, damn this heat. This year the heat is just unbearable.

Scribe Jameson put a hand on the elbow of Elder Lyons, "are you okay sir?"

"It's just the heat," he replied dismissively with a smile though his complexion had worsen to a gaunt gray color.

She worries for no reason, he thought to himself as the throbbing in his neck began to travel to the side of his head, the guy to my left would want to be a judge, Sonora wouldn't miss an opportunity like this one. He looked up to the sky again, the brightness of the sun penetrated his eyes with whiteness and then a small pinhead of darkness. The pinhead of darkness grew larger and Elder Lyons took his eyes from the sky and looked at the crowd. The darkness grew in his vision as he felt his head tilting and swaying. Jameson was holding his elbow asking him something that he just tried to wave of dismissively again.

Then the darkness enveloped completely and Elder Lyons fell from his chair hitting the ground from his chair. Jameson rushed to his side and turned him over, but Lyons was unconscious before he hit the floor. Lawson got up from his chair and prevented people from rushing up to see the leader of the Brotherhood of Steel injured. Fleet turned around and his assistant began to pull him aside from the Elder, there was fear in his eyes like everyone in the crowd. Elder Lyons fell from his seat, the worse case scenario was, like the previous week, someone in the crowd had decided to assassinate the Elder.

The Grayditch guards swarmed around the podium and offered crowd protection from the Elder. Jameson turned the Elder on his back and was checking his pulse. Doctor Hopkins was in the crowd and rushed to the the podium. He pushed through the guards and leaned down at the head of Elder Lyons. Jameson updated him on the pulse and opened Elder Lyon's ancient eyes and used a small flashlight he saved from the Enclave to see if Owyn was responsive. The Elder's pupils did not follow the light, nor contract quickly, all Elder Lyons could see was darkness with his thoughts jumbled.

A/N: I apologize for the long absence from posting. I have been working on this chapter for a long time, which I hope is evident by it's length. This marks the end of Lighthouse Perspective and the beginning of a new novella. Thank you all for reading, reviewing, and supporting my writing efforts. All reviews, criticism, and complaints are welcome. Thank you all, once again.