Disclaimer- I do not own Fallout. I do however retain rights to my characters.
Okay then, I started this story… oh about three years ago, and shamefully never finished it. However, I had never given up on it and in-fact I will finish it, with of course some major revises. Seriously looking back on what this was if anyone remembers I have to sincerely thank any of the readers who reviewed and even gave praise. It was bad, not the worst, but honestly I cringe when I look back on it. Now I'm still nowhere near perfect; however, I hope that my revising makes this story more palpable than it was.
For those of you just starting the journey that is 'Cold' I welcome you, and for those of you who remember this story from way back when welcome back, I hope you enjoy the ride.
All right then onto the story.
Tracking for hours the various subtle hints which were left behind by their prey the three man regulator team found the opening to the metro system. The leader paused for a brief second as he took in the opening of the metro. The locked gate was slightly askew and he notice a very small trace of fur caught on one of the jagged sides. He quickly snatched it and rubbed it between his fingers.
"Seems our prey has a furry friend; this will be problematic when we find him." He said as he squeezed through the narrow opening.
The others followed suit behind giving small grunts of effort due to the slightly higher amount of equipment they were carrying. The leader simply waltzed ahead as they went about getting into step behind him. Goggles spoke up as he fell into step beside Boss and his companion in eager anticipation went to the other side of Boss.
"So what does the dog do for this guy you think? I mean I never really thought of cannibals being sentimental types. It just don't seem right that this guy would have a dog with him; seems more like he'd keep it for food than company." stated Goggles as he looked on to Boss with curiosity, and expectance pertaining to his answer.
Boss sighed as he continued to walk through the opening to the metro and kept track of the signs which would lead him to the one he was looking for. After a moment to allow him certainty of the path he had decided upon he answered his stalwart charge.
"Perhaps he keeps it to alert him to danger he would otherwise miss. Or perhaps you are wrong in your assumption and he keeps it, as a traveling companion, or maybe you're correct. In any case if he has it with him it will make getting close to him more difficult." He took a breath, "we'll almost certainly have to approach him from upwind so that the dog cannot alert him to our presence," stated Boss summing up the situation.
The trio approached the bottom of the stairway Boss stopping for a moment and surveying their surroundings. After a moment of deliberate hesitation he decided on what tunnel they needed to take and went into the dark, his cohorts following close behind as he illuminated the gloom with a pre-war flashlight. For a while the group came up with no clues as they progressed through the dank tunnels. It wasn't until they came upon two dead bodies not but a few days old. Boss went about his method and surveyed the corpses poking and prodding to determine if the wounds were consistent.
Satisfied he stood and continued onward his comrades following behind him as they continued into the gloom. Then at an intersection a little farther up he stopped and again took notice of his surroundings.
"The trail splits here; someone went to the left and another to the right. But it's inconsistent with what we know about our target. Why would he let one of these people live?" Boss mused to himself.
"Maybe it was a woman," said Goggles.
"Yeah that'd make sense; you know how the wastes are if you catch my drift. She begs and pleads, does him a 'favor' and he lets her go out of some sick sense of gratitude," replied his partner as he adjusted his combat helmets straps.
"Good assumptions boys; however, not likely there appears to be no evidence of such an event. And there certainly would be if it took place in the loose rubble," stated boss as he panned his light over the ground to make his point.
"Why'd he let her go then," Helmet questioned.
"For once I am not too positive of any particular theory. One thing is certain though, he went down this tunnel, and that is where we will go as well." Boss stated as he walked down said tunnel. Goggles and Helmet followed closely behind as the trio continued through the gloom. Eventually they made their way to the exit of a metro station following whatever traces Boss could find. They ended up on the north shore of the Potomac and then crossed the heavily mined bridge cautiously.
Once on the other side Boss signaled for the others to stop and he pulled out his monocular and surveyed the area ahead taking note of any interesting landmarks and signs. As his eyes fell upon the old superduper mart across the way on a slight angle he got a gut feeling and his decision was made. Turning to the others he made the proper hand signs 'follow me', 'keep low', and 'stay quiet'. He set out toward the new destination and the others followed behind at a brisk pace. They reached the mart and stopped outside the door so Boss could take a look around and assess the situation.
After a few deliberate moments he came to his conclusions and listed them in hushed tones to his men. "Obvious raider den, there are about half a dozen give or take a few. And from what I've seen already our friend came through here; maybe shacked up with the raiders for the night, though I doubt it. Has to be another reason," he paused. "There's been recent movement so the raiders are still here. We're going in, shoot any that seem like a threat, but leave one alive, we'll need someone to interrogate for information. Preferably one that isn't too hopped up on chems, understand?"
Goggles and Helmet both nodded and their leader then took the first cautious steps through the entrance pulling out his revolver as he did so. Once inside the trio reacted, their training taking over. They spread out so as not to be a group of targets and covered every possible corner they could. It wasn't long before they found the first raider a bald headed man with a pot belly who was repairing a worn combat shotgun. Thinking ahead goggles trained his rifle on the raiders knees and squeezed the trigger sending hot pain lancing through his targets legs.
The raider promptly fell over screaming in pain and then all hell broke loose as the others came out to see what the commotion was. The regulators expertly began to pick off the confused raiders who put up paltry resistance as they were torn asunder by the bullets of the trained regulators. Helmet watched as one of their heads seemingly exploded from a controlled burst of his rifle; then as another was thrown back into a shelf by the impact of Boss's revolver.
Helmet blew off another unfortunate raiders knee cap, following up by putting two more bullets into the screaming mans head, silencing him efficiently.
Goggles practically cut another raider in half with his combat shotgun, the thunderous booms of his weapon leaving no doubt that those struck directly by it were not getting up. Indeed, gore splattered the dingy mart floor as the raider met his grisly, but relatively quick demise.
The last one standing decided to go for broke, wielding only a switchblade the man ran directly for Boss. The regulator waited for the raider to get into range, then sent a well-timed heel kick into the mans center of gravity, causing him to go flying back onto his backside, the raider looked up just in time to catch the .357 slug the went into his head spattering his grey matter on the floor behind him and causing his body to go limp like a puppet whose strings had been cut.
Soon the firefight was over and the trio walked over to where the wounded raider which they had started with was still on the ground. To his credit he had managed to reassemble his shotgun and was in the process of loading it. He didn't get far as Helmets boot collided with his right cheek and Goggles simultaneously kicked the weapon from the raider's hands which slid it out of reach. Goggles and Helmet had their weapons pointed at the downed man seemingly waiting for an excuse.
"Alright that's enough keep frosty there could be more around." Boss paused for a moment regarding the downed raider, "ya know you could still get out of this alive. All we need is some information. A man came through here a few days ago; perhaps you remember, duster like us, but decidedly not a regulator. You recall where he went?"
The raider gulped as panic set in, "Um, f-few days ago somethin' happened. I w-was out but when we got back everyone who stayed behind to guard the place were dead. Whoever he was the guy was I didn't even get a look at him. Took the girl we caught with him."
"You know where this girl came from?" Boss asked digging around a bit.
"Uh, uh yeah, said she was from Megaton. We was gonna, well um…"
"That's alright you don't have to finish that thought, you've told me quite enough. Say you wouldn't go by the moniker scatter-shot would you?" Boss enquired.
"How did you know my name?" The raider asked in disbelief.
"Well you see there's quite a bounty out for you if I remember right. Right boys you remember those postings better than me."
"Yep, I think its sixty caps for him if I remember right," Said Goggles.
"Right very good then," Boss motioned for Helmet. "Chop off his fingers then… dispose of him. We have what we need."
"Got it boss," he replied as he pulled a knife from his belt and began to stalk toward the raider who was beginning to cower, trying to drag himself backwards away from the ominous regulator.
"You said I could live," the raider all but screamed.
"Yes and you could have, unfortunately for you you're just too big of a payday." Boss replied stoically.
For the next few minutes the mart was filled with screams of pain and shock as the raider got each of his fingers cut off one at a time. After a few more seconds of screaming the sound was reduced to a gurgle as Helmet slit the raider's throat.
"Thank god, thought he'd never shut up," Goggles stated to no one in particular.
"Alright boys lets go. I've got an old contact in Megaton who can help us out, might take a little convincing, but he should put us on a trail if he knows anything," said Boss as he made his way toward the exit.
Stepping out into the chill air Boss breathed out, his breath curling on in smoke-like condensation. The sun was starting to go down, it was late afternoon, or early evening, give, or take a few hours, just enough time to get to Megaton and talk to his contact. Looking down at his old well kept .357 nickel-plated revolver he consciously checked to find that he had only used one round for the firefight. Deftly he flicked open the cylinder, pulling out the spent casing he put one fresh on in to replace it.
He flicked the safety on before giving the weapon an expert spin for his own amusement before he placed it back in its holster. Cruz always badgered him about acting too much like some cowboy from an old book, he took it all in stride though, and she knew he and his team were considered one of the best regulator posses in the wastes.
Goggles and Helmet joined him a moment later, both likewise reloading their weapons, so they would have a full clip if they came upon another firefight, as it was the lot in-front of the mart was empty, save for the grisly warnings of the raiders, in about another week or so a new raider crew would probably call the mart its home. After all it was hot real-estate in the Capitol Wasteland
The trio did not concern themselves with that though as they began to make their way toward Megaton. Their footsteps kicked up small dust clouds as they traversed the route that would take them to the successful settlement. Finally the imposing scrap-metal walls of Megaton greeted them; they worked their way around the outside of the settlement taking care to do so conspicuously so that any look-outs would see they meant no harm.
Even still three heavily armed men would attract some suspicion. Eventually they reached the front gate, Goggles and Helmet slung their weapons across their backs, showing the sniper who watched them that they meant no harm. The protectatron unit at outside the gate gave them its usual almost halting old west greeting. At the top of the lookout tower the sniper gave a signal, most likely the gate operator, there was a horrible streaking noise as the old jet turbine whined to life and pulled the gates apart.
A figure stood in the now open gate, wearing a duster much the same as the three regulators and a cowboy hat to' boot, the man also aimed a well kept assault rifle loosely in their direction. He walked out to greet them, Boss extended his hand the man, and he already knew who it was.
"Been a long time Simms, how's settlement life treatin' ya?" Boss asked casually.
"Lot better than chasing down the scum of the Wasteland Jaeger," Simms stated matter-of-factly, and then he slung his rifle and put out his hand to shake. It was a solid and firm handshake, both men equal.
"These your boys? You three have been making quite a name for yourselves, never thought you would be one to take on protégés though Jaeger, you were always more the lone-wolf type like me," Simms said evenly.
"Yeah, well things change Simms, Parsons and Flynn here have a lot of potential and I'm starting to get old. It's time to pass down my knowledge," he motioned to Goggles and Helmet indicating who was who. Parsons nodded politely while Flynn tipped his helmet in greeting.
"Fair enough," said Simms. "Rules are no fights in town, you or your boys start one and you deal with me—I believe you remember who's faster on the draw Jaeger—that means no collecting on bounties either. I know Jericho still has one on him, but he's off limits so long as he's in my town, same goes for that scum Moriarty too. Follow those rules and we'll be fine an' dandy."
"Don't worry Simms we're on the trail of someone much more high on the priority list than those two. Speaking of Moriarty though I will be going to speak with him, don't worry we won't be in town for long, get some info, something to eat, a bit of lodging would be appreciated for the night and then we'll be outta' your hair by morning," Jaeger said smoothly.
"Fine, I'm guessing you remember where the common house and bar are."
"Yes," Jaeger said as he began to walk past Simms, Parsons and Flynn could practically see the tension between the two, they simply followed after their boss and past Simms, each giving a polite wave, after all Simms was a bit of a legend among the regulators, and thus deserved at least a modicum of respect.
"Welcome, to Megaton," Simms said quietly to the retreating men, and then more loudly to the gate operator, "Close the gate, you wanna give raiders a written invitation?"
The trio of regulators went up the scaffolding; they eventually found themselves in-front of Moriarty's saloon. Parsons noticed what he thought a good-looking redhead in a jumpsuit hanging out by the railing of the walkway. "Boss, I'll meet you guys outside the saloon when you're done if that's alright with you," he said making his way over to the woman. Neither Jaeger, nor Flynn objected, Parsons was always a bit of a flirt, plus they decided to let the man find comfort whenever he could, a regulators life was often a short one, couldn't let a good opportunity pass you by when it was in reach.
Jaeger pushed open the door to the saloon letting Flynn go first. They heard the beginning of Parsons conversation as they entered.
"Hello my name is Parsons, you ever hear of the regulators?" He said.
"Actually…" the redheads reply was cut off as the door to the saloon shut. The saloon itself was surprisingly empty, only the ghoul bartender in sight. Jaeger reflected than this would make things easier than he expected.
Soon the two remaining regulator's found themselves at the bar; Flynn ordered a whiskey, meanwhile Jaeger just waited. The man they were looking for came into sight from a backroom as Flynn sipped at his drink prepared in seconds by the ghoul bartender. Moriarty caught, Jaeger's gaze and slowly walked over to him, leaning back as if Jaeger would try to bite him.
"Great, had one of you nuts in 'ere few days ago, bastard nearly opens up me neck and now you sho' up in me bar. What did I do ta deserve your company Jaeger." Moriarty spat out his name like a bad taste.
"Nice to see you again too Colin, as for what brings me here I believe you ran into the cause not a few days ago. This regulator that almost opened up your throat, me an' my boys are trying to find him. Figured you'd have a thought as to where he may have gone. So can you help me?" Jaeger asked in an even tone, Moriarty got a twinkle in his eyes for a moment.
"You cowboys infighting now?" He waitied for a response, got none after a few moments. "Alright, forget I asked. Anyway, I may have a few birds tha' told me where that bastard went, but it'll cost ya."
Jaeger paused for a moment; Flynn seemed indifferent thus far to the whole conversation. "Flynn, you want to show Colin what regulators do to people who get in the way of justice." Flynn, put his drink down and pulled out his combat knife twirling it deftly.
"Whoa, there lad, no need to get violent, we can resolve this peacefully, like gentlemen." Moriarty gave a visible sigh of relief as Jaeger nodded to Flynn who then put his knife away motioning for a second drink to the bartender who seemed unfazed by the whole thing, in fact he had looked eager to see what would happen to Moriarty, Flynn noted this with a slight smirk.
"Right then down to business Colin," Jaeger said calmly, a small threat still laced into his voice.
"Right, he came in a few days ago, one ah me little birds told me he got real chummy with a new settler, name of Burke on his last day in town. Anyway, ever since tha' day no one's seen Burke, though no love lost there, no one in town liked the bastard anyway. Last I heard your man was heading out ta' Springvale. I bet you'll pick up his trail somewhere there," Moriarty finished up quickly. Jaeger paused for a moment taking in the information, and then he got up to leave.
"Thanks for the information Colin, it was a pleasure, Flynn let's go." Flynn got up handing the bartender a small sack full of caps for his drinks, and then followed Jaeger as he led the way out.
"Wish I could say tha' same ya bastard." Moriarty mumbled under his breath, he watched as the two regulators walked out the door. The waning light of the sun cast their long shadows on the floor as they stepped outside.
Outside the two regulators noticed their third man hurrying toward them.
"Hey Flynn, Boss find out what we need to know," about to reply Flynn was cut off, "good, we best get going, preferably somewhere I can look busy, or hide my face."
Parsons hurried off down the scrap-metal walkways toward the ground level, Jaeger and Flynn watched as he disappeared. Jaeger turned to Flynn, his eyes and posture asking a clear question, Flynn shrugged in reply. They were about to follow when the redhead Parsons had been talking to found them. With an unnervingly wide grin she walked up to them. "Hey, my names Moria Brown, I was talking to your friend, you know the one with the goggles. We were having the best conversation ever, then he just disappeared, either of you know where he went off to?"
Jaeger was about to answer when Flynn cut him off. "Nope, guy's like wind in the willows, here one second gone the next, never can keep track of him." Moira frowned a little at Flynn's answer.
"Oh, well if you find him tell him to stop by Craterside supply. I'd really like to pick at his brain more, not to mention he isn't hard on the eyes either. Don't get many interesting men like him out here," she said, brightening up a little at the end.
"Will, do ma'am, I'm sure he'd be happy to stop by, probably just something urgent caught his attention," Flynn said smoothly.
Moira gave him another of her wide smiles, "well alright then, thank you. Tell your friend I'll be looking forward to his visit, and tell him not to keep me waiting too long." Flynn gave a nod and then Moira started toward the saloon, disappearing inside. Jaeger and Flynn looked at each other for a moment, then they both burst out laughing, it was fairly obvious what had happened.
Their laughter soon settled down and they both began to walk down to ground level, eventually they spotted Parsons sitting at an outdoor bar eating something while looking tense and on alert. Flynn crept up behind him and using his rarely used knack for imitation did his best to copy Moira's voice.
"Why hey there, I've been looking for you," Jaeger noted that his imitation was very spot on, Parsons practically jumped out of his skin. He looked around; when his eyes settled on Flynn's grinning face they turned murderous.
"Ass," he said sourly before going back to his food. Flynn took it in stride and sat down next to his friend, Jaeger took the other side, and they both ordered a meal and a drink apiece. After a few moments of silence Flynn finally broke it asking the obvious.
"So, what drove you away lover boy?" He asked mirth apparent in his tone as he playfully poked his friend in the ribs.
"I don't want to talk about it, let's just say that woman scares me," he replied quietly.
"She did seem… odd," Jaeger put in.
"Odd doesn't even begin to describe it." Parsons muttered, there was silence as Flynn and Jaeger waited for their meals to arrive, when they finally did Flynn spoke up.
"I dunno, seemed perfect for you Parsons, eccentric sure, but you need that kind of spontaneity. Besides she wants to see you again, must have left quite the impression, told her we'd send you her way we did," he chuckled as he noted Parsons practically cringe.
"If you knew what she was talking about with me you wouldn't be saying that," he replied hauntingly. "So, what did we find out?"
"Well, we'll probably pick up a trail in Springvale, and it seems our man has made one of the locals disappear. Shouldn't be hard to pick up the trail again," Jaeger said mildly taking a carful bite of his salisbury steak.
"Hey boss quick question," Flynn ventured while taking a bite of his snack cake.
"Fire away," Jaeger replied.
"Why didn't you let Simms know he had a mark in his town?"
"Didn't want to worry him; besides, our friend seems harmless enough in civilized areas."
"Yeah, sure what with the guy that disappeared and all," Flynn snorted.
"Get yer head on boy, the guy he killed was Burke. He's been a target of the regulators for a while now, just too well protected by that old buzzard Tenpenny. Matter of fact our man probably did this town a favor getting rid of that weasel," Jaeger said matter-of-factly.
They all ate their meals fairly quietly after that, small casual conversation popping up now and then, mostly between Parsons and Flynn, Jaeger stayed mostly silent being solitary by nature.
After they finished they paid for their meals, got up and headed for the common house for the night. Jaeger made sure they got to sleep early; they'd need to be up early tomorrow to catch the trail as soon as possible, that being said Jaeger knew his boys would need to be well rested, same as him. After years of experience he knew that you needed to take care of yourself, even when you where on a tight schedule. It made you more effective.
With that in mind the trio retired for the night, in the morning they would pick up their hunt where they left off, for now though they would sleep.
I'd like to give thanks to everyone who has reviewed in the past, and all new reviewers. I appreciate the feedback, and the support, even if it's largely undeserved. However, as stated earlier I won't simply abandon this story, I will finish it.