Part 1 – Celebration, Reflection, and Realization
The purified water flowing from Jefferson Memorial gave a calm background to the night as workers and guards diligently kept supplying caravans with the pure, clean water the Wasteland had needed for so long. The general feeling was one of relaxation, as the attacks on caravan shipments had ceased a week ago. To add to the feeling of celebration, the oppressive Enclave had finally been driven from the Capital Wasteland just hours before, and the sounds of celebration could be heard in the distance from the ruins of the Pentagon that the Brotherhood of Steel used as their base.
In the Citadel courtyard, a happy buzz pervaded the dark night, lit up by the many fires thrown together by the initiates, knights, and paladins of the Brotherhood of Steel. The sound of steel impacting steel echoed through the courtyard of the citadel, and cheers erupted all around. A dummy wearing Enclave Hellfire Armor tumbled to the ground, the helmet rolling off, as Paladin Vargas got up and threw his hands in the air, swaying slightly. The night was lit up by the many built fires in the courtyard. He took a beer from a grinning Paladin Kodiak and limped back to several gathered Brotherhood soldiers. Vargas had received a nasty plasma rifle shot to the leg, but survived, along with the rest of the Lyon's Pride. The harsh lessons they learned from the battle at Galaxy News Radio with the Supermutant Behemoth and Overlords, and from the costly assault on the purifier, had been expertly analyzed, and thanks to the new tactics, Brotherhood losses in the final push against the Enclave were extremely low. The Lone Wandered had even called down an orbital strike on Adam's Airforce Base to eradicate any remaining Enclave presence there, though this was as much to end the war as it was vengeance for the destruction of Liberty Prime. There were still some significant injuries, as evidenced by Vargas' leg, but everyone was in too high spirits about their victory to let these things ruin their mood. Meanwhile, Knight Donnovan Edan, formerly known as the Lone Wanderer, was sitting back around a fire with Sentinel Sarah Lyons, Knight Captain Dusk, Paladin Cross, and Paladin Glade, laughing at the antics, and sharing drinks and swapping stories of the fight.
"The fall that Hellfire trooper took was hilarious!" Glade was saying, referencing Donnovan's shot that had killed a troublesome Enclave sniper.
"Wasn't exactly hard." Donnovan laughed, taking a drink from his beer. "I mean, he was standing up in the open, the idiot."
"I really wish I could've seen that," Sarah sighed.
"You were taking a nap, girlie." Dusk pulled Sarah into a headlock.
"No, that was a coma." Sarah's muffled voice. "More than a damn nap."
"I too, am happy this is all over." Cross smiled. She looked at Donnovan. "Your father would've been proud to have seen this done. Now, his dream for purified water is fulfilled. Let us toast!" Everyone nodded, raising their drinks.
"To James!" They all said in unison.
"I know you're, happy, ma'am." Glade stated, looking at Cross. "But you should loosen up a bit. You're way too formal."
"Too formal, you say?" Cross raised an eyebrow. She put down her beer and walked away.
"Good going." Sarah grinned.
"Did I really say something rude?" Glade had a puzzled expression on his face. Any wonder of this was suddenly interrupted as an extremely loud impact of metal, and the loudest cheers yet, drew their attention to the Enclave dummy. The helmet, armguards, and a legging had flown off, and Cross was standing up off of the ground, a smile on her face, as the surrounding Brotherhood members cheered loudly for their third-in-command. She did a purposeful, overly-formal bow, before walking back over to the group.
"How was that?" She asked.
"That… That was…" Glade stuttered, unsure of what to say.
"Friggin' amazing." Donnovan managed to say, while Sarah and Dusk rolled with laughter.
"I know how to have fun. I just do it in a less obtrusive way than you all." Cross stated simply, taking a sip from her beer.
"Something on your mind, Don?" Sarah asked, slightly tilting her head to the side.
"Huh?" Donnovan said, shaking his head. He had been staring into the fire thoughtfully. "Oh. Yeah. The victory's awesome, don't get me wrong. It's just that… what's next, you know? Since I left the vault, I've always had a purpose, always had reason. Finding my dad, helping Megaton out. I met up with the Brotherhood, and we had this huge task in front of us. We finished it, so. Now what? What do we do?"
"What, you want more fighting? Warmongering, much?" Glade asked.
"There's always the muties in D.C." Sarah suggested.
"Yeah, but that's always been there. And will be for a long time. We just run missions against them, you know? That'll loose its luster, fast. What else is there for us? No huge problem to solve, you know?"
"I guess. I still wouldn't mind a bit more sanity around here." Glade said. "Dealing with mutants and nothing else should be kind of simple."
A raider's head splintered into bloody pieces like wood going through a chipper as Dusk's custom, hollow-point .308 round found its mark into the man's nasal cavity. The body fell messily to the ground in front of his comrades, who charged forward regardless. The two unsuspecting raiders turned a corner, only to be surprised by Paladin Glade. Using his modified power fist, he delivered a crushing blow to a thug's spine. The sickening crunch of bone as the man's body literally broke over the metal weapon was immediately drowned out by the man's screams, which in turn were cut short as he was sent sailing into a ruined brick wall. The surviving thug struck at Glade with a sword, and the blade glanced pointlessly off of his armor. Glade cracked the man in the chest with his power-fist, sending him roughly into the ground.
Donnovan aimed down the sights of his AK-47 as a raider's head appeared behind a wall, followed by shoulders and arms holding a rifle. Donnovan carefully let a single shot loose, and the 7.62 round flew true, caving in the target's face, sending the owner spinning to the ground, staining the rubble with a red hue. He paused to confirm his kill, then looked over in time to see another raider charging him with a sledgehammer. Donnovan sidestepped and threw out his armored elbow. It connected with the raider's nose, and Donnovan felt the cartilage break as blood sprayed onto his arm and the man's legs flew forward, gravity taking over as his body hit the ground, hard. Donnovan stepped on the man's throat, feeling the raider's windpipe turn to sand under his armored boot. He looked over at his comrades. Dusk cracked a female raider in the face with her rifle, and the victim dropped out of sight behind a pile of rubble. Dusk leveled her sawed-off shotgun at the raider and pulled both triggers, causing blood to spray onto her armor from the unseen target.
They both looked over at Glade. Glade was already extremely strong, owing to his task as the heavy weapons specialist of Lyon's Pride. His power armor supplemented his strength to almost superhuman levels. He was holding the last raider in the air, gripping the thug's face with his power fist. The raider screamed horribly as Glade's fingers closed. His scream turned into a horrible gurgle, and the sound of bone crunching like dry ice finally silenced him. Glade let the limp body drop unceremoniously to the ground. Glade walked way from the twitching body of his first victim, dead, with nerve endings still firing.
"Another day, another group of raiders." Donnovan sighed, kicking at the discarded sword of one of the raiders.
"So I know I've never said this, and I probably never will again… But about the whole 'no goal' situation… I'm beginning to think that you were right." Glade said, testing the finger covering of his power fist. It was a week after the celebration, and boredom was starting to sink in, as Donnovan had predicted.
"Told ya, he had a point." Dusk said, brushing some of the blood off of her armor.
There was a crunch of gravel, barely noticeable, but Donnovan, trained well by Dusk, reacted immediately.
"Shh." He whispered, moving towards a corner of the Arlington Library and putting his shoulder against the wall. The other two took their positions, stacking up behind Donnovan and moving to the corner of the library. Donnovan, pressed his head against the wall, waited quietly. He saw the very tip of a rifle come around the corner. In one motion, he grabbed the rifle and yanked forward, set his leg into the ground, and turned his hips, sending a Brotherhood Outcast falling over him to the ground. The Outcast rolled away and un-holstered two pistols, aiming them at Donnovan, while Donnovan had his AK-47, iron sights on the Outcast's helm.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Said a new voice. A large group of Outcasts were pressed against the wall, on the other side, all aiming at either Donnovan, Dusk, or Glade, while Dusk aimed right back at one. Glade simply stood there, looking at the group. The apparent leader of the Outcasts was standing in between Dusk and his group, his hands up. "We're not here to fight."
Knowing there was no possible way for him to get out of this, Donnovan put his gun away, and held his hand out to the Outcast on the ground. Unsurely, the offer was accepted, and Donnovan pulled the Outcast up.
"If you're not here to fight, what the hell are you doing sneaking up on us?" Dusk asked.
"We heard gunfire. Just taking precautions." The Outcast leader, who Donnovan recognized by his armor as Protector Henry Casdin, said. Donnovan unhooked his helmet, and removed it.
"Donnovan!" Said another of the Outcasts. Casdin smiled.
"Well well, Brotherhood now, are we Donnovan?"
"It's, uh, Knight Edan, actually." Donnovan grinned.
The tense mood had changed immediately once Donnovan removed his helmet. Though always slightly wary of Donnovan's connections to the Brotherhood, the Outcasts still liked him significantly due to the amount of gear and technology he had recovered for them, both from risking his life in the Operation: Anchorage simulation, and from the Wasteland in general.
"What are you doing here, Casdin?"
"Elder Lyons contacted us. He said the Brotherhood can now go back to its original mission."
"Say what!" Donnovan almost dropped his AK-47.
"Calm down, will you?" Dusk smacked Donnovan across the back of the head. She turned back to Casdin. "The hell do you mean, 'original mission'? Gathering tech?" Dusk asked.
"Indeed. He was telling us about you clearing out the Enclave." Casdin said. "Now that they're gone, and that purified water is flowing through the wasteland, he said the Brotherhood, while still dealing with the super mutants, can start gathering technology again."
"Okay… So what, you suddenly just come back and join up again?" Dusk asked, a note of indignation in her voice.
"In a sense, yes." Casdin said, unconcerned. "He said though, he needs to speak with quite a few of us personally. He actually mentioned that he wanted several Lyon's Pride members present as well." Casdin stated. Donnovan looked over at Glade, who shrugged.
"We've been on patrol all day, we haven't heard anything. Wonder if Sarah just got the word today." Glade stated. "I guess…" He awkwardly looked at the nearby Citadel. "I guess that means, we should… Go?"
"This is going to be interesting…" Dusk muttered quietly to Donnovan.