... … …

This was not the first time Dahlia had been held against her will.

Truth was, Dahlia didn't remember much of her life before Goodsprings. She had a few spotty memories of the graveyard: the sound of someone shoveling, the cold Mojave wind shifting through the Joshua trees, her bound hands. A man in a suit, a few restless Khans and a gunshot. Blackness. Then there was only endless sand—moving over her, into her mouth, her eyes, her clothes. She remembered the hard metal arms that dragged her from the grave and waking up in a house with a stranger and only her name as an empty frame to fill.

And then there was the vague, empty weight of her pockets, like something was missing after all this time. That man in the suit…he had taken something from her. It was only later when she wandered into the Mojave Express, an aimless young girl looking for work, and realized she'd been there before. Before her first death, she had been a courier. After reawakening, it was all that was left.

Little things would remind her of a life before. Brahmin drives, traveling caravans, bonnets and bonfires—these things would creep up like familiar ghosts, following her thoughts throughout the day. Once, she saw a thin-lipped woman, a coarse smile on her face while she dusted the sand from Dahlia's frock. A mother maybe? Dahlia could never be sure.

Now, as the strange body moved towards her, the searing heat inside of her drove all failed attempts at memory far away. The hands were on her, so hot, and her lower body was lifted up by one hand while the other yanked her panties off in a violent motion. The hatred she held for this man was synthetically overshadowed as the drugs pulled her in deeper and deeper, whispering unwanted desires in her brain. She heard a zipper, and felt his hardness move in between her legs.

"Beg me, Courier," the man commanded as he held her suspended above him.

There was someone else there too, like a voice from up above echoing down the dark, molding walls of a well, someone far away telling her to resist, to fight this feeling with everything she had. Her hands scoured the walls of her mind like a madwoman. Somewhere along these walls there was a rope, she was sure of it, and if she could only find it, the hands on the other end would pull her back up. But the whispers told her that the people on the surface had grown tired of waiting and were long gone. There was no way out.

For a moment, Nero saw his captive's eyes become clearer, as though she recognized him, as if she had shaken loose the drug's hold on her. But the clarity passed as quickly as it came and she could take it no longer. She leaned forward and pleaded in his ear: "Nero, please…fuck me."

… … …

When she first met Boone, Dahlia liked the look of him right off the bat. He was tall and stern, quiet and full of anger like she'd always imagined her father to be. For the first few months, she secretly held out hope that this mysterious man was her father, somehow separated from her as an infant and returned to her by fate.

She knew it was nothing but a pipe dream, but she'd heard of stranger things. The desert didn't do much for dreamers, but Dahlia had always been one to hold out hope. After all, the Mojave had given her a fresh start in a stale world where most people either died clinging to the old ways or struggling to carve out a new way.

So Dahlia quizzed him constantly, hoping his life stories would jog her memories somehow, reveal their long lost connection to them both in a brilliant moment of joint realization. But the more she learned, the less she wondered about whether this man might be her father. She started to like Boone for Boone, not what he could have been to her in another life, but what he was to her in this life.

His life was a simple routine muddied with tragedy. He was not the kind of man to father a child unknowingly, and he wasn't the type to walk out on his family either. He was kind with a cruel past, a man with a clean gun and mud on his boots. Dahlia no longer thought of herself as the lone, wandering courier. They were a bonafide duo now, complete with plans that included the other and side by side bedrolls. She could no longer imagine a life without Boone by her side.

Not a good life, anyway.

... ... ...

Dahlia woke herself up shivering. Sleep obscuring the events of the past two days, Dahlia reached out to pull her blanket up around her neck. There was no blanket. Suddenly, she was aware that her body felt like ice, the sharp shards of cold digging into her feet as she swung them off the bed to get up in search of a blanket. Something yanked her back by her wrists. Her eyes snapped open in response.

She was back in Gomorrah, naked and chained to the wall above the bed. A terrible pain erupted from her inner thigh, and when she checked and saw the cruel, winding script there, the memories of last night came back loud and clear. Shame rose to her cheeks as the scenes played in her head:

She had given in, had begged him to fuck her.

The heat was unbearable, and it engulfed her as he plunged into her molten hot core. He started slow, teasing her, but quickly lost patience and began ramming into her with full force on each thrust. She saw stars as he hit all of her buttons at once, sending her into overdrive.

The drug's hold on her body was strong, and Nero's forceful affections seemed to be the only thing scratching her insatiable itch. She came more times than she could count, and still it wasn't enough. When he finished and she lay limp and unthinking on the bed, he spread her legs one last time and there was the overwhelming pain of hot coals pressing into her skin. She screamed and tried to pull away, but his hands held her still.

It was the worst pain Dahlia could remember feeling in her few, desperate and dangerous years. And she had been shot, cut and beat her fair share. Worse than the pain was the permanent branding that read "Gomorrah." It reminded her that she wasn't a free woman anymore. Well, that and being chained to the wall.

It horrified her to think that he might have been her first. Of course, when you don't remember the first twenty or so years of your life, it's hard to know for sure, but she definitely had not gotten any action in this life that she remembered. But what frightened her the most was the memory of his words: you will experience a withdrawal like none you've ever known before.

If he was telling the truth, then this nightmare was far from over. Dahlia hissed at the assortment of pains in between her legs, trying to remember what Nero said his end game was. Something about taking over the Strip…? Fat chance, what with Mr. House's securitrons all over the place. Besides, she wasn't defeated yet. There was no way in hell she was going to help the man who kidnapped and raped her rule New Vegas.

No, no matter what he did to her, she had to stay strong. She channeled the hurt into hatred, and she hated everything about him: his perfectly styled hair, his pressed suits, his glorified whorehouse, his Old-World-romance way of talking. He had stolen her away from the last bit of happiness she had in this world, and if he ever made the mistake of unchaining her, she was going to kill that bastard.

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