Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters with the exception of a few OCs. Nor do I own the fallout 3 story… though I wish I did. Those are the work of the brilliant minds at Bethesda Softworks.
This is my first fanfic, though I have since revised the earlier chapters. This one is short since I am setting the stage. Read and review, and most of all… Enjoy.
Sarah Lyons and Paladin Glade were sitting in the Bailey mowing down their meals with reckless abandon. The old pre-war radio played nearby, echoing off of the machinery and concrete walls. Glade turned it up as Galaxy News Radio switched to its famous host, Three Dog.
"Hello Capital Wasteland! This is Three Dog! OWWWWW! There have been rumors floating around the Wastes! Where oh, where has our savior gone? My guess is as good as yours!"
She was in a rather foul mood and wasn't in the mood for Three Dog's usual beating around the bush. She never pegged the popular, and only, living radio host in the Capital Wasteland as the religious type. Given his background, he of all people knew the harshness of the Wastes. Religion wasn't especially common in the wastes, especially the Brotherhood. Many had lost faith after seeing so many atrocities, death, and horrors, belief in greater power diminishes fast.
While Sarah didn't consider herself an Atheist, Colvin had labeled her as such, mostly as a joke since she was always planning for the worst. Despite this, Sarah allowed Colvin to carry on that joke… to a point, and as long as he continued to do his job with excellence. Sarah stabbed her fork clear through the cram and into the metal plate with a dull clink.
"Turn that shit off!" Sarah grumbled, to Glade. There was a lot on her mind and the radio noise prevented her from focusing.
Glade reached to shut the radio off but after Three Dog continued withdrew his armored hand.
"I'm not talking about Jesus, ladies and gents!"
Sarah stared at the radio, puzzled, "Then what is he babbling about?" she thought.
"Our dear friend and hero, Mr.101 has disappeared without a trace! No one has seen or heard a word from him in over a month! As a result Raiders have been hitting caravans hard and slavers have been resurfacing! So be careful out there, children! The Wastes are still deadly! And Lone Wanderer, if you're out there, your people need ya! Until next time, this is Three Dog signing off. Galaxy News Radio, bringing you the truth, no matter how bad it is."
As the radio played a sorrowful tune, Sarah stared at it in disbelief. Her mind was racing with questions. Sarah and the Pride had set out a month ago to take care if the last of the Super Mutants in the Capital area. As exhausting as it was it had been an overall success. This particular subject had been eating at her all morning. Neal not showing up to join up with the Pride for a mutant raid wasn't all that uncommon, but the fact that he hadn't checked in at any point during the month long ordeal was disconcerting. Sarah suddenly lost her appetite. She avoided looking at Glade as she briskly walked off to ask her father what he knew of this.
Fawkes sat on the dirty pre-war couch in his friend's shoddy home in Megaton. It felt like he had been moping around town for ages. No, it hadn't been ages, and he knew exactly what it was like to be stuck in the same place for years on end. This was not even close. He had gotten used to the action and travel of tagging along with the great Lone Wanderer and this uncharacteristically long hiatus was rare at best.
He and Charon had been told to wait in Megaton. Despite their disproval, Neal was adamant he needed to do this alone.
Well, not entirely alone, after all he did take Dogmeat with him. Charon had tried to talk him out of such a suspicious situation, but it seemed Vault 101 was Neal's weakness. Despite previously resolving the Vault's problems without conflict, Neal's childhood sweetheart, Amata banished him from his former home forever. The part that had particularly hit him hard was the manner in which she kicked him out. He left with hardly so much as a thank you. This made sense to Fawkes, he had once known what that felt like, though those memories had since gone fuzzy. It also made it more difficult to understand why Neal would want to return to such a place of pain.
Fawkes had idolized his godlike friend's lack of weakness. He had always proven to be damn near indestructible in the past. It seemed that nothing could dampen Neal's iron-clad will. It was damn near impossible for those who met him not to be inspired by or follow him.
The door opened and Fawkes perked up. He half-expected his friend and leader would walk through, but to his dismay, the door revealed Charon with a glum look on his decayed face.
Charon said nothing, only shaking his head. It was like this every day. No word, or even a trace of the Lone Wanderer. Charon had remembered his master expressing suspicion about the more recent vault transmission. Where there had been a voice before, there was only the automated portion of the transmission. There had been a password in the previous transmission whereas now, there were no clues as to what was happening or how to solve it.
Charon's brainwashing had slowly begun to eat at him. He had no idea what to do with himself when his master vanished. The contract was simple and straightforward. Obey your master at all times. Do as he says without question. Though Charon had found loopholes, he hadn't found a reason to kill his most recent master upon contract termination. With the Lone Wanderer, Charon never worried that what he was being asked to do was dishonorable. He just wished he had something to do other than sit and guard a house no one dared to enter.
Charon recalled the day the great Neal Washington, famously known as the Lone Wanderer had returned from his former home. He had spent the next few weeks drinking heavily, and at one point raised his trusty Blackhawk pistol to his right temple, intending to pull the trigger. Charon had prepared to move back to Underworld that day, knowing very well he seriousness of the Wanderer's state. Gob and Nova were able to talk him down, much to his surprise. They had sent for a Brotherhood soldier by the name of Cross. The soldier seemed to have a deep connection with Neal. Despite his apathetic behavior, Charon didn't want his friend to die. He had enjoyed doing good for a change. At least not while Charon wasn't fighting by his side.
Fawkes stood and walked to his right. His massive 8-foot tall frame dwarfing the various pre-war furniture that dotted the living room.
He went up to the bobble head stand and stared at the Vault Dweller that was looking off into the distance with one hand shading his eyes. Fawkes looked at the ghoul that frequently accompanied him throughout the Wanderer's adventures. Without even a word, the two gathered their weapons and armor and walked from the scrap metal house. The relatively quiet mutant companions had a way of knowing what the other was thinking. They had waited long enough. Vault 101 was their destination. Fawkes hefted his high powered Gatling laser, Vengeance, as well as his beloved super sledge. Charon carried the Terrible Shotgun as well as a Chinese assault rifle for rapid fire situations. Charon's armor was customized by his master. It was a patchwork of improved leather, metal and other pieces that were beyond his understanding, but it vastly improved his performance in battle as well as his chances of surviving a critical hit.
"Neal is missing? How the hell could that be? I was only gone a few weeks, and all this happens?" Sarah tried to assure herself that he had probably run off on a mission of some kind and that there was a logical explanation for his absence.
Things between the Brotherhood's finest and the illustrious Lone Wanderer had been much different since that fateful day at the purifier.
When Neal volunteered to turn on the purifier, Sarah was shocked. She had known that he was incredibly talented and good-hearted. She hadn't particularly liked him at first, especially since he seemed to waltz on in and earn a spot in the Brotherhood that everyone else had worked their asses off to earn.
But voluntarily laying down his life for the cruel, unforgiving wastes had showed Sarah just how incredible he really was.
It was right then she had realized her true feelings for him. As he punched in the code and stumbled towards the window near her, choking as the radiation slowly poisoned him. She placed her hand on the window, letting her tears flow freely for the first time. The first time in God only knows when.
As the life began to ebb away from Neal, a crooked, pained, smile trickled across his face as he placed his hand in the same place as she. She knew he felt the same as he met her gaze. Blinking sleepily as if fighting away imaginary cobwebs from his icy blue eyes. As he faded, he fell to his knees. The last thing Sarah remembers of that day was a blast, knocking her out cold.
Sarah burst into her father's office with a determined look on her face.
Elder Lyons was busy listening to Paladin Gunny's report. Gunny sensed it was a conversation he shouldn't be involved in. He saluted Elder Lyons and Sarah before exiting.
"Sarah, what is it?" he asked taking note of the look on her face, he knew exactly what was wrong.
"I just heard on the radio that the Lone Wanderer is missing. Is it true? Has no one really heard from him in a month?" Sarah asked, hiding the concern from her face.
He instantly saw right through her façade. He knew about Sarah and Neal, in fact, he and the Pride both knew. Elder Lyons liked Neal a quite a bit, in fact Neal reminded him a lot of himself. Neal was willing to do the difficult things that the Brotherhood's code cushioned its soldiers from doing. Despite preferring to travel alone, or with his own handpicked companions, Neal was quite the natural leader. The relationship between Sarah and Neal hadn't posed any problems as far as their work. Their priorities were in the right place. As a result, the Pride and Elder Lyons secretly agreed to pretend not to know and let it slide.
"I am afraid we can't discuss it here, but it will be brought up in Friday's meeting." Elder Lyons said, sitting down at his desk.
Sarah nodded and exited, her disappointment obvious.
He felt bad for avoiding the question, but the truth was the Lone Wanderer was missing, and he didn't know how to tell Sarah. He knew how much it would hurt her. He shook his head at disappointment in himself. Being the Elder meant he was forced to be the bearer of bad news, even to his own kin. He could hear Sarah's metal fist pound the wall once she was out of the room. She was no doubt going to find Star Paladin Cross.
Owyn called to mind a discussion he had been forced to discuss with Neal. As a father and an Elder he always had to be planning for the worst. Sitting Neal down and forcing a talk about his relationship with Owyn's daughter had been a tense and quite awkward hour and a half. Neal had been quite open with the Elder. Cross had also been present, being Elder Lyons' bodyguard and the only real family with the exception of Madison Li, that Neal had left. That day they had sworn secretive pact for the future of the Brotherhood of Steel should the worst come to pass. Recalling that day, Lyons' knew the Wanderer's disappearance would make that pact invalid. No one else could do what was asked of the Lone Wanderer.
I've added in a few more details that will come up in later chapters that were not previously there. The relationship between the Wanderer and Star Paladin Cross was something I overlooked mostly because she died in my playthrough and I forgot about her. She will make more appearances. Also, I tried to make Fawkes and Charon more accurate.
Thanks for reading!