Function Yeah, I think that's a big struggle to reconcile the two of them to an agreement of some sort. Since I did lean her towards the technical type of individual I probably will have her fix it. The problem is getting her to the point where she wants to without sabotaging it. That will take both of them letting go of a bit of ego I think.
Darkness Diablo ^^ Awww, thank you, I'm glad you enjoy my Caesar. I'm really flattered!
Super-Calisto, Jack, Harmless Wampa, and Short Ninja Definitely continuing! Hehe, with the lack of good Caesar stories around this place I almost have an obligation to keep going! Lol. That and the arrogant bastard's kinda growing on me.
CherryChipCookies You know, neither did I, but they're really working out quite fantastically!
If I missed anyone I'm sorry. I replied to everyone with reviews on the last chapter so if I missed you thank you! I really appreciate all of you. Keep enjoying.
The Scheme of Things
After blazing a trail of carnage through the Mojave in the name of justice and freedom she was ashamed at the fear she held at the present and her uneasiness made her realize just how much she had relied on Boone and the others to have her back. She was alone now, a rabbit amidst a pack of wolves. She had no weapons, no protective clothing, and since Caesar's reminder that she had no power here she had to admit very little of that courage she had become known for. Decima led her through the twisting maze of the Fort, her words lost in the roaring that overtook Anna's brain. It was the clamoring of her thoughts as they walked, the complete awareness of everything that was around her, everything she could do nothing about. Slaves were mostly ignored, yes, which she was beginning to see, but she was no ordinary slave. Many of Caesar's men already knew exactly who she was. Their eyes lingered upon her for long periods – longer than she was comfortable with – and it made it worse that their expressions varied between smug pleasure and predatory appreciation.
Many times since that fateful night in Goodsprings when Benny had decided it was best to kill her for the platinum chip she was to deliver, Anna had doubted her own 'hero' status. The concept of her being some kind of wasteland savior was laughable, especially when she'd spent most of her life trying to stay out of the limelight. Even growing up with three older siblings and two younger she had never wanted to be anything special. In fact she had enjoyed the distraction her brothers and sisters were and how they allowed her to remain mostly unnoticed. No, she wasn't unloved by her parents, but their other progeny were something special and Anna knew it and was proud of them. She never wanted to take that away from them because they meant everything to her. Her best memories were from days where she would be in her little corner tinkering with some kind of gadget while she watched her family interacting; laughing, playing, just talking. Her family had been the best.
She would likely never see them again.
Regardless, when she had awakened from near-death everything had changed and whether she wanted it to or not her life had been set on a path that seemed unchangeable. Destined. Anna had always said she didn't believe in destiny because humans had free will. She felt that to say that people were just destined to be something or another was unfair, for people could choose what they did and who they became. Destiny was just another big excuse for people who had made bad choices and didn't like where they were, claiming that it had been out of their hands. However now she wondered, for looking back at everything that had happened to her since laying her hands on that chip always seemed like someone was pulling some strings, placing every possible obstacle, every precarious situation in her path. It was if fate had known her personality, knew how she'd act, and knew she'd play right into her hands. Before long Anna was known as "The Courier" a heroine of the Mojave, defender of the weak and punisher of the unlawful.
If Fate really did exist she was a cruel bitch for taking away the two things that mattered the most to her: freedom and anonymity. Anna still couldn't figure out what kind of crazy fool destiny was in store if Fate wanted to lead her here into Caesar's clutches. Maybe there was no real design. Maybe Fate just got bored and thought "what the hell…"
The worst possibility was that Fate or God or the goddamn Powers that Be were some sick bastards and just decided to play a game with the mousy little techie by building her up to be some kind of legendary warrior goddess of the wastes just to laugh as they brought her crumbling down into nothing. The only problem with that was she had never bought into that whole deal. As stated previously she had doubted herself on multiple occasions. Most of her courage was just a well-played bluff that had to fool both her enemies and temporarily even herself.
When she had first struck out for Primm she'd kept a low profile and had avoided almost every fight that she possibly could. It hadn't been until Nipton that she had actually acted on any sort of battle impulse. The scene there had just been too much to ignore and between the blood boiling in her veins and the fact that she now had someone to watch her back (although ED-E was just an eyebot, but he could still kick some ass) she had been given that extra confidence to lift her shotgun and bash Vulpes Inculta right in the middle of his back, and when he turned around the battle that ensued had left most of his men dead or severely injured and the two of them had walked – limped – away bloody and at a tie. But she reminded herself frequently that she had walked away.
Later that night, the not-quite-a-victory but the definitely-not-a-failure had fueled her sojourn across the waste as she tracked the Legion slavers that had taken the prisoners from Nipton. This time she hadn't stayed long in the fray, just long enough to release the prisoners and get the hell out of dodge. Anyone could tell that she was outnumbered, even more so than she had been with Vulpes' little troupe. While nursing her wounds afterward she began to wonder if between having to attack Vulpes when his back was turned and running when the stakes got too high from the raid camp if she was really cut out for trekking across the Mojave, even if it was for something like revenge. If she had been smart she would have just turned tail and went home. Job be damned! If they wanted to pursue criminal charges for losing that chip then so be it. Her life was worth more than some fucking object. She still believed that.
Yet in one of her darker moments of doubt she'd come across Novac and not only found more clues to the whereabouts of the rat that had shot her but she'd met Boone. With Boone she had felt truly safe. Although it had been early in their partnership she could already tell that he was a man of decent morals despite his insistence on blowing someone's brain out – which she completely understood. He had loved his wife and had taken her disappearance and death hard, which told her he was not only protective but also good-hearted. She knew that if anything happened he would protect her. Not just that, but she had the utmost faith that he could probably take on whatever came their way and win, and what they couldn't he would be able to guide them around. It turned out she had been right and even when the others had joined their side it had remained Boone that she felt the most comfortable beside. Outside of ED-E he had been her first companion and through all their time had come to a deep understanding of each other. It had been for this reason that she had wanted him with her at the Fort at any cost.
However, the reason was not as simple as wanting an able bodied man that could help her fight off the Legionaries if things turned hostile, it was more for the other (and sometimes more important) trait he offered. A stoic man like Boone standing next to her was a deterrent for all sorts of things. Other men tended to avert their gazes elsewhere, lesser enemies avoided having to start a fight with him, and during conversation it was always useful to have him behind her, that silent wall of intimidation, the nail in the coffin that made people take her seriously. If Anna was frank with herself she knew how she looked. She was small, both in stature and in presence. There were just some people that, if it hadn't been for the sniper along for the ride, they would not even have given her their attention, much less their respect. Much like the confidence ED-E gave her back in Nipton, but much more potent, Boone gave her this invincible feeling that she/they could take on anything. She was a badass with him by her side, she was that fucking warrior goddess. But that had been an illusion, and because of her foolishness he was probably back at square one, sitting somewhere blaming himself for yet another thing that had been out of his control.
Craig Boone didn't stop in Searchlight as was the usual when they were in the area, although he knew that he should. However, the thought of answering the soldier's questions about Anna's whereabouts was too much to bear. He would tell the truth and then they'd try to offer meaningless condolences. Meaningless not because they would be insincere, but because what were words like "I'm sorry" when the first person who had made you feel like you could become a part of the world again was taken away from you, and worse, by the very same people that had ripped your life to pieces in the first place. He tried to keep images of the ways Caesar might be treating his new conquest as far from his mind as possible, but they still came, and in great clarity. It was one thing that had been both a blessing and a curse for the sniper: his vivid imagination.
He also fought the urge to turn around and march right back there and blow as many as those Legion bastards away, not necessarily in a rescue attempt (he wasn't stupid enough to believe he'd actually make it), but to assuage the helpless, worthless ache he was feeling burning in his chest. It made him pitiful and lost. He had felt horrible when Carla had been taken, yet it was nothing like he felt now. Then he told himself there had been nothing he could do because he had been betrayed by someone they had trusted. Then he really had done everything he could, even down to making sure that she and their child would never live a day under Caesar's rule. The only thing that stopped him from doing so were the Courier's words, words she had spoken to him when she had gotten the full truth about his wife out of him. Of course, it hadn't been immediately, but eventually she had gotten around to laying down the law when it came to the "what if" scenario of Legion capture; neither one had thought it would ever happen. Death in battle seemed more realistic back then.
The second reason he didn't return was because he knew that as much as Caesar probably desired to have the Courier under his power he would not spend one moment of hesitation if Boone returned. He had promised to kill Anna if he tried anything and he had meant it. There was no way the NCR sniper would press his luck, or Caesar's temper. The hell he'd put Anna through before finally letting her die would be something Boone could not cause. So he kept walking, putting step after step between him and the Fort – him and Anna. I'm sorry.
One of the worst parts was he hadn't figured out how he was going to break the news to the others. Anna and Cass had become like sisters, Raul loved her like family, and that damned dog followed her around constantly. What was going to happen now that she was gone? They were going to be heartbroken and he didn't even know how to respond to them; Boone already felt so numb.
He looked up from the train tracks to see that he was passing Novac and he sighed. Everything was reminding him of something he didn't want to remember. Novac was where he'd lost Carla, met Anna. Every road was now a well-traveled memory of their journey together, a concrete map of misery. Even these tracks he followed brought to mind Anna's face as he recalled the first day they'd set out together. She had practically skipped down these tracks toward their next destination (they'd been going to check out the NCR outpost for Ranger Andy) and although that day had ended with them finding bloodshed it was her bright smile that managed to stay in the forefront.
Old Lady Gibson's scrap yard had already come into view before he turned around and went back. Until he found himself passing a confused Cliff Briscoe and climbing the stairs to Dinky's gaping mouth he actually didn't know what he was doing. Mechanically he raised his hand and knocked on the door. Moments later he heard movement and when the door opened he was looking into the familiar face of Manny Vargas. Stunned, the other man was unsure of what to say at first, but a nervous, yet genuine smile broke out across his face. "Boone, man, its nice to see you, its been a while!"
"It has." Boone replied. And it had been. He and Anna had only returned to Novac a few times since she'd convinced him to leave with her, and none of those times had they stayed long enough for them to have any free time to chit chat. Not like he had wanted to with anyone back then. In fact he was still wondering why he was here in front of Manny, who he'd told himself he'd hate forever. He guessed that was another thing that Anna had managed to rub off on him: forgiveness.
Finally reading Boone's distressed features Vargas' expression shifted. "Hey, what's wrong? Wait, where's Anna?"
Boone sighed so deeply his chest expanded quite noticeably, and when he let it out he appeared almost deflated. "Gone. The Legion has her."
Manny reached up and plucked his own beret off his head and gripped it tightly to his chest, knuckles turning white from the tense hold. It was if Boone had told him someone had died. He supposed Anna might as well have. "What happened?"
"Its kind of a long story."
"I have time."
Later the phrase "he started it" would come to Anna's mind when having to explain the incident that happened right before they were about to return to Caesar's tent so Decima could continue her lesson in Legion history and culture. A rude voice, mumbling something inaudible, but most likely insulting if Anna read the tone correctly, interrupted them in mid-conversation as they weaved their way through a group of soldiers and slaves. A second later they were shoved rather dismissively out of the way. Being that she had encountered assholes many time before the next thing she did was more of a knee-jerk reaction, giving her no time to think about it.
"Excuse me." She growled, hand shooting out and grabbing the back of the man's worn tunic. From the harsh fabric and quality of his clothes (and of course the obvious lack in snazzy – and she used the word 'snazzy' sarcastically – uniform) she could tell he was a slave rather than a Legionary. After all she'd been through she was not going to take shit from some rude jerk, especially if he was a slave. She didn't mean it in a bad way, but realized that the last thing she would get away with here was starting a fight with a soldier. She was crazy, not stupid. This asshole was a nice little gift from the Powers that Be that put her in this mess in the first place. "Can you not see people are walking here?"
"Yeah," The man spun around and knocked her hand off him. "I'm in a hurry, so if you don't mind fucking off…" He waved his hand at her as if she was a little fly to be batted away, a nuisance. Oh, well, screw him.
"In a hurry?" Anna barked a laugh. "Where the hell would you go? Get a day pass to spend a nice day on the Strip maybe?" She crossed her arms over her chest, entire body rigid as she returned his haughty attitude with fervor.
"No, I'm working, which is something apparently you weren't taught. They must be getting slack down there since they're sending up useless little cunts like you."
She lifted her eyebrows and tilted her head, lips drawing themselves in a fine line of disapproval and annoyance. "I wasn't 'taught' anything, buster." Anna pointed one finger at his chest and continued, "however, I would like to know how someone of your attitude is still running around here. You'd think they would have ass-raped you with a machete by now – unless of course they did try and couldn't because of that ginormous stick up it."
"You little whore, who the hell are you to come in here and start causing trouble." The Man-Slave looked like he was about to hit her. Let him. He had no idea what would happen. Granted, neither did she, but she guessed that Caesar wouldn't be too happy to find out someone else took it upon themselves to punish his little darling pet.
Unfortunately she never got the chance to find out. "Simus!" An authoritative voice boomed.
The slave's whole demeanor suddenly changed. It was like Anna was looking at a completely different man. His squared shoulders drooped and she swore he lost a few inches in height as he turned towards the voice. "Yes, Master, I'm right here. I'm sorry, I was on my way, but this girl refused to let me pass without hassling me."
"You let yourself be stopped by a girl." The soldier growled, dark eyes analyzing Anna from head to toe. "A rather poor excuse for one at that." He added with a condescending smirk touching the corners of his mouth.
"What?" Anna balled her fists at her side. No matter how long she would be here she would never get used to their treatment of females.
Decima, who had been silent up to this point, finally stepped up and placed a hand on Anna's shoulder. "Anna, stop, let's just go. We have a lot to do."
"Yes, I'm sure you do." The soldier told them, still gazing at Anna as if she were about to do some kind of a trip. When he finally looked away it was to address Decima. "You should keep your new help under control, Decima."
"Hey!" Anna shouted, "It wasn't her fault what happened, it was his!"
"Silence!" He backhanded her, the move so sudden that it knocked her completely off her feet and onto the dirt.
"No, wait!" Decima cried, looking quite upset at the whole situation. "You shouldn't hurt her she's—"
Leaving Anna in the dirt the nameless soldier spun on Decima once more, "and you should know better." He was raising his hand to strike her as well when she rushed forward to finish what she was trying to say.
"Sir, I'm sorry, but that girl is Lord Caesar's!"
"What did you say?" He dropped his hand, his voice echoing the thoughts that must have been bouncing around in that empty skull of his. It was finally sinking in that perhaps he should have thought before he acted.
Behind him Anna rose off the ground, eyes cold and vengeful. She wiped the blood off her lip from where he had struck her, and answered, "she said you just made a big mistake, asshole." And when his head turned to look at her again she pulled back her fist and did the stupidest thing since coming to the Fort in the first place; she punched him in the face.
Apologies if the end seems kind of rushed, but there was really more dialogue than action at the end except for Anna's moment of violence. I meant to have Caesar in here somewhere, but it just didn't happen. We'll say he was small-talking with Vulpes and Lucius about the silly little NCR and polishing their weapons.
Not those weapons, get your mind out of the gutter! (You know who you are!)
Next Chapter: Anna faces the wrath of her Master once more. Or does she? Tune in next time to find out!