The Overlord picked Sarah up by the throat, growling at her. "Puny human! Will break you!"
It's fingers were thick enough that only two of them could actually fit the space between her delicate chin and her shoulders. She struck out repeatedly with her fist. Despite the power-armored assist, it only served to confuse it.
Supermutants were easy to confuse, and when they got confused, they grew angrier. This particular one spun around and slammed her against the concrete wall of the underpass. She felt her armour dent. The bulky power armour she and her comrades wore was useful, protective, but not invincible.
As the Overlord's grip tightened, her vision began to fade in and out. she felt for her combat knife, and wrenched it out of it's sheath.
Five minutes beforehand, she'd been walking at an easy pace down the south western edge of the DC ruins.
…A lot can happen in five minutes…
A three-day patrol to flush out the regular raider hide-outs and occasional Supermutant. Not a job normally given to the Lyon's pride, but ever since the purifier had been fixed, the Brotherhood had been stretched thinner than ever.
The six man squad trudged through the dusty plains. Sarah had been in the lead
"Got news from home." Paladin Greg "Kodiak" Bear said. he had been silent for most of the trip.
Glade, the oldest of the Lyon's pride, hefted his minigun. "I thought the Pitt was too far away."
"I know." Kodiak nodded. "But two weeks ago, Elder Lyons walks up to me and hands me a letter. Said the Wanderer had given it to'im. He looked pissed, too."
"What was in it?" Knight Captain Colvin asked.
"A note signed by someone called Ashur. My brothers are dead."
"Leave it to the messiah to pull that kind of shit." Knight Captain Dusk snarled. Aside from Sarah Lyons herself, Dusk was the only other female member of the Lyon's pride. The best shot too, though Colvin, her fellow sniper would disagree. Sarah knew what was eating her, though: during target practice one month before, she'd managed on her third try, to hit a bottle from the far side of the courtyard as it was in mid-flight. three shots, one shower of glass The sniper had been very proud of the accomplishment until the Lone Wanderer, without saying a word, did exactly the same thing with an assault rifle. Twice in a row.
A smile touched Sarah's lips. Messiah…
An appropriate title, despite the sarcasm Dusk had applied to it. The Lone Wanderer, 101, Kid, The Drifter... a thousand tags attached to one man. His enemies called him Death, and were scared when they said it. Three years before, he had wandered out of a subterranean survival shelter and taken the wasteland by storm, walking the width and breadth of it, fixing nearly all the problems which plagued it, doing in less than one year what all the strength of the brotherhood of steel hadn't been able to do in twenty. Although he possessed the honorary rank of Knight, and indeed was even a member of the squad now bad-mouthing him, he had never shown any interest in pursuing a proper career with the Brotherhood of Steel. And she could see why. Fed up with the mindless insults.
"Okay, pack it up!" Sarah ordered, turning on her heel. "No, he doesn't report to my dad, and yeah, he doesn't wear the armour, but did you see us fixing the purifier? Or fixing the bomb in Megaton? Can you remember us clearing the raiders out of evergreen mills? Walking into Paradise falls and slaughtering the slavers? Or doing ANYTHING for ANYONE north of Megaton? West of Megaton? Noone?"
"We were busy killing muties." Vargas defended.
"For whom?" Sarah responded. "For what? No one lives there except us! Rivet City is south, but they can take care of themselves. They're the one settlement which can. But Bigtown…had anyone even heard of the place before he helped them out? Yes, we've been doing our part, and all we've managed to accomplish is stop things from getting worse. He's made them better! At the very least, he's given people hope. I don't want to hear another word about it."
She turned back and continued to march. After a little while, conversation sprung up again behind her. Glade crept up to her side and spoke quietly. "You're just sweet on him. And don't even think of trying the knee-jerk 'am not!' reaction. We both know better."
Sarah bit back the reaction and sighed instead. They crested a hill and saw an underpass open up ahead of them.
"That's what I thought." The old soldier nodded with satisfaction. "Sarah, I know you don't often take advice, but here's some I hope you listen to: The Wanderer, whatever he's after, is going to come to a bad end. I've seen men like him before. The ones which are driven by some inner spring rather than flesh and blood. He's after either death or glory and either way it'll turn out the same."
"I just don't think he deserves such a bad rap after everything he's done for us." she told him honestly. Glade stared; coming from Sentinel Sarah Lyons, this was practically a romantic declaration before god.
"What was it that caught you?" Glade wheedled. "The blue eyes? The duster? Or the way he ties back that dirty blonde hair with his red bandana?"
"Stop it. Right now."
"Or maybe the cold shoulder…" Glade teased gently. "The way he acts as if you're hardly there. Like he doesn't need us." his tone of voice turned from one of teasing to one of deep thought "Maybe we don't like him because deep down, we know he's right."
"I think he needs us to keep doing our jobs, so he can keep doing his." She said, a shade coldly.
"How did you hear about Evergreen Mills, anyway? Three Dog didn't announce it."
"Gallows." Sarah answered shortly. Gallows was the Lyon's Pride Spec. Ops soldier. The only one who regularly ventured north of Megaton. He'd brought back a chilling report. Enough to almost make Sarah feel sorry for the raiders. Their slaughter bore the same signature as all the rest. Supermutant camps, enclave camps, and other raider outposts. The Lone Wanderer's signature:
Entire group slaughtered to the last man.
Neat 5.56mm ammo, three round groupings in the heads of the dead. The ones killed close range, dispatched via combat knife.
All ammo and weapons scavenged.
Some weapons disassembled, probably to repair the ones he was using.
One enemy pinned up on railroad spikes as a warning to the rest.
The Lone Wanderer did not play fair.
"But Evergreen Mills is a huge complex." Glade pondered.
"So was Raven Rock. And the Airfield." Sarah chuckled darkly. "I think that to him more numbers only means he'll have more guns to sell afterwards. He's making a killing, I know that much."
"I bet." Glade said as they began trekking down the slope of the underpass.
When they reached the bottom, an assault rifle shot pinged off Glade's armour and planted itself in the door of a dented car. A moment of absolute shock passed, during which Sarah saw the orange shapes with a variety of different weaponry leaping down into the pit with her small band of Knights. Then all hell broke loose.
The Overlord snarled at her as Sarah slashed at it's face with her combat knife. The brief pain made it lose it's grip. She slipped to the concrete road, trying to catch her breath. The rest of the Lyon's pride was being driven back up the slope. Glade took a hit and dropped. Colvin slung the older soldier over his shoulder and backed away, firing at the group of Supermutants. A cold dread rushed through Sarah as she realized there was no way for the Lyon's Pride to reach her. At least twenty-five Supermutants had dropped into the pit, two of them Overlords. Five more wielding Chinese assault rifles, and a few more than that with Miniguns. Simply too much incoming fire and no cover. And they had a wounded comrade with them.
Sarah had always been prepared for death. There was no way she couldn't be, living in the world the way it was. When the Overlord planted it's boot in her face, she was prepared for that too, and the blackness which followed.