Writer's Notes: This was written for fallout kinkmeme for a prompt that requested to have a younger than usual courier. I had posted some here but under the title "One for my Baby" thinking I would not extend it to a series. The problem is that I had so much fun writing this courier that I couldn't help but continue it. Sorry I took it down guys but I decided I would like they layout much better this way! So here's what I'm going to do. I have the attention span of a gnat on crack so chances of me updating this story with posts as I go is minimal BUT when the "chapters" in my mind are done I shall collect them together and post them here. Thanks for reading!
One For My Baby
The night was still and cold as the moon hung over the Mojave Wasteland, lighting it with a soft white glow as Benny lit his fifth cigarette that night, his nerves getting the best of him. He exhaled raggedly as he put the pair of binoculars back in front of his eyes to look out upon the seemingly endless black ribbon of pavement that his his destiny would travel down. A few geckos chirped in the distance readying themselves for sleep after a long day of hunting and the Khans he had brought along with him snored leaning against a rock pile. Fucking fantastic. Leave it to Khans to sleep on the job. It had been probably seven years since Benny had set foot off the strip but things hadn't seemed to have changed that much. It was filthy, a great big world of refuse and dregs leftover and bred by pre-war garbage. His stomach churned as he looked out at the stars, how insignificant and small he felt in the wasteland, sitting there in a godforsaken nook wile waiting for an equally small person, a pawn, to arrive with an object he wasn't quite sure was- other than a key to the power that loomed over him much like the stars. House. On the strip there were no stars (too many lights) and the whole world revolved around it. It was like a perfect little snow globe. It's own world, a small world, the only world that mattered. Extinguishing his smoke against a rock he tried to pop his neck to relive the tension that seemed to coil throughout his body to no avail. Just his fucking luck.
He uttered a curse and debated whether or not to light up another cigarette when he saw it... a quick bob above the horizon then leveling out on the highway. "...The fuck?" He squinted though the binoculars."Six" as he liked to refer to It in his mind was no dummy, at the least. Doing the running at night was damn smart. It was cooler, most of the raiders (with the exception of perhaps Fiends) would be sleeping now, and...His own thoughts digressed. Pushing these to the back of his mind, reminding himself that it would be far easier to not feel bad about plugging the courier (the only true victim of chance in his scheme) in his mind if he didn't think about them as a thinking, breathing, warm-blooded person, with a full life ahead of them...
But the gears were already turning in his head as he focused on the humanoid shape fast approaching the ambush spot he had set. The courier bounded across the pavement moonlight silhouetting...Her body... Oh God... Benny felt sick. Its a dame.He sort of prayed that she would suddenly turn around, or stop and sense the danger she was about to fall into, or... he didn't know, hell, maybe by some feat of divine intervention suddenly have a heart attack and drop dead on the pavement so he wouldn't have her blood on his hands.
This would not be the case though as the young woman was approaching faster than a nightstalker after a rabbit as Benny kicked the Khans awake loading his gun. "Show time boys!" He shouted sliding the fresh clip into Maria as Jessup and the others startled awake. It was now or never. She would meet her appointment with death heading to Goodsprings to rest her weary head and stock up on supplies before heading back out to traverse the long 15 to Vegas. He stepped out and began taking his shots as the crew loaded their guns and pulled out their knifes. His first shot grazed her shoulder, the next ones weren't so lucky as a switchblade flicked open gleaming in the moonlight as she zing-zaged closer and closer to him then swinging at him to make a shallow cut. Rookie mistake; Wearing kid-gloves to a life or death fight.
Little thing didn't stand a chance as the Khans flew from behind the rocks like a nest of angry mutated ants, knocking her out cold with only a few punches. The leader tossed her over his shoulder and made his way up the hill to the graveyard. Shit. Benny knew he had forgotten something... the grave. He suppressed the urge to throw up as he watched the petite body swing from their shoulder. "Hey boys, dig a hole quick ya dig?" He said calmly before he sheepishly realized he had used the word "dig" maybe one to many times in that sentence, not that the Khans cared- they were too busy grumbling and picking up some shovels starting the grave. Benny rifled though the courier's bag: a few spare caps, a shitty 10 MM pistol, a package of dandy boy apples, the delivery order, … ah! There it was. He opened the small box and removed the packaging and shakily took the Platinum Chip from its container. This was it. This was his Ace in the hole. His lucky break. He pocketed it and tried to regain his composure, tossing the box aside and lighting up another cigarette as the minutes crawled by like hours, he taped his foot impatiently, he seemed to go though 3 or 4 more cigs trying to calm the wretched twisting feeling in his insides.
Finally McMurphy, broke the silence as he stepped out of the shallow grave purposefully sticking his shovel into the nearby dirt. "That's it." He said resolutely. "You got what you were after, so pay up." Benny snorted, taking a final drag from his smoke. "You're cryin' in the rain paly." If he told those stupid oafs once he told them a thousand times, as if I would be stupid enough to carry around that many caps around these finks. He rolled his eyes. Not like he was gonna pay them anyway.
There was a slight stir in the gravel and the courier's eyes fluttered open. "Hey!" Said Jessup "Guess who's wakei'n up over here?" Jessup sneered.
Benny sighed putting out his final cig. Now for the part he was least looking forward to. "Time to cash out." He took a few steps forward as the tiny woman was quickly regaining her seances, testing her bonds and finding there was no escape she looked up to her captors.
"Will you get it over with?" McMurphy growled roughly.
Benny was disgusted. "Maybe Khans kill people without lookin' 'em in the face. But I ain't a fink. Ya dig?" and with that he finally looked the young woman square in the face. God, she looked like she was barely sixteen. Too cute and too young to be running across the Mojave, carrying messages and trinkets back and forth the unforgiving terrain. Hell, if she had been anywhere or anyone else he would have told the kid to go home to her mother. He stared into her eyes they were dark, so dark that the only thing that reflected in them as a big white poker chip of a moon. Like looking into a deep, deep well before you tumbled into it. "You've made your last delivery kid." He said showing her the chip... why did he show her it? Benny thought quickly, was he trying to justify her own death to her? Like she would know what sort of power that stupid hunk of metal held and agree that she was just collateral damage? "Sorry you got twisted up in this scene," He replaced the chip in his buffalo plaid jacket and drew his weapon of choice. (Good ol' Maria, she was the only woman that stuck to his side. ) "From where you're kneeling it must seem like an 18 karat run of bad luck. The truth is...
The game was rigged from the start."
And he pulled the trigger.
The problem with being alone every night was that when you stared across the Mojave wasteland is that your mind tended to wander, and when Craig Boone's mind wandered it was always down dark paths. He would often deter this by playing games with himself. Counting the teeth in the maw of the dinosaur he sat watch in, taking pot shots at scorpions in the distance, psychoanalyzing the people he shared this town with. Trying to pinpoint who would be sick enough to... He digressed and went back to scanning the horizon through his scope. Ever since Carla and the baby died he had taken to a cycle of self destruction. Get up in the evening, have a few cigarettes, take some steady when he got up in the dinosaur, stack that with some party time mentats (when they were in the service together Manny had taught him the recipe) to take the edge off, take a break- smoke some more, go home to his apartment (his dreadfully empty hovel) and have a dose of med-X with some beer for a dreamless sleep. Rinse, repeat. Same shit every night. He closed his eyes for a moment and inhaled the cool night air.
He jumped at the small voice behind him his hand axiomatically going to his knife as he turned to greet the unknown with- the young girl yelped at his sudden movement and shrank back against the door.
"Goddamn it!" He said relaxing and putting his knife away. "Don't sneak up on me like that. What do you wan?" He snapped, instantly feeling a twinge of guilt for doing so as he saw the young woman shrink back grabbing for the door knob with he right hand wile trying to keep her eye on what she assumed was an irritable knife wielding maniac. (Witch, upon more thought was the truth.)
"I- uh... Heard there was a sniper nest up here. S-sorry for bothering you... I- uh..." Her hand finally grabbed the door knob and she made a move to let herself out.
"Wait!" He said, maybe just a little too desperately. This was just what he needed someone new to look at the evidence of his wife's kidnapping... and who better to than a nosey teenager?
"You just got into town. Maybe you shouldn't go. Not just yet." The wheels in his head were already turning, choosing his next words carefully. The mentats were still in his system... and everything sounded right on them.
She seemed to relax a little and slid her hand down the wall... if he made any more sudden movement he knew that the small frightened girl would jump to grab the 10mm at her hip. (What a stupid idea, who thinks they can take on a NCR trained sniper? Wasteland assholes, always thinking they're hot shit.) She was thin, real thin. She could have turned sideways and disappeared as an escape plan instead of trying to blindly find the door knob.
"A... are you going to try and kill me?" He resisted the urge to snort at how forward she was.
"Not unless you give me a reason to. I need someone I can trust. You're a stranger. That's a start."
Her lips pressed into a hard line resisting the urge to laugh as she raised an eyebrow to him and cocked her head to the left.
"You... only trust strangers?" She coughed stifling a small snicker.
"I said it was a start." He snapped. Typical teenager bullshit, already questioning his every word. "This town... Nobody looks me straight in the eye anymore. I need you to find something out for me. I don't know if there's anything to find, but I need someone to try.
My wife was taken from our home by Legion slavers one night wile I was on watch. They knew when to come and what route to take, and they only took Carla. Someone set it up... I don't know who."
He wanted to slap that look of sympathy right off her face as she took in his words, it was the same look everyone gave him when they found out she had gone missing. Nobody knew what it was like, nobody cared what it was like. It was just a programed response in people, bad things happen? Look sad about it.
"So you're trying to find her?" The young girl almost whispered rocking back on her heels and looking at the ground like he had just scolded her.
"My wife's dead. I want the son of a bitch who sold her."
"...but how do you know if-" Great, now she was doing the hopeful act. All this talking was making him anxious couldn't she just do him this favor and get out of here? No, the nosey brat had to hear his entire life story.
"I know. Alright? That's all you need to know."
She flicked her sun-bleached (or perhaps purposely abraxo bleached) brown and peppered blonde hair out of her eyes and motioned both her hands to try and calm him. "Okay. Okay, I get it." Oh so now she was going to act tough? What a load, Boone knew what would happen next. Little snot would try to have a pissing contest with him just because she grew up in the wastes and thinks she's tough shit. He'd seen it a thousand times wile he toured with the NCR. They were all for you when you were cleaning up their roads or getting rid of pesky gangs terrorizing the area but as soon as you asked for some of their damn help things were different. Typical wasteland asshole bullshi-
"So, what do I do if I find this person?" He tried to contain his surprise that she was actually interested in helping him, he played through the conversation in his head to see the turning point...nothing he could remember... She still wanted to help him?
"Bring him out front of the nest here wile I'm on duty. I work nights. I'll give you my NCR beret to put on. It'll be our signal so I know you're standing with him... and I'll take care of the rest. I need to do this myself." She gave a quick nod and before he could tell her that he could pay her she had gone, pocketing the red beret in her cargo pants and slamming the door behind her. Strange kid.
The weirdest things seemed to be happening to Manny Vargas this week, it felt like a big joke had been set in motion and he was at the center of it blissfully unaware. Unexpected things kept happening, disrupting the quiet rotations in Novac. It began with a visit from some old buddies out of nowhere, a few days later No-Bark (who normally ignored him preferring to have a nice chat with the gigantic dinosaur) stopped him and told him he had pretty eyeballs (creeeeepppy), Boone had actually said "hey" to him as they passed like clockwork on the way up to the nest (this made him worry maybe he had finally snapped and was planning on going through with a plan to kill Manny... or even scarier was in a good mood.), Mr. McBride had told him things were killing his brahmen every night but neither Manny nor Boone had seen anything even twitch around there, and it ended when he got a knock on his door at 2 in the morning. He grumbled and rolled out of bed and walked over to the door, opened it and looked around. No one around...
"Hi." Someone chirped waving to get his attention pulling his head down to see dark brown eyes peering back at him from a barely 5 foot figure. "Can I come in?" She said quirking her head.
"Uhhhh... sure..." He said motioning inside without thinking about it. The young woman pushed past him and closed the door behind her and began examining the room with great interest, picking up an empty canister of jet he had kicked under his bed. He sheepishly snatched it from her hands feeling the silent judgment of the girl... or perhaps his mother's ghost for letting a child see his nasty habits. "What's going on, man?" He asked sleepily.
She took a seat on a ruined chair and brought her legs up to her chest, lacing her thin fingers together under her chin and locking her gaze on him. "I'm looking for a man in a checkered coat." She said finally.
Manny felt his stomach sink at the mere mention of the Chairmen traveling with Jessup and McMurphy and ran his hand under his beret to itch his scalp wondering what the kid would want with that rat in a suit. She then spoke as if almost reading his mind.
"...I have a score to settle."
The mysterious disappearance of Carla Boone seemed to be a collective blind spot in the memory of the people of Novac, as nobody in the town seemed to have taken a liking to the woman in her entire time living in the small community and it seemed everybody had the motive and means to get rid of the metaphorical fly in their ointment. She had been wandering around the entire town since daybreak questioning people and hadn't gotten a straight answer from any of them. She pressed a cold nuka to her forehead and leaned in the shade trying to untangle the stories and looked wearily towards the hotel and spotted someone examining the wall of the gift shop intensely. Questioning one more person couldn't hurt but she was nearing the end of her rope and considering on just high-tailing it out of town during the day and keeping the neat hat the sniper had given her if it wasn't for that idiot Manny. He knew something about the man in the checkered coat and he was hanging that knowledge over her head like a treat for being a good little girl and taking a quick walk over to the Repcon facility to tiny check on the freeking ghoul problem. 'No big deal, man.'.She rolled her eyes and opened the cola and walked over taping a finger on the disheveled man's shoulder to get his attention.
She couldn't help but to jump as he whipped around suddenly flailing wildly. "Who sent you?" He shouted waving his hands to the sky. "I ain't talking! They tried to get me to talk before, but I didn't say nothing and I don't aim to now by gum!"
She blinked a few times and tried to process if this guy was for real. He was probably strung out on psycho so she backed off a bit. "What? ...Who tried to make you talk?"
The crazed man seemed to calm himself a little and turned his head away. "Confound it No-Bark, you've done it again. You let on that you know things. Now they'll never let you be." He chided himself slapping his palm to his wrinkled forehead and shaking his head. He then turned back to her and hung his head. "All right stranger, you got me. What do you want to know?"
"...Uh... Why do they call you No-Bark?" She tilted her head.
" 'cause they know that I ain't just barking here. What I say's got bite, 'cause its the truth." He said with a nod of satisfaction. "Them quack doctors can say what they want about all the radscorpion stings that done pierced my skull. I know what I've seen." He said tapping his head thoughtfully.
Several hours later...
"Ghosts! Commie ghosts that don't know that they're dead!" He said shaking his finger at the eager student sitting on the pavement, cross legged and wide-eyed furiously nodding her head for him to continue. " Hoping to steal our rockets so they can fly up and paint the moon pink and draw a Lenin face on it!" He waved his arms enthusiastically towards the moon coming into the sky.
"Woooooaaaa~" she said breathlessly.
"And THAT'S why you don't give chupacabra an automatic weapon." No-Bark concluded proudly, knowing that he was doing a real service for the community imparting his knowledge to a younger generation. "Now if anyone asks, we never talked." He said shaking his finger at the young woman looking around nervously and scurrying off to his shack.
This was so wrong. Her hands shook and she accidentally snapped the bobby pin in the floor safe. She exhaled and tried to push the thoughts of how sketchy this was out of her mind. She liked a good story as much as the next girl but you couldn't put to much stock into them was generally the sentiment shared by her and other people who grew up in the wastes. She had never seen a tree that had leafs let alone seen one preform a musical number, or any body of water larger than a puddle for a mermaid to live in, or for that matter never heard of princes rescuing damsels in distress in the Mojave. Despite all her jaded feelings about amusing stories and their practical uses something No-Bark had said was itching in the back of her brain. The night Carla Boone had disappeared the old man had spotted figures going into the lobby and leaving. So here she was, turning the office upside-down at one in the morning and attempting the get the lock on the safe to cooperate. It wasn't her first time opening a safe... but the people who owned those safes were long dead, like they needed the stuff in them. Breaking into some living's safe was an entirely different story, it was never... what was the word? She wasn't a particularly good person, but that was because she avoided unnecessary confrontation by not choosing sides that she claimed were "right" or "wrong" and you couldn't say she was a particularly bad person either but breaking into other people's things always felt well, wrong.
But special circumstances called for ignoring the labels of good and bad and getting your hands dirty. She gave a twist pushing the screw driver up with a pop the lock came open and there it was, hidden under a pile of caps- all the evidence she needed.
Jeannie May awoke with a start as a small hand shook her awake. "Miss Crawford! Come quick, you have to see this!" The young woman said already motioning her hand and out the door before Jeannie could ask what the problem was. She panicked putting her glasses on from off the night stand wondering of the hotel was on fire or raiders were coming into town and tried to keep pace with the quick girl up the pavement to the front of the dinosaur. On top of a small hill. She looked around... nothing. She turned to the girl, "What am I looking fo-" and her head splattered as the bullet made impact.
The courier tried to suppress a scream that would wake the whole town feeling the hot trickle of brain matter and blood dribble down her face and torso clapping her hands in front of her mouth and kneeling on the spot trying not to cry at the surge of emotion and disgust taking deep gulps of air.
Boone took the scope from his eye and sagged against the wall feeling a wave of bitter relief. That was it. His final purpose fulfilled. His vendetta ended.
And the satisfaction was already fading away.
He got to his feet as he heard her ill-fitting combat boots begin to ascend the stairs and turned to greet her regaining his composure. The wooden door creaked open slowly as the child wiped the splatters from her face with the already blood and dirt caked remnants of a vault suit, sniffling and trying to act to tough to cry and keeping her chin up.
"That's it then." He said finally. "How did you know?"
She tucked the rag under one arm and groped about her many pockets for a moment, pulling bobby pins and lint out to produce a piece of yellowed paper that looked like it had been folded, crumpled, and crushed in the young woman's care, smoothing it out on her leg and then handing it to him. It was all there, the final nail in Carla and his child's coffin in his mind. Everything had come full circle.
"I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I'd be like them to keep paperwork." He said finally, carefully refolding the paper and sliding it next to the letter for Carla he had always kept on his person. He shoved a handful of caps into the girl's unsuspecting hands. "Here. This is all I can give. I think our dealings are done here." She instinctively tried to give them back to him but he clasped his hand tight around hers, making her hold what little he could give and keep it.
She finally relented but shook her head in shame as she pocked the money. "What are you going to do now?"
He thought for several moments about this, he didn't have anything left here. No good memories, no one to miss him because he had cut ties with the whole town. He hadn't thought about what was next after his vengeance was exacted at all, and this emptiness consumed him with fear.
"I don't know." He shrugged, "I won't be staying, I know that. Don't see much point in anything right now, except hunting legionaries... Maybe I'll wander, like you." His gaze turned to the vast sky and the stars. How insignificant and small he was in the wasteland, sitting there in a godforsaken nook wile waiting for a new destiny to strike him up and carry him away, just like Carla, just like the army. In the wasteland there was no end to the stars and the whole world expanded endlessly in it. Like a never ending thread. You could pull on and on and you would never come to the edge of it. This was the real world, a small world, the only world that was left.
"Come with me."
He turned, a small hand extended and dark eyes look onward with him, past him- like a new, irradiated Columbia inviting settlers to the uncharted territories. "Let's go after the Legion."
"You don't want to do that." He warned her.
"Snipers work in teams." She said simply, her logic infallible. They both needed eachother. She was to green to take care of herself alone in the wasteland and he... he didn't want to be alone. He gave her a stern nod.
"This isn't going to end well." He said finally. She nodded knowingly and opened the door, motioning for him to go with her.
"Lets get out of here."