Act 3 chapter 2
In the years preceding the great war, the United States began the construction of its ultimate doomsday shield, the vault program. A series of massive underground shelters built to house hundreds of people and spare them from the horrors of the holocaust. The largest of said shelters, was Vault 57.
Built to house ten thousand residents, the largest of any vault, vault 57's goal was to test the strain on people's minds of having oversized population condensed into an underground shelter. Slower-than-usual computers had also been added to the experiment, to create a taxing environment that would no doubt increase the stress levels of all the subjects. But with halls that were the largest of any known vault, its facilities built to accommodate the needs of such a large population, albeit slowly, vault 57 had the hope of actually being successful.
The only flaw in the vault's design, was that it was too large.
The reactors and water purifiers were only just installed when the bombs fell. It had little food, hardly any furniture, no means of entertainment. The handful of construction crews that were inside the vault when the war came survived the blast, but soon perished as they were forced to vacate the vault when their temporary food stocks quickly ran out. Only the robotic population was left in the vault, mindlessly cleaning and maintaining the vast empty halls as the years dragged on. Turning vault 57 into an hollow steel fortress, hidden on the outskirts of Denver Colorado.
In 2278, the legion came to Denver. The tribes, settlements, and people of the area were forced to either submit, or flee as the Legate Lanius led his charge to conquer the city. The massive canine population was either wiped out or tamed, the local tribes rounded up and enslaved. Though not everyone went peacefully. Brotherhood, local NCR postings, towns, settlements, tribes, all held steadfast against the legion force. The battle lasted a month, but when the dust settled, a legion banner flew over the Republic Plaza building in downtown Denver. The whole of the city placed firmly under the legion bull.
Not long after the legion had taken the city, a resistance began. Skirmishers harassed the legion at every turn, dealing irritating blows whenever the opportunity presented itself. By 2282, the resistance had grown into a full army, comprised of men who banded together to stop the legion crackdown of the resource-rich city. And their headquarters was nowhere else other than vault 57. Brotherhood remnants from the Denver Chapter and other chapters in the area, isolated NCR troops, tribal bands and other survivors of the Legion's reign brought together with one goal in mind; the liberation of Dog city.
A dust cloud a hundred feet high blew up behind Alia's tank as she thundered down the highway. Gallows stood behind the M2 browning up top, keeping the barrel pointed straight ahead as they rolled into the mountainous areas of Colorado. The cracked road turned to dust under the tank tracks, leaving Shane to maneuver his Highwayman over the sections of road way that weren't completely ruined. Amanda sat in the passenger seat and Snock rode in the back. The car had an amazing amount of interior space, easily fitting the fully-equipped deathclaw in the back as well as the wanderer's gear with still having plenty of elbow room to spare.
As they passed a sign stating Denver Colorado was only a few miles out, Shane noticed an overturned semi-truck on the other side of the rode. Behind it, cars clogged the roadway for miles, their rusted corpses long picked clean of anything useful. Green trees lined the road on either side, the lively forest awing the young Amanda. It indeed had surprised Shane as well, finding living nature outside oasis. But then again, the mountains likely helped deflect the radiation of the falling atom bombs, or sheltered enough trees so they may drop their seeds and grow again.
Amanda had fished an instruction manual out of the glove box, slowly reading it aloud, stuttering as she came to words longer than four letters. Anytime she got stuck, Shane would get her to spell it out, then he would pronounce it for her. It proved quite the learning experience for her, just as it had for the wanderer.
The manual stated that body of the car was made of specialty metals the enclave had begun to experiment with just before the war, and it could stop anything short of a .50 BMG round. The same reflective film that T-51b was coated with prevented any energy weapons from penetrating the first layer of armour. Even if it did, there were another two for it to go through before it could get into the cab. The windows were made of an ionized, copper micro-threaded Plexiglas, capable of stopping anything from a 9mm, to a .308, to a plasma bolt. But under combat conditions, it would not last. It would provide enough time to duck down and take cover before it gave way. But it still, with this armoured vehicle, the tank, and the Cargobird loitering overhead providing overwatch, the wanderer couldn't feel safer.
"We're coming up on the city now," Alia blurted out over the radio. "My contact said a welcome party should meet us on the road in and take us to the rebel HQ. From what I heard, the whole area is about the break down into a warzone."
"Hey, I see power armoured troops up ahead," the Cargobird pilot radioed, the craft pulling up to gain some altitude.
"Bring us in," the Captain's voice ordered over the comms.
The Cargo Bird shot ahead, coming in and spinning about the hover in backwards. Ahead of it, at a dirt road turnoff, a squad of T-45d clad troops stood armed with assault and laser rifles. When the rear hatch dropped on the Cargobird, the Captain leapt out and landed on the ground, the motor functions of his power armor absorbing some of the impact. He gave a salute to the men as approached them, keeping his radio on.
"I'm Paladin Commander Gin, brotherhood of steel," he declared.
"Paladin West, Denver chapter. Are you the brothers from out east the local radioed about?"
"That's affirmative," the Captain stated. "We're here to clean up your mess and move on to the one in California."
"Thank you captain, we can use all the guns we can get. Just don't go mentioning the war to any of the NCR troops. Their weary enough to fight alongside us, we don't need them up and quitting the night before the offensive."
The main auditorium of vault 57, built to house thousands of people for viewing plays, speeches, or movies, was now crowded as nearly four thousand men, women, and mutants filled the seats. Upfront, three men, one in T-51b power armour, another in tribal leather garb, and the last one a super mutant, stood before the roaring crowd. The podium in the middle of the stage sat vacant, waiting for its speaker. Suddenly, the doors at the side opened up, the crowd from the DC wasteland walking in. A brotherhood troop led them to a spot in the front row, squeezing them in among the other brotherhood troops and sitting them down.
The lone wanderer had never seen so many people in one place before. Not in Rivet City, not on Zeta, not even at the mobile Enclave base. He held Amanda close to his side and kept both hands on her at all times. Gallows and Snock kept in arms reach as well, not wanting anything to happen that would compromise the wanderer.
Suddenly, the entire room went silent as the doors at the back of the hall opened up. A corridor was made through the bodies of the crowd as one man walked through them. He approached the stage and climbed up, coming up to the podium. A voice crackled over the loudspeaker as a voice announced, "ladies and gentlemen, Inimicus."
The army roared in approval as the man took center stage, leaning in over the podium. At first sight, the lone wanderer couldn't believe his eyes. He had to look twice and shake his head to believe what he was seeing.
Inimicus had a face covered in unshaved whiskers, and a M1 helmet covering the top of his head. He had a rigid, mean look about him, with dark brown eyes and a solid, stocky body. He wore pre-war combat armour with extra plating and dozens of extra pouches along his waist. It was scraped and gouged from what looked to be knife and bullets, proving he was in several firefights. But what really sold Shane on his identity, was the M1 Garand rifle slung over his back. There was an Uzi on his hip and two colt M1911s under his arms, but that rifle was special. And the face under that WW2 era helmet was one Shane knew all too well.
Three years prior…
Shane punched several command on his pipboy and watched the batch of cryo-stasis tubes before him. The bodies of several dead raiders lay around him, leaving more work for the cleaning detail of Zeta's cryobay. A tube slid up from the storage its door opening up and rapidly dethawing and reanimating its occupant. First, Shane saw the Mohawk, then the Glock 9mm locked in his fingers, the recognizable raider armor from the DC wasteland. With a sigh, the wanderer drew his Blackhawk and cocked the hammer.
"Wha- where am I?" the man stated, falling to his knees.
"Put the gun down and stand up, hands behind your head," the wanderer ordered. Disoriented, the raider clambered to his feet, his Glock hitting the ground as he stood up and focused on the power armoured troop before him. "Who are you?"
Shane holstered his magnum and pointed off to the group of waiting outcast defenders and scribes near the entrance to the cryobay, processing other people released from the icy stasis. "They won't hurt you. Go over there and talk to them. They'll explain your situation and send you on your way."
The raider blinked rapidly a few moments, and then began stumbling toward the waiting outcasts.
Takes care of this stasis block, he thought, walking on over to the next one. The next tubes were right near the door leading to the corridor heading to the experimentation labs of the cryobay, too close to the teleporter if one of them tried to make a run for it. Shane had to be ready to draw if they did.
He pulled up his pipboy and hooked up with the cryo-computer, executing the order to release a pair of captives. The tubes squeaked, then slid up from their housing, opening up and dethawing their occupants. A soldier in a WW2 US army uniform fell out from the stasis, shivering uncontrollably and hugging onto his M1 Garand. From the other stasis, a man in a dark grey uniform stepped out, his uniform and helmet considerably different from the American one. Shane recognized it from old war movies he saw back in the vault, WW2 German Wehrmacht. Immediately, Shane drew both his 10mm and his .44, aiming them at the German as he stumbled from the tube, armed with only a knife. He looked up at Shane, then suddenly backed off, his hands up high.
"Nicht schiessen!" he cried, tossing his knife aside. "Don't shoot!"
"You speak English?" Shane asked, pistols trained on his head.
"Ja, ja, I speak good English! Don't shoot! I surrender!"
"Good," the wanderer said, holstering his weapons. He pointed off in the directions of the outcasts, "Go to them, keep your hands up, do what they say."
"Yes, okay," he said backing away from Shane and moving toward the waiting outcasts.
Shane dropped down to a crouched position as he brought the perforator off his back, bringing it around to take aim in the direction of the shot. The American soldier stood, still shivering from to cold, with the barrel of his Garand five inches from the wanderer's head. The wanderer glanced behind him, seeing the helmet skip across the floor after it had flown off the German's head, a 30-06 round burrowed through the back of his skull. Bits of cranial matter were scattered across the floor where he lay, the blood quickly freezing in the sub-zero temperature of the bay.
"Put that weapon down soldier!" Shane ordered.
The soldier, a corporal from the rank on his arm, shook his head. "That fucking animal murdered my men. They had us surrounded, we surrendered, AND HE SHOT THEM! DIRTY FUCKING KRAUT!"
"Put the gun down, corporal," Shane ordered.
"The aliens, little green bastards… they…" the soldier's eyes went wide as he suddenly looked around him, scanning his surroundings. His focus snapped back to Shane, finger tensing up on the trigger. "Are you with them!?"
The wanderer shook his head, "I killed off half the ship and claimed it in the name of earth, now stand down soldier."
The soldiers aim shifted to behind Shane, and he started taking steps in retreat toward the door behind him, "Back off you metal freaks. You're not gonna gut me like you did to that girl, I ain't dying on this ship!"
"Just stand down," an outcast defender stated. "We're human Americans as well, we're just wearing what's called 'power armour'. It keeps us alive in combat. Now lay the rifle on the ground, and we'll tell you what is going on."
The corporal seemed to think for a moment, but then he triggered the motion sensor of the door behind him. The door slid open to the hallway behind him. His breathing hastened, fingers still tense on his weapon. Slowly, the barrel lifted, his hand coming off the front of the weapon. As Shane begun to relax, the corporal ripped something from his combat webbing, a small green object hitting the ground in front of him. Adrenaline kicked in, and the wanderer grabbed the frag grenade and swept back into the cryotube the soldier had come out from. The pressure sensitive floor felt the grenade roll in, triggering the door to snap shut.
The explosion blew the tube apart, freezing gases erupting from the obliterate base of the tube and clouding up the visor of Shane's helmet. Several lasers were fired off from the outcasts, but none of them found a target. The corporal's Garand fired off once or twice, but then his boots were stomping down the corridor. By the time vision returned to the power armoured troops, the soldier was gone.
"Fan out!" Shane ordered. "Find him and take him to the holding cells! Lethal force is authorized only if necessary! We can't let him off the ship! Nobody can know that this ship is here!"
The outcasts went after him, but Shane stayed behind in the bay. He brought his pipboy up to one of the alien terminals and remotely accessed the stored files the green people had on the corporal, directly linking the audio to his helmet speakers.
Alien voices bantered angrily, or what sounded to be angry, they raged for a moment, then calmed down a bit to address something, or someone. The sound charging of a shock baton drew close to the microphone, followed by the electrical discharge searing into flesh. "Owww, fuck! You green alien bastard! I swear I'll fucking kill you! I'll rip those big fucking eyes out your skull and ram them down your throat so you can watch me as I face fuck you, you fucking fucker!"
"AHHHooww, you FUCKING BASTARD! Where's my men! What have you done with them?! TELL ME YOU COCK SUCKERS! And where's those fucking krauts?! I swear I'll kill you all! I'll-"
The audio cut out as the recording ended. A second later, Shane's pipboy loaded up the next file.
"I've broken out of my cell… found this alien recording device to try and keep myself sane. I think the blue light means recording… anyways, I got my rifle back but I don't know what good it will do. Their weapons are nothing like I've ever seen, they turn things to ash! I had a guy with me, says he's from the 'capital wasteland'. He said the whole world went through an apocalypse from something called an 'atom bomb', and it's now the year 2275. I though he was nuts, until others confirmed it. People from my cell block. We broke free and tried to fight back but… I'm the only one left now. Rest went out like heroes to let me get away. I just want to go home... but I don't even have a home to go back to. If DC is gone, then what chance is there that Denver survived? They said everywhere all over the world was hit, but some people somehow survived... I'll kill these aliens and get back to whatever is left of my home. One way, or another, nothing will stop me from getting off this ship."
The audio cut out, the pipboy cycled through the files.
"Sneaking around here is getting harder. Patrols have doubled, everywhere is being checked. I'm starving. The only saving grace is my starvation made me lose a few pounds, and now I can fit in the vents. Makes for easy travel, but still; I almost blew it when I saw him. The German sergeant from my last battle back on earth, back in 1944. He held an alien at knife point, trying to talk the rest back and maybe try to escape. The green bastards ended up stunning him before he could kill his hostage, and then they dragged him off to god-knows-where. I should've shot them all when I had the chance, but I couldn't give myself away. Wait, what's that? Fuck, someone's coming this way!"
The corporal stood up on the stage, leaning over the podium and tapping the microphone. When the auditorium went dead silent, he cleared his throat and began to speak. "My friends, I thank you all for your dedication to this valiant fight that we have raged the past few months. The legion in Denver is in disarray thanks to our efforts. They have no communications, no reliable resources, and their backs are against the wall. Through our dedication, their backs have been broken, and that leaves us with only one last objective, to finally wipe them out."
The crowd went into an uproar of cheers and whistles, rooting for the soldier before he motioned for them to settle.
"Thanks to an unforeseen surprise, we now have a handful more troops to come to our aid, from both west and east. Remnants of the Enclave from Navarro, and brotherhood from Chicago. With them, we have air support; we have a heavy armoured vehicle; we will have victory! Be prepared my friends! We attack at dawn!"
As the crowd went into madness and began to file out of the auditorium, the corporal motioned for several people to come forward. Four aged seniors in old enclave power armour came forth, spoke with the soldier, saluted, and then walked off to join the departing crowds of troops. Then Shane's group was motioned forth.
The wanderer did his best to remain calm underneath his helmet, but the corporal knew his armour and his rifle, and he had the feeling things were going to get ugly.
The captain led the group forth onto the stage, Shane at his side with Gallows hovering over Amanda like a hawk. The sight of Snock brought a bit of a smirk to the corporal's face, making him stand a bit straighter without batting an eye in Shane's direction.
"More brotherhood, the exact kind of men we need," he stated, crossing his arms.
"I'm Paladin Commander Harold Gin, call me Captain. What do I call you?"
"Call me Inimicus," the corporal stated, grinning at his identification before turning toward Shane. "This must be the 'lone wanderer' I've heard about. A pleasure."
"All mine," Shane responded, fingers tensing around the strap of his slung rifle. The corporal turned back to the captain, a serious look about him.
"There's not much time, so I'll cut right to it. I'd like you and your men on the line with me tomorrow. Have your aircraft up in the sky to keep tabs on the situation on the ground, feed Intel to the troops. I'm going straight into the city, into the underground car tunnels. It's a legion stronghold, but it has direct access to the Republic Plaza and the legate that holds control over this area. We take out the stronghold and the legate, the rest of the fuckers will scatter like rats or slit their own throats."
"We're in," the Captain declared. "How many of us are going in, and against how many?"
"I'm taking close to two hundred men with us into the tunnels, all troops who've I've personally selected. But we will be facing anywhere from one, to three thousand legionaries armed with machetes and rifles. We'll have surprise, technology, and mass confusion playing into our favor, so if we use them correctly, we can have Denver back in a day."
"Quick question," one of the Midwestern paladins interrupted.
"What?" the corporal asked.
"Why do they call you Inimicus?"
The soldier chuckled to himself for a moment before shifting his stance, "Inimicus. The legion gave me that name when I bombed a building and brought it down upon one hundred and twenty three legionaries, crushing them all to death. After that, I took on entire legion patrols by myself, always leaving one alive to spread fear amongst his comrades. From that, I was branded Inimicus, Latin for 'Enemy'. As in, I am their greatest enemy, and I wear the name with pride."
Inimicus continued to lay out the plan before them, of the four thousand troops of the rebel army, three would attack Denver at the break of dawn, with the remaining one thousand holding back in reserve and to defend the vault. Scavenged howitzers and eight hundred troops would assault the city from the west, drawing as many legion troops in that direction as possible. At the time when the most legion troops were condensed into the target zones, high-rise buildings would be detonated by rebel spies and brought down upon the unsuspecting legion. Before the dust has a chance to settle, the main force would come in from the east, making a straight shot for the central skyscrapers turned-fortress to secure it and assume the legion positions before they can organize. There was an estimated six thousand legion troops in Denver, all poorly trained as the crème of the Legion crop had been pulled out for some battle to the south a year prior.
Inimicus had spent two years gathering the strength to take on the legion, readying the army that he now commanded. Every faction had their promised share of the resource-rich city laid out before them, a brotherhood force behind them that would have no time to stop or slow down. The battle had to end the following night, the wanderer would accept no less.
"Come with me," a Denver-chapter scribe ordered to Shane's group. "We have quarters prepared for you to rest the night."
The Mid-western troops moved off stage with the scribe, Shane taking his daughters hand and breathing a sigh of relief.
"Wanderer," Inimicus called. "May I have a private word?"
Amanda went with Gallows to the opposite end of the auditorium, leaving Shane alone with the leader of the rebel army and former captive of Mother-ship Zeta. The wanderer popped the seals of his helmet and pulled it off, coming face to face for the first time with the corporal without having guns pointed at each other.
"I see your face at last," Inimicus said with a sly grin.
"Been three years, corporal. I thought you died."
"Almost. I found the light thingy that takes people between the ship and the surface, finally got off that fucking deathtrap and walked hundreds of miles to come back to this city. Was no easy ride, but I was glad as an angel on Sunday to get off that ship."
"Never told anyone about the Aliens, or us?"
Inimicus shook his head. "No. People would think I was crazy if I did… Took a good long time to adjust to this world, let me tell ya."
"I know all about that, coming out into a world you know nothing about," Shane muttered, thinking about his first days out of the vault.
"But let the past be the past. What happened in space, stays there," Inimicus declared.
A wave of relief poured through Shane's chest, a bit of his own grin showing up as he nodded, "Agreed."