Disclaimer: Do not own Fallout or the Lonesome Road.
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE LONESOME ROAD!
Author's Note: I'm not really sure of what to say about this little piece of writing. I wrote it in one sitting after finishing my first playthrough of the Lonesome Road and was so struck by the storyline that I could not let it lie. It takes place in an undetermined time after the ending. I hope you enjoy.
How long had it been since she'd set foot across these rubble-strewn highways, sojourned through the skeletal remains of ancient monoliths? It could have been only hours, a few days, perhaps years. It had seemed like a millennia ago when she had stood with him against the ghosts of this place, a shadow of a memory that with time would become a legend (which would be believed or not believed depending upon present company), but when she appeared out of the dust that memory was so vibrant, so vivid that it could have happened only seconds ago. Whatever pasts that had been walked, whatever futures that had yet to be constructed vanished within that moment of realization. And like all dreamlike states, they were the only reality: two drifting destinies afloat on the tumultuous cosmic storm-winds.
Courier Six had returned. For what purpose Ulysses was unsure, and for many long breaths did not even begin to consider. No living thing – save for the marked men and the monstrous tunnelers – traveled this nightmare passage. He no longer considered himself a part of the living world, his future voided from the normal flow of time just as much as the marked men's. He had become a lone sentinel of the Divide, a guardian to the memory of what could have been and what would never be. So when she materialized out of the twilight he thought he was seeing visions of before, like an echoed remembrance that the Divide held of her previous passings.
It wasn't until he saw the cyber dog close at her heel until his mind snapped back into place and knew it was not a hallucination, but a truth. She had returned here. Home. No, what once was home but was no more. Home for her was now the Mojave. He'd already heard of her choices at the Dam and how it had affected the world around her. He would have expected no less from the woman who had talked him down from the utter destruction of thousands. She, who had artfully, albeit unconsciously, crafted the Divide before its annihilation had wiped out the potential there had built again and was continuing to build. Sometimes he wondered what it would be like to walk the streets of her newly hewn world, but knew he had no place in it.
She was searching for something. Every now and then she would check the pip-boy on her arm and speak in low tones to the animal beside her, who whined and stuck close. It sensed the creatures of the Divide and did not like them, but their memories, like his, had not diminished and steered clear of her. The fear and respect she'd earned the last time she was here had not waned. It was well deserved.
Ulysses shadowed her throughout the Divide. She retraced her steps almost exact from the ones she had taken on her journey to him. She even walked through the burnt out ruins of what had almost been their graves, stopping to place a hand on the eyebot that had so selflessly given its own existence for others, for her. She stood in the very spot he had when she had found him and then sat on the metal steps, the dog solemnly and obediently laying its head in her lap as she considered the place. It was then he knew what she was looking for.
At first he thought it might be more answers to what had happened. Now it could not be ignored that she was looking for him. Between them they had answered all that was worth being questioned and their understanding of those answers had become salvation. Maybe not hers, and definitely not his, but the world's. And that… that was enough. Or he had thought it had been.
From where he watched he almost called out to her; held back. There was still the Divide between them. Not the divide, but a divide. He was the father of history and she the mother of invention, creation. She would continue to move forward, but he would stay here, in the past. Their paths should not cross another time. She should not be here.
Yet she was. It meant something, though what he knew not.
"What" and "Why" were dangerous questions. He would not utter them; dare not think of them.
When she finally left he did not follow. It was not his place to follow her, in this world or hers.
Time had no meaning in the Divide. It was just another force of nature here, waging war against what man had rebelliously built up, insisting it would last. These ephemeral things, these crumbling edifices of another era paid tribute to the power of Time in all her unforgiving vengeance. Outside of this place she had a name, but walking these desolate streets she was just Courier Six. For names had no meaning here, as well. Just like the buildings, the people, and the history names were forgotten as the river of time moved on. The factions that had once hated each other with reckless abandon cared little for their petty wars of men. The only thing that mattered here was survival.
And there had been only two who had survived in this place. Her and him.
The Courier had gone not even one day without thinking of Ulysses and the words they had exchanged. She would never forget the blunt lucidity of his experience or his tale of two interwoven fates moving towards their ends like two stars on the verge of supernova. It still danced in the back of her mind, teasing and taunting, that she'd had such a profound effect on someone she had never met. A lesson that blazed intense in the depths of memory that even the smallest step could change everything for someone. It had made her more aware of her choices as a person. She was a living, breathing entity in this world and like a cell within a larger organism could be a catalyst for great or terrible things.
As a courier she had been nothing more than a package transporter. She moved items from one place to another. It was not important work in her mind, especially because the pay was not really all that good. Hearing Ulysses speak of how she'd brought destruction upon the Divide by just doing her job and the way it had changed his whole existence woke something. Just as her package had awoken the Divide. Only that something, depending upon her decisions, had the potential to be something of value.
As a courier she had never been of much value. But as The Courier she had the power to be so much more. All it took was that spark, that realization that even one person could destroy everything, or… save everything. She had done both.
After they had stopped the launch that would have been a second Armageddon she had returned to the Mojave and endeavored to make it a better place, to actively build upon that which she had already learned. She had created something wonderful before, and she intended to do it again. In his last message to her he had spoken about knowing the symbol she wore upon her back. She wore no real symbol, but he hadn't quite meant it so literally. For a while she had considered these words and then hopped off the fence she had been so precariously sitting on. It had been a long time since she'd felt like she could make a difference, and this time it would be a good one. She had saved the Mojave from destruction; now she saved it from itself.
The Bear and the Bull were gone, driven back into their perspective lands, and an independent Vegas flourished under the Courier and her companions' watchful eyes. This was all because of Ulysses. Who had once learned from her had taken on the role of teacher and taught her to take a stand and to know exactly what she stood for.
The Old World was gone, but a new one arose from its ashes. New Vegas was a phoenix, Ulysses' phoenix, whether he knew it or not.
And that was why she was here, traversing the path she had first taken to meet him. It was only right that she return the favor and let him know how influential he had been. He had wanted her to know the power her steps had had over him, and she wanted him to know that it was mutual. He had not been the only one changed by roads they walked together. She had been changed, too. By him.
However, the Divide was as treacherous as before and not because of the marked men or the beasts from below – oh no, they were strangely absent from this second voyage, though they were there – but because she did not have the guiding voice of her fellow Star, the first Courier Six. The silence was heartbreaking.
So before she left the Divide for the last time, on the break between it and the Mojave Wasteland, she scrawled across the debris her own final message, one that she knew that if he ever saw then he would be ready to heed its words. Until then she would live with hope in her heart. Hope for a man who was convinced he had nothing.
Upon the wall she wrote:
Ulysses, come home.