Alright, people, last chapter. This'll wrap things up. And I purposefully switched from first to third person in the least scene. If you can tell me why, go back to the "Endless thanks" chapter, and submit a Charachter. They'll be top on the list for their chapter.
In a rusted metal shack, in the lowest pit of Megaton, lay the Lone Wanderer. The man was not awake, his wounds, numerous and severe, forcing him to shut down, especially after the abuse it had taken.
A knife in the side, then bandaged and still healing, torn multiple times in fights. Broken bones, only mended from stimpacks, and bruised ones were the majority of the man's skeletal system. Plasma and regular burns scorched some of his shoulder and arm, and half of his torso was blak and blue from the fist fight with a power-armored soldier, and a mind-controlled meta-human.
The doctor presiding over him was suprised that the Lone Wanderer wasn't dead, or could even have still walked, much less fought and defeated the last Remnant of the Eastern Enclave.
But the wounds there were not the only ones. In his mind, a new force was present. The old one, the man that cared and loved the Wasteland, for all of its flaws and evils, always thought its people worth fighting and dying for. That one would push himself to the extreme limits to save the most people, at the cost of himself. If he saw a man in danger, he would save him, and then try to forgive the man who tried to kill the first.
This new force was much less kind. It still cared for the people, but in a lesser manner. This one was a much harder person than the last. If he ever thought of mercy, then it would be mercy from a longer, more painful death. If he judged you more trouble than you were worth, he'd kill you without a hint of remorse. This man would see a man in danger, judge if he was worth saving, would make a difference, and then make his decision.
But none of that mattered as the Lone Wanderer was still asleep, recovering from his battle with Harkin. But not for long.
Elder Sarah Lyons rubbed the back of her neck. She was split down the middle. She could either forgive the Enclave turncoats, or order them executed. She was a afraid of this. She had at least hoped that the first major decision as Elder wouldn't be this controversial. If she did let them join, or at least spare them, the troops who held grudges may abandon her. If she executed them, then she would lose a valauable force, both engineers, scientists, and soldiers.
She had gone to many for a advice. But all that she interviewed knew nothing. But they did point her to a few people. One of which was her father, but seeing as she is the Elder, there is no gain in trying to do that.
The other were old advisors. Rothchild she managed to find on the radio. Tristan was there, as was Cross. All of her top lieutenants were present, minus one. And she had turned to them all, minus one.
She was interuppted from her ponderings by the sound of an opening door. She glared at its intrusion, and her gaze did not soften as she saw who it was. Hank Erston, he had introduced himself. He was stripped of his armor, and wearing a loose-fitting Vault Jumpsuit. He looked uncomfortable, exposed. And for good reason. The Brotherhood demanded that they relinquish their arms upon their surrender.
"Have you come to a decision?" He asked politely, not wanting to influence his life with a rash tone.
"No, I haven't. Is there anything else you want, or can I get back to it?" She asked harshly. It was a lot of stress for her, but nothing that Erston wasn't used to. Harkin was prone to fits as well, but he had as much stress as the Elder has.
"Of course, ma'am." He replied, then exited swiftly, not wanting to incur her wrath. He sighed as he walked down the halls. He constantly hoped he had made the right choice in convincing the rest of the Enclave. They were stuck now, unarmed, at the mercy of an organization that had hunted them down to their last legs, had continually countered their tech with their own scavenged junk, and when the Enclave outfirepowered them with the Mobile Base, the Brotherhood simply unleashed the Lone Wanderer, who swiftly used the base against itself.
Hell, sinking with Harkin almost sounded like a vacation when compared to having the Brotherhood's guillotine resting above them.
The Lone Wanderer groaned, pain being the first sensation to penetrate his murky mind. His eyes, after being blinded by the shearing light in his face, focused on his environment. Small shack, sheet metal. IV drip above him, with a privacy curtain. Smell of...sweat, drugs, and alcohol.
Doc's office, Megaton. He tried to list an arm to part the curtain, but he found that he was too sore to move. His arm simply limped up and dropped, the tight and bruised muscle needing time to heal. He tried again, biting against the pain, but to no real avail. While his mind was sharp, determined, and ready for battle, his body could only function at that level for so long. And it was well past tat threshold.
Another hand parted the cloth, revealing the scowl of the doctor. He didn't look pleased to see his patient up, but on that account, he never looked pleased for anything. A truck of stims could roll at his feet and his mouth would only say "Well there's no damn Med-X here."
"Have a nice nap?" He snarked at the Lone Wanderer. The Wanderer didn't appreciate the attitude. If it wasn't for his actions, this place could've been a radioactive puddle.
"Go to Hell." He said blunlty. "Where's Hollow and Amata? How did I get here?"
"They dragged you here, obviously. Not like there's teleporting tech out there. And they're having a meal together. Sitting here, breathing my air, and wasting my space can really work up an appetite. You should know."
Some part of the Wanderer wanted to strangle him. Another wanted to give some snark right back at his mug.
"Fine. Tell them I'm awake."
He threw his hands up. "What am I, your servant boy? I worked for like three hours on patching you up yesterday, and you expect me to just waltz outside and do you a favor?"
"Fine. Sit on your ass all day. Be a lazy prick." He spat in disgust, his gray eyes piercing the doctor's facade. The Wanderer didn't have nearly as much of actual medical training, just combat first aid, but he knew that a doctor's first priority is to heal the patient, and the second is to reassure the loved ones.
He put up his hands in surrender, backing down. "Fine, I'll tell 'em. Sheesh. No need to be an ass about it."
"From the lip I was getting from you, it apparently was." He finished as the doctor was evicted from his office. The Lone Wanderer only let his head back down after he heard the door close. He panted, the strain of even lifting his head left his neck aching. He tested the rest of him, while he had the chance. He started small, hands and feet. He flexed them, slowly. Only some pain. That was good.
The then tried to lift his knees, bring up his legs. But it had the same issue as his arms. Too sore and injured to move. He sighed again, and already knew his arms were useless. He tried to shift his back, twisting, arching, anything. All met with sitffness or pain outright.
He felt a hint of despair. Every moment that he wasted on this was one more moment that some plot could be coming to fruition. He couldn't let injuries, or anything else, even kindness, friends, even love get in the way of making sure that the evil do not harm the good or innocent.
Just as he finished checking his body, the door creaked open. He tensed, looking for his pistol. His equipment was piled neatly on the shelf. The revolver, knife, and fresh (if you can consider anything in the Capitol Wasteland "fresh") clothes sat on it, waiting for him.
He'd have no chance to reach it. But he didn't need to, as Amata then Hollow entered the office. Amata went to hug the prone warrior, but held herself back. She'd just injure him more if she did. Hollow held himself aloof. Only a slight lean told of his pleasure with seeing his friend awake and alive.
"How long have I been out?" He questioned before they asked him if he was alright.
"Only a day. We're suprised that you're awake right now."
"I've heard. What happened with the Vault?"
"Oh. Well, when the Brotherhood got in, most of the Enclave...surrendered. Just put down their guns and gave up. One of the top guys, Hershel or something, told Sarah that they were willing to surreneder and assimilate into the Brotherhood. We still don't know what she'll choose."
"I see. Interesting." He said, entering into thought.
"Yeah..." Amata said, confused. "So...are you alright?"
He looked back at her. "I'm fine."
"You just seem...off. Like...not you." SHe'd never seen her friend like this. Normally, his humor would've shone through, or at least he'd be happier to be done with the fight. But he jsut seemed...cold.
"I'm fine. Just thinking. Thank you for your concern." He said flatly, and turned toward the window, ending the conversation. Amata was about to reassure her thoughts on his trauma, but Hollow pulled her away. Once they were outside, he scibbled on his board.
He gets like this at times. Just let him sort himself out.
"But he's...he's still only human." Hollow circled the second sentence. "Fine, fine. I guess...we'll just...have to wait." He put a hand on the small of her back, and let her out, back to their table.
Once they sat down, Amata let her head drop. "God..." She whispered. "Did you see his eyes?"
After another day, the Lone Wanderer was stable enough to leave. But, on the "good" doctor's orders, he would spend another week, at minimum, resting. After all that man's been through, he should be taking a month's vacation. It still didn't mean he could move too much either. Stairs were Hell, so he had to pick a level of the house to stay on.
He chose upstairs. Comfy chair, bed, books, and booze. But no food. So that meant that Wadsworth was going to have to learn how to handle a plate. He chuckeld as the mental image of the robot balancing the plate on two arms.
Just as well, if there was a raid on Megaton, he'd have both the homfield and uphill advantage. Despite being ordered to rest, he'd still think pragmatically. It was the man he was now. So he sat there, drinking from a bottle of water, looking over his equipment. The Blackhawke was in rough shape. After months of disuse, and then heavy action without cleaning, it was probably at about half of its condition.
The Plasma rifle he found wasn't in perfect condition, being an Enclave weapon, but because of that origin, it was better than what it would've been if he'd just found it in some pre-war armory. Good, but not great.
His shotgun was in about the same shape as his revolver. But what had to be the worst was the armor. Both it and the Lone Wanderer had taken horrible punishment throughout this fight. They'd been through blunt force trauma, plasma burns, ammo of all sorts, and the damage had shown. Holes in the sides, blood stains, some armor had even burned off.
He sighed as he looked at it. It was almost totally destroyed. They both were. The pragmatic thing to do would be to throw it away, or salvage it for another suit. Just as he was to put it to the side, somethign tugged at him. He looked at it once more, and he simply couldn't part with it.
The armor, the memories, and the man that the green pre-war gear had protected still held some grip on the Lone Wanderer. And that man was still inside of the psyche of the Lone Wanderer, just damaged, needed to be repaired. But the armor would be much simpler than the man. The man was broken in a different way.
When Harkin revelaed how he counted on Al's mercy to win, on the fettered side of him, after all the anger and hatred towards the man who forced him to kill his best friend, who stole half a year from his life, after forgetting who he was...Al simply broke. Because even after all of that pain, that suffering, Al could've shown mercy. Even if it was a swift death, if he was regretful, maybe even life. But to see that someone had planned to use his mercy for a selfish purpose...
It was unnacceptable.
But he could still be fixed though. Niether one was sure exactly how, but it could happen. And the broken one hoped. The new one had no care for whatever outcome. It had one goal to achieve. The Greater Good. And he would achieve it.
The Vault was finally in order, and Sarah could head home with her men. Even the new Enclave turncoats. But she sent them back first, she wanted to visit an old flame. She made it as far as the front door when she was stopped by the Overseer.
"Sa-...Elder Lyons!" Amata shouted at her. In warning. Sarah turned towards her.
"Amata. Good to see you." It was uncomfortable, even after all this time.
"Don't go to see Al. Not yet." Sarah glared at her.
"Why the Hell not?" She demanded.
"He's...not the same. He's...colder." The Hispanic girl explained. "Something had to happen after Harkin. It's just...he's more driven. He's not smiling, he's not laughing."
Sarah crossed her arms. She looked down, thinking. The only reason she'd given the Enclave a second chance is because that's what her father would have done. And what her father would've done is go to Al for advice. He would tell him to show mercy. So in an indirect way, Al was responsible for the Enclave men's survival. He deserved to know that.
"I'm going in." She spoke in her decision. She turned and entered Al's home. She called for him, looked about. She heard a muffled voice come from upstairs. She followed it, ignoring Dogmeat along the way. She saw him reading a book on Medecine. The D.C. Journal.
"Hey...how are you?" She asked cautiously.
The response was flat, dead. "Fine."
"Alright..." She chose to stop pussyfooting around. She began to speak, but was cut off.
"Are you here for a reason?"
She frowned. "Yeah. I just wanted to tell you that Gary and I are-"
"I don't want to hear about your boyfriend." He cut her off again. Blue eyes met cold, stone grey ones. "Look, if you're going to waste my time, then leave. I have to tie up some loose ends." He stayed silent for a moment. He sighed. Something pulled on him to apologize and give her hope. He obliged to one. "Just...give me some time. Ok?"
She was angry at his insolence. But she still cared too much to snap at him. So she nodded, turned back. Maybe in a few months, he'd be ready. But until then, she could wait.
"Hold on a moment!" He stopped her. She felt something in her chest rise. As she turned, he held out his holotags. For her to take. She looked at them, darkness and gloom in her eyes.
"I can't take these. They're yours." She said, straining her voice. She could hardly believe it. He'd just come back from the grave, and now he was cutting her off?
"Yes you can. I'm quitting." He said with finality. He jiggled the tags in his hands. She reached out, and took them. Sarah gripped them tightly in her fist, and dropped them on the desk.
"I can, yeah. But I'm not going to. I still want you..." She trailed off, but quickly realized how that sounded. "To be...a part of the Brotherhood of Steel. We need you." A moment passed. "I...I need you."
The Lone Wanderer looked at the tags. A wave of something passed over him. Nostalgia? Love? Pride? Guilt? Whatever it was, it swayed his decision. He pulled them over to him, held them tenderly in his hand.
She spoke up, smiling a small smile in victory. "Just...at least something to...remember me by?"
He looked up, blue eyes met cold, stone grey ones. Torn between the Wanderer and the Vaultie. The Vaultie won. "Yeah. Something to remember you by."
Alright, finally. I'm done with this. I know that this is a bit of a cliffhanger, but that's purposeful. Remember to read the "Endless Thanks" chapter to see if you have a characther to write, and anyone can make a char, I'll read over all of them.
Please review, tell me what I did right, wrong, in between. Keep in tune for our next adventure, so check around my profile for another story you may want to read.