War. War never changes.
Humans are stupid creatures for countless millennia humans waged in ever more destructive means of conflict. It finally reached its peak in 2077 when the world was plunged into an abyss of nuclear fire. No body knows who struck first but it doesn't matter every body lost. In the two centuries that followed humanity fell into darkness what was left of it anyway. In a suburb of Baltimore called Lawndale a community of survivors makes its way in the wasteland of the new world created more then two centuries ago.
Daria struggled to pry open the rusted hood of the old semi-truck. She'd been struggling in vain for the past ten minutes to open the hood but so far it hadn't budged. She'd ask Jane for help opening but she was busy watching the horizon for trouble. Right now she regretting turning down Tom when he offered to help that morning. She liked him well enough but lately whenever they hung around her mother was always butting in with snacks or meaningless interruptions.
Helen was convinced if they were left alone for more then ten minutes she'd be a grandmother. It also didn't help that the last time She; Tom and Jane went off somewhere they got separated. She and Tom ended up stuck on a roof The Zon all night with a eight-foot radscorpion down below waiting outside the entrance. They finally managed to escape after she built some improvised explosives from materials they scavenged from the club, which included the old pyrotechnic systems, some shotgun shells she presumed belonged to the owner and vodka a whole lot of vodka. When they returned home, disheveled, tired and smelling of vodka everyone assumed they'd slept together. Her father threaten Tom with a shotgun ironically taken from the ruins of The Zon a decade earlier and threatened to kill the boy if he didn't marry her.
After much struggle the hood finally gave way and popped open sending Daria rolling off the truck landing with a thud.
"You alright?" Jane asked helping Daria to her feet.
"Nothing hurt aside from my pride" she replied dusting herself off. "And my ass."
"Better then your head" Jane laughed.
"Unless your my sister." Daria smirked while going to work dismantling the engine. "She doesn't have anything up there to harm."
"So why are we out here again?" Jane questioned. While her friend tossed an obscure part of the engine away.
"Because if I can pull the fusion cells from this thing we can power our lights, the water purifier and a few of my experiments."
"Wasn't there a truck closer to home you could scavenge from?"
"I've checked countless vehicles and only a handful had engines I could even begin to take apart if I can pull the cells from this my generator can be finished."
"And no more blackouts from your experiments?" Jane recalled walking the halls of the old school in the middle of the night when the power went out. Nothing like stumbling over yourself in the dark.
"None" Daria answered. After more then an hour of swearing, loud banging Daria finally gained access to the fuel cell container. She then slipped off the truck and starting putting on a yellow radiation suit. It was awkward to move around in so she didn't want to be wearing while trying to take the engine apart.
"Try not to blow us up" Jane was only half joking. These decaying engines from 2077 have a habit of exploding if you put enough bullets in them.
"Relax Jane so long as no one shoots the cells we'll be fine." She pulled the first glowing cell out and put it into a lead lined case. "These nuclear engines only explode from weapons fire never from simple impacts."
"And yet your wearing a radiation suit"
"I didn't say this job was completely safe did I?" Jane couldn't see it but knew Daria was smirking.
Jane scanned the horizon and in the distance saw one of the more common creatures of the wasteland a giant molerat. "Say Daria you want to come over for dinner tonight?"
"Sure what are you having?" he muffled voice replied from inside the engine block.
"Molerat" and with one well-placed shot the two-foot rodent fell dead. "Be back in a second, I'm going to fetch dinner." As Jane approached the fallen mole rat she heard a faint sound like music and the lyrics. I don't want to set the world on fire; I just want to start a flame in your was music she realized. She looked down the ruins of Interstate I-295 and through the dust clouds blowing in the wind she could see two approaching figures. The first was a tall man wearing a stetson hat and a duster coat over some form of body armor. She could clearly see he was heavily armed. Slung over his back was a rather large an intimidating looking weapon easily a meter and a half long. In his arms at the ready Jane could identify a plasma rifle by the faint luminescence green on the barrel. She could make out a bandolier with grenades or possibly just additional ammo. He also appeared to have other weapons at his side and inside the coat. The second figure was clearly a cybernetic dog, which trotted along side it master. Jane and only heard of such creatures from Daria who read about them in some pre-war books on science in law enforcement.
Jane looked worriedly down at her hunting rifle held together mostly by duct tape. And her raggedy leather armor made from Brahmin hide.(two-headed mutant cows). If he decided to get nasty there wasn't much she could do about it. Her weapon was little more then a Varmint Rifle perfect for small critters or an unarmored human but it bounce of this guy. Daria's shotgun might be more effective assuming she brought the slug rounds and he was standing five feet away. Jane nervously lowered her weapon deciding she didn't want to get killed by a paranoid trigger-happy mercenary.
"No need to wet yourself kid, I'm not going to hurt you." The man's face came into view as the dust cloud blew away he looked to be in his late twenties to early thirties with red hair. The shadow of his Stetson hat obscured his eyes. He leaned the plasma rifle onto his shoulder. He was now standing right before Jane and he looked just as intimidating now as he did partially obscured.
"Happy to hear that, it be quite a mess." Jane joked holding up her patchwork rifle for better viewing. "What's is that on your back?" she asked gesturing the sizable weapon on his back.
"It's called a Gauss rifle." The man answered to which Jane simply stared at him blankly "Like a rail gun but a magnetic coil instead of two rails."
"Oh now I understand." Jane lied, she'd ask Daria about it later.
"So what brings two kids this far out into the wastes a your two or three hours from the nearest settlement Lawndale, in that direction." the man asked pointing past the wrecked trailer of the truck Daria was working at
"What brings a walking Arsenal down this road." Jane countered. It bothered her that this man knew the location and distance of her home. Maybe her and Daria weren't worth robbing but he could be trouble back home.
"Arsenal?" the man smiled. "I like that, Arsenal, to answer your question I'm mapping the roads from DC to Baltimore scouting out the best possible routes for trade caravans." He gestured to the wrist computer on his right arm that Jane recognized as a pipboy and the source of the faint sound of music.
"Jane who is this?" Daria questioned. Jane nearly leapt out of her skin eliciting a laugh from both this stranger and Daria. "Some lookout you are, what if he was a distraction while his friend snuck up behind us." She joked.
A loud bark caused both Daria and Jane to leap into the air. They turned around to see the cyberdog panting.
"You can call me Jack." He extended his hand
"Daria, and you've already met Jane." She answered accepting the handshake.
"If you excuse me I have a long walk ahead of me, and my route needs to be suitable for heavily loaded pack animals" and with that the man tipped his hat and left.
"Come on Jane, I finished extracting the cells and putting them into the case, we might be able to take the short route but that thing is heavy" The duo returned to the truck after Jane cut some choice pieces of meat from the fallen molerat.
They each grabbed a handle and started the long walk home. It was heavy though; they managed to drag case out there all right but loaded down with the cells it was twice as heavy. Now they both wished Tom was there.
They were almost home the sun was high so it must have been around noon.
When a gunshot rang through the air. They dropped the case and dove for cover the sound of two more gunshots filled the air along side sadistic laughter. They looked up to see nearly a dozen armed men in patchwork armor made from scraps of metal and leather. They had assault rifles, shotguns and even a flamethrower. Daria and Jane knew immediately it could only be raiders.
"What do we do?" Jane whispered fearfully
"Drop the case and make a break for it, if we're lucky they'll be more interested in the case then in us we don't have anything worth stealing."
Jane bit her tongue to stop herself that they were both women, which were always valuable to the nefarious types in the wasteland. Despite the rumors she was sleeping with Tom. Jane knew Daria was innocent in that regard.
"I've got one grenade." Daria breathed, "If they follow, I'll throw it maybe buy us enough time." Jane only nodded before they leapt to there feet and took off running towards home. They looked back hoping against hope the raiders were more interesting in the case than them.
"Shit they're still chasing us." Jane sighed.
Daria pulled the pin on the grenade and chucked it as hard as she could in the direction of the pursuing raiders. As they hoped the raiders scattered for cover. Though the grenade exploded harmlessly it did buy them some time. Unfortunately not enough time they had just reached the top of a hill when a bullet grazed Daria's leg ending her tumbling to the ground. Jane stooped down to carry her but was stopped.
"Jane, they want us alive our best chance is if you go for help if you stay we'll both be captured." Tearfully Jane nodded and embraced Daria fearful this would be the last time they saw one another.
As Jane ran for help Daria managed to get to her feet. Even if she couldn't get away from them she could at least limp and buy Jane a little more time. And the sawed off shotgun would certainly help. If the raiders wanted them dead they'd have fired a lot more bullets. So Daria knew her best chance was to buy Jane as much time as she could.
Daria open fire on the first raider who popped his head over the hill she'd fallen from. The raider quickly ducked down and Daria took that moment to reload the shell. She could hear them arguing just over the hill but the voices all blended together. Finally a mountain of a man came over the hilltop, unlike his fellows who were half covered in scraps of metal this man's armor was composed of metal plates bolted together complete with a helmet on top. Daria knew her sawed off stood little chance of penetrating those metal plates, but she could slow him down a little and buy Jane more time to escape. She unleashed both barrels and the spray of lead bounced off the armor as she expected but the force made him stumble back. The armor offered decent protection against the two-century old jury-rigged weapons most wastelanders possessed. She really wished that Jack fellow was around. Against his military grade hardware that raiders metal armor would be little more then tissue paper even if it was pieced together from the latest in pre-war steel. Daria reloaded her the gun as the man slowly drew closer.
"Surrender girl, you've got no chance." The raider spat while Daria hid behind cover.
"You're going to need to get real close to capture me, and I've loaded two slug rounds just for you." Daria lied but the bluff gave the man pause. A slug around could certainly prove fatal if only she had one.
"Drop it" a sinister voice from behind ordered. Daria sighed the big guy was just a distraction while his friend snuck up behind her. Daria turned around see a smirking raider holding an automatic to her head. Jane kept on running, she'd never run so fast in her life. If she made it back quickly there was time enough to save Daria before the raiders got away and sold her off some slime-ball or worse. She had just reached the sign that said welcome to Lawndale when she tripped and all went black.
To be continued