Back to the West: The Damned
About a year and a half ago, a basic story idea came into my mind: a group of travelers headed westward across a vast expanse of land in the spirit of Lewis and Clark. Upon further thought, I realized that this idea would fit perfectly in the Fallout world, what with the series being deeply intertwined with American history. I first viewed it as a way to flex my writing muscle, something I haven't done in a while. I honestly did not think it would go too far, and I would not get many reviews, as I was completely new to . However, within the first few chapters, I got several good reviews, with two particular reviewers (BeGodlyBeLynn and Kingoftheplankton) giving me constant feedback on how to improve. After that, the story took off. Despite the fact that it was in limbo for several months after a few chapters, a random review brought me back, and I never slowed down again. As I went on, a massive, sweeping tale opened up in my mind instead of the slightly unorganized, single storyline that I had originally planned.
With the future of what was now a series planned, I contacted another Fallout Fan Fiction author, BeGodlyBeLynn and we hammered out an idea for an intertwining tale. I suggest you check out her side of this story, the first chapter or two should already be up. In fact, read through all of her stories. She's a damn good writer, and her stories have a way of drawing you in.
I'd like to thank another reviewer, who went all out (and I truly mean that in the best sense of the phrase) and reviewed forty times. Scarlet Rabbit, you're awesome. Thanks
Now, to end this already overly long introduction, I present to you the second entry in the Back to the West series: The Damned.
Part 1 – State of Mind
"My name is Donnovan Edan. I'm a Knight in the Brotherhood of Steel assigned to a special mission by Elder Lyons from the Capital Wasteland. We've been on the road for almost eleven months now. Sure as hell seems longer. The three weeks we've been here seems like nothing compared to how long we've been walking. Quite a bit has happened since then. There's a lot of crazy shit around here. I wish I had a camera to take some pictures of some of those things, but most of the time they killed something, so I guess it's not that nice. It's been a long road, and we've lost some people. Life's cheap out here."
"Considering the shit we've been through, I'm gonna give us props on staying out of major trouble for long. We managed to piss off the Brotherhood in the Midwest, but I don't think they'll follow us all the way to Nevada. Yeah, that's right. Nevada. And we came from the Capital Wasteland."
"If you're reading this and I'm dead… Well, I really don't care what you think, blow me. I've definitely walked further than you in less than a year than you have in a lifetime. Heh."
"Anyway, we're going to hunker down in New Vegas for a bit. Makes me think of the Vault, just flashier and with more color. And more half-naked chicks running around (Some of them shouldn't, though. Some of those battle wounds are gross. And apparently it's possible to get fat in the wastes.). I figured we could rest for a bit, somehow. Things are pretty quiet. We're not at the New Vegas Strip. Too much commotion and too risky. We're just hanging out in a house near the area. No roof, but it comes with perks. Lots of space, it's quiet, and we have a place to tie up our stuff. Hell even our pack 'bots and our remaining brahmin have a decent shed we've connected to the house with some tarps (Yeah, you read right. One brahmin. The only one that survived the trip out of almost half a dozen.). Not bad all in all. Not much privacy, though. Morgan's looking over my shoulder right now. Let a man write in peace, Morgan, God damn."
"Morrill fucked off a week in, telling us to stay put until he gets back, no matter what. Said he's looking for assistance. Who know where the hell he'll find it. The entire region is crawling with NCR. They're not terribly friendly to us, and from what Sarah and the others have told me, it's no surprise why. I guess the Brotherhood are particularly dickish out here, though I doubt anyone can reach the same level of assholishness as those Midwestern fucks… It's kind of getting to me. Is the Capital Brotherhood kind of shunted out because we're not psychos…? I hope the Lost Hills guys aren't complete pricks too… But who am I kidding…?"
"I'm glad that we have some down time. I think everyone's kinda relaxing in their own way. Olin's just trying to clean and fix everything that shoots. She asked me for my gun twice today. Nooooo. I'm holding onto this thing unless I'm absolutely sure it's damaged in some way. Besides, it's an AK. Just smack it and you're good to go. Amata's…it's like she pressed the mute button in her head, she won't talk in full sentences. I don't know what's up. Maybe it's all getting to her. Though we both stumbled out of the vault, I had plenty of time to acclimate and get used to that environment. She was thrust into it faster than anyone should ever be. Dusk's teaching me to shoot properly and spending the rest of her time drinking her ass under the table. She managed to upgrade the rifles, though, so kudos. They're 'weigh' lighter now. Excuse the pun. Everyone's kind of…fitting in with the Mojave life, I guess. Not bad at all."
"Anyway, nice to be able to chill for a bit, though at the same time I'm wondering what's next. We've been here a week longer than Morrill originally intended… And he's not here… I guess it'd also be better if I didn't know we were in the middle of a war zone. It's this conflict between the NCR and the Caesar's Legion (both I don't care to explain, besides, if I die here, whoever finds it will understand) over the Hoover Dam. I don't see why they can't all share. Sharing is caring, right? Speaking of sharing and caring, you've got the prostitutes, gambling, and other debauchery in New Vegas itself. The place is fucked up. There are rumors that in the Ultra-Luxe, the ritziest and most pretentious place on the Strip, its patrons are disappearing, but nobody talks about it openly and nobody tells anyone. Just little whispers. Weird. Gomorrah is just sketchy, I guess. Like something out of a bad pre-war porn movie. Though it does allow you to be as wild as you want, so that's nice. Tops is okay, but everyone talks dipshit in there, and the Lucky 38 looks really awesome but it's totally sealed off to the world.
Freeside is pretty much on the outskirts of the Strip, and it's messed up too. It's like if the ruins of DC were filled with junkies and gangs and…well, it is. Bad analogy. Sorry. (Shit. 200 year old erasers suck.) Anyway, it's just a really shitty place. Lots of drugs. Crime. And stuff. Fun, fun, fun.
Well, I'm going to stop now. I don't usually write diaries, but hey, I was bored. Just in case I die, hopefully someone will remember me. Life's fucking cheap. I just don't want to be the next to cash in. Christ… Three weeks and I'm making gambling-related puns… I'm turning into one of those Tops idiots…"
Defender Anne Marie Morgan inhaled as she looked over the paper in her hands again. She ran her hand across her freshly shaved head. Her black hair had grown out during the trip, though she had always kept it under her helmet or a bandana. The first time she removed her bandana upon reaching New Vegas, the men in the expedition couldn't help but stare. This was party due to the fact that Morgan, with her hair grown out, looked very attractive. The main reason was just the shock, as no one had ever seen Morgan with long hair. Most of the males in the group were wholeheartedly against her shaving her head again, but Morgan insisted, saying it got in her way. Morgan was the stereotypical "touch chick" of the group. She was a strong, dark-skinned woman in her early thirties and was not someone to cross. Intelligent and calculating, she was the expedition's voice of reality, not once being wrong about her assessment of how a situation would unfold. Nevertheless, she was possibly the most protective of the group, sometimes coldly ignoring others if it would help any member of the expedition in any way.
"That was a long letter." Specialist Olin snickered, briefly looking up from her work that lay on a table in front of her. A gutted laser pistol was lying in front of her as she looked at Morgan through her welding goggles and grinned, her blonde hair hanging to her ears, grown out from her usually neat and parted style. Olin was the expedition's resident tech girl. If there was something to be repaired or hacked, she was the expert. A pale young woman of about twenty three, her bright attitude hid a slightly worrisome demeanor when any sort of danger was about. "Talk about a long train of thought."
Morgan snorted derisively, though a smile nevertheless remained on her face as she held the paper Donnovan had written. "His train of thought never left the boarding station." She folded the paper back to its original state and stowed it in Donnovan's pack, which was leaning against his bedpost.
"Don't you think he'll get mad that you read it?" Olin asked, the tip of her welding torch spitting out a blue flame as she worked and sparks flew, seated on a repurposed barstool.
"Well he isn't really keeping those thoughts secret, so I don't think he'll mind." Morgan answered, throwing herself on the cot, which was laid out over a rusted metal bed frame. "I told him to stop dwelling on that. Besides, it's not like he could stop me."
Olin shut the flow of acetylene to her welding torch. She removed her goggles and placed them on her forehead, the protective equipment leaving her with a white, raccoon pattern-like outline around her eyes. "Where is Donnovan, anyway?"
Morgan rolled her eyes. "Where do you think…?"
"Do it you, you pussy. She has you, otherwise."
"She's on the verge, dude. I-I can't."
"Don't be a bitch. All or nothing. If you don't do it now, you'll regret it later."
"Fuck off, man. It's not on you, it's on me."
"Do it already."
"Get off my ass."
"You're too deep already. Take the hit, damn you."
"I'm gonna fucking hit you if you don't shut up."
Donnovan ignored the man giving him advice and locked eyes with the good-looking, blonde haired young woman in front of him. His eyebrows furrowed and his arms tensed as he pushed his mind into a decision, his mouth forming the words with a slight tinge of regret.
The young woman smiled, took the top card off of the nearby deck resting on the table, then placed the nine of hearts face up on top of a five of clubs, a three of hearts, and a four of diamonds.
"FUCK YEAH!" Donnovan yelled, standing up a bit too quickly and knocking the stool he had been sitting on over. The young man slowly and roughly shook his arms like an awkward bird to rid himself of any excess adrenaline. He ran a hand through his short brown hair before turning to look at his companion.
"Told you." A large, muscular, heavyset man with a buzz cut stared back at him with disdain.
Donnovan glared at his friend. "Glade… She was at sixteen. She would have busted. That doesn't make you right."
"But it doesn't make me wrong, either." Glade yawned.
"Sir…?" The dealer asked, unsurely. "Are you in for the next hand?"
Donnovan turned his attention back to the table. "Oh, uh… No. No thanks, I'm set."
"Yes sir. That's…" The dealer quickly stacked Donnovan's chips into six neat stacks, the last being slightly shorter than the rest. "One thousand, two hundred fifty." She switched his winnings to two almost equally-sized stacks of higher value chips.
"Awesome." Donnovan pumped his fist before taking his chips. "Oh." He took the only chip valued at fifty and placed it on the table. "That's for you."
"Thank you, sir." The dealer smiled, taking the chip before turning back to the other players.
Paladin Glade and Knight Donnovan Edan, a.k.a. the Lone Wanderer, left them to it, making their way past other gambling game tables as they walked through the foyer lit up by neon lights of varying tint and color.
Donnovan and Glade, despite looking completely different, were very close friends. Glade was in his mid forties, but showed no signs of that age, neither in physicality nor attitude. He was strong and slightly intimidating to those that didn't know him due to his height and very muscular build. His distinguished appearance hid a rather immature attitude, which seemed to come out the most when he was around Donnovan, and to a lesser extent, Dusk. Despite his idiosyncrasies, he was one of the expedition's battle-hardened heavy weapons specialists. Though he also knew quite a bit about weapon forging and computers himself, he preferred to leave those jobs to Olin, who was much better skilled in those fields than he was. That fact never bothered him, as it gave him an excuse to not only be in a helper role to Olin where he could learn more from the young woman, but also gave him more freedom to concentrate on combat, which he much preferred.
Donnovan on the other hand was more than twenty years younger than Glade, right around Olin's age. He was a wirey young man with short brown hair. He nourished a love for history, having grown up in Vault 101 with access to endless archives of book, photographs, and videos. He was what Glade called "a moronic smartass", due to his tendency to lose the ability to shut his mouth when needed. It had gotten him into trouble several times, and had forced the others to come bail him out. The last of these times was getting bodily tossed into Freeside by one of the many Securitron robots that patrolled the Strip. Donnovan was slightly shorter and much less bulky than the other males of the expedition, which was usually the source of some teasing. Though good natured, it bothered Donnovan a bit more than he let on. Donnovan was a fine grunt soldier in his own right. Several months ago however, he had began taking sniper lessons from the expedition's sharpshooter, Knight Captain Dusk. This began when Dusk noticed Donnovan's surprisingly sharp eyesight after he alerted the expedition of an upcoming raid while their group was traveling through the Midwest.
As they walked on through the large room, Donnovan and Glade discussed the finer points of the game of Blackjack and the hands that Donnovan had won with. The lights in the building showed lightly on dark carpets, patrons, and the skin of unclothed people of various sexes and skin types dancing in cages. Despite the seedy looking interior and infamous reputation, the Gomorrah had fast become Donnovan's favorite casino. Because of his overly energetic demeanor while gambling, he had almost been banned from the "high-class" Ultra-Lux. Luckily he had been with Glade and Rockfowl while there, so the guards only asked him to leave for the day, being intimidated by the two heavy weapons operators. The Tops, though an entertaining place to be, got on his nerves after a while. Despite the usually interesting shows the casino sporadically held, everyone working there spoke using rather tedious, gambling-related puns and phrases, which became annoying very quickly. The Gomorrah, meanwhile, was much more to his style. The owners were adamant on serving copious amounts of free alcohol to gamblers, insisted on raucous celebrations, and even encouraged the grabbing of the hindquarters of their wait staff. Though Donnovan didn't necessarily like everything about the place, it still allowed him to be his loud, boisterous self when he was drunk.
Donnovan twisted the two stacks of chips in his hand as he and Glade headed for the exit. "Not bad. Made everything back and then some."
"The hell's that mean?" Glade raised an eyebrow.
"Well, I was down three hundred, day before yesterday…" Donnovan raised his eyes to the ceiling, remembering. "Hit a hot streak, and made more than that back today."
Glade frowned. "How the fuck did you manage to lose three hundred? Even you're not that dumb when drinking." The man stopped, a realization hitting him. "Where the hell were you that night, anyway? You weren't in your bed yesterday morning."
"Absinthe." Donnovan looked at Glade with an expression of concern. "Switching off between absinthe shots and gin and tonic doubles… That shit was like Moira Brown's crazy in liquid form."
Glade laughed, while Donnovan's expression didn't change.
"No, seriously." Donnovan continued, his eyes growing wide with terror. "I woke up inside a dumpster down some shit-heap alley in Freeside covered in puke, wearing five pairs of sunglasses, and holding a hand-scrawled sign that said 'The Molerats Are Coming.'"
Glade snorted. "You wore sunglasses at night…"
"Really, dude?" Donnovan looked at Glade. "That's what gets your attention from that clusterfuck? Sunglasses?"
"It is you we're talking about." Glade shrugged.
"Oh yeah." Donnovan cocked his head to the side as he and Glade reached the entry hall. "Still though…"
"Number one-oh-five." Glade mentioned in passing to one of the receptionists. He handed the employee a small card with the same numbers printed on it, which represented the weapons the two men had stored upon their entry to the heavily guarded casino. "You need to calm yourself, man. I'm getting bored too, but you can't pull shit like that."
Donnovan turned around, leaning backwards against the counter and turning his head toward Glade. "Gambling and drinking's all I got right now, dude… Well, besides the sniper lessons with Dusk."
"Come on." Glade looked at him judgmentally. "I know it's been two weeks since Morrill's been gone, but-"
There was a massive thudding sound, and Glade winced slightly. His and Donnovan's gear had arrived. Glade gave the receptionist the stink eye.
"You were saying," Donnovan prompted Glade as he examined his 1911 before stowing it in its holster. His new M1911 had taken the place of his prized .44 scoped magnum revolver that he had given to a young woman back in New Canaan during the sacking of the town.
"Find something to do that won't get you hauled off by those televisions on wheels." Glade explained as he slid his double-barreled shotgun into the large holster on his back.
Donnovan briefly checked the bolt on his AK-47 before slinging it across his back. "Since when did you become the wise man, eh?"
Glade gave Donnovan a friendly shove as they pushed the doors open into the streets outside.