This will be a short story, like Powerless. I've been attempting to write a Fallout story for some time, so I hope this works. This is set in the Mojave Wasteland, but elements from Fallout 3, mostly guns, will turn up. It's set before the Second Battle for Hoover Dam and features several OCs as protagonists and antagonists.

"I will show you fear in a handful of dust."

T.S. Eliot

"War… war never changes.

Since the world was ravaged by atomic flames, humanity has desperately clung to life. But war never changes, and the factions that have arisen from the ashes of the old world seek to claim the new world for their own. Some intend to bring order and law, others intend to conquer and control.

The Mojave was spared some of the horrors of nuclear war, thanks to the preparations of the enigmatic Mr House, who was ready for Armageddon, and protected Las Vegas against the Great War. Fallout still reached the Mojave Wasteland though, and so did war.

The New California Republic, ever expanding, became aware of the city untouched by the Great War and sought to annex it. But another group had set their eyes on the prize: an army of slaves and warriors calling themselves Caesar's Legion, following the beliefs of the ancient Roman Empire.

The NCR fought a bloody battle against the Legion, and managed to repel them at a great cost. Now the Legion bides its time, before it strikes again, and the NCR prepares for that day.

The war still continues, and its casualties mount. Some die, others are shaken, and some are broken.

Leaving behind his life in the NCR, feeling that he has been misled and betrayed, a former soldier walks the roads of the Mojave with four companions, brought together by accidents and necessity. These five wanderers may not play a part as significant as the Courier's, but they have a war of their own to fight, a war for survival."

"I can't see a fucking thing." That was the third time the man with the power fist had said that.

"Quit griping." The dark haired woman muttered.

"I like griping."

They'd been running for two days now and had stopped in a cave overlooking some part of the western wasteland.

"Suppose they come for us?" The third speaker had a gravelly voice. Most ghouls did.

"In this dust?" The man gestured. "We're well hidden. Unless that little computer of yours gives us away." He directed that comment at the second woman. "Does it play games?"

"For the last time; no it doesn't!" The woman sighed. If anyone stuck out like a sore thumb, she did. It wasn't just the vault 117 suit; it was the computer on her wrist. She referred to it as a pip-boy. Emily was shy and didn't know much about the outside world. She the shortest member of the group, with auburn hair tied back in a ponytail, blue eyes and freckles. "It plays music though."

Mark would never have let her join them, but she had better hacking skills than the lot of them and was actually a good shot with the scoped laser rifle she carried around. She was also a skilled medic, as much as the others hated to admit it, they'd be dead without her.

Then there was the ghoul, Ghost, who knew a trick or ten about stealth. He carried a silenced sniper rifle and a .22 silenced pistol. He wore dark leather armour, with an assortment of tools for picking locks and a lot of knives.

"Is this cave safe?" Jin asked. He was their handyman, skilled with his tools, he specialised in fixing guns. Strangely, he favoured a power fist over guns. He was of Asian descent, with cropped hair and a bandana. He had the arm from a T51-B suit as the right arm of his customised metal armour.

"I checked it." Mara stated. "About that; can someone else go first for once?"

"You're the one with the shotgun." Mark said.

"Fair enough." Mara checked her weapon, a modified pump action shotgun. She also wore heavy armour, reinforced combat armour. Mara was dark skinned, with short hair and dark eyes. She had worked for the Crimson Caravans. She'd run off to deal with some Fiends preparing an ambush ahead of a caravan. Unfortunately, more had come from behind and had decimated the caravan, which had been the end of Mara's career.

Finally, there was Mark. He was the unofficial leader or their ragtag group. He had worked for the NCR, but a life following orders hadn't suited him. He still wore the long trench coat that Rangers liked, but had removed the heavy armour and NCR symbols. He carried an assault carbine, modified with extended magazines, along with his trusty nine millimetre handgun.

So he'd left the NCR and had decided to travel. The next thing he knew was that he'd picked up an over inquisitive and chatty vault dweller, run into a moody mercenary armed with a shotgun and had employed Jin to repair their weapons.

He'd known Ghost for a while; they'd been drinking buddies when Mark had served with the NCR. When he'd decided to become a freelancer, Ghost had offered to help.

Next stupid move? He'd gone and pissed off Caesar's Legion. Really smart.

"Does anybody want some music?" Emily inquired.

"No." Jin muttered.

"Not a chance." Mara scowled.

Ghost didn't say anything. Nothing really irritated him.

"If you want." Mark shrugged.

Emily smiled and pressed some buttons on her pip-boy, tuning it into the New Vegas radio.

Mark could see a few subtle grimaces between Jin and Mara.

The simple fact of the matter was that they were misfits; they were all out of place.

Mark trusted Ghost though; the ghoul was solid and hated the Legion as much as he did. Despite her curiosity and naivety, Mark had to admit that he also liked Emily. She was actually intelligent, not to mention easy on the eyes.

Jin and Mara were probably worried that the music would give them away. But they were off the road, and even the Legionaries didn't like to travel at night.

"What do we all want right now?" Mark asked.

"Penthouse suite." Mara murmured.

"Pretty girls." Jin answered.

"Booze." Ghost grunted.

"Nuka-Cola." Emily smiled. "What about you?"

"Me?" Mark considered. "I want to go to Vegas."

"Weren't you stationed there?" Mara inquired.

"No, I was stationed along the highway."

"We might be safer in Vegas." Ghost said. "NCR protection. The Legion doesn't get too close either."

"Is it true that they turned an old vault into a hotel?" Emily asked.

"You're homesick?" Ghost frowned.

"I don't want to go back." Emily said. "But I'm still not keen on open spaces. I feel like I'm going to fall into the sky."

Jin and Ghost glanced at each other and shrugged. They all thought that they were all crazy.

"That computer shows maps, doesn't it?" Mark switched topics.

"Yes, it does." Emily showed him. "We're here."

"And the nearest town is Nipton." Mark couldn't keep the disappointment out of his voice.

"Is that bad?" Emily asked.

"It's not the classiest, or nicest of places." Mark explained. "Better than going off road, I suppose."

"What's it like?" Emily asked eagerly.

"You'll know soon enough." Mark wasn't in the mood for twenty thousand questions. "Get some sleep, I'll keep watch."

Nipton was a small town, nothing more than a waypoint for respectable people.

The town made some of its money off trade, which wasn't a bad thing.

The rest came from prostitutes, which wasn't good. Mark hated the fact that some NCR troops used the town to sleep with the prostitutes. He never had, he had standards. He still did, even if he had left the NCR.

According to rumours, the Mayor was also providing services for the Powder Gangers, members of a chain gang who had taken over the NCRCF.

They weren't stopping in the town, stopping put them at risk.

Mark could see some of the Power Gangers, still wearing their uniforms, around the town.

They could tell that he was ex-NCR. He still walked like a soldier.

A few of them were glaring at him. "Nice gun, killer." One of them jeered.

Mark ignored him; he didn't want to waste bullets on these convicts.

The Gangers glared, the prostitutes tried to look alluring.

Mark wouldn't have called them pretty, painted was more accurate, they were plastered with enough makeup to cover a small house.

"They seem to like you, Mark." Emily said.

"It's a façade." Ghost rasped. "They're looking for customers." Emily looked confused so he explained. "They're paid for sex."

"That's… debased." Emily grimaced. "Who would want to do that?"

"You'd be surprised by what people do for money." Ghost told her. "You get killers, cons, you name it."

"Bet you wish you'd stayed in that vault now." Mara smirked.

"No." Emily muttered. "I don't."

Mark wondered about that. The girl was young, only eighteen, and innocent compared to most people. But there was a haunted look in her eyes. She had been running from something when they'd met.

Maybe she was just a runaway who had hated her home enough to walk out into the wastes.

"Still scared of that big open sky?" Jin grinned. "Can you feel the vertigo?"

"Please don't." Emily grimaced. "I'm getting used to it."

"Suppose the world turned a bit." Jin continued. "You'd be falling up into the clouds."

"I'm new to this." Emily sighed. "But I'm not stupid."

"Knock it off, you two." Mark ordered. "We're attracting enough attention as it is."

"Sorry." Emily looked down at her feet.

Nipton wasn't very big; they were leaving it within minutes. The Powder Gangers decided not to tangle with them. Even though they had dynamite, the five misfits were well armed and could fight.

They had all killed. The Legion wasn't chasing them because they had called them rude names; they had killed nine of their soldiers and had freed their slaves.

The road led them onwards, towards a corner that curved left.

Mark kept an eye on the slopes flanking the road. This was a good place for an ambush.

"Two." Ghost, despite the rotting of his flesh, had keen eyes. "One at twelve o'clock, the other at three."

"It's only nine in the morning." Emily glanced at her pip-boy.

"I mean that there's one in front of us and one on the right." Ghost explained patiently. "They look like Viper Gunslingers."

"All yours, Ghost." Mark decided.

Ghost took aim with his rifle. The rifle spat twice. "Easy."

There was a crack and something hit the dirt near Mara's feet.

"Take cover!" Mark shouted, heading right and pulling out his carbine.

There were more than two of them. Mark could have kicked himself for not checking.

Mara hit the dirt next to him, hiding behind the same rock. She couldn't hit anything at this range unless she used her sidearm.

"Ghost," Mark called. "Where are they?"

"In the road ahead," Ghost yelled. "And on the ridge."

"Mara, Jin, you're with me." Mark hoped that the Jackals couldn't hear over their own gunfire. "Ghost, you and Emily keep us covered. On my mark."

Emily and Ghost waited, tensed like coiled springs.

"Three…" Mark held up his fingers. "Two… one, go!"

Emily and Ghost opened fire, the sniper rifle spat quietly, the laser was less subtle.

Mara ran out first, Mark followed and opened fire as he ran. Jin drew his sidearm, a 32 revolver with a short barrel, and fired too.

They sprinted into cover behind a wrecked truck. Mark was in range now. He reloaded and covered Jin and Mara.

A flash of red hit one of the gunslingers; he went down with a burning hole in his chest.

Mara sprinted forwards and fired her shotgun. Another Viper hit the ground, riddled with slugs.

One of them turned to shoot at Mara, only to have his jaw, and most of his face, broken by Jin's power fist.

Bullets from Mark's carbine found their target and another Viper screamed as the rounds tore through his chest.

One of their attackers tried to flee, but Ghost simply shot him in the back of the head.

Another boom from the shotgun and the fight was over.

"That was exciting." Mara smirked as she reloaded. She seemed to enjoy fighting.

"Ammunition?" Jin asked. They had to be careful, especially with the bigger calibres and micro-fusion cells.

"Some of them were using the same rounds." Ghost turned over one of the bodies and took a magazine off the body. "Thanks buddy."

"I can recycle a few cells." Emily said. "I've got enough anyway."

"Us: eight." Mara stated. "Vipers: zero. I call that a win."

Ghost turned over another body and took the bottle caps. It wasn't a pretty way to find currency, but beggars couldn't be choosers.

It was a vicious world out there. The Vipers wouldn't have hesitated to do the same to them.

"Only forty-three caps." Ghost muttered. "A bottle of sarsaparilla and a brahmin steak."

"Or some bullets." Jin added.

"Not some Nuka-Cola?" Emily asked.

"Come on." Mark told them. "We can't linger, they might have friends out there."

"You heard the boss." Ghost agreed. "Let's get moving." Ghost gave the others some distance before speaking. "At least they can fight."

"You don't trust them?"

"Trust can get you killed these days." Ghost muttered. "I mean look at me. I trusted somebody until they locked me in a radioactive hole to die."

That was why he called himself Ghost. It was like he was back from the dead. He didn't remember his real name or where he was from. Ghost had stuck.

"Emily's too naïve to betray us."

"You think so?" Ghost challenged. "I've seen the way you look at her."

Mark didn't take the bait. Maybe the other two weren't trustworthy, but Emily needed them and they needed her. Like it or not, they needed Jin and Mara too.

"I'd rather have them trust us." Mark said. "We need the extra guns, not to mention their skills."

"It's not like we can pay them any time soon."

"Once we reach Vegas, we can go looking for some work with better pay." Mark told him. "Hell, maybe I could join up with the NCR again."

"They were going to kick you out." Ghost reminded him.

"Good point." Mark shrugged. "Guns for hire then?"

"Works for me."

"Then that's what we'll be." Mark agreed. "Mercenaries. Once we get the Legion off our tails."

Before you go and check the Fallout wiki, I made vault 117 up. It has something to do with the story. Also for the timeline, this is just before the Courier is shot and left for dead, which is why Nipton is still standing.

Just in case you ask; I support the NCR and fight Caesar's Legion.