(Regretfully, I do not own Fallout, the Mojave Desert, Zion national Park, America, nuclear weapons, or any of the characters within, except maybe my Prodigy.)
The Dead Horse camp was silent. Not even the wildlife could be heard, for it had all fled. Graham, concealed within a mesquite bush, watched the White Legs war band stalk their way through the shallows of the Virgin River, towards the camp. In the lead was a Storm-Drummer. His namesake was his weapon, an old .45 submachine gun that was salvaged from a Pre-War armoury. In two surprisingly organised columns behind him were Pain-Makers with an assortment of crude melee devices. Bringing up the rear was a pair of Light-Bringers holding caravan shotguns, the weapons looking beat-up, next to useless. Odds were the guns would explode in the tribal's hands when they were fired.
Jonathan was crouched in the water behind a rock formation. He exchanged a glance with Six, hiding around the corner of the cliff face. She nodded and racked the slide on her 9mm handgun, the noise echoing through the canyon. The White Legs stopped and the gunners trained their weapons on the source of the noise. Then, they turned back to the entrance and trained their weapons there, for they heard someone tramping noisily up the river behind them, heavy boots crunching through the gravel on the riverbed. Just as this new arrival rounded the corner, Graham, Six, and Jonathan struck.
Graham burst out of the mesquite bush, Jonathan leapt up to the top of the rock formation, and Six rounded the corner, each with their respective weapons. The boy's .45 was the first to fire, punching through the crude faceplate of the Storm-Drummer. Graham and Six fired at the same time, each taking down a Light-Bringer with their 9mm and silver officer's issue .45, and the Pain-Makers snapped into action. Too late however.
The man at the end of the canyon let rip with his .45 submachine gun and mowed the remaining White Legs down with precision shots to their heads and hearts. When the tribals were all still, the man slung his weapon over his shoulder once more and lifted the brim of his cattleman's hat, revealing the face of Daniel, Graham's fellow Canaanite.
"God's wounds! I come here to see how our Courier is doing and I find this!" Daniel called, exasperated, but jovial nonetheless, as if the shootout were nothing more than a morning chore.
"Well, I've made notes of all the local White Legs encampments, and I've cleared the path of raiders, critters, and traps. Jon got all the gear for you guys, right?" Six enquired as she rattled off the list that Daniel had given her to the Canaanites. She had been running errands with Jonathan around Zion Canyon for the past few days, preparing for the evacuation of the Sorrows from Zion.
"I sure did." Jonathan replied, opening a duffle bag on the table. "Compass, supplies, first aid, and I found a map in an old cave, looks like it matches Grand Staircase. I also found a sweet rifle on the way back. I'll, uh, tell you guys more when the Sorrows aren't around." He said, glancing about the camp nervously.
"Why are you looking spooked?" Joshua Graham asked the boy.
"Uh, I found it on a set of bones atop Red Gate. With it, I found a set of Desert Ranger gear, and a holotape containing something very saddening."
"Alright, we'll talk later." Daniel replied. "For now, Six, you and Joshua can go and spread the word that we are evacuating Zion tomorrow night. Get Follows-Chalk and Waking Cloud to help you. Make sure Follows has his Dead Horse team ready to cover the bridges on the way to Pine Creek tunnel."
"Will do!" was the chorus he was met with. Jonathan spoke up.
"What about me?"
"You can tell me your ghost story." He said, motioning towards his tent.
"Well," Jonathan began, "There was a brand new Cazador nest blocking my usual route back, and I had to take an even bigger detour because of a group of Yao Guai, so I ended up going miles around to Red Gate. I decided I wanted a rest, so I climbed up to the top, where I reckoned I'd be safe from the wildlife and any White Legs nearby."
"And that's where you found the rifle."
"Yep. I was just laying out my bedroll for a quick nap when I nudged something with my leg. Turns out, that was the dead man's foot. I panicked and nearly shot the corpse. Well, not corpse. More like skeleton. He'd been long dead, and his bones were hardened to the point where they stood up to my knife. His clothes had long rotted away, but his duffle bag, the one I put the supplies in, was intact."
"What was inside?"
"First thing I found was the rifle." Jonathan said as he withdrew the weapon from the duffle bag. "Mismatched wooden furniture, iron sights bent out of shape, but otherwise intact. The action worked perfectly, as I discovered when I had to put down a coyote on the way home. 12.7mm bullets, I found three 10-round mags' worth."
"That's what I thought. Next thing I found was a set of US Army Desert Ranger armour. It was in pretty bad shape, but I've got one of the craftsmen fixing it for me. The helmet though, I kept hidden. I thought it might spook them."
"Why would it do that?"
"Because it had etchings on it, made by a combat knife, which I found by the way. There was deployment dates from before the Great War, from the previous owner I would assume. Yeah, uh, deployment dates in China, both Shanghai and Nanjing. But uh, on the front, it says 'Forgive me Mama' in big letters."
"I then found the holotape. I had a listen, and it tells the story of what I believe is, get this, The Father in the Caves. The Sorrows' god is nothing more than a long dead US soldier-turned-survivalist. A good man, but…just a man."
"…no. That can't be!" Daniel gasped, recoiling from the boy and his horrible tale.
"It's true." Jonathan said.
"The Sorrows must never know." Daniel said, walking shakily from his tent, the boy in tow.
"My lips are sealed."
The two came up on Graham and Six. They were loading and twirling their guns, respectively.
"Follows-Chalk is getting his party ready, while the remainder of the tribe are getting ready to return to Dead Horse Point. Most of the Sorrows' gear is packed already. When dusk arrives, we leave." Joshua said.
"Hey Jon, I got your armour off of the craftsmen. All tailored to you. It's in pretty good condition, considering its age." Six said, while motioning to the folded suit of armour she carried under her arm. She handed it to Jonathan.
"Thanks. I'm gonna suit up. See you guys at the canyon mouth at dusk."
Six tightened the straps holding the metal plates to her leathers.
Graham adjusted the bandages around his gun arm.
Daniel loaded his singular 50-round drum onto his submachine gun.
All three turned to face the boy as he stepped into the growing moonlight. His armour fitted perfectly, as did the boots. The trench coat he wore over it, a little less so, hanging just barely above the ground. By his side was his nickel-plated .45; in his arms was his new 12.7mm rifle. Six took in the glowing eyes on his helmet, and the words etched above his eyeline, and shivered.
This was the supposed messiah.
(Enjoy, kids. This started out as a oneshot, but it looks like I might take it a little further. I'll be alternating between this piece and my Minecraft piece, Someone's Gotta Do the Dirty Work, so maybe a chapter or two for each within the next two weeks. Read and review like always! Boone out. )