Author's Notes: In the interest of telling a good story, I am taking creative license with some in-game conversations and actions. I will post as often as I can. Because it amuses me, chapters will be named after perks, challenges, etc. from the Fallout series—not just Fallout 3. I hope to fit a perk, etc., with either the feel or subject matter of the chapter rather than attributing it as a perk of the lone wanderer Kate or Charon.
Thank you for reading and for confirming that I'm not the only Charon fangirl out there. Constructive criticism is always appreciated. : )
Rated M for gratuitous profanity, violence, and ghoul sex.
The Fallout universe rights are currently owned by Bethesda Studios. I receive no money for this. It is merely a creative outlet, dream space, respite from the real world, and something to tide me over until Fallout 4 is released.
Chapter One: Educated
"Underworld? What's that?" Kate asked, frowning.
"You never hear of it? You serious?" Gob snorted. " It's where I'm from. Well, it was where I was before here. Sort of."
"Where is it?"
"Natural Museum of History." Gob's eyes darted around. When he was convinced that Moriarty hadn't returned yet, he leaned over the bar and pulled Kate's arm with the pip-boy on it close to him. "Here. Lemme show you. You've got a map on here, right?"
"Oh god! Yes, please do! I still have no idea how to get around out here."
Kate eagerly dialed through the correct sequence of buttons and shoved her arm closer to Gob so that he could get a better look at it. Gob squinted at the map and experimentally worked some of the secondary dials. When he figured out the screen mechanics, he made a thoughtful noise and then centered the map on the mall. His eyes met Kate's, and he licked his lips nervously.
"So here's the thing, smoothskin. I haven't been there in years. Things weren't that bad when I left, but I hear that it's fucking warzone out there now. Mutants all over the damn place."
"Oh yeah. Huge green guys. They don't bother us ghouls much, but damn. I bet you think raiders are bad. These guys eat raiders for breakfast and save the leftovers for later. Literally."
"Well, isn't that good? Fewer raiders makes my life easier."
"Yeah, well their palate isn't exclusive to raiders. If it's human and it ain't rotting, they'll eat it." His voice trailed off self-consciously.
Kate leaned over the bar and poked Gob in the stomach. "Hey. Stop that. You're not rotting."
"So elegantly decomposing?"
"Come on. Quit that. Tell me more about Underworld. Where were you saying it was? Doesn't look like it's around a river."
"You know. Underworld. Hades. The river Styx. The ferryman. Hmm. What was his name?" When she looked up at Gob to see if he knew, all he had to offer was a blank expression.
"You sound like you know a lot more about it than I do."
Kate blushed and pushed a loose piece of hair behind her ear. She shrugged. "Greek mythology. Told you I read a lot in the vault. Anyway, seems fitting that it's in the history museum."
"Yeah, and that's why you need to be careful around there. The mall's a warzone between the mutants and the Brotherhood."
"And why was it that I wanted to go there?"
"Smartass smoothskin. If you happen to be out that way and you need a safe place to rest, that would be why you want to go there. I'm not saying that it warrants sightseeing a trip of its own. Beyond that, there isn't much to see. Although there's a cool dinosaur statue there."
"Cool enough to risk life and limb?"
"Obviously not. I mean, look at where I am."
"Hey, someone's got to supply my Nuka addiction."
"My best customer is definitely much cooler than that stupid dinosaur."
"Aww, shucks, Gob. You know just what to say to a girl."
"Yeah. Tell that to Nova."
"I will, but you have to finish telling me about the Underworld first. There's no telling where my dad is, and with the way things are going, that's probably where I'll find him."
Gob frowned, torn between with what he should do and what was safe for him to do. His eyes flicked between Kate and the pip-boy. "You seem pretty good at using this."
"Yeah, I guess so. It's not always the most cooperative piece of junk. I used to mess with the computers down in the vault. This guy named Stanley fixed it up for me." She chuckled. "After I had it for a while, I refused to get out of his hair until he showed me how to hook it up to a computer to make changes to it." Her eyes stared off into the distance. Her thoughts brought her right back into the vault. Back to people who were no longer alive.
Gob stared at her for a few moments. He looked around the bar nervously, hoping that no one else saw her weird behavior. He could only imagine how bad he would get it from Moriarty if he walked in and saw the catatonic girl. He cleared his throat, and Kate snapped her head up. "So, you're good with computers?"
"What? I'm sorry. I was just thinking about—" She shook her head and waved a hand in the air. "Nevermind." She squinted at him. "Um, what were you saying?"
She felt her face flushing. She hadn't meant to be rude. Gob's life was hard enough as it was. With the exception of her and Nova, he only received negative attention—from being ignored all the way to being abused. She cursed herself. She was usually good about paying attention to Gob, but the memory had arrived unbidden, and it trapped her the way that they always did.
She shook her head. "Yeah. I'm good with them. I re-programmed parts of the pip-boy to get rid of the useless stuff and to add some new stuff. I spent a lot of time around the computers in there. So yeah, I'd say I'm pretty good, but I don't see what this has to do with Underworld."
Gob rubbed the back of his head. "It does in a roundabout way, sort of. The point is, if you go there, look for Carol. She and Greta run Carol's place."
"Why isn't it Greta's place?"
"I think Carol got there first. Anyway, go there. They're the friendliest people—well ghouls—that you'll meet there. Did I mention that the Underworld is a city full of ghouls?"
"And it's safe for me to go there?" She shook her head and waved her arm frantically. "That's not how it sounds. Not that they're feral. I just mean that maybe they wouldn't want a smoothskin outsider like me visiting."
Gob chuckled. "Nah. You'll liven up the place. If it's anything like the place I left, your showing up will give them something to talk about for a few years."
"That boring, huh?"
"The dinosaur is the high point, remember?"
"So, Carol and Greta?"
"Yep. Tell Carol that Gob says 'hi.'"
Gob shrugged. "Eh. If you want. She and I weren't on the best terms when I left. If you mention me to Carol, she'll probably give you a discount. If you mention me to Greta, she'll probably charge you twice, just like fucking Moriarty."
Kate's eyes widened, and her eyes darted around. She held her breath until she was sure that Moriarty wasn't nearby. She chuckled. "Damn, Gob. You're getting ballsy."
"Only when I'm pretty sure that I won't get caught. Shit. You're right, though. I probably should be more careful." He smirked. "You're a bad influence on me."
Kate shrugged. "That's my job. Ruining the wasteland one ghoul at a time." She waited for Gob to stop chuckling before she continued. "Anything else that I should know about Underground?"
Gob sighed and looked up, beginning to tick off names on his fingers. "Winthrop's good. Tulip's good. Willow's good. Let's see. You already know that Carol and Greta are good—or half-good."
Kate put a hand up. "Gob. That's great. They all sound like great people. Is there anyone that I should look out for? You know. Moriarties? Jerichoes? Moiras?"
Gob's chin quivered, and he shuddered. "Ahzrukhal, definitely. Owns a bar called The 9th Circle. He's a slimy prick." Gob's eyes widened. "Oh, and definitely watch out for Charon."
Kate snapped her fingers and pounded her fist down on the bar.
Gob shot down behind the bar, covering his face with his arms. "Don't hit me!"
Kate's eyes went wide. The bar went silent, with the exception of some faint moans upstairs. She could feel all the eyes in the bar staring at them. She leaned over the bar with her legs pointed out to balance herself. She reached for Gob. "Gob, get up. I'm sorry. It's okay. I just got excited. That's the name of the ferryman."
Gob blinked and untwisted his arms slowly. He squinted at her before finally accepting Kate's hands to stand. "Ferryman?" he asked, still trying to catch his breath from the scare.
Kate's feet landed back on the floor. "Yeah. Charon."
Gob frowned and shook his head. "Yeah, that guy. Watch out for him."
"Because he works for Ahzrukhal. Ahzrukhal's a creep, but Charon—" Gob shuddered. "He's scarier than some of the mutants I've seen."
"Would he eat me for breakfast?"
"If Ahzrukhal told him to, he would. Look. Just do yourself a favor and stay on their good sides, okay? Technically, I don't know if Charon has a good side. I hope you never have to find out."