Author Notes: As before, I have no claim to either Fallout: New Vegas, or High School of the Dead. As before, a big thanks to Drgyen for his beta work! Also, thanks to Robert Jordan for his stupendous Wheel of Time saga. Min's name is a homage to one of my favorite series ever.

"Hello? Can you understand me?" The short boy, who seemed remarkably well fed, spoke first. Min wondered why he expected her to not understand him.

"Yes, though your accent is funny. Where are you from?" The Courier sized up the opposition. They'd handled the ghouls fairly well, but from the looks of it were running low on ammunition. Plus, one of their comrades was injured. If she threw one of the sticks of dynamite that she'd looted from a fallen Powder Ganger, she should be able to escape in the confusion.

"Tokonosu City. My name is Hirano Kohta. By your voice, I'm guessing that you're an American?" The Courier's confusion deepened. Min had never heard of a place with such a strange name, and America had died two hundred years ago in a sea of nuclear fire.

"Well, Hirano, we're in a place that was once called 'America', but that was two centuries ago. So, I ask again: What the hell are you doing here, and where did you come from?" Her hand was almost to the stick of dynamite hidden in her sack. If she could light it fast enough, she could hurl herself back into the corridor.

"Look, I'm not going to attack you! Nobody here is! We don't know how we got here! One moment, we were fleeing THEM, next we're crashing into that walls! Please, we don't want to fight!" Hirano had begun to wave his hands back and forth in front of his chest, after slinging his gun over his shoulder in a manner that had nearly prompted a preemptive barrage from Min. Behind him, the other male and the oldest woman were crouched over the fallen girl, and seemed to be administering first aid. The girl with the long purple hair had moved over towards the fallen ghouls, and was staring intently at the bodies. The little girl was crouched over the smallest dog the Courier had ever seen, and had begun to bawl. The last girl, with improbably pink hair, had begun to glare in an unfriendly way that contrasted with Kohta's calming words.

The Courier, deciding that she could probably take them down before they did too much damage if they proved unfriendly, lowered her repeater and moved her hand away from the dynamite.

As the rest of the crew busied themselves over salvaging materials from the crash and other assorted tasks, Kohta introduced Min to his companions, and told the Courier about the last horrific week. From the school, to the apartment, meeting Alice and Zeke, and traveling to the Takagi Mansion, Kohta wove an improbable story that nevertheless explained their proficiency for combat, yet youthful appearance and behavior. After the rifleman had convinced her that they truly had no idea how they'd managed to get to the Mojave, Min administered one of her carefully hoarded stimpacks to their fallen comrade, in a show of goodwill.

"What you have to understand, Kohta…" The Courier sat with her back against the wall, lighting a prewar cigarette with a lighter that, in different circumstances, would have ignited a fuse. "…Is that the America you visited never happened. I don't know anything about the Japan that you're talking about, but I do know that the prewar America's greatest enemy was China, a Communist state who tried to steal our resources during the last years before the end. After that, it was just a matter of time. Fire descended, and broke the world. We live in the ashes." Taking another drag, Min was amused at how wide Kohta's eyes were. It was like watching a child at story-time at a caravan fire, after a long day's march.

"Well, the world went on. New nations rose up from the wastes, and from the Vaults, massive bunkers underground. Currently, there are three major players in this area, all of whom want control over the reborn city of New Vegas, and, more importantly, over Hoover Dam. The first, the New California Republic, are good at heart, but inefficient and corrupt, and have a bad tendency to take what they want, rolling over the original owners. However, they're certainly better than Caesar's Legion. They're raiders organized and bred to be absolutely merciless mass murderers, who take slaves and use rape as a weapon. They're marching out of Arizona, and are going to attack the NCR at Hoover Dam again soon. Finally, there's Mr. House, who controls New Vegas. I don't know much about him, besides the fact that nobody knows much about him."

Min's eyes darkened. "So, let me tell you a little story. One day, a young woman carrying a package containing an oversized poker chip leaves Primm, on the road north to Vegas. She leaves Primm late in the evening, when the road is more likely to be empty, so imagine her surprise when she suddenly comes under fire! But, Jackals and Vipers aren't too uncommon, and she's dealt with raiders before, so she hides in a nearby hovel, exchanging fire back and forth with unseen foes. Suddenly, her eyes explode with whiteness, and the back of her head explodes in pain! Staggering, she's tripped, and shoved to the ground, and hit once more. This time, the world goes dark. The poor woman awakes a few minutes later, with hands bound together and her socks crammed into her mouth. She sees that she's surrounded by raiders of the Great Khan gang, as well as a surprise: A man wearing the ugliest suit she's ever had the displeasure to see stands in front of her, smirking down. He snaps at the Khans, and they carry her struggling and kicking form to a nearby cemetery, where a shallow grave awaits. Kneeling at the side of that grave, she is first monologue'd halfway to death, before being finished with a bullet to the head."

Kohta looks confused at both her story and the downright sinister expression on her face – or, at least, on the lower half of her face, all that he could see under the cowboy hat that hid her eyes. His confusion disappeared like a molerat under assault by a paladin-wielded gatling laser as the Courier pulled back the battered brim. While the lower part of her face was quite fetching – though not as much as Saya's face, he hastily added mentally – the forehead had a single, though distinctive blemish: a small white circle of scar tissue in the dead center of the pale skin. Below the hole and eyebrows only beginning to regrow post-surgery, two hazel eyes burnt with rage and a desire for blood.

"A robot found me, and carried me to Doc Mitchell in Goodsprings. He did what he could. He pulled the .22 from where it had lodged in my skull, and managed to repair the damage the concussion had done. It could have been worse, but that's irrelevant: I will hunt the man in the checkered suit to the Dam and back. And that hunt brought me here. A man in a nearby settlement has information for me, but won't give it to me until this facility is cleared of ghouls." Min's eyes softened, and lost the hate-fueled edge. "Since you and your friends did most of the legwork, I'll help you to Novac. There's a doctor there, and she can patch your friend up. By the way," She sketched a brief salute at Kohta "My name is Min Farshaw. It's a pleasure to meet you, Hirano Kohta."

Min shook her head in disbelief, dislodging the battered cowboy hat that crowned her boyishly short black hair. While the zealous and skillful defense they'd put up against the ghoulish onslaught had been impressive, her tolerance for their nonsense was wearing thin.

When the group had finally stopped panicking over their injured comrade, and once the leader had decided upon a course of action, every member of the group seemed to lose any sort of professionalism, and had fallen to bickering in their indecipherable language. Kohta, the only member of the group who seemed to speak English, had instantly lost his soldierly bearing over the first pout from the bespectacled girl, and had begun acting like a dog desperate for a pat on the head. Takeshi, the nominal leader, couldn't pull himself together until the purple-haired girl had provided a soothing voice. That same girl, whose name seemed to fit her actions in the battle against the ghouls to a tee, Saeko, was clearly a capable warrior, and equally clearly a nightstalker in brahmin's clothing; her face had reminded the Courier of nothing more than the Vexillarius in Nipton. Shizuka, the only adult in the group, acted more childishly than any of the alleged children, and had done little to help the group, earning her nothing but contempt in Min's eyes. In the Wastes, there is no room for dead weight; everyone must play their role for the survival of all, and it was clear that Shizuka was entirely inadequate. Saya had earned a similar amount of contempt for the same reason: During the defense, she had barely contributed in any meaningful way; during the interactions after, she had sown only dissent, as far as Min could tell. Min hadn't been able to get any sort of read on Rei, though it was interesting that her comrades had assumed that a ghoul-inflicted injury would automatically turn the victim into a ghoul.

The fact that Takeshi had apparently been willing to kill Rei to spare her that kind of fate ameliorated some of the distaste she had for his weakness, and the merciful killing of the crippled dog had further lent credence to the stories Kohta had told her, about a desperate flight from a city descending into an orgy of bloodshed.

As the group finally reached some semblance of order and began to assemble a litter to carry Rei and their gear on, Min turned her mind away from the contemplation of group dynamics and towards more practical affairs. Walking away from the group, the Courier quickly searched the fallen ghouls for anything of use. After finding a handful of 20 gauge shells on one ghoul and a handful of prewar money on another, which might bring a few caps back at Novac, Min returned to the group, and helped lash the crude litter together. Made from a deformed piece of sheet-metal torn from the collapsed rocket, with holes punched into the sides threaded with pieces of belting from the vehicle's seats, the litter was ugly, and hard to carry, but would suffice. As the last strap was threaded, Saya, Shizuka, and Takeshi picked up Rei, and carefully lowered her onto the steel, before putting their guns at her sides, along with her rifle. The disarmed members of the group bent one last time, and, with difficulty, picked up the litter.

"Finally!" Min snorted, before nodding at Kohta and Saeko. As promised, she'd help them to Novac, before setting off to claim her revenge. She could hardly wait.