Author’s Note: I know, it’s been “Forever” since I updated any of my novels. Well… I finally managed to get another TOG out of the way. Please enjoy?
Chapter 11 – Honest Hearts?
What’s going on? Simple, I’m in the past… of an alternate timeline. Here, I didn’t take that ice nap for almost two-thousand years. Nope, I was in a different bunker. And in front of me… is the me of this timeline. Some Marauder over-boss who calls himself “the Captain”. And he just performed an execution of one of his cronies in front of everyone to prove a point. I never thought that this would had been my fate if I never went to Bunker Five Thirty. But hey, this only leads to questions that I can’t ask. Why can’t I ask? I don’t want to even think about what would happen if the fact that there’s two of me in this timeline were to be announced.
“Mayor Cobalt.” (Captain)
“Yes… Captain?” (Silas)
“I don’t do this often, but I’m sorry for what happened with Cyrus. Can ya forgive that idiot’s actions?” (Captain)
“Well… he was only thinking about the loss of Little Yamato?” (Silas)
“Wrong, he was using that as an excuse for botching up the job I gave him. It does lead to the question, have ya seen a girl with dark hair and green eyes? She’s of mixed heritage, Yamato descent.” (Captain)
Crap… that’s a dead ringer for the Drifter… who’s still wearing that hood and gas mask and is almost hidden behind me.
“No, I have not seen anyone matching the description come through Haven.” (Silas)
“Damn. Well, tell me if someone who does match that description comes through here. I’m looking for her.” (Captain)
“I will.” (Silas)
Why is the Captain looking for the Drifter… or someone who matches her description? Either way, I hear something that I ain’t heard for years. It sounds like someone chopping the air? We all look in the direction it’s coming from, and I get hit by nostalgia. Small aircraft are heading our way. They have twin propellers and look like they can hold five people if you include the pilot. I remember them, they’re called Raptors. Named after the bird of prey instead of the dinosaur, these things were originally built for the Libertonian Military as fast transport vehicles. The twin propellers allow VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) action, allowing them to fly like either planes or helicopters.
“Wait… what the hell are they doing here?” (Captain)
So the Captain’s familiar with them? While he’s distracted, I’ll ask the Drifter.
“Whose Raptors are those?”
“The Sisterhood of Iron.” (Drifter)
So other than the Marauder syndicate, we have to deal with them?
“It’s their Raptors that are flying this way.” (Drifter)
Not to far away from Haven, the Raptors land. Suits of Mech Armor come out the sides, all of them painted with pink accents. On the chests of the armor… are the symbols “鉄 乙女”, roughly translated as “Iron Maiden”. But it was the armor design itself that had my attention. It wasn’t the K-Series that the Libertonian Military used, it was the original S-Series that the Kaizaki Zaibatsu originally developing before moving out of Yamato. In case you’re wondering, the “S” stands for “Samurai”, the warrior class from medieval Yamato. The shoulders look like the samurai shoulder guards and the helmet was designed more like a kabuto-style helmet. But there was one person not wearing Mech Armor. She was wearing a skin-tight flight suit with a pilot’s jacket. By her face, I can tell that she’s from Yamato. However… it’s familiar. I can’t place where I’ve seen it before…
“Abel, what the hell are you doing here?” (??)
“It’s Captain! Damn it Mizuki, ya always complain when no one calls ya Matron in public!” (Captain)
Mizuki!? No freaking way… she’s hot as a middle-aged woman!
“Unlike the Sisterhood I’ve started, your little Marauder syndicate are nothing more than thugs who prey on the weak. I can’t believe you abandoned our daughter to become a thief and a murderer!?” (Matron)
“Oh, you’re saying I abandoned her!? Where were ya when she turned twelve!? Oh yeah, gallivanting like nights of yore with the rest of those tin heads!” (Captain)
“I created the Sisterhood so girls like her could have a future of where they won’t have to fear psychopaths and sociopaths like Marauders! Or any of the other dangers from when the bombs dropped. So that they don’t have to sleep next to a weapon at night in order to feel safe!” (Matron)
I seriously want to face palm right now. Is this what could have happened? Both Mizuki and I having marital quarrels at the top of our lungs in front of everyone?
“I wish they would just stop.” (Drifter)
“I don’t blame ya.”
Luckily for the Drifter and I, everyone else was too distracted by the Captain and the Matron arguing to hear us.
“Face it Mizuki, there’s no going back to the Old World! The world has changed!” (Captain)
“Yeah, changed into a living hell! As parents, it’s our job to give our children a life either as good as we had or better!” (Matron)
“Yet you chose to choose the tin heads over yer own daughter!?” (Captain)
“These girls needed someone too! Besides, you left as well!” (Matron)
“I left her with Cain. At least he could teach her how to survive in this wasteland.” (Captain)
Wait… this me left his daughter with Cain? It’s not that I can trust my brother, it’s actually the opposite. Though he was not that good in school, he did have things that he could do better than me. And I’m not even talking about partying. Our mother Jillian was actually a former soldier in Libertonia’s special forces. So was her father, he raised her to be able to survive if things went south between Libertonia and Communistan. While I inherited our fraternal side’s ability with a revolver and gunsmith technique, Cain inherited our maternal side’s love of nature and how to live with it. Yes, our grandfather was a hard-ass when it came to us learning how to survive in any situation. Cain took to it like a fish to water. Due to Cain’s talent in that, he was trained like a commando. The real reason he became the way he was when the world ended was due to balance. I could only beat him in an actual fist fight. If anything other than fists were allowed, he could kick my ass.
“You left her with Cain!?” (Matron)
“Yeah, because he’s a better survivalist.” (Captain)
“Yet he’s dead?” (Matron)
Wait… what!? Cain’s dead!?
“I know my brother’s dead, damn it! Do you think that Billy Bob’s little news bots didn’t spread that around either!? Those Conglomerate bastards called him a traitor to Libertonia. How can anyone be a traitor to a dead government? How!? Because he refused to join those corrupt bastards like we did?” (Captain)
It’s weird when you can see yourself cry. I’m trying not to cry either. Even though it’s not my Cain, the thought of losing my brother hurts. My Cain was forced to betray the Mechana family in order to keep Billy Bob from killing me and Mizuki. I was originally mad at him when I found out he gave Billy Bob our designs, but I was able to forgive him when he told me why he did it. The bastard may be physically older than me, but that old man’s still my brother.
“Abel, I’m sorry. But what’s more important is finding Haruhi.” (Matron)
Haruhi? Is that what Mizuki and I named our daughter?
“What do ya think I’ve been doing since I heard Cain died?” (Captain)
“Yet you yield no results?” (Matron)
“And you’ve done better?” (Captain)
“I’ve heard from the people in Little Yamato that a girl matching her description passed through a month ago.” (Matron)
“You’re not the only one who knows that. Look, leave finding Haruhi to me.” (Captain)
“Hell no!!! If she’s found by Marauders, she may be in more danger than if the Conglomerate finds her. I’m not letting rapists, thieves, and murderers find my daughter!” (Matron)
“Really? And what are ya gonna do, enlist her into the Sisterhood? Let her become one of those Iron Maidens who are supposed to be the hope of the people? She’d have a bigger target on her head.” (Captain)
“So you’re against our daughter becoming an idol?” (Matron)
“If this were the Old World… probably. Especially since it was common knowledge that most of the idol agencies were full of perverts. If it was just singing and dancing, then I’d approve. But being an idol in the Sisterhood means fighting as a soldier. Is that having a better life for her?” (Captain)
Sparks are flying between the Captain and the Matron. But it made me realize one thing, I’m a terrible parent no matter what timeline I’m in. Just… how could I willingly leave my own child?
“Haruhi’s sixteen about now, so I’m sure she can make her own decisions.” (Matron)
“She can. It explains why she didn’t come running to you.” (Captain)
“Oh, how dare you?” (Matron)
“I dare. She knows that you’d either force her to enlist or keep her locked up somewhere. And she ain’t come to me because she’s smart enough not to deal with Marauders, despite the fact I would personally gut any bastard who lays hands on her like a fish after skinning them alive.” (Captain)
If I were in the shoes of this other “me”, I’d do the same.
“That’s the real reason she would never come to you, can you even hear yourself? What happened to the Abel Mechana I married? He would never say such things.” (Matron)
If I had a drink right now, I’d spit it out. Or just drop whatever I’m drinking out of. The sad part is that both the Marauders and the Iron Maidens are just watching as if they needed popcorn. Just… how often does this happen? Wait… the bigger question is when did this “me” marry Mizuki?
“He went the same place as the Mizuki I fell in love with.” (Captain)
And shots fired.
“I was not the one who changed.” (Matron)
“Really? Yet ya stand on top of the biggest bigots in Libertonia? The Sisterhood stands for things that neither of us ever did. Like your prejudice towards the Demon-folk? They never asked to be transformed from the fallout.” (Captain)
“They’re monsters, just like the Hell Hounds. You can’t trust anyone too irradiated.” (Matron)
“Oh please, Mayor Cobalt is way saner than most of the louts working under me. And more honest. Well… that last part doesn’t take much, but ya get the point. They’re still human on the inside, like you and me. Though their blood’s green, that’s just a miner setback. If ya skin and behead one, they look just as human.” (Captain)
Wait… when did “I” become so cruel?
“They’re not human at all, not anymore. You can only trust humans.” (Matron)
“You can barely trust humans as it is! I’m an equal opportunity employer, so I’ve got to know more Demon-folk than ya ever will. Some have things like human morals holding them back, but still. Humans can be the biggest evil in the world.” (Captain)
I almost wanna clap for the other “me”. But at the same time, I wanna punch him. Still… it’s nice to know that even the name “Demon-folk” is the same, though it makes me feel sorry for them. But there’s no time for that, I hear rotors again. I look up to see more Raptors coming this way. But these ones have a big “C” on them. Don’t tell me…
“That the Conglomerate?”
“Sadly, yes.” (Drifter)
Go figure. After these Raptors land, I see figures wearing the K-Series Mech Armor. Like how the S-Series is short for “Samurai Series”, the K-Series is short of “Knight Series”. These more western-based Mech Armors were the redesign for the Libertonian Military by the Kaizaki Zaibatsu. These are the models that I’m more used to, you can occasionally find them back in my timeline. Anyway, a figure in a fancy black suit comes out. And I know who he is, ol’ Billy Bob himself.
“Abel and Mizuki Mechana? It’s been a while since I’ve seen you two together.” (Host)
““Shut up, Billy Bob!”” (Captain and Matron)
That was in stereo? Dang, that other “me” and Mizuki can be in sync.
“It’s bad enough that Abel calls me that, Mizuki.” (Host)
“You know how much I despise you, William Host.” (Matron)
“Still, all three of the Caesar Wasteland’s biggest players in one place? This is something that’s never happened before.” (Host)
“You’re right, Billy Bob. It only begs the question… what’s gonna happen now that we’re all here?” (Captain)
Now great, it’s a stand-off between the three biggest players. The Sisterhood of Iron, the Marauder syndicate, and the Conglomerate. I have a bad feeling about this.
“We could all just kill each other, but I have a feeling that you’re not here for a fight?” (Matron)
“You’re right, dear Mizuki. However, I think you will want my help.” (Host)
Mizuki looked disgusted at that first part. As for the other “me”… he looked like he wanted to shoot ol’ Billy Bob on the spot. I don’t blame him.
“Why would I want your help?” (Matron)
“Why? Simple, I have the best chance at finding your missing daughter.” (Host)
“I wasn’t talking to you, Abel old chap. Now Mizuki, you know how good the Conglomerate’s sources are. It’s how we found Cain after so long.” (Host)
Wait… was it the Conglomerate that killed Cain? I can see other “me” getting ready to kill.
“So what, you found Cain of all people? Are you saying that you’re the ones who killed him?” (Matron)
“All traitors to the new Libertonian Government have to go. Then again, he refused the chance to surrender peacefully. It’s not like I wanted him dead, but I wasn’t there to tell our forces not to do it.” (Host)
“Again, bullshit. We all know that ya were after Haruhi. Now cut the crap, Billy Bob!” (Captain)
“Still straight to the point, Abel old chap? Unlike your bloodthirsty Marauder syndicate, my Conglomerate has informants all over the Caesar Wasteland. And one of my little birdies told me that a young girl matching dear Haruhi’s description is here in Haven. However, I didn’t expect to find either of you here.” (Host)
“Wait… what!?” (Captain)
And this me still says that? I’m starting to think that boss is right and I should try to say it less?
“It’s true, old chap. A girl who goes around teaching the natives how to make homemade firearms from pipes and all kinds of scrap to defend themselves. You know how many Conglomerate soldiers have been attacked with pipe bombs last month? Too many, the Conglomerate has suffered a few casualties from it. And it’s not uncommon to see natives use those disgusting pipe guns. Someone had to have taught people how to make those abominations? And only those of the Mechana bloodline could do that.” (Host)
I don’t know if ol’ Billy Bob’s a genius or a jerk right now? I mean, my ancestor would be rolling in his grave if he heard that one of his descendants made such crude guns. Then again… the world has changed. As much as I hate the design of those pipe weapons, making guns out of scrap is ingenious within itself.
“So yer saying that my little girl is making such crude weapons and giving ya a hard time?” (Captain)
“That’s right.” (Host)
“In that case, I’m proud of her.” (Captain)
I want to yell my catchphrase at the top of my lungs. But I can understand the other self’s thinking as well.
“You’re proud of her tarnishing the Mechana legacy?” (Host)
“Billy Bob, yer an idiot. In this new world, legacies mean jack squat. What my little girl’s doing is helping people defend themselves. Any Mechana that’s come before her would be proud.” (Captain)
“This coming from the leader of a bunch of Marauders?” (Host)
“And I thought ya were a businessman? Work and family must be separate, ain’t that like the second rule or something? As a Marauder boss, it’s bad for business when people can defend themselves. But as a father, I can’t help but to be proud.” (Captain)
I really want to clap right now, but wouldn’t that be narcissism?
“I see… but changing the subject doesn’t change that I know your daughter’s here.” (Host)
“This again? I already asked ol’ Silas. And he knows better than to lie to me.” (Captain)
I looked over to see the mayor of Haven starting to shake. I had almost forgot that the “me” in this timeline is a cold-blooded killer. Well… I could be called the same thing, but I never kill without reason.
“From my sources, she’s wearing similar attire to that girl trying to hide behind the man in the goofy getup. Is he supposed to be a vigilante or something?” (Host)
Ol’ Billy Bob then pointed in the direction of the Drifter and I. Why didn’t that kid hide somewhere else while they were all bickering?
“Got proof?” (Captain)
Please let that be a lifeline, other “me”?
“I only have information based on testimony. But once we remove that gas mask, we’ll know.” (Host)
Crap… I almost forgot about the direct approach.
Billy Bob then orders one of his goons to remove the Drifter’s gas mask. The time for her to run is well past. With no other options, I draw my revolver and fire a round in front of the goon’s feet.
I don’t even yell it.
“Do you honestly think that a revolver is enough to stop Mech Armor?” (Host)
“This young lady’s my current employer. If ya wanna get to her, ya must get through me.”
“Deal with him.” (Host)
The good then readies his laser rifle, but I won’t even give him the chance to aim. With Mech Armor, there are very few weaknesses. It’s merely an exoskeleton that one can operate with pieces of armor plating over it. However, there’s a weakness that I learned after I had awoken from Bunker Five Thirty. When I was a mercenary in Boromarl, there was a soldier who excavated a set of K-20 Mech Armor and managed to figure it out. He would only wear it for battle as Atomic Batteries to power it are scarce. But after that revolution was over, he was sent to deal with me. The weakness was something I figured out during our time together, it’s the overconfidence in wearing the damn armor.
Well… magic is a weakness as well. But there weren’t too many mages fighting in Boromarl due to the fact that guns are faster than casting spells. As I can’t use magic, I can only depend on my skills. Mainly, Dead-Eye. After time slows around me, I aim for the helmet. And then I use Lone Gunman to hit the goon square in the head. When time returned to normal, the helmet of the Mech Armor cracks into pieces and the goon has a massive hole in his head. Everyone around was shocked.
“Oh my…” (Matron)
“That’s one hell of a shot.” (Captain)
Both the Mizuki and “myself” in this timeline seemed to be the only ones to speak after I killed that goon. But Billy Bob took a few seconds before doing so.
“Are you kidding me!?” (Host)
“It’s as I said, the only way to get to the young lady is through me. And if ya don’t like it, then take it up with my revolver.”
And after my statement, other “me” claps.
“I couldn’t have said it better myself. Sorry Billy Bob, but we won’t know if that girl’s really Haruhi with that guy protecting her. So what do ya say we all just go home for the day?” (Captain)
“Mizuki, if that’s really Haruhi… then we got nothing to worry about. Because if that really is her, she has one hell of a bodyguard.” (Captain)
It seems that my “other self” has Mizuki convinced. But… what about Billy Bob.
“As I don’t want to lose any more men for the day, we’ll leave… for now. But this is not over.” (Host)
Billy Bob then orders his men to retrieve the body of the goon because he doesn’t want to let the Mech Armor possibly fall into enemy hands. After the Conglomerate’s Raptors fly away, the Sisterhood of Iron follows suit. And finally, the Marauder’s prepare to leave. But my “other self” leaves me with some words.
“You’re one hell of a merc, I’ll give ya that much. If ya ever want some extra work or someone to share a drink with, hit me up.” (Captain)
After all three of the Caesar Wasteland’s biggest players leave, I then look to the Drifter.
“Is there somewhere we can talk in private?”
“Not here in Haven. But… I do know a place. Mayor, we’ll be back.” (Drifter)
“I don’t know what’s happening, but if it endangers Haven I will have the two of you leave.” (Silas)
“I know. Lost, let’s go.” (Drifter)
We then walked out of haven towards the direction of the setting sun. Eventually, we ended up at an old fuel station. I don’t even remember the last time I had seen a Blue Banshee truck stop, but I don’t really care either. We walk inside and she walks to an old Atomi-Cola vending machine, opening it before passing me an Atomi-Cola.
“Believe it or not, these things can last a hundred years or more without going flat.” (Drifter)
“That’s if ya don’t mind drinking radiation.”
I remembered Atomi-Cola quite well. Drinking too much of the stuff can lead to radiation poisoning if you’re not too careful. Personally, I preferred a competitor called “Spunk”. Other than the catchphrase “You got Spunk”, had had a better taste in my opinion. Sadly it was a local soft drink of a neighboring state, so I’d have to import the stuff. I think the Atomi-Cola Corporation was trying to buy them out before the bombs dropped, but that was only a rumor I heard back in the old world. If they were really going to sell out, I would’ve begged my father to buy Spunk Pop, Inc. because I liked Spunk so much.
“I think it’s the small amount of radiation that keeps it from going bad?” (Drifter)
I open the bottle before pocketing the cap and taking a swig. I still can’t believe that bottle caps are now the common currency.
“So… I’m sure that you have questions?” (Drifter)
“Yeah, starting with your real identity.”
“I see… though I was hoping to hide it a little longer. Lost, I’m like you. I go by a moniker instead of my real name. In truth I’m Haruhi Jillian Mechana, the daughter of Abel and Mizuki Mechana. I was named after my maternal grandmother, though my middle name comes from my paternal grandmother. I was born in Bunker Four Seventy Five about sixteen years ago. When I was eleven, the Administrator told everyone that it was time to leave. Apparently it was our job to reclaim Libertonia… but so much had changed.” (Drifter)
“I’m sure that a ton of nukes will do that.”
“It wasn’t just the nukes or the change in landscape. It was society in general. Now the strong feed on the weak like savages. Everything I was taught about back in the Bunker is basically a lie with the current world we live in. We weren’t even out of the Bunker for a full year when mom left to form the Sisterhood. William Host’s Conglomerate were already a menace, though I’m sure that he laid out the groundwork before the bombs dropped. And when I was thirteen, my father entrusted me to Uncle Cain before he started bringing the Marauder gangs under his control. Uncle Cain taught me how to survive and thrive in the wilds, though we mainly bartered with Little Yamato.” (Drifter)
So far it makes sense.
“When did he die?”
“About six months ago. Apparently the Conglomerate were looking for the source of the handmade weapons. That lead them to Little Yamato where someone snitched on us. Uncle Cain sacrificed himself to let me escape. Though I was hidden, I saw William host himself pull the trigger of the gun held to Uncle Cain’s head.” (Drifter)
Wait… that conflicts when that bastard’s claims. Oh boy, I can’t wait until the other “me” finds out.
“And then we’re to where we are now?”
“That’s right. I was scavenging in a pre-war laboratory before I met you. All I remember is accidentally flipping a switch. All I remember after the bright light was seeing you kill that Hell Hound.” (Drifter)
Wait… could that be related to how I ended up here? I mean, it sounds too good to be a coincidence. I’ll look into it later.
“So why reveal so much to me?”
“Because I feel like I can trust you. I don’t know why, but I get the feeling I used to get being around father when I’m with you.” (Drifter)
Though she had long removed the gas mask, I could tell she was still hiding something. Well… time to start the wheel of confusion.
“I think I know why.”
I then removed my bandanna covering my mouth. I could see the shock on her face. Before you ask, it’s better to get this kind of stuff outta the way sooner than later.
“Uncle Cain?” (Drifter)
After Note: And that was chapter 11, peeps. Yeah… I kinda went too far with some information overflow. But I never really talked about LJ’s brother that much in the past either. Or enough about the Old World. And yes, the chapter title is another Fallout reference. This time it’s named after one of the DLC’s for New Vegas.
Believe it or not, I don’t feel that I’ve rushed things when I introduced the other two factions. Or the possible plot device on how LJ possibly ended up in this alternate past.