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New California Dreaming - A Fallout Universe Fic

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Summary: An NCR Ranger in the Capital Wasteland, and he didn't travel 3000 miles to play post-apocalyptic tourist.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Games > Sci-Fi(Current Donor)HotpointFR1824119,938208353,48129 Jan 104 Jul 12No

Chapter Fourteen

The Fallout Universe belongs to someone other than me. No infringement is intended, no profit is to be made and I'm just not worth the hassle of suing anyway unless you want a share of the wages of an underpaid Civil Servant.

Rivet City – Columbia Commonwealth – June 2277

Sat on the edge of the hotel room's double bed, with Dreamer beside her, Allison felt even more apprehensive than she looked as the Coyle continued to try and use his powers of persuasion to get them to go along with it. He had already dumped his armour, boots and helmet at the end of the bed and was now just wearing a T-Shirt and shorts.

‘I don't know’ Allison told the clearly enthusiastic Coyle. ‘I mean I said I've never done this before’ she said nervously, twisting the bedsheets underneath her with her hands. ‘I mean maybe if it was just you and we were out in the wasteland where nobody could hear us.’

‘Come on, there's no need to be shy’ Coyle replied. ‘Once we get going it'll be fun’ he promised. ‘It's not difficult, I've already told you it's mostly just you and Dreamer following my lead.’

Dreamer mouthed an obscenity. ‘For crying out loud let's just do what he wants and then he'll leave us alone so we can get some sleep’ she implored Allison. ‘He ain't going to quit until we do.’

‘She's right’ Coyle agreed, nodding. ‘It'll be awesome, I should have thought of it before.’

Allison closed her eyes for a moment. ‘Okay, but don't either of you say anything if I'm not very good’ she requested, opening them again.

Coyle beamed and rubbed his hands together with glee, this was going to be great he thought. ‘Remember, breathing and rhythm is important’ he reminded them.

‘Just get on with it’ Dreamer told him.

‘Okay’ Coyle replied, taking a deep breath. ‘All the leaves are brown’ he sang.

All the leaves are brown’ Allison and Dreamer sang together in refrain.

And the sky is grey’ Coyle continued.

And the sky is grey’ the girls sang.

I've been for a walk’ Coyle sang, starting to sway a little in time to the tune as he did so.

I've been for a walk’ they sang back

On a winter's day

On a winter's day’ Allison and Dreamer sang, the former starting to become a little less self-conscious.

I'd be safe and warm’ Coyle sang, really getting into it now.

I'd be safe and warm’ the girls refrained.

If I was in LA’ he sang.

If I was in LA

California dreaming

California dream-ing

On such a winter's day’ they all sang together.

Outside in the corridor two Rivet City Security guards looked at each other in bemusement. ‘I was so expecting to be hearing something else coming out of there when he went in with those two chicks’ one told the other.

The other guard nodded. ‘They ain't too bad though’ he decided. ‘Maybe with a little more practice’ he thought aloud as they turned and headed towards the Muddy Rudder where maybe they might have a little more excitement breaking up a bar fight or something.

Waking up the next morning Coyle found Allison cuddled up against his back as had become the norm but knew that was likely more an indication that she had propped him up on his side to stop him snoring again than a sign of anything else.

Moving his head Coyle spotted Dreamer still asleep on the metal floor where she had been placed but the blanket she was wrapped in must have been given to by Allison after he drifted off. ‘Wakey wakey rise and shine’ he said loudly, swinging his legs off the bed and forcing his companions to greet the new day as well whether they wanted to or not.

‘What time is it?’ Allison mumbled at him, rubbing her eyes. Coyle moving had pulled the sheet off her and he briefly paid rapt attention that she was wearing the T-shirt he had given her in Megaton and panties that weren’t quite as skimpy as he would have preferred but weren’t bad nonetheless.

‘It's time to get washed up, eat breakfast and then visit the Clinic’ Coyle replied, all-too-brightly for the time of the day and forcing himself to stop eyeing up her bare legs. Better make that a cold shower, he thought.

‘Give her a dose did you?’ Dreamer asked from the floor. ‘You should always make them use protection Honey’ she advised Allison in as sarcastic a tone as she could muster before starting to cough violently. ‘I feel like shit’ she moaned.

‘You don't smell anywhere near that good’ Coyle replied. ‘That's why you're going to spend longer in the shower than we are’ he informed her.

‘Fuck that’ Dreamer responded curtly, sitting up. ‘They use water from the river to wash in’ she said. ‘I don't want to pick up any more rads’ she said seriously.

‘I'll get the Doc to check how much radiation is in your system and if it's high, and if you promise not to cause any trouble, I'll have him clean it out as well as flush the drugs from your system’ Coyle told her.

‘Won't that start getting expensive?’ Allison asked.

‘It's only money, I can always get more’ Coyle replied.

‘You mean you can always find more raiders to shoot and sell on their stuff’ Allison responded knowingly, and not very approvingly either.

‘Yes, and firing budget ammunition from Wanda instead of dropping them with my FN-FAL the profit margin there is going to go up nicely’ Coyle told her happily. ‘We won't be staying here as long as I thought we would I'll say that’ he continued. ‘This room wasn’t cheap, I can see why Sydney and Emaline choose to crash in that museum place instead.’

‘The bed is so comfortable though’ Allison said, stretching out. ‘We're going to stay here again tonight at least aren’t we?’ she asked him. ‘I mean we said we'd meet the girls at the bar later so we'll have to right?’

‘I guess so’ Coyle replied, smiling at her.

The “Weatherly Hotel” was in reality just a few rooms off one of the main corridors with the eponymous owner Vera Weatherly renting them out to visitors. She had at least fitted the rooms out with some reasonable furniture with wardrobes, lockers and the like to hold your goods and the bed was clean and comfortable so Coyle didn’t feel too robbed by the price she charged.

Getting up completely Coyle went over to his rucksack and began searching through it. ‘Soap’ he said. ‘Soap I know I've got some’ he said to himself. ‘Ouch!’ he exclaimed suddenly pulling out his hand and then sucking on his finger for a second. ‘Ranger Badge with the pin facing out’ he said in annoyance, pulling the thing out of the bag and pitching it onto the bed before resuming his search.

Allison picked up the badge and looked at it. ‘Is this gold?’ she asked, turning it over in her hands.

‘The yellow metal is just brass but the silver star is real silver’ Coyle told her, now emerging from the rucksack with what he was looking for and placing a small cloth bag with a couple of bars of soap in it atop a small cupboard. ‘Hey, I think I've got some shampoo in here too’ he remembered, resuming his rummaging through the rucksack.

‘It's pretty’ Allison told him, putting the badge back down.

‘No it's not, it's manly and authoritative’ Coyle replied, mildly indignant at that. ‘Got it’ he said finding the small bottle of shampoo. ‘Oh, herbal scented’ he noted with pleasure, reading the label.

‘You're going to shave too aren't you?’ Allison asked him. ‘You haven't for a couple of days and you need to.’

‘Not a fan of the rugged look?’ Coyle asked, rubbing his chin.

‘You just look scruffy more than anything’ Allison told him honestly.

‘I'll take your advice then’ Coyle replied, retrieving his straight razor and the leather strap he sharpened it with. ‘I think we're probably safe leaving our stuff in here, take your ten-millimetre with you though just in case’ he told her deciding that his own magnum automatic currently under the pillow was more than enough additional weaponry for personal securities sake. ‘We'll lock the door and secure the rest of the guns and the other valuables in the footlocker’ he said. Last night he had put the drugs they carried to keep them safely out of Dreamer’s hands if she got ideas after they went to sleep.

Coyle began pulling on the uniform pants of his combat armour, although not bothering to strap on the knee and shin plates that reinforced them leaving them with the heavy torso section on the floor.

‘I think I'll buy a dress later’ Allison decided, putting on her own leather pants for now. ‘I saw some nice ones hanging up in that clothes store in the market yesterday.’

‘I could do with some more clothes too’ Dreamer announced.

‘Nobody asked’ Coyle and Allison responded simultaneously.

After being directed to where they could get clean, Allison turning down Coyle's magnanimous offer to help her wash her back, or anything else for that matter, they sought out the Rivet City Clinic where a brief discussion with Doctor Preston on what he charged for medical care led to Coyle deciding to try negotiating a deal.

‘Those are the set rates’ Preston told the visitors again firmly, crossing his arms in front of his white coat.

Coyle shook his head. ‘Come on you can do better than that’ he said. ‘That's three people to scrub out the radiation from, one needing a drug problem sorting out and this needs some work’ he said, holding up his bandaged hand.

Preston sighed. ‘Alright, I'll knock off another seventy-five caps’ he conceded.

‘Make that a hundred and throw in a free eye-test for her and we've got a deal’ Coyle said, holding out his hand to seal it, Preston eventually taking it after another moments indecision.

‘What do you mean an eye test?’ Dreamer wanted to know.

‘You can't shoot for shit and you squint your eyes when you're looking at something in the distance’ Coyle replied. ‘I think you're nearsighted’ he told her.

‘I can see okay’ Dreamer denied.

Doctor Preston adopted a professional look. ‘If the myopia came on very gradually you might not be aware of the deterioration’ he informed her. ‘If your friend is correct I have a good selection of spectacles I’ve bought from scavengers over the years and I’ve likely got a close enough prescription to remedy the complaint’ he said. ‘I wear them myself as you can see, it's really not a problem and they won’t stop you doing most things’ he promised. ‘Or ruin your pretty looks’ he added given it was a young woman he was addressing and she might be a little vain.

‘He is not my friend’ Dreamer responded sharply. ‘And I don't want the eye-test or the drug treatment either’ she stated with determination.

‘Oh, well I do need consent for any procedure’ Preston told Coyle apologetically.

‘She's a drug addict and therefore not in her right mind’ Coyle countered.

Preston thought about that. ‘I must admit that wanting to remain a drug addict is not a good indication of her reason and fitness to make an informed choice’ he reasoned.

‘Good, I'll hold her down on the examination couch if I have to, just get on with it’ Coyle replied. ‘As for the glasses, just add them to the bill if she needs them.’

‘You should be thanking him, that's a nice thing to do’ Allison told Dreamer. ‘The glasses I mean, not the holding you down’ she added for the sake of clarity.

‘You might want to keep any scalpels out of her reach’ Coyle advised the doctor seriously.

‘I concur’ Preston agreed wholeheartedly, seeing the now murderous expression on Dreamer’s face.

Sitting down later to eat a late lunch at the cities main eatery, a diner appropriately named Gary's Galley for the owner and the fact Rivet City was actually a ship, Dreamer kept looking around unable to concentrate on her meal even if they were the local speciality Mirelurk Cakes. With all the Jet flushed out of her bloodstream she was clearer headed than she had been in years and although the wire-framed glasses pinched her nose a little she ignored that too because of the revelation that the world was considerably less blurry than she could have imagined.

‘I'll have another Nuka Cola here please Miss’ Coyle asked the passing waitress who seemed to be the owner's daughter. She was a pretty blond thing, maybe a couple of years younger than Allison, and Coyle imagined that her father kept a cleaver or two nicely sharpened in case somebody less-than-suitable decided she was worth making a play for.

‘Coming right up Sir’ the waitress responded with a smile. ‘Are you enjoying your meal?’ she checked.

‘We are, my complements to the chef’ Coyle replied, smiling back.

‘I'll let my father know’ the girl told him, her smile widening as she headed for the refrigerator to fetch another bottle of cola for the polite stranger with the unusual accent.

‘They've got cornbread too’ Allison informed Coyle, looking up at the chalkboard menu. ‘We could have some of that with a brahmin steak for dinner tonight.’

‘You're still eating lunch, why are you already thinking about dinner?’ Coyle asked her.

‘Because she grew up not always knowing where the next meal was coming from’ Dreamer interjected. ‘Am I right?’ she asked Allison, turning to face her.

‘Maybe’ Allison grudgingly conceded.

Coyle picked up the fresh Nuka Cola that the waitress had now placed down in front of him. ‘I've always thought a girl usually looks smarter in glasses but I didn't think it actually raised their intelligence for real’ he joked, sipping at his drink. ‘Nectar’ he said with satisfaction.

‘We should have asked the doctor to cure your Nuka Cola addiction’ Allison quipped.

‘If you think you could hold me down while he did it against my will I'd like to see you try’ Coyle replied, grinning. ‘And I mean both of you together’ he added, thinking it could be fun if they tried.

‘This feels so strange’ Dreamer found herself saying aloud as she looked over at the clothes on display in the store over the way, able to read the sign above it Potomac Attire”. ‘Everything is so... focused’ she said, meaning that both figuratively and literally.

‘Not so fuzzy and dreamlike?’ Coyle replied. ‘Or is that “dreamerlike”?’ he corrected himself, pleased as ever at his own wit.

‘Kiss my ass’ Dreamer hissed back. It wasn't one of her cleverest retorts but it was heartfelt.

‘I'd rather not but if you're not going to eat those cakes I'll chew on them instead’ Coyle responded.

‘Eat up Dreamer, they're real tasty’ Allison encouraged her. ‘How does your hand feel now?’ she asked Coyle.

Coyle clenched his left fist, his hand now free of bandages and looking much better after Doctor Preston’s ministrations. ‘Still not a hundred percent but it's good thanks’ he told her.

‘Where did you get that tattoo done?’ Allison asked out of interest, paying more attention to the rattlesnake that wound its way around his left forearm, with the open mouth and displayed fangs on his wrist partially concealed by his watch.

‘New Reno’ Coyle answered. ‘It was sort of a joke’ he said. ‘They used to say in the 13th I had a quickdraw like a rattler making a strike’ he began to explain, ‘and then having it “coiled” around my arm just made it too good an idea not to have done’ he continued. ‘Mom liked it when I went home on leave the next time, said the Spirits would too and would watch over me, but Dad said it just made me look like another dumb tribal’ he told her. ‘And that was when Mom smacked him around the head’ he recalled, laughing at the memory.

Allison laughed too. ‘It's very good work’ she said, looking at the tattoo more closely to admire the detail.

‘Should be, I missed out on two extra nights getting drunk to pay for it’ Coyle replied. ‘So going to get that dress?’ he asked her after she finished inspecting his body art.

‘It had better be a light cotton one I think’ Allison decided, looking over to Potomac Attire herself. ‘Something not too heavy to carry and I can roll up neatly.’

‘If you’re after any advice I don't know colours, designs, styles or fabrics but I'm a big fan of hemlines being at least a couple of inches above the knee if that helps you make up your mind’ Coyle suggested. ‘Hey, don't give me that look, it'll still hide more flesh than your regular outfit’ he pointed out when she directed a feigned glower in his direction.

‘It's all a lot rustier than I thought’ Dreamer observed randomly, still looking around the room though occasionally taking a bite from one of her mirelurk cakes. ‘I thought it was mostly just brown’ she admitted.

Coyle chuckled. ‘We need to get her up onto the flight deck, or maybe higher in the ship where there's a view if we can’ he told Allison. ‘It could be the first time she's actually gotten a proper look at the surroundings.’

‘I think I'll buy that dress first’ Allison decided.

‘Good point, there could be a breeze up on that flight deck and if you're wearing a light cotton number I might get a nice view to look at as well’ Coyle remarked, tongue-in-cheek. ‘Yipe!’ he exclaimed when Allison not-quite-that-gently clipped him around the ear with her hand.

‘I think your Mom had the right idea on dealing with the men in your family’ Allison told him.

As both the main trading hub and the settlement with the largest population in the Capital Wasteland Rivet City was an ideal place to ask around looking for information and Coyle was still relentlessly pressing ahead with his mission. Naturally of course the best place to find those who were loose-lipped and more talkative than normal was a bar and so, being as ever a loyal patriot intent on doing his duty, Scout-Sergeant Cassidy Nagor Coyle of the New California Republic Rangers made sure to place himself in the local drinking den the “Muddy Rudder” very early that evening.

The best to facilitate his goals of thwarting the evil Enclave, confounding the insidious Brotherhood of Steel and counter possible long-term Super-Mutant threats to the Republic Coyle propped himself up at the bar and made sure to fit in with the crowd by downing beer and occasionally spirits at a steady but carefully restrained pace.

For the cost of buying a few beers for others and cracking the odd joke Coyle had already managed to gather a certain amount of useful, or at least interesting, information about the area. Although Enclave Radio broadcast 24/7 nobody had ever seen or heard anything else from them and the radio was nothing but the same music, stories, anecdotes and promises looped over and over. The fact that sometimes “President John Henry Eden” mentioned the Brotherhood of Steel being in the Capital Wasteland did mean the Enclave must have had at least some kind of presence in the area during recent years but the scale of their involvement in the region was a mystery.

In itself though the Enclave operating in the open at all over thirty years since their main base the Poseidon Oil Rig was destroyed remained concerning. The NCR Army had swept up what was believed to be the vast majority of the remaining Enclave forces on the mainland when they rolled a couple of elite battalions into Navarro shortly afterwards, and since then the West Coast had been considered suitably clear of the murderous genocidal bastards, but maybe like cockroaches they had scattered when the lights came on and had scurried off to hide in the still dark East Coast.

As a stranger not everyone wanted to talk to Coyle however, not even if he was willing to buy them a drink, but he did learn other snippets that aided his knowledge of local geography and explained a few things. Although the Chinese never managed to detonate a city-buster directly on DC there was the occasional small crater to be found and random areas of localised destruction including a very large chunk blown out of the White House which was notably radioactive to this day. The Reds had attempted to swamp the ABM System defending the US Capital by taking one of their limited numbers of ICBM's and instead of loading it with a handful of large multi-kiloton warheads cramming it full of hundreds of sub-kiloton mini-nukes instead raining the things down all over the city. Laser based defences had in fact still successfully knocked out most of them but the sheer number meant that some inevitably got through peppering the city with occasional holes blasted out of neighbourhoods. This damage had made getting around difficult in some places so when they arrived, and before the Super-Mutant numbers got too out-of-hand to devote manpower to such things, the Brotherhood of Steel had made efforts to get the lighting going in the old subway tunnels again, using them as a means to circumvent areas where the wreckage of collapsed buildings made them impassable.

As for the Brotherhood of Steel themselves both Enclave Radio and a couple of the bar patrons talked about there actually being two factions of them. The main group, by far the most numerous, was the one based in the Pentagon but the others, self-styled “Outcasts” could be occasionally encountered patrolling the wasteland too and they were not seemingly well liked by anybody. This sub-faction could apparently be differentiated from their compatriots by the red paint they added to their Power Armour and were generally seen as obnoxious, arrogant and were entirely disinterested in anybodies business but their own, making no effort to protect the general population from Raiders or Super-Mutants. The confusing thing to Coyle was that from what he knew of the Steel Plague it was the ones with the red paint that seemed to be behaving most like the regular Brotherhood meaning that at first glance the “Outcasts” were in fact the loyalists. The internal politics there definitely bore investigation he decided because it just didn’t add up.

The arrival of Sydney and Emaline at the bar some time after he got there himself helped Coyle gain a little more acceptance because they were well known and liked in the city themselves, and them greeting him in a friendly way broke a little ice with the locals who had been more standoffish of the stranger and his questions until then.

‘Where's the other two?’ Sydney asked him, noting that neither Allison nor Dreamer were present in the bar.

‘Allison decided to buy Dreamer some new clothes after the third time someone made a crack about my, I mean her, shirt’ Coyle explained, long having given up on the notion that anyone on the East Coast would have the good taste to be able to recognise the true sartorial splendour which was his Hawaiian shirt. ‘They'll be along’ he said.

‘Do you trust the raider not to make trouble for her?’ Emaline asked him as Sydney attracted the attention of the bar’s owner who went by the name of Belle Bonney attempting to buy a drink for herself and her friend.

‘She seems placid enough now she's off Jet’ Coyle replied. ‘To be honest I think she's suffering a little from sensory overload.’

‘Meaning?’ Emaline asked.

‘Wait until you see her’ Coyle said, smiling as he reached for his beer.

‘Hey man’ a young man in his late teens sitting alone at one of the tables called over to Coyle. ‘Thanks again for the beer’ he said, raising the bottle that Coyle had sprung for a little earlier after he introduced himself. ‘Need any help looking after the ladies?’ he asked in a laid back manner.

‘I'm good thanks Bro, we're just chillin, shooting the breeze, but thanks for the offer’ Coyle replied. ‘How's it hanging?’ he asked politely.

‘Free and easy man’ the young man told him, ‘free and easy’ he said. ‘You too?’ he checked.

‘Totally’ Coyle confirmed, both of them nodding. ‘Later dude’ Coyle finished the exchange returning to his drink.

‘That's Ted Strayer’ Sydney whispered to Coyle. ‘He's the biggest loafer and waste of space in Rivet City’ she told him.

‘He's the only person I've met on the East Coast so far that can manage a decent, civilised conversation’ Coyle replied sincerely, wishing there were some beer nuts on the bar and that people over here were a little less uptight.

Ted Strayer leaned back in his chair. Thanks to the money he inherited from his father he didn’t have to work to keep himself and he certainly wasn’t going to do so out of any kind of work ethic so for the most part he just hung around Rivet City chilling-out, knocking back the occasional beer or doing recreational drugs. The new guy in town seemed okay to Ted, he seemed to be on the same wavelength as him at least, and you had to admit he had a way with the ladies because two more of them had now arrived to join him.

‘Nice dress’ Sydney told Allison.

‘Thanks’ Allison replied, smiling, turning around to show it off.

‘Nice... glasses’ Emaline greeted Dreamer in turn who was wearing a far more utilitarian outfit in the form of an old pilot’s jumpsuit that had most likely been on the aircraft carrier since the Great War. It was at least two sizes too large but it was cheap this being Allison's main criteria in buying it of course.

‘Hey mister, buy a girl a drink?’ Allison playfully sidled up to Coyle.

‘You'd better not be thinking of trying to get a slice of my action’ a young woman who happened to be walking past them snarled at Allison hearing the line. ‘This is my territory’ she declared, walking towards Allison to confront her directly. ‘I'm not going to have some skank in a cheap dress turning up and trying to...’ she continued before trailing off and redirecting her gaze from Allison to Dreamer, cocking her head to the side as if to be sure she recognised her. ‘Dreamer?’ she asked uncertainly.

Dreamer looked surprised. ‘Trinnie?’ she responded, practically as unsure.

‘Shit it is you’ the woman exclaimed, suddenly embracing Dreamer and pulling her into a hug which Dreamer awkwardly returned. ‘You look different’ she said, smiling broadly. ‘When did you start wearing glasses?’ she asked. ‘How have you been?’ she inquired then suddenly pushed her away, her expression shifting to anger. ‘You weren't at Big Town when I got there’ she said with some obvious bitterness. ‘You said you'd be waiting for me, I only turned sixteen three weeks after you did but when I got there they said you'd never arrived’ she complained accusingly. ‘I thought you were dead.’

Dreamer opened her mouth to reply but the words didn't come out at first. ‘I... I never made it’ she said. ‘I'm sorry’ she apologised, looking away.

‘All those stories you told about how good it was going to be for us when we got there were bullshit, but I bet you knew that which is why you never went there right?’ Trinnie demanded to know.

‘No, I was going there’ Dreamer insisted. ‘I only found out that Big Town was mostly crap they made up to make it easier for the Mungos to leave later on’ she said.

‘Then where were you?’ Trinnie asked.

‘Raiders, raiders caught me’ Dreamer told her, feeling the urgent need to explain, let it all out. ‘I didn't have anything worth stealing but I was worth something so they sold me at Paradise Falls’ she said, memories flooding back that years of drug abuse had tempered until now. ‘Eulogy Jones thought I was worth having for himself so I was one of his girls until he got bored with me and sold me onto Evergreen Mills.’

Coyle threw a quizzical look at Sydney. ‘Raiders set themselves up there with a bar, slave-pens and girls as entertainment’ Sydney whispered to him. ‘They keep the girls drugged up, and sometimes keep a young boy or two for guys that swing that way.’

‘I ended up joining one of the gangs that used to visit to trade and get laid’ Dreamer said. ‘The leader decided I'd be fun to keep around after I showed him an extra good time and it was better than staying there’ Dreamer told Trinnie, pulling off her glasses so the world became a little less real again. ‘Girls there don't last very long’ she remembered.

Coyle noticed that an awful lot of people in the bar now seemed to be listening in. ‘You might want to all start minding your own fucking business’ he warned with a growl, looking around at them with an expression on his face that caused most to immediately make themselves scarce or at least redirect their attention.

‘I'm sorry I wasn't there Trinnie’ Dreamer told her earnestly. ‘I wanted to be, I wanted it to be good like they said it would be, living under the open skies and with plenty to eat...’

‘That's why we called you Dreamer but it's not wonderland out here is it’ Trinnie asked rhetorically. ‘It never was and it never will be’ she continued. ‘It's shit and all it does is keep getting worse’ she stated. ‘Those tales you made up we all used to listen to about a better life in the future are just that, fairy stories.’

‘I know’ Dreamer replied softly. ‘How did you end up here?’ she asked, looking at her again.

‘It's better than Big Town at least’ Trinnie replied. ‘I'd rather sell my ass here than have to worry about raiders or muties all the time like I did there’ she said. ‘You ain't the only one who's had a fucked-up life since Lamplight’ she continued flatly. ‘I suppose we should just be happy we had a few years that were okay at the start because that’s more than most other people get.’

Dreamer felt herself start to cry, tears rolling down her cheeks. It had all been too much; the clarity of thought, seeing the world with new eyes, meeting Trinnie again, her insides felt like they were tying themselves into knots. ‘There isn't anything better’ she said wistfully.

Coyle got up off his barstool. ‘I think we'd better take her back to the room’ he suggested to Allison who nodded her agreement. ‘If you want to come along and talk to her some more that's okay’ he added to Trinnie.

‘Yeah, I think I'll do that’ Trinnie decided, maybe she needed it too.

‘Sorry about all this, have a couple of drinks on me’ Coyle apologised to Sydney and Emaline, putting some caps on the bar for them.

‘Don't worry about it’ Sydney replied. ‘Wouldn't be the first evening that started on a downer and ended well’ she said. ‘I mean it's all got to be better from here right?’ she theorised as Allison put an arm around Dreamer and led her towards the exit with Trinnie following.

Coyle caught up with the others at the stairwell. ‘I know you probably won't believe me’ he told Dreamer, ‘but things can get better’ he said. ‘I come from a better place than this’ he told them. ‘All you need is for enough people to believe they can make it better and eventually they will’ he stated with conviction. ‘We dreamed we could rebuild, bring back the best of the old world in at least a part of this one and we did, we actually did it’ he declared. ‘That's why the Brotherhood couldn't beat us, why even after years of fighting and tens of thousands of casualties we never quit’ he said. ‘It's not just superior numbers that turned the tide, our ability to replace our losses’ he continued, ‘it was having something that was actually worth all those good men and women dying for and them genuinely believing it was’ he said. ‘They lived and died the dream and it's still there for others to hold onto.’

Trinnie stared at him nonplussed for a couple of seconds, she didn't really get the stuff about the Brotherhood but either he was a total nut-job or he had more to hold onto than most anyone she had ever met. It was certainly hard to doubt the sincerity of the words or the passion with which he delivered them, and he was a few years too old to still be naive about life. ‘Seriously, where did you find this guy?’ she asked Dreamer.

‘He's from California’ Allison and Dreamer said together.

Note from the Author:

I've left hints about Dreamer possibly having bad eyesight in earlier chapters, she's fairly nearsighted and having glasses on gives her a very different view of the world, one that coincided with having her Jet addiction sorted out by Doctor Preston of the Rivet City Clinic.

As always I've tried to logically explain away a few aspects of FO3 that don't make much sense at first glance (they should have done it in the game but there you go). I also couldn't resist a short Coyle and Ted Strayer segment given how the latter talks in the game (stereotypical slacker using California slang).

I didn't want Dreamer to have some unrealistic sudden change-of-heart but I think the combination of changes all at once including running into someone from her childhood for the first time in years is a way to bring about a fundamental shift in her (otherwise known as a minor mental breakdown).

The Muddy Rudder Bar is where you can find Trinnie who grew up in Little Lamplight. Dreamer is from there too and was called that because that was what she was like until the Capital Wasteland robbed her of her hope.
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