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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)HotpointFR1824119,938208353,47429 Jan 104 Jul 12No

Chapter Fifteen

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 floor of the hotel room, leaning back against the wall, Coyle idly played with a combat knife, spinning it in his hands as he listened and occasionally asked a question. ‘So everyone gets thrown out on their sixteenth birthday?’ he asked Dreamer, as much to keep her mind off worse things as to satisfy his own curiosity.

Up on the bed with her knees pulled up to her chin and her arms looped around her legs like she was trying to pull herself into as tight a ball as possible Dreamer nodded slightly. Trinnie had finally left a few minutes ago after a couple of hours and Allison was off “getting some air”.

‘Okay so where do the replacement kids come from because that’s not exactly a sustainable community and didn't you say it's been like this ever since the Great War?’ Coyle asked.

Dreamer lifted her head from her knees. ‘Sometimes girls get pregnant before they're Mungos but mostly it's families wanting a better start for their children dropping them off’ she explained. ‘The caverns don't have much radiation and what there is the fungus we eat takes care of’ she told him. ‘Because the entrance tunnel is narrow raiders or slavers trying to get in can only fit a couple at a time and they soon got sick of getting shot to pieces trying so they're not a problem either.’

‘But didn't you say there's Super-Mutants?’ Coyle queried.

‘Yes, they sometimes used to see them in the deep caverns and set up defences to keep them out of Lamplight years before I was born but they don't ever seem to go after kids’ Dreamer replied. ‘I don't know why.’

Coyle finished playing with his knife. ‘If they're like the Super Mutants back home my guess would be you're no good for dipping in FEV until you're all grown up’ he reasoned. ‘The only way they can increase their numbers is to expose humans to the crap, so in some sense they might well regard your old home as a breeding farm for them.’

‘They can't be that smart’ Dreamer disagreed.

‘I've met some that were smarter than most of the humans I've known’ Coyle told her. ‘Just because someone looks big and dumb doesn't mean they are.’

Dreamer sniggered. ‘I suppose so’ she conceded. ‘Sometimes even you say something smart’ she said.

‘You must be feeling better because you're making me want to throw you in the river again’ Coyle wryly replied, putting the knife to one side and crossing his arms. ‘So after the “Mungos”, nice epithet by the way, are evicted they go to “Big Town” you called it?’

‘Yes, but I don't know how many really make it there’ Dreamer said, wondering which of the friends she had known growing up had suffered a similar fate than herself during their journey to what they had thought of as the promised land, or maybe one even worse. ‘I just did what they wanted so they wouldn't hurt me as much’ she said softly. ‘Then later the drugs made it easier.’

Coyle nodded slowly. ‘Then even later it was better to be a raider than a slave’ he said flatly.

‘That sounded judgemental’ Dreamer replied.

‘It was, remember I'm a lawman as well as a soldier, I'm obliged to be at least a little unforgiving’ Coyle told her, maintaining some detachment. ‘Just because you got a lousy break doesn't mean you get a free pass to fuck up other peoples lives.’

Dreamer closed her eyes. ‘I don't want to be forgiven’ she said.

‘Good because the only people with the right are the ones you've killed and they're past caring one way or the other’ Coyle told her, standing up. ‘Allison will probably want to give you a hug and tell you it's all going to be fine from now on’ he said. ‘It's not true but your tale of woe upset her and she'll feel better if you go along with it’ he said.

She'll feel better?’ Dreamer queried in confusion, opening her eyes again and looking up at him.

‘Do you think you deserve to feel better now I guess you're remembering all the shit you did to people that probably didn't deserve it any more than you earned what happened to you?’ Coyle asked rhetorically.

‘No’ Dreamer replied.

‘Neither do I’ Coyle told her.

‘No need for her to feel bad though’ Dreamer reasoned.

‘Well done’ Coyle praised her, clapping ironically. ‘That's your empathy kicking in’ he said. ‘You can't make amends, you can't turn the clock back, but you can try and be a good person from now on and then eventually maybe you'll deserve to feel better.’

Dreamer thought about that. ‘Have you done things you're ashamed of?’

‘Yes’ Coyle replied, ‘but that's my cross to bear so don't ask what they were.’

‘Do you try to make amends?’ Dreamer asked him.

Coyle laughed. ‘Why do you think when some son-of-a-bitch comes up with volunteer-only jobs like this one I agree to do them?’ he asked rhetorically. ‘I'm perfect for this work because I'll actually say yes to the job, I'm good enough at what I do to actually succeed most always, and best of all they wouldn't mind too much if I never made it back anyway because they think I'm a pain in the ass’ he told her.

‘Are you?’

‘One of my better commanding officers said he knew I was smart enough to know when to keep my mouth shut but my problem was that I still didn't’ Coyle said. ‘Damn perceptive observation for a First Lieutenant I thought at the time’ he added. ‘Look, you and Allison can share the bed tonight, it's not big enough for three comfortably and the floor might be good for my back anyway.’

‘That's nice of you’ Dreamer told him.

‘Guess underneath it all I'm still a sucker for a sad story’ Coyle supposed, he did feel sorry for her who wouldn't, he thought? ‘Also if you two decide to get up to something together that I'd like to watch, like a pillow fight in your underwear or something better, make sure to wake me up okay?’ he requested.

‘That Lieutenant guy really did have your number didn't he?’ Dreamer decided.

‘Yeah’ Coyle replied. ‘It's a pity that a Brotherhood minigunner had his because those brains were badly wasted when they came flying out the back of his head’ he recalled sadly. ‘His replacement was so dumb you could look in one ear and see daylight on the other side.’

Dreamer frowned. ‘I can't remember the last guy that had the opportunity to fuck me and didn't’ she told him, voice starting to tremble slightly. ‘I mean there's not been much stopping you from using me for a little fun.’

‘Not my type, I prefer willing and ideally enthusiastic’ Coyle replied, moving back away from her slightly. ‘I'd never force myself on a girl’ he said honestly. ‘I'd try every tactic up to and including begging and pleading with her if I was drunk and horny enough though, so don't go thinking I'm a paragon of virtue or anything.’

‘Even without the glasses I'd already seen too much of you to believe that before we got here’ Dreamer replied, forcing a smile. ‘Even ignoring all the crap I've heard you say.’

‘Just do me a favour and don't wise Allison up, I think she hasn’t figured out I'm a jerk yet’ Coyle requested only half-in-jest, smiling back.

‘Yes she has, she's just willing to put up with it’ Dreamer told him.

Coyle thought about that. ‘The fact I had to travel three thousand miles to find a girl that would probably doesn't say much for either of us’ he observed.

‘You said it’ Dreamer agreed, hoping that the memories of the last few years and the graphic images flashing through her head would stop soon because talking only helped blot them out a little.

The next morning Coyle woke up early and leaving the girls asleep went up to the flight deck to do some exercise in the open air, running circuits to her the heart pumping before performing some basic callisthenics to loosen up the rest of his muscles. He had already decided to leave Rivet City and head into the heart of DC later and it paid to never wander into a potential war-zone if you hadn’t at least stretched a little first.

By the time he had finished exercising and showered it wasn’t too early to expect Sydney to be awake and he went to find her at the “Capitol Preservation Society” run by her most regular employer, an enthusiastic antiquarian patriotically named Abraham Washington. The old man’s knowledge of history was in fact patchy at best but at least somebody here cared enough to try and preserve something of the old world beyond weapon technology and Coyle donated a few caps to the project because his father would have approved too.

Obviously suffering from a mild hangover Sydney nonetheless was still willing to help Coyle fill in a few blanks on where to go and how to get there and even sketched out a basic map of the DC subway system advising which stations and tunnels were best avoided. If he was going to the Mall the safest area was probably the Museum of History because it was home to a large number of civilised, non-feral ghouls and the Super Mutants tended to leave them alone. He certainly wanted to avoid the Capitol Building because it was a stronghold of the mutants, although there was a rumour of someone unknown offering a contract to any mercenary group which wanted the job to clear them out and Talon Company being likely to take it.

After Sydney and Emaline wished him luck, and Coyle took a moment to take a look at the copy of the United States Constitution, which had apparently been recovered from the National Archives twenty years before, the Ranger headed back to his room deciding that a couple of punga fruit for breakfast was perfectly adequate after the heavy dinner of brahmin steak and cornbread the previous night. Because it had been a good while since the last boat coming from the farms to the south of the city had arrived the cornbread had been priced at a premium but it had been worth it because Coyle had grown up eating much the same food and it was comforting, if perhaps heavy in the stomach.

‘So are we letting we go?’ Allison asked when Coyle got back to the room and found her there alone, Dreamer having apparently gone to see Trinnie again.

Coyle shrugged. ‘Seems like the thing to do, I'd probably feel guilty shooting her just on the off chance she was going to slip into recidivism’ he replied. ‘I mean go back to being a raider’ he explained when Allison’s expression indicated he'd found another word she didn’t know.

‘At least this is a safe place and she knows someone’ Allison noted. ‘Could we leave her some money maybe?’

‘I've still got the drugs we took from her and the other raiders at the Super-Duper Mart’ Coyle replied. ‘If that place in the market that deals in that stuff will take them I could give some of the caps to Dreamer I suppose’ he said, Allison smiling in response. ‘It wouldn't be a lot of caps but it's something to help her start out here with and I guess Trinnie will help her get settled.’

‘I don't want to stay here’ Dreamer interrupted them from the doorway.

‘Why not, did you have a fight with Trinnie?’ Allison asked.

‘No, we're good now, she still remembers us being close’ Dreamer replied. ‘I can't stay here because if I do I'll end up like her’ she said, ‘downing whisky to forget my problems instead of Jet and earning my living on my back.’

‘Yeah, I guess you don't have a lot of marketable skills’ Coyle had to agree.

‘I know some raiders become mercenaries when they get sick of it but who's going to hire a merc that wears these even if I can learn how to shoot properly now?’ Dreamer asked rhetorically, pointing to her glasses. ‘I'm not even sure I'd want that kind of life anyway now’ she added.

‘So where do you want to go if you don’t want to be here?’ Coyle asked. ‘That Big Town place?’

Allison shook her head. ‘Trinnie says it sucks’ she replied. ‘There's no future there’ she said then looked awkward. ‘Could I just come with you guys?’ she requested.

‘Why the hell would you want to do that?’ Coyle asked, nonplussed.

‘Because I can't think of anything better to do right now’ Dreamer replied evenly. ‘My head's not straight and...’ she paused. ‘And I'm worried I'll end up slitting my wrists or eating a bullet if I have too much time to think about things’ she admitted. ‘That doesn't seem like it would be a problem hanging around with you.’

‘Ah’ Coyle responded, seeing where she was coming from. ‘Got to admit, I don't tend to ever seem to have much time for introspection’ he had to agree. ‘You do know that I do tend to get into more than my fair share of fights though?’ he checked.

‘That's the understatement of the post-apocalypse’ Allison had to comment.

Coyle ignored Allison and kept his attention on Dreamer. ‘I mean your chances of still being alive next month are much better if you stay here than coming with me.’

‘I'll take my chances’ Dreamer replied fatalistically, if I do die who'd much care anyway at the moment she thought to herself.

‘Okay, just don't come running to me if some asshole we meet takes a baseball bat to your kneecaps or something’ Coyle told her. ‘Or crawling to me anyway’ he corrected himself before turning to Allison. ‘I've worked out a route we can take to Canterbury Commons, crossing the city using the subway tunnels’ he said. ‘After talking to someone in the bar last night I want to make a detour to meet some people in town, but assuming we can get through DC alive I should be able to get you at least to somewhere you want to be’ he told her.

Allison blinked. ‘Oh, that's... that's great’ she said less than convincingly.

‘That will mean the position of my guide will become available shortly you realise?’ Coyle asked Dreamer. ‘Something for the resume that won't be a job reference from a raider gang leader’ he joked.

‘Just so you know, if I take the job I'm withdrawing my offer to blow you as part of the deal’ Dreamer replied. ‘That was just the drugs talking’ she told him. ‘Not even if you beg and plead’ she continued before he could reply.

‘I guess Allison mentioned her salary then’ Coyle reasoned. ‘Good thing I kept your sawn-off shotgun and some shells in case I needed something for social occasions’ he said. ‘Just do me a favour and don't use it on me’ he requested.

‘Or yourself’ Allison added quickly.

‘Not as big an issue in my book but that too’ Coyle agreed.

Leaving Rivet City later Allison couldn't help but stop for a moment and look back at the rusting hulk as they crossed the gangway. ‘I hope I go back one day’ she said, ‘hopefully with enough caps to stay a while longer.’

‘Seen one old ship turned into a town you’ve seen them all’ Coyle remarked as they reached the other side and started making their way down the entry tower to ground level.

‘And when have you ever seen something like that before?’ Allison asked him dubiously.

‘San Francisco’ Coyle replied smugly. ‘There's a community living in the old Poseidon Oil Tanker docked in the bay’ he told her. ‘I went there once to see first-hand what my parents had been talking about.’

‘He could just be making it up knowing that the chances of us ever being able to check are close to zero’ Dreamer pointed out.

‘You know that kind of cynicism is the reason I stopped telling people that when I was a kid I once met a talking deathclaw’ Coyle responded sadly.

‘A talking deathclaw?’ Allison repeated, rolling her eyes. It would be a one-headed brahmin next.

‘His name was Goris, he was a friend of my cousin and he liked to read’ Coyle insisted. ‘His claws made it a bitch to flip pages though.’

‘Give it a rest Coyle’ Dreamer advised as they reached the bottom of the tower and started heading towards Ancostia Crossing subway station.

‘Would you believe that in Broken Hills Nevada they used to have a radscorpion that could play chess?’ Coyle asked a few seconds later.

‘No’ Allison and Dreamer said together.

‘You've both lost your sense of wonder’ Coyle informed them with pity obvious in his voice.

‘You've lost your fucking mind if you really believe that shit you've been shovelling’ Dreamer told him.

‘Nice language’ Coyle feigned disapproval. ‘I guess you can take the girl out of the raider gang but you can't take the raider gang out of the girl’ he said as they reached the defunct escalators which led down to the old subway station. ‘Either of you volunteering to go first?’ he asked.

Dreamer and Allison looked at each other. ‘Is he kidding?’ Dreamer asked. ‘There could be anything down there.’

Coyle smirked and pulled back the cocking lever of his latest firearm, the customised R91 having a suitably clean action. ‘Raiders and Super-Mutants and Ferals, Oh My!’ he sang. ‘Guess it's me then’ he added, practically skipping down the steps with his backpack and the larger FN-FAL rifle hanging from its sling bouncing against his back.

‘If there isn’t something to kill down there he'll be heartbroken’ Allison commented.

‘No heart’ Coyle disagreed, ‘plenty of courage though’ he continued, ‘I'll let you form your own opinion regarding the brains’ he added as he reached the gates at the bottom. ‘So are you coming or not?’ he asked.

‘I suppose so’ Allison replied unenthusiastically, following him down. ‘You're not claustrophobic are you?’ she asked Dreamer who seemed to be hanging back.

‘No’ Dreamer answered, starting to trot down one of the immobile escalators herself as Coyle pushed open the gates and stepped inside. Lamplighters tended more towards agoraphobia as a rule, Dreamer wasn't apprehensive about dark, enclosed spaces, it was the things almost inevitably lurking in them that bothered her, and anyone else with any sense.

It wasn't too dark once he got inside although Coyle had sensibly removed his sunglasses. Other than the occasional pile of rubble the station entrance seemed intact and keeping quiet he kept moving, looking and listening for signs of trouble as the girls let him scout ahead.

Supported by concrete pillars above the subway tunnels at the bottom of the chamber housing the station, the main waiting area showed signs of recent habitation and use though it was currently vacated. Escalators led down to where passengers had once boarded and exited the trains and Coyle looked over the side to make sure there was nobody down there either before he made a closer inspection of the piles of construction material, sandbags and a few half-completed barricades which he had found. ‘I guess nobody is home’ he said as Allison joined him.

‘Are we going down?’ Allison asked.

‘Not yet, we're heading across the station to the Seward Square entrance’ Coyle told her, pointing past a ticket booth towards another station exit heading up to ground level.

‘I recognise that gang sign’ Dreamer announced, drawing their attention to some graffiti that looked freshly painted on the wall. ‘We're lucky they aren't here’ she added seriously.

‘Isn't long since they were’ Coyle noted, ‘no dust on this stuff I guess they've been gathering’ he explained his reasoning for thinking so, kicking a piece of wooden board with his foot. ‘Probably a good idea to get moving before they come back’ he decided not being as keen to constantly get involved in fire-fights as Allison believed based on her experiences with him so far.

‘Where do you think they are?’ Allison asked, looking around.

‘Scavenging for supplies maybe?’ Coyle suggested. ‘Just as long as they aren't here I don't rightly care’ he said. ‘My guess would be they plan to fortify the place a little judging from this stuff they've dragged here.’

‘If people are using the subway tunnels more to get around town because of the Super-Mutants I can see raiders wanting to control the stations’ Dreamer suggested. ‘Sometimes they don't kill you, they just charge for passage through their turf if they think you're useful to them’ she said.

‘Good place to collect tolls, already set up for it’ Coyle agreed, heading through the old ticket barriers towards Seward Square exit.

‘Not sure I like their choice of interior design’ Coyle observed sardonically as he came across a burnt, partially decomposing body hanging from the tunnel ceiling by a hook and chain.

‘Oh God’ Allison gasped as she caught up. ‘What kind of sick...’ she began then remembered the third member of the party was just behind her.

Dreamer looked at the body, expression unreadable. ‘It's a good way to let passers by know they’re intruding on your turf’ she said, dispassionate in tone though inside she was anything but.

Allison was appalled. ‘But the smell alone...’ she started to say.

‘You get used to it’ Dreamer interrupted her. ‘The drugs help’ she added more quietly.

‘We're not going to leave him hanging there are we?’ Allison asked. She was reasonably sure the corpse was male.

‘He's long past the stage at which he gives a shit’ Coyle replied, ‘and I don't want to touch any more decaying bodies than I have to’ he said. ‘Just add it to the list of memories you try to suppress and let's get to where we're headed before we meet the people that put him there’ he advised, turning his back on the grisly sight and resuming his path towards the station exit.

Allison tried to put it out of her mind and followed, while Dreamer delayed a little longer. For some strange reason she had to fight a desire to reach out and touch the corpse even though her stomach was doing flip-flops and the smell made her want to retch. ‘It's all so real’ she whispered to herself not for the first time before following herself.

The Seward Square exit was only a flight of steps up to the surface rather than the multiple escalators of the main entrance they had entered Anacostia Station from, but the gates opened easily enough and were obviously used as frequently if not more so.

Moving slowly up the steps with his R91 ready Coyle crouched down for the last few and stopped with the top of his helmet just below ground level so he could quickly pop his head up to look around a little and then make his choice whether or not to proceed. Supposedly the area eventually connected up to the rear of the Capitol Building which meant it was a potential super-mutant stomping-ground and, although Coyle knew better than to believe the things were the mindless, bloodthirsty cannibals the locals seemed to think they were, they could still be extremely territorial and aggressive.

‘We're clear’ Coyle told his companions, taking the last few steps and looking around properly. Some low brick walls that ringed the subway entrance had restricted his line-of-sight but now he was able to get his bearings properly. ‘Nice neighbourhood’ he decided. ‘I mean before the bombs dropped’ he added, looking at some of the town houses across from where he was. Off in the distance along the main road the still intact dome of the Capitol Building towered over the surrounding area and Coyle felt a little like a tourist.

‘We're not going near that are we?’ Allison asked nervously, pointing towards the former seat of the United State’s legislature before the Great War shattered the nation.

‘No’ Coyle replied, putting his sunglasses back on. ‘Sydney said to take a right when we reach that old store I can already see from here’ he told her, indicating the still intact sign outside the ruined shop down the way that proclaimed “Cornucopia Fresh Groceries”.

‘Good because I don't want to get eaten’ Allison told him.

‘For the last time, Super-Mutants don't eat people’ Coyle responded, rolling his eyes behind his shades as he began walking towards the old store, it wasn't much more than a couple of minutes walk away even at a slow pace which was advisable given the piles of rubble underfoot.

Coyle wasn't certain whether he believed in the ancestral spirits or not. Some of his mother's tribe said they could feel their forefathers watching over them, others including his cousin claimed to have received visions and made prophecies which did seem to come true a little too often to dismiss out-of-hand, but if anything the best evidence of the spirits to Coyle was the way that life seemed to enjoy screwing with him in ways that would be humorous to incorporeal observers even if they monumentally sucked for him.

This being one of those times Coyle froze as an eight-foot tall super-mutant carrying a large board with a nail sticking out of it in one hand and what was obviously a human leg in the other stepped out from the side-street. Half-way though taking another bite out of the leg the mutant froze as well, staring back at the three humans now staring at him.

Coyle regained his composure first. ‘Hey man, how are you doing?’ he asked politely.

‘Shoot it’ Allison cried out.

‘We're just passing through’ Coyle continued addressing the mutant, ignoring her. ‘Like your meat done rare I see’ he said, indicating the leg which looked like it had been yanked off its previous owner by brute force. ‘Can't say I blame you, I like my steak a little bloody too.’

The super-mutant let go of its meal. ‘I'll wear your spine around my neck human!’ it bellowed, raising the nail board to strike just as Coyle brought up Wanda's barrel and pulled the trigger.

The customised R91 fired a burst of 5.56mm directly into the face of the super-mutant, riddling its face with bullets, smashing out teeth, shattering its jaw and blinding it. Several of the rounds managed to punch on through the thick skull at such a close range and turned the mutant's brain to mush.

The super-mutant staggered on for a moment then collapsed to the ground still twitching. If Coyle had thought that was the end of it he had grossly overestimated his luck, or underestimated the spirits desire to screw with him, because with an animalistic roar another of the things, this one armed with a hunting-rifle, appeared fifty yards off and started firing from the hip at the humans. Behind it more of the FEV mutated humans were coming too and they didn’t look happy. ‘No more games... time to die!’ one growled at him holding a large sledgehammer aloft in challenge.

Even with the heavy backpack Coyle could have likely outrun the things, and the girls could have certainly, but as usual his defective fight-or-flight reflex immediately vetoed the latter option and instead he found a pile of rubble and after shrugging off his backpack beside him he dropped to one knee behind the rubble for cover and a steadier firing platform and began to fire a rapid series of short bursts at the super-mutant already firing at him, though with considerably greater success.

Aiming centre mass, because the R91 wasn't exactly the most accurate rifle ever made, Coyle had to put three bursts into super-mutant before it went down but the thing never managed to hit him once. ‘Firing from the hip, never a good idea’ he said to himself as he switched targets to the one with the sledgehammer which was now charging right at him.

Coyle fired two more short bursts emptying his magazine but although slowed the mutant didn’t stop. He was about to drop his R91 and draw his Desert Eagle when with the crack of another rifle behind him the super-mutant with the sledgehammer caught a .32 calibre round in the face which stopped it in its tracks. It dropped the improvised melee weapon and half stumbled, clutching at its head until another round, this one to the chest, put it down for good.

‘Good work’ Coyle said, reloading his R91. Along with the customised assault rifle Sydney had supplied half-a-dozen extended magazines which carried thirty rounds instead of the standard twenty-four and that extra few rounds before it clicked empty could be a lifesaver. ‘Find cover and shoot from there sweetheart.’

‘Why aren't we running?’ Allison yelled at him, working the bolt of her hunting rifle again as she looked for somewhere she could shoot from that would soak up bullets coming the other way.

‘Because so far we're winning’ Coyle told her, starting to fire again.

‘He's cracked’ Dreamer exclaimed as bullets started to wing past them, it looked like more and more of the monsters were coming, probably attracted by the sound of gunfire, and staying here to fight them was clearly an act of insanity.

‘And you're just realising this now?’ Allison responded sarcastically, dropping behind a low wall that looked like it would stop a bullet and she could fire over the top of, ducking behind it when she needed to reload.

Most of the super-mutants seemed to be armed with old bolt-action rifles though at least three had R91's of their own and two more had sledgehammers these becoming the priority target if only because they came running while the ones with firearms were merely walking towards the humans shooting as they went.

It took at least three times as much lead to bring down one of the things as a human and that only got worse if they were wearing makeshift metal armour like the mutants carrying the assault-rifles seemed to be. Possibly because their rifles were designed for humans of much smaller stature none of them were aiming properly however which was a good thing and they started firing far beyond the effective range of their weapons if you weren't bothering to use the sights. In fact as well as the apparent cannibalism and the difference in coloration Coyle was quickly reaching the conclusion that these East Coast Super-Mutants were also different to the ones back home in terms of intelligence, to be frank so far they all seemed dumb as rocks.

The original Super-Mutants created by the Master did vary a lot by intelligence but they understood this and would place the ones with more brains in positions of authority, with Soopie sergeants and officers giving orders to the less intellectually gifted grunts. They had even used basic tactics such as flanking manoeuvres and they utilised cover fire, what they did not do was walk slowly towards you firing from the hip like they had a sign around their necks saying “shoot me, I'm a great big fat, slow-moving target”. Well they didn't unless they were toting heavy weapons anyway.

‘Okay, fuck this peashooter shit’ Coyle said as he finished the third magazine from his R91. It just took too many bullets to stop one of the damn things unless you hit something vital and Wanda was not a precision instrument.

Coyle put down the R91 and reached for his backpack. This wasn't assault rifle time any more, this was battle-rifle time he decided, taking hold of his FN-FAL.

Firing from a position behind Coyle and slightly off to his left Allison didn’t have quite as good a field of view but she had better cover and plenty to shoot at nonetheless. Although they looked terrifying and didn't go down when you shot them like they should she had quickly learned that they were very easy to hit and blowing holes in them made it easier to put aside the fear that was screaming at her to run away.

Dreamer squatting beside her had no such luxury. Her sawn-off shotgun was useless at much more than point-blank range and besides which she doubted that buckshot would do much more than piss the things off.

‘Loading’ Allison said, ducking down once more to transfer another five rounds from her bandolier to her hunting rifle. At least she had plenty of .32 cartridges on her thanks to all the ones they had taken from raiders and others.

‘We need to run away’ Dreamer insisted. ‘We can't stop them’ she declared.

‘Wanna bet’ Allison replied as the distinctive boom of Coyle's FN-FAL started to sound out, echoing off the buildings.

‘Oh yeah, that's the shit!’ Coyle enthused as he blew the head off one of the local less-than-super mutants. Their thick skulls might offer some protection from 5.56mm NATO but the mixed twenty-round magazine of 7.62x51mm and its near-identical sister-cartridge .308 Winchester now being fired at them was another matter entirely, especially at under a hundred yards.

It said something for the mutants that not even a headshot from the FN-FAL was usually an instant one-shot-kill but even so the first magazine alone from the battle-rifle took down seven of the things as they continued to arrive in dwindling numbers. Five more were severely wounded with Allison having the initiative to target the already injured with her own less powerful rifle finishing them off as best she could while Coyle reloaded.

‘You're just lucky I'm not using my M72’ Coyle cackled as he chambered the first round from his second magazine and brought the FN-FAL up again. ‘Nice armour’ he said, smirking as he shot one of the R91 wielding mutants right in the face and then switched targets because although it didn't go down it practically collapsed with blood pouring from the gaping wound.

‘Holy shit, we are winning’ Dreamer said in astonishment as she stuck her head above the wall for a look-see.

‘What do you mean we?’ Allison responded curtly, working the bolt of her rifle for the umpteenth time and taking aim once more.

‘Too expensive, too expensive’ Coyle told himself, reluctantly switching back to his R91 after using up half the second magazine in his FN-FAL. He'd broken the backs of the opposition now at least, with the majority lying dead and most of the remainder wounded to a greater or lesser degree. ‘I am the grim reaper, death incarnate’ he told himself, ‘and it is time to finish this’ he said, getting into a stance like a sprinter at the blocks before starting to move with his eyes ablaze behind his sunglasses.

Coyle ran down the closest enemy which managed to hit him with a round from its hunting-rifle, the round careering off his armour before Coyle turned it into a colander with half of Wanda's magazine.

The remainder of the R91’s ammunition took down a pair of wounded mutants and Coyle dropped the rifle drawing his MP9 instead as he continued his insane charge.

‘Oh my God!’ Allison exclaimed in disbelief as she watched him suddenly change direction on the run wielding the MP9 like it was a small pistol he started taking the remaining creatures apart, shredding them with the 10mm SMG going full-auto in his right hand.

The sub-machinegun soon empty of ammunition itself Coyle let it drop too and now smoothly pulled his Desert Eagle from its holster with his left hand. It was like he was blessed or something, Allison thought watching in awe, bullets going past him but never making contact as he took on what was now the last three remaining mutants.

Diving sideways to avoid fire from the last super-mutant with an R91 Coyle put three rounds of .44 magnum into its armoured chest to at least give it pause and then kneecapped it, sending it crashing down.

Aiming up from the ground where he had landed four more .44 magnum slugs from his Eagle took down another of the opposition and seeing that the third and last was reloading Coyle simply got up, walked over to it and shot it point-blank in the right eye with his final bullet, ending the fight before he holstered the pistol again.

A few of the wounded mutants were still alive, writhing and moaning on the ground, and Coyle bent down to pick up an R91. As Allison arrived he was going to each wounded enemy in turn, putting the barrel of the assault rifle to their head and pulling the trigger to finish them off. ‘Hi Honey’ he greeted her, ‘nice shooting’ he said, pulling the trigger to put another one out of its misery.

Allison looked around. ‘They're all dead’ she gasped.

‘No, but if you'll give me a minute they will be’ Coyle replied, wandering over to the next mutant that was still moving.

‘What the hell were you thinking attacking them at the end like that?’ Allison demanded to know.

Coyle shrugged. ‘Seemed like the thing to do at the time’ he replied, putting down the next mutant with a single shot. ‘Good haul of rifles and ammunition from these things at least’ he said brightly. ‘Might have to break a few rifles down for replacement parts though, they don't look well maintained’ he added regretfully.

Dreamer arrived looking around in amazement. ‘Do you know what you just did?’ she asked rhetorically.

‘Gunned down a bunch of muscle-bound morons’ Coyle replied. ‘To be fair we were in a good position to hit most of them at long range when they were at a severe disadvantage’ he said. ‘Close-in they'd be a lot more dangerous because they do take a lot of killing and you might not be able to hurt them enough before they ripped your head off’ he observed. ‘Could you start collecting guns and ammo?’ he requested.

‘I wouldn't even know how to describe this to someone’ Dreamer stated, shaking her head.

Coyle looked thoughtful. ‘It's about three-hundred and seventy-five millicoyles on the standard scale but it only scored that high because of the stylish way I ended the fight’ he told her.

‘Millicoyles?’ Dreamer queried in confusion.

‘I'll explain later’ Allison told her.

After finishing off the last wounded mutant Coyle went to retrieve his own weapons, handing the R91 he had been using for the task to Dreamer. ‘Come on, times-a-wasting’ he said. ‘If we're lucky the people we're going to see will accept a few of these weapons as part exchange for their fee’ he said hopefully, picking up his MP9.

‘What people?’ Allison wanted to know. ‘Why did we come here?’ she asked.

‘Oh sorry should have said’ Coyle apologised. ‘There's a mercenary outfit based near here that I've got a job for’ he said. ‘I figure I could spend months trying to put together a proper map of this area so I'm going to see if they'll do it for me, or maybe sub-contract the work onto some other schmuck if they're too busy’ he continued. ‘Call me superstitious but once I heard what they called themselves I sort of took it as a sign’ he admitted, wondering how much these “Reilly's Rangers” mercs might charge him for the work and hoping a few hundred caps, and now perhaps some super-mutant rifles, would be an acceptable deposit.

Note from the Author:

I hope I've managed to make Little Lamplight make a touch more sense there than it did as presented in the game.

Goris was a talking deathclaw in FO2 who the Chosen One could take along as a companion, like the chess playing radscorpion in Broken Hills Goris was of course the product of genetic engineering designed to increase intelligence. Rivet City wasn't the first ship used as a town in Fallout either of course.

Anacostia Crossing Station was a raider base in F03, they're still in the process of moving in at this point, more on that later. Both super-mutants and Reilly's Rangers can be found in the Seward Square area, I think it's pretty funny that the mapping job the Lone Wanderer in FO3 can get from Reilly is actually being done for Coyle!

The Sniper Rifle in FO3 fires the same ammunition as the FN-FAL and is a much more effective means to take out super-mutants than a inaccurate assault rifle. Coyle's battle-rifle is an accurate, hard-hitting semi-auto and comes with a twenty-round magazine... it's great for head-shotting large numbers of East Coast Supermutants in succession and Coyle has all the right perks to use it to full advantage!
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