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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)HotpointFR1824119,938208353,48529 Jan 104 Jul 12No

Chapter Sixteen

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.

Seward Square District – Columbia Commonwealth – June 2277

‘I think I'm detecting a theme here’ Coyle remarked as they found yet another unit insignia painted on a wall. The crossed swords over a lucky four-leaf clover had a certain cutesy charm Coyle thought to himself but it wasn't his idea of a badge that would frighten your enemies unless they were extremely superstitious. ‘Why not a rabbit's foot?’ he asked rhetorically, rolling his eyes as they arrived at what he guessed was the Ranger Compound.

Between all the unit logos and the sandbagged fire-positions which had been set up in case they needed to mount a strong defence, the mercenary group certainly weren't going for a low-key presence in the area, although Coyle would have placed someone out front as well as having the young guy with the assault rifle on watch from the guard position above. The kid didn't think Coyle had already spotted him because the NCR Ranger hadn't reacted to his presence but if bullets started flying then a split-second later the young merc's brains were going to go flying out the back of his head.

‘How ya doing up there junior?’ Coyle asked loudly.

‘Who are you talking to?’ Allison asked, puzzled.

‘That guy’ Coyle replied, turning and looking up directly at the mercenary on watch duty.

‘Oh, hello’ Allison called up to him. Dreamer was too annoyed about pushing an old shopping trolley full of rifles to bother with any niceties. She had found one inside a grocery store which had wheels that still turned but even after a splash of gun-oil to stop them squeaking so badly they were stiff as hell making it only marginally easier to push it than carry them all.

‘Um... Hi’ the mercenary responded awkwardly before he remembered what he was supposed to say to intruders. ‘This is the Reilly's Rangers Compound’ he said, trying to sound authoritative. ‘State your business.’

‘I want to hire you’ Coyle replied.

‘Really?’ the mercenary responded. ‘Cool’ he said, grinning. ‘The boss has been in a bad mood since we heard that Talon Company won the contract to clear the muties out of the Capitol Building’ he said. ‘We really needed the work.’

Coyle chuckled. ‘You're new right?’ he asked.

‘Yeah, I'm on probation before signing up permanent’ the mercenary replied. ‘How did you know?’ he wondered.

‘Because a more experienced guy wouldn’t tell a potential employer they're short on work because now I know I can argue your boss down on the price’ Coyle explained.

The mercenary looked dismayed. ‘Oh shit, she'll kill me’ he moaned.

‘No, but I might extend your probation and put you back on quartermaster-duty only for another month’ a woman’s voice interjected shortly before she appeared, clad in combat armour that sported the mercenaries insignia and carrying a holstered SMG on her hip. ‘I'm Reilly’ she introduced herself. ‘Theo up there radioed down to the bunker when you arrived’ she explained. ‘If you're thinking of starting any trouble I'd suggest checking out the girl with the minigun that's just joined him’ she advised.

Coyle looked back to where the rookie merc was and found there was indeed a woman toting a very large multi-barrel weapon up there now too. ‘Ladies’ he greeted them with an amused smile and a little bow.

‘So what can the Rangers do for you today?’ Reilly asked.

‘I want to hire you to make a map of the Capital Wasteland area, including the location of hostiles such as super-mutants, raiders, slavers and such’ Coyle replied. ‘Also I need to know strategic locations, possible caches of weaponry and technology and ideally I want it in holotape format as well as on paper.’

Reilly raised her eyebrows. ‘Interesting job’ she said. ‘Mostly we get hired to shoot at things.’

‘I'm new in town, don't know the lay of the land and I don't want to have to spend the next year having to put the map together myself’ Coyle replied, ‘and I expect to remain anonymous’ he added meaningfully.

The mercenary leader threw Coyle a knowing look. ‘If you're only just in town I've got to wonder why because that would mean you shouldn't have any enemies yet right?’ she asked rhetorically.

‘Honestly you'd be surprised at how short a time it usually is between him arriving somewhere and getting into a gunfight’ Allison commented, earning a look of displeasure from Coyle and a laugh from Dreamer.

‘I have my reasons and they’re not ones that are likely to be a problem to you’ Coyle told Reilly. ‘So are you interested or should I take the work to Talon Company instead?’ he asked her. ‘I’m told they’re a bigger outfit so I bet they could complete the job faster.’

Reilly growled. ‘Talon Company would probably take your money and keep the map even if they bothered to do the work in the first place’ she said. ‘If Reilly's Rangers agree to do a job we get it done and our word is our bond’ she stated firmly.

‘I heard that you were dependable and that's why I came here first’ Coyle replied. ‘So are you interested?’ he asked. ‘I'd rather thrash out the details with you alone, not that I don't trust your people but...’

‘But a good soldier accepts that there’s such a thing as need-to-know information and they don't need to know everything right?’ Reilly interrupted him.

‘Nicely put’ Coyle agreed.

‘Okay, we'll talk out here rather than in the bunker where the rest can overhear’ Reilly agreed. ‘You're in luck though’ she said. ‘My engineer put together some geomapper modules that we can use to produce the holotape version of the map you wanted.’

‘Always nice to deal with professionals’ Coyle told her, taking off his sunglasses so they could look each other in the eye.

‘Brick, you can go back to the bunker I think these people are genuine’ Reilly called up to the young woman with the minigun. ‘Theo, go fetch four mugs of coffee and bring them out here for me and our new clients’ she told the probationer. ‘So should I call you “Mr Smith” or something?’ she asked Coyle.

‘Sounds like a plan’ Coyle replied. ‘You've got real coffee?’ he queried as the other two mercenaries disappeared from the watch position above.

‘Scored a load of it that was being shipped in along the coast from down south’ Reilly confirmed with a nod. ‘I know a coastal trader that was having trouble with some smugglers trying to interfere with his business and solved the problem for him while seizing their goods as a bonus’ she said.

‘Killed them?’ Coyle reasoned.

‘More like scared them enough that they relocated from near here to over Point Lookout way I heard’ Reilly replied. ‘We can sit down on the benches over there if you want to make yourselves more comfortable’ she suggested. ‘What's with all the rifles?’ she queried, indicating the trolley full of them.

‘Spoils of war’ Coyle replied, ‘ran into some super-mutant trouble on the way here’ he explained. ‘They started it’ he added with a shrug.

The mercenary blinked and took another look at the number of rifles. ‘How many people did you lose?’ she asked.

‘None’ Coyle replied. ‘In their case “super” seemed to be something of a misnomer’ he observed. ‘Only a few of them had assault rifles though, and none of them could shoot for shit so it wasn't as one sided as you'd think looking at the raw numbers’ he noted. ‘Took out as many as possible from long-range with my FN-FAL there’ he said, indicating the larger of the two rifles he was carrying, Reilly recognising it from an old copy of Guns and Ammo. ‘You know what they say, 5.56mm is just 7.62x51 set on stun’ he joked.

‘You're lucky that the ones with the better hardware are mostly fighting the Brotherhood over in The Mall’ Reilly told him after laughing politely. ‘They've got big tough mothers with miniguns and rocket-launchers and even bigger ones toting tri-beam laser rifles that'll fuck you up big-time’ she warned. ‘We get a bounty for every mutie we take down, just need to provide evidence like a finger or something.’

‘Feel free to claim it on the ones we took out, consider it part of the down payment on your fee for the mapping job if your principles object at all’ Coyle told Reilly. ‘I'll tell you where they are so you can get there before rats or something start chewing on them.’

Reilly considered that. ‘Sounds reasonable’ she said, taking a seat on one of the pre-war metal benches that faced the old statue outside the Ranger HQ, Coyle taking off his backpack, putting down his rifles and joining her. ‘So I'm thinking... five thousand caps for the work, plus the bounty’ she said.

‘Not a chance’ Coyle responded flatly, starting to get back up.

‘Hey, come back we're negotiating here’ Riley told him hurriedly. ‘What do you think is reasonable considering we could get shot to hell wandering around the wasteland making your damn map?’

‘Two-thousand five hundred’ Coyle replied.

‘I take it back’ Riley said. ‘Get lost’ she told him, crossing her arms.

Coyle frowned. ‘I can go to three thousand, plus the bounty...’ he said then paused. ‘And I'll throw in those rifles you can use for spare parts or sell on’ he offered.

‘Most of them look like junk’ Reilly said dismissively.

‘Yeah but there's a more than a few of them and I bet you've got a gunsmith that can fix them up’ Coyle suggested. ‘You'll be able to sell on the map to others once it's completed too, I just want the first finished copy, so really I'm just helping you off-set your initial investment in time and energy.’

The mercenary took another look at the rifles, Donovan probably could use parts from some of them to bring the others up to a state where they would sell for a reasonable price, she thought, reappraising their worth. ‘Half the caps now, half on completion’ she said.

‘I'll give you five-hundred in cash now as a deposit, plus the rifles and the location of the mutants so you can claim the bounty on them’ Coyle countered. ‘I'll be back in a while with another instalment or two once I've raised some ready cash and I'll pay the final balance on completion.’

‘Six hundred now’ Reilly replied, that was enough to cover her wages bill for a couple of missions and would keep Brick, Donovan and Butcher off her back for now. Ever since they had lost Dallas and Kira the others had been grumbling a little about the future of the outfit, with Theo not much of a replacement for the two experienced soldiers, but as long as she could hold up caps in front of them the other mercenaries were loyal enough to stick it out.

Coyle grimaced, that was pushing his limit though not as much as his expression would indicate of course. ‘Deal’ he said reluctantly, holding out his hand to shake. ‘It had better be damn good coffee’ he told the red-haired mercenary.

‘Well it's better than no coffee at all’ Reilly replied, not exactly a ringing endorsement. ‘So can I ask who you're working for yourself?’ she asked him. ‘You look and act military so I figure you're not just a passing wastelander with an interest in geography’ she said. His accent reminded her of the Brotherhood of Steel, particularly the older members, and her guess would be he was something to do with the Outcasts because they were always looking around for things and the regular Brotherhood wouldn't have been so cloak-and-dagger.

‘How about you just think of me as a wandering troubadour scouting for a new audience’ Coyle replied. ‘They're my back-up singers’ he added, nodding towards Allison and Dreamer.

‘I'm fine with that as long as your money is good’ Reilly responded as Theo emerged from down in the bunker with a tray of steaming coffee mugs in his hands. ‘Tell the others we've just been hired to do some work for “Mr Smith” here and I'm just negotiating the details’ the mercenary leader told him.

‘That's great’ Theo said brightly as Reilly and Coyle took one of the mugs each.

‘You did use the purified water right?’ Reilly checked.

‘Yeah’ Theo confirmed as he went to the next bench where Allison and Dreamer were now sat down themselves. ‘It's hot’ he warned them as they took their own mugs.

‘Not bad’ Coyle told Reilly as he tasted the coffee.

‘Fresh milk in it too’ Reilly told him. ‘Theo might need a little more training to be a first-class soldier but he's already a good quartermaster’ she praised the rookie who smiled as he headed back to the bunker door with his now empty tray.

‘You might want to keep a closer eye on him’ Coyle advised seriously. ‘He's a little green even for standing watch I'd say.’

‘He'll be fine once he’s got a little mutie blood on his boots and thanks to him we've gotten our hands on a few video cameras that we'll start setting up so we can watch out for approaching trouble from down in the bunker’ Reilly replied. ‘Got to take precautions now Talon Company is going to start poking its nose into the area’ she said.

‘I'm getting the idea that your grudge against them goes further than professional rivalry’ Coyle observed.

‘They're scum who don't care who they kill or who they work for’ Reilly told him. ‘I was raised to be choosy about that but I guess their boss Jabsco wasn't brought up right’ she said. ‘They're not much better than raiders in my book and from what I hear the reason why they can always find plenty of new recruits is because half of them are raiders.’

‘I'll keep that in mind if I run into any of them’ Coyle replied. ‘I'll finish my coffee and then count out the six-hundred caps for you’ he said. ‘We need to be on our way soon’ he said. ‘I might just drop off the next instalment of caps at a pick-up point rather than come all the way back here if you've got a suggestion where’ he said. ‘If I come here too often my anonymity might suffer’ he reasoned. It was one thing being spotted by super-mutants but if these Talon Company mercenaries moving into the Seward Square district spotted him visiting the Rangers it might become a issue, even if it was only them thinking he was one of Reilly's people.

Reilly sipped at her coffee. ‘I can think of a safe place you should be able to find’ she said. ‘We can exchange notes that way too, maybe I'll put updates on the mapping there for you so you can be assured we're really doing the work.’

‘Sounds like a plan’ Coyle agreed, looked like the day was going pretty well so far he thought, even if Allison was never likely to let him forget dismissing all her warnings about the local super-mutants being man-eaters.

Half an hour later, hiking back towards the subway entrance down to Anacostia Station, Coyle briefly considered scouting the local area himself in more depth but that was what he was paying Reilly to do and if she couldn’t even do that properly for her own district he’d be demanding his money back.

Passing by all the super-mutant corpses they had left behind earlier, Reilly's people would be along soon to collect whatever body parts it was they needed as evidence for the bounty on the things, Coyle idly wondered if he might be wrong about anything else other than the mutants but he quickly dismissed the idea.

‘People could track you just from all the bodies you leave behind’ Dreamer said as she sidestepped to avoid a pool of blood that had gathered in a pothole.

‘That's true, especially if they checked the rifling pattern on the bullets I shoot into things’ Coyle agreed. ‘If someone wanted to they could trace my route all the way back to Vault City where I started off’ he said.

‘Vault City?’ Allison asked.

‘It was originally Vault 8, opened up not too long after the Great War and became a small city-state in western Nevada’ Coyle replied. ‘It joined the NCR a few years back, might end up the capital of a new NCR state eventually if the rest of the region ever gets over Vault City treating them like something they stepped in for about a century and a half’ he continued. ‘From Vault City I travelled north up into Idaho and then east through Wyoming’ he recalled. ‘The Legion's got influence in Utah and southern Colorado and they've got some allies further north but they haven't pushed as far as Wyoming yet fortunately’ he said. ‘We'll have to deal with the assholes eventually even if the politicians don't want to think about it’ he said.

The fact was the NCR could crush the Legion like a bug if it had the will to do so Coyle knew full well. Caesar's troops were tough and numerous but they weren't that well equipped and even with only a mere five-percent of the population under arms the New California Republic had pounded the Brotherhood into the ground, driven the Khans east, expanded the borders in all directions and still had enough troops in the Mojave to face off against the Legion. Raise that to ten percent of the population or more, maybe even expand mass conscription, and then put the economy on a proper war-footing and the NCR Army would be able to smash half way to Albuquerque before the Legion realised that bringing a knife to a gunfight wasn't good policy. The problem of course was that the politicians didn't have the will and too many of them were in the back-pockets of lobbyists working for the Brahmin Barons or the Caravan Companies who only wanted low taxes.

‘We're not really going to the Mall are we?’ Allison asked, breaking Coyle’s chain of thought just as they reached the subway entrance.

‘Yes but it's nearly two miles long and according to Sydney all the trenches and bunkers the Brotherhood dug for themselves between the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building have the super-mutants stopped well short of where we’re going so far’ Coyle replied. ‘Judging from the fact the Steel Plague is having to give up on manning other positions in the city in order to try and keep a grip on the Mall probably means that they won’t be able to hold the line much longer though’ he supposed. ‘Assuming that the muties have the numbers to keep up the pressure I mean.’

‘But why are we going there?’ Allison wanted to know.

‘Because I want to see the fighting for myself and I also want to visit a few people that have been in town longer than anyone else and can hopefully answer a few questions regarding the Brotherhood, the Super-Mutants and hopefully the Enclave.’

‘What people?’ Dreamer queried.

‘Just don't either of you call them zombies because it's downright rude’ Coyle replied.

‘Ghouls? We’re going to see ghouls?’ Allison exclaimed without much enthusiasm at the idea.

‘I always thought if the country had made it through the Great War just a little better we'd call them “Irradiated Americans” but maybe that's just the politically-correct left-coast liberal in me’ Coyle said thoughtfully, heading down the steps. ‘Probably be best to dig out my infra-red sight if we're going through the tunnels’ he reasoned. ‘It should mount on Wanda just as well as my FN-FAL and being able to see in the dark could be useful’ he said, pushing open the gates at the bottom.

Anacostia Station was still deserted but as they made their way down into the subway tunnels Coyle started to hear voices and signalled for his companions to keep quiet as he scouted ahead. Using the infra-red night-sight fitted to his customised R91 assault-rifle Coyle got a good look at who was making the noise long before they could have seen him and it appeared to be a bunch of raiders manhandling some furniture and construction materials through the tunnel from the next station along to Anacostia.

Must be the gang Dreamer recognised the symbols on the walls from, Coyle thought to himself, moving further into the shadows so they could get even closer without spotting him. Once he started firing the muzzle-flash would give his position away instantly but if he did this right they’d all be dead before they got a chance to fire back especially given their weapons were either slung or holstered.

It was all a little too much like murder Coyle pondered, but then again they were likely all murderers themselves and it wasn't like cold-blooded killing without giving the opposition a chance was an unknown experience for a former member of 1st Recon.

Allison and Dreamer heard several bursts of automatic gunfire thunder down the tunnel, a few screams then a couple of single reports after which the screaming stopped. ‘To be fair he doesn't let them suffer’ Dreamer remarked, correctly surmising what had just happened. It didn't occur to either that the Californian might be hurt himself because all the shooting had audibly been from an R91, he would have had the element of surprise... and it was Coyle.

‘All clear’ Coyle’s voice echoed down the tunnel. ‘I think I've got something that you might find useful Dreamer’ he added.

‘Could be boots, I got my boots off a raider he killed’ Allison told Dreamer as they set off down the tunnel after him. ‘My old ones were worn out’ she explained.

‘I'd rather not wear old raider clothes’ Dreamer replied. ‘Not again.’

As it turned out when they arrived Coyle was gathering the raiders weapons and more valuable possessions, he didn't feel like stripping them for their armour. ‘For you’ he said, passing Dreamer a Combat Shotgun. ‘Until I can teach you to shoot properly now you can see clearly this is probably your ideal weapon’ he told her. ‘Good spread of shot and if you miss just keep pulling the trigger until you don't’ he advised as she took it from him. ‘The ammunition drum is full and the previous owner had a few more twelve-gauge shells in his pockets you'll need because it uses them up fast.’

‘Don't I get anything?’ Allison wanted to know.

‘Two of them had .32 pistols so you can have their ammo’ Coyle offered. ‘One more had an R91 so I'm taking that to sell with the pistols but of the remaining two one only had a crappy Chinese pistol that's worse than your own automatic and the last just had a switchblade and a couple grenades on him.’

‘Could I have a grenade?’ Allison asked hopefully.

‘Not until I've seen you pitch and made sure you don't throw like a girl no’ Coyle responded.

‘You didn't give them a chance to surrender’ Dreamer realised. ‘When you found me and my old gang at the Super-Duper Mart you gave us the chance to surrender’ she pointed out.

‘Which earned me a bunch of shotgun pellets in my hand and you’ Coyle responded flatly. ‘I'm not making that mistake again’ he said. ‘One of these assholes might have had an even sorrier tale of woe to tell than you did and pretty soon I'd have half the Capital Wasteland trailing on behind me if I adopted every stray I came across.’

‘That's not very nice’ Allison chided him. ‘I thought you liked Dreamer now.’

‘That's the problem, I think I'm going soft’ Coyle replied sadly, bending down to take the scarf off a raider so he could use it to wipe some blood off one of the .32 pistols.

Presumably more raiders would eventually be moving into the metro lines but they found Museum Station under the Mall just as deserted as Anacostia had been. Dreamer thought it probable that the raider gang’s boss had assigned the job of getting both stations ready for occupation to the small group Coyle had dealt with in the tunnel, and the majority of the gang would relocate later once they were certain the Brotherhood wasn’t going to make a reappearance, but at least for now Coyle and the others could finish getting to where they were going unmolested. An obvious sign that the Brotherhood had been using the tunnels was to be seen in their insignia being painted on an abandoned train inside the tunnel, along with an arrow pointing towards one of their outposts. If he had been carrying any spray-paint Coyle would have been tempted to write “NCR Forever” over the BoS symbol but he settled for depreciating the quality of the artwork instead.

Taking the station exit that led to the Museum of History they emerged to the sound of gunfire which was distant, if not too distant, and in considerable amount. Making his way slowly and carefully up one of the bank of inert escalators until he could look around properly Coyle saw that he wasn’t too far from the Washington Monument and the Mall itself looked like a warzone.

Off to the west towards the Capitol Building lasers and tracer fire along with the occasional explosion indicated where the front line was between the Brotherhood and the Super-Mutants. It looked like the Steel Plague had done a good job of digging in and if they were being pushed back due to heavy losses Coyle could only imagine how many mutants must have died in order to accomplish that.

On the plus side there weren't any super-mutants or knights near the museum so remaining cautious Coyle continued up the escalators until he spotted a ghoul appearing to be guarding the entrance to the museum carrying a laser rifle and with what remained of her hair dyed bright red. ‘Just wait here while I go talk to someone’ he instructed Allison and Dreamer. ‘I shouldn't be long’ he told them.

‘What do you want smoothskin?’ the ghoul asked, her voice coarse like most ghouls but still recognisably feminine.

‘Just taking a look around, visiting the nation’s majestic capital and seeing the sights’ Coyle replied brightly. ‘Doing the tourist thing you understand.’

‘You're kidding?’ the ghoul responded disbelievingly.

‘No, I travelled all the way from the west coast to get here and I couldn't possibly leave without poking around a couple of museums, seeing the Washington Monument and maybe buying a few postcards to take home for the folks’ Coyle told her. ‘Are you one of the tour guides?’ he asked. ‘No I guess what with the gun you're a Security Guard looking after the exhibits and making sure pickpockets don't prey on us tourists’ he reasoned.

The ghoul looked him in the eye. ‘Are you yanking my chain?’ she asked.

‘Yeah, but tell the truth it was kinda funny wasn’t it?’ Coyle replied, tongue firmly-in-cheek.

The ghoul laughed. ‘Yeah, good one smoothskin, I might try that one myself and pretend I think the next guy that comes along is a tourist myself just to see their reaction’ she said.

‘Name's Coyle, a friend of mine named Sydney told me that there's a ghoul town based inside the museum where a human that's not a bigot can trade and maybe get a beer’ he said.

‘If you'll talk to us like we're people and lay off calling us zombies we've got no problem with your kind’ the ghoul replied. ‘I'm Willow’ she introduced herself. ‘I keep a lookout for trouble out here because I'm the best shot with the sharpest eyes’ she said. ‘If Sydney steered you our way I guess you're okay, she's one of the good ones.’

‘Nice to meet you Willow’ Coyle responded, offering his hand to shake which the ghoul took. When he moved from 1st Recon to the Rangers Coyle's first instructor had been a ghoul who had been recruited into the organisation a hundred years before by Seth himself and after a while you started looking past the skin, or lack thereof, to the person inside. Of course as it happened Coyle had in fact hated his first instructor but he was proud to say it wasn't anti-ghoul bias it was just that that he thought the guy was an asshole and the feeling was apparently mutual. ‘I'll just collect my companions’ he said, ‘thought I should recon before I brought them up’ he continued, turning away from Willow before suddenly turning back. ‘Out of interest what's your opinion on the Brotherhood of Steel?’ he queried.

‘They're assholes’ Willow replied with considerable feeling.

‘Finally someone else in this town that realises that’ Coyle said happily. ‘If I wasn't enjoying the life of a care-free bachelor so much I'd ask you to marry me’ he told her.

‘Sorry but I prefer the strong silent type’ Willow told him, trying not to drift back into her usual daydream about buying out Charon's contract and then getting her money's worth in the sack from the Underworld's hottest male ghoul.

‘So how do you feel about Galaxy News Radio?’ Coyle asked her, putting down his backpack and picking up his FN-FAL.

‘Too much Brotherhood propaganda’ Willow replied. ‘What are you doing?’ she asked as Coyle shouldered his rifle and took aim at the top of the monument.

‘Expressing listener dissatisfaction with the GNR programming choices’ Coyle replied, taking a breath and holding it to steady his aim before squeezing the trigger. ‘If anyone ever asks, you saw a super-mutant shoot the aerial off the top of that thing okay?’ he told Willow, grinning as he lowered his rifle again after firing a single shot and mightily pleased with himself for having struck a blow for California, freedom, democracy and jerkasses everywhere.

‘Hey tourist, how you choose to enjoy your vacation is entirely up to you’ Willow replied, assuming that he found Three-Dog and the limited record collection he repeated endlessly even more annoying than most people did.

Note from the Author:

Theo was hired by Reilly's Rangers as quartermaster and to help bring their numbers back up after losing two of their more experienced members not too long before the events of FO3. As the rookie I could well imagine him being stuck with standing watch. According to Reilly's terminal in the game they were hired by an anonymous "Mr Smith" to map the Capital Wasteland which was a job they fitted around collecting bounties on super-mutants.

Talon Company is another mercenary outfit operating in the area and they are not on good terms with Reilly's Rangers (to the extend that they shoot at each other).

I'm going with the idea that it was the Brotherhood that turned the power back on in the Metro System given that we do see their insignia down there and I can't imagine Raiders being able to do that themselves. Manpower shortages meant that the BoS had to stop patrolling the tunnels which is when the raiders moved in and began fortifying the stations.

The Ghoul settlement of Underworld lies inside the Museum of American History on The Mall with Willow standing guard outside the building, she doesn't like the Brotherhood because then tend to shoot at her kind . It's not too far from the Washington Monument (not the trickiest shot Coyle has ever made to take out the GNR aerial) and not too far from the network of trenches and bunkers that run from there up to the Capitol Building. The BoS is slowly losing ground at this point, by FO3 a few weeks later the Super-Mutants are fairly dominant in the area (it's a war of attrition and the Brotherhood can't replace their losses making it a similar situation for them as the NCR/BoS war raging back at the West Coast).
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