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.
Friendship Heights Station – Columbia Commonwealth – June 2277
Back before the DC trading network began its slow implosion quite a lot of business had passed through Friendship Heights on its way to Canterbury Commons, the small township lying twelve miles to the northeast of the Heights having developed into a regional trade hub. Pre-war merchandise, rare in much of the wasteland but plentiful in the former capital had been salvaged in vast quantity then traded northwards via Canterbury to the settlements around Baltimore and beyond, the proceeds of this allowing the importation of food from less desolate regions.
Until the radiation levels in the city had dropped to levels that were relatively safe for humans long-term ghouls had undertaken most of the scavenging in DC and it was they who had initially begun to operate the trade routes, though often forced to work through human intermediaries because of the tendency of assholes to take pot-shots at them. Ghoul scavengers would haul their finds to Friendship Heights where they would be met by merchants operating short-haul brahmin caravans to Canterbury Commons and then long-haul merchants not wanting to get any closer to DC than they had to would take over from there.
Many had made their fortunes trading goods out of DC, and even today a few of them could still be found living the high life over in Tenpenny Tower, but to those still trying to eek a living off the meagre profits available from a slice of the drastically curtailed flow of goods in 2277 times were hard.
The only reminder of the boom times to be found in Friendship Heights to be found when Coyle and his companions got there at the end of June 2277 was a small trading post and outdoor cantina that stood atop the old Metro station. Even that last remnant of a more prosperous era was seemingly about to close because the merchant owner simply couldn’t afford to keep paying the wages that the single mercenary who stood guard while he conducted business demanded, and the cook wasn’t much happier at the prospect of a cut in pay either.
Bartering a few items for three servings of noodles, those being the cook’s specialty it seemed, Coyle, Allison and Dreamer sat down at one of the tables set up underneath a steel and glass awning between two buildings and began to eat while the merchant remonstrated with his mercenary bodyguard not to up-and-quit before he could find a replacement that would work for less money.
‘Here, eat what Lulu gives you and be strong’ the cook told them as she placed the noodles in front of them. ‘Lulu seasons with spices and adds mirelurk pieces so enjoy’ the young woman added with a smile.
‘Coyle is always wary of people that talk about themselves in the third person’ the NCR Ranger jokily whispered to Allison and Dreamer once Lulu the cook returned to her pots and pans.
‘Yeah it's creepy’ Allison agreed, ‘good noodles though’ she had to admit after trying some.
Guessing that the owner and his two remaining employees slept in the tent nearby Coyle couldn’t help but listen in on the argument raging inside it where the grey-haired old man that owned the place was continuing to try and persuade his mercenary to stay for now. Until a few months ago there had been two guards it seemed but with the other one already let go unless the sniper-rifle toting woman who remained could be prevailed upon to stay raiders would surely descend upon the spot immediately the owner believed.
Dreamer was of the opinion that the female mercenary was likely a former-raider herself, the purple-dyed hair worn as pigtails was practically a unit insignia, but from the sounds of it she had been loyal and effective enough when actually paid and she was a skilled markswoman. Raiders had attacked the small trading post recently but between the mercenaries sniping skills, the cook joining in with the hunting rifle she kept handy and the R91 the trader himself carried the raiders had soon fled leaving their losses behind.
‘Can I get a Nuka Cola and two glasses of water here please Miss?’ Coyle requested of the cook.
‘Purified water’ Allison added, not wanting to drink something that had barely been filtered after coming out of the Potomac.
‘These noodles are really good’ Dreamer told the cook when she brought over the drinks.
The cook nodded. ‘Everyone says that Lulu is good at her job’ she replied. ‘Lulu also makes the best brahmin cheeseburgers in the Capital Wasteland but Lulu used up the last of the brahmin mince last week when a search party from Canterbury Commons stopped here to eat and ask questions’ she said.
‘Search party?’ Coyle queried.
‘Man in charge of party told Lulu they were looking for his sister’ the cook replied. ‘Girl called Cheryl left Canterbury to try and get medicine from the Brotherhood in the Citadel but she never came back so big brother goes to look for her with his friends.’
‘Cheryl?’ Allison repeated, frowning. ‘I think Pa once mentioned a family called Koch that lived in Canterbury Commons, the youngest was called that’ she recalled. ‘Real Tom-Boy he said but she was pretty and he thought he might try and get one of my brothers hitched to her once she got older.’
‘I hope she's okay’ Dreamer said, sipping at her glass of water.
‘Lulu thinks she is probably super-mutant chow by now’ the cook stated then pursed her lips. ‘Lulu wonders what side-dish goes best with human meat’ she pondered.
‘Fava beans’ Coyle told her.
‘And you have to wash it down with Nuka Cola Quartz’ Allison chipped in, winking at Coyle.
Dreamer was about to ask them how they possibly knew that when the mercenary came storming out of the tent. ‘I'm leaving’ she told the cook. ‘We talked about you coming along, you want to?’ she asked.
‘Lulu will pack up her things and leave with you’ the cook confirmed. ‘Lulu wants a better job too’ she said.
‘You can’t both
leave’ the owner of the trading post protested.
‘Watch us’ the mercenary replied curtly. ‘I'm going to gather up my shit and if you can't pay me the caps you owe me I'm going to take the balance in ammo from your locker’ she said.
‘Another few days, maybe a week, that's all I ask’ the trader pleaded.
‘I'm not staying here working for you for free’ the mercenary snarled. ‘That's practically like being a slave and I'd sooner die first’ she told him with sincerity.
The trader decided to try another tactic. ‘I might not be able to cover your wages right now but you're still getting your food for free and I replace and bullets you hire’ he said. ‘It's not like there’s a lot of other jobs out there right now Vikia’ he pointed out.
‘Not in the Capital Wasteland but I've heard they’re hiring up in The Pitt and I still know some guys over in Paradise Falls that'll put in a good word for us’ the mercenary “Vikia” replied. ‘After they see me shoot and taste her food they'll put us on the payroll right away’ she said confidently.
Dreamer narrowed her eyes, if this woman had friends in Paradise Falls she was probably an ex-slaver as well as being an ex-raider. ‘I think I've lost my appetite’ she said, pushing the half-finished bowl of noodles away.
Coyle threw Dreamer a quizzical look. ‘Are you sure because after we leave here it's four or five hours walk to where we’re going and you could be hungry by the time we get there’ he advised.
‘The smell of slaver scum is making my stomach turn’ Dreamer replied coldly.
Vikia turned around and smirked at Dreamer. ‘It's the slaves
that smell, but I guess you know that’ she responded. Correctly assuming the customer had been a slave herself once, maybe even at Paradise Falls. ‘Not enough guts to eat a bullet from your own gun or open up your wrists later in the cage?’ she asked scornfully, walking up to the table.
Dreamer was off her chair fast enough to surprise everyone, especially Vikia who found a switchblade at her throat. ‘How about I open you
up?’ Dreamer threatened, pressing the sharp steel blade against the mercenary’s skin. Dreamer had never been a very good shot but up close with a knife she wasn't to be messed with as several raiders and all too many unfortunate wastelanders had discovered to their cost.
‘I'd just like to note that this particular confrontation wasn't my
fault for once’ Coyle pointed out to Allison before drawing his Desert Eagle and aiming it at Lulu who had been reaching for her rifle. ‘You back yours, I'll back mine’ he told the cook, almost apologetically.
Allison thought she had better stop this ending violently because Vikia looked more angry than scared and Dreamer more angry than rational. ‘How about everyone takes a deep breath and relaxes’ she suggested.
‘How about this bitch takes her last
breath and then I slit her throat instead?’ Dreamer replied.
‘Dammit I was enjoying those noodles’ Coyle complained, waving the cook away from her rifle with his Desert Eagle before getting up off his chair. ‘Dreamer I didn't buy you that jacket so you could get blood sprayed all over it’ he told her. ‘Now get a grip and calm down.’
‘This slave-taking raider slut deserves everything she gets’ Dreamer spat back at him.
‘Dreamer, listen to me’ Coyle said softly, trying to pacify her. ‘You're just projecting your own anger at what you've done in the past on her’ he told the girl.
?’ Dreamer responded in confusion, voice rising in pitch.
‘I'll explain later but for now could you please not force me to knock you out’ Coyle requested, he was prepared to crack her over the head with his heavy pistol if that was required to prevent this turning even uglier but he’d rather not.
Dreamer blinked. ‘You wouldn't’ she replied doubtfully.
‘Yes he would’ Allison told her simultaneously with Coyle saying “Yes I would”.
Slowly removing the switchblade from Vikia’s throat Dreamer took a step back, though she didn’t break eye-contact with the mercenary. ‘Not so much fun when you can't just shoot them from a couple of hundred yards away is it?’ she asked, a look of hatred written across her face.
‘I'll see you again slave’ Vikia vowed, utterly unimpressed by the ex-slaves bluster. ‘Through my telescopic sight most likely’ she added, smirking again.
Coyle holstered his Desert Eagle. ‘Try and I'll put a bullet through it coming from the other direction’ he replied evenly. ‘I've never seen you shoot but I guarantee I'm better’ he stated.
‘What's to stop her coming after us when we leave and shooting us in the back?’ Allison wanted to know.
‘You wouldn't do something like that would you?’ Coyle asked Vikia, stepping between her and Dreamer.
Vikia smiled, it wasn't exactly a warm one friendly one.
‘Damn, I hate doing this to women’ Coyle said sadly before his right hand snapped upwards and forwards in a vicious palm-strike unarmed-combat move. It not only smashed Vikia's nose it lifted her clear off her feet and sent her flying backwards to land unconscious on the ground, the back of her head hitting hard enough to add a little something extra to her headache later.
‘Holy shit!’ Allison exclaimed.
‘Ranger takedown move’ Coyle explained. ‘My unarmed combat instructor learned his shit in San Fran from The Dragon himself’ he continued. ‘We should be going now’ he encouraged his companions.
The owner of the trading post looked down at Vikia wide-eyed then turned to Coyle. ‘Wait, can I offer you a job?’ he asked.
‘If you can't afford her
rates you sure as hell couldn't afford mine’ Coyle replied, picking up his Nuka Cola and downing it in one go before dropping a few caps on the table to cover the drinks and a tip.
‘You have got
to teach me that kung-fu move or whatever it was’ Dreamer told Coyle, picking up her rucksack.
‘Maybe when I think you're past the stage of randomly snapping and attacking strangers without enough provocation to warrant it’ Coyle replied sternly.
Dreamer looked sheepish. ‘Sorry’ she apologised. ‘Bet she deserved it though’ she added.
‘That and more, most likely’ Coyle agreed. ‘But in this outfit I'm the one that gets to pick fights with people’ he told her firmly. ‘And we never, ever
put personal issues before a good meal’ he chastised her. ‘My complements to the cook and my commiserations to the chick's nose’ he told the owner of the trading post.
‘If you're ever in The Pitt come visit Lulu for a good meal’ the cook called after them when they left. ‘Lulu doesn't want to be around Vikia when she wakes up’ she said with a grimace, looking down at her friend.
Starting off at a brisk pace in case the mercenary regained consciousness quickly, and didn't have enough of a sore head to dissuade her from following, Coyle and his companions were soon a couple of miles clear of Friendship Heights and were passing what remained of the old ring-road that had been called the Capital Beltway. The further you got into the suburbs the fewer intact buildings there were to see because the timber-framed structures weren’t nearly as resistant to blast damage and the anti-missile defences and jet interceptors which had guarded the Columbia Commonwealth from Chinese ICBM’s and Bombers prioritised the defence of the city itself. Nuclear air-bursts had scoured much of the area once you were past the beltway, and the subsequent fires had burned up most of what was left, but despite that and the two centuries of decay that followed there were still occasional glimpses of what had once been.
Passing a derelict children’s playground Coyle stopped to take a look, wondering if any kids had been on those swings when the bombs came but guessing that the sirens would have sent them looking for shelter long before the mushroom clouds sprouted.
‘Can you imagine how many people must have lived around here once?’ Allison wondered, leaning against an old slide.
‘More than in the whole of the NCR if you counted in the suburbs around DC I'd bet’ Coyle replied, kicking a rusty tin-can that he found by his feet.
‘So how many people live in California?’ Dreamer asked him curiously. She knew from Allison that Coyle claimed to be from a city of “hundreds and hundreds of people” but didn't know if that was an unusually large town for the West Coast or not.
Coyle spotted another tin-can and kicked that one too. ‘Just over a million in the Core Regions’ he replied. ‘Maybe another couple of hundred thousand if you include the unincorporated territories in Baja, Nevada and northern Oregon’ he added.
people’ Dreamer said in astonishment.
‘That's only about a fortieth of the population of California before the Great War but since we were the first people in the country to get their shit back together I guess that still puts us way out ahead of anyone else’ Coyle supposed. ‘Of that million we've only got fifty thousand under arms though’ he continued. ‘I mean serving in the NCR Army or the Rangers’ he explained.
‘You've got an army fifty thousand
strong?’ Dreamer repeated incredulously. ‘So why did they sent you over here all on your own?’ she wanted to know. ‘I mean it can't be because they wanted to keep a low profile...’
‘Because you're not that’ Allison interjected before Dreamer could say it herself.
Coyle shrugged. ‘Trying to comprehend the thought-processes of senior officers is a sure-fired route to madness’ he replied. ‘Some of them were probably hoping I'd get myself killed’ he reasoned. ‘Others who'd seen me in action probably figured I wouldn't need the help and the rest were just pen-pushing bureaucrats who couldn't find their own ass with both hands and a Geomapper Module’ he opined. ‘If they'd known that the Enclave was operating over here as well as the Steel Plague they'd have probably sent a full-sized expedition though, those fuckers are plain evil not just arrogant, asshole jerkoffs like the Brotherhood.’
‘Evil?’ Dreamer queried.
‘As in they would have genocided practically everyone in the entire country if my cousin hadn't smacked them down’ Coyle told her. ‘They're too damn high-tech for comfort too’ he continued. ‘The only plus side to it was that the tactics the NCR learned the hard way taking Navarro from them worked great when we marched into Maxson and put Lost Hills under siege a few years later’ he said. ‘We should get moving’ he said, checking his watch. They had plenty of time to get to Canterbury Commons, the sun wouldn't set until gone 8PM and it wasn't even 1PM yet, but it would be nice to get there early and look around before having to find a bed for the night.
‘You know what would be good right now?’ Coyle asked rhetorically a few minutes later as they made their way along a broken stretch of road that led north-east towards their destination.
‘It'll either be a Nuka Cola or a song’ Allison told Dreamer. ‘Or maybe a song about Nuka Cola.’
Coyle ignored her. ‘I'll take requests’ he offered.
‘How about a marching song?’ Dreamer suggested. ‘Come on its miles to Canterbury and it'll help the journey go quicker’ she told Allison who had groaned.
‘Good idea and since I was talking about it just now anyway here’s a good popular, patriotic NCR classic’ Coyle announced with enthusiasm. ‘Now before you complain about the tune this uses we may still be south of the Mason-Dixon line but this is Maryland not Virginia and the Confederacy can kiss my ass’ he declared before taking a breath and starting to sing.
‘Bring the good old bugle boys, we'll sing another song
Sing it with a spirit that restores the Old World gone
Sing it as we used to sing it fifteen-thousand strong
While we were marching through Maxson
Hurrah! Hurrah! We paid the butcher's bill
Hurrah! Hurrah! We proved we had the will
And so we sang the chorus from the border to Lost Hills
While we were marching through Maxson
How the tribals shouted when they heard the joyful sound
How the brahmin mooed those that our commissary found
How the xander-root it even started from the ground!
While we were marching through Maxson
Hurrah! Hurrah! We paid the butcher's bill
Hurrah! Hurrah! We proved we had the will
And so we sang the chorus from the border to Lost Hills
While we were marching through Maxson
They let him go on for another two verses because he had really got into it but then fortunately for them, and unfortunately for the animals concerned, they encountered a group of giant ants that Coyle used for target practice once they attacked the passing humans. Wanda, the customised R91 he had bought from Sydney was more accurate than most of the assault rifles and he was able to quickly shoot off the ants antenna to disorientate them before finishing them off.
Quinn the Underworld-based travelling ghoul merchant and scavenger had warned Coyle of ants being a problem when you started to get near the old Corvega Factory which was rumoured to harbour a nest of the things and it looked like he was right there. Despite this Coyle still nevertheless maintained that Quinn's confirmation of Allison’s belief in vampires living in Meresti station was nonsensical superstition that ranked up there with the belief that brahmin spoke English to each other when they thought nobody else was around to listen or that the supposed “ghosts” down in Baja were chubacabras not Brotherhood members with Stealth Boys.
Finally reaching Canterbury Commons after two and a half hours more walking everyone's feet were starting to object to hiking over the sometimes broken terrain, Coyle’s voice was getting croaky after a few too many songs and Allison was wishing her leather pants didn’t start to chafe after a while.
Like most of the rest of the Capital Wasteland the small township was starting to get run down, with a few boarded-up buildings and very few people to be seen. A note was pinned to the door of an old barbers shop right at the entrance of town advising customers that Manny Koch the barber had gone to DC to look for his sister and apologised he wouldn’t be available to cut hair until his return but that was the only thing that greeted the visitors on arrival until a tough looking man with a revolver holstered on his hip and a pump-action shotgun leaning back against his shoulder wandered out to meet them. ‘Welcome to Canterbury Commons’ he greeted the newcomers in a friendly enough tone of voice but his expression remained guarded. ‘I'm Dominic D'Ellsadro, the peace-officer in town’ he introduced himself. ‘Can I ask you business being here?’
‘Just delivering someone to where they want to be and trying to find a bed for the night’ Coyle replied.
‘You're packing some serious hardware I see’ D'Ellsadro noted. ‘I hope you aren't planning to cause trouble because we've had enough of that around here recently what with Junders Plunkett paying us a visit not long ago.’
‘An officer of the law will get no trouble from me Sir’ Coyle replied, removing his helmet and sunglasses to seem less threatening.
‘We should take their guns Dom’ someone else spoke up, Coyle turning to see a young woman had appeared holding a sub-machinegun.
‘Not without better cause than that they're strangers’ D'Ellsadro replied. ‘Don't I keep telling you that a town which lives off trade has got to be more welcoming to visitors than a damn cave which lives off fungus?’ he reminded her.
“Damn cave”? Dreamer thought to herself, taking a good look at the girl. ‘Machete is that you?’ she asked eventually, trying to recognise the face.
‘Who's asking?’ the woman replied suspiciously.
‘Don't you recognise me?’ Dreamer asked. ‘Oh yeah the glasses’ she realised, taking them off.
‘Dreamer?’ the woman queried. ‘Shit it is you!’ she exclaimed when Dreamer grinned back at her.
‘You know this girl then Machete?’ D'Ellsadro checked.
‘She's from Little Lamplight like me, just a couple of years older’ Machete replied. ‘She came up with my nickname’ she told him, pleased to meet another Lamplighter.
‘Gotta ask, is there something wrong with proper names like maybe Jane or Deborah?’ Coyle inquired.
‘Our names mean something’ Dreamer told him. ‘In Lamplight you have to earn them’ she said.
‘Where I come from Cassidy means something’ Coyle replied.
‘What exactly?’ Dreamer wanted to know.
‘Well thanks to the dude I was named for, his daughter and myself in particular it means “Don't fuck with anyone called this” and yes
that had to be earned’ Coyle told her.
Machete looked at him. ‘This your boyfriend?’ she asked Dreamer.
‘No’ Dreamer replied.
‘Good for you’ Machete responded wryly.
‘Seriously though, you really don't
want to fuck with him’ Dreamer told the other former Lamplighter, putting her glasses back on so she could see properly again. ‘He really can
back up his bullshit’ she said seriously ‘Most of it anyway.’
‘That's a barbed complement if ever I heard one’ Coyle muttered to himself. ‘So are we good to enter town?’ he checked with D'Ellsadro.
‘No reason to keep you out, especially since Machete don't often get to meet one of her old friends’ D'Ellsadro replied.
‘Thank you Sir’ Allison responded. ‘Can I ask a favour?’ she requested. ‘My Pa used to come here trading and he said if I ever needed a place to go or needed a job I should look up a friend of his, Ernest Roe.’
‘He's the mayor, got the big house down the street but he's probably in the diner with his nephew right now’ D'Ellsadro replied. ‘What was your Pa's name?’ he asked. ‘Might know him myself.’
‘Jack Brenner’ Allison told him.
‘So you're Jackalope Brenner's little girl’ D'Ellsadro replied, smiling. ‘How is the old man doing?’ he asked.
‘He passed on’ Allison told him, ‘my brothers too which is why I'm here looking for work’ she explained.
D'Ellsadro sighed. ‘Sorry to hear that sweetheart, I liked Jackalope’ he said sadly. ‘And his boys too?’ he continued. ‘That's terrible’ he sympathised.
‘It was a while ago now’ Allison told him. ‘I might have come here sooner but I already had a job then and even after I lost it I had no way to get here safely.’
‘I needed a guide, she needed protection, it worked out well’ Coyle told him. ‘So I guess we should go introduce you to the mayor then?’ he said to Allison.
‘Yeah, I guess so’ Allison agreed, less than enthusiastically.
‘Maybe you want to stay here too now you’ve met a friend?’ Coyle remarked to Dreamer.
‘I wouldn't mind staying a few days but I think I'll stick with you for now’ Dreamer replied. ‘You'll still need a local guide and it's not boring tagging along.’
‘I'll get back to walking the perimeter, make sure that we don't have ants trying to get at the Brahmin again’ D'Ellsadro told Machete.
‘Okay, I'll come see you and take over later’ Machete replied, exchanging a nod with her boss.
‘No rush, spend some time with your friend’ D'Ellsadro responded, smiling at her. She was the closest thing he had to a daughter and he worried she didn't get to spend more time with people closer to her own age.
Allison looked around as the towns chief lawman walked off. Canterbury Commons wasn't too bad a place to set up home she thought to herself, more to try and convince herself of that rather than accepting it deep down.
‘Are you okay?’ Coyle asked Allison, she didn’t look very well all of a sudden.
‘No not really’ Allison replied. She felt awful, until actually getting here she was able to put it all to the back of her mind but now standing here in Canterbury Commons and about to go see the mayor she had to face up to the situation and not ignore her feelings.
‘It's probably those noodles’ Coyle theorised. ‘Good thing we didn't eat them all.’
‘No it's not the noodles’ Allison told him. Her stomach was now doing flip-flops though and her hands were getting sweaty. ‘Can I...’ she began, voice faltering. ‘I mean, I want... I want to keep travelling with you’ she told him.
‘Why?’ Coyle asked, confused. ‘I thought you hated all the fights I get into, you do
remember all the fights?’ he checked, wondering if Allison had taken leave of her senses.
Allison was also wondering if she had taken leave of her senses but not for the same reason. ‘I just really like being around you’ she said awkwardly. ‘Despite everything’ she added, and “everything” covered a lot of bases the rational part of her mind insisted on reminding her.
Mystified, Coyle looked to Dreamer for a clue. ‘How can anyone
be as book-smart as you are and
as waste-smart as you are, and still
be so dense?’ Dreamer asked him when she realised what he wanted, eventually rolling her eyes and tracing an imaginary picture of a heart in the air in front of her.
‘Okay, it's proven, I'm officially a fucking moron’ Coyle swore at himself under his breath before turning back to Allison. ‘I like having you around too’ he admitted. ‘At first I just needed a guide and it was nice to have some company but you're the first person in years whose opinion I realised I gave a shit about’ he told her. ‘I don't normally try to justify myself to other people but I do it with you all the time.’
‘But If you like me so much then why are you still such a jerk’ Allison wanted to know.
‘Because if they needed a unit of measurement for being a Jerkass that
would be called the Coyle as well’ the NCR Ranger told the girl from the Blue Ridge Mountains. ‘I didn't feel so guilty about it with other people like I do with you though’ he admitted.
‘Cassidy I need to know how you feel about me’ Allison insisted.
Coyle shuffled his feet. ‘Okay... so bringing you all the way back to Arroyo with me is going to completely ruin the suspension on my bike but I plan to if you'll let me’ he said, trying his best.
‘If this is romance then those stories you used to make up had it all wrong’ Machete told Dreamer.
‘Come on, you can buy me a beer’ Dreamer replied, putting one arm around the other Lamplighter and leading her away.
They were nearly to the diner when Dreamer heard Coyle start to sing behind her and she smiled.
‘How lucky can one guy be?
I kissed her and she kissed me
Like the fella once said
Ain't that a kick in the head
Note from the Author:In Fallout 3 there's a raider gang holed up in the location where I've got the Friendship Heights trading post (and outdoor diner) here. I'll leave it to your imagine what happens to the trader in the six weeks or so between this point in New California Dreaming and the start of FO3. Vikia and Lulu are raiders/slave-drivers you get to meet in The Pitt (Pittsburg). Vikia isn't very nice at all (particularly regarding her position on the worth of slaves which is why I've given her the backstory of being a former Paradise Falls slaver) and Lulu is a good cook but slightly nutty with a tendency to refer to herself in the third person.
The NCR took Navarro off the Enclave some time after Fallout 2. Lost Hills in the NCR State of Maxson was the headquarters of the Brotherhood of Steel on the West Coast, as ever the NCR used sheer weight of numbers to overcome a better equipped enemy (quantity has a quality all its own).
The Ranger Takedown is an unarmed combat move from Fallout: New Vegas, The Dragon was a martial arts expert who lived in San Francisco in Fallout 2. My population estimate for the NCR is simply the 700,000 we know they had in 2241 with a 1% growth rate since (it's perhaps conservative).
Ernest Roe is the mayor of Canterbury Commons in 2277. Dominic D'Ellsadro keeps the peace there with the help of Machete another former Little Lamplight kid. We learn of a search party led by her brother heading out from Canterbury Commons to look for Cheryl thanks to some notes you can find in FO3. The expedition doesn't end well...
And at the end there finally something the Coyle/Allison shippers have been waiting for (there must be some of you out there by now)!