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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)HotpointFR1824119,938208353,57129 Jan 104 Jul 12No

Chapter Twenty-Three

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.

Germantown – Columbia Commonwealth – July 2277

At point-blank range a long burst of 10mm from the MP9 in Coyle's right hand turned the head of the super-mutant it was pressed against into a bloody mush of brains and skull fragments, job done. The single round of .44 from the Desert Eagle in the Ranger’s left hand however only staggered its own target, causing the hulking mutant to merely drop its rifle and collapse to its knees with a grunt of pain. ‘Hard head’ Coyle observed, pulling the trigger twice more in quick succession to finish it off.

Based on his previous encounter with the things back in Seward Square Coyle had expected the rest of them would head straight towards the sound of gunfire, with little if any use of basic small unit tactics such as obtaining cover-fire before manoeuvre. Holstering his MP9 and pistol and quickly retrieving his FN-FAL he wasn't at all surprised as another super-mutant charged in without waiting for support. It promptly took a .308 Winchester bullet in the throat mid-way through an enraged bellow then a second round on the chin which completely shattered its jaw rendering it unable to do justice to either its initial cry of rage or subsequent scream of agony.

Coyle pulled the trigger a third time, the round from the battle-rifle impacting the FEV mutated human in the forehead, punching through the leather flying-helmet it was incongruously wearing then the thick skull behind. The sheer on the bullet caused it to tumble slightly and increase the damage it was causing as it kept going, eventually smashing its way out the back of the super-mutant’s head in a burst of gore.

Already functionally brain dead, and with blood spurting from the hole in its throat, the super-mutant was still somehow on its feet and as yet hadn’t as yet even let go of its assault rifle. ‘Son-of-a-bitch is too dumb to know when it's dead’ Coyle muttered before it finally fell sideways.

More bellows and rapid heavy footsteps got Coyle’s mind back in the game, mouth twisting into a feral grin and a look in his eyes that would frankly have been downright disturbing to a feral ghoul if one had been present to observe it. Consciously Coyle knew that other, likely saner, people might have weighed up the situation and handled it a mite differently, in fact even the more rational part of his own mind was currently screaming at him to reason this through a little better, but you’ve got to be true to yourself right?

It sounded like there were an awful lot of them though and judging by how tough the last three were if several turned up simultaneously the FN-FAL might not be able to put them down fast enough. Moreover they sounded like they coming from different directions and he really didn’t want to get surrounded, much better to retain the initiative. ‘Plan B’ Coyle said to himself putting aside his battle-rifle, ‘Apply more firepower to the situation and hit them head-on’ he decided, reaching behind him to take hold of the Gauss Rifle slung on his back.

Coyle raised the weapon above his head. ‘Behold... Excalibur!’ he presented his M72 to the wasteland still grinning like a loon before putting his game face on and going on the attack.

Not all that far away, still keeping low and out-of-sight but well within earshot, Allison had tried to stay calm as the initial sound of weapons fire indicated that her new boyfriend was once again tempting fate to kill him. Based on her own experiences of seeing him in action, and if even a fraction of his West-Coast war-stories were true, fate had failed miserably to keep up with Cassidy Nagor Coyle so far making Allison wonder if the bitch had just given up trying to kill him years ago and was now mostly going through the motions of making him look in mortal peril for the sake of appearances.

‘Shouldn't we go help?’ Pete asked, not that he wanted to tangle with the things but he felt obliged by his conscience to ask the question at least.

‘If he wanted it he'd ask’ Allison replied evenly, trying to sound like she honestly believed her boyfriend actually knew what he was doing as opposed to just thinking and acting like he did.

‘What the hell is that?’ Dreamer exclaimed as an entirely new sound, a strangely pitched crack slightly reminiscent of a high-powered rifle at a distance but nevertheless distinct from the other gunfire made itself heard.

‘Gauss Rifle’ Allison said with certainty, unlike the others she had heard Coyle's M72 being fired before. ‘Well if any of them are wearing armour that ain't gonna be worth a bucket of warm piss now’ she continued, using a phrase of her Pa's that he’d have likely whupped her good for repeating herself when she was growing up.

Back at the Germantown Police station the Super-Mutant carrying an oversized sledge hammer and wearing clunky self-made metal armour had charged straight at the puny human as soon as it spotted him. Moving faster than any biped that large and densely muscular should be able to it sprinted towards the little man, bellowing at the top of its lungs as it raised the sledgehammer above its head ready to strike down the interloper.

Coyle smoothly raised his M72 and pulled the trigger, the magnetic coils in his gauss rifle putting the first round in the chamber under immense acceleration. By the time the small calibre metal bolt left the barrel it was hypersonic, almost instantly traversing the distance between the muzzle and its target.

Going straight through the crudely-shaped steel breastplate of the Super-Mutant with ease the 2mm EC projectile was nonetheless deformed just enough by penetrating the thick armour to increase the diameter of the hole it was creating in the flesh underneath. This in itself was not however the most critical damage it was creating en-route that being the accompanying hydrostatic shockwave before finally as a serendipitous coup-de-grace the hypervelocity slug went through the creature’s spinal column.

Emerging back into daylight in a spray of blood the remaining momentum of the gauss rifle round saw it subsequently going through a brick wall some distance behind the FEV Mutation, and then putting an impressive crack in a concrete post some eighty yards beyond that. Meanwhile the inertia of the onrushing Super-Mutant meant that it actually almost reached Coyle in the end, albeit while sliding flat on its belly after crashing face-first to the ground. Paralysed, bleeding internally from ruptured organs and no longer much of a threat all things considered Coyle paid it little heed, there were plenty of other foes that needed the same treatment.

When taking on multiple opponents Coyle had learned it pays to be very skilful, ideally very lucky and most importantly make sure to kill them in the right order. Quickly finding himself confronted with another four of the things after going on the offensive Coyle had first dispatched the one with the sledgehammer before it smashed his head in and then switched targets to the one in the middle-distance holding the rocket launcher.

“Boom, headshot” Coyle thought to himself as he blew most of the bazooka-toting mutant’s brains out, ignoring the bullets heading his way from the others for now. Dropping to one knee for a more stable firing platform, and to reduce his own target profile, Coyle then took aim at the closest enemy still in the fight, this one also clad in improvised armour and spraying bullets full-auto from the Chinese Assault Rifle at its hip as it walked towards the Ranger, screaming in rage.

Wishing that Dreamer could be watching this excellent demonstration of the principle that one round that hits is worth more than a whole magazine that doesn't Coyle made another headshot and then swung his gauss-rifle around towards the final target in view.

A bullet dinged off the side of Coyle's helmet and broke his concentration as he looked down his gun-sights at the Super-Mutant emptying an R91 at him from a distance. ‘Asshole’ Coyle swore as another bullet now hit his combat armour just as he pulled the trigger on his M72, leaving a dent in the chest-plate and hurting enough to throw off his aim.

Missing the mutant entirely the apparently wasted gauss-rifle round zinged off towards the horizon where some two miles away it would eventually blow a hole in what was likely the unluckiest Enclave Eyebot in the Capital Wasteland. This random loss of another valuable piece of machinery was used at a meeting at Adams Air Force Base the following day to help justify the continued development of a superior eyebot model, one protected by better armour as well as possessing superior armament for self-defence. Certain elements in the self-declared “Government of the United States” remained dubious of the program however and still regarding it as a misdirection of resources quietly waited for the opportunity to shelve it yet again.

Magazine expended the Super-Mutant's R91 fell silent. Before it could reload Coyle took careful aim, idly noting that this one was also wearing a flying helmet albeit with the goggles pulled down this time. Presumably they were meant as some protection for the thing’s eyes, the sharpshooter reasoned as he squeezed the trigger.

‘The goggles, they do nothing’ Coyle helpfully informed the now deceased mutant after putting a round through the left lens.

Listening out for further trouble the NCR Ranger could still hear at least two more coming from behind and he moved position to lie prone behind the corpse of the Super-Mutant which had been carrying a sledgehammer. It made a handy substitute for sandbags when the last pair of brutish mutations appeared, blazing away with Chinese Assault Rifles before two well-placed shots in quick succession brought them down.

Coyle got up and began to dust himself off, inspecting the dent in his body-armour with sigh before looking around smugly. ‘Okay Spirits, check it out’ he said. ‘Am I good or am I good?’ he asked his dead ancestors before starting to walk back towards where the girls were, intending to pick up his FN-FAL on the way. It had cost him some hard-to-come-by ammunition but the spoils-of-war should be worth a goodly amount of caps and anyway his inner egomaniac liked to show off his skills.

Straight outta Junktown, crazy motherfucker named Coyle
More muties I smoke my Rep gets bigger

‘Whoa, Big Hoss’ Coyle stopped singing when the largest Super-Mutant he had ever seen stepped out in front of him. ‘What, did someone dip a powerlifter?’ he asked incredulously, looking the thing up and down. It must have been at least half again as bulky as a regular super-mutant and the extra weight was clearly all lean muscle.

With what looked to Coyle like one of the Tri-Beam Laser Rifles the Brotherhood sometimes carried held in its right hand, muzzle fortunately still pointing away from him, the oversized Super-Mutant noted the bodies of its fallen brethren and seemed pretty pissed about it judging by the expression on its face.

Coyle looked it right in the eyes. ‘I know what you're thinking’ he spoke up. ‘Did he fire twenty shots or only nineteen?’ he continued deadpan. ‘Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is an M72 Gauss Rifle, the most powerful coilgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?’

Clearly the creature either felt lucky or was less than impressed by the threat because it bellowed and began to aim its Tri-Beam.

With faster reactions Coyle snapped up the barrel of his Gauss-Rifle and fired first. One shot, right between the eyes.

It just stood there frozen in place, a neat hole drilled in its forehead with blood starting to drip out of it and eyes glazing over. ‘Another one too dumb to know it's dead’ Coyle decided, lowering his M72 and wondering if he was going to have to tip the corpse of the damn thing over.

Then the Tri-Beam fired, just slightly misaimed, and Coyle screamed as two of the three parallel beams hit him just below the chest on the left side, the ablative properties of his combat-armour only able to absorb and carry away part of the energy before the flash-heated metal scorched the flesh beneath.

Dropping his M72 Coyle fell sideways still screaming. Meanwhile the groggy but nevertheless still very much alive Super-Mutant tried to shake off the effects of being shot in the head and eyes-unfocused and blurry attempted to fire once again at the badly injured human that was now lying on the ground squirming in agony.

Coyle's inner voice pointed out that he really needed to fight back the pain or he was a dead man. How the hell anything could apparently shrug off a gauss-rifle hit to the head at short-range was a mystery that he very much wanted answered later but there wasn't going to be a later for Cassidy N Coyle if he didn't start moving.

The Super-Mutant fired again just as Coyle rolled to the right, all three beams missing entirely. As the Ranger did so, and trying to ignore the extra pain the movement caused, he drew his Desert Eagle and unable to place his shots any better right now he aimed centre-mass and pulled the trigger over and over again as fast as he could.

Judging by the reaction the Super-Mutant certainly didn’t exactly appreciate having the .44 magnum pistol fired into it repeatedly but if Coyle was hoping for more than just provoking another angry bellow he was greatly disappointed. The bullets had surely penetrated its thick hide, more blood was coming out, but they hadn't gotten deep enough to hit any vital organs and the way their blood clotted to seal off injuries the flow would cease long before blood-loss was an issue.

‘Cassidy!’ a woman’s voice cried out, distracting the oversized mutant which turned to look where it was coming from.

‘No’ Coyle ground out as the thing turned. ‘Take the pain you fucking wimp’ he snarled at himself, forcing himself up off the ground, feeling areas of skin now melted to his armour being torn free by the movement. According to his nose he also smelled an awful lot like the hog-roast at his cousin’s wedding.

Allison had started moving as soon as she heard Coyle scream, despite Dreamer and Pete yelling at her to come back she had started running in the direction of the Police Station chambering a round in her old hunting-rifle as she went.

‘Cassidy!’ she called out for him again before coming face to face with an angry Super-Mutant that was huge even by their standards and bleeding from multiple wounds. She shot it but it ignored the additional minor wound entirely and raised some kind of weapon at her she didn't recognise.

Behind the thing Coyle sprinted into view, armour blackened and smoking. He took a flying leap onto the Super-Mutant’s putting his left arm around its neck to hold on as he stuck the muzzle of his MP9 in its right ear and held down the trigger.

‘Oh shit’ Coyle swore, his moment of triumph abruptly ended when he realised which direction the now definitely deceased mutation was likely to fall with the extra weight hanging off its back.

Allison watched wide-eyed as the huge mutant fell backwards, crashing to the ground on top of her boyfriend. ‘Oh God, are you okay?’ she said, running to him. ‘Say something!’ she implored.

‘Little help’ returned a muffled reply after what seemed like an eternity later. ‘You'll need something to lever this thing off me like a metal pole’ Coyle managed to gasp out despite being pretty certain that to add to his previous laser-burns at least couple of his ribs were now broken.

While Allison called for the others Coyle couldn’t help but contemplate his current situation, suspecting that this painful conclusion to what had been a very one-sided fight was his ancestor’s way of instructing him not to underestimate the local opposition and perhaps also teach him some badly needed humility. ‘Thanks for the lesson, consider it learned, but I think you overdid the negative reinforcement’ Coyle muttered from underneath at least half a ton of mutant.

‘Shit’ Coyle recognised Dreamer’s voice, she must have chased after Allison to already be there so quickly. ‘What the hell happened? Are you alright under there?’ she asked.

Coyle thought about that. ‘I usually prefer being on top’ he replied, proud that his ability to snark was undimmed by mere agonising pain. ‘NOW WOULD YOU PLEASE GET THIS FUCKING THING OFF ME!’ he requested as politely as he felt was appropriate under the circumstances.

Dreamer looked at the massive corpse pinning the Californian to the ground and frowned. ‘I think we're going to need a lever’ she decided.

‘Good idea’ Coyle replied sarcastically. Why is everyone else always at least three pages behind he wondered?

Half an hour later Coyle learned that he should have read further ahead himself, or rather asked more questions rather than assuming he already knew all the answers. ‘But I thought you said you knew all about Super-Mutants, I mean other than getting the eating people bit wrong?’ Allison asked him as Doc Hoff worked on Coyle’s injuries, the Ranger being propped up with his back against the side of an old house. It had taken two shots of Med-X before the pain was reduced enough to enable them to get his armour off and seeing the full state of the damage Hoff had then given him another one before injecting three stimpaks into his arm.

‘I never met one like that before in my entire life’ Coyle replied through gritted teeth, wincing as Hoff started wrapping a bandage around his torso.

‘I've seen a couple before’ Hoff told him. ‘Got a good look at one that a Brotherhood Paladin with a Gatling-Laser had taken out down near Rivet City’ he said. ‘They call them Overlords I think’ he recalled.

‘Fuckers just don't get that big and tough back home’ Coyle responded, wincing again as Hoff continued to work. ‘I've shot holes in Power Armour with that rifle, blown the heads off deathclaws at five-hundred yards, but the son-of-a-bitch was barely fazed’ he said, still frankly astonished at his M72 not getting the job done.

‘I hate to tell you this but they get even bigger than that in these parts’ Hoff informed him. ‘The Brotherhood call the really big ones Behemoths, and they're pushing twenty feet in height supposedly’ he said seriously. ‘The theory is that after a few years they start going through a second forced evolutionary change with Overlords being the intermediate stage.’

‘You're kidding?’ Coyle responded incredulously. A Super-Mutant twenty feet in height was simply a staggering thing to contemplate.

‘I wish I was’ Hoff replied, finishing up. ‘I'm going to give you another couple of stimpaks to keep you going but to be honest you need a better qualified and experienced physician than me’ he said. ‘My title of “Doc” is more honorary than earned you understand.’

Dreamer appeared cradling an armful of rifles. ‘Pete thinks he can blast open the door to the Police Station but if we’re going to be bringing all of these and that heavy-assed rocket launcher too I don't think we can carry much more with us’ she said. ‘Chances are it was cleared out of loot by scavengers years ago anyway I'll bet.’

‘She's probably right and besides which it would slow us down if we overloaded ourselves and the pack brahmin’ Hoff agreed. ‘Trust me, it's in your interests for us to reach Paradise Falls quickly before an infection sets in’ he advised.

‘The doctor you say is there is good?’ Allison checked.

‘Cutter?’ Hoff replied. ‘Yes, she's very accomplished, probably as a result of plenty of practice treating abused slaves and digging bullets and shrapnel out of unlucky slavers’ he confirmed.

‘How is she with burns?’ Coyle inquired.

Hoff smiled. ‘Another thing you'll encounter in these parts is flamethrowers aplenty so I'd say she's dealt with plenty of burn victims too’ he replied confidently. ‘Chances are you're going to need at least a couple more shots of Med-X to get you there though so you might want to get your system flushed out by her too because otherwise you'll likely be nursing the start of a serious painkiller addiction.’

Coyle nodded, he didn't want to end up a junkie. ‘What do I owe you for all the drugs anyway?’ he asked.

‘I'll happily take that missile launcher and the rockets for it off your hands’ Hoff replied. ‘Even if I can't sell to anyone else Lucky would love it’ he said. ‘I'll even throw in some extra stimpaks and some radaway if Pete says it's in good condition.’

‘Sounds fair’ Coyle agreed. ‘Can I get a hand up?’ he requested. ‘Oh yeah, gonna be sore in the morning’ he said, grimacing as Allison helped him rise. The Med-X took the edge off but he wasn't so much burned as he was practically charred in places and even breathing was painful thanks to the cracked ribs. If he hadn't been wearing the armour the beams that hit him would have killed him outright so he decided he should regard the burns as a reasonable price to pay for survival.

‘I can't begin to imagine how much pain you must have been in when you ran and jumped on that thing's back’ Hoff commented.

‘The adrenaline helped’ Coyle explained. ‘And it would have hurt a lot worse if I'd let it kill my girl’ he added sincerely. ‘Don't you dare hug me right now’ he told Allison quickly who looked like she was about to.

Allison giggled. She'd been so worried about him it was as much a release of tension as anything else. ‘I could kiss it better’ she offered. ‘You know I like my meat well done’ she couldn't resist adding.

‘Hey can I have that fancy laser-rifle you were shot with?’ Dreamer asked hopefully.

‘No you damn well can't’ Coyle replied curtly. ‘I earned that thing the hard way’ he said with conviction.

Dreamer shrugged, she didn't expect him to say yes. ‘You might want to grab one of these assault rifles for yourself if we're going to Paradise Falls’ she advised Allison. ‘Look dangerous enough and they might not hassle you but if they think they can get away with it they'll put a slave-collar around your neck and pimp you out to some scumbag before you can get so much as a shot off with that bolt-action.’

‘She's probably right’ Doc Hoff concurred.

‘Of course I'm right, I'm speaking from fucking experience’ Dreamer stated coldly. ‘I'm going to clean my guns and load some extra magazines’ she said, turning on her heels and walking off.

Allison adopted a wry smile. ‘You always take me out to such lovely places’ she remarked to her boyfriend.

‘Sorry but the closest place I know of that delivers is a Chinese Restaurant in San Francisco and the food would be cold by the time it got here even if the delivery guy wasn't eaten by something himself on the way’ Coyle replied apologetically. ‘You should go talk to Dreamer, she's starting to stress out’ he added, a great deal more seriously.

‘I know, are you sure you're okay?’ Allison checked, she desperately wanted to fuss over him but didn’t think he’d appreciate it.

‘I don't ever remember saying I was but I don't think I'm going to imminently kick the bucket and she needs her hand held more than I do right now’ Coyle replied.

While Allison talked to Dreamer and Doc Hoff helped Pete load the brahmin Coyle sat down on a concrete block and started to reappraise his thinking. Based on their outright stupidity he had dismissed the local Super-Mutants as a non-threat to the Republic until now but if the local bastards kept on mutating to more dangerous forms then eventually there might be an entire army of veritable walking tanks on the East Coast that might end up marching west.

Most soldiers in the New California Republic Army weren't armed with more than the standard-issue NCRA Service Rifle manufactured by the Gun-Runners and Coyle would frankly rather take a BB Gun up against a Yao Guai than a 5.56mm up against one of these “Overlords”. Even an anti-materiel rifle wasn't going to drop one quickly, assuming they and their ammunition could even be produced quickly in sufficient quantity which was far from certain. After all, the reason why the Service Rifle was even introduced was because arming the whole of the NCRA with the more expensive FN-FAL and its pricier 7.62mm ammunition was considered too expensive even with the Republic on a war footing.

He was thousands of miles away from NCR support, hell the only capable military formation out here that could put up a fight was already in retreat and they were an enemy of the Republic anyway.

Coyle squeezed his eyes shut and opened them again pushing any negative thoughts from his mind. ‘Just have to beat them myself’ he decided, wondering how he was going to manage that but not doubting for a moment that he could. ‘Rookie mistake based on lack of Intel’ he said, looking down at his bandages. ‘Next time I'll just have to remember to keep shooting until they fall down’ he told himself. ‘No more assumptions that just because I know the rules back home I know them here and no more goofing off’ he continued, getting up off his seat ‘I am a professional soldier, a Ranger in the service of the New California Republic and a warrior of the Holy Thirteen’ he declared loudly. ‘I am not here on vacation I am here to do a fucking job and I will get it done!’ he vowed.

Dreamer and Allison stopped talking to each other, turned and looked at him. ‘He's talking to himself. I think Hoff overdid the drugs’ Dreamer observed.

‘Could be worse’ Allison replied with a shrug, ‘at least he's not singing.’

Note from the Author:

The Super-Mutant Overlord of the Capital Wasteland is not something you see on the West Coast. The strain of FEV found in Vault 87 seems to not only result in generally less intelligent mutants it also keeps evolving them into even stronger forms.

Never having encountered a Super-Mutant which was so much stronger than the ones he already knew of Coyle assumed incorrectly that an M72 Gauss Rifle round to the head was a sure-fire one-shot kill, in this he was sorely mistaken. In game terms Overlords have over three times the hit-points of their strongest West-Coast cousins, fortunately they don't come at you in groups!

Tri-Beam Laser Rifles are often carried by Overlords. Coyle would be familiar with them because they're carried by the Mojave Brotherhood of Steel. They cause a great deal of damage.
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