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.
Megaton - Virginia – June 2277
Coyle woke up lying on his side on a bed in an unfamiliar room and with one of the worst hangovers he could remember, not that his recall of past events was currently so great to be honest. He tried moving his head but the splitting headache that provoked made him reconsider fast. Being perfectly still for a few more minutes at least was a good thing he decided.
Straining his hazy memories of the previous night he remembered a big celebration with the townspeople celebrating the raiders being driven off, he remembered being bought several drinks by grateful locals after Simms explained the strangers role in the fight and he had a vague recollection of getting up on a bar and singing Danny Boy with the owner but after that it was just a blur.
He wasn't wearing his armour but moving his head as little as he could he could now see it next to the bed, along with what looked like the rest of his stuff including the metal panniers from the bike, his rucksack and his rifles. His distinctive “Parties Only” Hawaiian shirt was hung on a nail driven part-way into one of the wooden joists that was supporting the metal walls of the room and the familiar hard lump under his pillow was likely his Desert Eagle placed for quick availability meaning he hadn't been completely
hammered when he went to bed.
There was also, he now realised, someone else in the bed spooning up to his back.
‘Oh for the love of God be female and of age’ Coyle said quietly to himself. He remembered trying to charm his way into the pants of the girl who worked at the Brass Lantern after a few beers and having her two brothers warn him off so he hoped it wasn't her because he didn’t want to get into a fight with them, or even worse face the fine old southern tradition of a shotgun wedding.
Coyle turned over slowly, not wishing to either re-trigger the searing pain in his head, or wake whoever it was until he had a better idea of their identity. ‘Keep still’ a familiar voice mumbled at him. ‘Tired’ it said.
Okay, it was Allison Coyle was now aware, not entirely certain of what he should be feeling about that, although he didn't think the occasional waves of mild nausea he was suffering from was linked however. This was definitely
a problem given that he suspected she wasn't the type to think that sleeping with a guy was merely recreational with no emotional strings attached. Moreover he had no idea if they actually had
done anything anyway. ‘Okay if I was too drunk to remember I was probably to drunk to do much’ Coyle reasoned optimistically.
‘Be quiet’ Allison told him and cuddled up to his back some more, now putting an arm around him.
Allison’s eyes suddenly snapped open and she became rigid as a statue. “Oh crap”, she thought to herself, realising she was in bed with Coyle who appeared to be naked, from the waist up at least. Then after a couple of seconds she realised that she was too.
‘Good morning’ Coyle said awkwardly.
Allison didn't reply straight away, she was trying to remember the previous night and failing miserably. ‘Morning’ she replied eventually.
Coyle would have loved to have simply asked her but if they did
have sex and he indicated he couldn't remember she might burst into tears or something, women could be very odd that way. ‘Are you comfortable?’ he asked, fishing for clues.
‘It's a nice soft mattress’ Allison replied, did he mean was she okay with them having sex, she wondered? Was he going to want to do it again?
Coyle slowly turned over. Oh he must want to do it again Allison decided. Had he taken advantage of her before? She didn't even know but she did know she could get giggly and flirty when she was drunk. It might have even been her idea, she did sorta like him, a lot she admitted to herself, even if he was
a serious jerk sometimes.
Think Cassidy think, Coyle thought to himself as he turned over. They were under a sheet but the girl appeared to be as naked as he was and she didn't shoo away when he ended up facing her and getting a nice view in the process. ‘How are you this morning?’ he asked.
‘I've got a hangover’ Allison replied.
‘Me too’ Coyle told her, she looked like she expected him to do or say something. Okay this should answer the question once and for all, he decided, biting the bullet and moving to kiss her hoping for a reaction then stopping as he realised something. ‘You can hit me for saying this’ he said, ‘but I can't remember what we did last night and I've just noticed I’m still wearing my baggies’ he told her.
Allison looked back at him. ‘I can't remember either’ she admitted, reaching down. ‘My panties are still on too’ she said, checking.
‘We got very
drunk’ Coyle said redundantly.
A memory came back to Allison. ‘I remember you were snoring, I think I turned you onto your side which stopped it but you kept rolling back and in the end I propped you up.’
‘So we didn't have sex?’ Coyle checked.
‘I don't think so’ Allison replied.
Coyle was relieved but decided a slightly more chivalrous response than “Thank God” was called for. ‘Good, I'd hate to think I'd ever laid a pretty girl and didn't remember it’ he said instead, it was about as good as he could manage with a headache.
Allison smiled and then she remembered she wasn't wearing a top and she pulled the sheet over herself. ‘Turn around’ she told him forcefully.
‘Already seen them now, not much more than I'd already seen thanks to that low-cut outfit you wear but that horse has well and truly bolted now’ Coyle told her, turning over again nonetheless before getting out of bed. ‘Do you remember you borrowed one of my cleaner T-Shirts to wear at the party last night?’ he asked.
‘Yes’ Allison replied.
‘I can see why you took it off, it's on the floor with something that I hope is some kind of sauce on it’ Coyle told her. ‘You can keep it but I'd suggest you wash a few times before wearing it again’ he advised.
‘Don't put that on again, everyone said you looked stupid in it’ Allison told him as he reached for his Hawaiian shirt.
‘Like I care about their opinions’ Coyle replied before pausing and turning back to her. ‘What do you
think about it?’ he asked.
‘It's hideous’ Allison told him honestly, he must care about my
opinion then she thought to herself, pleased about that.
Coyle sighed. ‘Okay I'll put on something else’ he agreed, opening up his rucksack and looking for his old T-Shirt with “Kowabunga Tribe” printed on it.
They had rented one of the rooms above Moriarty's Saloon, supposedly at a discount but it still wasn't that cheap as far as Allison was concerned. The room was theirs for a couple of days and the town seemed safe enough so Coyle left his combat armour behind and after they were sure they could keep breakfast down they headed to the Brass Lantern.
Despite the lack of armour Coyle still wore his two overlapping gunbelts with the MP9 and the Desert Eagle ready in case he needed them, but that was as much because going unarmed made him nervous and tetchy as it was that he imagined there was any real prospect of violence. Allison had her badly misnamed “Mercenary Adventurer” outfit on, she desperately needed some more clothes, but the combat helmet she usually wore with it was also left in their room.
‘How's your head this morning?’ Jenny Stahl asked in amusement as they sat down on the stools across from her at the outdoor eatery which was situated towards the bottom of the crater the town was structured around. She had seen ghouls with better complexions she thought as the pair of travellers asked for a light breakfast. Gob the ghoul barman at Moriarty's Saloon didn't look as bad as they did right now Jenny decided.
‘It would be better if that crackpot wasn’t preaching so loudly over there’ Coyle replied, looking at the plate of mutated fruit slices set out in front of him with a lack of enthusiasm. Not too far away a religious nut was vocally worshiping an undetonated atomic bomb of all things, singing the praises of radiation.
‘Confessor Cromwell is a good man’ Jenny told him, ‘not that too many of us embrace his religion you understand’ she added.
Allison swallowed a piece of the familiar crunchy fruit she knew from home. ‘I never believed Pa when he said there was an unexploded atomic bomb here left over from the Great War and people worshipped it’ she said. ‘Now I’m wondering if his tall tail about Mirelurks having kings is true as well’ she continued doubtfully, trying a piece of the other fruit she hadn't tried before which Jenny Stahl had called “Punga”, it wasn't bad she decided.
‘I met some ghouls in Kansas City that used to worship an atomic bomb they called Plutonius and were praying for his return’ Coyle told them. ‘Of course they
were immune to radiation unlike that dude who is being very unkind to his DNA by standing in that puddle of irradiated water the bomb is lying in’ he said. ‘Why the hell doesn't someone at least diffuse the thing?’ he asked.
‘It might upset the Church of the Children of Atom and besides which it hasn't gone off in two hundred years but it might
if someone started fiddling with it’ Jenny Stahl told him. ‘So you're not going to mention how pretty my eyes are again this morning then?’ she asked sweetly.
‘It's still true but it was more fun saying it with your brothers staring daggers at me’ Coyle replied with a smile, actually in better light she wasn't as pretty as he had thought she was last night. Just above average maybe but after a few beers she had looked damn good.
‘You're lucky the Sheriff was watching out for you or they might have taken you outside and beaten you up when you tried to get me to dance with you’ Jenny told him as he forced down a couple of pieces of fruit.
‘Yeah, sorry about that’ Coyle apologised.
‘I don't mind happy drunks’ Jenny Stahl told him, ‘it's mean ones I don't like’ she said, her eyes flickering across to where the guy called Jericho was entering the Clinic, possibly seeking some painkillers as he had been knocking it bad last night too. For a second it looked like she was recalling a bad memory, Allison noticing and wondering what it might be.
Megaton was basically a large crater with the town built into the sides of the hole and high walls around the rim to protect it. The walls and the buildings were made of sections of several different large aircraft, military and civilian and despite the haphazard nature of the construction, you couldn't really call anything so chaotic a design, it seemed sturdy enough. As a trading hub of sorts plenty of people passed by this way, so to Coyle’s mind it was a good place to hang for a few days to try and find out more about what was going on in DC. If both the Brotherhood of Steel and the Enclave were established somewhere around here, and
there were Super-Mutants about, the former US Capital was definitely a location that warranted considerable detailed investigation by the NCR.
The Enclave and Brotherhood propaganda broadcasts were certainly making their mark. “Galaxy News Radio” was an obvious front for the BoS and hooked people in with catchy tunes whilst interspersing them with Pro-Brotherhood messages. It was however far less blatant than what the Enclave and their “President” John Henry Eden were pushing and perhaps GNR was more effective for that. Only that senile old twit who had cornered Coyle in the bar for fifteen long, long
minutes last night singing the praises of the Enclave seemed to be buying it wholesale, one advantage to the harshness of the wasteland life is that world weary cynics don't tend to be easily suckered in.
The town store was called Craterside Supply and was run by a kook. She was friendly enough, and obviously well meaning, but for a woman with a mechanical man Moira Brown obviously had a screw loose, maybe two Coyle decided. After agreeing a price on the armour and weapons Coyle and Allison were selling on the woman had explained about a book she was writing and wondered if they might be interested in helping out... she wasn't selling the idea very well however.
Coyle fixed the peppy young woman with a stare. ‘Let me get this straight’ he said. ‘Among other things you’re looking for someone to get critically wounded, irradiate themselves so much they'll glow in the dark and play with landmines?’ he asked coldly.
‘Oh it all sounds so much worse than it really is’ Moira replied brightly. ‘You'd be fine’ she said.
‘Yes, because nobody in their right mind would
do those things’ Coyle told her flatly. ‘Why don't you ask your mercenary bodyguard over there to do it?’ he asked.
‘She did, I wouldn't’ the normally laconic mercenary leaning back against the wall of the store responded.
‘Not even for triple pay and a bonus’ Moira said regretfully. She had only recently hired the man to help protect her and the store and she was now regretting not putting a few more roles into his job-description.
The mercenary rolled his eyes, this wasn't a bad job really, he thought. There wasn't too much trouble in Megaton usually and Sheriff Simms kept the crime rate low so he didn't have much to do for his pay. He had been ready to help fight the raiders the previous day but that hadn’t come to anything in the end thanks in no small part to this obviously sane stranger who wasn't buying into Moira’s latest project either.
After asking a few questions about the Capital Wasteland out of curiosity Coyle asked Moira if she had any idea why the .32 pistols some people carried around here seemed so underpowered compared to hunting rifles firing the same cartridges. The bullet which had bounced off his combat armour yesterday for example had nowhere near the stopping power or penetration of the rifle Allison used, the muzzle velocity shouldn't have been that much lower he knew.
Moira laughed. ‘It's the powder silly’ she explained. ‘Most of the .32 calibre bullets around these parts come in via caravan from The Pitt to the Northwest’ she told him, ‘I've heard they have ammunition presses up there making brand new .32 cartridges but the propellant they're using is too slow burning for pistols’ she continued. ‘The 10mm they make would probably be much more effective from a longer barrel too’ she suggested.
Coyle smacked himself on the side of the head. ‘The bullets accelerate too slowly to get up to full speed in something the length of a pistol barrel’ he realised.
‘Right’ Moira confirmed. ‘They're good bullets but you need to fire them from a rifle or you're wasting half the powder’ she said.
‘Could you take a look at my rifle?’ Allison asked Moira, she had fetched it from the Saloon along with the things they were selling. ‘Cassidy replaced some of the worn parts from one we took from one of the dead raiders we killed but the action still isn't smooth when I work the bolt’ she said, taking out the ammunition in it before handing it over.
‘I'll take a look honey’ Moira replied with a smile, taking it over to her work bench, testing the bolt herself. ‘Yes it is a little clunky’ she agreed. ‘A couple of parts and some work with a file and it'll be as good as when it was made’ she promised.
‘How much?’ Allison asked.
‘We'll call this one a freebie’ Moira told her, starting to strip the rifle down into parts. ‘You need to start using more gun-oil, it’ll reduce wear and tear’ she advised. ‘I can sell you some.’
‘We'll take a couple of cans’ Coyle replied. ‘Also have you got any 7.62mm NATO or .308 Winchester?’ he asked.
‘Not much but some’ Moira replied, her attention on the rifle she was servicing.
‘I'll take what you’ve got’ Coyle told her, he had spoken to Simms about maybe getting the ammunition replaced that he had used against the raiders but the Sheriff said he didn’t have any in the town armoury, it simply wasn't a calibre used too much around here. ‘What about .44 Magnum?’ he wondered.
‘Oh I've got a couple of boxes of that for sale’ Moira told him. ‘Lucky Harith one of the caravan traders that visits usually has some to trade’ she said.
‘I'll take both boxes’ Coyle said, ‘and a hundred and fifty rounds of 10mm’ he added.
‘Going to war?’ Moira asked him with a chuckle.
‘Always seems like it’ Coyle replied evenly. ‘I like the armoured vault suit you've got hanging up there by the way’ he said indicating the old blue one-piece oufit that was standard dress in the vaults and which she had apparently added some protection too. ‘Is Vault 101 close then?’ he inquired, the number was on the back.
‘It sure is, still sealed too mostly but every so often someone comes out to look around’ Moira replied. ‘I made that suit as a custom order for a girl about a decade back when the store still belonged to my Dad but she never came back to collect it’ she said. ‘You interested in buying?’ she queried.
‘If it hasn’t got 13 written on it it's not worth having’ Coyle replied dismissively. ‘Talking of which have you got any paint?’ he asked hopefully. ‘I've got to put a lucky number on the back of a combat helmet’ he said.
Thanks to the towns large water purification plant, and relatively small population, there was enough surplus water for washing and bathing so both Coyle and Allison decided to take the opportunity to wash off the dirt and grime of the wasteland before returning to the saloon. As had been the case in Helltown the water coming from the plant was in two grades, one good enough for bathing and the other being more carefully filtered in a second stage of purification was for drinking water.
With the hangover long gone and having washed both herself and her clothes Allison felt clean on the outside. She wasn't feeling unwell on the inside now either but thinking about the raiders she had shot the day before, the girl her age in particular, she started to feel pangs of guilt. She was sure they had all done something to deserve it, and doubly certain that if the roles had been reversed the raider would have killed her with few qualms, but that wasn't helping.
Sitting at a table in the saloon Allison looked at her beer with a gloomy expression on her face. Cassidy was at the bar trying and failing to get some free information from the owner Moriarty, laughing and joking like the people he had killed yesterday didn't so much as cross his mind. The zombie they called Gob who was serving drinks had badly creeped her out at first but now sitting alone with nothing to do but think she was feeling far too maudlin to even notice he was there.
‘Hi, are you okay?’ a girl asked her, causing Allison to look up from her neglected drink.
‘I'm good’ Allison replied unconvincingly. ‘It's Lucy isn't it?’ she asked. ‘We talked last night before it got rowdy and I had to stop Cassidy singing’ she said.
‘That's right’ Lucy West confirmed. ‘You look a little down’ she noted. ‘Want to talk about it?’ she asked. ‘It's only fair, seeing as how I inflicted my life story on you before’ she joked.
Allison was going to deny she was feeling bad at first but why lie about it, maybe talking would help? ‘Take a seat’ she said. ‘Just promise not to talk about growing up in Arefu again’ she requested with a gentle smile.
‘I know it was boring, that's why I left for the excitement and bright lights of the big city’ Lucy said, sweeping her arm around to indicate the town of Megaton. ‘Just tagged along with a trade caravan one day and never went back’ she said.
‘At least you get to send letters back and forth with your folks and your brother’ Allison remembered being told. ‘My brothers are gone, my Ma and Pa too’ she said wistfully.
‘I'm sorry to hear that’ Lucy told her honestly. ‘So it's just you and the Tribal then?’ she asked.
‘The Tribal?’ Allison repeated in confusion for a second before realising, ‘Oh Cassidy isn't a Tribal, his Ma was but he isn't really’ she said. ‘He told me he comes from a really big town, hundreds and hundreds of people’ she told her.
Lucy frowned. ‘But it says on his T-Shirt...’
‘Yeah, maybe that was the name of his mother's tribe or something?’ Allison theorised. ‘The Kowabungas could be a big tribe on the West Coast or something?’ she wondered. ‘I'll have to ask him’ she decided.
‘How long have you been together?’ Lucy asked.
‘We’re not together
, together he hired me as a guide after I threw a spear at him a few days ago’ Allison replied then paused and looked amazed as she considered what she had said. ‘Has it really only been a few days?’ she asked herself rhetorically. ‘It feels like so much longer’ she said.
‘You threw a spear at him?’ Lucy queried.
‘It seemed like the thing to do at the time, I suppose I was lucky he didn't shoot me’ Allison told her, ‘I've seen him shoot people for a lot less’ she said. ‘Not that he’s a psycho-killer or anything’ she said hurriedly in case the local girl might get the wrong idea. ‘He only kills bad people that earned it’ she continued then looked down at her beer again. ‘I... I only kill people that deserve it too’ she added quietly.
Lucy nodded. ‘The Sheriff said you shot some of the raiders’ she recalled.
‘It was so...easy’ Allison said. ‘It shouldn't be so easy’ she opined. ‘Just line up the rifle and shoot, just like you're hunting molerats or something’ she said, voice starting to tremble.
‘I'm sorry’ Lucy said softly, reaching over and taking her hand.
‘So is there some girl-on-girl action about to happen’ a voice interrupted, ‘can I watch, or maybe join in?’ it asked, ‘I'll put some caps your way’ it offered lasciviously.
‘Get lost Jericho’ Lucy told him sternly.
Jericho smirked. ‘Should have known you were a dyke all those times you turned me down’ he said. As ever he was wearing his faded black leather armour and had his rifle slung on his back.
‘I'm asking you to go away’ Lucy told him more loudly.
‘The big scary voice doesn't work on someone who's big and scary sweetheart’ Jericho replied sarcastically.
‘So there's no reason it wouldn't work on you, unless you include podgy and out-of-shape within your definition of big?’ Coyle asked, turning around at the bar. ‘You're not scary by any
stretch of the imagination’ he stated. ‘I know scary, you don't meet the criteria’ he stated.
Jericho turned to face the “Hero” from last night, like it took guts or skill to shoot a few peckerwoods in the back. ‘I'm the man in this town’ he said. ‘I don't like passers-through talking to me like they’ve got anything to say worth fucking hearing’ he growled, voice gravelly from years of smoking.
Coyle looked Jericho in the eyes. ‘Do you think you're dangerous?’ he asked.
‘What?’ Jericho replied, perplexed by the question.
‘It's a simple question’ Coyle responded. ‘Do you think you're dangerous?’ he asked again.
‘Yes I’m fucking danger...’ Jericho began but before he could finish his sentence he noticed Coyle was grinning. ‘There's a gun pointed at my back isn't there?’ he asked.
‘No but you get points for realising there could
be, I did tell her to do things like that when I attracted the attention of unpleasant types such as yourself squarely in my direction’ Coyle answered. ‘I'm looking unconcerned because we both know there's no way you can have that rifle strapped to your back aimed at me before I draw my pistol’ he said. ‘Now since I don't think you're retarded enough to risk your life just for the right to be an offensive prick, get lost’ he advised.
back down from a fight’ Jericho told him seriously.
Coyle looked him in the eyes. ‘Guess not’ he read the man, Jericho was a nasty piece of work and a bully but in Coyle's estimation he likely he wasn't a blow-hard. ‘Okay, want to settle this outside the old fashioned way?’ he asked, holding up a fist.
‘Love to’ Jericho replied, turning towards the door, judging correctly that the guy with the weird accent wasn’t the type to shoot him in the back in front of his woman. It occurred a split second later that he might
just be the type to pistol-whip him though right before Coyle cracked him hard across the back of the skull with his Desert Eagle.
Jericho slumped to the ground unconscious, if he thought the headache he woke up with that morning after the party last night had been bad it was going to pale into insignificance compared to the one he'd have when he came to.
‘We should probably leave town’ Coyle told Allison. ‘I don't think his being an asshole is a good enough reason to kill him but I’m sure he'll try and kill me
at the earliest opportunity now’ he said.
‘What did you do that
for?’ Allison exclaimed.
‘It was quicker than beating him up’ Coyle responded. ‘Less effort too’ he added. ‘What was he saying to upset you so much anyway?’ he asked.
‘What are you talking about?’ Allison asked in confusion.
Coyle frowned, he wondered if he had misinterpreted the situation. ‘I heard him told to go away loudly and when I turned around he hadn't and you looked upset so...’
‘I didn't look upset because of him
’ Allison declared. ‘I was upset before he arrived’ she said.
‘No?’ Coyle asked in surprise.
‘No’ Allison confirmed.
Coyle looked down at the prone form of Jericho lying on the floor of the saloon bleeding from a small head wound. ‘Shit’ he swore. ‘I'll leave a few caps to pay for his visit to the docs then’ he said with a frown.
‘Wait a second, you hit him on the head with your gun because you thought he upset me?’ Allison asked, dumbfounded.
‘Well yeah’ Coyle replied, almost sheepishly. ‘I did basically promise you that I wouldn't let anyone hurt your feelings’ he said, ‘I mean except for me when I go too far with the jokes’ he added awkwardly, feeling several pairs of eyes on him. I must sound like a twelve-year-old he thought, almost critically embarrassed by the whole situation.
Allison buried her head in her hands for a moment. ‘For crying out loud Cassidy’ she said in exasperation. On one level it was sweet but on several others it was plain dumb.
‘I still think we should get our stuff and go’ Coyle told her, ‘I'd feel really bad if I had to kill the poor bastard now’ he said.
Allison sighed and shook her head sadly before turning to Lucy West remembering a phrase she read in an old pre-war book, her Pa bought them back sometimes after working on the trade caravans. ‘I think I need to invest more time in developing his people skills’ she decided, Lucy nodding her agreement.
Note from the Author:The Church of the Children of Atom in Megaton had definite shades of the ghoul worshippers of Plutonius in Fallout: Tactics. The worshipping of undetonated atomic weapons must be widespread in the Fallout universe!If you read through saloon-owner Moriarty's computer files on his computer you'll see in an entry that he suspected Jericho had once tried to rape Jenny Stahl. That's why I had her understandably nervous of him.Revolvers firing the same .32 ammunition as Hunting Rifles in Fallout 3 are far weaker, this was probably just a screwup but if the propellant was slow-burning it might have that effect. You will also find that 10mm ammunition fired from an N99 automatic has inordinately less power than the same round does fired from the a Lever-Action Rifles you can obtain in the Point Lookout expansion pack. New ammunition can be made using the ammunition press featured in The Pitt expansion pack based in the ruins of Pittsburgh. It's noted in the game that people captured by the slavers in Paradise Falls are often traded to The Pitt to be factory workers, I'm reasoning that this is paid for by the sale of ammunition made there.Storekeeper, mechanical tinkerer, amateur scientist and kooky enthusiast Moira Brown owner of Craterside Supply tries to recruit volunteers to assist her writing a book called the Wasteland Survival Guide. This mainly consists of her getting you to perform dangerous and/or insane tasks out in the wasteland while she stays safe at home and writes up the results if you get back alive. In the game it's a lot of fun to cooperate, Coyle however is far too sane to do so himself. Lucy West is a young woman originally from the tiny Capital Wasteland community of Arefu who moved to Megaton while the rest of her family stayed back home.