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.
Springvale - Virginia – June 2277
Heading north on a reasonable stretch of road after they left Megaton after a few miles they came upon the ruins of what had once been a small town in the DC suburbs called Springvale. Being fairly close to the populated settlement it must have been stripped bare of anything worth having decades ago Coyle reasoned so instead of stopping to root around the wrecked houses they continued on towards the Potomac having a plan to follow the riverbank into DC.
Since riding the motorcycle into the city would attract a great deal of unwanted attention Coyle parked it up next to an old school at the northern edge of Springvale and after removing the gas tank and handbrake to make it look like just another piece of broken pre-war junk they left it there and continued on towards the river on foot. Even at a fairly relaxed pace it should take them less than three hours to reach a small community Allison knew of called Grayditch where they could bed down for the night and perhaps pick up some news on recent happenings in DC. Grayditch was at the edge of the city proper and the locals might know more about the current situation there than they had in Megaton it was hoped.
Not being quite enough of an asshole to use the girl as a pack mule Coyle was carrying his bulky rucksack for once, his M72 gauss rifle strapped to the side in its holster and his FN-FAL in his hands ready for action. Allison had her own meagre belongings in a small satchel and the contents of the two metal panniers from the bike in a light canvas hold-all Coyle had produced folded up from his rucksack as they trudged to the river then along the bank towards DC.
‘Nice day for a walk’ Allison opined as they basically strolled along, there was plenty of sunlight left and they hadn't met anything that had tried to eat them since they left Megaton so she was in a good mood.
‘All I'd need is someone yelling at me to pick up the pace and I could be back in the damn infantry’ Coyle replied with rather less enthusiasm.
‘Pa told me that if I was ever near the Potomac I should look out for Mirelurks’ Allison continued brightly, her good humour unabated by his surly response. ‘They're great eating but some days you get the 'Lurk and some days the 'Lurk gets you’ she said sagely.
‘Eating shellfish only used to be risky because of food poisoning, not getting ripped to shreds by pissed-off crustaceans’ Coyle replied. Several people had mentioned the things to him starting in Helltown, they had all raved about the taste, especially when turned into the famed mirelurk cakes that were supposedly the Capital Wastelands sole culinary specialty. ‘I wonder if up in Maine they still eat a lot of lobster?’ he asked rhetorically. ‘Damn things could be the size of Buicks these days’ he continued. ‘You'd need a whole lot of brahmin milk to get the butter to chow down on one of those’ he said.
‘You know an awful lot about places you've never been’ Allison remarked.
‘So could you but they hide that information in books’ Coyle replied sardonically, earning a scowl.
‘Just when I think you've started being nicer to me you ruin it’ Allison complained, her scowl becoming a pout. Back in Megaton he had seemed genuinely annoyed when he thought that jerk Jericho had upset her but only a few hours later he was back with the wisecracks.
‘What can I say, I'm a wasteland-weary cynic with a defective personality’ Coyle replied. ‘You can't accuse me of not being aware of it at least’ he added then stopped walking to turn to her. ‘I've gotten used to having you around but don't expect some kind of miraculous overnight change just because I like the company’ he said.
‘Just don't say the first thing that comes into your head that you think is funny, try stopping to think if it'll upset me is all I ask’ Allison told him.
Coyle thought about that. ‘But what if it's really
funny?’ he checked.
‘I'm not talking to you for at least the next hour’ Allison replied, shaking her head and starting walking again, Coyle following after a moment because he couldn't think up a decent retort.
Like many rivers in the post-apocalyptic United States the Potomac was a shadow of its former self. It wasn't quite as disappointing to see as the Colorado had been when Coyle had first scouted Hoover Dam but nonetheless this close to the Chesapeake Bay he had expected it to look more impressive and he reasoned that rainfall must be very low in the entire region. Coming from arid Southern California and having only seen the East Coast before in books he had been hoping to find Virginia a lot more green than this but maybe after touring the area thoroughly before heading home he could find what he was looking for further north in New England he hoped.
Getting assailed by something eventually was inevitable of course in the wasteland and Allison was just relieved it came in the form of a small swarm of bloatflies, more an annoyance than a real threat. At first Coyle tried to swat the things with a suitable piece of driftwood he picked up from the riverbank but in the end his patience snapped and throwing away the improvised fly-swatter he pulled his MP9 and firing single rounds he shot them out of the air, ignoring Allison’s observations about temper-tantrums and wasting ammunition.
Half a mile further on it was apparent that the city was even more intact than Coyle had imagined it to be based on the usually less than reliable testimony of travellers. Rows of intact apartment blocks dominated the skyline up ahead, it was almost hard to believe that it was two centuries since the Great War, not a mere handful of years, and Coyle wondered what the NCR could have achieved with such a treasure trove of salvage and raw materials to hand.
Even the river started to look better as they continued to hike along it, becoming wide and deep enough to more closely match what Coyle thought a river should be. Up ahead an intact bridge next to what seemed to be an old Super-Duper Mart spanned the Potomac and Coyle was wondering if they should take the opportunity to cross before Allison told him that their destination was on this bank.
As they approached the bridge, nearing the old market, Coyle started to get twitchy. His mother would have said it was the spirits of his ancestors looking after him but he himself interpreted it as the justifiable paranoia resulting from being ambushed so many times over the years. ‘That place looks almost pristine and being so close to that bridge I'd expect people to be living there’ he said.
Allison nodded her agreement. ‘Crossing points are usually prime locations for trading posts or settlements’ she replied. ‘Maybe we should go see?’ she suggested.
‘I'll go see, you stay here behind those rocks over yonder’ Coyle replied, shucking off his rucksack and laying it down on the ground.
‘What if you don't come back?’ Allison asked.
‘Then you can consider yourself my sole beneficiary’ Coyle replied. ‘Don't let the gauss rifle sell for less than two thousand caps and then get as much as you can for the ammunition’ he advised, loosening up his shoulders after carrying the heavy pack.
‘We could just go around, keep clear of the place if it's got you all suspicious’ Allison pointed out.
‘I'm not walking any further than I damn well have to and anyway there could be something good in there’ Coyle responded, chambering a round in his FN-FAL just in case. ‘Relax’ he told her, ‘I'm good at this’ he said.
‘Poking your nose into places where you don’t think you should?’ Allison asked wryly.
‘That and getting back alive’ Coyle replied. ‘Oh you might as well take my sunglasses too’ he added, handing them to her.
Allison put them on. ‘Do they suit me?’ she asked.
‘They hide your pretty eyes’ Coyle responded, gallantly he thought.
‘You think my eyes are pretty?’ Allison replied, beaming.
Coyle grinned. ‘To be honest I couldn't even tell you what colour they are’ he replied. ‘I only ever wore the shades because it made it easier to look down your cleavage without getting slapped’ he said.
Allison glared at him before remembering that with the sunglasses he wouldn't be able to tell. ‘If you don't come back I’m burning that hideous Hawaiian shirt’ she told him irately.
‘Leave the shirt be’ Coyle told her sternly, turning and setting off towards the market. ‘Oh, and I was yanking your chain, they're blue’ he added, breaking into a trot.
‘How can I like him, hate him and then like him again all in the space of a minute?’ Allison asked herself in confusion, watching him double-time towards the Super-Duper Mart, his rifle ready for action and his head moving left and right looking for trouble. ‘Nice ass though’ she decided.
Coyle reached the side of the building facing the river unmolested and made his way to the corner more slowly, hugging the wall and pulling his Desert Eagle with his left hand, holding onto the FN-FAL with the other barrel now pointed skywards. Because of the length of its barrel it wasn’t the ideal weapon for close combat but it would go through a lot of things that neither his magnum automatic or his 10mm SMG wouldn’t so he liked to keep it with him anyway just in case.
If he had been holed up in the building with some friends Coyle would have put a sharpshooter on the roof to act as a lookout and to pot-shot anyone that came near but just because there hadn't been one didn’t mean the building was empty, it could still be full of hostiles, just not very smart ones he knew, getting to the corner of the building and slowly leaning out to get a look at the front of the place.
A small number of abandoned cars and rusty shopping trolleys lay in the parking lot out front of the building but other than that and an old bus stopped in the middle of the road heading for the bridge there was nothing else to see. Nothing except that is for the two objects that immediately caught Coyle's undivided attention. ‘Okay, so what are the chances of there still being any bottles of Nuka Cola in those old Vending Machines?’ he wondered quietly to himself.
Putting hope aside for now it would clearly be a good move to check out the inside of the building first, before he started smashing in the front of those Nuka Cola machines in the hope of obtaining the tepid nectar of the gods as he liked to think of it, so Coyle moved along the front wall towards the nearest of two sets of double doors that led inside. As he did so he started to hear sounds from within, muffled voices and what could be heavy objects being moved about, so he steeled himself for possible action and slowly pushed open the door trusting that if they weren’t smart enough to put a look-out on the roof they wouldn’t have booby-trapped the doors either.
Keeping to the shadows Coyle slowly made his way inside and took a peek at what all the commotion was about. ‘Ah, home remodelling’ he breathed to himself watching five raiders, four male one female as they seemed to be hauling planks around, making ramps and bridges to span the aisles that ran down the market. The shelves seemed almost bare but a few cans of food still seemed to be up for grabs.
‘Why the fuck did we get stuck with this job’ one of the Raiders protested loudly as he picked up a splinter in his hand from one of the planks.
‘Would you rather be humping all our shit from the old hide-out with those other slobs?’ another replied. ‘They'll take hours to carry it here, those ammo boxes weigh a ton’ he said, and that was assuming the lazy bums had even started yet.
‘I'd rather be out having fun’ the one that had complained responded before using his teeth to pull out the splinter, spitting it out.
‘Look dipshit’ a third raider, this one wearing a set of armour in better condition than the others interrupted them. ‘From here we can hit trade caravans heading for Rivet City and
Megaton’ he said. ‘The roof doesn't leak, those refrigerators still work and if we can figure out how to get that locked door in the back open I'll bet there’s still some shit worth having in there no scav has ever messed with.’
A raider girl was still working. ‘Stop standing there with your thumbs up your asses and give me a fucking hand with this’ she declared loudly, kicking another plank.
‘Shut your fucking mouth bitch or I'll stick something else
up your ass’ the raider who had removed the splinter responded.
‘From what Big Sal told me you couldn't even get it up the last time you went sniffing around for some’ the raider girl retorted.
‘Okay that's it’ the slighted raider exclaimed. ‘I vote we gang-bang this slut’ he said to the other men.
‘Too much woman for you on your own?’ the raider girl responded with a sneer, pulling a knife. ‘Come on Romeo, just try’ she taunted him.
Coyle wished he had a video camera so he could record the mating habits of the East Coast Raider for posterity, it was truly fascinating stuff that deserved considerable research. Maybe instead of wiping most of the bastards out on the West Coast the NCR Rangers should have captured a few alive and placed them in zoos for long-term study he considered, holstering his Desert Eagle and taking aim with his rifle, drawing a bead on one that hadn’t said anything, he might be the brains of the outfit judging by the way he kept rolling his eyes at the puerile antics of the rest.
‘Leave her be, you know the boss says she gives the best head of any of the chicks’ the better dressed raider told the angry one, ‘he'll rip your
ass if you hurt her’ he warned.
‘That's probably just how the queer likes it’ the raider girl declared.
can shut the fuck up too’ the one that seemed to be in charge ordered, pointing at her.
‘Holy shit it's the Three Stooges plus Two, live and uncut’ Coyle said loudly. ‘Put your hands in the air or I'll kill you’ he told them, leaning out further into the open so they could see him and that his rifle was aimed their way. They were about twenty-five yards off, point-blank for the FN-FAL but not such a good range for the collection of revolvers and sawn-off shotguns they seemed to have.
The Raiders froze. ‘I told you we needed a fucking sentry’ the one who had been keeping quiet growled, definitely the brains Coyle decided.
‘You wouldn't shoot a girl would you?’ the female one asked plaintively.
‘Sounds like it would be wasting a rare talent but yes I would’ Coyle replied honestly. ‘Now this is the last time I ask’ he continued, ‘raise the hands or I start shooting.’
‘I think it's just the one guy, he can't get all of us’ the quieter one opined, Coyle’s estimation of his IQ dropping considerably.
‘If he had any guts he would have just fired’ the one who had been threatening the girl commented. ‘Let's take him.’
Oh these bullets don’t come cheap Coyle groaned inwardly as he pulled the trigger on his FN-FAL blowing a hole through the quiet one then firing again as fast as he could on semi-automatic as the rest scattered.
Coyle took out the leader next, unfortunately for him a load of wooden shelves being a totally inadequate form of cover against 7.62x51mm NATO rounds that could have very easily penetrated the external wall of the building at that range let alone some two-century old plywood.
Number three to drop had found a more effective barricade in the form of a heavy refrigerator. Instead of using it effectively however he leaned out the left side from Coyle's perspective and promptly had his brains blown out as a result. The vast majority of people being right-handed it was usually a fair bet he would go that way and the other two weren’t placed to shoot back yet so Coyle had ignored them for the moment.
The two left were the girl and the one that had nearly gotten into a fight with her. It seemed unlikely that they were about to cooperate, one pinning him down while the other tried to flank, but he was still outnumbered and Coyle kept his mind on the game. ‘Larry, Curly and Moe are down’ he said loudly. ‘Just you two left, I'm a reasonable man so I'll give you another chance to throw out your guns and surrender’ he offered.
‘Fuck you’ the remaining male raider yelled back only to be forced to crawl for his life as Coyle immediately opened fire on where he had been hiding, blowing holes through the shelving all around him.
‘Are you with Talon Company?’ the girl yelled out, ‘we can match the offer if someone has put a price on our heads’ she said.
‘No I'm just doing this for kicks’ Coyle yelled back. He reckoned he had another five rounds left in his magazine and he decided to save them, putting down the FN-FAL and drawing his MP9 instead. Who the hell was “Talon Company” he wondered, taking his Desert Eagle from its holster too and moving to a new position, keeping low.
‘You draw his fire and I'll get him’ the male raider suggested.
‘Kiss my ass’ the girl replied, ‘you
draw his fire and I'll
get him’ she countered.
Coyle took aim with both guns at where he thought each one was. Any time now they'd reach the obvious conclusion.
‘If we go together he can't shoot us both’ the male one said.
‘Good idea’ the girl replied. ‘On three’ she said. ‘One, two...’
‘Wait’ the male one said, ‘do you mean go on three or three and then go?’ he asked.
‘Go on three you retard’ the girl exclaimed, ‘one, two, three!’ she said popping up from cover just when the other raider did.
Coyle held down the trigger on his MP9, and hosed it towards the remaining male raider who wasn't precisely where he thought he would be but he chucked enough lead to allow for that. A 10mm round hit him just to the right of his nose and shattered his upper jaw before ploughing on through, tumbling and expanding as it went before exiting the back of his head. It wasn't an immediately lethal injury but it certainly knocked him out of the fight as he tumbled back screaming as best he could, still pulling the trigger of his revolver the bullets going nowhere near Coyle.
The first round fired by the Desert Eagle missed the female raider and she got off a shot with her sawn-off, peppering Coyle with buckshot. Most struck his armour harmlessly but the lucky bitch caught his gun-hand with a couple of the pellets just as he fired the Eagle again Coyle howling and dropped the magnum automatic as blood from the wounds sprayed into his face. ‘Shit’ he swore, biting back the pain in his left hand as he got up and sprinted straight for her bringing the MP9 around. It took time to reload a double-barrelled and even though he missed the shots had probably at least spooked her enough to slow her down.
Having him run at her panicked the girl and she fumbled as she tried to re-load, dropping back into cover because it looked like he was about to rip her apart with that fucking sub-machinegun he had seemingly produced from nowhere. How many guns did this asshole have anyway, a little voice in the back of her mind asked as she tried to stop shaking long enough to put two fresh shells in her gun having ejected the others already.
She was just coming back up when Coyle came over the top of the freezer cabinet she had sought cover behind and smashed her arm with the shotgun in it aside with his wounded hand. She pulled the trigger, both barrels discharging wide as he stuck the MP9 in her face. ‘Are we fucking done?’ Coyle asked angrily, face a mask of blood-splattered rage.
The girl swallowed, cross-eyed as she now focused on the MP9 and the trigger he was squeezing, the pressure just short of what was needed to fire. ‘We're done’ she replied, releasing her grip on the the sawn-off shotgun, letting it fall to the floor.
‘Good’ Coyle replied, grabbing hold of her hair with his wounded hand, ignoring the pain as he got his blood all over her and dragging her to her feet. ‘If you so much as fucking look
like you're going to try anything I will kill you stone dead’ he vowed convincingly, pulling her towards where he had left his other two guns. ‘If you weren't a girl you'd be dead already’ he told her, throwing her against a wall. ‘Stay there facing the wall with your hands behind your head’ he ordered, the raider girl complying as he picked up his pistol with his wounded hand, wincing with the pain as he holstered it, MP9 in the other hand still trained on her.
The raider girl noted that he said he had only spared her because she was a woman. ‘I'll be real nice to you if you don't hurt me’ she promised. ‘If you've been looking for a woman I'll be the best you've ever had’ she said, voice trembling as she wondered if this was how the wastelanders she and the gang had terrorised over the years had felt.
Coyle next retrieved his FN-FAL, it had a strap so he shouldered it before going back for the girl. ‘The only use I've got for you right now is to carry shit’ he told her, the adrenaline starting to fade reducing his anger but increasing the pain in his hand as he dripped blood onto the floor.
‘Okay I'll slave for you then’ the raider girl replied starting to feel a modicum of relief. It didn't look like she was going to be killed, at least not yet.
‘I was thinking of you as a criminal on a good old fashioned southern chain-gang myself’ Coyle told her, ‘consider me judge, jury and maybe executioner too if you piss me off’ he said.
‘I thought all you Regulators wore those stupid hats’ the raider girl responded, assuming he must be one of the self-appointed vigilantes that professed to be the guardians of law and order in the Capital Wasteland. He had indicated he wanted her to walk ahead of him out of the Super-Duper Mart and she had obeyed instantly. ‘If you want I can cut the fingers off those guys back there for you’ she offered, trying to win points for being helpful. ‘None of them meant anything to me’ she said, pushing open the door with her elbow as she carefully kept her hands behind her head.
‘This is a fucked-up part of the world’ Coyle stated flatly, following her outside, machine-pistol trained on her back. ‘Turn towards the river and follow the building around to the left’ he ordered, ‘we're going to collect a friend of mine and then we're going back to take anything your
friends had worth selling on, not including fingers’ he said.
‘They weren't any friends of mine’ the raider girl insisted.
‘If you’re planning to make something up about being forced to join the gang, that they treated you like shit, that I'm the big hero that saved you and you were just suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome don't waste your breath’ Coyle told her as he marched her around the building heading back towards Allison.
‘Would you believe they addicted me to drugs?’ the raider girl replied, she would
have tried all that except for not knowing what the fuck the “Stockholm Syndrome” was. ‘I'll have the shakes to prove it in a couple of hours’ she said.
‘All that would prove is that you’re an addict, and don't try using any of those lines on my friend either or I will do things to you that even your twisted raider imagination couldn't conceive of’ Coyle threatened. ‘I must be going soft not blowing your head off right now’ he added, ‘be grateful we didn't meet a couple of weeks ago’ he added, poking her in the back with the MP9 to speed her up.
When they reached Allison she looked the raider girl up and down. ‘Who's this?’ she asked.
‘I got you a present, something to help carry your stuff’ Coyle replied, ‘sit down on the ground’ he told the raider who did so.
‘There's blood on your face’ Allison exclaimed, ‘your hand's bleeding’ she added.
‘I didn't say it came cheap’ Coyle replied dryly. ‘Raider-bitch here and four of her friends were inside rearranging furniture and we disagreed on how the new lay-out should be.’
‘You killed them’ Allison responded, it wasn't a question.
‘They were completely fucking up the feng shui of the place’ Coyle told her. ‘What else was I going to do?’ he asked rhetorically.
‘Who did that to you?’ Allison asked, pointing at his hand.
‘She did, with a shotgun’ Coyle replied. ‘If you could take my gauss-rifle off my rucksack we'll put the bag on her and then tie her hands’ he said, that would make a quick getaway more than awkward at least, plus it was better than him carrying the thing. ‘I'll bandage up my hand when we get back to the market and you gather up the weapons and anything else they had worth taking’ he continued, ‘I think they've got friends due later and I want to be well gone before they arrive.’
‘What are we going to do with her?’ Allison wanted to know.
‘Well she offered me sex which is more than you have’ Coyle replied.
’ Allison responded irately, crossing her arms.
‘Definitely not before giving her at least a seven day course of antibiotics that's for sure’ Coyle replied, ‘I saw the company she was keeping’ he said with distaste. ‘Oh we'll just shoot her or let her go eventually I guess.’
‘We let that cannibal girl go straight away before’ Allison pointed out.
‘Yeah but if I'd needed someone to carry my bag then I wouldn't have’ Coyle replied. ‘Fuck it’ he said. ‘Consider yourself conscripted into the Army of the New California Republic’ he informed the girl on the ground. ‘You can also consider yourself promoted from Raider Skank Third Class to Cadet Pack Mule’ he continued. ‘See there's always room for advancement in the NCR Armed Forces, in a few more years, and with plenty of effort on your part, you'll make it all the way up to worthwhile Human Being’ he said.
‘The army of the what
?’ the raider girl responded in mystification, this guy was clearly nuts, seemed to be making up words and and he talked with a funny accent.
‘Gotta break them down before you can build them back up that’s what my old Drill Sergeant told me’ Coyle declared. ‘On your feet recruit’ he said. ‘Today is the first day of the rest of your life’ he told the girl.
‘Is it the blood loss or did you take some really strong painkillers already because of the hand?’ Allison asked Coyle seriously, taking off the sunglasses for a better view as she checked to see if his pupils were dilated.
Note from the Author:In Fallout 3 a reasonable number of raiders can be found in the Super-Duper Mart near a bridge across the Potomac. Coyle and Allison reached there by heading north from Megaton going through Springvale until they reached the river following it towards DC heading towards Grayditch.The game starts in August 2277 two months into the future of the point we're at now and by then the Super-Duper Mart is a raider stronghold but I'm taking it that they only moved in fairly recently and Coyle came across the site when they were still getting established.Raiders are often addicted to some of the various drugs that exist in the Fallout universe, these include Jet a very strong methamphetamine, Psycho a mixture of speed and heroin, Med-X a painkiller and Buffout a type of steroid. This drug abuse does help explain why raiders are generally so crazed and aggressive... Coyle meanwhile is just being himself!