A Burning World
Disclaimer: The characters/worlds of Buffy, Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas belong to their respective owners. If you recognize it I do not own it.
Timeline: pre/current Fallout 3/New Vegas universe and post Twilight in Buffy.
A/N: Thanks for reading and for the reviews. Also, sorry for the wait.
After the last killing ground she had half expected the vaultie to leave a swath of death so obvious that when the sun rose the next morning all she would have to do to track her prey would be to follow the path of gore. But all that greeted her as the new day began was a great emptiness studded with rubble. Plants, long since leached of life, sprouted randomly from the barren ground; spindly fingers that clawed towards unforgiving hazy dull skies. Given the absence of a clear path leading to her quarry it was time for plan b.
“If I was an explosives happy vaultie where would I be?” The question was rhetorical, hardly above a whisper as she muttered it to the open stretch of wastelands, yet Charon answered anyway.
“Heading to get payment.” At her look he clarified his thoughts simply by asking her: “Why would the wanderer blow up Megaton?”
“Because he’s an evil lunatic?” Charon grumbled his agreement but kept silent.
Knowing it was true, but not the extent of the answer, she allowed herself to ponder the question a bit more in-depth. He had not been outside of the vault long enough to have any strong emotions either way, no way to build any sort of hatred or affection, towards the people in Megaton. And given that she was tentatively ruling out that he was just killing for the sake of killing, though perhaps not completely, that left only one likely conclusion.
“Any ideas who might want Megaton blown up?”
Alistair Tenpenny of Tenpenny Towers filled their criteria for the ‘who’ that the vaultie may have been working for: he had motive, the money and the power to reach the lone wanderer. That Megaton ruined Tenpenny’s view of the nothingness that filled the horizon of his towers vistas would most likely have been enough on its own to hire someone to have it removed.
The tower itself was remarkably well preserved as far as old world ruins went. It rose majestically towards the sickly pale sky marred only by the wooden patching present on one corner of its vast height. That it stood at all, let alone that it loomed as high as it did, was amazing given that all around it the rubble of any buildings that may have once existed had long since been reduced down to a dust indiscernible from the surrounding sands.
The security of the tower was almost as impressive as the building itself; the exterior was defended by a wall composed of square concrete plates embedded close together into the dusty earth that spread out from its border. Far different than most areas that, if they had bothered with fencing at all, consisted of rotted wooden posts stuck weakly into the dust and strung together with one or two rusted strands of barbed wire. The only way through the impressive barrier was past a well-fortified, solid metal, gate that was opened from the inside once one sweet-talked its guard on a static riddled intercom.
Inside, dusty fabrics and smooth marble seemed to glow in sepia like tones, a snapshot of past glory. Tenants wandered in what passed as extravagant clothing, heads held at a superior tilt, all the while offering unsolicited comments about how much they enjoyed their current living and the deplorable nature of ‘those ghouls’. Having left Charon outside, as the guard would only allow her entrance had she gone alone, she did not have to fear his reaction to their outright rudeness. He would not have cared that they were unarmed.
When Buffy finally met the man himself she was thrown off by his initial manner. Seeming the perfect gentleman at first introduction she was all the more baffled by the rhetoric he spouted about the evils of ghouls. Memories of a different man, a different monster, who wore the face of a gentlemen as he tortured her family before she ultimately, and tragically, killed him flickered before her mind; a reminder of the deceptive nature of appearances and first impressions. That he almost immediately praised the vaulties actions in ridding the world of the unsightly blemish of Megaton made her hands curl to fists. That he then attempted to convince her to rid his precious tower of the accursed presence of some local ghouls almost gifted him a rather permanent hole somewhere quite important.
Tenpenny was quick to add, perhaps imagining some slight to the missing wanderer when Buffy politely inquired after the vaulties absence, that, had the lone wanderer not rushed off so hastily after watching Megaton explode from the towers impressive, and quite exclusive, balcony, surely the savior would have taken care of the problem. But as things were… could she please find it within herself to aid him in his most noble quest? Upon curbing her initial reaction Buffy was then able to gain the general location of the supposed ‘feral ghouls’.
Leaving after offering a rather ambiguous response to his impassioned plea, which Tenpenny chose to take as an assurance of her aid, Buffy met up with Charon outside the towers gates. Not long after repeating the events of the encounter for the ghoul’s benefit they set off towards where Tenpenny reported the location of the ghouls. That they would not be going there to kill the ghouls went unspoken as Buffy’s companion had made his opinion of the entire situation abundantly clear in his own unique way; which was to say that he grumbled ominously and loaded his shotgun while eyeing Tenpenny’s entrance as if he alone could burn it down to so much rubble.
It probably should have bothered her more that the newest task was taking them away from the direction that their prey had gone in. Rather her heart was filled with a strange amalgamation of nostalgia and resignation. It reminded her of her youth, nights spent investigating the chaos spread by lesser big bads; small tasks that filled the quiet between apocalypses. Things that she was obligated to follow through on even as the bigger bad continued its reign of terror because, as much as she would like to solve the bigger problem, if left alone the small things could easily get out of hand.