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896524 No. 896524 ID: 5ddaa1

“I don’t want to set the world on fire~”

The familiar, crooning vocals of The Ink Spots reverberate around the rusted pipes, mixing with the static from the decrepit jukebox before wandering further down the concrete tunnels of the old subway.

“I just want to start~”
“A flame in your heart~”


You silently wonder how many years had passed since you had last heard the band live at the Seattle Central Stadium. If your memory serves, it had been their New Year’s Tour, a rally for the troops in January 2076, two years before the bombs had dropped.

“In my heart I have but one desire”
“And that one is you~”
“No other will dooo~”



To think, at the time, morale had been low enough for command to authorize the expense. All those soldiers boxed in like frozen fish in the far north during a particularly harsh Seattle winter had been going stir-crazy, especially those preparing to ship off even further north to Alaska. There, the conditions would go from bad to worse, they knew, their days spent counting snowflakes and frost burnt toes, waiting on the non-existent son of a bitch stupid enough to make a move on the US oil reserves. To everyone gathered there, it must have all seemed like a waste of time.

“I don’t want to set the world on fire, honey”
“I love ya too much”
“I just wanna start a great big flame”
“Down in your- Zzzt!”


The music abruptly dies as a plug in the wall comes loose, the sudden jolt pulling you from the fog of memory. Your neck servos immediately snap into motion, head whirring in a hundred-fifty degree arc to regard the source of the interruption: an otherwise well-kempt man in a freshly grease-stained shirt. Plug in one hand, ratchet in the other, he offers an apologetic frown even as he takes an instinctive step back from the sudden movement.

“Sorry,” Lucius says. “Were you listening to that?”

“Only a little,” you insist, unwilling to confess to more investment as you turn back to the task of trying to pick out the unique maker’s mark on each assorted tool in the makeshift toolbox in front of you. “I’m only partially here, after all.”
18 posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>>
No. 899637 ID: 5ddaa1
File 153565914899.png - (363.90KB , 687x693 , Fo3OA_Winterized_Mister_Gutsy.png )
899637

>>899636

“She took the cellar, mum!” comes a borderline hysteric Jeremy over the comms.

“Literally how!?”

“I… Well, I don’t know, to be quite honest. One moment she’s ramming herself head first into the door. The next we’re trying to stitch up a scalp and treat a concussion. She was restrained the entire time! She shouldn’t have been able t- Well- She sh-“

“She shouldn’t have, but she did,” you finish, “and now she’s bunkered down in the basement.”

“With Matilda!” the old Mr. Handy frets.

So, a crazy little merc with one of the more valuable robots in the waste as a hostage. You don’t know whether to be impressed or furious, so instead settle on a mixture of both as you stubbornly march down corridors debating how patient you feel today.

> What to do? (Roll 1d100)
> [] Try diplomacy. At least at first.
> [] Employ stealth. This is now a rescue op.
> [] Full force. It’s one badly injured kid and you have a schedule to keep.
>>
No. 899643 ID: 33cbe7

rolled 85 = 85

>[X] Try diplomacy. At least at first.
If she arranges for Matilda's return, we'll arrange for her return. In as many pieces as Matilda is, mind you.
>>
No. 899644 ID: 33cbe7

>>899643
Well, okay, swap 'return' for 'release.' Relevant information:
>No close associations with the organization, survival oriented. You condense personality traits down from the amalgam of information she’s stored in her most private notes, eventually wrapping around to the present day and her current operations. Seems she was left off of the detail due to her superiors’ concerns that she wouldn’t follow orders, and lo and behold what the wisdom of age has foreseen.
>>
No. 899703 ID: e3e99e

rolled 93 = 93

>>899637
> [X] Try diplomacy. At least at first.

Do you know how familiar the Golden Sons are with the Lurkers?
Do you think you could convince the Golden Sons that the Lurkers have a history of not paying up, and then after convincing them of that point out that you are an established settlement who would not actually be able to skip out on the check?

Basically, convince them the only way they can get a paycheck out of this is if they side with you.

As far as the hostage? Don't mention it at all unless they try to force the point. You want to present yourself as negotiating from a position of strength.
>>
No. 899732 ID: 135690

>>899637
[x] Employ stealth. This is now a rescue op.
The kid isn’t that valuable: she’s considered a liability by the Golden Sons, so unlikely to be worth much as a bargaining chip. Matilda is far more valuable than the little terrorist’s survival.
>>
No. 899733 ID: 135690

rolled 87 = 87

>>899637
>>
No. 900739 ID: 5ddaa1
File 153628170510.jpg - (72.94KB , 550x828 , 98cb1504eb248564f22bbc3ec983bf66.jpg )
900739

>>899733
>>899732
>>899703
>>899644
>>899643

> 93

Mechanical feet thump a stern rhythm on their way down the still-carpeted hallways of the RobCo facility. A broken sternum, a dislocated shoulder, a concussion: the little runt had barely been glued back together the last time you were around and she just had to pull a stunt like this, didn’t she?

“Well, um… If nothing else she’s got spirit, right?”

Aria, your bright-eyed contemporary, is looking hard toward the silver lining as you explain to the other AIs what the hell is going on back in-city.

“And it’s not like we can’t fix whatever she’s done to Matilda, really. So, let’s not kill her, okay, Major?”

“Why me?” the Major demands sourly. “Not like I’m the one with my finger on the trigger, anyhow. Also, hell, might not even do it were the shoe on the other foot.”

“Unusually generous of you,” you chime in, rounding a staircase and almost punching through an old step with a mechanical foot.

“Eh. If she weren’t a rad-sucking subhuman, I’d almost say there’s somethin’ American about raisin’ that much of a ruckus when the enemy thinks you’re out on your ass… Still, say we should send her back in as many pieces as she left the medic in, though.”

“Hey now! We can’t just-”

Aria’s rebuttal cuts out as you close your comm-link and usher back in some peace and quiet for yourself. As nice as it was having those other fragments back in the fold nowadays, their constant bickering really did eat into your sanity, making you grateful for that easy off switch.
>>
No. 900741 ID: 5ddaa1
File 153628182196.jpg - (7.03KB , 283x159 , robco.jpg )
900741

>>900739

At the same time, you have to wonder. Were you always this… divergent? Somehow, in those halcyon days before the war, you don’t really recall… Well, ‘others’… It was just you, only the one voice filling a city-sized chamber. And now…

“I’m telling you. All we’d need is a crate o’ packing peanuts and a gallon of pool cleaner and-“

“Lalala! I’m not listening! Lalal-“

That’s enough of that for now. You have smaller fish to fry, said fish soon to be within earshot if the flashing red indicator on the sealed bulkhead down the hallway is any indication.

“Don’t come any closer, asshole!” growls a voice through the intercom once you’ve close half the distance. “I’ve got the door and the medi-bot ready to blow if you make a move without my say-so.”

“Oh really?” You take another step.

“I’m not fucking around!” Sparrow shouts.

“And neither am I,” you reply coolly, taking another step. “So, don’t bullshit me by threatening to blow up your only bargaining chip and probably yourself in the process.”

“I ain’t a goddamn rookie,” she warns. “I’m not gonna hurt myself.”

“Oh really?” you question again, relaying through Jeremy to access the Robco camera systems. “Nobody ever told you what happens when you mix bleach and ammonia?”

The little moron swears as she notices she left Matilda’s rigged chassis lying by a rack of janitor’s supplies, then again, a split second before something smashes the camera you were using into pieces.

“One mistake!” she shouts defiantly.

“No.” She’s getting flustered. Good. “A lifetime of mistakes. That was just the most recent.”

“Fuck you!”

“Fuck me? I’m not the one who ran into a room with one exit and then lined the way out with explosives.”

Knowing Sparrow, she probably has already thought of another way out, one she might have already taken were she not busy arguing with you.

“So, what was the grand master plan?” you query. “People take hostages when they plan on bartering. Doesn’t make much sense, otherwise.”

“I want my shit, my gun, and a way out of this dump,” she fires back.

“So, you can go back to the Sons?”

“No. So, I can kick off my modeling career. Of course, so I can get back to the fucking Sons.”

“The ones who are bound to ride your ass for not only going out and trying to kill a target without permission, but then bungling that operation so badly that you almost died?”

“…”

“Honestly, I can’t understand why you’re so dead-set on going back, but I also don’t really care. What matters is that I’m willing to take you back if it means we can avoid a blood bath. So, how about it?”

“I want my shit,” she growls.

“Shit, yes. Gun, no,” you inform her. “We’re going to have a nice, quiet ride over to your outpost, at which point, you can fuck off and get yourself killed at your leisure. Fair enough.”

There is a long, long pause, followed by the muted sounds of swears screamed into a mostly padded room. Still, no explosions are forthcoming, and give or take another five minutes, the door finally slides open to reveal a battered and perhaps slightly broken child.

Lovely.

> What to do:
> [] Try to pry more information out of Sparrow along the way. How?
> [] Just focus on getting to the Sons. Any plans for dealing with them?
> [] Other
>>
No. 900742 ID: 33cbe7

> [] Try to pry more information out of Sparrow along the way. How?
You read her journal. Just keep making assumptions about her family life until she corrects you.
>>
No. 900758 ID: 34d9dd

> [] Try to pry more information out of Sparrow along the way. How?
Keep needling her on how the Sons won’t take too kindly to her insubordination. Ponder her fate, list different punishments to see which ones she reacts to or that she corrects. Try to build a profile on the Golden Sons operational standards to form a psych profile. Mention her rifle and how she must be trash to the Sons for her to be using such a weapon; see if she takes the bait.
>>
No. 901888 ID: 5ddaa1
File 153706434111.jpg - (112.52KB , 564x803 , winter3.jpg )
901888

>>900758
>>900742
>>900741

It takes some hunting around the facility, but you eventually find some warm clothes left behind by ex-staffers to replace the torn and bloody tatters Sparrow had been reduced to. You hazard giving her the privacy to get ready for the outing on her own and are rewarded with a distinct lack of hare-brained, half-mad escape plans or sudden explosions. Still…

“Really?” She gives you a sour look as you snap a manacle around her wrist and affix the other end to yours.

“Really,” you assure her as you adjust the winterized cloak you have draped around yourself. “I’d rather you and I not get separated on the way back and I doubt you want me having to pick what’s left of you out of a yao-guai’s teeth”

She doesn’t find that comment particularly funny, but she also doesn’t try to drag behind as you make your way out the door of the RobCo facility with her in tow.

“Stay safe, mum,” Jeremy calls after you as the doors swish closed and lock tight against future intruders.

Fortunately for Sparrow, it seems that the damage she did to Matilda was minor at best, the old bot hardly missing a beat after a hard reboot and a brief adjustment of her hover jet. It saves you the trouble of making good on your threats at any rate.

It also raises some questions, though, not the least of which being whether disarming the machine via repurposed defibrillator had been dumb luck or conscious planning on her end. Much as machines and strong currents don’t agree, that sort of take-down wasn’t as simple as it sounded. You had to know what to hit, why, and how, and if that was standard know-how for the Sons…

“So… What’s the plan for when you get back?”

You finally hazard a question after a half-mile of snow, ice, and bitter silence.

“Fuck off,” comes the predictable response.

“Listen. A little assurance that I’m not bringing you back to have you fed to the dogs would be appreciated,” you level with her. “I’ve seen the Lurkers put bullets in people’s skulls for a lot less.”

“Don’t compare us to that trash,” she warns, her voice icy as her boots lock in place.

Seems you struck a nerve.

“Last I checked, that trash is your boss,” you remind her, noticing how she stiffens, “or do I have something wrong here?”

“Just cuz they can pay doesn’t mean we have to like them,” she snaps back. “We’ve fought for worse for less.”

“And you’re proud of that?”

“I…” She’s clearly flustered by the question. “I don’t have to be.”

> Well, you have her talking at least.
> Write-in
>>
No. 901928 ID: 33cbe7

Why do they call themselves the Rising Sons? Do they have a code of... honor may not be the right word, there.
>>
No. 902078 ID: 5616d1

>>901888
"'Worse for less'? Then the caps are the only thing that the Sons are concerned about regarding employer? Would they change sides if someone offered a bigger payment? And you may not be proud of working for trash, that doesn't sound like the others share your viewpoint. Sounds like the kind of behavior I'd expect."
Getting her angry is an easy way to get more information, especially since she seems too immature to be able to control her emotions.
>>
No. 902835 ID: 5ddaa1
File 153766601531.png - (109.63KB , 305x305 , Bottlecap_fo4.png )
902835

>>901888
>>901928
>>902078

“Huh,” you muse. “So, what I’m hearing is that the Sons only care about the caps and aren’t too picky about who or where they’re coming from.”

Sparrow’s face is dour, but she doesn’t correct you.

“Does that mean they’d change sides if someone was offering them a bigger payout?” you question. “Say: me?”

“No.” The single, deliberate note comes with a slow shake of her head.

“Why not?” you demand. “Are you saying we’re worse than the ‘trash’ you’re already working for? Is that it?”

“I don’t know, lady. Last I checked, you killed a bunch of their guys and jacked their shit because they beat up some of your guys and jacked ‘their’ shit.”

Her tone goes from angry to bored, almost rehearsed, as though quoting an old axiom.

“So, now you guys are going to team up with ‘their’ guys to kill a bunch of our guys and jack ‘our’ shit,” you remind her, dragging her neatly back into the fold. “Listen. I’m not thinking anybody around here has a moral high horse to be sitting on. What I want to know is why a group willing to get their guts spilled for a group of hired thugs wouldn’t accept double the pay to sit on their asses.”

“When you get paid for a job, you finish it.” Again, that axiomatic tone.

“And when that job has you killing women and children?”

“Fuck. You.” That gets a reaction, a strong one.

“Come on. How did you think this was going to end?” you ask her plainly. “That code of honor for bargain bin mercs have an out for killing kids?”

“You stole their shit! You killed their people!” She responds with a lot more volume than you were expecting.

“And so now-“

“And so now somebody’s going to steal your shit and try to kill you, yeah. That’s how this works. That’s how all of this fucking works, lady! And, yeah, the Sons’ll probably end up helping. If I get my hands on another gun, I might put a few rounds into you myself, but don’t go crying about the women and kids only when it’s fucking convenient.

“You really want to save everybody? Then, how about you turn yourself in with all of the shit you stole and take your goddamn lumps? It’s what they figured would happen, anyway, but I knew better. Some asshole is always going to drag some other group of assholes into their fight.”

> That’s a bit to process…
> Write-in
>>
No. 902864 ID: 5f089f

>>902835
"Trying to save everyone only gets everyone killed. First rule of triage and crisis management. It's a nice ideal, but not practical. Something that I'm sure the Sons understand.
"And why so angry at me providing you with work? It's because of conflict that the mercs you're so eagerly wanting to get back to are able to continue getting jobs. You're emotional, hot-headed, unable to follow orders. It's a wonder that they still keep you around."
>>
No. 902871 ID: e3e99e

>>902835
"I think you're operating under a few incorrect assumptions.
The first is that I expect to lose. I do not. I would prefer not to waste the resources it would require for us to win on our own, but the outcome isn't really in doubt.
The second is that we ARE alone. We have a working relationship with the brotherhood of steel. A few paladins and a couple of vertibirds are more than enough to cut a bloody swath through all but the best equipped raider gang.
The third is that our only option is a fight. While I would prefer to avoid needless collateral damage and casualties, as well as angering the Brotherhood, I do have a small supply of nuclear weapons. If you did somehow manage to outmatch us and it looked like we were going to lose, I would wipe your factions off the face of the Earth. A last resort, since it would make things incredibly messy in more ways than one, but if that's how it goes then that's how it goes.

Now, I'm not too familiar with the Sons, but your loyalty and tenacity suggests good things about them. I would like to cultivate those sorts of traits. Assuming any of you survive this impending scuffle, I would like to open up a trading relationship."
>>
No. 903405 ID: 2e0f31

I'm not interested in being a martyr for the sake of honor. I'm sure you'd feel the same way.
Now then, where's the dropoff for the Golden Sons' daycare center?
>>
No. 904123 ID: 5ddaa1
File 153825551420.jpg - (24.55KB , 564x302 , winter2.jpg )
904123

>>903405
>>902871
>>902864
>>902835

“I’m not interested in becoming a martyr.”

“Who’da thought?” she spits, but you ignore her.

“I’m just trying to leave as few corpses as possible by the time all of this mess is over and done with. Trust me when I say that that’s mostly to you and your comrades’ benefit, because-“

“Yeah, yeah. You’ve got a bigass army, lots of weapons, and you just don’t want to have to use them. You’ve already said that, but I’m not the one you’ve gotta impress.”

“I would hope not,” you quip. “If the company were riding around on the whims of a hot-headed, overly emotional little brat who can’t even follow orders-”

“Hey!”

“There’d be serious questions how you even made it this far. I mean, seriously, an enemy is about to start rambling on about their tactical advantages, their numbers, and maybe even their positioning and you tell them to clam it because you got your feelings hurt?” She does a pretty good impression of a pink pufferfish when pressed. “Now, how about you point me to the nearest Golden Sons’ daycare center, so I can drop you off?”

“Two blocks up and to the right,” she finally hisses, letting it all out in a single, exhausted breath.

“And anybody going to try to shoot me as I round that corner?”

“How would I know?” she quips venomously. “I’m just a dumb kid.”

“A dumb kid in the blast range if this unit detonates,” you remind her, giving a sharp tug on the manacle between your wrists as you force progress on the march to continue.

Fortunately, there isn’t any hot lead flying your way immediately as you turn the corner. There’s just the sound of shuffling and a brief glare as several red and green dots take up residence over your vitals, gifts from the residents of a couple of bombed out second stories and the walkway that runs between them up ahead.

> Well, you found them. What now?
> Write-in
>>
No. 904125 ID: 5f089f

>>904123
"Parlay! I've got this runt that broke some of my stuff here that says she's a member of the Golden Sons; that true, and can we talk business?"

They've got laser aiming modules? That's disconcerting. We'll need to keep an eye on the state of their gear and how they handle themselves, to see just how big of a problem they'll be, and if the Major's suggestion of nerve gas is going to have to be taken more seriously.
We should also link in the Major to run some analysis of the Sons from what we can see.
>>
No. 904129 ID: 2e0f31

Wave hello, ask them if they recognize this lost little sniper.
>>
No. 904205 ID: e3e99e

>>904123
"This brat was trying to stir shit. Can you take her back and try keep her from attempting suicide by being a damned idiot?"
>>
No. 905541 ID: 5ddaa1
File 153893171813.jpg - (59.94KB , 186x447 , Handie-Talkie.jpg )
905541

>>904205
>>904129
>>904125

“Parlay!” you bark, both arms coming up to reveal your lack of weapons and bring Sparrow into full view. “I didn’t come here looking for a fight. Just wanted to have a chat with the management about this brat I found taking potshots at my friends.”

“Maybe we don’t want her back,” comes a countering shout from a man on the catwalk. “Scraggly looking thing looks like more trouble than she’s worth.”

“Fuck you, Kyle!” Sparrow shouts back. “How about you lower the gun before I freeze my ass off out here?”

“We thought you were dead!”

“Apparently not yet, ya moron!”

“For fuck’s sake,” comes a female voice from Kyle’s side, a hand grabbing his gun and forcing the muzzle down before turning your way. “We can keep shouting like this all day and bring god knows what down on all our heads, or we can get to business. I’ll get the radio. You free the runt and don’t give us a reason to plug you with some new holes, deal?”

“No offense,” you fire back, “but you’re asking me to toss my hand in and lower my pants. How about you just give me the code to contact command, and I’ll radio in myself.”

“And what assurance do we get you don’t off the runt and a couple of us once you’ve got what you came for?”

“None,” you level, “aside from the admission you gave me yourself that this brat is more trouble than she’s worth. Trust me, I’d vastly prefer not having to drag back seventy or so pounds of dead weight, and I’m not about to risk damaging this unit taking potshots at people who don’t give me a damn good reason.”

There’s some arguing, some cursing, and more than a bit of unrest among the mercs as they mull over the mess you’ve created for them. However, nobody gets antsy and discharges lead in your general direction before they finally send the woman off to the back to grab something.

“We operate on secure channels,” Kyle tells you by way of explanation. “We couldn’t exactly give you a code to zero in on if we wanted to. So, you’ll need one of our long distance handsets to dial into base. Just hang tight for now.”

More seconds tick by in idle boredom, some people lowering their weapons as they realize things aren’t likely to end in a fire fight. A few even wander back inside to escape the bitter winds biting through the streets, though you note the more senior-looking mercs sizing up those for an ass-kicking later.

In any case, the woman comes back in something shy of five minutes, a solid underhand throw landing a reinforced radio a few feet away from where you stand. One dismal look at your claw-like appendages, and you have Sparrow scoop that up for you, the latter protesting vigorously until a few sharp pinches help you get your point across.

From there, it’s just a process of having her set the channel a few times, your sensors chewing through the static and the noise to get a lock on the signal and decryption they’re using before you can eschew the hand-radio for the one built into your noggin.

“Come in. Come in,” you brief.

“Yeah, yeah,” comes a crackling response from a tired-sounding male voice on the other end. “Sarah mentioned the outpost had a visitor that wanted to talk business. Assuming that’s you, the hell do you want?”

> At least they’re direct. How do you open?
> Write-in
>>
No. 905543 ID: 2e0f31

Same name!
"I'm here about the Metro. But first, I'd like to know what you'll do with Sparrow when she returns."
>>
No. 905886 ID: 5ddaa1
File 153902447540.png - (42.79KB , 256x256 , jeep.png )
905886

>>905543
>>905541

“First things first, if I hand you back the runt, what’s going to happen to her?”

For Sparrow’s benefit, you broadcast the audio and vocalize your responses, when theoretically you could just as easily have this talk in apparent silence.

“You mean Brandon’s little mistake?” You see Sparrow flinch at that, the girl deflating slightly. “She kill anybody?”

“I got her before she could even try, but-“

“Glad to hear it,” comes the unexpected response. “The rest doesn’t really matter, then. Does it?”

“I guess not, but you seem awfully laid back at an operation gone bust.”

“An unapproved operation,” he emphasizes. “If that little bitch would clean some of the wax out of her ears and listen every once in a while, maybe she’d have heard me the first time when I said we ain’t looking to go loud.”

“At least not yet,” you finish for him.

“Not at all, if people would just fucking listen,” he corrects. “And that goes double for you.”

“Alright,” you relent. “I’m listening.”

“Well, then, let’s cut the bullshit and get straight to the facts. The first is that I’m pretty sure you’re the one who went kicking the hornet’s nest that caused this whole shitstorm in the first place.” He doesn’t give you time to issue a rebuttal. “Second is that I don’t give a shit. All we’re presently here to do, all we’ve been paid to do, is to make sure that our employers get their shit back come the end of the day. That’s two jeeps with no mention of the shit packed inside when they got stolen.

“If you make that happen, bring ‘em around to our side, our part of the bargain is over and done with as far as I’m concerned. You fucks can have all the fun killing each other that you want, though the chances of things coming to a real head with the Brotherhood looming over you all’s shoulders, the Valk’s in the North looking for slaves, and the main griping point taken off the table makes all that a lot less likely.”

“You seem well-informed,” you comment, mildly impressed.

“No shit,” he snaps back. “That’s kind of my job, ain’t it? Figuring out which way the wind will blow before the shit starts raining down. In this case, all signs point to a blood bath where we ain’t getting paid by the body or shell casing. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll handle ourselves fine if it comes to that, but the notion at the contract’s outset was more along the lines of one side having enough guns to where nobody had to get shot in the first place rather than escalating the whole thing into a goddamn war.

“You got a way around that? I’m all fucking ears.”

> What’s your counteroffer?
> Write-in
>>
No. 905914 ID: e3e99e

>>905886
"The Brotherhood took the jeeps, but I could see about arranging something else they'd take.
You up for mediating negotiations?"
>>
No. 906322 ID: 5f089f

>>905886
They may get back only one of the jeeps (Brotherhood already has the other one spoken for, and we could lose the jeep since there's a fully intact armored van we can grab if we get some Mr. Handy's to clear out some tunnels under the airport).

We can negotiate a bit further, but 1 Jeep only; that's a hard stop to negotiations.
>>
No. 906324 ID: 2e0f31

>>906322
One original jeep, perhaps, but if possible we can offer some other tech in exchange. Maybe the vault will have some harmless tech we can offer in place of the jeep. (to either party...)
>>
No. 906526 ID: 06095b
File 153930672228.png - (9.36KB , 217x233 , scales.png )
906526

>>906324
>>906322
>>905914
>>905886

“One of the jeeps is already spoken for,” you inform him. “It’s my payout to the Brotherhood for their representation during these negotiations.”

A string of colorful swears comes muffled through the speakers.

“Should have expected that,” he admits, “but you have to realize that’s gonna make things a hell of a lot more complicated now that you’re actually trying to negotiate.”

“Is there any chance you’d take something else in lieu of the other jeep? If so, I’ve got a couple of caches of approximately equal value that I could put up as collateral.”

“Problem is, I’m just the handler. I’m not the one takin’ anything here. It’s Red and her crew that want those jeeps back, and no offense, I’m not looking to get axed metaphorically then probably literally trying to convince that hard-assed bitch to move the goal posts around.”

“Even if the alternative means putting all of your men in the line of fire?”

“It’s just the business we’re in,” he says with a verbal shrug. “Hell, you could even say it’s just the world we’re living in. Everybody’s always gonna wind up in somebody’s line of fire, doesn’t matter whether they want to or not. We just try to get paid for it.”

“What about getting paid to step out of the line of fire?” you inquire.

“No dice. A company like ours exists almost exclusively on reputation. You get a rap for running out on contracts at the last minute, and you’re more likely to have lead for your next meal than brahmin. Especially with the Lurkers, they don’t seem the forgive and forget sort for that sort of thing.”

> Well then… What now?
> Write-in
>>
No. 906528 ID: e1d7dd

>>906526
"How about an old pre-war armored truck and all the spidersilk you could want? We're going to need to dig it out of a collapsed garage, though."

Guys, we're going to have to bite the bullet on this and give them the truck. It sucks, but if we're aiming to keep a gang war from happening, that's the easiest way to do it.
>>
No. 906550 ID: 13110b

>>906528
Honestly, this seems like our best bet. But i'll do one better. We'll give them a better ride, but we cant give them the old one and we wont give them weapons. They can act like the wounded party all they want, but lives didnt seem to matter much to them when the people they accused us of murdering were shooting. So both of them can get off their high horse.
So we throw in a non-munition supply of their choice that we can provide, maybe medical treatment for some of theirs at a neutral location on top of that.
And if they Still want to fight it out, we can just do it personally. Personally meaning us, Sara, and of few our crew involved, against Red and whoever else wont let go, and we pick a place where a whole lot of innocent people wont get killed and just duke it out like they seem to want anyway, just with less collateral, and the promise that whoever wins, the issue is dead afterwards. If they want to waste lives, at least lets make sure its ours and theirs and make it quick and with less wasted bullets instead of a dumb siege.
We can even give them half the supplies upfront as a show of faith.
>>
No. 906556 ID: 5181e8

>>906526
We offer an intact armored van.

Honestly the only reason to avoid a war NOW is so that we can build up more robot troops and weapons later. But all that does is give the Lurkers more time to bolster their positions and keep kidnapping and murdering people in the meantime.

The status quo is what we’re trying to disrupt and the raiders are not going to be rehabilitated.
>>
No. 906570 ID: 4d9715

>>906526
And what are the terms of the contract that the Sons signed with the Lurkers? Any contractual loopholes we can exploit?
>>
No. 906695 ID: 06095b
File 153944762415.jpg - (133.18KB , 1920x1080 , apc-fallout-4.jpg )
906695

>>906570
>>906556
>>906550
>>906528
>>906526

“So, I get you those jeeps, and you walk away from this?”

“That’s the general gist of it, yeah. I already explained it to the Lurkers but going after the heads of the folks that offed their guys ain’t practical. Hell, your standing right here is proof that they weren’t about to lock down anybody from coming and going before a raid, and we ain’t about to sign up for a weeks’ long manhunt to settle that kind of score.

“In that same vein, I guess I’ll offer fair warning that even if this deal does go through, they’re still gonna be gunning for you. They aren’t just going to forget the men they lost, but we haven’t been hired to care about that.”

“Yet,” you assert.

“Yet,” he agrees, “but it’s not like anybody even knows what you look like. If you’re smart, you’ll keep it that way, keep your head down, and stick to sending out machines to do your dirty work. So long as nobody figures out who the ghost in the machine is or where, we ain’t likely to consider a bounty on you worth our time.”

“Thanks for the heads up, I think. Back to the matter at hand, though. Do you think the Lurkers would settle for one jeep and an armored personnel carrier?”

“Vehicle for a vehicle might not be that difficult,” he admits, “but what’s the catch?”

“It might take a bit of digging to get it loose.”

“I think that might be your deal breaker, then,” he sighs. “Red ain’t patient enough to take anything on trust. Crazy bitch’d probably just file that tidbit away and try to beat it out of you later. If you could talk the Brotherhood into buying that off of ya instead, though, you’d probably have something workable.”

That is a thought, and you do presently have an eyebot on their doorstep making sure they hold up their end of the bargain.

> What to do…
> [] Try to alter your deal with the Brotherhood.
> [] Try to keep pushing negotiations with the Sons.
> [] Enough bartering. If they won’t cut a deal, you’ll just cut a line straight through them.
> [] Other
>>
No. 906698 ID: 2a7417

We shall alter the deal. Pray we do not alter it further.
Look at it this way, if you lose brotherhood support for the fight but they lose Sons support, it's still a net reduction in threat. The Brotherhood is also better equipped to retrieve that van cache. You'd better make it quick, though, perhaps even excavate it yourself. The assaultrons are also part of that bargain...
>>
No. 906740 ID: e3e99e

>>906695
Lets start work on digging out the armored van, and see if we can trade that to the brotherhood in exchange for the jeep.
Planning for the future, I'd much rather have the quasi-friendly walking tanks have an extra armored vehicle than the unarmored murderboners.
>>
No. 906772 ID: 2e0f31

> [] Enough bartering. If they won’t cut a deal, you’ll just cut a line straight through them.
It's not worth eroding our position with the Brotherhood to try and appease everyone. Walk yourself out of firing range, then release Sparrow to the Sons. Perhaps we can terminate their employer while there's still time and void the contract. If not, well, it's just business. tell Sparrow to take care of herself.
>>
No. 906833 ID: e3e99e

>>906772
Hey, now. It costs us nothing to ask the brotherhood if they would rather have a pristine armored truck than the jeep.
We can ask. If they say no, then we can hunt down the head of this raider faction and give them the old shady-sands-shuffle.
>>
No. 906858 ID: db055c

> [] Try to alter your deal with the Brotherhood
>Other: set up a time where we will call the Sons if we are able to get both jeeps. If we don’t contact them, assume that it wasn’t possible.

We will need to use the Assaultron or another Eyebot to get a video camera on the armored van to show the Brotherhood that it’s real, AND in good condition to consider the trade. We will also need to consider how to get the truck out.

Right now, getting the Sons out of this fight is our goal. We’re going to kill the Lurkers, so dividing what forces they have makes our job easier.
>>
No. 907072 ID: 06095b
File 153964823630.jpg - (166.61KB , 1000x750 , bos2.jpg )
907072

>>906695
>>906698
>>906740
>>906772
>>906833
>>906858

“Give me a second,” you sigh, mentally checking out from one location partially so that you can have better control of your eyebot at the Brotherhood compound.

By this point, Davis has long since gone off his shift, but a brief explanation is all it takes to get the new faces out of your way and drift back down to Buford’s workshop. It actually is getting a bit late at this point, but sure enough, the old broad is still up to her elbows in grease and softly cursing to nobody in particular. You almost turn back around, unwilling to catch her mid-bustle, but no sooner does the thought cross your mind than her eyes lock on you hovering in the doorway.

“Got something ye want to discuss?” she inquires, not waiting for your answer before her hands are once again filled with tools, a ratchet turning away at the skeleton of a power-armored leg. “Well, then, speak up. Only three more hours of this horseshit, and then I’m in bed.”

It’s more time than you need, obviously, but you don’t exactly throw caution to the wind and skimp on the details as you try to walk a verbal minefield explaining recent developments. You try to put your best foot forward, of course, remarking how what you’re proposing might result in less casualties on the Brotherhood side in the coming engagement while providing them a greater boon in the long term by offering them the mint conditioned truck buried not far beneath the ruined parking garage. To her credit, she lets you get everything out before offering any remark. Unfortunately, the first thing to come from her mouth immediately after is a long, tired sigh.

“Trying to renegotiate after already having walked out with half yer payment doesn’t look good…” she tells you honestly, setting aside her tools and folding her arms to her chest as she leans against the nearest work table. “I sure as hell wouldn’t have allowed it had I thought there was any chance you’d be trying to walk us back at the last minute, like you are now.”

“I realize,” you say. “It’s just-”

“It’ll be a safer engagement,” she admits, “at least for that particular day. Hell, there might not even be an attack if the Sons pull out like they’re promising you they will. Then again, never been one to trust a man who’d shoot his own mother if the price was right to honor a commitment. That’s how my first marriage ended.”

She enjoys a lonesome, self-depreciating laugh over that one before returning to business.

“Fact is, whether they do or they don’t honor their commitment, that leaves nothing on the table for the boys on our side who are about to risk their necks for you all. Nothing but a truck under 12 tons of unstable rubble guarded by a horde of giant goddamn mutant spiders, that is.”

You had to tell them sooner or later about that, and so you decided it was better to get it all out in one clean cut.

“If we dig up that garage, even assuming we get the truck and everything is peachy, those little bastards might decide they need to find themselves another nest in a hurry. It’d be like pulling the pin on a grenade full o’ ugly, and we’d all probably live to regret it.

“Now, to be clear, I ain’t going to close the books on negotiating just yet, but you’re going to have to keep it to the cards in your hand, kiddo. We need something we can use and that you can give us, no if’s, but’s, or maybe’s. Only alternatives I see to that are returning the assaultron we gave you as good as you got it and breaking contract with us or sticking to your guns and hoping these raider pups are more bark than bite.”

> Things could have gone worse, but what now…
> [] You could try trading them information. About what, though?
> [] It might hurt relations with the BoS, but weakening both sides of this engagement is better for the Metro.
> [] You need the Brotherhood more than you need the Sons to back down.
> [] Something else
>>
No. 907073 ID: 2a7417

Turns out losing the walking tanks and giving the Lurkers transports at the same time isn't such a hot idea. Brotherhood-robot relations are already pretty tenuous, and we're out of hypotheticals to bargain with, so reaffirm your deal to the Brotherhood and get ready to duck and cover.
>>
No. 907094 ID: 5f089f

>>907072
> [] You need the Brotherhood more than you need the Sons to back down.
It's too bad, but it was a long shot anyway, and we need our BoS-provided robots because the Major's own cache is pretty empty.

Though I hope Lucius is able to get that Gatling Laser mounted and connected to the Jeep. Having that kind of mobile firepower will help, so long as we have a good driver and gunner.
>>
No. 907097 ID: e3e99e

>>907072
Alienating the BoS is a no-go. They turned the new proposal down, we stick to the deal.

You have a map of the city, right? Are there any underground parking garages that may still have intact cars in them?
>>
No. 907103 ID: 2e0f31

> [] You need the Brotherhood more than you need the Sons to back down.
There goes our karma. Quick, feed water bottles to a hobo!
>>
No. 907201 ID: 06095b
File 153973228075.jpg - (38.20KB , 400x400 , circuits.jpg )
907201

>>907103
>>907097
>>907094
>>907073
>>907072

It takes a long moment of painful reflection before you finally reach your conclusion.

“I’m not going to leave you all twisting in the wind,” you assure Quartermaster Buford. “If there was even a chance we could pull a ceasefire out of all this, I had to try, but that doesn’t change the fact that we made a deal that I intend to honor.”

You only wish you had more to balance the scales at this pivotal moment, but that was just the way of things. There’s no use crying over spilled milk.

“I’m sorry.” Those next words, you offer to the Son’s lieutenant still on the line back at your other body, apparently jarring the man awake before he composes himself.

“Guessing they ain’t keen on substitutes either, then,” he guesses morosely.

“That’s about the size of it,” you admit, “and just like you can’t back down on your contract with the Lurkers, I can’t screw the Brotherhood out of their pay at the last minute and expect a fair shake further on down the line.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” he mutters, “but at the same time you know that doesn’t leave much on our end worth discussing, right?”

“We could always shoot the shit over the weather or the price of mole rat meat. Cold never bothered me much, anyway.”

You get a laugh, but he doesn’t take the bait.

“You know, somethin’ tells me whether we win or we lose this thing, your ass’ll be sitting pretty in a bunker somewhere. That being the case, just try to remember this: today’s enemies can be tomorrow’s allies, especially if the price is right.”

“What kind of numbers are we talking?”

“The kind that depend on the job. Now, if you wouldn’t mind, drop the brat and get the hell off my lawn. It’s late, and I’m starting to get cranky.”

“F-f-fucking finally!” comes the first response you’ve gotten out of the little merc in quite some time as the receiver hangs up on the other end, a layer of snow having started to build over her in the time you’ve been talking and her face having grown a concerning shade of purplish-pink.

> Any last words before you release the runt?
> Write-in

> Also, where to next?
> [] You need to check in on your DAVID back at the Vault.
> [] You should probably make sure the Metro hasn’t gone to hell.
> [] Other
>>
No. 907203 ID: 2e0f31

"You have a good rest-of-your-life, now. Spend it wisely."
> [] You need to check in on your DAVID back at the Vault.
>>
No. 907235 ID: 5f089f

>>907201
>[x] Write-in: Watch yourself, Sparrow. Next time, I'll treat you like the adult you want to be. In light of our acquaintance, I'll try to make sure that the laser melting your head will be a complete surprise.

>[x] You need to check in on your DAVID back at the Vault.
Come on, trash pandas!
>>
No. 907263 ID: 10c408

"Next time, Sparrow, you'll be a smear on the roof instead of unconscious."

Release the girl.
>>
No. 907325 ID: a24576

>>907103
“Hey, looks like you’re getting a second chance. And some words of wisdom from your leader: ‘Today’s enemies can be tomorrow’s allies, for the right price’. Keep that in mind, Sparrow. Don’t kill a potential future client if you’re not being paid to do it.”

>Eyebot at the Vault
>>
No. 907326 ID: 06095b
File 153982138249.jpg - (85.09KB , 900x675 , demon_skull_black_by_jaidawg75.jpg )
907326

>>907263
>>907235
>>907203
>>907201

“Yeah, you heard the man,” you tell Sparrow, reaching for the key. “Time for you to head on home. Have a good rest of your life, now, and be sure to spend it wisely.”

“Haha. Like I’m real scared,” she sneers, and that gives you pause.

“No,” you say, realizing in that moment that this kid needs a hard dose of reality. You drop the cheery lilt from your voice and sink into a chilling deadpan. “No, Sparrow, I’m being absolutely serious when I say this. If you ever come at me again with a weapon in hand, I ‘will’ kill you. I’ll treat you like the adult you want to be, and I will end your life, painlessly if I can but without a single shred of remorse if I have to do it one broken bone and burned organ at a time.”

She doesn’t show any obvious fear at the surface, but you can tell some of that must have gotten through. There’s no witty comeback forthcoming, no sass or groans as you snap her wrist free. She just quietly accepts her renewed freedom before taking the opportunity to put as much distance between you and her as possible.

For your part, you don’t bother to look back. The die has been cast, the storm is coming, and if they were stupid enough to try to gun you down now with your back turned, they would have tried it earlier during your talk with the Brotherhood.

No, they know as well as you do that every resource at their disposal just became that much more valuable. After all, a war was coming to the frozen streets, an all-out brawl over something more than just the vehicles that had kindled the bonfire. And war, war never changes.

> CHAPTER END
>>
No. 907783 ID: 06095b
File 154014539972.jpg - (53.07KB , 564x751 , 2861aa46e10a790af53bbd7b06d6a2f3.jpg )
907783

>>907781

New Last Spark chapter is up!
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