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[personal profile] vgdivision
(Disclaimer: The PPC was originally created by Jay and Acacia. “Soft Hearted Devil” (http://www.fanfiction.net/s/6551478/1/Soft_Hearted_Devil) was originally written by yrwelikethis. Fallout and all associated properties belong to Bethesda Softworks. Danny, Laura, and Rachel belong to me. Many thanks to Adamantine and doctorlit for betaing. The following story contains scenes of intense violence and foul language.)

Laura grumbled a bit to herself as she looked over the stretch of barren scrubland that surrounded her. “I still say we should’ve come in as Brotherhood of Steel members,” she said. “Hard core heavy duty stuff, you know?” She turned her head away from a slight plume of dirt kicked up by the wind, her long coat flapping slightly in the breeze.

“Power armor in Megaton would’ve caused too much comment, even with the SEP fields.” Danny replied. He adjusted the shoulder strap on his new satchel, which had been packed to bulging with water bottles, energy bars, anti-radiation medication, duct tape, fifteen pounds of plastic explosives, and some other Wasteland necessities. “We would’ve had the same issue with Enclave uniforms, so be happy with the Regulator outfit.” He paused. “Would disguise generator armor even actually protect us?”

“I don’t see why not. I’m just saying if there are as many heavy-armed Stus and Sues as the intelligence report suggests, we should be going in loaded for bear. Don’t get me wrong, backup’s good—” she glanced over at the third member of their party, who was standing silent next to Danny, “—but armor would be better.”

Rachel Calendar snapped to attention as soon as she realized that the focus of the conversation had shifted to her. “I won’t let you down, boss!” she said with an overenthusiastic salute. “You can totally count on me!”

Danny gave the girl a reassuring pat on the shoulder. “We know, Rachel. Just follow our lead, all right?”

Rachel nodded and opened her mouth as if to add something. Before she could do so, a booming author’s note rent the silence of the Wasteland asunder.

ok theres alot of changes to it like that the fallout 3 and new vages are close like miles away ok i did it to increase the size.

“Miles away?!” Laura shouted over the booming notes. “I think the author just plotholed away most of the goddamn country!”

Danny nodded grimly but said nothing. The lack of capital letters was already putting him on edge. Beside him, Rachel was trying to find the best way to type charges into her smart phone while covering her ears at the same time.

this story is told by a man nam Nucky who is part of a group called The Local Heros. its lead by a man who calls himself lincon and follows the diry of the presedint lincon.

Some movement in the corner of Laura’s eye caught her attention. She looked over at Danny, whose head was bobbing and shoulders were shaking. “What’s wrong?” she asked. “Is it the – are you laughing?”

“The name ‘Local Heroes’ just made me think of ‘Heroes for Hire.’” Danny snorted out another giggle. “Can you imagine Luke Cage and Iron Fist wandering around the Wasteland?”

“Uh huh… I’m gonna be completely honest with you, Danny. I have no idea what the hell you’re talking about.”

“Oh.” Danny visibly deflated, just a little, as the author’s note finally trailed away into nothingness.

Laura wiggled a finger in one of her ears until the ringing went away. “Rookie!” she exclaimed. “What charges do we have so far?”

The intern consulted her phone. “Abusing the English language, abusing punctuation, abusing grammar, creating minis, and making a huge chunk of post-apocalyptic America vanish.” She looked up with a smile on her face. “How’d I do?”

“Not bad, intern. Not bad.” Laura looked around. “I don’t see those minis anywhere, though.”

Danny cleared his throat. “Ah, Laura?” He pointed towards a little ditch not too far away. There were some dust clouds rising up out of it. “I think they’re fighting.”

“Oi! Hey, break it up, you – what the hell?” Laura reached down and picked up the two minis. One – New vages, obviously – was a pint-sized version of the murderous Fallout beast known as a Deathclaw, but the other was a tiny man with a beard and an old-fashioned suit complete with top hat. It looked a little worse for wear from its scuffle with the other mini.

“A mini-Abraham Lincoln,” Danny said. “Is it bad that this is in no way bizarre to me? I think I’ve been working for the PPC too long.”

Rachel made a cooing noise. “He’s so cuuuuuute!”

Lincon struggled a bit in Laura’s grasp. “Ma’am, I must insist you put me down!” it exclaimed in a tiny yet charismatic voice. “This is hardly a situation I care for!”

Laura passed the minis to Rachel. “Put these back in the RC,” the redhead said. “We can’t have them with us on the mission. Make sure to put mini-Lincoln on a shelf so that we don’t come home to a little dead president.”

“Okay!” Rachel took the minis, opened up a portal back to HQ, and skipped through it.

Another breeze stirred up the assassin’s coats. Laura shook her head. “Bringing her along was a bad idea,” she murmured. “I don’t think Miss Happy Pants is ready for an actual assassination, especially one that can screw us over as badly as this one.”

“She needs the experience,” Danny replied. Laura noted the slightly unsure tone in his voice. “Besides, she’s got the RA. If anything goes wrong she can portal out and contact the DIA.”

“I noticed that you didn’t mention what we’d be doing in that situation,” Laura said.

“That’s because we’d probably be dead or dying at that point.”

Laura made a dismissive ‘tcha’ noise. “You’d be dead or dying, maybe.”

“Of course. My mistake.”

Rachel hopped back through the portal. “All done, bosses!” she chirped. “I did just as you told me. Mini-Lincoln should be perfectly safe. Wasn’t he the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? I mean, you—”

“Hey, noobaroni!” Laura snapped her fingers in front of the intern’s face a few times. “It’s mission time, remember?”

“Oh! Right, okay! Gotcha, boss!” Rachel saluted again before following the assassins over to a perfectly cubical Generic Shack. It was fixed into a depression in the earth and had no distinguishing features aside from a single door.

Danny blinked rapidly as he consulted the Words. “Looks like our primary Stu’s in there,” he said. “A few Talon Company mercenaries are trying to torture information out of him, but he’s just commenting on how easy their mothers are.”

“Ah, nice to see that this Stu is sticking close to the ‘Stereotypical Badass Anti-Hero Rulebook’ when it comes to dialogue,” Laura commented. “I wonder if he’ll trot out the old side-to-side neck popping, too. Always a classic, that one!”

"you should never tie some one hands behinde them because you can't see them can you, tis tis rookie" then his hands came up like lighting and adom apple puntch him.

“Uh, how’d he get his hands untied?” Rachel asked.

“Good question.” Danny examined the Words again. “Hmm. That’s never really explained. Nice catch on the overly convenient escape, Rachel!”

The intern beamed with pride as she noted down the latest charge. Meanwhile, the chorus of groans and fleshy noises coming from the Generic Shack indicated that the Stu was having very little trouble with the Talon mercs. After everything had gone quiet for a while, a blue-haired man in blue and white combat armor and a forage cap emerged from the shack.

“Is that the Stu?” Rachel whispered as the man began walking away.

“Bingo, nooblet,” Laura replied.

A determined look settled upon Rachel’s face as she reached for the hunting rifle slung across her back. Laura quickly gave her a light cuff to the back of her head.

“Not yet!” Laura exclaimed. “We need more charges. You’ve got the RA, so set up a portal to the next location.”

Rachel watched the increasingly distant Stu for a moment, a frown on her face, before finally nodding. She pulled out the remote activator and began setting it up. While the intern was preoccupied, Danny gave his partner a little nudge. “Never thought I’d see the day where you were the responsible one, Laura,” he said, dropping the volume of his voice so that Rachel couldn’t hear him.

“I just don’t want to hear you and the Flowers whine about we killed the Stu too soon, that’s all,” Laura whispered back. There was a ‘thwump’ followed by a humming sound as the portal opened. “Now wipe that stupid know-it-all smile off your face and let’s go.”

They all stepped through the portal into a peculiar-looking town. Of course, peculiar-looking towns were hardly anomalies in the Fallout universe. If the only building materials available are rusted sheets of scrap metal, aesthetics never really come into play. Even by less than stringent Wasteland standards, however, the place they had just teleported into was strange. M. C. Escher would have had to go lie down after seeing it.

“This is way weird,” Rachel said. “It’s like I can only look at things out of the corner of my eye. It’s all… bleh, you know?”

Danny grimaced as he touched one of the walls surrounding the town. “Yeesh. Makes me feel like I’m going to throw up.”

“Noncanonical areas can be like that sometimes due to how they were created,” Laura said. “What makes it so bad in this case is that it was built on top of a canonical location. The Capital Wasteland Scrapyard, to be precise.” She turned towards Rachel, who was squinting and crossing her eyes so as to try and focus on the fake buildings. “Rookie! Two charges: making a noncanon location on a canonical site and plot-holing a legitimate Wasteland business!”

“What business?” Danny asked as Rachel pulled out her smart phone again.

“Littlehorn and Associates. They were based out of the Scrapyard, remember?”

A light went on in Danny’s head. “Ah yes, the contract killers! That plothole must be pretty crowded by now.”

They walked through the town until they found the most clearly defined building, which wasn’t saying much. There was a sign labeled ‘Heaven’ above its doors. After a few moments of considering the Words, the three agents went inside.

Danny almost immediately went bright red before placing his hand over Rachel’s eyes. That got a dismissive snort from Laura. “I think the kid knows what prostitutes look like, Danny,” she said. “Seriously, lighten up.”

Danny made a face, but withdrew his hand. “I just… you know…”

“Yeah, yeah, you’re a big prude. I know.”

Her eyes now unobstructed, Rachel scanned the room full of scantily-clad generic women until she noticed the Stu. “There he is!” she exclaimed. “Talking to the man in… whoa, what’s up with his armor?”

Laura craned her neck to get a glimpse of the Stu and his friend. “Wow, yikes! Pastels mixed with neon colors. That does not a pretty picture make!”

“Apparently that guy is 6 sweetwater, with no caps,” Danny remarked.

“What’s the 6 mean?” Rachel asked.

“It’s his rank in that made-up vigilante organization, I think. Our Stu’s rank is 9.” He tilted his head a little and squinted, as if the Words were giving him some trouble. “Ah, here’s the problem. His armor is described as being ‘dessert coma painted.’ Make of that what you will.”

“Dessert coma? You mean like diabetic shock?” Laura looked at the man again. “He does look like a particularly nasty type of candy.”

Danny’s eyes refocused back on his teammates. “We’ve got two weeks before anything new happens. I suggest we head outside and portal ahead. There’s no way I’m falling asleep in Stu City.”

* * *


"well 6 Nucky i'm about to be promoted to rank 5 so i'm giving you your last mission with two others" he said pointing at two others. "Ok Nucky, Metal, and Jack your going to Megiton I got a report that somethen bad happen and we can make contact with them, ok now go"

Rachel frowned. Two weeks had gone by with one carefully applied portal. She and the two assassins were waiting for the Stu outside of the whore house. “I thought you said the Stu’s rank was 9, boss?” she asked.

Laura shrugged. “Six, nine, they’re basically the same thiGAH!” She suddenly lurched to one side, clutching at her leg. “WHAT THE HELL?!”

“Thers more were that came frum, u ugly bicth!” a small voice cried out. Rachel looked down and leapt backwards. 6 Nucky the mini-Stu was standing behind Laura with a pair of bloody knives in its hands.

There was an enraged growl from Laura. “I hope you savored that victory, you little shit, ‘cause it’s a fleeting thing,” she snarled as she slung a Chinese assault rifle off her back. She locked in a clip as dramatically as possible before leveling the gun at the mini. “It’s chunky salsa time!”

The mini gave Laura the finger. “Bring it one, u—”

CRUNCHsquelch

Whatever creative insult the pint-sized Stu was going to throw back at Laura was lost due to a sudden interruption from the business end of sledgehammer. Rachel looked nauseous as Danny lifted up his weapon to inspect the mess he had made.

Laura goggled at her partner. “What – I don’t – you sonofa—” She stopped stammering and shoved her partner. “You stole my kill, jackass! He was totally mine!”

“Laura, I think that firing a gun here, especially one like that–” Danny nodded at her weapon as he scraped the gore off his hammer before returning it to the makeshift holster on his back, “–would’ve attracted too much attention to us. We’re trying not to be noticed by the Stu and all his murderous friends, remember?”

“Whatever,” Laura grumbled as she lowered her gun. “A little bit of warning next time you kill-steal, all right? I could’ve – OW! – blown your foot off!” She winced as she put some weight on her wounded leg.

“Let me take a look,” Danny said, dropping to one knee. He carefully tore open the hole in Laura’s bloodstained jeans left by the mini’s knife so as to take a better look at the wound. “Hmm… Nothing life-threatening. You might need a couple stitches after the mission, though.”

“This wouldn’t have happened if we’d gone with power armor. I told you so!”

“Yeah, yeah.” Danny reached into his satchel and pulled out a handkerchief.

“You haven’t used that thing to wipe your nose, right?” Laura asked.

“It’s clean.” Danny wound his handkerchief around the wound and tied it off. “All done.”

“Uh, does that happen a lot?” Rachel asked. The momentary tremor in her voice indicated a slight dent in her iron-clad enthusiasm.

Laura hesitantly tested out her injured leg. “What, the getting attacked by mini-Stus thing? Not really, no.”

Danny looked up as three people left the ‘Heaven’ building. The Stu was amongst them, striding forth with all the boundless confidence of someone who could shape reality to his whims. “Heads up, you two. Our boy’s on the move.”

“Yeah, to Megiton,” Laura said with a sigh. She leaned over and picked up a new mini-Deathclaw. “It’s not like they don’t spell it out in the on-screen captions or anything. Rookie! Portal!” Rachel quickly opened up a portal back to the RC, through which Laura tossed the little monster. “I can’t tell if this author just doesn’t care or is actually a huge troll.”

“Both could be true,” Danny replied.

“Nah. You’ve really got to care a lot to screw up a canon as much as a troll can.”

While the agents bantered, Rachel was continuing to observe the Stu and his chums. “Ooh, new charge! New charge!” she exclaimed, squished minis and wounded agents apparently forgotten. “The Stu got a Cute Animal Friend!”

Laura hobbled over to where the intern was standing to get a better look. She frowned at the sight of a Wasteland coyote tagging along at the Stu’s heels. “I’m not sure if I’d call that ‘cute.’ More like ‘generic,’ given its lack of distinguishing features. We’ll take care of it when we off the Stu.”

“Aw, but I wanna keep him!” Rachel exclaimed.

“No. If you want a pet, adopt one of the minis.” Laura rolled her eyes as the intern went into an exaggerated sulk, complete with arm-crossing and foot-stamping. “What are you, four years old? Smarten up, kid, or you’ll never be an agent.”

“If I might just cut in here,” Danny interjected. “6 sweetwater never shows up in the fic again, which means we should take care of him now.”

Laura bit her lip as she mulled over this new development. “Trapdoor ploy?” she finally said.

“Sounds good to me. You set it up while I go lead him out.”

Rachel looked at Laura as Danny strode back inside the whorehouse. “What’s the trapdoor ploy?” she asked.

“Give me the RA and I’ll explain it to you.” Laura took the device from the intern and began fiddling with it. “You see this dial marked ‘Axis Rotation?’ Messing with that allows you to make portals that open horizontally instead of just vertically. Open one under a Stu or Sue and—”

“Instant trapdoor!” Rachel finished. “Cool! Where are you going to send sweetwater?”

“I’ve got a few ideas. Maybe – hang on.” Laura went quiet as Danny and the ugly-armored sweetwater emerged from the ‘Heaven’ building. They appeared to be deep in conversation about something; Danny’s cover story, no doubt.

Sweetwater stopped in front of Laura and saluted. “u are luking for a foogitiff maam?” he said. “I can help wit that”

Laura returned the salute and tried to ignore Rachel giggling in the background. “A fugitive? Right, yeah. First things first though.” She paused for a moment in order to clear her throat. Danny took that moment to begin backing away from the bit character. “6 sweetwater, also known as Stupid Bit Character One, you are charged with the following offenses: being a stupid bit character, repeated spelling and grammar violations, aiding and abetting a Marty Stu, creating minis, and having the stupidest-looking armor I’ve ever seen.”

6 sweetwater frowned. “Wat the fuk you talking about—”

Laura hit a button on the RA. The bit character yelped as he tumbled through the portal that appeared under his feet. A bright yellow-orange glow could be seen from the other side before the opening closed up.

“Where’d you send him?” Danny asked as Rachel poked the place where the portal had been with her foot.

“Into one of the blast furnaces in The Pitt,” Laura replied. “I thought about just dropping him into the river but I wasn’t sure if he was subject to the same radiation immunity that almost all Fallout NPCs have.”

Rachel winced. “Ouch.”

“Sounds good to me,” Danny said. “To Megaton, then?”

“Yeah, let’s go.” Laura tossed the RA back to Rachel, who began punching in the new coordinates. “Anywhere would be better than this place.”

“Portal’s up!” Rachel exclaimed.

They all stepped through the newly created portal and almost immediately dropped to the ground as gunfire tore through the air.

“You know what?” Laura said. “I was wrong. This is definitely not better.” She flinched at the sound of a nearby ricocheting bullet.

“Really? I’d have thought you’d be totally into the idea of a huge gunfight,” Danny said.

Laura crossed her arms across her chest. “Only if I was participating.”

The three agents crawled over behind one of the slapped-together metal shacks that made up the town of Megaton. Danny poked his head around the corner for a brief second. “Looks like the Stu and his partners are in the center of town having a blast out with some cantankerous locals,” he reported. “They look kind of cultish.”

“Wait, what?” Laura pushed Danny out of the way to get a look for herself. “I don’t believe it. The Stu actually turned the Church of the flipping Children of Atom into villains! A bunch of sober pacifists! Hell, you even get good karma by donating caps to… you’re getting that look again, Danny.”

“So the Stu is deliberately making ordinarily good people OOC in order to justify a high body count,” Danny said as he stared off into the middle distance. His hands clenched and unclenched as if he was imagining strangling something, which probably was not too far off the mark. “Wonderful. Just when I thought I couldn’t dislike him more.”

Rachel leaned around from her hiding place behind Danny. “So we’re getting him now, then?” she asked, an anticipatory gleam in her eye.

Danny sighed and shook his head. “We’ve still got about a chapter and a half to go, unfortunately. Just take note of the charge and keep your head down.” He ducked reflexively at the sound of another bullet.

"this is Nucky ranked 9 come in over" "we have you what happen, over" "some crazyies in the town and is stoped, what now, over" there was a silence "stay there and moniter the town try to stike a deal with the mayer, over". He put it down and whent to see Lucis.

There was another sigh from Danny. “I miss proper paragraphs. I really do.”

Laura inched her head around the side of her cover to take a look. “Looks like it’s over. On the plus side, the Children of Atom were able to take one of the Stu’s friends with them. Not bad for non-violent religious nutjobs.”

“Are we going to have to take them to Medical for revival?” Rachel asked.

“No, they’re only generic bit characters. The named members, Cromwell and Maya, are most likely stowed away in a plotho— Sweet. Zombie. Jebus.” Laura’s jaw hung slack as she pointed at a woman standing outside the general store.

Danny and Rachel poked their heads around the corner to take a look for themselves. The woman in question was indeed something worth goggling at, although not in a good way. Her skin was pure gold, shining in the grimy Wasteland sun. Her eyes were amorphous brown blobs that looked as if they were about to melt.

“Whoa…” Rachel said. “The Lone Wanderer’s been Sue-ified!”

Danny placed his hand over the intern’s eyes again. “It’s best not to stare at Sues, Rachel,” he said. “It can cause blindness, headaches, and irritability.”

“Milk chocolate eyes and goldish skin,” Laura muttered as she finally regained her composure and turned away from the Sue. “The Vault Dweller would be rolling around in his or her grave. How could this get any worse?!”

“Well, that depends on how you feel about Colin Moriarty,” Danny said. “He’s going to die.”

Laura looked a bit bewildered as she consulted the Words. “What? Moriarty wasn’t killed in this fight,” she said. “The only canon character I see mentioned in relation to the shootout is Gob, but he was only wounded.”

“I read ahead past the sudden ‘three days later’ thing. Apparently the Stu gets bent out of shape about Moriarty mistreating Gob so he blows his head off. No repercussions with Lucas – or ‘Lucis,’ apparently.” He leaned down and picked up another mini.

Laura grimaced and spit at the ground. “Freaking haxx, man. Whenever I killed someone in Megaton, I had to either gun down the whole town or leave for a few days.” She caught Danny’s disapproving glance. “It was my evil badass play-through, okay? Spare me the ‘murder of the innocents’ lecture.”

“What ‘three days later’ thing?” Rachel asked.

The world rumbled and the sun blurred across the sky as everything suddenly jumped ahead three days. The two assassins, both of them with ‘just another day at the office’ expressions on their faces, merely shifted their weight slightly to adapt to the clumsy transition. Rachel, on the other hand, let out a squeak and would have tumbled to the ground had it not been for Danny grabbing her by the arms in time.

“That ‘three days later’ thing,” Laura remarked. She watched Danny pull the intern back to her feet. “Don’t worry, kid, you’ll get used to it. Most of the time, anyway.”

The three agents left their cover and made their way down to Moriarty’s shabby little dive near the center of town. They crept into the shadows and watched as the Stu, his visage horribly disfigured due to his having ‘a deathclaws face as some people say,’ marched towards the bar.

“We can get Moriarty back to Medical after the Stu leaves again,” Laura said. “The whole town’s so OOC they probably wouldn’t care if we just waltzed in and tossed the corpse out a window or something.”

Rachel frowned at the sound of a gunshot from inside the bar. “It doesn’t feel right, just letting that guy get shot like that,” she said. “We could’ve done something!”

Laura glanced over at Danny, who had a very sullen look on his face. “You’re preaching to the choir, kid,” she said. “But rules are rules. We have to wait until the right moment.”

“But what about that Simulator Generator thing? I heard some of the DoSAT interns talking about it. Couldn’t we have used that?”

“Not after what happened during that one mission during our DIAU stint.” Laura nodded at Danny. “You remember, right? That thing with the Zexion clone and the bottle of rubber cement?”

“Ugh, don’t remind me,” Danny said. “I still get tremors in my left hand sometimes.”

“Long story short, we’re on the SimGen blacklist. So no dice, kid.” Laura gave the unhappy intern a pat on the shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. Medical will have him back on his feet in no time. We just need to get his body first.” She turned her head back towards the door as the Stu stomped out of the bar, a cigarette between his teeth. “And now’s our chance! Follow my lead.”

As the Stu marched off back to his quarters for some guiltless shuteye, Laura darted – well, hobbled, anyway – towards the door to the bar. Danny and Rachel trailed along in her wake.

Everyone already inside the bar looked up as they entered. “Why do they all look like they’ve been lobotomized or something?” Rachel whispered to Danny.

“That’s the Aura of Smooth in action,” he whispered back. “It’s probably a lot like a lobotomy, actually.”

“Hello, citizens of Megaton!” Laura shouted, ignoring the whispering behind her. She reached into her duster and pulled out a small card, which she waved through the air quickly before hiding it from view. “I’m Miss Dukes from Capital Mortuary Services. I understand you have a body around here somewhe – oh, there it is!” She brushed passed a stunned-looking Gob to where Colin Moriarty was lying on the floor with a rather nasty hole in his head. “We’ll just take him off your hands and give him a proper burial. Assistants! Chop chop, let’s go!”

After giving his partner an incredulous look, Danny hurried over and grabbed Moriarty by his arms. An obviously uncomfortable Rachel joined him in lifting the body. One of the locals stirred slightly, but otherwise there was no reaction. They carried him out the door into the center of town where Rachel began activating a portal.

“Thank you, ladies and ghouls, for your assistance,” Laura said to the emotionless crowd as she followed her friends out. “Have a nice day! And remember to recommend us to any of your friends who happen to be near death!”

Danny looked up from the body as Laura approached. “Capital Mortuary Services?” he asked.

“Hey, it worked! That puts it beyond your criticism.”

Danny gave Laura a crooked smile. “No plan, regardless of its success, is above a little ribbing. Like that card thing, Ms. Axel Foley. What were waving around?”

Laura produced the card in question from her sleeve. “It’s a discount card from the video game store near my old house. Official looking, isn’t it? I once bluffed my way into a comic convention with this thing. I got thrown out within minutes, of course, but it was good plan!”

Danny shook his head. “You amaze me sometimes.”

“Only sometimes?”

“Portal’s open!” Rachel exclaimed. She handed off the RA to Laura and saluted.

“Good,” Danny said. “Laura, why don’t you take Moriarty back to Medical? You can get that leg looked at while you’re there.”

This elicited an eye-roll from Laura. “It’s just a scratch, mom!”

“A scratch you got from a mini in a continuum filled to the brim with odd viruses and radiation,” Danny replied. Rachel’s eyes widened a bit at that. “That doesn’t exactly spell out ‘healthy’ to me. Go get it checked out. I’ll be fine with just Rachel for a while.”

“Fine, if it’ll make you shut up.” Laura took Moriarty’s corpse by the ankles and dragged him towards the portal. She paused as she was about to step through the glowing doorway. “You better not kill him while I’m gone!”

“Yeah, yeah. Just go already!”

Rachel anxiously chewed on her lip and watched as the portal closed behind Laura and her late accompaniment. “You sure she’ll be alright, boss?” she asked. “I mean, what you were saying about the viruses and stuff… she’ll be okay, right?”

“She’ll be fine, Rachel.” Danny leaned against the nearest wall and began fishing in his satchel for a Bleepette. “I bet you she’ll be back in five minutes cursing up a storm about how slow Medical was. Just you wait.”

* * *


Eleven hours later, Laura still hadn’t returned. Danny was getting a little anxious. And tired.

He looked over at Rachel, who was curled up fast asleep underneath a spare blanket Danny had tucked away in his satchel. She’d finally crashed after about three hours of fretting and increasingly outlandish speculation about Laura’s fate. There hadn’t been any sort of slow transition from ‘awake’ to ‘asleep.’ She’d been babbling about an alien zombie gorilla attack on Medical one moment and dead to the world the next.

Danny tried to suppress a yawn and failed. The Stu and Sue had gone to bed some time before, although not together. The Stu had actually been afraid of the Sue’s advances. It was a little surprising. Hardly typical AlphaMale!Stu behavior.

“Nine hours,” Danny whispered as he fished a mostly-empty pack of Bleepettes out of his satchel. “Laura, where are you?”

Laura popped her head around the corner. “Right here,” she said, as if she’d just stepped out to get something from the corner sandwich shop a few minutes ago. “What? Why are you staring at me like that? You dropped your smokes, by the way.” She stepped around the corner and sat down next to her stunned partner.

“I… what… you… where were you?!”

“Ugh, don’t get me started. Medical put me through this whole decontamination process. There were showers, UV lights, injections, the works. Big old pain in the ass. Literally, with the injections.” She winced at some remembered pain. “Leg’s almost as good as new, though.”

Danny tried to stifle another yawn. He was even less successful than during his first attempt. “That’s nice,” he said.

“Were you waiting for me this whole time?” Laura asked upon catching the tired expression on her partner’s face. “Why didn’t you just skip ahead?”

Danny stared at Laura for a moment. “You had the RA, remember?” he finally said.

“…Good point. Why didn’t you just go to sleep then?”

Danny scooped up his packet of Bleepettes and returned them to his satchel. “We probably weren’t going to be able to get a room anywhere and going out into the Wasteland was not happening. I had to keep watch for any wandering locals.”

“You could’ve switched off watch duties with the rookie, you know.”

“Rachel needed the sleep.”

Laura shook her head. “Sweet something of someplace, you are too damn much. Didn’t anyone ever tell you that chivalry is dead?”

“The age of chivalry is never past, so long as there is a wrong left addressed on earth. Charles Kingsley.”

“…Once again, I have no idea what or who the hell you are talking about.”

There was a noise from the Rachel-shaped lump underneath the nearby blanket. Both agents looked around as the intern murmured something in her sleep and rolled over. “How was the kid?” Laura asked.

“Good, if a little worried about you,” Danny replied. A few uncomfortable expressions passed over his face. “I was worried too.”

“Sheesh, you really are like my mother. I’m fine. Look, if it happens again I’ll call you.” Laura gave Danny a condescending pat on the head.

“I’d… appreciate that, I guess.”

“I want an 11 PM curfew, though,” Laura added with a smirk.

Danny made a dismissive snort. “Right, like you’d be anywhere at 11 PM except glued to the television playing Red Dead Redemption.”

“Ah hah hah, look at you with the funny jokes!”

Rachel murmured unintelligibly and stretched before sitting up. She rubbed the dirt out of her eyes and blinked blearily. “Is the boss back yet?” she asked.

“Like I’d let you off so easily, rookie,” Laura said. She reached over and gave the half-awake intern a nudge. “It takes more than a completely hostile environment to put me in the groOOF!”

Danny was quite impressed. At the sound of Laura’s voice, Rachel had snapped fully awake and gone from a sitting position to full-out Glomp Mode. She had hit Laura like a linebacker on angel dust. Danny could have sworn that her blanket had hung in the air Looney Tunes-style before the laws of physics actually caught up with reality. Of course, that would be silly, but strange things happened in badfic sometimes.

“I thought you were dead, boss!” Rachel exclaimed as she hugged Laura. “Danny and I were so worried and you weren’t checking in and we didn’t have the remote activator and you hear stories, you know, about some of the things they do down in Medical and—”

“Rachel…” Laura managed to choke out.

“Yes boss! Whatever you need, boss!”

“If you don’t let go of me now… I’m going to break both your arms… into itty-bitty pieces…”

Rachel puzzled this over for a moment before finally releasing Laura. “Sorry, boss. Do you want to hear the new charges we picked up?”

“What I want is an unbroken rib cage,” Laura muttered as she patted herself down for any new intern-related injuries. “But sure, new charges would be good. Hit me – I mean, lay them out for me.”

Rachel pulled out her smartphone and tapped the screen a few times. “Since you left,” she said, “we’ve got changing the names of canonical locations, playing a System of a Down song in the Fallout universe, using an inconsistent third person perspective—”

“Whoa there.” Laura reached out and placed one of her hands over Rachel’s mouth. “I didn’t quite catch what that previous charge was. Did you say something about System of a Down?”

Rachel slowly and carefully nodded. Laura’s tone of voice had all of a sudden become very low and flat. There was a subtle edge to it that had not been there before. The intern glanced down and gulped. Laura’s free hand was gripping the hilt of one of her ever-present twin daggers.

“Which song?”

Danny reached out and placed a hand on Laura’s shoulder. He could feel her muscles tense up beneath her coat. “Take it easy, Laura,” he said.

“Which. Song. Danny.”

“It… it was B.Y.O.B.”

“I see.” After about five of the most uncomfortable seconds of silence that Danny had ever experienced, Laura smiled and removed her hand from Rachel’s mouth. “That’s nice,” she said. “That’s very nice. It’s nice that the Stu thinks so poorly of the music included in the game – the music that helps defines the entire series, I might add – that he forces a canonically impossible piece of music into the setting. That’s nice.”

Rachel’s smile slowly reappeared as the threat of a rage-induced stabbing ebbed away. “You’re taking this pretty well, boss!” she said. She apparently failed to notice Danny’s panicked grimace and wild ‘don’t go down this road’ head shaking.

“It always helps to remain upbeat about these sorts of things,” Laura said as she patted the intern on the cheek. Her voice light and distant, as if she were reading a fantasy story book to young children. “I like to focus on an appealing image, myself. In this case, I’m focusing on tearing that canon-raping Stu a new piehole WITH MY BARE GODSDAMN HANDS!”

Danny lunged at his partner in an attempt to restrain her but was a second too slow. Laura darted away from his grasp and began charging towards the Children of the Atom’s former church with her assault rifle in hand, shouting threats and curses at the top of her lungs.

Rachel appeared to be in a daze as she watched Laura accelerate away. “Oh my god, she just ran in!” she said. “What do we do now?”

“We back her up, of course,” Danny sighed. He readied his hammer and began following his partner.

“But the Stu isn’t even there!” Rachel exclaimed as she grabbed her hunting rifle and scrambled after Danny. “It’s only one of his little helper guys!”

Laura rammed her shoulder into the door to the church without ever breaking stride. The cheap sheet metal was no match for an enraged PPC agent moving at full speed. She rushed into the room and out of Danny’s line out sight.

“I think she’s about to figure that out,” Danny remarked sourly. “One of these days this ‘charging in headlong’ tactic she loves is going to—”

pop pop pop pop pop

“Oh shit.”

Danny put on another burst of speed, cursing himself for not acting fast enough. He vaulted over a rusted railing and darted into the room, hammer raised and at the ready. Laura was standing over the sole surviving bit character from the previous firefight with the out-of-character cultists. Judging from the lack of obvious injuries on Laura’s body and the Swiss-cheese-like state of the man’s knees, her Type 56 had been the source of the gunfire.

Danny shot a nasty glare at his partner as he lowered his weapon. “What the hell were you thinking, Laura?” he ranted. “I mean seriously! Rushing in to an unknown situation without any sort of plan and a still-healing leg? You could have gotten yourself killed!

“Never mind that right now,” Laura snapped back. Her gaze never left the crippled bit character’s face. “Where’s the damn Stu?! I know what the Stu looks like, and this is definitely not him!”

“As Rachel and I were about to tell you before you went off all Rambo—”

“Which was pretty damn cool, by the way,” Rachel interrupted from behind Danny. Laura smirked in spite of her own anger.

“Might I finish, please?” Danny asked.

There was a groan from the bit character. “dont now hoo u guys are, but yur fuked now,” he said. “Nucky will—”

“Hey!” Laura exclaimed. “We’re having a private conversation here! Mind yourself!” She bashed the butt of her gun into the bit character’s face. Blood and bits of teeth spattered across the floor. The man apparently decided to keep quiet after that.

“If you had bothered to keep your anger in check,” Danny grumbled, “we would have told you that the Stu isn’t here. He and the Replacement!Sue have gone back to the Scrapyard to meet with his boss.”

“You don’t say. Where was that information a minute ago, huh?”

Danny rubbed his forehead and muttered to himself. It was either that or be discharged from the PPC for strangling his partner to death with his bare hands.

“All right, new rule,” Laura continued, ignoring her partner’s obvious show of exasperation. “From now on, telling an absent agent about the status of the Stu or Sue in a mission takes precedence over updating the charge list. Got it?”

Danny nodded. After a few seconds of trying to filter through the argument and the subtext beneath that argument, Rachel gave up and nodded too.

“Good.” Laura refocused her attention on the bleeding bit character. “Hey you! You are hereby charged with aiding and abetting a Stu, multiple counts of Generic homicide, and being a general pain in my ass.” She then unloaded the remainder of her bullets into the bit character’s skull.

“Was all that really necessary?” Danny asked. He looked down and grimaced at the flecks of former bit character that were now speckled across his coat.

Laura shrugged as she popped out the empty clip. “Eh. It made me feel better.” She shifted her gaze from the body underneath her boot to Rachel, who was standing in the doorway with a queasy look on her face. “You all right, rookie? You’re looking a little pale.”

Rachel took a few deep breaths and nodded. “That was… just a bit… you know,” she stammered.

“If you need to sit the rest of the mission out,” Danny said, “feel free. We can portal you back to the response center and take care of the Stu ourselves.”

“No, we won’t.”

Danny looked around at his partner, who was typing something into the RA. “Laura, she just watched someone get his head turned into tomato paste!” he argued. “We can’t expect her to just take that in stride!”

“Yes, we can,” Laura replied evenly. She continued to fiddle with the RA as she spoke. “Have you forgotten why she’s here? This isn’t a field trip, you know! She’s training to become a PPC agent! Part of that training is learning to cope with stuff like this. If she can’t handle gruesome sights or hostile Stus and Sues, then she shouldn’t be here!”

“I know that, but I don’t think it’d hurt to be a little less callous about it!” Danny shouted. He appeared to be about to comment further, but was cut off by Rachel’s hand on his arm.

“It’s okay, Danny,” the intern said. “I can handle it. I appreciate you sticking up for me and stuff, but the boss is right. I’ve gotta learn how to cope with all this kinda, um… stuff.” She paused. “Can I go outside and throw up? I’m not coping as well as I’d like.”

Laura waved her off as a new portal opened up with a ‘pop.’ “You wanna give me a hand with this guy, Danny? He’s got a date with the bottom of the Potomac.”

“Sure,” Danny replied as he helped Laura pick up the late bit character.

“Well, Danny,” Laura said as she brushed off her hands one heave-ho later. “Rather than sit through another one of your lectures, I’m willing to listen to reason. Do you have an actual plan to take care of the Stu and his comrades?”

Danny drummed his fingers on the side of his satchel in thought. “You know,” he said eventually. “I might just.”

* * *


rrrrrrriiiip

“That’s the last one, Danny!” Rachel leapt down from the porch of the two-story Generic Shack and ran over to the two assassins. She saluted, almost clocking herself in the head with the half-used roll of duct tape she was holding. “We’re ready to go!”

Danny cast a discerning eye over Rachel’s handiwork and nodded. “I think this’ll work,” he said. He turned towards his partner. “Does this plan work for you, Laura?”

Laura’s face was the very picture of manic glee as she examined the building façade. She nodded slowly in acknowledgement. “This is without a doubt the best plan you have ever come up with, Danny. By far. It’s almost as good as the plan you came up with during that Sparklepire!Axel mission.”

“Good to know.” Danny closed his eyes and consulted the Words. “The Stu’s on his way,” he said. “Rachel, you stay out of sight until we give you the signal. You’ll probably have about three seconds to hit the switch before the Stu and his buddies shake off their confusion and cut Laura and me to ribbons.”

“So no pressure or anything,” Laura said. She pulled her backup pistol out of her coat and handed it to Danny before readying her assault rifle.

“If something goes wrong, you portal out and get help,” Danny continued. “Do you understand?”

Rachel nodded. “I think I got it,” she said. Her chirpy enthusiasm, while by no means vanished, had been toned down a bit. It was as if someone had twiddled a valve in her head that momentarily funneled her excess energy into actually focusing on the mission at hand. “Best of luck Danny, boss.” She then scampered away out of sight.

The two assassins stood in silence for a moment. Not even the wind was blowing anymore.

The quiet was finally broken with a throat-clearing cough from Danny. “Hey, Laura?” he asked.

“What’s up?”

“If I recall correctly, my plan to take care of Sparklepire!Axel was a complete failure.”

Laura removed her sunglasses and wiped them off on her shirt. “True,” she said as she put her glasses back on, “but you’ve got to admit that it was a really cool plan.”

“…Great.”

It was at that moment that the door to the shack swung open and the Stu stepped outside. Laura raised her hand and waved. “Howdy!” she hollered. “Can you go back inside and get your other two friends out here! We’d like to talk to you all about something!”

“If it helps, there are lives that hang in the balance!” Danny shouted.

After a few seconds of staring in confusion at Danny and Laura, the Stu ducked back inside. He returned a minute later with the fake Lone Wanderer and a new man dressed up as Abraham Lincoln, up to and including the stovepipe hat. The Stu’s coyote pet slunk in between their legs. They were all carrying guns, apart from the coyote.

The Stu shot a steely glare at the agents. “Wat u want?!” he exclaimed.

“To set things straight!” Laura answered with a grin.

Danny pulled Rachel’s smartphone out of his coat and tapped the screen a couple times. “9 Nucky and colleagues, also known as Marty Stu, Mary Sue, and Lincoln-Impersonator Stu! You are collectively charged with the following crimes against canon: abusing the English language, abusing punctuation, abusing the flow of time, abusing metaphors, abusing the third-person-limited point of view, creating multiple minis including a Mini Stu, making most of the post-apocalyptic United States disappear, escaping without a logical explanation, making a noncanon location on a canonical site, making a canonical business disappear, assaulting a PPC agent by proxy—”

“That’d be me, butthead,” Laura cut in.

“—multiple counts of murder including that of a canonical character, having an unrealistic skin color, having eyes made out of chocolate, having a Generic Animal Friend, changing the names of canonical locations, playing uncanonical music, changing the Lone Wanderer to the ‘Lone Wonder,’—”

“What?! You never told me that!” Laura fixed her nastiest glare on the Stu.

“—theft of canonical property including the hat and diary of President Abraham Lincoln, and annoying PPC agents.” Danny turned off the phone and tucked it back into his coat before looking back up at the now enraged Stu and his companions. “Do you have any last words before the sentence is carried out?”

A nasty smile slowly spread across the Stu’s face. “Ur both rong,” he said as he raised his revolver. The other two quickly followed his example. “Ur the ons whu neeed last wurds. U gott any?”

Danny and Laura quickly exchanged a glance and a little smile. “We do, actually,” Danny replied.

“FIRE IN THE HOLE!” Laura shouted at the top of her lungs. She and Danny then threw themselves to the ground, their hands clasped over their heads.

This flummoxed the Stu. “Wut the fuk—”

Any further comment on his part was lost when Rachel activated the fifteen pounds of plastic explosive she had taped to the front of the shack. The Stu, his boss, the Replacement!Sue, and the Stu’s coyote vanished in a flash of flame and a veritable hurricane of Generic Debris.

After about ten seconds, Laura uncovered her head and looked up. There were lumps of wood and bits of the Stu and his friends scattered across the visible landscape. A few small fires were burning in the wreckage of the shack. A smoldering stovepipe hat had rolled to a stop a few feet away.

“Okay,” she said. “I think this beats the Sparklepire!Axel plan now.”

Danny lifted his head with a groan. “Now I know why the Mythbusters are always in concrete bunkers when they do stuff like this. I think my stomach and my heart just spun around in a complete circle.” He began slowly clambering to his feet as an ecstatic Rachel ran up, detonator still in hand.

“Did you see that!” she shouted. “Omigod omigod that was SO cool! The way it just went kaBOOMpshhPHWOOM and everything, that was unbelievable!”

“I know, right?!” Laura exclaimed. She wobbled a bit once upon getting back to her feet, but recovered masterfully. “I’m starting to see why the DOGA agents always look so happy. What a rush!” She elbowed her partner. “You all right, Danny?”

“Peachy,” Danny muttered as he rubbed his neck while trying to put all thoughts regarding flying shrapnel out of his mind. Unfortunately for him, it was rather like not thinking of pink elephants.

The world suddenly began to ripple and rumble. The makeshift town faded, replaced by the far more real-looking junk piles and rusted metal of the original Scrapyard. Even Lincoln’s hat vanished, presumably returning back to its canonical location.

“Looks like the plothole ruptured on its own,” Danny said. “Couldn’t maintain the strain of hiding most of an entire continent along with the main character and a smattering of NPCs without the Stu’s influence. The plot should be back on the rails shortly.”

Laura nodded. “Less work for us is always a good thing. Rookie! Open us up a portal back to Megaton. We’ve got some locals to neuralyze!” There was a pause, which normally would have been filled with Rachel’s ramblings. “Rachel?”

“Over here!” The assassins looked around. Rachel was standing on top of a smoking pile of rubble with a piece of raggedy blue fabric in her hand. On closer inspection, it appeared to be the remains of the Stu’s Union-style forage cap. “I was just grabbing a souvenir!” she shouted.

Laura looked over at Danny and smirked. “That kid’s going to make a damn fine agent one day.”

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