Nora returned to the waking world with a gasp. Her lungs felt like they were burning as she swallowed down air amongst a fit of coughing. The hatch to her pod swung up and outwards as alarms sounded while a robotic voice droned over speakers somewhere. “....all residents must vacate immediately.”
She carefully placed one foot on the cement floor outside as she exited the pod she had been placed in. Water dripped from the ceiling covering the ground in puddles and the air had a dank and musty feel to it. Nora carefully placed her steps as she tried to keep her shoes from getting wet while moving towards the pod containing Nate.
Nora fumbled around the hatch cover with stiff fingers that didn't respond quite right as she looked fur a button or switch that would open the machine containing her husband. She had almost given up when she spotted what looked like a control panel off to the side. There were a few dials measuring something in psi and a red switch beneath them. Nora grabbed the switch and pulled it upwards. There was a hiss from the pod and the hatch to Nate's pod swung open.
His head had slumped to one side and his skin and clothes looked like food that had been left in the freezer too long. She could see frozen blood on his face and jumpsuit from where that bald man had shot him as well. It was almost certainly an exercise in futility but she had to make sure the man was actually dead before leaving. Nate's skin was icy to to the point that her fingertips stung just from touching it but there was no pulse in his neck.
She shook her head disdainfully at the corpse, her voice contemptuous “You idiot. All you had to do was let go of the brat and you'd still be alive. But you didn't and all it got you was a bullet.” Nora sighed to herself as she pulled her wedding ring off and dropped it at Nate's feet. “Such a waste. We had some fun times before the accident.” And with that, she turned away and continued trying to avoid the puddles as she walked away from what had been her husband.
All around her was the hum of machinery running somewhere and the lights were still on but there was no sign of the people who had brought her here. Nora stopped to look through the viewport of the other occupied pods. The first person she checked on was just as freezer burnt as Nate but she didn't see any blood on her remains.
Nora lifted an eyebrow after checking the other pods and finding that everyone else had been turned into a human popsicle. All the other people from Sanctuary Hills who had made it into the Vault were dead. She shrugged, to herself really since there wasn't anyone else to see, before leaving the pods and their occupants behind.
The hallway past the pods was empty save for a few things that had been knocked to the floor. She aimlessly kicked a traffic cone as she walked along. The door was a heavy hatchway that she wouldn't have been able to open on her own but fortunately there was still power in the vault. The two parts of the door pulled themselves into the floor and ceiling letting her through. This room was as empty as the others but there was a window she could see a working power generator through. She watched the electricity arcing between the coils at it's top for a few seconds longer before turning away.
Seconds after her back was turned there was a loud thump against the glass behind her making Nora jump, her heart climbing up into her throat. She spun back around but there was nothing in sight. An involuntary shiver ran through her and her hair began standing on end. Something had made that sound but she had no idea what it could be other than it meant she wasn't alone in this cold mausoleum. Nora began backing up but kept the window firmly in view until she rounded the corner between it and her.
There was a table in the next room and she found a security baton atop it. Nora was quick to pick it up, the weight of it in her hand reassuring her. It was just in time too as the sound of something skittering on the stone floor made her blood run cold.
A cockroach the size of a small dog was crawling along the floor towards her. The thing didn't have any eyes but it's antennas were both aimed at Nora and it's mandibles chittered as it flew off the ground at her. She swung the baton, it's tip solidly connecting with the insect dropping it to the ground whilst a yellowish gunk splashed towards her. “God damn it.” She grimaced and wiped at the stain on the front of her jumpsuit but only served to get the fetid smelling goo on her sleeve. There were more cockroaches past the next door and she tried to keep them at bay when killing them but the damn things were brimming with that noxious juice and it kept getting on her clothes.
Nora gagged at the smell as she headed past the generator. She came to a halt at the sight of another person lying on the ground. Or more accurately, that person's skeleton. Every soft bit of flesh and sinew was gone leaving only a white skeleton dressed in a blue jumpsuit behind. A morbid curiosity drove her to bend over for a closer look and she saw what looked like small bite marks on the bones themselves.
The next room had a carpeted floor and a discolored desk in the center. Behind it was another skeleton lying on a tipped over chair. There was a gun and small box of bullets next to a computer on the desk. Nora picked the gun up, a clear look of distaste on her face, as she gingerly held it between her thumb and index finger. She had never liked guns but there could be more of those cockroaches and Nora was already beyond sick of getting covered in whatever the hell this yellow crud was.
She tried to open the next door but it refused to budge. Nora kicked it once in frustration before her gaze fell on the computer as she looked around for something that might help her get out. There were a few entries on the terminal but she skipped past the operating manual and overseer's log and selected 'Open Evacuation Tunnel'. The door opened and Nora found more cockroaches on the other side. She aimed the pistol with an unsteady hand and pulled the trigger once. Her bullet went wide of the nearest insect and sending small stone flakes flying when it hit a wall. The pistol's report was magnified by the stone walls of the corridor she was in and the deafeningly loud crack only served to attract the attention of all those bugs whilst bombarding her ears at the same time. Nora tossed the gun to one side as she clenched the baton in a tight fist. Going deaf or getting covered in more of that gunk wasn't a pleasant choice but it was an easily made one.
Her jaw clenched as she pushed forward and began swinging at the oversized insects in her path. The jumpsuit was more yellow than blue by the time she had made it to the vault door but Nora couldn't smell it anymore thankfully. There was another pair of skeletons here and she stopped next to the one by the controls. It was wearing a white lab coat and one hand had been ripped off. There was some kind of computer on the wrist and she reached down to pick it up, the bones falling out as she did so.
There was some kind of jack that matched a connector on the device she was holding. Nora plugged it in and hit the red button. Sirens began blaring, the lights started flashing and she heard that robotic voice speaking again. “Vault door cycling sequence initiated. Please stand back.” A massive mechanical arm moved forward and pressed into a hole in the door's center. The gears inside threw out sparks and she could hear the sounds of metal grinding as it pulled the gigantic vault door inwards then rolled it off to one side.
On the other side was the elevator that she remembered descending on in order to escape the nuclear explosions. It couldn't have been more than an hour from her perspective but those skeletons had looked awfully dried out to her. The elevator settled into the ground and Nora climbed aboard. She hit the switch and began rising back to the surface.
The lights of the vault disappeared and she was in pitch blackness until the hatch above her opened and the sun's bright rays blinded her as she arrived at the surface. As her eyes adjusted to being above ground she took stock of the area around her. During that panicked run to the vault the trees had been covered in reddish orange leaves and the grass had been a vibrant green and the vault had been surrounded by construction equipment and cars.
But now the barren trees looked like lifeless husks and the grass had been replaced by sad looking brown bushes. And all those construction vehicles and cars had turned into husks riddled with rust. Just how long had she been down there? Nora had realized that those things were some kind of cryo pods but she had no idea how long she had been frozen. The sight of all that rusted out metal was enough to say it had been a while however. She idly tapped the baton against her thigh as she headed down the path towards the town where her house was.
Sanctuary Hills was a generic looking suburb full of identical dull looking houses and populated by even duller people. But that wasn't the case anymore as the neighborhood she remembered had turned into a ghost town. Several of the houses had outright collapsed into piles of rubble and the rest were deteriorating husks of their former selves. The pristine green lawns had been overrun by weeds and hedges full of thorns were consuming the fences that were still standing.
A robot with a few dings and intermittent patches of discolored metal was floating in front of what had been her house, his buzz saw spinning as it trimmed the bushes in front of her house. Nora put a hand on her hip as she came to a stop nearby “Codsworth? Is that you?”
The Mr Handy machine spun about his eyes focusing on her. “As I live and breathe! It's really you Mistress!”
“What happened Codsworth? These houses look even shittier than they used to. How long has it been since we left?”
“A bit over two hundred and ten years mistress, give or take for the earth's rotation. Will Sir and the infant be joining us? You're late for dinner and I dare say you could use a good snack.”
Nora frowned as she listened to the robot speak. He still sounded as British as ever, but his limbs were a tad twitchy and his voice was wavering more than it normally did. “Have you had any maintenance done? You said it's been two hundred years, let me take a look at you.”
“Of course mistress, your tools are in the house. It'll be good to get the old gears properly calibrated.”
After Codsworth was hovering in standby mode, Nora was able to use her newly found Pip-boy computer to connect herself to the robot. She checked for any detected errors before doing anything else and saw a round zero. The date's counter read 2287... Codsworth wasn't wrong. Over two hundred years had passed.
It was a staggering thought. Two centuries gone in the blink of an eye for her. How much had the world changed? The last thing she remembered seeing before entering the vault was a nuclear explosion. Was there anyone still alive out here or had everyone died? She had no idea but one thing was clear. The world she had known was gone... and so was anyone who had known her.
Nora cycled to the emotions tab to check on the robot's variables. She frowned at the readout, Codsworth's values were indicating he was depressed and generally unhappy but nothing else of concern. She thought about manually editing his values to try and bring him out of it but she had never been very good at tinkering with Codsworth's emotional variables. It would be safer to just reset his emotions to default and be done with it. Nora also briefly considered wiping all of his memories but there was no telling what he might have learned while she had been frozen during the last two hundred years. She did delete two entries however, Nate was dead and Shaun had been taken so there was no need for him to remember them. The last change was editing the name of the file associated with her from Nora to Alice Thomas.
She saved her changes and exited the bios disconnecting her cable as he rebooted. He turned back towards her once his operating system had loaded. “Ah, that feels much better. You've always had a knack for software mistress. Is there anything you need?”
Alice smiled slightly at the flattery “Is it safe here Codsworth? I ran into some giant insects on my way here and I don't feel like dealing with any more right now. Can you make sure there aren't any nearby?”
“Right away mistress.” Once more her robotic butler's voice sounded like what she was accustomed to, that unrelenting British cheer. He floated out the door and towards the nearest house, buzz-saw and flamethrower at the ready.
By the time Codsworth had returned, flamethrower smoking and saw colored yellow, Alice was seated on the couch, naked as the day she was born, the noxious vault suit nowhere in sight. A shoebox with the word 'necessities' written on the side was lying open at her feet. She crooked her finger at the robot, beckoning him closer with as she spread her legs apart “Time for one of my treatments Codsworth.”
“At once mistress, we can't have you getting feverish now can we?” He floated to the box and lifted a slender black rubber cylinder that tapered at one end out of it. Alice smirked as the 'treatments' Codsworth had been programmed to administer began. In days long gone now she had always been forced to keep quiet while living in this house. But now she went out of her way to make sure her neighbors could hear her shrieks of pleasure even though they had been dead for over two hundred years.
Dry rot. Moths. Faded. Stained. She flipped through the clothes in her closet, each in worse shape than the one before it. Alice hurled a stained jacket against a wall as she started berating her robotic butler. “What the hell am I supposed to wear!? I can't go walk around the Commonwealth naked! What have you been doing for the last two centuries?”
If Codsworth was human then he would have been wringing his hands together if his tone was any indication “Please don't be cross mistress. I ran out of cleaning supplies after the first few years and there was nothing that could be done. But I did store some of your favorite outfits away for when you came back.” Left unsaid was that she might never had returned and his efforts would have been for nothing but he had done it anyways.
Her anger disappeared as quickly as it had erupted and she fondly patted the machine on his round head “Of course you did. You're as loyal as ever Codsworth. Where are they?”
He waved his metallic claw towards a safe in the corner that she hadn't noticed until this instant. “I borrowed this from one of the neighbors houses after no one came back from the vault. It took me the better part of a year to figure out the combination but I persevered in the end. Thirty – sixteen – seventy-one.”
The labels had faded over the long years but she could still make out it's the safety ratings on them. Completely waterproof, fireproof and overall it was just big enough to hold a few outfits. Alice spun the dial around as she entered the combination Codsworth had given her. There was a click and the door swung outwards. She tossed the outfits onto the stained mattress of her old bed as she took a look at what had been saved. A black leather corset along with matching pants and gloves, a set of lacy red lingerie, one black sundress and one large trenchcoat that could hide whatever she was or wasn't wearing beneath it. And he had even saved a pair of high heels and knee high boots at that.
One corner of Alice's mouth lifted at the sight of the first two outfits but she picked the dress up instead turning it from one side to the other. “Does the water still work so I can take a shower or has it been too long?”
“I'm afraid not mistress. All the public utilities stopped working after the bombs fell. There is the stream nearby but it's still rather polluted even after all these years. However but I learned how to filter fallout from water so that it's safe to use and I can draw you a bath if you don't mind waiting... say an hour?”
She rolled her eyes in annoyance before shooing the robot off. “Fine. Go do that. And find some soap if you can.” He floated off humming some song to himself as she looked back at the corset. There would be time and reason to wear that later but first things first. She still had the pistol and baton from the vault but there was an inkling that they wouldn't be enough floating around in the back of her mind. The drawer containing her kitchen knives was stuck until she yanked sharply on it. The knives themselves all looked untouched and she selected a few of the smaller ones that could be concealed along with their plastic sheathes. She set the knives on the counter-top next to the trenchcoat and black dress before sitting down on what had once been a stylish couch to wait.
Alice sighed as she lowered herself into the bath, the hot water rising up to her neck. The tub was still somewhat stained despite the robot's hasty attempt at cleaning it but she could put up with this for the time being. Wherever she ended up though was definitely going to have clean tubs and showers she decided.
Codsworth held up a towel when she had finished soaking herself and she regretfully got out of the tub shivering in the autumn air until he had finished drying her off. Codsworth hovered nearby as she began dressing and looking for places she could hide her knives in the event that she needed them. “May I ask what you're planning to do mistress? You don't exactly look like you're preparing for a nice dinner right now.”
She tucked the smallest knife she had, only a few inches from one end to the other into one of her boots. “Well Cods, we can't stay here. There's no electricity, barely any food and getting water for a bath is a pain in the ass. I don't know if there's anyone still alive nearby so our best bet is to head to Boston and see what we find.”
“There are some people over in Concord but their a most unpleasant lot. I tried approaching them once and they started hitting me with some rather large sticks and shooting at me for sport as I ran away. I would suggest perhaps skirting around it and heading for Lexington.”
Alice fiddled with one of the daggers as she tried to figure out the best way to tie it to her wrist before orienting the handle towards her palm. “I never did like Concord. No clubs and all the bars were boring. The only reason people went there was that stuffy museum. I suppose we can give Lexington a shot, but I'd rather get to the combat zone. If the red light district clubs or bars are still around then I'll fit right in. If not then I can start one, assuming there's still people in Boston. Put my outfits and toys in a suitcase and let's get going.”
Half of the bridge had fallen into the water below and the rest creaked in the wind just a little too much for Alice's taste but it held as she crossed. She still had the pistol in her pocket if she needed it and Codsworth was floating along behind her, the suitcase in one of his hands. The road that to the coolant station had deteriorated over the decades and was as much patches of dirt and weeds as it was an actual road now. The familiar statue of the Red Rocket loomed over the station and husks of vehicles as they approached it. A furry creature with four legs rose to its feet and began trotting towards her much to Alice's displeasure. “Is - is that a dog!?”
It barked once, tail wagging as it tilted its head at her. She grabbed a rock and threw it at the mutt. “Get the hell out of here!” Alice shuddered as the german shepard whined and ran away.
Codsworth tsked slightly “It seems that not even the end of the world itself could change your attitude towards man's best friend mistress.”
She held up two fingers in a v shape “There's two things I don't tolerate Codsworth. Dogs and my mother in law. It's a very short list.” Alice checked to make sure the beast was actually gone before starting to walk again. “Though I guess my mother in law is finally gone so I guess it's just one thing now.” She waved her middle finger at Concord, the direction the dog had gone, a mean smirk on her face.
Alice was careful to keep at a safe and healthy distance but she could still hear gunfire and distant yelling from the city. Whatever was going on was something she wanted to avoid but those voices meant that people were there. The bombs hadn't wiped out the Commonwealth and she wasn't alone in this wasteland. And if there was life here on the fringes then there would be more further into the city.
Concord receded behind them as they moved onwards. There was a small restaurant up ahead that she had eaten at a few times and hopefully there might be some food. Alice heard angry voices yelling at each other as she drew near. A pair of shady looking individuals, a man and a woman clad in leather were standing on the edge of the road and she could see an older woman on the inside of the diner.
“We had a deal Trudy. Hand over the goods. You owe us” The man had an uncouth voice and shifty looking demeanor to him.
“I ain't giving you poison schilling chem pushers anything. You see what that junk has done to my boy?”
“He bought them fair and square, Trudy! Ain't our fault if he's strung out Now don't make me come in there and shoot up that little trading post of yours.”
Alice gestured to Codsworth to stay back as she crept forward to the edge of the building and peeked through one of the broken windows. A young man was sitting on the floor, hugging his knees as he rocked back and forth, mumbling to himself. She hadn't recognized the slang Trudy had used, 'chem', but the signs of drug withdrawal were unmistakable.
One of her ears began twitching and she forced a smile onto her face before stepping out to where they could see her and right into the middle of this little showdown. The chem pushers leveled their guns at her as she approached the duo. “Whoa whoa, easy there lady. This doesn't involve you.”
She held her hands up by her shoulders and stopped moving “I couldn't help but overhear what you were saying and I think I have the solution to your problem here.”
“Oh yeah? If you think you can convince Trudy to give us the caps she owes us then go right ahead. It's that or we take what's ours.”
Alice's smile widened a little as she slowly unbuttoned the front of her trench coat. She was still wearing the sun dress but one of the straps had slipped down over her shoulder “Oh, I have something even better than caps for a strong man like you.” She bit her lower lip as her eyes flicked down to the crotch of his pants. “Care to find out what it is?” She actually had no idea what the hell they meant by caps but offering her body as trade was a good bet to trump whatever caps were.
His pistol lowered just a tad and his interest appeared to have been piqued by her flirtatious tone though his female companion didn't appear convinced “I'm listening...”
“I have a pistol in my coat here.” She pointed at her right pocket. “I'm going to take it out real slow and set it on the ground. Then we can go over behind that wall over there for some privacy. After I'm done you can decide whether or not you still want Trudy's caps. And if your friend wants a turn, she's welcome to it once you've gotten your fill.”
He shrugged and holstered his weapon before speaking to his friend “Wait here. I'll be back in a few. Keep an eye on Trudy, make sure she don't do nothing stupid Simone.” Alice reached into her pocket and slowly placed the gun on the ground, her dress giving them a glimpse of her cleavage as she bent over.
The far side of the diner had a small car park and there was a metal roof to cover whatever cars has been parked there. Alice led him to the opposite side of the stanchion holding it up, out of sight from everyone else. She pushed his chest so that he was leaning backwards against the metal support. “Tell me, what's your name?”
She grinned as she reached towards the belt that held his pants. And his gun. “I like it. Wolfgang, a lot of geniuses named Wolfgang.” But he wasn't one of them.
Several minutes later and she came back around the corner of the diner, alone, rubbing a sleeve on her clean face to make it look like she was wiping something off. Trudy's face was guarded but the woman seemed like she had figured out that something was up, but not what. Simone, on the other hand, had folded her arms and was drumming fingers on one bicep in irritation. They had come here for caps and now Wolfgang had run off with some random whore for a quickie.
Alice waved her hand at Wolfgang's companion as she faked “Excuse me! Simone wasn't it? I could use your help over here... Wolfgang's legs aren't exactly working right now and he's too big for a little girl like me to carry. Could you come give me a hand?” Simone cursed to herself before heading towards where Wolfgang was. Alice waited for the drug dealer to walk by and followed just quickly enough to keep Simone both in arm's reach and in front of her. By the time she spotted Wolfgang's body lying in the dirt Alice had already drawn a bloody knife and and it was too late for Simone to defend herself.
Alice wiped her knife off before heading into the diner itself. Trudy's face looked relieved but confused and more than a little wary. “What did you just do?”
She waved her knife at where the two corpses were “I took care of your problem, they won't bother you or anyone else again.”
Trudy shook her head slightly “Not to sound ungrateful, but we're not quite done just yet. I'm glad Wolfgang's gone, the crows can feast on him for all I care but a knife means a lotta blood. And that much blood means something nasty is going to come sniffing around here.”
No good deed goes unpunished. She huffed to herself “Fine. Codsworth! Give us a hand.” The robot floated over and Alice waved at Simone “Grab an ankle and help me with this. How far are we going Trudy?”
The shopkeep shrugged her shoulders “I'll let you know when I feel good about it. Biggest thing is to be quick. We don't want to meet a yao guai bear or something worst out here. Have your robot keep his eyes out.” Trudy grabbed Wolfgang by the legs and started dragging him away. Alice sighed as she grabbed one of Simone's ankles with both hands. She had always hated manual labor. Construction, fixing cars and all that other nonsense. That's what men were for. And now here she was dragging a dead woman's body into the wilderness. This had not been a good day. Codsworth was going to have to give her another 'treatment' to make up for this shit.
Wolfgang and Simone hadn't been carrying a whole lot on them. A seemingly homemade pistol and revolver plus some bullets, one sweet roll and a couple of purses full of bottle caps on them. Wolfgang had been wearing nothing but leather but Simone had been wearing a thing of metal on one arm. Trudy pointed at the guns first “You want either of these? You already got a pistol but the more the merrier.”
Alice shook her head as she leaned back against the diner's wall. Trudy shrugged and tossed the purses to her “Here. You'll be wanting these then and I'll give you the rest when Carla gets here.”
The name didn't mean anything to Alice but that was hardly surprising what with the two hundred year gap and all. “Sorry who? I'm not from around here. I just arrived in the area this morning.”
Trudy lifted the jacket that Simone had been wearing turning it back and forth as she checked the garment for any damage before tossing it onto the pile of tradeable items she was making. “Trashcan Carla. She runs a caravan out of Bunker Hill. People call her Trashcan because she'll buy and sell anything even if it's junk. Drops by here a couple of times a week to pick up whatever the scavvers bring me .”
A traveling merchant, that sounded promising to Alice. This Carla must know the Commonwealth pretty well and would be able to point her in the right direction. She tossed the thin purses between her hands before sticking them in her left pocket. Trudy hadn't explained what caps were but the way she spoke of them sounded an awful lot like how people had referred to dollar bills. So these caps were used as currency in the Commonwealth. And that didn't bode well for the US government if its currency had been abandoned for caps from Nuka Cola bottles. And if the government was gone then so were its laws and possibilities that opened to her were... endless.
Patrick, the trader's son, shambled by the two of them mumbling something about Jet to himself. Alice glanced at him out of the corner of her eye as he laid down on one of the booth seats, feeling more than a little sorry for the guy. The direction of her gaze didn't escape Trudy's notice and she shook her head “Don't you worry about him. It'll be a rough few weeks but the two of us will get through it and you've already helped us out enough... though I gotta ask why you bothered.”
Alice rubbed at her chin as she considered what to say. Some of the truth, but not too much, would suffice “I'm not a fan of drugs and I don't use any myself, I don't even drink alcohol, but they have a place in the world.” Her eyes flashed angrily as she continued “But Wolfgang got your son addicted on purpose and that's something I despise.”
Trudy gave her a look as if she suspected there was more to it than that before shrugging “Well, you got Wolfgang off my back so that's good enough for me. Carla should be by sometime this afternoon if you want to hang around until then.” True enough, a few hours later and the trader showed up as promised.
Trashcan Carla was an older woman but she wore her age well. Her short mousy brown hair had no gray in it and the lines in her face were barely noticeable. She held a cigarette in one hand as she haggled with Trudy over the goods that Trudy had collected this time. Off to the side, Alice was doing her hardest not to look at the beast Carla used to carry the goods she bought. It was some kind of bizarre looking cow with an alarming number of luggage on its back. With two heads. And the two of them were acting as if that was perfectly normal. What kind of weird-ass cow had two fucking heads?
“So what's your story? Looking to trade, rob me or just ask directions to Diamond City?” Alice started in surprise at the question. Carla had walked up on her while she was busy not staring at the freakish beast of burden.
“Diamond City? What's that? I'm new to the area.” It was a lie but Carla had no way of knowing that and Alice had the sneaking suspicion that telling people she was some sort of anachronism was a bad idea.
“Directions. Hmph. Figures. Just keep goin' until you see the skyline, across the river.” Succinct and to the point, Carla was certainly a gruff one. And she wasn't terrible looking either even at her age. Take away a decade or two and she'd be a fun one to have on her knees.
The directions themselves weren't great but Alice didn't particularly feel like trying to pry something more accurate out of the other woman at the moment. Her stomach was rumbling, reminding her that she hadn't eaten anything since waking up from the cryo pod earlier this day “Okay then, do you have any food? I have caps.”
Carla tilted her head at the cow that Alice had been trying so to ignore “I got a little bit of everything.”
Alice didn't know what the meat she had bought was and she somehow knew it was better not to ask. She waved to her robot “Codsworth, come cook this for me. We'll get moving afterwards.” It vaguely reminded her of eating beef but it was clearly something else. She tried her best to put it out of her mind but eating bites of stringy mystery meat off one of her now century old kitchen knives definitely ranked as her most unpleasant meal ever.
After she was done, Alice headed over to where Carla was packing up the junk she had bought from Trudy. “Excuse me Carla, I have some more questions if you don't mind answering them.”
The trader glanced over her shoulder as she threw Wolfgang's jacket into a chest “Yeah yeah, what is it?”
Politeness had never been one of Alice's strong suits but she had thought it worth a shot. It hadn't seemed to made a difference on Carla however so she was quick to give up on it “What can you tell me about the area? Cities, people, places to avoid, safest routes that sort of thing.”
Carla shut the chest and began loading it on top of the cow. “Diamond City's the big one and its the closest. There's also Goodneighbor and Bunker Hill but those are further east, near the bay. Goodneighbor's full of crooks and Bunker Hill can be hard to get into. I'd suggest you head for Diamond City. You just take this road here and head south, can't miss it.” And with that, she was plodding off to the west, two-headed cow in tow.
Alice watched her slowly disappear into the distance before turning away to head south. She had only made it a few steps when Trudy's voice called out from behind her “Hey wait a minute, before you go, I gotta question for you.”
She came to a halt and turned around to face the trader, curious to see what this last question was going to be. “What is it?”
Trudy was fidgeting ever so slightly and she wasn't quite looking at Alice as she asked what had been preying on her mind these last few hours. “When you took Wolfgang out back, did you actually... you know?”
Wolfgang and Simone's deaths hadn't bothered Trudy but the woman looked rather flustered at the thought of what Alice might have done with or to the drug dealer beforehand. She shook her head slowly, a faint smile on her lips “If he hadn't been selling drugs then I would have sure. I just needed him to drop his guard so I offered him something he wouldn't be able to resist. See you around Trudy.”
Trudy's apprehension seemed to lessen from that but she still appeared rather uncomfortable until Alice and Codsworth began to head off once more. She stared at the woman's backside, shaking her head once before heading inside to check on her recovering addict of a son.
The road to the south was just as broken as the ones she had already seen and the buildings were decaying into piles of rubble as nature battered against them over decades and centuries. Lexington was the next city to the south and it looked like it had met the same fate as Concord, being occupied by unsavory looking types that she observed from a distance. Alice lingered for a bit as she watched them walking around before sneaking away.
It was the same everywhere else in Boston as she moved further into the city. Rusted corpses of cars and trucks, shattered pieces of glass below the windows they had fallen out of and abandoned buildings everywhere she looked. The only question on her mind was whether or not this desolation applied to the combat zone. Her whole plan had been to get to the area and start looking for one of the old clubs that she had worked and played in. But if none of them were still running then things would be a great deal more vexing to deal with.
But by the biggest change was how quiet everything was as she and Codsworth, suitcase still in hand, walked through the streets. No traffic or other pedestrians or anything besides the two of them at all. The hustle and bustle that Boston once had was gone and all that remained was an eerily silent ruin of the city she had once known. And yet she couldn't shake the feeling that she was being watched. Every footstep Alice took sounded amplified by the stifling quiet and it felt like the sound was an open invitation to whoever was out there. Come get me they cried. I'm just a woman walking the streets of a dead city all by herself.
A small flake of concrete fell from a roof above Alice and Codsworth and shattered into tiny fragments against the road. Both of them paused mid stride and looked up at where it had come from. High above them on the roof was something silhouetted against the sun. They only saw it for an instant before it vanished but the overwhelming wrongness of whatever it was set off alarm bells and Alice began to run. How she knew Alice couldn't say, but staying here to meet that thing meant a terrible death.
A bloodcurdling scream came from behind them, deep, guttural and she just knew that whatever had made it wasn't human. Her heart was hammering away and her sides began to hurt as she sprinted down the empty streets but she had to keep running. Stop and that thing would catch her. The scream came again, louder and closer. For a split second Alice was tempted to look behind her, but she resisted the temptation but she did check on the robot carrying her suitcase. Codsworth may not have been built for speed but he still at her side and was mercifully silent for once.
And then she saw it. A crude wooden sign with the word's 'Diamond City' spray painted in white on it and an arrow pointing which way to go. Alice tore around the corner, nearly falling as her boots skidded on the cement. Up ahead was a crude looking fortification cobbled together from scrap pieces of wood and metal but she could see a man patrolling it, rifle in hand. There was a second figure standing down below and a rotating metal cylinder with some kind of metal pipe sticking out of it. As Alice got closer, she could see them in better detail. Both of them were wearing baseball player outfits? What the fuck?
Both of them noticed her at the same time and the way she was hurtling towards them spelled trouble. They started to point the rifles at her when the thing that had been chasing her came around the corner. Alice threw herself to the ground as she saw them switch targets and their bullets flew overhead at her pursuer. At the same time, the cylinder stopped rotating back and forth as it sprayed the alleyway with bullets. She curled up into a ball, throwing her hands over her ears, trying to block out the gunfire's roar.
She jumped in fear when one of the guards shook her by the shoulder “Miss. Miss! It's over, you're safe. The super mutant's dead.” Alice slowly climbed back to her feet and looked back down the alleyway. The 'super mutant' was lying prone on the ground and she started creeping towards it, a morbid fascination guiding her footsteps. The thing was half again as tall as a man, it's green skin was riddled with bullet holes and it had more muscles than any strongman she had ever seen. She had almost gotten close enough to touch it when the mutant's eyes opened and it lunged forward, one oversized hand outstretched towards her. Alice shrieked and stumbled backwards out of reach and fled for safety, the sound of resumed gunfire chasing her past the barricade.
It took her a moment to realize where she was. Alice had never been interested in baseball but even she could recognize the entrance to Fenway. There was some statue holding a bat, but the woman standing near a speaker drew her attention. Her black hair was partially covered by a press cap and that red trench only served to accentuate her hourglass figure. The jacket's tattered hem was a bit irritating to her eye, but Alice couldn't help envisioning what lay underneath and what it'd feel like to the touch.
The woman noticed Alice looking at her and made her way over “What's going on? That was a lot of shooting just now.”
Alice glanced back at the spot she had just ran from “Uhm, there was a super mutant chasing me.”
The woman's voice echoed her disbelief “You outran a super mutant? Either you're really fast or you're incredibly lucky. I didn't know that there were any mutants so close to the city and now I've gotten the boot. Timing couldn't be any better.”
“They kicked you out of the city? Why would they do that?” Alice didn't really care, but feigned empathy had always been an effective tool and her fingers were itching to get in those pants.
She sighed, shaking her head as she stared at the metal gate morosely“I wrote an article that the mayor didn't like and now Danny's saying they got orders to not let me in. Guess I kicked the wrong hornet's nest this time.”
A journalist. That definitely derailed her short-term plans of getting this woman's clothes off but having a journalist on her side would pay off in the long run. The gears spun in her head for a moment as she looked for a way to make this play out in her favor “What's your name? Let me take a crack at Danny here and I'll get you back inside in no time.”
Her new 'friend' raised an eyebrow and tilted her head slightly to the side “You're going to get me back inside? Okay, I've gotta see this. My name's Piper Wright, I got a little sister named Nat and my paper is called Publick Occurences. See if you can do anything with that much.”
The sarcasm was evident but Alice smiled in response letting it roll off her as she pushed the transmit button on the speaker. Alice put on her sweetest voice for the man “Excuse me. Danny is it? Can I ask a small favor of you? There's this woman out here. Goes by Piper. It'd really mean a lot to me if you let her back inside and I'd be ever so grateful.” If she had been face to face with the man then this would be easy, but the metal gate and having to talk by speaker made this more difficult than it should have been.
“I'm sorry but I can't let her back in. Mayor's orders, he's furious about this article she wrote. My hands are tied.”
Piper folded her arms and Alice's face darkened a little at her innuendo being ignored or something far far worse. That it, that she had just been rejected. Time to be blatant about this. The honey disappeared and her voice dropped to a low seductive whisper “I don't think you understood me Danny. You let Piper back inside and I'll do things to you that you never imagined even in your wildest wet dreams.”
The reporter's jaw dropped and her eyes opened wide in shock at how brazen that offer had been. Alice had scandalized people in the past, but she had rarely seen anyone rendered mute from sheer sexual outrage. Piper's mouth opened and closed several times as she struggled to speak but then the gate began to open and the way was made clear. Alice smirked just a bit as she gestured towards the opening with both arms. “You're welcome.” Piper's stare swept back and forth between Alice and the entrance to the city before she angrily stalked off, her back ramrod straight. Alice's grin widened before she unbuttoned the front of her own trench coat and headed through the gate. One problem solved and the first part of her reward was just ahead.
This chapter contains some racism so readers be warned.
The room past the gate was fairly sparse and lacking decoration of any kind. There was a beverages stand off to one side but it was empty and possibly hadn't been used since the day Alice had been frozen. And a set of stairs ran up towards what she assumed was the field or stadium seats themselves. There were three guards in the room that she could, two near the entrance and a third standing behind a counter in the back near an elevator. She turned her head towards the one on her left “Excuse me, I'm looking for a 'Danny'?”
The guard nodded his head towards the man standing behind the counter. Danny was a somewhat anxious looking man with short brownish hair and he was wearing baseball gear like the men outside had been. His eyes lit up the moment he saw her slowly walking towards him and realized just how attractive her offer, and Alice, really was. Her black sun dress stopped just above the knees and revealed just enough of her breasts to catch someone's eye and her trench coat was hanging open just enough to show the dress off.
She hopped over the counter Danny was standing behind and sat herself on it directly in front of him, her breasts level with his face. Alice leaned forward and grabbed him by the collar pulling his face against her chest. She dropped her mouth to his ear and began whispering seductively. “Like what you see? Oh who am I kidding, we both know you do. My offer stands but I have a little problem we need to deal with before I take care of you. I have absolutely no interest in you getting me pregnant so either you tell me where to get something for that or the only hole you get is my mouth.”
His voice was muffled and he stammered a bit, but clearly had no desire to move his head from where she had put it “S-Sun. You need to talk to Doctor Sun. An-And I'm still on shift for another three hours.”
Alice smiled and pushed him away, much to his regret “Well then. I'll be seeing you in three hours Danny.” She pushed herself off the counter and headed for the stairway. It rose upwards a short distance and opened up into the stadium itself. Alice found herself standing at the top of a long flight of metal stairs descending downwards. What had once been a baseball field was no more and a small town had risen in its place. The buildings looked like they had been cobbled together from whatever pieces of metal and wood the builders could find and it seemed like everything would fall apart at the first gust of wind to her. She began heading down the stairs towards the city below, her gaze sweeping back and forth as she walked.
There was a green sign reading Publick Occurences off to the left, clearly Piper's place but there was no sign of the journalist outside. She gave it a small smirk and continued walking by. The woman owed her a favor and they both knew it but it could wait until she actually had something worth asking for. And then Alice could have sworn she heard angels singing at the next shop. A barber's shop with the words Super Salon spelled out in red on a sign overhead. Finding a city or signs of life had been her first priority. Finding a hair salon in this blighted wasteland almost felt like a miracle from above.
The barber must have noticed her staring at the shop “Fancy a trim miss? For you I'd say we should shave it all off.” Her ear started twitching and for a second she felt the overwhelming urge to pull out one of her knives, consequences be damned. Shave off her hair. Absolutely NOT. The look on her face must have spelled volumes as he was extraordinarily quick to start backpedaling “That was just a joke. I'm kidding, I wouldn't do that.”
She took a few deep breaths trying to dissipate the abrupt swelling of rage his 'joke' had caused. “I don't need a haircut right now, but do you do hair coloring?”
The barber, whose name she learned later was John, gestured at the chair “Sure do. Sit down and let the magic happen. Fifteen caps.” John had a small book of shades she could select the color she wanted and the brown slowly vanished and a dark red with plenty of lighter red highlights emerged.
Alice ran her fingers through her hair as she admired her new color in the mirror before reluctantly breaking eye contact with her reflection. John had just finished putting his tools away as she grabbed one of her money pouches. Five, ten, fifteen bottle caps to pay for the barber's services. “How long will this last before I need to have it dyed again?”
John rubbed at his chin for a moment as he considered her question “Your hair is a lot healthier than any customer I've ever had before, kinda weird really. Normally I'd say come back every three - four weeks but you could probably go six to eight weeks before your roots start turning brown again.”
She gave him a parting smile as she left the salon and headed back into the marketplace. That had been an unexpected bonus but it wasn't the reason she had come out here in the first place. Danny had dropped the name 'Doctor Sun' for who she had to speak to about making sure she didn't get pregnant when they fucked later. Alice slowly turned on the spot as she looked for a sign or logo that would identify a hospital or clinic but she didn't see anything until she had nearly completed a full revolution. And there it was, a blue cross to identify Diamond City's doctor's office. It had a table with some tubing and flasks on it and the doctor manning it....
Alice's back went rigid at the sight. Sun's name should have tipped her off, but the possibility of him being Asian had never occurred to her. Two hundred years may have passed in the outside world for everyone else, but it had been less than a day for Nora since she had seen that nuclear detonation and subsequently frozen in the vault immediately afterwards. The last eleven years for her had seen a bitter war waged between America and China. A war that had seen biological weapons used by the Chinese and eventually they had resorted to nuclear weapons in their desperation. And now there was a Red Commie Chinese son of a bitch in front of her. Her ear twitched violently and she even went so far to put a hand on the hilt of the knife in her coat but sleeve but there was just one tiny problem here. This particular communist had the pills she needed.
Kill the Red Devil and get pregnant or let him live and avoid another painful childbirth.
Her hand fell away from the knife and she forced her scathing hatred and anger back where it had come from. Alice was still sorely tempted to stab him but one pregnancy was enough for her. Hopefully there would be someone else she could get this from later on, but this was her only option today. She replaced her glower with a more pleasant expression and approached the doctor. “Excuse me, I was told you sell birth control here.”
The doctor nodded, too enthusiastically for her taste, as he headed to the desk “Yes. Yes. I have birth control for sale.” He opened a drawer and pulled out a box of pills and one t shaped piece of plastic and copper. “Pills or do you want to use an IUD?”
Alice crossed her arms and looked off to one side, not wanting to make eye contact “I'll take the pills. Do you have condoms or a douche bulb?”
Sun opened two more drawers and pulled out a few condoms from one and a bulb from the other. “This is the last one I'll have in stock for a while so it's going to cost more. Ten for the condoms, fifty for the bulb.”
She started counting out the bottle caps she had left but there were only twenty or so remaining, not nearly enough for the douche. Alice handed caps for the condoms over and beat a hasty retreat from Sun's store. Not being able to afford the bulb limited her options, but Danny didn't seem like the type for anal though it was possible, if unlikely, that she was wrong. She also had no idea how big he actually was but Sun had a few different sizes available so she had gotten a mix figuring one of them would work.
Her pip-boy was hidden underneath one of her coat sleeves and she pushed the sleeve back to check the clock on it. There was still a half hour until Danny said his shift was over but Alice didn't have anywhere else to go and to be frank, nothing in the market was interesting enough to stick around for. First things first though. She unbuckled her pip-boy and stuck it one of the coat's outer pockets. A moment later and the knives had found their way into the pocket where her gun was. Now she could leave the market.
One of the guards must have been waiting for her to come back since he made a beeline straight towards her as soon as she was coming down the ramp. “Excuse me miss, but is that your robot? The guys outside said he showed up with you earlier.”
Ah hell, she had forgotten about Codsworth once the bullets had started flying. She hadn't been hit by any of them, but her servant couldn't say the same. One of his eyes had been shattered, the limb holding his buzz-saw was drooping towards the ground and he was swaying from one side to the other almost as if drunk. “Ah m-mistress, I-I-I think I am in need of r-repairs.”
Oh goddamn it. She was running out of money and now this. She could try to sell him but who would buy a robot in this condition? Maybe someone looking for parts but if she did that then Alice would be alone without anyone to protect her in the wasteland. That is if there was someone in Diamond City who could fix Codsworth. She turned toward the guard “Are there any mechanics in town who could fix him?”
The security officer shrugged slightly “I don't know about mechanics but you could try Scara. Doc works in the science center, I'd say she's your best bet in Diamond City. There might be someone in Goodneighbor or Bunker Hill but I wouldn't know.” That sounded promising to her until she recalled that she only had twenty caps left after coloring her hair and buying condoms. Even if Scara could fix the robot Alice most definitely couldn't afford it. Well, she could always get him repaired then sneak out at night. Maybe.
The guard wasn't done with her yet though “Gotta say. Danny's lucky he was the one behind the counter today.” Alice blinked in surprise. Either this guard had overheard her offer or... Danny had been bragging to the others. The envy in his tone set her mind abuzz and a plan that would solve her Codsworth problem formed itself in a heartbeat.
She moved forward to stand right next to the man, pressing her chest against his shoulder and sliding one hand underneath the pads to caress his chest. “Well, you might not have been the one behind that counter but you brave men saved my life earlier. If it hadn't been for you then that super mutant would have gotten me.” Alice hesitated infinitesimally as she studied his face. It was hidden behind that ridiculous baseball mask but she could still see his eyes and her little spell of suggestion had taken root in them. “I really really want to show all of you fine men how grateful I am but my dear friend Codsworth needs your help and I can't possibly do anything to thank you until he's all right.” She leaned even closer in, her lips almost but not quite touching his ear as she purred the last piece of the spell “And I do mean all of you. Each and every one who wants me to thank them. Of course you'll have to get me something first.”
She squeezed his bottom with her free hand as she described the douche bulb that she wanted him to buy. He made a strangled sound that vaguely sounded like a 'Yes' and rushed off towards the market, Codsworth in tow. Alice watched him go with a triumphant smile on her face. She had been planning to do this even if Codsworth hadn't gotten damaged but now she had killed two birds with one stone. Alice moved over to the counter Danny was still manning “So, have you decided where I'm going to take care of you yet?”
The way he blushed like a teenager was almost endearing but she would be fucking that out of him soon enough. “Um... there's some beds in the security office but we share those with the other shifts.”
Alice gave him a playful pout “That's a shame. Is there any other furniture? A couch, a desk, even a bench could work.”
He rubbed at his chin for a moment “Well there is a room with a couch and a desk in it if that's what you're looking for.”
It took a few minutes for the guard to return with the bulb she requested and Alice had to suppress a smirk at how easy it had been to wrap the man around her finger. She took it with a wide smile and dropped it into one of the many convenient pockets this particular coat had. “Now then. Since there's only one of me, we do this on my terms. I'll need a working toilet and shower so I can clean myself when I need to and I decide when it's time for the next man to get his turn. Are we clear?” Neither of them had any objections and then they were heading for the security office. It was a plain room without much in the way of decoration. Just a wooden desk and a red couch. It wasn't the most glamorous of places to fuck in, but the room felt rather suited for what she was going to do. And now it was time to get started.
She tossed the condoms to Danny “Find the right size and put it on.” Alice slipped out of her coat carelessly letting it fall to the floor, loaded pistol in one pocket and all. Her dress came up over her head and flew to the corner in one single motion. There was a distinct lack of underwear and Danny got a full view of everything she had from her ample breasts to the landing strip she so meticulously maintained. As she watched, Danny unrolled the condom and slid it it on before she inspected it for any mistakes that he might have made in putting it on.
Once she was satisfied that it was correct, Alice laid her chest on the desk, her bare bottom wriggling to entice him closer and it began. She didn't know how many men or possibly women there might be total, but Alice knew she was going to have to pace herself. It was like those people who ran sprints or marathons, burn all your energy right at the beginning and you wouldn't be able to finish the race. This would be a delicate balancing act for her – to ensure each partner was able to finish and be satisfied while keeping her stamina up. And that was what she found exhilarating about this whole affair. Alice could get off easily enough on her own or she could have Codsworth do it or Alice could even go find a partner if needs be. But to challenge herself like this, to push her boundaries to the limit and beyond. That is what truly excited her and what made her wet for the man penetrating her at that very moment.
Over the next four days, the guards came to her one by one and she 'thanked' each of them in turn. Alice had bent over the desk for Danny to start things off but she sought out a different position, a different location or a different hole for the rest of them, anything to keep each partner's session unique. The desk, the floor, the couch, pressed against the wall, being held, on her knees, riding on top, down on all fours. Alice used her hands, her breasts, all three holes and even her fingers once for one particularly adventurous guard. And she succeeded, every man who came to her did just that and it wasn't just them either. Alice tried to keep track of how many orgasms she had had but lost track by the third day. She slept when she could but the guards rotating shifts kept her from getting a full eight hours at a time but it only added to the challenge and actually made it even more exciting for her.
Half of the men had struggled to walk away after she was finished with them and when it was all over, all of them agreed Alice was the filthiest woman they had ever met. But none of them truly minded. And neither did she.
Every muscle in her body, including the ones between her legs, was sore but it was the sweet ache of achievement. The past four days had been challenging both physically and mentally but Alice had persevered and she couldn't help feeling euphoric knowing what a large notch she had just carved into her belt. The only lingering question for her was how or even if she even could possibly top this in any way. Repeating this particular marathon was certainly an inevitability though she had no idea when but it was most definitely going to happen. Maybe with women instead of men, that was certainly one possibility, but finding a group of women willing to fuck her like those guards had would be far, far more difficult.
But there was a time and place to entertain herself with making plans for such future endeavors and right now Alice had to focus on dealing with the matter at hand. The first man from her little marathon, Danny, had given her directions to the Science Center where Codsworth had been taken for repairs. Her robotic butler had been there these last four days and hopefully all the damage had been fixed by this 'Scara'.
This so-called Science Center wasn't much to look at from the outside, but neither was the rest of Diamond City. After stepping inside, it quickly became apparent that it was just as dull on the inside. A few workbenches and one cooking pot lined the outer walls and there was a set of stairs leading upwards. Alice's eyes flicked upwards towards the makeshift second floor for a moment. A single bed up above and two women milling around down below. Her lips twitched involuntarily as she tried to guess which was the dominant partner. The bright eyed brunette or the stern faced one with black hair. Probably the former, she did seem like the type who got off on being submissive.
The two of them were arguing as she shut the door behind her. Something about 'growing synths'. Whatever the hell that meant. The woman with raven hair spotted her at the door and her face brightened as if rescue had just arrived. “Oh look! We have a visitor! Doctor Duff, dear, if you could bother them while I walk away from this conversation...”
Duff eagerly scampered over, looking far too excited at seeing Alice and her voice was almost sickening with enthusiasm “Hi there! Are you here for the free biology lesson?”
A biology lesson? People usually went with anatomy if they were trying for a pickup line but biology wasn't too far off. Why not? Alice shrugged slightly as she played along “A biology lesson? That sounds like it could be fun. Do you teach it yourself or would your friend be joining us?”
Duff shook her head “Oh no, just me. I teach all the lessons here. Usually it's just the schoolchildren but I can start with you today. Now we all talk about radiation like it's a single thing...” Alice kept the smile on her face but it felt like she was dying inside as Duff prattled on. Oh god. This woman was actually serious. That hadn't been innuendo. “... most associated with the big old bombs two hundred years ago?”
She groaned internally. Now Duff was asking questions but she had stopped listening halfway through and she hadn't the faintest idea what the question, let alone it's answer, was. “...X-Ray's?”
“Nope! Gamma rays! Gamma rays are bad. Really bad. If your body absorbs too much of that kind of radiation, you'll suffer from fatigue, anemia, even death. But some life forms have been living with Gamma radiation exposure for two centuries now, and they've adapted. Neat huh?”
No, not really. Alice had just come here to get her robot and now she was stuck in the middle of this inane lecture with no way out in sight. Why her? “Fascinating...”
The scientist must not have heard the sarcasm as she continued plowing forward without relent. “That's what Science! is all about. Nothing stays the same. Everything reacts. Now it's time for the field trip portion of today's lesson! Are you ready?”
A field trip? This couldn't possibly get any worse. But she had come this far already and she might as well hear what Duff wanted her to do, not that she had any intention of doing it whatsoever. Her voice wavered a bit as she reluctantly asked “Field trip?”
“That's right! You're going to go out and find a Bloatfly Gland. The oversized Bloatfly of today evolved from a smaller species of fly and it's radioactive adaption resulted in a gland that enable it to balance and maintain speed despite its size. So what do you say? Ready to go out and dissect one?”
She was wrong. This had gotten worse. Alice threw a hand over her mouth as she felt bile rising up into her throat. This whole conversation was insane. Duff actually wanted her to travel into the woods, find a fucking giant fly and dissect it? “Um... maybe another time. I actually came by to pick up my robot if he's been fixed.”
Duff actually had the gall to look disappointed that Alice wasn't interested in cutting up some disgusting insect to find some equally disgusting gland “Aww, that's too bad. There'll always be plenty of time for Science! though!”
Alice glanced away from Duff as she took another look around the building before spotting Codsworth tucked away in one of the corners as Scara was disconnecting a cable from the robot. She had been a bit worried about whether or not this woman would be able to fix the robot but it looked as though Scara had proven successful. Codsworth was floating normally once again and all his eyes and arms were intact. His eyes focused in on her as he drifted closer “Good to see you mistress. I'm feeling tip top today, thanks to Professor Scara here.”
Scara shrugged the praise off and pointed to the arm holding his flamethrower “Repairs weren't too bad but the guards asked me to upgrade his weapons. The new flamethrower is smaller than the old one but it has better range and fuel use. I also added in a modified laser rifle so he can shoot targets at a distance. He's not suited for heavy combat but Codsworth will be better able to protect you if you're traveling the Wastelands now.” The professor folded her arms as she leaned forward and tilted her head to the side slightly “I'm a bit curious about something though. How exactly did you convince the guards to pay for this? They're exactly not the most altruistic bunch.”
Alice smiled broadly as images of what she had done with the guards flashed before her eyes. “I'd tell you why if I could, but the guards don't want me to make a fuss about it until they decide how they want to handle the matter.” Let them chew on that, serves them right for that idiotic science lesson. Scara and Duff exchanged a troubled glance with each other as Alice left the Science! Center with Codsworth, her suitcase of toys in hand, in tow.
She had had her fun with the guards, her robot had been fixed and now it was time to be moving on. Her destination was waiting for her, but she needed to know what had become of it. Alice glanced to her left and right before spotting one of the guards she had slept with making his rounds or whatever it was they called walking around the city. His stride slowed and he came to a halt in front of her as she smiled and beckoned him closer with one finger. “I have a question for you. I've heard some rumors about the Combat Zone and I want to know everything you can tell me about it.”
The guard shifted his weight uneasily “The Combat Zone? That's Tommy Lonegan's club. It used to show fights to anyone who could pay but some Raiders took over a while back and drove everyone else away.”
Her face fell at that bit of news. The highlight of Boston's neighborhoods, a red light district that catered to every whim and fantasy a person could have, the only place she had ever felt at home. This is what had become of it? Being overrun by thugs and vermin, debased to an arena for braindead meatheads to hit each other for a bloodthirsty crowd. No. This would not do. But she wasn't about to rush headlong into a mad crusade to reclaim the zone, at least not without more information. Alice took the guard's elbow in one hand, her next question practically purred out “I see. Tell me more about this club and these Raiders.”
He knew a bit more about the club, mainly where it was located and how to get there, but not nearly as much as she would have liked. Their conversation hadn't taken very long but the two of them had almost made it back to the market when Alice saw Diamond City's one and only journalist on the staircase leading to the city's entrance. Piper came to a halt and Alice could see her head moving almost imperceptibility as she looked between the two of them.
Piper hesitated for a moment before heading straight at Alice, her stride unusually determined looking. Alice let go of the guard's arm and began to head out of the market in another direction but Piper changed course to follow, clearly not willing to let her get away. There were several rows of plants that she didn't recognize past the buildings and it was at the edge of them that the journalist caught up. Piper reached out grabbing Alice's elbow yanking her to a halt “We need to talk.”
Alice turned around to face the reporter, a sickeningly sweet smile on her face. “Oh hello Piper, it's good to see you today. What can I help you with?”
The first hint of a thundercloud in the distance appeared on Piper's face but her tone was still polite, though a bit icy. “I had a little chat with Danny earlier today, you remember Danny right? The guard you offered your body to a couple of days ago. He told me a rather juicy story, about you and all the guards and what you were doing with them. Care to comment Miss Alice Thomas?.” Her fingers made quotation marks as she spat the name out.
She shrugged in response “What exactly do you want me to say? That I fucked most of the guards so they would repair my robot? Because I did... though I feel like being honest with you. I would have done that even if Codsworth hadn't been damaged.” Piper sputtered indignantly as the blunt admission got the better of her and the reporter once again found herself rendered mute by this woman. Alice gave a small smirk at the sight “I'm guessing that's not what you were expecting to hear was it? What were you hoping to get out of me?”
That must have pushed Piper over the edge as she snapped out of her mute rage and her words dripped venom as she hurled them at the source of her anger “How about some goddamn shame? Those men you slept with, they aren't all single. They have girlfriends, wives, children. What you did is NOT okay. Do you have any idea how many homes you just wrecked? Once word gets out, and believe me it will, there's going to be a lot of crap going down and it's all your fault. I don't know what Vault you crawled out of and frankly I don't care, but do us all a favor and go back to it.”
Alice's little smirk widened as she let Piper's rant roll off her back “That's a load of nonsense if I've ever heard it. Yes, those men I fucked had girlfriends and wives but you're putting all of the blame on me. I didn't force them to do anything. I made them an offer and they chose to take me up on it. They chose to fuck me of their own free will, regardless of who they had waiting at home for them. And why are you getting so worked up about this? Was one of those guards yours? … Or maybe you're just jealous that I got more action in the last week than you'll get your entire life.”
The slap of Piper's palm spun Alice's head to one side with a loud crack and the reporter stormed off back towards the market. Alice's smirk vanished as she rubbed at the red imprint left on her face but she couldn't help feeling smug about the way this conversation had gone. Piper might have been furious today, but the woman still owed her a favor and an idea about how to have it repaid popped into her mind. But that was a task for another day and right now the Combat Zone was waiting.
Alice's first impression of what Boston had become was that the metropolis and its inhabitants had died two hundred years ago. Whatever life had survived must have done so by a thread and that the city would an empty husk. She had been wrong about that. The Commonwealth had survived and it was far from being a ghost town. There were signs of life present throughout the decaying city wherever she looked. Crude ramps wrapped themselves around buildings like snakes, the sound of gunfire echoed from somewhere in the distance and at times she saw roving bands of savage looking people or even worse, super mutants.
Her first encounter with a super mutant had been the third worst experience of her life and Alice had no desire to meet an entire group of the green monstrosities. The groups of people she spotted must be what the locals called Raiders and they barely looked more civilized than the super mutants. She soon had made a habit of ducking into the nearest shadowy corner upon spotting either group and waiting until they had passed by before moving once again. If it had been just her then Alice wouldn't have been worried about making her way through the city as nobody had ever so much as glanced in her direction. But she wasn't alone out here however. Codsworth's metal skin had lost some of its luster over the years but he was still a shiny robot that reflected light too well to truly be stealthy. That and he was still carrying her suitcase of toys too precious to leave behind in that godawful neighborhood whose name she would never speak again.
It was slow going for the two of them as they crept through the city, scurrying from one building to the next. Alice had never been the most patient person and having to sneak about like this was vexing but ultimately necessary since getting into a firefight would likely be fatal for her despite Codsworth's upgrades. After a few hours that felt like an eternity to Alice they finally arrived at the address she had received from the security guard in Diamond City.
A series of ramparts and walls had been erected in front of the buildings entrance and a few of the Raiders she had been warned about were standing watch atop them. In addition there were multiple crudely painted signs listing 'Tommy's rules'. 'No begging, no loitering, no fighting outside the cage and caps required for entry.'
She craned her head back up to look at the gray clouds up above. If it had been sunny then she wouldn't have a chance of sneaking by but this evening's weather gave her a chance. Alice turned to her robot “Stay here and keep out of sight. If I'm not back in an hour then come get me.”
Codsworth was as dutiful as ever and disappeared into a nearby building as she crept to the base of the nearest wall. The Raider on this particular section occasionally would look around at his surroundings but he seemed more interested in picking at something in his teeth than actually standing guard. Alice glanced at the other Raiders but they were paying just as little attention and she began to move, each footstep carefully placed as she inched her way through the barricade. One hand slipped into the sleeve where she kept one of her knives and pulled it free before putting one foot on the ramp leading up to the raider's post. It creaked. Loudly.
Her target lurched out of his chair and grabbed his rifle off of the wall it had been leaning against. Alice's eyes squeezed shut in dread as she waited for the bullets that would spell an end to her life but they never came. Instead the next sound was the Raider's voice as he barked an order “Drop the knife!”
She wasted no time in opening her fingers and letting the blade fall to the ground. The man moved forward and kicked it off to the side. He was close enough for her to hit but that gun would spell her end if she tried anything and the Raider clearly knew it. “Take your coat off!”
Alice had a sinking feeling about where this could be going but she had no choice to obey so she pulled the trench coat off and tossed it to the side. She was still wearing her black dress but it could easily end up following suit... along with the lingerie she had put on to amuse herself. He pointed at the entrance of the building “Move. The boss'll know what to do with ya.” She turned and began walking towards the wooden doors as ordered, hoping that her lack of resistance would might her seem harmless. The Raider hadn't bothered to search her and Alice still had a small knife hidden in her boot.
Their was a sign above the doors spelling out 'Combat Zone' in large red letters but she only had a few brief seconds to look at it before stepping inside. Her captor followed her in, the barrel of his gun pointing at the ground but Alice remained acutely aware of it nonetheless. The first room inside must have been the place's ticket stand in the old days but now it was mostly empty.. There was a crude wooden sign reading 'Rule Breakers' and a pair of hooded Raiders were kneeling behind a set of broken windows. The gun barrel jabbed into her back urging her towards the room where the sounds of cheers were beginning to come from.
This place may have been a theater once but someone, perhaps this Tommy fellow or maybe the Raiders, had done some serious renovations. Most of the seats had been torn out and a number of ramshackle wooden buildings had taken their place. They had even gone so far as to make multiple levels and there was a custom set of balconies directly over the stage itself. The dominant feature of the room was an oversized cage of steel bars and floodlights on the stage. Inside of of the cage were two people, one holding what looked like a bat and the other held what must be a knife from the way he was swinging his arm around. She started to slow down while looking around the inside of the theater only for the Raider to roughly shove her forward with a gun to the shoulder blades. As Alice drew closer to the cage she realized that the smaller fighter with the baseball bat wasn't a man, it was a woman.
She had never had much interest in the martial arts or any kind of sports in general other than wrestling and knew little to nothing about them. But the female fighter in there was clearly talented even to someone as ignorant as Alice. There was a certain fluidity to her movement, an acute awareness of where she was in the cage and somehow this woman made striking another person's head with a bat look... graceful. An announcer she hadn't noticed yelled into his microphone “And that concludes this round. Cait is the undisputed winner!”
All of the Raiders began hooting and hollering while Cait held her arms and the bat above her head in victory. As for the loser, his body was lifted up and carried towards the entrance by a pair of Raiders. One of them turned his head towards Alice as they walked by and the cruel looking smile on his face made her shiver involuntarily. Her captor stopped next to a vicious looking man with his boots resting on the table in front of him and his hands resting on the back of his head. “Boss, I caught this scavver trying to sneak in. What do ya think we should do with her?”
The boss of the gang turned his head to look at Alice standing there in her black sundress and shook his head in annoyance “Scavver? Come on Einstein, even you should be able to tell that's no scavver.” He jumped to his feet as he looked Alice up and down for a moment. Then he pointed at her right boot “Goddamn it Einstein, you're supposed to search them first. She has a knife hidden there but let her keep it. She'll need it in the cage against Cait.”
Einstein grabbed both of her elbows and started half pushing half dragging her onto the stage and towards the steel cage door. Alice tried to wrench her arms free but the brute scarely even noticed that she was trying to get away at all and in a few short seconds he shoved her through the door. It slammed shut behind her and Alice could hear a key turning as she was locked inside with the other woman. Now that she was up close Alice could actually get a good look at what would almost certainly be her executioner if this farce of a fight proceeded.
Cait was a bit shorter than her and there hardly seemed to be any fat anywhere on her body, just wiry muscles everywhere. She was wearing a pair of tan pants and a leather corset buttoned all the way up so maybe there was some fat after all. Her red hair was a bit ragged but those green eyes were what really drew Alice's attention. Their almost seemed to be a strange haze about them that didn't make sense until she saw the tiny red dots on both arms. The telltale sign of a needle abusing junkie... with a baseball bat in a cage where people fought to the death. The voice of the announcer came over the speakers “Begin!”
Neither woman moved however. Alice felt like a deer caught in the headlights and Cait was staring at her, seemingly in disdain. It wasn't until the Raiders began booing that she turned away from Alice “Is this some kinda joke? This lassie ain't any kind of challenge for me. Shit, she don't even look like she's ever been in a proper fight before.”
The boss stood up, his face reddening with anger “Fuck that. You're paid to fight so you're gonna fight or we'll find someone who will.”
Cait scowled back at him but didn't answer as Alice started approaching. She stepped backwards, the bat held in front of her “Back off before you make me use this.”
Alice reached down to her boot grabbing the knife out of it and tossed it behind her towards the doorway. She held her hands upwards “Now you're the only one whose armed here. I have... a suggestion.”
“Oh? What kind of suggestion?” Cait was suspicious but she stopped retreating and the distance between them shortened to a few inches. Without warning, Alice reached up to grab Cait's face and kissed her squarely on the mouth. It was hard to say who was more surprised, Cait or the Raiders but silence reigned over the theater. The scum slowly began to cheer however and feeling emboldened, Alice started to slide her tongue into Cait's mouth while one hand moved downwards towards the breasts hidden beneath that leather corset. It never made it though as Cait pulled away, her paralyzed shock ended by the lusty cheers now serenading them. “What the hell do you think you're doin'?”
“Isn't it obvious? I'm giving our dear friends out there a show.” Alice turned away from Cait and pouted at the small crowd of murderous thieves watching them “But it doesn't seem like she wants to play with me boys... maybe I could come play with you instead?” She slipped the straps of her dress off and pushed it down to her waist exposing the silky bra that did little to hide her chest. To drive her point home and hopefully persuade them to let her out Alice began to gently squeeze one breast as her other
hand slid beneath the dress and down between her legs.
This little display was done in the name of survival but she couldn't help getting caught up in the moment. Every eye in the building was fixed on her and Alice felt a rush of adrenaline coursing through her veins at being on display as she played with herself. The effect on the Raiders was clearly apparent as the cheers had ceased and they seemed almost mesmerized by the turn of events in the cage. Their boss stood up and his reaction was evident in the form of a pitched tent down below. He lurched towards the cage door and grabbed the key away from Einstein, unlocking the door with shaky hands. Cait stared in disbelief as Alice sauntered out the door towards the two men waiting for her.
If the marathon with the Diamond City guards hadn't happened then Alice would certainly have been capable of taking on this smaller group, criminals or not, but it had, As it was, the likelihood of damage to her body from sleeping with these men was too high to risk and somehow she doubted they would be content with just blowjobs. Alice gave Einstein and the boss a sultry smile and raised her voice so everyone was sure to hear her “Why thank you for letting me out so we can play. There's just one tiny problem here. I can certainly play with all of you but things are going to get... messy. I'm going to get messy.”
She moved to press her chest against Einstein's arm “Very messy. Whoever gets me first is going to get the best of what I have to offer. Everyone else... well they're going to get sloppy seconds and thirds and whatever number you end being in line. I suppose your boss will get to go first but how are you going to decide who goes second and who gets me when I've been used by everyone else?”
Alice could see the Raiders looking at each other sideways as her words sank in. She reached out to tap her finger against the rife on Einstein's back and whispered into his ear “Or you could have me for yourself if you wanted. And you would be the boss.” The Raider with the insultingly ironic choice of name looked back at her, lust and newly realized opportunity in his eyes.
And then the bullets started flying.
I'm guilty of using a significant amount of game dialogue in this chapter but I feel most of it takes on a different meaning given the context of the situation compared to the encounter in FO4.
Once the flurry of bullets came to an end Einstein was the last man standing until Alice's blade found it's mark. His body hit the ground with a resounding thud and the Raiders who had taken over the Combat Zone were gone. She had knelt to clean the knife off on his clothes when the announcer started yelling at her “So do you wanna talk this out like civilized folk or what?”
Alice frowned to herself at that. She had just gotten almost all the Raiders to kill each other just now. The least he could do was sound a bit grateful instead of complaining. Whatever. She turned back towards the cage where he had been cowering during the firefight and came up short in surprise at the man's appearance. There was a sunken pit where his nose should be and his face looked like it had been made out of clay and by an unskilled potter at that. Combine that with a three piece suit, tie and a frock of orange hair and you had a very unusual looking character in front of her. Alice couldn't help but wonder if all of his skin looked like that, particularly the parts she couldn't see beneath his trousers.
He stared at her, a bit uneasily as she drew closer. The announcer brushed at one of his lapels with a nervous laugh “Looks like it's over. I guess that could have gone worse...”
Cait on the other hand almost seemed amused by what she had just witnessed “I dunno. It was quite the performance from where I was standin'.”
The announcer turned to glare at her “Are you fucking high? Why am I asking, of course you are.”
Alice remained silent, content to watch, as the two of them began to go back and forth at each other. Cait glowered in response as she defended herself “I won the fight didn't I?”
“You're strung out and getting sloppy Cait. You got lucky today but you ain't got to worry about it now since this one just put us out of business.” He looked at Alice as he spoke to her “I'm not sure if I should kiss you or have my little bird here feed you your own entrails.”
Cait sputtered indignantly “I told ya to quit callin' me that!”
Alice folded her arms irritably as she ignored the threat “I just got rid of these Raiders for you. How about saying thank you to start?”
“You did do that so thanks. But we've been entertaining those idiots for two years and now they're dead which means we got no audience which means no caps coming in.” He looked back at Cait “And if you ain't bringing in caps little bird, you ain't an asset. You're a liability to me... and to yourself.”
He returned his attention to Alice as if considering something “So... here's what I'm thinking. What say I let you take over her contract? She can go with you,watch your back while I get this place cleaned up.”
Cait's hands balled up into fists as she glared at her boss “What the hell Tommy? Are you trying to get rid of me?”
Before Tommy could reply Alice cut him off. “That's not a bad idea and I'll certainly consider it but I already know the solution to you not having any caps coming in. Tell me, what sells better than violence?”
Tommy exchanged a glance with Cait before shrugging slightly “Food, water, a place to sleep? What are you getting at?”
Alice glanced down at the dress still pooled around her waist and smirked just a tad. “Sex. Sex sells better than anything else. It's something everyone wants, it's always in demand and it's a lot less messy than what you were doing before.” She waved her arm at the theater's seating area to indicate the Raider's corpses out there.
Tommy seemed like he was considering her suggestion but she couldn't exactly tell for certain with that face of his. Cait, on the other hand, was livid “To hell with that! I'm not goin' with you if you think I'll be some kind of whore contract or no contract.”
Alice reached down and pulled her dress back up to cover herself as she set about trying to ruffle the fighter's ruffled feathers “I'd be lying if I said you didn't have potential.” She bit her lip as she eyed Cait up and down “You've got the face and body for it and with the proper guidance you'd have the men quivering at your feet... or women if that's what you'd prefer. But that's not the main reason why I'm interested in your contract. I'm not a fighter myself but from what I saw you seem to have a knack for... combat.”
Cait still looked irritated but her cheeks had reddened just a touch and she brushed a loose lock of hair behind one ear. “Well, at least someone here knows talent when they see it.” Cait hadn't been looking at either of them but everyone knew who that little jab was aimed at. Alice coughed into her hand to hide a smirk.
Tommy tried to put on a good-natured grin but it seemed forced. “Well, I'm interested in hearing what exactly you're proposing... sorry I didn't get your name.”
Alice extended her hand out towards the man “My name's Alice Thomas but you can call me Alice.”
She had been expecting him to shake it but Tommy smoothly brought it up to what passed for lips as he kissed the back of it “A pleasure to meet you Alice. As I was saying, I want to hear what you're suggesting but we need to deal with these bodies first. I don't want them making a mess and stinking my theater up any more than they already have.”
It was a repeat of how Trudy had reacted at the diner with Wolfgang and Simone's remains. People dying wasn't an area of concern but getting rid of the bodies was. But like before, Cait and Tommy were stripping them of anything valuable first. Alice wasn't particularly keen on helping them deal with this and she took her time in bringing Codsworth back inside. Unfortunately for her, Cait had been dumping the bodies at the door while Tommy inspected all the items they had scavenged.
Cait gave an evil grin Alice as she returned to the theater with Codsworth at her back “All right Alice, we have a cart we used to haul dead bodies off. It ain't big enough for all o' them so we're goin' make a few trips.”
More manual labor. Terrific. The only benefit to hauling this cart was that Cait was walking a few paces ahead of her, giving Alice something to look at as she and Codsworth pulled the cart along. Cait stopped them in the middle of an intersection. She still had a bit of a sly grin on her face but the woman's eyes were darting all around as she kept an eye out for... something “We can leave em here. And be quick about it, we can't stay here for too long.”
Something was off about the way Cait's head kept swiveling around and her fingers were noticeably tight on the rifle she held. It wasn't until they returned with the second, and last, cart of bodies that Alice had an inkling of what it might. “Cait... where did those bodies go? We were here just a few minutes ago...”
They had dumped a good five bodies in the middle of the intersection on their first trip and now the road was empty. Alice shivered as Cait shook her head “Trust me, you should keep staring at me arse and not think too much about this. You're better off not knowin'.” That was advice she was more than happy to follow. Those pants were tight enough to accentuate said arse but not so tight to keep it from jiggling just a little as Cait led them back to the Combat Zone.
Tommy had finished sorting through the loot and was waiting for Alice by the time they returned. He had taken a seat and their was a pair of glasses and bottle of wine on the table. Alice shook her head as she seated herself and pushed the glass away “Thank you but no. I don't drink alcohol.”
He shrugged slightly and picked his glass up taking a sip “So let's get down to business. Saying that sex sells better than everything else got my attention but it doesn't tell me anything. What are you trying to do? Start a brothel? There's already enough whores in the Commonwealth not to mention Irma's place in Goodneighbor. I hope you have something more interesting than that.”
Alice leaned back in her chair as she steepled her fingers “Brothels can be fun but their rather... vanilla in my opinion. My tastes and my proposal are more of a niche in comparison.” Tommy frowned at that and she hastened to explain herself before he possibly jumped to the wrong conclusion. “The common acronym used is BDSM. I don't mean to sound insulting or condescending but I have to ask if you know what that stands for.” Tommy shook his head in response and Alice began to elaborate. “It can stand for a number of different things depending on who you ask but they're all grouped under that acronym. Bondage, dominance, submission, masochism. I can explain further but the short version is a lot of restraints and possibly some rather unusual toys depending on how extreme the people involved get.”
Her prospective business partner fell silent and his attention fixed itself on his wine as he swirled the glass around. “You're right about that. I don't know anything about BDSM and truthfully I don't really care to. Don't take that the wrong way, I'm not making any sort of judgment here. It's just something I'm not personally interested in. I'm very tempted to say no except I was here for what happened earlier.”
Tommy shook his head incredulously and took another drink “I saw it with my own eyes and I still don't understand what happened. You... played with yourself, said a few words and the Raiders started killing each other. If I had been holding a gun then I think I might have started shooting myself and that terrifies me. You terrify me. I've never seen you before today and you almost bewitched me into murdering other people for the chance of screwing you. I'm agreeing to this because I'm afraid of what might happen if I say no and because it's not a terrible idea if I'm being completely honest. I don't know how successful this idea of yours will be but I'm willing to give it a try.”
His brow drew down and his face almost looked menacing as he leaned forward “But I'm going to warn you about Cait. We've been here together for a long time and that woman is like a daughter to me. I don't care what you'll be getting up to once we're in business but I don't want you getting any ideas when it comes to her. All those chems she takes – they screw her up pretty badly. Some days she's lucid, other days she can barely walk. If you take advantage of her I will kill you.” Tommy took another drink and set the glass down with a loud thud. “Now then, let's discuss what you need to make this happen and how we're going to split up the profits.”
The rest was a matter of negotiation. Tommy might have said he feared her but the... whatever he was didn't allow said fear to have any impact on his bargaining skills. Or at least that's what it felt like to Alice. Nonetheless they came to an accord and shook hands on it. Tommy would be in charge of the boring business aspects such as finding workers, handling money and maintaining the building itself. As for Alice, she was free to handle the fun parts like training said workers and eventually getting to play with whatever customers they would have.
Their were a few problems that needed to be solved however. First was actually having people to work here. The most likely place to find potential workers was Goodneighbor and Tommy wasn't wasting any time in heading there along with some of the loot from the Raiders. She had offered Codsworth to help explain what she needed but Tommy had declined. “I got enough of an idea from what you said earlier to pitch this to Hancock. Odds are that he'll be able to provide us the kind of people you're looking for.”
That just left her and the robot alone with Cait. She sent the robot off to watch the entrance since he didn't need to sleep and to get him out of the way. It was still the afternoon but she had seen Cait disappearing through a door on the stage when they had gotten back from hauling the bodies off and the other woman hadn't shown her face since then. Alice let her curiosity get the better of her and she opened that door to see what was behind them.
The backstage area looked like it had seen better days and most of the dressing rooms were covered in dust and spiderwebs but there was a light coming out of a doorway at the end of the hall. Alice stopped outside and knocked once on the doorframe. Their was no response and after a minute she knocked again, louder this time but still nothing. Eventually she peeked into the room to see what was going on.
Cait was lying on a thin mattress, her unblinking eyes staring up at the ceiling above her. Alice frowned as she walked up to the bed's side. She snapped her fingers above Cait's face but there was no reaction whatsoever and then she saw it. A large oversized syringe with two canisters attached to the sides still poking into a vein in one of Cait's arm.
Alice scowled and folded her arms across her chest. She had seen the marks on Cait's arm earlier and Tommy had said she had drug issues but it appeared she had underestimated the issue if the size of that needle was any indication. It was just as well Tommy would be gone for a few days, perhaps a week because Alice had the sneaking suspicion that he wouldn't like what was about to happen any more than Cait would.
Alice was seated on a chair that had been comfortable once but the seat's padding had gotten thin over the years but her attention was fixed on the person who was just now waking up after passing out with a needle in her arm. It was a slow process but eventually those eyes began to look lucid and then angry when the situation she was in dawned on Cait. “What the hell's goin' on here?”
The two of them were in Cait's room and it's owner was lying on the bed but Alice had added a few of her own touches to Cait's outfit. The ropes secured the addict's wrists behind her back while Cait's ankles, knees and thighs were pressed together by further lashings. She was wriggling around on the bed outraged as she tested her restraints but ended up accomplishing nothing more than making the corners of Alice's mouth tug upwards. “You're more than welcome to keep struggling Cait – it's quite entertaining to watch but you're not going anywhere. My experience with ropework is quite extensive and those ropes are from my own personal collection so I know you won't be able to break them.”
She stood up and stretched her arms towards the ceiling as Cait stopped moving and glared silently. “As to what's going on, I think this might explain it.” Alice picked the large syringe off of the small table in the room and held it up where Cait could see. “You have a problem and judging by the size of this thing, quite a big one at that. Your mind isn't your own anymore. It belongs to this and that's something we have to fix.” She gestured meaningfully with the syringe before throwing it at the wall as hard as she could. The plastic cracked upon impact and it fell to the ground with a very large and obvious break now present.
Cait shrieked in anger as her syringe broke “This is your idea of fixin' shite? Tyin' me up and breakin' my stuff!?” She began trying to work free from her bonds once again with a renewed vigor.
Alice smirked as she watched Cait trying to escape once again before beginning to pace around the room. “Now then, I need to know where you keep your drugs so I can get rid of them.”
The trussed up addict spat in her direction “I'm ain't tellin' you a god damned thing.”
There was a long period of silence following that and Alice sighed, more for appearances sake than anything else. “I guess we're doing this the hard way then. I was hoping you'd be reasonable Cait but I guess the drugs are in control of you now.” She turned away and moved towards the dresser that she assumed held Cait's clothes. Alice grabbed the topmost drawer pulling it and turned it upside down spilling its contents onto the floor. Socks and underwear but no drugs. Cait kept swearing at her but she paid it no mind as she checked the next two drawers. Pants, shirts, another corset... and some canisters of a mystery liquid.
She turned back with a triumphant expression on her face “Well now, I guess I found what I was looking for without your help.” Alice tucked the canisters into one of her coat pockets “All right then, let's go for a little walk... well I'll be walking. Suppose I'll have to carry you.” Cait tried to bite Alice as she was picked up but Alice just turned her over so that Cait's face was near the ground and her legs were sticking up into the air.
Codsworth was hovering near the entrance standing watch as per her orders. He rotated in the air as she approached and set Cait on the ground. “Good morning mistress! Do you need anything?”
Alice pulled the canisters out of her pocket and held them out to the robot “Yes. Take these outside and get rid of them. I don't know what's in these so you should probably empty them out in the river far away from here. Keep standing guard once you get back.”
Once the robot disappeared out the door with her drugs, Cait's demeanor changed. The angry defiance melted away and tears began flowing down her cheeks as she began weeping hysterically. “You can't do this to me you crazy bitch!”
Without Codsworth there wasn't anyone around except for the two of them so Alice picked up one of the pistols they had gotten from the Raiders. If anyone or anything came by while Codsworth was gone then she was the only one who could do anything about it at the moment. Alice moved to sit against the wall as she waited for Codsworth to return. “Of course I can. You have a very obvious problem and I intend to fix it for you.”
Cait didn't bother to respond to Alice this time and instead craned her head back towards the theater's interior “Tommy where are you? Tommy! TOMMY!” Her voice echoed off the walls as she shouted in vain.
“Tommy's not here, he left for Goodneighbor yesterday. It'll probably be a week or so until he gets back and until then... it's just the two of us.”
She might have been angry and afraid before but the gravity of her situation hadn't dawned on Cait until now. A full week. A week of being trussed up, unable to move and at Alice's mercy. And it wouldn't take long for Cait to start dealing with withdrawal and that was when it would really get ugly. And she couldn't do anything but suffer through it. Cait took a deep breath as she looked back at Alice “Tommy made the wrong choice. He shoulda had me kill you, woulda kept this shite from happenin'.”
Alice shrugged the implied threat off before checking her pip-boy for the time. “Ah time to adjust the ropes. I don't suppose you have a preferred position you want to be in?” She knew that expecting a positive response was unreasonable but Alice couldn't help but feel disappointed as Cait cursed at her once again. “All right then, I'll choose. Let's see...actually no. We have to wait for Codsworth to get back until I can do anything. Let me know if you can't feel your legs or arms Cait.”
For once, there was no response from the other woman. Perhaps she had realized it wouldn't do any good or maybe Cait was trying to prepare herself mentally for what she would be going through in the coming days. Either way, silence reigned until her robotic servant returned to resume his role as sentinel and Alice hauled Cait off to the cage.
Alice had pocketed the key after killing Einstein and a locked door would be another obstacle between her unwilling patient and any other drugs she might have hidden somewhere in the theater. Alice's next step was finding some way of restraining her while still allowing enough freedom of movement to avoid causing any health issues. Tying people up wasn't an issue for her ordinarily and she had a good deal of experience with all kinds of positions up to and including suspensions. The problem was that those positions rarely lasted for very long. A lengthy position was around half an hour but now she was looking at restraining Cait for several hours at a time between meals and trips to the bathroom to say nothing of how she would sleep. Eventually Alice came up with a solution to this little dilemma as she paced along the inside of the steel cage. It would be a bit tricky to pull off and she found herself lamenting her lack of proper equipment. A pair of good steel manacles or some chains and this wouldn't be an issue. But raiding one of the old clubs or some sex shops would have to wait until later.
Cait had turned into a lump of dead weight when she realized Alice was taking her to the cage and she seemed to have scarcely moved a muscle since then. Alice ceased her pacing and headed for where Cait was lying next to the edge of the cage. It would be easiest to start with the legs and use one of those ropes on Cait's hands to avoid the chance of being hit or getting attacked in some other manner. As she began to kneel next to the prone woman, Cait sat up and one fist came flying forward striking Alice on the same cheek that Piper had slapped her.
The ropes used to bind Cait's wrists lay in a severed pile next to a jagged looking part of the cage that she must have used to cut her bindings while Alice wasn't paying attention. She didn't have much chance to regret their destruction however as Cait was far from finished with her. The newly freed woman awkwardly shoved herself on top of Alice and slammed her fist into the other redhead's stomach. Alice felt her eyes begin watering in pain as she grabbed at her sides with both hands.
A second later and one of Alice's knives had found itself pressed against its owner's slender neck, the sharp steel drawing a tiny bead of scarlet. Cait was glowering down at her and her voice “You got one chance to tell me why not.”
The threat was enough to almost make the pain disappear and it focused Alice's attention on her would-be killer. Her throat felt dry as the southwestern deserts and she nervously licked her lips as she sought out an answer that would keep the blades edge from slashing downward and ending her life.“You want a reason? How long have you been here? Tommy said those Raiders had been here for two years so I know its been that long at least. You've been here all this time, fighting – killing and shooting up on drugs. Tommy told me yesterday that you were like a daughter to him but has he ever offered to help you with your addiction? To make you stop? Has anyone? Ever? I know you don't like how I tried to do it but I'm the only one who has tried to help you Cait.”
Cait's resolve was wavering and Alice could see the doubt beginning to blossom in those green eyes. “You don't know what you're talkin' about. Tommy would help me if I asked him but it's me own problem to deal with, not his.”
“So why haven't you? You're a slave and you know it Cait. You can either kill me – we both know I couldn't stop you – or you let me do what I can to fix this.”
A tense silence filled the room as Alice finished making her case. Cait's face looked almost peaceful as she internally weighed her options. Alice, on the other hand, couldn't focus on anything but the knife at her throat. Was she about to die or had she managed to talk her way out of another life-threatening event? Eventually Cait pulled the knife away and her hand fell to her side “Untie me.”
Alice was quick to comply with the order and Cait started talking as Alice's fingers began undoing the ropes she had used to bind Cait's legs. “I don't understand you. You've barely been here for more than a day and you've completely turned me life upside down. What are you after? What's your angle here?”
Alice finished untying the knot keeping Cait's thighs pressed together and she reflexively began coiling the ropes back up for storage. “My 'angle', as you put it, is you Cait. You're the most gorgeous woman I've ever seen and I'm... intrigued. There's a problem however. Your addiction makes you incapable of giving consent because the drugs compromise your judgment. It makes it impossible to know if you're agreeing to anything on your own or if the drugs are causing you to do it.”
Cait's cheeks colored and she looked away, seemingly chagrined by what Alice had said “No one's ever called me pretty before... but you wouldn't be sayin' that if ye knew some of the shite I've done in me life.”
She shrugged dismissively and reached down to rub Cait's knee “I didn't say pretty, I said gorgeous and frankly I don't care about your past. But enough of that for now. Do you want my help or not?”
The room was silent for another minute as Cait considered the question “I do but your way won't work. I'm too far gone for that but there's another way. There's supposed to be a vault somewhere out there, a place called Vault 95. I've heard that Vault-Tec used it for some kind of experiment, stuck a bunch of junkies inside to poke and prod. Well, they supposedly had some special method to clean up those blokes in there... some kind of a machine or somethin'. If we could get inside, maybe that machine could help me.”
So she wasn't the only person that Vault-Tec had taken advantage of with, not that it mattered anymore. All those people were no doubt long dead “Do you know where this Vault is?”
Cait shook her head “Not exactly, I know the general area where it's supposed to be... somewhere down in the south near the Glowin' Sea. Not the safest of areas but you'll be fine if I'm with you. We should bring that robot of yours though.”
“All right then, let's get going.”
Surprise was evident on Cait's face at how quick Alice was to agree to look for this Vault in what was one of the Commonwealth's most dangerous areas “What, right now?”
“Nothing keeping us here right now and the sooner we get this done the sooner your addiction will be gone Cait.” And the sooner Alice would find out if Cait was interested in being more than just a bodyguard.
“I ain't gonna argue with that but we need to prepare first. Supplies, guns, ammo. You know how to shoot a gun?” Alice shook her head in response to Cait's question and the other woman grimaced. “That's just dandy. Well I'll show ye along the way when you ain't starin' at me arse.”
Alice grudgingly admitted that made sense but she would much rather be admiring Cait's figure than learning how to shoot a gun but the prize at the end of the road was worth it.
The architect who had designed Vault 95 must not have cared much for subtlety or aesthetics she decided. The entrance to the underground structure was little more than an oversized rectangular block of concrete jutting outwards from the hillside with a single gear shaped hole in the center. It reminded Alice of some ancient medieval castle wall and there was the sense that it was meant to both ward outsiders while keeping it's occupants locked inside. But if that was the creator's intentions then it had failed.
She and Cait were lying prone on the ground as they studied the entry way from a distance to get a sense of what they had to deal with. Alice had thought it paranoid but Cait had insisted and her caution had been proven right. She had been expecting that the Vault would be abandoned but Alice could see a small group of people scattered all about the entrance. “Can you tell who they are Cait? I can't make out any details from here.”
Cait shaded her eyes as she peered at the people standing watch “There's a couple of robots down there so it ain't Raiders. Looks like Gunners to me and that ain't any good for us. If it was Raiders then we might have been able to lure em out but Gunners are too smart for that to work.” She turned her head to look at Alice “If you got any tricks up your sleeve then this is the time for it.”
Alice pursed her lips as she stared at the obstacle in their way. “Tell me about the Gunners. Who are they? What do they do? What do they usually want?”
“You don't know about the Gunners? They're the top mercs in the Commonwealth. They'll work for anyone, do anythin' if you got the caps for it. And I mean anythin'. Quincy Massacre was their doin' not too long ago. I hate to say it, but I don't think we have a chance at gettin' in there now...”
The regret and disappointment would have been noticeable if Alice had been paying attention but she was barely listening as she considered the Gunners standing watch. She hadn't spotted it before but now that Cait had mentioned them, she could see some of those figures were some sort of humanoid robot and there was a machine that looked like Codsworth floating up above the entrance. An idea slowly formed in her head on how to go about this. Alice turned her head towards Cait and reached out with one hand “Give me one of the spare pistols.”
Cait's brow furrowed in confusion at the perplexing request “What? You hate guns and all the lessons in the world couldn't teach ya how to aim. Why do you want a gun?”
“To make this more convincing. Nobody in their right mind would come to this area unarmed. They'll be expecting me to have some kind of weapon.” She removed the sheathed knife from her wrist and tossed it to the ground along with the one from her boot. “You and Codsworth wait here. I should be back in a day or so.”
She clambered up to her feet and began walking toward the Vault. Alice couldn't help but feel anxious as she knew it wouldn't be long before they saw her but the most important thing was to appear like she was confident, that she wasn't afraid. And sure enough, the people and robots guarding the Vault were quick to react once they had spotted her. Alice lifted her hands up to the back of her head and stopped moving as a single guard, sporting a tan pair of fatigues approached her, the rifle in his hands at the ready. Next to him was one of those humanoid robots she had spotted, all green metal except for a red crystal of some sort between where a human's eyes would be.
The Gunner didn't appear worried as he looked over her briefly and his voice was perfectly self-assured “Identify yourself and state your business here.” He wasn't one to waste time either she mused to herself.
“My name's Alice and I'm here to hire you for some work I need done. Take me to whoever is in charge.” It was a lie but all she really needed was to get into the same room as their leader. Wrapping these mercenaries around her finger would be a piece of cake after that.
He eyed her silently, his gaze burrowing into her and Alice began feeling the urge to fidget under his scrutiny. As the seconds slowly turned into a long minute it started to feel like her lie hadn't worked, that something was wrong here. A bead of sweat broke out on her forehead but then the Gunner nodded “All right then. You can see the Commander after I search you.”
Giving the gun up was no big deal to her since she couldn't use one anyways but Alice still felt more vulnerable without the weapon in her possession. Her gambit had worked however and she was being led through the gear shaped opening and into the Vault itself. This place was in just as much disarray and ruin as the Vault she had woken up in less than two weeks ago. No, this place was worse actually. The walls and floor were fractured everywhere she looked and patches of dirt and rock were scattered about throughout the place. An elevator was waiting to take them deeper into the Vault at the end of the room. The descent was surprisingly long and Alice could actually feel the air pressure beginning to affect her ears before the elevator stopped moving. The lower area wasn't in any better condition than the entry way but the main thing she noticed was the place had been fortified as if they were expecting to be attacked. Concrete barriers had been placed to form choke-holds, turrets mounted on the walls while men and women wearing metal armor were standing around with some rather large looking guns in their hands. Not to mention more of those humanoid robots and a few of the Codsworth clones as well. This wasn't just a Vault anymore, it was a veritable underground fortress.
Alice's escort led her deeper into the compound and it didn't take long for all the turns and stairs to make her lose track of where she was. It didn't help that the whole place looked the same to her either. And then she was face to face with the leader of the Gunners in this base. He was seated behind a wooden desk, a computer terminal directly in front of him. His thickly corded muscles had more than their fair share of scars on them and he had a tattoo saying 'A+' on his forehead. And while he might have looked like a brute his dark eyes glinted with a cruel intelligence. He eyed her curiously before looking at his subordinate “What's this all about corporal?”
The corporal gave a crooked grin “I brought you a present Commander. She walked right up to the perimeter and said she wanted to hire us then gave me her weapon. Returning to my post now.” He saluted and then Alice was alone with the commander.
“People looking to hire the Gunners contact our headquarters. They don't approach us in the field so what are you really after?.”
Well shit, so much for that idea. As she looked at him, a half dozen more lies came to mind but she could see that none of them would work. It was a gamble, but telling the truth was worth a shot here. “I've heard rumors about some kind of machine that can cure drug addiction in this place. I have a friend who could use a machine like that.”
“I've heard that story too, it's why we're here. The terminals claim the chair can do that but we don't have any drug addicts on site to test it with yet. I'm tempted to let your friend be a guinea pig but what do I get out of it?”
Now that was something she could work with. Alice slipped out of her trench coat and walked around the desk to stand next to him. She placed her hands on the arm of his chair and rolled it backwards away from the desk. Her coat found it's way onto the ground in front of him giving her knees a bit of padding as she knelt in front of of his chair. “Let's call it... stress relief.”
It was a shame that she hadn't bothered to bring any condoms with her on this trip. If she had then she could have given him a blowjob here but there was too much risk without one in a situation like this. Sucking on a complete stranger's cock without any protection was a surefire recipe for catching some sort of disease. But she still had two hands that would suffice for this and it didn't take long for her strokes and squeezing to leave the Gunner's prick twitching in her hand as he came.
The commander zipped his pants back up before fetching a rag hanging off one of the lamps “Here, you can use this to clean your hands off.” Alice barely caught it when he tossed it to her and gratefully began wiping her fingers clean. He folded his arms as he watched her “Looks like I owe my corporal a bonus for bringing you here. It'll be nice to have such a fine looking whore for the men.”
Alice stopped in the middle of cleaning her hands off and her eyes narrowed “Excuse me? We had a deal.”
“You're not very bright are you? You walked straight up to the perimeter, gave up your gun and let us bring you down here without so much as a word of protest. The only thing missing was a silver platter. Thanks for the handjob, you'll be giving more of those plus a whole lot extra. I think I'll go spread the news, it'll be quite the boost for morale.” He leered at her before exiting the room.
She tried to follow him out but the door wouldn't open for her. Only then did the reality of her situation fully dawn on her. Alice was stuck in the deepest area of a subterranean dwelling. There was a single route back to the surface and all those soldiers, robots and turrets stood between her and the elevator. She was trapped down here, all alone in this room except for a desk... and a computer terminal. The commander had had the good sense to lock it but there was a series of letters and numbers scratched into the blank space on one side of the keyboard.
To her surprise it worked and she was in the system. A nuclear holocaust and two centuries hadn't changed people's nature apparently. They were still terrible when it came to computer security. Alice smirked to herself as she began poking around the network searching for anything that might get her out of the present situation. And there it was. A folder named 'Automated Defenses'. In it were the configuration files for every single one of those turrets out there in the Vault. How very convenient...
Codsworth and Cait had followed her instructions from earlier and were still in the general vicinity of where Alice had left them. Cait rather resembled an owl from the way her head kept turning as they moved through the now vacant Vault. “What the hell happened in here? It looks like they all got shot but your aim is terrible.”
Alice simply gave a small smile in response choosing not to answer the question “I spent some time looking for this machine before coming to get you. This place is kinda convoluted so it'll take a couple minutes to get there.”
The machine in question was some kind of chair that must have been specially designed and built by Vault-Tec solely for this Vault. A chair that could cure the addiction of any drug addict anywhere no matter how severe and it's only reason for existing was as part of a psychological experiment. Two large looking needles were mounted at neck level and a rubber tube ran from each to some kind of containers on the back of the chair itself. “So Cait, ready to get rid of your addiction?”
Cait turned towards Alice, indecision written all over her face. “The answer to me problems is in there but I dunno if I should go through with it. You don't know the things I've done in my life, the things that made me start doing Psycho in the first place. What if that drug is the only thing holding me together?”
“You're right, I don't know your past Cait but Psycho isn't a solution. It's just a way of avoiding your problems so you don't have to face them. If you don't use the chair then it's only a matter of time until it finally does kill you.”
“All right I'll do it. Whenever you're ready, you go ahead and flip the switch.” Cait lowered herself to sit in the chair, her fingers trembling as she did so.
Alice moved to the terminal and pressed a button at random to wake it up. This particular computer only had two options available. One read 'Initiate Toxin Purge' and the other said 'Engage Restraints.'
Three metallic bands locked themselves into place, one over her forehead and two on her wrists, effectively pinning her to the chair. The other option made the machine whir to life and those large needles pressed inward towards her neck. Cait's face contorted in pain as she began to scream and her feet thrashed while the machine did its work. It didn't take very long from Alice's perspective, a minute maybe two, but it must have felt like much longer to Cait from how loud that screaming was but the machine stopped and those two needles retracted themselves and silence returned.
Cait's chest was still heaving as Alice entered the small room holding the chair “How do you feel now?”
“Strange...everythin' feels really strange. It's all different... clearer. Nothing's like what I remember now. Colors, smells, sounds... it worked. It's gone, the pain, the cravin' even the rush... it's all disappeared.” Cait gave Alice a small smile “I've gotta say thank you. This never would've happened if you hadn't shown up. Now how about you let me out of this chair and we get out of this place?”
Nothing happened for a moment as Cait looked at her expectantly but Alice opted to kneel in front of her instead of heading for the terminal. “You know Cait, I just realized something. I've never properly explained the finer details of my business plan to you, what me and my employees will actually be doing to our customers.”
Her hands began caressing Cait's thighs as she continued speaking in a softer voice “The common word for it is bondage though some people prefer the term BDSM. The gist of it is tying people up in oh so many different ways... like you are right now. As for what happens then... well that depends on the people involved.” Alice planted a soft kiss onto Cait's knee, her pulse racing as she sensed what all this had been for drawing within grasp “I could give you a taste right now but only if you're willing. It's all up to you Cait. Say no and I'll let you out of this chair and I won't bring it up again. But if you say yes then we can play.”
Cait gazed at her for a long moment, the desire Alice had sensed since their first encounter present in her eyes “...Yes.”
That was all Alice needed to hear. Her fingers crept upwards undoing the buttons and pulled Cait's corset open exposing her breasts. Next to go were the shoes followed by her pants and underwear leaving Cait's lower body bare aside from her socks. Alice's hands began caressing those legs once again as she took a long admiring look at she had uncovered. She picked those slim legs up off the ground raising them up over her shoulders and Alice pressed her lips to the inside of one ankle tasting small beads of sweat left over from the toxin purge.. For a moment her eyes found their way to what lay at the center of Cait's legs and she was sorely tempted to speed this up and claim her prize. But rushing through this would only spoil Cait's first foray into Alice's world.
Progress was slow going but those kisses gradually made their way higher and higher until Cait was trembling as Alice's mouth started in the inside of her thigh. And then she couldn't hold herself back any longer, patience be damned. Alice slid her arms beneath Cait's knees and lifted them up into the air pulling Cait's arse off the chair's seat and started in on her reward. Cait's arms began straining helplessly against the bands and small cries filled the room as Alice's tongue flickered over her groin. And when it was too much Cait's legs began quivering and her thighs tightly clamped themselves around Alice's head. Her body shuddered and Alice let her collapse back onto the chair as the orgasm shook itself out. Once it was over Alice pulled her head loose and stood up, the taste of Cait's lips lingering in her mouth. She rolled her neck in a circle to stretch its muscles out a bit and smiled in satisfaction “Now we can leave. Well if you can walk right now that is.”
Alice found Tommy waiting for her and Cait when they arrived back at the Combat Zone from their trip to Vault 95. He didn't appear pleased with either of them “Where have the two of you been? I got back yesterday and the two of you were gone.”
Cait dashed forward and threw her arms around Tommy hugging him “We went to that Vault you told me about Tommy. That machine ain't just a story, it's actually real and it works. I'm clean!”
He squeezed her back and the joy he was feeling was evident in his voice if not on his face “About damn time little bird. I want to hear all about it but I need to discuss business with Alice first.”
Tommy gestured towards the nearest of the crude shacks that had been built inside the theater. He pulled out a chair for Alice and waited for her to sit down before seating himself on the other side of the table from her. “So I've spoken to Hancock about your proposal. I'd say he was intrigued by it but he was reluctant so I had to make... some alterations before he agreed.”
Alterations. Alice felt her ear twitching at all the possibilities that single word could be referring to “And what exactly would these... alterations be Tommy?”
“I'm still your partner but Hancock has agreed to put up the money we need for getting things started so he'll be taking a ten percent count of our profits. The other change is that we won't be using this theater for the time being. There's been a lot of super mutant sightings in the last month or so and people are starting to worry about it. Hancock doesn't think he'd be able to protect us out here so he wants us to set up in Goodneighbor until the threat passes.”
“Well that doesn't sound so bad to me. What about finding workers and a building we can use?”
“Hancock has some candidates and a few possible locations but I told him you would have the final say on those two subjects since you know what you need far better than me. He also sent a few members of the Neighborhood Watch with me. They'll help you out with anything you need. Now if you'll excuse me I want to go talk to Cait.” He started walking away but stopped and turned back towards Alice “I don't know how you pulled it off, but thank you for helping Cait with this. I've been hoping she'd clean herself up ever since I met her and now she finally has.”
Workers she could interview, locations for her to choose from and she wouldn't have to worry about the dangers of the Commonwealth. Things were looking up even with the cut that this Hancock would be taking. It was the one irritant in all of this but an irritant that could be easily dismissed once the business was running and she had a source of new toys to play with and if things went really well, people who could play with her. But Alice was still getting ahead of herself at the moment. Everything else was falling into place but she needed equipment. Codsworth had been carrying around a suitcase of devices from her personal collection ever since they had left Sanctuary Hills but that wasn't enough for running a full fledged dungeon. She knew where all the dungeons and clubs in Boston had been but two centuries of conflict, destruction, scavengers and monsters both human and non didn't bode well for those places still being intact. She didn't have any other choice but to go looking nonetheless.
The first place Alice and her newly appointed bodyguards checked must have been ransacked if the mess inside was any indication. So had the second. And the third. Her hopes that any of the clubs were still intact were beginning to fade and her guards were muttering to each other about being dragged around the city on a wild goose chase when they thought she couldn't hear. There was one possibility that was more likely than the others but it was a club she had always been leery of. Consent had always been the most sacrosanct rule in bondage and one she had always held dear but this place. Well it blurred the line at best and crossed it at worst. If not for them then the authorities wouldn't have cracked down upon her particular niche and the red-light district in general. But if there was a place that had remained hidden, and intact, during the last two centuries then this would be it. Alice led them to into the backroom of what had been an adult video store two centuries ago. The hatch in the floor was well disguised and she wouldn't have spotted it unless she hadn't already known where it was. Alice had been down there once before but that had been more than enough for her. But now she could put its contents to better use than what had been done with them before. At least she could if this dungeon hadn't been ransacked like the others had been.
Alice pulled the hatch open and descended down the stairs, flashlight in hand. The guards followed behind her as her beam of light swept back and forth through the darkness of the basement. Dust had settled over everything and small insects scurrying away from the first light this place had seen in over two centuries. It had been years since she had come here and Alice's memory was a tad hazy but she still could vaguely recall where the storage closet had been. The door was reluctant to open up and surrender its contents but one of the men with her was able to yank it open and let her inside. Metal shelves ran from floor to ceiling inside and they were all loaded up with boxes brimming to the top with all sorts of goodies. A wide smile spread on her face as she started taking stock of everything that had been left behind here. Various vibrators, dildos of every shape and color, ropes, handcuffs, specialty tapes and more exotic restraints like armbinders or spreader bars. In short everything that she had been hoping to find and more. Transporting it on her own would have taken quite a while but she had Codsworth and he had that cart from the Combat Zone.
The next three weeks passed in a blur for Alice as she set about dealing with everything else that needed to be done. Hancock had kept true to his word about supplying potential workers to her. Weeding out the unsuitable candidates had taken a few days but it hadn't been difficult to see the flaws in these new recruits. One had caught a disease that she didn't recognize from somewhere but the symptoms were obvious once his pants were off. Another was too timid for this and she was repulsed by what was actually being asked of her. The rest were clearly inexperienced but eager and willing to learn which is all she could expect at this point. How good they would become was up to them.
As for the building itself, that was the hardest part and one Alice could only give input on. She had selected an abandoned warehouse and begun renovations immediately. Cleaning the entire place up, having walls and ceilings installed to create multiple rooms for scenes, soundproofing everything, decorating the entire dungeon as needed. The list ran on and on but the men Hancock supplied were surprisingly capable at meeting her lofty expectations. That just left one piece of business for her to take care of.
Piper came to an abrupt halt when she saw who was waiting for her behind the front desk of her new club. The seemingly bored look on her face vanished as she glowered at Alice “You. What are you doing here? I was supposed to meet Hancock about his brother.”
“You're right, that's what the message you received said but Hancock didn't send that letter. I did. And before you ask why, it's because you wouldn't come here if it was me contacting you.”
The journalist crossed her arms in irritation “Fine. I'm here. What do you want?”
Alice stood up from her chair and gestured towards the door leading further inside the building. “Walk with me, it'll be easier to explain if I can show you what I'm talking about.” Piper didn't look enthusiastic about following Alice or listening to anything she had to say but the reporter followed her nonetheless. The two of them made their way into one of the smaller rooms that had been setup for future clients. It was empty except for two things, a metal box in the corner and a simple looking wooden chair in the middle of the room. Alice turned towards Piper and began launching into the little spiel that she had prepared for this meeting “I'm well aware that you don't like me-”
Piper snorted in disdain cutting the speech off before it began “Don't like you? That's putting it mildly. I can't think of anyone that I started hating faster than you. You're one of the most repulsive people I've ever met.”
It was meant to be an insult but Alice couldn't help but start giggling “Is that so? And what exactly makes me so repulsive?”
The other woman's face reddened in indignation “You're seriously asking me that? After what you did in Diamond City? Don't you have any shame?”
“Shame? What do I have to be ashamed of? Fucking those guards? That I enjoy sex? Everyone enjoys sex Piper. You're old enough to know that and I'd say you've probably fucked a few people too but we're getting off topic here so let me get to the point. We first met when you had been kicked out of Diamond City and I was the one who got you back into the city. You owe me a favor and now I'm collecting.” Alice rested her hands on the back of the chair as she stood behind it. “I need you to use your printing press to make some advertisements for my business here.”
Piper looked surprised for a moment “That's it? I was expecting something a lot worse... what's the catch here? There's something more to it than that isn't there?”
Alice shook her head “No. I want you to make some advertisements but perhaps I should explain what kind of place this is.” She drummed her fingers on the chair for a few seconds as she considered the proper phasing “My business is sexual in nature but this isn't a brothel. Instead we cater to those who enjoy a rather specific kink. Bondage, domination, submission, masochism. It's a rather broad field and there's a lot of different ways of going about it. Take this chair for example. Anywhere else it would just be a piece of furniture but here it's so much more with the right additions and in this particular case a subtraction.”
Now that it had been pointed out the round hole in the middle of the chair's seat was strikingly obvious to Piper, so much so that she was wondering how she had missed it before. And the location of it was odd as well. The question of why put a hole there of all places was quickly answered by the object Alice had grabbed from the metal box. The handle was a slender cylinder and was capped off by a round bulb at the end. “Try to picture something in your mind Piper. There's a woman seated here in this chair. She's not wearing any clothes, she doesn't even have any jewelry on. Nothing except for a pair of cuffs on her wrists and ankles.”
To Alice's surprise Piper wasn't just pretending to pay attention for the sake of politeness. She was actually listening to what Alice was saying. In fact it seemed like she was hanging onto every word. Alice crouched next to the chair as she positioned the tool so it's business end was sticking out of the top in just the right spot “And then the vibrator gets turned on and she gets what she wants. Pleasure that she can't get away from, not that she truly wants to. And it's more than just one orgasm, the woman wants as many as she can get, as many as she can take until it's too much and she's begging to be released. Which she will be.”
Alice kept her eyes on Piper as she described one of the more memorable things that had been done to her in a chair much like this one. Piper's eyes had followed the vibrator from Alice's hand to the chair and remained there as Alice stood and moved to stand at her side. “And that's just a single example of the things we'll be doing here. Do you understand?”
Piper's gaze broke away from the vibrator and she turned her head to look at Alice, a curious longing that Alice had once shared a long time ago in her eyes. “No I don't but I want to. I want to understand what that feels like, to use this chair like you described it” A long moment passed but Piper seemed rooted to the spot, unable to move. “I can't do it on my own... help me.”
The plea sparked Alice into motion as she set about uncovering that hourglass figure of Piper's. Gloves, jacket, scarf, shirt, pants, boots, socks and finally her underwear all found their way onto the floor. She had been interested in seeing what Piper's body would look like beneath those clothes ever since their first meeting in Diamond City and it didn't disappoint in the slightest. An admirable bosom and the curve of her hips would be enough to entice any man or woman who actually got to see them. She wasn't entirely naked however. Alice had left Piper a single piece of clothing however, that press cap resting on top of her hair while every other piece of her was exposed to Alice's greedy gaze. “When you want it to stop, say Red. That's your safeword.”
One wrist and then the other. Soft black leather cuffs fastened to the chair's back held Piper's arms while another pair snugly locked her ankles to the chair legs and she was secured. Alice reached down to flip the switch and the vibrator turned on with a soft buzzing noise and one surprised gasp that made Piper's breasts jiggle.
It was strange at how quickly Piper had decided to do this given her behavior the last time the two of them had spoken. Alice's explanation had been meant to give an idea of what the advertisement should say and yet Piper had plunged ahead at full speed. And now here she was, the vibrator already making her squirm in the chair. Perhaps all she had needed was the push or maybe something had awoken in her during said explanation. Either way Alice knew that she was in for a show and she fully intended to savor every moment of this.
Piper's first moan was quiet but the rest of it from then on out was anything but. Some women were quiet and only let out a few low moans and the occasional gasp. Others were more verbal and would talk, make loud exclamations or curse repeatedly, sometimes all three. A scant few, like Piper, were the noisy ones. The screamers. They were far and few in-between but it was impossible to mistake them for anything else once they got going. And even for a screamer, Piper's moans, grunts, shrieks and full fledged screams were loud. And amazing to listen to. Her arms pulled against the restraints time and again to no avail and her chest heaved in ecstasy as it went on. And went on it did even after the first orgasm made her cap fall off as her head dropped backwards. And a second that was just as delightful as the first, perhaps more so. It wasn't until then that her safeword came flying outwards at the same volume as the rest of her noises and it was over.
And even after all that, Piper was still able to walk as if nothing had happened. She planted a kiss on Alice's cheek before leaving for Diamond City with two promises. The first to make the advertisements Alice wanted and the second to return for more experiences like what she had just gone through.
Alice watched her go with a smile that was half smirk at what the woman who had slapped her in Diamond City had just done. And what she was going to be doing in the future. A triumph like this called for celebration and if she had been a drinking woman then this would be the perfect moment for something like whiskey or scotch or whatever alcohol people drank to commemorate special occasions.
The Third Rail did serve water though so she was able to get that and some of what the robot Charlie insisted was iguana. The singer Magnolia was up on stage and there was an empty table close enough for her to admire the singer's assets as she ate. A few minutes after she sat down a man helped himself to the other chair directly across from her.
It was a face she had seen once before through the small viewport of a cryo-pod. His chin and cheeks were covered with a beard to go along with two very prominent scars that marred the left side of his face. The man who had killed Nate and taken Shaun leaned forward, his harsh voice seemingly amused. “Hello.”
It wasn't that he had killed Nate or that he had taken the infant she had given birth to. It was that he knew her name. The name she thought she had left behind her. Alice had tampered with Codsworth's memories to erase his knowledge of her former identity and as for all the people who had known her in the Old World, well they were all dead. But this man knew. He knew and the smirk on his face showed just how much he was enjoying her moment of consternation. “Or is it Alice? I must be confused.”
Alice wrinkled her nose at the smell of alcohol and smoke coming from the other side of the table where he was sitting. “Well I guess I don't need to introduce myself since you already know my name is Alice but who are you?”
“My name isn't important, I'm just here to deliver a message from my employer. He wants to arrange a meeting with you.”
A meeting arranged by a middleman who didn't want to give his name. It was unusual but not something she hadn't experienced before in her line of work. A few of her clients had required much more discretion than others due to the nature of their profession. Public figures with jobs that were dependent upon their reputation in society. Television personalities, judges, politicians. If word got out about their particular fetish then their careers would be ruined from the public backlash. “All right then. Tell me when and I'll make sure that my workers are taking the day off. It'll just be the two of us at my club.”
Her anonymous guest chuckled to himself for whatever reason. “That'll do just fine. He'll be there in two days. I'm sure it'll be quite the experience.” He pushed his chair back and headed out the door, that amused look remaining on his face the entire time.
She kept to her word about giving her workers the day off and the dungeon was empty of other people other than her. Alice played a little game with herself as she waited for her mystery client. The middleman had had a dangerous sort of vibe to him, not unlike the Gunner Commander but more deadly. What kind of man was she expecting to come walking through the front door? What kind of person kept someone like that in their employ? A person who was even more dangerous? Someone who was rich and powerful like an underworld crime boss maybe.
What she got was something she hadn't been expecting at all. An older looking man with light blue hair dressed like a pharmacist at the store she had bought birth control pills from. And he hadn't entered through the door in front of her. He somehow had gotten into the dungeon through other means and was approaching her from the interior of the building. “Hello.” He started to say that name before catching himself just in time “Alice. It's a pleasure to meet you.”
One of the few things she did miss from the Old World was how men behaved in public back then. The way they acted and the way they dressed. So much more suave back then compared to the men of today. Tommy and Hancock were the exceptions she had met so far but Alice hadn't decided whether she found the ghouls attractive or not. This man appeared certainly seemed charming enough at first glance but she could see he was a bundle of nerves beneath his outer demeanor. It must be his first time doing something like this and people getting anxious about it was pretty common but it did mean she would have to put him at ease or things could go badly. “Well you already know my name. Care to tell me yours darling?”
He hesitated for the barest trifle but it was there. Calling him darling must have put him off or some such. “You can call me Father. It's a name my colleagues gave me a long time ago.”
Maybe a bit of a joke would help him relax a bit so she took a hold of his elbow while guiding him towards the room that she had prepared earlier “Father? That sounds so... formal. I could call you Daddy if that's what you're into. Is this what we're doing?” Well it wasn't a very funny joke but she needed to know what sort of kink she was dealing with here so it was really more of a fishing attempt really.
Father's brow furrowed and he looked at her in confusion “What? Father is actually what people call me. It's a term of respect and affection. As for what we're doing, I'd like to ask you some questions.”
Okay, so that seemed to have flew over his head so it must not be what he was after. Maybe these questions would illuminate what he actually wanted to do with her. She squeezed his bicep and gave him an alluring smile “By all means, you can ask me whatever you want Father.”
He still seemed a bit uneasy but being able to ask these questions seemed like it had a calming effect on him “How much do you know about Vault-Tec Alice?”
She shrugged dismissively “Not much really. Some group of eggheads that built a bunch of Vaults before the Great War. I didn't think they were anything but another end-of-the-world is neigh group but then the bombs fell and I ended up getting frozen.” Normally Alice wouldn't have said anything about the Vault she had been frozen in but this was a unique situation. She had been hiding the fact that she had lived before the Great War but that man who had setup this meeting had known her given name was Nora. And if he knew that then he must have known where she had come from. And so would Father.
“I suppose that's true in a way but not the whole truth of it. Vault-Tec built dozens of Vaults all over what was then the United States but they all had some ulterior purpose to them. Various kinds of experiments were performed, without the inhabitants knowledge, on the people who sought shelter in them from the Great War. The Vault you were in was meant to study the effects of long-term cryogenic suspension for example.”
Well now Alice knew why she had been frozen though she wasn't really fussed about it now. This world had shown itself to be more accommodating to her fetish than the old one had been. No politicians condemning the Combat Zone in speeches for votes, no laws being passed to target them and best of all no police patrolling the streets looking for sex workers. But on the other hand, this didn't explain anything to her about what Father wanted from her, why he was here and what he wanted to do. Time for a nudge. “Soooo this means what exactly? I'm not following you right now.”
Father rubbed at his chin for a moment “How to explain? It's a rather complicated situation but I'll try to simplify it. I won't get into the how or why but Vault one eleven was very important to the organization I represent. But what interests me is you personally or rather what you've been doing since you've woken from suspended animation.”
Now they were getting somewhere. “What do you mean?”
Now he actually looked a tad bit guilty “I-We've been... monitoring you ever since you left the Vault. We were curious to see how you would respond, what you would do in what the Commonwealth has become.”
“You've been spying on me?” Maybe he was a voyeur?
“Not exactly. Their hasn't been anyone following you around but we have informants throughout the Commonwealth and they've given us reports of your progress... and what you've been getting up to. I've read all of the reports several times but I've had a difficult time believing them so I decided to come speak to you myself.” His eyes flicked from side to side as he looked around at the dungeon they were in. Was that a suppressed shiver? Father didn't give her a chance to respond as he started talking once more “The records on Vault one eleven stated you had a husband and son who were frozen with you. But according to our informants, you've never mentioned either of them at any point. May I ask why?”
Confession had never made sense to her. Telling someone your dirty secrets to relieve your conscience had been one of the more baffling aspects of the Catholic church. It had never made sense to her, why would people do things that would make them feel ashamed. If you knew something was going to bother you, why do it? Alice knew she had done things that other people would go to confession for but she had never been bothered by it. And yet, for some reason she couldn't fathom, she felt a twinge of unease at the man's question. But there was … something she couldn't quite fathom, something about this man and his question that made the story of how the brat came to be come gushing out of her mouth.
“Nate was a soldier in the Army. He had been fighting in Alaska during the war with China but his unit had been rotated off the front-line and Nate was from Boston so he always came back here whenever he was on leave. I had just started working at a dungeon that he was a regular at and it didn't take long for him to become one of my favorite subs.” She smiled a bit at the thought but it quickly faded at what came next. “We had some great times together but one day we had an accident.”
Father frowned slightly as he interrupted her “I'm sorry, what did you say? A sub? I must confess to you losing me with this particular term.”
“Huh? Oh it means submissive. Basically he spent all our sessions being tied up one way or another. Now where was I?”
Father quietly muttered something to himself as Alice started to pick up where she had left off. Something about 'turning stones.'
She grimaced at the recollection of the worst part of her life “I don't know what happened. Maybe the condom was defective, maybe my pills had gone bad, Nate might have put the condom on wrong or something else altogether. Either way I missed my next period and the one after that. I don't remember everything very well, it's all a blur now but I ended up pregnant and we had a shotgun wedding for the sake of appearances. We had been making plans to relocate to another city and give the brat up for adoption once he was old enough but then the bombs fell and well... you know the rest I'm sure. Does that answer your question?”
Father was silent for a very long time as he stared at the ground. “Yes... yes it does. Thank you for answering my question.” His head lifted and he looked at her and then at the building they were in as if seeing both for the first time. “Good luck with...this.” He turned and walked into the nearest room shutting it behind him. Alice started to follow along but the door wouldn't open. She twisted the knob again but the door was locked. What was the point of locking her out? He was older so maybe he had gotten confused and gone through the wrong door thinking that this was the way out.
She had all the keys in her pocket so it was just a matter of finding the right one for this particular lock. It took her a minute of trying various keys but she found it eventually. Alice pushed the door open only to find nothing inside. She looked around in confusion for a moment before checking behind the door to see if he was there. Nothing. There was only one way in or out of this room but Father wasn't here. It was as if he vanished into thin air somehow. She frowned and scratched at her head in bafflement. Eventually Alice shrugged it off. He was gone and for whatever reason she had the feeling that she was never going to see him again.
It was his loss though, choosing not to play with her. Alice closed the door as she backed out of the room and looked around. Her coworkers had been given the day off, Piper was heading back to Diamond City and she had no idea where Cait had gone off too. It was just Alice here. Alice and an oppressive silence as she waited. Waited for the people who would be coming.
They had to.
So this is the end of this particular story. I'm not sure if this last chapter explains things well enough or if I left too much written between the lines.
Anyways, if you made it this far thanks for reading.
I've spent some time debating whether to post this or not. It's somewhat ham-fisted in my opinion but hopefully it better clarifies what I was trying to accomplish with my original ending in chapter eleven.
Father's personal log – December 2287
To anyone who may be reading this in days yet to come I have some unfortunate news. I have discussed my battle with cancer in previous entries before and now I regretfully inform you that said battle will be coming to an end. The doctors have done everything that they could to cure my condition but have ultimately been unsuccessful in their efforts. I am dying. It should feel odd to write that sentence I suppose or perhaps I should be angry that they failed but neither is true. I have known these doctors since we were children and if it were possible to save me then they would have done so and I hold no grudge in this matter.
I cannot help but admit that I am slightly disappointed that this is the age of my demise however. My body is no longer as strong as it was in the days of my youth but that is merely the byproduct of aging as all people do. My mind is as sharp as it ever was and I still could have contributed to the Institute for another decade perhaps two in a best case scenario.
But that is not how things have turned out for me. My doctors have tried to estimate how long I have but they are uncertain how fast the tumors will grow once my treatments are stopped. What they are certain on is that it won't be long before the pain begins as the tumors grow in size. We have discussed painkillers to help manage it but ultimately I have decided against it. It is not a question of effectiveness, I have no doubt they would accomplish their goal. But they would also hinder my mental faculties and I would barely be capable of functioning at an acceptable level for however long it would take for me to die. As such we have decided to wait until the pain becomes more than a nuisance and then I will be put to sleep so that my passing will be less traumatic not only for me but for the entire Institute. Right now our best estimate is that could be in two weeks from now but it could be as long as two months away.
It doesn't feel odd to write the words 'I am dying' but it does feel very strange to put a date on what may be the day of my death in advance. This may be a peculiar thing to say but I feel a certain kinship with those condemned prisoners awaiting execution in the old world now. This kinship is not one of the actions we have committed to be sure. I am no murderer or perpetrator of some other reprehensible act that merited a lethal response from the authorities. No, this connection that I feel is one of knowing your life's end has been set for you. Every person has a finite amount of days from the moment they are born since all life must end but that particular number is unknown to all but a few whose company I have now joined. I wonder what they think about during their final days, do they regret their actions knowing what the result of them is?
I have never been one to spend a great deal of time ruminating on the past but now that I know my life is ending that has changed. It has been more interesting to look back on my life than I thought it would be.
As I'm sure you're aware I was not born in the Institute like the majority of my colleagues. I was born in the small town of Sanctuary over two hundred years ago before the Great War. The details of how I came to be in the Institute are rather sordid but ultimately to my benefit. After I turned eighteen my parents explained to me that I had been adopted and that we weren't genetically related. The news that I wasn't their true-born son wasn't at all surprising to me since we didn't look anything alike. What did surprise me was that my mother was still alive down in that Vault where she and I had once been cryogenically frozen.
I had always thought that my birth parents must have died when I was too young to remember them but that wasn't the case. My mother or at least the woman who had given birth to me was alive. It was perhaps the oddest moment of my life up until then. Don't misunderstand me, I still consider the couple who raised me to be my true parents and I love them dearly but there was still a connection to this woman. She may not have been a part of my life but she is the one who gave birth to me and a part of me always held her in high esteem for that.
Meeting her didn't interest me at the time and she faded into the background for many years though I couldn't help but think on the scientific side of what questions meeting her could answer. It's an old question in the field of psychology – Nature vs Nurture. What makes a person the person they are? Are they a product of the environment in which they are raised or are we merely the sum of our DNA?
This woman,whose name the records refer to as Nora is someone whom I had never met or have any memories whatsoever of. She was the woman who gave birth to me so the DNA I possess was passed on from her and the man who was my father. Everything about her from the color of her hair to her personality as a person was a mystery to me. A complete blank slate. I knew nothing about her whatsoever. If only that had remained the case. If only I had left her below ground in that Vault to never awaken...
Failure is the constant companion to a scientist. For every experiment that works there are a thousand that fail to bear fruit. To succeed one must be prepared to fail. I have contributed to many works of science here in the Institute but many of my hypothesis's and theory's have turned out to be wrong. No one ever thought the less of me for my failures. At least until now I suppose. No one has said anything but I notice the conversations that fall silent when I walk into a room, I see the sidelong glances when people think I'm not looking. I never should have spoken to the others, involved them in this experiment with that thing who calls herself 'Alice.'
The reports are in the computer network for everyone to see. I have tried to delete them repeatedly but somehow they are back in the system the next day every time. The trader Carla, M7-62 posing as the Mayor in Diamond City, Tommy Lonegan, the aftermath of her visit to Vault 95 as documented by one of our coursers. Their reports paint a disturbing picture. She's a murderer, she's a whore and cares only to sexually gratify herself however she can. I couldn't believe what I had read, that I had ever thought this woman might replace me as Director. It was beyond belief and then I met her.
I outright asked her about her son. About me. And she told me everything. That I was an accident. Unplanned, unwanted, unloved. That she only married my father for the sake of appearances. That she was planning to dump me off at the nearest orphanage as soon as she could. And the thing that spared me that fate was the end of the Old World itself.
And then she propositioned me. She thought that was why I was there, to do the same things with her that my father once had.
Father stopped typing and stared at the words on the computer screen in front of him. He had done it once more. This was the final entry of his personal journal, a last farewell to his colleagues and the Institute. And he had spiraled off into a rant about Alice yet again. He sighed to himself and mashed the delete button on his keyboard to start over as he had too many times already.
To anyone who may be reading this in days yet to come I have some unfortunate news. I am dying.