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The Wrong Side of the Tracks

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Early in her life, Jet had made some bad decisions. She joined a cult, dated several members from that cult, was banished from the cult, and joined a raider gang. She gambled away her life savings, and joined the Railroad as a quick way to make money. None of these were as bad of a decision as Mark.

So when Mark opened that door with that shit-eating grin on his face, Jet’s lip curled in disgust. The tourist outfit he was wearing clashed with the now-scabby skin all over his body. He leaned in for a hug, and she recoiled. He snorted.

“Fine. I didn’t want a hug from your ass anyways.”

“I have questions for you” she said bluntly. She wanted to get this over with ASAP. Sooner than ASAP. Ten minutes ago-SAP. His head cocked slightly.

“How did you even find me? I haven’t told hardly anyone where I am.”

“Can I come in or not?”

“Yeah yeah, sure.” He stepped aside so she could slip in. She felt a small brush of air against her arm as what she assumed was Whisper sliding in behind her. She sat in the nearest chair, shabby with age, and crossed her arms.

“The Immortal.”

Mark froze while closing the door. It slipped from his hand and closed with a tentative click. He turned to her slowly.

“How do you know about him?”

“I can’t tell you that. Just know that I need to know.”

Mark scratched his arm. “There’s not much to tell. Jet, I gotta know how you know about him.”

She shifted in her chair, clasping her hands in front of her and leaning on her knees. “I need to know because he tried to kill me.”

Mark looked around, as if someone would appear out of thin air and clobber him. He pulled a wooden chair away from the wall. The scraping sound hurt her teeth, but her expression didn’t change he sat across from her and leaned forward as well.

“Listen, I’ll tell you what I can, but Jet, these guys are dangerous.” he scratched his arm again, looking down. “They tried to recruit me after my...mishap.”

“You mean…?”

“Hey, you remember how pretty I used to be,” he chuckled. “Blonde hair, square jaw-”

“You had brown hair and a round face. Come on, Mark Get to it. I’m on a time limit.”

Once again,Mark scratched his arm. “I had a run-in with the children of Atom. They decided to try to sacrifice me to Atom, and dumped me in a vat of waste. Came out looking like this.”

She cringed. “Forced division.”

“Yeah, weren’t you in that little group? Never figured you for a rad eater, Jet.”

Jet rubbed the back of her neck. “That was a long time ago. You know I was just a kid.” She felt a blush creep up her neck. After her older brother had died, Jet needed a home. Barely seventeen, she was found by a wandering preacher and brought back to the fold. She drank the toxic sludge they gave her without hesitation. Mistake number one.

Mark shrugged. “Anyways, they decided I had unfinished business and let me go. Didn’t take long for some guy to sit me down and tell me about this Immortal.” he rubbed his now sore arm. “Basically, the guy wants the whole wasteland to be ghouls. Thinks ghouls are the future. Well, if anything, I can’t say he’s wrong.”

Jet’s face showed her apprehension. “How’s that?”

“Well, eventually humans will die out. Then what’s left? Nobody but us ghouls.”

“Mark, you sound like you..agree.”

He shrugged. “Agree is a strong word. I can see where he’s coming from, but,” he leaned forward after looking around again. “What I can’t see, is why he wants to gather us up like we’re some sort of cult. There’s a big meeting in a few months. I got invited. Concord. It’s all I got for you.”

The two of them leaned back, with Jet pondering the information. Concord was a ways away. If she could just get a small team together…

She stood up and shook Mark’s hand. “Thanks. I know what you risked by giving us this information.”

“No problem.” His hand was unpleasant in hers, like gripping a slab of skinned brahmin. “If I think of anything else, I’ll contact you.”

Whisper met her outside the hotel. She knew he had been in the room, and had heard everything. He looked around briefly before speaking.

“Cannon and Glory would do well for this,” he said. Jet shook her head.

“No, we need someone stealthy. You and…” she trailed off as they opened the gate to leave the small settlement.

“Does something feel off to you?”

“Yes.”

The door slammed shut behind them as Jet accidentally let it slip through her fingers. They walked forward. Nothing happened. It was an eerily quiet trek back to the church, where the Railroad headquarters were. Whisper suddenly grabbed her arm and yanked her behind a building. He covered her mouth to muffle her yelp of protest.

Then she saw it. Bodies. Footprints of blood led away from the church. A few of the members had tried to crawl out, only to be shot point blank in the head. She felt Whisper’s chest heaving as he breathed, his grip tightening against her mouth. She tapped on his arm to let him know he was hurting her. It took a few seconds, but he let go. She held her mouth, her skin white where his hand had gripped.

“Who the fuck...who did this?!”

Whisper was already walking. He stepped over rubble, bodies, and garbage, striding in as if he didn’t see them. Jet followed, her gun out.

“Their bodies are cold,” he said nonchalantly. “There’s no one here to harm us.”

Jet wasn’t so sure. She kept her gun out, up until she saw the main room empty. A few splatters of blood here and there, but it seemed that those who were at the entrance were merely anicking. This was not the bulk of the Railroad.

Whisper stood in the center of the room, still and silent. His hands were folded in front of his body, and if it weren’t for his breathing, he could have been a very lifelike mannequin. After a moment, he spoke.

“They left, in a hurry,” he said plainly. “One of our enemies came after us. Since there are no second generation synths around, my guess would be the Brotherhood of Steel.”

“So where are they?” Jet picked around one of tinker Tom’s smashed up radios “what are we even supposed to do?”

“Check the tunnels. See if they were caught up to. Then we hide out.”