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Originally posted on Fanfiction.net

The Enclave was finally and irrevocably shattered following their defeat at Andrew’s Air Force Base. However, the spirit of the Old World lives on within those who survived. Under the command of Lieutenant Lukas Sigurdsson, those remnants wage a brutal guerrilla war against the victorious Brotherhood of Steel, with the intention of making the Brotherhood pay dearly for every victory, and pay even more dearly for any of their mistakes.

Chapter 1: ForeshadowingEdit

Original post

Riley McAllister slid into cover as bullets and bolts of plasma ripped by. A New Eagle, the one who had been in charge of destroying the metro entrance, had died just nearby with a serious burn, with the plasma scorching the skin on his neck and upper torso. It was the shock that had killed him, as unfortunately he didn't have any power armor to protect him. Riley dug through the dead man's duffel bag and found the detonator, a small green remote with a single switch. Placed around the mouth of the metro entrance were bundles of C4, and when detonated, the Brotherhood of Steel paladins who were getting bogged down by the New Eagle fighters would have no escape, and then the Eagles would be able to unleash their most powerful weaponry for power armored foes: electromagnetic pulse grenades.

Three other Eagles were taking cover from the plasma-rifle wielding Brotherhood soldiers, their conventional firearms not leaving a scratch on the Brotherhood's T-51b power armor. They would pop up for not even ten seconds and let off a burst of gunfire to keep the Brotherhood paladins pinned. Riley pressed the button, and the C4 detonated. The terminal collapsed quickly, sealing off any escape the Brotherhood could have made. At least three of the ten or so Paladins in the patrol were crushed underneath the rubble.

"Lob those grenades!" Riley shouted. Before the Enclave was defeated, he was higher-ranking than many of his fellow soldiers, at the rank of Staff Sergeant. That seniority transferred over when he found the New Eagles. One of the other fighters unshouldered his pack and dropped it on the ground, tossing a single electromagnetic pulse grenade to each of the Eagles. Each Eagle pulled the pin, and took turns tossing their grenades. Within moments, the rest of the paladins were immobilized, their power armor disabled and now incapable of supporting their weight or responding to their movements.

The Eagles, now safe, gradually moved up and away from their cover, keeping their rifles trained on the disabled paladins. The paladins' cussing and struggling with their useless fourth-ton armor could be heard clearly in the tense silence as the four Eagles approached, guns leveled.

"Johann, keep an eye out," McAllister said, removing the helmet of the nearest paladin.

"God damn you!" the man screamed, his face contorted in rage.

"Up yours," McAllister said, giving the man a swift kick to the jaw, shattering it. "Alright," he said, addressing the other two Eagles, "I want these guys lined up and ready for execution in no more than five minutes. Then we're going to take their armor, load it up onto the truck, and head back to the base." The other two nodded. McAllister headed over to the ancient, pre-war truck. It was a heavily-build machine designed by Ford for the military, and bore the star of the U.S. Army. On the bed of the truck was a handheld radio (underneath a ball-and-socket mounted M2 Browning machinegun). The thing was heavy, at about 25 pounds, but it used channels that the Brotherhood had no access to under normal circumstances. He turned the radio to Eagle Two's designated frequency and clicked the button on the far side twice, keeping the receiver and earpiece at his head.

"Eagle Two to Nest, respond." McAllister said while holding down the transmitter button. He released the button and waited for a response.

"Nest to Eagle Two, sitrep?" a gravelly, deep voice came back over the radio. Lukas Sigurdsson, leader of New Eagle, resided in a bunker identified only as "Nest". He and a few select adjutants guided the progress of New Eagle in its fight against the Brotherhood, who had, not three years beforehand, smashed the Enclave's chain of command.

Lukas kept the earpiece held to his head, jotting down what McAllister reported to him. He handed the note to Skylar Ericsson, who began transmitting the events to the other units, and returned to the holographic tactical display, which showed every New Eagle unit in the area, as well as every known Brotherhood patrol and unit. Lukas quickly went through the archive of known Brotherhood units and deleted the one that Eagle Two had destroyed. Their marker disappeared from the screen. At the center of the map was the Pentagon, or as its new inhabitants called it, the Citadel. It was infested with the Brotherhood, and their mastermind lived there. Another color denoted Brotherhood "outcasts", equally as dangerous as the Brotherhood proper, but with a far more cynical attitude towards the wasteland. They spent all their time gathering technology in the wasteland and doing little else, but their headquarters was the prize. If the Eagles could clear out the Outcasts there, they'd have the perfect place to stage an assault on the Citadel – the huge amount of pre-war tech in the place was a bonus as well.

He zoomed in on the city of Megaton. There was a large, blue cone, which indicated a major threat – in that case, it was the Lone Wanderer: John Fredrickson. John Fredrickson and his wife, Sarah Lyons. It was his fault that the Enclave was defeated, and Sarah was the daughter of Elder Lyons. With the two in the area, the Eagles would be incapable of operating with any semblance of calm, as John would, almost certainly, get involved. Killing the two was a major goal of the Eagles, but it could not be done directly. It would require a sleeper cell. Luckily for Lukas, he had a makeshift sleeper agent: one Ashley Rodriguez, a civilian formerly living in Site R but driven off when that beast of a machine, Liberty Prime, destroyed the facility. She had taken shelter in Megaton, and her personal grudge against John made her the best candidate for the mission.

"Sergeant Ericsson," Lukas called to Skylar Ericsson, gesturing. Skylar was perhaps the only non-ghoul pre-war soldiers in the world, saved only by the advent of prototype cryogenic technologies. Skylar came to Lukas' side.

"Yes, sir?" he asked.

"I want you to run a package to a caravan trader. His name's 'Wolfgang," but he goes by 'Crazy' Wolfgang. Canterbury is a little more than ten miles east," Lukas pointed to the map, "so you should be there and back in about a day. If Wolfgang isn't there, just wait around. You're in no rush, here, so take your time." Lukas moved to a row of lockers, with Skylar following. Lukas dug through one of them and brought out a makeshift dirty bomb, a micronuke with a digital timer and fuse. He also found a box and a sheet of paper. He quickly jotted down instructions for Ashley, and placed it within the box. After sealing the box with heavy-duty duct tape, he wrote Ashley's name on it. "Make sure not to drop it. The safety mechanisms were removed to allow the digital fuse to work."

Skylar took the bomb. Lukas went back to his tactical map as Skylar moved the bomb outside. He took a quick look at the position of his soldiers. There were about twenty units operating under the New Eagles, separated from one another within a sea of Brotherhood knights and paladins. Perhaps the most important part of Lukas' plan was gathering support for the New Eagles – by starting a massacre. When they see five or six heavily-armed men in T-51b armor – with Brotherhood symbology all over – they will assume them to be Brotherhood. But when they start firing, to try and kill as many people as possible, feelings of fear and hatred will build when thinking of the Brotherhood. The best target was either Megaton or Rivet City. Megaton lacked any major kind of security – with the exception of the Lone Wanderer and his wife. Once Ashley killed them, Eagle Two would go in with their captured Brotherhood tech and slaughter the civilians. It would cause an outrage against the Brotherhood. Then some people would be hired to go in and post up propaganda for the New Eagles. A few of the civilians may even join the Eagles, but most would definitely see them in a better light than the Brotherhood. Eagle Four, Seven, Fifteen, and Nineteen would continue to run ambush operations against Brotherhood patrols, while Eagle One, Six, Eleven, and Twelve would consolidate, gathering around Fort Independence and waiting to strike. The remaining units would await orders.

Lukas picked up the radio and began transmitting the orders. Then he got to Eagle Two's frequency.

"McAllister, make sure your team is rested up and ready to fight within three days' time." He said, "If everything goes right, you'll be bathing in blood pretty soon."

"Sir, will we be a part of the strike against the Outcasts?" Riley asked.

"Maybe. That comes after a friend makes her move, though." Lukas said. "And try to stay alive. If any of your men are killed, we may end up having our mission compromised. Resistance should be pretty light, however."

"Yes, sir." McAllister said, acknowledging his orders. Lukas turned his radio off and headed to his room. There were only a few other people in his bunker, most of those living within merely being radio operators. They had their own rooms as well. But Lukas' room was pretty barren. A single Enclave-style bunk and a small nightstand – which had a lamp attached to it – were the only things within his proper room. There was also a small compartment underneath his room, which held a lot of things Lukas' had saved for their sentimental value: pictures of his younger sister, a copy of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, and his mother's wedding ring, just to name a few. Lukas laid out on his bed, and closed his eyes, wishing Skylar wouldn't take very long getting back.

Chapter 2: VengeanceEdit

Original post

"Miss Rodriguez?" a familiar voice broke through Ashley Rodriguez' dream. She opened her eyes, and saw Lucas Simms standing over her, arms crossed. "Crazy Wolfgang stopped by with a package for you. It's over there, near the entrance. And would you please stop sleeping on the catwalks? It's dangerous." The old man walked away as Ashley stood, dusting the dirt from the catwalks off of her old, tattered dress. Crazy Wolfgang had saved her from the flaming wreck of the Vertibird she'd been on after the destruction of Site R; Liberty Prime had shot the non-combat vehicle's right engine off, and the thing crashed about two miles away. She was the only survivor. Wolfgang was thus one of the few non-Enclave personnel she actually trusted.

She picked the box up off of the table Simms had left it. It was damn heavy for its size, weighing at least forty pounds. She dragged it over to a shady area where she wouldn't have to deal with the sun's heat and light, and pulled the lid of the box off. The contents shocked her; it was a micronuke, a pre-war device used to eliminate entire platoons of men. But that wasn't all. Attached to the hull of the bomb was a digital timer, its bright-red interface blinking 00:00:00. Tucked in below the bomb was a note, as well, coming straight from none other than Lukas Sigurdsson, who'd contacted her immediately following the destruction of Site R.

"Dear Misses Ashley Rodriguez," he wrote, "I've sent you this package in order to aid you in exacting your vengeance upon the Lone Wanderer, John Fredrickson, and his wife, Sarah Lyons. I've entrusted this task to you because you have lived in Megaton for some time now, and undoubtedly have more knowledge of its layout than any of our other sleeper agents, and because when last we spoke, you showed a well of loathing for the Brotherhood's secret weapon – and I do not mean their giant robot. Anybody with sense knows that it was the Lone Wanderer who won their battles for them.

"Moving back on-topic. The bomb I've rigged up for you should have an attached digital timer interface, with both a timer display and a keypad. Be careful not to drop the package, as it may detonate if you do; many of its default safety mechanisms were removed to allow the digital fuse to work properly. When you are ready to enter a time, be aware that the first two digits on the right are seconds, the second set in the middle are minutes, and the last two on the left are hours. Set it so that the Lone Wanderer will not have enough time to react once you've gotten over there and given him the bomb. The explosion will be more than large enough to kill anything within a normal-sized house, and the pressure exerted will likely cause the house to collapse. Hit enter once to lock in a time, and hit the enter button again to start the countdown. Be aware, however, that you will not be able to stop the countdown once it has begun. If everything goes right, the Lone Wanderer and his family will be dead, and the second portion of my plan to gain public support from the outlying communities will be put into action – so once you are done, it may be a smart idea to leave town, as it will become a bloodbath within three days of your move."

Ashley refolded the note, and placed it back in the box. Was she expected to merely waltz in and give the man the bomb? His wife would kill her, literally, as soon as she walked in the door. No, Ashley needed to think of an alternative plan, one which allowed her to still complete her mission, but without the possibility of getting herself killed. She recalled a small crawlspace just below the Lone Wanderer's house – no, it wasn't even really a house; the entire town was made up of junk, and Wolfgang would have a field-day if he could get his hands on all that junk – one which the bomb would be able to fit into easily. But would it still have as much effect? Then there was also a window on the first floor, into one of the closets. But again, the effect would likely be dampened.

Finally, Ashley decided that the best plan was to merely knock on the door and give John himself the bomb. Anything else simply wasn't guaranteed to work, so the best plan was to carry the bomb over personally and hand it to the man. She set the timer to a minute and a half, pressing enter to lock the time into the timer. She pressed the enter button again, and quickly placed the bomb back into the box, closing it up and hauling it up into her arms. She walked along the catwalks, moving towards the Wanderer's house, which was on the far end of town. The others, citizens of Megaton and people merely hunkering down away from the danger of the wastes, stared. Some murmured to themselves as she passed by, undoubtedly disparaging Ashley and the rest of the Enclave, just as they had when she first turned up.

Ashley couldn't understand why'd they'd be so apathetic. After everything she and her family and friends had gone through – those few who survived, anyway – the people of the wasteland still hated them. Ashley'd never done anything wrong. She'd never committed any harmful acts against anybody. And she was rewarded by the death of her immediate family, the destruction of her home, and harbor provided by a bunch of people who'd just as soon kill as look at an Enclave citizen.

She passed by Moira Brown, out in front of her shop sweeping off the catwalk. She saw Ashley, and averted her eyes. Moira was unlike most of the rest. Rather than openly hating Ashley and the rest of the Enclave, she simply looked away and tried to not talk about it. As far as her sympathy went, well, Moira was the only one who'd tend to the burn wounds Ashley'd sustained following her crash in the middle of the wasteland.

After turning a corner, it was just a few hundred more yards before she reached the Wanderer's house. Down one more ramp, and it was a straight shot to the Wanderer's front door. Checking the bomb's timer as discreetly as possible, she was horrified to see the timer already at 50 seconds, and counting. And although she found the bomb to be heavy, she began to trot, awkwardly, towards the Wanderer's house. More than once, she almost fell flat on her belly, with the bomb directly underneath; if the timer didn't count down to zero prematurely, a fall might detonate the bomb either way.

She passed by the public restrooms, a single room lined with toilets, with only a curtain separating mens' and womens' restrooms. Half the toilets on either side were always malfunctioning, so the thing was almost worthless to most people.

Just a couple more yards, she thought, Wanderer's house still at least two hundred feet away. Estimating, she figured she had about a half-minute left until the bomb went off, and took her with it.

She knocked, as calmly as possible, on the Wanderer's front door. Checking the bomb, she saw the timer at 30 seconds. It was uncomfortable just standing there, bomb in-hand, waiting on somebody who she hated to open the door. Finally, after what seemed like ages between the soft beeping of the timer and the fear of death or discovery, the Wanderer answered the doors. He was a tall man, gaunt and lanky. How somebody so odd-looking could kill legions of Enclave soldiers was beyond Ashley.

"Uh, yeah?" he said, drearily.

"Hi," Ashley said, trying to put on a smile. "I have a gift for you and your family." The Wanderer took the bomb. He glanced outside, and then nodded.

"Well, thanks."

What the hell? He thought, confused. This woman is Enclave; there's no good reason for her to just waltz in and hand me a gift. Then again, there's also no reason for the people of Megaton to do the same…

"Okay, I guess I should go." Ashley said, trying to get away from the bomb's blast radius. She was no longer certain how much time she had to get away.

"Uh. Okay, I guess I'll see you around." The Wanderer said, closing his door. Ashley made her getaway as quickly as possible, sprinting away in case the bomb detonated just behind her. She wasn't about to be a pincushion for shrapnel.

There was a shuddering all along the catwalk. Ashley's foot somehow missed its mark without warning, and she fell flat on her stomach. Debris rained down from above, showering her in smoldering ashes and cinders. That shuddering intensified, heat suddenly hitting Ashley's back in spite of the distance between herself and the epicenter of the blast. The bomb was plainly much more powerful than expected.

Finally, the shaking and rattling up and down the catwalk dissipated. Ashley picked herself up off the ground, dusting off still-smoldering ashes and kicked-up dust. She did an about-face, and looked at her handiwork. There was a massive, gaping hole where the Wanderer's house had been. Practically nothing was left of the structure and much of the surrounding area. The scaffolding supporting the house collapsed during or immediately following the blast, tumbling into the irradiated pool where Megaton's bomb used to be. If there were any remains to be found, they would most certainly have been in the form of charred skeletons amongst the rubble.

Shit, Ashley mouthed. If she'd known the blast would have been so powerful, she wouldn't have risked life or discovery of the subversive act. She could have just thrown the bomb into one of the late Wanderer's windows and let physics take care of the rest.

People from all parts of the city were gathering around the wreckage. People were shifting through the ruins, looking for the corpse of their former protector. One person came up with a shattered skull, unidentifiable due to the sheer amount of damage the micronuke had done, between supplying enough heat to melt sand instantaneously and also applying an amount of pressure which might be sufficient to make diamonds from pencil lead. Pretty soon, almost the entire city was gathered around the wreck – at least a thousand people, if not more.

Chapter 3: ParanoiaEdit

Original post

Paranoia

Elder Lyons was terrified. He had been called back from his expedition to link back up with the West Coast elders, and the Paladin who'd been the one to talk to him – Paladin Cortez – was, well, anxious. He refused to tell Lyons why until the Elder had gotten back. Then Lyons began to hear of some explosion in Megaton, which drew his thoughts immediately to his only daughter and his new grandson. Though he was grudging in letting Sarah marry the Wanderer, he still wouldn't want her to be harmed. Lyons leaned up over the Vertibird pilot's shoulder.

"How much longer, Knight Taylor?" he asked. The pilot quickly checked his map. They were still about an hour away, based upon the GPS coordinates.

"Probably between forty-five minutes to an hour, depending on the weather conditions," Taylor said.


"Sir!" one of the radar operators who resided within Lukas' bunker called out. "Lieutenant Sigurdsson, you may want to see this, sir!" Lukas left his chair in the situation room – the same room which held the all-seeing tactical display – and headed to the radar room.

"Sir, I'm picking up a blip coming from the west, out of Frederick, and it's moving at about a hundred knots," the operator said, pointing to his console.

"Who could it be? Is there an identifier chip aboard that vessel?" Lukas asked. That was how the Enclave avoided friendly fire during air ops. And post-Enclave vertibirds would almost, guaranteedly, have an identifier chip.

"No, sir, and it's a VB-02 Mk II Bravo, top-of-the-line version," the operator said quickly.

"Air Force Two?" There was just one VB-02 Mk IIb in the world, used by the Vice President pre-war, and it had been lost to the Brotherhood following the assault on Andrew's Air Force Base.

"Sir, that's the only ship with that profile," the radar operator said, "It was taken by the Brotherhood when we got run out of Andrew's, and such a vehicle would likely only be used by a high-ranking official – perhaps Elder Lyons himself."

"Where will they land, do you think?" Lukas asked.

"Sir, if I had to guess they would likely land somewhere south of the Pentagon, as there is very little room directly around the facility."

"So, Arlington then," Lukas thought, considering his options. "Hunh, good. Eagle Three should be in the area," Lukas muttered aloud. He patted the radar operator on the back and headed a ways up the hall to the radio hub, where all communications with the outside world took place.

"Connect to Eagle Three directly to one of the receivers, I have an order that needs to go out." The one man operating the radios nodded, shifting through a book of known broadcast towers and their frequency, looking for one which might be able to reach Eagle Three, which had been fighting Talon Company in Arlington.

"Eagle Three connected to ground line two," the radio operator said, handing the telephone to Lukas.

"Eagle Three, this is nest," Lukas said.

"Yes, sir?" The man on the other end asked, a tough young soldier by the name of Gregory Wordsworth. "Arlington is all clear, sir; Talon Company has been wiped out."

Lukas grunted at that. Talon Company were a bunch of apes with access to an old military base – and a nuclear missile silo.

"Well that's good, soldier. But you've got a new directive. A high-ranking Brotherhood official will likely be in your area, ETA one hour." Lukas paused, thinking. "If you can, set up an IED on the road. They'll likely transport the target via vehicle, given the current situation. Set off the explosive once the enemy are near enough, then strike on foot. Keep an eye out for their power armored troops."

"Uh, sir, we're all out of pulse grenades. Going up against power armor would be equivalent to suicide." Gregory pointed out.

"I know, it's a risk," Lukas said, trying to sound confident, "but we've got one shot at this; you're the only unit close to their estimated landing zone, and if we don't take it, we won't know if it's a hit or a miss."

"Yes, sir," Gregory said, somewhat annoyed. It was, however, true that Eagle Three was the only unit in Arlington. Eagle Two was all the way up in Megaton, Eagle Five was on the other side of Fort Independence.


Elder Lyons disembarked from his Vertibird just a few miles south of the Citadel. That Vertibird, formerly Air Force Two, was too large to use the helipad set up for the other helicopters of the area, so it was necessary to disembark so far away. An armored truck met them at the landing pad.

"Sir," one of the paladins saluted, opening the rear of the truck, where Lyons was to be held.

Paladin Cortez, one of the foremost Brotherhood paladins, awaited inside the vehicle. The other paladin closed the door behind Lyons, and Cortez addressed him.

"Sir, there's a growing problem we need to talk about." He said, quietly. "This organization, the 'New Eagles', they're the Enclave. Under a different guise, and lead by someone else. I can't tell if they're a ZAX or not, but he's been outsmarting us at every turn."

"Yes, I've heard. It's difficult to remove a problem when you can't find its source. That was one of the first things you learn about guerrilla warfare back before the nukes dropped." Lyons acknowledged.

"Well, they've been getting more brazen recently. Entire patrols just drop off the map, and we can never find leads. We've had to occupy Rockville itself to keep the upheaval those people cause from reaching a breaking point, sir, and it's a drain on our resources."

"I still believe we can keep this from boiling over, so to speak."

The vehicle finally lurched into motion, after the paladins and knights outside fiddled with the engine for some time.

"I'm finding that difficult to believe, sir. The Eagles' latest target will likely hit much closer to home for you. We have reason to believe one of their agents detonated a bomb within the Wanderer's residence."

"What?" Lyons yelped, "Are they okay? Is there any word on my daughter?"

"No, sir. It's been difficult getting the people of Megaton to comply, under any circumstances. They're extremely resentful of our refusal to give, or sell, them any more water." Cortez pointed out.

"Dammit all," Lyons said.

"Sir, we have to do something," Cortez spoke after several minutes of silence.

"I know." Lyons said, annoyed.

Several more minutes passed without a word, as the ancient truck plodded along, weighed down by the heavy armoring rigged up to protect whoever was within. Then, from outside, an explosion rang out. Lyons and Cortez were thrown from their seats as the truck flew over the guard rail and into a ditch. Lyons stood, feet on one of the armored walls. Gunfire could be heard from outside.

Gregory Wordsworth wasn't afraid of a few Brotherhood paladins. However, he was shocked at how ineffective his Eagles' fire was against them. Gregory, or Greg, as his team mates called him, lead one of the largest homologous contingents of New Eagles in the Columbia Commonwealth, at seventeen men strong: seven of those men were wasters with a chip on their shoulders when it came to the Brotherhood. He made sure to train all of his soldiers in light infantry tactics, as he had learned as an Enclave scout-marksman in 2274 as he and the rest of the Enclave were bogged down in Alabama. However, conventional weapons left nothing but a scratch in the T-51b power armor the Brotherhood had a penchant for wearing.

"Keep moving, boys!" Greg shouted, popping up for not even two seconds to let off a burst of gunfire from his R91 assault rifle. One of the four Brotherhood paladins traded fire with him, letting loose a volley from his laser Vulcan. The top and front of the rock which served as Greg's cover was scorched from that volley. Another Eagle popped up. He fired a prolonged burst from his own assault rifle, unwisely staying standing for much too long. A burst of plasma struck the man on his left shoulder, burning the exposed skin between each plate of armor. The Eagle dropped his rifle and screamed, spontaneously combusting as he did so.

"Shit! Shit! Get it offa me!" the man screamed, rolling about on the ground. "Help! Please, somebody, help!"

"Johnson, Lewis, cover me!" Greg called out. Johnson, with his ancient, Vietnam-era M60, opened up, his bullets staggering his targeted paladin. As he did so, Greg sprinted towards the wounded man, firing a few rounds from the hip as the paladins were preoccupied with Johnson and Lewis.

A paladin took notice of Greg just as he neared the end of his sprint.

"Runner on the far side!" the paladin cried out, pointing to Greg. He took aim, and fired off several plasma bolts at the man. Greg could hear the screaming of the subsonic plasma bolts as they whipped by, scorching the earth around his feet. Finally, he got to a point where he could slide to safety, the same place where Greg's subordinate had gotten shot.

"Oh, Christ!" the burning man said as Greg turned him onto his back. "Christ, man, I'm hit!"

"No fucking duh." Greg said simplistically, somewhat annoyed at the man's incapability of using the light infantry tactics he'd been taught. It was simple, keep moving, and keep in cover. Never expose yourself for more than a burst of gunfire, and move only with covering fire on your back.

Greg used his hands to put out the fire, and pulled the wounded man's armor away, revealing a charred but sticky mess of melted flesh.

"Oh shit," Greg said, gagging at the stench.

"How bad is it, Greg?" the burned man, Samuel Harris, asked.

"We need evac for you right now, that's how bad it is." Greg said, honestly. They'd parked the truck on a pre-war off ramp, which was at least a mile away. They'd need to send a small contingent, maybe three men, to retrieve it. One of them could man the M2 Browning mounted on the bed of the truck, and provide better effective fire to protect the Eagles.

Johnson screamed. Greg swiveled his head to look, and saw the man, putting a fire out on his exposed forearm.

"Shit." Greg said simply. He brought two stimpacks and a syringe of morphine out of one of his pouches. "This'll help keep you together for a while longer." He said, injecting the stimpacks into the man's right arm. "And this will keep the pain down for a while." Greg injected the painkiller into the same vein he had with the stimpacks.

"Grenade out!" one of the other Eagles cried, pulling the pin on his frag grenade. It would knock down one of the paladins, if he were lucky. But rather than lucky, his cry merely attracted attention to him, and as soon as he stood and had his grenade thrown, a plasma bolt struck him in the face. The man's head exploded, showering the two nearby Eagles in blood and grey matter.

"Francesco, Lewis, Farnham!" Greg called out. "You're going to go get the truck! Johnson, get back on that damn pig and keep firing!"

"Yes sir!" Johnson said, crawling back up to his M60. Francesco gestured to Lewis and Farnham, and the three started a sprint down the highway. One of the Brotherhood paladins turned to face the three, readying his laser Vulcan.

"Johnson, take that sonofabitch with the Vulcan out!" Greg cried. Johnson tried to, opening fire on the man. Bullets deflected and ricocheted away, sparks flying every time they hit metal. But the paladin was undeterred and unaffected. He opened fire on the slowest of the three Eagles Greg had sent to get the truck, Farnham. The first laser struck Farnham just to the left of his spine. As laser after laser incinerated more of his flesh, the man's entrails came flying out the front. The sight was unbelievably gruesome. A long patch of the highway was covered in Farnham's blood, and his entrails were scattered about it. Farnham collapsed, undoubtedly dead or dying, and a large pool of blood seeped out of his abdominal cavity.

"Fucking son of a bitch!" Johnson hollered. "You fucking cowardly whore! Get the fuck out of that power armor and we'll all see how fucking tough you are you son of a bitch!" He'd failed to protect Farnham, one of his closest friends, and he was undoubtedly going to feel responsible later.

"Johnson, stow that talk, soldier!" Greg called out. Johnson turned to look at him, incredulously.

"Sir, with all due respect, go fuck yourself!" Johnson screamed, pissed as a fire ant soldier whose nest was just stepped on.

Greg let off a burst of gunfire towards the paladin wielding the plasma rifle. The paladin turned to face Greg, and fired off several bolts of plasma, all of which Greg barely dodged by ducking back down into cover. As he took shelter from the plasma rifle-wielding paladin, he saw Harris, immobile.

"Sam?" Greg said, reaching his hand over and feeling for a pulse under the man's jaw. He felt nothing. "Shit."

Johnson at that point was foolishly trading an extended volley of fire from his M60 with that from the laser Vulcan one of the four paladins was wielding. Incredibly, Greg actually saw the paladin's blood begin to spray from a hole created in his visor.

"Holy shit!" Johnson said, as if he didn't believe it either. "Holy shit, I got one!"

"Good for you, Johnson!" Greg congratulated. "Eagles, advance! Johnson, keep up the good fire!"

The remaining Eagles lurched forwards from their cover, in a dead charge towards the Paladins remaining. Three remained, one wielding a plasma rifle, another with an AER9 laser rifle, and a third with an AER14 prototype. They were outnumbered by the Eagles, four to one, but their armor and weapons… a dead charge was unwise, and unthinkable. But Greg had believed he might be able to leverage the numerical superiority his force enjoyed.

But that changed when Tristan Orville was vaporized next to Greg, followed by Ulrich Francois and Larry Bellevue. Before the Eagles had even reached their targets, half of their force was vaporized, ablaze, or otherwise dead. Greg reached the paladin with the plasma rifle. The man's suit was too clunky and heavy to allow him to adequately defend himself in close combat. Greg let his rifle drop, caught only by the sling, and unsheathed a combat knife. Pushing the man's plasma rifle away, Greg reached for the paladin's neck.

"Help!" the paladin yelped, trying to push Greg away. Unfortunately, a suit of armor which weighs 500 pounds isn't particularly mobile by any standards, and the paladin found himself incapable of keeping Greg away. The leader of the Eagle cell leapt onto his paladin friend's back, and angled the knife just underneath the rearmost part of his helmet. With one thrust, the paladin went down.

Just as he was letting the now-dead paladin hit the ground, the two men who had gone to get the truck arrived. One of them was on the M2 on the truck's bed, opening fire from afar. Kyle Yves leapt upon one of the laser rifle wielding paladins. Before he could latch on, however, the paladin – whose reflexes were surprisingly good given his restraints – elbowed the man in the head, caving in his face. Only Greg, Preston Harlow, Isaac Alexopolis, Johnson, and the two men in the truck remained.

Greg watched Preston get burned by the AER9, a laser bolt striking the man in the sternum.

"Ow, I'm hit!" he cried. Isaac opened fire at the other paladin, who, oddly enough, had no helmet. But the paladin used his AER14 prototype to more effect as the 5.56mm bullets bounced harmlessly away. A single, green bolt of energy hit Isaac on his left arm. The man let out a yelp, and staggered backwards, compulsively squeezing the trigger. Bullets landed erratically all around the helmet-less paladin.

Preston dodged the helmeted paladin's fist, leaping backwards. He barely sidestepped his opponent's laser bolt, bolt searing right edge of his chestplate. Greg saw a rocket scream by, barely missing anybody involved in the melee. The man on the M2 leapt away as the rocket struck the cab of Eagle Three's truck. The vehicle's generator detonated, engulfing the entire thing in radioactive flames. Turning about, Greg was dumbstruck seeing at least five more Brotherhood peons trotting towards Eagle Three and the few paladins left – and likely Elder Lyons, if he was really hiding within the overturned truck.

Preston took a good hit to the chest from his foe. He went flying back, at least over ten feet. Greg leapt upon the back of the distracted paladin, saving his comrade from incineration.

"Fall back!" Greg shouted at Preston and Isaac. "Johnson, get the fuck out of here!" The support gunner seemed glad to oblige, hefting his M60 over his shoulder and jogging towards the wreck of Eagle Three's truck. Greg dug his combat knife into the back of his foe's neck as he had done with the first paladin. The paladin was almost instantaneously dead. Isaac's torso exploded just then, creating a rain of blood and entrails. Preston caught up to Johnson, and the two helped the one Eagle who had survived the destruction of his truck back onto his feet. Greg remained behind, intent on killing or capturing Elder Lyons.

He took cover next to the destroyed truck, preparing himself to face the helmetless paladin. He turned the corner, and saw the man wielding his AER14. With a quick step forwards and a kick, the AER14 went flying overhead. Greg leapt forwards, trying to get as close as possible. He angled his knife overhead, attempting to stab down into the man's neck, perhaps to hit the jugular or carotid. However, this paladin's armor was streamlined, and far more maneuverable than normal T-51b power armor, and the man was able to stop Greg before he could take the killing blow by merely pulling his arm up for a block. The paladin made a grab at Greg's neck. Greg ducked in the nick of time, but his face met the sole of the paladin's boot. The kick was strong enough to send Greg staggering back, broken nose and broken jaw, blood seeping from where the edge of the boot had come into contact with Greg's flesh.

But the Eagle refused to give up. He stood, knife in-hand.

"I commend you for your steadfastness," the paladin said, in disbelief. "But that trait will only serve to get you killed."

"Let's just see about it." Greg said, taking the first step on what he intended to be the death strike. Just before he reached his target, he changed course unexpectedly, just as the paladin tried to kick Greg in the chest. Instead, he kicked the empty air where Greg had been. But the Eagle would get no reprieve, and although off-balance, the paladin managed to swing his arm, and struck Greg in the head, sending him spinning through the air.

He landed flat on his stomach, blood seeping from multiple wounds. The paladin stepped up behind Greg.

"You fight like a beast," he said. "You show compassion for your teammates, risking your life for the first of yours to fall. For all of that, I respect you as a person. But your organization, the Enclave, the Eagles, whatever you call yourself, is fighting for a lost cause. Your people are trying to restore pre-war life, but at what cost? Hundreds of innocents. Even your own civilians were mostly wiped out at Raven Rock."

"Like the Brotherhood is really any better," Greg retorted, "You seek technology no matter the cost. If you have to crush a few innocent settlements here and there to achieve your goals, then so be it. You claim to be trying to 'save the wasters from themselves', but in actuality, the Brotherhood is nothing but a bunch of tech-greedy religious zealots."

"And the Enclave wasn't made up of power-hungry, disillusioned pure-supremacists?"

"That was the Enclave." Greg said, "We are the New Eagles. We may represent the Old World, but we've shed the Enclave's means."

"That's what you may say now," the paladin said, unholstering his IMI Desert Eagle, "But in the long scheme of things, you're the same, illegitimate shadow government you've always been."

As the other brotherhood members arrived, slowing down as they realized how far off the remaining New Eagles were, Cortez discharged a single round into the head of his opponent. He opened the back of the truck, helping Lyons out.

"They are gone?" he asked.

"Yes, sir." Cortez said, gesturing down the road towards the Citadel.

"Good." Lyons said, still shaking from his close encounter. He and the paladins began walking towards the Citadel at a decently fast pace, leaving the ghastly scene of combat behind. Lyons was not, however, able to quite shake that close call. The Eagles had hit close to home, twice, and they were undoubtedly ready to make another brazen move as they had on that highway.

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