It is to be noted that the works in this section take place in the Fallout universe, which is owned and maintained by ZeniMax Studios and Bethesda Softworks. The author of these works takes no ownership of the referenced setting materials. However, all created characters are the intellectual property of the author.
“Alright, friend,” Jules started, “you’ve got two options.”
He padded the man’s last few wounds with the antiseptic-soaked gauze that he had prepared earlier, watching over the patient lying semi-conscious in his tent. Jules had found him, broken, bloody, and OD’d on psycho in a nearby town—a town that he and his ‘buddies’ had trashed and burned. This man was the only one left. Smelled like slavers, but the man on Jules’ bed was just in it for the chems. He’d seen his kind before—Fiends.
The fiend grumbled, half-scowling, but humbled—if only for the moment—by the man’s help. Jules hadn’t charged him anything, and he knew damn well that he now owed him his life.
“And what are those?”
Jules smirked. “Well, option one is my favorite. That’s the one where you turn your life around. I’ll radio you in to the Followers. Let ‘em know you’re coming. You make your way to Freeside, and make yourself useful. You should have just enough fixer in you for the trip. They’ll clean you up and set you straight. No sweat, no charge. ”
The fiend sneered, thinking he was mocking him. “Fuck you.”
Jules pressed the gauze harder against the wound. Forcing a yelp. “Oh, shit. Sorry. I slipped. Hands ain’t what they used to be.”
The fiend half-whimpered, “The fuck is option two, asshole?”
Jules’ expression soured as the medical needle rolled to the other corner of his mouth. He wiped the sweat from his brow with his blood-soaked bandanna from the crate top next to him.
Before speaking, he pushed his silver-shimmering glasses to rest at the top of the bridge of his nose.
“Option two isn’t so nice. Option two is where I set you loose. I’ll give you my nine mil, and you’ll pound sand. That fixer will wear off in about four hours, and you’ll need another hit. Don’t care where you go. Go off, rape, kill, burn, and shoot up to your wicked little heart’s content. You won’t come back here, though.”
The fiend turned his head, eyeing the man viciously. “You seem pretty fucking sure of that.”
Jules sighed, taking the needle from his mouth and clinking it into the glass of alcohol on the crate, next to the bandanna. “I am.”
He wrapped the last wound and helped the man to his feet, checking his senses and making sure he was stable. “Cool. You’re good to go. So, tell me, friend, am I pickin’ up my radio?”
“Not fucking likely.”
Jules sighed and picked up his bandana, setting it next to the washbowl as he washed the blood from his hands, rinsing with alcohol afterwards. Following that, he dropped the bandana into the washbowl, the blood pulling from the cloth and clouding the now-murky water. He walked over to his bed and grabbed his holstered nine millimeter pistol, slinging it over his shoulder and strapping it around his chest before grabbing an old holotape that was sitting next to it.
“Figured as much. Such a waste.”
He pulled the nine millimeter from his holster and chambered a round, waving it at and around the fiend, signaling him to get up as he grabbed the shotgun that was concealed beneath the bed. Both were pointed at the fiend, now.
“You’re taking up my space, trash. Get the fuck up, and get the fuck out of my tent. Your weapons and drugs are mine, now. Best you can do. I suggest you accept my price. I won’t offer again.”
The fiend was silent, not wanting to agitate the man. Followers were usually pacifists… Clearly, this one wasn’t. He walked, hands behind his head, to the flap of the tent and pushed outside with his head.
Jules followed behind, guns pressed against the man’s back.
In the light, Jules’ tent sat sun-baked and unassuming next to a rockface that ran along the waste like a spine. The only mark on the tent was that of the Follower of the Apocalypse—a circle-bound cross. This one was modified, though—accented by a coiled serpent on one side and a burning tree on the other. The fiend squinted at the midday sun and spoke. “You saved my life, so I’ll let this shit slide. But you best pick up and get the fuck out of dodge. No way you’re sitting on all those hits and staying safe. Just fair warning.”
Jules rolled his tongue along the outside of his lips, inhaling deeply. He let the breath out slowly as he pressed the barrel of the shotgun harder into the man with his left hand as he flipped the nine millimeter in his right hand around to hand to the fiend.
“Gun’s got a full mag, and one in the chamber. That’s thirteen rounds, if you can count that high. Don’t care where you go, but you can’t stay here.”
The man’s hands left his head to take the gun and he started to walk straight forward, turning once to look at Jules’ face—a face he’d remember until his dying breath. His blonde, scraggly hair was hanging slightly over his silvery glasses, the lenses gleaming in the midday light. He wore a stained white undershirt, and green camouflage pants. NCR issue, likely. That was a place to start.
Jules set the holotape down on the chair next to the tent flap, and hit one of the two play buttons. A somber track of pre-war rock music started playing—echoing into the dead wastes.
“The fuck…?” The fiend started.
“Get going.” Jules replied, pumping the shotgun.
The fiend turned and started walking, confused and disoriented. He didn’t make it far. Not a quarter mile from the tent, the air split with the crack of a bolt-action, and the fiend was no more—a headshot, as always. He never felt a thing. From the rocks overlooking the tent, Willow lie, pulling her gaze from the sights on her rifle. She sighed, content with her marksmanship, but sick from the context.
In a way, she was glad. She didn’t want to follow anybody all the way to Freeside. But… It was starting to look like she was the only one who would ever pick option one.
She watched as Jules walked to collect his pistol, head hanging lower than usual as his glasses glimmered in the depressing sunlight of the Mojave Wasteland.