Nora opened her eyes, her stomach still flip flopping from whatever that had been. A bad dream? Hallucinations from some unknown drug? Whatever it had been, it could not have been real. Could it?
The world before her eyes looked very real, in a very unreal manner. A lush forest, a clear rushing river. Snow capped mountains all around. Birds singing. She started as a stag bound into view. Something was wrong with it, and it took her confused mind some moments to figure out what it was.
Only one head? Were normal forms of wildlife beginning to appear again, or had some scientist, or group of such, been playing around with genetics. If so, she would welcome the change.
A bear sidled into view, looking her way for a moment, then moving off, deciding the strange looking machine was too unusual to mess with. Bears were curious, but they were cautious about putting their precious hides in situations where they could get injured, since injury often meant death.
The next thing she did, almost out of habit, was check the environment around her through her suit sensors. The air was clear, almost too clear, lacking all of the pollutants that abounded in the Commonwealth. And the radiation level? It was almost nonexistent. What in the hell was going on here?
Nora was tempted to get out of her suit, strip off her clothes, and plunge into the river. Old survival instincts held her back. She had no idea what kind of dangers lurked in this idealic looking world. The warrior was not about to become a meal for some fearsome creature just because she had become distracted by her surroundings. She doubted anything here could harm her in her armor, but no use taking chances.
“Madame President,” shouted an amplified voice.
Nora turned to see an armored figure bounding toward her, Minuteman paint and decals identifying it as one of her own.
“R4-04? Is that you?”
“I think so,” said the synth, coming to a stop in front of Nora. “I'm pretty sure it's still me, but the question is, am I still in my right mind. Because, to tell you the truth, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.”
Normally Nora would have laughed at that reference, one that until recently would have been lost on most of the citizens of the Commonwealth. R4 had memories from before the war, when that film had still been around, and many had seen it during nostalgic showings. A copy of the movie had been found on holotape, reproduced, and circulated around the theaters of Boston, so most citizens had seen and loved it.
“I'm beginning to think that way myself,” said Nora, stunned by the beauty around her. She then turned back to her friend. “And what the hell are you doing here? Did that, whatever it was, grab you too? Any others?”
“I jetted up to try and catch you, and I think that caused a disturbance in the process. That, woman, seemed perturbed. It seemed to break her concentration, and we both ended up here. Wherever here is.”
“No sign of any intelligent life,” said Nora, taking a look around, noting that many of the trees were like those back home. Or at least what the trees had been like before the bombs. “If there is any, do you think it will look like us?”
“Have you considered that we might not be on another world?” asked the synth. “We might have traveled back in time. Or possibly forward.”
Nora nodded, thinking it over. Maybe they had traveled in time. After all, she had done so herself, to an alternate past, thanks to the self exiled Institute scientist who was working with the more civilized raiders in Nantuck. But this didn't feel right. For one thing...
“I don't think the gravity is quite right,” she answered the synth. “I feel lighter. Not a whole bunch, but enough to notice.”
“I can feel it too,” said the synth. “But that might just be imagination.”
“Well,” said Nora, looking around. “Wherever we are, I think it's about to get dark. What say we build a fire and set up a camp. I know we don't have bedding, but a good fire, and as tired as I feel, and I think we can both get an acceptable duration of sleep.”
“Okay. I'll start gathering deadwood, while you set up a fire pit.”
An hour later the two women were sitting close around a warming fire. Out of the suits, Nora had noticed how cold it was. The mountains surrounding this large valley had been snow capped. No, that was wrong. They were covered in snow almost to their bases. And as night fell the sky was full of auroras. Colorful Northern, or was in Southern here, lights. Meaning this region was in the higher latitudes of the planet.
“We're definitely not in Kansas anymore,” said R4 as the two moons rose into the sky.
Nope, thought Nora, looking at the larger red moon. Unless Earth somehow captured Mars.
“How about we relieve some of our spent up stress?” asked the synth, putting her arm around Nora.
Why not, thought the warrior/president. She had always been bisexual, though she had been faithful to Nate while he was still alive. With him gone she had let her sexual side loose. Men, women, for fun, profit and political advantage. R4 had been her lover on many occasions, and she had found the synth to be tender and inventive in bed. Preferring men, she wasn't about to distance herself from the pleasure another woman could bring.
“Guard mode,” said Nora into the air, just before leaning into a gentle warm-up kiss.
“Acknowledged,” said both suits of power armor in unison. They would always be awake, constantly scanning their surroundings, pulling guard duty so their masters could relax.
Soon Nora, with the tongue of R4 working magic, was not worrying about anything at all. Only her building orgasm.
* * *
“Warning,” called out the familiar deep voices of the suits. “Intruder alert.”
Nora was awake in an instant, her eyes opened wide. It was still dark, still night, and the moons had moved across the sky and were nearing the horizon. The auroras lit the scene. The fire had died down to coals, and Nora shivered, glad that she had been thoughtful enough to get dressed after her lovemaking session with her friend. The nanotech jumpsuit wasn't really enough for this climate, but with the fire it had proven to be sufficient.
“What the hell are those things?” asked a gruff voice.
“Dwemer machines,” answered another, more sibalent voice. “But they're working.”
“Ought to bring some pretty coin,” said a woman's voice.
“And what have we here?” asked gruff voice.
Nora knew they were talking about her and R4, and she didn't think their intentions were honorable. She rolled over and up to a sitting position, getting a good look at their visitors for the first time.
“Whoa, girl,” said another of the people, a drawn bow in his hand, arrow pointing at her chest. “We don't want to hurt you. Just have a little fun.”
She knew that was a lie. The memory of the Raiders who had raped her on her first night out of the vault played in excruciating detail in her mind. It hadn't been sex. It had been assault, and when she woke in the Raider tent she had grabbed the first bladed weapon she could find and slit their throats one by one. What was surrounding them were this world's version of Raiders. Maybe not with the same weapons, she didn't see a gun among them, just two long bows and a crossbow, all pointing at her or R4. But they were Raiders nonetheless.
“Intruder alert,” repeated the suits.
Thanks, but I already know, she thought. Unfortunately, she had not set the suits for defense, afraid that they might kill an innocent trying to make friendly contact. Her right hand moved slowly to her belt. Then she realized that she hadn't taken her handgun from the suit. Her knife was on her left side, but it would only help her against bows if she tossed it, and she could only engage one target that way.
Armor will probably handle the bolts and arrows, she thought, her mind frantically searching for advantages. She had on a suit of nanoarmor, her garb of choice when outside of the suit. It was proof against small arms, and could render her invisible if its field was engaged. Which it wasn't, not at the moment.
Four of the Raiders moved toward her and her friend, while the three bowmen kept them covered. She was sure that her and R4 looked just as strange to these Raiders as they looked to her, and the weren't taking any chances. Just her luck. If they had taken her and R4 lightly they would have been in for a rude awakening. She looked over the four coming her way, and her confidence waned a bit.
Two looked human enough, though one had a yellow skin unlike any she had seen on Earth. And were his ears pointed? The other human appeared like any other Earthman. One of the Raiders looked like some kind of Lizard, while the other approaching looked like a small Supermutant, greenish skin, but were those tusks coming out of the lower mouth. Of the three bowmen, two were females, as far as she could tell. One had grayish skin, long red hair matching the red eyes. The other female was a blond haired human with war paint or a tattoo on her face. The last was the most disturbing. Resembling a large cat, Nora couldn't tell if it was male or female.
So, two normal humans, at least one that looked like an elf, a lizardman, a catman, and a couple that were of indeterminate origin. And Nora had left her only long ranged sidearm on the suit. Not so R4, who with a blur of motion pulled out the forty-four pistol she liked to carry and aimed from the hip.
The cat creature went down with a hole in its forehead, crossbow falling unfired to the ground. The bows twanged, and Nora braced herself for the arrow thudding into her. But they had turned their aim on the human with the strange device at hand that had killed from a distance with a loud roar. Two arrows thudded into R4. One hit her chest, covered in the same kind of armor Nora had. That arrow hit and bounced away. The second took her in the throat, and Nora felt her heart clench as if she had been the target.
“Suit, open,” she yelled, leaping to her feet and running toward the power armor.
“Acknowledged,” replied the suit, the back panels of arms and legs folding open, while the back panel rose.
A pair of arrows struck her while she ran. They hit hard, but the impact armor of the nanosuit bounced them away.
“Close,” she shouted as she stepped into the suit with practiced efficiency.
“Welcome aboard pilot,” said the suit. “Turning control over to pilot.”
The Raiders were all calling out in a panic now. Arrows bounced off the hard armor of the suit. A couple ran forward and swung sword or mace into the armor.
“She's in that Dweamer thing,” yelled out the human with the mace, one she pegged as the leader.
Nora didn't know what a Dweamer was, but she was willing to bet they had machines. Those were people she needed to get in contact with. But first she had business to attend to, and quickly. R4 had been hit, and might be bleeding out as she started the suit forward. But she needed to take out these bastards before she could get back out of the suit and tend to her friend.
Nora extended the blade on her left arm as she reached back with her right and deployed the autorifle. She swiped with the monomolecular blade and cut through the neck of the smallish Supermutant, while she turned the autorifle on the two with bows. A pair of quick bursts and those two were on the way to whatever afterlife they believed in, their heads smashed by the high velocity rounds.
They were brave enough. She had to give them that. Or were they just stupid, like the raiders at home? The dumb son-of-a-bitches who would charge a ton of power armor with a baseball bat, shouting about how they were going to fuck up the pilot. The three remaining Raiders went after her, swinging their weapons to no effect. That worked. She had them within range and didn't have to chase after them. A thrust of her blade pierced the body of the leader, lifting him into the air, while she tracked the autorifle onto the other two and blasted large holes through their armor and into their torsos.
She flung the leader away, slinging his dead body hard into a tree. She took a second to take a calming breath and use the suit sensors to make sure nothing else was waiting for her. That taken care of, she ordered the suit to open.
“Ejecting pilot,” said the suit, and Nora stepped out, turned to see where her friend was, and stumbled the few steps to her side. Going down on a knee, she cradled her dying friend, seeing the eyes starting to glaze over.
“No,” she screamed, watching the life flee from her companion. R4 had been pierced through the neck, and arterial blood gave one last pump from the open wound, and her eyes froze open.
“You fucking asshole motherfuckers,” screamed Nora. “I'm going to kill all of you.”
She still had no idea of the political setup of this new world, but she knew they had their own murderous breed of Raider. And she was going to make it her mission here to end as many of them as she could.
* * *
“I have brought a new champion to this world,” said the glowing avatar of Kynareth, looking down upon the mortals who had gathered to hear her words.
“To this world?” asked a confused Jarl Balgruuf, staring up at the goddess. “The champion is not from Nirn?”
“She is not, since there were no suitable candidates of the dragon blood on this planet. But she is everything you wanted. Intelligent, a warrior queen, of indomitable will and spirit.”
She, thought Balgruuf. While he had thought of a woman dragonborn, most females were not as good at fighting as men. He could only hope that this was one of the exceptional ones, like Iraleth, Lydia or Aela.
“Where is she?” asked Danica Pure-spring, looking up from where she was kneeling in front of the goddess.
“Outside of Riverwood,” answered the goddess. “Waiting for you to find her.”
“Why bring her there?” asked Balgruf, wondering what game this goddess was playing. The divines were known to do things for obscure reasons, and to give cryptic replies.
“There, was a happening,” said the goddess, looking away. “But she is here, and she is safe, though she has suffered a loss.”
And what the hell does that mean, thought Balgruf, imagining the new dragon born injured, possibly seriously so.
“She has the dragon blood?” asked Danica, herself looking confused.
“Akatosh has gifted her with the blood of dragons. Now, it is up to you to prepare her. But I can say that she was a savior in her world. She woke from a long sleep to find that her world had been ravaged by war like you mortals couldn't imagine.”
With that the goddess faded away, and no amount of calling from Danica would get her back.
“A loss,” said Balgruuf, looking down. “What in the hell does that mean. And who in the hell sleeps through a war?”
“If she is anything like the last dragonborn, she will have no idea how to use her gift,” said Farengar Secret-Fire, the court wizard. “She will have to be near a dead dragon to absorb the soul. And she will have to visit a word wall to gain a shout.”
“Well, we have a word wall near Riverwood,” said Balgruuf, crossing his arms over his chest. “And we will have to get her up to see the Greybeards.”
“If she's from another world, we will have much to teach her,” said Farengar. “She might not even speak our tongue.”
“First things first,” said Balgruuf, turning toward his personal guard. “Iraleth. Take a squad and go to Riverwood. Find our Warrior Queen and get her to Whiterun.”
“I prefer to stay by your side, my Jarl,” said the Dunmer Housecarl.
“I know you do. But I need someone I can count on to gather up our new Dragonborn. And that means you.”
From another world, thought Balgruuf, wondering what the champion would be like. A human? An Elf? A member of a beast race? Or something like nothing they had ever seen. All he knew was their savior was out in the bandit haunted wastes, and if she wasn't from here, she might not realize the danger.