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Chapter Nineteen: Sunshine Tidings, Raiders and Gunners, Oh My.


BrotherofCats

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“So, what did you learn in your meeting with the Brotherhood?” asked Preston Garvey, lying naked beside his general in her bed, one hand playing with a strand of her hair.

 

Nora took a second to get her breath under control, reveling in the orgasmic glow of their lovemaking. She had been so glad to see her people in Sanctuary, and Garvey had obviously been more than happy to see her. She wondered if he was banging any other settlers. Not that she would blame him. She wasn’t around all that often, and wasn’t exclusive to him either. In fact, she planned to spend the next night with Sturgis and Conrad to reward them for their service to the Minutemen.

 

The pair of tech nerds had worked some more miracles while she was away. They had built two more power armor suits, and run the two sets of software they had through the new electronics workbench, making many copies. They had developed more kits for easy assembly on site at new settlements, including the small fusion generator and a resource station. The resource station they had developed was another wonder. It allowed her to have input into their new production system at any settlement, and to pull or shift new production within the QESS. They had also built some oil wells at Sanctuary, and a couple of resource extractors.

 

Nora had been surprised at the oil extractors. She hadn’t thought of the Commonwealth as oil country. It really wasn’t, in a mass production before the war sense. But there were small pockets of raw petroleum and natural gas deep below ground, just like most regions of the continent. And the deep drill wells could get to it. While most of the rock under the soil had small quantities of resources, which the nanotech extractors could get at, while processing the rock into concrete at the same time. Add to that the new refinery and arc furnace factories, examples of which were up and running at Sanctuary in her factory complex, and they were starting to get a handle on producing new things, and not just scavenging the world. Sturgis had promised that more was coming, and Nora wanted to reward them with her most precious resource, herself.

 

Currently they were looking over the laser rifle Danse had given Nora, trying to tease out the improvements. And developing some laser turret kits using the couple of hundred energy weapon parts units in their construction. She planned to scatter a dozen of them around Sanctuary, making it an even tougher nut to crack. The others would be doled out to the other settlements, strengthening them as well. She wasn’t sure if the lasers were better than the machine guns, but when they were firing they were awesome, the beams linking them to the enemy and showing her people exactly where the attackers were.

 

“Well, I don’t think they’re inherently evil, although one I met was as arrogant as you could imagine. The other two were regular people. A little more militarized, but otherwise down to Earth. Although their obsession with gathering tech was disturbing. I got the distinct impression that they thought we shouldn’t be as advanced as we are.”

 

“And your feelings on that?”

 

“I think they can go fuck themselves if they expect us to give up tech. I got the impression that there is a much larger force in the Capital Wasteland, and that they might be coming here. Preston, I want the Minutemen to be strong enough to challenge them if they try to dominate the Commonwealth.”

 

“They could be a step in the direction of a United States, like you had in your time.”

 

“And fuck that too. It was good while it lasted, but in the end it failed as well. I’m still thinking of joining them.”

 

“Why in the world would you want to join a bunch of New Age Nazis, Nora?” exclaimed a shocked Preston.

 

“It would be a perfect chance to infiltrate them and learn just what their plans are. I know it’s a risk, but otherwise we are never going to know what they are about until they move.”

 

“Sounds much too risky to me. I’m not sure I want you to add spy to your resume’, but it’s your call. As long as you remember who your loyalties are to first.”

 

“So, what did you want me to do?”

 

“There’s an abandoned farming settlement at Sunshine Tidings that I think would make a good addition to our alliance. If you could get in there and get it ready, I’m sure it will attract some people from out that way.”

 

Nora lifted her Pip-Boy from the bedside table and looked over the map. Wicked Shipping was that way, and it was sure to have information, as well as some tech. And the Federal Ration Storage Facility was just around the corner, giving her a shot at Red Tourette. “Give me a couple of days here, and I’ll hit the road.”

 

“The new doctor would like to look you over while you’re here.”

 

“A real doctor?”

The settlement now had twenty people, not including Nora and her companions, who really belong to no settlement. She had been thrilled when she saw actual children, a ten year old and a twelve year old, learning skills from their elders. And a couple of the women were noticeably pregnant.

 

“She sure is. Was a settlement doctor up north. A surgeon. Until Raiders took her town, raped her continuously, and enslaved her.”

 

“Shit,” said Nora, wincing at the image. “How did she get away.”

 

“She poisoned them. Put every one of the bastards in the ground. Well, you known, left them rotting corpses on the ground for the scavengers to clean up. Sturgis and Conrad built her a real clinic, really more of a small hospital.”

 

That excited Nora. While she wanted a medical station in every settlement, having a hospital was a real plus. “I feel great. But sure, I’ll let her look me over. Now. I’m not completely satisfied, Mr. Garvey. I could us some checking out, so why don’t you use this instrument to probe me.”

 

*     *     *

 

“The Empress has returned,” said Conrad, looking up from his desk and smiling.

 

“Please don’t call me that, Conrad,” said Nora, sighing. “I’m not royalty, nor do I want to be."

 

"You could be if you wanted it, Boss Lady," said Sturges, coming up and giving her a hug. “And then I can tell people I knew her when.”

 

“I don’t want to be, son. In no shape or form do I want to run this whole shooting match.”

 

“But you already do,” said Conrad, walking up and putting an arm over Nora’s shoulder.

 

“And as soon as I can turn it over to someone else, I am. Now, what do you have for me?”

 

“I have some nuclear warheads for your RPG,” said Sturgis, gesturing to a rack that held a number of the long rockets. “Five of them, plus some armor piercing rounds and a few cluster munitions. It should give you some useful choices out there.”

 

“How about new weapons and armors.”

 

“Still working on those. We aren’t going to make you invulnerable, if that’s what you’re looking for. Most of the rest of our advancements have been in the industrial track.”

 

“I’ve heard about those, and I am very proud of you. Why don’t you both come by my house after dinner. Heather and Barb have turned the living room into an adult play room, and I’d like to invite you to use it.”

 

“We’ll be there,” said a smiling Conrad.

 

Nora walked toward the clinic, which really was reminiscent of a hospital. Two stories, a number of rooms on each floor, a middle aged woman manning the desk.

 

“Our fearless leader appears. Moose and Squirrel should soon follow.”

 

“I didn’t think anyone from this time would know that reference,” said a laughing Nora.

 

“Our settlement had a lot of amenities, including a projection system and a number of tapes. Until the..”

 

“Preston told me. You don’t have to say any more if you don’t want to.”

 

“I don’t want to. I’m Doctor Gilda Stuart, and what I want to do is look you over and make sure you are doing okay. It was a risky business using a prewar serum to change yourself, but superficially it seemed to have worked. Now, step into my examining room.”

 

The examination room had a table for the patient to lie down on, as well as a series of scanners that could have a look from any angle. Nora disrobed and lay on the table, and the doctor gently palpated her body.

 

“I never felt skin so soft. Or muscles so hard. And I seem to be catching an arousing scent. So, how is your sex life? And you’re taking your contraceptives I hope.”

 

“Sex life is supercharged, Doc. I’m having lots of sex, which is a blessing since it seems to be the only thing that relieves my nightmares.”

 

“Tell me about these nightmares,” said Gilda as she looked at the result of the scanners, which were probing Nora with X-rays and ultrasound.

 

“After I was put back in Cryo I had continuous dreams. All I could figure was that my frozen brain was acting as a superconductor, bouncing the last images I had seen over and over through my subconscious. So I saw my husband murdered a hundred thousand times while I slept.”

 

“I’m surprised you’re still sane.”

 

“Who says I am. I seem to enjoy killing the scum of the Wasteland a little too much.”

 

“As long as you’re only killing them I think we can live with that. Any other concerns.”

 

“Well, I keep thinking about having another baby. I really can’t afford to now, but seeing the pregnant women in the settlement is increasing the urge.”

 

“Uh huh,” said Gilda, pushing a button that caused the sensor arms to retract. “Well, the good news is your body is working at three hundred percent peak efficiency. I’ve never seen anything like. ATP production off the scale. Muscle fibers on overdrive. You are a miracle, my dear, and I wish I could bottle you and give you to all my patients. But I’m afraid that tech is beyond us. But about having a baby..”

 

“Yes?” asked Nora, anxiety almost overcoming her.

 

“I’m afraid you will never have a child of your own genes ever again. I think if was the cryo, but the genetic material is missing from all of your eggs.”

 

“But, I still have periods,” stammered Nora, her mind working toward denial. “Boy do I have periods.”

 

"The eggs are otherwise functional. They drop, they attach to the walls of your uterus, they start the process going. But with no way of completing fertilization, they flush at the end of your period and start the process going again.”

 

“But I’m no longer a complete woman,” Nora said, a tear coming to her eye.

 

“Oh, nonsense. You are as much a woman as anyone we have here. And more human than our synths.”

 

“Synths?”

 

“You have two Gen 3 synths among your settlers. With no memories of when they had been in the Institute. It seems they were rescued by the Railroad, and had their memories wiped, making them new people.”

 

“That’s, awful. It’s like killing them to save them.”

 

“More or less, since the personality is gone.”

 

“Are they a danger to us?”

 

“I don’t think so. As far as they’re concerned they’re normal settlers. Treat them no different and they will act no different.”

 

“And could you tell me who they are?”

 

“You are the Big Boss, so if you ask forcefully enough I will tell you. I recommend against it, since you will probably start acting differently toward them.”

 

“Then don’t tell me, doc. I have enough to worry about now.”

 

“You've done a good job, Nora. You are out there doing things that would send me screaming into the closet, and from what I can see, you really care about these people. And you’ve exhibited wisdom, a hard commodity to find these days. So don’t let the prospect of not being able to have children get to you. You can adopt, or carry the egg of a friend. I know it won’t be yours genetically, but I will be in every other way. The child will grow in your body if you choose that route. You will feel its heartbeat within you, its kicking feet as its nervous system grows. I think you will feel the same joy when you are holding the child after you birth it.”

 

“I gives me something to think about, Doc,” said Nora, sniffing while she wiped away the tears. “And I won’t be ready for a child for some years yet. I guess I can stop taking those contraceptives?”

 

“It would be a waste to take them,” agreed the doctor.

 

Nora started to laugh, and Gilda gave her a close look.

 

“It just hit me. The cryo procedure was a test of the reaction of people to going into cold sleep. So they could survive the trip to another star. So they would have gotten there, and there would have been no children. None at all. It would have been doomed to extinction unless they cloned. And I’m not sure if they had the tech for that yet.”

 

“I can see why it cracks you up. Vault Tech was an evil organization as far as I can tell, and any thing of theirs that failed was probably a good thing. Though normal people had to suffer.”

 

“I’ll be seeing you around, Doc. And please, don’t call me Empress, or Fearless Leader. I don’t want to become that person.”

 

*     *     *

 

“Oh God, you feel so good,” groaned Sturgis as he shot spurts of warm cum into Nora’s pussy. He had Nora in doggy, her kneeling on the cushions on the living room floor. Conrad was fucking Heather in Missionary, the herbalist crying out an orgasm as he pounded his dick into her sweet pussy. Preston was on his back, his hands grasping the hips of Barb as she rode him for all she was worth.

 

Nora’s house, the same she had used prewar, was now her primary quarters. She had one room, Barb and Heather the other. The bathroom was fully functioning, as was the kitchen part of the main room. There were a couple of couches in that room, covered in sheets to protect them from the emissions likely to drop on them. The rest of the floor surface was mattress, soft and resilient, and simply perfect for an orgy like she was having now. She might be able to invite another two couples here, but this one, with those she was closest to, felt like the best way to break it in.

 

Soon all were sitting on couches or resting against the walls, drinking the good beer the settlement was turning out. The sweat slick bodies of the women positively glowed with orgasmic flush, the men started to harden as they rested, and soon they were back at it, switching partners then plugging in.

 

“I enjoyed the fuck out of that,” said a giddy Heather as the orgy wound down. “It was so exciting getting fucked, while my best buds were getting fucked right alongside me.”

 

“We can have these as often as you like, Heather. At least while we are in residence. But in the morning we hit the road.”

 

That elicited some cheers from the woman, and groans from the men as they thought of their favorite partners not available for a week or more.

 

“You boys will survive,” laughed Nora. “You might even want to find a good woman to carry your child. Lord knows we need the children.”

 

“But not any of us,” said Barb, waving a finger. “We got things to do, places to go, and scumbags to kill. That’s kind of hard to do with a belly out to here.” Barb used her hands to mimic a pregnant belly.

 

“I enjoyed it ladies,” said Sturgis, who was actually turning into a skilled lover. “All of you.”

 

Nora knew that every man had cum in each of the ladies at least once. While she had no doubt that she was the best fuck of the group, thanks to her augmented biology and sexual experience, her friends were also skilled and desirable women who deserved the attention that they got.

 

Preston got up and sat at the small kitchen table, motioning for Nora to come over. “So you’ve got everything planned out. Unfortunately, we still don’t have any long-range coms in place. I was wondering if you’re ready to take back the Castle.”

 

“Not yet. I think we need to get more Minutemen trained up.” She had about twenty soldiers trained up, total. A couple of patrols walked close to the settlements each day, but the territory was in no way well covered. There were salvage parties going out each day as well, sometimes staying the night. Concord was disappearing under their attentions, each building collapsing in on itself as it was taken apart. Someday it might be a town again, but not for the foreseeable future. Not without one of the magic red workbenches.

 

“I understand,” said Preston, pulling on his pants, then shirt, and walking to the front door. “I enjoyed it, and you, Nora. Thanks again.”

 

Nora put on her own clothes, a casual set with t-shirt and jeans, and took a walk around the neighborhood. There were still a couple of dozen houses to take down, and thirty or so vacant foundations. Some of the foundations were in the process of disassembly. Soon another couple of acres of land would be available for automated planters. She wanted to grow enough corn to mass produce starch, using it to make adhesive. That was valuable. They needed a lot of it, and would need more when they started to produce their own weapons. The excess could be sold in Diamond City and other places.

 

“Good evening, mum,” said Codworth, on his own rounds to supervise the dozen Mr. Handies and six Constructrons that were at work. The robot was more intelligent than the rest, and with his understanding of what Nora wanted done was an excellent tireless supervisor.

 

“Codsworth. How are you doing buddy?”

 

“You brought purpose to me life, Ms. Nora Jane. It is so good to see the neighborhood coming back to life. The people are so happy, working with purpose as well. Thank you.”

 

Nora returned home and to her bed with a feeling of accomplishment. No, she hadn’t done it on her own, but she would be a fool to believe that she hadn’t been the catalyst of this rebirth. And it could still fail if we don’t keep growing, she thought. So it was hit the road again tomorrow and see what else she could do to further her vision.

 

*     *     *

 

Wicked Shipping Fleet Lockup hadn’t been anything to write home about. A score of ghouls, a dozen trucks, many locked and needing picking or breaking into. There was some circuitry, and she got some intelligence from their computer that filled in some blanks on her map, some new targets to go after in the northeastern part of the Commonwealth. They looted some houses and bypassed a flood control station built under a damn, Nora deciding that could wait for another day.

 

“What is that?’ asked Heather, pointing to a tower rising to the north. It was mostly scaffolding with sandbag fortifications.

 

“It has a Minuteman flag,” said Barb. “I’ve seen them before, even climbed a bunch of them. They had some good weapons, ammo and even some preserved food.”

 

“Then let’s check it out,” said Nora, leading the way in her Recon X-01.

 

Nora jetted to the top of the tower, checking it out and gathering up weapons and ammo while her followers walked up the stairs. She had been thinking of jetpacks for them, but both had expressed no interest in hanging in the air and possibly falling to their deaths.

 

“What’s that?” asked Heather, who seemed to have the job that day of finding things in the distance.

 

“That looks like a Raider fortification,” said Barb, eyes wide with excitement. “Should we go take them out?”

 

It was a series of rough shacks up a small draw between two hills. A wooden wall sealed off the front, a metal door acting as the gate. She could see red figures on that wall, and more moving about on walkways. The system of the recon armor could set figures as green for friendly and red for enemies, making unknowns red until more data was gathered on them. The bodies hanging from meat hooks told her what they were. The place looked like could hold twenty or thirty Raiders comfortably, fifty or more if needed. Nora was guessing on thirty, and she though tthe cost of one rocket was more than offset by the payoff.

 

“I want to try something,” said Nora, deploying her RPG and loading up one of her ready rounds, a nuke. She was carrying the RPG on the back of the armor, in a configuration that had it ride with the rear plate as it rose up. The rack held eight rounds, one nuke, two clusters, and five HE. More rounds rode in one of the cargo bots. It would take time to get to those, but the rack could be reloaded from them within a short time.

 

The rangefinder on the launcher indicated that it was about eight hundred meters, eight-fifty to the center that was her target, well within range of the rocket. “Ware the backblast,” she shouted, checking behind her, then aiming in and letting loose. The rocket took off with a whoosh, heading swiftly to the target, flames at the rear. As soon as there was something for it to hit there was a brilliant flash, then a large ball of fire that rose over the fort, sucking in pieces of wood and trash as it rose.

 

“Okay, there shouldn’t be any rads in the fort,” she told her people. “At least not caused by my weapon. Let’s check it out, but let me lead so anyone firing will hit my armor.”

 

“Let’s just hope they don’t have a rocket launcher,” said Heather.

 

Nora had seen that the old standard army rocket launcher from her time could penetrate the torso of most power armor with two shots. The torso was really the only place to shoot, the only sure target. The Worsin’s Assault package on the X-01 would probably take five to six hits, this recon armor three or four. The armor piercing RPG was quite a bit more effective, but she doubted these Raiders would have one of those, if there was even anyone alive to use one.

 

She bounded with her armor toward the gate of the fort, hanging at an angle from its shattered hinges. With a jump she was over the wall, sweeping the fort with her gaze and only picking up the yellow images of corpses. She turned and pulled the door from its hinges, the servos in the suit whining as they supplied all the power she needed. The dogs ran in and fanned out, looking for survivors, while Barb and Heather walked through on alert.

 

“Check down here while I jet to the top of this nightmare.” It was a nightmare of construction, shacks and walkways seemingly placed at random. It was also a nightmare of death, not a thing moving. She counted fourteen bodies in the upper reaches, while Barb and Heather told her they found eighteen below. So the one warhead had taken out thirty-two Raiders, as well as a half dozen of their attack dogs. Thankfully there were no children, and Nora once again wondered why there were no babies. The Raiders obviously used contraceptives, because she couldn’t imagine the lusty bastards not having sex. Well, that was a mystery for the future, and it wouldn’t stop her from killing them, though she thought that any babies or small children she found alive would go to a settlement to be raised by the settlers. After all, babies and young children weren’t guilty of the crimes of the parents, though the one who could fight and kill were too badly damaged to take a chance on. Maybe in a society that had a surplus of resources, which this one wasn’t.

 

They stripped the fort of everything useful. The nuke had destroyed some of those things, shattering or melting bottles, bursting cans. There were crates and ammo cans that had protected their contents enough, and they packed out quite a bit of medications, ammo, liquor and cans of food. After stripping down all of the corpses, she set the two Handies to talking apart all of the pipe weapons and shitty armor. The few good quality weapons were partially disassembled and stored in a cargo bot, while everything else went into Wilson to be hauled back to Abernathy.

 

“Found a cave back here,” called out Barb.

 

Nora went in first, to immediately run into some Raiders who opened fire. As usual they were bad at taking cover, and Nora took them down with her rifle. Another six Raiders to add to the tally, and another forty pounds of junk to pack out.

 

It was about one o’clock when they started off for sunshine tidings around the lake, two when they arrived. There was an old derelict truck parked on the bridge over the damn, Raiders camped out, all staring at the fort that had just been taken out. A forty-millimeter took them out, and added more scrap to their haul. Wilson was back by the time they reach Sunshine Tidings.

 

“Free the Robots,” said Nora with a chuckle. A banged-up Mr. Handy came floating around the side of the central building, it distorted voice box shouted far out man. “A hippy commune, huh.”

 

“What’s a hippy?” asked Barb. “And you want me to take apart that Handy?”

 

“Not on your life. He lends some charm to the place. As far as hippies go, think dropouts from society who were nonviolent drug users. Free love.”

 

“I think you would have made a good hippy, Nora,” said a chuckling Heather.

 

“Who knows. If life had push me onto a different track.”

 

The co-op had six intact cabins, most with intact roofs and walls, one missing a back-wall panel. Nora thought they could be repaired very easily with lumber taken from the local trees, and would provide living quarters for twenty or so settlers. Water could be pumped up from the reservoir, while the central barn area would house workshops for settlers. The same with the mess hall. She found the red workbench in a metal shed, and set her Handy to constructing a QESS station and getting the rebuild started. Then it was clearing out the cabins and halls. There were ghouls in most of the cabins, radroaches in the couple that didn’t have ghouls. A glowing one in the mess hall. And with that it was clear.

 

By three in the afternoon she had two Constructrons and three Handies working, putting up the Core Services Building, building a pumping station down by the reservoir and running pipe up, constructing a fusion reactor. Two of the Handies took apart the several derelict tractors, then she sent one off to salvage the large truck the Raiders had been using as a base. She had them take down the grain storage containers and the outhouses as well. Her people would have more modern amenities.

 

“Well, what do you guys think?” she asked her people. “Farm, factory or research outpost?”

 

“I think you should build a casino,” said Barb. “Then we can come here and gamble, and you can do shows.”

 

Nora laughed. While the idea of having her own club appealed, there wasn’t enough traffic out here to warrant a casino. Unless she opened a Raider bar, and there was no way she was going to cater to those people.

 

“I think start out with a farm, then build it up to a research station or a military outpost. You’ve got a lot of area to the west and south to cover with patrols, and they’re going to need a base.”

 

“Sounds good. Farm it is, and we’ll make it defensible pending enough people to make it a base.”

 

By five the cabins were all repaired, cleaned, and lighted. She put some beds into one of the cabins to start the new settlers off when they arrived, what they would use as their quarters this night. And programed the robots to build a bathhouse between cabins one and two. The farm land plowed and some crops planted and it was almost ready for occupancy.

 

It was getting dark before everything was at least started, and Nora was thinking about some fun and games in the cabin. But she had been taught at Hangman’s Alley not to take anything for granted, so she set two of the Handies to build stands for turrets on the ends of the cabins and gave them orders to install five laser mounts and four machine guns. That should be enough to stop most attackers, or at least warn her that a larger group was coming in. The last thing she did before turning in was to scan the overpass to the South, checking out the moving red figures on the top or hanging around the elevator on the ground. Too many on the ground.

 

“What do you think?” she asked her people as they looked over the overpass.

 

“Gunners,” said Barb, looking over at Heather and receiving a nod. “Looks like a place they would set up, and the windmill generators are a big giveaway.”

 

“So we have military weapons, possible fusion cores and robot parts,” said Nora, already thinking about what she could get and ignoring the risk. “And some very good armor we can repaint for use on the Minutemen. Should we go for it now or wait until the morning?”

 

“Well, you’re always saying how we own the night,” said Heather. “They’re going to see us the entire way come morning, but tonight the ones who don’t have night vision gear, most of them I think will be totally blind.”

 

“Barb?”

 

“I agree. And we eliminate a threat that they might attack us tonight. They had to see us building here, and your construction process is somewhat amazing. So I expect them to come in and see what they can take. Maybe even tonight.”

 

“Okay. Get armored up. We move out in five minutes.”

 

*     *     *

 

“We got something moving down there, sir,” called a voice from ahead, where the elevator was located.

 

A spotlight swung their way, illuminating Heather and Barb. Then it swung onto Nora, and a moment later a rocket whooshed out of a launcher. The armor couldn’t move any faster than normal, but the woman inside had more than human reaction time, and got it moving on its way with unbelievable speed. The suit still barely got out of the way, and the missile streaked by to explode against a tree, shattering the trunk.

 

Nora went to a knee, picking out the red figure that was holding a launcher, making the motions of putting another rocket into the loading chamber. She brought her grenade launcher to her shoulder and let loose, striking the man directly with a high explosive round and blasting him into pieces. The shrapnel took down several others nearby, and many more opened fire.

 

Shit. They were forming up to attack us, thought Nora. It was a good thing they had all agreed to a night attack, or they would be fighting the gunners within the settlement. The turrets would have tipped the scales, maybe, but the settlement would have sustained definite damage.

 

Barb and Heather picked targets and opened up, mowing down some of the assault troops. With the sound of charging up, a bright laser beam reached out and barely missed a dodging and ducking Heather. Nora aimed in at the figure of an Assaultron and let fly, the grenade striking it directly in that laser head and blasting it from the body. The robot staggered for a bit then fell to the ground, exploding and taking out more Gunners.

 

“Gunners,” yelled a voice from above, and a couple of grenades came dropping down to the ground. Nora looked up to see what looked like a dozen people crowding the side of the overpass, most of them pulling rifles to shoulders.

 

“Grenades,” she yelled, alerting her partners. She dropped the grenade launcher to hang from its straps, then pulled the RPG off her back. The range might have been a little close, but she wanted those Gunners eliminated. She sighted in and sent the nuke on her way, yelling “Nuke fire in the hole,” to alert her people.

 

The rocket hit the section of the upper road over the heads of the gunners and went off with a brilliant flash, the fireball coming down to kill most of the Gunners. One in power armor, it looked like a T-45 suit, jumped down at the moment the rocket hit, falling to the ground and orienting on Heather. Nora ran at the suit, dropping the RPG and pulling her nano-sword. She swung the blade into the helmet of the Gunner, staggering the trooper. Nora swung again and again, until the helmet shattered and the next hit split the skull of the once pretty woman underneath.

 

“Too bad for you, honey,” whispered Nora as she sheathed the sword and pulled up the GL, jacking another round into the chamber. “Shock and awe,” she yelled. “You awestruck yet.”

 

“Fuck you,” yelled a voice near the elevator, and the sound of Barb’s rifle chattering cut the man off.

 

Thanks for letting us know where you were, thought Nora, engaging her jetpack and rocketing up to come over the lip of the overpass. Some shots hit her, but it seemed like there were few people up here to challenge her. She walked forward with rifle in hand and cut down the two remaining Gunners.

 

“How we doing down there?” she yelled to her people, thinking that short range coms might be the direction they needed to go in the near future.

 

“All KIA. And no injuries. Barb?”

 

“I’m fine. And all I see are corpses.”

 

“Start stripping them. I’ll start on them up here.” Nora called her Handies to her on her Pip-Boy, and was starting to relax when the remaining machinegun turret, the one the nuke didn’t take out, rotated into place and started to send .50 cal into her armor.

 

“Shit,” growled Nora, bringing up her rifle.

 

“Taking damage,” said the suit, just before Nora blasted the turret to pieces.

She did a diagnostic, seeing that she had lost over thirty percent of her torso armor. Not a disaster, but not optimal either. If there was some titanium alloy in the QESS system she could build a Power Armor Station and set a handy to patching the armor.

 

Nora stacked weapons, dozens of combat rifles and submachineguns, several dozen pistols, even a grenade launcher, onto the elevator platform. She sent it down, then started stripping Gunners, taking everything, armor pieces, fatigues, even underwear. It was all resources, and she would leave nothing behind when she was so close to a QESS. Calling Wilson she loaded him up and sent him on his way, even though the trip was less than seven hundred yards. She searched the remains of all the huts, what hadn’t been shot off the platform by the nuke, and had a good pile of drugs, liquors and food stacked to reload Wilson when he came back. One of the Handies went after the two windmills, stripping them of circuitry, gears and wiring.

 

Gears were always welcome, but they didn’t come in standardized sizes, which meant anything they constructed that needed them was a one-of-a-kind piece. When they had a parts factory or two up and running they could make thousands of standardized gears. She was thinking three sizes to take care of all of their needs, and they could make standardized turret, pumps and other necessary constructs.

 

She took the elevator down, then looked over what her people had gathered. They too had stripped the Gunners naked and taken everything. Nora considered taking apart the elevator, then decided to leave it up. She might want to use this overpass someday, and it would help if her settlers could have a way to go up.

 

“Okay. Let’s get a shower and relax,” she said, checking the time and seeing that it was just about eleven. They could all be asleep by one, then up to supervise the final phases of the setup and hit the road by ten, at the Federal Ration Stockpile by noon. And then the reign of Red Tourette would be over, and another Raider gang would be history.

 

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