If you'd posed a hypothetical - you capture a soldier and a raider, which one do you execute? I'd have said that raider, for sure. But in the end, it was the other way around. I let Preston handle the trial... a dark cloud had fallen over my mood after the torture session and I found myself questioning, well, everything.
To his credit, Preston did things right. He gave prisoner a chance to testify, he laid out the facts of what we knew about their offenses, and he made sure everyone knew that our goal was to only punish them for things they were guilty of, not just because we didn't like them.
The Gunner just kept silent - even after Preston explained that the folks would probably go easier on her, maybe even negotiate returning her to the gunners, she said nothing. In the end, everyone more or less settled on the conclusion that her group had planned on killing us all in our sleep and that anything she could offer in testimony would just make her look worse. Preston instructed the jury to show leniency since we'd roughed her up after she was captured, but in the end the verdict was unanimous: death. Overnight, Preston rigged up the clock in front of the town hall into a gallows of sort and we disposed of the Gunner at dawn.
I still felt - irrationally, maybe - guilty about the whole situation, and I was pleased to hear that the raider's trial had went better for her. She'd answered all the settlers' questions and as they worked step by step through the events leading up to her capture, it started to become clear that she was more a scavenger than a "real" raider. I think it was Jake in the end who saved her. He wasn't technically part of the community, but everyone had agreed to let him speak, since he'd lived in Concord for a long time. He agreed with the woman's assessment that she was there first and foremost to scavenge; as he explained it, when raiders are out for blood, they'll attack the settlement first, then look for loot at their leisure. The fact that these ones had snuck in spoke to their priorities.
Still, consensus was that we couldn't just let her go. Old Paul, however, suggested an alternative.
"Let her work off her debt," he said. "Listen, I know nobody likes a slaver - that's a dirty business. But you steal from a shop and it's fair they make you work it off, right? And the way I reckon it, this girl was stealing from us. So make her work it off."
That earned some nods of agreement from members of the jury. It also earned agreement from the prisoner, who vigorously agreed to work for us in exchange for her life. The settlers discussed it more, but still seemed split on the matter - at least until Lily spoke up.
"Everyone's stuck on how to keep her from running away," she said, pointing her thumb towards the raider. "You know, sneak out and tell her buddies that we're soft and we let her get away. But Winter has that punishment suit she's working on, why not try it out here?"
"Punishment... suit?" I asked.
Lily rolled her eyes, "She didn't tell you?"
"Apparently not. What exactly is the punishment suit?"
"We found it a few days ago when we were going through the catalogue for the Workshop. Technically its a 'Vault-Tec Security Control Suit."
"Uh, huh," I mouthed, skeptically.
Lily went on to describe the suit, if you could call it that. It was designed to keep unruly vault dwellers under control without making it so they couldn't work... as long as they behaved themselves."
"And how exactly does it keep them from misbehaving?" I asked, still a little worried that this would be another iteration of the torture chair."
"Well first, the arms and legs can go completely stiff, so she can't run away or fight."
"OK," I nodded. So far, it sounded reasonable.
"If the prisoner does get away despite the arms and legs, the chest plate isn't removable without help from an surgeon, so she'd be marked to any of our people as an escapee. The suit's also got some special features in the pants that help."
I frowned at that, "it sounds like you're glossing this over."
Lily seemed to blush a little bit, but she relented without any further prompting. "Well, first off its got a powerful vibrator right where it counts, turn that on and she probably won't be going very fast. It's also got some pretty strict locks on the plumbing that'll make her depend on staying in our good graces, else she'll get real uncomfortable."
I sighed at that. Of course Vault-Tec came up with something like that. But I recognized that it could be useful.
Before I could say more, Preston looked over to the raider. "You heard how it works. Will you put up with that in order to commute your sentence?"
The raider paused, seemingly a bit taken aback by the description of the suit, but then she steadied herself and nodded in affirmation. "I'll do it," she said.
I watched while Lily put the suit on her. She started by stripping down the raider and washing all the grime and face paint off her body, then took a razor to the woman's body hair until she was smooth and clean. The raider's hair was so closely cropped that she was practically bald already, and Lily didn't go any further on that.
"OK," Lily said, "this part is going to hurt a bit. Bear with it, it's all down hill after this."
With some pointers from Winter, Lily situated a trapezoid shaped piece of metal against the raider's chest, just over her breasts, then hit a recessed switch on its lip. I heard a brief, high pitched whine something like a power drill and the raider gasped and jerked.
"You're OK," Lily said, stroking the woman's head, "all done. The screws are seated in your sternum and your clavicles now. Don't, seriously don't try to pull it off. It'll hurt a lot and you won't get it free. Now, bend over and we'll get the plumbing hooked up."
With a degree of confidence I wasn't expecting from Lily, she guided the raider over a chair and, after squirting a dollop of lube on her fingers, started gently but relentlessly working her hand into the woman's rear end. Once she'd worked three fingers in almost to the last knuckle, Lily withdrew and instead slid a long, tapering plug up into the raider. From the large canal in its center, I suppose it was more of an enema nozzle than a butt plug. Once it was fully inside the raider, Lily fitted a corset-like harness onto her and adjusted its straps until it clung tightly to her body.
Lily stepped back and retrieved a small remote control. "OK, let's make sure the vibratron works."
"Vibratron?" I asked, "really?"
Lily shrugged, "It's what the catalog called it." Not delaying further, she turned a dial on the device, eliciting another gasp from the raider as the egg pressing against her clitoris started to buzz enthusiastically. Switching it off, Lily nodded. "Yup, seems to be working."
The raider groaned, but otherwise seemed pliant. Lily helped her put on the long gloves and boots that completed the outfit, then let her away to get some practice in the oddly shaped heels. I set out to take care of some business of my own, and the next time I saw her it was almost dark. She seemed to have steadied herself since last I saw her, and I gestured towards her to get her attention.
"Are you doing alright?" I asked.
The raider nodded, "about as well as I can expect, I think. I, ah, I appreciate that I'm not hanging from a rope right now."
I could still feel the funk dragging at me, and I answered with a bit more candor than I planned. "Still, I'm not sure how I feel about this plan. You're basically our slave now, and I'm not sure I like crossing that bridge."
She laughed at that, with more warmth than I expected. "Well, we're in agreement then. I don't like it either. But beggars can't be choosers. You people are strange, but I'm in no position to criticize you or to complain about your deal. So for now, for better or for worse, I'm in with you folks. Time'll tell, I guess, if it stays that way."
I nodded. "I guess it will."
We stood silently for a while, neither sure what to say next, before the raider turned. "I have to report back before lights out," she said.
I didn't say anything for a while, but before she got out of sight I blurted towards her, "what's your name?"
"Jan," she called over her shoulder. "Jan Willis."
I thought on the whole situation while I walked back to my house. Something felt wrong, and I couldn't put my finger on it. Not just the torture chair or the punishment suit, but something deeper. I felt like I was running down a hill, trying to get to my goal but staggering and stumbling more and more as I ran faster and faster. As I dropped into my bed, the issue seemed to gel. We'd taken Concord too soon. We'd shifted all our effort into encircling and then capturing the town, and everything else was starting to fall to the wayside. I needed to get out of Concord. I needed to get back to Sanctuary. I needed to deepen my ties with the Abernathy family. I needed to make sure the Drumlin Diner was thriving. I needed to finish bringing Ridge into our family.
I needed to slow down before I tripped and broke my neck running down this hill.
Edited by gregaaz