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Mob Trouble (Charley's Story, Chapter 46)



I spent the night on Piper's couch. As shacks go, the Wright place was warm and dry, and it stayed that way even when rain started pounding on the corrugated roof. When morning came, the rain was still pounding down and we took our time enjoying a breakfast of beans and venison sausage along with some half decent coffee. 


While we ate, we talked through our options. I'd seen and heard enough the day before to know that Diamond City security wasn't going to help us with searching for Shaun. In fact, I suspected that if we asked them for help, they might actually get in our way. Piper agreed with me - she backed up Becky's story about them blackballing her and she told me that right now the upper stands crowd is very sensitive about the kidnapping problem.


"It's crazy," she explained, "but I think the rich folks are worried that if they make a stink or start looking into places where they shouldn't, then the Institute is going to target them. Not like we aren't all being targeted already." 


"So it sounds like all roads lead to Nick Valentine," I observed.


Piper and Nat both firmly agreed. As they explained it, Valentine was the exception to DC security's interference - they completely left him alone. I asked why, of course, but all they told me was that it'd all make sense when I met him. 




We headed out then, and while we crossed the market I couldn't help but notice DC security keeping an eye on me. Evidently, getting in the way during the standoff yesterday, or maybe associating with Piper, or both, had got me onto their radar. If I'd had any lingering thoughts of asking the security guys for help, the way they were looking at me evaporated them. Becky hadn't opened up her store yet, so Piper offered to introduce me to her 'confidential informant.' 


The CI, it turned out, was Takahashi the chef-bot, and she was totally just pulling my leg. Not only did the rusty old robot had nothing to tell us, he didn't even speak English. From the smells coming out of his kitchen, though, he made some pretty good miso soup. I realized that I hadn't eaten Asian food in... two hundred years. Not that good Asian stuff was easy to get even before then; Asian-owned businesses were favorite targets for the Civil Defense Administration when they were trying to root out so-called communist sympathizers. 




While we waited for Becky, Piper took me around the rest of the marketplace. I stopped in at Myrna's place - she hadn't opened up for the day, but her Mr. Handy was more than happy to trade, and I was pleased to discover that he had a bunch of railway spikes in with the other junk he was selling. I took those off his hands, happy to have some more ammunition for the spike driver I'd picked up back at the quarry. 


By then, Becky had opened up her shop and we descended into the basement. I swapped greetings with the older woman and answered a bunch of questions she had about how my new outfit was fitting. I was pretty happy with it, and we went through her questions point by point. The only real feedback we came away with was that the back skirt probably should have been free hanging like the front skirting, just to give a bit more mobility, but it wasn't the sort of issue that I felt warranted making alterations.




Piper had seemingly got distracted looking at the contents of a display case over by the door, but she perked up as soon as Becky asked me why I'd come back so soon. I explained to her that Piper was going to be traveling with me for a while and that she'd need some alterations to her clothes to fit in once we reached 111 territory. 


Becky laughed at that and asked me, "so you want something like what you came in here wearing, for her? I don't know if she's going to like that."


I shrugged, "I'm sure her curiosity and her journalistic principles will win out."


"Win out over what?" Piper interjected, joining us. 


"I was just telling Becky that we needed to get you an outfit for when you travel with me back to Vault 111 territory."


"Why's that? Don't think this," she tugged at the lapels of her jacket, "is good enough for your people?"




"No, hardly. It could use some light repairs here and there," I pointed at the roughly sticked-up tear on her shoulder, "but its cute. But it might give some people the wrong idea... how much do you know about the laws in Concord?"


Piper shook her head. "Not much, actually. The traders from Vault 81 say that you guys run some sort of cult out there, but other people say you've been kicking out all the local raiders and making a safe place to trade. I even heard that Trudi, up at Drumlin Diner, threw in with you."


"Two thirds of that's true. We're not a cult. But we have some rules that you might find a little unconventional. One thing we're trying really hard to do is make sure everyone's equal. We don't want to end up stuck with an elite class like you have here."


"OK, that's a great idea in theory, but how are you going to do it?"


"There's a few different things were trying, but one of them is that we have a fairly... uniform... dress code. All of our citizens wear vault suits, and with very few exceptions we don't let them modify the suits."


I could see Piper chewing on the thought before the implications dawned on her and she waved a hand at my chest. "These vault suits? All open with everything hanging out?"


"You got it."


I do believe I detected a little blush on her face at that answer, and it presaged her next words. "Is that why you're here? You want Becky to make a vault suit for me? I'm not sure how I feel about that."


"I don't think Becky has the materials here to make a vault suit. When outsiders come, we just make them undress before they enter the settlement. It makes it easy to keep track of who's a visitor and who's a citizen."


"I definitely don't know how I feel about that."


"I figured as much. I wouldn't have brought you here if I was just going to tell you to strip down. No, I want to talk with Becky about helping you put together an outfit where you'll fit in but it'll be obvious you're with the press." I poked a finger towards the hand-written 'press pass' she had tucked into the rim of her cap.


"Eh, don't get ahead of yourself," Becky said. "Piper, that jacket is at least a size too big for you. Slip out of that and let me take a look at you so I can get a feel for your measurements."




After a momentary delay, Piper acceded to Becky's instructions, and the older woman tutted to herself a bit as she examined the well worn jacket. Underneath, Piper was wearing an equally ratty ensemble that looked like it was a couple days away from completely falling apart. She was certainly equipped for her work though, with all kinds of tools and bits of equipment handing off her underclothes or strapped to her legs and waist.


"That's, ah, quite a utility belt you've got there," I observed. "The Silver Shroud would be proud." 


Seemingly doing her best to mask her discomfort at the thorough examination Becky was giving her, Piper laughed awkwardly, "reporters and superheroes have a lot in common, right?"


"I have to say, Piper, you have a rather pretty figure under that giant coat. I bet we could cobble together something quite nice for you that would, um, fit in with your friend over here."


I cut in, thinking out load. "Maybe, but I actually think Piper's come half way to where we wanted to go anyway. This," I gestured at her midsection, "is quite utilitarian and doesn't leave any question about her job. Maybe a few little adjustments here and there, but... yeah, I don't think we need to change all that much."


"Ugh," Becky said, "at least do something about that filthy tee-shirt."


"Oh, definitely." I agreed. "I'm thinking we tailor that jacket a little so it actually fits right, get rid of the tee shirt, maybe find Piper a nice, professional looking tie. I'd say lose the short, too, they're almost falling apart already..."


"Hey, I'm right here," Piper growled, "don't talk about me like I'm somewhere else. And I need my shorts to hand my camera on. Plus, you know, how will I have my journalistic gravitas without pants?"


I shrugged. "Everyone else does fine without pants."


She narrowed her eyes. "No doubt." 


"I'll tell you what," Becky said, her voice placating, "how about I see what I can do. You kids go talk to Valentine, then come back tonight. I think you'll like what I come up with." 


Piper still looked a little uncertain, but after a moment more she nodded. "Fiiiine," she conceded. "Let's go talk to Nick, but you better not ruin my coat."


"You'll love it," Becky said, "I promise."




The rain was still hammering down when we left the basement, and it didn't take long before Piper's farr less resilient undergarments were plastered to her skin. Still, the geiger counter wasn't going off, so this was clean water - I imagine there were some very happy folks down at the reservoir eagerly counting the inches of downpour. After making our way through some winding alleys, we found ourselves facing a pink neon sign that proclaimed "Valentine Detective Agency."


"This is the place," Piper confirmed, as we ducked under the awning to get out of the rain.


"Anything I should know before we go in?" I asked.


"Ah, not really. Nick Valentine is... unique. But I think its best for you to just meeting him as he is. No sense in setting up any preconceived notions in your head."


That struck me as a little suspicious, but Piper had been a good sport so far, especially when it came to me dictating her new outfit, so I let it slide. The steel door creaked open, and a moment later I found myself standing opposite a woman - Valentine's assistant, I assumed - who was filing papers behind a desk. 


"Excuse me?" I asked tentatively. She let out a long sigh, muttering something I barely here.


"Something wrong?" I tried again.




At last she turned, looking at me with dismayed eyes. "Another stray come in from the rain, huh? I'm afraid you're too late. Office is closed."


Clearly, something was off here, but I gave the professional approach another try. "I know you must be busy, but I won't take much of your time. It's important."


That seemed to connect at last, and she focused on me more clearly. "I'm sorry," she said, "I didn't mean to be rude, but it's just... the detective. He's gone missing."




Piper perked up then like a dog who'd just had red meat tossed to her. "Nicky's missing? What has he got himself into this time?" she pressed.


"Maybe I can help," I offered. "What happened?"


She let out another sigh. "Nick was working a case. You know Cedric Mansfield?"


Piper nodded enthusiastically, "he's that stuck up pencil neck from Vault 81. Head of security, right?"


"He's deputy overseer now, but he still runs the day to day security business. He wanted something from Park Street Station, I'm not sure what - Nick wouldn't say."


"Park Street Station is Skinny Malone's turf," Piper added. "Ellie, do you think Nick is in trouble with the Triggermen?"


"Maybe, that's what I'm worried about. I'm sure whatever Mansfield wants is in the old vault down there... and Skinny Malone uses it as his base. It told Nick that he was walking into a trap, but he just smiled and told me not to worry. Walked out the door just like he always does."


"I'm kind of new here," I admitted. "Tell me more about Skinny Malone."


Ellie shrugged. "I don't know too much; he's from Goodneighbor, not my part of town if you know what I mean. But he's with the Triggermen, so count on well pressed suits and lots of machine guns."


"Alright," I agreed, "I'll find him. Or rather," I poked an elbow towards Piper, "we'll find him."


"Thank you," she said, looking to me like I'd just taken a weight off her shoulders. "He's hard to miss, with his old hat and trenchcoat getup. But please hurry, Skinny Malone is bad news."


On the way back to Fallon's Basement, I prodded Piper a bit. "What do you think? Go straight to Park Street Station? Or maybe visit Goodneighbor first?"


"Normally I'd say Goodneighbor. That place has a bad reputation, but Hamilton tries hard to keep it together. He might be able to help us. But it sounds like this might be urgent, and you're new here... Hamilton doesn't know you and my welcome in Goodneighbor is... tentative. They don't like people snooping, and that means they don't like the press all that much."


"So right to Park Street Station, then?"


"Yeah, I hate to say it but that's the smart move. Though I need to pay a visit to Arturo and get some firepower. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but I'm not so sure where it stacks up against machine guns." 


"Fair point," I agreed. "I should see what he has also; I can't solve every problem with the spike gun," I said, patting that strange instrument.




"Hey, it's the new girl," Arturo Rodriguez said as I approached his stall, "am I right?"


"Right indeed," I said. "I hear you're the man to see about shooting irons." 


"Shooting irons, she says," he repeated with a laugh, "you know how to speak my love language. Let me show you my selection." 


And what a selection he had. Honestly, a lot of it was junk - cobbled together handmade jobs that looked impressive but I wouldn't trust on the shooting range much less in battle. But mixed in he had some very well maintained prewar pieces... he even had, and I'm not making this up, a harpoon gun. Not my style, but points for diversity I guess. 


"I don't know, Piper, what's your preference?" I pointed her towards an assault rifle and a shotgun, both of which I was pretty sure were heads and feet above the rest. 


She paused to take a look at them both and even hoisted each one to check the balance. Evidently, Piper wasn't inexperienced when it came to long arms. 


"Hard to say, but I'm leaning towards the rifle. The shotgun's the way to go once we're inside the station, but if we make a mistake it won't do any good out in the open."


"Alright," I said, "you heard the lady, Arturo, the SCAR-LK it is. My treat."


"Good choice," he intoned, "but you better stock up on lost of ammo, too. That caliber doesn't grow on trees. And what about you? I saw you checking out that Rhino. It'll such outdo that little ten mil you're packing."


"Maybe, but I think I'll be taking the shotgun we were looking at earlier. Don't bring a handgun to a long gun fight and all that, you know?"


Properly armed, we finally made our way back to Fallon's Basement, where Becky was evidently waiting for us. "Perfect timing," she said, "though if you kids keep coming back I might have to start giving you fashion advice."


"So what's the verdict on the jacket?" I asked.


Becky glowered a little bit. "I don't think I can fix those blown out shoulders without a lot more time to work, but I made the other adjustments and it should actually fit Piper properly this time."


Beckoning towards the reporter, Becky continued, "come on, don't be shy, try it on." 


Before Piper could reach for the jacket though, I stopped her. "Lose that shirt, first. It's about ready to fall apart anyway."


Piper let out a long sigh and pulled the drenched bit of fabric over her head. I took a moment to appreciate her rather full chest before waving her on.




Becky helped Piper shrug into the jacket, then picked out a matching necktie that she loosely put around the reporter's neck, she adjusted it so it hung more like a necklace than a real tie, but it fit Piper's look. 


"What do you think?" Becky asked.


After some experimental stretches, Piper smiled. "I'm not going to ask what happened to the bottom part, but this is a really good fit. Why didn't I come see you sooner?"


"Because you're broke?" Becky shot back.


"Fair point, but hey, it's not an easy business running a newspaper. Either way, this is great - though now everyone can see my tools of the trade," she said, gesturing to the equipment strapped to her thighs that her outfit had hidden before. 




"That's true," I admitted, "but at least you won't be tripping over the coat. Though... after seeing how the jacket holds the camera on the outside now, we might need to revisit the whole 'pants' question..."


"Nope," Piper said with finality, "you've got me undressed enough for now. And besides, that belt's where I keep my ammo and my stimpacks - and those I do need to keep discreetly out of view, especially when there's trouble around."


"That's fair," I conceded, "but this is definitely 'dismissed without prejudice,' if you know what I mean. We'll revisit this discussion in the future."


Piper just rolled her eyes. "Come on, we need to plan out our route to the station. Time's wasting."



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Piper and her old leather coat

how do you find a reasonably chic alternative in this game?

this outfit caused me to make a radical "break in time"


Nick and Piper both have something in common -> they think up secrets

With Nick you allude to iconic films like "Maltheser Falke" - so I can give Piper a fashion equivalent


but nice how you bring Becky back into play in her basement business

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2 hours ago, Miauzi said:


Piper and her old leather coat

how do you find a reasonably chic alternative in this game?



So Piper has three different outfits in this chapter. At the start, she's wearing her vanilla coat, just with some cleaned up textures.


After she gives her coat to Becky, she's wearing the Scoop Digger outfit with the jacket and tie disabled. I added a shirt from Absolutely Skimpy Attire because I didn't really like the top from Scoop Digger.


Finally, her newly tailored jacket uses the Scoop Digger outfit, but replaces its jacket with the one from HN66 Easy Girl, with a few small adjustments so that Piper's tools and necktie don't poke through the mesh (done in Outfit Studio). 


I also created a custom pubic hair mesh to go with her hot pants so that she can be a little furry without the two meshes fighting each other.



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