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  1. “Well, they’re Supermutants,” said Heather. “So, I guess they need killing.” Nora could think of several reasons to kill the big brutes. Just being where they were they were a threat to several settlements. Wiseman thought they were interfering with the Traders who were buying his Tarberries. And this place was on Rhys’ list. “Anyone see the suiciders?” she asked over the radio. “A pair of them are hanging out on the left side of the portico,” said Heather. “I have a shot.” “Give us a minute so we have a good angle on them,” said Barb. “I’m almost in position to get that Primus.” Nora nodded, then acknowledged verbally. If they could take out the Suiciders they would take out a mini-gunner. And if Barb could get the other one, the leader out of the blast radius of the Suiciders, the fight outside the hospital would be over. Of course, that still left the large interior of the big hospital, probably swarming with the big green uglies. The Supermutants were hideous. Standing at least nine feet tall, with shoulders and arms thick with muscle out of proportion to their bodies, Nora we sure that they were far stronger than any normal human. With their green wrinkly skin and coarse features they reminded the Sole Survivor of a cross between Neanderthals and a particularly scary comic book character from her time. In a battle of strength she would be no match for one, though with her reflexes and speed, as well as the ultra-sharp weapons she carried, she thought she could come out on top in one on one melee. Zooming in on the suiciders with her suit vision system, she could see the bombs in their right hands, their indicator lights blinking. The mutants carried the bombs always armed, ready to trigger in an instant. Unfortunately for them, that meant the bombs could be set off by anything hitting them. Unlike larger weapons, the mini-nukes had no safeties. It was hard enough to make a working warhead that small, and they weren’t all that powerful for the amount of nuclear material they carried, but still powerful enough to scare the shit out of anyone that faced them, whether in a Fatman or in the hands of a suicidal mutant. She sighted in on the suicider that Heather wasn’t ready to hit, in case the woman had an unlikely miss. “Go,” she said in the radio. Heather’s laser shot was right on target, and the one suicider went up in a furious blast, killing the other suicider and the high ranking Supermutant with the mini-gun. Barb’s single round put a hole through the head of the other Primus, and just that quickly the strength of the Supermutant picket outside hospital had its guts ripped out. The three brutes, large stupider than usual Supermutants with bladed boards their only weapons, ran where they thought the fire was coming from. Nora took two of them out, Barb the third. The team waited a few moments in case some were in hiding or had gone around the corner for a bathroom break. “I think that was it,” said Heather, scanning the area with her visor. Nora joined in with all the sensor power of her suit, to find nothing. The three moved down, Nora collecting the mini-nuke that hadn’t gone off, checking to make sure it was disarmed. They then moved to the door, listening for a moment. “You two get to either side while I sow some mines. We’ll set up a kill zone and take out anything that comes into the lobby. Afterwards I’ll get out of my PA and we’ll sweep through, make sure all the mutants are dead, and get all the loot we can carry.” The smiles she got in return let her know how her people thought about the plan. All hated Supermutants with a passion, and wiping out this cell would go a long way to making this region of the Commonwealth safe and secure. Nora pulled the door open, the dogs staying where she had told them to, then slipped in as silently as the power armor would let them. “Oh shit,” hissed Barb into the radio. “Suicider.” Nora saw the mutant coming from behind the main desk thirty yards in from the entrance, the beeping munition in his hand. She hadn’t expected them to have one inside and so close to the entrance, but there he was. “Get covered behind me,” she yelled, moving forward with the weapon she had chosen for the inside firefight. The M60 chattered away, running through ten rounds a second as the two hundred round belt fed through the receiver. The suicider exploded ten meters from Nora, the blast encompassing the entire lobby. Her suit rocked back, while some of the heat and radiation penetrated, causing flash burns on her skin. Nora screamed, thinking herself dead. The voices of her people shouting into their radios told her they were still alive, and on opening her eyes and looking at the ceiling two stories above, she realized she was on her back and very much alive. “I have taken critical damage,” said the suit. “Forward torso armor has been compromised.” That means this armor is now useless, thought Nora as she pushed herself back to her feet. Not really useless, since the armor on limbs and back was still sturdy enough to turn most attacks. She was vulnerable in the part enemies were most likely to attack, though, and her helmet sensors were almost blinded. And the other mutants were coming out of doorways and down the stairs on the attack. More than she had ever seen at one time. Barb and Heather were still behind cover in the rear, shooting around a desk and a pillar respectively, using the lessons Nora had taught them to expose as little as possible. Nora was the primary target, and every mutant with a ranged weapon was firing at her suit. Barb was firing one long burst at the mutants coming down the stairs, piling up the dead for the followers to trip over, while Heather was taking down those on the second floor firing over the railing, her laser taking them out one by one. Nora held down the trigger of the M60 for the full nineteen seconds she had on the belt. The gun chattered away, sending out the powerful .308 caliber rounds in sweeps that were leaving every mutant in its path to fall, most dead, the others seriously wounded. Nora screamed the entire time, feeling the fragments of her armor and slivers of bullets penetrating her flesh. She doubted she would survive this fight, but was determined that neither would the mutants. The machinegun clicked on empty, the belt expended, but there were no more living mutants in front of her. The stair was clogged with dead, and the only living mutants were on the third-floor firing over the railing. Nora let the machinegun fall from shaking hands and wrestled the grenade launcher into position, sending a high explosive shell up to the third floor. Some mutants flew off the walk to land in the lobby, many around them flung back into the wall. Nora jacked another round into the GL and fired, then again, over and over. “Nora,” yelled Barb. “Stop. Their all dead.” “All dead hissed,” Nora, before her eyes closed and she passed out. “Suit eject,” shouted Barb, continuing with the override code that Nora had given to them for emergencies like this. The back of the suit opened and swung up, while the back panels of arms and legs swung open to the side. Nora fell back and out of the suit, Heather and Barb catching her body and lowering her to the floor. “She’s bleeding,” said Barb, pushing a stimpak into Nora’s hand. “She's barely breathing,” said a concerned Heather, cradling her friends head in her lap. “Have you ever seen such a slaughter.” A moment later Nora’s eyes opened and she took a quick breath. “Did we win?” “We won, partner,” said a teary eyes Heather. “If not for you and your power armor that suicider would have killed me and Barb. You took the brunt of the blast, then swept the mutants in the lobby away with your MG.” “Let me see,” said Nora, sitting up. “I’m going to be fine,” she told her friends when they tried to hold her down. “I can feel myself healing.” “You’re not invulnerable, or immortal, partner,” said Heather. “You could have been killed in this fight. I think luck played as much a part in it as skill and equipment.” “Goddamn,” hissed Nora as she looked over the lobby. “Did we kill a hundred of them?” “At least seventy of the Supermutants, and probably twenty or more of their hounds,” said Barb. “Maybe more.” “Damn. You think there are any more of them in here?” “I don’t know, Heather,” said Nora, feeling more of her strength returning every moment. “I can’t believe they were stupid enough to just fling themselves into our fire. But some must have pulled back.” “You can’t believe a race that sends warriors in with nukes to suicide bomb can’t be suicidal in other ways?” asked Barb. “I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. But I need to get on my feet so we can clear this place out.” There were mutants still extant in the hospital. They hadn’t learned a thing from their fellows who had sacrificed themselves. The big uglies boasted about how superior they were, and how the humans were already dead, giving their positions away to the silent humans’ time after time. The place cleared, they packed out five trips with Wilson, sending meds and surgical instruments, circuitry and data, into the QESS system. “I think we need to spend the night at Greentop so you can recover, Nora,” said Heather. “You heal fast, but even you need some recovery.” “I agree,” said the Sole Survivor. “I could use a half dozen meals and a long sleep. And maybe some sex. Yes, definitely some sex. And my poor armor needs some major repairs.” “I want check out Malden Center tomorrow or the next day,” said Heather. “I’ve heard rumors of synth activity there. And we can do something on my list, if you’re up to it.” Nora thought for a moment. She wanted to get the Slog added to the alliance, but they were fine. There were at least fifteen armed settlers there, and Wiseman seemed like good leader. “Let me get the armor patched on the torso of my suit, in case these synths are as bad as the ones at Arcjet.” The settlers at Greentop were happy to see them. The robots had completed their work and all the buildings were finish and running. The CSB, the Core Services Building was situated to not only provide power and water, but to place its concrete wall in the most likely path of attack on the settlement, from the direction of Malden. The laser turrets on the roof covered most approaches, while those on the repaired house, the new quarters and the settler workshop building, along with the scaffolding towers, would give any attacker a sharp lesson on why they should leave Minuteman settlements alone. It was purely a farm at the moment, but once they had their food producing needs under control, she was hoping they could contribute to the industry of the Alliance. “It looks like you got the hell shot out of your armor. How in the hell did you come through that alive?” asked Doris, looking at the scorched armor, large holes visible in the front. “Some luck and some toughness,” said Nora, looking at the armor and wondering herself how she survived. “Who did you take on this time?” said Geof, standing next to a new settler, a cute blond. “Supermutants,” said Nora, feeling like she wanted to take a seat. “I’m still feeling kind of weak. Do you mind if I take a seat in your house?” “Not at all,” said Doris. “It’s really your house as well, after all.” “We took out the tribe down in Medford Memorial,” said Heather, checking Nora’s vitals to make sure her friends was recovering, and smiling as she saw the results. “A whole fuck-ton of the bastards. We counted eighty some of them after it was over.” “That many?” asked Taylor after a whistle. “How’d you take down so many?” “Well,” said Barb, “Taking out some of their suiciders took out quite a few of them. And them running at us in the lobby in impossible to miss bunches did a lot more. But our courageous general taking fire as she mowed them down with her belt fed did most of the damage.” “Don’t forget that you two accounted for many,” said Nora. “Barb piled up at least twenty of them on the stairs, while Heather killed those on the third-floor firing down at us. It was a team effort, and without all of us we wouldn’t be sitting here.” “Don’t forget the robots we took out on the way to the Slog,” said Heather. “So you contacted those ghouls,” said Geof, his arm going around the shoulders of the new female settler. “Are they going to join?” “They damn well better,” said Nora, her eyes flashing fire. “It was their mission, and after what we went through, the owe us. Of course, if they back out there’s nothing I can do about it.” “They’ll join,” said Doris. “Are you going back over there tomorrow?” “We’re going into Malden Center tomorrow,” said Nora, seeing the shocked expressions on the faces of the settlers. “That place is bad news. Word is that no one who goes in there comes out. Be careful, because this thing you’re putting together needs you.” “No one person is vital to the alliance,” said Nora, doubting her words as she said them. It was the right thing to say, but was it true? “Besides, we just came out of Malden Memorial, and I’m betting everyone who went in there before we did ended up in Supermutant cookpots.” Nora got her food and rest, and the sex she craved afterwards. Geof and Thom were given permission by their women to see to the needs of the Alliance Leader. Nora told them they didn’t have to, but Doris insisted, and Nora and her two friends were seen to by the two virile men. “I hope we didn’t ruin those two for their ladies,” said Nora as she looked at the smiling faces of her partners. “They’re men,” said a scoffing Heather. “They’ll dream about us, you really. But when the only pussy around is their steady they’ll be satisfied with that.” Nora thought her friend was correct. While she enjoyed the hell out of sex, almost all men were driven to it more than most women. They would take whatever was offered them to Cum in and be happy. “Well, here we are,” said Heather as they stopped in front of the double doors of a metro station that looked like any other in the Boston area. And most of those stations were filled with their horrors, mostly Raiders and feral ghouls. Bad enough, but without the high-tech weapons the synths carried. The Recon Power Armor was back at Greentop, while Geof, who had turned out to be a competent engineer, was smoothing out the repairs Nora had patched with the carbon titanium alloy that had come through the QESS. He would later spray paint it with the blue and white Minuteman scheme, all the paint subdued so it would not stand out in the brush. The helmet had also been patched, but Nora would have to replace the sensors, using the kits that Sturgis and Conrad had sent her. Preston had been ecstatic that she had founded four settlements in the Northeast region of the commonwealth, and was on the verge of adding a fifth. He wished her safe travels and said he looked forward to seeing her back. Since she still had to get the Slog prepared, then go see what Mr. Finch might need to entice him into the Alliance, and was planning to go to Goodneighbor afterwards, she had been very noncommittal about her return. Goodneighbor was reputed to be a den of thieves and the shelter for the many ghouls who had been ejected from Diamond City by McDonough. She was thinking of offering them settler status if they wanted to get out of the neighborhood, while she looked over the shops and vendors that were said to have many weapons and tech not found in Diamond City. “Keep your mind on the here and now, Nora,” cautioned Heather. “Sturgis and Conrad won’t even have the thing ready to fly for several weeks. Maybe a month.” The message from her engineers had caught her full attention. A working Vertibird could be in her future, and with her training she was the only one able to safely fly it. Of course she would have to train Minutemen pilots to fly the Vertibirds that would follow, and in a year or two the Alliance would have its own air force. Maybe strong enough to challenge the Brotherhood if they came to the Commonwealth and didn’t play nice. “Well, let’s go in and see what there is to see,” said Nora, testing the door and finding it unlocked. “So, everyone slow and quiet.” The metro entrance looked much like every other one they had been in. A little more damage than some, all of the old shops collapsed. And then the chilling voice of something not alive spoke. “I am picking something up from the entrance. We are not alone.” “More of the criminals of this surface world?” “I cannot tell.” The machines started their way, the heavy tread of the metal bodies sounding on the floor. Nora started flashing hand signals, wondering if their silence would confuse the Synths. Raiders were likely to have been talking the entire time the humanoid robots approached. Well, her and her people wouldn’t make that mistake. Satisfied that her people were where she wanted them to be, all with a clear shot, she aimed in. Heather was backup for this fight, since her laser actually made more noise than their suppressed rifles, and Nora thought the machines would be more attuned to the high-tech weapons. The two Synths walked into sight side by side, weapons held low. Nora aimed in on the head of the one to the right, sure that Barb was sighting on the head to the left. They had heard rumors that this generation of Synths had their processors in their bodies. She didn’t know it that were true, but either way their visual sensors were in their heads, and taking out those projections would blind them. “Fire,” whispered Nora, squeezing her trigger and sending a five round burst of high velocity rounds into the head of her target. The head came apart in a scattering of shiny alloy, but the Synth stayed on its feet, firing its laser but not tracking on any target. Barb’s did the same. Heather fired on one of them, directly into the chest, her up gunned laser burning a hole through the torso with a splash of molten metal. The Synth went down like an axed steer, and Nora sent a burst from her rifle into the chest of her target to drop it to the floor. “Looks like the rumor was correct,” said Nora, moving forward to get a look at the Synths without exposing herself to the entrance to the descending stairs. She knelt by the side of the one that Heather had killed, looking it over, then moving on to the next. “I think the processor was about where our hearts would be. But the visual sensors are placed where we thought.” That made sense to Nora, who had wondered in her youth why all higher animals had their eyes and ears in the head. Not just because they were closer to the brain, and so the transmission loop was shorter. But it also gave them the best mobile viewing platform on the body, and the cyberneticists at the Institute seemed to have agreed. “It doesn’t look like they’ve got any extra shielding in the region of their CPU,” said Heather. “I’m betting they are vulnerable to EMP.” “Good deal,” said Nora, making sure the slots on her belt of forty millimeters were ready at hand. About half the grenades she had selected for this mission were pulse weapons, supposedly able to short out electronics for twenty meters from the release of the warhead. She also had a half dozen hand versions, slightly more powerful. Barb and Heather carried a similar number of the same. The party looked over at the half dozen Raiders who laid strewn about, four of them obviously dead from laser blasts. Two had heads that were skewed at unnatural angles, necks broken. Nora was sure that the Synths were stronger than she was, though she doubted by much. She thought her reflexes and speed would put the robots to shame, her fast twitch muscles able to move her limbs much faster than the motor driven extremities of the robotic warriors. Nora crept down the stairs, making as little noise as a small rodent, her team mates right on her tail with the same silence. She had her GL ready to fire from a snap position. The whining sounds of Synths moving in the station came to her ears, along with the scraping and heavy steps of their metal feet. Without the cushion of flesh, and without shoes, they were incapable of walking softly. Nora was still in the shadows when she spotted the Synths. It looked like a couple of squads of the creatures, highlighted in red on her night vision gear. They were all looking away for the moment, as if expecting something to come from the other side of the station or down the tracks. Nora fired at a group of Synths further into the station, Barb and Heather tossing pulse grenades at the nearer robots. With a flash and a crackle the grenades all went off, Nora’s first, followed by the hand tossed weapons of her friends. Most of the Synths froze in place for a second before toppling over, the gyros no longer working to give them balance. A half dozen were still on their feet, turning to fire and catching bursts from Barb and beams from Heather that cut through their chests. Nora jacked another round in and fired, taking out the largest group still on their feet. The Synths had scored a couple of superficial hits on the team, the high-tech armor of the three women turning away the brief contacts. A long enough exposure could burn through, but the name of the game was not letting them get that exposure. More coming,” said Heather over the radio. A couple came into sight, weapons firing. A quartet were on their heels, then a flood of the robots. Nora landed a round right in the center, about ten meters back from the leaders, and the front of the wave collapsed. Barb and Heather kept the second part of the wave busy, while Nora placed another round into the back of the group. And then, just like the mutants the day before, their enemy was gone. “I think that’s enough for now,” said Nora, to the disappointed gaze of Heather. “I don’t want to penetrate farther without power armor. What I do want is all the weapons and electronics we can get off these things. Quickly.” The team moved onto the platform of the station. Heather took up a covered firing position and kept watch. The two Handies with the group went after the burned-out electronics in the chests of the Synths, moving up and jerking what they wanted out of each one in seconds. Nora and Barb started to gather weapons, putting the straps over their shoulders until each was weighed down by a dozen lasers. “Okay. Out of here,” said Nora, leading the way up the stairs. There were of course a couple of more guns up there, but she thought they had already taken a good haul in energy weapons. Nora caught the motion of a couple of Synths in invisibility, their Stealth Boys not perfectly camouflaging them, some of their semi-transparent figures blurring at the edges of their images. They came in with some kind of bladed weapons. Nora hissed a warning as she let the rifles slide from her shoulders and drew her nano-sword in a blur of motion, the ultrasharp weapon cutting through the neck of the closest Synth. A quick dodge and she set up the second for a killing blow. She had been correct. While the Synths most probably had faster processers and fiber optic nerves, allowing for almost instantaneous thought and transmission, their servos were still limited. While her muscles could twitch many times faster than the machine motors. “Good thing you were paying attention,” said Barb as they hustled out of the station and headed for cover in the Slocum’s Joe corporate office, where Nora could call up Wilson to transport the weapon barrels and receivers to a QESS. “Those things are horrible at sneaking, and they still almost got us.” Nora had to agree that the Synths were indeed horrible at sneaking. They were good at using Stealth-boys, though. Not surprising, when no skill went into using the invisibility field generators. The party had learned a valuable lesson without paying too high a price. * * * “I expected that there might be ten or twenty of the brutes in that hospital,” said an amazed Wiseman. “But over seventy of them? If I had known that I wouldn’t have asked you to clear them out. At least until you could bring up more people.” “And if I had known how many there were I wouldn’t have gone after them either,” said Nora, shaking her head. “But we did, they’re dead, so mission accomplished. So, will you be joining the Minutemen?” “Don’t forget about the almost thirty Synths we took out in Malden Center,” said an excited Heather. “You’re not talking about the escaped Synths the Railroad helps out, are you?” asked another of the ghouls. “Those poor people.” “Not to worry,” said Barb quickly, since Wiseman looked like he was about to scream. “These were the Gen 1 type. All shiny metal and pure murder. And maybe some plastic covered Gen 2s. But no organic synths.” “Well, that’s a relief,” said Wiseman with a smile. “So yes, we’ll be joining the Minutemen. As soon as we seal the bargain.” “And how do we seal the bargain?” asked Nora, a sick feeling in her stomach as she looked into the hideous face of the very personable ghoul. “Why, we fuck, of course. Best way to seal a deal, since I’m sure you don’t want to marry me.” The look of horror on Nora’s face must have been apparent to all. She couldn’t go through with this. Not that she hadn’t fucked ugly men in the past, but none with the hideous deformity of the irradiated humans. But she needed this settlement in the alliance. Could she bite her tongue, close her eyes, and do it for Queen and Country? “Oh, let her off the hook, Wiseman,” said the female ghoul that was talking with them. Wiseman started to laugh. “It wouldn’t be good for you anyway, Nora,” said the ghoul through his laughs. “My bodily fluids are radioactive. All of my bodily fluids, and I wouldn’t want to burn your tender vaginal tissue with my manly emissions.” Nora let out a sigh of relief. She hadn’t wanted to offend the man. She thought of him as a man, despite his condition, but the thought of having sex with him was something she couldn’t stomach. The woman wondered if that said something about her, revealing something she really didn’t want to think about? “So,” she said, wanting to get her mind off this train of thought. “We’re going to want to build here. Water, more quarters, defenses, even working toilets.” “That’s all fine. But this is our home. So I would like to see your plans before you start construction. And how long will your crew be on site?” “You’re not going to believe this part, Wiseman.” By late next day the robots had finished their work. Wiseman and several if his fellows walked the settlement with Nora, looking over the Core Services Building with its humming reactors and water filtration systems. The refurbished quarters with patched walls. New quarters with clean comfortable beds and showers. And multiple turrets, weapon’s barrels thrusting from armored cores as their sensors searched for enemies. “Very nice,” said Wiseman, nodding his head. “You lived up to your part of the bargain, and we will do our part. Anyone who wants to settle here is welcome, as long as they are accepting of us, and we’ll start forming our militia squad as soon as we have the people and weapons. So, where to next for you?”
  2. After escorting the four women who didn’t want to live next to the water to County Crossing, expanding that settlement to eleven, they headed back to Bunker Hill. Barb and Heather chatted with the men they had entertained the night before, all smiles and a few blushes. They wouldn’t have time to make that a permanent thing, unless they resigned from her service. That was always possible, though she hoped not. Still, she was very happy to see that they had gotten their needs met with the men they had rescued. Kind of like a reverse damsel in distress situation, but in her and her peoples’ cases the reward went to all the parties. Nora knew she had given Ricky and Billy a hell of a good time, while they had raised the bar on the heights of extasy she had reached. Kessler was very happy to see the rescued guards. She took the news that one of the men had stayed at a settlement with good grace. Not everyone stayed with the caravans, and when she heard of the wonders of the settlements that Nora was building she could understand why the man had left the service of the road. “And you also took down BADTFL,” had said the smiling woman. “Good job. It seems that we hired a real badass.” “Just doing what needs done,” said Nora, looking into the woman’s eyes. “If you joined my Alliance I could make this place over for you as well. Give you much better facilities.” Nora already had a general plan of what she wanted to do with this place, starting with putting a wall of foundations around it that would be proof against any weapons Raiders might be able to wield. Following that with a ring building that would give residents and guests much more spacious living quarters and recreation facilities. And, of course, defenses. “No thanks. I think you mean well, but I still don’t trust the Minutemen, and prefer for this settlement to remain independent. But thanks for building up the other settlements. Those sorry little outposts, with few people and even fewer products, are not really helping the caravans. The way you are building them up is going to provide a much larger market to our traders. And the idea of showers and clean beds is really going to help our caravan recruitment.” Nora didn’t mention that soon the settlement system would be producing much of what the traders were now providing. It might not be as much of a boon as Kessler thought. Though with a little shifting of the market they would soon be making record profits on what they could deliver. And the bars and clubs that Nora was thinking of for the settlements would pull some caps from the pockets of the traders and guards. If she started putting some working girls in the clubs, even part time volunteers, the profit would be even greater. She didn’t think she would have any problem getting those volunteers. They would be protected, comfortable, receive medical care, and make a lot of extra caps they could use to buy the things they wanted. The men they had rescued talked Nora up, with her permission. Barb and Heather expressed no desire for prostitution, though they did welcome the guys they had had sex with at Nordhagen into their beds while they were here. Nora opened for business at eight, and Old Man Stockton was right there. The old gentleman was really a horny bastard, and from the things he said about Nora he wasn’t about to pass up on the best pussy he had ever had. Joe came in next, followed by thirteen caravan traders and guards, including Lucas. She started charging a flat hundred and fifty a shot, thinking she was giving good product for that price, and came out of the night with twenty-one hundred caps after expenses. Joe upped the price on her room the next night, which wasn’t a big deal with what she was bringing in. She had a little bit of a problem in the trade center when three of the whores tried to back her into a corner and intimidate her. “You need to stop offering your services,” said the largest of the women, one that actually had a body going to fat, unusual in the post-apocalyptic work. “You’re taking caps out of our mouths.” Nora thought the woman, known as Large Betty, could do with fewer caps going into her belly. She instead she tried to reason with her. “Look, I only have one more night here, then I’ll be on the road for quite some time. And I need the money for a good cause.” “I could care less about your cause,” said Betty, putting a hand on Nora’s throat. Nora grabbed the front of the big woman’s shirt and lifted her into the air, her feet coming off the ground. “If you ever lay hands on me again I’ll break that arm. Understand me. I do some whoring, yes. But my vocation is warrior. So remember that before you start making threats.” The woman nodded her head quickly. Nora lowered her back to the ground, not even straining, and the three whores hurried away. She made over twenty-two hundred the second night, taking on sixteen men, including Ricky and Billy. That was about her limit. It left her drained, though she tried to have an orgasm with each and every one, rewarding both them and her. Men liked to make a woman Cum. They liked to shoot a load into a wet hot pussy, sure, but feeling the woman orgasm during the act gave them a feeling of virility. That she was a quick comer, and the more sex she had the faster they came, was a plus. But there were only so many she could have before she reached the point of diminishing returns. And she refused to fake it. That was cheating her partner. “I’ll take three hundreds gram of nuclear material,” she told Deb the next morning, approaching the trader dressed for the road. “And sixty of those damaged laser and plasma rifles.” “You’ve got a lot of people talking around here.” said Deb as she sent a helper for Nora’s order. “A lot of excitement. Raiders down and settlers up is good for everyone. And I appreciate your business as well.” “Some of the ladies here don’t like that I am providing services.” “Well, fuck them. I’ve noticed that the men around here are much happier. In fact, Old Man Stockton is virtually giddy from the pleasure you’ve given him. I’ve never seen him so happy.” “Well, it’s about to end for a while. I’m planning on starting from three to five more settlements this time out.” “That will make all the traders happy,” said Deb. “Even me, since traders have to buy my products before they hit the road.” “You know, Deb. I’m planning to start producing things at my settlements. Now, I don’t want to put you out of business, so how about we talk, and make some deals for me to supply you wholesale.” “Sounds good. When you start production come talk to me.” Nora spent a couple of hours stripping the weapons of their barrels and receivers, taking all of the circuitry as well and loading up Wilson. He was full when she sent him on his way, and she dropped the stocks, frames and other leavings of the weapons in one of the abandoned buildings off premises. “So where to, partner?” asked Heather as they headed north. “I’m thinking first to Taffington, since it’s said to be abandoned and we can start up without permission. If they have a workbench like we’ve been told. Then swing around to Greentop Nursery, and hope they have something for us to do to prove our worth. Then maybe over to The Slog.” “You might consider Finch Farm while you out that way,” said Barb. “Old man Finch and family are struggling, but they have a nice piece of property.” “Do they have a workbench?” “I think so. I seem to recall one next to the sorry little shack they live in. But you need to look out for the Hub City Auto Wreckers. That’s a huge Gunner camp.” Nora thought about that. She still had three nuke rockets for her RPG. One or two of those could soften up that target enough to make it an easy strike. “And I’ve heard that Croup Manor, on the causeway south of Gibson Point Pier and Lynn Pier has a workbench,” said Heather. “And its on the ocean, which means more salt production.” Nora’s ears perked up at the mention of the two piers, both on Halen’s list. And Croup Manor was on Reese’s list, as was Medford Memorial. She started putting it all together in her head, then gave it up as she thought that she really didn’t know what she was going to find at the settlements. They crossed the saltwater inlet at the Tucker Memorial Bridge, one up from the bridge they had used to cross on the way to County Crossin. There were some cars to strip, and Dogmeat pointed out a few mines that Heather disarmed, and they were on their way. “Left branch takes you to Covenant,” said Heather when they got to the fork. “Nice place, but the people are creepy. Everyone smiling all the time. Not natural.” “Well, we’re going right,” said Nora. Her experience with Bunker Hill taught her that nice places didn’t want to join a mutual protection society. Soon after stepping onto the right fork they were ambushed by robots. The Gutsy, she thought it called itself a Major, lite them up with a fifty caliber. Barb went down cursing as some heavy slugs hit her Forteliza armor over her left arm. Most of each round bounced away, but some pieces of shredding bullet went into the flesh of her arm. Nora jumped in the way, rounds striking her chest piece and her armor calling out damage. A forty millimeter to the body of the Gutsy shredded it and dropped it to the ground. The Assaultron then made its presence known, fading into visibility as its strong head laser reached out and truck Nora, doing more damage to her armor. Barb shot out its left leg from a sitting position, and as the robot crawled toward them to try and catch them in the self-destruct, Heather sent a powerful beam into its head. A moment later it detonated, much too far away to do them damage. “You okay, Hon,” said Nora as she exited her power armor and knelt beside Barb. “Well, it hurts like hell,’ said her friend as she finished injecting a stimpak into her arm. “As to whether its going to kill me. I don’t think so. So let’s move on. I’ll rest at Taffington.” Nora reentered her armor and moved on, her sensors on the alert for more robots. They came upon the boathouse, abandoned as she thought, except for a swarm of bloodbugs. There was a swarm outside that Nora took down with single shots. They walked into the house and shot down some more, then found the owner, her desiccated corpse drained of blood. Nora went out to the workbench and had her Handy assemble a QESS, then started the process going. The house was in good enough repair that she decided to keep it, as was the boathouse once she removed a couple of booby traps. “I think we’ll spend the night while I make sure everything is going as planned,” she told her friends. "We can leave in the morning and head to Greentop Nurseries.” By midafternoon they had a generator working in the Core Services Building, constructed on the concrete boat ramp. She soon had the walls up, pumps going, and three saltwater extractors working on the water of the inlet. She marked the points for the pumps, the water purifiers in the CSB, then the foundations for the settler quarters and the workshop building. Nora looked over the house, marking the repairs she wanted the bots to make. Fix up the roof, patch a few wall holes, repair the railing on the deck around the house, and it would be quarters for eight or so settlers, including a toilet and shower in the upstairs area. She had the robots mount the Settlement Recruitment Beacon earlier than normal, hoping she might get someone in there before they left in the morning. By evening the place was more or less ready. Two scaffolding towers, four laser and four machinegun turrets and the place was defended. “In the settlement,” called out a voice from outside. Nora ran outside, to see two men in dirty but well made clothes waiting for permission to come in, anxiously looking at the turrets. “Are you looking for a place to settle down?” “We sure are,” said the older of the two. “We caught your beacon. So, is this a safe place?” “It is. So come on in and let’s talk.” She found out that the two were brothers, Bob and Ted Matthews, from the western part of the Commonwealth near Springfield. Their story was common. They had a decent farming settlement that the Raiders wanted more than they did. One night the Raiders attacked, putting everyone to the knife that couldn’t run. The brothers were good runners, and took off. Now they were looking for a place to settle that they could hold. “Well, I think this would be a good place for you to settle, and I need someone here to greet and vet more settlers. Let me bring some weapons in through the QESS system so you can defend this place.” “Just who are you. And how did you get tech like that QESS thing.” “Long story. We just ate, but here are some rations the other settlements have produced.” They talked for several hours while the robots continued to work in the background, completing the house first off so the brothers and her people would have someplace to stay. She found out that Bob was an engineer, trained at the vocational center in Springfield. While Ted was a medical specialist who had taken care of the people on his settlement. She thought they were both kind of cute, and started out to seduce them. They seemed to be warming to her, and Nora excused herself for a moment to talk with her friends. “I think I’m going to fuck one or both of them. Either of you want to join in.” “Yes,” said both, raising their hands and giggling. “Then lets hit them with our heavy guns.” Nora and the girls walked into the kitchen, where the brothers were still sitting and discussing their change of fortune, sans clothes. The eyes almost popped out of the heads of the two, a shocked expression on Ted’s face, a wide smile on Bob’s. “What’s going on here?” said Ted. “I think the ladies are going for a quick seduction.” “And you win the prize,” said Nora, plopping into Bob’s lap. “Though if you act real nice we’ll fuck you too, Ted.” Neither was what Nora would call an expert lover, but they were both enthusiastic. She, Barb and Heather took turns sucking them hard, then fucking them soft. They obviously hadn’t had sex in quite some time, as they both came as soon as they entered a pussy. The plus side was they were full of cum, and saw to the ladies for several hours before they couldn’t get it up again. When they finished they and the ladies were limp and tired, and Nora sat down to talk with them again. “Is it always like this with you people.” “With me, probably yes. Probably not with all the settlers. You can hit on anyone who lives here, as long as you know to take no for an answer. And tomorrow we are hitting the road, early. So your might want to get some before we leave.” “Hell, if I die tonight I’ll figure I’ve already been to heaven.” The robots were still going at it through the night. And the five people were going at it again when the sun was lightening the sky. The men hadn’t fully recovered yet, of course. But it took some time for them to cum, and all of the ladies had a nice morning orgasm to carry them through the day. “Now if you need help, don’t hesitate to contact someone on the terminal, and we’ll try to get someone to you as fast as possible. Once we have all the settlements out here up and running that should be pretty fast, but until then it’s hit or miss.” “Thank you, Nora,” said Bob, giving her a soft kiss. “And thank you, Heather and Barb, our warrior angels. I never expected a welcome like this.” “In the settlement,” called out a soprano female voice. “We picked up your beacon. May we come in.” The new arrivals were sisters, Becky and Debbi, both as pretty as the rising son. They looked with lust on the two brothers as they walked in and stood through the introductions. “I’ll leave it to you boys to get them settled. We need to hit the road and see about another settlement up the road.” “Well,” said a smiling Heather. “That worked out well. I had fun with them, but they need something more permanent, and it looks like they’ve got it.” Nora hoped so, though lust at first sight guaranteed nothing. Still, they had a start to a good community here. They moved to the south of Malden, out of sight of the Supermutants at Medford Medical. They turned north at Med-Tech and headed North, sighting the greenhouse at Greentop Nursery about ten thirty. “Looks good,” said Heather. Yes, thought Nora. It does. The greenhouse needed work, but was still a serviceable growing shed. The house had an intact roof, though there were some holes in the wall. Two men and a woman were at work in the greenhouse, while another woman worked at a cooking pot. As they watched from cover another woman came out of the house. All were young enough to still have children, which was ideal, and that there were five of them meant they would start out as a fairly strong settlement. “On the farm,” shouted Nora, standing up and walking into the open. “Can we approach.” Every one of the farmers had a pipe pistol out in an instant, aiming them at Nora. Nora kept her rifle lowered, then exited her power armor so the people could see what she looked like. “She doesn’t look like a Raider,” said the youngest of the woman, a freckled face redhead who couldn’t have been older than sixteen. “She’s clean.” “Who are you?” asked an older Brunette. “I’m Nora Jane Adams. I’m with the Minutemen. And I'm here to see if you need any help with anything.” “We sure do,” said the young redhead. “We..” “Shut it, Taylor. We don’t know who this woman is. Not really. I thought the Minutemen were through. Over.” “We’re reorganizing them under new leadership.” “Whose?” “Mine. I’m building an Alliance of Settlements to protect people against Raiders and other threats. I’ve got ten on the other side of Cambridge, and three so far in this area. Now, can I come in so we can talk without yelling at each other. I have two more women with me, and I’d prefer if they could join me.” “Look at them, Doris,” said one of the men, looking at the brunette, who was obviously the leader here. “Look at that armor, that rifle. And damn me if that isn’t a grenade launcher over her back. If they meant to harm us we would already be dead.” “I mean you absolutely no harm. I want to discuss having you join us. If you turn me down we’ll leave, and you will have to contact us to bring us back.” Barb and Heather stepped into view, along with the dogs and the ready Handy. The girls and Dogmeat smiled, and Nora could feel the tension going down. “You said that you kill Raiders. How about Supermutants?” * * * “Anyone see the suicider?” asked Nora over the radio. “Maybe they don’t have one,” said Heather. The party was on the edge of another farm called Breakheart Banks. And this was definitely the band of Supermutants who had been terrorizing Greentop. They had been raiding the farm, forcing the settlers to flee while they trashed the place and stole all the food. The farmers were, of course, concerned that the Supermutants would kill them all if they caught them unawares. “I’m going to start hitting them with grenades. Everyone stay alert for the suicider.” She guessed that they didn’t have to have a suicider. If they couldn’t get their hands on a mini-nuke, not really that common, they couldn't equip one of the running bombers. But she didn’t want to take any chances. Nora put her grenade launcher to her shoulder and aimed in on the central shack in the center of the area. The farm seemed functional, with corn, razor grain and tatos ripening in the sun. She wasn’t sure why they were raiding other farms, unless it was just in the Supermutant nature to do so. While still not sure where the damned creatures had come from, whether accidental mutation caused by rads, or an experiment gone awry, what she did know was the things were a menace that needed ended wherever they were found. She doubted they were a natural mutations, as there didn’t seem to be any female mutants, which meant there was no conceivable way in which they could have descended from a common ancestor. But who in the hell thought it a good idea to create these things, and how had they gotten free and out of control? The round sent through the window to the shack and exploded, and Nora waited for the reaction. A lot of shooting, some yelling and boasting, but no flashing lights or the beeping of a mini-nuke. She sent another round into the building, a Molotov, setting the shack on fire. A supermutant came charging out, on fire, hitting the ground and trying to roll to put the flames out. “I don’t think they have a suicider,” she said over the radio, jacking in another HE Frag round and sending it into another building. “Where the hell is the Supreme Lord?” she asked next. She wanted to bring that male’s torso armor back to prove to the farmers that she had killed the mutants here. “I see him running for cover with a mini-gun,” called out Barb. “Got him.” Nora made a quick sweep in case they missed anything. She found another couple of mutants in a shack about two hundred meters north of the main settlement, on the waters of the long lake. Nora thought this would make a great settlement, but without a workbench they would have to haul in materials to build it. Maybe when they ran out of buildable area. “You got them,” said Doris as Nora threw down the torso armor and the mini-gun. “Was it hard?” “Not particularly. Now, have you considered joining us?” “How could we not. Yes, you can fortify us. And we’ll accept other settlers into our settlement.” “Good enough. Then get ready to have your minds blown.” * * * Nora felt good about herself and her crew as they walked the shore of the long lake to the north of Greentop. She actually felt like singing, but thought that not a good idea when they were traversing potentially hostile territory. But it was a beautiful day, birds singing, the air fresh. And she was leaving yar another strong settlement behind her. “I can’t believe how many of these mutated ferns I’ve found already,” said Heather as she pulled another couple of flowers from one of the plants. “Can we walk by the water so I can get some of the bloodleaf.” “Sure. I…” “Eliminate the damned targets,” said a robot voice, the kind used by a Gutsy, just before a stream of high caliber bullets came flying in. Barb and Heather ducked quickly behind trees. Wood splintered as the heavy rounds chewed through them. A few struck Nora’s armor, causing yet more damage. “Take cover,” said the suit. “Damage taken.” “No shit.” Nora tracked her rounds in on the Gutsy, watching as armor and innards came apart and sprayed everywhere. As the Gutsy fell a heavy laser came in and hit the suit, causing more damage. Nora cursed as she tracked in on the Assaultron. Her suit was almost a wreck. Of course, that meant it had protected her precious body from that damage. She sawed off the leg of the robot with a burst, the best way to attack them. She then aimed in on the head and killed the robot so thoroughly that the machine didn’t even have the ability to self-destruct. “They’re a fucking menace,” said Heather, getting up from behind the tree and knocking the dirt from her clothing. “How in the hell did so many Gutsy/Assaultron pairs end up wandering the Wasteland.” They were military bots of course, and it seemed reasonable that they would operate in tandem. But Heather was correct in them being a menace. The team had found the bodies of Wanderers, Scavers and Traders that had been blasted apart, probably by the bots. So it was their job to destroy any the came upon, not just for self defense but to protect her settlements. Not just the settlements, thought Nora. Sure, the settlements were her people, but she was actually out here to protect all the citizens of the Commonwealth, at least those not bent on taking everything from others. They walked on, coming over a hill and looking down on the settlement they had come to find. The Slog, and Nora was surprised to see that it was built around an old swimming pool. A number of people were working in the fields that were full of corn and carrots, while others tended the Tarberries that grew in the water of the pool. “They’re ghouls,” said Heather in disgust. “Well, they’re not feral,” said Barb. “All ghouls eventually turn feral,” said Heather. “It’s inevitable. Might as well take them out before they hurt anyone.” “We are not going to gun down people. I said people, Heather, who are going about their business in a peaceful manner. Am I understood?” “Yes ma’am,” said Heather, looking down as if ashamed. “Sorry.” “It’s fine to think what you want, to have feelings. Lord knows I think ghouls are disgusting as well. But they can’t help what happened to them, and I think it’s wonderful that they found ways to move on with their lives. So no comments about how disgusting they are within earshot. I want this settlement to be part of the Alliance. They are placed well to support us in operations, and they’re already stronger that any other settlement we’ve found.” “Can I help you?” asked a female ghouls as the party walked down to the swimming pool. Nora exited her power armor before speaking. People preferred to speak to a flesh and blood face with a normal voice attached, and not to the visage of armor that the suit projected. “Who’s in charge here, ma’am?” “Ma’am,” said the ghoul with a laugh. “So polite. Hey, Wiseman,” she called out, waving to a ghoul in jeans and t-shirt. “We have some well-behaved visitors here.” “And those are always welcome,” said the ghoul, walking over. “I’m wiseman, and this little operation is my responsibility.” “I’m Nora Jane Adams,” said Nora, taking the offered hand while repressing a shudder. “I represent the Minutemen, and I’m here to ask if there is anything you need help with?” “I’m assuming, based on your armor and weapons, that you are not referring to helping us tend our crops. But yeah, there’s something that you might be able to do. And not just to me, but to all the people of this region. But take a moment to look over our farm. Pretty cool, huh?” “Ingenious,” said Nora truthfully. “Using an old swimming pool for a Tarberry bog. And it looks like you are much better off than most of the people of this region. But I’m thinking we can make it even better.” “Quite the sales pitch,” laughed Wiseman. “You must have been a saleswoman before you became a soldier.” “Lawyer.” “I thought we got rid of all of them when the bombs dropped.” “Prewar lawyer, before I served in the United States Navy.” “No. You’re not ghoul. So, what’s your secret.” Nora gave the ghoul the short version of her history while he stared in amazement. “Unbelievable. So good to meet someone who remembers the same world I do. But is sucks that someone took your child. Any clue as to who it was.” “All kinds of clues, but nothing definite. So, what caused you to settle here?” “You mean after that Rat Bastard McDonough threw us out of Diamond city.” “Why did he do that?” “Because we’re ugly, we go crazy and kill people periodically, we scare the kids. But I have to ask you. How often do smoothskins lose it and kill someone? Look to the south at the Saugus Iron Works, the old forge, and you’ll see examples of humans who are psychopathic killers.” “Can’t argue with you there. So, you want us to clear them out.” “I wouldn’t send such pretty ladies to their deaths like that. No, I have something else in mind.”
  3. Nora wanted to check out Nordhagen beach, to see if she could get a settlement going there and start on getting some salt extraction. Salt was a vital resource in itself, used in cooking, and necessary for a well-functioning system. There was a whole ocean of saltwater sitting less than a mile away, but she needed a settlement so she could build the extractors. With the red workbenches and the QESS systems she could build anything. Without them she was extremely limited in what she could do. But Zeller was said to have a number of Caravan workers, and he was also said to be a very cruel man. So those people were suffering, under threat of execution. That decided Nora. She needed to get in there and free those people, then get them back to Bunker Hill. Everything else could wait. She had two ways to get there. Over the bridge across the inlet to East Boston from Chelsea. She didn’t like the look of that bridge, open in the middle and spanned by a tilted up wrecked car. The other was the long way around, by Revere Beach, which should be safe enough now, then overland to Easy City Downs, the old horse racing track, and over to the East Boston Preparatory School. Connie thought that Easy City Downs was a Raider operation, as well as a base for some people she had yet to run into. The Triggermen, said to be mostly ghouls who patterned themselves after old style gangsters. Submachine guns and patched suits, they didn’t sound like much of a challenge, though their weapons were modern enough, though lacking range. “Easy City Downs is my vote,” said Barb, looking at the Pip-Boy map. “We take out another stronghold and get a lot of loot. Then over to the Prep School and free the captives.” “It might be easier to avoid the Downs,” said Heather, sighing. “But I have to agree that it needs to be taken out if we want to make this area safer.” “Okay. Then Easy City Down it is.” Revere Beach proved to be deserted. At least so it seemed. And surviving Raiders must have thought the power armor suit and the two women in high tech armor were their worst nightmare and refused to make an appearance. They did run into some especially suicidal Raiders further on. Nora wondered at their intelligence in taking on someone in power armor. It made them easy targets and the team reduced the Raider population in the area by dribs and drabs. They stopped and went to ground five hundred meters from the downs. Something was going on there, with an announcer talking up the races. Nora couldn’t imagine that they had horses. She had seen none of the beasts since wandering the Commonwealth. It seemed that the fragile animals were extremely averse to pollution and radiation, and none survived in this region. Nora zoomed in on the action, and was surprised to see what was racing around the track. “Fucking robots,” she told her companions. “Mostly Handies, but some Assaultrons, running around the track.” “Think of all those parts,” said Barb, almost salivating. “We don’t know who is in there, so watch your fire and let me lead,” she told her people. Nora led with a forty millimeter into an obvious group of Raiders, killing a half dozen of them. Fire started coming in from all angles, and Nora started to scan them in VATS, selecting the enemies and ignoring the bystanders. Her HUD highlighted the opposition, enemies in red, pointed out by theirr weapons use, neutrals, identified by their lack of resistence in green. She took down every red image she could find, then moved further into the downs. “Go ahead and take down the robots,” she told her people over the radio. A few of the bots had fired on her, and she considered them all hostile. It was a tough fight, especially since there were noncombatants here to watch and bet on the races. Most were Raiders though, and if there was some collateral damage, most of the bystanders made it through alive. They found a robot shop with many machines that weren’t working but had good parts, and whole bins of spares. They raided food supplies and wandered on, Nora letting Wilson run his new program of gathering up salvage himself. Filled, he faded from view and hurried back to County Crossing to unload. Nora walked into one large building and stopped in her tracks in shock. There were eleven totally naked women in the building, all looking at her with fear filled eyes. One was suspended from a cross, a living advertisement for the sex slaves they were. Several were strapped into torture machines that acted to hold them in the position, while more were strapped to beds. A Raider with earbuds in his ears was thrusting away at a slave. His body jerked and he came in the woman, then pulled out and turned to see the power armor and a rifle pointed at his head. Nora pulled the trigger and sent the rapist into his afterlife, then climb out of her armor so the woman could see that she was also female. “Help us,” cried one of the women. “The Raiders were using us to make caps, or to use us to slake their own lusts.” “I’ll get you out of here. Don’t worry. Let me get the chains off.” “You need to get these collars from around our necks,” said a dirty haired blond. “If we wander too far from this area they blow our heads off.” That chilled Nora to the bone, while driving her to a rage at the same time. It was bad enough that these women were being kept in enslaved prostitution. But they were constantly threated with death, the collars their capital sentence should they choose to run. Nora looked them over, trying to give them reassuring smiles and mostly failing. Every single one had the marks of abuse on their faces and bodies. Bruises, cuts, even some cigarette burns. All had dried semen on them, while some had fresh deposits leaking from their vaginas and anal openings. “I’ll get them off and get you to safety. I..” “We got triggermen maneuvering to attack us,” said Barb over the radio. “I’ve got to go take care of some Triggermen,” said Nora, quickly holding up a hand when the women all started to protest. “I’ll be back for you. You,” she said, pointing to what seemed to be the most together woman. “See if you can find a key and get these chains off these other women. You are all free now, and free people do not wear chains.” Nora quickly got into the suit and ran out to battle the triggermen. There were about as dozen of them, wearing worn versions of fancy suits that gave no protection. Their submachineguns had no penetrating power, and Nora took them down one after the other. “Heather, Barb. I need you in here.” “But the loot?” “Can wait, Barb.” “What the hell,” blurted Heather as she walked into the room, seeing all the slaves. The one Nora had left in charge had removed the chains from all but two, and she was working on one of those. “They were holding slaves,” said Barb, her wide eyes taking in all of the captives. “Not unusual for Raiders. But..” “This was a forced whorehouse,” said Nora, tears coming to her eyes. While she loved sex, and loved it when others got their fill, she could not countenance rape. And these women had probably been raped all through the day, every day they had been here. “See if you can find something to get those collars off,” she told her friends. “The Boss, Big Lordis, had the keys to these things, the bitch,” said the woman that Nora had left in charge. “What’s she look like?” “She’s wearing a bomber jacket with a death’s head symbol on the left breast,” said the woman. “Go find her and get the key,” she told her two friends. “Now, who are you? And where are you from?” Nora found out that two of the women were from Nordhagen Beach, while the others had been wanderesr. The Raiders had killed their men if they had any, as well as any children they had with them. T he dirty haired blond from Nordhagen was also named Nora, and the Sole Survivor told the woman with a smile that they shared a name. A latino lady named Sonja was also from Nordhagen. The others had been wanderers before the Raiders had taken them. “Okay. We have some decisions to make. I’m not about to go off and leave you to wander the wastes without protection. I’m with the Minutemen, and no matter what you’ve heard of us, we’re rebuilding. I have eleven settlements to date, most on the other side of Cambridge, but one up at County Crossing.” She looked over at the other Nora. “Would your settlement be interested in joining with us. If so, I can promise you better crops, housing, and defenses. As well as purified water and hot showers.” “And how are you going to deliver all of that way out here?” asked Nora, looking doubtful. “Are you going to march a hundred men and pack brahman full of supplies?” “Well, you’re going to have to see it to believe it. But it will happen.” “Believe her,” said Heather, coming into the room with a ring of keys. “This was the eighth or ninth major Raider gang we’ve taken down with Nora in charge. And I’ve seen her build most of the Settlements.” “You’re that herbalist lady who advertises on the radio,” said one of the women. “The same.” “I think we can trust them, girls.” “Okay. You can set up at Nordhagen.” “Great,” said Nora, looking over the hopeful faces. Like most people in the Wasteland they were a resilient bunch. They could take what would break someone from Nora’s time and bounce back in a truly short period of time. “So, what about the rest of you. You can go and strengthen Nordhagen Beach. Or I can escort you to County Crossing in a couple of days. Or you can go back to wandering the Wasteland. Your choice.” There were no takers on the last choice, everyone agreeing that they would look over Nordhagen and decide on it or County Crossing. Heather got the collars off and stacked in a pile, while Barb powered down the transmitter that set the limit. “Does Wilson still have room?” “He’s almost full. But you can probably cram some more in.” “Then find some clothes for these ladies. I don’t want them walking to Nordhagen naked.” The Wilson robot faded into existence in the room, opening the hatch to his commodious hopper. “What in the hell is that?” asked one of the younger women, a girl barely out of puberty. “This is my stealth relay bot. He hauls salvage back to one of my workshops, invisible to the world. I have another four slightly smaller bots accompanying me, also in stealth, but they can’t wander too far.” “Damn, I almost feel sorry for the Raiders. Going up against people like you. Almost.” Some of the others laughed, while a few looked like it would be some time before they could. Barb and Heather brought in armfuls of clothes they had found in the Raider quarters, letting the ladies choose what they want to wear. They also brought in a lockpicking magazine, Tumblers Today. Nora read it and felt that she was just a bit better at picking locks. “Okay. We’re going to take you over to Nordhagen. Myself and Heather will lead, while Barb and the dogs take the rear. Stay alert and let us handle the fighting if there is any. Hopefully not, and in less than a half an hour you will be in a safe location.” The trip to Nordhagen was uneventful. The farmer there, one Suzie, was overjoyed to see her partner, as was thirteen-year-old Gary, Nora’s son. “We were expecting Big Lordis’ men to come and grab some more food,” said Suzie after being introduced to Nora. “Frankly, this one would have killed us. We’re near to starving already.” “Then here,” said Nora as one of her cargo bots materialized nearby. She grabbed twenty-four of the workshop rations being produced at the other settlements and handed them out. “That will at least pull you back from the edge.” “Amazing,” said Suzie. “And I promised them they could set up her and fortify our farm. I’m anxious to see what they can do.” So Nora showed them what she and her robots could do. It was well practiced by now, and less than thirty minutes after arrival two Constructrons and three Handies were at work. The Core Services Building went up first, and the settlement had power and purified water. The house started going up next, while an industrial center started on the waterfront. That night the group of fourteen people plus the party sat around a fire while the robots toiled away, the humans eating a hearty meal of meat and vegetable stew, washed down with beer. They had brand new patio chairs to sit in, and a couple of streetlights gave them enough to see by. “The showers are ready,” Nora announced at ten. "They’re cold, but give it another hour and you’ll have them nice and hot. If you can’t wait, jump on in. I know I’m going to wait on hot water. Five chose cold, the rest waited for hot. Nora and friends waited until four laser turrets were set up on a scaffolding tower and powered up before they turned in. Nora really didn’t feel like sex, though from the sounds from the other rooms many of the ladies decided to make love to someone they wanted. Most females, and quite a few males in the Wasteland, were bisexual. Complete homosexuality and straight heterosexuality were both rare. Men preferred women, and women men, but they often didn’t have their preferred partner around, so it was any port in a storm. Women took to it more naturally than men, and many continued having sex with females even when they had a man in their lives. Nora woke screaming from a nightmare, to feel her friends working to give her the pleasure she needed to get by it. Their room was invaded by many of the other women, anxious to know what was causing someone to scream. “She’s killed a lot of people this last week,” said Heather, looking up from where she had been licking Nora’s genitals. “She’s really good at it, but it doesn’t sit well with her subconscious. Not to worry. We’ll pleasure her for awhile and she’ll fade into a deep sleep.” Nora apologized to the group of women the next day for her outburst. “Don’t worry about it. You’ve sacrificed much to make the world a better place.” “Well, we’re going to East Boston Prep to take down Judge Zeller today. I’ll be back this evening, possibly with some captured caravan people. I ask that you put them up for one night, then I’ll escort them and those who have chosen to go to County Crossing. From there I’ll escort the Caravanners back to Bunker Hill. And I’ll try to set up regular traders to come her in the future.” “You think of everything,” said Suzie. “Well, not everything. So if you have any ideas about how I can improve things, let me know. We’re not a dictatorship in our Alliance. Everyone has a voice, and most times majority rules.” “Most times?” asked Suzie, raising an eyebrow. “Security is my bailiwick,” said Nora. “And I will not compromise there, not matter what anyone else might say.” The walk to the Prep School was uneventful. They stood in front of the mostly intact building looking at the gruesome decorations the Raiders had erected to mark their territory. “This is a stealth insertion, so I’m going to leave the power armor out here.” “We’ve got you covered,” said Barb, Heather nodding her agreement and making sure her laser was topped off with fusion cells.” I know you do, thought Nora as she slowly opened the door and slid inside. She heard people talking and laughing, the raucous conversation she expected of Raiders. They were coming from upstairs, and she climbed the partially ruined steps to clear them out. It was very dark on the next floor, and she could see the red images of a couple of Raiders on the side of a large pile of garbage, whispering as they tried to set an ambush. She crept forward, coming up behind a Raider and slamming her razor-sharp combat knife through the brainstem of the man, killing him instantly. The shock woman froze, and Nora slashed the blade across her throat and left her to bleed out on the floor. The hallway leaving this section on the same level was blocked with a high piled barrier of desks and other furniture, and she could see the red images of people beyond through the few gaps. “What do you have down there?” she asked over the radio. “A barrier of furniture ahead,” said Barb. “I can see that the floor above has collapsed, and there are people beyond the barrier.” “Okay. Get set and ready to sweep them when they come at you. I’m going to send some grenades over the top of the barrier up here and stir them up.” It was the way she preferred to fight in buildings. Letting the enemy attack her set positions, instead of probing into unknown territories sure to be mined or booby trapped. She sent a grenade over the barrier to explode on the other side to the screams of Raiders. With a couple of quick motions she had the launcher reloaded and sent another round over. Heather and Barb opened fire, and there was more yelling down there, so Nora ran down the stairs and came up even with Barb, who was delivering automatic fire on the Raiders shooting over the barrier. Nora sent a forty millimeter their way then shifted the launcher over onto her back so she could use her rifle. Heather was involved in a hell of a firefight, her against a half dozen Raiders. Nora shifted the balance of power with her rifle, then pulled the GL back down to send a round into the next room. The grenade exploded, along with a couple of mines, and the incoming fire ceased. “Watch out for mines,” she told her people over the com. “They’ve probably got them liberally seeded.” Nora stopped for a moment to search a Raider, finding a letter marked contract, that swore these people to the service of Zeller in life and death. So, they were a bunch of crazy cultists, which made them even more deadly than the normal Raider. And needing to be taken out before they could grow larger. Nora cat footed it into the other room, finding a number of bodies, some of them killed by their own mines. Another started to activate, and Nora backpeddled out of the room before it could explode. She motioned Dogmeat forward, Dewey right behind. Dogmeat was excellent at sniffing out mines, pointing to them like a bird dog when he found them. Dogmeat found a couple of mines, and Nora shot down a Raider that was aiming in on her dog. She worked her way around the room and came out behind the barrier, to see a number of bodies. Something fired at her from above, missing in the obscuring smoke, and Nora sent a burst his way, silencing him. “I think we’re going to face some stiff resistance up these stairs,” she whispered to her people over the radio. She waved Dewey up the steps, motioning for Dogmeat to stay back. She was fond of both dogs, but realistically Dewey was a robot, who could be repaired if put out of action, while death for Dogmeat was permanent. She had thought of leaving Dogmeat behind, but his nose was better than Dewey's, and he was much superior at finding mines. Nora readied her GL on a premonition. As Dewey reached the first landing up, a Raider came out on the next landing and took a shot at the dog. Nora pulled the trigger on the GL and sent a swarm of razor sharp flechettes into the body of the woman, shredding it. She pulled a grenade from her web gear, armed it, and tossed it on a curve that landed it through the doorway. A Raider screamed in panic and the hand thrown bomb went off, silencing the scream. “Dammit, kill them,” yelled a loud voice. “And someone get in there and shoot the prisoners.” “Will do, Judge,” called back a voice down the hall. Shit. Nora ran up the steps, came through the doorway and fired a long burst that took down everyone in the hall. She gunned down a man down the hall who was disappearing into a door, then ran flat out, pulling her pistol and dropping the rifle to hand on its straps. A man in the next room fire a shotgun at her, wasting the pellets on her armor, while she ran forward and shot him with three .45 rounds, sending him into the wall to slide to the floor in death. “Help us,” called out a woman’s voice, followed by the shouts of some men. Nora found the caravan workers, seven of them, in four cells. She ran back and searched Zeller’s body, coming up with a ring of keys. One turned in the lock and the people were free. “Kessler sent me,” she told the people, five men and two women, who were trying to talk over each other. “Zeller’s dead and you’re safe. Any more of you?” “I think this is it,” said one of the men. “Zeller was torturing us, trying to get us to join his cult. I think some of those he took away are dead, the rest joined.” “Then they’re dead. Sorry, but if they fought back they went down.” Barb and Heather came up, lifting their glasses and looking over the prisoners. “So what? Did Kessler send the most beautiful women she could find? If you were our captors I think I would stay a prisoner.” “When are you going to send us back to Bunker Hill?” asked one of the women. “We’re going to take you to Nordhagen Beach for the night,” Nora told them, holding up a hand to silence their protests. “We have showers and meals for you this night. And we will escort you back to Bunker Hill tomorrow. I still have business at the settlement, after all.” Nora looted the building with the help of the prisoners she had rescued, sitting down to read some terminals, and reading the story of Judge Zeller. It was a horrific tale of a madman who tortured people into joining his cult, finding their greatest weakness and using it against them. These people she had saved would have eventually submitted, and Zeller’s army would grow, until he was a major power in this region, threatening everything she was building. The walk back to Nordhagen was uneventful, until they got within sight of the settlement. The caravanners started talking and gesturing, pointing at the new construction. Nora smiled as she stopped for a moment and looked it over herself. The now three-story housing complex was finished, at least structurally. There were bedrooms on the second floor and a dorm on the top. The Core Services Building was as before, concrete block walls protecting the vital installations inside. And the industrial building rose two stories, actually three extended floors, into the air. Multiple turrets sat on the roof of the buildings. Three saltwater extractors sat in the inlet, smoke rising as they processed out the salt. A trio of oil wells were aligned on the other side of the industrial building, along with a pair of resource extractors. There was still work to be done. She was considering automated planters, though if the farmers wanted to work in the fields she would let them. It was their settlement after all. “How did all of this get here?” asked Ricky, the caravan guard spokesman for the group. “We built it,” said Nora, a satisfied smile on her face. “We’ll spend the night here, then escort some of the women who want to work County Crossing there in the morning. I should have you back at Bunker Hill by early afternoon.” “Good enough,” said Ricky. “And if we want to be part of this?” asked Steve, another of the guards. “Ask the people here if you can be part of their settlement. If they say yes, you’re in.” “You seriously thinking of getting out of the caravans?” asked Beverly, one of the two women. “Hell yes. I’m tried of walking all over the Commonwealth. Bad food, bad sleeping arrangements, constant danger, while the trader makes all the profit. Give me a place with food, water, beds and showers any day.” “You’ll have to work,” cautioned Nora. “Learn a trade.” “No problem.” “Then let’s go meet the settlers,” said Nora, leading them in. “And be careful of how you speak to the ladies. Most of them were Raider sex slaves yesterday, and they might not react well to being hit on.” “And you and your ladies?” “What my friends want to do is up to them.” Nora thought about it a moment. She hadn’t had any dick in four days, and the thought of getting fucked by a man appealed to her. “I’ll take a couple of you on, once you clean the stink of that Raider place off of you.” * * * “Come in, boys,” said Nora, inviting Ricky and Billy into her quarters in the Core Services Building. “See anything you like?” Nora had greeted them at the door sans any clothing. She didn’t feel like playing games. She had already told the men what she wanted to do, and they were up for it, so she wanted to get right to it. Barb and Heather had also been responsive to the suggestion of giving the men some restorative sex. One of the men had paired up with the woman who was going to remain a caravan guard, which left her two friends with one man each. They had been hungry for some dick as well, and anxiously awaited their cock for the night in the rooms they had taken in the industrial building. “My God, but you are beautiful,” said Billy, taking her in his arms and kissing her throat. Nora sighed, then looked at Ricky. “And what do you think, kind sir?” “You are the most gorgeous woman I have ever seen, and I still can’t believe I’m about to fuck you.” “Well, come over here to sit on the bed and I’ll get you ready.” Nora stroked the cocks, watching as they grew. Ricky was just above average, Billy sporting a thick eight incher. She started licking them, at first alternating, then kissing and licking both cockheads at the same time. The men didn’t seem to mind their equipment touching that of the other, and Nora was sure they were both bi. That didn’t bother her at all, and if they started working each other over she would urge them on. “Okay. It looks like you are both ready. So what do you want to do? To let you know, anal is not my favorite, though any type of vaginal or oral is right up my alley.” “Double vaginal,” said Billy with a smile at his buddy. “Why not. If the lady is agreeable.” “I’ve never tried that before,” said a excited Nora, aware that her glands were pouring out the pheromones. “Why not. Go slow and let me adjust, and stop if I seem to be in too much pain.” Nora didn’t think she would be in pain. She had taken cocks that had a greater circumference than those of both men combined. It would still be different, but that was the point. She wanted to experience all the different she could while she was still walking this world. Billy lay on his back. Nora licked his dick for a moment, then mounted him facing away, her body shaking as he slid home and she thought about what they were about to do. She had seen it done on porno tapes, and once in a live show. And the thought that she was going to take two in her pussy was a rush. She took Ricky’s dick in her mouth and firmed it up as Billy thrust into her pussy in a slow steady rhythm. “How is she?” asked Ricky, groaning from her oral. “So tight hot and wet. I’ve never felt a pussy like this.” “I get that a lot,” said Nora with a laugh. “I’m betting you do. I’d pay for this pussy.” “And I might charge you back at Bunker Hill,” she said, sighing from the stimulation she was receiving. “But tonight it’s all about the pleasure. So, Ricky. You ready to stick it in me?” Ricky nodded and moved into place, sticking the head of his cock at her entrance as Billy stopped moving. He pushed in, a tight fit, but the lubrication Nora’s excellent pussy was providing let it slip in. Both men were now all the way in, seated, the hot wet sleeve around them, their own dicks touching within the woman, driving them wild. Ricky started thrusting first, Billy soon joining in. At first they out of synch, but very soon they had a rhythm going, one going in while the other was pulling out, their cocks rubbing against each other with her pussy providing the lubrication. Ricky was rubbing her clit with his pubic mound, sending waves of pleasure through her body. “You’re working my clit so good, Ricky. I’m going to cum, soon.” “What about me?” asked Billy, obviously not wanting to be left out. “You dick is sending the most delicious shivers up my spine, lover. Keep it up.” The men were soon dripping sweat and grunting their pleasure as they continued to fuck Nora in Rhythm. She felt coming on, and hoped the boys would weather it, because she wanted more than one orgasm out of this. Then it hit, her pussy muscles clenched as her back arched and she was one pleasure cell from the tip of her toes to the top of her scalp. “My God, Nora. I’ve never felt such a powerful orgasm in a woman.” Nora panted some breaths before she could speak, then got it under control. “Keep fucking me like this and the next will be better.” “That’s a challenge, Billy. We need to keep going until Nora Cums again.” “I’ll try,” said Billy. “But that last one was almost too much. I’ve never felt a pussy like this. Jesus, Nora. What the hell kind of exercises do you do?” Nora didn’t answer, just letting herself melt into the sex. She had never experienced anything like this. And as wonderful as the physical sensations were, the mental were even more powerful. The thoughts, the experience, of two men inside her pussy at the same time. She thought if their dicks were larger it would have been painful. But they were perfect. Simply wonderful. “I’m not going to hold on much longer,” said Billy, his cock swelling within her. Nora was right on the edge, and pushed herself over before Billy came and stopped the double. Her pussy clenched again, more powerful than before. As she was still rising she felt Billy’s cock begin to rhythmically spurt deep into her pussy. He was still as he came, but Ricky increased his pace and kept slamming it into Nora. Billy’s dick softened and slid out, and Nora sighed as she felt the semen flow out of her and down her crack. And Ricky kept slamming into her, until the orgasm she was coming down from shot back into another rise and her body shook. That was all that Ricky could take, and he shot spurt after spurt into the welcoming sleeve. With a final grunt he fell to the side and off. In a moment he was up, lapping at Nora’s pussy, sucking his and his buddies cum out and swallowing it down. “That was amazing.” “You want to do it again,” said Ricky, looking up from her groin with a mixture of pussy juice and semen on his face. “Maybe another night, but not now. It’s just too intense. I would like to take you both in a spit roast though, if that’s okay. And come up here so I can clean your face off.” “One second,” said Ricky, sucking Billy’s cock into his mouth and cleaning it off. “And that is so hot. I haven’t been with bi men in quite a while, and it is so hot.” She licked and kissed Ricky’s face clean, then started to suck his dick. Billy got between her legs and licked her to an orgasm, then shifted to slide his cock back into the fantastic pussy that had just sucked the cum out of him. Soon he was thrusting away, while Ricky started thrusting into her mouth, finally going into her throat. Nora had two more intense orgasms, then sucked down the load from Ricky’s cock. Billy shot his load into her, then moved so he could suck his semen out of her, while Ricky moved into position to clean his friend’s cock. “I guess we need to go,” said Ricky when everyone was as clean as they could get without a shower. “Please stay. Sleep with me. Hold me.” “And here I thought you were the iron bitch,” said a laughing Billy. “Most times I am,” said Nora, her eyes tearing up. “The deadliest motherfucker you’ve ever seen. But I’m still a woman, and need someone to hold me. So you two cuddle up with me and guard me through my sleep.”
  4. The Bureau of Alcohol, Drugs, Tobacco Firearms and Lasers, a Federal Agency office, was only about three blocks for Bunker Hill. Nora had to wonder why the hell the people at Bunker Hill hadn’t moved and taken them out, since they had the guns, what with all of the Caravan people that hung out there. It seemed that Bunker Hill was all about the money, and if they could pay off the Raiders, no matter how despicable the gang, they would. A couple of Raiders were hanging out on the front porch of the large building. A short radio tower rose from the roof of the building. It had the look of something that had started off small and gotten larger, the government of course expanding their influence in the local area. Nora pointed Barb to the Raider on the left, while she aimed in on the right. “Now,” she whispered into the radio, and both fired within a second of each other. Barb’s had time to start to glance at her partner before the 5.56 rocked her head back. They searched the bodies, rejecting the bad leather armor and quickly stripping the pipe weapons down, barrels and receivers going into a cargo bot while they dropped the rest as trash. Nora thought stealth would be best in this place, so she exited her armor and locked it down, then tried the door. It was unlocked. Why wouldn’t it be, with such good security at the front. The door swung open without a sound and Nora crept in, looking around for a moment before signaling her people to follow. The dogs and the robots were in last, and Nora pointed out the targets to her people. The front room was an office, with multiple desks, ruined terminals and telephones. A couple of Raiders, one an armed and armored child, were sleeping on a bag in the next office. At a word through the Radio bullets went into both their heads, killing them instantly. “No. Oh no. You fucking bastards killed them,” said a woman softly, moving in a crouch toward the dead. And joining them a moment later as Barb put a round through her head. Nora really didn’t understand why the criminal scum didn’t wear head armor. They could still be killed, especially with a shot through the face. At any other angle they might survive, depending on the power of the weapon used. As she was thinking a turret activated and started to fire, exploding as Nora quickly engaged it. “I’m going in there,” said Nora, pointing toward a locked and barred area, weapons and ammo cans on the shelves. She picked lock that had stymied the Raiders stopped her for a moment, but with the third pick she had it open and was in. Nora stuffed a dozen pistols into Wilson, the ammo into her cargo bots, then took the catapult mechanism off the Fatman launcher. She found three mini-nuke warheads. At forty grams of nuclear material each, she could turn them into three RPG rounds or build a large fusion reactor with twenty grams left over. A couple of Stealth Boys went into Wilson to join the pistols. Another office contained a series of file cabinets, mostly with junk files, though she found some holo-tapes for later perusal. They went to the right and in. There were two paths they could take, but Dogmeat seemed insistent on the one to the left, so Nora followed. The party moved silently, night vision giving them a clear enough picture to maneuver as hands held pistol grips, ready to fly to the triggers. The next office was empty of people, but with lots of telephones and broken terminals. Nora found a Gun and Bullets magazine that gave her the formula to make .45 ammo. Not in great demand, but she wasn’t about to turn down any crafting recipe. The offices on the left off the room had been for interrogation, and she snagged some holo tapes and handcuffs. A red figure appeared ahead through the door, reaching into a refrigerator to get a bottle. Nora closed with him silently, grabbed his ponytail, jerked, and stuck her combat knife in under his jaw. The man choked once and fell. They moved on, going down a hallway, Nora sneaking into a bathroom and killing a Raider man taking a leak. Then it was into the lockup area, which was a horror show. Bodies hung from meat hooks, most naked, some with meat removed from buttocks or legs. These Raiders were cannibals, taking people from the streets and stocking their larder. Nora choked down her vomit, then forced herself to go into the cells and search. Finding a few holo-tapes that she bagged. “You’re dead,” yelled a woman, and a shotgun went off. Barb yelled out, and her rifle cut the woman down. “You okay, Barb?” asked a concerned Nora. “She hit me in the chest,” said Barb, coughing a bit. “Right into the chest plate. Nothing got through." The sound of more people coming toward them sounded through the halls, and Nora quickly set her people in ambush. Four Raiders ran into the kill zone, which lived up to its name. They stripped the bodies and then looted the place, while Nora read a terminal about the story of Sparta and his crew, who had been taking people off the streets like cattle. They had been avoiding Bunker Hill and the trade caravans, since Kessler was paying them off. Nora determined to have a talk with the woman about how her strategy was actually hurting the region. When they got back. Nora filled Wilson and sent him on his way to Hangman’s Alley. The robot would head to the river, then fly up it out from the city, finally turning in past the bridge and going into the Alley, where a Handy would unload it into the QESS. Afterwards it would home in on Nora’s Pip-Boy. Round trip, three hours and minutes in change. Not bad, but she still wanted something on this end of the Commonwealth. The bridge over the inlet was heavily mined. Heather volunteered for removal duty, so while Nora scanned, the woman moved quickly in on each revealed explosive and swiftly disarmed it. They made it across the bridge no problem, and Nora checked out the signs to either side of the road, identifying the Irish Pride Shipyards and Poseidon Energy Turbine 18-F. She wanted to check them out for what they had, but time was of the essence now, so she planned on later. They turned down the road to the east, traveling until they reached a crossroad, taking out some insects that threatened them, then turned to the north. Through another crossroad, until the fields of the farm appeared on the right, the National Guard Training Yard ahead on the left. The farm was surrounded by a good bit of land, most cleared with some patches of woods scattered throughout. There was one metal shack, a ruined house with the red workbench in front, and the acre of cleared land with mutfruit. And a pond near the ruined house, which her Pip-Boy assured her was fresh water that was being fed by something. “What are you doing here?” called out a blond-haired woman, covering them with a shotgun. “We’re from the Minutemen. I got word that you needed help.” “Oh thank God. I’m Connie Harris, and the bastards kidnapped Victoria, my lover. You ever had someone threaten your lover? I really don’t know what to do.” “Calm down. We’ll get Victoria back for you. Who else lives here?” “Victoria’s daughter, Stefani, and my hired hand, Wilbert.” Nora nodded. Men were scarce out in the Wasteland. Raiders killed them first off, because they were the ones most likely to fight back. Leaving the farms worked by easily intimidated women. Nora exited her power armor, wanting the woman to see she was dealing with a real person. “How many were there? And do you know where they took them?” “There were five of them. And they took her to Revere Beach Station. Oh please, get her back. I miss her.” “That’s a bad place,” said Barb over the radio, speaking into Nora’s ear bud. “A big gang runs the boardwalk, and they’re affiliated with those in the metro station.” “They keep coming back once a week to take food. They say they’ll kill Victoria if we don’t keep ponying up, but we don’t have any more. And we are so hungry. I don’t know what I’m going to tell Stefani when she tells me she’s hungry.” Nora pulled six MREs and a dozen purified waters from her cargo bot and gave them to the farmer. “Let’s go get Victoria and clear out the Raiders. We’ll go for the other nearby targets while we’re setting this place up. After that we’ll go after Judge Zeller and free his captives so we can escort them back to Bunker Hill.” “Sounds kind of ambitious to me,” said Heather, frowning. “But I’m with you, partner.” The party moved out to the east along the open field, avoiding contact with the Revere Satellite array and its Supermutants. They could wait. They crouched in cover outside Revere Beach, scanning the area, counting all the red images. There were over twenty of them in sight, which meant probably forty in the beach area. The rest would be down in the station, where they assumed their hostage was. “I’m going to hit them hard,” said Nora, arranging her grenades in a ready belt, making sure she had RPG seekers and high explosives at hand, along with a pair of Molotov’s. “Power armor,” said Heather, pointing out the figure moving down the boardwalk. “Two of them,” she said in a minute as another appeared. Nora made sure the ready rack for the RPG was loaded up as well. Three cluster munitions, three high explosives and two armor piercing, in case the power armor was tougher than usual. “Pick your target while I get this show on the road. And watch the backblast.” Nora started the show off with a shot at one of the Raiders in power armor, sending an armor piercing rocket into hin across the three hundred meters aiming center mass. The Raider had enough time to make a half turn, seeing his death coming at him. The rocket hit and detonated, blasting the chest piece off the frame, while the explosion continuing up to lift the helmet into the air and eject it out into the ocean. She loaded the next rocket and waited for power armor Raider number two to make target of himself. The Raider bounded into her view, a minigun spewing hundreds of rounds a second of 5mm Rounds, going everywhere, a few bouncing from the hardened carbon armor of her Recon suit. Heather and Barb took cover, popping up at random intervals to take Raiders under fire. Nora aimed in and fired, sending her second armor piercing rocket toward the Raider. Fifty yards from the target the rocket exploded, well short, though fragments took down some of the nearby raiders. Nora pushed a high explosive rocket into the tube of the RPG, out of the armor piercing for the moment. She was hoping that it would do the job. Otherwise she would have to hit him with RPG grenades or her rifle. The minigun jammed, and the Raider frantically tried to clear it. Not in time to prevent the high explosive rocket from striking the helmet, blowing it and the head it covered off the Raider. “That takes care of the power armor,” she said over the radio. “Engage them while I hit them with some heavy stuff.” Nora fired a cluster munition, the rocket coming apart high over the target and dropping a number of bomblets on the Raiders below. Nora then dropped the launcher and pulled up her grenade launcher, sending rounds into every place that might shelter a Raider. “That might have done it,” said Barb, moving forward. “Everybody move slow and let me sweep. They probably don’t have anything that can hurt me.” Nora moved with bounds, quickly closing the distance. A Raider with a hand flamer came out of a building and sent the stream her way. She engaged her jetpack and flew up and over, turning in the air to gun the flame throwing Raider down. There were several more Raiders in the buildings, sniping out, giving themselves away, then blasted into eternity. The girls and the dogs came forward and Nora entered the station in her armor in case there was an ambush. There was not, the people inside still unaware that their gangmember buddies had been blasted to hell. Nora exited the armor. Now they had to be as silent as possible, and the whining of power armor gears was not conducive to stealth. The name of the game now was find the hostage and bring her out alive. If the hostage was killed this mission was a bust. True, they had almost wiped out a strong Raider gang, but Connie would not be happy, and Nora doubted they would be invited to use the farm. The party moved forward, Nora leading, the dogs alert and pointing when they heard enemies. There were several Raiders in the station, taken down from the shadows. More on the landing down below, also killed with almost total silence. And then they were down on the track heading into the living area of the Raiders. Nora went into the side tunnel, keeping a close watch for anyone who looked to be sitting or on their knees in restraints. This was a tense moment, in which her and her people could kill the hostage in a second. She shot down everything she saw that was armed, including a couple of turrets. “Victoria,” she asked as she came to a red figure in a side passage, sitting with her hands restrained behind her back. “Oh, please. Get me out of here.” "We’re going to get you back to the farm. Now stay close and let us surround you. If anyone shoots at us go to ground and let us take care of them.” The woman nodded, speechless, but she followed directions. They met no resistance on the way out, and Nora, once again in her power armor, saw no one along the Boardwalk, and figured any survivors were cowering in the shadows, not wanting to call attention to themselves. They made their way low and slow back to the farm. “Victoria,” cried Connie as she saw her lover come walking into the camp. “Mommy,” cried Stefani as she ran into her mother and wrapped her in tight arms. “Thank you so much,” said Victoria, looking at Nora as the general exited her power armor. “I don’t know how you did it.” “My pleasure. This is what we do. Now, I need to discuss bringing you into our alliance.” “Can it wait,” said Connie in a peevish tone. “We just got back together, after all.” “The longer you wait the longer you are open to attack. Sure, we can wait till tomorrow, but if the Raiders come at you there’s likely to be casualties.” “Oh, let them do it, Connie. They’re good people to have on your side. What I saw on the boardwalk. How they slaughtered so many of that gang. I sure would feel better if they were giving us protection.” “Go ahead then,” said Connie. “Victoria owns this stretch of land as much as I do.” Nora set her Handies to making a QESS, then pulling out more robots and assembling them while the spellbound farmers watched. Soon she had three Constructrons and two more Handies, and they started laying out the foundations that she had marked out in her Pip-Boy. First the Core Services building, Concrete walls over the concrete foundation. The Fusion generator went in next, while two of the Constructrons laid out the foundation of the house. The Handies went to work with their saws and took down trees, turning the half acre plot into a full twenty acres, then cutting and stacking the lumber. “How are you doing all of this?” asked Connie, looking on with wide eyes. “My technicians have been developing technologies we’ve found in research centers.” “You say your technicians. Where do you fit into this organization?” “She’s the General,” said Barb proudly. “The top soldier in the whole alliance.” “Barb,” yelled Nora. “We’ve talked about this.” “We sure have. And you need to take credit for your accomplishments. I know you don’t try to hog all the glory, but some of it is yours. And by extension ours.” “Proud to meet you General.. Hell, I never got your name.” “Nora Jane Adams.” “And you’re a Vault dweller?” “I was. But I’ve put that behind me.” “Well God Bless, Nora Jane Adams. And God Bless your friends.” Nora pulled some more food from the QESS and gave it to the farmers. “Why don’t you make a meal for all of us, and we’ll continue to supervise the robots. We won’t be near finished until later tomorrow, but I hope to have us secure before we turn in for the night.” For the next couple of hours, as darkness fell, and the farmers made what they had into a celebratory feast, the robots kept working. The fusion generator whined as it started sending out power, while the pumps in the pond pumped water into the two purifiers and the water heater. They all sat down to a meal, telling their stories as the robots put up lights. Soon a tower of scaffolding was rising, the Handies assembling a couple of laser turrets on top and running wires to the power pole, which was wired to the generator. The bottom floor of the house was framed in, the concrete outer walls providing protection. A constructron and a Handy put together the bathroom, flush toilets and showers. The group, humans and robots, were getting to be old hands at this. They still didn’t have beds, but everyone put bags down on the ground floor so they could sleep. “A real shower,” said Connie as she dried herself off with a towel that was manufactured by the Textile Factory in Sanctuary. All of the farmers had new clothes, a set of casual and one of sturdy work clothes. “I can hardly believe it.” “You will be expected to work hard to improve this place, and we are going to set up a beacon to attract more settlers. If you think they’ll work out, keep them. If not, contact us and we’ll move them to another settlement. And check out the pistols and rifles we laid out for you. The turrets and robots will help to defend you, but you’re probably going to have to take up arms at times.” “Willingly,” said Connie, putting an arm around her lover, also just out of the shower. “So, let me ask you Nora. Are you all hetero, lesbian, bi?” “We all happen to be bisexual,” said Heather. “It makes the road so much more pleasant.” “Well, I was wondering if you wanted to share the bags with us. I want to make love to my partner, since we’ve been separated for some weeks. Stefani is used to hearing us go at it, and Wilbert often joins us. So if you don’t want to participate in our games, feel free to start your own.” “We’ll satisfy each other, so you and your lover can enjoy each other. But thanks.” The Raiders struck in early morning, thirteen of them coming across the fields, trying to get in by stealth. They were picked up by the dogs and the turrets, and came under fire before they could get within range of their pipe weapons. It was a slaughter, and Nora was sure that was the end of the gang at Revere Beach. “We’ve got a mission to clear the National Guard Training Ground and the Revere Sattalite Array while we’re in the area. The robots will keep working through the day, so just go on about your normal business. I’ve programed my Handies to plant a couple of acres of razor grain, corn, carrots and tatos to go along with your Mufruit.” “Thank you. Mutfruit is tasty, but it still gets old.” “Well expect a periodic shipment of meat. And are there any more settlements around here that might need our help. Ones that have the red workbenches like yours.” “Well, there’s Nordhagen Beach on the coast. Finch Farms to the Northeast, Greentop to the north, and Taffington Boathouse to the Northwest. Though Taffington is abandoned. Oh, and The Slog. Bunch of civilized ghouls there. Nice people, though hideously ugly.” “We don’t really care about outward appearances,” said Nora, believing that at heart, but not sure she would be able to have sex with a ghoul, civilized or feral. “As long as they work hard and get along with everyone else, they’re welcome in the Alliance.” “Be careful with the National Guard Yard,” said Victoria. “It’s swarming with ferals. And Revere is a stronghold for Supermutants.” “The reason we are going after them,” said Nora. “And I’m sure you will feel a lot better once we evict the neighbors.” Nora checked out the power armor in the new station in the Core Services Building before they proceeded on their mission. The armor on the torso was weakened in a few places, as was the left arm, but it was serviceable, and she thought capable of handling anything she might run into today. That down she mounted up and led her people to the National Guard complex. * * * There were cars all over the National Guard parking lot. The kind that had good salvage, or might explode if shot. The sensors showed a number of turrets on the building. It looked like a danger zone, even before the ghouls came out to play. “There’s a veribird crashed in the yard,” called out Barb. Nora decided that she wanted that tech off the vertibird, along with some deep scans that would let her people build one. A vertibird would come in handy for moving around, though it would take quite a bit of time to build one. Well, her techs were wasting a lot of time on the motorcycle they were restoring. So why not an aircraft that she could actually fly. They walked around the outside of the building, Barb and Heather taking out turrets as they came to them. There were a couple of blockhouses outside the main building, one open and almost empty, the other locked tight and sure to contain some good stuff. “There’s a SentyBot up there in that blockhouse,” said Heather, pointing as the large squat robot behind locked doors. It glowed with power on her suit sensors, and Nora was sure it would activate when the party penetrated a sensitive area. That was a massive killing machine, and it could probably chew its way through her armor with its .50 caliber, while its rocket launcher could surely kill her in an instant. “Watch it. If it starts to come out fire it up.” “Do you know what you’re doing?” asked Heather in an anxious tone. Nora didn’t answer. She wanted to move up there with stealth, so she approached from the side, where the SentryBot was unlikely to see her. She sowed a half dozen of the mines she had been picking up across the yard in front of the door, then snuck away. “There. If it comes out the first thing it will encounter is mines.” “Smart,” said Barb. “No wonder you were elected leader.” They entered through the front door, immediately under assault by ghouls. Her girls fired them up while she went after them with her nanosword. They then searched the building, finding lots of ammo and armor, and something unexpected. “That’s a BOS Knight,” said Heather. Nora looked down on the dead and rotting woman who had tried to find shelter here and had been killed by ghouls. Nora took her holo-tag, and the electronic device on the ground beside her. And the holo-tape to listen to later. She would be able to tell Danse she had found a trace of their lost patrol, and hoped that would satisfy him. They went through the building, then through the security doors to the next, fighting ghouls the entire way. The next building had even more ghouls. It also had a half empty armory that had a dozen military class rifles and a couple of machineguns. They loaded up Wilson, who had a very short trip this time, then went to check on the sealed blockhouse. That building had a couple of ghouls as well, and a derelict suit of power armor, along with some weapons and ammo. Nora was betting that the SentryBot was going to activate from them penetrating this building, and readied her RPG in case her booby trap didn’t work. Sirens were blaring and lights were flashing when they exited the blockhouse. And a series of explosions boomed from the area the SentryBot was housed, followed by one massive explosion as the heavily damaged robot detonated. “Good plan,” said Barb as she moved up to the flaming SentryBot, looking at the red hot chassis that was unapproachable at the moment. “We’ll come back for this one when he cools down. Let’s go back to the settlement and check out the progress, then unload the cargo bots. Then it’s Supermutant season.” * * * The holo-tape belonged to BOS Knight Tara Astlin, who had faced her end with courage and determination. Nora hoped that when her time came she would be so brave. And instructions were left to follow a directional signal. Nora programed her Pip-Boy. An area of her map was highlighted, and by chance it was in a line from the Settlement to the Revere Satellite Array. Well, first they needed to clean out the Supermutants, then they could worry about the recon party. A couple of hundred meters from the outer fence Nora rocketed into the sky, looking over the yard with its number of scaffolding sets and four large satellite dishes. And a number of large red figures on the ground and on the scaffolding. There were some shacks constructed on the scaffolding. “Fire on the mutants so I can see them moving,” she said over the radio, coming down to land on a hill four hundred meters from the array and let her jets cool. “Wilco,” said both her girls, and fire started hitting some of the mutants. And starting the charge of the mutants she was looking for. Nora jetted back into the air, picking up the two figures running, clutching flashing objects under their right arms. She fired on one, right into the warhead, detonating the nuke. She immediately switched fire to the next and blew him to hell as well. Most of the other mutants were also down from the effects of the nukes and Nora once again thought it a bad tactic. It guaranteed that one of the mutants died, and had a high probability of killing others. As long as she and her people were aware of their targets, it was a win for the humans. They quickly cleared out the shocked Supermutants, while the big brutes continued to boast of their superiority. “Isn’t it funny how they boast about how they’re better than us,” said Heather after she burned down the last mutant. “Who’s superior now, Muty, now that you’re dead.” Nora followed the direction finder on her Pip-Boy and located the body of a Knight, his power armor standing by, within the bowl of a dish. She recovered his holotags and a hole-tape, then jump down so they could go on to their last stop for the day. Reeb Marina was not much. It had some insects to put down, and there were Mirelurks that were killed and harvested for the coming night’s meal. Nora found the Haptic Drive in a locked footlocker, and they headed back to the settlement. “We watched you at work,” said Connie as they came walking into the settlement. Barb and Heather dropped the sacks of Mirelurk meat by the cook station, and Victoria opened the bags and squealed at what we revealed. “What the hell were those two big explosions by the satellite station?” “Suiciders,” said Nora after she climbed out of her power armor. “I took them out from the air, and they took most of their friends with them.” “So the station is cleared out?” “Yep. No worries there, until something else moves in. So I’m going to place some more turrets to concentrate on that approach. And the National Guard Yard is completely clear. Not a ghoul to be found, and that big combat robot is scrap.” “So that’s the explosion we saw that way,” said Victoria. “We thought maybe we had seen the last of you. Glad we were wrong.” “We got three new people in while you were gone. I have them working the fields, but I would appreciate if you would look them over for me before you go.” The three newcomers were a couple with a fourteen-year-old boy. The man had on a Minuteman’s jacket, and Nora found out he was the survivor of a local unit that had come apart after the massacre at Quincy. “I am so happy to meet you, General,” said the man, Torance, smiling with his arm around his woman, Pam. The boy, Wil, was their son, and it did Nora’s heart good to see a real family that had come through it together. “I took the position under protest,” said Nora. “I’m not sure I have the discipline to lead disciplined troops.” “Well, you seem to fight like a scalded Deathclaw. I don’t think the Minuteman could ask for better.” “They’re fine,” said Nora as she went back to talk to Connie. The succulent odor of Mirelurk was rising from the cookpot, and Wil was making the acquaintance of his new playmate, Stefani. “Just keep working the place, welcome people, and keep improving, and you’ll be fine.” After dinner Nora composed a message for her settlers at Graygarden to bring to Danse, along with the Holo-tags, the Haptic Drive and some images of the cleared out training yard and satellite array to show to Reese. The house was finished, everyone had a room and bed, and Nora retired to hers with her friends for some pleasure. Through their own fun Nora could hear the farmers pleasuring each other, and in a farther room Torance fucking Pam. All was right in the world, everyone well fed, protected, and having sex in its various forms.
  5. Nora said her goodbyes to Falion and Al’Hassan after another marathon bout of sex, letting them use her as she used them. She hoped one day to meet up with them again, but for now it was time for business. Her people were healed and rested, even Jordis occasionally sitting with the party and laughing. It would be some time before the young woman was back to normal, but Nora could see it coming to pass. High Hrothgar was much as she remembered as she appeared just outside the monastery. As usual a heavy wind was blowing the swirling snow, making visibility all but nil. Nora shivered as much from the psychological feel of the cold as from the temperature itself. For a moment she considered teleporting away to warmer climes, coming back on another day. I’ve got to face my fears, she thought, looking at the door at the top of the steps. And maybe I’ll get to meet this fifth Graybeard. Sybille had done some research, and had discovered that Paarthunax was the name of a legendary dragon. The story had him playing both the good and evil roles. She had wondered why a Greybeard would take the name of a dragon, instead of just using his birth name like the other four. Some affectation she guessed, something she wouldn’t have expected from the humble monks. And why was he living alone at the top of the mountain? Wasn’t High Hrothgar isolated enough? Nora forced herself to the door and pushed on the latch. Hearing it click, she pushed the heavy door open, sighing as the warm air inside hit her in the face. It was still colder than she liked, but the contrast was telling, and she quickly moved inside and pushed the door closed behind her. “So, the Dragonborn deigns to visit us again,” said Master Arngeir, walking out of the shadows. “I am sorry, Master Arngeir. There is so much need in Skyrim, so many fires to put out.” “And if you are to stay on the path of wisdom you need to ignore some of those fires and concentrate on your own peace of mind.” That’s not going to happen, thought Nora as she gave the Greybeard a frank look. She couldn’t just pass by those who needed her help so she could sit and gaze at her own navel. “How did you get here? There was no horse, and we did not detect you walking up the path.” Nora stared at the man while wondering what the powers of the Greybeards were, beside the voice that is. They just seemed to know things that they really shouldn’t. Not without some otherworldly senses. “I teleported,” said Nora, watching as the eyes of Arngeir widened. “I am now the master of four schools of magic. Really five, though the last one isn’t official.” “Blasphemy,” whispered Arngeir, shaking his head. “You play with things you don’t understand.” “I’m sorry you disapprove. I need weapons against Alduin. Every weapon I can get my hands on. The power of the Thu’um is a mighty weapon, but so is magic. And I will avail myself of anything that can give me an advantage against that big bastard.” “Have you ever thought that Alduin was not meant to be defeated?” “I refuse to accept that, Master Arngeir. I am fighting to save this world and everyone in it. Why can’t you give me all the aid you can in this pursuit.” She steeled herself for what was to come next. “I’m looking for a shout that will pull Alduin from the sky. Dragonrend.” “Who told you about that? Who have you been talking to?” Nora could tell that she had hit a nerve with the old man. Probably the rivalry between them and the Blades for the attention of the Dragonborn. She tried for the noncommittal answer. “It was portrayed on Alduin’s wall at Skyhaven Temple.” “Ah, the Blades. Meddling in things they barely understand. Trying to sway the Dragonborn to their way of violence. Would you let them control you?” “No one controls me, Master Arngeir,” said Nora, her anger rising at having to deal with getting caught up in this crap between the two factions. “They don’t control me, and neither do you. I have a mission, and I intend to carry it through. Now, what can you tell me about this shout?” “You will receive no further aid from us until you turn back to the path of wisdom, and away from that of violence. If the blades had their way all dragons would be exterminated. Is that what you want?” Nora felt like that would be a good first step to cleaning up this world. As far as she could tell, there was no good that came from the monsters. All of them were savage killers, preying on the people of Skyrim, burning villages, taking out wagons, slaughtering livestock. When she had first arrived here Whiterun was on the verge of starvation since the farmers couldn’t work their fields without being attacked. “Do you think that a good thing?” continued Arngeir, thrusting a finger at her face. “I, don’t know. I don’t know dragons like you do, and the only conversations I have had with any of them was one consisting of threats and boasts about how they were going to kill me. You tell me how I’m supposed to form any good opinion of the creatures. And their leader wants to end this world.” Nora stood there fixing the man with an angry stare, hands on her hips. She had thought the Greybeards were wise old men who would aid her in her quest to save the world. Instead she was finding them to be as fanatical as any cult she had ever run into on Earth. Right up there with the Children of Atom, though the Greybeards were more likely to leave the world alone. “No. You will receive no more aid from us until you return to the path of wisdom. Until then you are not welcome here.” “I will use the library to meditate to Kynareth,” she said slowly. “That you cannot deny me.” “You would challenge us?” growled Arngeir, the Thu’um strong in his voice. “I would,” said Nora, her own Thu’um sounding out as powerfully as the old man’s. Lightning played across her fingers, a reminder that she could call on powers he could not. “I am the Dragonborn, and that area is my connection to the Goddess who brought me here to save this world. You have no right to deny me.” Arngeir opened his mouth to respond when a loud thunderous voice penetrated the monastery and interrupted. Arngeir listened for a moment, bowing his head, then looking Nora in the eyes. “I have been intemperate,” said the old man, folding his hands over his chest. “Master Einarth has reminded me where my duty lies. It is not for me to make this decision. You must talk with Paarthurnax, at the top of the mountain.” “Am I ready for that?” “No, you are not. But the Blades have made it necessary for you to do so. We will teach you a shout to clear the way. Come with me to the courtyard.” Nora followed the man, looking for the other Greybeards. She didn’t think they would strike at her. They seemed too pacifistic for that, but she hadn’t gone through so much to get to where she was by taking stupid chances. The other three were waiting for her in the courtyard. It was cold as hell, as usual, and looking up through the arch that indicated the start of the path she saw that the constant storm was still raging. She again wondered if it was some form of magic, or if this mountain was just a magnet for that kind of weather. It was even colder before the arch, the brazier adding little heat. What it produced was whisked away immediately. Arngeir looked down at the stone, stepped back, then gave a low rumbling shout that coalesced into a glowing rune. “Lok,” whispered Nora, understanding that the word meant Sky. The second word formed, Vah, meaning Spring. Then Koor, the third and final word, Summer. Arngeir stepped back and his body glowed, the power flowing into Nora, unlocking the words for her use. “This will be our last gift to you, Dragonborn,” said Arngeir, motioning toward the arch. “Use it wisely. And know that the path will be perilous and not to be taken lightly.” “I understand,” said Nora, pulling the hood of her parka over her head, then putting on her mittens and adjusting them. She was in full winter gear now, what she used in the frozen wastes of the North. She hoped this would be no different, and would soon find out. The Dragonborn braced herself, then shouted. “Lok Vah Koor.” The wind immediately dropped to nothing, the way clear, though the swirling snow was still apparent about fifty yards up the path. That path looked treacherous, ice everywhere, nothing to prevent a slip and fall over the edge. And the vista opened up was both breathtaking and terrifying. She could see all the way the Whiterun, over thirty miles. Not the clearest of views, but one that would have sold a lot of postcards back in the prewar United States. I better get moving, she thought. She could stand up here and gawk all day, and get no closer to her goal. That is, if the winds didn’t pluck her from the path and toss her into the air. If still conscious she could always teleport away from the fall, but she couldn’t count on still having her wits about her, so best to just avoid it. Nora hurried forward until she met the storm front that had been beyond the reach of her first shout. Another shout of clear skies and the way was clear for another fifty yards. She hurried forward, taking a second to look back and see that the storm had closed in behind her. Several more evolutions and she thought it time to test out Control Weather. The Dragonborn called up the spell, feeling the swelling magicka within her. Moving her hands through the motions, she was caught off guard as the winds came back up around her, stronger than any hurricane she would have faced on Earth, the speed enhancing the freezing temperatures. She shouted out the words of the spell, making the final hand motions. The magicka went out, and if the winds decreased at all she had no indication of it. It actually cut into the exposed flesh of her face, and she was sure that it wouldn’t take more than a couple of seconds to take her life. “Lok Vah Koor,” she shouted, and the winds dropped to nothing. She was left with a moment to wonder if Control Weather simply hadn’t worked, or if the storm had just been too powerful for it. Either way, she had risked much using it instead of the shout. Her temperature had dropped, she had wounds on her face, and the odds of her making it up the mountain had plummeted. Casting Close Wounds, then Bearskin, all the while walking forward, she stabilized herself. Coming to the edge of the clear area she shouted again, clearing out the next stage. The swishing sound of Ice Wraiths came from ahead, followed by the long snaky forms that looked like skeletons made of pure cold. Nora hit one with a flame bolt, stopping it in its tracks. The next bolt shattered it, and the second got close enough to bite. “Fuck,” she yelled as the sharp teeth tore through the arm of her parka and into the flesh underneath, penetrating shallowly through her armor. It was like a freezing fire had hit her, and she swung Dawnbreaker into the body of the wraith, shattering it in place. Nora shouted again, then cast Close Wounds, hurrying forward. The cold was starting to get to her, and even her sooth spells were doing very little to take the edge off. Or they were actually doing a great deal, and without them she would have already fallen to the ground frozen. The next thing to hit was a troll. The once fearsome beasts weren’t normally a challenge to the Dragonborn, but her frozen hands fumbled through the blow and the monstrously strong creature backhanded her into the cliff. She was lucky it hadn’t struck from the other side or she would have been hurtling over the other cliff. Pointing her left hand at the creature she let loose with a blast of pure fire, a simple spell, but the best she could manage at the moment. The troll cried out and fell back, and she followed, keeping it engulfed by her flames until it fell burning to the ice. The wind closed in again and Nora shouted. Without the interruptions she was sure that she would have been okay. As it was she was barely making it. For a moment she wondered if this was what the Greybeards had intended. That was paranoia speaking, and Arngeir had warned her after all. I can’t fail now, she thought, shouting again and pushing ahead. There was a clear area ahead, just over a slope, and the final spire of the mountain to the left. She stumbled forward, thinking of what she could do to warm up. There were no trees up here, no way to make a fire, and she had images of her dying up here after fighting through. She went over that last slope and suddenly her body warmed. There was magic at work here, but what kind, and from whom? The giant white dragon rose into the air as it saw her, coming down directly to her front. Nora wasn’t sure if this was an enemy, but something within her was cautioning her not to attack. But it was a dragon, her natural enemy. “Drem Yol Lok. Greetings, wunduniik. I am Paarthurnax. Who are you? What brings you to my strunmah ... my mountain?” Nora stared at the dragon in amazement. She felt no threat from the creature. It could kill her in an instant, but then she could do the same with it. A thrill was running up her spine, a combination of fear and wonder. “You’re a dragon,” she blurted out. The big white dragon laughed; a deep sound filled with humor. “I am as Akatosh made me, as he made you, wunduniik. Would you have me be otherwise?” “I haven’t had any positive interactions with dragons,” she said, eyes narrowing for a moment. “But I’m happy to meet you, Paarthurnax.” “There are formalities to be observed before we engage in conversation,” rumbled the big dragon. “As the elder, it falls on me to start.” The big dragon turned toward the word wall that had sat silent to the right. It let out a fierce breath of fire, the heat making Nora sweat even though it was not directed toward her. A word glowed on the wall, and Nora hurried toward it. Another word of Fire Breath, the third, entered her mind. “Now experience fire as a Dovah,” said the big dragon. It glowed much as the Greybeards had when they had imparted energy to her, and the word unlocked. “Now, show me that you are Dov. Shout fire at me, that I might taste your voice.” “I have to warn you. I already know the other two words of this shout. I don’t want to hurt you.” “Do not worry, Dovahkin,” said the laughing dragon. “Okay.” Nora pulled in a breath, then breathed fire into the dragon. “Yes,” said Parthurnaax in his rumbling voice. “The dragon blood runs strong in you, Dovahkin. It is good to greet another of the dragon blood as an equal.” “You are a most unusual dragon,” said Nora, smiling, deciding that she liked this honorary Greybeard. “So I have been told. But what brings you to my strunmah? My mountain?” “I have an appointment to face Alduin,” said Nora in a rush of words. “And I’ll tell you truthfully, the prospect scares me half to death.” “Then you show wisdom, Dovahkin. And I sense that you have faced many frightening situations in the past, on two worlds, and have overcome.” “Who told you about Earth?” “I am a dragon,” said the laughing creature. “I am attuned to time and space unlike most, and I can sense that you are out of your time, out of your space. Though you still have Akatosh within you.” “And you know how that is possible?” “No. I do not. The ways of the Gods are mysterious, and often incomprehensible to even the immortal Dov. I think even they are not sure of what drives their actions.” I can see that, thought Nora, liking Parthurnaax even more. There was a wisdom about him, a gentleness, along with a sense of humor. She could tell he had been through much, and was determined to do as much good as he could while he was still around. “I’ve come to learn Dragonrend. Something I assume you can teach me.” “I cannot, Dovahkin.” “But..” “The shout you speak of was devised by men to strike at dragons. It is something the immortal Dov cannot even comprehend.” “Then it’s useless. I have to face Aldiun without it.” “And you would do that? You are mighty in magic, but Alduin is immune to much of what you know.” Great. This just keeps getting better. “I would.” “Then we must find a way for you to learn this shout.” “How?” “Do you know why I have chosen this spot to dwell? This is the spot where Alduin was cast adrift on the sands of time by the ancient Nords. And this was where he was destined to emerge. I knew where, but not when.” “So you were here when he came back,” said Nora, eyes wide. “And there was nothing you could do about it?” “Against the first born of Akatosh? Against a Dovah with part of Akatosh within him? No, Dovahkin. He would have destroyed me with ease and eaten my soul as well. So all I could do was hide and watch. And wait for another piece of Akatosh to appear, as was prophesized.” “What piece of Akatosh?” asked Nora, still not getting it. “And what does that have to do with me?” “When Alduin again walks Nirn, the counter must walk as well. Dovah, Dovahkin. You, Dovahkin, are that aspect of Akatosh. You have the God within you, which is what makes you capable of destroying Alduin.” “But, I’m not from this planet. How is that possible?” “I do not have the answer to that, Dovahkin. But remember, we are dealing with Gods. We are dealing with the first God, the God of time himself. If such is possible, then it is possible for him.” “So I can’t lose?” “No, Dovahkin. You can lose. And just as you are the only soul that can kill Alduin, he is the only soul that can truly destroy you. Or at least the piece of Akatosh within you. Your body can die, but the God energy within will go on, to be reborn again. Whether it will be reborn in time to do this world any good? Well, who can say? Perhaps this world was doomed from the start. Perhaps your attempt to save it merely hastens the end.” “Bullshit,” said Nora in an angry growl. “I don’t believe that. I can’t believe that. My actions have to mean something other than some kind of dance to entertain Akatosh.” “You have the spirit needed to defeat Alduin. So again, we must find a way to give you the means. For I, too, wish this world to go on. The next might be a better place, but it is not the place for me. Or you. So we must find a way to cast you back in time to learn the shout from those who created it. My friends, Gormlaith Golden-Hilt, Felldir the Old, and Hakon One-Eye. The Nords have had many heroes since, but none greater.” So they were talking some kind of time travel here. Nora could accept that. She had travelled through time to an alternate past through the efforts of a renegade Institute scientist. So why not in this world of magic. “So how do I go back in time?” “The place is here, where the time wound still exists. But to use it you will need an Elder Scroll.” Nora had heard of the magical artifacts at the College. Said to exist outside of time and space, a piece of creation itself, they were immensely powerful. That the ancient Nord heroes used one was a testament to their courage and determination. “And where would I obtain such a thing?” “I do not know, Wunduniik. You know more of the world below. Surely you can gain the knowledge needed to obtain one.” “The College,” said Nora, thinking of the knowledge that was there. “Someone at the College should know.” “And that is where you need to go to get one,” said Paarthurnax, giving her a full toothed dragon smile. “When you have obtained one, come back here to gain access to the time wound.” “And then?” “And then we will see what we will see. Nothing is certain, Dovahkin. But if you are to succeed you must try.” And try I will, thought Nora. The idea still frightened the shit out of her, but she wanted this world to go on, and there was no choice but to try. “I need to go up there,” said Nora, looking at the peak that rose almost a thousand feet above the small plateau they stood on. “Kynareth demands it.” “Then go. But take care, as the magic that allows you to be comfortable here is not in force there.” Nora nodded and headed up the at first gentle slope, coming to the rock that she had to scramble up. It was cold, mind numbingly frigid, and the ice made her footing suspect the entire way up. She slipped a few times, her grip on the stones preventing several falls that were near things. At one point she found a glass sword that she attached to her pack. At another a black blade that radiated evil. That one she let be. There was enough evil in the world below without adding to it. The last hundred feet was almost sheer cliff, and she needed the pickax to help her up. Her heart was in her throat most of the way up. Her hands were numb, her body shivering, and she barely avoided the fall that would have injured her badly, if she survived at all. With a final grasp of slick rock she was at the top, wondering what she was to do. Touch the Sky, she thought. She wasn’t sure what that meant, but she could only think of one thing to do. Balancing herself on the narrow spear of rock she stood to her full height and reached up. She could feel her feet slipping as she extended fully. Something came over her, a power she knew came from Kynareth, the Sky Goddess. She wasn’t sure what it was, but she could feel the energy coursing through her. And then her feet slipped out from under her and she was falling out into space. The words to the teleport spell left her frozen lips, and the world faded for an instant, to be replaced by the front steps of the monastery. She had done it, touched the sky, and received the reward. Shouting Unrelenting Force proved that she had gained power. With a last burst of energy she rushed into High Hrothgar, the heat of the interior like an oasis in the desert. “Did you speak to Paarthurnax?” asked Arngeir, coming out of the shadows. “Did he teach you Dragonrend?” “Yes, and no,” said Nora, wondering how these guys always seemed to come out of the shadows, like they lived in them. “Paarthurnax didn’t know the shout either. But he said I need an Elder Scroll to unlock the time wound and learn it from the heroes who crafted it. What’s so bad about that shout, anyway?” “It was crafted by people living under the unimaginable cruelty of Alduin and his Dragon Cult,” said the Greybeard. “It was an embodiment of all their hate and anger toward their overlords, and has no place in the way of the voice.” Well, sometimes you need some hate and anger to fight an enemy, thought Nora. “Any idea on where I can get an Elder Scroll?” “That is something we don’t meddle with,’ said Arngeir, shaking his head. “Even the Gods themselves hesitate to touch such a powerful artifact. Only the mages in Winterhold deal with such blasphemies.” “Then that’s where I’m heading,” she told the man, noting his disapproving look. She realized that Arngeir was only tolerating her because his master wanted him to. “After I commune with Kynareth in the library.” The College was much as it always was. A sanctuary of learning divorced from the politics of Skyrim. The Thalmor hadn’t replaced Ancano, yet, and hopefully never would. Given their efficiency they would send a replacement sooner rather than later. They needed an agent here to further their plans for Skyrim, after all. Urag gro-Shub lorded it up behind his desk as always, turning a disapproving eye on anyone that might put his collection in disarray. “Can I help you. Master Nora?” asked the Orc, bowing his head. “I need an Elder Scroll. Do you know where I can find one?” “ Well, I don’t think you’re going to find one in the bathroom stall,” said the frowning Orc. “Just what in the name of Oblivion do you need an Elder Scroll for? Do you even know what kind of power you are dealing with?” “I need an Elder Scroll so I can travel back in time and learn a shout that can pull Alduin out of the air,” she said slowly, enunciating each word. “Well, damn. I guess you do know what kind of power you’re dealing with,” said the wide-eyed Orc. “Unfortunately, I can’t help you with getting one. But I might be able to point you in the right direction. Give me a week to research it, then come back to see me.” “Okay.” Nora wished she could find out something now. Now was always better. But she had learned that the Orc was a man of his word. If he said a week, then most likely he would have what she needed in a week. Not an Elder Scroll, ready to be handed over to her. No, it would be information that told her where to go to get the Scroll. Or at least who she needed to talk to. So she had a week, and she was tempted to go back to Morthal and spend the time with her two Redguard lovers. Only there were still injustices in the world that needed righting. So she sought out Tolfdir. “Any fires in the area that need putting out?” she asked the Archmage. “Well, there are rumors of a coven of necromancers operating out of a cave system near Keld-Nar, in the pale,” said the old man. “I wish I had someone to go out there and investigate. A lot of people have disappeared in that area. Mostly travelers, but some from the village as well.” “Why couldn’t Faralda lead some students in cleaning them out?” asked Nora, pretty sure of the answer before Tolfdir could reply. They didn’t want to risk the students, and the Archmage didn’t want to lose his best instructor and lover, Faralda. “The same reason that the Jarl’s guards won’t go near the place,” said the old man, frowning. “Necromancers are notorious for using black soul gems to trap the energy they need.” That sent a chill down Nora’s spine. Black soul gems meant they were trapping the souls of men and mer. Which meant they were dooming the souls of innocents to the horror of the Soul Cairn. She couldn’t allow that to continue. Also, she could understand why warriors were loath to invade the lair of soul trappers. The Nords called in Soul Rape, and no one wanted that done to their very essence. “I’ll get my people together and we’ll go clear them out,” she promised the Archmage.
  6. An eye bot cruised through the air, shouting a spiel about jobs waiting at Cambridge Polymer Labs. Nora recalled that lab from before the war. Press releases had shouted its wonders, especially the new self-charging pieces for power armor. She wasn’t sure how far they had gotten before the bombs dropped, but it was worth checking out. “Let’s look this place over,” she told her people as the stopped before the Lab building. “We can still get to Bunker Hill before dark, I think.” “Your call, Boss,” said Barb. There were so many research labs, hospitals, and tech stores in this region of the city, as well as the premier research institution in New England. She wanted to get to them all eventually, but today she would pass them by, choosing only one so they could get their looting fix in. They walked into the building, to be greeted by a friendly Handy. “I’m Molly. Are you here about a job? Cambridge Polymer Labs are hiring all positions.” “I’m interested,” said Nora, thinking it might get her further into the lab. “Wonderful. Do you have any experience with synthesizing polymers?” “Oh yes. I won the science award in college, synthesizing polymers.” She felt no guilt lying to a robot that represented a long dead company. She was sure this place had things she wanted, and she would have no problem living with herself to give her live people such advantages. “You are hired as a lab assistant. Follow me.” The robot led them to a room with a control panel. An alarm was sounding in the background, lights flashing, and Nora was sure it had been broadcasting the alert through the lab for the last two hundred years. They robot let them into another room and the door slammed shut behind them. “What the hell,” yelled Barb, moving to the door and finding it sealed. “You want to crack it with explosives?” “Let’s see what happens first.” “I must tell you that the director has ordered mandatory overtime until the project it completed," said the voice of Molly over the speakers. "Good luck.” They moved through several rooms, none of the doors working, using the holes in the walls. They found one room with hazmat suits, and she had Barb and Heather get in them. Her power armor was protection enough, though she soon decided to egress it since it would allow her to move more quietly through the lab, depending on her augmented biology to protect her from rad poisoning. The Pip-Boy was clicking away, letting her know that there were plenty of Rads. Bodies everywhere, some skeletons, some ghouls. Her vision glasses let her know which ones were still alive and on the verge of coming awake. “Okay. This looks like the panel to run the experiment. Let me look over the terminal.” The terminal gave her the information she needed. And the start of the horror story of the lab. The people had been locked in here to finish the experiment or die. The military commander of Boston had ordered that they could not leave, under threat of execution, until they completed the Pizoelectric chest plate that would send energy to the power armor. “Look for these,” she said, holding up a container from one of the slots on the control board. The three took down ghouls no problem, Nora considering that these had been the researchers who had been trapped in there. She went into on of the side rooms, then upstairs to enter another. Taking down some more ghouls she took several of the cannisters and looked over another terminal. “That bastard,” she whispered, reading how the director had locked his lover in here to die with the rest. The scientists had tried to break out, even though there were turrets set to kill them. She hacked into the room across the way after jetting up on the broken platform, then went for the reactor and the isotopes. The ghoul in there was particularly strong, but not strong enough to take a long burst to the head. She gained more information from terminals and felt like she had a better understanding of armoring, nuclear physics and working with materials. The experiment was actually pretty easy to run, based on the information the dead scientists had developed before the passed on or went the way of the ghoul. Nora removed the chest piece and placed it in a cargo bot. She doubted the piece would be of any use with its inferior armor, and besides, it was from a T-51. But her techs could reverse engineer it, and give her suits that were much easier on fusion cores, while possibly adding some more energy protection. “The director would like to see you,” said Molly as she let them out of the lab. “Please follow me.” The director turned out to be a ghoul who attacked as soon as they were in the room. Nora crushed his skull with an armored fist, while Barb gunned down the newly hostile Molly. A couple of turrets fired up outside, now that they had proven themselves enemies to the facility. Taking good angles and using cover allowed the group to take them out with no problem. And then they looted. A large number of telephones went into Wilson, followed by the circuits of the broken down computers. As always they left the intact machines that might be of use to get more information from this place. Nora found a surgical journal that increased her medical knowledge, as well as a fusion core. It was still late morning, about ten, when they exited the lab and moved up the riverside street. Nora took a look down the bridge that led to the side of Boston with Hangman’s Alley in it, then took a quick glance as the Commonwealth Institute of Technology to her left. She got a strange feeling about the ruins of the college. She hadn’t spent any time there, but many of the science and tech instructors at Boston College had been graduates, constantly singing its praises. “I want to make sure we get to Bunker Hill before dark,” she told a disappointed Barb, who was chomping on the bit to get in there and see what might be available. The scaver had told Nora that many people out for salvage had gone in the ruin, and very few had come out. Those that had swore they would never go back. They continued down the river road for some miles, taking fire along the way and returning it most effectively. Raiders controlled this part of the city, though Nora and company made them remember that others could challenge them. “That’s Greentech Genetics over there,” said Barb, pointing to a tall two-cylinder building. “Sure to be a lot of good stuff in there, but from what I’ve heard its very well defended by robots and turrets. Not a place to penetrate lightly.” Then that’s another place we’ll have to check out. Nora thought that after taking care of business to the east she would have to come back here for a couple of days and comb the area. There were a lot of Raiders to take out, and the promise of tech that could make their lives much easier. If it didn’t kill them during the search. “Trouble ahead,” whispered Heather over the radio, a block ahead and scouting with the dogs. Nora could see the trouble, as a score of Raiders battled a dozen or so ghouls. The ghouls took down some Raiders. They were tough after all. But the Raiders had the firepower, and the ghouls didn’t last long. “Any objections to taking them out,” she said over the radio, receiving positive acknowledgements. Nora dropped a grenade into the largest cluster on the street, then another on a small group on top of a building. A bunch retreated into a building with crumbling walls. Nora took a moment to select a round, then sent a Molotov grenade into an opening. People screamed, and a couple of woman jumped out of the opening to fall to their deaths. Raiders tried to take them under fire, but at over a hundred yards the pipe weapons just weren’t accurate enough to hit except by chance. While Nora and Barb’s rifle were pinpoint accurate. In the unequal exchange most of the remaining Raiders died. But not all. “Pick off any that show themselves,” ordered Nora, getting ready to go into the air. “Be careful,” said Heather over the radio. “You know me.” “Yeah,” said Barb. “We know you. So don’t take too many damn chances.” Nora laughed. Of course her friends were correct, but she had the armor and the firepower, and her tendency was to take the fight to the enemy. She landed on the roof of the building to the right, looking into the chamber and seeing the smoking bodies on the floor. Going up a ladder she took fire from an underpowered pipe rifle, putting a single round into the man’s head. She then ran across an unsteady walkway top the top of the building across the street, going up several levels and taking out another four Raiders. A round struck the armor with a clang, the power of a military grade weapon. The schematic for the armor showed no penetration, and Nora unlimbered the GL once again, arcing the shell into the top of the tall building across the street. She disregarded the lift that took people from this rooftop to the taller building. She had her own lift, and rocketed into the air to land on the other building. She found the leader of the gang bleeding out her life on the top floor, a pattern of shrapnel wounds showing how she had been injured. Nora took off her head with the nanosword, putting her out of her misery. The Sole Survivor looked down to the barrier blocking the near side of the bridge, spotting two Raiders under cover and a machinegun turret. A well placed forty millimeter took care of that problem, killing the Raiders and blowing the turret into pieces. Nora loaded up Wilson with the ammo, weapons and other objects in the leader’s HQ, including a .308 sniper rifle, then jumped down from the building. Heather and Barb were already in the process of stripping the other dead Raiders, while Nora went to check out the barrier that was blocking the bridge. She looked across the bridge to see another structure that was the duplicate of the one on her side. Sending a grenade into it, she blasted the metal door off its hinges, then sent two more in for good measure. No fire came back, whether because she had killed whoever had manned that barricade, or because they were smarter that average, realizing they were outclassed, she really didn’t know. She had suppressed their response either way, and she was willing to leave it to that. “Wilson went on his way,” said Barb when she came back to them. “The first Handy is still field stripping the weapons and armor that remain, while the other is salvaging nuclear material from cars.” “Good,” said Nora. While they had enough nuclear material for their needs, it was always in demand, and if they opened more settlements it was sure to run out. There were thousands of cars across the Commonwealth, and thirty or forty gave enough material to construct a large fusion generator. She was thinking that there had to be more stockpiles across the Wasteland, but where were they and how to access them. “You did good work,” said the young black man hanging out on the front entrance of a large office building. He held out his empty hands, though he had a service rifle over his back. “We’re not Raiders, but that group has been harassing us for months.” “Who are you?” “I can’t say. Just know that we are good guys like you.” “I think they’re Railroad,” said Heather as they walked on. “Crazy bastards want to rescue synths. I don’t trust them.” “Well, I don’t want to kill people indiscriminately, so we leave them be, for now.” It was getting late afternoon when they saw the spire of the Bunker Hill Memorial ahead and down a side street. There were lights, showing that they had power. Nora stared at the wooden warship that sat on a building a couple blocks ahead. She could make out the nozzles of large rocket engines on the bottom hull of the ship, and her vision gear showed a number of robots moving around the deck of the ship. “What in the hell is that? And how the hell did a ship get up there?” “That’s the Constitution,” said Barb. “They tried to recruit me last time I was by here.” “Well, that sounds like a whole bunch of crazy I don’t want to deal with,” Nora told her people. “Let’s go check out Bunker Hill.” Bunker Hill was well fortified, with wooden walls and towers on the outside. It looked like a great number of people were inside, and an older woman with blond hair was at the entrance with a shotgun in hand. “Raider or Caravan?” asked the woman, looking them over with a suspicious eye. “What?” asked Nora, not sure what the woman was asking her. “I asked if you are a Raider or a Caravan Worker. So which is it?” “Minutemen,” shouted Nora. “I didn’t think they were still around.” “We’re rebuilding. Can we come in.” “Well, I’ve never seen a Raider with power armor like that,” said the woman. “In fact, I’ve never seen power armor like that. And the armor your girls are wearing looks very cool as well. Yeah, you can come in, but no shooting on the premises. I’m Kessler, by the way. And I’d watch how often your throw the name Minuteman around while you’re here. They’re not well liked.” “Why?” “Because we called for help from you people during a Raider attack, and you bastards never showed.” “Before my time,” said Nora, ejecting from her power armor, leaving it parked by the scaffolding that wrapped around the spire. “We’re a new organization, with new people.” “You still have to prove yourself to me.” Kessler turned and walked away, and Nora had the impression that she would not be well liked here. At least by the owners. She walked into the trade center, inside the building that had been the museum. “You want a tour of Bunker Hill,” said a cute twelve year old, approaching the group. “Only five caps.” “Sure.” “Well, the trade center is straight ahead, the entrance to Bunker Hill behind, my mom’s medical practice to the right of the entrance, the bar and lodgings toward the back. And the outhouse up the ramp. Thanks and enjoy your visit.” The child closed her hand on the five caps Nora had given her and ran. “Why that little shit,” said Heather, while Nora laughed out loud. “Quite the little scammer,” said Barb with a chuckle. “Well, we now know where everything is, so let’s have a look inside.” Inside was a commodious open space, with a half dozen trade stands. One was manned by a short haired brunette, the other had a mousy looking woman. And there was an older gentleman and a young woman standing by a counter near the side exit. There were also a couple of scantily dressed women hanging out, tired and worn out looking, and a couple of caravan guards. “Welcome,” said the short haired brunette. “If you want water, we have purified coming out of that water fountain to the side. It’s free, but showers cost. I’m Deb, by the way.” Heather and Barb followed Nora to the water fountain, waiting for their leader to drink her fill, then drinking deeply themselves. “What have you got for sale, Deb?” “A bunch of things. I’m the only permanent trader based here, and I restock the traveling caravans. So everything they have, I have, and a whole lot more.” Nora perked up at those words, a whole lot more. “Can I have a look?” “Sure. There’s a terminal right there with my inventory on it. We have a large storage facility underneath this building, and if you see something you like that we don’t have up here, I’ll send someone down for it.” Nora looked over screen after screen, seeing lots she wanted but couldn’t afford. Including bunches of weapons marked as damaged. Those were dirt cheap, and she was sure that most people couldn’t fix them. She and her techs could, or they could strip them of parts. There were at least a hundred laser and plasma weapons at ten caps each, rifles a little less. If she had a couple of thousand caps she would take the entire stock off Deb’s hand, then spend a couple of days here pulling the guns apart and sending them to her nearest settlement through Wilson. And taking a dozen of the best and sending them intact back to Sanctuary, where Sturgis, Conrad and their people could refurbish them for settler use. “I want every damaged weapon you have, but I don’t have the caps, yet.” “What are you going to do with them. Build an army?” “I’m building settlements out in the Wasteland,” she told the woman. “And I need weapons parts to defend them.” “How many do you have already?” “Ten, on the other side of Cambridge. And I want to get more set up to the north and east of here.” “Wow. Well bless you. And the weapons will be waiting for you when you have the caps.” Nora flipped another screen in the inventory and stared in shock. “You have nuclear material?” “Sure do. Don’t know where the guy gets if from, but he delivered a couple of hundred grams a week for several months before I had to turn him down. No one buys the shit, except for some Gunners who use it to make nukes. I really don’t like selling to them.” “Well, I could use it to build fusion generators. A hundred grams will make one generator.” “Tell you what. I was selling it for twelve hundred caps for a hundred grams. I’ll give it to you for a thousand a hundred grams.” “And you have how much?” “Three thousand grams, at the moment. But if I let my supplier know I need more, I’m sure he’ll start delivering again.” Nora doubted that Deb would put her in touch with the supplier. That wasn’t how business was done in the Wasteland. Someone had something you wanted, you bought it from them, and not for a cheaper price from their supplier. But Nora knew she had to make a lot of caps from somewhere. If she were back at Diamond City she could fuck for enough caps in a week to get all of Deb’s nuclear material and all of those lovely loverly weapons. Perhaps she could make some caps here, but she didn’t think she would have the client base she would need. Still, she could ssurely earn some caps. She thought she needed to look into it. “Got any work?” “Well, there are rumors of a mess of feral ghouls at an old military training ground up by County Crossing. A hundred caps to clear them out.” “Places like that are really dangerous. How about three hundred?” “I know how you mercs jack up the price,” said Deb, frowning. “Some ferals can’t be that much for a party like yours, with the armor you have. So two hundred, and that’s my final offer.” Nora thought of the area. The military training ground sounded like the National Guard Training Yard, on Reese’s list, and sure to have some weapons and ammo. She would get paid by the Brotherhood for that as well. And to the north was the Revere Satellite Array, another target on the list, Supermutants. And just a bit on from that the Reeb Marina, the location of a Haptic Drive containing data that Scribe Halen was looking for. Of course, where she went and her timing depended on what the farmers at County Crossing wanted. If it was a kidnapping she might need to move with alacrity. If a Raider or Supermutant problem, she might be able to delay while she took care of some other things. Either way, she needed to get a settlement and a QESS set up, to make her operations much easier here. “I’ll take care of those ghouls for you.” “And if you’re looking for something else, Kessler might have something for you.” “You looking for weapons,” said the mousy looking woman. “I’m Cricket, and I have everything.” “Let me see what you’ve got.” She looked over Cricket’s inventory, and while things were a bit pricey, she did have some interesting weapons. Including Service Rifles, a Gauss Rifle, and a couple of M60 machines guns. And an ammo workbench. “You ever get over to Sanctuary Hills. Or maybe Starlight Drivein.” “Not recently, no.” “Well get over their and my people will buy five of those workbenches, plus as many of the belt feds and service rifles you have. Guaranteed.” “Then I’ll have to get over there.” “Did you say you have ten settlements over on the other side of Cambridge?” asked the older gentleman. “I do. And you are?” “Old Man Stockton, and I run four caravans across the Commonwealth. This is my daughter, Amelia. And where are these settlement located.” So Nora named them off, and Stockton whistled. “Quite a number, and all of interest to me except Home Plate. Being that close to the Diamond City Market tells me they don’t need Caravans.” “We would appreciate any you could run into the settlements. We’re in the market for just about everything.” She wasn’t sure about caps, but they had plenty of bottled purified water and food, and the factories would be turning out respectable quantities of things that people needed. Purified water might not go over big in Bunker Hill, since they had a damned water fountain pouring out the stuff, but she had to wonder how much of that was available for export. “Kessler,” she said, walking up to the woman, who was tending a patch of vegetables. “Deb said you might have a job for me.” “For the Minuteman operator, no. For a freelance mercenary with discretion, I might have something. As long as you have more than rocks in your head.” “I’m smart enough. And discrete.” “Well, we get on by paying off the Raider gangs. But Judge Zeller, a new operator, is trying to play us both ways. He’s taking our money, then still hitting our caravans, and we can’t have that.” “How much. And where’s he located.” “He’s located at the East Boston Preparatory School, North of the airport. I’m paying three hundred caps. I won’t haggle, cause I have a reputation to protect. But do the job and I will pony up some supplies for you.” “Consider it done,” said Nora, who wanted to get in good with this woman. “You don’t want to know how many there are?” “Not really, unless you happen to have that information. Ten or fifty, we’ll go in and take their sorry asses down.” “Confidence or Arrogance? Well, that’s your business. Just make sure no one knows we sent you.” “And I saw you had working girls in the trade center. Let’s say I wanted to sell myself.” “Yourself, or your friends?” “They don’t whore. As leader of this group I do it to raise money for expenses. I…” “You don’t need to explain. Sell it, give it away. As long as you don’t tease the poor men I have nothing against it.” “No license or fee?” “Hell no. Find a quiet place, I might recommend our flop house, and fuck whomever you like. You won’t find any judgment here. So good luck.” Nora met her people at the bar run by the stout man and a younger man who looked like his son. “What’s good?” “They have Mirelurk cakes,” said Heather enthusiastically. Nora wasn’t sure what the attraction was, since the living source of the food was pretty horrific. But she had to admit they were the closest thing to crabs the Commonwealth had post-war. “Okay. Mirelurk cakes, vegetables if you have them, and beer. For me and my two friends.” “So, did you get some more missions.” Nora gave her people the run down on the missions, while the proprietor of the bar, Joe Salvoldi got in a very public argument with his son, Tony. “Hey stranger. Will you tell my idiot son that joining the Railroad to rescue synths is a stupid move?” “They’re running scared, pop,” said Tony. “And I want to do something important with my life.” “And go to war with the Institute. You might as well join the Deathclaw preservation society.” “I don’t know,” said Nora after a moment’s thought. “Freeing slaves sounds noble.” “Noble my ass.” The man turned away, then started wiping down the bar. “And I overheard you. If you happen to get by Malden you might want to look in on finding the remains of my grandfather. He was a Minuteman, you know. And brave as they come.” “How much?” “Two hundred caps.” “Sweeten the deal a bit and I’ll find him.” “Okay, three hundred caps. And make sure you come back. I don’t want your death on my conscience.” “Well, you know my route, more or less. Anything else of interest.” “I would avoid that BADTFL office if you want to avoid trouble. A very bad Raider gang operates out of there.” That interested Nora. If she could take them out in the morning, it was sure to engender even more good will with the traders. So she had one more piece of business to discuss. “How much for a room for my two girls.” “Sleeping, or other things?” asked Tony. “A nice restful sleep for them. And a room for other things for me.” “Twenty caps for their room, forty for yours. Theirs is on the top floor, near the end, while you can use the luxury suite to the right side of the bar.” Nora counted out the caps, then, after giving Heather her Pip-Boy to look after, got into her working clothes for the evening. The crotchless cutoffs and short breast revealing shirt weren’t much sluttier than what the other Hookers were wearing, though the body within them was of much higher quality. “How much?” asked Joe as he caught sight of her. “One twenty-five.” "The whores inside only charge a hundred.” “And I will give you a much better time than they ever could,” said Nora, scenting her rising pheromones. “Money back guarantee.” “Watch the bar, Tony, while your old man has some fun.” Joe was not that bad, and Nora was able to cross the threshold before he came in her. The smiling man counted out another twenty-five caps. “You’re worth even more than that, honey. I’ll be sure to talk you up at the bar.” “Thanks. And one twenty-five is fine. I have to build a reputation as well.” “Smart businesswoman,” said Joe, getting dressed. “You were wonderful, and your morning shower is on me.” Minutes later someone knocked on the door, and Nora opened it to see a smiling Old Man Stockton. “Did I come to the right place? Or should I ask, am I Cumming in the right place?” “Then come in and Cum in,” Nora said, taking the man’s hand and leading him to the bed. Stockton wasn’t bad either. Not great, but competent and definitely horny. Nora accepted his Cum in her pussy, then cleaned herself out with a rag. Over the next three hours she entertained eleven men, all Caravan workers, giving her a total of thirteen for the night before she closed up shop. That gave her just over sixteen hundred caps for the evening. Once expenses were taken care of she had fifteen hundred, and she thought that Bunker Hill would definitely be profitable enough when she was here. Nora took a shower before bed. It always amazed her. The men came in her pussy and mouth, yet she had Cum all over her at the end of a working night. “I’ll take a hundred grams of nuclear material and a dozen old energy rifles.” “Made some caps, huh,” said Deb with a grin. “If I had your looks I’d try to make some too. But from what the men were saying, it wasn’t just looks. They were all raving about how you were the best they ever had. The other girls are going to be jealous, so watch your back.” Deb leaned forward and whispered. “The boys said that you were really into it. So let me ask you. Do you really enjoy it?” “Of course I do. They Cum, I Cum, and everyone is happy.” “Then you are doubly blessed, because I can tell that the other whores do it with a grimace. So good for you.” Deb had the nuclear material brought up, along with the weapons. The scrapped energy weapons went into Wilson, while the nuclear material went into a cargo bot. Nora got into her power armor and they hit the road, ready for a big day of mayhem.
  7. “I think I’ll teleport up to High Hrothgar tomorrow and see what the Greybeards can tell me,” Nora told the table. There were gathered in the intimate dining room of the Blue Palace, enjoying a gourmet meal with the Jarl. “You’re worried about that, aren’t you?” asked a concerned Elisif. “Frankly, I’m scared to death. It brings me one step closer to facing Alduin, and losing everything I have learned about this beautiful world.” “There’s always Sovngarde,” said Jordis, a smile on her face that wouldn’t leave. The sword maiden was parked next the Valdimar, Lydia on the other side, both women giving him glances of desire while they touched his arms in the process of reaching for things on the table. A game, and Nora knew where it was heading. Jordis had made up her mind, and soon the maiden would be a woman. Valdimar was a good choice for the man to take her cherry. Calm and gentle when need be, he would make sure she made the transition with as much pleasure and as little pain as possible. How in the hell did we end up like this? she thought. She had had sex with traveling partners the entire time she was in the Commonwealth, but not the traveling orgy she now had. So far jealousies had not caused any problems, but she had to be prepared for them. She had four oversexed women wanting the attentions of the one Nord man among them. Five with Jordis. She had pretty much given up her claim on the man, letting her girls enjoy him. “The problem, Jordis,” said Lydia, looking over at the woman that all thought of as their little sister. “If Alduin kills you, he eats your soul. Then there is no Sovngarde.” “Oh,” said Jordis, hand going to her mouth as her eyes widened. “On my world there was no reason to believe in a life after death,” said Nora, reminiscing. “There were people who believed in it, but our science had found no evidence of it. You could have your memories implanted. In fact, the woman I came here with had the memories of a woman of my time, while another friend did as well. But when you died that was really the end of you. And here I find out that not only is the afterlife real, but it can be wonderful.” It can be terrible too, she thought, considering the Soul Cairn and the Planes of Oblivion. “I am so sorry that you have to face such a doom, my friend,” said Elisif, reaching over to run a hand down Nora’s forearm in comfort. Of course the Jarl said nothing about Nora turning her back on that doom. It was Nora’s fate, and the entire world was depending on her to destroy the monster before their souls were devoured. They all expected her to be a good soldier and do her job. And of course that was Nora the entire way. No matter how scared she was, she would do the job, no matter the cost to her. Which didn’t mean she felt overjoyed at facing the monster. “Where is Sofia tonight?” asked Elisif. “She’s with Sybille,” said Lydia. “Leaning more about enchanting.” And destruction, thought Nora. Sofia had been ejected from the College of Winterhold for troublesome behavior. She loved practical jokes, on students and faculty alike, and it was determined that she had gone too far. When Nora had met her she was a proficient spellsword, equally deadly with sword or spell, but definitely not living up to her potential in magic. Since then she had developed the motivation to improve, and was on the verge of becoming an expert in magic. The funny part was Sofia had been deathly afraid of vampires. She had been frightened to death of facing the vampires in Morthal. Now she was working shoulder to shoulder with an ancient vampire. Of course Sybille was an exception, as civic minded a member of the undead as one was likely to find. And the vampire had taken an interest in helping the young spellsword to advance. Four of the people around the table yawned at the same time, then laughed. “I don’t know why I feel so tired,” said Elisif. Nora yawned herself, and felt like she could go to sleep where she sat. Her vision started to fade on her, and no matter how much she tried she couldn’t keep her eyes open. The wine, she thought. Someone had drugged the wine, and the last thing she saw was a bunch of women with their heads on the table, snoring away. * * * Nora's eyes came open, blurry, not focusing correctly. She felt confused, not sure what was going on. She had been sipping wine at Elisif's table, enjoying good conversation, when suddenly everything went black. I was drugged, she thought, not sure where she was. The blue wallpaper seemed to indicate that she was still in the palace. And she was lying on a bed, so one of the guest rooms. From the feel of the air on her body she was naked. She tried to move her arms, but the ropes that dug into her wrists let her know she was restrained. The same with her legs. What the hell is going on here? “Nora?” called out a near voice. Elisif? So she was here too. Nora could hear voices calling out from another room, and they didn't sound happy. She could make out Jordis, crying in pain and fear. Elesia raging. Eldawyn cursing in Altmer. Even Lydia, yelling at some men to leave Jordis alone and take her instead. But not Sofia, and she remembered that the Spellsword had been working with Sybille on learning enchanting. “Don't worry little lady,” said a harsh voice with a Reach accent. “There's enough to go around for all of you.” Several men laughed, and Nora knew exactly what was going on. “So, you're awake,” said a familiar voice. Nora turned her head to see a naked Erikur standing between the beds, his cock standing at attention. “So now we can start the party. Don't worry, I took a potion earlier, and I have enough for all of you. When I'm finished with you two my men will give you their attentions.” “What's going on, Nora?” asked Elisif. “No, not that,” screamed Jordis. “No.” “Damn, but this cunt is tight,” said a man. “And dry as a bone.” “Use some of the lubricant the Thane provided.” “Well, she's a virgin,” said the first voice. “Look at that blood. Or she was a virgin.” Nora closed her eyes and cursed. Jordis had been saving her virginity for someone special. Maybe Valdimar, maybe someone else. And now it had been ripped from her by a scumbag. Valdimar brought a thought to her., and she craned her head to see the big man leaning against the wall, unconscious, alongside a sleeping J'Zargo. “Here's how it’s going to go, ladies. And don't think help is going to come. We drugged the guards, and the next shift is not due for five hours. We have plenty of time. So, we are going to rape the hell out of all of you. Then we’re are going to castrate your gigolo and skin the cat. After that I am going to slit all of your throats, except for that of the Jarl. She's worth coin, and I think Tullius will pay a pretty ransom for her alive, if a little bit used.” “Don't you dare,” shouted Elisif. “We played with you while you were out, ladies, so you should be wet enough. If not, I have some fine lubricant I bought off a Dunmer merchant. Guaranteed to smooth the way.” Erikur laughed as he positioned himself over Elisif. “Erikur. No. Not that.” “Why. You don't want a real man for a change.” Nora saw the erect penis on the man, and while it wasn't tiny, it really wasn't much to talk about. “I'm going to kill you, Erikur.” “That will be hard to do when your body is devoid of life,” laughed the man, thrusting forward and burying himself to the hilt in Elisif. The Jarl screamed, fear and anger, and Erikur thrust away, in and out, slaking his lust on the woman he had sworn loyalty to in another life. All of the women in the other room were crying out, trying to fight their rapes and not succeeding. The sounds of groins slapping together came from that room, normally a happy sound. Not now. One of the men grunted and Jordis screamed again. “Maybe I put a baby in this little cunt. Too bad she won't be alive to birth it.” Elisif was clenching her fists at the top of the bed, her eyes closed, gritting her teeth. She moaned once, then bit her lip, not willing to give the man any encouragement. “Damn, Elisif. You are one tight cunt. Been a long time since you've had a man, huh.” “I still haven't had a man,” she screamed, spitting in the ex-Thane's face. “Bitch,” yelled Erikur, slamming a hard hand into Elisif's face. Blood ran from her mouth, and the raging man struck her in the eye, hard. “Don't resist, Elisif,” said Nora, gritting her teeth. She wanted to kill these men, but restrained as she was she couldn't even protect herself. Erikur continued to fuck the Jarl, while the women in the other room cried out as the second round of rapists attacked them. Finally he grunted, shooting his seed deep in Elisif, then rolled off of her. “Next,” he said, to the laughter of the other men. A Forsworn with the look of a wizard climbed on top of the Jarl and pushed his cock into her. His was of respectable size, and Elisif grunted with discomfort as he buried it in her pussy. “You're mine now, my Dear,” said Erikur, lathering his cock with lubricant, then moving to Nora. He set his cock at her entrance, then pushed it in. “My, you're even tighter than the Jarl.” “And I can barely feel that thing you call a cock,” said Nora, forcing a laugh. “You slut,” yelled Erikur, punching her in the face. “And you hit like a girl,” said Nora, continuing to laugh. “Maybe I should go ahead and slit your throat now. Your corpse will stay warm for quite some time, and I can enjoy you without having to listen to you.” Nora shut up then, gritting her teeth as the cock moved in and out of her. Erikur, for all the stories surrounding his conquests, was a poor example of a Nord lover. Put it in, move it a little, and cum. Unfortunately, he had imbibed a potion of virility, and he had enough stamina to fuck Nora badly for quite some time. The whole time she thought of strangling the man in his own guts, refusing to allow any physical feelings of pleasure to intrude on her anger. The Forsworn man finished in Elisif, the Jarl again crying out in anger, tears rolling down her cheeks. Another Forsworn stepped up and took the man's place, shoving it in and slaking his lust. Erikur finally came in Nora, then pulled out. “I'm going to enjoy some of your other women. But I'm sure we have enough here to keep you company.” A smiling man who had the look of a pirate next took Nora, sliding his impressive cock into her and going at her like a madman. It was too big for a woman who was not receptive, and it hurt like hell. Nora felt something tear and knew that she had some healing to do after this experience. Except she would be dead. “You beat her unconscious, you idiot,” growled Erikur to his people. “I might as well fuck a dead girl.” “She’s still breathing,” said one of the men. “No problem. If you don't want her, I'll fuck her again.” The man in Nora finished, got off, and made room for another, while yet another had his way with Elisif. Nora was hoping this never-ending nightmare was going to end, only it would end with their deaths, when the man thrusting into her went still as the dead. A figure appeared behind the man, fangs flashed and buried themselves into his neck. Sybille sucked hard at the man, emptying him and pushing the body aside. Nora looked over to see that the man who had been raping Elisif was also frozen in place, as were the two others in the room. Sybille had cast paralysis on them, but they would soon come out of it. The vampire cut Nora's bonds, pressed the knife into her hand, then moved to drain the man who had been ravaging Elisif. After that she took out the throats of the two standing men with her hands, now formed into claws. Nora, her hands half numb, forced herself to cut her feet free, then tried to stand up. She was still woozy, and Sybille sent healing magic into her. When Nora went to free Elisif Sybille stopped her. “We need to take care of the other rapists.” Nora nodded, then crept toward the doorway with the dagger in hand, Sybille beside her. There were a dozen men in the other room, four of them in the process of raping her followers. Lydia was laying still as a statue, giving them no satisfaction, as was Eldawyn. Elesia was fighting like a wildcat. And Jordis? Jordis lay as still as the dead, her chest barely rising, her face a mask of blood as one of the Forsworn rode her hard. Nora shouted Slow Time, and the men started to turn her way like they were under water. She charged forward, driving her dagger into the brain stem of one man while kicking another in the knee, feeling the bones break with satisfaction. She spun on her heel and launched a hard foot into the temple of another man, then stepped down and grabbed a Forsworn by the hair, baring his throat and cutting his neck to the spine. Four down, three of them kills. Time came back into synch, and she launched a kick into the stomach of the man coming toward her, bending him over for an elbow strike to the back of the neck, knocking him out. A knife went into Nora's back just over the kidney, and she spun around to bring her other elbow into the man's temple, dropping him dead to the ground. Blood was flowing from her body, but it wasn't a mortal blow and her healing factor quickly closed the wound. Two men came at her and she jumped into the air, sending a roundhouse kick into the head of one man, then shifting in the air to do the same to the other. Seven down. “I'll kill her,” said one man, standing over Jordis and holding a sword over the woman. Sybille moved with vampire speed, grabbing the man and sinking her fangs into his shoulder, then tossing him hard into a wall. Four left, and Nora sent Ice Spikes into one, then looked in shock as another spike skewered a second. Sofia came through the open door, ice magic in her hand as she killed the last rapist on his feet. Except for Erikur, who backed away like the coward he was. “Free my girls and tie up anyone still living,” said Nora to Sofia, grabbing Erikur by the hair and dragging him into the other room. She punched him in the face, knocking him senseless, then cut Elisif free. The Jarl was crying, her face a bloody mess, and she grabbed onto Nora as if she were drowning and the Dragonborn was her savior. “I'm so sorry,” she told the Jarl, stroking the long red hair. Nora pushed her at arm’s length for a moment, then sent healing into the Jarl. The wounds on her face closed up, and Nora sent another wave in to fade the wounds away so that not even a scar would show. Erikur groaned and shook his head, his eyes opening, and Nora grabbed a sword of state from its mount on the wall. “What do you want me to do with him?” asked Nora, grabbing Erikur by the hair and twisting him to his feet. “Elisif. My Jarl. Please.” “You dare ask for mercy after raping me and one of my Thanes,” roared Elisif, on her feet. “After capturing her people and raping them as well, taking Jordis' virginity. Putting your rancid seed in us.” “Your judgment, my Jarl?” “Erikur. As Jarl of Haafingar, I hereby sentence you, for the crime of rape, kidnapping and attempted murder, to death. To be carried out immediately.” Nora nodded, stepped back, and swung the sword hard through the neck of the once richest man in Haafingar. The fat head rolled from the neck and hit the floor, while torrents of blood spurt from the stump and the body fell to bleed out. “I am so sorry, Elisif,” said Nora, dropping the sword to the carpet and wrapping the Jarl in a tight hug. “And I am so sorry that you had to go through this,” said a crying Elisif, returning the hug. “But if not for you and Sybille, it would have been much worse.” “Let's get you dressed, my Jarl,” said Sybille, coming back into the room with a dress. “I need to get a bath first,” said Elisif, shaking her head. “I will not go about my business with this filth on me. And you, Thane Nora, need to see to your people.” Nora nodded and ran into the other room. Sofia had cut everyone free, and Eldawyn and her were casting healing into everyone. Lydia was crying, Elesia was cussing, and Eldawyn seemed to be taking it best of all. And Jordis was still lying on the bed crying. Nora shot all of her considerable store of magicka into the girl, healing her face. Eldawyn came over and sent in more, joined by Sofia, until the girl was stable. It would take longer to heal her mind though. “Everyone take a contraceptive potion,” she ordered, thinking of asking Sybille for them immediately. They would help Jordis to take the elixir. She didn't want even a chance of any of them becoming pregnant from these people. An hour later the guards had been given the antidote, everyone was dressed and clean, and the invaders, those still alive, had been hauled off to prison. Where they would wait their turns to slake Sybille's thirst. Nora wanted them dead as soon as possible, but no use letting them go to waste. * * * “I am so sorry, my dear,” said Valdimar, walking cautiously into Jordis's room. There was not a mark on the gorgeous face of the girl, but her eyes reflected the torment within. Valdimar sat softly on the edge of the bed, making sure he was not too close. Jordis leaned over and pushed, trying to drive him off the bed, then wrapped her arms around him and pulled him tight. “I am so sorry, little sister. If I had been conscious they would have had to go through my dead body to get to you.” “Not your fault,” said a crying Jordis, her face buried in his chest. She sniffled, then leaned back and looked at the man. “You were going to be my first, the next time you were with Lydia and me. We talked about it, and she thought it a wonderful idea. My first real lover, but those scum came along and took that away from me.” “I can still be your first real lover, when you're ready,” said the man, taking her chin in his hand. “Those vermin were not lovers. They were the lowest form of men, taking what they couldn't get willingly. Do not consider them as anything other than attackers.” Jordis nodded, more tears flowing from her eyes. “And would you want to have anything to do with me, after..” “Dear heart. I would be honored to still be your first. And I was there for Lady Nora after she was raped by the Markarth guards. Nothing they did to you left a permanent mark on your body. On your mind, yes, and that will take time to heal. But it will heal, and you'll go on to enjoy life. Just give it time.” “I will,” she said, kissing Valdimar on the cheek. “Thank you.” “How is she?” asked Nora as Valdimar walked out to the room. “Well. She's young, and resilient. But it will take time.” Nora nodded. They had been at the Palace for three days, and would spend at least four more. Everyone needed some time. Jordis could sit in the gardens, talking with Elisif as she had done every day. It was good for both of them, and Nora was willing to let Jordis stay here as long as needed. Jordis's father was in the guard, a captain, and he visited every day as well, to let his little girl know he still loved her, and always would, no matter what. It turned out that Elisif had known the girl all of the years she had been in Solitude, and had really thought she was giving Nora a prized follower. “Well, she was a little rough around the edges at first,” admitted Nora as she was having tea with the Jarl. “But she turned out to be a valuable asset. She has saved the lives of several of my people during missions. I fell in love with her earnest way and her courage. I hope she will recover.” Elisif nodded, tears welling in her eyes. “And what about you, Jarl Elisif?” “I was thinking of taking a lover,” said the woman, wiping at her tears. “Now I'm not sure. I've always been a one-man woman, and Ulfric took him away from me. But after what those beasts did, I'm not sure if I will ever let a man touch me again.” “Try. Maybe not now, or maybe not for some time. But try. Not all men are like those, and you will find a good one someday.” “I do miss the touch of a lover though, someone who cares for me.” Elisif leaned forward, putting a hand on Nora's knee. “Maybe someone like you.” “Elisif, while I would be proud and delighted to have a love like you, you have to know that I can't confine myself to a single person. It's just not in my nature. But if you do wish my attentions whenever I happen to be at the palace, they are yours, my Lady.” “An honest answer,” said Elisif sadly. She then smiled. “But yes, I am willing to accept you on your terms.” Later, after Nora had given and received much pleasure to and from the Jarl, they lay together in the large bed in the master's chamber. Nora basked in the glow of their lovemaking, while Elisif lay breathless beside her, nipples erect and the flush of orgasm on her chest. “That was wonderful,” said Elisif, a hand reaching over and cupping one of Nora's smallish breasts, rubbing her palm over a stiff nipple. Nora smiled and looked at the gorgeous woman beside her. Elisif was thinner than most Nord women, though not as thin as Nora. Tall and lithe, with a graceful body, C cup breasts and large nipples, she had the kind of body to excite any lover. Add to that her tender lips and tight genitals and she was made for loving. “I've wondered Nora, and you've mentioned it before I think, but why do you have such soft skin. Like a baby's. But your muscles are like steel underneath. No scars.” Elisif ran her fingers over one of Nora's hands. “And no calluses.” “It's a long story.” “And we have nowhere to go,” said Elisif, smiling. “I found a man named Lorenzo Cabot,” said Nora, launching into the tale. “Four hundred years old and locked away by his family, who milked his blood for the secret of immortality. He was crazy, but his family was even more so, and I freed him. In reward he gave me the oil that his family was taking from him. I became stronger, faster, able to heal incredible wounds, and my life was extended.” “Sounds wonderful. Can you get some of that oil for me?” “I would if I could,” said Nora with a laugh. “But Lorenzo is in another Universe. And I had to take the oil every month to reap the benefits.” “But,” said Elisif, propping herself up on an elbow. “You've been here for almost a year.” “Well, some scientists I knew took the oil and used it to make what they called a Supersoldier serum. Something from before the war that never quite worked. Only with Lorenzo's oil it worked just fine. I took the serum, a risk, but I needed every advantage I could get to fight the people that were out to destroy the nation I was building. And it gave me everything. Strength, speed, agility, healing. Even my brain worked faster. Every injury I get heals with no scar unless it kills me outright. My muscles are harder and denser than anyone not treated with the serum.” “But your skin? It would be the envy of any woman.” Nora laughed. Elisif had exceptionally soft fair skin herself, though without the other advantages. “My skin is as tough as leather underneath, but softer than most on the surface. You mentioned calluses. Well, any that form are absorbed into my body within days, though the skin is still tougher than that of ordinary people with calluses. But even as it strengthened my body it also accentuated the feminine in me. Soft skin, strong pheromones, and a sex drive like you wouldn't believe. Which is one reason I'm such an alley cat. I've always loved sex, more than most, but my new metabolism made it almost a necessity. Add to that the nightmares, and sex became a daily requirement.” “And why do you get these nightmares. I've heard you talk about them, but most warriors I know don't have the kind of dreams you've talked about.” “Because, my dear Jarl, I had never intended to become a warrior. I was a counselor of law, defending the downtrodden. Then I found myself in a world where it was either kill, or let innocent people die. So I became a killer, but I never liked it.” “So,” said Elisif, looking thoughtful. “When you kill someone like Erikur, you will see his face at night?” “Yes,” said Nora, closing her eyes for a moment and seeing the head rolling off the shoulders. “He was a human being, as terrible as he acted. But he needed to be killed, since he had harmed people dear to me, including you, Elisif. He needed to pay the penalty, and I couldn't let someone else experience the memories of killing him. So I did it. And I would do it again if given the chance, much as it pains me.” “I am so sorry, dear Nora,” whispered Elisif, leaning over and kissing the Dragonborn softly on the lips. “I am so sorry you had to go through that. And so grateful that you were there to save me.”
  8. Next morning Nora set up a terminal with instructions on it, then set a letter on the desk to let new settlers know what they needed to do. The Recruitment Beacon was powered up and running, but there was no telling when the first resident would arrive. First thing they ran into the on the road was the Lonely Chapel. The small church appeared over the hill they were walking up. And as soon as they saw it they were under fire. Nora went to a knee and started flashing hand signals to her people. Barb to the left, Dogmeat along with her. Heather to the right with Dewey. While Nora went up the middle and drew fire. From the sound of the weapons they were using pipe rifles, which wouldn’t have the power to do much to her armor. Rounds pinged off her armor and Nora was tempted to send a grenade into the church through a window. The scream of a young child halted that motion, and she ran at full speed to the entrance to the chapel, arriving just as Barb and Heather moved into position to cover her. Nora went through the door, rifle at the ready, shooting one of the Raiders through the head, then pivoting to put a quick burst into the chest of the other. As soon as she killed them she regretted it. They had left this life too easy, she thought, as she looked at the several small bodies burning in the fire, and the one fresh one laying on the bed, her clothes ripped off. The girl’s genitals were red and swollen, and a large dildo lay next to her. Recording equipment was set up, and it was obvious to Nora what had been going on. She exited her armor and stood over the child, tears coming to her eyes. “They were making snuff porn, just like Big Al,” she told her followers as they walked in and stared with open mouths. “Motherfuckers.” “You want us to strip them?” “Take their weapons and ammo, and nothing else.” Nora climbed back into her armor, then hoisted one of the bodies into the air and position the man with his ass facing out. She had snapped off the one of the legs of the camera, and now used the strength of her suit to push its pointed end thought his ass and into a wooden wall, pinning him there. She did the same to the woman, only jamming the pinion through the bitch’s pussy. “Take some blood and write on that wall. Death to Child Pornographers.” “Yes ma’am,” said Barb in a hushed voice. Nora threw some more wood on the fire, then gently laid the child’s body in the flames, making sure the bodies of the rest were arranged for full incineration. Barb had finished the sign in record time. It wasn’t elegant script, but it was legible enough. “Let’s get the fuck out of here,” said Nora, her voice cracking in a sob. “I’m going to kill every one of these assholes. Slow, if possible. Now let’s go say hello to Red.” A couple of more miles, another hill, and they were looking down on a Raider camp, cobbled together shacks and walkways running over the cargo boxes that had ridden on trucks. Nora was ready to burn the whole place, down, but said some calming mantras. The Alliance needed every resource she could find. She picked out several turrets and thought of the gears she could get from them, then a Protectron and a Handy, or maybe a Gutsy, and considered the high-quality circuit boards she could, with luck, salvage from them. They needed all of those parts. The Handies and Constructons they were currently building were mostly Stupid Version 1.0. With the better boards they could be programed with a better AI that would allow them to operate without someone holding their mechanical hands. “Barb. Take down everything to the right. Heather, the left. I’m going to take out any concentrations with the GL. If you can get to the turrets take them, but try to control your fire so we have more parts. Let’s get to it.” Barb immediately took a Raider on a walkway under fire, dropping her dead body over the side. Heather ashed another in a watch tower. While Nora dropped a grenade into the only cluster of Raiders, relaxing in one of the shacks. When the round went off their bodies were relaxing against the side of the shack, slack in death. “Motherfuckers,” screamed a woman, running up a ramp so she could get at the invaders, waving a Ripper. The hand held chain saw might have been deadly at close quarters, but it wasn’t the weapon of choice to charge people with good quality weapons. Barb hit her with a burst at the same time as Heather burned off an arm, and the woman fell dead with a quick death rattle. “I guess your mother fucked you brother to get an inbred moron like you,” said Nora, kneeling to pull the Ripper of the woman’s arm. The turrets and robots were surprisingly easy to kill, and yielded up some valuable parts. “Any of these people look like Red to you?” she asked her people. “Red’s the big boss, so she’s probably in the stockpile, underground.” “Of course she is, Heather,” said Nora, feeling stupid. “So let’s go crash the party.” Nora hacked into the terminal and opened the door, while Barb and Heather looted everything in the outer office. The inside was dimly lit and filled with trash, just like everything else in the Wasteland. That surprised Nora, since the site had been run by the Feds and was well sheltered from blast effects. She figured the Raiders could ruin a wet dream, and everything they touched was trash. They started running into supplies almost immediately. Food, water, packs of energy cells, even liquor. No ammunition, which surprised her, but she figured it might be further in. The shelves were about three quarters empty, by they had been designed to hold a large amount of supplies, and even a quarter left was quite a bit. And the stockpile stretched ahead, more and more shelves lining the walls into the distance. “We’re probably going to be sending settlers in here for weeks to strip this place,” said Barb. “You might want to build a secure facility to store all of this.” “I’m going to build just that at Sanctuary Hills, and assign someone to keep track of everything. If a settlement has a need, we’ll stick it in the QESS for them to access it. And we’ll do the same with the surplus from the settlements.” “Thought I heard something out here,” said a man, stepping into the light with shotgun in hand, another male beside him. “Shit,” he screamed as Nora ran her suit at them. The shotgun spoke, but the pellets bounced harmlessly off the carbon armor of the Recon suit, and the mass and momentum bowled the two Raiders over. “Where’s Red Tourette,” she growled at the man with the shotgun, nursing a broken arm as he looked up in fear. “I asked where Red is? And whose idea was using those children to make snuff flicks?” “That was Red’s idea,” said the man. “I told her it was a bad idea, but she wouldn’t listen.” “You lucked out, because I believe you,” said Nora, putting a single shot from her suppressed rifle through his head. “Now how about you? Help a sister out and tell me where Red is?” “You promise not to kill me?” “No. But I’ll promise you an easier end than any of those kids. Now tell me.” “She's straight ahead. Keep going and you can’t miss her. I..” The rifle phutted and a mist of red surrounded the man’s head as he dropped to the floor. “Are you okay, Nora?” asked Heather, coming up and looking like she wasn’t sure what to do with a friend in power armor. She definitely couldn’t hug her. “You sound so damned angry, and I’m afraid you are just making new nightmares for yourself.” “Maybe I am. But I want to be Red Tourette’s worst nightmare, and I’ll work on calming down after I leave her rotting corpse on the floor.” Nora stormed forward, stopping herself from screaming Red’s name. She really didn’t care about stealth, but she did care about turrets and mines, and kept a close lookout, activating her VATS sensors periodically to scan for threats. Barb spotted the ambush, sending a stream of fire into the first Raider she spotted, then ducking down as the other three fired. Everyone made it to cover, even Nora ducking down, trying to keep her temper from leading her into disaster. A couple of shots with the grenade launcher and the three Raiders were gone. “A big woman in that power armor,” came a harsh female voice from ahead. “And a coward. Face me without that armor if you want to prove what a hero you are.” “And you are a sorry bitch who takes her anger out on children. Children. What kind of animal does that?” “The little shits were nothing to me. They were settler kids, who were stupid enough to run away from their families. And so they became actors in my productions. About the only use they could possibly be.” “They were children. They weren’t supposed to be of use. They were supposed to be sheltered, educated, allowed to play, so they would grow up to be useful. Unlike you and your people, who are just a blight on the Commonwealth.” “Oh, go fuck yourself, you coward.” “Then come out and face me. I’ll get out of my power armor and face you without firearms. Would that be good enough for you?” “And how am I supposed to believe you.” “Eject,” said Nora, and the suit opened up. She climbed out as her people protested. “I’m out. Now show yourself.” “And let your people shoot me down. No thanks.” “Then I’ll come to you. Let me pass you barrier.” “Nora,” shouted Heather, eyes wide as Barb stood there and shook her head. “Don’t. She won’t play you fair.” “Of course you can trust me, Nora. So, you are the one who has been taking down the gangs. How special, for a Vault dweller to actually be worth a shit. And it will elevate me with the gangs to kill you hand to hand. You won’t stand a chance, you soft little Vault dweller.” “I’ve got to do this guys.” “No. What happens if you die?” “Then I want you to kill her. As painfully as possible.” “I’m coming through,” said Nora, picking her way past the mines and the turret, then climbing up the stairs. “Stay right there, and keep your hands where I can see them.” “What you going to do, Red?” said Nora in a steady voice, staring into the dead eyes of Tourette. “Did you lie to me?” “No. I want to kill you with my own hands. But I want this to be fair. So get out of that armor. It looks tough enough to stop a bullet.” “Sure.” Nora unbuckled and dropped her pistol belt, the unbuckled her strap on armor. Finally climbing out of her nano-suit and standing in front of the Raider Boss in just her underwear. “You are a pretty woman,” said Red, her eyes roaming over Nora’s body. “If you weren’t so dangerous I would keep you as a slave and let you service me every day.” “You couldn’t handle sex with me, Red. Look at you. You’re a dried-up prune, just like your sister, Lilly. I was surprised to read that Tower Tom dropped her into the brewing vat so she could ferment his beer.” Red was actually a good-looking woman. Or would have been, if not for the perpetual scowl on her face. “What do you know about Lilly?” screeched Red, her rifle aiming in on Nora. “I read about her on Tower Tom’s terminal at the brewery. He killed her. By accident it seems, but he wanted to continue to play you for the fool and get food from you. So just think about it, you fed your sister’s murderer.” “Keep her covered,” Red told her henchman, then put her rifle down on an old desk. She picked up a wire wrapped baseball bat and took a swing, then advanced on Nora. “I’m going to fuck you up, little Vault dweller. You will be begging me for mercy before I put you down.” “Bring it.” Red screamed and ran forward. She was fast, and she aimed a swing at Nora’s body, obviously wanting to punish her. To prolong the torture. Only Nora was no longer in the way of the bat. She dodge away, then circled around Red, aware of where the henchman was. With a quick step she slid toward him, her right leg cocking into her side and striking out, hitting him right in the rifle and driving him off his feet to fall to the floor. Nora dodged away from Red and slid to the side of the henchman, striking him in the throat with a knife hand, leaving him to choke his life out. Red came running at her, bringing the bat down in a blow intended to hit Nora in the head. She was scared now, facing someone fighting like she had never seen anyone do before. Nora jumped away, rolling in the air, then springing up again and landing close to Red, to backhand the woman across the face. Not a hard blow, just enough to sting. Then she back peddled away. “What are you?” screamed Red. “Just a soft little Vault dweller. One with more strength and ability than you’ve ever faced. But don’t worry. I’m going to demonstrate how outclassed you are before I kill you.” Red screamed and swung, and Nora dodged again, then jumped into the air to hit the Raider in the face with a round kick. Again Nora held back her power. She didn’t want this woman to die too fast. “Fuck you,” yelled Red, flinging her bat at Nora and turning to run toward her shotgun. Nora batted the club aside, then jumped into the air and kicked Red in the back, sending her flying into some crates. Nora snatched up the shotgun and flung it away over the crates, then advanced on the Raider Boss. “What’s the matter Red? Don’t like my game?” Red came at her swinging, a swift series of punches. Nora blocked each one, then gabbed the right arm and pulled it close, snapping it at the elbow, then breaking it again at the wrist. “Fuck.” “Having fun yet. The same kind of fun you gave to those children.” Red turned to run, and Nora jumped up and kicked her in the back, then sent a side kick into her knee, snapping the joint. Red went down with a cry, and Nora swept in to grab the woman’s left arm and break it at the elbow. Red fell forward, crying, terrified. Nora knelt down by her and slammed a knife hand into her right collar bone, shattering it. Another strike and the left collar bone was gone, and Red had no control over her arms at all. “I’m going to break all of the bones in your body, Red. And don’t bother begging for mercy, because I have none in me.” A red dot appeared between Red’s eyes, and Nora spun around and up to her feet to see Barb lowering her rifle. “Goddam you,” yelled the Sole Survivor, moving toward Barb, and running into a hugging tackle at the hands of Heather. “Stop Nora. This isn’t you. You believe in the quick kill, not torture.” “I couldn’t stand to see you do something you would beat yourself up for, said Barb, tears rolling down her eyes. The woman walked forward, wrapping Nora in a hug, taking the chance that her friend would attack her. That was something Nora couldn’t do. There two had stood by her through everything. She had wanted to make Red a mewing broken things, and they had realized that the person she would hurt the most would be her. Nora cried, great racking sobs as tears flowed down her eyes. Her friends held her tight, letting her cry it out. “I couldn’t help it. I saw those children and thought of Shaun. What if he had been captured by someone like her. What if he had been tortured.” “Oh, she deserved to die in fear and pain,” said Heather. “Barb didn’t shoot her to end her suffering, but to keep you from prolonging yours.” “Thank you,” said Nora, giving her friends another hug, then climbing back into her armor. “You going to be okay?” asked Barb. “With friends like you, how couldn’t I be. Now let’s clear this place up and loot the hell out of it.” “I really think you’re going to have to work this one as a long-term project.” Nora sent back all she could in one load of Wilson, after making sure the place was clear and killing the remaining two Raiders, cowering in a hidden space that couldn’t avoid her sensors. She set up a turret pulled from her cargo bot at the entrance, and posted a warning to anyone that wanted to loot the place. A sign, with Red’s head on a spike over it. * * * They headed to Walden’s Pond, a place Nora had remembered as being peaceful, a place she could sit for a moment and clear her mind. And now a haven for yet another Raider gang. “Son-of-a-bitch,” she yelled as two Raider power armor suits came walking out of the gift shop, both with miniguns. Nora hit one with an RPG penetrator from her GL, killing the operator instantly, then charged forward and hit the other with her nano-sword until he joined his friend in death. “I want this place cleared out. In Emerson’s memory, I want this place free.” They looted the gift shop, and then went through the storeroom that led into a series of tunnels under the area. Nora egressed her suit, wanting stealth over armor, and they took down a couple of groups of Raiders with suppressed rifles. They packed out more loot, then headed for Starlight. Nora was already worn out, physically and emotionally. She had found another survival guide at Walden, which had given her more information that seemed to flow into her DNA. And they found themselves walking down a road she had been down before. There was an old diner to the right side, a couple of people with guns out in front arguing with someone inside. “This doesn’t concern you,” growled the tough looking woman who appeared to be the bodyguard. “Move on.” “I’m making it my concern,” said Nora. “And you better lower that weapon if you don’t want a woman in a ton of advanced power armor to shove it up your ass.” “Back off, Simone,” said the man. “I don’t think intimidation is going to work these people.” “Smart man,” said Nora. “And you are?” “I’m Wolfgang, and I sell chems. I have a dispure with Trudy, the owner of this establishment. Her son bought chems from me, and never paid. And I intend to get the money.” “A fucking drug dealer,” said Nora. “Still a blight on society, even after the war.” “Look,” said the man, looking genuinely offended. “Sure, I sell Jet and other highly addictive meds, always with a caution to use in moderation. Jet is useful for more than the high, as you should know if you’ve ever needed to move fast in a tight situation. I also sell Mentats, Calmex, Buffout, Radway, Rad-x and Rebound, which can be necessities in the Wasteland. So I’m not the bad guy. I provide products to those who need them, and it’s not my fault if some overindulge. I’m not their mama.” Nora took a second to digest what the man had said, and a lot of it made sense. There were chem dealers everywhere. Solomon was an institution in Diamond City. He didn’t have a bodyguard like Wolfgang, but then he was in the middle of the most secure place in the Wasteland. Wolfgang provided a service out here, and people were responsible for their own lives. “Tell the scumbag that he’s not getting another cap out of me. He got my boy addicted.” “Your boy got himself addicted,” shouted Wolfgang. “I warned him to not use too much over a short time and he ignored me. I’m not his mama. That’s your job.” “Can I come in and talk,” said Nora. “I’m with the Minutemen, and not affiliated with Wolfgang.” “Exit your power armor and you can come in. But watch your hands.” Nora ejected from the power armor and walked to the door. “Well damn. You are one fine looking lady.” “Thank you. I’ve been getting that a lot lately.” “That scumbag got my boy addicted,’ said Trudy, a lady on the upper side of middle age. “I’ll never touch that stuff again,” said Patrick, a young man who looked like he had been through hell and back. “Mama helped me to come down and get off the shit.” “Look. This isn’t really my problem, but I don’t want to see anyone getting killed.” Glancing at the products behind the counter, she saw almost all of the chems that Wolfgang sold. These were two merchants, and they did provide a legitimate service. They were needed, and their feud did no one any good. “So why don’t you pay Wolfgang and it will be over. If he promises not to hook your son again.” “Patrick will never get another chem from me,” said Wolfgang from outside. “Look, I’ll even give you some of the caps. How much do you owe him?” “Six hundred fucking caps. I don’t do enough business to cover that kind of cost.” “I’ll pay him half of that if you can come up with the rest.” “Or you could kill Wolfgang, and I’d give you the three hundred.” “I’m not a killer for hire,” Nora told the woman, who she was beginning to realize was not a nice person. Well, one didn’t have to be to gain her protection. “You either deal with me or I walk and let you deal with him. Your choice.” “Okay, okay.” Trudy went to her cash register and counted out three hundred caps, putting them in a bag and handing it to Nora. “Thanks for nothing.” Sheesh, thought Nora as she walked out of the store. “Here’s three hundred from Trudy. Let me get three hundred from my pack and we’ll be square.” “Tell you what. Pick out three hundred worth of product from me and pay me the caps for it. It’s the least I can do for you helping me out. But remember, moderation.” Nora walked away from the old diner wondering if she could have handled that better. Well, everyone was still alive, and she had some chems that might be of use down the road, so maybe that was the best she could have done. She had seen enough killing for one day. “Let’s check out Starlight. Then, tomorrow we’re going back to Cambridge.” “You going to join the Brotherhood of Steel?” said Heather, her tone disapproving. “Well, not really join them,” said Nora with a frown, hoping that she wasn’t going to alienate someone really dear to her with this decision. “Perform some missions for them and gather intelligence on their organization. But I’m still and always will be a Minuteman. Can you live with that?” Nora held her breath as she watched Heather’s face. “I can live with that, Partner. I just don’t want to become part of that oppressive organization.” “But are they really that oppressive?” asked Barb, who hadn’t reacted to Danse and company like the other woman. “You’ll see,” said Heather. Starlight was coming along nicely. There were now twelve settlers, all working jobs that were producing for the settlement chain. The robots had built a refinery, an arc furnace and a chem factory, as well as some scavenging stations they could use to process the materials brought back by salvaging crews. All of the adult settlers were cross training with weapons, so she would have some militia here if needed. The settlers planned an impromptu feast for the team when they arrived. They had two hunters in the settlement, and the hunting to the north of the settlement was good, so the stew they made was meat rich. Cold beer brewed at Sanctuary was on tap, and the people celebrated their new circumstances. After they had eaten their fill, something that happened far too infrequently prior to their joining a settlement, the leader of the settlement, Jona Cutler, stood at the head of the table and asked for the attention of the others. “I want to make a toast to our saviors, and especially to Nora Jane Adams. She came out of a Vault after losing everything she had. And instead of hiding she attacked this world, making it a better place. Food production is up, Raider activity is down, and we have full stomachs most nights. So here’s to Nora, Heather and Barb. May their days on Earth be long, and may happiness be their final reward.” The people then gave Nora their personal thanks, and she retired that night feeling very embarrassed. It had been a hell of a day. She had taken down two Raider gangs, brokered a truce between two merchants, and then received the embarrassing praise of the people she helped. After an hour of sex with Barb and Heather in her quarters, Nora lay between her partners, running her hands over the smooth bodies of the two. With the procurement of hundreds of good quality like new razors from the ruins around them, Nora had taken to shaving her legs and under her armpits, just like prewar. She had trimmed her bush, baring her labia while retaining a strip above. The girls had emulated her style, and all were freshly shaven and clean smelling this night. “Feeling better?” asked Barb, leaning over to lick one of Nora’s firm nipples. Heather had the other breast in hand and was making circling motions over that nipple with her palm. “Much. I’m sorry I got out of hand at the Stockpile. I don’t know what got into me.” “You’re a mother,” said Heather, after sucking for a moment on the nipple she had been caressing. “You’re predisposed to look out for children. I’ve never had one of the little terrors, and it still cut me deep down to see those little bodies.” “Let’s talk about something more pleasant,” said Nora, leaning over to kiss Heather. As she broke the kiss she looked at Heather, then at Barb. “I just want you both to know that I couldn’t have done all of this without you.” “Yes you could,” protested Heather. “You have the smarts, the drive, and the fighting ability to see this through.” “Well, be that as it may, it would not have been so pleasant without the current company.” Heather kissed her way down Nora’s body, ending up with her mouth placed over the Sole Survivor’s pussy, lapping up the flowing juices. Nora hissed in a breath, and the time for talking was over. * * * “I accept your proposal,” said Danse, smiling at Nora. The Knight Paladin was in his soft uniform, still offering him some protection with its ballistic weave, but nowhere near what his power armor did. Said power armor was parked in a repair station, still banged up from their mission, though it was obvious that the Brotherhood officer had been working on it. “Okay, so we scout for you while we’re checking out places for ourselves. And clear out spots you would like cleared out, which benefits both of us.” “I would like to give you a Brotherhood rank that you can use if needed, but the highest I can grant is initiate. I won’t bother swearing you in, since I realize your primary loyalty is to the Minutemen, and you are just an auxiliary in our service. Maybe in time you might want to formalize your relationship with the Brotherhood.” “That could happen,” said Nora, giving Danse her best smile. She really wanted to get this one in bed, and while he was obviously attracted, he wasn’t taking the bait. She figured that Danse, like Reese, was wedded to the Brotherhood, and was not willing to compromise himself over something as trivial as sex. Well, to each their own. “Okay, since you are going to search around Malden anyway, be on the lookout for our first recon team to the Commonwealth. They are probably all dead, but if you can come back with any of the intelligence they developed, it could be immensely helpful to us.” “Will do.” “Then go see what Reese and Halen want you to do, and I’ll see you when you swing back through.” Danse got up from his chair and went back to working on his power armor. Nora had offered him the help of some technicians and hardware, but the Knight Paladin had turned her down. Probably worried about revealing their power armor tech, when Nora thought her tech was so much better. Reese was still angry, but he watched his tongue, realizing that Nora could kick his ass. He handed her a list of locations they knew harbored what the Brotherhood thought of as Horrors. Feral ghouls and Supermutants topped his list, and Nora didn’t feel bad about ridding the Commonwealth of those. “And I don’t want to see your face until those areas are cleared out, Okay.” “Whatever you want, Reese.” Halen, as usual, was much more friendly. “Remember, bring the tech back to me. No taking it to your own people to disassemble, tempting as that might be.” “I gave Danse my word,” said Nora, holding up a hand and putting the other over her heart. “What you point out to me is yours. Everything else is mine. Unless it belongs to the Brotherhood recon team I’m on the lookout for.” Halen gave her a list about the same length as Reese’s, but was much friendlier in her words about wanting to see her back. “You heard,” she asked her people as she walked out of the station. “We heard,” came Heather’s voice over the earbud. Sturgis had built some short-range transceivers for the team, a couple of ounces each with an operating range of about a kilometer. With the devices they could talk in tactical situations, or send signals to alert team members. Nora felt much better with the small radios, though she had to remind herself that they weren’t foolproof, and they might find conditions where the range was restricted to almost nothing. “That Reese continues to be an asshole,” said Barb. “Though I have to admit the other two are civil. Even friendly. Too bad Danse keeps giving you the cold shoulder.” “Dammit Barb. I’m not trying to fuck every man in the Commonwealth.” “But you can’t tell me you wouldn’t want that man inside of you, can you? And don’t lie.” “Very well. I would jump Danse’s bones in a heartbeat. But he’s having nothing of it.” Even with my pheromones, she thought. That was some willpower there, and she respected Danse for it, even as it drove her crazy that he wasn’t giving her what she wanted. “Same plan?” asked Heather, getting them back to business. “Yep. Through Cambridge to Bunker Hill, then up to the northeast to check out the settlement Preston knows about. We hit County Crossing first, since they had a request, then play it by ear.” Once they established a settlement she would be able to communicate with Preston and the others through the QESS. Conrad had come up with a way of sending messages back and forth through keyboard. It was still a clunky system, but it worked. She thought they had enough food, water and caps for an extended trip, though there were never any guarantees. “Let’s hit the road,” she told her people after climbing into her power armor, and the three people, two dogs and multiple robots walked away for the police station to the River Road, turning North.
  9. “Over the last few days we've had some disturbing information come to light regarding the events at Wolfskull Cave and the summoning and binding ritual you interrupted there,” said Falk Firebeard, standing beside Elisif’s throne. “Given your involvement with that event, I think you are our best option to look into this.” “Not to mention the fact that you are probably the most powerful mage/warrior any of us know,” said Elisif, concern for her people, as well as her friend Nora, showing on her beautiful face. “I really hate to ask this of you, Thane Nora. But I would hate to send my guards to investigate such a fearsome necromancer. And I fear that many of them would lose their lives, if not their very souls.” “No problem, my Jarl.” That’s what Nora was here for, to rid this world of evil, and from what she understood Potema was as great an evil as this world had ever seen. If she came back to life there would be a lot of suffering. Maybe Nora could defeat her nonetheless, but she would prefer to destroy the creature while she was still gaining strength. “I understand that you are a mighty warrior and mage,” said the old man who had met them in the throne room. “Do not take her lightly. You will be walking into her territory, where she is strongest.” Nora looked over the Priest of Arkay, one Styrr. He looked up at the throne and nodded, then put a hand on the Dragonborn’s shoulder. “I would like to talk with you in my house,” said the man, gesturing for Nora to follow him. It was a beautiful day in Solitude. Clear sky, sun shining, the many hawks flying through the sky. The streets were full of people walking about, talking, laughing, unaware that a being that wanted to enslave them all in life and death was gathering strength beneath their feet. “How long have you been a priest of Arkay?” asked Nora as she followed the man. He had a long stride, and she increased her pace to keep up. “You could say that I was born to the position,” said Styrr with a smile. “My parents were the Priest and Priestess of Arkay before me. I grew up in the hall of the dead.” “And did Roggvir get a proper Nord burial?” “Yes. And thank you for taking up his cause with the Imperial authorities.” Nora didn’t know if the man had deserved execution or not, but he hadn’t deserved the possible doom of wandering Nirn as a spirit. Sanctified and interned in the Hall of the Dead he could move on. “I think I was raised into my position to protect Solitude from the Darkness that pervades it,” said the Priest, stopping at the door to his house and opening the lock. “What Darkness? The vampires?” “They are a part of it,” said Styrr, gesturing for Nora to take a seat at the table in the kitchen. “This city has a long history of madness and murder. The Wolf Queen... Pelagius... The death of High King Torygg... And now, public executions. My books tell the stories. Have no doubt - as pretty as its streets are, as jovial as the bards may be... darkness is drawn to Solitude.” “Darkness pervades all of Skyrim as far as I can see,” said Nora, accepting the offered goblet of wine. “All of Nirn I suspect.” “And you have a destiny to bring the light back to this world,” said the old man, bowing his head. “Quite the task, and one I don’t envy you. But I am grateful that you lend your strength to defeating the powers of darkness, large and small.” “Well, Elisif might have thought giving me a title was more of a formality, but part of the deal was to come to the aid of Solitude when it was threatened. This seems like as big a threat as any. Maybe not in the same class as Alduin, but big enough.” “Yes, Potema. Former queen of Solitude and one of the most dangerous necromancers in recorded history. She was responsible for the Empire's near collapse almost five hundred years ago. I believe I have a book about her...” Styrr looked around for a moment before returning to the table with a dusty tome which he placed on the surface. “Summoned in spirit form is not raised from the dead,” said Styrr, opening the book and revealing a drawing of the Wolf Queen herself. “She'll need help before she can return to the living. For the moment, the Wolf Queen has retreated to a place filled with dead eager to serve her. She has gone to her old Catacombs. A few days ago, one of her servants busted through a wall into the Temple of the Divines. We'll need you to go into the Catacombs themselves.” Nora looked over the portrait of Potema in the book. The woman was undeniably gorgeous, her look tempered by the madness in her eyes. A dangerous opponent to be sure. “Well, that’s what I’m here for,” said Nora, looking away from the book. “Good. Being at the summoning created a connection to Potema. You are the one to do this. I can provide you with some minor help for her minions.” The old man handed over an amulet of Arkay that radiated divine power. “Anything you can do will be appreciated.” “I have the key to the gate to her catacombs as well. I understand that you are very good with locks, but this one might be even beyond you.” The old man handed over a curiously constructed key. “As for Potema herself, find what's left of her body, likely a skeleton. Remove it from the Catacombs and bring it back to be sanctified by Arkay. That should put an end to her once and for all.” “Anything else you can tell me about our wonderful Necromancer Queen?” “A curious figure. Unrepentantly evil and nasty, of course, but also astonishingly brilliant, and obviously quite a necromancer at her end. She was always so close to being Empress, but despite her machinations it was never to be hers. Ironically, if she were alive today, she'd be the only living member of the Septim bloodline. By all rights she would now be Empress.” “I’ll gather my people and we’ll go after her. I can’t say how long it will take, but expect us back here with her remains.” “And if you don’t come back?” asked Styrr, raising an eyebrow. “Then get together whatever you can to come after us.” And hope I’m still around to face Alduin. “Falk said we could find you here,” said Eldawyn, coming up to Nora as she exited the priest’s house. Sofia and J’Zargo were in tow, the Nord looking slightly flushed, while J’Zargo was breathing heavily. “Training?” she asked Eldawyn, knowing that the Altmer had taken an interest in increasing the capabilities of the other mages in the party. “I cast some more expert level spells,” said Sofia, beaming with pride. “Sofia is stretching her capabilities,” said J’Zargo, who was becoming a better mage day by day himself. “This cat believes she will become an expert mage in no time.” “So, what’s going on?” asked Eldawyn, obviously ready for some excitement. “Potema is going on,” said Nora, grimacing. “I thought we had taken care of her,” said Sofia, eyes wide. “Why in the hell can’t these damned demon necromancers just stay dead?” “Well, this time I want to put her down for good. We’re going to recover her remains so the Priest of Arkay can sanctify her and end the threat. Now, you have any idea where the others are.” “I think the Housecarls are all down at the Imperial Fort finding sparing partners,” said Eldawyn. “Quite charming how they keep trying to become better warriors.” “I know they aren’t mages,” said Nora, wanting to make sure her people weren’t being condescending to their warriors. “But they fulfill an important function.” “Hey, I have no problem with them,” said Sofia, who as a spellsword had always depended on her melee skills as much as her magic. “I think I need to get in some sparring time with them as well. And I’m sure the furball here could do with some practice.” “I will practice knocking you onto the ground, jokester,” said the Khajiit. From the way he said it Nora knew it was just good-natured ribbing between the two. Everyone in her party had some skill with weapons, even Eldawyn, the closest thing they had to a pure mage. “What’s up?” asked Elesia, running up with a shrimp wrap in hand, reminding Nora that she should fill up herself before heading into the catacombs. “Potema,” said Sofia, staring at the wrap. “Again. Why can’t things on this world stay dead when we kill them?” “Problem is, she didn’t die last time because she had never come back from the dead,” said Nora, thinking about where they could eat before starting for the lair of the dead necromancer. “We’re going to make sure this time. Be a dear, Elesia, and go tell our heavies to meet us at the Golden Sands.” She was hoping they could get in a good meal at the restaurant that she was part owner of, then repair to Proudspire and armor up. After that they would go to Castle Dour and the temple, making their way into the catacombs and getting rid of the evil queen who obviously wanted to take Solitude. Easy Peasy. Though she had a premonition that it wouldn’t be so cut and dried. “Welcome friends,” said Dra'Zira, the wife of the restaurant owning couple. Ri’Jaro was nowhere in sight and Nora was sure he was in the kitchen making sure that every meal was just so. The restaurant was packed, as usual, the locals coming in for the exotic fair of Elsweyr. “A table for eight?” “Give us a few minutes and it will be done,” said Dra’Zira, who took a few moments to exchange words in Khajiit with J’Zargo before hurrying on. “Friend Nora. This cat didn’t know such a place existed in these climes.” “I should have brought you here sooner,” said Nora, feeling a twinge of guilt at not introducing her Khajiit to this outpost of his culture. A few minutes later Dra’Zira led the party to a table off to the side, away from the general noise of the main room. They passed full tables packed with laughing, smiling people on the way. Mostly Nords, though there was a smattering of Bretons, Redguards and all three varieties of Elf. And a good sized contingent of Khajiit, along with a few Argonians. “I am Mra’zon,” said an attractive young female Khajiit with what Nora had come to think of as Leopard markings. “This cat will be your server. May this one bring you drinks to start you off? Maybe appetizers?” J’Zargo perked up at the sight of the female, his ears rotating to point at her while his eyes dilated. Bingo, thought Nora, smiling. “This cat finds you quite beautiful,” said the mage, his eyes looking shyly away. “You are most gallant. And are you a warrior?” “J’Zargo here is a most accomplished battle mage,” said Eldawyn, picking up on the dynamic. “A valued companion.” “This is true?” Nora thought that true mages were rare among the Khajiit, though most dabbled in minor magics. While not sure if anything would come of this meeting, at least her Khajiit friend would know where to go to get company of his own kind. Elesia came in leading the Housecarls. The three were sweaty, dirty, and Nora could have wished they had cleaned up before coming. That wasn’t the way of Nord warriors. Their leader had asked for their presence so here they were, as fast as their legs could carry them. The food, as always, was delicious. The Golden Sands had a full menu of beef, venison, pork, and all of the abundant seafood for which Solitude was rightly famous. Prepared with the spices of Elsweyr. Nora had a double portion of clams and rice, washed down with Evette San’s spiced wine. While there they talked their tactics for the mission ahead. “I think I will be back here,” said J’Zargo, loud enough for their waitress to pick up on it. The female smiled broadly and Nora could hope that something developed there. Ja’Zarga was the most sexually isolated of her party, and the Dragonborn thought it would do him good to have an outlet of his own race. After arming and armoring the party repaired to the temple at Castle Dour. The Priestess knew they were coming and led them into the basement of the temple, first to a locked gate which Nora unlocked, then to a room filled with boxes and barrels. “We’ll take it from here,” Nora told the Priestess, who bowed and hurried away, more than happy to be distanced from the threat. The party walked through several rooms, Nora and Elesia leading as usual, when they came to a spear barrier across the entrance to another large room. Nora searched for the switch or chain that would lower the spears but nothing was apparent, and she was afraid they were going to have to spend some hours searching for another way in until a chilling voice spoke. “You've arrived at last. The hero who prevented me from being bound returns to my fold. I have much to thank you for, little one. When you die I will raise you and you can take your place by my side. You'll serve me soon enough.” “Not going to happen,” said Nora under her breath, though a feeling of trepidation ran through her body. That would be a nightmare, to be raised to serve the evil she was trying to destroy. She wasn’t sure how much of her would be in that undead body and had no intention of finding out. The spears lowered, the Wolf Queen inviting the party into her lair. Nora waved Elesia up, then went over the barrier side by side in case the undead necromancer tried to trap her away from her people. That didn’t seem to be in the plan though, and the entire party made it into the chamber. The rooms beyond were full of broken furniture and spider webs. Nora shuddered at the thought of the huge arachnids, which still scared the shit out of her. She knew that was an unreasonable fear, since the giant spiders were actually one of the lower threats in such places. Childhood fears were hard to get beyond though. The spiders never showed, for which she was eternally grateful. The next room had a small canal running down the center and a swarm of Draugr waiting, milling around and grunting out their calls. Nora saw none of their archers, which meant all they had to deal with were melee fighters. She motioned for her people to hang back while she called up a spell she wanted to try out. The glowing globe of Bane of the Undead formed to her front as she made the casting motions with both hands. The Draugr continued to mill about uncertainly. They had to sense the holy magic forming, but their dead minds couldn’t formulate a strategy. Nora released the spell and the glowing ball moved slowly into the room, reaching the center and exploding with holy light. More than half of the undead immediately turned to ash, Those that weren’t instantly destroyed staggered, weakened. Nora immediately called up Dust to Dust, a faster casting Master spell, and sent it into the room, reducing whatever was left to ash. “Well, I guess we aren’t needed,” said Sofia. “You can destroy any undead we face with those spells.” “I think I will always need all of you,” said Nora, forcing her exultation down. “The spells take time to cast, and can be interrupted by all kinds of things. Spells, arrows, even a damned thrown rock. So I’ll keep you all around since I like living.” She knew what she said was true. Casting spells of such power did give her a rush, a feeling of divinity. Almost as if she was an unstoppable force. That was a dangerous way to think. As she had heard in the past, all it took was one misstep for the mightiest mage to go down to the lowliest sneak thief. Nora let the others handle the next couple of rooms, both to give herself a break and to let them get in on the action. Elesia and the Housecarls took out Draugr, while her mages burned down some lower lever vampires. It seemed to improve the morale of all involved. One master vampire attacked further in, and Nora torched him with Meridia’s Wrath. They started running into more vampires, and Nora thought they might severely deplete Solitude’s blood sucker population before they were done here. Most of the vampires were magic users, and they had to deal with attacks by invisible killers as well as flung offensive spells. Nora called up an infravision spell she had learned from the Master of Illusion magic, giving her a heat image of anything under an invisibility spell. With vampires it was a very faint image indeed since they generated no internal body heat. Aura Whisper did show them, though, the blue images of the dead against the background of the stonework. And then the first of the puzzles. Nora cursed as they ran into a triple rotating door, three levers in the center of the room. It really wasn’t much of a puzzle to her, more time consuming than anything, but still a pain in the ass. “Not much further. Come, little thing. Serve me in death.” “Arrogant bitch isn’t she,” said Eldawyn, trying to make her voice convey humor and failing. Yes, she is, thought Nora. Of course, a powerful necromancer on the verge of returning from death might have cause to be arrogant. Nora had no intention of serving the Wolf Queen, but if the undead mistress took her life she might not have any choice. They went through several more rooms and corridors, fighting mostly vampires. Nora had to wonder at the hold Potema had on the powerful undead, who normally had self-preservation foremost in mind. These had no back up in them, and the party slaughtered master vampires as if they were fledglings. White light projected from Nora at intervals, hitting her people, healing them and harming the vampires it struck. Her people advanced without fear despite the terrifying aura the vampires were projecting, while the blood suckers recoiled. Nora wasn’t sure where it was coming from, or what it was. From a God, or from her. Whichever, it was turning the tide. “You've come far, mortal, but can you stand against my inner council? Let's see!” “What the hell is her Inner Council?” yelled Sofia, the signs of the stress they were all going through clear on her face. They had come to a circular room full of bodies. Human bodies without decay, long dead bodies, skeletons, Draugr. Nora really didn’t like the look of this. It was like an army in storage for the Necromancer Queen. As she stepped into the room the bodies started to stir, the dead opening their eyes and climbing to their feet. Nora brought up Bane of the Undead and cast it on herself, becoming the center of a divine explosion of energy that swept out and struck down the creatures around her. Every skeleton and rotting zombie fell into dust, along with most of the Draugr. The intact humans, from their glaring red eyes vampires, and the more powerful Drauger, staggered. The party set about themselves, swinging enchanted weapons into weakened creatures which only thought to flee. Nora took down several with Dawnbreaker, killing creatures in blasts of holy fire that propagated to those nearby. “If that was your Inner Council, I’m not impressed,” said the Dragonborn. She glanced around at her people, seeing no fear in them, only resolve. Whatever force she was projecting was boosting their courage while it healed them. Each strike of the holy flame healed and fortified. Maybe not as much as a Grand Heal spell, but enough to keep them going. Thinking of that, she brought up her most powerful healing spell and cast it several times, bringing everyone up to full health. They came to a closed door that seemed to radiate concentrated evil. Nora didn’t know what was on the other side of it, but whatever it was it was bad news. “Get ready,” she told her people, giving herself a second to make sure her magicka store was as full as it could get. “Don't applaud yourself too soon, worm!” “Here we go,” whispered Nora, pushing the door open. Ahead was a long room, several levels on the sides. Each side held dozens of the sarcophagi that Draugr inhabited. And it the center of the room, flying through the air in a haze of scintillating energy, what had to be the spirit form of Potema. She was an awesome and frightening sight, radiating menace not just to the health of the party but to their very souls. “I’ve seen better,” said Nora loudly, recalling the image of Alduin. If she hadn’t have seen the Dragon God she might have been more overwhelmed by the Wolf Queen. As it was this was not so terrifying a sight. From the cries or her people it was affecting them to a much greater degree, but the jumping holy fire quickly settled their nerves. “Rip the eyes from her head!” shouted the circling spirit. The lids popped from two dozen sarcophagi, disgorging their contents. High powered Draugr, litches, mages, leaders, came out. Many of them shouted, knocking her people back, while Potema circled overhead, out of reach, firing shock spells into the people below. Nora started to call up Bane of the Undead before a bolt of lightning drove it from her mind. She quickly realized that long cast spells were going to be no go in this fight, which meant she was going to have to depend on what she could call up and cast quickly. “Kill them,” shouted Potema. “Kill them all, so I can raise them into my army.” Nora fired lightning into the undead queen. She recoiled a bit, sped up her circling and avoided the next couple of bolts. Nora was sure that, just like the last couple of Dragon Priests she had destroyed that a couple of hits by Dawnbreaker could put paid to the Wolf Queen. She probably realized it as well and was keeping far out of reach. Her people were taking down the Draugr, receiving damage but killing the undead beasts. More sarcophagi popped open, disgorging more warriors into the melee. The energy was cycling through Nora’s body and into her people, healing, soothing, boosting their courage. These had to be some of the other effects of achieving Master’s status she had been told about. Not spells, but combat buffs that occurred without thought. Eldawyn was down on a knee, still sending fire into a Draugr that was stomping forward. Valdimar was flat on his back, Jordis and Lydia standing over him. A flash of healing energy hit the Altmer, who surged back to her feet. The next hit Valdimar, and the man struggled up to defend the other Housecarls as they both collapsed. A bolt hit the Draugr that was threatening Sofia, turning it to ash. J’Zargo charged a Draugr mage, ward in one hand, two handed sword wielded in the other. The blade came down, not the most elegant strike, but enough to drive the Draugr to its knees. A couple of powerful bolts hit Nora, the attentions of the Wolf Queen on her again. She cried out in pain, feeling her vision blur. Shouting Become Ethereal she let the next couple of bolts pass through her, then cast Greater Heal a couple of times, restoring her health and that of her people while hitting the Draugr with some serious damage. “You can’t beat me,” yelled the cackling Potema. Nora was beginning to think that true. As long as the Bitch Queen stayed out of her reach and kept sending down spells it was a standoff. As long as she could keep up her end, which was not guaranteed. “You can’t beat me either, Bitch,” roared Nora, feeling another surge of energy. If she could destroy Potema she could rule Solitude herself, then Skyrim, then finally all of Tamriel. Why not? She had the power, and therefor the right. She was the most powerful mage this world had seen since Shalidor. She would surpass Shalidor. She had the dragon blood, so why not. She.. The soothing presence of the Goddess entered her mind, calming her, slowing her heartbeat and letting her mind work again. Nora was not a despot and would not allow such thoughts to rule her. She used the magic, not the other way around. She needed to concentrate on what was right and kill this undead monster who wanted to rule the world. But how? “Her remains, Nora,” shouted Eldawyn, flames flowing from both her hands to strike one of the last Draugr. “Strike at her remains.” Nora looked at the other door into the chamber. The Draugr had all fallen, but the Wolf Queen was still throwing magic at her followers. Eldawyn, J’Zargo and Sofia had erected wards, trying to protect themselves and the others. It was working, for now, but some harm was getting through. The Dragonborn sprinted for the door, shrugging off a couple of bolts before the mightiest of all hit her and lifted her from her feet. She hit the door and flew through, to land hard on the floor. Ignoring her pain she flipped back to her feet and ran toward the throne, while Potema wailed behind her. She brought Dawnbreaker down on the skull that sat atop the bones, shattering the evil source of Potema’s power. With one last wail Potema was gone. “We did it,” shouted Nora, stumbling for a moment and finding herself seated on the floor. “You did it,” said Eldawyn, sprawling to a seat beside her. “That metamagic was amazing. I didn’t know you had that in you.” “Neither did I,” said Nora, feeling the fatigue of a thousand battles coming over her. “We still have to get these bones to Styrr. And then I want to sleep for a week." As they left the crypt, just before she teleported back to the Hall of the Dead, Nora thought about what had occurred at the end of that battle. The power of a young god had flowed through her, and she had been sorely tempted to take on that mantle and become a conqueror herself. That was not her, and it was something that she needed to watch out for in the future. * * * “Report,” growled Ambassador Elenwen to the Altmer who appeared at her office door. “I have more bad news I’m afraid, Madame Ambassador,” said Tragdur, her senior wizard. The male was a Master of Destruction and Alteration, and a most competent interrogator. Elenwen huffed out a breath. It had been nothing but bad news lately. The killing of the entire garrison at Northwatch Keep. The disappearance of hundreds of soul gems filled with the souls of heretics destined for the Isles. Then patrols vanishing here and there, small groups of competent Thalmor gone without a trace. And General Tullius letting her know in no uncertain terms that he would not stand for any arrests of Imperial citizens without proof. When she had quoted the White Gold Concordant he had quoted it as well, and threatened to report her actions to her superiors, and to his. “So far we have no evidence that Nora Jane Adams was involved in the incident at Northwatch Keep. She was seen walking through the gate to Solitude proper less than an hour after the prisoners were released.” “Damn her. I need evidence to present to Tullius,” hissed the Ambassador. “Without it my hands are tied. At least officially.” “So you still want the alert out to kill on sight?” “Of course,” said Elenwen, glaring at the senior wizard. “But council caution.” The walking patrols had been her idea. A wizard and three or four soldiers, they were tasked with arresting heretics which they came across, using a very loose interpretation of the accords. They only operated in Imperial territory and avoided the presence of bandits and Stormcloaks. They returned the arrested to one of several prisons when possible for questioning before trapping, harvesting souls in the field when they couldn’t return. The patrols had performed splendidly, harvesting hundreds of souls a week while weakening Nord society. Until recently they had been all but untouchable. But patrols had started to disappear without a trace. She would like to pin those disappearances on the Dragonborn but doubted the woman was responsible for all of them. “Double the size of the patrols,” she ordered. “I realize that will mean fewer parties, and much less ground covered. But it will increase survivability.” Skyrim, even the half they had access to, was just too big. Five hundred thousand square miles, the majority of it wilderness, and her people were restricted to the sparse networks of roads for the most part. Perhaps if she started to procure enough horses to mount her people? But Altmer preferred to fight on their feet. “And our informant at the college has presented me with some disturbing news,” continued the wizard, taking a seat and uncapping a flask of wine. “It seems our Dragonborn is not just a master of the voice. She’s also a Master of Four Schools of Magic. Alteration, Destruction, Illusion and Restoration. And it is hinted that she might be well on the way in Conjuration as well.” “But, how?” asked a confused Elenwen. “She’s been here a little more than a year, and I was told that she knew no magic when arriving on Nirn.” Elenwen at first had denied the possibility that Nora Jane Adams was an alien, but the evidence had been overwhelming. And now to advance so fast in all the schools of magic, any one of which took a decade or more for most to master. “A formidable innate talent, hard work, and a lot of field experience is what I am told. So now we are dealing with the most powerful mage since the ancients of the First Age. There might be two or three in the Isles who are her match. Then again, there might not be.” Elenwen digested that news and didn’t like the taste. So anything they sent against her, other than a small army, was likely to never return. “And my informant also said that the Dragonborn has had several contacts with the Psijics. So it’s feasible that she had picked up teleportation magic from them.” Elenwen simply shook her head. The Psijics had been a thorn in the sides of the Thalmor for centuries. Mostly Altmer themselves, their philosophies were counter to everything the Thalmor believed. No one could dismiss their magical abilities though, which rivalled those of the Aldmeri Council of Mages. “So she could have teleported on that night,” said Tragdur. “She…” “I know. I know. Leave me.” The senior wizard got up from his seat and walked out, leaving the Ambassador with her own thoughts. Maybe it’s time to bring in some specialists from the Isles, she thought. That would cost her much political capital, but letting things continue to go downhill could be the ruin of her. * * * “Welcome, Sister,” said Taarie as she greeted the pair at the door to Radiant Raiment. As always the lovely Altmer was radiant herself, in fine clothing that her sister had made. Nora had been surprised when Eldawyn had suggested this meeting. Not so surprised when she had asked that Nora tell none of the others in her party. After all, though Nora trusted all of her people, the members of this resistance cell did not. “And welcome to you, Dragonborn. Come. The others are waiting.” It was well past closing, and Nora was led to a side room where a number of Altmer were sitting around a small table, finger food and flasks of wine to their front. Endarie sat at the table, next to Auryen Morellus, while an Altmer that could have been the man’s twin sat on the other side of the seamstress. Nythriel, the Blue Palace gossip, was the final member of the gathering. Nora was surprised to see her there, but Nora decided that it must have been the perfect cover for a snoop. “I know all here but you, sir,” said Nora in Altmer, looking at the unknown Man. She was wondering if Eldawyn might be able to arrange a group session with a pair of gorgeous Altmer males. Time enough for that later. “Well met. My name is Halcar, and I must say you are very fluent in our language.” “Eldawyn was my teacher, and she expected nothing less than excellence from me. And it helps to be able to overhear the Thalmor when they think they can speak without any of us lesser mortals understanding.” Everyone at the table laughed. “They are fools,” said Taarie. “Anyone who doubts that some shreds of intelligence linger among the shorter-lived races deserves what they get.” “So, you are the Anti-Thalmor resistance?” asked Nora, looking at all the Altmer faces turned her way. “We all left the Isles to get away from those authoritarian fools,” said Endarie, scowling. “I, for one, do not wish to live under their rule here as well.” “We are just one cell of our movement,” said Auryen, smiling at Nora. “We are very compartmentalized. I for one know of a few members of two other cells, and maybe my brothers and sisters know of some others. But no one of us can give away the entire movement.” “And these are the people you been funneling Thalmor armor to?” said Nora, glancing over at her friend. “The largess you have donated has been given to those who organize our strike teams,” said Taarie, who Nora took to be the leader of this group. “Soon we will create more problems for the bigoted fools. But, we would like to talk with you about some things we have learned recently, that you might be prepared for what is to come.”
  10. “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.
  11. The nightmares came hard and fast after the mission. Nora knew they had served the Hold, getting rid of the savages that threatened everyone outside of the cities. Solitude was safe, as was Dragonbridge, with their guards and Imperial soldiers. The rest was not, but the ending of two dragons and a Forsworn war party went a long way to making everyone feel more secure. But the assault on Deepwood Redoubt and Hag’s End had opened her mind. She still thought the Forsworn evil, but seeing how they took care of their children showed another side of them. And seeing the dragon kill the children she had spared? Well, that brought on new nightmares, the faces of the people she had killed who might have been mothers or fathers, sisters or brothers, grandparents. She hadn’t seen the faces of the children the dragon had eaten, with the single exception of the one that was crunched under large teeth and slid down a throat. There were only three ways she knew to fight the nightmares which threatened to drive her mad. Drugs, alcohol and sex. Drugs were a non-starter. Most of the drugs in Skyrim had high addiction potential, especially Skooma. While she liked drinking, she understood the problems there as well. She had seen what it did to Eldawyn when she was fighting her demon. That left sex, something she really enjoyed, and had no problem being addicted to. Fortunately for her she had found a new boy toy, in the process learning things she hadn’t suspected about Conjuration. Nora cast Soul Cloak, a spell that would let her trap the soul of anything she killed in a gem she was carrying. She had used it before, but Falion had refined her technique. The soul gem she carried in the pouch by her side, a common variety, was made by her own hands. She had started with petty, then lesser, and this was her first attempt at the higher level, common. She aimed and loosed, and her arrow went into the deer. It screamed its pain as the arrow penetrated its chest, then fell to its knees, the purple energy of its soul streaming out and into the gem. Nora put her hand on the pouch, feeling the warmth of the animal soul now trapped within. “I still feel bad about taking its soul,” said Nora to the Redguard mage. “We will dress the deer and provide food for ourselves and our neighbors,” said Falion in a gentle voice as he knelt beside her to help in the butchering. “It had no afterlife to speak of. It would only become part of the common source of animal souls, nothing of its personality or memories intact.” “I know,” said Nora, looking into his blue eyes. “I know it in my mind, but my heart..” “You are really a strange contrast, Nora. A born killer, and particularly good at your business. But with a heart that feels too much.” “Yep. I’m really not suited to my job,” she said with a sad smile. “Too bad I’m so good at it.” “Fortunately for all of us you are,” said the other mage, packing the meat into the flayed skin. “And you know we’re both going to need to bathe before we move on to, other things.” Nora laughed. “You mean you would turn me down covered in deer blood. I think it would be really kinky.” “No thanks. I prefer the scent of a clean and well-scrubbed woman. Now, I’ll finish up here while you go and gather some of the largess of the marsh for your alchemist friend.” Nora took the bag she had brought for the purpose and started walking the ground of the marsh. She thought the landscape beautiful. Of course there were the dead trees, like vegetable skeletons reaching their desiccated limbs to the sky. But the many living specimens, full of green leaves, moss hanging from the branches, most with a riot of flowers, were breathtaking. Then her eyes were on the ground, picking the flowers of nightshade, the fruit of swamp fungal pods and the fleshy members of Violet Coprinus. The marsh was a treasure trove of alchemical ingredients, and the only place in Skyrim where many of these things were found. After dropping off the meat with neighbors, saying hi to Agni who was staying with one so the pair of mages could have privacy, they repaired back to his house to work on the next part of the enchanting process. Nora easily enchanted a piece of jewelry, the energy of the deer flying into the pendant, adding a fire resist enchant. “Now the disenchant,” said Falion, turning the pendant over in his hand. “Shouldn’t we have a soul gem handy to trap the energy?” “We’ll get on to that part later, once you perfect the release.” Nora nodded, then said the word to the spell Falion had taught her. As she said the last word the pendant flared, energy rushed out, and the jewelry turned into a puddle of melted metal. “That could have gone better,” she said in a quiet voice. “Hey. It was your first try, and it did what you intended. You’ll get better with practice. In fact, I have a dozen rings here you can practice on.” “Don’t you need to sell these?” “Not really. I have enough for my needs, and it is my pleasure to see you advance in another school. So, get to it.” Nora disenchanted the dozen rings, all with minor enchantments on them. Most survived the process, and Falion brought out some petty gems and set her to enchanting the surviving pieces. Then disenchanting them again. “I’m worn out,” said Nora, letting out a breath. “It is tiring business. But I hope you’re not completely exhausted.” “I’m never too tired to pass up on some loving,” she said, her arms going around the neck of the tall man, her mouth reaching for a kiss. As usual their session was very pleasurable. They were becoming used to the bodies of the other, and as she had discovered in the past, repeated sex with the same partner got better with time. “I needed that,” said Nora, lying on the bed with Falion’s seed leaking from her vagina. “And I need this,” she said, reaching for the contraceptive potion. “You are very careful to take your potion.” “The last thing I need is to get pregnant. I can just see myself with a great distended belly, fighting Alduin. No thanks. Now, I need something else. I’m starving.” There was a great feast of venison and potatoes waiting for them. After filling herself she gathered up her bag of reagents and teleported back to the Blue Palace. Falion wanted Agni to sleep in her own bed, and Nora could understand that. The man was a particularly good father, and the child would grow to young womanhood as an accomplished mage and alchemist. That would set her up for life. “How goes the training?” asked Eldawyn later as Nora took another meal. “I did a disenchanting today. And Master Falion thinks I am coming along well in enchanting jewelry.” “Did you bring any with you?” asked Sybille. “I would love to look over your work. To see if you’ve gotten as good as Sofia.” The young spellsword blushed at the praise. She had been studying with the vampire court mage, increasing her abilities with destruction, illusion and enchanting. Sofia had previously been deathly afraid of vampires, but the patient manner of Sybille had won her over. “I disenchanted all of them,” said Nora, shrugging her shoulders. “The point of studying with Falion is to learn how to pull the energy out of enchanted objects. I only enchant to make more objects to disenchant.” “I thought the point of studying with Falion was to get him into your bed,” said Eldawyn with a laugh. “There is that,” said a smiling Nora. “Though even that isn’t enough to drive the nightmares away. They’ve gotten worse.” “It wasn’t your fault, Nora,” said Sybille, throwing her hands in the air. “So quit beating yourself up over the children the dragon killed.” Of course it wasn’t Nora’s fault. It was the dragon’s fault, but that creature would feel no guilt for its actions, so Nora would take on that burden. If she had killed it during her fight with the three dragons the incident with the children would not have happened. The next morning, after a restless night, Nora teleported to Morthal early. She was feeling irritated and depressed, but wanted to get back to learning conjuration and enchanting. From clearly hating the school she had grown to feel the excitement of learning. The discipline could be abused, and she was coming to understand that such was true of all the schools. She would have to watch her actions and motivations, just as she did when calling up destruction spells. “What is that sword called?” asked a man in plate armor, stepping onto the boardwalk in Nora’s path. “You mean Dawnbreaker,” she answered, not sure what this man was about, but not feeling threatened in the middle of Morthal. “And where did you get it?” “I performed a task for Meridia in ridding her temple of a necromancer,” said Nora, not seeing any need to lie. After all, worship of Meridia was not outlawed in Skyrim, unlike the following of a Divine, Talos. Nora had studied both Meridia and Azura in her quest for knowledge. Azura was the primary deity of the Dunmer, while Meridia had been called upon many times by the downtrodden to rescue them from oppression. Both Goddesses had been known to go overboard at times in their punishment of mortals. But so had the Divines. “So, you admit to working with a Daedric Prince,” said the man, raising his voice. Nora was aware of more armored people stepping from the spaces between buildings,, until over a dozen stood around her. All were wearing plate armor, weapons in hand. “You will surrender that evil artifact and come with us,” said the man standing to her front. “And just who the fuck are you?” “We are Vigilants of Stendarr,” said a woman standing about twenty feet to the side of Nora, a smallish mace in her hand. “Servants of the God of Mercy, the patron on our order and justice for all of Tamriel.” “You do realize that this blade was created to kill the undead,” said Nora, still not sure what these people were about, but very sure that they represented anything but mercy. “It is a Daedric artifact,” said another man, this one tall and thin, a large mace weighing down his right arm. “The Daedra are profane creatures with no hope of redemption. Their heretical artifacts grant powers to mortals that wreak havoc across Tamriel. They must be guarded or destroyed to prevent temptation.” The only power Dawnbreaker granted to Nora was the power to destroy undead. That was a good thing in her mind, and taking this blade and locking it away was not. “Surrender the weapon and come with us,” said a man with a crossbow in hand. “Or die where you stand.” “And what becomes of me?” “You will be interrogated, to discover just how far your affiliation with Daedra goes. May the mercy of Stendarr be yours.” The Vigilants reminded Nora of Radical Christians in her own time. People who espoused the mercy of their God, while preaching about all the dire consequences for rejecting that mercy. These people were fanatics, not willing to listen to reason, but she had to make another attempt before bloodshed occurred. “By what right do you act?” she asked, looking at the first man to speak, the one who seemed the leader. “As far as I know Daedra worship is not outlawed in Skyrim. Besides, I don’t worship Meridia. Kynerath is my Goddess, and she doesn’t seem to have any problem with this sword.” “We act on a higher authority than that of mere mortal rulers,” said the woman who had spoken earlier. “We are mandated to bring the mercy of Stendarr to this world.” “Well, no way in hell are you going to get this blade,” said Nora, her frustration at dealing with people who wouldn’t listen to reason getting the better of her. “Cut her down,” yelled the spokesman. Nora drew Dawnbreaker from its sheath with blinding speed as her left hand knocked a crossbow bolt from the air. That same hand made a quick motion as she said the triggering words, pulling one of the Vigilants into another hard with a telekinesis spell. The woman with the small mace ran at her, and Nora kicked her in the knee with the hard heel of her left foot. The woman cried out and fell as something cracked in her leg. “Fus Ro Dah,” shouted Nora into three of the Vigilants, sending them flying back to tumble head over heels. “She’s the Dragonborn,” shouted one of the Vigilants. “I don’t care what she is. She challenges the will of Stendarr, so she must die. Now kill her.” The man pointed a sword her way, staying back, willing to let his followers take the casualties. Suddenly an arrow appeared in his throat. With a strangled gasp the Vigilant leader fell to his knees, sword dropped, hand going to the deadly shaft that was taking his life. “Everyone stay where you are,” shouted a loud voice. Nora recognized the shout of the Morthal city guard captain. She lowered her blade while willing the flames on her left hand to retreat. On the verge of sending fire into the Vigilants, she was more than happy to let the guards handle this. “Thane Nora,” said the captain, stepping forward. A dozen guards stood with him, many bending bows and aiming in on the Vigilants. “What is happening here?” “These people demanded my sword,” said Nora. “And they were threatening to take me away to be judged by their merciful God,” she finished sarcastically. Nora walked over to the Vigilant leader who was bleeding out from the arrow through his throat. She pushed it all the way through, relieved that it had not hit the spine. The man may have been an ass, and he certainly had abused his situation, but now that the heat of the moment had passed she didn’t want him to die. She cast her most powerful healing spell into him, closing the wounds, then stabilizing him. “What went on here?” asked Jarl Idgrod the Elder, walking up the boardwalk and glaring at the restrained Vigilants. “What have these fanatics been up to now?” “They accused me of Daedra worship,” she told the Jarl, who Nora suspected of Daedra Worship herself. “They wanted to take away my sword and haul me away for questioning.” “Likely you would never have been seen again,” said Idgrod, frowning. She looked over at the guard captain. “I thought I told you to run these crazies off if they ever entered my Hold.” “But, they’re holy men,” stammered the captain. “They worship one of the Divines.” “That is not the problem. That they impose their interpretation of that Divine’s laws on others is what I refuse to tolerate. So they are barred from my Hold.” Nora worried that the Vigilants might try to get back at the Jarl. Since Idgrod could see the future with an alarming consistency, she thought the followers of Stendarr should be the concerned party in this situation. And as her throne was supported by the Imperial Legions, she doubted those soldiers would be willing to let the Vigilants operate against the wishes of the Jarl. But against Nora and her people away from civilization? They had just become another threat to be concerned about. * * * “I have a surprise for you,” said Falion as he looked over her latest effort at disenchanting. Nora had used the coalesced soul she had created, five wolves into one grand gem using a condenser chamber. It was as powerful as a mammoth soul, and really much easier to come by. She had enchanted a sword with twin enchantments, fire and shock. Then went through the process of pulling the energy from it and pushing the soul into another grand gem. It had been tiring, but now she had a grand gem, full and warm with the soul power of the wolves, and a cold iron sword. Both had survived intact. “What is it?” she asked, starting to feel horny with the beautiful Redguard man standing near, his hand on her hip. “Well, first off let me say that you don’t have to accept. And we’ll both understand if you don’t. But knowing your appetites I thought it would be perfect.” “What is it?” she asked again, her curiosity piqued. “That’s your cue,” said Falion loudly. The door opened and revealed a smiling Al’Hassan, a bottle of wine in each hand. Nora immediately knew what the men had in mind. Her. And she felt herself flush with excitement. She hadn’t had multiple men at once for quite some time. Never on this world. And here Falion was offering her two beautiful and fit males ready to satisfy her every desire. “Do you like it?” asked Falion, putting his arms around her waist from behind and nuzzling the back of her neck. “Yes,” she whispered, the excitement almost too much for her. “Do to me what you will.” Al’Hassan smiled as he moved forward and started to undo Nora’s belt, taking it and the sheathed Dawnbreaker and laying them on the table. He then worked the stays of her robe, parting it, reaching up and pulling it free from her shoulders, letting it fall to the floor. Nora stood naked except for panties and boots, and the smith reached down to pull the first from her until she stood in front of the two men in only her leather dress boots. “So lovely,” said the smith, cupping a breast in each hand. “Tall and straight and tempered like a fine blade.” “And remember that observation,” said a laughing Falion, rubbing his hands up Nora’s sides. “Don’t piss her off, or we both could be paying with our lives.” “He exaggerates,” said Nora with a throaty laugh. “The most I would do is set your feet on fire. Not get out of those clothes and let me get a look at you both.” The men moved away, both standing to her front and quickly shedding their clothes. Both had gorgeous brown skin, Al’Hassan’s scarred, Falion’s still smooth. Their blue eyes looked at her with a desire that sent shivers up her spine. And their half erect cocks hung between muscular legs, ponderous balls behind them. They started to stiffen up under her gaze, and she delighted in having two beautiful cocks to play with this night. In an instant she was on her knees between them, hands stroking shafts until they were both as hard as they could get. She inhaled Al’Hassan’s cock, pulling it deep into her mouth as her tongue worked over his balls. The head went into her throat, and she gagged a bit before she loosened up the muscles to accept the intruder. After a minute she switched off, taking Falion’s shaft into her mouth. She decided that the men were virtual twins in the hardware department. Al’Hassan’s curved up a little more, and Falion had the larger head, but otherwise they were both simply perfect. “She is really good,” said Al’Hassan, leaning his head back and sighing in pleasure. “Told you.” “And you boys have been talking about me behind my back,” said a smiling Nora, stroking both shafts for a moment before going down on Al’Hassan again. “Nothing that you ladies don’t do as well,” said Falion, hissing in a breath as the Dragonborn switched his cock into her mouth. “I hear that you tell everything.” Nora couldn’t deny that. In her experience women were much bigger gossips than men. They went into excruciating detail about lovers. Size, curvature, scent and taste. How it felt in their mouths, then in their pussies. She might be a little more reserved about it than most, but even she delighted in sharing the details with friends. Like she would share this encounter with Eldawyn if no one else. “Well, since I have two beautiful cocks here in front of me, and I doubt either of you want to wait his turn, why don’t you both fuck me.” “At the same time,” said Falion in mock indignation. “Why, you harlot.” “Guilty,” said Nora with a smile. “I’m no dainty and cold Nord lady, though I find most of them aren’t either. I like getting fucked, and to have two such willing men with me. Well…” “And rules,” asked Al’Hassan, clearly a gentleman who didn’t want to step out of bounds. Or get his feet set on fire. “I’m sure one of you will want to take my ass while the other fucks my pussy. So here are the rules. Once you enter my ass, the pussy is off limits, unless you do a thorough job of cleaning your cock with soap and water. So, since I think both of you will want to try the pussy, why don’t we do it this way. We start off with one of you fucking me while I blow the other. Switch off, then go to the main event. One in the ass, one in the pussy, until we’re all satisfied.” “I like the way this lady thinks,” said Al’Hassan, shivering as Nora sucked him back into her mouth. “And I hope both of you have taken your potions, because I think it will take a lot of fucking for me to be satisfied.” “We have,” said Al’Hassan, picking Nora up and grunting with surprise. “Heavier than I would have imagined. Do you eat iron for breakfast?” “Long story. I’ll tell you while we’re taking our first break.” Al’Hassan laid Nora on her back on the bed, then looked down on her. Falion moved between her legs and started to lap at her labia, sending shivers of pleasure through her pussy, and thence up her spine. He continued to lick and suck, while Nora reached up and played with Al’Hassan’s cock and balls. She enjoyed the oral she was receiving, and the smooth feel of the soft skin over the smith’s genitals enhanced the work Falion was doing on her pussy. “Fuck me, Falion,” she said, looking up at the man, who smiled at her with her juices coating his face. She could feel the lubrication running out of her pussy, and knew the man would have an easy time inserting his cock into her. Sure enough, it slid in to the hilt, and she felt joy at welcoming him home. “Feed me your cock,” she told Al’Hassan. The man smiled and presented his cock to her, which she gobbled down. “Now face fuck me,” she mumbled around the shaft, not sure if he would understand. Obviously, the smith did, and he started to move his hips and thrust his engorged cock into her throat. Nora gagged, but relaxed and fought down the impulse, giving the man complete access to her throat. Soon the men had a good rhythm going, one cock moving in and out of her pussy while the other did the same to her throat. Falion had been fucking her for the last week and didn’t have the full balls of the smith, whose cock started to quickly swell in Nora’s throat. “I’m going to cum,” he said, starting to pull out. Nora had other ideas, and her hands grabbed his hips to keep him from withdrawing completely. The man got the idea and went back to giving her long strokes, withdrawing almost all the way from her mouth, then pushing back into her throat, his pubic hair on her lips indicating he had no more length to give. She felt the cock swell even more, and then it started to spurt, sending stream after stream of thick cum down her throat. Nora swallowed it all, letting him partially withdraw so she could get a taste of the last couple of spurts. Nora, a connoisseur of semen, found him to be delicious, an indication that he ate a healthy diet. “By the Gods, that was amazing,” hissed the breathless smith. “Wait until you try this end,” said Falion, continuing to drive his cock in and out of the tight wet sleeve Nora was providing. “That end is enjoying your efforts very much, lover,” said Nora in a near whisper, still trying to get her breath back. “But we can’t have you hogging the hole.” She clamped down with her vaginal muscles, giving the man the tightest receptacle she could. Falion’s face scrunched up, his balls tightened, and he roared out a cry in sequence with his enlarged cock spraying the inside of Nora’s pussy with a copious amount of thick semen. “I think the smith is ready for another go at my forge,” said a smiling Nora, stroking the cock back into full erection. “I want you in my pussy. Now. And you can have my mouth, Falion.” As the grinning men got into position, Nora figured that if they had both imbibed the virility potion they would be good for at least five ejaculations. If they both held back at times, and the smith had more cum in him than that, she could be in for a good three or four hours of getting ravaged. Just what she needed. Al’Hassan slid into her well lubricated pussy, an expression of delight and disbelief on his face, while Falion offered his cock to the mouth of his fellow master mage. She sighed in pleasure as the smith’s cock probed her folds, pushing all the way in until his groin was meshed against hers. He started to thrust in and out, a look of intense joy on his face. “I’ve never felt anything like this,” said Al’Hassan. “She’s so tight and wet. It almost feels like she could pull my cock off with that snapper.” “Our Nora is a special lady,” said Falion, groaning as the Dragonborn’s lips went up and down his shaft. “We’re fortunate that she agreed to share herself with us, don’t you think?” “Indeed. I think I would marry her if she agreed.” “None of that talk,” said Nora, pulling off Falion’s dick for a moment, her hand continuing to play with his hanging balls. “Enjoy me while you can, and hope I come back for another go.” The way these two were making her feel she could see having several other goes with them before she moved on. Both men definitely knew what they were doing. Experienced lovers who knew how to treat a woman in bed, how to help her rise to the heights of pleasure while they enjoyed her. Nora could soon feel another orgasm coming on, and she grunted around the cock of the other mage as the smith pounded his groin into her, setting her clit on fire. In a rush her climax overcame her. She cried out, keeping Falion in her throat, letting him face fuck her as her body thrashed on the bed and Al’Hassan continued to give her his cock. Her vagina clenched around his cock, and she could tell by the way he was swelling that he was well on the way. “By the Gods,” grunted the smith as the first rope of cum spurt into her pussy, followed by a series of spurts, until it was flowing from her with each pull of his cock. Falion cried out a moment later as he sent his second load of the day down her throat. Nora lay panting on the bed under the weight of Al’Hassan as she licked Falion’s cock clean. She needed to catch her breath, as did her two lovers. “Some wine,” offered Falion. “Yes, please,” agreed Nora, smiling. “Not that my throat is dry or anything. Not with two servings of man juice.” “You really like it when a man cums in your mouth?” asked Al’Hassan, pulling out and letting his soft cock plop against Nora’s leg. “I really do,” she admitted. “I think that most women who suck cock like the feeling it gives them, the control they have over a man. But I enjoy the taste of semen. Well, most semen. There are some that will make me gag. Neither of you are among that bunch, thankfully.” “So,” said Falion, placing the glass of wine in Nora’s hand, then helping her to sit up so she could sip. “You up for the main event?” He looked up at Al’Hassan. “What do you want, brother?” “I would like more of this marvelous pussy,” said the smith, closing his eyes and smiling. “I could live in it if given the chance.” “Well,” said a laughing Nora. “Unfortunately, the rest of me needs to save the world, and the vagina goes where I do.” Al’Hassan got on his back, his stiffening cock pointing up. Nora wasn’t sure how the potions they took worked, only that they did, and well. If she had their like on Earth she would have been a rich woman indeed, as well as a happy one. Nora straddled the man, lowering her pussy lips down until the head of his cock was at her entrance. Slowly she sank down on him, savoring the penetration while letting him feel every inch of her vagina as it engulphed his shaft. When she was all the way down, Al’Hassan’s cock lodged fully in her pussy, she looked back at Falion. The mage was rubbing the lube he had gotten from Lami on his penis, making sure it was well lubricated so he wouldn’t cause too much discomfort to his friend. He placed the head at the entrance to her anus and pushed in a bit. “Slowly,” grunted Nora as the intruder probed at the entrance to her bowels. She had never really liked anal. The nerve endings were to the front, mostly in her clit, but with enough in her vagina to make the feeling of a shaft moving in and out pleasurable. So a penis in her ass was nothing but filling. Oft times painful, especially at first. Falion was careful, putting just enough in to let her accommodate, letting her adjust, then sliding a bit more in. The lube helped, a lot, but there was still discomfort. But her pussy was on fire with the psychological high of serving two men like this, and the filling of both holes had her wet like never before. “I’m in,” said Falion, slowly moving his cock in and out. Al’Hassan started his thrusting, the same slow rhythm as his friend. And Nora started gasping at the feelings flowing through her. Anal itself did nothing for her, but the combination of the double penetration was sending her over the edge with each thrust, especially since the men were so good at getting into a perfect rhythm. “Damn,” she said through clenched teeth. “That feels so damned good.” “I don’t think I’ve ever felt anything this good,” said Al’Hassan in a pant. “You’re being very quiet, lover,” she said in a rush, her words intended for Falion. “Enjoying yourself?” “Oh, yes. I still prefer your pussy, but the feeling of Al’Hassan’s cock thrusting through the flesh separating us is quite exciting.” Nora was glad that Falion preferred pussy. She would do as many double penetrations as they wanted while she was still around, but one on one she wanted the cock to go into the place in her body intended for it. It went on for what seemed like hours but had to be much less. Nora started along a slope of orgasms, one after the other, not even allowing her to get her breath. She could feel from the motions of the men that they were on edge, holding back and about to lose it as the feel of what they were doing to her came through. Her pussy was continually clenching around Al’Hassan’s cock. She tried to clamp down with her anus as well, but the combination of not having much practice and being distracted by Al’Hassan’s member rubbing against her vaginal walls were working against her. “Cumming,” growled Al’Hassan, as his cock swelled to its largest and started sending his seed into Nora. “Stay in me until Falion finishes,” she told him, smiling down on the Redguard. “My pleasure,” he said, his hands running up and down her ribs and sending more shivers up her spine. “I’m Cumming,” hissed Falion as his own cock swelled and started to shoot ropes up cum into her bowels. The trio lay entwined for some time, sweaty bodies against each other. Nora shuddered with aftershocks for minutes, smiling at how high she had gone. She couldn’t remember a time when she had cum so much in one session. And she was hoping that the men had one more in them, so she could try something else. “Go ahead and take a break, guys. I’m going to wipe myself off, then we’ll move on to the next act.” “A take charge woman,” said Al’Hassan with a laugh. Nora laughed as well. She was a dominant woman in the board room or the battlefield. She preferred to be the submissive in bed, letting her lover take charge, balancing her. With men that was easy for the most part. With her women lovers she was most often the dominant. There were some exceptions. Eldawyn was particularly good at taking charge, though the Altmer liked to play the submissive as well. “I think we’re ready,” said Falion, his cock standing at half-mast. He had taken advantage of the break to clean his cock and wipe his body down. Nora got back on the bed and let the men get up beside her. She then started to work on their cocks with hands and mouth. It was amazing how fast they got hard again. The miraculous potions at work, and Nora reminded herself to pick up a case of them from Lami, since her version of the virility potions seemed to be better than most. Nora lubed up Falion’s cock, then put her hands on the now hard Redguard and pushed him down on the bed. She mounted him with her back to him, placing the tip of his cock at her anus and pushing down. It went in much easier this time, and as soon as he was all the way in she motioned for Al’Hassan to come over and mount her from the front. With a sigh he pushed his cock into her pussy. She had opened up some from the previous fucking, but was still tighter than most women who were at the beginning of a bout of sex. “So tight,” he said as he bottomed out, his groin rubbing against hers. Nora raised her legs in the air, then up to her shoulders, opening herself up to the men as much as she could. “Do what you want with me,” she said, the feeling of vulnerability overcoming her. She loved that feeling, even though she couldn’t experience it with most men. She trusted Falion to not do anything that would harm her, and to make sure that his smith friend behaved himself. In time she might come to trust Al’Hassan as well, but for now trusting one of them was enough. Nora sometimes thought she acted too masculine. What was she to do? She was a warrior, and a leader of warriors, in the business of killing. So femininity was not her strong suit most times. Now she was at her feminine peak. She had been pumping out the pheromones since they had started the three-way, and now her glands were filling the air with the attractants that were driving the men wild. Falion was pumping his hips as his hands reached around and played with her breasts. Al’Hassan was thrusting like a madman, leaning in to plant his mouth on hers while their tongues dueled. Nora wasn’t sure if either man was the best she had ever had, but the pair of them working together definitely topped her list of sexual encounters. Again she went into a chain of continuous orgasms, until the men couldn’t take anymore and both came in her within seconds of each other. “I think I’m worn out,” said Al’Hassan, pulling out and letting his seed flow from her pussy. “How about you, Nora?” asked Falion, waiting for her to get off of him. “Satisfied?” “Half dead,” she said with a laugh. “But definitely satisfied. Though I would like to do this again sometime. Maybe tomorrow?” “I don’t know if we’ll have recovered completely by then,” said Al’Hassan with a snort. “But give me a day and I’ll be ready again.” Nora felt a bit disappointed at the smith’s admission, but she had to remember that she had a more powerful sex drive than just about anyone on two worlds. And she had just experienced a new form of sex, one that promised to satisfy her many times over. But she would still have to take care of herself with the more mundane forms of sex most nights. “I’m going down to talk with Lami before I teleport back to the palace,” she told the men as she wiped herself off with some wet rags, then started to get back into her robes. She felt deliciously sticky with the seed of the men, but thought she would get a bath as soon as she was back in Solitude. Not everyone liked to be around the odor of a freshly fucked woman and the emissions of two men. “How were they?” asked the alchemist when Nora entered her shop. “Amazing. Have you been with them both?” “A few times,” admitted the pretty woman. “Most of the people in the town look down on them because they aren’t Nords, but both are clean, intelligent, and caring lovers. If only I hadn’t experimented so much with my ingredients. Destroyed my sex drive, though I still have flashes.” “So you’re not jealous?” “Oh, by the Divines no. I’m simply happy they have some release.” “Well, I want to buy a case of the potion they were using.” “Stocking up,” said the alchemist with a laugh. “Indeed,” said a smiling Nora. “I have an overactive sex drive, and it helps if the man I am with has as much stamina as possible. And I think your potion is better that most. Maybe better than all of them.” Lami boxed up the potions, then added a satchel of ingredients and some papers with recipes on them. “The ingredients and recipes are on me,” said Lami, taking the gold that Nora offered and counting out what she charged for the potions. “I think Lydia can learn some more of the craft. And she’s welcome to come study with me when she has the time.” “I will pay for that,” said Nora. She wanted the woman to survive, and giving things away didn’t help with that goal. “But I can guarantee that Lydia will love the idea.” Nora cast teleport while still in the shop and appeared just outside the palace. She could have appeared inside, but didn’t want to discomfit people there to petition the Jarl. Nodding to the guards, who were as usual on alert with the threat of Erikur in mind, she walked into the palace. She had a decision to make in the near future. Falion had taught her much of Enchanting and Conjuration, and had been talking about bestowing Master’s status in the Conjuration Arts as well. Nora still had reservations about that art, but had come to respect Falion’s use of it. She had learned how to gain control of the Daedra that other mages, enemies, might call up, and how to banish them back to their infernal realms. The College had lost much wisdom when he had left, and Gestor was a poor substitute in her opinion. Her own time learning at the Master’s feet, and having some of the best sex in her life, was nearing an end. She needed to get on with meeting the Greybeards and finding out what they knew about the shout that would pull Alduin from the sky. And, by the way, finding out how to draw the Dragon God onto a battlefield of her choosing. She had reservations about facing the dragon. No, to be honest, she was still scared to death. That mightiest of dragons could end her, eating her soul in the process. From someone who basically hadn’t believed in an afterlife before coming here, now she wanted the best experience she could get in the great beyond. Remembering how she had seen Toccata in Sovngarde made her desire that end to her life. Not immediately, no. But eventually. And the dragon could prevent that. It tugged at her conscience that the longer she delayed the more souls were denied that afterlife. While Alduin was in the world souls could still make the journey in safety. But when he was gone, himself in Sovngarde, every Nord killed was eaten in the journey. Ended. Brave people, no matter which side they were on, and deserving of the afterlife of the heroes. She needed to get on this. Being afraid had never stopped her in the past, after all.
  12. “You sure you want to do this?” asked Heather, her eyes scanning the buildings ahead. “The Brotherhood of Steel may not be who you think they are.” “They did a lot of good in the Capital Wasteland,” said Barb, going to a knee and aiming in on an approaching ghoul. Barb squeezed the trigger and sent the round across the several hundred yards and into the head of the ghoul, the suppressed rifle almost silent. “Different time, different people.” The party was approaching Cambridge from the west. Coming over from Graygarden and following the radio signal they had picked up just outside the settlement. A young lady, Nora had assumed, identifying herself as a Field Scribe of the Brotherhood of Steel on a Recon Team. Nora was curious as to what they had been looking for on the edge of her territory. It might also be nice to find fighters who could help them out, and from what she had heard the Brotherhood were disciplined warriors. “I’m picking up the sounds of movement ahead,” she told her friends. She was wearing a brand new suit of Recon specialist X-01 Power Armor, with heightened sensors, a brand new jetpack on her back. It had been a stroke of luck that Arturo had the schematic for an X-01 jetpack in stock, so the suit, with rebreather and built in sanitation system, was her vehicle of choice for this mission. It didn’t give her quite the protection of the assault and other suits, but was still better protection than the lesser varieties of PA, especially those not to the Worsin standard. “Here they come,” called out Heather, looking through her own recon glasses. A swarm of ghouls started heading across the open territory before the start of the built-up area. Nora didn’t know what set them off, but something had. Nora recalled that the Veteran’s Hall where she and Nate were scheduled to speak on Bomb Day was just ahead. Cambridge was sure to have a lot of stuff of interest, with Cambridge Polymer Labs, CIT, and a number of electronics and robot shops. They were always on the lookout for new tech, especially the holy grail of her current search, working teleportation. Nora put her grenade launcher to her shoulder and let fly, sending a forty-millimeter round into the front center cluster of the leading wave of ghouls. The round exploded and blasted every ghoul for ten meters in each direction to the ground, dead. Those slightly farther out fell to crawl forward, their legs no longer working. Nora reloaded and sent another round into the cluster to the right, then one into the group to the left. That left a half dozen still on their feet and a score of crawlers. Her teammates started taking down the ones still walking forward, Barb with single shots of 5.56, Heather with her laser. They walked forward on the alert, the dogs slightly ahead and moving in a crouch. Nora came to the first crawler and whacked it with her nano-sword, chopping its head from its body. She cut every one down as she got to it, letting Barb scavenge whatever objects they carried on them. The second swarm was now in sight, and the team used the same tactic, cutting them all down, then walking into Cambridge. There were the bodies of Raiders scattered around, the poor fools overrun by the ghouls. “You ever see Raiders and ghouls fight,” said Heather. “Raiders have guns and run, while the ghouls never give up. Quality entertainment.” Much as she hated Raiders she still felt sorry for the poor fools. She thought that no one should have to face a swarm like that. At least not without warning and overwhelming firepower, such as her group employed. When the got onto the streets of Cambridge, near the diner and the metro station, the ghouls came out in force, spaces that seemed too small unfolding the creatures which staggered forward. Barb and Nora went to full autofire, cutting the creatures down in droves, while Heather burned down the leakers. One got through and knocked Barb to the ground, but a swift swung nano-sword blade took care of it. “I hear a laser,” said Heather, motioning ahead. Nora could hear it too, amplified by her audio pickups. Those were the people she had come to save, and it seemed like there was still time. “Come up as fast as you can,” she told her people, engaging her jetpack and soaring into the sky. Looking down she could see one person in an older style of power armor, trying to take down the swarms of ghouls, while a man and a woman on the steps of the station tried to cover. The man, without power armor, was obviously badly hurt, and the woman was trying to shield him and shooting any ghoul that got close. Nora hovered for a moment, all her jetpack would allow, while firing bursts down to take down ghoul after ghoul. The pack flared out, overheated, and she fell to the ground, drawing her nano-sword and coming down on a ghoul to crush it into the ground. She spun around swinging, taking down multiple ghouls. More were coming in, and Nora jumped onto the walkway on the barricade, pulling her rifle back up and sliding a magazine home, aiming in on ghouls and blasting them down. As it looked like it was about to get out of hand her party arrived, the humans shooting down ghouls while the dogs pulled them to the ground. In moments it was over, the ghouls all gone, the Brotherhood people safe, for the moment. “I thought you might need some help,” she said, walking up to the man in power armor. “Look at that armor,” said the woman who Nora assumed was the Field Scribe, whatever that was. “That’s X-01, like the Enclave uses.” The man in power armor pointed his laser at Nora, while her people tracked in on him. “Explain yourself. Are you Enclave?” “I don’t know what the Enclave are. I salvaged this armor from a research facility. Well, the armor I reversed engineered to make this suit.” “And what are you doing here?” “We heard you were having pest problems, and I work for an extermination company.” “Evading my questions are a sure way to get ejected from this compound.” Nora put her armored hands on armored hips and stared at the man with disbelief. She had gone out of her way to come here, and was being threatened with being ejected. “Not sure who you think you are,” she said, “but this is the territory of our alliance of settlements. So I suggest you explain what you are doing on our territory.” The man seemed taken aback for a moment, not sure what to say. “Our information didn’t include intelligence on an alliance of settlements.” “Brand new, And after hearing the young lady on your broadcast, I thought I might help you, to our mutual advantage.” “I’m not sure how much I should reveal to a civilian.” “Well, you can at least tell me who you are. That can’t be top secret, can it.” “I’m Knight Paladin Danse of the Brotherhood of Steel. The injured man in Knight Reese, the woman helping him is Scribe Halen. Now, civilian, if you might give me some more information on you and your unit. For my peace of mind.” “I have Barb and Heather with me, my team members. I’m not sure how high a rank Knight Paladin is, but I’m pretty sure I outrank you. I’m Lt. Commander Nora Jane Adams, US Navy.” “Hah,” barked the injured Knight. “There has been no United States, or a Navy, for over two hundred years. Unless you are Enclave.” “Still don’t know who they are. But to answer your unasked question, I came out of cryo a couple of months ago. Vault Tech put me and my neighborhood into cold sleep as part of an experiment. Everyone else died, I survived, but my infant son was stolen from me by parties unknown.” “I’m so sorry,” said Danse. “So you were pre-war, probably discharged so you could have your baby. And your husband?” “He was in power armor in Anchorage. He was murdered in front of my eyes in the Vault when they stole my baby. Then I was refrozen, and for some reason I survived.” “What did you do in your Navy?” “Fighter pilot. Ace. Though I did train with Army Airborne and was a Ranger dropout in college.” “She sounds like she was a badass, Danse,” said Halen. “If she’s even telling the truth.” “You doubt my word, soldier,” said Nora. “If you weren’t injured I would dismount my power armor and kick your ass.” “Everybody calm down,” said Danse. “Commander Adams. We appreciate your help. And from what you said, you had gone into the Vault well before the Enclave revealed themselves. They pattern themselves the remnants of the United States Government, and want to enslave every person on this continent. They would demand your loyalty if they contacted you.” “And they could go fuck themselves. The US Government was one half of the disaster that ended my world, and I owe no loyalty to those bastards. The only loyalty I have are to the people of the Commonwealth.” “Well, ma’am. We could really use your help. We located here because of their transmitter, but it’s just not strong enough to reach our base in the Capital Wasteland. Tell her, Halen.” “There’s a transmitter booster at Arcjet Systems, just around the corner. But it’s sure to be a hard target.” “Arcjet, huh. I remember them from before the war. Working on the engine for the Mars mission I do believe.” “And I guess you’re going to tell us you were an astronaut next.” “Reese, shut it.” “No, Reese. That was beyond me. Those people were young Gods. I only regret they died before they got to go to the Red Planet.” “Many people in the Brotherhood would disagree with that sentiment. But that’s neither here nor there. You’re a product of your time, when people thought tech advancement always a good thing.” “I don’t think all advancement was good. The damn bombs that came close to destroying this world were an abomination.” “So what do you say, Commander. Help us out.” “Just call me Nora, and I would be happy to.” “Then follow me to Arcjet. Or lead if you have a better idea where it is.” They ran into some raiders along the way, then wild dogs and insects. Nora had to admit that Danse was particularly good with his weapon, bringing pinpoint fire onto the opposition. But she was also proud of her people, who did just as good a job. “Why does only one of your people use a laser?” asked Danse. “We don’t have that many of them, and Barb and me preferred firearms. Maybe one day I’ll warm to the things.” “That does seem to be a powerful rifle.” “Damn straight. I’ve taken down two raiders in power armor with this baby. Shredded their armor then put rounds through their heads.” She didn’t bother to tell Danse that the one had just gotten out of his armor to take a leak. One reason she was happy her current suit had a sanitation system built in. “And what is that up there?” asked Danse, pointing the Graygarden. “One of our settlements. Used to be a robotic hydroponic test site. The Robots are still there, along with human settlers.” “You must have some interesting stories. I hope we can find the time to tell each other some of them.” Nora was liking this guy. He had no idea what she looked like, no exposure to pheromones, and he was treating her as an equal. Soon they were in front of Arcjet. “I think we should establish who is in charge before we go in. You undoubtedly outrank me, but..” “I was a Squid and a pilot, and you are an infantry officer. This is your area of expertise, and your mission, so you are in charge. We’ll follow your lead.” “Where the hell did those robots come from?” shouted an alarmed Danse. “They’re mine. They help me with salvage operations.” Danse looked like he wanted to say something but thought better of it. She thought the Brotherhood might take exception to anyone else taking technology. Well, she would let him take what he needed, and she would scrounge the rest. “You might want to leave the dogs outside. At least the living one. We’re likely to run into things they will not help you against.” Nora thought for a second, ordered the dogs to stay, then followed Danse into the building. She left the handy outside as well. They could always go back through the building after Danse got what he came after. The second room they came too was filled with the remains of Protectrons. Barb grabbed what she could, while Nora looked at the blast points on the robots. “Is this Brotherhood work?” “No. Look at the evidence. There are no expended fusion shells, no blood. No, this was done by Institute Synths.” “Motherfuckers,” hissed Heather, and Danse turned to look at her. “It seems that your soldier has strong opinions on synths.” “I’ve never seen one myself. While she..” “Lost my sister and all my friends to the motherfuckers,” said Heather. “Motherfuckers.” “Well, Nora. I think we are going to get up close and personal with them shortly. And if you want salvage, you can have all of the energy weapons they drop.” They ran into the first synths several rooms further on, where a number of stairs ascended to an upper level. The synths seemed to come out of nowhere, firing their lasers and some other energy weapons. Nora and Danse took the brunt of their fire. Heather and Barb added their fire, and the synths went down quickly. Nora took a close look at one of the machines, looking much like a humanoid robot with no armor or skin layer. She thought them hideous, and considered that if the Brotherhood was the enemy of these things she wanted Danse’s people to be her friends. They ran into synths all the way in. including another kind that had a covering of plastic plates. They were little smarter than the all metal ones, or so it seemed. More rooms, more synths, multiple turrets that activated. At one point Danse got caught in a corridor with more than a dozen laser turrets. Nora took most of them down rapid fire, Heather and Barb taking out the remainder. Nora hacked through several terminals, getting them on further when they would have been stopped. And then they got to the engine test chambers, and the walkway that led up had been collapsed. “We need to go down there and power up the elevator.” “I could jet up there, but I can see where that wouldn’t help the rest of you. So down it is.” They got down on the floor, right below the nozzle of the nuclear engine. She looked anxiously up, an unreasoning fear since there was no way it was just going to go off on its own. “Can you get into the interior and start the generators. I'll wait out here on watch for synths. Then we’ll go up the elevator.” “Sounds good,” said Nora, leading her people into the workshop area. “Well, what is this?” she asked, coming up on a strange looking large gun. “Junkjet. What in the hell does that mean.” “No matter what it does, it's bound to have some good parts,” said Barb. “I’ll take it then.” They looted the area completely, getting a lot of technology and circuits. Nora then started up the fusion reactor and walked out to the viewing window. “I’m under attack,” yelled Danse. There were dozens of synths out there, firing on Danse, whose armor was standing up to their fire, so far. “Engine ready to fire,” said a computer voice. Nora saw the glowing button, and knew that if she pushed it the engine would fire. But it would incinerate anything in that room, including Danse. “Let’s take them out,” she told her people, taking up her grenade launcher and running down the corridor. Nora sent a grenade into an upper landing with four synths on it as soon as they came in sight. She pulled the nano-sword and ran full on into a small group of synths, knocking them over like bowling pins. She struck out right and left, every blow to the head destroying one of the robots. Barb and Heather took cover by the entrance to the room and started putting fire into the synths, while Danse continued to take them out. And then it was over. “Good job, Commander. Now, let’s get upstairs and find that Deep Range Transmitter.” It took two trips by elevator to bring up two power armor suits and two in regular armor. At least the synths let them all get up before attacking. Heather was injured, though her armor protected her enough that it wasn’t fatal. Nora, Barb and Danse took down the other synths. Nora started searching, and found a box labeled Deep Range Transmitter. “Found it,” she said, handing the component over to Danse. They rode up an elevator to the surface, coming out in a service shack, and exited the facility. As soon as they were out Danse removed his helmet, revealing that he was a ruggedly handsome man. “Mind if I see what you look like, Nora. I keep imagining someone that you can’t be.” “Might as well,” said Nora, opening her suit to the chorus of the AI, then climbing out. “My word. You’re gorgeous.” “Why thank you, gallant sir. You’re not so bad looking yourself.” “You are one exceptional lady, Commander Adams. Anything you don’t excel at.” “Well, I can’t cook worth a damn. Now, you want to take a quick look at my settlement before we head back to the police station?” “Sure.” Danse walked around the settlement, talking with people, looking at robots, while Nora unloaded her cargo bot and Wilson. There was a lot more to go back for, but she though that could wait for the morrow. She had hundreds of pounds of synth component for Sturgis and Conrad to look over before they recycled them. And over fifty energy weapons, many just the barrels and receivers, a few full-on weapons. Enough to let her make fifty laser turrets for the settlements. “What in the world is that? A mailbox?” “A QESS portal. A Quantum Entangled Storage System. Something my techs engineered from research holo-tapes. Anything that goes in can be accessed at any other station. So everything I’m putting in will be available to my people in Sanctuary Hills.” “That’s some impressive tech,” said Danse, eyes wide. Hope that gives you something to think about, thought Nora. She liked Danse, but she still had no reason to trust his organization. That they had more power than hers was a given, and if they felt the alliance had superior tech, they were unlikely to fly off the handle and attack. Or so she hoped. “I’ll go back with you to Cambridge, then come back here to finish up at Arcjet.” * * * “Good job, sir,” said Halen as Danse handed over the Deep Range Transmitter. “We knew you could do it, sir,” said Reese. “I couldn’t have done it without the help of our friends here,” said Danse, gesturing to Nora. “Without them, I’m afraid I would have been just another casualty. Nora’s power armor was parked outside the station, Heather, Barb and a couple of the settlers were busy stripping Arcjet of all it had. Nora had pulled back on her pheromones. She was still leaking some, but not enough to drive men crazy, and they might figure that Halen, also an attractive if dirty woman, might be the cause of their slight arousal. Danse had showered at Graygarden, and Nora was going to offer the same to Halen. Maybe even Reese, if he started to act normal. “They were amazing. As good as any I have seen among our ranks. I would like to offer Commander Adams a position in the Brotherhood.” “And I’m afraid I’m going to have to turn you down, at least for now. I have prior commitments.” “I doubt if this loner could have fit in anyway, Top.” “Now listen here, buddy,” said Nora, storming toward Reese, her face a mask of anger. “I served in a military so large that your whole Brotherhood would at most have amounted to a brigade, probably more like a battalion. I won a silver star for shooting down a dozen Chinese aircraft, and flew innumerable ground support missions for United States Marines. So don’t throw that loner shit at me.” “Get out of my face if you don’t want me to hurt you.” Reese went to push her away, and she moved too fast for him to follow. “What the hell are you? A synth?” “No, I am not a synth. My biology has been augmented to make me a better soldier. And if you push me I will hurt you. I’ll feel awful about it later, but I will react.” “No one will hurt anyone,” said Danse. “I am sorry that you turned down my invitation, but I can understand it. You are building something special here, and any offer of tech to your faction would be laughable. And Reese, you would do well to remember that Nora helped us out, with no promise of recompense. Which reminds me. I want you to have my laser rifle. I have another just like it, but I think you might find it of use. Probably a bit more powerful than the weapon Ms. Heather carries.” “Thank you,” said Nora, taking the rifle and looking it over. “How thoughtful. Now, are you going to be alright?” “I think so. But if you want to look in on us periodically, to see if we’re okay, I won’t protest. And I would like to fight alongside you again in the future.” Nora walked outside to get into her armor, Halen following her. “You must have really impressed Top, Commander Adams.” “Nora, please. That world is gone, and I only use that title when I need to dress down assholes like Reese.” “He’s not so bad when you get to know him. He’s just all Brotherhood. But I am so happy to have met you. Good luck out there.” * * * “Assessment,” said Danse looking at his people. “I think she’s a threat, Top. You should have eliminated her on the mission.” “That’s not the way I treat allies, Reese,” growled Danse. “Besides, I like her. But I have to agree that she and her organization could be a threat to our mission.” “I like her too, sir,” said Halen. “To have gone what she went through and land on her feet like she did. And she’s not sitting around crying, but seems to be making a real difference to the people of the Commonwealth. Yes, she might be a threat to the Brotherhood and our goals, depending on what Elder Maxim wants to do here, if he even comes here. But she also might be a strong ally who can help us to make inroads with the people. And, she wants to find the same people we do. A pity she didn’t agree to help us. Even as a contactor she could scout out areas and acquire tech for us.” “They’re using that tech, Halen,” said Reese. “Tech we are mandated to remove from their hands. And what in the hell could we offer them that would get them on our side? They already have better power armor than we have. And that damned magic storage device they have is beyond anything we can build. I definitely don’t trust that woman to use that tech wisely.” “Okay. I’ve got a feel for your opinions on them. We will keep a close watch on them, but we will not interfere. And if they ask for our help, and we can give it, we will. Understood?” Reese obviously didn’t like it, but he nodded his head, while Halen seemed to be enthusiastic about helping their new friends. And Danse wondered if he might convince Nora, when next they met, to do a little recon for the Brotherhood while they were knocking about doing their own thing. There was a lost patrol out there, the people who had preceded him to the Commonwealth, and his command really wanted to know what had happened to them.
  13. The next morning Nora went shopping, first stopping at Arturo’s place to buy some good quality hand weapons and some more rockets, then some junk tech from Mirna. The Choice Cut Meat Market let her stock Home Plate, while the robots built some automated planters that she sowed with mutfruit, corn and tatoes. She needed the starch from the corn so that she could make adhesive, and tatoes and mutfruit could go into supply kits for the tech and salvaging teams she was planning to send out. More settlers, tired of not getting by in Diamond City, had come in. She had eight that wanted to stay, and she set up enough work stations for all of them, as well as both a full bar and diner, using some of the vendor contracts she had been procuring through the last couple of weeks. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to open the settlement to outsiders. While she might be able to do a good bit of business, it would allow the outsiders to get a look into her business. That left eleven who were ready to pack up and head out. Only three could be talked into Hangman’s Alley, which she decided would be a military outpost for controlling the west side of Boston, once it had enough people. That wasn’t for everyone though, and she thought it might take some time to recruit enough soldiers. So eight, four each for Oberland and Graygarden. After she dropped them off she would come back and see what she might have to escort of Starlight. While not sure how long she would be getting a steady supply of settlers, she could always hope. “We need to get our hands on some more quality weapons for our settlers,” said Nora, sitting down with her friends and having a noodle cup at Power Noodles. She had suggested to some of the residents that she might have someone who could reprogram the robot, who could currently only speak Japanese, and not much of that. She had received the impression that people here liked the robot the way he was. He was a tradition, and he was to remain a tradition. The noodle cups were delicious. She needed more than one cup, but she could afford it. Three of her settlements were turning out ration packs that gave a filling meal and drink, and they placed the excess in the QESS system for other settlements to draw on. They were producing excess water that she could also pull out of the system and sell here in the city. It was looking like the necessity of whoring was about to go away. That kind of saddened her. It connected her to her college days, when she could look at the world through rose colored glasses. And, of course, no one said she had to quit. “The problem is the damn Raiders almost always use pipe weapons,” said Barb after slurping down some of her noodle cup. “When they do get military grade or good hunting weapons, they take such shitty care of them that they inevitably ruin them. Supermutants aren’t much better, though they sometimes have some mini-guns in good repair.” “Gunners,” said Heather. “I know you said you don’t want to tangle with them, but they are the enemies of the Minutemen, and they mostly have good quality weapons and armor.” “Which makes them harder to take,” said Nora, shaking her head. “And I want energy weapon parts for turrets. Even the Gunners don’t have many of them.” “Synths, if you can find them,” said Heather. For all the talk of Synths in Diamond City, everyone worrying that they were going to be spirited away in the night, she had yet to run into any. When she mentioned that to Heather the other woman smiled, then frowned. “University Point. The Institute has some camped out there for some reason, so we would be sure to run into them. Of course, it’s a long way from here through some very hostile territory. Maybe you’ll just have to wait to luck out and just run into some.” Nora wasn’t sure if that would be considered good luck. Robotic warriors with high end energy weapons might be too much for them to handle. She was beginning to think she was going to have to take on this Institute that everyone was afraid of, and no one knew the location of, sooner or later. But right now she would continue to go after Raiders and Supermutants. That was enough of a challenge for now. But Gunners? They were better trained than Raiders, but from what Nora had seen that wasn’t saying much, and the high-end mercenaries were not up to her standards. “Any luck with the detective?” asked Barb. “Not a bit. His office is locked up tight, no answer at the door. And the area is too well patrolled to risk picking the door.” The last thing she wanted to do was run afoul of Diamond City Security and end up in lockup, or having to throw down on a force that had almost two hundred police officers. They weren’t very well trained either, and mostly equipped with shotguns, but they were on the side of civilization, and she didn’t want to kill them for just doing their jobs. “Well, no one in town seems to know where he’s gone,” said Heather. “Or his secretary. Ellie, I think her name is.” “Just bad luck. I was hoping he might be able to start tracking whoever took Shaun. I’m beginning to think it a hopeless task. He must be older now, but I just don’t know how old. Will he remember me? How could he, when I was just a towering blob to his vision when I still had him in my custody.” She still didn’t know how long it had been since he had been kidnapped. Ten years. Twenty. Hell it could have been fifty. He might be dead, subjected to some experiment by the Institute or even Vault Tech. Or he could be the member of the organization that frightened so many people across the Commonwealth. But she needed to know, no matter what the outcome was. “Well, your settlement system is already on the way to becoming the second most powerful entity in the Commonwealth. After Diamond City.” “Not mine, Heather. It belongs to the people who make it up. It just lead the military and exploratory arm of the alliance. And speaking of which, I need to get some more settlements on board so we can keep growing.” And we need to find out if there’s teleportation somewhere out there. Sturgis had contacted her, sending a message through the QESS system. They had looked through the mass of holo-tapes she had dumped on them, and found one from a purported Institute Operative who had lived in Lexington thirty years before. He had discussed how the Institute had been working on teleportation and hit a dead end. Some researchers had been sent to Connecticut to look into a research institute that had been looking into that tech about the time the bombs dropped. They had never reported back, and it was felt that they must have been killed somewhere to the south of Boston. Vault Tech was also rumored to have teleporters in the same tape, though no one knew for sure. It would make things so much easier if they could hop on a platform and materialize twenty or fifty miles away in an instant. Of course, the whole concept was also frightening, and Nora wasn’t sure if she wanted to put her body into one until it had been well tested. They spent the rest of the day looking around the town, Nora getting requests for help that she turned down for the moment. She didn’t want to be tied down before she moved her settlers out, though some of the requests intrigued her. And she wanted to check out Goodneighbor, said to be a den of iniquity, but also the home to some interesting tech and a few stores. It was at least a day’s walk to the East though, and if they met resistance it might be much longer. “Well, let’s see about doing Vadim’s crazy plan to build up the frightened DJ,” she said as the clock started to tick down. “You really want to do this?” asked Heather. “Not really. But I gave my word, so I’m stuck.” That was the biggest problem with being the face of the Minutemen. She had to be honest, lest people start to doubt her word. Whether it was wiping out a Raider settlement or giving a blow job, if she said she was going to do it she needed to follow through. So she started off for the Dugout Inn, her whoring clothes in her pack, dressed in casual jeans, t-shirt and tennis shoes. She walked into the inn just before six, to see a frightened young man standing and waiting, looking like he was going to bolt at any moment. Vadim stood behind the bar as always, looking on, shooting Nora a smile and pointing to Travis. Suddenly two hard looking men came walking into the inn, looking around for a second before heading straight for Travis. “Well, what have we here, Bull?” “I don’t know, Gouger. Looks like a quaking piece of shit to me.” “Please go way,” said Travis in a shaking voice. “And if we don’t wanna?” asked Gouger, the smaller of the two. “Go away, or..” “Or what, Travis? Were you going to say or else? Was that what you were going to say?” Nora moved beside Travis and talked to him in a soft voice. “Are you going to let them do this to you, Travis? The only way it’s going to stop is if you make it stop.” “But..” “I’m here to back you up. So stop letting them push you around.” “What the hell are you up to, bitch?” asked Bull, stepping forward to point a finger in Nora’s face. Nora slapped the hand away, purposively slowing herself down so she would not frighten the two off. She was certain she could take them both no problem, but that wasn’t the plan. Travis needed to feel like he had handled this. “Leave me alone, or I’m going to kick your ass,” said Travis, his voice firming up a bit. “Big mistake. We’re going to fuck you and your bitch up.” Bull came at Travis swinging, connecting with the young man’s face and knocking him back. But not down or out, and Travis returned the punch. It wasn’t a skillful blow, but it had some power in it. Gouger came at Nora, also swinging. Nora blocked the punch with a forearm, returning the blow and feeling the man’s jaw shatter. Gouger went down like a felled tree, out, and Nora cursed herself. She had forgotten how fragile normal people were, and she really didn’t want to kill either of these two. Then her concentration was on Travis and his unequal battle against Bull. Bull hit Travis in the stomach, folding him over, then raising a hand to strike his opponent on the back of the neck. Nora slammed a hand into his back, interrupting the blow and staggering the man. Bull turned to throw a punch at Nora, easily avoided, and she sent a low power palm strike into his face. Travis grabbed Bull by the shoulder and spun him around, slamming a fist into his face, then another into the stomach. Bull staggered away, and Nora grabbed him by a shoulder and slammed him to his back on the floor, where he lay, groaning. “If I were you boys I would go somewhere else,” said Nora. “Before Travis here kicks your ass.” Bull staggered up, then helped Gouger to his feet, aiding his friend in stumbling out of the inn. “So,” said Nora in a cheerful tone. “How’d it feel to be in your first barfight? And to end up a winner?” “I didn’t like it. But I guess it had to be done. Thanks, and I’ll see you later.” “Well, that went pretty well,” said Vadim. “Though I worry that you kill them for a moment.” I could have very easily, she thought, realizing what a disaster that would have been. “I’m going to make some love, and forget the war,” said Nora, going into her room and changing into her slutty clothes. Again this night Crocker was her first customer. She thought he was smitten with her, and she was willing to give him an organ to cum in, but nothing more. He again paid more than the asking price, giving her two hundred and fifty caps. With some people she would have felt bad taking that much, but the doctor could afford it, and it was going to a good cause. She fucked three more men, then one woman, Becky Fallon, before trouble came looking for you. “So, what’s your pleasure?” she asked the man. “Bull wanted me to give you a good beating, so that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll fuck you after, so I can get some enjoyment above and beyond beating you to a pulp.” The husky man came at her in a fighter’s stance. It was obvious he knew what he was doing. It was just as obvious that he didn’t know who he was fucking with. Nora avoided the two punches he threw, then hit him with a knife hand to the neck, dropping him to the floor. She kicked him in the face as her tried to get up and the man was out. “What happen?” asked Yefim, barging into the room. “This asshole was here to beat me up, on orders from Bull,” she told the younger Bobrov brother. “Shit. That’s Rhino. One of Tower Tom’s boys. He specializes in fuck people up.” “Well, this time he got fucked up. So, please get him out of my room so I can get to work.” So took one another four men before she called it quits, making fifteen hundred caps. Not her best night ever, but still respectable. Vadim motioned for her to come over and talk to him as she started to walk out of the inn. “I guess you can have me if you want,” she said with a smile. She wasn’t here to give it away, but she wanted the goodwill of this man. “No. Well maybe yes, after talk.” The bar had almost cleared out, people going home to get some rest before a workday. “I have second part of foolproof plan.” “You want me to fuck Travis?” “Hah, that might do the boy good, but I have something else in mind. You see Scarlet around here. She make eyes at Travis, and he make eyes at her. If no one gives them a push the eyes are all that are going to work. I can’t suggest to Scarlet that she go see Travis, since I her boss. But you could.” “Okay. That’s easy enough that I’ll do it. But this ends it, okay?” “Okay. I have to tell you that Scarlet sometimes whores for me, so if she won’t do it, give her a hundred caps. But to do without pay first off.” Scarlet was actually excited to hear that Travis was interested in her, and went out of the inn as if she were walking on air. She hoped it worked out for them. They were both nice kids, and deserved some loving. “Okay, now how do you want me?” she asked Vadim. “I want to take you on bar. You okay with that.” “No problem,” she said, hopping up on the bar and offering herself. Vadim slid into her and started thrusting away. Yefim soon walked up and presented his dick to Nora’s mouth. Soon she had both brothers thrusting away inside her, Vadim in her pussy, Yefim in her throat. They had some stamina this night, and she was wondering when they were going to cum so she could go to bed. She worked every trick she could, her pussy squeezing Vadim, her tongue working Yefim’s balls. Vadim finally had all he could take and roared as he shot his cum into the grasping pussy. Moments later Yefim came, his balls rising up in their sack as his cock expanded, then shot his load down her throat. “You good friend,” said Vadim, smiling. “You come back tomorrow?” “I have to run out of town for the next couple of days, but I’ll be back.” “Good, having you here is pulling in customers. After they fuck they eat, drink like no tomorrow. You good friend.” * * * The next day Nora escorted thirteen settlers out of town, all armed to some extent. The people who were going to man Hangman’s Alley, and she hoping they would welcome more people, all had good quality weapons, the two men combat rifles, the woman a .357 revolver. The rest of them had mostly pipe weapons, some with rifles, though there were three shotguns and a couple of hunting rifles among the ten. The robots had continued to work on the Alley, and two of the Handies had stripped every car in the neighborhood of their wiring, components and nuclear material. A second fusion reactor was up and running, while all of the entrances were now open for business and fortified to the extreme. She set one settler up with a full bar at the ground floor of the building on the right, the female as a doctor on the ground of the building on the left, the third to act as general supervisor and watch that the construction kept going as planned. Kathy, the woman working the stand, saw the people Nora had with her and stopped the group. “I want to set up at Oberland. Can you help me move my stock?” “Sure,” said Nora, detailing her people to grab what they could and pack it up. She called up three of her cargo bots and loaded up the rest, and they were off. Oberland had actually attracted another settler, and with the six people she was leaving them they now had ten. Nora set up the robots to build a trader stand for Kathy, then continued on to Graygarden. Graygarden was not really ready, but the five settlers pitched in to help with the construction. By nightfall they had a two story house going, as well as the beginnings of a service core building. The next day there were bathrooms, generators, and water pumped up from the river. She selected a supervisor who seemed to have some brains and taught him how to run the robots and the QESS. And then it was the trek back into Diamond City. “When are we going back to Sanctuary?” asked Barb. “After we get another load of settlers. I want at least ten to drop off at Starlight so I can get that place going.” And I want to make some more caps for the kitty. Or maybe I should say caps from the kitty. Nora had been thinking about her sexual response post Supersoldier Serum. She was sure it had been a minor consideration to the researchers, but it had turned out to be a big deal for her. She was constantly in a state of low-level arousal, juice flowing in her pussy. It was always wet. Of course, it was gushing when she was getting near an orgasm. Her clit was much more sensitive, and the inside of her vagina was almost as sensitive as her clit had been pre-Serum. And while she was gaining control of her pheromones, she still exuded a low-level of attractant that caused every eye to turn her way. Her vagina seemed infinitely stretchable, and returned to a tight pre-fucked configuration within minutes of the cock pulling out. She really didn’t know how many men she could take on, but hadn’t seemed to have reached that limit yet. On the adverse side, she could still dehydrate and swoon from low blood sugar, so she needed to watch out for that. They reached Home Plate by four, and Nora showered and got ready to pull a shift at the Dugout inn. So she was surprised when she walked in to find a frantic Yefim approaching her. “You’ve got to help. Vadim has been kidnapped. You have to get him back.” “Calm down, Yefim. Who took him, and where?” “Vadim owed money to the bosses of Gouger and Bull. They came back, demanding that he pay, and stupid Vadim refused. So they took him at gunpoint.” “Where?” “Travis might know. Vadim and him talk a lot.” “Right. I’ll be right back.” Nora ran full speed to the radio station, people moving out of the way of the blur that threatened to bowl them over. She burst into the station, to find Travis in bed with Scarlet, enjoying each other. She felt horrible interrupting them, but she needed Travis, now. “Travis. Vadim’s been kidnapped. I need to know where they might have taken him. Now.” “Shit. I need to see about this, hon.” “Of course you do,” said Scarlet, rubbing her hand over his face. “Go with her, but make sure you come back to me.” Travis was out of bed in an instant, getting into his clothing as fast as he could pull them on. Scarlet got out of bed as well and walked naked over to a chair. Nora thought the young lady looked cute as hell, but now wasn’t the time to admire a good body supporting a pretty face. “They’re at Beantown Brewery,” said Travis, pulling a N99 from a drawer in his desk and checking to load, then getting some spare mags out. “That was what Vadim told me. They’re just Raiders, and their boss, Tower Tom, runs them from there.” Nora was noting that Travis seemed much more confident and forceful, though he was nowhere near a dominant male. “You don’t have to come.” “Of course I do. Vadim is my friend.” “Okay. I’m going to stop over at Home Plate and gear up, get my people, and head out. Meet me in front of Diamond City and we’ll go.” It only took minutes to get into her gear and arm, hustling her followers to come along. Travis was waiting, nervously, pacing back and forth. “Stay in the center of our group on the way there. We’re walking, fast, but stay alert for trouble. That’s wasteland out there, and there is always a chance that something deadly is going to come along.” “Do you think we can save him?” “Of course we can. Just have faith.” And if we don’t rescue him, we can still end the bastards who kidnapped him. It took several hours at a fast walk to reach the Brewery, passing through Oberland. Nora checked in quickly with the settlers then moved on, thinking about the best way into the Brewery. She finally decided on the northwest entrance, the one that entered through the front office. “Let us lead,” she told Travis, looking into his frightened eyes. “We do this for a living. So stay close and behind and watch our rear.” Travis nodded and Nora patted him on the shoulder. She eased the door open and slid inside like a ghost, night vision engaged. The office was entered through a short hall, and a long desk was ahead. A couple of Raider kids were sleeping on bags to the right, while she heard the sound of snoring coming from the officer proper. Nora crept over to the children, who for some reason were started to stir, and put a round into each of their heads, the suppressed rifle making barely a sound. “What the hell?” cried out a man’s voice from the office, and Nora moved to the entrance and shot him once in the head. There was a lot of interesting things here, but they were on a rescue mission, so that could wait until they had freed Vadim. “How many people does this Tower Tom have?” “You killed them all,” stammered Travis. “Even the kids.” “These are bad people, Travis. Any we spare will just move on and make life miserable for some other poor suckers. Even the children. If they were younger they might be salvageable. At their age, they're already warped. So how many people are we facing?” “Twenty. Thirty. Maybe more.” “And where do you think Vadim is being held?” “I’m guessing the office up the stairs on the other side of the plant.” “Then we slaughter everything on the production floor and the walkways. Stay behind us, and take out anything that tries to come up our ass.” Nora primed her grenade launcher, hoping to get in a couple of shots before she had to switch to her rifle. She thought they could get out there and start taking down groups before the Raiders could react. Some shouts and movement beyond the corridor let her know that her plan had gone out the window. “There’s something out there,” called out a voice, and what sounded like a herd of Raiders poured up the stairs. Nora let fly with a grenade, killing most of the first wave, the survivors going to the floor injured. She quickly jacked another round into the launcher, slamming it shut and firing from the hip, hitting the wall of the cross corridor and sending more shrapnel out, to the cursing of those hit. A hand grenade came out of the cross corridor, rolling toward Nora, who backpeddled, waving her people to retreat. The grenade went off, some shrapnel bouncing from Nora’s armor, and a swarm of Raiders came running into and up the corridor. Nora held down the trigger on her assault rifle, mowing down Raiders like ripe grain. As her rifle clicked on empty Barb opened up, sending a flood of rounds into the enemy. They stopped coming, and Nora finished switching her magazine and stepped forward, waving her dogs to come along with her. There were more Raiders in firing positions. Nora gunned down some, switched out her grenade launcher to hit clusters, and kept moving forward. The Raiders fought like always, stupid, eschewing cover with only one thought on their mind. To kill. And they were slaughtered by the three experienced warriors. “Look out,” yelled Travis as a woman with a sword came dropping down from above, aiming a cut at Nora. She was sure she could have gotten out of the way, but Travis gunned the Raider down with his pistol. “Good job. Buddy. Now keep a watch.” Nora ran over the catwalks, shooting the Raiders that showed themselves, running into the office. “I’ll kill him,” shouted a Raider with a pistol, aimed in on Vadim’s head. Nora blew his brains out with a short burst, then ran up and knelt to free Vadim. “I didn’t think anyone was going to come,” stammered the man. “Thank you.” “Is that the big boss I gunned down?” “That was Tower Tom, yes. And it looks like you took down most of gang. Travis. You came.” “He saved my life out there,” Nora lied, wanting the young man to feel good about himself. “Now, you two get out of our way while we loot this place.” They packed in dozens of cases of beer and a ton of empty bottles, as well as a load of electronics and machines parts, all going into Wilson, currently set to deliver to Oberland. She found another Picket Fences magazine, and a number of holo-tapes to take with. And she looked over the terminals. Reading the story of Tower Tom and how he had organized this brewery. After reading part of it she ordered all the beer dumped, since it had been fermented with the body of the sister of a famous Raider boss. It talked about the death of Jared, and the holding of Red Tourette’s sister Lilly to get food, and Lilly’s accidental death at Tower Toms hands. That needs to be a priority target, thought Nora. Red was said to be a big boss with a lot of people, and removing her, along with Tower Tom, Jared, Boomer and Ack Ack, would have severely weakened the Raider infrastructure in the Commonwealth. Maybe it wouldn’t get rid of all of them, but it was a good start. “We’re going to spend the night at my settlement at Oberland,” she told Vadim and Travis. “In the morning we’ll head back to Diamond City.” “So you built this place,” said Vadim as they sat down to a meal. “Tanja and her people started it. I just came in and added some comforts.” “Don’t let her fool you,” said Tanja, passing a pot of stew around the table in the common room of the house. “She and that magical tech of hers is what made this place what it was.” “How are the new people working out?” asked Nora, looking around and spotting the new faces. “Well, we planted another acre of crops today,” said the leader of the settlement. “And we are so much more secure with ten than three. So thank you again.” “You do so much. Why you whore in my bar?” “To get the caps to build up places like this,” said Nora. “Not that I don’t enjoy it, and see absolutely nothing wrong with charging men to use my spectacular body, but the mission helps motivate me, a lot.” “I think you should give it a break at the Dugout,” said Vadim. “Not that you can’t do it again, but it might be a good idea to not attract attention for a little while.” “Well, I guess its back to the Red Seat for a return engagement.” * * * “Where the hell have you been?” asked Liemanto, glaring at her from his chair. “Out of town. But I’m ready to work a couple of nights, if you want me.” “Hell yes, I want you,” said the boss of the club, his eyes straying to take in Nora’s Bodyguards. “When you want me to start?” asked Nora, looking at the stage, where Trudy was clumsily staggering around. There was a small audience, showing how much Nora had done for the club. “Right now. I’ll send someone out to trumpet that you are back.” “Good enough,” said Nora, walking to the back room and stripping, then coming out on the stage to the cheers of the men. More were flooding into the club, and she started dancing with her hands in the air, the symbol of victory. She had loved the Dugout, but this, dancing, then fucking, in front of an entranced audience, set her heart a beating and her pussy a flowing. This made her feel alive, and she was looking forward to her two night here. “Where the hell does she go?” asked one of the men in the audience of Heather, sitting at a table and watching the crowd as well as her friend, taking her job seriously. “Saving the Commonwealth,” said Heather. “Yeah, right. A whore saving the Commonwealth.”
  14. A fierce blizzard was blowing in from the Sea of Ghosts the next morning, but Nora thought it might actually provide cover for their mission. With the multiple teleports available to her and her people she didn’t think they were in any danger from the weather. Her mind kept going back to her time with Falion. After their second hour of fucking they had worked in his laboratory for a couple of hours, he teaching her his techniques of enchanting and disenchanting. She had learned much, and still had much to learn. They had one more session in bed, repairing back to Lami’s house so that Agni didn’t have to be exposed to adult activities. Nora thought the little girl had gotten incredibly lucky to have been adopted by Falion. He was the doting father, making sure she got everything she needed, and often what she wanted. The mage was very protective of her, something that Nora also approved of. Too many children disappeared in this land for comfort, and it was good to see that the man took his responsibilities seriously. After a number of teleports the party arrived just outside of Volskygg, a familiar place. Nora had a suspicion that the Forsworn had moved back into Deepwoods Redoubt. It was roomy and easy to defend, and Nora wasn’t sure why Elisif hadn’t ordered it garrisoned. Probably because her manpower was already stretched thin, and a platoon of guards, thirty or forty odd people, was a platoon that wouldn’t be available elsewhere. Still, something needed to be done to prevent them from coming back, or Deepwoods Redoubt would continue to be a problem. But first, the dragon, a large blue that was circling the sky about a mile to the south, shouting into the air. Nora could barely make out what it was saying in the distance. “You are a coward, Dovakin. If you had any courage you would face me alone, that we might test our power against each other.” Nora burst out laughing, and her people gave her strange looks. They’re just big raiders, she thought, still chuckling. Only a fucking coward hides. The famous line that the raiders were so quick to throw out. Well, Nora didn’t care what she was called. She cared about winning, plain and simple. If the enemy thought it unfair, then she was doing her job right. As the saying went, if it was a fair fight her tactics sucked. “Okay. Everyone spread out. Let’s take this big bastard down and be on our way.” “That looks like an elder dragon,” said Eldawyn, studying the beast from afar. “The most powerful kind. Extremely dangerous.” “Then we hit it with everything we have and kill it quickly.” The party advanced, leaving the horses tied to trees far behind. They would be close to the horses, after all, and Nora could be back with them in an instant if necessary. “So, you will not face me alone,” shouted the dragon, reminding Nora once again that they were not just beasts, but intelligent creatures. They may have been alien thoughts, but they ran deep. Only their arrogance, their belief in their own power, caused them to attack without thinking of their strategy. “Well, I am not alone either.” A roar from behind alerted Nora and company to the second dragon, a huge red, rising out of some woods to the north and coming toward them. Another roared and came down from the mountains, an additional large blue, lightning playing at the edges of its mouth as it roared. “There are three of them,” called out Sofia in a near panic. “What do we do?” “We take them down one at a time,” said Nora, thinking of her best strategy. “We have fire, ice and shock, so make sure you send the proper spells into the right dragon.” The red would be easy to pick out, and both cold and shock would harm it. The blues might cause some confusion, though fire would be harmful to both of them. If they came at the party as three separate dragons’ intent on their own kills they might be more vulnerable. But if they fought as a team? It soon became apparent that they were getting a little of both scenarios. The two blues stayed close and moved as a team, while the red acted as a single combatant. All swooped in and let loose with their breath weapons. Nora’s people moved quickly, getting out of the way, sending magic and arrows at the monsters. Dragons like these had thicker than average scales, and every arrow bounced away. A lucky strike might sink in between the scales, but those were few and far between this day. Valdimar and Jordis took a hit, on the edge of a breath of killing cold, both falling to their knees and trying to struggle back to their feet before the dragon returned. Valdimar attempted to get the girl up so she could run, sacrificing himself. One of the blues, this with lightning playing around its mouth, turned to finish them off. Nora shouted at the Dragon, Marked for Death, the Thu’um sapping the monster’s strength and weakening its armor. The dragon cried out and swerved away, leaving her two people safe for a moment. That wouldn’t last, and she turned to see Eldawyn go to the ground with smoking robes. These were deadly beasts, their breath weapons powerful enough to kill within seconds. Even her, and her people didn’t have her resiliency. If not for their enchanted armor and jewelry some of them would already be dead. “Yes,” yelled Lydia as she sank a shaft through the gaps in the scales of the red. It was only a pinprick, and the dragon turned in the air to kill the human who had caused it pain. Sofia hit it with a pair of ice spikes, also a nuisance more than anything, while Eldawyn, still on her knees, placed an ice storm in front of the beast. The dragon screamed as it hit the cold, anathema to its type. I need a Fat Man, thought Nora, a feeling of panic coming over her. She didn’t have a Fat Man. And even if she did it wasn’t the proper weapon to engage flying targets. Perhaps one of the new RPGs, firing a guided rocket that could hit flying vehicles. She still had two suits of power armor, a gatling laser, and a four-barrel rocket launcher, all back at Castle Valkyrja. Might as well have been on one of the two moons of Nirn for all the good that did. She could teleport to the castle, suit up, and come back. But her people would be dead by then. We’re getting killed here, thought Nora, trying to come up with a plan. One of these dragons would be a challenge for the party. Three was too much. If anyone was going to get them out of this it had to be her. She could possibly teleport them all away with her in a couple of jumps and come back when they were better prepared. Unfortunately, they were spread out, and she wouldn’t be able to take more than two at a time under these conditions. Again, most would be dead before she completed the task of getting them all to safety. Her quick mind ran through all of these possibilities in an instant, leaving her with the conclusion that they would live or die with what they had at hand. The dragons had the literal high ground, up above, able to see whatever was going on beneath them. Able to engage and disengage at will. She needed something to obscure their vision, and she had just the spell for that. Nora shouted out the words to the spell, echoing with the power of her Thu’um. Suddenly the blizzard formed, feeding off the power of the storm front to the north. Swirling wind carried the fat flakes of snow, dropping the visibility to near nothing in an instant. She could still hear the dragons screeching over the wind, catching a glimpse of one or the other as it drew near and then moved away. They couldn’t find their prey, but neither could she strike at them. Fuck this, she shouted in her mind, pulling up the words to the spell she needed. “Twister,” she yelled at the top of her lungs, letting her people know what was coming. She said the words, made the gestures, and the winds started to swirl around the place where she was pointing, about fifty yards to her front. The funnel cloud formed swiftly, the freight train roar blotting out all other sound. The blizzard cleared in the same instant, no longer powered. The two blues that had been coming in searching for her tried to veer away. One made it, one didn’t, and was sucked into the funnel as it struggled to flap away. The twister grabbed the dragon and spun it around, then flung it out and into the ground. It hit with a hard smack, the sound of snapping bones coming over even the roar of the tornado. The beast struggled to get to its feet, one wing bent at an unnatural angle. Nora wasn’t sure how fast Dragons healed, or if it even could with a bone that wasn’t set. She was sure it wasn’t going to heal before this battle was over. The twister was not really under her control. All she could do was call it up, then dissipate it when it was no longer needed. Not as useful as she had thought, though it had taken care of one of the dragons. So useful enough. The fire breath hit Nora dead center from the back. She cried out in pain, going into a roll and getting out of the stream before it took her life from her. Her skin was blackened in places while the pain sweeping through her was almost unbearable. The twister faded, its time passed, and the two dragons maneuvered in for another strike. Nora called up Close Wounds and cast it on herself, taking the edge off the pain and partially healing her skin. She was no longer in danger of dying, though still not at full strength. It would have to do for now. The dragons were both heading for her, having recognized her as the most dangerous of the humans. The glow of cold played across the mouth of the blue, flame around the maw of the red. There was no way she could avoid both of them. When they got her within range she would be dead. Nora had just enough magicka to cast the spell she needed, one that drained her completely. She formed the one Chaos Rift to the front of the dragons. They both roared their laughter as they easily maneuvered around the rift. The second rift popped into existence directly in front of the blue, sucking it in and teleporting it to the second, shocking it in the process. As soon as it appeared it was pulled back in and transported back to the other portal. Back and forth it went, its cycle causing more injury, until when the rifts faded a lifeless body fell from the sky. “I will have my revenge, Dovakin,” screamed the red as it wheeled in the sky and headed away. Maybe on another day, thought Nora, fatigue coming over her like a heavy fist. She stumbled toward the dead blue, watching as its still form started to smoke. Energy flew from it and into her body, and she felt the rise of a quickening. And then another. She turned while she was floating in the air to see the smoking body of the other blue, an arrow sticking from its eye as Lydia stood triumphantly before it. The double blast of energy coursed through her body. Too much, the soul energy of two elder dragons, and she screamed out her agony as the pleasure, too much to bear, coursed through her body. “She’s awake,” said Sofia as Nora opened her eyes. She recognized the outer chamber of Volskygg. A large fire was close enough to send its warmth into her. Too much really, and she was sweating under the cover of the furs. “Did everyone make it?” she croaked through a dry throat. Eldawyn put a bottle of wine into her hand and let Nora swallow down the sweet liquid. “We all made it,” said the Altmer, smiling. “Thanks to you. We still need some healing and recovery, but we are all alive. That’s what matters.” “And I almost got you all killed,” said Nora, shifting to sit up on the furs, her head spinning for a moment while she took another swig of wine. “Some food, my Thane,” said Lydia, holding forth a heavy platter of meat, potatoes, and vegetables. “Thank you,” said a famished Nora, taking the platter. “And what’s this talk about getting us all killed,” said Sofia, coming over and sitting next to Nora. “If not for you we would all be dead. That was amazing. Like watching one of the young Gods of legend come to life.” “I’m still very human, Sofia,” said Nora around a mouthful of food. “And I made enough mistakes for a whole city of people.” “You couldn’t know, Nora,” said Sofia, putting an arm around the Dragonborn’s shoulder. “Dragons don’t cooperate like that. Or at least they didn’t. And now we know, and know what to look out for.” And will that be enough? she thought as she took another swig of wine. After finishing her meal Nora went about sending healing into everyone. All had been healed with as much magicka as Eldawyn, Sofia and J’Zargo had. They were spent, and no one was in danger. In fact, all were fully healed to at least ninety percent, and they had brought Nora back to full health. Mostly cuts, scraps, bruises and burns, Nora still felt guilty that they were in any pain at all. She set about healing all of them, her amazing magicka regeneration keeping up with her spells. “We still have some five hours till sunup,” said Eldawyn, sitting down next to Nora. “I think we could all do with some more sleep. But I’m curious, dear. What do you have planned for the morrow?” “I think we will steal a page from the tactics of the Mongols and attack in the storm.” “Who are the Mongols?” asked Lydia. From the expression of Elesia’s face the alien knew exactly what Nora was talking about. “The Mongols were tough little bastards. Nomad herders who were also great warriors. Horse archers, they were inured to the cold of their frozen plains. While most other armies went into winter quarters when the weather got too bad, the Mongols campaigned and attacked during the worst of the snows. And caught their enemies off guard every time.” “It just makes sense to seek shelter when it gets so cold,” said Jordis. “So says the city Nord,” said Sofia, laughing. “And what does one from Rorikstead know about severe weather?” shot back the young Housecarl. “No arguments, please,” said Nora, holding up a hand. “Look. I know it’s hard moving through a blizzard, but the cold can work to our advantage. Whatever sentries are out will be too busy trying to stay warm to pay close attention to their surroundings. We move in and kill silently, then storm the fortress and catch the rest out of their armor, relaxing. “Not the most honorable way to conduct a battle,” said Valdimar uncharacteristically. “You Nords and your damned honor,” hissed J’Zargo. “This cat knows better. The best way to fight is to kill your enemies with as little risk to yourself as possible.” “I could care less about honor,” said Nora. “I repeat, I could care less about honor. The honorable way to fight, to my way of thinking, is to kill your opponents and keep your own people alive. Everything else is bullshit. This is war, and we will take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself to preserve the lives of those we care about while ending those of the people who threaten them. Understood?” “I have no problem with that,” said Elesia, smiling and nodding her head. “I don’t either,” said Eldawyn. “Only these stone headed Nords want to bash their heads against a wall, or they consider their victory dishonorable.” “I see the wisdom of your actions, my Thane,” said Valdimar after shooting an angry glare at the Altmer mage. “It’s hard to overcome the way you were raised, but I too would rather see dead enemies than friends.” “I realize that we are all stressed,” said Nora, looking from face to face. “Remember. We are all friends here. As the Companions would say, shield sisters and brothers. Remember the things the people around you have done to get you to this point alive and look after them. Now, I’m going back to bed for a couple of hours and I suggest the rest of your do the same.” Nora didn’t know if everyone followed her advice. She did know that the smell of bacon, ham and potatoes woke her from her sleep some hours later. Jordis and Lydia were cooking, while Valdimar was scrambling up a mass of eggs in a skillet. “Did the three of you get any more sleep like I suggested?” asked Nora, pretty sure what the answer was going to be. “Oh, we went back to our furs,” said a smiling Lydia. “But not to sleep.” I should have known, thought Nora, stifling a laugh. A virile young man in his mid-twenties. Two beautiful young women, one still in her teens. And they had just survived an ordeal that had almost killed them all. Of course sleep was the last thing on their minds. Seeing the glow on their faces let Nora know they were well satisfied, and ready for whatever the day had to offer. “Do I smell breakfast?” asked Sofia, crawling out of her tent with a smile on her face, followed closely by a grinning Elesia. A moment later Eldawyn crawled from her tent, J’Zargo close behind. Well, she did say that she was willing to try him, thought Nora. Unless they had spent the entire night studying magic. From the grins on their faces she doubted that had been the way they had spent the time. Sofia went to the large door to the ruin and popped it open a bit. “Still blowing up a storm outside.” “Perfect,” said Nora, sitting down with a large plate of food and a mug of hot tea. “Just the perfect weather for killing Reachmen,” said Jordis, sitting on one side of Valdimar while Lydia took the other. “Not Reachmen,” corrected Nora. “Forsworn.” “Not that’s there’s much of a difference,” said Sofia, filling a plate with food and taking a seat on a log next to Elesia. “There’s a big difference,” said Nora, frowning. Reachmen were essentially Bretons whose ancestors had migrated to Skyrim. They worshipped one of the eight, and were on the whole law-abiding productive citizens, farmers, miners and storekeepers. The Forsworn were of the same blood, but that was where the similarities ended. Forsworn worshipped dark gods and practiced magic with the taint of evil. Their wise women were witches, whose greatest ambition in life was to become hideous caricatures of people. Hideous half bird creatures whose only thought was the suffering of others. There might have been very good people in their ranks; fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters. But their culture was as evil as it got, no better than the Falmer. No better than the Thalmor. Nora recalled her days in College, when she had taken a sociology class taught by an elderly professor who had been a holdover from the days when liberal insanity had ruled higher education. He insisted that all cultures were equal. Nora couldn’t see that. How could one say that the Mayans, who despite their advanced architecture had practiced the most abhorrent of religions, human sacrifice, were the equal to European culture which had advanced the world in all respects. She didn’t see the Forsworn culture as the equal to any other. True, the Nords had conquered and subjugated the original inhabitants of the Reach. Taken their land, their wealth. But the average Reachman had done what people had on Earth when such happened. They had adapted, gotten on with their lives. Assimilated. And assimilated many of the Nords into their culture as well. There were few Nords born in the Reach who were of pureblood descent. The turn of phrase, the cultural symbols, were now universal. And much of the mistreatment had ended when the Silver-bloods had been overthrown. Things were better and would get better still. But the Forsworn were wedded to their religion, their culture of blood. And nothing less than the ejection of the last Nord from the Reach would satisfy them. Something, with the power of the Nords and the Empire behind them, was not likely to occur. So more blood was spilled, wasted blood. The wind was whipping the snow around fiercely as they rode toward Deepwood Vale and the twin Fortresses that guarded it. Nora was tempted to cast Change Weather, but she was counting on this weather to screen them as they approached. The front of Deepwood Redoubt was deserted, the sentries taking cover from the weather. Of course that would mean the party would have to face them inside, but Nora hoped they would be grouped together and divested of their heavy furs. It would help if most of them were sleeping. Nora wondered, not for the first time, why there was no sleep spell in Tamriel. She recalled her days of playing Dragons and Dungeons when she was a girl, and sleep had been her favorite for the dispatching of low-level opponents. It seemed that they had never developed such, even though they had spells to enrage, spells to calm, spells to cause terror. Nora pulled the heavy door open, knowing that it would creak while in the process of moving. She had Sleet Storm in her mind, ready to cast it ahead of herself if necessary. But the entry chamber was empty, though the sound of voices rose from further in. The Dragonborn flashed hand signals to Eldawyn, J’Zargo and Sofia. All had mastery of Ice Storm, and four of them launching the spell at the same area was more or less instant death to anything within the area of effect. Moving forward under Shroudwalk, totally invisible, moving silently with a skill born of long practice. The room was filled was forsworn, a half dozen in their beds, another half dozen sitting around a pair of tables, eating, drinking, and playing a dice game. “Now,” whispered Nora, holding her spell back for a moment so she could observe the effect of the others. Three clouds of swirling blue magic, life ending cold, moved into the room. A couple of the people sleeping came awake for moment, just long enough to realize that they were dying. The others simply slipped into the darkness, never to awaken. Five of those at the tables made an attempt to get up before they slumped forward in death. The one mage survived the barrage, though badly hurt, and started to call out a spell. To catch the flying stream of shards of Sleet Storm from Nora’s hands, taking the last of his life. It had been a silent slaughter, but someone further in must have heard something. “What’s going on out there? Is anything the matter?” It was a single voice, but the tone and inflection told the story. Hagraven, and it hurried into the room with dark magic playing across its clawed fingers. To meet the Dawnbreaker through its chest, thrust by the invisible assassin that had been waiting for her. “Two by two to check the chambers,” whispered Nora. “I think that was it for this fort, but I’m not about to risk any of us with assumptions.” Two of the rooms contained sleeping Forsworn. One a pair of adults who had fallen asleep in each other’s arms after making love. Nora was glad that they had some pleasure in their last waking moments. She killed them quickly and silently, a dagger through the brain stem. The second chamber proved more of a problem. “Well shit,” said the Dragonborn as she looked down on the sleeping faces of a quartet of children, slumbering soundly in the bed they shared. She should have known the Forsworn would sometimes have children along. They were, after all, a culture, with families. She had been thinking about them as a group of savage warriors to be wiped out. Now the reality hit her. She had been wiping out families, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters. And left behind the children. That they needed to be stopped was a given. That killing them was the easiest way to stop them was obvious. But there had to be a better way. “What should we do?” asked Eldawyn, her expression showing her anxiety and sorrow. “If you want them killed get someone else to do it.” “Of course we won’t kill them,” said Nora softly. “We will take them back to Solitude and give them over to the authorities. Hopefully they can find a home for them.” The best place for that would probably be in the Reach, with families of Reachmen. She wondered how these children would react to the fact that their parents were dead, and how much of an impact being raised in the Forsworn culture would have on their future development. The youngest, a boy and a girl who couldn’t have been older than three and five respectively, would have the best chance of adapting to the change. The eight and twelve-year old’s, both girls, would be more of a problem, but Nora was determined that they would get a chance. “What now?” asked Sofia, a stricken expression on her own face. “You know there are likely to be more of them out in the Vale. There might even be children in the line of fire.” “Lydia. Anything in your satchel that will keep these little ones sleeping.” “I have some ingredients that should do the trick, my Thane,” said the pretty Housecarl, wearing the same troubled expression as all of them. She was a warrior born and raised, and killing enemies meant killing those who might have families. But like most good warriors she drew the line at children. “You and Jordis stay here with the children. Try to keep them sleeping. Keep them safe, but don’t let them hurt you.” Nora had killed children in the wastes of home, many times. Raiders had kids, and from a young age they were murderous little bastards. Given firearms by their elders, there was often no choice but to gun them down. Those had brought on the worst of the nightmares. Nora had been a mother, even if only for a brief time, and her maternal instincts had rebelled against what had been necessary. The parents were a blight on society, and they needed to be put down. She felt much the same of the Forsworn, but as far as she knew the kids didn’t fight. “What are we going to do about the Forsworn in the Vale?” asked Eldawyn, clearly not relishing the thought of killing innocents. “We are going to go out there and have a look see,” said Nora, putting a hand on her friend’s shoulder. “And then we will decide. Anyone who wants to bow out can stay here with Lydia and Jordis.” There were no takers. They might not have liked the idea of children in the line of fire, but they weren’t about to let their leader go into combat without them. The Vale was snowed in, just like the lands outside. Swirling wind, white snow obscuring vision beyond a couple of dozen yards. The large tents were indistinct forms in the storm, the smoke rising from the center hole swirling away. The Reachmen were covering from the deadly conditions. What had been the perfect advantage to Nora and company was now a perfect mess. Nora shouted Aura Whisper, and suddenly, storm or no, all living creatures in the Vale were visible to her sight, glowing blue figures. She looked over all the tents, grimacing as she saw several that had small figures inside, one with a pair of signatures that had to be babies. “Here’s what we’re going to do,” she told her people, raising her voice to be heard over the storm. She pointed out four of the tents. “Those are off limits. We leave them. If we can kill the rest without them becoming aware, so much the better. Anyone comes out to challenge us and we kill them. Otherwise, we leave them be. When we leave here they will be witnesses to what happened to their fellows, and hopefully they will run back to the Reach and tell the others that coming to Haafingar is a death sentence.” “And how do we take out the dozen tents that are targets?” asked Eldawyn. “You, me, Sofia and J‘Zargo will line up outside each tent and send cold spells into them. If we can snuff them out without fuss, so much the better.” The four mages lined up outside the first tent, careful that none of the off-limit tents were in the line of the spells. Blue magic shot out and through the tent. Nora entered quickly to see the bodies of a half dozen adults, many on their furs, open eyed faces blue with cold. She knew those faces would haunt her dreams for many nights, people who thought they had been secure, killed without warning. They carried on for all of the target tents, snuffing the lives, checking to make sure, then moving on to the next. “I am freezing,” complained J’Zargo. “Then it’s time to invade Hag’s End and get warm,” said Nora, wondering how many Hags and Hagravens they might be facing. “You think they might know we’re coming?” asked Elesia, checking her bow to make sure the string was in good shape. Her bow, the one she had brought to this world, was made of an unknown substance, as was the string, and Nora assumed it was as durable as an advanced technology could make it. “I’m sure of it,” replied Nora. “They’re Hags, witches. They are attuned to magic, and I would be surprised if they didn’t pick up on the spells we cast out here. So everyone get ready for a fight. Protective spells if you have them.” All had enchanted armor, along with as much jewelry as they could handle, so even those without magic had a lot of protection. The mages could erect even better defenses as well. Nora cast Dragonskin, increasing her protection from physical harm, then Shroudwalk, turning herself invisible. With Greater Ward in one hand and Lightning Storm in the other, ready to protect herself and deal maximum damage. “Here we go,” she said, nodding to Valdimar to push the door open. As soon as the way was clear dark magic came flying out at the party. The door was a choke point, and Nora pushed through with the energy of the ward in front of her. Some of the tainted magic still came through, enough to turn the Dragonborn’s stomach along with hitting her with a bit of pain. She released the stream of lightning bolts of her spell, focusing on one of the half dozen hags and blasting her with the powerful magic, taking her life in seconds. She swung the stream onto the next. This one had a ward spell up, only powerful enough to stop half the power of the spell. The Hag wilted and her life faded, and Nora dropped the spell for a moment to let her magicka recover. Elesia, gagging from a hit of dark magic, put an arrow through the head of a Hag, while Valdimar crushed another with his hammer. The three mages with her sent cold magic into the remaining two, and just like that the Hags were no longer a problem. A heavy blast of dark magic showed that the primary threats were still in the fight, as two Hagravens came out of the darkness to engage the party. And as soon as we hurt them they’re going to teleport away, thought Nora, preparing her next spell. She cast Malvizer’s Gauntlet, grabbing the Hagraven to the left with unbreakable telekinetic force and pulling her close. Nora thrust Dawnbreaker through the chest of the monster, killing her instantly. She tried to cast the spell again, but the remaining Hagraven teleported away. “Okay. Let’s get the last one and get out of here.” “What if she teleported out of here?” asked Elesia, a look of killing glee on her face. “Then we consider the job done,” said Nora. “As long as she’s not here she’s not our immediate problem.” They searched the fortress and found no sign of the second Hagraven, though they discovered many magical trinkets, while Nora filled a satchel with alchemical ingredients for Lydia. “Shit,” screamed Nora as she left Hag’s End to see the enormous red dragon, on the ground and tearing the people she had spared apart, chomping them with its huge mouth and swallowing them down. She saw a screaming boy, no more than ten, caught up, his screams ending as the great jaws crushed him. The head raised and the body slid down the throat. “You tried to spare these people,” roared the dragon, its wings flapping and lifting it from the ground. “I couldn’t have that. Until we meet again.” All of the mages threw magic at the red, which screamed in pain but disappeared into the storm. “Bastard,” yelled Nora. “I will have you soul, Dragon. You are mine.” She could feel the tears running down her cheeks, actually freezing before they could fall. She had tried to do the right thing and her enemy had made her actions moot. “It wasn’t your fault, Dragonborn,” said Elesia, putting an arm around Nora’s shoulder. Nora nodded, but she knew that she would have further chapters added to her nightmares. “Let’s get the fuck out of here,” said Nora, heading back to the Deepwood Redoubt so they could gather the two Housecarls and the children and head back to Solitude. But now she had an enemy that she couldn’t wait to bring down. Of course all dragons were her enemies, but she looked forward to killing this one with particular relish.
  15. “Wow,” exclaimed Sofia as Nora conjured a tornado in the open ice plains to the southeast of Winterhold. The air swirled around the low pressure center the spell had somehow created, roaring like a freight train, a sound that no one on this world had ever heard. Snow was sucked into the funnel and swirled around, then fired out at hundreds of miles an hour. “That is something,” said Eldawyn, her own voice hushed. “I have never seen such power.” Nora had. In fact, she had seen power unleashed that would dwarf this relatively small tornado to insignificance. Which dwarfed the massive F-5 twisters that laid waste to mile wide swathes of land, twenty miles or more long. And the bomb that had taken out her home, Boston, a city of over four million people, wasn’t even the largest used in that war. “How does Nora feel to be a God,” said J’Zargo, awe in his voice as well. “I’m not a damned God,” protested the Dragonborn. While technically true, it definitely was a godlike power, being able to control the weather. With that thought in mind she let the twister die and cast Control Weather, pulling up a blizzard. “Don’t punish us for what the cat said,” protested Jordis. Nora thought there might be some truth to what the young woman said. She called up Control Weather again, and almost immediately the clouds of the blizzard dissipated and the sun shone down. It was still cold as hell, normal for this part of Skyrim pretty much all year long. “Are you going to go through all of these new spells?” asked Lydia. “Well, she’s only learned about four of them since the mages gave them to her,” said Eldawyn. “And I know she had good reason for doing this. And pulling us out here in the cold.” “Of course I did,” said Nora, feeling a bit frustrated at the attitude of her friends. “Look. I’m only going to pull spells like this out of my ass when there’s nothing else that will do. When we are in danger of being overrun, and only something like this will save your motherfucking lives. Understand, motherfuckers.” Her people looked back at her in shock. They were used to her cussing. But not at them. Good, she thought, taking in the shocked expressions. Anything to get their attention. “I know you are okay with giving your lives for me, and I’ve learned through the years that people are going to die under my command. What I refuse to put up with are useless sacrifices. If I have to spend your lives I want a suitable return on them. And not see you die because you didn’t know enough to get out of the way of this conjured vacuum cleaner and realized you need to get out of Dodge.” “Dodge?” “What’s a vacuum cleaner?” “Motherfucker,” hissed Nora under her breath. She sometimes forgot herself and used expressions from pre-war America. None of her people had ever seen a vacuum cleaner, of course. And had no idea what Dodge was. “I’ll explain it over dinner some night. But the point to all of this is to give me an idea of the footprint of these spells. And what the precursors of their manifestations are. I want you to know too. When you see or hear a tornado starting to form, you will realize its danger close and move away. Because I will not forgive myself if one of you gets pulled into the tornado and ripped apart, or thrown hard into the ground.” “I know what Dodge is,” said a smiling Elesia. At least someone does, thought Nora. Sometimes the alien was her anchor to reality. Recorder knew what many of the expressions Nora used meant. Of course, Elesia often came up with expressions that went right over Nora’s head, reminding the Dragonborn that her friend came from an advanced culture quite different from the Commonwealth. As technologically advanced as anything the Institute or Fusion City had, probably much more so. They should be bringing me back to the Commonwealth very soon, she thought. If time passed at the same rate, something she didn’t know. “One last spell and we’ll call it a day,” said Nora, bringing up the words to the Cyclonic Rift. Her people cheered around her as she pointed her finger at the sky. A small rift appeared, like a miniature black hole, widening until it was several meters wide. Air was suck in, pulling snow up from the ground in a swirling mass. Nora cast the spell again, opening another rift. Snow was ejected from the second, to end up back at the first. “That should really do a job on a dragon,” said Elesia. “Hopefully.” “So, what are we going to do with the afternoon?” asked Jordis, shivering. “I’m thinking I can check out teleporting the group. How does Solitude sound?” “Home,” squealed Jordis, a happy grin on her face. Everyone was smiling, even those who didn’t call the capital of Solitude home. It was, after all, the largest city in Skyrim. Over a hundred thousand people, the majority Nords, but a sampling of every race on Tamriel. Shops, restaurants, theaters, it had them all. Nora was fascinated with the place, and though she would always call Whiterun home, the larger city was a wonderful place to visit. Nora cast teleport and the party appeared just outside the inn. “Go gather your good clothes. We have to be presentable for the Jarl’s table.” Everyone ran into the inn, going to their rooms and getting a couple of sets of clothes for the stay. The women were like those of Earth in this respect, all liked clothes, and they could never have enough clothing or shoes. Most on Tamriel couldn’t afford much, or didn’t have the room to store them. Nora made sure that her people could buy what they wanted, within limits, and the castle had plenty of room. They didn’t have all of their clothes with them, of course, but everyone had at least one good set of casual clothes, one of business, and one of the more ornate formal clothing. The mages among them also had two set of robes, one workaday, one the fancier version for formal occasions where they wanted to be identified as a magic user. Eldawyn and J’Zargo had the robes of Expert of Destruction. Sofia had the robes of an Adept, with the colors of an Alteration Mage, though she was really a jack of all schools. The Spellsword had improved much since joining Nora, and the Dragonborn was thinking of asking the College to test her for Expert’s Status. Not that it would really affect her abilities, but it could be a source of pride for the young woman who had been asked to leave the College years before. Nora hadn’t obtained her Master robes yet, and wasn’t sure what color she wanted. Faralda had suggested a robe with a multitude of colors to denote her special status. Nora was considering it, but wasn’t sure how she wanted the clothing patterned. Perhaps Endarie could design something for her if Nora told her what she wanted. “I think we’re all ready,” said Jordis, the grin still pasted to her face. “Do we want to bring the horses.” “Not for my first teleport with a group,” said Nora, shaking her head. “Once I know I can teleport your fat asses we’ll try to bring the hay burners along.” “Fat asses,” exclaimed Lydia as the others cried out in dismay. “You’ll pay for that, Thane.” She said it with a smile, so Nora was not worried in the least. “Everyone grab a hand, and make sure that you have a contact through someone to me.” “Why?” asked Jordis. “We don’t have to do that with the shorter-range spells.” “New spell, unknown effects,” said Nora, wishing her people would just trust her in this. “So everyone grab on and we’ll be on our way.” Taking a last look to make sure everyone was either touching her or had a hand on someone who did, she visualized the courtyard of the Blue Palace, then thought of teleporting there with all of her people. Saying the triggering words she felt the world fade for a moment before she popped into existence in the courtyard. A moment of panic overcame her as she realized that none of her people had come with her. “Where are they?” she shouted, a sense of dread coming over her. “Thane Nora. Where are who?” “I thought I was teleporting my people with me. So where did they go?” She had images of her followers falling from the sky on the way to splatter on the ground. Or materializing on a Plane of Oblivion. “Nora,” called out Elisif, looking out of a palace window. “What’s wrong?” “I’ll be right back, Elisif,” said Nora, who visualized the street in front of the Hearthfire inn and said the words. She wasn’t sure what she would find, but she needed to start from the place where she had started her trip. “My Thane,” said Lydia as Nora popped into existence. “What happened?” “Is everyone okay,” she asked, concerned that nothing bad had happened to her people. “We’re fine, Nora,” said Eldawyn, coming up and putting hand of the Dragonborn’s shoulder. “We were worried about you.” “Well obviously, the spell didn’t work like I thought. I thought it would teleport all of us, but it only takes me. Useless.” “Not really,” said Elesia, looking into Nora’s eyes. “It might not take all of us, but if you yourself need to be someplace in a hurry it will take you. And wasn’t there another teleport spell you learned from Tolfdir? I think you called it Milestones.” “Of course,” said Nora. “That may be the ticket. But I’m still disappointed in Omnipresence.” “Well, getting to Master of Alteration, of all the schools gained you so many wonderful spells,” said Eldawyn. “That they did,” said Nora, nodding toward her Altmer friend. “And perhaps I will figure the spell out given time. So, let me set the Milestones and then we can move. First, where to put one in Winterhold.” “How about the Midden,” said Elesia, holding up fingers and ticking them off. “First, it’s out of the way. Second, I know a way to get the horses there. You teleport them short range. Third, it gets all of us close to the college.” “Okay. Let’s do it.” Of course Tolfdir gave her permission to use the chamber of the Midden she required. Nora was sure the Archmage would do anything she asked, and she had to remind herself to not abuse his trust. Nora cast the Milestone spell in the center of the chamber and a standing stone appeared with swirling green energy manifested around it. It was of no use at the moment, since there was no point to connect to. “Be right back,” said Nora, casting Omnipresence and appearing in the stables of Castle Valkyrja. The guards had grown used to Nora appearing out of nowhere, and she actually had to wave get their attention, letting the captain watch as she established a Milestone. “Don’t let the children get anywhere near this thing. If they go through they could end up in all kinds of trouble.” “Where does it go?” asked the captain, staring wide eyed at the standing stone and its swirling energy. “Just to a chamber in the catacombs under the College of Winterhold. And to my house in Solitude. Neither particularly dangerous, though if they wander the catacombs they might get into trouble.” “We’ll keep them away, my Lady. But you know children. If there is a way they can get past us, they will find it.” “I understand. Just do your best.” And then she was gone, to appear in the basement of Proudspire manor. She said the spell and established the Milestone. It was a small network, and she wasn’t sure where she would place the last two. She was thinking Markarth and Riften, which would give her access to the four corners of Skyrim. The house in Markarth was way too small for the horses, and she wasn’t sure about where she could put one in Riften. She dismissed those thoughts. Placement could wait on the last two portals. Right now she needed to get back to her people and get them through to Solitude. “I’ve got them established,” she told her people when she reappeared in Winterhold. “Are the horses ready?” “Yes, ma’am,” said an excited Jordis. “They’ve been ready.” The horses were loaded and ready, standing placidly as they awaited the wishes of their masters. Nora teleported them to the Midden and they became anxious of the new surroundings. She quickly took them and her people through the portal to Solitude, where they unloaded their personal effects in the house, then teleported all of them to the stables. They gave the beasts into the care of the stable hands, then teleported to the courtyard of the Palace. “Home,” whispered Jordis as they appeared. “And I’m worn out.” “Then come in and rest,” said Elisif, walking out of the palace, a couple of guards standing close. “Jarl Elisif,” said Jordis in a rush. “So good to see you again.” “Welcome home, dear,” said Elisif, enfolding the sword maiden in a hug. “Now, everyone come in and rest. We will have food in an hour, and the maids have prepared your rooms. My home is yours.” “We were so lucky to have met you,” said Nora to Elisif as they walked up the stairs. “Though I didn’t think so when the guards demanded I come before you.” “And thank you for not killing all my guards that day,” said Elisif with a laugh. “I’ve known most of them for years, you know.” They spent the rest of the afternoon with light conversation. Elisif was fascinated with Nora’s world, and asked if there was any more video of it. Nora smiled at that question, knowing she had twenty hours or so on the small holo projector. She spent an hour showing more scenes, both the horrible and the hopeful, finishing off with ten minutes of pre-war world. “And that was your husband in the suit of moving armor?” asked the Jarl. “Handsome man.” “Yes,” said Nora in a whisper. “He was.” Her voice rose back to a normal level. “Until the damned Institute murdered him.” “I am so sorry, Nora,” said the Jarl, putting an arm around Nora’s shoulder and giving her a squeeze. “Such a horrible thing to have in common.” “I heard you had trouble with the long-range teleportation spell you got from the Psijics,” said a yawning Sybille, walking into the room. Nora thought the vampire mage was looking worse for wear, as if she hadn’t fed in too long. It seemed that the court mage had told the truth about not preying on the citizenry, but only on the prisoners that would be condemned to death anyway. “I was so pissed,” growled Nora, shaking her head. “I worked so hard to get that spell and it only teleports me.” “You worked hard for Master’s Status,” said Sybille, looking into Nora’s eyes. “You reap many benefits from becoming a Master, above and beyond the spells.” Nora had to agree with that. Getting to that status in each of the schools had boosted her abilities. Illusion had made her a better commander, more inspiring to her people, more terrible to her enemies. Alteration had boosted her store of Magicka, while Restoration had increased her healing aura, aiding her people during combat. While Destruction had become even more deadly. “We found a way around it,” said Nora, smiling. “An Alteration spell that lets all of my people go from waypoint to waypoint. The only problem is I can only establish five of them. So far one here, one in Winterhold and one in my castle.” “And you complain that you only have five,” said Sybille with a smile. “Most of the people of Skyrim would give an arm to have those waypoints.” Yes, thought Nora, considering what the other mage was saying. Sometime in the future she might have to move the waypoints to the center of some of the major cities and open them to the public. It would revolutionize long range travel in Skyrim. “Perhaps you will improve upon Omnipresence with practice as well. So, what next?” “I plan to go to Morthal tomorrow and talk with Master Falion. I want to see about making some changes to the way mages gather souls.” “Disgusting business,” said Elisif, a frown on her face. “It’s terrible to rip a soul from a body. Does that affect what remains to go to Sovngarde.” “Elisif. Once the energy from a soul is used in an enchantment the remainder goes to a plain of Oblivion known as the Soul Cairn. To languish forever in misery.” “That’s awful. Do the mages know that?” “Many do not. Necromancers don’t really care. As do some of the mages we think of as good. But they want the energy a human soul gives, and the Nord warriors want their enchanted weapons and armor, so it goes on. But I want to see if I can change that.” “Good luck,” said Sybille, shaking her head. “I don’t think many mages will go along with you. And you can’t kill them all.” Nora had no intention of killing them all. Some of them? That might be doable. “And you think Falion will help you?” “From what I heard at the college, Falion left his position as Master of Conjuration over an argument with Aren about soul trapping. And I hear he has developed a technique to disenchant items and free the soul.” “What good does that do?” asked Sybille in an exasperated tone. “The part that matters is still trapped in the Soul Cairn. All you have done is release energy into the air and destroyed a perfectly useful piece of equipment.” “It’s a start,” said Nora, shrugging her shoulders. “Something to build on. And I’ve set some of the student mages at the College to working on coalescing animal souls into enchantments just as powerful as those fueled by men and mer. If we can do that, then mages have no reason to trap the souls of sentient beings.” “You have great ambition, Nora,” said the Jarl, smiling. “If anyone can do it, I think you are she.” Nora thought for a moment on what Elisif said. She had always been a crusader. First with the criminal justice system, then with the injustices of the Commonwealth. So why not do the same here. If she survived Alduin she would need something to keep her busy. A windmill to tilt at. It might take her entire life, but what better did she have to do? After all had taken to their beds a restless Nora walked out on the streets, intending to head to the Winking Skeever and see what was available at that meat market. The streets were quiet, only a few folk about and the ever-present patrols of guards. “Help. Help us,” shouted a man’s voice, followed by a scream. Nora ran toward the sound, her instincts leading her to the trouble. Hesitation was not in her nature. She came around the corner and into an alley, to see a pair of guards fighting a man in unusual armor. Another guard lay unmoving on the ground, and every blow sent at the man by the guards was avoided with blurring speed. A clawed hand shot out to grab one guard by the throat. With a spray of blood the guard lost his throat, to fall to the ground and leave his companion the only foe standing in the unequal fight. The Dragonborn sped in at full speed, leading with her sword. The vampire spun, bringing an arm around to block the blade. The strength of her augmented body pushed the blade through the block, thrusting the sword into the vampire’s body. The creature hissed in pain and anger, swinging a claw at Nora’s face. “Fus Ro Dah,” came out of Nora’s mouth, flinging the vampire back before it could connect. She was on it in an instant, while it was still struggling to its feet. Dawnbreaker took off its head, and the body crumbled into ashes, showing the age of the blood sucker. “I thought it had me, Dragonborn. Thank you.” “I’m sorry I didn’t get here sooner,” she said by way of apology. She felt good at taking out the undead beast, and horrible because people died before she could get there. “I’m just lucky you got here at all. Damned vampires. We get more of them every day.” That was a problem. There had been vampire attacks when Nora first got to this world. But they had been increasing in frequency as the masters turned more of their victims into their kind. If the bodies were found they were sanctified before they could rise. But if hidden, or brought back to a lair, they inevitably rose to swell the ranks of the undead. It was a plague, their numbers increasing with geometric progression. And little one person could do about it. I’ve got to try, thought Nora. One more thing to add to her list. She could only do so much, but her inclination was to attack every problem, every injustice, that entered her sphere. The Winking Skeever was crowded this night. It was a safe place, a location to celebrate without having to worry about vampires. The drink flowed freely, and Lysette was giving rousing renditions of Skyrim’s favorite tunes. The Breton bard was a beauty, and though Nora was tempted she had not come here for a woman. No, she had her appetites set on a man, and with that in mind she started to check out the possibilities. “Can I buy you a drink?” she asked the good-looking Breton man in the robes of a mage. “Shouldn’t I be asking you that?” said the man in a cultured tone. “Well, either way, I want to get some drinks into the both of us so we can get onto the next act.” The man cast a quick spell and whistled. “You have a lot of power. A Master?” “Well, yes, but that’s not important tonight. “Which school?” “I don’t want to brag.” “Go ahead. You have an interested audience, so brag away. I myself am a Master of Alteration, though I have some little skill in Illusion as well.” Nora thought the man had the most beautiful green eyes she had ever seen. She didn’t want to scare him off before she got him inside her, but he did ask. “Well, first it was Illusion and Restoration.” “First?” “And then I took Master in Alteration and Destruction.” The man whistled, his eyes wide, and Nora hoped that she hadn’t scared him off. “I would almost call you a liar, but with the power I read in you it might be my last mistake.” “I don’t kill people for insulting me,” said Nora with a laugh. “At least not often. Now, about that drink.” “I’m Albrect Monfort by the way,” said the mage, holding out a hand and giving Nora’s a firm shake. “Nora Jane Adams.” “The Thane? The Dragonborn?” “Well, yes. But tonight I’m just a woman looking for a warm body to lie beside.” Nora drank enough for her head to be buzzing, then followed the man up to his room. She wanted to get fucked. He wanted to get fucked. So it was a match made in heaven, at least for the night. She screamed out several orgasms as he pushed and pulled a nice cock in and out of her pussy, until he came deep inside her. “Whew,” he said, holding her in strong arms as their sweat slicked bodies pressed together. “That was quite the interlude.” “You have a nice cock,” she said, reaching down and stroking him, hoping to get another go. “And you definitely know how to use it.” “You mean compared to these Nords?” Nora had found that some Nords knew how to fuck well. Many were just louts, who only thought of their own pleasure, shooting a load into the next available pussy as fast as possible. “Not all of them are that bad, and I’ve learned to avoid that type.” “Well, in High Rock we believe that sex should be good for both partners. Our women are well known for their abilities, though you would definitely give them a run for their money.” “So how about we have another run? You seem to be ready.” When Nora crawled out of bed the next morning, leaving Albrect sleeping deeply, she dressed quietly and snuck from the room. The Breton Bard, Lisette, was sneaking out of another room. “Thane Nora,” said the beautiful Breton, all blond hair and golden eyes in a soft face. “Did you have a good time with my countryman.” “Very,” said Nora, stifling a laugh. “Not the best I’ve ever had, but most definitely not the worst.” “Wish I could say the same,” said the bard, frowning. “Mine was a matter of business. Of patronage, and my pleasure was secondary.” That’s right. What Mikael told me about the patronage system, and their sexual training. “You don’t approve?” “Dear, I have made my living on my back before. No longer, but I don’t look down on anyone who does what they have to.” “Thank you,” said Lisette with a soft smile. “I shouldn’t have to do this anymore, but the Bard’s College needs the coin, and I feel a responsibility to help them. After all, they introduced me to a life of good drink, good song and good friends. All I’ve ever asked for.” “And what do you feel about women?” Nora recalled when she had first met this bard Lisette had told her that she was not into women. She had wondered at the time if that was just to put her off, and so it seemed. “Oh, I love women. So soft and tender, though it’s hard to beat a man at times.” “My thoughts exactly. So perhaps we can get together some night.” “I would love that, Thane Nora.” “Just Nora.” Nora smiled as she walked out of the Winking Skeever into the light of day. What vampires there were would be in hiding in their crypts beneath the earth. “We were worried about you,” said Eldawyn as Nora went up to the breakfast room where her people were having their morning meal. “I ran into a vampire last night,” said Nora, taking a seat and smiling at the server who put a large plate of eggs, bacon and potatoes in front of her. “He killed two guards, but I took him out before he could kill the last. If only I had been there sooner.” “And if you hadn’t been there at all, my Thane, all three would be dead,” said Lydia, patting Nora on the shoulder. “And most probably all three would be rising as vampires in the near future.” “And after you dispatched of the vampire?” asked Eldawyn, smirking. “Don’t tell me that took all night.” “No, my nosey friend. I found a delightful Breton mage in the Winking Skeever to help to drive away the nightmares. Not the best I’ve ever had, but most satisfactory.” “Perhaps I should look him up,” said Eldawyn with a smile. “Unless you’re claiming him as exclusive property.” “Not at all. Now, I’m off to Morthal to speak with Master Falion. The rest of you can spend the day as you like. Solitude beckons.” “My Lady. If you have the time could you stop by the alchemy shop in Morthal?” asked Lydia. “I would like to brew some more powerful magicka and health potions.” “Of course,” said Nora, waving off Lydia as the Housecarl reached into her belt pouch for some coin. “What you do is for the party, Lydia. So I will pay.” And when they were back at Whiterun for some time she would pay for Lydia to receive more training from Arcadia, the Master Alchemist who owned a shop there. It was good to have an alchemist in the party, and that it was also a formidable warrior like Lydia was a plus. Lydia handed Nora a piece of paper with some ingredients jotted down. Common enough in Morthal, though rare in most of the rest of Skyrim. “See you all this evening,’ said Nora, casting Omnipresence and appearing at the gate to Morthal. The guards recoiled as she appeared, then noted who she was and ignored her. They might still be suspicious of magic, but they weren’t about to question a Thane of the Hold. “Sorry,” she said, then hurried into the city, straight for Falion’s house. She knocked on the locked door, waiting for an answer, which came in the voice of a child. “My father is out on business,” said Agni, Falion’s adopted daughter. “I’m not allowed to open the door while he’s away.” That sounded sensible to Nora, especially with a monster haunted marsh just outside of town. “Do you know where he is?” “Nope.” Nora turned away from the door and headed a couple of houses down on the boardwalk. If anyone knew Falion’s schedule it would be one of the other Redguards in town. His sister, or the smith, and the craftsman was closer. “Any idea where Falion is?” she asked Al’Hassan, the smith. She found the Redguard fascinating with their ice blue eyes in brown faces. Al’Hassan was a handsome man, as was Falion. Perhaps she could spend the afternoon with one or the other after she was through with business. “He often spends time over at the Thaumaturgist's Hut. I’m not sure if he had a fascination with alchemy or with the alchemist. Good luck with that, right. Most of you Nords wouldn’t give one of us the time of day.” Nora had found that there were many Nords who weren’t prejudiced against outsiders. Of course, there were also many who were. She thought it a real shame since all of the various peoples of Tamriel fascinated her. “We might have to talk later,” she told the smith, touching his forearm while giving him a wide smile. Nora found Falion in the Thaumaturgist’s Hut, talking with the Alchemist, Lami. He was obviously trying to get her to go upstairs with him but she was turning him down. “Master Falion. Could I speak with you?” “Of course, Master Adams,” said the Redguard, frowning at Lami, then walking toward the Dragonborn. “Lami. I have a list of ingredients Lydia gave me. Could you fill it for me while I’m away?” The two mages made their way to the upstairs of the misnamed Hut, which was really a two-story house of decent proportions. There were several beds upstairs in a couple of rooms, and Nora wondered about the arrangements here. “Well, what did you want to talk about?” asked Falion, taking a seat at the small table in the room. Nora looked into the blue eyes of the handsome mage, licking her lips and wondering why she had been so damned horny lately. Because I’m always horny, thanks to that damned serum made from Lorenzo’s Oil. It was a two-edged sword. She loved sex, and anything that motivated her to have more was welcome, mostly. Sometimes it could be much too distracting, like now, when she had important business on her mind. She cleared her throat and got to the point. “I heard from Phinis Gestor that you left your position at the College due to an argument with Aren over soul trapping.” “Barbarous practice,” growled Falion, shaking his head. “What we do to the essence of intelligent creatures is horrible, and we should be ashamed of ourselves for doing so.” “What about animals?” “I really don’t like taking their souls either, but we do need the energy. But the souls of men and mer? You know what happens to them when we use their souls to enchant objects.” “They go to the Soul Cairn,” said Nora, nodding her head. “A terrible place where they languish for eternity. A veritable hell.” “Most don’t have any idea,” said Falion, clearly impressed. “While I might agree that some souls belong there. those of murderers and necromancers, most are just the essence of innocent people taken by those who really don’t care anything more about them than the energy they provide. Can you imagine. You live a good life, treating people well, obeying the laws of your community, harming none. And some mage comes along and casts a spell on you, then kills you, ripping your soul from your body and trapping it in a gem. After some time they use the gem to enchant a weapon, armor or piece of jewelry, and the part of the energy that is you ends up in an awful place. Your good life doesn’t matter. You are trapped in a hell.” “It is awful,” said Nora. “Unjust. And something I want to stop.” “Good luck with that,” scoffed Falion, shaking his head again. “A nice thought though.” “What if we found a way to condense animal souls into a grand gem, giving mages an energy source as powerful as a black soul? Wouldn’t that satisfy most enchanters.” “I think it would,” said Falion, smiling. “And something I have been working on for several years, ever since I left the College. I think I’m on the verge of a breakthrough.” “And the spell to pull the soul energy from enchanted objects?” “You heard of that from Gestor as well? He laughed at the idea, and he had some reason, since it really does the essence of the person trapped in the Soul Cairn no good. They’re still trapped.” “Still,” said Nora, thinking over what the man had said. “It’s a step in the right direction. I balked at studying conjuration, but if you are doing such work, I would like you to train me in the discipline.” “I can do that,” said the Redguard, laughing. “And I have no doubt that you can gain Master’s status in record time. After all, you did it with the other four schools.” “I’m not that advanced in Enchanting, though Eldawyn keeps pushing me to advance.” “And how is the Altmer? She came through being freed from a possession in good shape?” Nora nodded, thinking of what she had done for her friend. Similar to what she wanted to do for all the people trapped in the Soul Cairn. “I can train you some in Enchanting as well. If you don’t mind being in close proximity to a despised Redguard.” “I am not a Nord, Master Falion,” said Nora, reaching over and running a hand down his forearm. “In fact, I find your people beautiful. Unlike any of the races of my planet.” “You don’t have dark skinned people on your Earth?” “Oh, no. We have many races. Some with black skin, some with brown, even some with red or yellow tints that you don’t have here. But none with the combination of blue eyes and brown skin that your people have.” “And are you coming on to me? Or am I imagining it?” “You are not imagining it. If it’s okay with Lami, I would have you right here. Right now.” “You know, sometimes Lami sleeps with me in her room,” said Falion in a distant tone. “Not often since she really doesn’t have that strong a sex drive. And it’s just sex.” “That’s all it would be between us as well, Falion. I have a sex drive that would drive most women mad, and I like variety. But if you are willing to put up with that I can give you more sex. At least while we are working together. No use playing that there is no attraction there when it would be a lie.” Nora stood up and unbelted her sword, then undid the ties to her robe, letting it fall to the floor, leaving her in bra, panties, and boots. Falion sucked in a breath as his eyes took her in. Then he was on his feet undoing his own robe, while Nora undid the stay on the bra, then slid her panties down and off. “You are very beautiful,” said Falion, his cock already standing at attention. It was a respectable member, probably nine inches long and thicker than average. “So are you.” said Nora, coming close, pressing a kiss into his lips as she reached down and stroked his cock. It actually thickened under her touch, and Nora felt herself growing wet in anticipation. Falion picked her up, grunting in surprise. “You’re heavier than you look.” Nora laughed. “I’ll explain later. Right now I want you to pleasure me, and me to pleasure you.” Falion nodded and laid her gently on her back on the bed, then knelt down, pushing her knees apart and lowering his face into her groin. An agile tongue danced over her labia, taking minutes to bring her to the edge of an orgasm, avoiding her clit for the moment. After he had taken her to the edge several times he flicked his tongue over her bud, pushing her past the point of no return. Nora gasped out, her thighs quivering, the taunt muscles clenching, unclenching as the pleasure rose through her body. “You cum fast,” said Falion, looking up at her with Nora’s juices on his face. “Hopefully, you don’t.” Falion laughed as he worked his way up her body, stopping for a moment to pay attention to her naval, then working on a hard nipple. Nora gasped again, shivers of pleasure running through her. He kissed her, and she tasted her juices on his lips. Reaching down she grasped his cock and maneuvered the tip to her entrance. “Take it slow, at first. Once you are completely in me do what you want.” “Sounds like a plan,” said Falion, pushing his cock into her folds an inch at a time. “You are so tight. But also very wet. Perfect.” Nora continued to gasp as the mage fed her his cock slowly, until he was all the way in, his groin meshed with hers. There was a slight discomfort as the head lodged into her womb, past her cervix. She knew she would grow used to it, and the slight pain would be a distant memory as he worked his cock in and out. “Now fuck the hell out of me,” she hissed, her deep blue eyes looking into his intense blue orbs. Falion complied, thrusting in and out slowly at first, letting her adjust, then speeding up. Every time his groin slammed into hers she cried out, while he grunted in return. His lips came down on hers, their breathes shared while they fucked. “You feel so damned good,” he hissed, sweat falling from his face onto her breasts. “I’ve never felt a pussy like yours.” “Your cock feels great inside me,” said Nora. She wasn’t going to lie and say she had never felt a cock like his. It felt really good, and she wasn’t about to rate it in the middle of sex. Better to just enjoy it for what it was, and it was a fine cock, stretching her out perfectly, hitting all the right places. Nora rode a pair of orgasms, her vaginal muscles clenching around his cock both times. She was surprised he was holding out this long, especially if he was as sex starved as he said. “I don’t think I can hold on much longer,” he said, as if reading her mind. “Cum in me, lover. Let yourself go.” Nora felt the cock swell up inside her, growing larger. The head was in her womb when she felt the first spurt, followed by eight more, filling her cunt with creamy semen. Falion didn’t stop, continuing to thrust, his cock softening slightly for a moment before firming up again. “That’s quite a talent you have there,” said Nora, smiling up at the man who was continuing to work in and out of her pussy. She could feel the semen flowing out of her with each upstroke, and wondered how much had been in his balls before they had started. It was obvious he had been without for too long, and she was happy to have provided him with release. Nora rode three more orgasms before Falion came again, once more flooding her pussy with his copious seed. He tried to pull out after his second cum, but Nora’s strong arms held him in place. “Stay in me for a moment. I love to feel my lover’s cock soften, then fall out on its own.” “As you wish,” he whispered, trying to get his breathing under control. Later they lay beside each other, sweat slicked bodies touching, their hands roaming over their lover’s skin. “That was amazing,” said Falion, kissing her forehead. “How did you get so much control of your body.” Nora spent the next hour telling the man about her world, about the Supersoldier serum that had changed her body and mind. He listened, an amazed expression on his face. “I think I might be falling in love,” he finally said. Nora placed a finger on his lips to shush him. “None of that talk, lover. I can’t settle for one man, no matter how good he is. It’s sex, plain and simple. If you can accept that we can keep on doing this while you are training me. If not, then we will stop.” “I’ll have you on your terms,” he said, taking her again in his arms. “In fact, if it’s okay with you, I will have you again right now.”
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