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New Dear Hearts and Gentle People (M)

Kreed · 67 · 3745

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Offline Jabbathejack

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The apology died on Joe's lips as Lucy threw out the rebuke, preempting his response perfectly. Instead, he nodded silently, falling into step behind them.

It felt strange not to be carrying anything, especially when someone else was shouldering the burden. Did they think he was trying to steal it or something?

"I'll keep up."

He wasn't used to going barefoot, that was true, but he felt that he was quite tough, when he needed to be.

If Joe was surprised at the decision to attack the Super Duper Mart, then he did not show it, but he was, however, a little apprehensive about being unarmed on their approach.

"Lucy... I..." He felt a little awkward at speaking out, especially after being told off for carrying the pack when it was not his. He stuttered and faltered, shaking his head. After a second, he tried again, tensing up as if he expected another rebuke.

"I would be more used to you if I were armed."


Offline Kreed

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"I figure you won't have much trouble, given your height to mine." Even with bare feet, was Fulbeck at least another quarter of Akuma's height, and that meant much longer legs. If anything, it would be the smaller of them that struggled to keep up.

Going down the hill was fast work; gravity did the vast majority for them. Small rocks, made by the crumbling asphalt of the road, sifted and rolled underneath their feet and made soft whispers that echoed down the street and through the shells of the houses that still stood. It was on the final stretch of hill where Akuma stopped and scanned the landscape below. All was quiet, except for a lone eyebot - a remnant of the Enclave - playing uninterrupted white noise that rippled out like ocean ways through the ghost town.

Akuma turned to Joe when he spoke before quickly looking away, hands on their hips. True. They'd forgotten entirely in their haste to escape, hadn't they? "Right." The stranger sighed and gave a cursory patdown of their pockets before turning back to their new companion. "What you like to use? I probably have something or another that could work for you, but I want to play up your strengths if I can."

They didn't wait long for an answer, as though they suddenly remembered they were meant to be on the move. Immediately after they stopped talking they were back down the hill again - although, it was at a more measured pace. Moving slow was better than not at all. "Also I seem to recall some vertibird wreckage not too far northeast of here. There's a school too. If you figure we ought to rummage through see if we can find you somethin I'd oblige. But it's your call. Create distance between us n' the city while we can, or make sure you don't lose toes in the process while sacrificing a head start."


Offline Jabbathejack

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To his relief, the expected rebuke did not come.
"I'm alright with most types. Handguns, assault rifles. I'm an okay shot with a sniper rifle as well, whatever works for the situation, but ideally I prefer the hunting rifle."

There was no point in overselling his abilities; the moment they were in a combat situation, then he'd be proven right or wrong and then would be forced to face the consequences. He figured the training he'd received was half decent, although he knew he wasn't steady enough to be really good with a sniper rifle.

Joe shook his head grimly.
"I've never been over to the vertibird, so no idea what's over that way, but I reckon there might be less trouble than at the Super Duper Mart. Although more of a gamble of what we might find."

It's your call.

Joe paused, wondering which answer to give. There was the seemingly easier option, but then less chance of finding exactly what they needed.

"If we catch the raiders by surprise, we might be able to gain the advantage. We at least know there will be some supplies there, else there'd be no point in the raiders staying there."


Offline Kreed

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Well, it sounded like this Fulbeck fellow was pretty versatile when it came to combat. Of course, to survive out here for any length of time you had to be able to use more than one weapon - or otherwise be really, really good. And all that was assuming you didn't run out of ammunition first.

"Glad you like rifles because unless you want to punch your way through shit, that's all I've got to give you." Rosette was non-negotiable. The custom .44 stayed happily nestled to their chest in its leather hostler like a nursing baby. There was also a knife in their boot but that was for close quarters. They had a spare for emergencies, but it wouldn't do much good in a fight til it was already drawn and - frankly - that was a bit of a process.

They shifted and removed their hunting rifle from their shoulder and offered it to their new companion. "Now, I do a bit of tweaking on my guns so you may notice that this ain't your standard stock. It's got a heavy frame receiver to give it more punch, and I compensated a bit of the weight gain by lightening the barrel. Gives it better hip-fire accuracy too. Want to get a night vision scope but I'd have to find some fiber optics...so let me know if you see any microscopes."

It was probably the most they'd said in the past hour, but they couldn't have Joe throwing around a modified weapon without knowing what it was doing. Besides, with their eyesight the way it was, they were a shit shot in the dark with a standard scope. Best to have the guy with the ranged weapon completely prepared. Odds were, he'd be firing the first shot; those raiders would be idiots not to have at least one sentry on the roof, even at night.


Offline Jabbathejack

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Joe took the offered rifle, examining it with a light frown of concentration as he listened to the list of modifications. He held the rifle up, testing the sight as he focused on a point in the distance, zeroing in on a piece of scrub.

It was not how he would have had it; he quite liked the extra weight, but found the changes on the barrel would take a bit of getting used to. As for the accuracy, well, he would only know how it felt when he had the chance to use it.

Joe gave a single nod and murmured a soft thank you. The moment that he managed to find a decent replacement then he would return the weapon to its owner. The earlier rebuke had taught him that Lucy was very particular about what was theirs and what was not; he could not afford to upset his new travelling companion.

"Ready when you are."


Offline Kreed

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"I'm ready."  They had been for quite some time now, but they weren't gonna be too snarky about it. It seemed Joe was cowed enough that even a neutral comment could risk sending him spiralling into some sort of contemplation of his worth, which was all fine and dandy given the state of the post-war wasteland they were in, but it wouldn't serve them here and now to have someone allow themselves to get caught up in crippling emotional turmoil over something that wasn't even their damn fault.

Akuma lifted their pip-boy, its dim amber light casting a honeyed glow on their respirator and catching the white in their loose strands of hair like mercury. "Looks like we got about two miles east northeast, then once we hit that place up, we can head back down southeast toward Rivet City. That's about another...eight and a half...nineish miles. Not too bad. We could make it in one night if we had to - I'm thinking five, six hours." They straightened up and removed their sunglasses; no use using them now, and even if Joe was looking for discernible features, he wouldn't have any confirmation in a dusty new moon dark like this. "Let's go back round the ridge and head on up, take what's left of 26th street. I don't like sticking to main roads much myself but there's something to be said for it."

And with a second pair of eyes to watch their back, couldn't be too bad. Even if they were attached to a nervous wreck of a man. Odds were, Joe flourished when it came to combat. Wasn't nearly as complicated as conversation after all.


Offline Jabbathejack

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Joe frowned as he noticed the pip-boy; he hadn't seen one of those for a long time, not working anyway. They weren't from a vault, were they? Yet now was not the time to ask questions and instead, he fell into step behind Lucy.

It did not take them long to cross the ridge, pausing to see a view of the Super Duper Mart down the slope below them. Joe crouched low to the ground, watching for anyone on the look out. Sure enough, he could see the shadowy form of sentries.

He glanced at Lucy.
"How do you want to play this?"

All he'd seen of their tactics so far was the confusion of Beckett's room in the dark, with a yao guai doing part of the job.



Offline Kreed

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"How many do you see?" Akuma asked. Before they even finished their question, they turned and motioned for the yao guai to back up. With every few feet she shuffled backward, she'd turn her head and look to their companion for confirmation. After she had reached past the peak of the slope and back toward the other side, Akuma signalled for her to hold, then to lie flat. She did as she was told, and disappeared into the tall, dry grass. From the dark side of the hill, she'd be invisible even to snipers on the roof. It was just as well, for even on a night as dark as this, the moments the gunfire rang out, all eyes would be on the hillside, and a big white sow was a big neon sign in the brown-and-drab background of the wasteland.

"I think we should pick off the sentries on the roof, then see who runs out when they hear the gunshots. Of course, the guys inside will have the advantage...if we go in the doors." Akuma snorted as if to suggest that - obviously - doors would not be used this fine evening. "Go up what's left of the fire escape after we pick off anybody outside or anyone inside who come out. Then, drop in from the roof. Work our way down. How's that sound?"


Offline Jabbathejack

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Joe frowned, peering into the scope of the rifle he'd been leant.
"I'd say one... maybe two on the roof."

He paused, scanning the area around the building. Sure enough, he saw a flash of movement.

"There's more patrolling outside. Two for sure. Who knows how many inside."

Joe nodded at Lucy, holding the rifle ready.
"Sounds about right." He jerked his head down the slope. "Looks like there's decent cover there. I'll pick some off."

He waited for confirmation before he moved; this was still Lucy's plan, along with Lucy's borrowed rifle.


Offline Kreed

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"Good eye."

Joe's tone of voice had changed. Akuma's suspicions were confirmed; the man was far more confident when it came to combat. Of course, he probably had far more practice there. No doubt, Beckett used the man like a meatshield. Although, maybe not. Akuma gave the former slave a quick once over. He seemed to sport the general wear-and-tear given with wandering the Wasteland; it was hardly extensive. It would do no good to ask about Beckett himself, but when they had the chance to settle down for the night, it might be useful to figure out what sort of trauma Joe was burdening.

There was a moment of contemplation before Akuma spoke again; the way he saw it, it was best to consider their first move more carefully than any other. After all, there would be little time to stop and think once the first domino toppled. The others would swiftly fall in turn, whether they went in the right direction or not.

"Shoot the one on the roof furthest from us first, then the second sentry." They paused and tapped on their pistol in thought before adding. "The ones on the ground will take a moment to figure out that their lookouts have been hit, but then they'll probably scatter." From up here, it wasn't likely that they'd lose a visual on the raiders. The raiders would have to be a bunch of idiots to split up and go hunting in the grass for somebody who had just neatly picked off both of the gunmen on the roof. Then again, Akuma had been impressed by stupidity before. Who was to say?

"Actually..." Maybe they still had a few frag grenades. They'd have to get pretty close to get into throwing distance, but if Joe stayed on the ridge to take out the lookouts, then it would keep their attention on someone long range. They could sneak right under their noses. A quick examination of the contents of their utility belt revealed that, in fact, they had two frags left. Normally, they were best reserved for the wayward deathclaw or stronger-than-average super mutant brute, but they suspected there would be plenty of time to pick up more without too much worry of being caught empty-handed.

"I'm going to get closer, hit them with an explosive and try to take them out all at once. Wait for me to get down there, and I'll flash my pip-boy in your direction. Once I do that, you're good to shoot."


Offline Jabbathejack

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Joe listened to the instructions silently, nodding to show that he understood. It made sense, taking out those who were visible first from a distance, especially with the distraction of the explosion. Those inside would come running outside and they would be ready for them.

He checked his rifle once more, just to be sure, ensuring that he had plenty of ammunition ready and waiting.

Once he was sure that everything was ready, he turned and headed down the slop, closer to the mart. As he moved, he kept his body low, keeping in the cover as much as possible. When he'd reached a decent position, he waited, keeping an eye out for that telltale flash of the pip boy to signal him.


Offline Kreed

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With confirmation from Joe, Akuma adjusted their hat so it sat further back on their head and widened their field of vision. As small as they were, lowering themselves meant they nearly disappeared in the dark. Akuma waited until the warm wind hissed down the ridge and rustled the grasses before hurrying forward, all but melting into the earth like a shadow. In the murmur of the summer breeze, they were silent. When the wind died down, they slowed to a cautious creep. Joe would wait toward the upwards of five minutes before Akuma settled into place.

Other than the lookouts, no one appeared to be outside of the Super Duper Mart. Akuma could just make out their voices over the wind and other ambient sounds of the night, but they said little and the traveler wasn't interested in hearing what they had to say anyway. The important thing was they were close enough to hear it; their throwing arm wasn't near as good as their trigger finger and they needed to make sure they'd be accurate enough to hold water to the plan they'd cooked up. Settling their rear end into the soil to take pressure off their legs and firmly planting their feet down in case they needed to spring up in a hurry, Akuma made sure they could locate the shape of rails from the fire escape before leaning to the side and flashing their Pip-Boy back up the hill in steady succession before shutting it back off. With luck, Joe had been waiting for the signal and had seen it. While waiting for the rifleman to do his magic, Akuma reached into their shirt pocket and popped a stray orange mentat into their mouth. As they chewed, they grabbed one of their two frag grenades and held it firmly in their left hand, ready to pull the pin and launch when the time was right.


Offline Jabbathejack

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Crouched in the grass, Joe was continually glancing over towards where he expected Lucy to be, paranoid that he might end up missing their signal and end up throwing the entire plan because of his negligence.

He was only waiting for a few minutes, but his anxiety made sure that each one felt stretched beyond all proportion. Eventually, he saw the flash in the darkness and relief washed over him momentarily.

Immediately, his attention snapped back to the building in front of them and took a deep breath, slowing his breathing as he peered through the borrowed scope. It took a moment to quieten his beating heart, then he pulled the trigger, sending a slug squarely in the face of one of the sentries.

The moment that their body dropped, falling quietly off the roof and onto the ground, Joe was moving to focus on the next one, hoping to take them out before the alarm could be raised.

He was just about to take the shot, when the guard moved. Joe's bullet missed the head and rocketed into their shoulder. Joe could hear a loud shout and he knew that the alarm had been raised.


Offline Kreed

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Hitting a raider in the face at that distance - at night, no less - wasn't an easy feat. It seemed as though Fulbeck was, as he'd claimed, pretty good with a long gun.

Or that was the initial thought.

As Akuma watched, the second shot narrowly missed its mark. However, the raider went down with a cry and it wasn't likely he'd be getting back up, at least from where Akuma could see. Yet, despite their theory, the man on the roof stumbled back up, clutching their shoulder which no doubt had been mangled beyond repair by that kind of blast. Without adrenaline and whatever psycho-heavy chem cocktail coursing through their veins, the raider would have been on the ground, screaming in agony at the electrical shock surging through their brachial plexus, which - with a gun like that - was probably a sucking hole where the rats nest of nerves used to be. At the moment, though, he was attempting fruitlessly to gather his wits and kill the damn thing which killed him first, even as his arm failed to respond to a hasty stimpak jab. In the dark, it was impossible to tell whether or not Joe had hit anything vital, but it would have to be an idiotic level of bad luck to miss anything major.

Shoot again Akuma urged silently. End him. Following two gunshots, one scream wasn't much to cause concern, but the continued cries of: "Fuck! My fucking arm! ...I can't move my goddamn arm!" were very likely to cause a distraction at best... but it was unlikely, in the raider's throes of agony and his inability to control his arm that he would pose any further threat. And even when he was alive enough to scream, it mattered little if he couldn't locate the shooter. The plan had been, after all, to draw the raiders inside out.

It seemed they were wiser than many groups of humans were in a panic; they failed to swarm from the main entrance like ants as Akuma had anticipated. Instead, a single raider from inside climbed on to the roof to assess the damage. He lowered his dying friend down toward the floor to try and avoid further gunfire before sneaking over to the side of the roof to look at the corpse of the first man as it had fallen below.

"No", the raider could be heard saying to the second sentry, "no he's definitely dead. His head looks like a fucking banana peel."

Akuma did not catch the response, but the raider that had come to the rescue answered. "Fuck no I'm not going down there to grab him. You stupid? We stay inside and guard the doors. Whatever fucker picked him off wants to get in here, so we're gonna make them come to us. I'm not getting picked off one by one like some goddamn target practice. Come on. Let's get in there."

He stood, supporting his friend who- by the limpness of his torso - was struggling to stay upright. By Akuma's guess, he wouldn't survive much longer. Still, their plan seemed to have been compromised. There would be no grenade throwing...yet. He waited to see if Joe would try to shoot again before silently making his way back up the ridge to rejoin him, making a wide berth around where he suspected the barrel was pointed just in case. It was time for plan B.


Offline Jabbathejack

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Realising that he'd missed, Joe swore under his breath, but he was ready to fire again in a moment, exhaling once more. There was more of a waver to his aim this time, but as the wounded raider moved out of clear view, Joe focused on his friend instead, sending a slug into his chest and toppling them both to land on the roof.

Feeling the adrenaline running through him, Joe reloaded, his eyes remaining fixed on the building ahead of them, watching for any of the raiders to venture out into the open.

Without the element of surprise, they would have a difficult job storming the mart, if the raiders chose to wait rather than charge out with buns blazing.

Lucy's sudden presence nearby caught Joe by surprise and he levelled his rifle at them before he realised who it was. He lifted the barrel immediately, pausing in case they had any instructions for him.