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Bonita Abbott

"You know the rules. Abide by them, or get out."

0 · 749 views · located in Aegis

a character in “Fallout: Red Texas”, as played by Fear of a Female Planet

Description

BIRTH FACTS:
Full Name: Bonita Penelope Santa Maria Flores-Abbott
Gender: Female
Race: Hispanic
Ethnicity: American
Eye Color: Brown
Hair Color: Silver (black in younger years)


Image


PHYSICAL DESCRIPTIONS:
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 140 lbs.
Body Type: Slender aging
Hair Style: Long, straight
Appearance: The elderly woman is in good shape for her age, still able to climb ladders and assist with manual chores if she needs to pitch in. Despite living years out in the sunshine, her skin is still in good condition. She wears long skirts and leather cowboy boots with gold spurs painted on the heels. Her black eyebrows and eyelashes are the only evidence that she's ever had a hair color besides the pure silver-white pigment she possesses now. Her expression is usually neutral, bordering on inquisitive or confident.

THE OTHER THINGS:
Sexuality: Unknown
Age: 63
Scars: Fake hand
Ink/Holes: N/a
Attire: Long tiered brown cotton skirt, cream-colored dolman sweater, turquoise leather vest, gold bracelets on either wrist, various necklaces and talismans, tall brown cowboy boots with gold spurs painted on the heels, the occasional green scarf tied about her head


THE GOOD:
coming soon...

AND THE BAD:
coming soon...


S.P.E.C.I.A.L.:
coming soon...
+# Strength
+# Perception
+# Endurance
+# Charisma
+# Intelligence
+# Agility
+# Luck

SKILLS:
coming soon...
Combat: xxx
Active: xxx
Passive: xxx

PERKS:
coming soon...
List them here.

BONUS SKILLS:
coming soon...
List them here.

EQUIPMENT:
coming soon...
List them here.

WEAPONS & TOYS:
coming soon...
List them here.

OTHER:
Wanna share anything else?
coming soon...


CHILDHOOD:
coming soon...

NOWADAYS:
coming soon...
Founder and Leader of Aegis


Image
Bonita, in her younger years...

So begins...

Bonita Abbott's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brigitte Thibodeaux Character Portrait: Bonita Abbott
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"... and that was the end of our Hank Williams hour. You're listening to AIR... Aegis Inclusive Radio... your destination to come sit by the fire and cry your sweet little heart out, if your sweetheart so decided to leave you in the dust.

"Speaking of dust, our sources report a hell of a nasty storm brewing north of here close to Dallas. You heading through there? Then you'd better take cover as fast as you can. This one's a doozy. By the way, I'd suggest a nice handkerchief over your sweet nose, so you don't blow mud instead of snot when you decide to raise your pretty little head up to check when the coast is clear.

"All right, Prairie Dogs, it's that time... the sun's going down and that means I'd better go get some sleep. You try being on the radio for eight hours and see how you feel. Bonne nuit, and sleep tight through that storm. Here's the last of today's Hank Williams songs, just to let you know I'll miss you so. Night, y'all."

Brigitte slapped a few buttons on the mixing board and stuck the needle on the record, then switched her voice channel off. She pulled her headphones off of her ears and shook her long brown hair behind her. "Phew!" she exclaimed, looking to the man who entered the room. "It's hot in here today."

"It's always hot," Pete said back. "And you know what I've told you about calling everyone 'prairie dogs.'"

Brigitte smiled back sweetly, wiping the sweat off of her brow and opening the wooden shutters to the cooler night air. The stone building was usually nice and cool during the warmest of months, which was a tremendous asset for the hot radio equipment, but today it just didn't work out that way. "But we're on the prairie."

"Prairies have grass," Pete pointed out. The older man pulled a few jazz records and lined up his notes. "See any grass anywhere?"

"I see plenty of grass come through the bar at night," she volleyed back happily, "and it's pretty damn good grass, if you ask me," she added with a wink.

Pete rolled his eyes and finally cracked a smile. "Just don't tell Bonita."

"Don't tell Bonita what?"

The two whirled around to see the founder of Aegis standing in the doorway, her faded white blouse contrasting sharply against her jet-black hair, which had never bothered to gray as she grew older. Her olive skin was still in enviable condition for having lived in the desert her entire life, and her brown eyes smiled in the corners.

"Don't tell Bonita that you've been playing even more Hank Williams," Pete said smoothly, not skipping a beat.

Bonita shook her head and laughed. "As a little girl I used to love hearing his sad old voice," she said fondly, "and now you've played him so much that I'd love to marry him just so I can divorce him and break his brittle heart." Brigitte laughed. "Got a moment, sweetheart?"

Brigitte nodded brightly. "Anything for you," she said, starting out the door with the elderly woman. She high-fived Pete on the way out. "This time tomorrow, Old Man?"

"You got it, Pipsqueak," Pete answered, using the name that he hadn't let go of when he'd first come across her years ago, when he was just in his 20's.

The two descended the staircase and started out toward the courtyard. A few workers were taking steps to cover the blue reflective pool with a circular length of strung rubber, stuck down to make contact with the stone around it to seal out any possibility of sandy contamination.

The two sat on a bench. The sun was starting fast on its downward trajectory into nighttime. "Freya is getting a little tired of the morning routine," Bonita said. "Would you consider bumping your schedule so that you're working the two-to-ten?"

Brigitte shrugged. "I dunno," she answered simply. "I like my shift. But I'd love Pete's shift."

"Pete's been on the horn so long he can do it in his sleep," Bonita said. "In case anything happens at night, he's got all those emergency procedures down pat."

"I know, but so does Freya, and you're not letting me take his spot."

"Why do you want his spot so badly?" Bonita asked.

Brigitte paused. "Because it's not so hot outside and I can play whatever music I want and no one will get mad at me."

Bonita laughed. "Well, at least you're being honest," she said. "All kidding aside, I think you belong on the air. You're very good."

"Thanks!" Her cheeks reddened just slightly.

"And you go into the tavern each night to learn about what everyone's saying. That's pretty great." Brigitte continued to smile and listen. "I think you're due for a trip outside sometime."

Brigitte's face fell and turned white. "I... I... Bonita, I... I can't do that, you know that, I can't go out there," she sputtered quickly, her mood flipping instantly.

Bonita smiled and placed a soothing hand on her arm. "Darling girl, I remember when you were first brought out here 17 years ago," she said quietly. "You were so tough you put me to shame. And look at where you are now."

Brigitte's brown eyes looked woefully at Bonita's own brown eyes. "It's taken a long time to get here. Pete was, what, younger than I am now when I tried to stab him that one time. I never thought he'd forgive me for that. I'm shocked you guys didn't get rid of me."

"Hush," Bonita corrected gently, "you were just a little girl who needed a little help. But you're not a little girl anymore. You need to get out. Go see the desert you talk about every single day. Meet someone and start a family."

Brigitte laughed, the color returning to her face. "Bonita, every night I go into that tavern and I've never met a single person who I can afford to take seriously."

"That's because you're meeting travelers who aren't looking for permanence, dear," Bonita reminded her.

"So, what then, am I going to make off with an Enclave officer or a Knight of the Brotherhood?" Brigitta asked slyly. Bonita stared back quietly. "I'm sorry, but I know you wouldn't like that."

Bonita nodded. "No, I don't like that," she affirmed. "But when you do eventually go Outside, you're going to have to steer clear of those types."

Brigitte nodded. "I will." She looked down at her feet, and looked back at Bonita. "You've never, ever said to me before that I need to go settle down. There are lots of women here who've worked with you for years who haven't settled down. Obviously you never gave them that talk. But... why are you giving me that talk?"

Bonita stood and clasped her hands in front of her. "Because you're the closest thing I have to a daughter, and I think you should be happy." She leaned forward and kissed Brigitte on the top of her head. "You've got a card game calling you, and I've got a dinner with a few visitors. Let's talk in the morning about what you learn tonight."

With that, she turned and walked away, leaving Brigitte stunned in the courtyard. Bonita had a sense of humor most of the time but was always hard-edged. Never before had she gotten this kind of a talk from the old woman who knew more about how to operate a machine gun over how to cook.

She sighed and made her way to the common area, known fondly as the compound's tavern. Curfew was due to settle in soon, and it was always fun to see which new visitors were the most interesting.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brigitte Thibodeaux Character Portrait: Bonita Abbott Character Portrait: Roland Brave
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The door pounded loudly. Brigitte turned over in bed again, dragging her pillow over her head in the desperate hope that whatever it was wasn't important enough to actually get out of bed for... to no avail. The door pounded yet again.

She propped herself up and squeezed her eyes shut as she yawned, stretching her arms above her head. She stepped up and quickly pulled herself out of bed, and slowly paced barefoot from her bedroom through the outer room and to her door. She twisted the knob open and peeked her head out so that whatever guest it was wouldn't see her sleeping attire. On the other side stood Bonita. Brigitte stood up a little straighter. "Oh... good morning, I'm sorry about that," she said after coughing a little.

"Don't worry," Bonita said quickly, "it's about 7. Way early for you. But we need your help. That sandstorm last night sure was a doozy."

Brigitte nodded. "Sure was," she managed through a misty-eyed yawn. "It opened my window and everything."

"Well, it also knocked down one of our solar panels," Bonita continued. "People coming in today after the storm say they've never heard Peter have to shout to be heard over the background noise."

Brigitte balked. "Seriously? That sucks," she said quietly, looking down at the ground. She looked back up to the older woman and tilted her head. "What can I do to help?"

"Get dressed and we'll talk about it," Bonita instructed as she backed away from the door. "Peter's still on the air. Freya's already down there. She's in better shape to help than he is. We're just letting him continue talking." She walked off and left Brigitte to shut the door behind her as she went to pull on a pair of dark all-weather pants and a pair of leather boots, her blue lightweight long-sleeved shirt, and her utility belt. She pulled her hair behind her and crudely braided it into a long, thick plait, then looped her goggles around her eyes before finally stepping out the door and pulling it shut behind her, then coasted through the stone hallway and out into the early morning sunshine.

The courtyard was trashed. A few of the staff were out with heavy pushbrooms trying to clear the walkways of the high level of sand that had swirled into the pseudo-square in the middle of the facility's grounds. The tall radio tower didn't look worse for wear on the outside, but she knew that whatever damage it had done to their sensitive instruments was going to be the impact felt for miles and miles around. They'd have to send a group out to Austin, likely, in order to replace any broken parts. And Austin was a terribly partisan place. There was no way of knowing if they'd be receptive to Aegis folk trying to improve their lot in life in any fashion whatsoever.

"Brigitte!" Bonita called out. Her brown eyes snapped up in her direction--there they were, on the roof of the massive stone structure. "Climb up!"

Brigitte frowned as she looked at the indicated ladder splaying up the side of the tall wall, but grabbed the sides anyway and forced herself to step up, one rung at a time. She hated heights. It wasn't uncommon for her to visualize herself losing her footing from a higher unsecured surface... she never could get around to imagining the end of a fall, but the prospect of the fall itself was daunting and terrifying. Even so, she refused to let it dampen her concentration. She stepped on the top of the roof and spotted the downed panel, its frame twisted but mercifully not destroying the darker material encased inside. Bonita, Freya, and a few of the others gathered turned around to face Brigitte.

"You need to ask the Nightkin to come help us," Bonita stated plainly, looking the younger woman directly in the eyes.

Brigitte blinked. "Oh," she said, the awkward air twisting the end of her sentence into a higher-pitched, pseudo-question tone. "But why me?"

Freya shook her head. "Brig, everyone likes you," the tall blonde woman responded. "I'm sure if you ask the Nightkin that he'll be sure to help us."

"But he's already helping us," Brigitte pointed out, putting her gloved hands on her hips. She lifted her goggles up to rest on top of her forehead. Her brown eyes squinted and blinked against the early morning sun. "I don't think we should make it look like we wish to abuse his assistance."

"Brigitte, please," Bonita said softly, invoking a tone that made it hard for Brigitte to ignore those instructions.

The wiry brunette sighed, and reached her hands up to yank and stick the goggles back securely over her eyes. She turned around and felt her stomach twist a little as she descended back down the ladder. After reaching the ground, she shook off her shaky nerves as she made her way to the spot where by far the most formidable guest in Aegis had opted to stay.

She walked cautiously, deciding to keep the goggles over her eyes for the time being. She finally stopped and stood not far from the shelter, folding her arms in front of her. She looked down at her feet and then decided to let her arms fall by her side, as to appear less frustrated or conflicted. It was never easy to decide how to use body language in order to be taken seriously when one lacks the height to be automatically taken seriously.

"Good morning," Brigitte called out calmly. Not in a high-pitched voice, but not in a stern, detached voice, either. "I'd like to ask you for your help this morning, Mr. Brave. My name's Brigitte."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brigitte Thibodeaux Character Portrait: Bonita Abbott Character Portrait: Roland Brave
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Brigitte permitted herself to smile a wide, gracious smile, and visibly relaxed her body language after the hulking guest offered his own version of a friendly response. "You're right," she laughed back. "Bonita's not one to have her good resources wasted. Which is why she sent me to come get you. And she apologizes for any inconvenience that this favor may offer."

She pulled her small hand-held radio off of her belt after it blipped. She flicked a red switch and allowed Bonita's voice to resonate from the unit. "I guess it depends on what pair of boots I'd decide to wear, Mr. Brave," the woman said dryly. "Better pray I'd not use the snakeskin ones. But that's not what we're talking about, here. Ms. Thibodeaux would love to escort you on your way up here. Can you climb a ladder?"

Brigitte looked at Roland and shrugged, shutting her eyes and tilting her head at Bonita's unique manner.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Brigitte Thibodeaux Character Portrait: Bonita Abbott Character Portrait: Roland Brave
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"I guess it depends on what pair of boots I'd decide to wear, Mr. Brave." Bonita's voice coming through the small device put a guilty look on Roland's face, almost like that of a child caught in it's elaborate lie. 'Well shit.'

"Can you climb a ladder?" Roland laughed in his throat, memories of ruined constructs failing to take his massive weight returning to him.

"A ladder? Hmm...." Roland stopped for a moment, pursing his lips in thought. "Young miss," he spoke to the radio, "I'm almost eight feet tall and damn near eight-hundred pounds. My foot is wider than most humans' heads. I'd worry more about the ladder myself, but I can try." He shrugged, looking at Brigitte in a 'what can I do about it?' kind of way.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Brigitte Thibodeaux Character Portrait: Bonita Abbott Character Portrait: Roland Brave
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Bonita didn't skip a beat. "That's precisely why I asked," she responded smoothly. "The building is made out of stone. It's very strong. Or, we can arrange to have some of our crew bring it down to you. What's more convenient?" Brigitte kept her mouth shut, simply hoping to help make any kind of arrangement happen.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Brigitte Thibodeaux Character Portrait: Bonita Abbott Character Portrait: Roland Brave
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Roland looked confused for a moment, something finally clicking in his head.

"Pardon," he spoke to both the radio and Brigitte herself, "but I assumed that my help was needed to bring the contraption down to ground level. If you could already do that with another work crew, then would it be foolish to instead assume that your calling upon me to fix the frame itself?" 'Why trust me with something that important when she has other technicians to do the same?' The Nightkin's eyes looked to Brigette, an expression somewhere between worry and confusion on his countenance.

"Just how bad is the damage to the equipment, miss... I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name while Burt was grinding."

Setting

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Character Portrait: Brigitte Thibodeaux Character Portrait: Bonita Abbott Character Portrait: Roland Brave
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Brigitte nodded as she shielded the harsh sun from her eyes. "Certainly," she said quickly. "I'll radio up to the tower."

She again plucked her radio from her belt and switched the dial on. "Can anyone assist in getting the frame and the hardware separated?" she asked. "We'll need to set up the station's multipurpose room for Mr. Brave to make the necessary repairs."

"Roger that," Bonita fizzled in response. "We'll dispatch Randall and Joel. Our crane is on its way and we can bring it down to the ground. How soon?"

"He says he's available right away," Brigitte answered, looking up to make eye contact with the massive Nightkin. "He's very gracious."

"Thank you, Mr. Brave," the old woman immediately volunteered. "We'll work to get you set up right away. See you in five minutes."

Brigitte re-clipped the radio to her belt, and reached her hands around the sides of her goggles to pull her lenses forward and over her large, tired eyes. She turned her dark-goggled gaze back to Roland and pointed her head toward the station. "I can take you there now, if you like," she offered. "We really appreciate it. Please know that. Lots of people depend on us for help if they get into a bad situation out there.:

Setting

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Character Portrait: Brigitte Thibodeaux Character Portrait: Bonita Abbott Character Portrait: Roland Brave
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Roland simply followed, quiet and listening. An akward silence grew between them as Brigitte revealed her status as the radio host with an affinity for the weepy crooner, the connection being made far to late for the lavender giant. Silence followed them as they reached the doors marked A.I.R. and stepped through.

"The space I've got in mind for you is in there." Following Brigitte's hand to the green doors with his gaze, Roland breathed deep and then stepped to the door. Opening them wide brought a waft of burned metal, oils, and workmen sweat. Those smells, in turn, brought the look of an excited child to the Super Mutant's frightening facade. He looked back to Brigitte as if she had given him the greatest gift in the world before almost diving through the doors and leaving them open behind him.

Brigitte watched the massive blue hulk of a creature examine and inspect the multipurpose room that was already stocked with a workbench and necessary items--at least, whatever their regular blacksmith had told them to supply up on and store.

She'd watched a couple of times over the years as the sentries stationed upon the wall tackled various threats--it seemed that raiders, Brotherhood, and other mischievous entities annually took turns in their attempts to effect a takedown of the massive facility. None of them had ever succeeded, of course--Aegis' fortifications included six energy turrets, flamethrower capabilities along the ground level of the outer wall via an innocuous-looking metallic latticed grill, and almost 40 armed and dangerous Aegis residents who would do anything to protect their little oasis in the hot desert landscape. But the scariest incident had been about six years prior--a band of Super Mutants, about seven in total, struck in the middle of the night. She remembered the fear she felt when she was woken up in the middle of the night, just a scant few hours after her shift had ended, and called to take her place on the top of the wall with a few others. A well-placed shot from one of the Mutants' machine guns--which looked almost like a foreboding toy in its huge hands--cause the metal outer wall to crumple just feet away. Her three colleagues had been leaning against that very wall for support as they steadied and aimed their weapons below--and all three twisted into human puddles of blood and organs before she could properly back away, barely escaping the fireless inferno. Later it was determined that the Super Mutant's rain of bullets had triggered those flame devices built into part of the wall, and had caused the flow of heat to aim high up, leading to the compromise of what had once been considered a fairly safe spot to take aim at invading forces.

It was a terrifying ordeal; but Brigitte's own mental constitution stayed strong after years of willing herself to move on from that terrible day years prior. Even though she loved Aegis, she didn't at all like how she'd arrived. But while she was there, she'd protect it. And the Super Mutants had offered the most harrowing of attacks she'd ever helped defend against. All in all, that incident had caused them to lose ten of their own--a sizable chunk of their crew. While six Mutants had arrived and two had hobbled away--a success in everyone's book--it was still a damaging experience.

And here was Roland Brave, gleefully casting a thankful--or, giddy?--expression back to her, looking more human in this moment in time than she could have ever imagined. She managed to smile back, both feeling a sense of fondness for the gentle giant, yet also still feeling the same uneasiness that came upon her when he first arrived. It blew her mind that Bonita actually accepted his presence into the settlement. "I'll explain later," was all that Bonita would offer in return to Brigitte's deeply concerned questions.

"Is this acceptable?" Brigitte asked. "We are more than happy to arrange for another workstation or obtain more supplies for you if you feel that we're not adequately preparing you, here."

"No, this is..." He couldn't contain his enthusiasm at seeing a proper set of tools all in one place, enough supplies to ply his craft on thousands of projects in thousands of ways. Grinders, Buffing Wheels, Drill Presses, Band Saws in near-perfect condition. Enough nails, bolts, nuts, washers, and screws to build and rebuild every machine in the room again and again.

"This is perfect. Tell Bonita this will be perfect. Did I say perfect already? I feel like I'm saying perfect a lot. I should probably stop saying perfect." He stopped himself, putting his hands to his mouth and breathing through the digits. He turned to Brigitte and just stared at her with gleeful eyes. Slowly putting his massive hands on her shoulders, he knelt to her eye level and spoke once more.

"It's been decades since I've seen something like this. It's per-" he stopped himself again and looked for another word. "It's... adequate."

Brigitte stared back into those happy eyes situated against that violet face. Her instincts told her to run, but she forced herself to stay put. Roland Brave wasn't a bloodthirsty creature hellbent on causing destruction to all humans who stumbled into his path. She repeated it to herself quickly, repeatedly, even as his huge palms clapped upon her shoulders. She smiled again, a little feverishly this time. "I'm glad it fits your needs," she responded.

"Oh, that and so much more." Roland returned to inspecting the tools, clearing a table of minutia in preparation for the solar panel to be brought in. He hummed to himself as he worked, plans upon plans for machines in his memory coming back to the surface; armor, weapons, tools, walls, furniture, and designs for every need and occasion. He was the closest he could be to home.

Brigitte leaned against the wall by the door, shoving her hands in her pockets as she watched him work. She was amazed at the level of attention he paid to the tools and instruments assembled in the room, and even more surprised at how his huge hands handled those delicate tools and instruments with the utmost care, almost consideration. The giant spoke once again, smiling as best as he could.

"Okay, I think we're ready to bring in the panel now."

\\\

"What did I tell you about smoking those?" Bonita chided as she slowly walked alongside Brigitte.

"Jesus!" Brigitte sharply cried out, dropping her rolled paper to the ground. She bent down to pick it up.

"That's not tobacco, is it?" Bonita asked a little edgily.

Brigitte held her gaze for a long moment before rebelliously striking a match against the bottom of her boot and lighting up the spliff, taking in a few puffs of smoke and holding it in her lungs for several seconds before letting the dark vapors waft from her mouth and nose. "No, it's not," she answered, a little hint of defiance in her tired voice.

Bonita blinked and then visibly relaxed. Today was not the day to get on Brigitte's case. She'd already gone above and beyond by getting up with just barely three hours of sleep to speak of to come out and help, even taking the time to work with Roland. Brigitte had expressed a deep distrust of him when he'd first approached the front gate--most travelers, even ghouls, were allowed to pass through without much of an issue, at least after they were read the rules and signed into the guest log and their weapons inventoried. Roland wasn't allowed such an easy entrance; weapons were trained on him the second he came within potential striking distance of the facility. It was a wonder that he said all the right things just in time for a watchman to send someone to summon Bonita. She'd been thrilled to see him, for reasons that no one else in the facility knew, not even her longest-standing loyalists. She preferred that they knew nearly nothing about her life before Aegis, as it was.

"All right," Bonita said with a little hint of disapproval. "Just don't tell anyone I saw you."

Brigitte took another set of brief drags and retained it for several seconds before laughing a little. "Ahh," she remarked. "I don't drink too much. Just every couple of months. You know I'm not in the habit of cavorting with guests inappropriately, either."

"Yeah, I heard about that cowboy," the old woman answered, leaning against the stucco-like outer wall of the station and tilting her head at the petite brunette. "Heard he tried to put the moves on you and you decided to dislocate his thumb. Part of me wants to tell you that you shouldn't be doing things like this to our guests. However, from one woman to another, let me say that that's complete bullshit and that I'm glad you did it." Brigitte blinked with surprise as Bonita reached ahead and grabbed the joint from her fingers. "I'd say that for the most part we don't owe our guests a goddamn thing unless they decide to become a Brigitte." She drew in air from the paper, and handed it back to an astounded Brigitte, winking. The young woman simply stared as Bonita filled her lungs with air, then let her own smoke go. "Brigitte, this shit is just terrible."

It took a great deal of nerve for Brigitte to allow herself to keep a straight face. She decided to just take another hit and nod in agreement.

Bonita looked both ways and settled herself back against the wall. "It's almost time for your shift to start. I wonder how Roland's doing."

"Pretty well, apparently." A man spoke from around the corner of the building, coming into view as he rounded it. Burt, part of the workteam tasked with fixing the fence, looked annoyed but not angry. He laughed out of his nose and then leaned on the wall a few meters away and pulled out his own self-abusing hobby, ciggarettes, from inside a jacket pocket. Lighting a match, he continued the ritual and sucked on one of the sticks.

"He's like a kid in a candy store in there. They've got all the guts of that panel out and he's hard at work putting the structure back into shape." He shook his head, staring into space with a look in his eye like he was remembering a nightmare. He had been there, side by side with the others six years ago. Touching his shoulder, wounded by a bullet in that same battle, he felt conflicted and it showed.

Brigitte could see the look in Burt's drawn, fatigued eyes as he worked on cindering his cigarette. She knew better than to say anything about it, to possibly risk upsetting Bonita or Burt alike. She quickly smushed the end of her half-finished joint on the wall behind her and dropped the remnants into a small tin case on her belt, attempting to be as discrete as possible. She figured that the acrid smell of fuel and other chemicals being used in the vicinity would more than cover up the reedy-smelling cloud not far from her.

She coolly glanced at Burt and sighed. "That good, huh?" she asked absent-mindedly.

"Roland Brave is the greatest blacksmith I've ever met," Bonita interjected, casting a slightly annoyed sidelong glance at Brigitte. "What are your thoughts, Burt?" It took a moment for him to react, lost in though and memory. Looking up as if surprised to be where he was, surivivor's guilt chased away by the question at hand.

"He's useful, I'll give you that. Randall and Joel don't seem happy but they'd probably agree. They barely got the electrics out before he started getting to work." He took another drag and laughed in a solem manner. "I had a look at that Flamer after he left. You were right, the flame only goes out to a foot on the highest setting and burns hotter than anything I've seen. An ultimate weapon turned into the ultimate tool. If he didn't just steal the Flamer, that's the guy." The cigarette was burned half-way down, his time almost up for trying to not draw suspicion during his time off. He may have accepted Bonita's request to help investigate, but others would not be so quick to trust her word on the matters of Roland's kind after the attack. The less he was involved, he thought, the better.

Bonita nodded curtly to the tired man. "Thanks, Burt," she said quietly, reaching into the leather bag sidled on her hip and extracted a pack of cigarettes. She tossed them lightly in his direction. "Let me know if you or your crew have any problems at all." He caught them in a practiced way, a flashback to a magazine being thrown to him by a friend that didn't make it through the night coming to him for a moment before leaving just a quickly. He didn't let it show.

"Just make sure he doesn't do anything... surprising." The cigarette was finished, with it his time. He dropped the butt to the dirt and ground it underfoot with his heel, picking it up again and throwing it into a trashbin as he went back around the corner. He wouldn't be coming back.

There was a long, awkward pause after Burt departed. Feeling a little brave after her mind was sent into a state of relaxation, Brigitte turned to Bonita and sighed a little. "You know I'm not the only one who feels the way that I do, right?"

Bonita jerked her head to face Brigitte again. "Now's not the time to keep bringing things up," she said tersely. "You'll understand why I allowed Mr. Brave to join us." She looked up at the late morning sun and nodded. "At least, in time you'll know. It won't be now. Maybe not by the end of the day. Maybe not even tomorrow. But we'll talk about this and you'll understand everything perfectly."

Brigitte looked down at her feet and shuffled them slightly, marveling at the sensation of her boots sticking warmly to her sore feet. She hadn't had time to put on socks earlier. "But you understand why I'm not keen on accepting all this right now, right?" she drawled back.

Bonita shrugged. "I'm not in a position to understand if you 'accept' it or not, Brigitte," she dripped slowly, her voice deepening. "I'm in the position of having to know what it takes to keep Aegis running and the people I love safe. Mr. Brave is someone who can help me meet that goal." She dusted off her long brown skirt and shook the metal bangles around her slender wrists. "Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to go inside and discuss a few things with Peter, who should be asleep. Have a good day on the air." She turned on her heeled boot and strode away confidently, leaving Brigitte behind, feeling slightly stunned and a little prickled at the thought of her mentor speaking so sharply to her. But the feeling went away quickly as she let it roll off her shoulder and walked back through the double-doors leading back into the lower level of the station. The inside air felt far cooler than the muggy haze that had developed outside.

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Character Portrait: Brigitte Thibodeaux Character Portrait: Bonita Abbott Character Portrait: Roland Brave
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The green double doors opened slowly, well-oiled hinges silently swinging outwards. Through it the solar panel was pushed out on a rolling cart with large wheels for moving through the dirt and mud. The panel did not look new but did look much better than it had when entering the workshop. The young man named Randall, tanned with short brown hair and a baseball cap, pushed the cart through the room towards the exit, nodding to Brigitte as he passed. He carried a sour expression with him, just barely bordering between annoyance and anger. Next came Joel, of similar looks but wearing a bandana instead, followed by Roland himself. The two were speaking with each other.

"I had a feeling something else was going on besides a little apprehension." Roland spoke solemnly, looking down at Joel with what could only be described as guilt.

"Yeah, it's a bit of a sore spot for the folks who have been here longer. They don't like the new guys talking about it but it would be better for you to know." Joel stretched his arms backward and turned his spine, triggering a series of pops along his skeleton. Roland rubbed his face, measuring his words with care. Seeing Brigitte near the door prompted Roland to speak loud enough for her to hear. She had also shown the same fear.

"I had heard that a group of my kind had traveled east. Nightkin were designed to be hidden in the shadows, covert and all that. Back when The Master was around, we'd be using Stealth Boys constantly." He sighed, remembering a past he'd liked to have forgotten. "Problem was that extended use drove people mad. I avoided most of it by staying at the main base, building the weapons and armor. But when The Master was struck down and we dispersed, we became nomadic and I was afflicted by the same psychological damage. Some of us were able to get help after a few decades. The group that traveled east didn't." Joel nodded, expressing some manner of understanding.

"Aegis didn't just fight six Nightkin, Aegis fought six Nightkin with almost a century's worth of prolonged psychological damage. By god, even I would shit my pants at the thought." A nervous laugh escaped Roland's lips before he shook his head returned to a solemn countenance, glancing at Brigitte with apologies in his eyes.

"Not sure what's going to hang heavier on my shoulders. That they were once my comrades or that I may have smithed the weapons they attacked this place with." Joel nodded once again and, sensing the conversation had ended, walked out the exit doors to help install the solar panel back to where it should be. He looked nervous while passing Brigitte, knowing she had been one of the people present during the attack. His hurried passing by like some hen going past the farmer's dog almost amused Roland yet such humor was unable to reach him in the moment. Instead his massive form held still, looking to Brigitte with some sadness. He coughed into a fist nervously and rubbed the back of his neck, acting like some young boy waiting for his date while a father sits nearby and polishes a shotgun.

"So... what now?"

Brigitte blinked as she shrugged her shoulders. "I've got to prepare to relieve Freya from the radio booth," she sighed relaxedly. "I wonder what I'll play on the air tonight."

She plucked up her bag and started toward the stone staircase up into the cool booth. But before she ascended, she looked back at Roland. "I appreciate that you're here to help," she said reassuringly. "It isn't easy, to make the repairs that you did. That was very helpful." Roland smiled slightly, the small gesture not lost on him. He looked to her with gratitude.

"You're..." he sighed in relief, "you're welcome." Large feet guided him to the exit, back to his shack and under the tin roof supported by four thin poles. He stopped before reaching the door frame.

"Play some Hank Williams. He's growing on me."

After wishing Brigitte a good night he continued his journey to his make-shift home, finding two small cardboard boxes next to the unlit forge and leftover bits of metal. On top of one was a piece of stationary, some thick recycled paper on which was written three words in black ink: [i]Consider This Payment[i]. He thought for a moment before shrugging his shoulders and opening the box, flicking the stationery aside like a magician throwing a playing card. Inside he found a radio, a common Radiation King model in good condition. It only took him a few moments to place the machine on the folded clothes at the foot of his mattress, away from the dust and dirt, turn it on and then tune in to Aegis' radio broadcast, Brigitte's now much more familiar voice coming through the speakers. Even on the initial power coming from the just repaired solar panel the signal came in loud and clear from this close to the source.

"Will that do, Mr. Brave?" Roland jumped away from the speaker, landing on his buttocks and holding his arms in front of him like a mock kung-fu action hero; even sitting on the ground he was tall enough to fight off most close quarters combat. As a Nightkin he was not accustomed to being the one sneaked up on. Bonita appeared from around the corner of a nearby building and approached, appearing amused by Roland's shocked expression. She stood beside him, folding her arms about herself and nodding toward the radio set sitting on top of Roland's clothing.

"I was delighted when we found one in such great shape. It didn't take much to fix it up. It ought to last you a long time." Roland bore a confused look, almost worried, looking back and forth from Bonita to the radio. After realizing he looked like some simpleton sitting in the dirt he put his hands under himself and pushed off the ground to stand. The elderly woman continued speaking throughout his actions.

"If you take care of it, that is. Be sure to get it cleaned every six months, or after a major sandstorm," she advised. "That being said, this is freshly-cleaned. I know you'll take good care of it." She gestured inside Roland's temporary quarters. "I remember you mentioning you once liked Bighorn. I had some come in from further west." Roland looked at the second box, closing his mouth as best he could when he began to salivate. This stopped as he fully realized what Bonita had just said. One word filled the air between them.

"Remembered?"

Brigitte's voice rang clearly from the speakers, less chipper than normal but still smooth and reassuringly cheerful. "Again, you've tuned in to A.I.R., Aegis Inclusive Radio," she spoke, "we've been getting reports that our signal was disrupted as far out as Dallas and Austin. We apologize. That sandstorm sure was a doozy. It nearly took out our power station for the radio tower, but thanks to a new friend of Aegis, everything's all right." Bonita smiled faintly as she listened to the young woman's voice compliment the visiting Nightkin.

"Apparently, you've made a good impression, Mr. Brave," she observed sharply, a rare warm tone almost making her words sound somewhat grandmotherly. She peeled the shirt sleeve on her left arm back to her elbow, holding the appendage up to show the exposed forearm. Roland's sudden realization was plain to see from his widened eyes and gaping mouth.

"I guess I'm just not as good at it as you are."

Setting

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Character Portrait: Null Character Portrait: Brigitte Thibodeaux Character Portrait: Bonita Abbott Character Portrait: Isaiah Shadrach "Sherman" Character Portrait: Roland Brave
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"Bonita, we've got an after-hours approach, over," the emergency radio crackled above the other speaker blaring A.I.R. Bonita turned her head and riveted her attention on the small device, standing up from her spot on the bench around the small campfire with various residents gathered about for the monthly outdoor get-together. "Bonita, requesting your direction, over."

The woman furrowed her eyebrows as a gentle hush fell over the campsite. After-hours approaches were fairly uncommon, as most travelers knew the rules of the road and would often camp out at a rock formation about a mile away to seek safe shelter overnight. After-hours approaches tended to be either of two extremes: either a gravely or fatally-injured refugee who needed help as quickly as possible, or foes bent on destroying the safe haven and all who resided within its walls.

However, Bonita wasn't one to forget her entire aim in the creation of the oasis fortress. She plucked up the radio from the large table in front of her and held down the "Call" button. "This is Bonita responding, please describe the circumstances of this after-hours approach," she answered flatly, devoid of emotion. Brigitte's voice trilled in the background as she delivered a public service announcement during the closing of her show, tinning out from the other radio. Roland turned his massive lavender form and pinched two massive fingers at the device to twist the volume down just slightly.

"Two individuals. Both wounded. One incapacitated. Female, small, unconscious. Other figure is barely standing. Male, military type. Barely keeping it together, begging for help."

"Secure them, seize any and all weapons and hold them in the armory until we have them cleared. Send the unconscious woman into the infirmary and have medics assess the other inside the holding cell. Don't release him until we have him cleared for threats. Copy all channels?"

Immediately, a series of beeps and tones chirped out from the metal box in Bonita's hands. She stood and looked at the Aegis staff assembled, then back at the various guest residents scattered about. "Guests, feel free to continue to enjoy this evening," she addressed them pleasantly. "We have some business to attend to." She turned on her boot heels, clicking confidently across the paved stone path toward the entrance in question. "Someone do me a favor and go get Brigitte. She's coming with me to assess the approach."

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Character Portrait: Null Character Portrait: Brigitte Thibodeaux Character Portrait: Bonita Abbott Character Portrait: Bandit Character Portrait: Isaiah Shadrach "Sherman"
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"And that was the Harmonicats. Freya's a little late tonight, but she's not far away. We'll just keep the midnight oil burning coming up with Count Basie, Perry Como, and more. And from Aegis to you, good night, y'all."

The moment she signed off, the padded wooden door swung open violently. Brigitte gasped and whirled around in her chair. Sherman stood in the doorway, glowering urgently. The bearded man was one of the most intimidating in all of Aegis, and he'd earned the reputation well as Bonita's long-time head of security. Brigitte remembered meeting him years ago when she'd first came to the facility, but he had never made himself very friendly or approachable, preferred to stay preoccupied with the specifics of maintaining sentry on the wall, weapons prepped, and defenses otherwise in place, ready to use. He also accompanied Bonita on trips Outside, providing a threatening and imposing defense to help any would-be harm-doers think twice.

The man's cold eyes blinked as they studied Brigitte, who was apparently surprised to see him appear so suddenly. "Thibodeaux," he growled cautiously, "Bonita wants you down at the primary holding cell. We've got after-hours approaches."

"And she's letting them in?" Brigitte asked as she rose to her feet, her eyes wide with curiosity. She plucked her wrap up from the back of the chair and began to pulled it around her arms, and adjusted her scarf around her face and over the thick braid above her. Better to be safe than sorry, considering how the weather had been for several days.

Sherman beckoned his head to the stairwell outside of the door. "Injuries," he said simply. "She wants you down there with us to go question the one who'll talk."

Brigitte wavered a little on her confused knees, staring through her dark lenses at the stoic and expressionless man. "But, why does she-"

"Thibodeaux, don't ask questions," he halted immediately, cutting her off and turning around to leave. She clapped her mouth shut and suppressed her frustration as she skittered after him, winding down the stone stairwell and through the main floor of the station's building, then across the still, sandy pathway toward the holding cell in question. Sherman glanced back at her occasionally to ensure that she was still trailing behind him. Finally, they met Bonita outside of the cell and watched as a couple of staff quickly carried a small, unconscious blonde woman on a stretcher, a white blanket thrown on her still body, toward the infirmary.

"We just secured their weapons," Bonita updated them quietly once they approached closer. "The woman's poisoned. Almost comatose. We'll give her a serum and let her sleep it off. She'll be fine." She took a breath and looked at the door to the cell. "But I wonder what explanation he'll have. These aren't minor injures they have." She led the two inside and stood against the wall as they watched the masked, armed guards from the lower level of the wall politely but firmly direct the tall figure to sit on a long metal bench.

Brigitte found herself stopping quickly in her tracks. The tall man seated on the bench was exhausted, sunburned, and clearly in no condition to be outside the wall any longer. Normally guests in Aegis didn't make her feel uncomfortable or nervous, and neither did this one, but... there was something else strange about the situation. There had not been many cases of after-hours approaches ever being admitted; most of those who were usually died within hours, or had a long road to recovery ahead. These were not typical cases.

She snapped out of her brief pause and followed behind Bonita, still not bothering to remove her scarf or goggles from her brown eyes and face. She looked to the old woman, who looked ahead at the dark-haired man. She reached down to the bag slung around her shoulder and slowly extracted a glass bottle of purified water. "Sir," Bonita politely stated, extending her hand forward and offering the water. "I'm Bonita Abbott. I'm in charge here. First and foremost, we want you to nourish yourself before we subject you to a search. We're already securing your and your companion's weapons while we work to clear you. You'll be examined and myself and my two colleagues, Mr. Isaiah Sherman and Miss Brigitte Thibodeaux, will ask you questions. You must answer our questions or we will refuse you and your companion refuge. Is that clear?"

The setting changes from Aegis to Texas, USA

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Character Portrait: Null Character Portrait: Brigitte Thibodeaux Character Portrait: Bonita Abbott Character Portrait: Bandit Character Portrait: Roland Brave
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Null



God, it felt good to sit down.

Null ignored the outside world and focused on his muscles for a moment, just to bask in the relief of finally being seated. Of not having to walk anymore. He didn't even resist as they relieved him of his sidearm and knife and stripped Bandit of her weaponry; he'd dropped his carbine in the escape from the Horror, and they missed the second, smaller utility knife he kept tucked inside the reinforced leather jacket of his armour. They'd find it when they searched him more comprehensively. He didn't much care.

He didn't care anymore. There were too many of them, and he was in no condition to fight. The only semblance of rationality that poked through the haze of pain was a little voice telling him to relax and recuperate. So that he did; feeling his legs seemingly weightless, the jagged bolts of pain through his legs now feeling like soothing water as he finally rested. After a few minutes, a tall, burly man with a rifle and a tiny, petite young woman walked up to him, accompanied by the old lady from before.

The old lady passed a bottle of water to him, saying something. He didn't care; he just tore the cap off and downed half of it in a matter of moments, his parched throat finally relieved. He stopped for a moment, threw up violently on the ground with the water he'd just consumed, waited three seconds, and downed the rest. After a tense moment, it stayed down. His hand no longer with the strength to hold it, he dropped the bottle and it shattered on the ground. He gave it no regard.

"My thanks," he grunted, inferring something about questioning from their words. His mind was a little more cohesive now with a few moments' rest and water. He wasn't going to die, not yet. That took a decent weight off it. The fact that he was alive indicated that they weren't going to kill him immediately, which was a nice touch.

He knew that he wasn't going to get out of being questioned, so he ran over the story he'd told Bandit and - his stomach lurched a tiny bit at the memory - Terrence. Professional soldier; military organisation nondescript, typical, highly-disciplined. Based far to the north. Walked south from Canada on a recon mission, lost his team. A believable story. Mostly true. Just... a few things omitted.

The only problem would arise if they saw his tattoo.

"What do you need?"

The setting changes from Texas, USA to Aegis

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Character Portrait: Null Character Portrait: Brigitte Thibodeaux Character Portrait: Bonita Abbott
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Bonita didn't hesitate. "We're now going to subject you to a light strip search," she said without breaking in her neutral expression. The old woman could control a situation like no other person. "This is for the purposes of obtaining a description of you in case we need others' help in locating you later in the case that you decide to run away after breaking our guest covenant, and in order to assure us of your stable health condition. Your companion is showing symptoms of being poisoned. It's not safe for her to be anywhere inside these walls other than the infirmary. The same could apply to you if you have any wounds, marks, or even darts," she said, raising an eyebrow. Due to the shape these two were in, Bonita didn't doubt if the two had been in combat with a creature vile enough to have such biological irregularities as a backup weapon. It was possible that some of the truth was being obscured. No matter, Bonita thought to herself. I'll eventually find out what it is. I always find out.

Brigitte ducked her goggled eyes down in an attempt to obscure her face. What an uncomfortable situation for someone to be in. She pulled a notebook from her back pocket and a small inkpen, and pulled her goggles outward and let them hang forward around her neck. The green scarf still rested around her head but didn't hide so much of her braided brown hair without the tightened goggles. She blinked her large brown eyes and lifted the pen up inquisitively. "Excuse me," she began softly, "but, could you please spell your name."

"And your companions," Bonita smoothly spoke, "Terrence. Bandit. From where do they come?"

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Character Portrait: Null Character Portrait: Brigitte Thibodeaux Character Portrait: Bonita Abbott Character Portrait: Roland Brave
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Roland sat underneath a barred window high on the wall that connected holding cell and outside world. A sick feeling had come over him when Bonita's radio transmitted the message that injured people were at the gates. Something beyond common sympathy for another living being, something that could only be described as dread. Following this sensation, leaving his rattling poncho back at the gathering despite himself, he found himself here on a overturned wooden box and listening to every word.

Terrence.

He put his head in his hands, not even able to weep for the loss. A deep breath entered and then left him. Null's description of the sniper was spot on, the story of his demise making Roland barely capable of keeping on the makeshift perch.

I saw it. My nightmare... I saw it and it happened and he's gone. A smile crossed his lips, knowing that even at the end his god-son had kept fighting with every ounce of strength he had.

Blew yourself up just to save two complete strangers. You knew you were going to die but you just kept fighting anyway. Nicholas would have been prouder than I ever could be. A warm tear rolled down his cheek, quickly wiped away by a massive hand and deposited it on a pant leg. He quietly brought himself to a standing position and returned to the gathering, smiling slightly.

I'll see you soon enough, Stone Walker.

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Character Portrait: Null Character Portrait: Brigitte Thibodeaux Character Portrait: Bonita Abbott
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Null



"Terrence... tribal; son of an NCR soldier. Cut down by the same thing that wounded Bandit and I. Know nothing more about him; never will. Bandit... she's from Lemmon. Never said another word about herself." Null answered quickly, factually. His mind was too hazy to do anything else.

Upon its presentation, Null grabbed the notepad, scrawling down "Lieutenant Commander 'Null' - S6-041". That was all he put down. Name, rank and number. All they were entitled to. That much was simple; he didn't really care what they were out for here, and none of those would be of any use to them, not without access to a heap of classified Enclave intel. Perhaps, up north, this would be a problem; but this far south, Sigma wasn't even a myth. Nobody had heard of them ever existing.

Then he heard the order for a strip-search.

His heart caught for a second, his eyes snapping open, his whole body tensing. He... was in trouble. Refusing would create far too much suspicion, but the tattoo was on his shoulder; he couldn't hide it if he tried. Escape was hardly an option - even standing up would be a hell of a problem. They'd already relieved him of his weapons.

He forced himself to focus. He knew from the start that there would be a time to come clean; to reveal to them all who he was. That time had finally come. Fine then - he'd tell them the truth. If they threw him in prison, he'd break out. If they shot him-

"Then you'll die. And nothing will have changed."


Her voice sprung into his memory from the foaming aether of his mind, and his fist clenched, his mind clearing up fast now that he was hydrated. He'd need food soon, but not too soon. He'd live. For now, it was time to undress, and then start talking very, very fast. No-one would recognise the symbol directly, but it was clear that they were a branch of the Enclave.

He slid off the various lightweight armour plates on the armour, before unzipping the thick leather jacket and sliding it down, exposing his well-muscled form to the cold and the wind. Fortunately, even at sunset, the Texas air was warm enough that he was in no danger - he remembered, when he was much younger, a common punishment for insubordination was being forced to exercise in only your underwear. He'd seen more than a few people freeze to death in the Canadian winter that way. He hadn't been one of them, and had no intentions of starting now.

He nervously took off the undershirt, exposing the symbol on his shoulder, fists clenching on instinct. He thought of her, using her thought to give him strength. He still couldn't see strength, but if he had to, he'd go down fighting. He saw their eyes flick to his shoulder.

So, this was it, then...

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Brigitte saw it happen in slow motion--the color drained visibly from Bonita's olive face, almost leaving her ashy and gray-looking. She'd seen Bonita lose her cool on a few occasions, all well-warranted, but even those demonstrations of panic or disappointment couldn't compare to what was beginning to unfold in front of her.

Bonita sharply held up her right hand in a way Brigitte had never seen her do before. Sherman and two other wall sentries obediently and fluidly cycled their rifles up to eye level, pointing certainly at the so-called "Null" and held still, fingers just barely shivering away from pulling back their triggers. Brigitte stepped back instinctively to peer at what it was that had Bonita so scared.

And then she saw it... the tattoo. The circular blaze of stars surrounding a huge symbol. Greek, perhaps? Brigitte couldn't place it in the brief moment that flew by as she silently studied the marking, then Bonita's face as she calmly but harshly stepped forward until she was nearly face-to-face with the stranger.

The old woman crooked her eyebrow and stared intently into his eyes. "Lieutenant Commander 'Null,' as you've identified yourself..." she started. She took the notepad from his hand and examined his handwriting. "... S6-041... You've deliberately left out part of your narrative. Want to start over from the beginning? Leave no details out."

Brigitte had never heard that cold, nearly poisonous tone before. She knew deep in her heart that Bonita was a reasonable woman with the best of humane intentions. But she had no idea what Bonita was capable of if she wasn't inspired to aim toward good intentions. She hoped that the stranger would come clean, and quickly. Sherman would never let go of an opportunity to do what was right for Aegis, as it were, so something had to happen. Fast.

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Character Portrait: Null Character Portrait: Brigitte Thibodeaux Character Portrait: Bonita Abbott Character Portrait: Roland Brave
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Null



Null stood rigidly still, staring the men down perfectly evenly, his gaze as though daring them to pull the triggers. Not fearful, nor threatening; just calm, perfectly calm. He'd gotten very good at this look over the years; mastered it ever since that day. If he hadn't, they'd have killed him too.

For the briefest of moments, he wondered how it would've felt for her to die, watching him not react at all.

Believing that he didn't care.

"So, you want my story, then," he said, voice getting clearer by the moment. He was correct in his earlier thoughts - his body was finally beating the poison. He wasn't going to die here, not of poison. Getting shot might be another matter, but at this juncture, there was nothing he could do except talk. Try to talk his way out of this. Even then, though, he couldn't keep the bitterness out of his voice, as he ran over the quickest and least painful - for him - version of events he could think of.

"Fine then. I'll give you the short version. I was trained as a soldier young; don't remember my family. Fought for an organisation called 'Sigma', a... descendent, of sorts, of the Enclave. I did a lot of bad things; I won't argue that. What counts is this - one month ago, I betrayed them. Killed my unit and escaped."

It felt good to say that. To admit what he'd done. To admit that he hated them, that he'd betrayed them in cold blood. A tiny bit of guilt wormed its way in as well, but not enough to make any sort of difference. They were his enemies now, nothing more.

"The reason why isn't complicated. Nine years ago, there was a woman - a Wastelander. We travelled together. The Enclave killed her. Suffice to say, given that crime, they can no longer be permitted to exist on this Earth. Thus, I will destroy them. No more complicated than that."

There. His story, the short-and-sweet version. No mention of how it had felt. No mention of the thousands of murders he'd committed. No mention of the way grief's barbed knife had lodged in his heart, infecting it and turning it into a pained, scorched chunk of flesh. But the facts. Just the facts. And the truth.

"So. Knowing that, are you going to kill me?" he said, voice quiet, accepting. His fate was no longer in his hands. Whether he lived or died was no longer his concern.

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Brigitte's heart sunk down into her stomach. The man's story was rife with confusion--Sigma? Descendent? Wastelander? Betrayal? The circumstances seemed so contradictory, strange, jumbled. She turned her eyes from the tattooed guest to Bonita, who balled her fists down by her sides, hips angled obstinately. She expected the old woman to simply turn on her heels and walk away--either leaving the man to a quick execution or a few hours' worth of imprisonment either to be executed or released into the desert. She'd seen it happen before.

But Bonita did the unexpected. She tilted her head after a long staredown, then stepped forward and lifted her hand once again. The sentries and Sherman all lowered their weapons, watching the old woman inquisitively. She took a deep breath. "You're the one we've been waiting for."

Brigitte snapped into a state of confusion almost as though struck by a bolt of lightning. Waiting for? What did this mean?

"Sherman. See to it that Lieutenant Commander Null obtain guest quarters as soon as possible. We meet at eight o'clock tomorrow morning for breakfast, and to discuss these matters further." She turned her brown eyes to Brigitte. "In the meantime, Miss Thibodeaux will ensure that your story is entered into the log. And her radio shift is over, so I suppose she will ensure that you're oriented to life in Aegis. Just be a good guest. See you in the morning."

And with that, Bonita turned on her heels and left, not even bothering to entertain the possibility of an objection. Brigitte's jaw dropped. Bonita hated military sorts of any stripe... especially Enclave. And if Sigma was related to Enclave, an even more specialized and powerful version, then would that not make him more of a threat in Bonita's eyes? She looked at Sherman, and then at the soldier. She remained quiet for several seconds, and then finally spoke. "Well... I suppose you should get dressed. In your condition, you shouldn't risk getting sick. ... are you in need of anything?"

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Null



So... not death.

Not here and now, at least. Null watched evenly as she tilted, stepped closer, and exhaled. He saw a flicker of something in her eyes - something wrong. Something that, in a way, frightened him. He knew, then and there, that this woman - this 5'9", ash-haired, middle-aged woman - was dangerous, very dangerous. Not the sort of dangerous that a Sigma operative was, or a Deathclaw - not dangerous in direct combat. Dangerous in a far, far deeper way.

He'd only ever met one man this dangerous before.

She wasn't going to kill him. Not now. For some reason - for some reason, she needed him alive. He couldn't fathom what - what could a small, insignificant settlement like this want with someone like him? Two options. The first was that she wanted him as a bargaining chip of some sort, or for interrogation; the second, that she needed a warrior, one of his calibre.

He didn't particularly like either option.

"Very well then, 'Bonita'," he said, inclining his head slightly. She was dangerous - really dangerous - and he didn't trust her, but at the very least, that lethality deserved a certain level of respect. He turned to the slight young woman before him - 'Miss Thibodeaux', she'd been called.

"I thank your people for your hospitality," he said, with a curt nod; he began shrugging his undershirt and leather jacket on, smirking inside that they hadn't found his backup knife. If nothing else, the tension of the last few minutes had woken him up. "Where to first?"

The setting changes from Aegis to Texas, USA

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Character Portrait: Null Character Portrait: Bonita Abbott
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Bonita straightened the silverware on the other side of the table as she paced about to ensure everything was in place. It was a waste of time to have someone come visit without the proper preparation, or to have any cause for distractions from the discussions that had to occur. She'd worked for years to overcome the challenges that had been thrown her way--the most difficult of which was being a woman. It always seemed to work against her--with her parents, her brothers, her peers. It always seemed like someone was ready to come to her with a seemingly-reasonable explanation of why she couldn't do certain things. Even when she started out on her revolutionary journey some forty years prior, she was constantly told that she should just head back to her family's hacienda, find a man to marry, and be done with life.

But she was good at shrugging it off. She stayed anyway. It wasn't like her family was going to accept her back after openly rebelling against the law of the land. But she'd dreamed of fighting back someday. As a little girl she'd listen to her family and her older brothers discuss the news of the day--when she'd ask questions she was shushed and told to head back to her bedroom to go play. She laughed to herself as she remembered the time she asked why madre was allowed to discuss things if she wasn't. The answer was simple--las madres needed to understand the things happening inside and outside of the home. But when the eight-year old girl pressed further, asking how was she to learn how to be a good madre later if she can't be allowed to join the discussions, oh, what trouble she was in.

But. She was good at shrugging it off.

She couldn't help but feel a little proud as she absent-mindedly ran one set of fingers over her prosthetic hand. She'd endured years of being told she didn't belong and lost a hand--but she was where she wanted to be. Saving lives, creating an economy, and subverting dictatorial lawmen where possible, and in the best methods possible.

Bonita smiled and slid her thumb across her shoulder, flicking a long silver flame of hair behind her shoulders. She looked at the small clock ticking away on the wall of her well-adorned apartment's formal dining room--7:59. Sherman would be here in seconds. Bonita just loved how predictable he was. She slowly strode to her tall chair, glancing at the small tray of various fruits, vegetables, and cooked game that she'd assembled after a trip to the garden and a short period of time in the kitchen. Sure, madre was tough on her, but she was a mean cook. The bighorn sheep would be cooked plain, but the jalapeno sauce she'd made almost every day with madre was something from her past that she just couldn't leave behind. Instead, it was there on the table. Hopefully it would be enjoyed.

The things that made Bonita sentimental at times even confused Bonita, herself.

Like clockwork, the door knocked and Sherman entered, followed by the dark-haired stranger who'd entered the gates just hours prior. "Bonita," the towering man, even taller than the guest, spoke quietly.

Bonita cast her brown eyes at the young man's cobalt-blue eyes. They reminded her of some of the pretty rocks in the cave not far from where her family stored the cattle's food supply. He was handsome--except for his expression. But even that had a hint of interest about it, as she found herself wondering what could put a scowl like that on such a young man's face. His wild shock of dark hair reminded her a little of Esteban's before he shipped off to Basic.

"Sherman," she answered quietly as she glanced back to him, folding her hands on the table before her. "Thank you." She turned her stare back to the guest after the door shut.

She took a long breath in, and let it out. "Good morning," she said neutrally, an air of calm authority present in her voice. She always made it a point to never falter in eye contact. "I hope you slept well. First order of business," she said as she plucked up the plate of cooked sheep and handed it across the table to him, "is for you to please add food to your plate. Eat. Enjoy. The second," she began as she handed it off to him, gesturing to the fruit quickly, "is that you need a name. 'Null' won't do. You'll find that the pranksters and merrymakers here will have a field day with you. In such close quarters, it'll be obnoxious if they pick a name you don't like. Pick something. Anything. We'll have a lot of unnecessary problems on our hands and I don't 'do' problems. I fix them. Fixing them early is easy. Fixing them later, well... I don't have the patience for it. So, please. A name."