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mustinvestigate: laws of physics need not apply (Rorschach - physics)
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Title: In All This Blood and Thunder (3/?)
Author: MustInvestigate
Disclaimer: I only own action figures
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: none
Warning(s): advanced geekery, WIP
Summary: Rorschach unwittingly enters the Fallout universe. Probably won't make much sense unless you've played at least the main storyline. Possibly not even then.
Note: Set in 1976. Thanks to Doctor Manhattan's random technological phlebotinum, gaming technology leapt directly from 1972's Pong to...this, why not.




3. Arefu

His intends to set out at first light, but leaving is hindered by his new status as hero to the town. A young woman comes to him for help. Lucy West is a dutiful daughter, concerned that her parents, living in a settlement two days’ journey from Megaton, have ceased to answer her letters, and she wishes to know that they are well. The town’s trader, Moira Brown approaches him as well, requesting help to achieve her dream of writing a survival guide for the people of the wastes.

Father will understand the delay. If Rorschach doesn’t take on the missions, they’ll venture out themselves, and the waste is no place for civilized women.

Besides, it’s been too long since he was asked for help, and it feels…good. He’d been assigned the career of marriage counsellor based on Vault-Tec’s standardised tests. As humanity’s future hung on their procreation, it was literally the most important job in the world. But he’d fixed every relationship in the vault within a week. Each couple assured him, effusively, that they’d never need another session with him.

Father must have been proud of his innate skill.

Moira gives him an armoured jumpsuit, the sight of which tugs a loose string in his memory but fails to bring any object of remembrance forth. It doesn’t feel right on him, somehow, even in combination with Burke’s fedora.

The first time he attempts the trip to Arefu, Rorschach nearly dies of radiation poisoning from fording a sludgy river. Fortunately, Moira has been studying the effects of radioactive contamination and flushes him clean. She pays him for his guinea pig services with a handful of anti-radiation drugs, which he immediately categorises as non-polluting, like stimpacks.

On his second attempt, he is very nearly killed by the pack of Raiders who reside in an old elementary school. Hounded to the roof, he escapes by leaping three stories to the ground and hobbling torturously back to Megaton. Moira is pleased again; she has wanted to experiment with crippled limbs.

“You’re all good to go! And I stitched a little smiley-face on you to cheer you up, see?”

The grinning circle on his chest is as obscurely pleasing as the protective armour is irritating, and he puts both out of his mind.

He realises when he stumbles over his first can of pork and beans that it has been a very long time since he’s felt the need to eat, and this also pleases him.

Rorschach makes it to Arefu on his third try.

* * *

Lucy West is where he left her, clutching a greasy beer bottle and restlessly scanning the lumpen patrons of Gob’s establishment, surely able to measure naïve goodwill and worldly goods with a single glance.

He slaps her ragged letter on the table as she shrinks away from him. “What the…what’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing,” he growls. It’s true; a long nap in a trainyard bunk bed healed his body, and he has quickly become skilled at sneaking past the heavily armed fiends he is not yet ready to bring to justice (leaving them to their foul recreations rankles like an infected wound, but someday soon…). His jumpsuit is stiff with dried blood, most of it cannibals’. “Found family. Found brother, the monster. Ian murdered parents, allowed his foul brethren to slaughter Arefu like cattle.”

“No…” Lucy whimpers, but there is something theatrical in the sound. Her eyes are on their growing audience.

“As you expected,” he accuses through clenched teeth. “Knew of his…sickness. Were only influence able to help him resist hunger for human flesh. Abandoned him to it, abandoned Arefu, abandoned parents!”

“What did you do?” she demands, voice stronger and going shrill on the last word.

“What you should have. Released him. Put down mad dogs that infected him.” He turns his back on her. “Arefu is avenged.”

“Oh my God, you killed him – you killed Ian! I sent you there to save them, you bastard, not…”

The corrugated door slaps shut behind her. Rorschach listens to her strident wailing reverberating through Megaton’s crater, abruptly cut off at a sharp word from Simms.

Gob wordlessly hands him a Nuka Cola. “It’s a sick world, pal,” he says after Rorschach has done nothing for several minutes but stare into the fizzing liquid.

Rorschach would not consider lingering in this place, even cleared of Moriarty’s taint, but the soft voice awakens a faint yearning tinged with the remembered smell of ozone. He thinks of the big generators in the belly of the vault, of friendly round windows and soft seats.

He sits on the corner stool while Gob cleans the bar.

“You should see Moira about some new clothes. I think those are done with, no matter how much Abraxo you scrub them with. You let blood set in, and…” He shrugs and gestures toward his own stained tee-shirt.

“Fine like this,” he mutters, but the armour creaks when he moves, making it difficult to slip close to evildoers unnoticed.

“Aw, that’s a sad face on you!” Moira exclaims. “I hate to see the bestest research assistant in the wastes so down in the mouth. How about you take in a little retail therapy, go scavenge that abandoned Super Duper Mart near Grayditch for food and medicine, huh? I’ll trade you some stimpacks for whatever you can bring back.”

Medicine – stimpacks would certainly help when he heads into the ruins of D.C. “Agreed.”

Moira shudders and braces herself against the pitted countertop. “Rorschach, thank god! We’ve got to – oh, eh, you’re wearing your mask in here, too? That’s…weird. No, forget that, what’s important is getting you out of this…thing.”

Moira begins to pace, face twitching bizarrely.

“Miss Brown?”

“I’ve got Moloch and Malorkus secured, well, unconscious, so neither of them can tell me how to unhook you from this rack. Between Moloch’s drugs and Malorkus’ hardware, I, I…I don’t know how to get you out without killing you.”

“Miss Brown,” Rorschach frowns. “Am perfectly fine. Perhaps have been working too hard, and should close up shop early today.”

“Dammit Rorschach, you’re lucky I even figured out how to get into the program with a debugging cheat – and these things I’ve attached to my temples sting like hell. You’ll starve if you…”

His vision briefly dissolves into static, then resolves itself back into the familiar gloom of Craterside Supply.

Moira shakes her head. “Did I have a little spell?”

Rorschach nods, relieved at her explanation. He is sure Father, as a doctor, could explain her lapse into babbling, and wishes Father were here to dispel the disquiet it has left him with.

“Need clothes,” he says, intending to conduct business with haste while the woman is still in her right mind. “Not heavy.”

“Hmmmmm…I traded for this set of recon armour just this morning, practically new. Look, it’s only got four bullet holes in it!”

The light, plated suit only increases his uncomfortable feeling, and he is entirely sure it is not meant for him.

“Okay, how about this Medic gear? It’s a little less bloody than what you’ve got on.”

It looks nothing like Father’s spotless white coat, but he hands over five caps and changes in the men’s washroom. He wishes he had a long jacket to wear over it, even though Mr Brotch taught them it’s always hot in the wastes, no fall, winter, or spring since the bombs fell and blasted away normality.


part 1 - part 2

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