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Title: In All This Blood and Thunder (4/?)
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.

4. Super Duper

Scavenging the Super Duper Mart is an unmitigated disaster. Far from abandoned, it shelters the largest and most militant pack of raiders Rorschach’s yet encountered.

He learns too late the impossibility of sneaking in darkness through tin cans, bottles, and shopping carts. The ignominy of once again fleeing with barely a heartbeat of life left in his body eats at him, and he slams Moira’s requested food and drugs to the counter hard enough to break half the ampules.

“Rorschach, you have to listen to me,” she twitches, and Rorschach crosses his arms impatiently. The woman’s insanity is most inconvenient.

“Stimpacks,” he demands. “Leaving now.”

It’s no use. She only babbles on.

“This isn’t real. You’ve been taken captive, drugged to the eyeballs, and used as a guinea pig. You’ve been hooked up to this thing for days already, with just a saline IV to keep you from shrivelling into a raison, and you’ve got to get yourself out of it.”

“Miss Brown…”

“As far as I can make out, this program has a hard stop – it’ll automatically shut down if you, uh, die. So, follow me on this buddy – if you don’t die in here, and damn soon, you’re going to die for real. Do you get that? Tell me you understand!”

He grunts. “Will not indulge ravings of madwoman.”

“Dammit, Rorschach!” Moira looks over her shoulder. “This’ll get through, if nothing else – the Comedian helped me on this one, since Malorkus has been hacking into the Pentagon and selling missile specs to Castro, and he says – I’m quoting here – he says, if you’re not awake in five minutes, he’s going to take off your precious mask and, and what? Take a Gunga dump in it? No! I’m not saying that!”

Rorschach tears the shack door off its hinges on his way out. The raw crudeness of her ravings has upset him more than he would have expected, and he is can no longer look at her face without strangling the filth vomiting out her throat.

The raiders of the Super Duper Mart must die. Tonight.

There are five of them patrolling the aisles, and three in the back, in the former pharmacy. He can take out the three armed with bats and pipes, perhaps luring one or two of those with hunting rifles close enough to ambush first. But the rest… He needs (lasers, and sharp crescent projectiles, precisely cutting through darkness) covering fire to delay the rest, give him space to manoeuvre through them.

Rorschach’s blind rage shrinks somewhat as he considers and discards several strategies, momentarily hoarded until it can be used against evildoers. He paces the metal walkways, hoping for inspiration.

“Just keep walking,” a resident growls as he passes, paradoxically making him pause. It’s Jericho, grizzled former raider and Megaton’s resident guard dog (supposedly – all Rorschach has ever noted him protecting was Moriarty’s floor with his passed-out face). But it is the assault rifle on his back, and the practiced, smooth motion with which the man points it at him while dragging on his cigarette that catches Rorschach’s attention.

(…I like you, kid, so unclench and let an old dog teach you some tricks, huh?)

“Eliminating threat to Megaton’s security tonight. You in?”

The old raider holsters his assault rifle and shakes his head. “Naw, that’s not me any more. I’d love to be out there, looting and raping like the good old days, everyone knows that, but…no point in ruining all those good old memories by trying to recapture the magic.”

Rorschach grinds his teeth at the mention of “looting and raping,” but must persist. The only other possible back-up is the sheriff, but Simms cares nothing for the filth of the wastes if it's on the other side of Megaton’s barricade.

“Offering chance to redeem self.”

Jericho frowns, and after a long measuring stare, spits. “I’ll need a thousand caps for weapons and provisions, in advance.”

That’s all the caps Rorschach has, but he hands them over without a twinge of loss. His years in the vault have taught him not to value currency, not to whore himself in pursuit of empty wealth like so many.

“Meet me at the Super Duper Mart at sundown.”

* * *

Rorschach is not surprised when Jericho arrives with the same worn armour and gun, but finds he is not upset. The caps will make their way to his friend Gob, supporting his independent business. That can only be good, even if the trade is in demon drink.

“Eight raiders,” he says. “Five in front, three in back. Pick off the two with hunting rifles walking on top of the shelves, then regroup to take those in back together. Understand?”

“Ow, careful with that, bird-brain! You sure you know what you’re doing?”

Jericho shakes his head like Moira, and Rorschach kicks a can across the parking lot in frustration. He fears for his own sanity, as the madness seems contagious. Jericho shivers all over like a sodden animal, before unholstering his gun and pointing it at Rorschach’s head.

“Sorry, kid. This is gonna hurt you a lot more than it’ll hurt me…”

Before Rorschach can snatch the rifle out of his hands and bash his nose in with the stock (or possibly duck, kick the old man’s knee while bringing his tire iron up to break the square jaw), Jericho lowers the gun on his own, gaping at the parking lot.

“Christ, will ya look at this?”

Rorschach does, once again taking in the broken overpass, the burnt husks of cars, a scavenger’s mouldering corpse hanging from the store’s sign. He also sidles to line up with the other man’s shoulder, in his blind spot, and tightly grips his tire iron.

“That’s the Washington Monument way out there. And half the Capital dome. If Tricky Dick could see this, he’d have another stroke, hah!”

“Jericho – ”

“What are we doing here, kid?” Jericho demands. He jerks his chin toward the supermarket. “What’s in there?”

“Scum of the wastes,” Rorschach explains again, with what he feels is truly admirable patience. “Rapists. Murderers.”

“And we’re going to…?” Jericho asks, a Cheshire grin blooming across his scarred face.

Rorschach tilts his head. “Bring justice.”

Jericho slams a full cartridge of ammo into his gun. “I’m in. What?!”

“Did not – ”

“Not you. Look, Poindexter, I’m just gonna have some fun, and then I’ll shoot your little boyfriend in the head. A nice, clean murder-suicide, and all three of us will be home before bedtime. Now shut your cock-hole and let me waste some imaginary fuckers in peace!”

“Agreed,” Rorschach mutters, despite shuddering at the language. The man’s heart is in the right place, even if his mind isn’t.

“Let’s hit it,” Jericho crows, and kicks in the supermarket door.

With Jericho at his side, punishing the supermarket's scum is exhilarating.

“Ha ha ha, die you sorry sons a whores!” the old man screams, cigarette flying from his mouth. He blows a guard’s head clean off and shatters the knees of another with three precise shots. “Yeah! Yeah!”

Rorschach quickly takes out two of the raiders on the floor while their attention is on Jericho, and finds a sledgehammer oo one of the bodies. The head is wobbly and the handle beginning to splinter, but it still breaks limbs like a dream. He leaps up onto a shelf and runs to the pharmacy, too fast for the raiders’ wild shots to even graze him, and bashes in the leader’s skull before his boots hit the linoleum.

The battle is over in minutes.

“Hoo!” Jericho crows, despite the blood running down his side and a broken ankle, where a mohawked harridan with a bat had gotten in a lucky blow. “I’m starting to see why Nite Owl can’t pry you outta here.”

He watches Rorschach strip the bodies of anything useful. “Robbing the dead? That’s cold, kid, even for you.”

Rorschach ignores the commentary and nods toward a bloody mattress in the men’s room. “Sleep. Will heal injuries.”

Jericho shrugs quizzically but limps over to lie down anyway. “Whatever you say, killer.”

Rorschach pockets a large supply of duct tape from a low shelf and wraps the rough handle of his new favourite weapon. The raiders’ armour is in uniformly poor repair, but it occurs to him that each set has a few serviceable parts. By the time Jericho wakes, he has combined the undamaged pieces into one whole suit.

“Huh,” the other man says to himself, flexing his fully healed ankle. “That’s one fucking improvement on reality right there.”

“Here.” Rorschach hands him the repaired armour. “Better than what you’ve got on.”

“Uh, thanks.” He changes quickly and experimentally flexes his arms. “This is mostly duct tape, you realise.”

“Stronger than leather.” Rorschach shrugs and clears his throat. “Heading into heart of city, to find Father. Undoubtedly will encounter more filth needing extermination.”

He shoves his hands into his pockets to hide their shaking. “Welcome to accompany on journey,” he mutters.

“We should really…what do you think will be in D.C.?”

Rorschach thinks back to Simms’ advice (which could be summed up as: “stay the hell out of the city if you like your innards on the inside”). “More raiders, certainly. Mutated animals. Feral ghouls. Super mutants.”

“Super mutants?”

“Mutated humans. Very large, very strong. Have not encountered, yet.”

Jericho looks over his shoulder. “Okay. I’ll stay long enough to get a gander at the post-apocalyptic city we’ll all be living in within the decade, and tangle with a few of these super mutants. Then, we’re out of here.”

“After locating Father.”

“Sure, whatever your deluded little heart desires.”

part 1 - part 2 - part 3

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