The following is chapter 12 of my Fallout fanfic, Retaliation. Posted at the behest of Charcoal. I'm not familiar with this wiki's posting customs, so admins, make whatever changes you feel necessary to bring it in line. Юра 03:20, October 20, 2012 (UTC)

Der Flakturm

Riley tossed a stone up the staircase behind him. It was a relatively heavy one, about the size of a pre-war basketball but many times heavier. It was part of his job while he was recuperating at Fort Independence to aid in the excavation of the lower levels, many of which had been buried in the fight several days prior. Some of the damage was certainly intentional, while some of it was likely an effect of the Great War two centuries before.

He cussed as he tossed another stone. Followed by another, and then by another. For larger stones, Riley had a pickaxe at his disposal. It was tough work, and very physically involved – the antithesis of what the doc had suggested.

“Just take your time and rest up, Riley. You’ll be out of here before you know it.” He’d said. But not a day later he’d already been put to work moving rubble and debris out from the lower level hallways, alongside a skeleton crew of other Eagles who had been left behind while their units were deployed. It wasn’t that Riley minded labor – on the contrary, he thrived on it – but it was the fact that he was deemed to unwell to continue fighting, especially when there were far more gravely wounded individuals in the infirmary upstairs.

Everything the Eagles had begun to do seemed opposite, to Riley, to the core fundamentals of guerrilla warfare. The whole point was to maximize damage to the enemy while minimizing that done by the enemy. For some years, Riley had fought through dust and grime, surprising patrol after patrol of unsuspecting Brotherhood knights. They’d taken virtually no casualties over the course of that time, the time since the Enclave had been smashed, but in not even a week almost the entirety of Riley’s unit had been wiped from the face of the earth, and the remnants broken and battered. On the larger scale, the Eagles had lost close to a third their total manpower in a single battle. The numbers had fluctuated during the years since the battle at Adam’s Air Force Base, but never were the casualties so bad where they couldn’t immediately be replaced by some wasters.

On the converse, the target of the whole battle wasn’t even a Brotherhood of Steel proper outpost. It was some splinter sect less than a fifth the size of the rest of the Brotherhood presence in the region. Granted, most of the Outcasts had died during the attack, but for what it was worth the whole affair contributed nothing at all to the overall war effort. Riley was certain that had they chosen to ignore them, the Outcasts might have not even made any kind of move against the Eagles. It wasn’t as if there was, within the Outcasts, much in the way of kindness towards the proper Brotherhood of Steel.

He lobbed another stone. He wanted to talk to Lukas and see what the idea was with such a change in tact. Hopefully the Lieutenant hadn’t gone completely insane, because if he had – well Riley wouldn’t be sticking around for another folly like Fort Independence. With a grunt, Riley tossed a stone whose weight was half his own up the staircase, only to have it bounce midway up the stairwell and come tumbling back down. He growled and picked up his pickaxe, working away at the boulder.

Lukas carefully placed a marker on his map. The setup in Fort Independence was less than desirable, especially compared to the Nest where he’d spent the last few years planning and orchestrating the grander movements of the New Eagles. He had a physical map and makeshift markers, as opposed to the virtual ones the Nest had possessed for as long as Lukas could remember. Worse still, the physical map was from the pre-war days, and as a result was terribly outdated. He had to judge where each new city was by his mind’s eye alone, which was easier said than done.

Each marker was a simple block of wood with a number on it, and a symbol denoting its type. They weren’t pre-war, but Lukas had made them in the same style and with most of the same marking types. It was a mixed blessing, as most of the units under his command were infantry only. There were a number of mechanized units who possessed trucks kitted out with a menagerie of weapons. More so now, since a good percentage of mechanized units had been wiped during the assault on the Fort, and their equipment distributed amongst the remaining units.

Allied units were painted in blue. The most he had now were the newly-formed Megaton army, who were preparing to storm across the Potomac and liberate Rockville, which would probably add yet more supporters to his cause. He scanned, marked out potential allies: Hagerstown and Emmittsburg to the west, Rivet City to the east, Vault City to the northwest, Paradise Falls further to the north, Lincoln-Underworld in the midst of the National Mall. In the distant future, Lukas foresaw potential alliances with more distant cities: Annapolis had supposedly survived, and it was known that Baltimore’s suburbs were home to a confederation of linked trading towns. Pittsburgh could be an invaluable ally as well, being one of the few locations which still possessed the means to produce new weapons and equipment. There also persisted a number of cities in northern and eastern Virginia, all of which were out of reach for the moment but might, in the future, prove important.

He eyed the pentagon, and then the Jefferson monument. That monument would be the next major target for Lukas: reacquiring Project Purity would allow Lukas a significantly powerful bargaining chip, the same as how the Brotherhood was currently using it. They exploited the never-ceasing desire for water to maintain the allegiance of the wastelanders, to keep them flexible.

A knock came from the hallway.

“Door’s unlocked; come on in.” He said, without averting his eyes from the map. It was Riley McAllister.

“Sir, permission to inquire?” He asked.

“Riley, you and I have been comrades since the Sojourn. We can be informal here in my office.” Lukas said, dissipating the air of formality Riley had tried to maintain. He looked at riley: he was shirtless, but covered by bandages. His hair was disheveled, and just as dirty as his limbs and face. He plainly hadn’t bathed in years, whereas the Nest had functioning water systems, and thus Lukas was able to maintain his own hygiene.

“Alright.” Riley said, shrugging. “I’m just curious, what’s with the sudden change in tactics? Not even a month ago, we were guerrillas. We’d take our shot and leave as quickly as possible, we’d operate separately. Now we’re fighting open-field battles, getting ourselves massacred. Is there any point to it?”

“Riley, I know you, and I know you’ve never been the commanding type, despite your capabilities in combat. We aren’t just waging a war of continuation. That’s what the Enclave had always done – the whole point of our very existence was to continue their war against the Communists.” He pushed a book towards Riley, across the map and desk. Across the cover, in block letters, was written: The Story of America: Vol. XXXI. “This was written by a historian during the Sojourn, well after the first thirty volumes of this series had been published. Read it, it’ll give you a pretty good background on our whole organization.”

Riley took the book and flipped through the pages.

“This doesn’t really answer my question.”

“Doesn’t it?” Lukas returned. “I’m not continuing the Enclave. They are dead, have been since the oil platform was obliterated. I’m trying to reform us into something new.”

“And that,” Riley concluded for Lukas, “means that we need to sacrifice droves of our own? Is this some kind of personal power-trip?”

“War isn’t just field actions, Riley. It’s a mixture of politics, espionage, and combat. So long as the Enclave lives on, we cannot hope to win this war. We need to kill it, once and for all, to proceed onwards to victory. This whole time we’ve been fighting, since Adam’s, our fate has been inevitable. We will be defeated. If it takes months or decades, that’s all up to chance.” He paused, searching for the right words. “By forming something new, something inspired by, yet not tied to, the Enclave, we are getting the chance to start anew. Create a new image for ourselves, relieve ourselves of our predecessors’ wrongs. But that’s not enough to defeat the Brotherhood. We need to erode their support, while subsequently arraying the wasteland against them.”

Riley understood as much. That was the whole point of the attack on Megaton – to erode the support of one of the largest settlements in the wasteland for the Brotherhood.

“That still doesn’t give me an answer. Why are we getting ourselves killed?”

“Our allies need to take up the slack. We’re not just destroying the Brotherhood. I aim for something greater, something more lasting. I want to instill the core values of the Enclave, and of Colonel Autumn in particular, into our allies. That’s the whole point for gathering them: if they carry on with our goals in mind, even if every last one of us was dead, it wouldn’t matter. They would still govern under our banner, even if they didn’t know it.”

“I…” Riley paused. “I think I almost understand. You’re just trying to unify the Wasteland.” He grimaced at the thought. Was Lukas so disillusioned that he was prepared to sacrifice the Enclave for some naïve ideal?

Lukas smiled, recognizing his friend’s displeasure.

“Almost. My aim is to create the America I grew up knowing, even if it isn’t America. I’d prefer to be there for it, if at all possible. I may be utilitarian but I still don’t like the thought of so much death anymore than you do. That’s part of the reason I arranged for Harden Simms and the Megaton Army to liberate Rockville… while its guardian, that damnable paladin Cortez, is away. Hopefully we can kill that fucker instead of just delaying him.” Lukas scowled, spitting the last sentence as though he were spitting venom. Cortez had been a major thorn in the Eagles’ side. Every time he was present during an Eagle operation, the operation was a bust. He’d lived through a dozen assassination attempts and left no Eagle alive to relay the tale. And worst of all, his abuses of Enclave citizens in Rockville was appalling. Riley was silent, and nodded.

“Think I could be part of the attack on Rockville?” he asked. Lukas shook his head.

“Unfortunately not. The attack is proceeding at dusk tonight.” Lukas said. Riley sighed.

“Alright. I’ll just keep working on clearing out the basement.” He turned to leave. Lukas watched him, and made sure the door was shut before continuing his examination of the map.

Ashley Rodriguez had been drafted into doing the New Eagles’ dirty work again. After her hand in the bomb attack on the Lone Wanderer, Lukas had not continued correspondence with her former compatriots, and figured after several weeks that she might be alone. Perhaps the Brotherhood finally won.

Instead, a note came with Harden Simms, which instructed Ashley to set a proximity mine in the center of a road off in the godforsaken wasteland a ways north of Rockville. No explanation was given, and she was told to conceal the bomb as well as possible. Not long after she arrived, she was “ambushed” by three Eagle fighters, each clad in their cut-down combat armor and wielding R91 assault rifles. She almost screamed when one of them grabbed her shoulder. She wasn’t expecting company, and hadn’t heard her allies sneaking up on her. After getting some bread, water, and caps from the apparent leader of the group, she conversed with them, curious as to what was going on.

“An important individual’s on the way. We’re just here to kill him.” One of them, the leader, clarified. “Really, I think this is just a diversion. From what I understand, the Megaton Army is on its way across the Potomac right now.”

“Don’t you guys think you’re a little lightly armed for this… ‘important individual’?” she asked them. She didn’t relish the thought of being stuck out there waiting for some combat to end. Were her allies killed, she’d have to lay low, probably overnight.

“Like I said, ma’am, it’s probably just a diversion.” The leader again said, trying to dissuade Ashley’s fears. One of the soldiers gestured with his missile launcher. The leader spotted movement on the road from the east, and ordered them all to take cover. Harden Simms moved forward with the First Platoon, leading from the front. He wasn’t about to turn into an armchair general, he wanted to get first-hand combat experience with his fellows. Each soldier was clad in combat armor, and each wielded a brand-new R91 assault rifle, manufactured in the Pitt. Just over a ridge was Rockville, the target of the attack. Liberating Rockville would probably cut off routes west and north for the Brotherhood of Steel, and if what his allies said was true, the denizens of Rockville would lend a hand against the Brotherhood.

Harden observed the walls of the city, and spotted their main defense: what looked like a massive laser turret built upon a derelict radio tower. Aside from that, the garrison looked light: only a few men patrolled the walls, a few more stood guard at the front gate. The walls were equipped with a number of smaller laser turrets. Two more platoons gathered behind Harden and the First Platoon. The plan of attack was simple. Feign an attack on the front gate with Second Platoon, and then climb over the west and south walls with First and Third Platoon. Fourth and Fifth Platoon were on standby, with snipers from the New Eagles providing overwatch for the attack.

Harden motioned to Second Platoon. The lieutenant leading the group looked terrified, and rightly so. They would likely be the main target for the Brotherhood’s turret. They’d also be the most exposed.

“Move up and use cover,” Harden commanded in a hushed tone, “don’t kill yourselves.”

The lieutenant nodded, before checking to make sure his rifle was loaded. Harden checked his own rifle. His rifle was the Type 93 which had previously been owned by his father.

“First and Third Platoon, get ready. The second gunfire starts, we’re going to make our way through those three canyons,” he gestured southward, towards a number of passable areas etched from the ridge, “and scale or destroy the walls. Our first goal is to disable that turret of theirs, and in the process we ought to have eliminated the enemy’s fighting capabilities.”

He waited for a signal. In the intervening time, he conversed with a number of the other militia.

“Sir,” one of them asked, “What happened to luring the enemy out?”

It was a valid question. Previously, Harden had planned on using their emplacements against the Brotherhood by feigning an attack, but the chances of actually being able to draw the Brotherhood out seemed remarkably low.

“Plans change,” he responded, “I find it difficult to believe the Brotherhood would be stupid enough to just leave their posts.”

To the north, Harden saw a flare, almost unnoticeable against the dusk sky. 

“Go!” he shouted. Second Platoon made their way as quickly as possible to the north, and looped back once they made it to the road. Using broken-down cars for cover, they moved up, taking shots at the Brotherhood’s garrison.

Ashley kept her hands pressed against her ears, and her eyes shut, for the duration of the fighting. The whole affair terrified the life out of her, and it was plain from the get-go that her allies were losing. She hid behind a boulder, away from the fight.

The fight had, at first, gone as planned. Ashley saw as much; she waited alongside the Eagles when the three pre-War trucks came rolling along from the east, unaware of the trap that had been set for them. Ashley had set the mine in a crack of the pavement, hiding it from view – the first truck detonated nicely, and the initial detonation of the mine was quickly followed by a second, harsher explosion. The nuclear power supply had gone critical. The two Brotherhood men who had survived the first explosion – those who were in the bed of the truck – were disabled due to the EMP effect of the nuclear explosion. The Eagles waited until the rest of the Brotherhood got out to investigate.

Cortez had barely stepped out of his truck when the first bullet struck him, leaving a welt on the ceramic chestplate of his armor just above where his heart was. A cacophony of gunfire followed afterwards, and the other truck Cortez had brought along went up in flames as a missile slammed into it.

“Kill them!” he shouted, his voice barely audible due to the muffling effect the power armor’s helmet had on him. “They’ve only got projectile weapons! Go after them!”

Nobody heard him. So the Paladin took it upon himself to unholster his Desert Eagle, and charge directly towards where the gunfire was coming from.

Seeing him, running as fast as he was in his power armor, Ashley immediately slipped away, even as the Eagles began to panic. Their weapons truly were useless against power armor, for the most part, and the Eagles proved no match for the Brotherhood once the latter’s confusion had worn off.

Ashley was uncertain about whether she had been seen or not, and it really didn’t matter to her; she picked her way back to the Potomac regardless. She could hear the screams of the Eagles who had helped with the ambush. Cortez saw the woman get away, but didn’t bother going after her.

“Probably just some waster,” he said as one of the Knights suggested pursuing her. Either way, she was obviously not a fighter. She had run without even firing a shot. What’s the point of going after people who aren’t actually threats? “Check and see if the knights in the first truck survived. That looked like an awful blast. Send up a flare; let the garrison know we’ll be a few more hours.”

As the Second Platoon got bogged down, Harden lead the First and Third Platoon through the rifts and towards the walls. The First Platoon prepared to scale the west wall, while the Third took the south wall. Few had seen them coming. It was just as Harden’s soldiers begin to clamber over the walls that the turret first activated.

Harden could hear it prior to the first volley, although he couldn’t discern what it was making the noise. It produced a sound akin to a gatling gun spinning up, but at a much deeper pitch. Without any adieu, the turret began to spit missiles and bullets towards the Second Platoon in volleys. Explosions illuminated the darkening horizon, occasionally followed by the harsher explosions of derelict car generators going critical.

Over the wall, Harden tried to bring to mind the map of Rockville he had studied several days prior. It had been drawn up by a number of scouts, most of whom were ex-Enclave, and he was now regretting not bringing it: the city’s buildings provided a maze which he and his two platoons would need to pick through. Worst of all, Harden had forgotten his radio, and there was therefore no room for error.

“Make your way towards the hall! See if the locals might be willing to help!” He cried, before shifting through an alleyway with a fireteam of four others. Almost all of the Brotherhood knights were up on the walls. There might have been more inside some of the buildings, but the Megaton militia needed to prioritize. The town hall, they knew, was the Brotherhood’s headquarters for the region, and would likely have some kind of control console for the turret above which was currently raining death upon the Second Platoon.

Most of the journey, as both platoons split into their respective squads and fireteams, was unconfrontational. As expected, the population of Rockville was sternly against the Brotherhood, and was compliant in directing Harden and his men towards the town hall. They even directed them towards the town’s generator, if they wanted a faster way to shut down the town’s defenses. Harden was dead-set on capturing the town hall, however – the Brotherhood would be able to react to their as-yet undiscovered foes within the town if their defenses suddenly ceased their work.

After some time, by Harden’s reckoning around fifteen minutes, he and his compatriots had made their way to the town hall, where they immediately set down a defensive perimeter using the Brotherhood’s preexisting defensive emplacements. The Second Platoon had been reinforced by the Fourth Platoon, but Harden knew they had to be wavering by that point. As far as Harden could see, only two Brotherhood knights had been incapacitated up to that point, and one of the wall’s smaller turrets had exploded.

Cortez was astounded by the lack of response from the garrison. His one truck was not enough to carry all of the Brotherhood knights who had accompanied him, let alone all of the bodies and equipment he needed to recover. It was incredibly sloppy of the garrison, and when he arrived back – whenever that was – he would hand out a lot of reprimands and summary imprisonments. Thereafter he would need to send for replacement trucks, replacement equipment, replacement soldiers…

The knights had taken to conversing amongst themselves, though Cortez wanted no part in their discussions. He glanced at his watch, which he had sewn to his left glove, under the palm of his hand. It was getting later by the minute, and soon it would be completely dark, the perfect time for raiders and other scum to try their luck at tackling Cortez’ caravan. There were two knights and ten turrets within the town hall. The former had surrendered the moment they were caught unawares – they wore no armor and wielded no weapons. The latter, by contrast, was more firm in conviction, and three in the First Platoon were incapacitated by then during the sweeping operation.

“Any word on a control panel for the turret out there?” Harden asked as his men darted from room to room. There was a resounding “no” from everyone, and Harden finally relented to ask the Brotherhood’s knights about the issue after some minutes.

Those two were hogtied, their hands and feet bound together with zipties the militia had found in the basement of the building. They watched with fear as the town hall was torn apart by the militia. Much of the building’s equipment and system were forcefully removed, only important items such as Brotherhood’s deployment records and equipment transfer records were retained for future usage.

“I’m in a bit of a bind here, friends,” Harden began, crouching down to face-level with the two bound knights. “My comrades out there are being slaughtered by that death machine up on the radio tower, and I need a way to shut it down. Any suggestions?”

“Yeah,” one of them spat, a relatively large and fit man who under normal circumstances might have frightened Harden. “Go fuck yourselves.” Harden pursed his lips.

“That’s out of the picture, pal.” He said, rising and bringing his rifle to bear slugging the smartass with the stock of the weapon. Blood and a number of teeth came forth as the blow hit home on the man’s teeth.

“Fuck you. I’m not saying anything.” The man reiterated.

“Well what about your pal here?” Harden asked the other one, a scrawny-looking man who was probably a recent recruit right out of the wastes.

“Uh, y-yeah!” he said, skittish. “Third floor, take the first left and it’s the third door on the right! Now could you let me go?” The larger man glared knives at his smaller companion.

“Maybe later,” Harden said, before calling to the militia who immediately began the hike up to the third floor. Harden followed not long after, to ensure the area was clear before he went to check. As was promised, there in the specified room was a large console comprised of a number of terminals, all of which were linked into a larger interface that dominated the far wall, away from the door.

Harden sat at the nearest terminal, whose user had conveniently left it logged onto the system, likely having left in a hurry to meet the Second Platoon on the walls. Harden searched through each of the options, trying to find a way to shut down the turret. One option allowed Harden to change the targeting parameters, which was as good as anything else – he reset the targeting parameters so as to wipe clean the preexisting set that had been uploaded. Almost immediately, the sound of missiles ceased. On further examination, Harden uncovered a number of files which might be advantageous in future scraps with the Brotherhood: namely, research findings on various weapons and armor, and detailed reports on the effectiveness of different weapons against powered armor.

“Lieutenant Marcus,” Harden called, whereupon the leader of the Third Platoon made his appearance.

“Yes, sir?” he asked, nervous. Harden was unsure what he was nervous about; he was probably one of the more capable members of the militia – both in terms of his logical abilities and physical prowess, being by far one of the more well-built men in Megaton.

“There ought to be a door from the fourth floor leading onto the wall – take your platoon out there, and finish the battle.” Harden directed, to which Marcus grimaced.

“Uh, yes, sir.” He said, before gesturing for his soldiers to follow. “Let’s go – try and keep in cover if you can!”

The Harden resolved to stay in Rockville for the next few days with his part of the army. Until he could get the people of Rockville fitted for combat and ready to defend themselves, he wasn’t about to take a chance and allow the Brotherhood to descend on them like vultures immediately after he’d rescued them. He was certain that would be what would happen, as well – probably a third the reported garrison had been absent at the time of his attack. If the Brotherhood were swift enough and in great enough quantity, they would be able to retake Rockville regardless of whether or not Megaton was in the area.

The immediate aftermath of the reclamation was that Harden actually found himself defending his enemies – or at least those who had survived – from the same people he had liberated. He didn’t want the precedent set that summary execution was an acceptable course of action, under any circumstances. How much of a hypocrite would he be if he did the very thing that justified his hostility? Megaton had the moral high ground, and Harden wasn’t one to squander it. As such, he organized a trial, at which the people of Rockville would decide the fates of the Brotherhood garrison. His proceedings were largely based on the pre-war United States, of which he had been taught by the Lone Wanderer.

Sitting atop a bench in the city’s courtroom, he brought the court to order.

“Much as I would love a fair trial for the remaining Brotherhood garrison troops, I want to make this as quick as possible. I have plenty of reasons to loathe these men, for what their comrades did to my own city – causing massive suffering through the deaths of many of our loves ones, and to a lesser extent the large amount of property damage that occurred during the act.”

The few Brotherhood garrison troops seemed taken aback.

“What on God’s green earth are you talking about?” One of them shouted. “Nobody from this city ever went after Megaton!”

“We have two thousand witnesses who would be more than ready to testify against you.” Harden said, vaguely annoyed by the troop’s lack of reverence, as well as the fact that he was flat-out lying. “But this isn’t about me or my quarrels with you, it’s that of the people you were garrisoned with.” Harden said, gesturing to the two-hundred Rockville who had joined Harden and his troops in the prosecution of the garrison. “Left to their own devices, I’d imagine they’d just lynch you all. My troops here are the only thing standing between you and your death.”

The citizens of Rockville seemed perturbed by the fact that they were being just as much kept away from the remaining garrison as they were being guarded from the garrison in the off chance those few remaining troops managed to get loose. For all of the trespasses committed against them, the fact that they weren’t summarily punished was frustrating, and as a result the entire room was filled with a silent tension. Everybody could feel the murder the citizens of Rockville were emanating.

“Let’s read off the charges.” Harden said. He commenced on a journey through close to seven hundred charges, each one not necessarily as severe as those prior or after it. They weren’t listed in order of severity, either, and Harden left off on a count of expropriation of fiscal assets.

Harden wasn’t dressed for the role he now occupied.

“Typically I’d advocate for individual sentencing, but in this particular case it ought to be cumulative. There’s practically no doubt in anyone’s mind – either from the evidence we found during the final sweeps last night, or from first-hand accounts – that the crimes committed here were of the highest echelon in terms of vulgarity. If it weren’t for the fact that my daddy was a lawman, I probably wouldn’t even be the one up here. The jury should convene now and rule a verdict.”

Harden was exhausted. He’d been up for two days straight during both the positioning for the attack, and the following actions with regards to cleaning up. It reminded Harden of some bad memories of the Enclave years ago, when they first started rustling through the wasteland. To think he was sentencing his former allies.

After some time, the verdict came back. Harden read it.

“As expected,” he said, “Guilty. The punishment for… well, all the crimes combined is execution by firing squad. Sentence will be carried out within the hour. May God have mercy on all of your souls.” Harden could practically smell the fear and the vengefulness. It was as though he was standing between a group of super-mutants, a deathclaw, and a couple drugged-up wastelanders.

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