UserPaladin117 Vault 117
This is one of Paladin117's personal blogs.
Please do not confuse with actual, in-game content.
Although it is more than good enough to actually be included in the games.
You hear me, Bethesda?
War. War never changes.

When nuclear fire rained down on the United States, the government was virtually destroyed, splintering the former nation. The Enclave, who, for over a century hid in their oil rig, now wish to restore their country by killing its people. The Brotherhood of Steel, a group of military rogues who gather and protect old world technology to the point of worshipping it. There’s even the New California Republic, a new government built and based on the remnants of the old one.

For a short period, the Brotherhood and the NCR worked together, attacking a weakened Enclave and scattering its soldiers in the West. This alliance did not last long, however. The Brotherhood became even more aggressive in its search for technology, attacking NCR citizens. This has now led to a full war between the two factions, a war that will weaken the Core Region for decades to come.

Core Region, 2271

Luxus was honestly getting annoyed by this point. He had been sitting on this uncomfortable chair, in a tiny cramped room in Level 3 of the Lost Hills bunker he called home. He was also surrounded by Scribes, studying their books and carrying with them, most likely pointless, documents. He just sat there, miserably waiting for his appointment that should’ve started an hour ago. Glancing over, he noticed an older looking man who just walked in, he wasn’t wearing Scribe robes, however. He actually looked kind of familiar, almost like Luxus had-

“Mr. Fuller!” was yelled from the next room and Luxus abandoned all other thoughts as he jumped up and walked in there. The Head Scribe’s room was cozy, for lack of a better term. It should be at least, the man never leaves it, he spends all of his time studying in here, he sleeps in here, and the other Scribes deliver his food to him. Head Scribe Holt was pretty much the stereotypical Scribe, thin, no muscles, bad hair, pale skin, probably hasn’t seen the sun in decades.

“What do you want, Mr. Fuller?” he quickly asked, not even looking up from his books.

“I’m requesting a transfer, sir” Luxus responded, handing out a, completely redundant, transfer form. Holt took it, again not even looking up, but didn’t bother reading it.

“A transfer already? Isn’t today your first day here?”

“No, sir, tomorrow is.”

“Who do you wish to transfer under then?”

“I don’t wish to transfer under anyone, sir, I wish to become a Paladin.”

It was at this point that Holt finally looked up at Luxus, then switched and started to read the redundant form, apparently not trusting his little Scribe ears. However, to Luxus, the only thing more annoying than having to fill out this form three times now, is having to hear the same answer for a third time.

“I cannot approve this, we have a greater need for Scribes at the moment. Plus, I’ve seen your file, you have the second best scores of the trainees.”

“I also have the first best marksmanship scores of the group, sir.”

“Luxus, as a Paladin, all you will accomplish is guarding a door here or fighting the NCR outside. As a Scribe though, you can actually make a difference, you can help us save lives.”

“Whose lives, sir? The Paladins who waste their time bullying anyone who dares to carry a laser pistol? I don’t want to help those idiots.”

Luxus didn’t quite realize what he was saying until it was too late. While he meant every word and has had these thoughts for a while, the Head Scribe was now giving him a look of utter anger, and Luxus realized it may be the closest he now gets to seeing the face of a hungry deathclaw.

“Now listen here, Mr. Fuller, for your benefit, I’m going to pretend this conversation never happened. You are going to report here tomorrow as a Scribe, and that is all. Get out of here, now!” he basically screamed out. Luxus walked out, looking around he found the other Scribes didn’t even bother to look up, despite all the noise. Luxus was about to leave the library when he found that older man from earlier in his way.

“You sure know how to anger them, don’t you?” he asked. Luxus couldn’t shake the feeling he should know this man and his uniform, were those Elder robes? Luxus couldn’t help but smile as it finally came to him.

“Do you eavesdrop on others’ conversations often, Elder Elijah?”

Elijah smiled in response and turned around towards the door, before saying, “Walk with me, Luxus was it?” Luxus couldn’t help but follow him as they walked out of the library, through the hallways, finally stopping at an empty room.

“What is it exactly you hope to accomplish as a Paladin?” Luxus had been wondering what he wanted to talk about, but this question surprised him. All the others wanted to know was why he didn’t want to be a Scribe, not why he wanted to be a Paladin.

“I don’t really know, sir. I was just hoping to be able to do something….different, if that makes sense. As a Scribe or a Knight, all I can accomplish is helping the Paladins in their pointless attacks on the NCR. As a Paladin, maybe I can actually do something, I just don’t know what.” He quickly noticed that Elijah was genuinely listening to him, seemingly analyzing him.

“Have you considered transferring to another chapter?”

“Yeah, I tried that after meeting with the Head Paladin, Maxson denied the request.”

“Luxus, over the years I’ve wondered how it is the Brotherhood can even survive like this. We focus solely on weapons, not caring about other technologies, we make other groups fear or hate us, and we are now fighting against the most culturally advanced group since the War. What if we could do things differently? What if instead of attacking people, we helped them? Wouldn’t that be better for everyone?”

“No one in this bunker would even consider something like that. I wouldn’t be surprised if they exiled someone for talking like that.”

“You forget, I’m in control of my own chapter, how would you like a transfer to the Mojave? I could use Paladin Luxus.”

“I think I would like that a lot, but Maxson would never approve it, he-“

“Let me worry about Maxson, when can you be ready to leave?”

Luxus wondered if he should tell Elijah that he was already fully packed, he was prepared to flee this bunker if his transfer was denied, become a Follower or a caravan bodyguard or something, but he decided against it and told him, “I can be ready to leave within the hour.”

“Good, make it two hours, the whole reason I came here was to meet with Holt,” he turned to leave but then stopped and added, “Make sure to say your goodbyes, you might not see your family for quite a while.”

He then walked out, leaving Luxus alone in this dank room, “I’m sure they will get the transfer report in a week.”

Mojave Region: Route 95, 2276

Luxus quickly looked up at the Sun and figured it must be around 1400. He found a neat little place to snipe from: a rock for balancing his laser rifle, enough shade that no reflection will come off his power armor, and an unsuspecting Viper camp in his sights. Killing Vipers was not exactly part of his mission, but he already completed his mission and wasn't due back for two days. Plus, since the NCR have now settled in McCarran, Elijah wanted him to take the long way back through Novac and he needed something to do after a boring walk.

Looking back through his laser rifle's scope, he found he still didn't have a clear shot on them, if only he had some kind of bait. As if on cue, he spotted a small caravan, coming up the road. Seeing them too, the Vipers quickly moved into position to ambush them, perfect. Just as the traders passed, the Vipers jumped out to attack, expecting an easy kill. What they weren't expecting was for their leader's head to suddenly get vaporized. Luxus quickly turned and shot at the one next to him, the first went left and hit his shoulder, but the second downed him. At this point, the Vipers were unsure of what to do, some trying to find their mystery sniper, while others fought the caravan guards.

Luxus gave up on the head shots and began aiming for center of mass instead. There was only one of them left, when he heard a noise from his right and turned to find a Viper charging at him with a tire iron. Moving on instinct, he took his laser rifle and blocked the Viper's attack. Dropping it, he pulled out his knife in an instant and stabbed the man in the side and then, flipping the knife around in his hand, stabbed down into his heart, causing him to breath in suddenly before falling over. Where did he come from?

Looking up, Luxus found another Viper coming, this time with a shotgun. Before the man could get a chance to fire, however, Luxus got out his plasma pistol, and shot him in the arm. The impact area quickly turned to goo and his lower arm fell off, shotgun still in hand. The man frantic and screaming, fell to the ground. Luxus walked up to him and shot him again between the eyes, before turning his attention back to the caravan.

"What the hell do you want?" The closest guard asked, pointing his assault rifle at him, as he walked up.

"Is that how they say 'thank you for saving all our lives' where you come from?" Luxus always hated the way his voice sounded through a power armor helmet. Ignoring him, Luxus turned to the Viper corpses. Nothing special, except for the leader, who was actually holding an energy weapon, don't see many raiders with those. Luxus quickly picked it up as a caravan merchant walked up to him.

"Thank you, really. Lately we've been having a hard time finding guards," the man said, giving a look to the guard, who lowered his weapon.

"Do you know this weapon?" Luxus asked, caring little about the troubles of Far Go Traders. It was definitely a laser weapon, electron charge pack as ammunition, but a design he had never seen before.

"Um, uh, it's a Laser RCW, I think. They recently found them in some factory ruins in the Boneyard, they were just mass produced and were about to be shipped when the nukes hit."

"I see, thanks. You should get moving, before more of them show up." Luxus quickly turned and walked away, not hearing what the man said next. He felt the sudden urge to get back to HELIOS asap.

"What did you do to this thing?" Knight Torres asked him when he checked in, looking at the laser rifle.

"I swear, it was the weirdest thing, a deathclaw, a blind deathclaw, came out of nowhere and attacked me. I had no choice but to use that as my shield or I would've been cut in two" Luxus told the lie he came up with, Knights didn't like you messing up equipment for some reason. Sadly, it didn't look like she was buying it.

"Do you really expect me to believe there are blind deathclaws in the area? And that their claws do blunt damage?"

"Their claws..aren't that sharp, compared to average ones. And how would you know, when was the last time you even left this place?"

Torres quickly grunted, giving up on this conversation before examining the rifle again. "The crystal array is cracked, badly. Probably be easier to just get a new rifle."

"That's great, are we done here? The Elder wants to see me." She rolled her eyes before finishing the form and allowing him to leave. Now technically, Luxus was required to check in any advanced weapons he finds, like this laser RCW in his bag, but luckily Torres was too distraught about her injured rifle to notice.

Luxus knocked on the door and entered Elijah's office in the solar collection tower. Like most of the time, he had caught Elijah as he was studying the schematics to the facility, always looking for something.

"Oh, Luxus. How were things at Creech?" he asked.


"You know what I meant."

Luxus quickly sighed before answering, "It was just as I predicted, a base left unguarded for nearly two centuries? It was picked cleaned. It didn't seem like the most important base, but it was still hit by a nuke, only the outer buildings were left standing."

"Nothing of value left?"

"I didn't say that." he said before opening and emptying the bag he had with him, the laser RCW already hidden somewhere else, "We got three fission batteries, some scrap I thought the Knights would love and...these."

Elijah walked up and picked up the weird looking collars as Luxus continued, "They're explosive collars, I'm hoping they were used to keep prisoners from running, "

"Barbaric," was all Elijah said in response, Luxus couldn't help but agree.

"Ok Luxus, you're dismissed. Enjoy your two days downtime."

That quickly surprised Luxus, the last time he got "downtime," was when he first met a cazador and was sent to the infirmary for poisoning. He had to ask, "Downtime, sir?"

"You get your next mission after your current one ends, which is the day after tomorrow. Trust me, you'll want to be calm for this one."

"Yes, sir." Luxus never actually minded his missions. Even the "charity" ones, like helping Boulder City with it's power problem, were usually interesting, at least. What did he mean about being calm, though.

He was about to walk out when Elijah suddenly added, "Oh, and you got another message from your parents, it's on your bunk."

Luxus sighed before responding, "Great."

Mojave Region: HELIOS One, 2276

Luxus walked in to find the room completely deserted. Good, no one to bother me. Luxus walked over to his bunk to find a piece of paper sitting there. It stated the radio transmission was from "Head Paladin Fuller," but it only took one glance to see it was from his mother, rather than his father.

Dear Luxus blah blah blah..Have you been doing well? blah blah.. still sorry for what happened blah..Love, Mom.

Luxus read it a second time, making sure he got it, before proceeding to rip up the paper into 32 nearly perfect squares, which will be incinerated later. Luxus did try once to reply to these messages, the result was the radio operator on the other side suddenly getting replaced by his father, was not pleasant.

With that all done, Luxus picked up the laser RCW, sat it on the bunk, and began removing its casing. Inside, the RCW looked pretty sturdy, especially compared to a regular rifle. The components were very compact, so much so that some of the wiring had to be run through a tube on the top of the weapon. The capacitors in the drum ran to a power management device in the rear, which then ran through a diverter, and finally through the crystal array. Mostly standard except, there was two diverters, oddly enough, with a small, internal switch to choose which one to use.

Guess it makes sense, if one of the diverters fails on the field, have an engineer quickly open it up and switch to the backup.

Luxus laid his head back and yawned, it wasn’t often he got to sleep on an actual pillow, usually he just used a rock or his bag. Of course, that’s assuming if he slept at all. As he began drifting to sleep a bit, his mind wandered again to that fight with the Vipers. It was going so well, until they found him. That’s one advantage firearms have over energy weapons. You can suppress the sound of a sniper rifle, but you can’t get rid of a laser’s light. Unless…..

Luxus suddenly bolted up and stared back at the RCW and its twin diverters. The diverters were a model he never saw before, most likely custom made for this weapon. However, General Atomics made a better line of diverters for the AEP model line, about one third of the size and could adjust various features, like the wavelength. He quickly began doing some quick math in his head.

A normal laser rifle fires at a wavelength of around 1400 nm. Normally this would make a laser difficult, if not impossible, to see by the human eye, but second harmonic generation would half the length to around 700 nm, which is red to the eye. You could make the wavelength longer, 1530 nm or more, so that the laser remains in infrared, but the loss in frequency would make it spread out more, so it would lose force and accuracy. What if instead you shortened the wavelength, to around 400 nm, then second harmonic would shorten it even more, to around 200 nm, which is well into the ultraviolet range. Not only would it be invisible, the increase in frequency would result in more power and range.

Luxus quickly put the RCW back together, grabbed some equipment from his footlocker and walked out of the room. Let’s do some tests.

Laying down on the observation deck, Luxus took aim and continuously fired at a nearby rock as he emptied the electron charge pack. After hitting 80, the laser RCW clicked, out of power. Picking up his binoculars, Luxus looked down to find most of the shots hit the same spot, more or less. Definitely gonna need to attach a scope if I want to use it for sniping, though. Standing up, Luxus disconnected the wires from the RCW’s capacitors and began following the wiring down the stairs, leading him to a terminal now displaying various energy readings.

So, this metal plate actually does absorb excess energy and helps charge the capacitors a little. So, it would do around, 60 shots without it, maybe. An energy cell wouldn’t hope to charge an ultraviolet laser and a microfusion cell would only get a shot out or two, but an electron charge pack? That could get 30 shots, at least, and fully automatic. Wait, no. The capacitors weren’t designed to hold that amount of power, it would need an additional, internal capacitor, more powerful that could hold that much power. Plus, the drum would need to be slowed down in ultraviolet mode, that way all the capacitors still charge correctly, so it would be semiautomatic.

Playing with the terminal, Luxus found a capacitor that could handle what he needed, and was small. The "GRA5XS" model, surprisingly a post-War invention. Writing some very crude schematics, he found the wiring in the external tubing could actually be moved inside with these modifications, probably. In which case, he could remove the tubes to make way for a scope. Now, where to get these parts…

The next day, Luxus quickly walked up to the door to the Knights’ workbenches. He knocked but opened the door before getting a response. Inside was his dear, old friend, Lorenzo, just the man he was looking for. Plus he was all alone in here, perfect.

"Hey Luxus, what are you up to?"

Luxus quickly walked over, placing his hand on the man’s shoulder and pulling him close so he could whisper, "Hey Lorenzo, remember that incident some time ago? At Vault 3?"

Lorenzo quickly went wide-eyed and kept switching between staring at the door and staring at Luxus, before responding, "I told you, that wasn’t what it looked like and you promised you wouldn’t tell anybody."

"Of course it wasn’t what it looked like, that vault dweller and his wife obviously got it all wrong, but I didn’t tell a soul. By the way, do you remember what you said next?"

Luxus let him go and stepped back a bit, leaning against the nearby table. Lorenzo stared for a few seconds before a flicker of understanding appeared on his face, "I told you that I owed you one."

"Oh, that’s right. I had nearly forgotten you owe me a favor. Coincidentally, I need help with a little pet project of mine."

Lorenzo didn’t respond, he just kept staring at him, so Luxus reached into his pocket, pulled out a piece of paper and handed it to him. Lorenzo took it, making a small remark, "What is this? Your laundry list?"

"Do you Knights wash your tools with your clothes? I’ve always wondered this."

Lorenzo ignored him as he read the list he scribbled down, "What is this for? You know what, nevermind. I don’t want to know,” he stared at the list for a bit before continuing, “I actually have most of this, everything except for-"

"The capacitor," Luxus finished his sentence, already expecting that.

"Yeah, that. It’s a special model, made by the Gun Runners. They use it for their 'Smitty Special' or whatever."

"So, all I need to do is shoot up the place a bit and steal me one, piece of cake."

"I would seriously suggest not doing that, you should just buy one and-"

"What are you two doing, hiding in this little corner?" a, sadly familiar, female voice said from the door. Luxus quickly turned in surprise, to find an annoying scribe staring at them.

"What? Are you lost, Veronica?" Lorenzo shot Luxus a look, obviously wanting to point out neither of them should be here, but he didn’t care.

"I was actually looking for you, Mr. Sunshine."

"Me? I'm flattered, I thought I wasn't your type."

"Haha, good one. Just need to tell you, Elijah gave me the details of your next mission, wanted me to have you come for your own briefing," her smile suddenly got wider than usual, "can’t wait for it."

She quickly turned, leaving as abruptly as she entered and leaving Luxus speechless for a few seconds, his mind searching for an answer. After some time, he finally asked, "Lorenzo, I can only think of one reason the Elder would give her my mission briefing before me, please tell me you can think of something else."

"For this next mission, Veronica will be taking the lead," Elijah stated.

"Permission to speak freely, sir?" Luxus asked.


"I hate you, sir."

Elijah laughed a little but then sighed, "I don’t get it, why do you dislike her so much?"

"She… just smiles too much. I could probably go and choke her pet puppy in front of her and she would still smile. It’s irritating." Ok, that wasn't the full reason why Luxus disliked her, but Elijah didn't need to know.

"Well, if it makes you feel better, you have command during any combat scenarios," Elijah stated as he handed him mission briefing.

"Great, I get to cover her little scribe ass while people fire guns at me, always a pleasure to fight for two," he said, not even reading the paper.

Elijah gave him a little signal before walking over to a map display. After hitting a few buttons, a map appeared that Luxus didn’t recognize. However, Elijah was quick to explain, "This is the area around America’s former capital, Washington D.C., now better known as the 'Capital Wasteland'. You know of our Brotherhood chapter in that area?”

"Barely, didn’t they get exiled or something?"

"No, but they got pretty close, the Elders cut off all communication to the entire chapter, although I’m surprised they haven’t tried reconnecting since this war started."

"So, what are we to do? Leg it over to the East Coast and beg them to take us back?"

"No, four days ago, I received something I didn’t expect. A radio transmission came through, high priority channel. However, just as it started, all of our signals were jammed."

"Jammed? By who?"

"Unknown, we only got a small part of the message as a result," Elijah stated, handing Luxus the message. It was already decrypted and most of it was various codes the Elders know. Except for the last part.

"What is an 'Eld Lyo'?"

"Elder Lyons, head of the Capital Wasteland chapter. This signal jamming could not have been a coincidence, but I need to know what's happening over there before we do anything. Whoever jammed us, may have recorded the rest of the message."

"And that’s where I come in."

"No, that’s where you and Veronica come in, if you find the message, she can verify that it’s real, just in case."

"Of course, she’s not skilled enough in hacking to do it alone…"

"You two leave tomorrow morning, there’s only a few places that would have the equipment to do this, the NCR, Black Mountain, the Lucky 38, maybe other unknowns. You two need to find out which one did this. You're dismissed, Luxus."

Luxus walked out without another word, pondering not only this odd mission, but also about the capacitor he needs. He can't just walk up and buy one with Veronica with him, can he?

Mojave Region: El Dorado Dry Lake, 2276

This mission was rare for two reasons: one, it wasn't often he had a companion, even his annoying one; two, it was even rarer for him to be in regular armor, rather than power armor. Another oddity, was the Gauss rifle strapped to his back, apparently he had temporarily lost his laser weapon permissions. Damn Torres. Looking down, Luxus couldn't help noticing how the black armor seems to conflict with his pale skin. He remembered first leaving Lost Hills with Elijah, he was slightly afraid he would burst into flames after long exposure with the Sun. Thankfully, his skin wasn't nearly as pale as back then.

Veronica finally broke the awkward silence by stating, "I think we should check out Mr. House, he would be the most like-"

"Nope," Luxus interrupted.

"Why not?"

"NCR has the greatest motive, I don't know how they would jam us, but they would recognize our messages for sure, even if they don't understand them."

"You're just being your usual NCR-hating self. Besides, I'm in command here, remember?" She said that last part a little too delightfully.

"So? I give the orders during combat."

"Are we in combat?"

"I expect it around every corner," Veronica mumbled something Luxus didn't quite hear, before he could continue, "Why don't we look around just outside New Vegas? See if there's any odd movements in the NCR or those Securitrons."

"Ok, but we're going because I command it," she still that tone to her as she said all of this, how can she try to be happy and bossy at the same time?

The two of them were now sitting on a destroyed segment of Route 95 still standing high up. You could see some of Camp McCarran and an even smaller amount of the Lucky 38 and the outside gate of Freeside. While Veronica was using Luxus's binoculars, which he doesn't remember lending to her, he looked around through the Gauss rifle's scope. While he should've been looking at McCarran, he really did suspect the NCR after all, the real reason he chose this spot was because it was easy to see the Gun Runners' newest location.

Veronica chose to use her greatest skill again, interrupting thoughts, "Hey Luxus, why don't you ever reply to your parents' messages?"

Luxus had to think about this one for a second. Not why he never sent replies, he knew that. He had to think of when he ever told her about these messages. Without taking his eye of the Gun Runners, he finally responded, "did Elijah tell you or have you been spying on me again?"

"It's not spying! They leave it in the open on your bed!" Luxus, again without looking away, pinched her hard on the arm, causing her to yelp a bit. She doesn't care a thing about personal space. In fact, the only reason she has me teaching her hand-to-hand combat is probably so she can violate my personal space even more.

She however continued on, "Besides, why are you complaining? Last time I 'spied' on you, I was able to help with your addiction problem."

"I didn't have an addiction."

"Really? All of those Med-X syringes were my imagination?"

"I could've quit anytime I wanted to."

"That's what all addicts say!"

"I quit, didn't I?"

"And who got you two months of fixer to help you quit?" She was sounding too happy again.


"And which of her fellow Scribes convinced Schuler to give it to you?"

"Don't care."

Veronica made a noise before continuing to watch Freeside's gate, allowing Luxus to consider what to do next. A thought eventually occurred to him, why was he even keeping this from Veronica? Of course, he can't let Torres or Hardin, but Veronica was mostly harmless. If he could figure out a way to get her to let him get that capacitor or maybe even help him. I have an idea.

"Hey Veronica, do you want command of this mission?"

"I do have command of this mission."

"Do you want me to respect your command?"

She was surprisingly quiet for a while before responding, "What do you want?"

"Without asking any questions, go over to those men and buy something called a 'Smitty Special,'" he said, handing her a bag with his life savings, around 23,000 bottle caps.

"Why do you wan-"

"I said no questions," he interrupted. Veronica wasn't an idiot, she probably already noticed the "coincidence" that they were so close to what he wanted.

"Fine, I'll do it, but you better hold up your end." She got up and descended using the rope he set up. Luxus stayed there, watching her through his Gauss rifle, just in case. Ultimately, nothing tried to interfere as she talked to the man, doing something with a Protectron. The man quickly got up and ran into their building. After a few minutes, he walked out with a very special looking Winchester P94. Luxus then had the humorous job of watching Veronica trying to carry a weapon about as big as she is.

When she approached, Luxus got up and slid down the rope to meet her.

"What could you possibly need this thing for?" She asked while dropping the Winchester on to the ground. Luxus actually cringed a little, Winchesters were advanced and rare, seeing it dropped on the ground was both dangerous and a bit sad. In fact, the only reason he was about to tear this rare artifact apart was because he had an even better, rarer use for its technology. Luxus quickly got down and began to open up its chassis.

"You bought it so you could tear it apart?" Veronica asked, watching him.

"I need something." He got open the hatch to find what he was looking for, two of the very rare capacitors. So, that's how they achieved such a high rate of fire. Luxus pulled out some wire cutters and began taking them out. Just as he disconnected the second, he heard a noise from inside it, a beeping sound. Realizing what just happened, Luxus grabbed the capacitors, jumped up and tackled Veronica, who by this point was looking around, bored. Just as they hit the ground, the Winchester let out a small plasma explosion. Veronica freaked out for second, surprised by the sudden attack and explosion, but calmed down quickly enough.

Getting up, Luxus looked to find the Winchester was a mess. The outer casing was alright, it was designed to take that kind of heat, but the internals were completely melted and turned to green goo. The Gun Runners must really not want people stealing their designs. Pity. Turning around, Luxus found Veronica getting the dust off of her.

"Can we move on with the mission now?"

Luxus quickly gave a salute, not sarcastic for once, and responded "Yes, sir!"

Rolling her eyes, Veronica turned and started walking northwest, towards Freeside.

Luxus had been staring at these notes for over an hour now. He thought they would come in handy one day, but this was ridiculous. It had been two days now since he and Veronica entered the Strip and rented a room in the Tops, most of that time was studying these.

"Where did you get these again?" Veronica asked staring at RobCo budget papers.

"Some senator or something launched a secret investigation against Mr. House, despite all the bribes they received. I found these documents from it some time ago."

"And you just grabbed them and carry them around wherever you go?"

"Never know when you'll need some light reading."

Luxus finished the Lucky 38 schematics and switched to, of all things, a Vault-Tec document. Apparently House wanted aid in constructing, something, east of Vegas. Probably wasn't helpful except for this note an investigator wrote, "Paid close to $400 billion, but the cost was only around 250." What was the other 150 billion for then? Bribes? The government knew about this project though. Unless, there was something else House was paying for.

After more thought Luxus asked, "Where does House keep his Securitrons?"

"The Lucky 38, duh."

"Yeah, but where? The Lucky 38 schematics only show a casino, rooms, a suite, where were the Securitrons actually stored in there?"

"Maybe he crammed them in somewhere."

Luxus looked back at the notes and schematics, thinking, before responding, "Or, he bribed just the right people to build underneath the 38, something big enough to hold them."

"What did they tunnel in?" Veronica laughed a bit.



"Yes! Yes, they tunneled in, they used construction of Vault 21 to cover it up, he didn't want the government knowing about it."

"Kind of far fetched."

"Is it? You know what happened to Vault 21?"

"It was turned into a hotel."

"Yeah, after House had it filled with cement, what do you think would drive him to do that? He found out about a weakpoint."

"What do you want to do? Drill through the cement? We don't have years to spare, Luxus."

Luxus was almost completely lost in thought, until something popped into his mind, "Did you know the Tops was previously used to house Vault-Tec workers while constructing Vault 21?"

"Remember the plan?" Luxus asked while preparing the explosives, Veronica seemed a bit jumpier than usual.

"Yeah, how did you find out about this room?"

"You don't want to know," the elevator suddenly beeped, the 13th floor, "let's go."

The two of them walked out and practically ran. Thankfully the hallway was empty, but the two of them should look like casino employees, carrying three boxes for their boss. Walking up to the casino owner's private room, Luxus used the stolen key. The two of them walked in and instantly shut it. Walking through the main room, then past the bedroom, they walked into a very large, closet-like room and put down the crates. Veronica quickly opened her's, revealing two sledgehammers.

After some time, they successfully made a large hole in the wall, revealing a very different looking room. Thankfully, all the rooms on this floor were empty for some reason. The two of them abandoned the sledgehammers, picked up the other crates and walked into the new room, through a door revealing another hallway, at the end of which was a small elevator.

"So, why is there a super secret elevator going from the thirteenth floor to a secret basement?"

"Your guess is as good as mine."

"And what are the chances we are about to just blow a hole into cement?"

"About 50/50."

Luxus took cover, looking at Veronica she nodded back at him and covered her head as he hit the detonator, causing a very large, and even louder, explosion. He underestimated it a bit though, as he found his ears ringing, and couldn't quite understand what Veronica was trying to say. Still partially deaf, Luxus stood up to find that there was indeed a giant hole in the wall now and on the other side was none other than a Vault corridor. Veronica made a noise of, he guessed excitement, but he chose to say nothing as he walked in. The two of them checked every door as they went down the corridor, most of them refused to even open. As they went through multiple corridors, they finally found a door that opened into a very dark cavern, filled largely with water.

Stepping in, the water was extremely chilly and it was so dirty he couldn't see the floor. Better hope nothing's living in here.

"Why is this even hear!!" Veronica didn't sound pleased at all.

"Water in Vaults seems common for some reason, you should've seen Vault 3." Luxus looked up and found the source of this mess, water pipes were running through the cavern, one or more of them were leaking. Why would they have pipes going through here?

The water level usually stayed pretty low, although at times came up to their waists. Eventually, however, they got to a part that required going under. What was interesting though, was they were going under metal, not rock.

"Ladies first." Luxus quickly said.

"How chivalrous, but I'm not going first." She said, back to her usual, too happy way.

"The commanding officer should lead the charge, sir."

She answered with a simple growl before walking over and diving in, Luxus put away his plasma pistol and took his knife out before following her.

The two of them emerged in an actual room. There was a large amount of machinery, none of which was on. Pulling out the plasma pistol again, Luxus walked over to the only door in the room while Veronica was doing something about her outfit.

"Good thing I wasn't wearing a dress."

"You have a dress now?"

"Well, no, but how am I supposed to find a, a..."

"A wife?"

"Yeah! How would I get one of those in these robes. Don't you think I would look pretty in a dress?"

Realizing they were getting way off topic here, Luxus turned back towards the door before responding, "No, but you probably would just place it somewhere and never wear it anyway."

"Hey!" she said, a bit too loudly. Luxus slightly opened the door and looked through.

"Are we in the right place?" she asked, actually quietly for once.

Looking at the rows of offline Securitrons nearby, Luxus responded, "I sure hope so."

The Securitrons may seem offline, but that didn't mean they can't see anything, and House may have other security equipment here. For this reason, the two of them carefully snuck around till finding a room that may suit their needs. In it, was various computers, with a single monitor and keyboard. Closing the door most of the way behind them, Luxus took off his Gauss rifle and handed it to Veronica.

"I don't know how to-"

"It's just in case, tell me if you see anything coming." She nodded after a second and he walked over to the monitor. Pulling out a small device he brought with him, he plugged it in and began typing on the keyboard. The device won't really help with the hacking, it will record everything on the monitor, there's a chance he won't have time to write it down himself. Despite what he had heard about Mr. House, this part of the system, at least, was running a very generic RobCo operating system. How dull. Quickly using the usual tricks, involving rebooting and maintenance mode, the display showed off several lines of random letters, numbers and symbols. Checking the various possibilities, he eventually found the password, "FrozenYogurt" Not going to comment on that.

Getting full access, Luxus began quickly clicking on every file he could find, he didn't read any of it, his was holodisk recording all of it for him. As he worked, messages began popping up, "Cease and desist immediately." Is that you, Mr. House? Luxus quickly escaped and began accessing the files as fast as possible. However, as he did, files began disappearing from the list. Is he deleting them or moving them. It's too slow to be automated but how is he moving so fast?

"Incoming!" he heard Veronica yell behind him. At that second, he was forcefully logged off and locked out of computer, Luxus unplugged the storage drive just as heard Veronica fire the rifle. Turning around, he watched, with a slight bit of fear, as the door was forced open, with four Securitrons on the other side. Luxus opened fire with the plasma pistol as Veronica tried to reload her rifle. The damage he was doing was minor, they didn't try to return fire, however, instead choosing to enter the room and trying to grab Veronica. They don't want to damage the equipment.

Two of them came at Luxus just as his pistol ran out of charge. Pulling out his knife, Luxus tried to tackle the nearest one, trying to aim for where their attacks may have weakened part of their armor. His knife harmlessly bounced off however, and the Securitrons quickly seized his neck. Hearing a scream, Luxus looked over to see Veronica collapsing on the ground and she wasn't getting back up. The reality of how bad this situation quickly donned on him as the Securitron holding his neck tightened its grip, causing him to begin to choke, meanwhile the other Securitron knocked his knife out of his hand, as if that would do him any good. That's when something he never expected happen.

"Now hold on there, partners. No reason to get all mean and nasty now!" The Securitron released its grip, causing Luxus to fall to the floor. Sweet air returning to him, Luxus looked up to find all but one of the Securitrons was backing up. He could've sworn it had a police officer on its screens like the other ones, but for some reason this one now had a cowboy in its display.

"Howdy partner! The name's Victor. Sorry about the others, they're quite nice if you get to know them, honest." He didn't have a clue what was happening here, instinct told him to grab his pistol and knife, but he didn't dare give the other three an excuse to attack again.

"Anywho, the boss man is deeply impressed you two made it in here and all that. So impressed, he would be willing to look at this as a long overdue security test, rather than a break-in."

"He is?" Luxus asked, waiting for the catch.

"Of course, if you're testing our security, you'll have to sign a contract, merely a wordy formality of course," one of the Securitrons started making noises, that Luxus realized were built-in printers, but Victor continued, "For instance, you can't tell anyone of what happened here, otherwise they'll all be trying to test us out!"

It makes sense he wouldn't want anyone knowing, but killing us would be so much simpler.

Handing over the piece of paper, which was difficult with those robotic hands, Luxus began to read it as Victor continued, "And of course, you'll get fair payment for your services, like that radio transmission you two are looking for."

His face flickered in surprise, something he would regret as he tried to bluff, "What transmission?"

"Oh please, two Brotherhood chaps like you two walk in mere days after we get that there military encryption? The boss man can connect the dots, friend."

"And who said we're with the Brotherhood?" Luxus asked, realizing he's supposed to sign this thing.

Victor suddenly leaned very close to Luxus, his monitor image's eyes inches away from his as his voice got much more serious, "You would be surprised how much he knows, Mister Luxus. Just don't tell anyone outside your little solar plant about this, and we won't have a problem."

How could he possibly know who I am? A bit of fear actually emerged as Luxus wondered more about what House knew, but he didn't press the issue. A bit of understanding came to him though, "Of course, the Brotherhood isn't even a threat to him, is it? Unless you did something, like kill two of its members, they would never have a reason to come after the Lucky 38, not with the NCR so close."

"Bingo, partner."

Luxus looked over to find another Securitron had finished its printing, dropping a large pile of papers, the transmission. Remembering something, Luxus got up to look at Veronica. She still wasn't moving, but she was breathing, a head wound maybe. "You know, you knocked out the expert that was going to verify this transmission."

"Oh, that's a shame. Tell you what, any problems, just come back and ask one of my brothers for me, we'll get it all sorted out." Luxus knew he wasn't in any place to argue this, instead he placed the papers in the container he had prepared and picked up Veronica.

"So, I guess we'll take our leave, then."

"Hopefully next time, we can meet under better circumstances!"

"Oh my god, this stuff is in the worst possible places!" Veronica yelled from the shower, still complaining about that damn cave water. Considered she was knocked unconscious for over an hour and almost killed, you would think she would have more important things to complain about, but she kept complaining, "How did you even drag me through that stuff again?"

"Don't ask questions you don't want the answers to," after getting back through the Vault and into the Tops, Luxus didn't even bother returning to their room, he left, still carrying Veronica, and got a room in the nearby Atomic Wrangler. The room was much worse and the noises coming through the walls were, for lack of a better word, disturbing, but it wasn't on the Strip, and that was all that mattered at the time. Veronica finally walked out, and Luxus handed her the papers she ignored before, "Are they real or not?"

She took them and read through them, skipping to various lines. He doubt she could decrypt it, not all of it at least, so she was probably looking for certain lines, he guessed at least. She finally responded, "Looks good to me."

"Good, finish... whatever you do to clean up and get ready, we're heading back soon."

"Hey! I'm still in command here! Besides, aren't you going to clean up first?"

Luxus didn't answer, he was still a bit in shock about what had occurred, honestly. That's when an arm came from behind and closed around his neck. Being chocked by robots still fresh in his mind, Luxus quickly grabbed the arm and threw Veronica against the wall, causing her to exclaim in pain.

"What the hell are you doing?" he asked.

"I thought we would spar again, I can't let that happen again, can I?"

While true, Luxus was far too annoyed to care and just wanted to head back. Walking over to her, he was about to speak when suddenly she span and kicked his legs, causing him to fall. She jumped up and came to attack him. Getting all the more annoyed, Luxus kicked her in the stomach as she charged, causing her to gasp. He then rolled back so he was on his feet again.

"This is not the time nor place, Veronica."

To his annoyance, she responded with a smile, before saying "You need to blow off some steam, right?"

Wait, she's doing this for me? She started to run towards him again, and he quickly remembered something. Just as she was about to reach him, he stepped out of the way and tripped her, causing her to fall on the badly stained bed. Quickly jumping on top of her, he used his arm and leg to pin her arms down, using his other arm to grab her head.

"Did you forget already about this bruised head of yours? Are you really that eager to get injured again?"

"Fine, you win."

He let her go and stood back up before stating, "Get yourself healed, then we can fight some more."

This was more than annoying, he leaves for not even two weeks, and apparently someone breaks into his room, blows through his wall, and causes an explosion in a room that isn't supposed to exist. Even worse, the only reason they even knew about it was because the guy left carrying someone! Looking around in this newly revealed room, Benny couldn't help but wonder what they were doing, the other Chairmen found an entrance to what appeared to be a Vault, but all the doors were sealed shut. That's when Swank walked in.

"The names they gave us were fake, as far as we can tell, they stayed in Freeside for a bit, but left in a big hurry. All they left in their room was this." Swank handed him a large number of papers. He quickly began glancing at them, detailing various, interesting things: the Lucky 38's layout, a secret bunker to the east, RobCo's network details, and two notes on the side about how to possibly get access:

  • Hack a Securitron
  • Direct access
  • Executive Override??

He quickly walked back into a hallway, ending with a single elevator door. Swank walked over and looked between him and the door, "What are you thinking, Benny?"

"Nothing, nothing at all."

Mojave Region: HELIOS One, 2276

"While I'm not done yet, it appears to be a status report." Elijah said, still somehow decrypting all of this by hand.

"I had to make a deal with the devil for that?" Luxus asked, just arriving and sitting down next to Veronica.

"It's actually an interesting read, our brothers in the east appear to be in the middle of a civil war."

"Over what?" Veronica asked. Something was wrong, Elijah was always acting strange lately, but Veronica wasn't even looking him in the eye. What were they talking about before he walked in?

"Some don't approve of the Elder's policy changes, apparently. What's more concerning however, is this report on eyebots appearing in the region, spreading a radio signal from the Enclave."

"That's impossible, the Enclave is dead," Luxus said without a second's thought.

"That's the belief, and according to this they can't confirm it's not an old recording, but the Brotherhood did note at the time how understaffed Arroyo was, plus why would these eyebots appear now? Either way, this intel is very interesting, good job you two."

"Yeah, I think I'm overdue for a promotion, are we done here, sir?"

"Not quite Luxus, there's something more important we need to talk about. I received a message about your parents today," Elijah said, his voice sounding somewhat different.

"Yeah, yeah, maybe after that near death experience I'll actually reply thi-" It was at this point he realized Elijah said about his parents, not from. "What, what happened?"

"The NCR attacked the outpost late last night, the Brotherhood were able to take it back, but... they confirmed no survivors. I'm sorry, Luxus, both-" Elijah became quiet, or rather Luxus wasn't listening anymore. He couldn't quite tell what he was feeling, sadness, anger, regret? The last words he ever said to his mother will now forever be the "whatever" he gave when she tried to convince him to just be a Scribe five years ago. She was right, if I had become a Scribe, I may have been there. I could've fought when the NCR came, I could've... No, I would've just died with them. Luxus would've most likely stayed sitting there for a while with thoughts like this if not for the sudden feeling of a hand on his shoulder.

"Get off me," He quickly grabbed her arm, pushed her off of him, shot up and stormed out the door.

Luxus quickly climbed up to the observation deck at the top of the solar plant and leaned on the nearby railing. He usually preferred it up here, nice view, great place to see how terrible the defenses of the place are, and the only time someone else was up here was when Hardin gave him the usual complaints. Dad was a soldier. He may have even deserved death, he was one of those that attacked the NCR's people, one of the ones that started this blasted war. But mom, she didn't deserve anything! She was a simple Scribe, but those friggin', stupid NCR killed her. They're no better than, than ANIMALS!! Before Luxus knew what he was doing, he was rapidly beating on the railing he was holding on to, both a dangerous and painful thing to do.

"Attacking innocent metal is an odd way to mourn." Luxus turned to this unknown person, about ready to attack them in his rage, when he found it was none other than Elijah. He turned back around, not wanting to face him.

"Is anything from before the War innocent?" Luxus replied, finding his voice was hoarse and just now realizing he had been crying. Great, now I'm acting like a Scribe too.

"Don't let the anger consume you, Luxus. It's a road I've seen too many Paladins follow before."

"I'm fine, just, give me a job. Something to do to get my mind off it. I don't care what, I'll even go on patrol."

"Patrol? I'm not risking the lives of others for you, Luxus, and giving you the chance to attack the NCR will risk even more than that. You're on leave for the next 168 hours, get your head cleared before you even think of leaving."

A week? What the hell! Luxus turned to find Elijah already gone. Maybe he was right anyway, Luxus always had his little "side quests," he can't imagine what he would do if he saw the NCR at the moment.

"Do I really need to do this?"

"You're a Scribe, you're supposed to fight only when needed, not go jumping at them with your fists."

"Eh, fine..." Veronica continued her attempts at shooting. Luxus brought four distinct pistols for her to use, so far she can't use any of them. With the 10mm she nearly hit the target, but the rest haven't even been close. Combine that with the Paladins being ordered to watch him whenever he walks outside...

"You know what, why don't we call it a day."

"I'm not quitting that easily!" she said, not watching as she shot the ground in front of her.

She goes from not wanting to do this at all to not wanting to stop in five seconds. "Fine, promise not to shot your foot while I'm away."


Luxus walked back towards the rear entrance to find the two guards on duty laughing at something. He didn't have to guess at what and he wasn't in the mood for this, so he stared at one of them through the man's eye slit, knowing it was Herz under that armor. Walking inside, he found his favorite person was there, Senior Paladin Hardin.

"Why do you even bother wasting your time with Scribes?"

After a minute, Luxus responded in a surprisingly serious tone, "Hardin, how many people have you lost to this war?" Even more surprising, was Hardin's lack of an answer. Obviously, the answer is too many.

Luxus started walking again as he continued talking, "Veronica is the closest thing to a family I have now, I can't protect her forever, and without some training she'll get herself killed. If I don't train her, who will?" Luxus walked out of sight, leaving Hardin silent and looking back out the open door, seeing the Scribe girl still failing to hit her mark.

While trying to hack House's system, Luxus stored whatever he found in a holotape. Elijah continued to read through the files. What wasn't encoded, was usually complete junk. However, there was occasionally some interesting snippets, random lines lost in the millions of junk. Information on the NCR, a few mentions of some chip, but what interested Elijah most was one line in particular. Like most people, he believed it nothing more than a myth, but House seems to believe otherwise, and he had access to more resources and information than Elijah did, and about 200 years more wisdom. If only there was more information than this one simple line: "Secur@$ron b!uepRint$ sto|en bY big MT !.0" The legendary Big Empty is real.

While being stuck at base had many disadvantages, like having to escape Hardin and Torres more often than usual and utter boredom. One advantage is it gave him plenty of time to sneak into the Knights' shop to work on his little invention. All of the modifications are now complete, the scope was added, the capacitors installed, the diverter modified, the only annoyance was that Lorenzo added the Brotherhood symbol to the stock while he was away, said he needed an excuse for why it was here when the Head Knight walked in.

Luxus quickly tied the prepared string around the trigger and went behind a nearby barrier, the result of his last failure of modding a laser rifle still fresh in his mind. Pulling the string, in that second the weapon fired three of its usual red lasers, hitting the wooden board he set up, which now had a burnt hole in it. Well, I didn't break it. Now, let's see what those five days were for! Walking over, he hit the switch on the side, switching it to ultraviolet mode before quickly seeking cover again. When he pulled the string this time, he heard the sound of it firing, but never saw any light come out. In fact, normally he would consider this a misfire, if it wasn't for the sight of the wooden board suddenly getting hit by an unseen force, splintering with a large majority of it vaporizing.

Staring at the pile of ash now present, Luxus quickly threw his fist up in victory. Luxus walked to it and switched off its power and removed the power cabling. Will have to get charge packs some other time. I can't really call you an RCW now, can I? What name to give you though? Ultraviolet Rifle? Ultraviolet Switch Rifle? Ultraviolet Amplifying Rifle? Ultraviolet Alternating Rifle? Hm, the UVAR does have a nice ring to it...'

He hid it in the usual spot, most weapons weren't allowed outside the armory when not in use, especially not in the bunks. Looking up, it was nearly 0100. Crap, I need sleep. Let's see, I agreed to meet Veronica at 0600, so I'll be waking up around 0620.

Luxus suddenly bolted up, his body covered in sweat. Another nightmare... Looking around, Luxus found the room was still quiet, so he turned towards the clock. Even nightmares shouldn't wake you up before 0513 Laying back down, extremely miserable. Luxus tried to imagine something pleasant as he slept. Maybe those old medieval battles he read about once. Back before power armors and lasers, you know, the boring years. Just imagining the battles with the swords, catapults, bullets firing in the background, explosions, most likely grenades, going off to the south, armor that was unpowered, but still heavy. Wait, there would be no bullets or grenades in....

Luxus instantly jumped out of his bunk only seconds before the alarms started going off. Case was already awake and grabbing something, but Herz was just getting up. Luxus grabbed his knife and his prepared bag, and ran for the door, just in time to watch Herz walk out and getting cut down in a hail of gunfire. Slamming himself against the wall, Luxus looked down at him, but he knew already that Herz was never getting back up. Case was nearby, looking for something to arm herself with, Luxus looked down and picked up a mirror. Wonder who this belongs to. He quickly poked it out the doorway to see two men with rifles down the hall before they shot and shattered the mirror. Putting the remains of the mirror in his pocket, for no real reason, Luxus then reached into his bag.

"Promise not to tell if I break regulations?" Luxus asked, not really caring about the reply.

Case, pulling a random switchblade out of a box, responded "do we really have another option?"

Only way out of here was this door, if they tried walking out now, they would be mowed down. Where are the others? Why was there no warning from the scouts? Was everyone outside dead? Either way, they needed a distraction. Pulling out his hidden plasma grenade, Luxus armed it and threw it down the hall, making sure to prepare himself. Any sleepiness he may have had was gone, although four hours of sleep may get to him later if this surprise attack lasts too long. Not far enough, they will retreat, too far, they will run here.

1 2 3 4 Luxus sprinted out the door, practically crashing into the advancing enemies, the plasma grenade exploding harmlessly down the hall. These soldiers may have been able to suppress him at range, but up close Luxus could respond with his knife faster than they could with their rifles. He quickly elbowed the closest soldier in the face, then turned towards the other and stabbed him in the leg, just above the knee. The man howled as he fell, Luxus turned back to find the first soldier had recovered and was about to swing his rifle at Luxus. He may have gotten a shot out too, until the late arrival of Case, attacking him from behind and slitting his throat. The man quickly fell, some of his blood hitting Luxus as it came gushing out.

Luxus always hated the warm liquid hitting him and the sound they make... Luxus had more important things to worry about, however. The soldier he wounded was pulling out his pistol, but before he could aim it, Luxus grabbed him, twisted his arm at a very unnatural angle, then took the man's pistol. His arm made a cracking sound and he let loose another one of his howls, but he was willing to be quieter when his own pistol was shoved in his face. Luxus too looked at his newly acquired pistol. 12.7mm, combined with terrible training, the uniform... Luxus looked at the soldier's dogtags, but he already knew what they said.

"New California Republic..." he said to Case.

"We don't have time for this, we have to suit up!" Luxus quickly hit the man hard on the head, knocking him out and bound his arms. Getting up, Luxus found Case was gone, and instead was welcomed by charging Paladins in power armor, heading towards the front. Luxus ran past them, needing to prepare to do the same. Luxus ran through to the armory as everyone was preparing, Paladins setting up defenses, Scribes doing whatever, Knights preparing to move equipment.... The UVAR! Luxus suddenly stopped and looked back, but realized he had no time. Lorenzo, if you break it or give it away or forget it, I swear I'll kill you!

He ran into the next room to find his suit of armor waiting for him. Typing in the security code, Luxus quickly began to equip his suit, rushing it a lot more than he liked. As Knights ran around, helping the Paladins equip themselves, Ramos ran in and began barking orders, "Luxus, Elijah wants you in the tower!" Guard duty? Am I being honored or am I still on leave?

For once, Luxus didn't know the identities of the Paladins with him, he didn't have time to figure it out. He was carrying a modified laser rifle, while the other two carried a Gatling laser and a Gauss rifle. The three of them opened the back exit, entering into the mirror yard. They mine as well have been entering into hell. Everywhere he looked, there was blood, the stench was nearly unbreathable, even with the suit's systems, bullets rain down from unknown locations as more noticeable lasers fired back, bodies were covering entire stretches of land, most were NCR, but Luxus could see many shiny suits mixed in with them. There was no explosions, they were all coming from the front. After all, no one wanted to destroy all of these solar mirrors, even with the blood splattered all over them, boiling.

As they ran, the Gauss rifle wielding Paladin separated, most likely looking for somewhere to snipe from. Troopers shot at Luxus and his unknown brother (or sister), but the all bounced off. That was until several bullets came from above, a few hitting the other Paladin in the head. Luxus watched as the seemingly unstoppable suit collapsed. No time for sightseeing however, Luxus quickly jumped down to the ground, behind a wall. He was too slow, two bullets hit him, both in the shoulder, the force taking the air out of his lungs as he hit the ground. Are they in the mountains? How the hell did they surround us like this! Panicking just a bit, Luxus opened fire in the direction he assumed the attacks came from, but had no idea if he was actually accomplishing anything.

Looking back at the mirror yard, Luxus caught the sight of another Paladin falling down, and his killer, a man in a gray coat and gas mask. Veteran Rangers Luxus tried to get a shot but the Ranger moved on, Luxus losing sight of him beyond the mirrors. Looking over, Luxus saw another Paladin on the ground, his helmet twisted way too far to the right, leaving it staring right at Luxus. The emotionless eye slits looking more dead than anything Luxus had ever- Luxus quickly snapped out of it. He may have been in many fights in the past, but this was his first ever battle. I can't lose my head like this, Elijah needs protection.

Seeing the doors to the tower, no more than 30 feet away, Luxus got up and sprinted at them. Running as fast as his legs would carry him, jumping over a few corpses, and hoping that he doesn't become one of them. He didn't even stop to open the door, he tilted so his right shoulder, the one that wasn't bleeding, was facing the door and slammed into them.

Luxus bit down hard on the piece of wood in his mouth as he removed the bullet. Luckily, it wasn't lodged all of the way in, he had his armor to thank for that. Looking at it, he found it was an armor piercing .308 round. At least their snipers were prepared. Stabbing himself with a stimpak, Luxus looked to see the two Paladins still waiting to blast anything attempting to enter the door. Since they had that covered, Luxus went to check on the quarrelling couple...

"You must listen to reason, Elder! Our men are dying, we need to escape before it's too late!"

"No, you must listen to orders, McNamara. Our losses will be nothing compared to the NCR's once I'm done here."

"We've already lost a third of our Paladins, at least! We're barely holding our position, it's only a matter of minutes before they break through what little is left of our defense and you want us to wait because you hope you can activate some... some superweapon!?"

"Archimedes is the answer to all of our problems. Once activated, it will wipe out this entire attack force and the NCR will never dare attack us again."

"You're insane, Elijah! Instead of preparing for this attack, which we all knew would come, you have been sending our Paladins on your stupid errands. We should have been preparing and fortifying our forces, not looking for technology that doesn't even exist! Your Archimedes will not solve anything if all our brothers and sisters die before you can even turn it on!"

Whatever Elijah was about to say, and his face suggested it was going to be quite hateful, was interrupted when McNamara pulled out his laser pistol and pointed it at his head.

"Elijah, you are no longer fit to lead us."

"Can't let you do that, sir," Luxus said, pulling out his own plasma pistol and pointed it at the Head Paladin.

To his credit, he didn't take his eyes nor pistol off Elijah, "Luxus, use your eyes! He's leading us to ruin!"

Luxus had to admit, there was something different about Elijah lately. At least now he knew why he had been crazily looking at schematics so much lately, but even then. He had his moments where he was old self, but for the most part, that look in his eyes. No, this is insane! "My job is protecting the Elder, sir. Even if that's from you."

Clearly still angry, Hardin shut off his pistol before holstering it, meanwhile Elijah had returned to working on his terminal. McNamara seemed nearly desperate by this point as he asked, "Luxus, tell me how to get to Hidden Valley from here."

Luxus already had prepared multiple safehouses to fall back to: Hidden Valley to the west, Bunker 13 to the east, Sato's lame assignment to the north. Of course, Hidden Valley was the only one of them that could hold more than a dozen people or so. Without saying a word, Luxus pulled out the holotape containing all of this data. McNamara took it and began walking out the door.

"I'm leaving Elijah, and I'm taking anyone who'll come with me. I hope you leave this place before it becomes your grave."

McNamara gave Luxus one last, brief stare, before leaving. Luxus didn't know how many would follow him, there's a good chance, if he got the Head Knight and Head Scribe to follow him, they all would, but Luxus could here the two door guards following after him. The only thing keeping the NCR out of this tower is the Paladins outside. With this "retreat" the NCR will be distracted, but once the survivors leave, we will be dead.

"Elder, I think maybe we should-" He stopped, when he turned around and saw what Elijah looked like. He looked like a truly deranged man, a man who looked like he was about to go on a bloody rampage.

"Elijah..." The man turned towards him, his anger seeming to intensify, and Luxus had to fight the instinct to raise his pistol in defense. "Sir, I understand the importance of all this, but with the Paladins leaving..."

To Luxus's relief, Elijah regained some of his composure, if only a little. For what felt like hours, but was probably no more than 10 minutes, he finally said something: "Luxus, there should be a terminal over there controlling this tower's security systems, I want you to turn on all the robots, set them to hostile and then destroy the terminal. We're leaving."

"Yes, sir." Luxus reattached his suit's helmet and ran to follow Elijah's orders. I just hope it's not too late.

Epilogue: One week later

The only thing worse than the chapter's failure to hold HELIOS was the state it was in now. Half of the order dead, many wounded, and the "hero" McNamara being named Elder before Elijah's body was even found. Then again, with the NCR's treatment of the Brotherhood's dead and with zero chance of them getting to reclaim the dead themselves, Elijah's death may never be fully confirmed. For the time being, the new Elder has ordered a full lockdown of their new home, Hidden Valley, while they heal and regroup.

Hardin walked through the halls as he mulled over all of this, including his promotion to Head Paladin. As he walked into the next room, he found an all too familiar scene, Veronica getting arguing with his Paladins. If she gets in our way one more time... Hardin was suddenly overcome by a memory however, Veronica is the closest thing to a family I have now, I can't protect her forever, and without some training she'll get herself killed. If I don't train her, who will? The sudden memory of the now dead Paladin surprised Hardin. He sighed before coming to a decision.

Am I really going to do this?

"Paladins!" he yelled, causing the two of them to instantly stand at attention, "You're dismissed."

The two very confused Paladins left, leaving Veronica and him alone.

"You didn't have to do that, I can handle assholes."

"Those are your brothers, Veronica."

"I still love them, but that doesn't change the fact they're assholes."

We'll have to work on that later, he thought. "Why don't we go over some drills?"


Hardin got into a boxing position, "Show me what Luxus taught you."

She smiled after a second, and got into her own, more novice, position.

Finishing unloading another crate, Lorenzo opened the next one, surprised to find its only contents to be Luxus's little laser RCW. Does this thing even work anymore? If his repair skills are anything like his field tactics, the thing probably will never function again. For some reason, the thought of that damn blackmailer actually made Lorenzo smile. Before the thought of his name on the causality list resurfaced. Well, I guess I mine as well see what he messed up.

Luxus sat on the hill, staring towards the west, New Vegas's lights barely in sight now. He continued maintenance on his power armor, not knowing the next time a Knight could look at it. Meanwhile, Elijah was in his tent, rambling to himself like he has the past few nights. Does he even sleep anymore? When the two of them snuck out of HELIOS One, Luxus thought they were going to head West then regroup with the rest of the Brotherhood. Now they're in Legion territory, and Elijah keeps changing his mind of whether they're heading west or south.

Did I make the wrong choice? Should I have gone with McNamara? Maybe it's not too late to rejoin them, even if they've left Hidden Valley, I should be able to track them. Listening to more of Elijah's ramblings, Luxus realized he can't though. He needs to help Elijah in any way he can, then they can rejoin the others. Even if "finding the mountain" and destroying the NCR were vague and insane-sounding plans...