[Chapter 2: The New World]

[Author's Note:] [I've been researching, and found that both Vault 100 and 95 were found in F3 and NV's files, but were never used. Just the icons on the back of jumpsuits were found, so I feel I can use them without stepping on Bethesda's toes.]

The broadcast was transmitted to all the working television sets in the vault, so the residents could watch the 50 elites form their squads and ready themselves at the Vault 100 door in the black and white color from the security cameras.

31 could see all his fellow elites readying themselves for the unknown, 27 being under command of 1. He was obviously disappointed that they weren't going to be working together, but it was better than nothing.

A blaring alarm lit up beside the huge gear shaped vault door, and steam released from its cracks as it shifted backward into the vault, and rolled to the right.

31 could see a staircase that lead up to what looked like some old cellar doors. Since he was one of the few that first entered the vault to be frozen, he recognized the cellar doors. The vault was constructed in a basement underneath a car workshop.

31 swallowed hard and gestures for his group to follow, the rest of the squads watching in awe as he lead them out. They were leaving first, just so the rest would get a heads up if the air was poisonous or if the radiation levels would make you grow a third arm from your stomach.

Despite these fears, none had came about, and 31 stepped up the stairs, gently pushing up the cellar doors to see that the workshop the cellar was under was hardly even there at all. Just a few pieces of still standing rubble that looked like it used to be a part of the building stood here and there.

"It's safe! I think..." 31 called to the others, then mumbling to himself.

18 immediately drew his iron sights sniper rifle and looked around, ready to shoot anything off in the distance that looked threatening, taking a knelt position beside the cellar doors as 31 held his hand over his face, the sun almost blinding him. He'd lived in artificial light almost his entire life, what could he expect?

45's eyes widened as he looked off over at what once was the bustling city of Chicago. Barely any buildings still stood, and scrap metal houses were everywhere. New inhabitants? Hopefully they were friendly.

"Think there are any broads out here..? I mean, I wouldn't mind me a primitive chick!" 6 laughed, shaking his head as he folded his arms, acknowledging the ruined city.

"This isn't a joke. Keep your guard up." 24 snapped at him, being the last of the squad to exit the cellar.

"Let's just start by meeting the locals..." 31 looked back at his group, then turning a few dials on his Pip-boy, and turning on the comms. "This is 31. We're moving on the city. The exit is clear." 31 told the command center inside the vault.

"Advised, proceed with caution." Command responded.

"Copy..." 31 replied, acknowledging that he understood, then turning off his comms.

31 looked at his small group and waved his hand at them as he walked, gesturing for the four to follow. He took a good look at his surroundings as he followed the cracked, worn out street.

The small town that the car garage was built in had been obliterated by the nukes. Hardly any signs of a town even being left were there, aside from the obvious street and the rubble here and there, and the broken sidewalks.

The plant-life had been regrown at least, but in ways one wouldn't expect. It looked like the forest area had been mutated somehow. Mutant plants. That certainly didn't fall under his job description. Thinking about this reminded him of what exactly his job was. His entire vault's job was. To kill anything that could threaten the recolonization of human life. Mutants, bandits, gangs, mutated animals and bugs.

So far, the only mutated creatures they'd known of are Radroaches. And those are only documented because of how common of an infestation they were in the power room. If roaches got that big, 31 certainly didn't want to find out how big other insects had grown.

He'd had time to contemplate all this as he followed the road, 18 keeping his iron sights rifle handy just in case, 45 had a notepad out, scribbling notes and drawings. Probably documenting everything he saw. It felt kind of nice to have an egghead on the team. 6 just looked around folding his arms, talking to 24.

"You're ex-security. How did you get chosen for the freezer anyway?" 6 asked 24, referring to his security armor.

"They told me I could either retire, or be frozen... I was top of my class. Used to work for the Chicago City PD before the bombs fell." 24 told him, 31 listening in to their conversation as they proceeded.

"What about you? You look like you'd be one of the Rebels in the vault's prison." 24 raised a brow at 6. 6 did look like he was a pre-war gang member.

"Hey, I've rolled with some pretty bad guys... But that's behind me now." 6 shrugged sincerely.

"Pipe it, company." 18 spoke for the first time 31'd heard, his voice scratchy and deep. Just as expected.

31 looked over where 18 had been facing, seeing just down the cracked road there was what looked like two humans, one wearing a cowboy hat, and dirty stitched together clothes, holding a rope, leading a disgusting looking two-headed cow with red skin and bloodshot eyes. The second carrying a makeshift rifle with some scrap metal armor. The cow creature had several sewn together bags and backpacks strapped to it.

"Some sort of caravan..?" 45 spoke up, his voice unsure and timid.

"18... Take position on that hill over there. If you see any sudden moves, put them down." 31 ordered, and 18 nodded, moving to the hill he'd pointed to and switching to his scoped sniper.

"No sudden movements, guys." 31 told them as they'd let their presence be known to the two people and their cow thing. The armored one didn't change their pace at all, just looking at the four that walked like they were out of the ordinary. The man leading the animal in a cowboy hat just smiled, seeing a trading opportunity.

"Excuse me, gentlemen! You seem new around here!" The merchant acknowledging how they looked very clean and showered. Very rare in the wasteland to see people who bathe often.

"Uh, yeah... What is that thing?" 31 spoke up, gesturing to the cow creature.

"Oh, this is Bessy! She's a Brahmin." The merchant patted one of the two heads on the creature.

"Uh huh... What is it you do?" 31 asked him, noticing how well he spoke English. Maybe civilization wasn't so uncivilized after all. Two hundred years of radiation and people could still work together and communicate.

"I'm a traveling merchant. They call me Rust. I take it by the blue outfits y'all got on that you're from a vault?" Rust pointed out, and 31 realized how obvious it was that they were from Vault 100. The blue Vault-Tec jumpsuits with a yellow flashy "100" logo on their backs.

"Yeah, I'm 31. That's 45, 6, and 24. We're from Vault 100." 31 replied, choosing to be as friendly as he could. The last thing he wanted was to have to kill someone after not twenty minutes after they've set foot on the surface.

"Vault 100 aye? You all have numbers instead of names..? That's not exactly normal, but nothing is out here!" Rust joked, grinning. He seemed very polite, not like the savage caveman that the survival classes he'd taken made surface humans out as.

"Yeah, hehe. So you're a merchant? I'm sure I might have something you'd like..." 31 pulled his bag out in front of him and unzipped it, digging around to find the chocolate bar he'd packed earlier. "How's this?" He asked the merchant

"A real Spaz Bar? I've only found wrappers of these filled with dust! I'll give you twenty-two caps for it!" Rust's eyes lit up with excitement as he examined the candy. Vault 100 had only kept them for trading purposes anyway. Eating such fattening food could mess up your training diet.

"Uh... Sure?" 31 nodded, assuming caps were some form of payment. He handed the Spaz Bar to the merchant and in return, he walked over, opening one of the bags on the Brahmin and slipping the candy bar in, then closing it and opening another one, counting up twenty-two bottle caps exactly in his palm, walking over and 31 cupped his hands into handfuls, looking strangely at the circular metal bits.

"Bottle caps, currency of the wastes!" The merchant noticed how peculiarly he was looking at them, and told him what they were.

"Bottle caps for money? Alright..." 31 hoped he wasn't being cheated or something. Rust seemed like a pretty nice guy, but who knows? Him and his allies were newcomers to this new world.

"Anything else?" Rust looked at him, wondering if he had any other rarities with him.

"No, I'm good. Cya around I guess?" 31 waved to Rust, gesturing for his group to follow. All the while 45 was writing down notes about Rust, the merc guarding his caravan, and the creature they'd encountered called a Brahmin.

18 watched the caravan continue to walk down the road, keeping his scope on the mercenary's head, just in case he turned around and opened fire. Trust wasn't one of 18's strong suits.

After he'd deemed it clear, he hustled a little to catch up with his allies that had advanced a bit aways down the road. They were on the city outskirts now, near an old apartment district. 31 had seen smoke in the sky, which meant fire, which ultimately meant civilization.

"What took you so long, tall and broody?" 6 looked at 18 as he made it back to the group.

"..." 18 didn't reply, probably choking back the urge to either punch or insult him.

"Shut up..." 31 whispered at them as he heard movement. Weather or not they were humans or mutants, it was best for them to not have a casual conversation when threats could be near.

31 lead them into an alleyway, drawing his 10mm pistol. "Weapons tight." He told them, ordering that they have their weapons ready with caution. He slowly walked around an alleyway, just to have the barrel of a makeshift assault rifle shoved in his face.

"Drop it." The militia soldier ordered and 31 slowly lowered his pistol to the floor, holding his hands up, then expertly shoving the barrel to the side, spinning his back to face the man, yanking the gun forward under his right armpit and and elbowing him in the stomach with his left, spinning back around and sending a hard kick into the man's gut as he aimed down the sights of the makeshift rifle, 6, 45, 24, and 18 all slowly aiming at the man.

"Hey! I'm just a town guard." The militia man told them, almost pleading. He certainly hadn't expected this vault dweller to be so skilled to disarm him, or to be traveling in a group.

"Who's in charge here?" 31 ordered authoritatively, keeping his eye down the sights. Intimidation was a very useful tool with a gun in your hands.

"Marcus Sanberg. He's in the radio tower! That's where we operate!" The New Chicago Militia!" The man told them, gesturing to the radio station antenna that stuck high up over the city.

"And you'll take us to them, right?" 31 asked him in more of a statement than a question. This wastelander knew he only had one answer.

"Yes! Whatever you say, fuck! Just don't shoot. Crazy fucking vault dwellers..." The man scrambled to his feet, keeping his hands up,

"18, keep an eye on him. 6, yours." 31 ordered 18 keep his sights on the militia, and tossing the makeshift rifle to 6 who caught it and whistled approvingly. 31 crouched down to pick up his pistol and kept it in his hand as they followed the militia that lead them.

"Who the hell are you, anyway?" 6 asked, 45 scribbling more notes as he observed the man that wore similar armor to the mercenary, but instead it had 'NCM' painted on the chest and back. Scrap metal duct taped together with some broken fencing around the legs and chest.

"I'm Road. I live in the city..." Road responded, feeling inclined to answer any questions since there were about five guns at the ready in the hands of highly trained... Vault soldiers?

"And why did you pull a gun on me?" 31 interrupted, asking a more serious question.

"Saw you poking around. You're armed, so I thought you might be a threat. Vault dwellers cause trouble..." Road replied, referencing other incidents the town has had with previous vaults.

"Vault dwellers? From which vault?" 45 asked, very intrigued. If there were more military base-type of vaults, similar to their own, maybe they could form an alliance?

"Most recently, Vault 95. Some sort of crazy friggin cyborg or something with half his face gone, just metal plating. He was wearing a 95' jumpsuit, so I've been ordered to bring in any dwellers I see. They won't take kindly to you taking me hostage by the way..." Road explained to them, remembering the strange cyborg man he'd heard about causing trouble just weeks ago.

"We aren't taking you hostage. You pulled a gun on us so I'd say we're even!" 24 told him giving him a little shove with his security baton to walk faster.

"Yeah, and hostage is such a dirty word. I prefer to call it leverage." 6 smirked, happy that his little team seemed to be getting along so far.

31 was the leader that kept everyone in check and gave the orders, 6 was the one that made jokes here and there to lighten the mood, 45 was the egghead smart guy, 18 was the quiet tactical one, and 24 was the experienced older guy. How could this go wrong?

[You Have Gained +1 Intelligence!]