Teekhup wakes up as the raiders manhandle her up the hill. She is confused for a moment “For fuck’s sakes, lads, you lot are worse than the Assaultron. Put me the fuck down before you shake my fuckin insides out.” Her memories flood back all at once, and she remembers Kestrel “FUCK, the vertibot! It’s friendly! Did we win? What’s going on?? PUT ME DOWN!”

Kestrel ejects the wheel thingies, and lands the Vertibot near the fight. She grabs Wire and hugs him until his helmet almost pops off. She jumps out of the craft, and whoops. “FUCKING HELL DID YOU SEE THAT? WE WERE FANTASTIC!! WE SAVED THE MOTHERFUCKIN DAY!!! WE WON, WE WON!!! WHOOOOOOOOOOOOO” She punches the air. She is answered with a cheer as the entire scene erupts into victorious uproar. The fight is over, the spoils belong to the Vultures!

Magpie watches the others celebrate, she smiles, and surveys the scene. There are a lot of dead Vultures, but even now she can see some of the piles moving. Maybe not as many are dead as she thought. One of the settler guards stirs near her feet. She takes out a pistol and shoots her dead between the eyes. It’s the most merciful thing for her, really. It’d be no good if the Vultures got to play with her first. A couple of assaultrons still throw off sparks, but none of them are moving. Magpie begins a low howl, getting louder. The other Coyotes join her “OW OW AHHHWWWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” They howl for a full minute. As the noise dies down, Magpie lets out a loud wolf whistle. Silence descends on the scene. The other Vultures look at each other puzzled, but happy. “Okay, okay, we did good! You can have a bit of time to party, but then we have to sort through this mess, see what exactly we won!” She yells. The scene erupts again. “And exactly what we lost” she whispers

Using her comms, she contacts Prince. “Honey, I need a casualty report please. I need to know what this cost us.”

“Well, it’s not good but it would’ve been a lot worse if the vertibot and warpigs hadn’t shown up.” The Prince responds in his comms “Nearly half of our remaining troops have some pretty serious injuries, and we have a dozen or more dead.” 

He pauses. “We need to get the wounded to the nearest outpost so I can treat their wounds or we could lose them to infection or blood loss.”

His speaker crackles “For now let’s get some tourniquets on those with open wounds. We’re gonna need some wood to make splits for the wounded to travel.”

The Prince lets out a sigh. “We’ll only be able to carry so many of our wounded at a time, and I’m afraid we won’t be able to take them all. We’re going to need to pick and choose who comes with us based on their ability to travel and their likelihood of survival.”(edited)

Kestrel pops up behind Prince, still jubilant “I bet we can fit lots of wounded in the Birdie, Prince. We can airlift them straight to where you want them. You can go along with the first lot, along with a couple of the more intact vultures. They can unload the wounded… carefully, obviously. Once we get everyone transported we can start making flights with the new gear we got”

The Prince eyes the vertibot nervously, “You mean – ” 

He points at the vertibot, points at himself, points at the sky, and then gulps 

“I kind of have – flying sort of – well it’s really just a matter of -” 

The Prince pulls on his collar nervously.

He notices Teek shooting him a questioning glance. “I mean – no – no problem at all. I’ll just get in the….and…fly.”

He clears his throat nervously.“Thank you Kestrel.” He glares at her slightly annoyed

“With the vertibot transport we should be able to escort everyone to safety.”

Kestrel chuckles “I woulda thought that a dude with a beak in a gang called the Vultures would be excited about taking to the skies.” She grins “It’s okay, Doc, you can trust me, I’ll get you there safe in one piece, promise.”

Prince squints his beady eyes, “Well you know what they say about assuming.”

There is an awkward pause

“Let’s just get the wounded to safety. As soon as possible please! No detours. I don’t want to be in that thing any longer than I have to.”

Kestrel salutes, still grinning. She climbs aboard the ‘Bird and gets ready for another flight. The nuclear powered craft has plenty of juice, and Wire has made sure that the BoS can’t hack back in and take it from us. The hole in the floor can be patched up later, there’s no time now. She watches as the worst of the wounded are loaded up. At the last minute Prince climbs on too. She carefully starts up the craft, takes off gently, and heads for the nearest Vulture outpost. 

“Hold on tight Doc, we’ll be there soon” She spends the flight desperately trying to resist the urge to accidentally dip and roll the ‘Bird, just to see Prince’s face go white

Out of her power armour now, Teekhup thinks maybe it’s time to inspect this cargo. Her wound burns in her side, but she takes out her pocket crowbar and heads for the nearest crate. Wincing, she jams it into a gap in the wood and heaves. She lifts the lid. “Holy fucking shitballs! There are THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of ammo rounds in here!” She opens another box, and sees beautiful new looking rifles, none of the improvised crap they’ve had to use of late. Another box contains shiny pristine power armor pieces. This haul is everything they need to defend themselves for YEARS to come. First though, they’ll be looking to get some revenge on the rats in their hole under the Whitesprings. An extermination is in order. 

Magpie sits on a crate and surveys the scene. Thanks to Kestrel, Wire, and Ivan the Terrible it wasn’t as bad as she had feared when she first saw the extra Assaultrons. She sees Condor, surrounded by War Pigs, looking like the queen she is. She sees wounded being loaded into the ‘Bird, flying away, presumably to safety. She stands in the middle, with raiders celebrating around her. She watches Teek opening boxes, she can see that the rewards are good, that they justify the deaths that occurred today. She sees the ‘Bird come back, more Vultures are loaded up, taken away. For the first time since before the fight she sees Ash, and her heart lifts with relief. Ash is scouring the area, shouting, searching. She can barely be heard over the din of so many Vultures. Magpie walks over to her. Ash is visibly distraught. 

“Menace! Where is he? I haven’t seen him since we left the train cars! He’s just a kid, I can’t find him.” Magpie wraps Ash up in her arms, hugging her closely 

“Don’t worry,” she whispers, “we’ll find him.”

Together, the women begin to dig through the debris and bodies around the tracks. There’s no sign of Menace. Suddenly, Magpie notices a rat tail braid sticking out from under a protectron beside a downed Brahmin. Fearing the worst, Magpie acts like she’s still searching. Using a board she carefully levers the protectron off the raider’s body. Her breath catches in her throat as she looks sadly down at Menace, his dead eyes open. Such a shame, he had potential that one. She crouches down, reaching for him to close his eyes, to let him find peace. Just as she is about to make contact, Menace blinks, and takes in a huge deep breath. “W-w-wh-what are you doing?” He waves her away. “Shit, did I miss the fight. Last thing I remember was a Brahmin falling on me, and then a fuckin’ protectron! Did we win??? Shit, everything hurts, fuck, can I have a stimpak or something. My leg is stuck”

Magpie bursts out laughing. She laughs until her sides ache, and tears roll down her cheeks. She beckons Ash over. Together they manage to get Menace out from under the Brahmin. Miraculously his leg doesn’t even look broken, but he could probably do with some medical attention. “You are one lucky asshole,” says Magpie, still laughing. “Yeah, it’s over, we won. We won!”

As the day goes on, the remaining wounded are flown to safety. The weaponry, armour and supplies are loaded onto the Vertibot and delivered to where they need to go. One by one the Vultures peel off and leave the scene. Magpie is the last to go. As she returns to her camp, she knows that she and the other Coyotes have truly earned their place in the Vultures.

Ash stood on the hill, watching the vertibot take off with the last of the spoils into the alien atmosphere of the Heap. As the railyard once again falls silent, she sees Magpie heading back towards her camp. She catches up and falls into step beside her. They walked silently for a few minutes before Ash finally spoke.

“You did good ya’ know?” 

Ash stopped, Magpie took a few more steps before she realized Ash wasn’t by her side anymore and turned to see what had stopped the Coyote leader. Ash unhooked her mask and offered a rare smile, pulling Magpie into an awkward hug.

“Real good. I wouldn’t have trusted anyone else to coordinate a heist like that. I’m proud of you.”

Ash released Magpie then threw her arm over her shoulder and started walking again.

“Now let’s go celebrate, Coyote style.” 

Ash threw her head back and howled.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Five

First posted on the Vultures Discord

Words and pictures: The Condor, The Eagle, The Distant Prince, Teekhup