I enter the room where George Cloney is sleeping. I need to think of a better name for him. He looks so peaceful, sleeping there, that I almost have a moment of remorse for what is about to happen to him. He really is beautiful, and physically perfect except for the contributions from the Deathclaw. I trace a bicep with my finger. He opens his eyes, pulling his arm away. Doc has left some cleanish clothes for him. I gesture to them, “Let’s get you dressed. We can’t let you get caught out in the open. We’ll be safer once you’re back at camp in a shelter.”

“Where are we going? What do you mean safer?”

“SSShhh just get dressed, we need to get going, or the Doc will start charging us rent. You can trust me.” I smile winningly at him. At least I think it’s winningly, it’s difficult to read his expression. I should maybe hold back on the physical contact. “Do you need help?”

“No, I can manage.” He blushes as he sees my eyes on him, half naked. I smile and turn away. I need him to trust me enough to come with me without a fight, or more drugs. I do not want to have to haul him all the way home, much better if he chooses to walk willingly.

“We need to get going, soon as you’re ready. I can explain everything on the way. Don’t worry, we’ll get home, we’ll be okay. Everything will be okay. I promise. Everything will be okay.” I reach into my bag, and pull out a canteen full of squirrel stew. I leave the canteen and a fresh carton of purified water where he can see them. “Breakfast is served, when you’re dressed, eat something, and we can get going. I’ll be just outside.”

I sit and smoke, wondering if it’s a good idea to keep him. I decide that I think too much, and I should just have fun with him. I’ve never had a human pet before, he might be better company than my Mirelurk King. Nights get lonely in the forest sometimes. I can always return him later, when I’m done with him, or if he seems more trouble than he’s worth. He emerges from the door. I look him up and down. As I turn, I say “Glad to see you on your feet, let’s get going”

“No!” His voice is raised. He grabs my arm. My eyes narrow. I quell my instinct to put my knife to his throat. Instead I spin, breaking his grasp and startling him. I get the sense he isn’t used to any kind of resistance.

“What do you think you’re doing, putting your hands on me like that?” I ask him, reasonably.

“I… I’m sorry, I don’t know what’s going on. I need to understand, please, I can’t remember. Tell me something. Anything, please, at least,” He hesitates “Tell me my name.”

“Your name is Geo, can we get going now? I can fill you in as we walk. We have maybe three days of walking to get home, to get you safe. There are so many dangers out there, especially for you.” I gesture vaguely. I need him to believe me, we have to get going. We’re going to have to avoid other people along the way too. Judging by his previous behaviour he’s going to need a reason for that, and I can’t tell him the truth if I want to hang on to him. If we bump into the BoS clowns they might recognise him as Enclave. If we stumble across any Enclave, they’ll recognise him, and he might recognise himself among them. If we see any Vultures along the way I might be able to talk my way out of it, I might not. This is going to be a long and annoying trip. “Look, if we bump into anyone it’s really important that they don’t recognise you, Don’t worry, I’ll never activate this.” I slip a slave collar around his neck and click it closed before he has a chance to react. “This will fool people into thinking that you’re my slave. People ask fewer questions about slaves. We can put a sack hood on you to make sure you aren’t recognised too.” The sack hood will prevent BoS or Vultures recognising Geo, but I’ll still need to keep him away from Enclave patrols.

He looks at me carefully. He seems unsure, afraid even. I wonder how old he is. Some of the Enclave clones only take a couple of years to grow. Geo might only technically be three years old. He looks like an adult, and he would have had all the memories and training that an adult would have, but he’s probably not had much real work experience. I have a split second of doubt. I shake my head, and smile reassuringly at him. At least I think it was reassuring, his expression doesn’t change. We look at each other for a while. Fuck, maybe I should just march him straight to the Whitesprings and get this over with. “We can talk as we walk. You can trust me, what have you got to lose?”

“I don’t know, what have I got to lose?.” After a long pause he shrugs, and winces. “Alright, let’s go, I guess.”

Day one of our journey is uneventful. We have to take frequent rest breaks and detours, Geo is still weak from his ordeal, forcing us to go around the steeper terrain. Most of the time we are silent, Geo needs his breath for walking. That night we make camp near Sugar Grove. Tomorrow we will have to start crossing the Savage Divide, Vulture territory. I set up a tent, with two sleeping bags, one of which I borrowed from Prince. Geo passes out into a dead sleep as soon as he wraps up. I sit by the fire, cooking up a rabbit that was unlucky enough to pass within eyeshot during our walk. I watch Geo sleep for a while, before turning in myself. I also sleep immediately.

Day two, I awake with a start. I realise that there is a knife at my throat. “Hey, Geo… What’s up?” I say, my voice is steady.

“I’m feeling better today,” says Geo, “and I’m not going another inch with you until you tell me what I want to know.”

“Okay, okay, fine! But that’s my knife, and I don’t appreciate where it is right now.” Geo has the sense to look contrite. “Let’s get packed up, and I’ll start talking.”

As we walk, I tell him that he and I are friends, close friends, with occasional benefits. He looks incredulous. I try not to feel insulted. I tell him that I am a raider, a veteran of the Vultures. I tell him that he was a member of the gang too, until he ripped off one of the other Vets. I tell him that he only got away from the Vultures with his life because I warned him to flee, on account of our close personal relationship. I tell him that the Doc owes me, and that he is the only one I could turn to, but that his secret is safe. I tell him that he was hiding out in the Mire when he went dark, and I came looking for him. I tell him that he’s wanted by the Enclave, and the Brotherhood because of his crimes against both groups. I tell him that his face is well known to everyone, that he is infamous, that there is a reward for his capture, and an even bigger reward for his head. I tell him that I have a home in the Forest, that Vultures hardly ever go to. I tell him that he will be safe there, that he can hide in the shelter I have built for the beasts that I tame. I tell him that I am afraid for him, that I want him to survive, that only I can keep him safe. I tell him he can hide out with me for as long as it takes for the heat to die down. I tell him that he can trust me. I tell him that he has no choice. I tell him that if he goes his own way he’ll die, sooner rather than later.

He takes it all in. I can see he is thinking, can almost see smoke coming from his ears. Eventually he shakes his head. I ask him why. He says “I can’t imagine doing things that would make so many want me dead. You make me seem … I don’t know… Evil? I don’t feel evil.”

“Listen, you aren’t evil… We aren’t evil. We do what we need to do to survive out here. Survival is all we have. Okay, conning a vulture vet wasn’t the smartest thing you ever did, but I’m sure you had your reasons…Shit, did you hear that?” I grab his arm and pull him down into some shrubs. “Stay here,” I hiss at him. In a crouch I head to the crest of the hill in front of us. I close my eyes to listen. In the distance I can hear a BoS Caravan, tramping through the divide. They make no attempt to hide their advance. Idiots. I message Karakorum with coordinates for the Brotherhood, knowing that they won’t last long. I wonder what possessed them to try to cross Vulture territory. Oh well, not my problem. We can walk around, avoiding both them and the Vulture welcoming committee. I turn to go back to Geo, and get a fright. He’s right there beside me “ Fuck, Geo, I asked you to stay put. There’s a brotherhood caravan up ahead, we’ll have to go round.” I have to admire his stealth though, I didn’t hear him move. “You okay? You look shaken.” I smile at him. “Don’t worry about them, they won’t be an issue.”

“I’m not worried about them, I’m worried for them,” he says.

I roll my eyes. “Look, they know where they are, and what they are letting themselves in for. The Savage Divide is Vulture territory. They shouldn’t be here. Maybe they have a death wish. Whatever, they aren’t our problem, okay? Okay? Geo, we need to keep going. We still have to get home.”

Geo furrows his brow, “I keep trying to remember. I thought hearing about my life would jog my memory, but it hasn’t. There’s just nothing there, and it seems the harder I try to remember the further away everything seems.” He runs his hand along the dressings covering his chest wound. “I don’t even remember how I got this. How could I forget something like that?”

I try to hide my impatience. I think the story I’ve told him is good enough. Why can’t he just trust me? I wonder again to myself if he is worth the headache. There’s just something about him that makes me want to keep him around. I wonder if the enclave engineered something into him on purpose. “Stop being so dramatic,” I chastise him. “Let’s just get the fuck out of here.” A few hours later I get the message on my Pip-Boy that the Brotherhood have been dealt with. New recruits, they hadn’t put up much of a fight.

We are lucky, and don’t run into any other reasons to detour. After another day’s walk the terrain starts to soften, and become more colourful. We have reached the Forest. It will take just a few more hours to get home to my base, to safety. Geo asks more questions, but I am able to assuage his doubts. I think. It’s hard to tell, his beautiful face is often strained with worry. I offer him some chems to help relax, but he refuses. A beautiful idiot. Why feel pain when you don’t have to? We are both exhausted though, so need to spend one more night out in the wild. I set a fire to keep away the critters of the forest. I am awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of a voice, calling my name. Shit. I open my eyes, and see that Geo is already awake. I put my finger to my lips, and hand him a sack hood. We can’t let him be seen now, not when we’re so close to home. I glance at his collar to make sure the light is blinking. “Teek, are you in there? It’s me, Jules. I have your sensor thingamajigs from Wire.” Her face appears through the gap in the tent.

“Fuck, Jules, why are you sneaking up on me in the middle of the fucking night? I told you to deliver that to my place tomorrow.” When I knew I was going to be keeping Geo, I messaged Jules to pick up some additional security for my shelter. I can’t have people snooping. She wasn’t supposed to be here now though.

“Yeah, I thought I may as well get them to you now, seeing as how I was nearby. Who’s your friend?” She glances over Geo, her eyes stopping briefly on his chest.

“Just some new, eh, staff to muck out my beasties. He’s damaged, I got him cheap.” My eyes narrow. “Jules, how the fuck did you find me here?”

“Uh… Remember when you gave Wire your Pip-Boy for some improvements? Well, he installed some software that would monitor your life signs, and let us know if you were in trouble, you know, in case of emergency. He added something that would let us find you if that happened. I just used it to find you so I could deliver early.”

“He fucking put in a tracker? What the fuck, Jules? Who else can use it? How do I disable it? A fucking tracker, are you serious?” I poke at my Pip-Boy.

Jules had the sense to look at least slightly contrite. “I dunno, you’ll have to ask Wire. Look, I need to get going, I have to get back to Johnny.”

“Why, what’s up with Johnny?”

Jules frowns “Oh, nothing, I just… need to be there if he needs me.”

“Since when?” I monitor her face. Something’s going on. “What have the two of you been up to?” Johnny is an asshole, but I would have thought hypnotism was beyond him. Jules is acting squirrely, though, definitely not herself.

“You know, just the usual. Have you heard what The Deliverer is up to? He believes that Warlord is the next Messiah. Me and Johnny paid him a visit, licked his toad.”

“Licked his… what the?” I had given The Deliverer his Toad. I had no idea why he wanted it. “Jesus, never mind. Look, I’ll deal with Wire. You do whatever you have to do. I’ll let you know if I need you, okay? And listen, can my boy here be our little secret? I don’t want people knowing my business. That includes Johnny.” I don’t really care what Jules tells Johnny, but she’s acting weird, and I want to know where her loyalties lie.

“Sure thing, boss. See you around.” Jules salutes, and disappears. I count to 10, and exhale sharply.

“She’s gone, you can take your hood off” I smile at Geo. “See? Worked like a charm. She has no idea who you really are. Go back to sleep. You’re safe.” I’m not as confident in this plan as I need Geo to think I am, but I’m sticking with it. I lie back down in my sleeping bag, and open my Pip-Boy.

FROM: <Teek>
To: <JohnnyD.>
SUBJ: The fuck
Johnny, whatever the fuck mindgames you’re playing with Jules, knock it off. Don’t make me pay you a visit.

FROM: <Teek>
To: <Wire>
SUBJ: My Pip-Boy
Wire, please remove the tracking software from my Pip-Boy immediately, sweetie. There’s a good boy. And please ask in future before you make “improvements”.

FROM: <Teek>
To: <DistantPrince>
SUBJ: new guy
Hey doc, how likely is it that this dude’s memory will come back? He keeps trying to remember. The beautiful dickhead.

I turn off my Pip-Boy, and go back to sleep. Tomorrow we will walk to the Tower, and I will settle my new Pet into his new life.

Credit: Teekhup and fckyeahbaldeagle

Part One

Part Three