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Doc     Doc has a different woman with him when he gets to the bar. She doesn't introduce herself, but at the same time, doesn't come with Joel and Doc out to the wastes. In their trip across the wasteland, Doc points out various creatures. As they get to a scrapyard, Doc points out a few humanoid beasts that look more like zombies than radiation-scarred survivors. "There's some ferals," Doc says. "Firstly, never shoot a Feral from a distance. You don't know if they're still packing a brain in that head of theirs, and are just letting their primal side out. Secondly, they're still people, just...lost to time and the if you do shoot one, please try and make it quick and painless. Thirdly, don't use radiation weapons. I know you smooth-skins are drawn to radiation as an easy weapon out here, but ghouls like me and those guys actually feed on the glow. It's not helpful, and you'll just end up with more bitemarks than teeth."
Joel Joel follows Doc out.. Watching with curiosity at the woman they soon leave behind but shakes it off and follows Doc's guide.. He looks at the creatures pointed out. But then.. When they come across those radiation burned.. Walking corpses.. He looks with a pain in his eyes.. "Terrible.." He whispers. "Just utterly terrible." He looksat Doc and listens.. And nods. "Alright. And yeah.." He looks back at the twitching, agitated creatures. "That is the least one could offer them.. A quick and painless end.." He looks back at Doc. "I take it. A headshot? Just like in the movies? Since they look like the zombies of old.."
Doc     "They're not zombies," Doc says. "They're still in there...just...broken. They'll attack you on sight. No idea why. Not me, since I'm a ghoul. I've devoted years of my life to studying them. All I've discovered is that, while a preventative measure could keep a ghoul from becoming feral, once you break...that's it. You're done. Gone. Useful only as a detector of radioactives or an evil man's guard dog."
Joel Joel looks at him and nods. "Alright. I am sorry.." He looks at them again. "A terrible way to go.." He shakes his head and sighs. "I am sorry that nothing could be found to help them afterwards."
Doc     "Hey, no need to apologize," Doc says. "My efforts have gone to trying to find things they actually like so maybe they can have some peace, you know? They're not exactly childlike, but some do pick up things and hold onto them. I think they have echoes of their former lives somewhere in there. Just a little wisp of light in the dark corners of what's left."
Joel Joel nods and smiles. "Alright." And shakes his head as he listens. "Terrible..."
Doc     "Let's go a different way," Doc says. "I don't want to disturb them right now." He shifts and starts to go the other direction, going as stealthily as he can.
Joel Joel nods and follows Doc. "Alright then. Where to next?" Hea sks looking around him and mimicking Doc's stealthiness. But failing..
Doc     "Don't worry too much about where to go," Doc instructs, quietly. "Mostly, just keep your eyes open for danger, useful swag, and a clear path to the exit."
Joel Joel smiles and nods. "Alright then." But he still keeps track of where they go to... Not wnting to get lost. "Will do." And he does so indeed!
Doc     It's a long morning of slogging through trash piles before Doc leads the fresh extrant to a military vehicle. After checking the back for radroaches or other nasties, he seals the two inside and turns on the light on his Pip-Boy, using a magnet on it to stick it to the ceiling. The green light is something he's used to, clearly. He pulls out a tablecloth-sized bit of cured leather covered in scales and unfolds it in the middle of the floor, sitting near the front of the truck, his back against the wall there, facing the door. The spread is a jumble of golf-ball-sized fruits and vegetables, each with a blackened hole through it, like each were roasted on a skewer.
Joel Joel looks around, enjoying the exploring and learning. And with a pulled 9mm, he helps securing the immediate area of the truck they later use as a picnic spot. "Thank you for everything Doc." He looks at the fruits and waits for Doc to pick some food.
Doc     "Hey, no problem," Doc says. He has another metal box not used for that food, from which he pulls a bottle of water. It has several warnings all over it, and the pip-boy on the ceiling clicks as he pulls it out. "Pro-tip, don't drink this." Opening it, Doc takes a big swig before putting it back in the obviously lead-lined box. "Dig in. I don't have plates or anything, so just take what you want." Doc, meanwhile, grabs a handful of the stuff and pops one in his mouth.
Joel Joel watches the water being pulled out and the Pipboy going crazy. And nods. "I shall not!" He says as he watches Doc drink the dirty water. He looks at the food and nods at the offer. "Thanks!" And he picks some of the fruits to nibble on. "Winston was wanting you to join us when we go out hunting varmint and other stuff. He expressed how it would be a handy thigns to have a doctor around. And well.. I agree!" He grins.
Doc     "I do enjoy the doctoring, to a certain extent," Doc says. "Still, it's not my primary focus. Before the war, I was a scientist. I worked with cybernetics and robotics. Clearly, my time in the wastes has expanded my skillset, but if you want a scientist, I am your ghoul."
Joel Joel looks at Doc and listens to his explanation of skills. "Cybernetics and Robotics? Intruiging. A good scientist is still very valuable to have along. As well as someone whom is at least moderately able to staple someone back together!" HE grins and winks. "What was your name before the Great War if I may ask?"
Doc     "I don't really use that, anymore," Doc says. "Hang out with me and Megan again, and you may hear it, but I think I'll keep that under my hat for now." He plops a cubed bit of mutfruit between his jaws and bites down into the soft pulp of the grilled fruit. "I'm almost three hundred, kid. My identity has kind of shifted over the centuries."
Joel Joel sighs and nods. "Alright then." He plops another bit of fruit into his mouth and chows down. "The food outdoor tastes truly different than what we used to eat back at the Vault. Much more... Real?" He then nods at Doc. "Three hundred.. Yeah, I can see how things would shift a bit with so much time to spend."
Doc     Doc swallows and pops a bit of meat in his mouth. This is chewier, and it takes him a bit longer to get to the point where he can speak again. "Honestly, I've been married more than my fair share of times, I've had almost a thousand girlfriends at once, and now I've got a blast from the past making googly eyes at me like nothing's changed. My life is just weird. Hopefully, you don't make it this long, kid."
Joel Joel goes for some iguana bits and noms down. His eyes go wide and he nods at the man's words. "A thousand girlfriends at once.. It still is hard to concieve... And yeah. Megan One looks awesome. I think you mean her, right?" He shrugs. "And that is something time will tell I guess." He leans back against the truck's door and cocks his head to listen for outside sounds for a moment.
Doc     The outside would sound quiet except for the normal sounds of the wasteland. "Yeah, I guess," Doc says. "I mean a thousand girlfriends was hard to deal with; Megan One is definitely awesome. How she can put up with me, sometimes, is beyond my ability to understand."
Joel Joel nods approvingly and looks back to Doc. "Yeah.. I guess?.. Not have had a girlfriend before." He sighs and shrugs. "Who knows! Maybe one day!" He grins and nods again. "Well.. You seem to be a nice guy so far. So that might be helping?"
Doc     "I try," Doc says. "Though, that's one of the ways you change with age. You will mellow out a bunch before your first century, I promise you that."
Joel Joel nods. "Yeah.. I guess. No reason to stay angry all the time I guess.. Kinda a waste of one's energy." He smiles and looks up. "How was life a few months after the bombs fell? Could people come by?"
Doc     "There was nobody TO come by," Doc says. "For years after the bombs fell, I was tied up with...well, repopulating the species, and trying to figure out why my Y chromosome wasn't firing. I actually do still have a few hundred daughters, believe it or not. I'm pretty sure they're still alive out there...just ghouled...and safely contained...and feral, like those ghouls we saw earlier."
Joel Joel listens and nods, his face a bit sad at what he hears. "Hmm..." He sighs deeply. "I am sorry.. Sorry for them to turn feral.. Not something they deserved." He looks at Doc and smiles. "Who knows.. Maybe one day a remedy is to be found."
Doc     "Smarter minds than you have tried and failed," Doc says. "Even if I could regenerate their brains, the synapses that hold that unique spark are gone. They are still my beautiful girls, and I would kill or die for any of them, but I couldn't just watch them be...monsters..."
Joel Joel sighs. "I know that there have been.. But still. Even if they were to regain humanity.. It would be a step forward. Maybe they will not ever be the same again. But those in the early stages of becomming feral.. They might be saved from the worst of its effects.." He looks at her and nods. "Something I can respect.. Deeply.."
Doc     "Girlfriends and daughters are my primary goal," Doc says. "But honestly, there's a lot of ghouls I can help out here to perfect the process, even if I am not able to get it working. Honestly, there are new ghouls every year, and new ferals every year. As long as humans keep breeding, ghouls are going to be a thing. We live in a radioactive world. Ghouling brings immortality, but eventual loss of yourself."
Joel Joel nods. "Understandable." And listens. "True enough... But that does not count for everyone, no? For you still are controling yourself.. Or will you lose this control as well?"
Doc     "I got pretty off before the Alien Mothership situation," Doc says. "I'm not really sure what they did, but they took me from an incoherent madman on the cusp of feralizing old me, again. It's miracle-level tech, and I want it. I just...have no idea how to even start to figure it out."
Joel Joel nods. "By testing it out I guess.. And tinkering with the devices.. Possibly make a copy before doing too much tinkering. Lest you do something irreversible." He shrugs. "And most importantly. Find out what it is that makes the device tick. Then you will have an idea as to what your focus could be put upon. Is it using radio waves, radiation, electricity?.. These are the important base questions I think.. Though I am sure that you figured that as well already."
Doc     "I already have the capability to remove a brain and place it in an enclosure, then put a dock for that enclosure in the ghoul's old body and plug the brain in. It's stuff I've picked up from centuries of research, and I can use it to make ghouls that will not die. They will live as long as the brain-bots you might see out in the wastes. Pre-war tech, but the brains inside are still going strong. That's about the fluid and artificial immune system repairing the accumulating degradation of the brain itself. Once those synapses deteriorate, though, it's not like unplugging a tape from your pip-boy. It's more like taking the tape itself out, cutting a section of it out, splicing it together, and plugging that new one in. If we don't have the tape, we can't rebuild the full thing."
Joel Joel listens, his eyes go wide. "You can?... Wow..." He leans back and listens the man explain this to him. "Hmm.. There must be a way to prevent that from happening.."
Doc     "I just explained the method I've discovered to prevent it," Doc says. "Problem is, how do I go backwards? So far, everything I know says I can't. Once a ghoul goes feral, even if you regenerate their brains, what they used to be is gone."
Joel Joel nods. "Sorry. Yes you did. Maybe a kind of regenerative fluids.. Or.. Electrical stimulation to jolt the synapses back to life? Just as one would do with an electricity cabel that has been broken.. Fix it and send a new current through it. That way a machine will work again."
Doc     "That's not really how the brain works," Doc says. "See, it's just like any other dead tissue in the body. It doesn't just stick around. It will be reabsorbed. Data loss is also not so simple. I could make your brain form new synapses all over, but they wouldn't mean anything. I'm actually pretty close to just being able to use a brain as a computer device, but if data is lost from a device, sometimes you just can't get it back...ever. That's what this is looking like."
Joel Joel sighs and nods. "Hmm... And what if the data is copied from the brain. Stored elsewhere and reintegrated upon need? After a /repair/ has been made, and the new tissue needs imprinting?" It is clear that Joel is not one to easily let go.. And the matter makes him think hard.
Doc     "Kid," Doc says after swallowing a bite of mystery meat, "I've been working on this problem since your great, great grandparents were in diapers. You think you're going to waltz in and just hand me a simple solution I haven't beat my head against a wall for a decade trying to implement? I appreciate you trying to help, but the powers that be have done everything but audibly tell me it's impossible."
Joel Joel sighs and shrugs. "Sometimes a new set of eyes can see a fix for a problem, where the one originaly working on said problem misses it. Simply because that person already knows so much about it." A shake of the head as he eats a last bit of Iguana bit. "I will stop about the matter now. I just hope to help and maybe trigger an insight missed by you for whatever reason there may be."
Doc     "We'll just have to wait and see," Doc says. "Right now, I am really hoping to get one of my assistants to the point where they can do the surgery on me to make me immune to ghoulification. I'll lose my hair, and have a bulletproof glass dome for a skull, but I think that's a small price to pay for not losing your mind over the next thousand years."
Joel Joel nods at that. "yeah.. Fair enough. I guess at least. But why not make the glass dome in the shape of your head? A glass copy of your head.. Or is that something impossible to do?" He smiles at that. "Or would that mean an insuficiency of the needed fluids?"
Doc     "You think I meant some other shape?" Doc poses to him. After leaving the question hanging, he pulls his water out and chugs the rest of it, which actually shuts up his pip-boy about the matter. Standing, he puts the water into the box, folds up the rest of the food, and puts everything in his backpack, save for his pipboy, which he puts in his breast pocket of his yellow jacket. "Regardless," he says, "I think we've spent enough time in here. If we're too long, we're going to have to fight our way back through the way we've just cleared. You ready?"
Joel Joel chuckles and nods. "Fair enough." And shakes his head as the rattling sound stops.. Now that the rad water is gone.. Shaking to get the buzz away. Then as Doc says they better get moving again, Joel smiles and nods. "Alright then! Let us go and see what we will find on our path next." He looks out of the trucks windows for a moment and nods, hand on the holster contianing his 9mm. "Ready."