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Ashur The ocean is a grand and majestic thing-- a sight so alien to most that it threatens to take the breath away. The largest body of water most any El Dorado native has ever seen is Bitter Lake to the north; Bitter Lake is a drop in the bucket compared to the swelling Gulf of California, whose vermilion waters stretch into the horizon until all becomes black.

A roaring campfire-- nearer a bonfire than not-- has been erected on the shore. For the first time in his life, Ashur can taste salt in the air, feel it aggravate the thousand little open cuts on his skin; he can listen to the lapping of the waves, the wind, and the crackle of the fire, ringed by stones and bits of detritus washed up on the shore.

The giant man is seated on an old rubber tire that fell off a delivery truck en route to Poseidon well over a hundred years ago. He's feeding bits of washed-up kindling and tinder to the flames, watching them ignite and spray into the air in a flurry of golden-red sparks.

Elsewhere, it's dark; much of the caravan is asleep or preparing for tomorrow.
Qwillis     It's hard to sleep when Pain is hugging you so closely. Qwillis gave up after a bit and limped his way out to that shore. It was good he was braced by metal. The flesh leg seems more likely to give way before the metal one does as he'd watch the flame for a moment, then stare out at the water. Sighing, he'd hobble along to find a bit of fossilized log to drag with that metal hand, the other arm in a sling of course. Moving it near the flame, he'd sit, looking drawn, but content. "Ahh.. You know? This whole thing reminds me of what happen to me when I lost my arm and leg.. it was a trip away.. and I got hurt then too.. badly."
Eden Eden is lying on her belly on the ground near Ashur. Chin restong on her hands, propped up at the elbows, and feet waggling in the air, her gaze alternates between the crackling fire and the unfamiliar sea. Qwillis's voice popps her out of her own thoughts and she looks curiously at him, hoping he will tell the tale.
Aralyn Ara is up, wide awake, well she usually is as the woman seems to volunteer for every kind of guard duty that is available. Of course at this point, she's approaching the campfire after having been relieved. Ara rolls a blanket out and sits on the thing as she begins to pull that sniper rifle of hers apart, first taking the barrel out, then the action, so on and so forth. Soon enough she has it fully pulled apart. Next to her also is a jar that she keeps cleaning fluid in and she has a couple old tooth brushes as well as a barrel ram. The woman then tugs her SMG free of her duster and proceeds to take that apart as well, setting it next to the sniper rifle before she pulls her duster off, winces a bit as she stretches oddly. "Ribs..." She mutters quietly, and then sets to cleaning the various gun parts.
Ashur Ashur prods the fire's embers with a water-smoothed rod of driftwood. He tilts the little tent housing the internal kindling as the salt winds kick, and then settles in to watch, letting the flames dance before his eyes.

Some observers might note that, speared on bits of wood and lodged in the sand, tucked between the rocks that mark the fire's boundaries, are fish. Queer fish, some, three-eyed or oversized, and others normal specimens; the oceans did not mutate quite as much as the land, on the whole, since no one bothered to rain nuclear devastation down on empty plots of water.

"I had been wondering about that," Ashur remarks, watching Qwillis drag over a log and leave grooves in the sand. "You are the first I have seen with such metal limbs. How did that happen?"
Qwillis     Qwillis nods in response with a faint smile. He'd look to Aralyn curiously, then shrug and look back to Ashur and Eden. "I started as a mechanic you know. I worked at the shop in El Dorado. But I had always been interested in more scientific persuits. There were a few people from the Vault who let me read some books sometimes." He'd motion with the metal hand. "They said they were going to Boston. This place that's quite a ways off. So I went. We got about half-way there when I found some new tech in a settle me." Qwillis stares at the fire a moment, metal hand slowly curling into a fist. "There was.. I was trying to figure it out. I had just gotten a power supply attached to it. Just started charging it up. When some meathead crashed into the room, demanding I stop because it'd upset his god." Qwillis shakes his head, looking back to Eden and Ashur. "Things get a little hazy then. It blew up.. demolished the building. The guy. I was lucky he was between me and it.. as that's how my leg and arm were both taken off. Anything in line of sight of it? Just.. vaporized.."
Eden Eden stares at Qwillis, a little shocked, but mostly trying to pick the first of about a hundred questions. "he worshiped a machine?" is the first question that she ginds words for."
Ashur The giant lets out a low whistle, reaching over to rotate one of the speared fish to roast the other side. He rises to his feet and repeats the process, circling the large fire. There's a dozen or so captured fish, give or take, in the stone ring, and all of them need to be charred equally. "My condolences," he rumbles as he walks past Qwillis on the log, reaching down to clasp the man's shoulder in friendly, brief gesture. Ashur isn't -always- a dick, after all; when no one's antagonizing him, he's perfectly swell! "The wastelands are full of oddities; worship of machines reminds me of Vuk, the strange fellow who pals with the Vaulters of Dorado. He has a queer reverence for them, and speaks of an ancient foe known as Satansoft; perhaps he would know this man who assailed you, and ruined your limbs."

A shrug follows, and the man keeps walking, stepping around Aralyn with a, "Turn that fish," and a nod to the one nearest her, careful not to tread sand upon her blanket, and then finishing his circle by stepping -over- Eden.

"I was taught, as a child, not to trust technology; that dependence on it makes us weak, and that we can never be sure it will do as we imagine. It was technology that set Mars' fury upon us and burnt the world. And that strange intelligent computer from Roswell, who unleashed the mechanical scorpion, also was empowered by it.."
Aralyn Ara looks up while using the old toothbrush and fluid to clean the trigger mechanism on her sniper rifle. She tilts her head curiosly and blinks at Qwillis now, studying him, before she flips the fish as told... She glances now to Ashur curiously now and back to the others... "I don't know much about Roswell or Eldorado.. I' really not from anywhere near here..." She adds and then motions north generally ... "I'm originally from a facility well to the north of all this mess, It's nestled into a mountain valley up in the northern Rockies." she states...
Qwillis     Qwillis smiles faintly. "Quite the opposite.." he'd nod slightly to Ashur. "The distrust of technology I've seen often.. more so with my arm and leg as they are. I can't hide that I'm walking tech.." He'd shake his head, looking at his metal arm. Glancing to Aralyn, he'd smile her way slightly, then simply shrugs. "He's dead and gone. So I really don't know. What I do know is that for the next several months I was bedridden. I couldn't do much and with my dominant arm gone? Well.. it was hard to do anything at all. I almost gave up too." Opening that hand, he'd look at it, then chuckles. "But.. I couldn't. Even when the doctors gave up on me.. I started building. I made this out of parts. Anything I could get, or beg for.. Once I had it built.. I.. well.. installed it. I didn't have anything for the pain.. and.. that's probably why I'm even able to be sitting here now, considering what the mutants did to me.."
Eden Eden's questions start popping out faster. "you were a mechanic? why did ot destroy only line of sight? would anything protect? what did it look like it was supposed do do? how did you build those" eden realizes she's starting to babble and shuts her mouth quickly and blushes a little.
Ashur Ashur chuckles and reaches over to give Eden's head a little pat, smiling down at the pipsqueak when her face flushes as red as her hair. "Such a curious girl," he teases, his other hand sliding his braids behind his head so they stop dangling near the tongues of fire. By now the fish are a crisp gold and black, charred and baked.

How do they taste? Well, that depends-- if you've been living off scraps throughout the trip, well-cooked seafood is a treat, even if there's nothing special in its preparation. The three-eyed one is especially savory, with its swollen mutant eyeballs like chewy little candies; envy whichever member of the group snags it.

Ashur, for his part, rips out two heavy sticks impaling an oversized Cobia, seared crisp and with a fin running down its midback twice as large as normal. There is a lot of fish there-- well over thirty pounds of it, and nearly as tall as Eden is.

It's clear now Ashur made this bonfire specifically and solely to cook his stupid monster fish.

"That is admirable," he compliments Qwillis, looking toward the metal man. "A lesser man would give up; it is the mark of true character to endure, and in enduring grow strong."

A pause. "By all means, take whatever you like. I am not so hungry as to eat it all." He waves a hand, stares at Aralyn as she gestures north, hrms.. and rips into the scales of his prize like a wild dog.
Aralyn Ara tilts her head, she settles for a crab that's been spitted and roasted... She begins tearing into the thing and tilts her head, eyebrows raising at the taste of the claw-meat.... "Better than rad roach for sure.." She mutters quietly, then looks arond and smiles at Ashur "Me and mine are originally from well north... Some of us are encouraged to leave the facility, go out and about and learn about the world, then one day maybe go back home with what we've learned.. Some of us also bring back a significant other and whatnot and add to the little village growing there." she adds.
Qwillis     Qwillis flashes a smile to Ashur and nods slightly. He'd take his own fish, one he can hold in the metal hand. "Mostly scraps. Wires. Long bits of metal. A screw driver is at the core of it for the length. I had the hardest time with the elbow joint.. and don't get me started on the knee." He'd shake his head, looking at the metal leg a moment. "I.. had read about cybernetics, when I was younger. I dreamed of having a robot help me. As for the device? I don't know. The man hit it with a hammer. So I didn't get to learn what it was suppose to do." Qwillis smiles to Eden with a small shake of his head. "As I was in the impact zone, I wish I could answer you.. but I simply don't know. It's hard to describe why I lived and he turned to ash at that moment. Just that I did." He'd shrug and eat some of his fish carefully. "And yes. I was a mechanic. In shanty town actually. I worked at the mechanic shop out there for.. oh.. probably 6 years. Since I was just a kid. It got caps. Which in turn got food."
Eden the scent of the cooked fosh wafts past Eden, reminding her of how much fresh food she hasn't eaten lately. She picks a fish that looks a bit more her size and begins neatly tearing off bits and eating tem one by one. barely noticing the lack of table manners from the giant beside her. "oh this is good!" she says after a couple bites. "thank you ashur")." she smiles ip at him, the turns back to qwillis "you are gonna tell us more, right?"
Ashur "Perhaps the explosion was like the plasma guns I have seen some wield," Ashur volunteers, swallowing down a heady mouthful of fish. He hasn't the faintest idea what this creature's proper name is, and he has only the assumption it isn't poisonous enough to kill him once cooked to reassure him. But, oh, is it delicious, and its skin and scales crunch between his teeth in explosions of flavor. The salt sting in the cut across his cheek is worth it. "It annihilates what it comes into contact with first, and then dissipates; if so, that man might have absorbed all that came your way."

A wild guess, but it sounds right to the former Legionnaire, so he runs with it.

"A man clever enough to work metal into limbs is a man worth knowing. Should my power fist ever need repair, you're the first I'll look for." Another bite of his fish, chew, swallow. He is ravenous.

"Have any of you ever seen desolation like this before?" Referring, of course, to the area around Poseidon. He levels his gaze at Aralyn-- difficult to see as she's a bit on the other side of the fire-- and mms. "I would like to visit there some day."
Qwillis     Qwillis smiles to Eden and nods slightly. He'd eat some more of his fish too, careful as he only has the three digit metal hand to manipulate it with. "Mmm.. I had to learn. I had to learn fast if I was going to do anything.. It took me two years to get it all developed enough to not break just by use.. And.. well.. it was painful to install. Very.. very painful." Qwillis pauses, frowning at that bit. Then there's just another simple shrug. "I am pretty good with tech. My lab is going to be at the clinic and I'll be happy to work on any tech brought in.. I'm a tinkerer.. of sorts." Glancing around at Poseidon, he'd frown, then solemnly shake his head. "No.. This.. is beyond any scale i've seen. There's always been.. I don't know. Something, anything around. This is.. different."
Eden Eden's curiosity is sparked even more at the intricacies of the prothetics. she finishes her fish and wanders over to Qwillis. "woild it be completrly rude to ask to look closer? Could I learn this? I mean, i'm sure i could learn this, but would you show me?
Aralyn Ara glances around and ummms "Battle of the dam was kinda close.... Though there wasn't much in the way of artillery and the like... This is pretty much what a conventional warfield looks like." she says and then shrugs slowly... "From what I know we see 200 year old evidence of worse devestation every day." The odd woman then grins and tugs some more meat free of another crab-limb and happily begins nomming on it.
Qwillis     Qwillis pauses as Eden stands up to move closer. He'd muse then simply shrug, planting the half-eaten fish's stick back in the dirt. Carefully moving that wounded arm, he'd use it to roll the sleeve up of his left arm. A closer look shows fairly sturdy plates attached to an infrastructure that resembles an arm fairly well. Looking between the plates, it's possible to see wires running the length of the limb, mirroring what tendons do in a regular arm. Qwillis would open and close the hand, holding it up so Eden can look between those plates to see a portion of how it works. "I can teach you. Some. A lot of this was trial and error.. I still have days when things can come loose. Heck, yesterday the thumb fell off 4 times. It's not pleasent." He'd chuckle weakly with that. "When I'm better? I don't mind showing you further in my lab. But.. I'd rather not open it up out here. It's not a fast process to take apart or put together."
Eden Eden focused intently as she studies the workingsbof the arm in front of her. nodding understanding at parts, looking puzzled by others. "i would very much like that, if you don't mind. this is fascinating
Ashur "Patience, my Eden," instructs Ashur with a teasing, lighthearted laugh, watching the girl waddle around the fire and obsessively fixate on Qwillis' metallic hand. "I imagine its inner workings delicate; it wouldn't be good to get sand in them. When our mission is done, he will let you look."

Aralyn's comments on conventional warfare earn her another lingering look and a nod. The bull of a man has been content to let Qwillis weave the tale of his backstory, snaring the group in it like a spider's web; it has given him license to prioritize his capture, delighting in the way it crinkles and melts on his tongue, slurping the meat out. At the moment, he's chewing its face, and liking all the little things that crunch there. Mm, delicious fish face.

"I have seen things like it," he comments, but does not elaborate. "It makes me curious what we will find. I mentioned Roswell earlier-- my experience with Enclave facilities is that they are full of surprises. Have any of you heard of that mission, some months ago? The last step in clearing the city and beginning its resettlement."
Qwillis     Qwillis smiles in response to Eden with a small nod. Then glances over to Ashur with a chuckle. "Yes. It's much better when not having to deal with such things.." Covering his arm back up, he'd pick back up his fish to eat it, pausing at Ashur's question, then shakes his head slightly. "I think I came back to El Dorado after that happen. I know I've heard talking in passing, but nothing specific."
Eden eden turns away from qwillis and saunters back over to her Ashur. "tell us! i love your stories" Eden leans up against him looking up expectantly
Aralyn Ara glances from Qwillis to Ashur then to Eden now curiously. Soon enough she's assembling her M82.. She has the whole thing now finally put back together and cleaned, before letting the action fall with a dull, heavy click. She works said action a couple more times, then casually covers the barrel, the scope and the breech before working on her SMG...

Ara glances at Ashur "It wouldn't be up to me to determine that. Should I meet another sister and be able to get word to the facility I don't know that they would object terribly... It's not exactly like it's an open place to coming and going." She says and smiles slightly...
Ashur "For weeks, prospectors and scavengers had been combing through the ruins of Roswell; seated where it is on a nexus of roads and arteries for travel, making it safe again for trade was a high priority for the settlement's eventual growth." Ashur sets the stage for his tale, jabbing his fish-stick back into the sand a little further away from the fire, now aiming merely to keep it warm.

The brute rises up, spine straight and military, the crags of his face deepened by the flickering warm shadows that cross him. "Even now, parts of the city are drowning beneath the glowing blood of the radiant ghouls-- fierce little monsters, their brains all gone to rot, and they can expel bursts of energy that make you sick inside."

He leans in now, elbows on his knees. "After clearing out much of the sewer systems and underground tunnels, we found an Enclave patrol that came from nowhere; dispatching them, we located a hidden elevator that led to the earth's molten bowels, and there we found the strangest things."
Qwillis     Qwillis would sit quietly, watching Ashur as he'd spin his own tale. That fish is carefully consumed. Avoiding the bones as much as he can, it was delicious, so much more so than what they had on the road and he was grateful for this respite from the danger and terror.
Eden eden's attention is now complety on the new story. she watches in rapt attention, waitingvto hear the rest.
Ashur "We descended, killing sentries and others who seemed to be in flight; we descended, and came at the end to a set of labs. It was an unnatural environment. You've never seen something so clean, so white-- as if the whole of it had been cleansed with fire, sterile and without life." The man rises to his feet now, stepping away from the food and fire, his bare feet crunching the sand beneath him as he sinks and steps. A breeze kicks off the waters, carrying a stream of sparks over the behemoth's head, a thousand pinpricks of bloody-glowing light to illum the tangle of his braids. He crouches, scoops up a handful of sand, and lets it fall through his fingers and away on the wind. "So clean you would see a single grain of sand on the floor. And tucked away from sight-- horrible experiments. Strange creations of metal and flesh."
Aralyn Ara umms and holds up a hand "It's called a clean environ." Yah she's quite familiar with what a clean environment is... The odd elf-like woman grin slightly and now finishes cleaning and reasembling her SMG before she looks at Ashur curiously, Now listening as she reaches out to get a small flounder-like fish and begins nibbling on that too..
Ashur "It was clean and it was dead," Ashur says, his voice indicating the memory is unpleasant. "The world is not meant to look that way. We moved through these experiments and came at last to a sealed door. A voice from the walls spoke to us, and announced that we were trespassers and mutants; absurd machine, I have seen mutants, and none of us are that." To the Enclave, of course, everyone who has been exposed to radiation and wasteland life is a dirty mutant, and only their incestuous bloodlines are pure.

"It taunted us, and promised us death-- one of our number, Lucette, spoke with it, and declared herself kin to the machine's leader. It did not believe her and enraged, opening the doors and welcoming us in. We entered.."

He stalks from side to side as he speaks, an animated storyteller-- his hands talk as much as his mouth, cutting through the air, hammering a fist to a palm for emphasis, and now, as his voice slows to a dramatic crawl, so too do his movements, until he is still. He lifts both hands curled into one fist, and then expands and opens them. "Soaking up an entire half of the chamber was a massive machine! Shaped like a scorpion, taller than twice my height; six legs, three a side, with a winding, coiling tail like a snake. On its tail, and on its front, all over it were enormous guns, opening fire on us with no warning."
Eden eden is still listening. eyes following the bohemoth around the fire, trying to imagine what this monster could gave been
Aralyn Ara watches Ashur for now as she settles for checking the action on her sub-machine gun. Then she stowes the compact weapon away for safe keeping as she settles in to make sure she has ll her 8-round magazines packed and ready to go for the next confrontation...
Ashur "A crowd of us engaged the metal monstrosity; they opened fire, while the tech-heads sought out a security terminal. The air was hot with bullets, the creak of its grinding, articulated limbs. And all the while, that voice from the walls spoke and taunted us."

Ashur lumbers over toward Eden as she watches and collapses upon her, play-wrestling and lifting her off the sand and holding her up. "And so I grabbed it," and his hand tightens around her wrist, stretches her arm out non-painfully, "and in a rage smashed and ripped its legs off, until all its weight fell upon me; for a moment, they thought me lost, and my Kumo shed bitter tears." A nip at the side of her neck and he sets her back down, snatching a stick with a charred pale white fish and jabbing it like a spear. "But it shuddered, and with a heave I moved it, as its tail continued to shoot," and he mimes the stick as the tail, poking it and lashing it. "And before it could gather its wits, I was upon it, and with terrible anger and great vengeance I snapped the gun-tail off, leaving the machine to sputter out and die."

A pause, and the stick-- now in two halves, he snapped it dramatically earlier-- is tossed aside.

"And then the self-destruct timer began."
Eden Eden lets out a sqeak as ashur lifts her and grins. She knew of course he would win against the monster. then blinks at the final words "how long?" she askes with excitement
Aralyn Ara then tilts her head the other way, ears twitching. Casually she tugs her cap off, then pulls the band from her hair, letting those light silvery purple tresses fall free. She sighs and takes a deep breath, before she removes her armor and just well relaxes, in a simple sleevless T, and of course her skin suit underneath... she then glances to the water curiously...
Ashur "There was no time given; the computer could have detonated it at any moment, and was simply toying with us. He wanted to see us suffer, teach us fear-- what a foolish little thing, naught but wires and code; no machine can ever understand the human spirit."

Ashur continues to walk around the fire, his shadow stretching long as a nuclear winter against the sand; it flickers, dances, howls, and his silhouette looks like some wild animal. "Panels in the walls opened to reveal turrets, and they flung molten slag at us in brutal arcs; we barely made it out alive. Had they opened when we fought the machine.." He shrugs, walks more, and sees Aralyn strip down to a T and her suit. He slows, his eyes trailing down her curves with the intensity of physical touch-- and then he leans low and, with one cupped hand, gives her ass a firm smack and palms it, squeezing, as she stares out at the water. "But we made it out," he says, standing back up and eyeing the water. "And the explosion afterwards annihilated many of the ghouls left in the underground, and the Enclave; Roswell was cleared for travel."

He stretches. "Well, girls, how well can you swim?"
Eden eden is surprised by this, but shrugs and says "i swim fine in the lake, but ive read oceans are different"
Aralyn Ara grins "Watch out for crazy currents... you can tell a rpi-tide by watching the waves, they have a different shape, and also you can sometimes feel the riptide... if you do get caught in one, what you do is instead of swimming against it you swim perpendicular and then you can get back into shore." she adds, then the girl wanders to the water, where she just simply sits down in the gentle surf, she's happy to merely relaxe in the water which is now up to the undersides of her bustline really as the woman sits down...