|Fern|| Fern isn't as busy as some others in town. She doesn't have a real job, and she lacks the ability to fight off dangerous things in the wastes, so she lingers. A lot. She's the kind of kid the 'no loitering' signs were created for in the past.
It's sometime in the afternoon soon after others returned from the trip to Mexico. The sun is high and it's a little hot, but not too bad now that it's after lunch time. Fern leans against a building there on Gold Road East, her eyes on the stylist shop across the way. Her hair is awful, really, so hopefully she is considering getting a new cut.
|Ashur|| Hither comes Ashur, the super mutant, black-haired, sullen-eyed, trampling his way down the street like a bull. He rumbles the ground with every thunderous tread, heard before he's seen-- and that's saying something, since when you're ten feet tall and half that wide you can be seen from quite far! This will be the first time Fern has seen him so; like a demon out of the church's stories, he's a red-skinned brute lopsided with muscle, impossibly wide and strong. It's only because his face is still mostly the same, and his voice similar, that she'll recognize him-- well, that, and the story of his transformation has been spreading around.
"Fern!" He booms, his voice a stampede across flat plains. "Come here, girl. I have a present for you." That explains why one of those massive arms are tucked behind his back. Bulging blue veins, bursting red skin, a tough, leathery hide and a loincloth-- he looks like some sort of video game monster!
The arm unfolds, and two of the brute's fingers are speared through the empty eye sockets of what is unmistakably a skull. A mishapen, almost-human skull. The bone is a pale white, bleached by weeks beneath the sweltering sun, and has been roughly hewn into a shape that could fit her head. It might need some padding-- she can stuff it with something soft if she wants, to help it fit better, or decorate it-- but it's a helmet alright!
A helmet made from a super mutant's skull. Metal as fuck.
|Fern|| Fern's attention is on the stylist's shop for only a second before she feels the way the ground moves.. That's usually Ashur, but this is even heavier. The girl turns her freckled face to look, and as she spots the giant of a man she says, "Holy FUCK!" Her eyes widen and she stands taller, taking a small step back as part of a normal reaction. Damn fight or flight!
Fern watches this monster as it approaches, and the second she realizes who it is she is cackling like a hyena. "Son of a bitch, you did it! How did you.. Holy shit!" She laughs more, jumping around as she runs over to Ashur, not even seeing the skull yet. "How in the hell did you do.." she motions to him, "THIS!?"
She grins wide as ever.. and then the skull is presented. Her eyes widen and she is grinning wider than anyone has probably seen. Her eyes are wide and she is screaming, "YEAHHH! Yeahhh!!" as she jumps up and down, hands lifted and trying to catch that skull so she can, naturally, pull it down over her head. "Awesomeeeee!!" she squeals.
|Jacqueline||The story has indeed been getting around. Which is why Jackie Wayne hasn't turned around and gotten out of here posthaste! She'd been coming along the road, conspicuous by the rumbling of the engine of her recently-repaired bike. It's not moving very fast; she hasn't wanted to try and get it up to speed when she's not sure if the brakes are working properly. After all, it's about 300 years past the Lone Wanderer full parts and labor warranty. But the sight of the Super Mutant in town might have sent her the other way if she hadn't recognized his face, and heard the stories.
So she lets the bike coast closer, blinking in astonishment as she gets a better look. "Whoa."
But Fern doesn't seem scared. Fern in fact looks amazed and hyper. Okay, only the amazed part is new, really. "Um, hi... I guess it was pretty bad down in Mexico?" she calls, over the *DOOGLA-DOOGLA-DOOGLA* of the Wanderer's idling engine. Fern gets a smile and a wave, of course, if she's not too busy geeking out over her new helmet to see it.
|Ashur|| "I killed that one myself," the massive man states, looking down at the pip-squeak that doesn't even reach halfway up his body at her full height. She has to look up just to see his eight pack! Or is that seven? The way the muscle bulges and deforms, squashed into a near-human frame, it's hard to tell. Either way, Super Ashur is awesomely grotesquely built. "How?" Her enthusiasm has him smile, his teeth-- whiter than they were as a man! So shiny-- flashed brightly. "Well.. it was during an evening patrol around camp. We had broken through the main line of the Horde, but there were some stragglers and pursuers. He charged me. I charged back. After, I had to snap the spine, and pull it from the base of the skull. It was still wet and squishy, though, so I made cuts in the face and peeled the skin off.."
At this point the motorbike's presence cannot be denied, and the juggernaut turns on a heel-- quicker than his size might suggest. He hasn't slowed down at all, and that strength gives him explosive acceleration. "Mexico was pretty."
He might not be super bright.
|Fern|| Fern's eyes are wide as can be, and she whispers, "-Whoa-... Spine?! What did you do with it?! That would be so cool! To have and like.. wear around your neck or draped across your shoulders like a scarf!!" Fern jumps again, cackling with delight.
As she gets her hands on that helmet she looks it over briefly before yanking it down over her head. The jaw may be gone, but.. the eye. sockets. fit. over. her. eye. sockets. More squealing here!
Fern jumps up and down, laughing like a maniac, and she growls up at Ashur. "Thank you, friend! This is the best!!" She growls again, acting like a wild critter. It's only the sound of a bike that distracts her now. She turns and sees Jackie, and she starts running over to her. "JACKIE!!! LOOK, JACKIE, LOOK!!" She's pointing to the helmet with both hands, most of her face hidden behind that monster of a skull.
|Jacqueline||"Pretty like a timber rattlesnake?" Jackie guesses, wincing faintly. Not super bright, no. But at least he's not prone to temper tantrums. Hopefully. She'd never get out of the way in time, quick as he is.
She watches as Fern runs up, leaning to one side and peering exaggeratedly. Maybe the smile is more from the girl's obvious enjoyment of the grisly new accessory, but it's there all the same. "Look at you! Now we'll have to find you some armor to go along with that," she says, steadying the bike with both legs and giving her friend a hug. "Maybe in brahmin leather, with bone accents?"
|Ashur|| "I don't fit in my hellclaw leather anymore," Ashur remarks, voice tinged with sorrow. "I miss how it looked; I was like a hero from those old comic books. All red and black and warm, and it glowed when anyone bled on it." The talk of armor depresses the mostly-naked brute, who has run into the significant (and obvious, if you look at him) obstacle of clothing and equipment. He was already huge, before the mutation, and needed his things custom made at great mark-up -- who the fuck has the material or the inclination to make things for ten feet of lumpy brahmin bull-muscle?
He hangs his head and sighs, his braids, not having fallen out, brushing his shoulders and no lower.
"I sleep in a barn now. My wife said I'd break her bed. I broke my bed."
|Fern|| Fern is so excited it's a good thing that Jackie has steadied herself and the bike. Fern jumps into the hug, squeezing her friend tight as she can while jumping up and down a few more times. When she releases she says, "NO! I'm gonna.. gonna have a.." she's thinking too fast. "I'm gonna have one made from bones! SPINES and.. bones and jaws and.. That's gonna be wickedddddd. Rows of jaws, all wired together.. It's gonna be awesome," she hisses, grinning wide as ever.
A few more hops and once spinning around and fern is looking to Ashur again. "That armor was -sweet-! I'll wear it for you!! Till you.. fit it again.. If you can? They're not gonna fix this, right? You're gonna stay this way forever, yeah?" she asks as she starts to stomp back over towards Ashur. "Wife? You're married!? YUCK, WHY? You need to be free! You don't need to be tied down. Be free forever!"
|Jacqueline||Jackie braces her legs, keeping the bike steady as Fern does her pogo stick impression. She decides to shut the bike down, flipping down the kickstand and thumbing the switch. In an instant, the area's a lot quieter, save for Fern's enthusiastic chatter. "Now I wonder where we'll find all the bones," she muses, smiling all the same. She was Fern's age once, not that long ago.
She glances up... and up... and up at Ashur The Red. "You've read comic books? Cool! I have a bunch of them back at the shop. People trade them for repairs, sometimes. I'm sorry about your bed, though. I guess even superheroes aren't immune to the laws of physics. How's Kumo-chan adjusting?"
She blinks, glancing back at Fern. "Hey, I've met his wife. She's one of the must fun people I know," she says, not angry, but chiding. "I think he made a good decision, marrying her. In his shoes, I would've done the same."
|Ashur|| "When I was little, I'd sometimes find them when moving through a settlement or a bandit's nest," Ashur says, folding his big hands behind his back almost bashfully. "I tried to keep a few, but my Decanus found them, and had me tied to a post and whipped. Said they were a bad influence on a soldier, wasting time looking at pictures." He glances down at Fern, her head nestled into the cage of thickened bone. "I didn't read them anymore."
He reaches out and gives the skull-helmet girl a little pat. "The hellclaw armor is much too big for you," he chides. "Don't be greedy. I got you a skull and boxing gloves. With my new body.. maybe I'll start hunting deathclaws, and have armor made from their flesh and bones! Then I would be tough; the strongest one there is! Everyone would be afraid of me!"
This idea cheers him up.
"I like being married. I have lots of wives!"
He holds up two fingers.
|Fern|| "TWO! Jesus!" Fern just shakes her head! marriage is yucky! The girl rolls her eyes and shakes her head a little more, then says to Ashur, "It might be too small -now-, but I'm gonna grow and get taller, and it'll fit one day! Not like you're gonna shrink and fit it again. You may as well hand it over and then we can work on your new armor. We'll be the coolest out in the wastes!" She grins wider. She can be like the Robin to the Batman! See?!
Turning to look at Jackie then, she wonders, "You ain't married, are you? How old are you anyway? You.. what? Twenty or something?" She peers at her friend from beneath the helmet that's just a little too big, chin lifted so her eyes can see a bit better out of the sockets.
|Jacqueline||"Ouch. I'm glad I never had a Decanus, if they take away your comic books and tie you up and /whip/ you," Jackie says, grimacing at the thought. She can't exactly hug him, but she does step off the bike and pat him reassuringly on the side of his middle. It takes a little stretching. "But I'll give you some of mine, if you want? I've got a lot of duplicates. I can't be picky about what people pay me with," she adds with an abashed smile.
And back to Fern. "Me? No... probably never at the rate I'm going," she admits. "I'm nineteen. How old are you, Fernness?" She scoops Fern into a hug. "Not too old for hugs, I'm sure."
|Ashur|| "If you put on weight, you would be pretty," Ashur tells Jackie, now bluntly checking her out. His golden eyes sweep up and down in naked appraisal. "You and Fern both are too boyish. Women should be softer. Men like a woman with curves." As he speaks, he cups his hands and holds them in front of his chest, and then slides them down his hips and opens them wide, as if to indicate.. well, obviously, tits, hips, and then ass. "Eat more!" He nods, then, and folds his arms over his chest. "Fill out, and then men will want you. That is how I pick women."
At the offer of comic books, he beams! "I will look at them. There isn't much to do in the barn. I pick up the baby horses and play catch with them."
As for Fern? Nope, nuh-uh. She isn't getting the armor.
|Fern|| "Hey! I wanna read some, too!" Fern says. More like.. just looking at the pictures, but hey! She'll learn to read some day. The kid gives Ashur a strange look then as he explains what he likes in a woman, and then she is putting her hands on her lack of hips, sending a grunt his way.
She's scooped into that sudden hug, and as her attention shifts back to Jackie she squeaks! The girl gives a low growl that's somewhat playful, and she 'fights' her way back out of that hug. She hunches down and lifts her shoulders, head lowering as her hands hold up her fingers like claws. She growls and snaps at Jackie like some vicious monster, and she says in a growly voice, "Fern is almost fourteen.." She says nothing about the hugs, however.
|Jacqueline||Jackie giggles, pretending to try and keep Fern in the hug, but letting her go when she fights her way out. "Fern the deathclaw? Uh-oh..." She playfully ducks behind her motorcycle with a feigned squeal of fright.
But, back to the supermutant in the room. Er, street. "I tried that once. I had to eat a lot, and then all the weight went to the wrong places," Jackie replies sadly, miming Ashur's hand motions, then adding another in the middle. She shakes her head. "Guess I'll always be this way. Sorry, Mister Ashur. But I wouldn't want to get between you and Kumo-chan, anyway. Or between you and your second wife... I think I met her once. Cee-something."
|Ashur|| "Celeste," the giant corrects. "Celeste Drake. She breeds the horses on the Drake land a little northways. She is good with animals and helps out a witch-woman in Shantytown." Seeing Fern's hands and her grunt, he chuckles. "Thirteen! You'll sprout up and be beautiful, I'm sure. Respect your elders, eat a lot, and be a proper woman, and someone will make a bride out of you yet. You can put all sorts of monster bones on your dress."
Craning his head back, the red-skinned man(?) looks up toward the sky, and the hot sun peering down at him. "I believe in you," he tells Jackie. "My Kumo was slender as a reed. But after the pregnancy, she's always hungry and filling out. Her shirt doesn't fit right anymore. She was upset. Nothing I have fits anymore, either."
He already said that, but the giant is simpler now. And he's really sad nothing fits.
|Fern|| "Ewww. I hate dresses! There is no purpose!" Fern says as she backsteps and stops a safe distance from the huggy Jackie. "They are a terrible choice! Pants are much better. Dresses -suck-," Fern says to Ashur before adding, "I'm never gettin' married, either. No way! Ain't no one gonna tie -me- down. I'm gonna be free all my life and do whatever I want. If I wanna go out? I go out. If I wanna go on expeditions, I will! No one's gonna bother me," she grunts, lifting a hand so she can readjust her helmet. She then glances to Jackie again and says to her, "Ain't nothin wrong with you like you are. Not your fault your body looks like a boy's." She shrugs. It wasn't an insult, honest!
With another look Ashur's way, Fern says, "We can find something for you to wear! People have to have materials. I bet someone would help make clothes for you. I can't sew worth a shit, or else I'd try," she offers.
|Jacqueline||"Yes! That's her!" Jackie recalls, smiling. "She's really nice, too. She let me do her hair once. She wasn't even mad when it didn't turn out perfect. If she wants me to do it again, I've been practicing, promise," she adds, hopefully. She doesn't meet enough nice people, really. "And please tell Kumo-chan I'll be by to visit as soon as I can."
She watches as Farn backs away. "Well, thanks for the vote of confidence," she says wryly, miming Ashur's hand motions again, only just moving her hand straight down. Which isn't right, really: She /does/ have a shape, just not the voluptuous kind. "I think I have some fabric back at the shop, stuff I found. I don't know if it'd be enough for a super-size shirt, though. Maybe just a comfier loincloth?"
|Ashur|| "No," Ashur refuses, "I don't need a new one. This was my toga; it was made in New Rome, and it is very nice wool. It's warm and comfortable. When they fix me, I'll wear it the right way again." He pats his hip, where the white fabric snugly clings to the muscle and hip bone. His attention settles on Fern, and the brute's quiet for a long moment-- it's only his breathing that can be heard, loud and steady like a wild animal's, shoulders rising and falling in steady rhythm. "Freedom is nice," he begins, "being able to do anything you want, and go anywhere you want. When I escaped the Legion, for the first time ever, I was free." He gives her skull another pat. "But when you can go anywhere, and do anything.. well, that means you don't have anywhere to come back to. No one waiting for you. It's okay to be free, Fern. But being too free is very lonely."
Muscles McRedbeef stretches now, joints creaking and popping, his arms rising high enough to damn near touch the lower rooftops of some of these local buildings. "No one should be lonely."
|Fern|| Fern furrows her brows, scowling slightly when she hears that they may fix Asur and bring him back to his original form. She starts to pout about it, but her expression flattens soon when he talks about being too free and how it's lonely. There's a second there where it looks like this has meant something to the girl, like she's taken it in and decided to listen, but then she's scowling again and giving another ferocious growl. "Fern is not lonely.. Needs no one," she says in her monster-like voice.
She glances away from him then and decides to start bothering Jackie again. "When can you give me a ride on your bike? How long has it been running?" She moves closer again, heading over to check out the bike.
|Jacqueline||"I see. I hope there /is/ a way to put you right, Mister Ashur," Jackie says, looking him over again. "But if there's not... well, I don't think anyone will think less of you for it. I'll still be your friend, promise." It's not a hard promise to make. There's something endearing about this new Ashur.
She looks back to Fern, chuckling at the questions. "Just a few days, Little Miss Not-Lonely," she teases gently. "And once I'm sure the brakes are functioning, I'm planning to circle throug some of the nearby settlements to shake out the kinks. Want to come?"
The bike itself... well, it's a brute of a machine. Jackie's feet barely reach the ground when she's astride it. The paint shows signs of recently removed rust, but it was once a beautiful dark green, now without some of its clearcoated luster. But it still gleams in places, and the /Lone Wanderer/ body badges are a bit tarnished but still very readable. It looks like its going supersonic just sitting there. The saddlebags are a new addition, though, carefully strapped behind the long seat.
|Ashur|| "Well, I was lonely for a long time," Ashur remarks to Fern with a shrug. "But now I'm not. I don't like most people, but I love my brides very much." The giant releases a bellowing yawn. "I'm hungry. Fern, you have fun riding on Jackie's motorcycle. I'll come later to see the comics. I'm going back to the ranch to eat and take a nap in the barn." He looks toward Jackie and nods. He didn't realize they were friends, but he's not inclined to argue against it. "Fern, find something soft to line the insides of the skull with. Thick and soft, like a fabric or bits of cushion. Otherwise, if something hits your head it'll go right through. If you can't find any, I'll get you some.. but it's better if it's yours. Decorate it. It's one of a kind!"
At that, Ashur will wander off!
|Fern||Wow.. What an awesome day. "Of COURSE I want to go with you!! Are you crazy!?" Fern is cackling once again, jumping up and down and doing an odd dance for just a few beats. "I'd love to! Long as you promise we can go fast, alright?" She's grinning once again, glancing over to Ashur then to wave frantically. "Bye!! Thanks again!!" she calls, watching him for a moment. Once he's far enough away, Fern notes to Jackie, "He's pretty cool, yeah? He's gonna teach me how to box and hit. I hope they keep him like that. He's stronger now!" Then it's back to the bike. Fern is kneeling lower and checking it all out like she knew lots about bikes. maybe she does. Maybe she doesn't.|
|Jacqueline||Jackie cringes a little, hearing that roar... oh, wait. That's a yawn! And a relief. "I'll get them out and go through them after I get home," she promises, waving after him. "Goodbye! Say hi to Kumo-chan and Cee for me!"
She looks back at Fern and her new headgear critically. "He's right about your helmet, though. It'll need some kind of padding. With all the stuff I find out in the wastes, I'll bet we could find something to soften the inside up some."
She has to smile at the girl's obvious enthusiasm for the change. "He's a little different now, for sure. Not so edgy. It's an interesting change. Do you think he'll want to be changed back, if they find a way?"
Smiling, she watches Fern look over the bike. "Think it'd get us to the factory where those Mister Handy bots were fixing cars?"
|Fern||Glancing up, Fern says, "Yeah.. Chair padding.. padding from an old car seat. Plenty of padding out there," she notes before looking back at the bike, admiring it. A hand runs over the side and she hmms. "Ashur? I dunno.. I mean.. he seems kinda sad about his armor, but he seems like he's stronger now. He likes being strong, right? Maybe he'd like to go back, though. He seems sad he has to sleep in a barn. Must be hard to be in bed with his wife.. Or wives," and she pauses there, thinking. "Do you think the all three share a bed? Or does he swap from bed to bed? Do they share time? Are the wives married to each other as well?" So many new ideas! Her brain almost explodes. Fern shakes her head then. Get out, thoughts! "Uhhh.. Huh?" What? She blinks. "Oh, right! Yeah.. Maybe once you see how long you can drive it. It took us about an hour to get to the place with the cars."|
|Jacqueline||"It does seem like the armor bothers him," Jackie agrees, thinking. "And I suspect the wives get along. Cee's really sweet, and Kumo-chan's feisty, but underneath that she's sweet, too. Add him to the mix, and I think it'd be really noisy there if they didn't get along. How they all manage now, I can't imagine. I mean..." Even trying to think about that makes Jackie pinch the bridge of her nose and turn bright red. "It might be better to just ask him..."
She kneels down beside Fern, putting a hand on her shoulder. "I think I could ride for that long. I'm going to go over the braking system tomorrow, make sure everything's oiled and that the pressure stays strong. After that, and after the shakedown, I think I'd be up for an hour ride."
|Fern||Glancing over when she feels the hand, Fern grins and says, "Awesome.. Let me come watch you try it out, yeah? I wanna see. And if the breaks fail and you fall off and get run over, you'll need someone there who can help you, right?" She snickers. Standing up then, Fern asks, "Can we go for a ride now? You could just drive me to Gale's place.. You know Gale? Caine?" she wonders.|
|Jacqueline||"Thanks for the vote of confidence," Jackie says, sticking her tongue out at Fern and giggling. "But sure, if you want to come. I can't promise it'll be very interesting, though. Just me riding up and down whatever street's most empty that day."
She stands, pausing to pull the long gun from her back and settle it into the scabbard on the bike's right side. "I think we can go that far without an accident. Know how to ride behind someone, Fernness?"
|Fern||Fern eyes the gun, adjusting her helmet again so she can see easily through the eye sockets. She snorts and smirks, crossing her arms over her chest then as she says, "Duh.. You just.. hold on." Right? Right. Maybe.. Okay, so she doesn't know, but how hard can it be? Fern moves to the side of the bike and says, "After you!"|
|Jacqueline||Jackie chuckles, putting a foot on the left footrest and throwing her leg over the seat, settling into place with both feet on the ground. She gestures to the little seat space behind her. "Climb up behind me... carefully," she says, hunching a little lower in her place.|
|Fern||Though she can be a bit crazy and energetic, Fern is quite careful with the bike. She steps closer and slowly puts a leg over, doing her best to climb on and settle into the seat behind Jackie. Once seated she grins from ear to ear. "Yeaaaahhh," she growls. "This is the coolest thing ever. People are gonna be so jealous of your bike." She snickers.|
|Jacqueline||"Looking good so far," Jackie says, giving her seatmate a smile. "Now put your arms around me, low down. Not around my shoulders. I need those to control the bike."
She has to giggle at Fern's enthusiasm. "Unless I fall off and kill myself. Then they'll be calling dibs," she replies impishly. "But I don't think I'll fall off. I've been practicing."
|Fern||"No way! If you fall off and die.. well, I'll try and get you back on, and then I'll ride off with the bike. I'll make sure you get a proper funeral," Fern says in a serious way. Dang. You sure you wanna take her out on a ride? The girl looks around a bit before she lifts her hands, putting her arms around Jackie to hold on. She holds on as if she doesn't want to be hugging the other, but doesn't want to fall off. Why is life so complicated!?|
|Fern||Fern reluctantly holds tighter, ans when the bike is started with such a sound, she's holding even tighter. She squeaks, then grins. "Ready!" she shouts over the sound of the motor. She laughs, still looking a bit crazy thanks to her helmet. "I'll make sure there are flowers, and I'll say nice things about you!" she shouts to be heard.|
|Jacqueline||Hearing that squeak, Jackie reaches down and squeezes one of Fern's hands comfortingly. "I did that, too, the first time I started this monster," she calls back. "It takes some getting used to! And thanks. I'm sorry I wouldn't be around to see it."
She flips up the kickstand, steadying the bike with some effort. "Okay... here we go!" she says at last, and applies throttle.
There's no hesitation at all on the bike's part. The Lone Wanderer simply begins to roll forward, speed and engine noise slowly rising as Jackie applies more throttle. She keeps the speed down to about twenty mph, but it's still pretty fast to anyone used to walking. Or running. With the breeze in their faces, it feels faster than that.
|Fern||And Fern sure looks like she thinks they're going about 60. She's grinning like crazy, eyes wide and staring through those mutant eyesockets. She looks absolutely -thrilled- as they go along their way.|