|Trashcan Jack|| The weather is cloudy, and it looks like it might rain. The coordinates that Jack gave Corwin lead to a patch of wasteland somewhere between Acme and El Dorado, one that looks completely unremarkable save for a feature that can only be seen from the right angle.
Built into the side of a small hill is a flight of concrete steps leading to a solid concrete wall with a reinforced door. The door has what looks like a mail slot at eye level, currently closed, and a drop box off to one side. Neither can be opened normally from the outside. A faded cardboard sign is hung by string on a jutting bit of metal under the upper slot, reading "GO AWAY" in permanent marker on one side and "PLEASE KNOCK" on the other. Right now, it says "GO AWAY," but every once in a while a breeze picks up in the short corridor just hard enough to cause the cardboard placard to flap and flip around to face the other way.
|Corwin||*thud thud thud* The metal footfalls of a several hundred pound set of power armor as it ambles along the wasteland. Punctuated by the mechanical sounds of servos and electronics enhancing the physical attributes of its user. A laser rifle is slung across the back of the brotherhood-branded power armor, coupled with a laser pistol on the hip. Every other step, a shovel bangs against the shin of the suit, hanging from the belt on one of the many utility hoops.
The power armor stops at the door and, surprisingly, gently knocks on the door.
|Trashcan Jack|| For an awkwardly long moment, there's nothing but silence from the concrete door. Mayhap the ghoul isn't home? Or perhaps the coordinates weren't accurate? Then again, is there any guarantee that the knock on the door would be heard from inside the bunker?
Then, perhaps when Knight Corwin might be ready to leave, the slot in the door slides open with a rusty scraping sound. A pair of black lenses appear in the slot. "Password," a perhaps-familiar, grizzled baritone demands from inside the bunker.
|Corwin|| The vox crackles with an audible sigh, "Jack, let me in. It's Knight Corwin." She doesn't seem particularly interested in playing games. The armor creaks a bit as it leans down to level with the black lenses. Her patience has already been worn this, forced to wait.
After a moment, the vox crackles with a dry, "Wizards."
|Trashcan Jack|| "Ah, hey, sweetheart," the brazen ghoul greets the heavily-armed-and-armoured knight as she stoops down to meet him on eye level. "Sorry for the formality, but you don't get to be my age without takin' a few security precautions, see? Give me a minute and I'll be right up." The slot slides shut again.
A minute later, footsteps can be heard scuffing the dirt at the top of the stairs. "See, the password's got two reasons for bein'. One, it helps keep the filing cabinets in my brain sorted, 'cause God knows they need it. Two, it lets me keep track if someone sends trouble my way. I got a different password for everybody, so if someone shows up with one that I didn't give 'em, I know who gave it to 'em, and I stop answerin' when that one comes knockin'."
Didn't he say that the password was supposed to keep his mind sorted out?
"You gotta keep the hamster runnin' when you're a specimen of humanity-gone-wrong like myself, or you end up tryin' to eat someone's face off." One way or another, Jack appears in the entranceway, the concrete door still shut. He's dressed in a checkered flannel overshirt beneath the poncho from before, blue jeans, some brown moccasins and a short stovepipe hat with a plaid band around it, along with those same sunglasses. "So, didja manage to find a shovel?"
|Corwin||"I'm not sure the door would stop me," comments Corwin dryly. She waits patiently for the door to open, but it doesn't. Instead, Jack appears outside and by her. She turns to face him and continue the conversation. "It's.. good. That you haven't lost your mind. I don't enjoy killing things." At least she's not a total psycho, but the Brotherhood is typically a bit more .. violent towards Ghouls. It's hard to tell where her mind is at behind that metal visage.
At the mention of a shovel, she pats the spade on her hip. "What exactly did you need help with, Jack?"
|Trashcan Jack|| "Hon, that door stopped the nuclear holocaust. If it didn't stop you, I might just drop to my knees and propose on the spot," Jack says as he slips a pack of cigarettes out from under his poncho. He slips one out from the pack and perches it, unlit, between his lips, before holding the pack up to the woman's T-45 helmet. "You smoke, sweetheart?"
While the cigarettes remain on offer, Jack takes it upon himself to finally answer Corwin's question. "Good, good," he says as she pats the spade. "Now, I don't know if you saw 'em when you were walkin' over, but I got a bit of an infestation," Jack says. "You ever seen a molerat? Hell, of course you have. You don't look like one of them Vault babies that nursed off a Mister Handy, wonderin' how they ran the circuits to that big damn light bulb in the sky..."
|Corwin|| "Flattering," Corwin replies with a small laugh. "Do I smoke? On my own time." The armor shifts a bit, shoulders rolling as the servos whirr. "I'll take you up after we're done here, thanks." A small bit of static crosses over the vox communicator, like a geiger counter of the background radiation of the area, but it passes just as quickly as it comes on. "As long as it's not bloatflies, we'll be fine. So you just want some help with some extermination?"
The armor shifts from one leg to another, Corwin reaching to her back to bring out the good ol' laser rifle she brought along for the ride. "That's something in my wheelhouse. I ain't got a fancy pipboy, but I know how to shoot a gun. What are we killing?"
|Trashcan Jack|| "Ugh, don't get me started on bloatflies. You know there was a time when you had to go to Australia to find a bug that was bigger than your fist? And yet, for some reason, people lived there," Jack mutters through his cigarette as his gnarled hand retreats into his poncho to secret away the pack of smokes. The other hand creeps out to beckon her with a single finger as he shuffles up the stairs, making his way up to the surface and onward to the barren field on the far side of the bunker hill.
"So, I got a molerat problem. I can hear 'em scrabblin' at the walls in my little hacienda here at all hours. It's enough to drive a man to drink," Jack relates as he moves into the field. Closer inspection reveals that the earth is cracked in places, clear signs of burrowing throughout. "Now they can't get in - or at least, I don't figure they can - but they're obnoxious, and I can't have molerats tryin' to chew the legs off every visitor who comes around. So what we're gonna do is dig up their nest, get 'em all pissed off and murder every last one of the little bastards."
Jack chews on the end of his cigarette for a few seconds, before turning his shades to Corwin. "Hundred fifty caps. I reckon it's a day's work. You in?"
|Corwin|| "I've read files on The Outback," relates Corwin, "horrible place, it sounded like. Everyone was venomous or trying to eat you. I reckon it made them prepared for the nuclear holocaust." The vox crackles with her voice as she follows Jack. Firmly, Corwin comments, "I cannot guarantee the safety of your field. There won't be a single one left, however." She lowers the rifle and clips it to her hip for quickdraw. That'll be important.
With the shovel in her hand, she unlatches it and drives it into the mouth of the burrow as she begins digging. "Let's get this over with. Hundred fifty sounds like a deal."
|Trashcan Jack|| The ghoul gives a dismissive wave of his hand. "It's alright, sugar. I don't grow anything above ground, anyway. As long as the roof doesn't end up caving in, it ain't a big deal of the lawn gets torn up - I can just patch the holes later, when there aren't any molerats to dig 'em back up again."
The cigarette remains unlit as Jack meanders over to a substantial rock that's sitting in the field and sits down on it, hands on his knees, to watch the armoured Knight shovel into the burrow. "Now, if the ground does start collapsin' beneath your feet, don't worry, it ain't gonna be more than a twelve foot drop or so. I'm sure that army-grade suit you're wearin' will handle it. Just try not to fall on the porcelain - it wasn't easy gettin' a good set of Chinaware before the War, let alone nowadays..."
The one flaw with this plan is that Jack doesn't actually know which of the holes in the ground leads to the warren proper. It'll take some trial and error, and at least a little tolerance for stories about the Pre-War era before Corwin hits the so-called 'paydirt.' And no, Jack isn't doing any digging.
And when she does find the mark, she'll know it, as the ground starts to quake a little under their feet...
|Corwin|| "Are you telling me you have a whole bunker under there?" hisses Corwin as works on digging up the yard. The shovel pierces the dirt like butter, as the armor clunks away. With the armor's help, the labor is trivial. You might be unsure of it, but she might even have air-conditioning in that sealed suit of hers. Or maybe she doesn't, and it's all musty, horrible air. Either or, she doesn't seem to be bothered, and after reaching an appreciable hole, she doesn't seem to have the right burrow. "Empty," she curses, stepping on out of it to the next burrow that she begins digging.
"Come on you fuckers. Come to momma." Shovel in dirt. Dirt to pile. "I take it you've lived here your whole life?"
|Trashcan Jack|| "My whole life? Nah, sweet-heart," Jack says as Corwin keeps digging away, his gaze turned off into the distance while she works. That, or he's using the blackout lenses to check Corwin out. You know how dirty old men can be. Then again, considering she's encased in full power armor, helmet and all... well, who knows, that could be part of the appeal.
He might even be blind.
"I spent plenty of lifetimes here, but not the entirety of my own. No, I used to live out East, before the bombs dropped. Washington D.C. You remember that code word I told ya? The Wizards? That was my team. In the... pseudo-patriotic local sense. Baseball, jeez. Still can't believe I ain't seen a baseball game in two hundred years," Jack rambles as he rocks a little on his rock.
"I was a big nobody back then. Then, one day, I won the lottery. The big jackpot. It was like... findin' a truck of Nuka Cola, caps and all, nowadays. 'Course I knew it was all gonna go to hell after what we did to the Canadians, so I bought this piece of land. This bunker's gotta be... oh, at least three hundred years old, now."
It's about this time that the ground starts to quiver like a living thing when Corwin's spade stabs into it. Jack's knuckles tighten around the rock he's sitting on.
"Sweetie, either somebody's set a bomb off in my house or I think you found the nest," Jack says.
And then, they're popping up. Not one, not two, but three of them! All one after another out of the undead earth around Corwin. Hissss!
It's molerats, alright! Typical ugly pink blobs of the species, whiskers twitching, and teeth bared!
|Corwin|| If someone can get off by power armor, that would be a first for Corwin. She's making pretty good pace, digging down in those holes. No real reason to slow down yet, either. "You mean pre-war money. You were around when the bombs fell." She doesn't seem particularly surprised. "Seems about right for a ro- .. ghoul." She's showing restraint, in at least an attempt to be civil. And she is being paid. When the ground starts to shake, she drops the spade and backs up quickly, "Shit, I don't think that's any bomb."
She draws her rifle, and it whirrs to life as it charges the MFC cells. "Looks like we got company." Then three molerats pop on out. "Ugh.. Great."
|Trashcan Jack|| The vicious naked pink vermin snarl as they surround the towering invader to their territory, two of them moving to try and flank Corwin as she draws her laser rifle. One of them lunges to try and bite the Knight in the leg, latching on for dear life as its teeth fail to puncture the T-45 armor in any meaningful way. The other leaps up on the back of Corwin's armor, scrabbling and nipping ineffectually at the armor.
The third smells meat that's not inside a protective can (but probably way past its expiry date). Turning around, it hisses at Jack, then scrambles after him as the ghoul picks himself up and starts to backpedal away. The molerat leaps up on his shin, biting through the fabric of his jeans as he tries to kick it off.
"AUGH! Ya little bastard!"
Still trying to shake it off, Jack grabs an empty Nuka-Cola bottle and throws it wildly, causing it to shatter some ways away from the tangle-up of steel and molerat, before he grabs a rock and does the same thing again, this time narrowly missing hitting Corwin.
|Corwin|| As the molerats pop out of the ground, Corwin prepares for the oncoming attack. Her rifle is raised and she begins backing up as the molerats charge her. She laughs a bit as they latch onto her, perhaps amused by their ineffectiveness, swiping away at the molerat nibbling at her chestplate.
Instead of retaliating at the rats engaging her, she turns her laser rifle towards the molerat attacking Jack. Kicking one of the molerats on her leg to the side, she centers the sight and pulls the trigger on the hairless rodent. Pulling twice for good measure, the first shot goes right through the head, instantly killing the pest. The second shot strays wide from. Corwin shouts, "Got you covered, Jack! Take cover."
|Trashcan Jack|| When the head of the molerat that was biting his leg splatters and sizzles out of existence, Jack is momentarily dumbfounded. The headless molerat corpse flops to the ground at his feet as he topples backward due to the sudden imbalance of weight. "Hey, I did say I was sorry!" Jack croaks as he clambers around behind the rock for cover.
Meanwhile, the molerat on Corwin's back crawls down her armor, trying to get to God-knows-where. Luckily for her, the molerat doesn't manage to find its way through the plating between her legs. The one on her leg is shaken loose, and lunges at Corwin again to try and bite at her, but it flies past her waist harmlessly to land in the dust.
|Corwin|| "Fucking --" Corwin curses as she fails to swipe the molerat off her armor, it's almost a bit humourous as she tries to reach it, narrowly dodging the one molerat at the same time. Tired of these games, she pulls the laser pistol off her hip, jamming it where the sun don't shine for the poor molerat on the armor. A single shot, and the blood splatters across her leg, the lifeless corpse falling to the ground. "We're done here." She turns and just by luck manages to land a second shot on the molerat in the dirt turning to make another attack. It pierces the torso of the molerat, killing it instantly.
Turning to face Jack, the imposing suit of power armor begins trudging over to the rock he's covered behind. "That wasn't all that bad, was it?"
|Trashcan Jack|| The black top hat and sunglasses can be seen popping up behind the rock as Corwin approaches. "Well, damn, sweetheart," Jack remarks as he slowly rises up to his full height. "Seems like you do pretty good work. I guess I owe you some caps."
He starts to dust himself off, smoothing down the leg of his pants where the molerat bit through. There's some kind of stain around the hole - blood? Although it's difficult to identify for sure. The ghoul doesn't seem overly fazed by it, though, and hobbles around the rock to meet Corwin in the field. One hand disappears under his poncho, before emerging with a bag of caps, which he tosses to the Knight. His other hand reaches up and pulls his hat off, and he reaches up to scratch an itch on his scalp while looking around atthe field. "Ya know, I figured that there would be more of 'em..."
At that moment, the ground quakes, and up from the depths comes the second biggest molerat that Jack's ever seen! You know, because when he turns to see it, he says: "Holy moley, that's the second biggest molerat I've ever seen!"
Jack is immediately diving for cover as the beast flops to the earth, letting out a bark of rage at the fate of its fallen brethren. Or children. Parents? Molerat genetics is a rare science.
With it come its friends (lovers? We'll stop speculating now), a pack of five more molerats! Fortunately, those ones appear to be more typical specimens of the species.
|Corwin|| "If you take a bullet, you can take a molerat. Yeah?" Corwin chuckles through the static in her vox communicator. Her mechanical hand reaches out and catches the sack of coins, before tucking them into her utility belt. "You're hurt, I can take a look at that." She pauses when the ground begins to shake, "Now why'd ya have to go and say that, Jack?" She turns to face the oncoming rat-pack attack hoard. They attac. They attac. And they, well, they mostly attac.
Raising her AEP7, the electronic whine of the vacuum cells punctuated by two solid shots to the chest of mama rodent. Filled with holes, the beast/lover/momma/distant cousin rat is no longer among the living, surely to the disdain of small molerats screeching along. "There goes momma,"
"Jack, get bac--" she turns to look to him, already in cover. ".. Good enough."
|Trashcan Jack|| The only sign of Jack by the time Corwin looks back is the top of his black hat disappearing behind the rock. "Already on it, toots! Give 'em hell, kid!" he shouts encouragement as he leaves her to her fate. Well, she is the one in the power armor, and he did pay her for this, after all!
The mole rats swarm around Corwin, leaping at her one after another. One of them headbutts her in the knee as it tries to jump on her. It doesn't go well for the little scamp. Meanwhile, one does manage to latch onto the chestpiece of her armor, claws digging into whatever they can manage as its teeth scrape ineffectually against the metal shell. The rest scramble about, trying and failing to find any way through the Shovel Knight's armored exterior.
|Corwin|| Corwin prepares to shoot the oncoming swarm, but doesn't quite have the time for the pistol to fire again. She's quickly swarmed by the molerats, which momentarily swarm her. She lets out a panicked squeak through the static on her vox, the extra weight throwing off her balance. If you've ever been on a motor bike, when the tipping starts, it's exponentially harder to stop. Creaking, the power armor tips back and falls into the dirty, sending up a cloud of dust.
The molerats manage to evade the falling tower, now having easier swarming access. Or atleast, they would if not for the red laser beams still being shot as Corwin just shoots them point-blank, "Fuckoff!"
|Trashcan Jack|| The ghoul behind the rock shouts out over the sound of laser fire and screeching molerats after hearing Corwin squeak. "Hey, you say somethin' if you need help, okay, sweetheart?"
One of the molerats rolls sizzling away along the ground after being blasted point-blank by Corwin's laser pistol. They're relentless otherwise, though - crawling over the fallen Knight as she tries to fend them off. One flops off of the knight's chest onto her helmet, presumably trying to deliver a flying elbow drop in response to the splash attack from before - or maybe it's just enthusiastic.
One of the mole rats indulges in the species' natural preference for dark places, crawling under Corwin as she lies on the ground. One might assume its journey too perilous and doomed to a horrible death by crushing, but somehow...
A moment later, Corwin can feel a sudden sharp pinch in her hip as she's bitten. Apparently that one found a weak point!
|Corwin|| "Thanks for your help, JACK." Corwin shouts as she swipes and bats at the swarm. It's like being covered in naked rats who all want to snuggle you. Except instead of snuggling, it's clawing and biting. The rats part is accurate, though. The lucky rat to find a gap in her armor earns a surprised yelp of pain as she fires into more molerats, forcefully shoving her laser pistol into them and pulling the trigger, blowing blood and chunks onto her armor and the dirt.
She rises to her feet, blowing one last laser blast into the molerat attached to her hip. Once the dust has settled, she glances around for any remaining pests before looking over to the tophat behind the rock. Her armor splattered with blood. This will be difficult to clean. She says as much, "This armor is going to be difficult to clean."
|Trashcan Jack|| "What's that, sweetheart? I can't hear you over all that racket," Jack yells back at Corwin as the sound of laser fire and dying molerats fills the air. When the squealing finally stops, the ghoul's face pops around the side of the rock that he's hiding behind.
"Oh, looks like you made it alright," Jack says amicably as he pushes up to his full - or at least, slightly stooped - height, before ambling over toward where Corwin is standing. He stops a couple of yards away from her, pausing and turning his head. One hand cups to his ear to listen.
"Y'hear that?" he asks.
"Nice and quiet," he says after a second, lowering his hands and folding them in front of his stomach as a smarmy grin stretches his lips. "Ain't nothin' a little water won't fix. Besides, bloodstains add character. Grim, terrifying, perhaps psychopathic character, maybe, but character nonetheless. Now, you want some tea?"
|Corwin|| Corwin trundles over to Jack, holtering her pistol for now on her armor. "I couldn't have done it without your help, Jack," she quips back dryly. She stops, silent when he asks her about the noise. For a moment, she's completely still, waiting for her HUD to show -- something. .. But it doesn't, and she sighs audibly when he says it's nice and quiet.
"Character, huh? Yeah. Let's get some tea. I'm eager to get out of this armor."