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Ashur A scream breaks the silence of this warm dawn. Beneath a curtain of stars and a pregnant moon, the earth itself shivers in fear; it recoils, shake-shake-shake, as that scream becomes twisted and monstrous, as other voices rise in tandem choir -- hear the keening of twisted metal and see the glittering hailstorm of broken glass that flies like a handful of dust over one of the towering junk piles! Out of sight, but not out of mind, things break and shatter, topple and collapse; screams become growls become choked gurgles become silence once again, and then there's a final metal bellow and a sickening crunch that echoes between the mazeways of the junkyard.

Perhaps Tesla and her robot companion were drawn to the sounds of conflict; perhaps it was an accidental meeting. Nevertheless, a step here, a pivot there, five paces on and make a wide berth around the unsteady-looking heap of scrap, and the area opens up into a field of slaughter.

The blood pours from cracks in the dirt like open wounds. What seems to be a headless ghoul is impaled to a utility pole by a lightning-bolt fragment of gnarled steel; a tangle of limbs and internal organs is strewn about. The corpse count nears a dozen in a hundred times as many pieces, and boots squelch when they step. In the center of it all, next to an old rusted car frame that's been crushed into a slinky-like cube, is a naked man. At his feet, beneath the vertical car, is a twitching torso, its janky shaking limbs showing the telltale rot of the ghoul.

Mind, the man isn't entirely nude. He is wrapped in a white cloak of lovely wool, regal and oversized -- enough to cover even his impressive bulk twice over, like a king's ermine. The ends of it settle and sink into the red earth.

Nearby, maybe fifteen, twenty feet away, is a suit of salvaged Roman power armor, white and gold and red, that looks like something... burst out of it.
Tesla Having been shown around to a number of places, Tesla was ready to strike out on her own and do some poking about. With her always is the scavenged and repaired and reprogrammed Securitron style bot known as Leeroy Jenkins. She'd been told about a Salvage Yard somewhere around here, and the thin light of dawn isn't about to slow her down. She keeps up spirits with Leeroy by playing jaunty tunes on her violin and dancing about here and there as they stroll.

Upon reaching the yard itself, Tesla is quick to store her violin away so she can start pawing through the scraps and pieces for anything usable in her own work. "Ooooo-ooooOOOOO! Jackpot.." she exclaims to herself as she finds a good piece of scrap, tucking it away into Leeroy's currently empty shoulder housing. When the scream rips the air, she lifts her head much like a deer or gopher, eyes wide and straining to determine the direction of it. Looking to Leeroy, she mutters, "Might need to get your dander up, Leeroy," then starts off through the maze of scrap.

Winding her way around, she skirts the unstable looking pile and enters the open area, given pause by the sheer amount of carnage. The squelch of her boot in the ground has her looking down and making a 'yech' face before resigning herself to having to clean them later... and Leeroy's wheel, too. Before taking two more steps, she's halted again, this time by the sight of the single largest human being she's ever seen in her life. Her eyes widen, rounding until they're huge and awed. Her jaw drops, leaving her mouth hanging open as she stares unrepentantly. "Are you... are you REAL?! You're... HUGE! Whoa. So COOL! What happened to the power armor? Where did all these ghouls come from? Who are you? Where di you get that cape? Oh shit, you're NAKED!"

The last part has her whirling around to face the robot, cheeks burning.
Ashur The white-cloaked bull is modestly concealed; the wool hangs from him like a marble-carven veiling of drapery, weighty enough to be still even when the wind gallops through. The braids of his hair, black and thick and decorated with bits of gold, splay across his back and shoulders -- they alone show movement, as even his breathing is suppressed.

Only that hair, and the blood his cloak drinks, soaking up into it like life through a vein.

He stares into the air. Head tilted back, calm despite the carnage; face splattered and dripping, the rising sun glinting off the sanguine stains and the metal in his hair until he glows and glitters. And then the neck turns, and he is suddenly staring at this new arrival, visage fierce as Mars himself -- eyes narrowed and lifting, mouth a thin line, head tilted down. His right arm thrusts out and the cloak is tossed aside, and now she can tell he's undressed -- save for the power fist that extends like armor from hand to near-elbow. The fingers curl into a fist, and he coils, as if prepared to attack..

And then she's talking, and talking, and still talking, and he straightens, the hand falls back to his side. He glances toward his power armor and then back to her, golden eyes a-blazin'.

Tesla "I'm breathing! But you're still... whoa, VERY naked. And HUGE! Um... I'm Tesla! Nikki Tesla. Uh.. this is Leeroy! Leeroy Jenkins. He's my best friend. I.. um... ummmmmm... the power armor! I can.. take a look at it... if you want.." Tesla is still babbling along rapidly, sucking in deep breaths between bouts of embarassed rambling. She darts a quick glance over her shoulder aaaaaaaand... yep! Still quite naked! Clearing her throat and trying unsuccessfully to fight off the bright crimson blush staining her cheeks, she turns back around slowly, studiously avoiding looking directly at the very large and naked man, instead moving towards the power armor.

Picking her way over the body pieces, she approaches the armor, peering intently at the hole in it. "So... what happened to the armor?? And who are you? Are you a giant? Because that would AWESOME. Pretty sure you're bigger than Leeroy." Still talking at a rather rapid-fire cheerful pace, she's already started looking over the armor so she can avoid having to look at him. Suitably cowed by his massive physique and, er, attributes. "I didn't expect to find anyone out here. So what do you do around here? Do you run the yard or something? Do I need to pay for salvage?"

Leeroy himself just stays where he was, tucked between Tesla and Ashur, out of the way but there. "Hey Leeroy! How about some tunes. There's a radio station here, see if you can't pull it up." Its called out over her shoulder as she pokes at the sharp edges of the burst out pieces. "Sir? Ummmm... I still don't know your name... have you given any thought to having your own themesong? You know, some badass music to announce your entrance wherever you go. Every badass needs a badass themesong."
Ashur The brute draws his cloak tighter about him and begins to walk. The bloodied froth of dirt and flesh churns beneath his toes; squish, squish, and he advances, stained but concealed. Moving, with a stately pace, toward that damaged armor.

It lingers in the shadow of a junk pile. Old televisions, discarded nuclear-powered microwaves and food trays, chairs, cars, robots -- pick an object, slap metal on it, and it's probably somewhere in this garbage heap of a labyrinth. It is a massive thing, near seven feet tall, half that wide if not bigger; a tech wiz like Tesla can recognize it as T-45d power armor, the sort the Brotherhood of Steel employs, though it has been modified. The servos and powered elements have been removed and the interior musculature gutted, as have the electronics -- it is but a hulking frame now, white-painted riveted steel lined in gold, though there is an air conditioner built into the back. There is a crimson and white pteruges around the waist, a heavy skirt of leather strips, and the helmet has been remodeled to resemble an old Corinthian, albeit with the heavy filter of a rebreather, tubing, and bulletproof visor over the eyes. And on top of it all? The helmet has a bright, transversal crest of feathers, black and red.

It is a fine piece of salvaged power armor, though it's not so much 'power' anymore. And the damage to it seems to have come from the inside.

"My name is Ashur," he thunders, and now he is close. "of Rome. I was battling a host of feral ghouls; they lurk in the sewers, and are at times drawn to the radiated materials here." He turns to face her. He is, fortunately, covered. Nearby her, on the ground, is a rather large bit of white wool, like a bedsheet; the man's toga.

"Can you repair it?"
Tesla Tesla turns when he draws in closer, having to crane her neck and tip her head back as far as she can to look up at him. Offering up a bright smile to his now-covered self, she gives a nod and responds quickly, "Oh sure! Might take a little bit, but yeah, I can totally fix this. Do you want any of the electronics back in it? Maybe a visor mod? Boot servos so you can move a little quicker on the battlefield? The hole is an easy fix, but the whole suit's been gutted on the inside. Is that on purpose?" She looks back to the power armor and peers in through the hole, poking at the bare metal shell with its titanium bones.

Straightening up, she turns around to face him, grinning up at him. "Hi Ashur, nice to meet you. I still think you should give some thought to that themesong. Never know when it'll come in handy!" She leans in, giving the cloak a visual examination before dipping down to heft up the discarded toga, offering it up to him with a smile. "I think this belongs to you. Not sure why its on the ground, not sure I want to know why either... but here you go!" If he doesn't take it, she'll simply flip it over her shoulder and turn back to the power armor, pulling out a pair of pliers to see if she can't bend some of those sharp edges back towards the middle or if she'll need something a little stronger.
Ashur The man takes the offered toga and, acknowledging the girl's blush and deliberate swerving of her eyes in another direction whenever she spots him, turns. "Close your eyes a moment," he commands, and he'll unclasp that oversized cloak, letting it fall to the ground in a pool of white thick and layered like cake frosting. There now he'll stand, buck naked and heavily scarred, all bronze flesh and coarse black hair and rough, striated muscle, frame coiled and defined like a mass of serpents; he'll wrap himself in that wool, folded just so, knotted just there, until it hangs from one shoulder and loops between his breasts and then falls in folded waves to his shins.

He about-faces, scoops up that cloak, and begins to roll it up. "The powered components were deliberately removed," he remarks. "So that the frame could be worn by someone without training. I need no modifications; merely fix the bolts that keep the frame closed when I closed it, hammer out the dents in the plates, tighten anything loose. I.. damaged it, unintentionally."

How he damaged it is a mystery. Again, it bulges and creaks like something inside it swelled and burst out, too much pressure inside.

"What is a themesong?"

His golden eyes linger on the robot, and then the girl.
Tesla Smiling at his conscientious response, she obligingly turns around and closes her eyes so he can get dressed. She can hear the rustle of the fabric, the rasp of cloth against skin, only cracking her eyes open once he's picked up the cloak. Turning back around, Tesla looks over the toga and gives a nod of approval. "You know, most folk can't really pull off the toga look, but you do it well! Course, most folk don't have the pectorals to make it sit so well."

Turning back to the armor, she gives a nod, lips pursing as she looks it over once more. "Alright, that's fair. I guess you're big enough, strong enough, you don't really need the hydraulics to move you along. If you ever change your mind, though, let me know! I love to tinker on stuff like this." She shifts a hand, putting the pliers back and pulling a wrench instead. PUshing the back closed, she tests a few of the bolts, pulls a couple that are stripped or sheared. Nodding, she looks back at him. "I can fix this. Not a problem."

Chuckling, she leans an arm against the armor and puts her weight on the suit. "A themesong is music that you let play whenever you make an entrance somewhere. Back in the old days, before the bombs? Only the coolest or most badass men had them. Its a piece of music that would be crafted specifically to suit you."
Ashur "A man's body is the truest weapon he can forge," the Legionnaire replies, tracing the fingers of his power fist across one scarred breast. "A gun can misfire or run out of ammo; a spear might break; even this power fist, at a dire moment, could shatter. But the hand beneath will always be strong."

That hand pulls away from his chest and flexes outward, then curls into a tight fist. He taps a knuckle to the helmet of the power armor, making it clang. "Even this armor might be rent asunder."

His attention flits back to the robot as Tesla examines the numerous spots of damage his armor bears. When she leans against it? She'll find it barely even budges; the t-45d was not meant to be stripped of its hydraulics, and those tank-thick plates are gruesomely heavy. The fact he's so tall and wide, forcing the suit to be all the larger, just makes it worse. Sadly, not even the wasteland can avoid the square-cube law.

"A themesong is a battle cry, then; a song to lift morale, and announce a champion? A fine tradition -- a shame it seems to have disappeared. Very well. Make me this themesong, girl."

Ever imperious, that Ashur, even when he has no idea what he's talking about.

He continues to stare down her robot.
Tesla "Don't look at me. I'm all brains, no brawn. That's what I have Leeroy for! And before you say it, we don't all have the body of Roman Centurions. I make do with what I have and what I have is a robot that has kept me safe this far." Its all rambled out in that cheerful, almost sing-song tone of hers while she scrounges around the area, pulling bolts from defunct cars and appliances before heading back to the power armor to wrench the bolts into place, spinning the nuts on with ehr fingers until she can't tighten them anymore, then pulls the wrench to finish it up.

Looking around the arm of the suit, she grins at him. "Mind, if you got the muscle, no reason to use anything else. Each his own, right?" Whistling a cheery tune, she goes back to the power armor, tucking the wrench back into her belt before moving to look it over again. She knocks on the shell of armor with her knuckles, sounding out for any soft spots or weak points that might need shoring up. His conjecture on a themesong being a battelcry has her grinning once more. "Not too far off there! Alright, you got yourself a deal. Might take me a day or two to come up with something really good, but I'll get you one made up."
Kaydin     The sound of humming can be heard as someone in NCR Ranger armor appears to be walking along the scrapyard, looking around at the various cars. He stops when he comes to Ashur and the girl who seems to be working on his armor. "Well about time you got changed back to normal Ashur. For a moment I thought you enjoyed being dumb as rocks." He says as he makes his way over, watching the two with glowing red optics.
Ashur "A robot is a fine accomplice for a tinker-woman," the man declares, stalking in slow half-circle around said guardian as he looks it over. "The fairer sex was not made for battle; these uncivilized regions see them thrust into danger out of necessity, but it is a humiliation each time I see it. El Dorado's militia even has female officers."

He chuffs and snorts like a wild bull, a toss of his head sending his hair swishing about. Still barefoot, and the ground so heavy with rocks, bits of metal, rust, and bloodied limbs and corpses, he begins a search for his boots-- he'll wander around some, shining in the sun, all tall and bright and terrible, until he finds them near the pulped skull of a ghoul. A bend at the hip, he snatches them, shakes them off onto the ground, and then puts them on, wiping his feet off first. Those hobnailed boots will serve him well.

"Damned scrapyard.. finding anything here is an exercise in tedium. Regardless. There is no shame in a robot guardian; but better you find yourself a man. An over-reliance on machines degenerates one's character."

At this point the Ranger waltzes in, and Ashur turns to face him. "It was a welcome diversion. For a time, I understood the mind of an NCR veteran."
Tesla "Well thank you! I like to think he's been a fine guardian and companion. But it /will/ be nice to get around other people again. Didn't find too many nice people while travelling. Leeroy doesn't say a ton right now, but the more he hears others talk, the more he picks up. I built up his processor myself. He learns language skills by listening to people around him. But ONLY language skills, sadly. Couldn't figure out how to go full AI with him." Tesla calls out as she hammers on a curve of the armor that seems to bulge a bit much in the wrong way. Glancing over while he searches out his boots, she chuckles and shakes her head. "Don't look at me. I know my way around bombs, but that's about as close to a fight as I like to get. I'm a thinker, a tinker, I leave the fighting to the people that are good at it."

She's shrugging off the misogyny without a second thought, largely because she's not one of those 'I can do anything' women. It suits her just fine to let him say whatever pleases him as long as he's not intruding on her own wheelhouse. There's a bit of a laugh at his comment that she should find a man, looking up to grin at him. "I'm not opposed to finding a guy. Just hasn't been a priority, really. So I mean... I'm open for business, but I'm not really advertising, you know?"

Then there's a new person joining them! She flicks glances between the two as they trade barbs, smothering her snickers as she keeps working ont he power armor. Leeroy, for his part, stands stock still regardless of the circling and staring. He wears a caricature of Gene Kelley's smiling face on his screen, and whatever music comes from the local radio station is echoing from his speakers at a low volume. The robot gives the impression of alertness, and if it weren't for the heavy guns on his arms, he might seem to be nothing more than a rolling radio. Tesla glances over to the newcomer and flashes a grin. "Hi there! NCR, right? There were some of you guys up in Vegas... I thought your HQ got blown up by a Courier?"
Kaydin     "You are aware we won the war right? So Caesar's legion isnt the nigh indestructible fighting force." Kaydin says as he turns to the woman and nods, offering her a hand. "NCR Ranger, Kaydin LeGraize." Kaydin says as he shrugs. "Havent checked in with HQ for a while now. Been traveling about the area, exploring and getting into adventure." He says as he glances to Ashur and then back to Tesla. "So I guess the two of you are friends?" He asks curiously as he watches between the two of them.
Ashur "The NCR won a battle," Ashur declares, stalking toward the Ranger. "A single battle due to a single man's foolishness; it was the death of Caesar that saved New Vegas and all its lands, not the strength of an old and impotent bear." Another snort, and he glances westward toward the morning horizon, far past Roswell and the distant mountains; far, far beyond where sight fails. "The word, from passing travelers, is that the Legion and the NCR agreed to an armistice until the mutant Horde was dealt with. Color me skeptical; they even had the gall to claim a woman has risen to lead them there. I broke that fool's teeth for the lie."

A rough exhale, and Ashur looks back to Tesla. "There are numerous bachelors in El Dorado, which lies near to the northeast; but they are eunuchs, one and all, soft and weak. North of here lies Jack's Town, a den of thieves, raiders, and junkies; they have a certain swagger whores find charming."

He lifts a hand and points westward. "You want to find civilization out here, admirable men and proper women, turn west. Fall in with the Lonestar caravans heading toward the Arizona border, and stop at New Rome. There alone, outside of Legion territory, is there humanity to be found."
Tesla Tesla reaches crossbody with an oil-streaked hand to shake Kaydin's hand once, firmly. "Nikki Tesla. New Vegas native." She chuckles as she draws her hand back, banging out another dent in the armor, practically clambering into the suit to get to it. She lets the menfolk trade their insults back and forth, her opinion kept to herself. Stepping up on the skeleton of the suit, she pokes her head over the top of the helmet, face appearing to the right of the high ruff. "Isn't there supposed to be some big battle going down soon? Mutants on the move or something? Thought I caught that on the run."

Ducking back down, she tightens another bolt she'd missed on the first pass. Calling back out towards Ashur, she mentions, "I'm New Vegas born and raised, had my fill of thieves, raiders, and junkies. Chems kill, man. They kill braincells. And for someone that depends on those braincells? Not good. I'll keep that under advisement! I wouldn't mind visiting New Rome anyhow, just to visit the place! And who knows, maybe I'll meet a man there."

Poking her head out once more, she aims her next set of comments towards Kaydin, her rambling, rapid, sing-songy voice calling out, "Actually, I just met Ashur a few minutes ago! I'm just a naturally cheerful person!" Looking back to Ashur, she grins once more. "So what makes you say the men of El Dorado are soft and weak? Because they're smaller or just objectively worse in combat?"
Kaydin     "Because some of the people dont like to fight in the militia there." Kaydin says as he seems to watch Ashur and when he speaks he sighs. "If the NCR and the Legion has a ceasefire, then we should probably focus on the Mutant threat." Kaydin says with clenched teeth as he watches Ashur and then he looks to Tesla and smiles, though his smile is hidden due to the helmet. "I was at the first battle for the dam. Fought and killed my share of Legionaries." He says with a glance to Ashur. "There is one thing I will agree about the legion, Over reliance on one form of combat will make a person weaker. Parents raised me to be able to fight with weapons, unarmed, and with firearms. Firearms are my specialty."
Ashur "The talk of ceasefire are the lies of drunkards and profligates," Ashur declares, voice full of fire. "I doubt the mutants are that great a threat; of them all, only the supermutants pose meaningful challenge, and they break like anyone else." He turns on a booted heel and sweeps one brawny arm to the side; the hand opens, flourishes, and tilts to drag the eye toward the heap of corpses piled around this open, bloodsoaked section of the scrapyard. "All things die. But who knows? Perhaps I'll honeymoon in Vegas, and see the truth for myself. If some woman truly has taken over the Legion, I'll kill her myself."

That arm twists, folds princely behind the small of his back, as the other hand rests over a woolen fold against his abdomen. Tesla's inquiries provoke a shake of his head. "It is mentality, not physicality. Many of them are trained in the use of firearms -- rifles, pistols, shotguns; some have queerer arms, besides. They are good enough shots. But they lack the stomach and the will to assert themselves. Dorado is a pampered place, blessed by a GECK, and its people are pampered, too. It was only recently they came to stomach slavery."
Tesla "Sorry, I wasn't at the battles. Most of my life was spent trying to survive the Kings gang that holds New Vegas, last... maybe ten years was on The Strip, working for The Chairmen. I've not actually been outside New Vegas until... well, now." Tesla lifts a shrug towards Kaydin, then ducks back down to keep working on sprucing up the power armor. Calling out with a hollow echo from the suit, "Ashur! You might think about occasionally rubbing down the skeleton and joints with some oil! You've got some rust creeping in here and there. I can clear it out, but you'll want to rub it down maybe once a week with oil to keep it from coming back."

She ignores the talk of the Legion and whether or not a woman is running it, the subject holding no interest for her. Instead she listens to them talk about themselves, or others, that are in the area. Stepping back up, she props her elbows up on the shoulder of the power armor and lifts a brow towards Ashur. "So they are unworthy mates because they lack spines? Slavery is.. eh. I think an honest day's work should be matched with an honest day's pay... but if you're covering their room, board, and clothing expenses... I guess that equals out. Treatment of them would be my tipping point, I guess. I don't like the idea of killing someone for minor mistakes... its inefficient."
Kaydin     "The folks in El Dorado arent that bad. True a good few of them prefer to not to fight, but they will fight to defend their home." Kaydin says as he looks to two. "If you want to follow me, I can take you and your robot to El Dorado, maybe find some supplies for you. Unless you prefer to remain at Ashur's side. No problem with that." He says as he offers a hand to Tesla to see if she wanted to follow him.
Ashur "I will have the rust cleaned," the Legionnaire says, moving to that hulking armor's back. Sliding a hand to Tesla's hip as she leans against it, he scoots her aside wordlessly, and unrolls the massive cloak he had bundled in his free arm. One could be forgiven for initially thinking it is oversized to fit the power armor -- yet as he clasps it, it still hangs onto the ground and stretches a few extraneous feet. Seems it drags no matter what. "My thanks, little Tesla. That will be enough for now."

Saying so, the brute will slip beneath that cloak and into the skeleton of the suit, drawing it closed around him and latching it shut with a few cleverly-added bolts. Absent the hydraulic systems and the automatic powered components, after all, the frame is reluctant to open and close by itself. The addition of hand-powered mechanisms to winch it shut and then lock it is handy.

The suit comes to life. A juggernaut of white steel, regal and striking, clanking like the stereotype of an old-fashioned knight with every movement, is born. When next Ashur speaks, his voice has a metallic tinge, filtered through the rebreather of that Corinthian helmet. "Those who cannot find their good use belong controlled by others; if El Dorado had spine, it would conscript the teeming masses of its shantytown to the militia and civic service. The idle masses are disgusting."

The brute turns, and begins to walk off, without offer of payment or further invitation. If Tesla wants his company -- for some inexplicable reason -- she'd need to hurry. Despite the ground-quaking thunder of his tread, he is.. surprisingly fast. Otherwise, Kaydin's offer remains.
Tesla Tesla is pushed aside as easily as swatting a fly, her hand flashing out to quickly grab a wrench she left tucked into the skeleton for ease of reach. Tucking it back into her belt, she flashes a grin towards Ashur and bobs her head. "You're welcome! Let me know if you need anymore dings and dents hammered out. Oh! And if you want, I'd like to try fitting the suit for some larger bolts in key places. You seem to strip the suual ones down quickly, the larger bolts might hold a little more firmly."

Stepping back, she looks over to Kaydin and chuckles, "Actually, I have a place outside of the city. I won't say no to help in picking up supplies, though! I'm still trying to figure out where all the shops and stores are." Tesla looks back to Ashur's rapidly departing form, lifting a hand in a wave and calling out, "I'll seek you out when I have that themesong ready for you! Have fun storming the castle!"
Kaydin     "Take care Ashur. El Dorado may need you in the coming days." He says as he nods to Tesla and begins to head back to El Dorado, duster blowing in the breeze as he waits for the woman and makes his way across the scrape yard looking about for anything interesting. He would remain silent and letting the girl talk as they walked.