And we're back here again, yeah? Another chapter here, followed (relatively) soon by another chapter for Supernovas of Mass Effect: One Way Flight. No promises of course, but hey, it's been that pattern a couple of times now hasn't it?

Anyway, you guys know the rules from now on. Leave a review for this story only. If it's about my Supernovas multiverse, put it over there. Now that we understand one another, let's get this show on the road.

I would like to take a moment to thank my friend Powerslammer for helping me with certain parts of this chapter, as well as certain parts of Nathaniel's character. Your idea was fantastic, and I hope I did it proper justice.

This is normally where I respond to guest reviews, but because there are no new guest reviews, we get to skip that and dive straight into the story. Enjoy everybody!

Summary: Nate, Cait and Dogmeat run into a problem during their search for Nick Valentine. A very large problem…

Spoilers: I guess you could say it hints at spoilers for certain discoveries regarding the Institute, but it's barely an implication. Plus it's not even a spoiler at this point unless you've somehow gone this long without completing the main quest at least once.

Disclaimer: Bethesda owns the Fallout franchise. This shit ain't mine, so go sue someone else.

Content Warning: Addictive drugs mentioned heavily throughout this chapter, and there is one reference to sexual assault. It is a Fallout story.

Make Way for… Mutants?

Commonwealth, 2287
Boston Commons: Boston Public Garden

"So tell me this then soldier-man," Cait asked, bored to tears after following Nate for over three hours in complete silence. "How come you got such a stick up yer arse about using psycho? You one of them goody two-shoes that thinks livin' a little is livin' in sin?"

"Because I was alive when they first began distributing that shit," Nate answered disdainfully. "General Chase ordered his own pharmaceutical research company to start mass producing that poison, and our own doctors at Anchorage willingly force fed it to the troops in some half-baked attempt to make them better soldiers. Worse, they gave it to the wounded and the shell-shocked purely for the sake of getting them back out in the field, consequences be damned. All that did was turn good, proud men into insane killers, no different from rabid dogs to be put down." He stopped and turned his head to briefly glare at Cait over his shoulder, blue eyes angry and intense. "So you'll have to forgive me if I'm a little apprehensive about a crime against my brothers in arms now getting treated as a pick-me-up like it's no different than coffee." With that, he resumed his trek towards what was left of Park Street Station.

"Well, to be perfectly fair, psycho's easier to come by than coffee." Cait mumbled as she followed him, only to realize he'd come to a dead halt once more. "Hey what the-"

Nate cut her off by raising his off-hand in a clenched fist, using his dominant hand to keep his Makarov trained on a heavily irradiated lake directly in front of them. Slowly, noiselessly, he backed away, motioning for Cait and Dogmeat to do the same. After a full minute of backpedaling, he finally lowered his gun and sighed in relief.

"Aww," Cait cooed sarcastically. "Was the big bad killer afraid of some dirty water?"

Dogmeat rested his head on the ground and placed a paw over his eyes, giving the canine equivalent of a facepalm.

"Did you completely miss the signs while watching my ass?" Nathaniel asked. Still keeping his gaze on the direction they'd come from, he never saw the guilty tinge of pink suddenly coloring the Irishwoman's cheeks. Of course she was watching. She'd have to be blind not to be watching that ass! Cait was tragically drawn from her less-than-innocent thoughts when the owner of said ass spoke again.

"That pond was surrounded by warning signs, mangled corpses, I caught sight of air bubbles breaking the water's surface, and what silhouette I could make out was fucking enormous. There's something in there, and it's very big. Likely some oversized version of these 'super mutants' freaks. No way we're taking that head-on."

"So yer runnin' away?" Cait pouted, unimpressed. Could this really be the same walking slaughterhouse from the Combat Zone? "Yer not even gonna try killin' the damned thing? I thought you were some kinda war hero?"

Dogmeat placed his other paw on top of the first one and whimpered slightly, as if to say "here we go."

Nathaniel reached into his duffel, pulled out a handful of stimpacks, and offered them to Cait. "You wanna run in guns blazing with a few of these and just hope for the best? That's how 'heroes' get themselves killed every time. I was not a hero. I was a monster, a devil, because that's what it took to keep my family and my country safe."

Cait's eyes narrowed. "That's some mighty fine hypocrisy ya got there. Spittin' on psycho while actin' like yer somethin' worse."

The icy intensity in Nathaniel's blue eyes sent a shiver down the redhead's spine. "I was something worse, Cait. Much worse, actually, but only to my enemies. And I didn't need some drug to manage it either."

When she heard this, Cait could only gawk at the man in front of her. It wasn't just what he was saying, but how he was saying it that got to her. Like no matter how bad someone was, Nathaniel would be twice as bad to rip them apart and protect his own.

The Irishwoman was still trying to process this revelation when Nate began walking again… away from the pond and his ultimate destination. "Hey, where ya goin' now?" Cait asked, rushing to catch back up.

"I've got a plan to take that thing down, but we're gonna need some supplies," Nate explained. Cait was listening, but Dogmeat was paying full attention. The canine loved fetching things. "Raiders would've taken anything combat-worthy for miles, but firepower's not what I'm looking for. First, I need some long metal bars. Pipes, poles, even rebar works if it's long enough for my purposes."

"Tryin' to compensate for somethin' with all those long, hard rods?" Cait teased, earning a chuckle from Nate.

"My wife became pregnant with Shaun the last time we were in this park." Nate cocked his head to the side and smirked at the redhead. "Make of that what you will." Cait returned his smirk with her own before they got back to business. "Second thing we'll need is a shitload flammable liquid. Oil, gas, turpentine, if it lights up instantly, it's what we want."

"Junk like that's always left lyin' about. Shouldn't be too hard to find what ya need." With that, the trio set to searching.

Several Hours Later

Cait was right. The stuff was just lying around everywhere. Two hundred years old, but still flammable. Stacking up the various incendiary liquids for later use, Nathaniel and his Irish companion went to work filing the metal poles and bars they'd scavenged into long, sharp spikes. When they finished that task, they took the spikes and headed back towards the pond where they would set up Nathaniel's trap less than a block away from the monster's watery den.

Nate had just put their supplies down at what he considered the best spot for his trap when Dogmeat went crazy, practically tugging his human into a nearby alleyway. "What the hell is it this time? I swear if it's another building full of Raiders, I'm gonna-"

The soldier's complaints died on his lips when he saw what Dogmeat had found half-buried in the rubble. "Well I'll be damned." He knelt down to scratch the German Shepherd behind the ears. "How the flying fuck do you do that, boy?" Dogmeat just panted happily and licked his human's face. "Yeah, I get it, you're awesome. If it works without blowing my ass sky high, then you're a miracle mutt." The canine snorted at that, but neither man nor man's best friend could keep from grinning at all the possibilities.

After retrieving his prize and confirming that it was somehow still in working order – though in need of a few repairs sooner than later – Nate and Cait turned all their focus to completing the trap. They worked well past midnight, relying on the light of Nathaniel's Pip-Boy to see what they were doing. When the trap was finally ready, it was less than an hour until sunrise. Just enough time for a quick rest.

"I'll take first watch," Nate offered. "You sleep."

Cait warily eyed the mattress they'd found along with the rest of the supplies. She may have watched him kill those Raiders at the Combat Zone, but old habits die hard. Awake and in the ring, she was unbeatable, but the moment she let her guard down, well… Raiders weren't the "gentle" type to put it lightly. For years now, she'd managed to keep them – mostly – at bay with the caps she made kicking their asses in the Zone, paying them to leave her alone while she slept.

They didn't always hold up their end of the bargain.

She was shaken from her memories by a firm hand on her shoulder. It was the same hand that had taken away her psycho almost a day ago, but the grip wasn't nearly as forceful this time.

"Get some sleep Cait," Nathaniel said a second time. "I've got your back."

So few words, and yet they meant so much. Nate wouldn't touch her while she slept, and he'd destroy anyone who tried. And as the fear retreated back to the darker corners of her mind, Cait realized just how exhausted she was. Not just from their walking and building the trap either. It was like all the years she'd spent watching her own back had caught up with her in that one moment, now that someone else was there to do it for her, asking for nothing beyond the promise that she'd do the same for him.

"You always know just what a girl wants to hear," Cait yawned. "Fine, but only because I'm too tired to argue after helpin' ya build that trap of yours." Smiling as she curled up on the mattress, the Irishwoman couldn't help but enjoy the warm feeling of safety Nate's presence gave her. It was like nothing in the whole damn Commonwealth could touch her, or even come close, unless he actively allowed it.

It was nice.

And while her head told her the man was a naïve Vault Dweller with values that didn't exist anymore, a tiny part of her heart wanted to believe him. Wanted to believe that his values did still exist and that the crap he preached about loyalty and protection and defending his own was real.

Because she needed something to believe in now more than ever.

Commonwealth: Swan's Pond
Next Morning

Looking down at the pond where his giant adversary slept, Nathaniel drew his Makarov and fired off a couple rounds into the water. "Hey! I would've been your daddy, but a gorilla beat me up the stairs!" His goal was to piss the thing off, get it angry enough to chase him outside its nice little watery den.

It worked too well, especially when Nathaniel saw exactly what he'd woken up. Of course, he'd suspected it was an oversized super mutant based off of the shape of its underwater outline, but he misjudged its dimensions by a fairly large margin. "Big" didn't even begin to describe this enormous green monstrosity, its three-story mass covered in welts, muscles, more muscles, and pieces of the pre-War Swan Boats of all things. Catching sight of the human that had woken it up, the creature let out a roar that they could hear back in Diamond City and stomped out of the pond with enough force to generate a small tidal wave.

"Oh fuck me!" Nathaniel yelled as he beat a hasty retreat.

If the pre-War soldier had been on foot, Swan the Super Mutant Behemoth would have easily overtaken and (most likely) eaten him. However, thanks to the "toy" Dogmeat had found earlier, Nate wasn't on foot.

He was on a motorcycle. An actual functioning motorcycle. How that dog managed to find shit like this, nobody would ever know.

Kicking the old (yet still-working) bike into high gear, Nathaniel just managed to stay out of the behemoth's grasp. He wouldn't stay ahead for long, but he didn't have to. He just needed to lead it in the proper direction.

Angry both at the puny thing for waking it up and going so fast, not to mention making so much noise with that metal thing it was sitting on, Swan was more than willing to pursue, not ever stopping to think how far it was going away from its pond.

"Catch me if you can bitch!" Nathaniel yelled as he drove the motorcycle up a makeshift ramp and onto the second floor of what appeared to be just another random ruined building.

Seeing its prey was trapped now, Swan charged in for the kill, smashing right through the wall to crush the puny human behind it…

Only to run straight into a wall of long, sharp pikes. With all its weight and momentum rushing Swan forward, the behemoth was impaled on the array of crude metal spikes like a giant green pincushion, some of them actually protruding from the monster's back. Howling in agony with over a dozen metal spears tearing into its body, only then did Swan catch sight of all the now-empty containers scattered around its feet inside the building. More than a few of them have labels saying "Caution: Highly Flammable!"

And that was when Cait whistled at Swan from her perch behind the wall of spikes. Shooting the behemoth a nasty grin as Nathaniel pulled up by her side, she lit a match on the front tire of his motorcycle and dropped it onto the ground beneath Swan's feet, all of which was soaked in the gas, oil, and turpentine, just like the spikes themselves. In seconds, the whole building was on fire, and Swan, unable to pull its bulk off the spikes, let alone stop the blood loss those spikes had caused, was trapped. It could do nothing but scream in agony as the two humans drove through the second story window on the motorcycle, leaving it there to cook like a shish kebab on flambé.

The last thing Swan saw was the pair of grenades drop onto the burning floor without any pins…

Cait screamed as she felt the wind whip past her. "Crazy bastard!" she yelled over the roar of the motorcycle's engine and the frag grenades exploding behind her. "Yer gonna blow us both to hell!" She refused to even consider how much she was secretly enjoying the feel of her hands around his waist as he drove them safely out of the inferno they'd just created. "Damn he's in mighty fine shape!" she thought.

Her hands might have drifted lower than the waist, but she never got the chance before Nathaniel swerved to a stop and parked the bike like he'd done it a thousand times. Hell, he probably had, but before the bombs dropped, it wasn't as impressive a concept.

"This thing needs some serious repair, but we're safe for now. Good thing motorcycles never got to the nuclear-powered stage like most of the cars, or we would have exploded. Instead, our biggest risk at the moment is running out of fuel. I'll find some way to get it back to that Red Rocket truck stop near Sanctuary, or maybe Diamond City since that's where we'll be going once we pull Nick Valentine's ass out of whatever's keeping him down there." Nate nodded towards the entrance to the Park Street station, now far safer to approach without the massive-ass behemoth covered in swan boats hiding right next to the door. "Dogmeat," he ordered while walking the motorcycle out of plain sight to hide it from any would-be lucky raiders, "stay and watch the bike while Cait and I find our good Detective."

The dog cocked his head with a snort.

"Why you? Besides the fact that you found bike?" Another snort. "Okay, how about the fact that I can't drive a motorcycle into an underground metro station, and I'd really like to keep it when I get back out?" This time the reply was a whine. "Oh, come on! Just do me a solid and guard the thing, okay?"

"You do realize yer talkin' to a dog, right?" Cait asked with a shrug. "Just saying."

"No," Nate smirked, "the dog is talking to me. Big difference." Dogmeat huffed, but sat by the motorcycle all the same, alert and already waiting his human's return.

"By the way," Cait asked as they walked down the stairs into Park Street Station. "Where'd you get that idea? Killin' that behemoth with spikes and an oil trap?"

"The Art of War," Nathaniel answered cryptically. "My sensei taught it to me before I even enlisted in the Army. Bullets are a useful tool, but they're hardly the key to victory. Like that behemoth. Its greatest strength has always been its size until we came along and used that against it." He smirked then. "Of course, it's good to have bullets too, especially when we can't go two blocks without some damn thing trying to kill and more than likely eat us."

"Damn right," Cait chuckled, smirking right back at him. Honestly, she didn't have a damn clue what he was talking about at all, and his answer only left her with more questions. "What the hell is a sensei? And what does art have to do with-mmph!?"

Hearing voices further down the metro tunnel, Nate pressed his middle and index fingers to her lips for silence. "How about this, we make it out of here alive, and with Detective Valentine in one piece, I'll tell you just about anything you want to know about my personal life. Deal?"

Cait's eyes gleamed with mischief, and she made a playful, half-heared attempt at biting the finger Nate still had covering her mouth, forcing the pre-War soldier to pull his hand back on instinct. "Anything I want, huh? I'll be holdin' you to that." Pulling out her shotgun, she motioned for Nathaniel to take point as she covered his back. Nodding, he pulled out his Makarov and tanto dagger and began to creep down the ruined station's hallway like he'd done so many times through so many Chinese strongholds in Anchorage.

When he was far enough ahead that she was sure he wouldn't notice, Cait quickly snuck a syringe out of her pocket and gave herself a quick dose of psycho. The familiar rush was pure heaven, especially after so long without a fix.

Why then, if it was so fantastic, did she feel like shite for doing it? She never had before, so what was so different this time?

"Hallway clear," a familiar voice whispered from up ahead, cutting through her drug-induced haze like a knife. "Come on, let's go find Valentine."

That's what was different this time, Cait realized. She had one Nathaniel Reese watching her back, and she was supposed to be watching his. Could she do that properly while she was high on psycho? Would he let her do it at all if he found out?

She wasn't sure which question scared her more, but she knew she couldn't tell him the truth now.

Yes, lots of talking and musings and probably not as much of a "fight" with Swan as you were expecting. That's because it was a trap, not a fight. No matter how badass, real humans don't run up to giant monsters yelling "1v1 me bro!" That's stupid and only works because of how stimpacks heal you in-game. Sure, your "health" is restored but what about the injuries? Any fight with Swan where you apply a stimpacks, you're basically trying to fix broken ribs and a collapsed lung with an injection. It doesn't work that way, I'm sorry. Without game mechanics to protect us, any human trying to solo a giant monster would just get squished.

Now after that little rant about being realistic, you're probably thinking, "But Blindluck92! You gave Nathaniel a motorcycle in a world where all vehicles either explode, don't work, or both!" Yes I did, and there's precedent for it too. The Broken Steel DLC for Fallout 3 has a daredevil's skeleton hanging from the ceiling in a metro, and it's implied that motorcycle-stunt-gone-wrong happened after the bombs dropped, which meant that the motorcycle itself was working post-War. Also, the Lonesome Road DLC for Fallout: New Vegas shows a motorcycle partially on one of the highways, with the assumed biker's skeleton lying next to it and one of the tires in the process of being replaced. Now in this case I might say it was pre-War, except that this is the fucking Divide where over a dozen ICBMs went off directly underground. No way the skeleton, the bike, the spare tire, the toolbox, and the dead guy's sleeping bag would all still be there if it happened before the bombs, let alone before the Courier accidentally set off more bombs prior to the events of New Vegas. At the very least, that bike would have fallen over, but no, it's all in (relatively) perfect condition, which is just not possible after that many nuclear explosions. If the motorcycle got a flat on the highway while an idiot was driving through the Divide and got himself eaten by the Deathclaws swarming all over that place, well that makes much more sense in my opinion.

You may not agree with my logic, but Nathaniel's keeping the bike, so you can expect more of it in the future. You'll also get more Cait goodness in the next chapter when she reveals her skill with picking locks, and Nick Valentine will (finally) make his debut in this story.

Finally, I've hinted at Nathaniel having a sensei twice now, and there's much more where that came from. He's an insanely good soldier for a reason, and his backstory will be revealed more and more over time. Until then, however…

Read, Review, and Enjoy!