This story is being written by different person from now on. I put more details at the author's notes if anyone wants to know more. Actually, I recommend reading it first before getting on with the chapter proper.
Meanwhile, on the top floor...
Rex Julius Goodman. Brilliant actor. Talented thespian. Full-time gentleman and part-time rogue-slash-adventurer.
Also a complete buffoon, according to the super mutants he had unwisely hoped to befriend. He was astounded by the judgement at first; he did not think them capable of recognizing and giving dues to an act of utter foolishness.
"Ah, wind..." He leaned in close against the shutters that served as his prison cell's walls. "My old friend. How fare you this fine evening?"
The wind whistled against the shutters like it always did. Sometimes, Rex could make it out speaking words to him, but he chalked it up to his mind slowly going insane from boredom and isolation.
While he did have his super mutant guards for company, he could barely hold up a coherent conversation with them for a quarter of a minute before they inevitably got bored, and his only truly decent company — a first-generation mutant outsider from California named Strong — was currently being punished by the mutant leader Fist, supposedly for the crime of spending too much time with their human hostage.
"Dear God, do I need a shave..." Rex appraised himself through his pocket mirror. "Maybe I'll—"
A faint burst of extended gunfire shook the man out of his thoughts. Setting his mirror down, Rex ambled up close to his prison cell's locked exit, hoping his guards weren't there. Unfortunately for him, bewildered as they were from the sounds coming from the lower floors, they were still standing by beyond his door.
"MAYBE MORE HUMANS COME TO TRY RESCUE REX." One of the guards elbowed his comrade. "HAH HA, STUPID HUMANS. THEY FALL FOR TRICK EVERY TIME."
During his first few days in super mutant captivity, Rex was delighted to discover a working radio hidden in his room. Unfortunately for him, the greenskins knew about the device, and were secretly counting on him to make an emergency broadcast for would-be rescuers in the Commonwealth to hear. Once he was done with his message, Fist had his underlings force themselves into Rex's room to take his radio away, so he couldn't turn it off. From then on, the mutants had been using his broadcast to lure more unsuspecting humans into their lair.
"SHUT UP! FIST COMING!" The other guard exclaimed.
Rex instinctively backed away from the door. Through the slits, he spied the mutant leader and his mute second-in-command dragging a third, unconscious mutant along the floor. Through his skin's darker green shade, Rex was able to tell the mutant apart from his brighter-skinned brothers as the ones called Strong, his only super mutant sympathizer in the Tower.
"PUT HIM IN THE BOX. HE STILL NOT LEARN HIS LESSON." Fist commanded the guards, who quickly scrambled to do as they were ordered. "THERE ARE FEW HUMANS AT LOWER FLOORS. THEY ALREADY KILLED THE WORTHLESS SENTRIES I POSTED."
"BOSS, CAN WE GO DOWN AND FIGHT? THIS GUARD STUFF IS SO BORING!"
"NO. YOU STAY PUT AND GUARD REX. MOUTHY HUMAN TOO VALUABLE TO LOSE. HE BRING US PLENTY OF GULLIBLE HUMANS TO EAT." Fist started looking around for something. "GRAH, NOW WHERE IS MY MINIGUN? DIDN'T I TELL YOU LUGNUTS NOT TO TOUCH IT?"
"DON'T WORRY, BOSS! IT SAFE RIGHT HERE!" Rex gasped as he beheld the massive hand-held support weapon one of the mutants cradled in his arms for his leader to take.
"PERFECT." Fist took hold of his gun from his underling and affectionately stroked its rotating barrels. "KEEP GUARD, BROTHERS. I MUST GO DOWN AND COMMAND THE AMBUSH."
Fist departed with his second-in-command to the sound of Rex's guards complaining among themselves.
"WHY DO WE ALWAYS GET LEFT OUT OF AM-BOOSH?" One of one of them grumbled as he hauled Strong over to Rex's cell. "THIS IS STUPID! WE SHOULD BE OUT THERE KILLING!"
Rex backed away as the mutant opened his cell door with a special key. With a disdainful grunt, he tossed Strong's limp body into the cell. "HE IS NO BROTHER OF OURS!"
Rex bent down over Strong as the guard closed his door shut behind him.
"Strong, my friend!" He tried to put the mutant to a sitting position, but found that his weight combined with his improvised scrap armor proved too heavy for him. "Speak to me! Are you alright?"
"...uurgh," Strong slowly came to. His entire face was bloated and bloody, and his jaw seemed to be completely dislocated. "Hhrahh. Shtronk alwaysh knewh... Fisht not brave enuff t' kill Shtronk himshelf..."
"Easy there, greenskin." Rex helped Strong to sit with his back behind a wall. "Your mouth is swollen, and your jaw doesn't look to be in alignment. You should rest and wait for your body to heal."
"Muh jawh?" Strong seemed briefly puzzled. He then reached out with his green, meaty hands and swiftly snapped his jaw back into place, re-aligning it with a sickening crack. "There... should be fine nowh..."
Rex tried to keep his face from showing his revulsion. "Yes, your speech has improved somewhat, but the swelling remains."
"Face will heal within minute. Human no need worry about Stronk," Strong crossed his muscular arms, making the super mutant equivalent of a pout.
"Sho, what doesh Rex Goobman think we do nowh? Fisht not look happy. Stronk think he finally eat human and throwh Stronk off rooftop. Rex and Stronk die, milk of human kindness losht to brothers forever. Is very shad day for all shuper mutants."
"Like you said, there's no need to worry." Rex sat up against the wall beside Strong. "We have one chance for freedom yet, and it lies with the humans making their way below us. If they succeed against Fist's attempts to kill them, we might find this... milk of human kindness just yet, friend."
Rex was proud of Strong's willingness to listen to his attempts at giving the super mutants some culture and education, but he still couldn't quite iron out his belief of the supposed "milk of human kindness". He suspected Strong took his reading of Shakespeare's Macbeth much too literally, believing this "milk" was the reason for human success.
"Then we wait for humans." Strong shut his eyes. "Fisht not shtupid. Humans likely to die, but maybe theshe humans different. We'll shee."
"Indeed." Rex, on the other hand, kept his eyes open. "We'll see."
Thirty minutes passed by with little incident. The guards outside started playing with grenades and rockets, using them for juggling and other dangerous acts to amuse themselves. Rex was beginning to suspect their rescuers failed, when Fist came stomping back into view — bloodied and his body pockmarked with bloody holes and burn marks. His mute second-in-command, whom the other mutants sometimes joked to be Fist's own green shadow, was suspiciously nowhere to be seen.
"THE AMBUSH... HAS FAILED!" Fist declared in alarm, jolting the guards awake from their monotonous watch. "OUR BROTHERS WERE SLAUGHTERED... I SAW IT WITH MY OWN EYES... A HUMAN IN A GREEN COAT LEADS THEM!"
The mutants let out a collective gasp in shock. Rex rolled his eyes and Strong, being an outsider among the mutants, struggled to make sense of things.
"COULD IT BE? IS IT THE SAME GREENCOAT THAT KILLED BOSS BEHEMOTH JANICE?"
"IT MUST BE!" Fist all but shouted — not in fear, but fury. "BROTHERS, WE CANNOT HOPE TO KILL THE GREENCOAT TONIGHT! WE LOST TOO MANY! WE MUST RETREAT, TO GATHER MORE WARRIORS!"
"GREENCOAT MUST PAY FOR HELPING STUPID METALHEADS, BUT FIRST, WE FLEE!"
"YES, BROTHER! FLEE TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY! QUICKLY, MY KIN, TO THE LIFT!"
Rex and Strong watched from inside their cell in complete bafflement as Fist and his underlings moved out of sight, presumably to take the lift down from Trinity Tower. Fist was in such a hurry to leave, that he decided to drop his minigun to get rid of excess weight.
"That... was unexpected." Rex stood up. He inspected the area beyond his door through the viewing slits, and indeed, found no sign of his captors. Fist had indeed fled a seemingly superior foe.
"Strong does not understand." Rex's mutant companion also moved up to take a look outside. "What is "greencoat"? Strong thought Fist too stupid to fear anything."
"I don't have a clue, Strong." The man admitted, turning to the mutant with a shake of his head. "But we should hope our rescuers prove friendly. If they can make someone like Fist flee from a battle, I'd hate to be the object of their wrath."
"Ain't nothin' to see in these parts."
"Yep, no Frankensteins in sight here."
"My short-range scanners detect no movement from our foes in this area. Perhaps they already left, commandant?"
"All clear around here, no signs of greenskin filth thus far."
"Hm, where the bloody hell did the rotters all go?"
As most of the team searched around in vain for any more mutants to kill, Kryger sheathed his bloodied sabre, holstered his pistol and frowned. One moment his squad was beset from all sides by waves upon waves of super mutants while their leader taunted them over the intercom, and in another, they seemed to have completely disappeared from sight, as if they simply vanished from existence.
"Squad, abandon positions and stack up on me." He ordered, taking the time to ingest a packet of Rad-Away to clear the roads he received from a particularly close brush with another mutant hound.
"So, what's the game plan now, Green?" Piper cheerily inquired.
He shrugged, disposing of the empty packet. "Take five for now."
As the team went off to find themselves a place to put up their feet and rest up for a while, the major consulted the squad's medic. "See no movement? Nothing at all?"
"Strange, no?" Curie waved a mechadendrite. "According to my scans, discounting small animals such as mice and small insects, the upper floors show enough life signs for two profiles. I believe one of these profiles belong to Rex Goodman."
The major nodded. "Good to know he's still alive. Can you send this data to my pip-boy? It'd be useful to check up on it with just a look on my wrist."
Curie seemed confused. "Forgive me, but I am not sure how to do this."
Kryger was nonplussed. "Check your subroutines. While you were in sleep mode, I modified some of your systems to accommodate a data-transferral feature, the same as what Olin installed on Codsworth. This should allow both of you to stream bursts of data straight to my pip-boy, provided there's no local interference."
Curie only took an instant to figure out what the major was going on about. "Ah, yes. Très bien, I see it now."
The pip-boy pinged its pre-set notification sound, alerting Kryger to a recently-made data transfer.
"Well?" The Miss Nanny leaned in. "Is it successful?"
"With flying colors." Kryger smiled faintly. "I can see where Goodman and our mystery profile would be, assuming your scan was accurate."
"Superb!" Curie seemed delighted. "Now that we are better prepared, should we get moving now? Five minutes have already passed, I should say."
"Thanks for reminding me." The major nodded, his smile fading.
He turned to the squad, who all looked to be just in the process of getting themselves comfortable. "Alright, people, we've rested enough. Pack up and move on out, we shouldn't keep Mr. Goodman waiting."
The group of eight shouldered their arms and continued traversing the now-abandoned structure. They passed through empty hallways and unoccupied rooms; the only resistance they ever met with amounted to a couple of abandoned traps and three active sentry turrets, which were quickly disarmed and dispatched, respectively.
After climbing up the penultimate floor's collapsed ceiling, the squad finally managed to reach Rex Goodman's supposed whereabouts. Kryger ordered his squad to split off into fireteams and advance cautiously while he scanned the room for non-mutant threats along with Codsworth and Curie.
"No hostile turrets or traps in sight." The major let down his pistol, pointing it to the ground. "Right, let's get this over with."
Upon reaching the cell proper, the squad found a well-dressed but badly-groomed man standing inside, tentatively waiting for his freedom, from the expectant look on his face.
"Good beneficent bard, you must be our rescuers!" The man, likely Rex Goodman, smiled and adjusted his tie as the squad regrouped. "I must say, you are the first to make it to my infernal prison — the greenskins have gone and ate everyone who responded to my signal before..."
Kryger grunted and made to open the door, but it wouldn't budge to his touch. The mutants had locked it tight.
"Oh," Goodman scratched his head. "The key must be by a chest a little to your left. I saw my guards—"
"I advise you to stand back, Mr. Goodman." The major drew his pulsing sabre from its scabbard with a sharp electric crackle, its length noticeably drenched in viscous mutant blood.
Goodman complied meekly. Unexpectedly, Kryger did not dispose of the door with a great, heavy-handed cleave. Rather, he merely socketed its length down the pin tumbler lock, using the immense amounts of energy generated by the blade's internal tesla coils to melt it completely down in a manner that looked a lot like welding.
"What an astounding weapon! Beautiful and elegant, yet versatile and deadly! Truly, a weapon befitting a conquering hero!" If he wasn't trying to avert his eyes from the blinding sparks, Goodman would've been marveling openly at the sight. "
With the lock out of the picture, sure enough, a single kick was enough to get the door to open wide, allowing access to the team.
"Kindly step outside with your hands behind your head, sir." Kryger firmly requested, staring down the man.
Goodman immediately did as he was told. "Well, I can't fault you for being overly cautious, what with the environment we live in. Not to worry, though, I may have gone as scruffy as your average wasteland psychopath during my extended captivity, but I assure you that I mean you and your comrades no harm, mister...?"
"Kryger." The major nonchalantly introduced himself. "Now that we're properly acquainted, I need you to tell your friend to stop hiding and come on out. We know you're not alone."
"Wh-what?" Goodman's refined facade faltered for a bit. "I... I don't think that's a good idea, Mr. Kryger. My friend is... quite different, compared to you and I."
The major narrowed his brows. "And how is that so, Mr. Goodman?"
Goodman hesitated to start. "Well... for a start, he's... well, not human."
And at that moment, Olin's mask of quiet indifference vanished. "Then enlighten us, citizen, just what kind of hideous, abominable blight on mankind is your "friend"?"
Goodman seemed appalled at the sudden hostility, but he regained his senses surprisingly quickly. "My friend might indeed be quite hideous in appearance, but I assure you, fair stranger, a blight on humanity he is not. I know some mistrust may be warranted because of the actions of his kind, but I've seen the depths of his soul, and—"
"This is not a play. There are no such things as souls." Olin snapped, interrupting the man. "Show us this creature," She hoisted her laser shotgun, cocking it. "It must purged from—"
Kryger suddenly took the senior scribe's gun by the barrel and forced it down. "There won't be any purging tonight, senior scribe. Stand down."
Olin's gaze shifted to Kryger, her hard, unfeeling expression hadn't changed. "Do as you must, major, but as a member of the Brotherhood, it is my duty to cleanse any and all inhuman filth... whatever grotesque forms they might take!"
"Stupid yellow lady talk too much." A hulking super mutant with a bloodied, slightly swollen face and a skin a shade darker than the usual ones emerged from the shadows of Goodman's cell, much to the group's alarm. "Go ahead and try to hurt Strong. You only make big mistake."
Before Olin could even say a word, Kryger stopped her with the harshest glare he could muster.
"Don't even think about it. Let me handle this, Olin." The major lightly pushed the senior scribe back as he let go of her gun. Steadying himself, Kryger resolved to not let anyone be shot without his consent that night.
"Well... this friend of yours hasn't tried to attack us thus far, Mr. Goodman," Kryger carefully started around the edges. "Tell me, is he going to stay that way?"
"Yes, of course. Strong is completely harmless..." Goodman assured. "...well, far from harmless, actually, but he means us humans no harm. You see, Mr. Kryger, Strong isn't as focused on humanity's destruction like most of his brothers, but rather—"
"Strong want find milk of human kindness." The super mutant, apparently called Strong, had said in his distinctive, sandpaper-like voice. "Mack Beth said milk contain power of humans. Strong want drink this milk so he can have success like human! Strong will be unstoppable!"
Goodman squared his shoulders and meekly smiled. "He took my reading of Shakespeare... a little too enthusiastically. Ever since I turned him over to my side, Strong has been looking for his... milk... ever since. He very rarely harmed or eaten anyone unfortunate enough to be dragged by Fist and his minions into the tower, even."
"So you're telling me," Kryger had a gloved hand to his chin, looking at both Goodman and Strong intently. "Besides the occasional snack, this greenskin's on our side?"
"Better to die fighting brothers than fighting humans." Strong confirmed, nodding fiercely.
Kryger, upon hearing those words, chose to seize the moment before Olin could react. "The Commonwealth is a pretty big place, Strong. Finding the milk of human kindness is gonna take you months if you're doing it all by yourself."
"Strong not alone! Strong has Rex Goodman to help him!" The mutant said.
Goodman sighed. "Sorry to let you down, friend, but this experience made me a bit more cautious when traversing the wastes. I'm afraid I cannot accompany you — I must return to my friends and continue with the career I left behind."
Strong quickly got over his surprise. "Bah! Strong no need Rex to find milk! Will find other humans!" He paused, his face scrunched up in intense thinking.
Then suddenly, the mutant's face brightened up, as if a door in his mind had just been held open for him. "Strong has idea!" Slowly, he inclined his head to look at Kryger's company.
"Oh, heavens, please no..." Olin pinched the bridge of her nose and closed her eyes, shaking her head in dismay.
"Strong can find milk while following humans!" The mutant exclaimed, as though the idea was obvious all along.
Paulson tilted his hat upward and inclined a brow. "Did y'all jus' hear what the mutie just said? I think he wants to come along with us." Dogmeat barked in agreement with his master.
"I admit, it might seem unwise to have our very own super mutant following us around, especially whenever we're planning to head inside settlements such as Diamond City," Codsworth mused aloud. "But another gun on our side during battle is always welcome indeed."
"Having a Frankenstein around in the group's gonna take a lot of getting used to," Piper said. "But then again, I DO need someone to carry my extra gear around..."
"The opportunity to study a Commonwealth super mutant up close is most exciting!" Curie giddily exclaimed. "I believe Monsieur Strong will be of great use to us in our little group!"
"Strong, huh. He's... different... from the other mutants we've run across, isn't he?" Preston noted. "We could always use more help, so I'm not going to refuse his offer if I'm in charge. I'd still give him a wide berth, however."
Olin was silent, looking utterly displeased and sour at the way the major ran things.
Kryger placed a hand on the scribe's shoulder and gave her an empathic look. "I know this goes against what the Brotherhood stands for, but we're going to keep looking around the wastes for my son, the squad will need every soldier it can get."
He leaned in closer, lowering his voice so as to not be heard by anyone else. "...if it makes you feel any better, do know that I'll come visit Elder Maxson myself after we're done with this mission — see the Brotherhood for myself."
Kryger leaned back, satisfied by the renewed look of hope in Olin's eyes. "With Strong on our side, we'll get to the end of this journey a lot faster without him. Think about it."
"...but will you stay?" Olin finally spoke.
Kryger looked uncertain. "We'll see when we get to that point in time."
The senior scribe sighed. "If we ever get to that point in time. Very well, I'll... restrain myself and defer to your leadership when it comes to recruiting... these... these things-" She briefly paused to glare at Strong. "-into our company from now on."
"Good to hear." The major retracted his hand and nodded. Turning to look at his prospective super mutant recruit, he said, "Let's get going then, Strong. First, though, I need you to agree with a few conditions..."
"What is cone-dish-ons? Strong no like big words."
Kryger was silent, letting that sink in for a couple of seconds. "...o-kay. Getting right to the point, while you're with us, I need you to stop eating human flesh."
Strong seemed mildly displeased at this. "Liver and heart taste good... but Strong can live without them. Strong eat like human from now on."
"Thank you." The major let out a breath. "I also need you to follow my orders — do what I tell you to do precisely when I tell you to do so. The squad needs brute force, but we also need finesse and subtlety, you understand?"
"Fancy human uses too many big words. Strong no understand." Strong grimaced. "Just tell Strong you boss, and Strong follow. He follow the Master once... and... and..." The mutant's face scrunched up, as if he was trying very hard to remember something. "—also someone else. Strong remember following someone before the Master... someone with many tongues..."
"A Frankenstein followin' a centaur?" Paulson mused. "Ain't it, y'know, the other way 'round?"
Kryger shook his head. "This isn't important. Now that Strong's agreed to follow orders, we just need to find a weapon for him."
"Perhaps this minigun on the floor can serve well enough in that department, sir?" Codsworth trained a mechadendrite on the object in question.
Strong grinned as he walked over and picked up the gun, donning the requisite ammo backpack as he did so. "Fist stupid to left good weapon behind. He remember this night when Strong kill him with own minigun."
"Quite," Kryger disinterestedly nodded. "Well, Mr. Goodman, this is the part where we go on our own paths. Unless, of course, you'd like to come with us? More people means more safety and strength, I should say."
"Ah, I appreciate the offer, sir, I really do..." Goodman scratched the back of his neck. "...but this experience has left me a bit sour on adventuring for a while. Perhaps some other time I'll take it, but for now, I could really use a shave and a nice bath. Heavens, I'm sure I smell like a latrine to you."
Kryger shrugged and nodded. "In that case, be safe on your way then. Do try to think before you leap next time, alright?"
"Oh ho, I never would have met Strong if I did just that, but... perhaps you got a point there." Goodman smirked and extended his hand, which the major shook briefly. "Fare you well, good sir, and good luck on whatever it is you're trying to accomplish out here."
And with all that said, Kryger's company departed from the tower through the way they came from while Goodman slipped into the night.
Author's Notes: I don't know if people still read this story, but I'm going to assume there are a dozen of them, at least. That's good enough for me.
I should introduce myself: I wrote this chapter myself, but I'm not the author of the story itself; I'm only the proofreader. Needless to say, the original Unusual Dispentry would no longer be with us, citing his increasingly busy schedule and family issues. I have no idea if I could ever replicate his writing style, or implement his ideas as he intended them, but do know that I tried my hardest, and that, for now at least, I intend to stay.
Please let me know if I blended this chapter well with the others, and tell me how I can emulate UD's style even better. Thanks again.