The Devil of the Mojave
"The man looked…resigned. I find that to be the most disconcerting about Mister Marcus, true he was polite enough; he helped us out with the Powder Gangers, and fixed my radio. Doc Mitchell says that he woke up with that resigned, almost serene look. It was on him when he put his gun to Joe Cobb's head and blew his brains out on the sand. That Ringo took off as soon as the caps touched Marcus's hand. I'd never seen someone so scared in his life.
He comes and goes sometimes and he's still as polite when we first met. But I swear that look on his face has never changed…"- Trudy, bartender, Prospector's Saloon, Goodsprings.
The ground was soft. It didn't shift like the sand and he could actually smell it…It was grass. Courier Number Six, Marcus Wards, shook himself awake and lifted his head. The girl was short, pink haired and dressed in the weirdest clothes he had ever seen. She had a white shirt, a dark colored skirt and what looked like a cloak over her shoulders. She looked…surprised?
The Courier tilted his head as they continued staring at each other.
Louise Valliere looked down at the commoner that she had summoned. Her brow twitched. This was her familiar? No dragon? No Manticore? All those sleepless nights, all those hours of practicing and memorizing the ritual to the point of exhaustion and all she got was this stupid, blank faced commoner?
The man had brown hair flecked with black. He was quite young looking with tanned skin though not quite as tanned as Kirche Von Zerbst who even now was laughing and trying not to fall on her knees. He wore a black hooded long coat over a black shirt, baggy pants and light looking shoes. There was some kind of device attached to his left arm like some kind of demented bracelet but Louise did not take any note of it. He had a rucksack he was clutching in one hand.
The commoner looked at her then, his eyes! They were a cold ruthless blue. Clearly the man was dangerous, one part of her mind said. She quickly drowned that part of her brain out.
"P-Professor Colbert I request that I redo the summoning ritual!" she stammered. Colbert, a tall bald man, shook his head.
"I'm sorry Miss Valliere; I cannot allow you to do that…" The teacher answered sternly "The Springtime Summoning Ritual is a sacred act and I cannot just-"
The commoner stood up, Louis noted that he was quite a bit shorter than the professor. Everyone stared at him as he stooped to dust his coat off. Again those cold blue eyes settled on Louise and she shivered. The commoner then looked at Colbert. He had an aura, one filled with experience and influence.
"I am either going insane or I am bleeding out waiting die and this is the strange dream that I'm having." The commoner commented looking around. He didn't seem too concerned about being summoned, something that caught Colbert's eye. He also seemed...dangerous. The man settled on the Professor again "Can you tell me where I am?"
Colbert cleared his throat then answered him "You are in Tristain, Familiar. On Halkeginia" The professor raised a brow as the commoner's jaw dropped for a few seconds before he resumed that blank look. "I am Professor Colbert of the Tristain Magic Academy; this is Louise Valliere your summoner."
The wheels began to turn in Marcus's head. Tristain? Halkeginia? Where in the Mojave was he? The Courier exhaled. The man, Colbert, mentioned something about his…"summoner" and he turned his head on Louise.
She was extremely short. Marcus wasn't the tallest guy around but hell…the little girl's eyebrow twitched "Is there something wrong commoner?" she barked at him angrily. Marcus narrowed his eyes slightly. He had met politer kids back in Freeside, which wasn't the most pleasant places in the Mojave, but this girl was just plain…nasty.
Colbert cleared his throat "This has gone too long, Miss Valliere." He said sternly "You must complete the ritual!"
Louise flinched "W-With him?" She pointed at the commoner but seeing the stern look on the professor's face and the fact that everyone was pointing, giggling and whispering at her and her…familiar. She sighed. "Familiar!"
The commoner looked down at her and she gestured for him to closer. She stood at his shoulder so it was easier to talk to him. Blushing Louise waved her wand. "My name is Louise Francoise Le Blanc de La Valliere, Pentagram of the five Elemental powers bless this humble being and make him my familiar!"
She tapped the commoner's forehead, reddened even further and kissed him.
Before Marcus could even register the contact the girl pulled away. The Courier blinked trying to figure out what was happening when his right arm began to heat up. Marcus gave a pained growl as strange markings etched themselves onto the back of his hand. Clenching his fist he looked at Colbert, looking rather annoyed. "What was that?"
"Ah, those are very strange markings…" Colbert mused "May I see your hand familiar?" The commoner offered his right hand. The runes looked familiar; Colbert decided to do some research for today. He nodded at the commoner then realized he never asked for his name.
"Right…sorry, I should have asked you to introduce yourself, familiar." Colbert said.
The commoner only looked at him and simply introduced himself while he picked up his rucksack, carrying it over his shoulder.
"Marcus, just Marcus. I'm a Courier…"
The room was small, smaller than the one he had rented back in Novac, Marcus noticed. The room had a bed near the window, a small table with two chairs, a large wardrobe and a dresser. He instead focused on the room's owner.
Her name was Louise. As a force of habit he asked for people's names. He knew many names; a lot of those people had died from a simple wastelander to a veteran NCR trooper. In a way that was how he respected people, he never forgot a name…especially Benny's, the man who shot him in the head and left him in Goodsprings. He had to give respects to Benny at least; the shot in the head cured any hesitations to what he had done to the Mojave. He had no love for either the NCR or the Legion, and if he had served the ever enigmatic Mr. Robert House then he would still be a tool to another man's ambition.
Marcus's only ambition was to live and to die in obscurity and that was what he did after Hoover Dam, he wandered…after he personally threw General Oliver off the Dam.
"You'll be sleeping there commoner," the girl pointed at the bundle of hay near her bed. Marcus looked offended.
"You force people to sleep on a bale of hay," he observed quietly "I am human you know."
Louise scoffed at that "Comparing familiars to mages is like comparing a dog and a cat, you are my familiar and you will obey me!" she barked at him. Marcus just fixed his cold blue eyed stare at her and the little mage flinched. She hated the way he looked down at her, like a bug.
"A-Anyway!" Louise said, mustering up all her courage. "As my familiar, you have duties. The most obvious is to protect me, your master!"
"I can do that" Marcus said crossing his arms. "I've done that before…" Louise looked surprised.
"I thought you said were a Courier." She said to him curiously.
Marcus shrugged "Where I come from, I'm called many things; I've done a lot of jobs. You could say that I'm a Jack of All trades." That got Louise's attention, she had heard of the expression. Maybe this commoner Marcus wasn't so bad after all. The man looked cold but he was fiercely intelligent.
"But…" Marcus continued unyielding. "I won't let anyone use me. This is a partnership, and neither will I be a servant nor a tool."
"F-Familiar!" Louise snapped "I will not allow you to take that tone with me! How dare you-"
"I'm not done talking" Marcus said frostily. It halted Louise's rant and she glowered. "And its Marcus, my name is Marcus. Not Familiar. So please call me by name if we're going to be partners. Yes, this is a partnership, seeing as we're both human."
Louise still glowered then she exhaled "You…You really won't be controlled then?" she sighed dejectedly.
"No, but like I said, we're partners" Marcus said and leaned forward "Unless of course you'd like me to leave…"
Louise shook her head frantically. It was bad enough that she had a commoner for a familiar, it would be even worse if he just upped and left. She sincerely hoped that he won't just leave. She was already the laughing stock of the school.
It was a quiet night. Louise found herself waken up by strange clicking noises. She rolled over to see Marcus busy with something, the device that was strapped to his arm was making a green light. He was using a rag to clean something sharp, it was a knife. Marcus examined his handiwork before sheathing the knife he then turned to the other weapon. It looked like nothing she had ever seen. Marcus cleaned each weapon with gentleness like a mother bathing her child.
"Go back to sleep," Marcus said to Louise as he loaded the clip into his pistol. It was custom made; the body of the pistol was engraved with ivy and floral details. It had a nickel finish. The Lady of Guadalupe was painted on the grips of the pistol. He heard the girl's faint snores and smiled a little.
This was the strangest day he ever had…