**Nota Bene: Relationships both physical and social between real, living human beings and any characters herein are entirely coincidental.

I strongly advise you to read "Beneath This Gruff Exterior" first, or you'll likely be very lost.


My Name Is Cord

"Teamwork is essential. It gives them other people to shoot at."


The Capital Wasteland, by comparison to the settlements within it, is an enormous place. It is a remnant of the Pre-War world- the skeleton of Washington, D.C.

Even in this wasteland, life still thrives in remarkable ways. Even those that may appear to be dead (such as ghouls) are still very much alive, depending on how you define "life".

There have been several mass-extinction events throughout Earth's 4.5 billion year life, the greatest of which so far being "The Great Dying", an extinction event that resulted in 90% of life on Earth at the time perishing.

The Great War was not as lethal as the Great Dying, but it did succeed in wiping out almost all traces of law, order, stability, and security. The only land on this scorched Earth to have rebuilt in the years since the war is "Russia", though even with its new start, America sees Russian immigrants. Russia is a much larger place than the Capital Wasteland.

The Capital Wasteland is only large until you try to imagine it on a scale of the entire USA. Then, it is tiny. Then, it is America itself that becomes the wasteland in question.

I live with my best friends Milly and Dogmeat in the Capital Wasteland, located in the United Wastes of America.

Milly... though it's been a few months since the events at Project Purity, and she told me repeatedly that we were O.K, I can't help but feel ashamed of my decisions in the past. I betrayed her trust, and I did so out of greed. I betrayed the one person that deeply cared about my health for the thing that I lost; the humanity that I lost.

I was ungrateful. Eden was right; I was very, very lucky to survive my exposure. My mutation (I'm a deathclaw, by the way) was a miracle. No, not in the sense that I was thrilled with my new form when I awoke (I hated it), but in the sense that I managed to refrain from becoming a ghoul. Or dead.

I viewed this form as rampant mutation; a joke played on me by mother nature made bitter from nuclear war. It took my only real deathclaw friend, Kastine, to show me that I am beaten. I will never again see the world through human eyes, though no matter what, Milly tries endlessly to make me feel like I can.

She always does her best to treat me as a human. That is one of the reasons I love her like Dogmeat. Others initially see a beast that typically preys on humans. Milly is more open-minded than that. Where others treat me as an animal, and then as a human once they get to know me better, Milly chose to treat me as a human the moment I opened my mouth at the doorway of that old barn.

She is reckless, but a beautiful human. I find it odd that she still has not found a significant other, but that's usually because she's too busy running around, or I scare people off. I think. We are like family, sure, but that doesn't mean no secrets are kept between us.

For all I know, Milly is leading a double-life and has a family already. That would be a sobering realization for me.

For the defeat of the Enclave, Milly was now a covert operative for the Brotherhood of Steel (a spy). That title is a great honor, but difficult in her case. The Lone Wanderer is known too well throughout the Capital Wasteland to be able to put on cover IDs, so we were typically sent on missions in other chapters.

We were never sent west. We always stuck to the east coast. Milly, Dogmeat and I have been sent to chapters in Florida, New York, and New Carolina- the wasteland equivalent of "North Carolina" and "South Carolina". These missions typically required me, a large deathclaw, to fit inside a small vertibird to "keep a low profile", which only contributed to my growing hatred of all flying machines.

I know it's for the greater good and all, but if I have to learn yoga techniques and limber up before getting into a vertibird, it's time to invest in a larger model. Get a giant stealth boy to keep your low profile for all I care. If I didn't have scoliosis before, I do now.

Milly always knows how I feel, because she always keeps a hand on me while we fly, and she does what she can to keep me loose (Dogmeat taunts me endlessly).

Even I was considered a covert operative (a title I never agreed to receiving, but that's the Brotherhood for you) for my affiliations with Miss 101 herself.

The pay is pretty bad (if I were still human, I'd accept domestic beer as payment), but as a covert operative, we have quite a few bonuses... like free repairs to any weapons or armor Milly needs repaired in the Citadel, free room and board in any Brotherhood chapter, support when needed if she radios it in, and we even get to use walkie talkies.

Oh, and unlimited use of training facilities in the Citadel. That privalege only served to make Milly an even better shot.

A covert operative is not like a pre-war movie. You don't sneak around very often. Rather, you spent most of your time in plain sight (I'm usually seperated from Milly during missions in case the "talking deathclaw of D.C" is known in the area in question). Additionally, most of the time, you aren't fighting. A wise man once said that being a spy is a lot like waiting in a waiting room, and every so often, somebody tries to kill you. It isn't all "sneak around and shoot" like it's made out to be.

It's just as well, because Milly is better at direct approaches. She isn't much for sneaking.

We only received a single mission in each of the aformentioned states before being placed on "Stand-by". Stand-by is basically "paid vacation", and it's indefinite. While on stand-by, you can do pretty much anything you want (except leave D.C, in our cases).

For a while, Milly, Dogmeat, and I simply wandered the wastes, talking a lot and seeing places we never visited before. I even managed to visit Old Olney with my two companions, and while the deathclaws there weren't hostile to us, they weren't hospitable, either.

They tolerated us for about four hours and then sent enough glares in our camp's direction to get us to leave. Just because I'm a deathclaw doesn't mean I'm any good at fighting other deathclaws. I know because I tried to once and I nearly died. I had a slave collar around my neck (it's a long story), so I didn't really have much choice in the matter, though!

After we wandered around enough, we started looking for things to do; anything that can keep us busy would do. I would suggest that we go to the Deathclaw Sanctuary, but Milly always avoided that place because she feared "turning into a Brahmin" or something similar to my fate. She was being facetious, but even so she never goes inside the Sanctuary when we visit it for my own needs.

She isn't afraid of the deathclaws inside it, because I'm around and deathclaws only rarely mess with their own kind (that slaver thing was an isolated incident!). She just doesn't want to be exposed to radiation if she doesn't have to be, and Deathclaw Sanctuary doesn't have a shortage of radiation.

That was something we did after another week went by without need of us. We went to Deathclaw Sanctuary, the very place that my mutation took hold, and also the place I met Kastine. It was she that convinced me to help Milly in the past, mind you.

So too was she the one that cursed me out and forcibly got me to leave the sanctuary. By that, I mean she kicked open the door and practically threw me out. She was still irritated with my poor decisions in the past.

That's why we're on our way to a place called "Big Town". We have nothing else to do right now other than live, and life lived dully is hardly lived at all.

Little did any of us know at the time, that life would get much more exciting within the next few years.

End of Prologue

1,462 words. Not bad for a prologue, considering my history with... prologues.

All this was meant to do was recap, and give a few brief explanations as to what is happening right now with Cord, Milly, and Dogmeat. My original outline of this story did not have a prologue, but I quickly realized that I would need one to establish what is going on so far.

Next chapter covers what Milly, Cord, and Dogmeat are doing in Big Town.