Last time on, Darling vs. the Wasteland! Darling, our young courier, uncovered the dirty secret behind Oak Creek and brought the town's Mayor to justice!
After putting their plan into action, the Carson family managed to successfully buy Darling enough time to sneak into the Mayor's residence with an active stealth boy. Even though Darling had great confidence in her sneaking abilities, security was tight and there were a few close calls.
She eventually made it to the Mayor's office where she scoured his terminal, eventually finding the damning evidence. Once the download completed and the stealth boy wore off, she began her quick exit of the premises, but, much to her surprise, was the Mayor standing right behind the newly opened door.
A firefight broke out in the office, leading to several of the guard's getting blasted with lasers.
Darling eventually made her way out of the manor and reached Sheriff Campbell, whom she though would be on her side. Unfortunately, as she was handing him the evidence, he was assassinated by an all-to-familiar suited guard. He stated that the Mayor was on his way to The Hub to get reinforcements.
In a rage, Darling kicked a Nuka-Cola bottle and cut him in half with her gift from the Sand Viper leader's corpse.
Once free of attackers, Darling made haste south, towards the veritable wheel shaped, capitol of trade and commerce in the Wasteland.
Several days passed and she managed to catch up with the Mayor and his group of guards disguised as a caravan. A firefight broke out, leaving both sides injured. After wiping out all of the guards, Darling reigned down justice upon the Mayor the only way she knew how, with a torrent of laser fire.
Not long after feeling the sense of accomplishment, she felt the stinging realization that she had been shot in the abdomen. She looked over and noticed one of the guards had survived and had shot her. Darling, shortly after, collapsed from shock.
The morning after, she haphazardly patched herself up and began her journey towards the nearest settlement with a doctor, which was Shady Sands. While on her journey, a raging sandstorm began heading her direction. Lucky for her, she found a run down pre-war bunker of some kind called "Mariposa." After a drop fell on her forehead and after contemplating the base's name a bit, she took a super-stimpack and passed out.
What's next for out daring young courier? Find out in this episode!
Welcome to, DARLING VS. THE WASTELAND
Episode 7: "Don't Fence Me In."
Darling's eye fluttered open and she gave a few deep breaths. She raised both arms to stretch while giving a heavy yawn. She then put her left hand over her eye and began wiping away the crud.
She yawned again, "I gotta stop putting myself in these situations..." She looked over to her left and noticed the empty super-stimpack used the previous day. She then looked down and noticed the bleeding had stopped and gave a sigh of relief.
Darling got up and took her jacket off, revealing the clothing underneath. She had an top on that revealed almost all of her midsection. She noticed that the wound was still open, but the bleeding had stopped.
While looking down, she also noticed her lack of cleavage and gave a defeated sigh, "Dammit boobs! I'm sixteen already! It's no wonder most people think I'm a boy!" She shook her head, giving a slight blush as the idea of why she'd think on it. "Dammit! Now's not the time to think on such trivial matters!"
She smacked her forehead in an attempt to get back on track, but she was met with a stinging pain. "OUCH!" Her hand reeled back. The pain felt almost as if it was pulsating electricity out of her brain down each of her limbs. After recovering from the short burst of pain, she pulled out a mirror and aimed it at her face. The first thing she noticed was a huge red, almost rash like bruise forming on her forehead. The contemplated what it could be, "Sunburn?" She shook her head, "Possible, but I've never seen it like this. Maybe Radiation burn? There aren't any rads here though... Hmmm....." She paused.
Darling blinked twice, remembering her surrounding, "Let's get to civilization first." Darling put her gear back on, opened the door, and exited Mariposa.
"Shady Sands! Here I come!"
Shady Sands, the now Capitol of the New California Republic, lacks any resemblance to it's humble beginnings. No matter where you look, caps and NCR dollars are being exchanged for all sorts of goods and services. Not only that, but NCR troops march down the streets and the line to sign up to serve the Republic exits the recruitment building.
If Darling hadn't just experienced the aftermath of what NCR corruption could do to a settlement, her arrival to Shady Sands would've been a warm homecoming for her. She personally knows most, if not all of the shop owners in the district and they treat her fairly. She got to know them when she began her career as a courier. The NCR Express didn't trust someone so young to deliver packages so for the first few months, she worked within the borders of Shady Sands delivering invoices and other small items for little to no caps. Eventually she made her first delivery to Junktown, but it wasn't till 2281 that she was going across California to make deliveries. She's been a lot further more recently. She's been to Utah, Oregon, and Baja.
Before heading to the local Doctor, Darling decided to check in with the NCR Express headquarters. The building wasn't luxurious or even that well maintained, but it got the job done. It was a mixture of dry mud and wooden structures in an almost modern yet tribal design. As she entered the building, she noticed a few other couriers in line in front of her to speak with the receptionist. A few minutes passed and it was Darling's turn.
The receptionist was an elderly man with a long blonde beard that was graying at the end. He remained focused on his paperwork, "Next." He had a low, almost nasally voice.
Darlings head barely made it above the counter so she had to step on her tippy-toes and slightly tilt her head back. "Hey there Mr. Reception guy! I'm finally back. Here's all of the receipts. Hope you like paperwork!" She giggled.
Without looking up from his stacks of files and paperwork, "Very clever... Name, date of birth, courier identification number, and proof of NCR citizenship please." He was clearly bored to death from the monotony of his job.
Darling opened her bag and placed her identification card on the desk, "My name is Darling. July 4th, 2265. Courier number 006."
The man paused for a moment and cocked an eyebrow. "Ah, it's you." After a second he continued on filling out forms, "I'm assuming you're looking for another courier job?"
Darling shook her head, "Gotta pay the taxes somehow."
"Well, unfortunately we don't have any openings right now, but as I'm sure you're aware, we get jobs on the daily. Go ahead and check back with us tomorrow."
"Will do! Thanks!" Darling gave an informal salute and headed towards the door. She exited the building, now on her way to find the local Doctor.
Meanwhile, inside the NCR Express building, the man, whom Darling previously interacted, pulled what looked like an emergency radio out from under the counter. He pressed the side of it and the sound of static came from the speaker.
The static noise ended when a female voice came through. "NCR Police, this is Captain Daniels speaking. What's your emergency?"
"I'm calling to report someone."
"Is it her?" The voice on the other end of the radio asked.
"Yes. She just checked in with us just a moment ago. She's gone now, but she's still in Shady Sands." The receptionist was a bit nervous talking to NCR security.
There was a pause, "Thank you very much, citizen. We'll handle it from here." With that, the radio went silent.
"Ouch!" Darling winced in pain, "Can you take it easy on the stitching, Doc?"
The local medical expert was a woman, who looked well into her thirties. She wore the typical medical gown and apron. She shook her head, "You know, I'm still wondering how a pretty girl like you could get into so much trouble." She gave a warm smile.
Darling blushed, "Who're you calling pretty!" She barked and puffed her cheeks. "OUCH!" The woman pierced her skin one last time and tied a knot.
"See? All better. Now, let me see that rash on your forehead." She pulled Darling's hair out of the way. She gave it a thorough glare, "I can't say I've ever seen anything like this. When did it first start noticing the symptoms?"
Darling rubbed her chin, "Well, I was wounded and there was a sandstorm coming, so I took shelter in some abandoned facility of some kind. I took a super-stimpack and passed out. When I woke up, I noticed the rash and that's about it. It's been there ever since."
The Doctor shook her head, listening to Darling's story, "This facility... Do you have any idea as to where or what it was? Maybe the name?"
Darling nodded, "I think the name was 'Mariposa' or something..."
The woman's eyes widened harshly and immediately took a few cautious steps back.
Darling looked confused, "Why do I have the feeling that you're about to tell me something bad..."
"I'm not an expert on the subject, as I've only heard stories, but there was a virus manufactured at Mariposa. People called it F.E.V. Tell me, while you were there, did you come into contact with any strange fluids? Maybe anything on the walls or...."
Darling's eye widened at the mention of strange fluids. The memory of her, right before passing out played in her head. A single drop of, what she though was just water from a leaky ceiling, landed on her forehead.
The Doctor noticed Darling's expression, "I'll take that as a yes... I'm so sorry..."
Darling's gaze met the doctor's, "Wait, why?! Isn't there a cure?!" She looked worried.
The Doctor remained silent.
"What's gonna happen to me, Doc?!" Darling slammed her fist on the bed she was sitting on.
"I know very little about what'll happen other than the F.E.V. is very bad. Let me do some research. I'll be back in a minute." The Doctor left the room.
The silence was deafening. Darling's mind was filled with fear and regret. It was only interrupted by the door opening and the Doctor walking back to her chair with a large file labeled "F.E.V." The file looked to have been more than one hundred years old. "This is everything I've got on it. Hopefully there's something here."
For over an hour, they scoured the files. What they discovered was disheartening for Darling. They found that, in large doses, F.E.V. will turn people into Super Mutants, but in small doses, it has a very small survival rate. People like Darling who are exposed with small amounts of with F.E.V. usually begin to form rashes where the exposure was greatest. In this case, on her forehead. Shortly after, they begin showing symptoms like internal bleeding and immense fatigue. If the patient hasn't begun recovering by this point, they begin showing signs of organ failure and start the process of painfully succumbing to the virus. The chances of recovery are slim to none however.
Darling's heart sank, though she continued reading. She eventually found a file detailing a patient who began showing symptoms unlike anything the Doctor had seen. The showed signs of, not only recovery, but strange supernatural abilities. In this case, the patient started hearing voices in his head, but not just any voices. He was hearing every though the doctor was thinking. Unable to control all the voices in his head, he killed himself not long after.
Darling lied down on the bed, "Great! So I'm gonna either: A, die a horribly painful agonizing death. B, become a freak. Or C, by some miracle, survive. Might as well end it right now..."
The Doctor closed the file, "I'm sorry Darling. I only wish there was more I could do. In the meantime, feel free to rest here as long as you like."
Before Darling could reply, someone knocked on the door, "This is NCR Police! Come out with your hands up!"
Darling jumped out of bed, "Wait, what?!"
The Doctor opened the door angrily, "What is the meaning of thi...." The door was opened to the sight six plus armed police officers, all aiming their service rifles at the door. The Doctor immediately put her hands up.
The officers walked into the room and aimed their weapons at Darling.
One of them wearing a green beret with an NCR insignia stepped up, "Darling, my name is Captain Jane Daniels and by order of the New California Republic, you are under arrest for the murder of Mayor William Leviticus Bradley of Oak Creek. You will come peacefully or I will authorize lethal force. Will you comply?"
Darling put her hands in the air, "I'll comply, but I have something to prove my innocence.
The officer looked over to her subordinates, "Clear out! I'll handle this from here. The soldiers escorted the doctor out and the room was theirs. "And where is this proof?" She stepped closer.
Darling looked down to her bag, "It's in the third pocket. It's a holotape with evidence that the Mayor illegally hired mercenaries to..."
The officer pulled out the holotape. "This it?"
Darling nodded, "Sure is."
"Good." The officer then dropped it and smashed it into a thousand pieces with her right boot. "Now that that's cleared up, you'll be coming with me. Word of advice. It's not smart to upset someone in the Senate.
Darling growled, "You bastard... I should've known..." She began walking toward the exit with the officer.
She was put in a jail cell in the brig and locked up. With an arrogant grin and a wave goodbye, the officer departed.
The cell was disgusting to put it lightly. Mold was growing on the walls, which gave off a terrible stench. Darling sighed and sadly sat in the cot chained to the wall, stripped of all her belongings.
During the night, started feeling sick and broke out into a fever. She feared that her journey towards death was nearly upon her. She tossed and turned in her cot for hours until she finally managed to find some ounce of sleep, though it didn't last long.
"Pssst!... Darling!...." A voice whispered in her direction. "Darling!... Wake up!..." A hushed woman's voice broke Darling's respite.
Darling lethargically lifted her head, her eye now looked sickly. "What is it? Who are you?..."
"Come on!... I know it's dark, but I thought at least you'd be able to recognize me!..." She waved Darling over.
Darling slowly got out of her cot and immediately felt a wave of nausea and hugged the wall. Once she got close enough, her eye widened at the figure who was calling her name. "Ada!... What are you doing here?!..." Before her was a taller-than-your-average woman. She wore a sleeveless duster over pre-war police gear with the sleeves rolled up over her over her muscular arms. She had a holstered blade and rifle on her back.
"I saw you come into town and thought I'd surprise you and say 'Hello,' but when I saw them carry you off to jail... Well, I'm the one who got surprised...." Ada smiled. "Why the hell are you here, and more importantly, why do you look like shit?!..."
"Long story... We can catch up later, can you bust me outta here?" Darling looked optimistic.
Ada was one of, if not the first friend she made after leaving her old life in Yellowstone behind. Ada had a very... rough start in the wasteland like Darling so she empathized with her situation. She wasn't born like your typical human being. She was the subject of a Vault-Tec experiment to grow the perfect human specimen for the Great War. She left the vault she was in to a brave new world with little to no experiences. After losing her first adopted family to raiders, an NCR ranger by the name of Red took her in and taught her everything she knew.
Lucky for Darling, she was there for her when they met. She taught Darling the do's and don'ts of the area and many other things much like her mentor did for her. It was hers and Darling's determination to protect the roads that formed the Courier's Alliance in the first place. It wasn't till later that others like J. Jay Hunter joined.
Ada nodded with an eager grin, "Did you even need to ask..." She then grasped a bar in each hand and pulled them apart with her immense strength. She pulled away the bars just enough for Darling to make her way out of the cell.
Darling paused a moment, "Wait... How the hell did you get past the guards?!..."
She cracked her knuckles, "Duh... They might talk tough, but they're just boys underneath those uniforms."
Darling shrugged, "Works for me, good going!..." She complimented in a hushed tone. "I'm gonna go get my gear. I'll meet you out of town to the south. Oh... and thanks."
They both gave a warm grin and went their separate ways. After a grabbing her gear, Darling bolted for the edge of town and fortunately, managed to slip away without anyone noticing.
She eventually met back up with Ada south of Shady Sands and they traveled for a few hours before once again, was hit with extreme nausea and fatigue. She coughed into her hands and noticed blood. The fatigue hit once more and this time, it was enough to make her collapse onto the ground, completely and utterly unconscious.
Ada looked behind her and noticed her unconscious friend. She turned around and ran over to her. "Darling!? Darling!"
Much like when she woke up in Mariposa, her eye fluttered open and she felt the blazing heat of the desert hitting her back, but this time, she was being carried. She looked and noticed that Ada was carrying her with one arm. She could see a small town in the distance.
"It's about time you woke up! You've been out of it for 2 days! Thank god for Red, huh? You'd be dead if she didn't teach me how to administer I.V.s all those years ago!" She gave a hearty laugh. She then let Darling down.
Darling felt weird, but oddly... refreshed. Her fever was gone and she felt better than ever. When she checked her forehead with her mirror, she found that the rash had completely vanished. Overjoyed by the discovery, she started jumping in joy and gave Ada a big hug. "I'M ALIVE!!!"
"Whoa! Glad you're feeling better there!" Ada raised an eyebrow, "What happened? You looked like shit a short while ago and now you're dancing!"
"Long story, but now that I'm free, I've got all the time in the world." She gave a heartfelt smile to her friend.
After arriving in the town, which Ada told Darling was One Pine, a small farming community much like the original version of Oak Creek was, they went for a saloon like they usually would. Darling went on to tell Ada of her travels since they've last seen each other and her involvement in the Oak Creek situation. All of which led her to the jail cell where they met once again.
"Sound like you've been through one hell of an adventure!" Ada laughed.
Darling giggled, "You can say that again!"
Ada's expression shifted from jovial to concerned, "What do you plan on doing now? Obviously you can't go back to the NCR Express."
Darling's eye widened, "Shit!!!" She slumped over, "Dammit..... What do I do now..."
Ada thought for a moment her eyes lit up, "Wait a moment! What about the Mojave Express? The Mojave wasteland is the perfect place to lay low for a while! Have you ever been to New Vegas out east?"
Darling looked confused, "New what-now?"
"Imagine New Reno, but without all of the shit. It's one helluva sight, that's for sure!"
Darling nodded, "It's worth a shot at least... Guess I'll be heading east then." She got up out of her seat and gave Ada a farewell hug, "I can't thank you enough for saving me back there. I owe you one!"
Ada nodded, "Oh, you owe more than that!" They both laughed, "Anyways, to adventure and fortune, my friend!" Ada raised her glass of whiskey and chugged the whole thing. "To adventure and fortune."
Darling then left the saloon and slowly but surely made her way out of California. She eventually, after 2 weeks of travel walked through the doors of the Mojave Express in Primm.
Luckily for her, they had a job opening. After her first job taking a package to Nipton, a town which reminded her of New Reno, she was offered another job.
A package that would change the fate of the Mojave for years to come. A chip, made of platinum, to be delivered to the New Vegas Strip. Only the job wouldn't be as easy as Darling originally thought.
What fate does the Mojave have planned for Darling?
Find out next time in episode 8 of DARLING VS. THE WASTELAND!: "Ain't That A Kick In The Head!"
Welcome to Fallout: New Vegas!