webnovel

A cyborg in the Wasteland

This is technically a crossover between the universe of Fallout and the niche tabletop game Eclipse Phase, which is described as a world of 'transhuman horror.' The main character is a combination of the memories of a random isekai and the memories of a transhuman scientist from Eclipse Phase. I originally published/am publishing this on the site Sufficient Velocities, but decided to cross post here. However, you don't need to know anything about Eclipse Phase to enjoy this novel. I suppose you don't even need to know anything about Fallout, but that would help a lot more.

SpiraSpira · Video Games
Not enough ratings
99 Chs

President-For-Weeks (Hopefully)

The Sheriff had no desire to be King of Megaton and was a bit perplexed when Lily asked him. He rubbed the back of his neck and said, "Uhh... I was kind of here to say that the rest of my deputies and I would accept you taking over so long as you can give me some guarantees on the fundamental individual liberties of the citizens of Megaton."

'Fuck,' Lily thought to herself as she considered some options. "What do you zhink zhe options are? What will zhe mayor and zhe rest of 'is administration, such as zhey are, do?"

"He already left town; I guess he saw the writing on the walls. Halfway to Rivet City by now, I reckon. He still owns a number of businesses, though, and I guess he is counting on you not expropriating them. I guess he wasn't confident he wouldn't end up a casualty of the change of administration, ya know?" the Sheriff said, half-amused. Then he continued, "Most of the people who worked for him are still around, I guess."

Miller might have agreed to become mayor before he went all in on this bank idea, Lily thought. But she felt it was a lost cause now; the other day, she saw him wearing a top hat and monocle on a chain like the Monopoly Man! She had no idea where he even got such props, but hopefully, he would calm down after he got bored wearing them.

Lily sighed, "Is zhere anything zhat will fall apart without 'im or the rest of zhe people working at city hall? To be 'onest, I don't really know what zhe mayor does 'ere in Megaton."

"Nah. City services and the like are separated into their own silos, like the Sheriff's office, and honestly, I reckon I don't really know what the mayor does either. Aside from taking bribes and making decisions, I guess, usually right after taking a bribe. Theoretically, we and the municipal services all report to city hall," Sheriff Simms said after a moment of consideration and adjusting his Stetson hat. He really went all in on the frontier sheriff persona, Lily felt.

How many municipal services were there, really? The anaemic power company barely served any customers these days. The sanitation department probably had the most valuable assets in the city after that, with an actual fleet of garbage trucks. The Water Department maintained the water and sewage lines. And then the Sheriff's department, which had about a dozen deputies, as well as about fifty part-timers, they could call up temporarily deputise like a sort of National Guard. Not very many for a city the size of Megaton.

She wasn't sure about the correct ratio of police to citizens but felt that was a bit low for a settlement that usually had fifteen thousand souls in it, which were mostly densely packed. Lily huffed and sat down at the table in the conference room she had met the Sheriff in. Fundamentally, political power grew out of the barrel of a gun. The chairman was right about that so long ago.

That was why she was, until now, hiding most of her military force because the corollary was also true -- if you had sufficient gun barrels, you had political power, even if you didn't want it. She felt that was why governments generally wanted to control the most useful tools for violence rather than any real desire to create a crime-free utopia. She'd have to be a dictator, briefly. It was fine. She had done it before. And hopefully, it would last even less long this time.

"Okay. You can have as many assurances as you'd like as to zhe fundamental liberty, of life and property, to zhe peacable people of Megaton. I'm listing you, temporarily, as a Captain of my military force, the Spider Company. I'll place zhem, for zhe moment, under your command. I'd like you to take control of city hall and politely give everyone working there zheir walking papers," Lily told him after a couple of minutes of silence. If all they did was administer the other departments, who pretty much ran themselves, she didn't see a continuing need for their upkeep.

Simms nodded, "I 'spose that won't be a problem. What should I tell people about how you intend to run things around here, as far as Megaton's law, democracy, and what have you?"

Lily grimaced. "I don't really like... laws. And I really don't like democracy, either." Then she thought about it a little more, "If I am dictator, zhen whatever I say is zhe law, no? For now, zhat is fine. You can look to zhe root of legal systems, individual rights and responsibilities, zhe primacy of contracts, zhat sort of zhing." She was kind of outing herself here if she was pretending to be French and not wanting to set up some sprawling civil law-style procedures.

"That seems a mite philosophical, and I reckon not too many people will really grasp what you're trying to say Miss Dictator," the Sheriff said mildly.

Lily rolled her eyes, "Zhere is no law in the Wasteland, but people have very similar ideas about what is right and what is wrong. Most people just don't care out zhere, but I've yet to run across someone who claimed zheir murderousness was justified because zhere is no law against it. If I took you outside the gates of Megaton and shot you in zhe 'ead it wouldn't turn into a moral act because zhere was no law against it out zhere."

She felt that too many people in countries with "mature" legal systems tended to think morality and what was legal were interchangeable. She had arguably been a "criminal" for a long time in that her goals were definitely against all manner of laws, but she still felt that they were completely moral and justifiable, so she hadn't had a whole lot of respect for the "rule of law" for some time. Those in power used it as a cudgel against those who weren't. It was more honest just to say what she said goes, at least for now. She'd eventually have to establish some kind of law, though, unless she intended to run the city forever. Which she didn't.

"So don't hurt people, don't take their stuff, that sort of thing, yeah? Alright, yeah, that's basically what we do already. We don't actually enforce all of the laws the city put out anyway; we don't have the manpower. There's not much guarantee that people would get a fair shake, though. Most people like that," the Sheriff mentioned.

Lily snorted, "There's never been such a guarantee in Megaton! Besides, zhat's intentional. I don't 'ave any judges I trust, so if someone 'as a dispute zhey want me to resolve, I want zhem to have the impression zhey are taking zheir own life into my 'ands if they ask for my judgement. Because zhey are! It will serve to keep people from bringing minor matters up, working out zhings for zhemselves at least until we can reconstitute some manner of judicial system zhat isn't me." The last she said rather in a surly manner as if she had experience in that before.

At that, he shrugged, "I can't say you're wrong. Alright. I suppose I ought to get to it, then."

Lily stood up to walk him out, "Oh, and Sheriff..."

"Yes, Miss Dictator?" he asked.

Lily said simply, "I don't want any serious criminals in zhe city. I don't mean Moriarty and his quasi-illegitimate activities. We don't even 'ave laws against any of zhat now. But groups like zhose East Bridge Merchants zhat used to be around. Violent criminals zhat have no legitimate source of income. If zhey're just peaceful squatters, leave zhem. But any violent groups I want crushed within zhe week. Use my men and robots to 'andle it. And set some time for each of your deputies and yourself, three days uninterrupted for training." Lily intended to run them through the boot camp course she made and get them Power Armour as well.

Even when she managed to get some other governmental structure in place, it made sense to provide the constabulary with better equipment. It was a force multiplier and meant that fewer constables would be needed.

That got a grin from him, "I've been hoping to hear that for years, ma'am. I know of at least seven such gangs that I'm sure nobody will miss."

After the Sheriff left, and she had gotten confirmation from her two leftenants that they received orders putting them under his command for the moment, she sighed. Months ago, she made a joke about the Lone Wanderer visiting Liliton instead of Megaton, but she was just joking! She didn't really want that to be the case.

"Apprentice!" she called, and Alice walked into the room.

She grinned, "You bellowed, Your Mercilessness?"

Lily blinked several times before just getting out, "...huh?"

"Well... I thought that it was normal to add a villainous title when talking to someone who just conquered a city," Alice added, half-amused but half-unsure.

Lily was curious about what the girl had been reading, "Forget that. I have a homework assignment for you in the next few days. I want the name and a brief precis of the ten most important people in Megaton." Like hell, was she going to remain in charge of the city for long. She would set up some manner of city council who could run it.

She'd have to be on it, herself, of course, just so people would take it seriously. The ordinary people would assume she was holding all the power in the council; after all, what dictator divests herself of power? Well, Cincinnatus, she supposed. But most people didn't even know what Cincinnati was, much less Cincinnatus. Even the "council members" would likely assume this and would try to make decisions in line with what she would want. She wouldn't even attend many of the meetings! She'd make sure the quorum number was seven or eight, so she could skip without issue.

---xxxxxx---

The first week of her regime ran surprisingly well. There was a lot of pushback from the people who worked in the city administration, but she never could get a proper answer as to what most of them actually did, so she felt that her decision to fire them all was correct.

Her legal system, such as it, was pretty simple. A person either accepted her judgement or the judgement of those she delegated, for example, Sheriff Simms, or they were expelled from the city. She hadn't actually had any people expelled yet, aside from one of the gangs that were smart enough to surrender. There was presently no process for appeals, and the sentence, if it was a criminal matter, was carried out immediately.

She was pretty sure that the gang would just turn into raiders immediately. In fact, she was pretty sure they were already raiders that lived in Megaton somehow, so she was watching them and would likely send out a couple of squads to eliminate them when she was certain.

Could a privatised legal system work here, like in Extropia Station? She shook her head almost instantly. You almost had to be an adherent to their anarcho-capitalist manifestos or at least highly educated for such a system to be even remotely feasible. By the time she left Extropia, no private court system would take her as a client, so a large percentage of those she had seen would make spurious legal claims against her. It was called 'micro-torting', and it was a real hazard to tourists who didn't sign up with a court system... and her.

They had difficulties collecting from her, though. Ahh... good times.

After an alarm sounded internally, she went and found the Apprentice and asked her, "Are you ready to 'elp me with the surgery I wanted to do today?" It was getting late at night, by the time they had finished with this surgery, she suspected Alice would head to sleep, but Lily would likely wait until noon to take a quick nap.

"You're replacing both of your arms with cybernetic replacements? What will Miss Grace think of that?" asked the girl, amusedly.

Lily chuckled, "She won't notice. I've finally developed a method to 'ave zhe skin and nerves over a deployable cybernetic system." Lily forwarded the girl diagrams of the prosthesis as they started to walk to the elevator to go downstairs.

"Hmmm... so the skin is connected to these three panels, which fold up when all of these tool systems are deployed? What about the seam where two 'skin panels' meet? Won't that be unsightly?" asked the girl on the elevator ride down to the basement bastion.

Lily nodded, "It would! And that's what took me over two months to solve. You see, this isn't normal skin. Although it definitely feels and acts like normal skin. But when zhe two panels meet in 'regular arm mode', a very small membrane is grown between the two panels over a period of 'ours, 'iding the seam. Not noticeable at all! It is torn when zhe arm deploys zhe tools, but zhere is no blood. Zhis skin actually has more in common with zhe lizard, genetically, zhan zhe human, yes?"

It also was the first test of the subdermal armour system she had derived from the spinnerets of her colony of black widows. Sadly, she had to cut back on her tests there because she almost couldn't keep them fed, and black widows were both very solitary and very territorial. She was selecting them for their docile and gentle behaviour in the first place, so she didn't want to just have one potential paragon of viciousness murder her sisters in job lots, which would happen if she kept adding more spiders to the giant terrarium.

She had gotten repeated complaints about the giant spider terrarium in the foyer of the hospital, something about spiders being creepy. But she ignored all of them!

If the subdermal armour worked, she would have to flay herself and replace her skin everywhere else with this skin that had this subdermal protection. She had to clone it, special and she couldn't add it to her genome directly, unfortunately. However, she could ensure that such additions weren't considered foreign and weren't rejected. Not that she had much of an immune system besides her medichines anymore, anyway.

But if someone else bought the treatment, or the Apprentice agreed to it, then they would be fine after she individualised the skin to their genome. It would seem as though it was their normal skin to their own immune system and would heal if damaged like normal, too.

"Uhhh... maybe don't mention that if you intend to sell this to anyone else. Anyone that isn't you would find that pretty disturbing," said Alice as they arrived in the operating theatre she had set up. Both her new arms were carefully connected to a machine that was keeping them alive and oxygenated until they could be installed.

Lily waved a hand, "Bah!"

---xxxxxx---

Each of her arms had eight individual tools, most of which were multi-tools of some variety, so she actually had over a hundred possible tools on her person at all times now. About a third were medical in nature, and the rest were general-purpose tools. She even had a very small plasma torch, which could double as a plasma gun in a pinch.

As she tested each of the tools, she watched the surveillance of Fort Independence. She had put off making a decision for five days, and watched all of the Outcasts get comfortable in their new home.

Sarah Lyons came personally to pick up the prisoners she had been caring for a couple of days after the battle at the power station, just as she said she would. Lily let the woman have them without trying to extract any kind of concession from the woman or the Brotherhood, which Lily thought was a surprise to her. She also didn't ask about where the wreck of the Vertibird was, either.

Now that most of the more reactionary elements were gone from the Brotherhood -- definitely not none, there were many that stayed in the Brotherhood that agreed with the Outcasts but didn't want to follow them into treason -- she was more willing to help, and more importantly get along with, the remaining Lyons Brotherhood.

However, she couldn't allow the Outcast faction to persist as an independent entity. Already they had sent a scouting group that was monitoring Megaton, in addition to small foraging parties to different locations, including the VSS building and as well a larger vehicle-bound group that seemingly was headed northwest to Fort Bannister and then kept going; she suspected to Fort Constantine to the far northwest.

She stowed all of the tools in each of her arms and sighed, walking over to take a hot shower as she mentally keyed in the correct codes into her system, crafting a transmission that would doom over a hundred people. If she waited any longer, it was possible that more groups could be dispatched such that most of the group survived and could reform, and that wasn't something she could tolerate.

It made sense to her that after she had, albeit temporarily, taken over a government, she had started murdering in wholesale job lots. Disgusting. Rather than think about it anymore, she triggered the mental transmit button and started towelling herself off. It took less than a second for the Mesh to transmit the message to the node connected to the nuclear explosive, and it promptly detonated.

She didn't think that anyone could track her drones, but she definitely didn't move them away from the site of the explosion in case somebody could -- it would be a bit telling that they moved out of the way right before the explosion. However, she had ensured that no C&C platforms were in the danger area right above Fort Independence. Still, she lost two drones and had the visual spectrum sensors burn out in two more.

Switching to more distant observation platforms, Lily silently judged the size of the mushroom cloud. Unsurprisingly, there was a lot of data available in Pre-War libraries about judging the relative explosive strength based on the size of a mushroom cloud, although they were predicated on airbursts. Still, she felt that she was about accurate in the guess she made; perhaps the explosion was a mite smaller, thirty kilotons or so. Still, well enough to completely destroy Fort Independence's remaining building.

The pressure wave should arrive at Megaton in about thirty-five seconds, but it won't do more than rattle the windows here. It would reach downtown D.C. shortly before that, and no doubt everyone already saw it. It was still a bit dark outside, close to false dawn, and sunrise was maybe forty-five minutes away. The flash and large mushroom-shaped pyrocumulus cloud would be visible from some distance.

Sure enough, barely a couple of minutes later, she got a call on the radio from Sarah Lyons. It was being sent by the GNR building, but she suspected the transmission was being relayed, "Dr St. Claire, this is Sentinel Sarah Lyons. Are you available?"

I used my text-to-speech to transmit, "Lyons, St. Claire, stand by. I was in zhe shower, but I stopped when I noticed a very large explosion outside. Give me a couple minutes."

Then she ran out of the bathroom, covered in just a towel, before finding a radio handset in her bedroom that could be relayed to the building's main transceiver on the roof. She grabbed it and pressed the PTT, "Lyons, St. Claire. Okay, I'm 'ere. Is zhis about zhe obvious nuclear explosion? The pressure wave just passed us here in Megaton a minute ago; no damage, really."

"Yes, we observed the blast directly west from the Citadel and were wondering if you had any more information. A Vertibird on ready 5 is about to take off to go investigate, but they're departing from ... the southeast," came Sarah Lyons' voice from the radio. Promoted again. It seemed that it was the Outcasts departing and whatever Sarah Lyons did in the aftermath was what triggered the woman's promotion to what Lily remembered from the game. That made sense, she supposed. Whenever there was an attempted coup, you had to reward those who remained loyal, even if they were your daughter and obviously would be loyal. It was expected.

Lily paused for a believable amount of time before triggering the push-to-talk switch again, "I do. I 'ad sensors on the city wall zhat detected both the flash and the subsequent pressure wave. I can tell you zhat it came from a bearing of one-niner-niner degrees from Megaton, and from zhe time it took zhe pressure wave to arrive, I estimate the distance to be forty-five to sixty kilometres. Zheres some uncertainty about that distance as it could change if zhe yield was larger or smaller. 'owever, combined with your bearing, we can easily triangulate zhe source to either Fort Independence or Fairfax. Does zhat 'elp, Sarah?"

There was silence for a few moments before the radio hissed, "Yes... yes that does. That isn't good news, though. You might not know this, but Fort Independence was where the Outcasts had claimed as an HQ."

"I'm... sorry to hear zhat. I realise zhat you might consider zhem as something like traitors, but I imagine if zhey were as close as family as you said you were 'oping zhat zhey would see reason eventually..." Lily transmitted, internally hating herself briefly for saying that.

Sarah Lyons' voice was soft on the radio, "Yeah... yeah I was. Maybe not Casdin, but I was hoping most of the rest would see how idiotic he was and come home. Say... when I picked up the prisoners, I couldn't help but notice you had installed air radar on sections of your wall. I assume that was how you shot down the Vertibird. I've been meaning to ask about that before, maybe to ask if you would be willing to build a number of sets for us... but... do you mind me asking what the range of those are?"

Lily's mind connected the dots pretty quickly, and she answered, "Well, line of sight, obviously, but five hundred kilometres or so. If you want to come by, I can give you a 'olotape with zhe last day's radar returns. If you're concerned someone missiled your wayward brothers and sisters, I can pretty much guarantee it wasn't a ballistic. It could zheoretically 'ave been a cruise missile, but only if it was both approaching from the south and flying nap-of-zhe-earth, but somehow I doubt zhat." The curvature of the earth meant that she couldn't see ultra-low-altitude radar returns past ten or fifteen kilometres.

Some of the cruise missiles Rivet City had were sea-skimming missiles, but that was a lot different from nap-of-the-earth missiles. Those did exist in the Pre-War era, but they required a lot more special instruments and topographic data preloaded about the missile's projected flight path. Lily doubted any would actually function after two hundred years. Hopefully, Sarah Lyons would know that.

"Yeah, can you run a holotape off of that? I'll have the Vertibird pick it up right away. I don't think that is what happened, but we have to eliminate such possibilities. We have some radar assets ourselves, but mostly all in D.C. and to the southeast," Sarah Lyons said quickly.

Lily hummed. She had bought from a scavenger team a small, towed ground-to-air radar set that they had pulled out of the National Guard depot, which she felt was a pretty impressive feat, considering she didn't even want to go near that place herself. Her own radar systems were better, individually, but that system had given her all she needed to know to build an integrated air defence network that was simultaneously both integrated and independent from her Mesh, and also it included the data formats used, so she could easily run a holotape off in the expected format.

She didn't particularly mind selling reproductions of that radar system to the Brotherhood, either. It was a good, dual-band phased-array emitter but not good enough to detect any of the things she fielded that had an all-angle low radar cross-section.

"Yes, it'll be ready within zhe next five minutes. You can land on the roof if you like," Lily transmitted and then started to get dressed.

She had months ago reinforced the roof and shifted her antenna mast to a corner to leave space for a Vertibird or helicopter pad, not that she had seen any actual helicopters. She did it both to be polite to the Brotherhood, who routinely came to use her cloning machine and also as bait. It even had the giant H, and the correct lighted alternating beacon to indicate a heliport. She felt there were even odds that the Enclave if they ever decided to attack her, would land right on it. If so, the explosives embedded into the concrete would fix their wagon. The Apprentice gave her the idea after watching Die Hard.

Plus, really, for her own aesthetic, she had to admit... Because could it really be a hospital if it didn't have a landing pad for a helicopter?

She felt bad about what she had done, but at the same time, she felt she was a lot safer than she was yesterday. Practically the only likely existential threat that still remained for her in the immediate areas was the Enclave.