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

You’re supposed to take the other guy’s stuff, little lady

"I'm not sure if you know how this dictator thing is 'sposed to work, little lady," Mr Tombs told Lily, amused, as she met with him and his wife at his house. Little? She was taller than he was! Still, he continued, "You're 'sposed to take the belongings of your political enemies, not your friends and yourself."

She nodded at him, "Yes, I am aware of zhe traditional post-coup conduct of dictators after zhe successful revolution. I am probably going to engage in some of zhat, except zhe orgy of murder. My predecessor ran off with most of the money the city should 'ave 'ad, zhen burned the ledgers to try to 'ide it. Why? Does he have any assets in the city that you'd like? Because I definitely intend to compensate you and the other share'olders."

Lily had decided to seize the water and power company that she had helped build herself after compensating the shareholders, which was herself, mostly. The minority shareholders were Tombs, Moriarty and the former mayor, although she hadn't realised that last bit until recently. His compensation was on hold, as from what Lily could tell, both he and his assistant had only briefly stayed in Rivet City and had already assembled a large caravan, including two of the trucks that the Mechanist had begun selling on the open market, and started heading out to the north, towards the Commonwealth. She had the feeling he ran off with a lot more than what she had initially thought, or perhaps more likely that he had been pilfering for years. She didn't intend to stop them, and may the Institute have the pleasure of their company.

Although Lily would be turning the water and power company into a state institution, she intended to keep the ten per cent allocated to the workers and continue paying them their bonuses as expected in perpetuity, even if it meant she had to charge a little bit more for water or power. She intended to run it as a state company, but she intended it to fund itself and its own operations, for the most part.

She had ordered seven new water treatment centres to be built on the locations of each known well in the city, and she was capitalising on the construction herself. She'd also have to build and supply the power generators for these new locations herself, so in effect, she was funding the company's expansion herself, even though she was seizing it.

Each would be somewhat similar to the first one she had constructed, although she would be using some of what she learned from examining Vault 108's water purifier, as well. Each system should be able to purify about eight thousand litres a day when they were finished being constructed. That total amount of construction should, in theory, be able to provide at least four litres of purified water a day to everyone living in Megaton.

That would be a good start, although clean water was one of those things in the Wasteland that just attracted more people to it. Nobody had done any kind of census, but people guessed that there were over half a million people in the Capital Wasteland. The Mechanist was learning that right now, too, as a small settlement had already begun next to the heavily fortified entrance to his Vault. About half of the settlers just came from Canterbury Commons, but the rest came from areas nearby.

How she actually compensated herself, at least the accounting of it, would only really matter in the event she left the government or a new government was formed, which was more sophisticated than "whatever I say goes." Still, she expected the profits to the state company to be considerable, even if she barely charged for either the purified water or the electricity.

Her new pricing structure was similar; for a building connected to electricity, the first certain number of kilowatt hours were almost free. It would be free when the large fusion power station came online. Similarly, the first two litres of water a citizen of Megaton bought per day would only cost only half a cap per litre. The costs went up just to avoid the situation where people wasted the resource, and she was quickly planning to incorporate automated vending systems for the water so as to eliminate the labour costs on the clerks selling it at the moment. How would she recognise Megaton citizens, though? Facial recognition technology? Or state-issued ID cards? Both, probably.

"How're you compensating yourself? You own most of the company after all," asked Mr Tombs curiously.

Lily made a face. She was taking what was probably the worst option she was giving out to Tombs and Moriarty, which was the new state water company would issue her a bond for the total market value of her ownership interest and then pay it back over a period of fifteen years. This was also the easiest to structure, but she felt this was the worst option for purely economic reasons, as she was also offering compensation in real estate in Megaton proper or speculative real estate in the planned new circle that she was going to construct. She felt that either of those would likely be a much better return on investment, but she wanted it to look above board.

Lily told him, and he chuckled, "I'd rather get something right now. I have a feeling that we may be in a boom period as far as this city is concerned, so I think I'd get a lot more out of something I could put to productive use now rather than the meagre interest your bond will pay. No offence."

Lily nodded slowly. She wasn't surprised. It was the option she would have taken, too, if she didn't minimise the appearance of self-dealing. Perhaps it was pointless, considering she was going to be actually self-dealing with herself by paying her hospital to provide a minimum amount of healthcare to the citizens as a whole in the next month or so. Whatever she did, it would look like she was just having the state pay her own company, but she doubted she would hear too much about it. That was almost expected around here, after all.

---xxxxxx---

As Lily returned to her building, she considered Tombs' request that she had agreed to. She was basically giving him some of the former mayor's unused real estate and a couple of planned plots in the western hemisphere. However, she had agreed to hold onto the mayor's portion for the moment after she explained to Tombs her plans for property taxes.

The traditional view of property taxes was that you taxed a citizen a small amount based on the value of the real property. In America, it averaged about one per cent per annum, which meant that rather than owning property, you could be best described as in a transferrable lease arrangement with the state, with a strict covenant so that the only way that they could generally evict you was if you stopped paying.

There was a lot to be said against the practice, but in Megaton, there was a strictly limited surface area, so any kind of scheme which didn't punish someone for purchasing and then sitting on a parcel of land for speculative purposes actually harmed the city as a whole significantly. As such, she was instituting a property tax per annum, whereas previously, it was only taxed upon transfer to a new person.

However, her price structure was a bit odd. She was charging less the more improved a property was and less if it was actively being used. The most expensive property taxes would be assessed on empty lots in prime locations. It was a way to induce the property owners to put what they owned to productive use. Although close to fifteen thousand people lived in Megaton, which was barely thirty square kilometres, a good third of the city's land was unused.

After the first year, she would start taxing a building more if it was in bad condition, too. There were readily available building materials now. The husband and wife team that used to work for Tombs but now ran the cement factory had discovered suitable limestone and other deposits to the north and was already capitalising a venture to mine them, as the amount of calcium Lily could supply them from her recyclers was not anywhere near enough to meet demand. At present, cement was being sold mostly locally, but traders had already remarked upon the material and seemed interested in exporting it.

Glancing up at the roof and seeing a Vertibird hovering briefly and landing there wasn't too unusual these days, but the message that Sarah Lyons had come to see her was.

Both Sarah and Scribe Ferguson were there and were already waiting for her in her office, but the first reaction the woman had surprised her, she startled and said, "Holy fuck your eyes." Oh. Yeah. Most everyone in Megaton had already gotten used to her improved optics, but that wasn't an uncommon reaction for seeing them for the first time.

Lily rubbed the back of her neck, "Ah, yes. I decided to replace my squishy organic eyeballs with zhese. Cool huh? I can see into the infrared and the UV."

Sarah shook her head while Ferguson simultaneously nodded rapidly.

'Should I show her my tools?' Lily thought, then internally decided against it. They weren't a secret, exactly, but the fewer people who knew about them, the less likely people would chop her limbs off if they somehow managed to capture her.

Sarah finally asked with a chuckle, "So, what should we call you? My dad thought you would take over the city, but I told him no way! Shows what I know, I guess. Mayor?"

Lily hummed and said, "I'm going with dictator for now."

That caused Sarah Lyons to laugh, not realising she was serious. She had set up some additional furniture near the couch in the corner of her office, so everyone sat there with Sarah Lyons sitting on the obviously reinforced chair that she made for Power Armoured guests, Ferguson taking the couch, and Lily sitting at another similar chair.

It had been some time since the Inexplicable Explosion That She Definitely Wasn't Involved In, and she hadn't really heard much about what happened and wasn't stupid enough to ask them about it, like someone with a guilty conscience might. Still, Sarah Lyons revealed some of it to her, "Well, we reabsorbed most of the survivors that Casdin had tricked, although about twenty Paladins whose opinions were irreconcilable took some weapons, armour and supplies and departed to the Pitt."

That was more than she thought. Twenty well-organised and well-armed men could do a lot there. They'd probably be killed or run part of the place within a year, Lily thought. Lily asked, hesitantly, "Did the radar returns help any?"

Sarah shrugged, "Yes and no. They matched with what we had, so that was helpful, but they obviously didn't show anything, which was less helpful. We believe we discovered the epicentre of the blast, and it was near the exterior of the building. That is a little bit odd, but it's nothing conclusive. Our best guess is that there was either a prototype bomb being researched, which exploded or that the base had a self-destruct that was triggered somehow. The Elder has stopped the investigation."

Lily glanced between Sarah and Ferguson before saying, "Nuclear demolition charges as a self-destruct were not common features, even in top-secret government-run research stations."

Ferguson piped in, "But they're not totally unheard of, either. In fact, this wouldn't even have been the fifth one we've had records of. Honestly, I think it's for the best." He held up a hand placatingly as Sarah glared at him, "I don't mean it like that. But Casdin was nuts. He once told me that it was heretical that we allowed 'tribals' access to electricity, for Maxson's sake."

Sarah allowed herself to be placated a little bit before Lily asked, "So, what can I do for you two today? Is this just a meet and greet with the new civil authority in the city?"

Sarah nodded while Ferguson simultaneously shook his head. Lily stopped herself from smirking. She liked these two.

"Well, yes and no," Sarah admitted. She then said, "Anytime Megaton gets a new mayor, which has happened through election three times and revolution twice, including your rise to power, the Brotherhood reaches out to the new civil authority. This is especially important now, as we have noticed your military forces are a lot better trained and are now wearing identical seeming T-51b armour. We think there is no way that you stumbled upon such a cache of equipment, so we believe you're manufacturing it."

Lily nodded, not seeing a reason to hide it anymore. Or rather, she didn't think prevaricating would work, "Yes, that's true. I believe that you manufacture Power Armour, as well. In fact, I am almost certain of it."

Scribe Ferguson scrunched up his face and glanced at Sarah Lyons, who nodded, "Yes... we do... but each suit is made by hand, almost. We definitely couldn't produce fifty suits of Power Armour in a few months."

"Ah, are you interested in putting in order of your own?" Lily asked amusedly.

Sarah Lyons nodded, "Yes, actually. We'd very much like to have a closer relationship with both you and the city of Megaton. But we'd like to discuss technology transfers. For example, the Scribes discovered on the laser weapon you gave to us that you are reusing scavenged ruby rods. We know how to manufacture those. We also know how to manufacture fusion cores. Although we currently don't have the means to do so, POSEIDON energy had complete manufacturing diagrams, engineering data, and blueprints for the machine that produces standard fusion cores in their corporate files, which we have."

Wow, that was a lot friendlier than I thought. I was expecting demands. Both of those things would be very, very useful. The ability to manufacture fusion cores was clearly the most important, although lasers on everything sounded nice too. Lily nodded slowly, "And what are you interested in, in exchange?"

Ferguson coughed, "We suspect you have some way to fabricate metal shapes in three dimensions, arbitrarily and quickly. It's the only thing that makes sense. We really need that. Especially if it can do multiple different types of alloys."

"We would also like permission for the Brotherhood to set up an enclave in the city of Megaton. This has, historically, been denied every time the administration has changed in the city. And since, even if you give us the technology now, it may take a while for us to put it into production we'd like to contract with you to manufacture us some laser rifles, laser pistols, and judging from your robots plasma rifles as well," Sarah Lyons added.

I glanced at her oddly, "I don't bar anyone from the city unless zhey've committed some crime. So long as you buy or lease some property, zhat's fine. Although I would like your assistance in a matter, but I believe it will ultimately 'elp yourselves in zhe long run."

Sarah looked a little disbelieving, "Even if we have brothers guarding it in power armour all the time?"

Lily shrugged, "The bank has guards in Power Armour. There is no law zhat says I'm zhe only one allowed an effective paramilitary force in zhe city."

"Bank?? Wait, I'll put a pin in that today. What assistance?" she asked, even more confused.

"Orphans," Lily said simply. "Zhere are between one hundred and fifty and zhree hundred semi-feral children in and around Megaton. I discovered zhe issue when I was giving zhe bum rush to the violent gangs in zhe city limits."

Sarah glanced between Ferguson and Lily and asked, "Okay...?"

"I want you to set up an orphanage in town. If you do, I will provide 'elp and sell you one of the prime lots for your enclave," Lily said simply.

"That's... something we might be willing to do, but how would..." Sarah began before stopping after she realised what Lily was getting at. She frowned at Lily and asked accusingly, "You expect us to indoctrinate the orphans of your city?!"

Lily asked while spreading her hands, "What is zhe education of children if not indoctrination into a culture? I 'onestly don't believe zhere is that much of a difference. And if zhey grow up wanting to join zhe Brotherhood at the Citadel, well.. at least zhey grew up, yes?"

Scribe Ferguson said quickly, "We'll do it!" Sarah Lyons looked at him, shocked, and he shook her head at her, "Trust me! We'll do it!"

Sarah Lyons sighed and said, "Alright, but we're going to have a long discussion when we leave here Scribe." Lily suspected that the Scribe understood the bone she was throwing them a lot better than Lyons did. Some orphans were taken to Little Lamplight, but most just survived or died, where they lived or migrated to settlements like Megaton and lived on the periphery of society. Most became raiders when they became old enough to carry a weapon and take what they needed to survive.

The Brotherhood needed new blood to survive. It just wouldn't make it if it was confined to only the new generation produced internally and the occasional walk-in recruit.

Lily said, "Your suspicions are right, by zhe way. I use a technology called Direct Metal Laser Sintering to print 3-D shapes in metal alloys. I'd be willing to give you zhis technology, including several samples, the engineering data to build them yourselves, as well as a customised server mainframe zhat I repurposed to design zhe 3-D shapes."

The DMLS technology was one she always had intended to hand over to the Brotherhood when they came demanding it. As such, she had spent a little time building a server mainframe that ran a more limited copy of the CAD software she designed. She still couldn't quite build LCD displays yet, but she could make pretty good colour CRTs, and this machine featured a number of workstations that had full-colour displays with quite impressive graphics. A number of multi-millimetre-wave radar systems were included that could scan in shapes of real-life objects to import into the CAD's design system.

They dickered a bit, and eventually, they settled on a more or less direct transfer of the DMLS technology for the fusion core manufacturing technology. Sarah was unhappy that Lily wouldn't transfer the technology used in the recycling systems she described, but Lily finally agreed to at least sell them with as many of the recycling systems as they desired, within reason. She already included two of her heavy-duty two-megawatt recycling systems to the Brotherhood in the package she had already planned on.

Scribe Ferguson said it wasn't a huge deal, as they had ways to create very fine pure iron powders already, so she suspected the recyclers she gave and later sold to them would be mainly used to recycle unusual metals and materials.

Although one of the stipulations was when she got the capability to manufacture fusion cores, she had to be willing to sell at least a third of those that she manufactured to the Brotherhood. They had first right of refusal to one-third of the fusion cores she would produce, in other words.

Lily got the technology to manufacture and dope ruby or sapphire laser gain medium by trading the designs of her laser-powered high-speed tunnelling and boring machines, as well as a promise to help them as a consultant as they built their own fusion power station. They had quickly realised they both had the same pre-war designs, so she didn't particularly mind that.

Honestly, she intended to include the fusion power station design, along with her notes about lessons learned in construction, in the Megaton Public Library. And if she ever got a constellation of communication satellites in orbit, she would beam the designs and much more to anyone who requested them. It was true that she would hoard any technology that she felt would give her an edge in her goal to survive, but anything that didn't? She would like as wide dissemination as possible.

She was a little surprised at their demand for her boring machines, but the Brotherhood had a lot better idea about the extent of her excavation than anyone else. They admitted that there were hundreds of very sophisticated Pre-War military seismographs and ground penetrating radar sensors in and around DC, many of which still worked. That made her a little worried, but there wasn't anything she could really do about it aside from continuing digging until she was at a level where they couldn't even sense her excavation.

"Alright, now zhat zhat is done, now let me put on my arms dealer 'at on for a second. I can manufacture zhese weapons for you. 'ow many and what types, and 'ow will you pay?" Lily asked, avoiding seeming too greedy. She had a city to finance, and an influx of gold would help with that. The equipment she built solely for weapons production had sat idle for some time. If she had a large supply of lasing rods, she could easily build fifteen laser rifles a day, and it was completely automated now, whereas, in the past, she still had to do about twenty per cent of the assembly herself.

"To the same specifications that you produce your own laser rifles and pistols. Five thousand pieces of each. Three thousand plasma rifles, three thousand plasma pistols," Sarah Lyons said stoically.

Lily almost did a spit-take with the glass of water she had brought up to her lips. Ten thousand laser weapons and six thousand plasma weapons? Was she insane?

"From my best estimates, the complete Brotherhood barely has three thousand people," Lily told her after staring at her aghast for a moment. "That's beyond the fact that I don't actually have a giant factory. It would take me years to produce that much!"

Sarah Lyons nodded firmly, "Yes, we suspected that. We suspect it might take you up to ten years to produce this order. You can fulfil it on an ongoing monthly basis."

Ohhhh. How cunning. The Brotherhood wanted to basically buy out her entire productive capacity, or what they thought it was, for a period of years so she wouldn't sell anything to anyone else. It would actually only take her two or three years to build this order, and that was if she didn't produce more capacity. However... was there anything wrong with letting them think she was committed to them this way?

Lily hummed, "Energy weapons were going to be one of Megaton's premiere export products in the coming years. It would attract a lot of merchants! If I agree to zhis order, zhat will stop zhis plan." Although, she was exaggerating slightly because she had already begun building Auto-Docs from scratch, as they were going to be part of her plan to build a number of small municipally owned clinics.

She'd have to train and pay the clinicians to run them, but she thought it might be done fairly cheaply if she could widely use Auto-Doc technology. And if she was building them for the city, she might as well build them for export, too. And they were considered very rare Pre-War technology, so she thought they'd draw merchants even more than readily available laser rifles.

"Yeah, no shit. Our planning department figured that out right away. The thing is, we don't want the average raider or Super Mutant to be any more well-armed than they are now. That's why we're willing to pay a premium," Sarah Lyons said, amused.

Lily moued prettily, "What if I only sell them to long-range merchants who agree not to resell them in the Capital Wasteland?"

"That could be acceptable. If you can guarantee that they won't end up in the hands of the NCR back west," Lyons mused.

Lily waved a fist at her, "Zhat's bloody impossible!" To which even Ferguson nodded. After that, they discussed it some more. Lily wanted to agree to this order, especially when Lyons said that they would pay half upfront, and she agreed to a limit on the number of energy weapons she would sell based on a percentage of how many she delivered to the Brotherhood every month.

Her head was starting to hurt from talking to people too much, so she put a stop to the discussions there. Besides, there had been a lot done today.

Every time she haggled with someone, she carefully thought about it when she was alone later, after the fact. She almost never got the better of anyone, ever. She didn't think she did, here, either, but she felt that it was... almost even? She didn't think she got ripped off like she normally did, anyway. The Brotherhood would slowly become more of an effective force, but she didn't particularly mind that so long as it didn't backslide. Having such a close relationship with a technologically more advanced "outsider" should prevent that... she hoped.