A Day Later
Shrike stood in the Penthouse of the Lucky 38. Corpses and machine parts lay at her feet, scattered throughout the room.
Randall joined her, coming from the elevator.
“Is it everything you thought?” Randall asked, perching on the conference table, careful to avoid the blood splatter.
“Josey escaped.” Shrike said. She was covered from head to toe in blood, some of it hers, most not. “Somehow.”
“Does it matter? You fucked his shit up. He ain’t coming back to this place.”
“I need to kill him.” Shrike said. “I have to.” Knowing he was alive… it was like there was something moving beneath her skin. Slithering. An oily, slimy feeling she couldn’t shake. It felt unpleasant, to say the least.
“Lady, don’t you ever think it might be time to call it quits?”
“What do you care?” Shrike asked. “You only want to be finished so I’ll tell you what I know.” Shrike looked around the Penthouse again, taking in the Old World splendor. This place had been preserved for so many years by its creator. He’d cared for it, deeply. Josey had killed him too. Shrike wondered why he made a habit of that, separating people from what was rightfully theirs. Lost in thought, she slowly made her way out of the Penthouse, intent on exploring the rest of the tower.
Randall watched her leave. “If you know anything.” He muttered, feeling doubt in her for the first time.
Josey and Boone sat in one of the lowest levels of the Vault in the eponymous Vault City. They both wore grey sweats, changed from their blood soaked, war torn outfits, and were unarmed.
Across from them sat Agent Miller. He was someone who made a profession out of getting people to do things they didn’t want to.
They could’ve been sitting in a coffee shop—the room was barren of anything resembling high-tech was only a comfortable lounge area—but Miller assured them that this was the OSI headquarters.
“I’m sorry for both your losses.” Miller was saying, trying to break the awkward silence that had fallen over them. Neither Boone nor Josey spoke. Boone, already normally quiet, was extremely so now. Josey was becoming concerned he’d crossed over into full on mute.
And Josey… well, after what’d happened, Josey didn’t feel any words could encapsulate what he felt.
“But Shrike is an immediate threat.” Miller continued. “Not just to you. Not just to Vegas. Not even just to the NCR. But to the entirety of Old World America.”
Josey’s interest was piqued. “What do you mean?”
“A number of years ago Shrike was one of OSI’s assets. But following an unfortunate incident we parted ways.”
“Vague.” Josey said.
“Yes. Shrike’s unstable, as you undoubtedly can attest to. We believe she intends to take hostile action not just against the NCR, but the Commonwealth, Capital Wasteland, and numerous other locations.”
“Capital Wasteland.” Josey repeated the name. “The hell is that?”
“Former Washington D.C., Mr. Wales.” Miller informed him. “Home to numerous factions and ideologies that mirror California’s own.”
“And what’s that have to do with Shrike?”
“There are certain individuals, Mr. Wales. People like you, like the Vault Dweller. The Chosen One. People who solve problems or sometimes create them. People who larger than life.”
“Yeah, I get it, Caesar, Ulysses, me, we all got something in common. Still haven’t said the point?”
“Well, to Shrike, this isn’t merely a personality type that you all have in common. Shrike believes there is a pattern. A discernable order to why men, such as yourself, end up on top and others, like herself, at the bottom. Shrike believes she can overturn that established order. Through killing everyone at the top.”
“You foremost.” Miller said. “But also many others. And I doubt it would stop there.”
“So… Shrike’s gonna go around America, killing everyone she thinks needs to die.” Josey summed up.
“And it’s all your fault.”
Miller didn’t respond to that, instead saying, “Six years prior she killed New York’s self-appointed defender, an individual by the name of Rook. And now she is coming after you.”
“What’s the OSI going to do about it?”
“Shrike is highly mobile. She is dangerous. The NCR military is not capable of effectively engaging such a target. Thus, it has fallen to me to deal with the threat she presents. My plan is simple. Shrike relied on surprise and deception to attack you. I intend to make her targets aware of her.”
“Knowing Shrike’s coming for you don’t change the fact that she’s a walking tank. Bulletproof is still bulletproof.”
“I’m aware.” Miller said. “Because that’s only the first phase of my plan. The second is create a coalition to deal with her.”
“Coalition? Of what? Assholes like me?”
Miller nodded, offering Josey a rare smile. “Exactly.” He seemed excited by the prospect, especially now that Josey seemed to be catching on. “Courier, have you ever heard of the ‘Lone Wanderer?’”
End of Butcherbird