So I decided to just post this first into Fallout: Prophecy since it fit well there to give Tanner more backstory, but this story originally belonged here, so I'm posting it for completion.

Ten years ago, a month after the events of Fallout: New York “World’s Fair”

Tanner sat on the hill-side, away from their camp.   Traveling west with Clyde, Alexander, and Kriegz was interesting, to say the least.  The ghoul and his sidekick were just heading west in general, but Kriegz was going to break off to head north to Minnesota soon.  Tanner didn’t know what to make of their ragtag bunch.  Most of the time was spent arguing, with Tanner just ducking his head against bickering, and when they weren’t arguing they were making rude comments.

And then there was Pan.  At first, it had been awkward traveling with both her and Kayleigh in such a small group, leaving him unsure how he was supposed to handle this situation he’d found himself in.  And although he’d been sad to see Kayleigh leave once they’d gone north, it’d been a relief in a way.  Not only because it’d reduced his stress and awkwardness, but because he’d got to learn with Pan what happens when two people take their clothes off together.  Repeatedly.  And the inevitable jokes and aforementioned rude comments from the three men didn’t diminish it at all, although it had been kind of uncomfortable at first sneaking off and everyone else knowing what they were going to do.

Tanner’s life was looking up.  And here, sitting on this hill, keeping his watch for the night, he couldn’t help but admire his good fortune.

Something moved down the hill from him.

Tanner frowned, picking up his gun—a scavenged lever-action rifle that they’d found when looting old homes—he peering into the darkness.

“Who’s there?”

Something slammed into Tanner, knocking the wind from his chest.  He was thrown backwards through the night, sent tumbling through the dark grass and the silent night.  The sound of crickets was in his ears as he slowly struggled to shove himself upright, confused.

A figure approached, duster catching the faint breeze, a vague silhouette against the starry sky.  It wore a sack cloth mask.

Tanner’s eyes slowly widened in recognition.  “Boss?”  He was lifted from the earth by nothing, as if gravity had decided to abruptly shut off beneath him, and hung in the air, entrapped by an invisible force.

It was the Boss.  The make of his clothing was different, but he wore the same kind of outfit Tanner had last seen him in.  The figure shook its head at him.

“I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.”  He introduced himself.

“What are you doing?”  Tanner demanded.  Hades flicked a finger at him, and Tanner was sent sailing to the side.  It was absolutely terrified to be tossed at such a high speed while floating several feet above the ground.  Tanner couldn’t hold back a yell, which was abruptly cut off as he landed painfully.

“Look!”  Hades began, slowly approaching the place in the grass Tanner lay.  “God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Tanner struggled to his feet, but nearly collapsed as a sharp pain went through his chest.  Just as he was managing to get up right, a boot collided with his back, knocking him into the ground.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega he who is, who was, and who is to come: the Almighty.”  The ghoul continued to explain, prodding Tanner with toe of his shoe, to turn the boy over.  “The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”

“Why are you doing this?”  Tanner wheezed.  He’d lost his rifle somewhere, and was completely defenseless.

“I will require your lifeblood.”  Hades replied.  “And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.   And from every man, from every man's brother I will require the life of man.”

“Why?”  Tanner begged, his voice a whisper.  Hades was terrifying.  A dark, masked figure, spouting verses that sounded like they were from the Christian Bible with the powers of an avenging god.  The Boss had been vaguely threatening before.  Now he was a nightmare come to life.

“The Lord reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with you.”  Hades paused, considering what he would say next to answer Tanner’s question, and added.  “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”

He unslung his weapon from his shoulder—the Almighty, that furious, powerful gauss rifle—and lowered its barrel to Tanner’s forehead.  Tanner shut his eyes as his life flashed before them.  Had he ever told Pan he loved her?  He should’ve apologized to Kayleigh.  So many books he’d never gotten to read.  All the things he’d had planned for himself that he’d never get to experience.

He was cured.  He had his whole life ahead of him and now the very man who had saved him was going to kill him.  There was irony in that.  A lot of irony.

He’d never see his father again, or his sister again.  At least he’d get to see his mother now, sooner than he intended.

“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,” Hades whispered to him, soothing Tanner, “for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

A gunshot cracked through the silent night and Tanner opened his eyes just in time to watch half of Hade’s head disintegrate.  The ghoul didn’t fall, and Tanner nearly vomited as he got a good view of Hade’s brain, jaw, and muscle sinew, as the mutant turned what remained of his head to look at whoever had shot him.  Hades got to see his attacker just before a second shotgun blast below his head clean off.  The body collapsed like a ragdoll, tumbling to the ground.  Tanner yelped and stumbled back as he was covered in green goop, and furious tried to whip the stuff from his face.

“Ha!  You see that fucker?”  Tanner’s savior asked, stepped forwards.  Urban Kriegz cracked open his shotgun’s frame and loaded two more shells into it.  “Never seen a head pop that good.”

“That was the Boss!”  The words gushed out of Tanner’s mouth, and he phrased them wrong in a rush of fear and adrenaline.  “He’s not dead!  It’s him, he’s like, a mutant with magic powers and--”

The headless corpse of Hades began to stand up.  Green goop was spilling out of the neck, and solidified at the stump, slowly reforming the monster’s features.

“Oh shit.”  Kriegz muttered, eyes going wide, as he quickly raised his weapon and fired again.

The shotgun spray stopped short, the pellets hanging in the air as something invisible caught them. Tanner stood up, stumbling back towards Kriegz, as Hades faced the pair of them.  Only one of his eyes had reformed, glowing green and furious.


“Shoot him!”  Tanner urged.

“Unless you didn’t fucking see that, I’d be better off trying to hit him with my dick.”

Hades flicked his wrist to send the shrapnel flying back towards the pair at terminal velocity, so that it would shred them to pieces.

Tanner would look back on what happened next with crystal clear memory, and still be unable to explain what happened.  Kriegz fired his second shot, lighting up the air in a flash of muzzle fire.  Tanner latched onto that light, felt it illuminate the night for one brief moment, and some small part of him knew what to do with it.

The muzzle of Kriegz’s shotgun practically spewed fire.  The flames leapt past Tanner, and the shrapnel was intercepted by it, and was melted to nothing.  Tanner knew he should’ve turned it off then, canceled whatever he was doing.  But the flames grew, reaching out into the darkness.  Tanner could see Hades there, watching.  Both eyes were back, but they were no longer angry.  In the light that fire brought, Tanner could see they were feral, wild and afraid.  Hades was afraid of Tanner.  And with the power thrumming through Tanner, he rightly was.  The fire lunged out, reaching forward to grasp Hades, seize the ghoul and destroy him.

Abruptly, whatever had spurned Tanner on ran out, and the fire didn’t reach Hades, only a tongue of it did—but it was enough.  The mutant screamed fiercely, like instead of a single lick of flame touching him he’d been thrown into the fires of hell.  He scrambled away, jumping into the night, baying and hissing like a wounded animal.  Tanner was frozen by what had just occurred, standing there, listening to the receding cries.

“You fucking see that?”  Kriegz hooted, punching Tanner in the shoulder.  “I got the bastard!”

Tanner didn’t reply.  He was staring into the darkness where Hades had vanished.

“Know what, I take it back, this piece is growing on me.”  The raider decided, admiring the weapon.  “Let’s fuck off back to camp, we need to leave in case the zombie comes back.”  He laughed suddenly, for some small, private reason, probably reflecting on how Hades was actually an legitimate zombie now.

Tanner didn’t move right away.  He was thinking too much on what Hades had said, and then what he had done.  Light dwells with you.  Ominous.  But Tanner understood what it meant.  Whatever he had, whatever he could do, it could hurt Hades, possibly kill him.  He was the only one who could.  It was probably why Hades, in his crazed, empowered state, had tried to kill Tanner.

Because from what Hades said he was planning to do, it sounded bad.  Hadn’t he said he was going to kill every person alive and conquer the world?  The Boss had always thought big.  A crazed, super-powered, resurrected version of him wouldn’t be any different.

And that left this up to Tanner.  He needed to bring the Boss peace and stop him from hurting anyone.  A big responsibility for a twenty-year-old.  So big it sounded silly to him to think about it given the present circumstances.  He already felt in over his head and he hadn’t even started anything yet.  But if the FEV had done this to him, if had been given powers like Hades, and he was still sane after so much time, there was a reason for it.

Tanner still had his whole life ahead of him.  And now a purpose.

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