Not so Keene to see me

Okay, now I bloody well hate Nightstalkers!
I knew this wasn’t going to be a picnic, but these creatures are a whole lot worse than my most dire predictions.
Even just one at a time, these goram creatures are unbelievably difficult to kill. I feel like my shotgun is firing jelly-beans here!
Luckily for Joe, Lily continues to take the brunt of their aggression. I might be limping heavily, but I’d be a goner if wasn’t for her timely interventions.

After a few more encounters, none of which went quite as badly as our last battle, Lily and I come to a cavern noticeably bigger than any of the ones we’ve seen before. In the middle of the room lay a number of corpses – including a Bighorner and one poor nightkin mutant whose luck had obviously run out.

At this stage, the fact that the room seems otherwise empty is not going to fool me. Standing at the entrance I toss a bunch of grenades into either side of the chamber. It has the desired effect and blood appears as if from thin air, while several fast-moving blurs start to make their way towards us.
Thankfully, the grenades even the odds significantly, so Lily and I aren’t too out matched by the small horde that attacks us.

Well, lady, I must say, you're my kind of stupid.

Well, lady, I must say, you're my kind of stupid.

So what is the reward for our combat prowess? Joe undertakes a search of the pile of corpses in the middle of the chamber – I prefer to think of this behaviour as ‘thorough’, rather than ‘obsessive’ and/or ‘morbid’.

The only thing of even mild interest is a stealthboy, which was found on the body of the nightkin. Or it would be interesting if it wasn’t for the fact that it had been thoroughly chewed on. *sigh*

Still, this could be the answer to why we were sent here in the first place – the nightstalkers could be getting their cloaking powers from this device somehow. Everyone knows that the best way to utilise advanced, futuristic technology is just to bite into it… or something.
Regardless of how it’s supposed to work, I’m pretty sure that this is the answer to the puzzle of the nightstalker’s strange cloaking abilities, so all that remains now is getting out of this hell-hole.

Lets divide the loot, eh? Ten percent of nuthin' is...let me do the math here...nuthin' into nuthin'...carry the nuthin'..."

Lets divide the loot, eh? Ten percent of nuthin' is...let me do the math here...nuthin' into nuthin'...carry the nuthin'..."

Lucky for ol’ Joe, the pipboy must have some kind of GPS/Accelerometer combo, because it has inbuilt mapping functions that we can follow outta here. By the time we re-trace our steps out of this Vaultec-abandoned cave it’s late at night, but the sweet, open, nightstalker-less outdoors is sweet relief.

Sweet freedom!

Sweet freedom!

We head back to Jacobstown, but there is no point in visiting the doctor right away. Instead I head back to my cabin to rest up and bandage my wounds. I suggest to Lily that she do the same, but like any fussing grandmother she wanted to come with me to make sure I was okay.
Fair enough… she can fuss over me, but I’m applying the bandages myself!

NO!!! No! Really, I'm fine... I can set this bone myself.

NO!!! No! Really, I'm fine... I can set this bone myself.

I almost sleep-in the next morning, and while I do deserve a nice sleep-in, I want to get this over and done with. The trip took a toll on my health and my resources, but if it means that my mountain hideaway is safe from the threat of schizophrenic mutants it’ll all be worth it. Right?
Lily and I head over to the main lodge, where I have a chat with Dr Henry.

The news wasn’t good. The doctor agrees that the nightstalker’s invisibility was due to chewing on the damaged stealthboy… (because ‘SCIENCE!’, I guess). But he was counting on the Nightstalker’s stealth ability being genetic in nature. With no alternative stealth method to examine he believes, he’s come to a dead end.
GORAM IT! So basically, Lily and I bled all that blood for no reason.

But it turns there is a plan B. Dr Harry has a very rare Mark II Stealthboy prototype. His hypothesis is that he might be able to get data from testing that instead.
Oh… Oh good. That’s… good. Well, I’m sure glad you didn’t mention that this was an option before sending Lily and me into the dark pit of pointed teeth. ‘Cause seeing those teeth up close was a real adventure and I’d have hated to miss out on that… because it was such an… ‘experience’.

You want to kill him? Or maybe just hurt 'em a little? Because right now I'd be cool with that.

You want to kill him? Or maybe just hurt 'em a little? Because right now I'd be cool with that.

There is a down side; Dr Henry also notes that there could be some risk to trying the Mrk II Prototype… it’s more powerful than the normal stealthboy, so its negative effects are also likely to be stronger. Lily is happy to try, but I’m not thrilled at the idea. Lily doesn’t seem to fully understand what’s happening at the best of times, so I’m not sure that she really understands the risks of what she’s going to be asked to do. After our shared experience in combat I’m pretty fond of her, and I’d hate it if something happened.
But my misgivings aside, Lily wants to go ahead. I suppose if she wants to risk herself for a chance to help others of her kind I’ve no right to stand in her way.

The initial experiment seems fine; Lily vanishes and then repairs without a hitch. Doc Henry has his initial data, and his assistant Calamity sets right to analysing it, but Henry wants additional data that can only be retrieved if Lily is willing to use it over a prolonged period of time. Yay?

Let's ride right past the part where you explain exactly what that means.

Let's ride right past the part where you explain exactly what that means.

But things never go smooth for Joe. Just as I think that everything is going to turn out alright, in bursts Keene. And he’s got two other nightkin with him. And he looks pissed. Really, really pissed.
He’s ranting and raving, demanding the MrkII prototype, saying that he and his people will take it and leave.
Now, that’s bad on multiple levels. We don’t want the MrkII prototype taken, we don’t want the half-crazy nightkin to ‘fall off the wagon’ while roaming the wastes unsupervised and, most importantly, I don’t want them beating me with those massive hands… they look hurty.

I wasn't looking for a fight! Always do seem to find one, though.

I wasn't looking for a fight… Always do seem to find one, though.

It looks like it’s all about to kick off, but I may have an ace up my sleeve… and by ‘ace’ I mean a copy of the magazine ‘Meeting People’. It’s apparently just the thing when you’re looking to convince someone to listen to you. Let’s see how it does!

Okay… so greet in an open and friendly manner, offer to help. Okay, I can do this!
“Mellow greetings, Keene. What seems to be your boggle?”
Still looks angry. Let’s try a compliment.
“You are an incredibly sensitive mutant, who inspires joy-joy feelings in all those around you.”
No? Not impressed? Fair call.
How about, the advice for violent conflict? Let’s see: approach maniac, demand that he lie down with hands behind his back.
Hmmm, okay, what if the maniac replies with a scornful remark? Oh, here it is: repeat ultimatum in an even firmer tone of voice. Add the words, “or else”.
Nope – poor reaction.
Okay, so… perhaps the Dilbert approch:
“Look, Keene. Let me assure you, we are endeavorily determined to promote constant attention on current procedures of transacting business focusing emphasis on innovative ways to better, if not supersede, the expectations of your group!”
GOLD!

Keene seems to have been convinced that waiting for the doc to finish his research is the best idea. Calm is restored… and with any luck the doctor’s research won’t be too much longer.
There is still the small matter of the apparently unnecessary trip Lily and I were sent on, but I still have my legs, so I’m still calling this a win.

"Well, look at this! Appears we got the information just in the nick of time. Whaddya suppose that makes us?" "Big damn heroes."

"Well, look at this! Appears we got the information just in the nick of time. Whaddya suppose that makes us?"


"Ain't we just!"

"Big damn heroes."
"Ain't we just!"

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