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Fanfic / A Dead World

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A Dead World by Laluzi can be read here, or alternatively, here, is a crossover between [PROTOTYPE] and Fallout: New Vegas.

Summary by the author: He had been captured; Alex Mercer knew that much was obvious. But if that was the case, why had his captors just left him there without security? How had he ended up in a bunker buried in some kind of giant desert? Where was everyone? And since when did bottlecaps become currency?


By some twist of fate, Alex Mercer got himself locked away in some underground bunker. When he gets out, he finds that the world is very different from what he remembers. Not long after, he gets recruited by the Courier, a perky yet dangerously competent woman named Cain. Now a post-apocalyptic Vegas has a viral super weapon running around. Hold on to your hats, everyone; this is going to be a wild ride.


Tropes contained in A Dead World

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  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Alex's blade, of course. Also the Saturnite knives at the Sierra Madre, one of which Cain picks up.
  • Absurdly Sharp Claws: These are Alex's weapon of choice. And they work marvelously. Even more so when he incorporates Deathclaw DNA into them.
  • Affably Evil: Vulpes Inculta is soft-spoken and polite for a Legionary; you could almost forget that he would have absolutely no problem with crucifying an entire village just to make a point. Which he did.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Cain has apparently committed larceny, arson, forgery, possession of contraband... and vandalizing public property in Shady Sands.
  • Awful Truth: Hey Cain, you know that brooding, homicidal guy in the hoodie you're travelling with? Yeah, he's not actually a guy, or even human for that matter; he's a sapient virus that eats people, and is exerting a lot of self-control to keep himself from consuming you. So, every time you were poking and prodding him, you were basically saying "eat me, I'm a delectable morsel!" Oh, and he doesn't just eat people, he completely assimilates them and takes their appearance and memories, essentially becoming them. Have fun trying to sleep now.
  • Badass Normal: Cain may look like a pushover, but she's a born survivor and a very good shot. Mess with her at your own peril.
  • Bad Future: Laluzi crossed [PROTOTYPE] with Fallout in via this trope; The War on Terror never ended, so the ongoing ultranationalist trend of military spending at the cost of domestic investment, seizure of foreign resources instead of developing alternative energy sources, dehumanization of foreigners, invasive government, and erosion of rights resulted in The Theme Park Version of America the player saw on newsreels, followed by a nuclear war. Alex just slept through the worst parts of it.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Arcade helped Alex out when the latter accidentally consumed a plasma pistol and was in a bad way. Arcade could have walked away, but his basic sense of decency wouldn't allow it. As a result, he earned Alex's respect and, if not friendship, then certainly a degree of loyalty.
  • Berserk Button: Alex has quite a few, and they don't require much pushing.
    • His first one is when he hears about the Legion and their policy of slavery. The idea of a group that seeks to strip everyone of free will, after seeing both Blackwatch oppression and Greene's hivemind, does not sit well with him. It's even more apparent once he arrives at the Fort after Caesar summons Cain; Alex is barely able to restrain his urge to kill the Legionnaires.
    • Alex has had plenty of experience with mad science, and refuses to allow the Vault's experimental and highly dangerous data to be used by the NCR, even for ostensibly benign purposes, though Hildern certainly didn't seem to care about little details like "infections" and "plant zombies". He is very lucky Cain was there to talk Alex down, or they'd be scraping little chunks of him off the wall.
    • Learning that the White Gloves used to be cannibals stresses him out enough; he somewhat sympathizes with starving Wasteland survivors, but learning that they want to start doing it again despite being the single wealthiest faction in New Vegas has him making it quite clear to Cain that he will be introducing Mortimer to the food chain he worships so much.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • Well Cain, you wanted to know why Alex Mercer is the way he is, and now you do. By the look of things, you're going to have a lot of trouble sleeping in the near future.
    • Well Alex, you wished numerous times that Cain would stop talking so much. After a harsh round of Break the Cutie that concerns and pisses you off to no end, she has. Now you want her to go back to normal.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Both Cain and Arcade are a lot more dangerous than they seem.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: This is Fallout crossed with Prototype; you're going to have to search pretty dang hard to find any white morality here. Alex is a darker shade of grey than Cain or Arcade, being much more willing to kill. He's still a lot lighter than, say, the Fiends; he has his own nebulous set of morals, makes active attempts to exercise restraint over his nature, and shows significant disdain for what he hears of Caesar's Legion. Cain is more willing to try diplomacy, though she's implied to have a lengthy rap sheet, albeit of mostly petty crimes. Arcade is close to being a white hat, being a doctor for the Wasteland's downtrodden through the Followers of the Apocalypse.
  • Blood Knight: It goes without saying that Alex loves some good wholesome slaughtering. In fact, when Cain reveals that war is pretty much inevitable, he actually looks forward to it. He's also actively excited about fighting a Deathclaw.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Alex is a sentient virus. It shows. He has a very loose grasp of human morals and barely any understanding of right/wrong beyond the basics. His go-to answer for problems is kill or smash no matter what the problem is. He does have a moral code of his own, mostly involving the importance of free will, but "murder" is higher up on his list of potential solutions than it is for most people.
  • Bounty Hunter: Chapter 13 revolves around the quest Three Card Bounty, and the Party hunts down and kills the three Fiend leaders.
  • Break the Cutie: Being trapped in the Sierra Madre is not good on poor Cain.In the span of a few hours, she goes through so much emotional, physical, and psychological torment that she's become a withdrawn, twitchy, and quiet version of herself when Alex finds her.
  • Broken Bird: Much of Cain's past is still left in the shadows, but her sheer surprise that Alex came back for her, as well as dwelling on how no one else has done that before, says a lot. And that's not taking into account the Commitment Issues and name change.
  • Call-Back: Cain briefly mentions hearing about a vault that dispatched one of their dwellers to fetch something they needed, only to exile her when she came back.
  • Cassandra Truth: At their first meeting, Alex implies to Cain that he could easily massacre the entire Legion by himself. She thinks he's full of it. She believes him a little more when she finds out about the superpowers. Once she finds out about Alex's method of eating and healing and how he assimilates memories, she realizes he actually could take down the Legion alone, especially considering how the Legion uses melee weapons or poor-quality ballistic weaponry, and energy weapons and fire have proven to be the only things that can hurt Alex.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Alex knowing how to lipread is mentioned as early as Chapter 13. Twenty-two chapters later, and it gets put to use when he and Cain encounter the mute, illiterate Christine Royce.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Cain smokes casually, but she tries to light up outside the Sierra Madre when she finally starts to get a handle on things. Whether it was because the cigarette had been sitting in the Cloud for hundreds of years before she found it or the damage the Cloud has already done to her lungs, one drag has her gasping for air.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Cain's thought processes are... unusual.
  • Combat Medic: Arcade Gannon. He could do without the 'combat' part, but when push comes to shove, he delivers.
  • Commitment Issues: Chapter 35 reveals Cain has these, both in terms of friendship and romance. While she's happy and touched Alex came looking for her, it also scares her. He came because he cared, and she's realized she cares, and that's something she can't get rid of if she needs to.
    "Getting attached was dangerous. Connections were a form of baggage, a kind you couldn't drop behind and leave when you needed to run."
  • Constantly Curious: Cain. So much so that her first encounter with Alex left his head spinning and he directed her at Arcade to make her leave him alone. It also doubles as one of her fatal flaws, because she cannot stop digging at things that really should have been better left alone.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: Alex Mercer vs. a nest of deathclaws. Veronica aptly sums it up:
    Veronica: That is the most metal thing I have ever seen in my life.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Vault 20 has no apparent social experiment, and urges the suicidal to seek help. Still, it's heavily implied that the people are being raised as chattel for Alex, and needs as many lives as possible.
  • Crapsack World: After being ravaged by nuclear war, the world is not exactly a fun place to be.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Anyone or anything that goes up against Alex is already dead. The only enemy that poses a genuine threat to him is Father Elijah, and that’s because Alex has no idea where he is and the Cloud is eating away at his biomass very quickly. Once Elijah actually enters the Vault, he lasts all of a few seconds.
  • Cutting the Knot: Alex gets told to try and dig up information on Pacer to prove to the King he started the fight with the NCR. After Pacer catches him snooping, Mercer just hoists him by the neck and drags him before the King.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: All three main characters, to various degrees.
  • Deuteragonist: Threnody Cain, the fic's version of New Vegas's protagonist, Courier Six.
  • Deadpan Snarker: All three companions have their moments, though Arcade remains the king of snark.
  • Death Glare: Alex has a particularly powerful one. Just ask Hildern.
  • The Dreaded:
    • Vulpes Inculta is one of Caesar's best men, and definitely his most insidious. While others are more overt in dealing with obstacles, Vulpes is so subtle that most don't realize they've been had until it's too late.
    • Lanius is Caesar's second in command, and while he lacks the subtlety of Vulpes, he makes up for it in sheer brutality. A merchant Cain meets at the Fort mentions that Lanius killed one of his pack brahmin simply for being in his way; of course, he didn't dare complain.
    • The Legion as a whole is widely and rightfully feared. Its soldiers are utterly merciless and will commit unspeakable atrocities on those who have had the misfortune to be conquered by them.
    • Alex Mercer was this pre-War. Almost nobody recognizes his name now. It's hinted Mr. House has some idea of who or what he is, and the Brotherhood has video archives of his exploits during the Manhattan outbreak.
  • Driving Question: Downplayed with Alex. He's still trying to keep it a secret, but he wants to know how he got taken out in his own time, who stuck him in Vault 20, and why they bothered when they could have just finished him off.
  • Duel to the Death: Cain decides to face Benny in the Arena at Caesar's Fort. While she acknowledges that this is not the smartest of decisions, given that she's not at all a melee fighter, she feels that just killing a tied-up Benny in cold blood would cheapen her revenge; she needs to win against him after losing twice, and being handed the kill by the Legion just isn't enough.
  • Enemy Mine: Alex regards Elijah as a dead man walking and Elijah regards him as a loose cannon upsetting his plans. But in Chapter 39, they briefly co-operate to save Cain's life.
  • Energy Weapon: Arcade has a plasma pistol, and boy howdy does it work well.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Alex is incredibly cynical and a borderline sociopath who has a dim view of the world in general, but if there is one thing he cannot stand, it's slavery. As he explains it, people's lives are their own. Nobody has the right to take control of another person's life.
    • He also can't stand when people engage in cannibalism for superficial reasons, like certain members of the White Glove Society. Alex consumes human flesh because he has no other options, especially now that most every other living thing is irradiated to one degree or another, and he clearly doesn't like the fact. The idea that people would willingly eat others for no other reason than a sense of superiority disgusts him.
    • Cain may hate Benny with a passion, but she has no intention of taking Caesar up on his suggestion of crucifixion. That's too cruel, even for the guy who shot her in the head.
  • Evil Counterpart: Dean Domino is Cain's. They're both silver-tongued con artists who dislike melee combat, hate having fast ones pulled on them, and can be very fixated on personally settling scores. Cain just isn't willing to get innocents caught in the crossfire. She's quite unnerved by how similar they are.
  • Face Death with Dignity: When he's captured by the Legion and offered up to Cain as payment for accepting Caesar's task, Benny knows full well that he's going to die. Rather than beg Cain to show mercy, he calmly resigns himself to his fate and only asks that Cain finish what he started to take down House.
  • Face Palm: This is Arcade's usual response when Cain does or says something crazy. By now, he's probably got a permanent mark on his forehead.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Mortimer, on the outside, is the very picture of a gentleman. Beneath that, he's kidnapped several people from his own hotel to serve and eat as gourmet cuisine.
  • Freak Out:
    • A sad one. Alex does not take learning that two hundred years have passed and Dana is dead well.
    • And he experiences yet another sad one when Cain is kidnapped, because he decided to have fun killing Legionaries instead of bodyguarding her.
  • Friendly Sniper: Cain prefers rifles, and has a cheerful demeanor.
  • Fusion Fic: A minor example. The events of [PROTOTYPE] were part of the Pre-War history of the Fallout universe, turning the setting's Alternate Timeline into a Bad Future.
  • The Gadfly: Cain really likes to tease and jab at Alex, although she knows when to stop and, as she explains, is really trying to help him lighten up and heal some of those issues.
  • Gas Leak Cover Up: Cain claims Alex was a heavy user of Buffout in order to explain his erratic behavior to the King.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Don't let the cheerful attitude fool you; Cain is more than capable of killing those who make an enemy of her.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: While Alex is obscenely tough, he's also been horrifically injured because he's so durable, taking hits for his squishier human companions. He's been shot, gotten radiation poisoning, been chewed on by a night stalker (whose venom cost him an arm), burned by a fuel-air explosion, suffered exposure to the thoroughly toxic Cloud, dueled a deathclaw, and gotten cut in half by a force field. Aside from radiation, the most dangerous aspect of these incidents is the loss of biomass—and that's mostly because it triggers Alex's cravings.
  • Guile Hero: While Cain isn't afraid to get her hands dirty, she much prefers destroying an enemy's power base or ruining their lives to simply shooting them. She's smart enough to make it work.
  • Guns Akimbo: Cain, momentarily when fighting Benny's guards.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Averted. While Alex might not need them, Cain and Arcade do, and so does everyone else. Arcade even has a plasma pistol and is a good shot with it.
  • Guttural Growler: Alex normally speaks like this, when he actually bothers to talk.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Elijah slices Alex in half with a well-timed force field in Chapter 42. Sadly for Elijah, even in Alex's weakened state, that's not enough to kill him, though it certainly gives Cain a moment of panic.
  • Hates Being Touched: Big time in Alex's case, in part because he has to actively restrain himself from consuming whoever does touch him.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Alex makes the mistake of eating a plasma pistol and gets himself massively irradiated early in the fic. He also tries eating a Cazador after first getting loose, and it does not go well. During the Dead Money arc, he eats one of the Ghost People, and after a very unpleasant reaction to it, realizes that he should have seen it coming, since they bled bright green, and absolutely nothing in the Mojave in that color had meant anything good for him.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: House. Between signing up a greedy would-be traitor as his protege and assuming that the Three Families would be totally loyal to him, Cain questions how House has kept them in check for even this long. It's implied she sees taking over the Strip as replacing something that's worn-out.
  • Horror Hunger:
    • Refraining from eating people doesn't do any wonders for Alex's health. Or sanity. Worse, as most wasteland life is contaminated by FEV or radiation, there's several bad side effects as well.
    • Certain members of the White Glove Society engage in cannibalism because they want to keep their old ways.
  • I am a Humanitarian: Alex, of course, although he's keeping that fact under wraps for the time being. But the cat is out of the bag as of chapter 21, complete with an achievement named after this trope.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Alex tries fighting his first Deathclaw without using any of his body-shifting powers at first. This is because he doesn't want to reveal his true nature to Veronica, a member of an organization that hoards Pre-War tech. Technically being Pre-War tech himself, this makes Alex a little wary. He winds up having to break out the claws to put it down properly, and still finds it a challenge. Alex being Alex, that just makes him more excited to fight the rest of the nest at Quarry Junction.
  • Immune to Bullets: Shooting at Alex is a singularly unproductive and suicidal endeavor, at least with bullets. Laser weaponry hurts quite a bit more, and plasma weaponry irradiates him - which is very bad for him.
  • Impossible Task: Ordinarily, the NCR asking Cain to clear out Quarry Junction would qualify as a suicide run at best, and she outright wonders whether they're trying to get her killed. Ordinarily, she also wouldn't have Alex Mercer to handle it.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Cain and Alex figure out that Dean was the one who put Christine in the Auto-Doc when he mentions her recovery from it; they never told him how she got injured, and Christine certainly didn't.
  • Jerkass: Hildern of the NCR is a very unpleasant individual. He omits that there might be dangers in Vault 22 and doesn't care one bit that the data he wanted could potentially backfire in the most terrible ways.
    • And then there's Caesar, who embodies this trope.
    • Philippe of the White Glove Society is not a pleasant individual. Even flattery doesn't make him less abrasive.
    • God and Dean Domino, to Cain's frustration. One introduces himself by insulting her, the other by sitting her on a landmine and being a general sleaze. It actually makes her think that Alex is a gentleman in comparison.
  • Justice Will Prevail: Thanks to Alex and friends, the Fiends are very dead. Of course, justice in Fallout is a bit more grisly than the Old World version. Alex approves.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • How the party deals with Vault 22's Spore Carriers.
    • Cook-Cook is a pyromaniac and as such favors a flamethrower for a weapon. Being a drugged-up psychotic nutter, he doesn't care who he torches.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Radiation and plasma weapons are much more effective on Alex than on ordinary humans (and they're already pretty deadly to them). Radiation especially cripples him, as one: he could have eaten animals, except they're more irradiated than humans, and two: eating anything too irradiated makes him incredibly sick. What's worse, it can damage him on a genetic level—this costs him the use of his Hammerfists, but Alex worries that it might strip his ability to hold a human form, or even to eat.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Mortimer of the White Glove Society has been serving up tourists as gourmet cuisine for months because he feels that is his right; Alex is more than happy to return the favor, in a considerably messier way.
  • Like an Old Married Couple:
    • Alex and Cain have clashing personalities, which makes them squabble a lot, but over the course of the fic they come to care for each other.
      Alex: I thought I told you to stay put.
      Cain: Yeah, so I'm gonna ask you a serious question, Alex. If I left you that same note, would you have listened to it?
      Alex...looked like he wanted to strangle her, for the most part, but in a fond sort of way. He never did soft, but his voice wasn't completely stuffed with knives, so she was probably off the hook.
      Alex: This is pretty much exactly what I wanted to avoid when I wrote that.
      Cain: Are you complaining about the outcome?
      Alex: Maybe. Depends what you did to yourself.
    • Invoked and subverted with Dean and Cain. He constantly uses wedding metaphors to describe their relationship, but they hate each other.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: Downplayed with Alex after being bitten by a Nightstalker. It's the closest a Wasteland creature has come yet to seriously harming him, to the point that he has to amputate the bitten arm to prevent the spread of the poison. Granted, he can regrow it without trying too hard, but it taxes him greatly and makes the Horror Hunger worse at a time he's already low on biomass.
    • Later, eating a Ghost Person results in much the same kind of decision, because the gas-mask freaks are loaded to the brim with Cloud. Between losing so much mass initially and having still more burned off by the Sierra Madre's nigh-omnipresent laser security holograms, Alex's hunger starts rapidly slipping out of his control.
  • Lovable Rogue: Well, that's how Cain would describe herself. Her build in SPECIAL corresponds to the Diplomat archetype, with low STR and END, but extremely high CHA, INT and LCK.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: Alex Mercer embodies this and he thoroughly enjoys it, though his companions have their reservations. The first time he shows his claws, Arcade looks to be on the verge of fainting. Cain is much less disturbed, however.
    • In fact, Cain is pretty laid back in this regard. Case in point, when Alex revealed that his clothes were actually part of himself, Cain's first response is to point out that he'd essentially been walking around naked.
    • She and Arcade are very freaked out the revelation that he eats people, however. They do talk through the situation and stick by him after, but it takes quite a bit of smoothing over for everyone involved.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Subverted with Alex when he drags Pacer through the Kings school to make him confess. He gets stabbed in the back and completely forgets that the switchblade is still jutting out of his back until Cain spots it. Not being human, it really didn't hurt him.
  • Motor Mouth: Cain likes to talk. When Veronica shows up, Alex's reaction can be summed up as "Oh god, there's two of them now."
  • Morality Chain: Cain and Arcade function as Alex's, to an extent. At the very least, Cain is trying, and so far she and Arcade are the only two who can talk him out of anything. Dana as well, although given that she's dead, it's more like Alex is honoring her memory and The Promise.
  • Morality Pet:
    • Cain and Arcade aren't quite Alex's conscience, but they're getting there. They're certainly the only two people that he currently has any personal regard for.
    • Given that over two centuries have passed, Dana obviously isn't around anymore, but he holds the promises he made to her in high regard, and her memory keeps him on the straight and narrow.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Alex's basic approach to a problem. Eat someone, and if they aren't the guy you want they'll probably lead you to him. There's a back-and-forth towards the end of the White Gloves arc where Alex points out that the guy he wanted to eat really was guilty, but Cain points out that they didn't know that at the time.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Cain finally has a chance to get revenge on Benny, the guy who shot her and left her for dead. Unfortunately, in an effort to show that she can do this on her own, she lets herself walk into an obvious trap and her target escapes. She berates herself right after.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Several incidents from Cain's past are mentioned in passing, often humorously.
    • Cain and Arcade get extremely drunk after dealing with the White Glove Society; this isn't written, but several events from their voyage into the world of alcohol are referenced the day after.
  • No Social Skills: Alex might have the memories of thousands of people rattling around his head, but he doesn't fully understand human interactions or morals, and doesn't really know what to do with people other than ignoring them or killing them. Many of the things he says are cause for confusion. Or alarm.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Cain's cleverer than she lets on, though her eccentricities aren't entirely an act.
  • Odd Friendship: A sentient viral superweapon, a wasteland wandering woman with a penchant for crazy plans and a snarky doctor. They Fight Crime! It doesn't get much odder than that.
  • One-Man Army: There has yet to be any force that can stand against Alex and not get reduced to chunky salsa.
  • Only Sane Man: Poor Arcade. His nerves aren't going to last long at the rate things are going.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • When Alex starts to get hungry, his standoffishness and curt demeanor are amplified because his Horror Hunger insists that his human companions are food. He tries to keep them away from him for both their sakes, but notes that it stops being controllable the worse it gets. His companions, at first, think he's just being more of an asshole until he shoves Cain away hard enough to leave a handprint.
    • Cain's nerves are shot to hell during the events of the Dead Money DLC, resulting in her losing most of her confident trickster persona as the stress of trying to survive in the hostile-to-all-life Sierra Madre gets to her. Alex immediately notices the shift in Cain's behavior when he arrives, starting with her being actually openly glad to see him.]]
    • After experiencing the Sierra Madre's hazards for himself, including a very unsuccessful attempt to eat a Ghost Person and running into FEV's incompatibility with Blacklight (via testing Nightkin blood), Alex's hunger is amplified past the point of tolerance, and everyone has very good reason to be wary of him. Cain has to go so far as to talk Christine out of confronting Elijah in the hopes that Alex can finally get someone to eat. Which, it must be noted, was not something she would have contemplated (except regarding Mortimer) before this adventure kicked off.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: Cain and Alex get sent to take out Elijah, kicking off the events of Dead Money in a different fashion than the canon game has. For Cain, things have suddenly switched from the future Western she's used to, to a survival horror film. Things get a little better when Alex shows up.
  • The Paranoiac: Alex expects the worst of everything and everyone (save Arcade and Cain, and even then it takes him a while). It laps into Properly Paranoid at times, but it also serves to nurture his many issues and burn bridges pre-emptively. As Cain points out, some things he should be suspicious of or keep under lock and key, but being superpowered isn't a huge deal anymore, and being as paranoid as he is only means he's going to stay stressed and unhappy.
  • Percussive Pickpocket: Cain steals a key from Cachino this way.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: As per canon, Alex is a human-shaped cross between a Swiss Army Knife and a blob of Silly Putty with a plethora of fun and exciting ways to murder people en masse. By 'fun and exciting', we mean 'gory and horrifying'. At least he thinks it's fun.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: In Chapter 38, Cain ends up in the congested Cloud, and is reduced to a screaming mess. Alex immediately leaps to carry her away, and the last thing she hears as she passes out is him pleading with her to stay with him.
  • Power Fist: Even without Musclemass and Hammerfists, Alex's normal punches go through enemies like they were made of jello.
  • Power Trio: Alex Mercer, Cain, and Arcade Gannon.
    • Freudian Trio: Alex is the Id, Arcade is the Super-Ego, Cain is the Ego.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Dean shows off why it isn't a good idea to spout these before killing your quarry; when he betrays Cain in Chapter 39, he leads with a witty one-liner that alerts her in time to jerk aside and dodge his bullet. If he'd just kept his mouth shut, he would have killed her.
  • Protectorate: Arcade and Cain are these to Alex, though Cain receives the most attention of the two, since she's the one always going off to do something crazy. Arcade, on the other hand, is perfectly happy letting Alex deal with whatever dangerous thing is in front of them.
    • Though Alex doesn't fully trust her, he has apparently extended his protection to Christine, the Brotherhood member who went after Elijah and got caught. It helps that, in spite of getting her voice literally torn from her, she's still unwilling to give up, making her someone Alex deems worthy of respect.
  • Psycho for Hire:
    • While he's technically not getting paid, Alex is still recruited by Cain to provide some extra muscle, and boy does he fulfill his role.
    • Clanden, a bombmaker for the Omertas, is a serial killer who gratifies himself by torturing women to death. Said women are the employees of the Omertas, and count as his payment.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Why Cain, a Guile Hero who uses a rifle, opts for a knife fight in the Legion arena against Benny instead of just killing him and being done with it. She doesn't just want him dead, she wants to beat him and make sure he knows she beat him in the end.
  • Sanity Slippage: A pretty terrifying version. The toll the Sierra Madre and the Cloud take on Alex slowly drive him mad with hunger, and because he's one of the narrators, we're treated to a first-person view of it. By the time he actually gets to eat Elijah, he's little more than an incoherent mess clinging to the thoughts "don't kill Cain" and "just a little longer".
  • Sarcastic Devotee: Arcade. He'll patch up everyone's wounds even while complaining that if everyone had just followed his advice, they wouldn't have been injured in the first place.
  • Serial-Killer Killer: Alex prefers to avoid consuming innocents if he can help it, but a sapient virus monster's gotta eat. He hunted criminals back in Manhattan, and between Fiends, raiders, Legionaries, cannibals, and all kinds of terrible people, Fallout provides him with a wide spread of guilt-free targets.
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse: Alex got locked up in a bunker and missed out on the past few centuries. When he gets out, he's understandably shocked.
  • Spanner in the Works: Cain and Alex seem to specialize in this, mucking up various plans just by being in the right place at the right time. Alex looks like he'll be one for the Dead Money arc, as he tracks Cain across the open desert by running for almost three days straight to the Sierra Madre, introducing a new factor to Elijah's carefully-planned heist.
  • The Spymaster: Just like in canon, Vulpes Inculta is the Legion's hidden hand. Case in point, he made a secret alliance with the Omertas to take down House. Whether or not they would succeed is irrelevant since in either case, both sides would be sufficiently weakened and the Legion would be able to run right over them. Fortunately, Cain and her companions thwart the plant.
  • The Starscream: Benny plans to be one, as in canon, and Cain is headed fast towards the Wild Card route.
  • Sticky Fingers: Cain pickpockets a "deceased" Freeside thug helping Orris run a scam.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Chapter 17 is titled "Dynamite;" no prizes for guessing what happens there.
  • Super Strength: This is Alex's hat. Moving half-ton rocks like they were made of Styrofoam? Check. Throwing people around like rag dolls? Double check. He's actually disappointed when he doesn't get to throw a trailer at someone.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Alex Mercer's obvious bloodthirst, impulsive aggression, and apparently unstoppable power frighten Cain, but she feels sorry for him in that he's stranded out of time in an unfamiliar world, with everyone he ever knew long dead.
  • Take Your Time: Averted; early on Cain does work for the Kings and is asked to investigate hostilities between the gang and NCR civilians. She instead visits Vault 22, enters the Strip, meets House, deals with the Families, meets Caesar, et cetera. Ingame, the situation would remain static until she intervened, but in the story, open firefights between the Kings and NCR have started.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: It's a miracle the group in the Sierra Madre can even function. Alex hates everyone except Cain and Christine, God/Dog hates everyone except sometimes Cain, Dean hates everyone except Christine, Christine hates Dean, and Cain hates Dean.
  • That Man Is Dead: Threnody Cain isn't her original name, it's Elise McKenzie. She explicitly mentions having discarded her old identity.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Cain's Fatal Flaw. She needs to be the one to beat Benny, and twice over, puts herself at needless risk to do so. In the Sierra Madre arc, even after almost dying and being badly wounded, she refuses to wait for Alex because she can't stand the thought of someone else getting to Elijah before she does. In fact, this what she needs to "let go", and she does when she realizes she's not even disappointed Alex got to kill and eat Elijah, because it's not important—what is, is that her friend is alive.
  • Trap Is the Only Option: When Cain encounters Vulpes Inculta on the Vegas strip, he tells her that Caesar wishes to speak to her. In exchange, any crimes she may have committed against the Legion will be forgiven and, as an added bonus, they'll give her Benny, who happened to get himself captured. There is no way Caesar won't benefit from this somehow, but if she wants the Platinum Chip, she has to take him up on the offer.
  • Trauma Button: Alex doesn't like most things, but he especially does not like elevators, which remind him of Karen's betrayal and his subsequent repayment of it. Just being in one makes him twitchier than usual, and drags the associated memories too close to the surface for his comfort.
  • Trauma Conga Line:
    • Things go badly for Cain in the Sierra Madre arc and just don't stop.
    • Concurrently, Veronica's life doesn't go much better, with the Brotherhood isolating her for her disastrous choices and later forcing her to flee and become an outcast when an attempt is made on her life.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Cain argues that Alex would be this for the most part amongst the already-wacky Wasteland, pointing out that with ten-foot-tall super mutants and nightkin, robots, and the mutant wildlife, a guy with tentacle-based superpowers just doesn't seem that out of the ordinary. She does concede that the whole "eating people" thing would probably be best kept close to the vest.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Downplayed. Alex, being a virus, does not do well when exposed to alcohol, which kills viruses on contact. He also is not a fan of water, because even though it doesn't cause lasting harm, it apparently hurts. A lot. He also takes a great deal more pain from the Cloud than a human, Super Mutant, or ghoul would due to the fact that he doesn't technically have skin.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Alex has a rather heated argument with Cain after she reveals to Veronica, a scribe of the Brotherhood of Steel they just encountered, that he's not human. Given that her order religiously hordes any Pre-War weapons they come across, he's understandably concerned that they might decide he qualifies as one and will try to capture and study him. He considers what Cain did a borderline betrayal of his trust and warns her to never give away any of his secrets without his consent again. It's pretty clear what will happen to her (or perhaps worse, to the people she decides to tell) if she does.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After the chapters involving Vault 22, several readers asked what happened to Keely, the ghoul scientist trapped in the Vault, whom the party didn't encounter. She appears in Chapter 14 at Camp McCarran, having survived both the party's torching the Vault and Alex sealing it shut.
    • Amusingly, several readers of the fic at demonstrated more concern over the unique Laser Rifle found in Vault 22, forgetting Keely entirely.
  • Worthy Opponent: Alex directly refers to the alpha deathclaw in Quarry Junction as this.
  • You Can't Go Home Again:
    • Alex is both a Fish out of Temporal Water and on the other side of America, so he can never return to the Manhattan he knew. Some of his dialogue suggests wistfulness for it.
    • In Chapter 38, Veronica has to flee the Brotherhood forever after two of its members get fed up with her rule-breaking and try to kill her.
  • You Do NOT Want To Know: This is essentially Alex's response to Cain asking him how many people he's killed.

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