Try-It Tuesday: UNRAVEL TWO

Almost a year ago, I tried Unravel, a single-player side-scrolling puzzle platformer developed by the Swedish company Coldwood Interactive and published by Electronic Arts. I enjoyed it so much, I bought the full game and played it for my YouTube channel.

Click here for the free demo

In June 2018, EA announced and released UNRAVEL TWO. This week, I played the free demo for PS4. My 14-year-old daughter played with me and we had a good time.

Unlike the first game, UNRAVEL TWO may be played as either a single-player or a multiplayer local co-op. There are two Yarnies who must work together in order to solve puzzles and manipulate the world. Gameplay is similar to the original, with lots of jumping, swinging on string, and manipulating objects in order to progress through the environment.

The free trial includes the first level and most of the second. There are only seven levels in UNRAVEL TWO, compared to twelve in Unravel, but the sequel also includes twenty bonus challenges.

Rated “E” for everyone, with mild fantasy violence. Like the first game, the sequel has some dark story elements and complex puzzles that might not be understood nor appropriate for younger players.

~ J.L. Hilton

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I’ve played about 1,200 hours of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, as well as a bit of Arena and Oblivion, so I’m often asked if I play THE ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE. I’ve yet to find a “massively multiplayer online” (MMO) game that I enjoy, so I never tried ESO until now.

I still haven’t found an MMO that I enjoy, but it was fun to be “Telyn,” the Dunmer ancestor of my favorite follower Teldryn Sero, for a little while.

The free demo started me in Morrowind and the first quest involved one of the Morag Tong assassins, which was cool. But the experience got goofy pretty quick as I found myself surrounded by other players leaping around like frogs, whacking me, and shouting into bad microphones.

Some people relish the MMO experience. My sister, a World of Warcraft and Overwatch player, watched my ESO livestream and immediately bought the game for herself. There is no single-player offline mode, so I’ll just keep waiting for The Elder Scrolls VI.

Released in 2014 for PC and 2015 for consoles, ESO is set 800-1000 years before the events of MorrowindOblivion and Skyrim. As with other games in the franchise, the player begins as a prisoner, has the option of playing various races and classes, and is free to explore, though some areas of Tamriel require additional purchases or membership in certain factions.

Rated “M” for mature audiences, due to blood and gore, sexual themes, violence, and use of alcohol.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: N.E.R.O. Nothing Ever Remains Obscure

N.E.R.O.: Nothing Ever Remains Obscure is a 2016 game from Storm in a Teacup, the Italian developer currently working on BioShock lookalike Close to the Sun (trailer). Regular price was $14.99 but I was able to pick it up on Playstation+ sale for $2.99 so I thought I’d try it out.

N.E.R.O. is promoted as “a wonderful journey in a world of incredible beauty, a story driven first-person game with puzzles and intuitive controls where the environment is connected to the characters and their past. The world of N.E.R.O. is magical and varied, making exploring an ongoing challenge.”

I think “incredible beauty” is a bit of a stretch. In a game where “nothing ever remains obscure,” most of the scenery is dark and difficult to see. At one point, the game’s glowing storybook sentences promised an area so “magnificent that it defied a human imagination” but delivered a shadowy shanty town and a few stone arches.

The plot of the “story driven” game seems to be not one but two, possibly three (?) tales involving parents with a sick child, brigands, and gods. Only, the gods might be the parents, or the sick child might be the leader of the brigands, or … something. Hard to say. Again, obscure.

Exploration is certainly an ongoing challenge, mainly because I kept getting stuck on the rocky terrain, unable to jump and incapable of moving at more than a snail’s pace, even when engaging the “run” button (R1). It is what many gamers would call a “walking simulator.”

By comparison, I tried The Unfinished Swan a couple weeks ago and it, too, had a story about a young boy exploring a magical land full of puzzles. But I enjoyed that game enough to play all the way through. I have no interest in finishing N.E.R.O.


N.E.R.O. is available for PS4, PC and Xbox One. Rated “E” for everyone, but I don’t think this is a game for children. They would probably find it quite boring, with most of the pretentious storytelling going over their heads.

If you decide to play, just remember to aim high. I wasted a lot of time before realizing the spells orbs were lobbed in an arc that dropped below the intended target, not cast in a straight line.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: FAR CRY 5

Usually, on Try-It Tuesdays, I play games I know almost nothing about. But in this case, I watched my husband play FAR CRY 5 while I convalesced after surgery, so I saw a good bit before trying it myself.

As much as I love the soundtrack, scenery, graphics, crazy side missions, variety of weapons and vehicles, stealth mechanics, ziplines and potential pets, the characters and story left a lot to be desired, and those things matter quite a bit to me.

Even if you try to ignore the plot and just enjoy yourself, as one might in an open world like Fallout 4 or SkyrimFAR CRY 5 will eventually force you into unavoidable kidnappings, drug-induced cutscenes, repetitive missions, and ultimately a shitty ending.

I don’t want another BioShock Infinite experience, where I spend hours slogging through a game with a lame, unsatisfying and unavoidable narrative. So, while it was fun for a Try-It Tuesday, I won’t be continuing FAR CRY 5 but I’m interested in trying other games in the franchise.

Rated “M” for mature audiences, due to blood and gore, intense violence, sexual themes, strong language, and use of drugs and alcohol.

~ J.L. Hilton

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THE UNFINISHED SWAN is a 2012 video game in the vein of Flower or Unravel, with puzzles, nice music, and an emotional story that centers around a boy named Monroe who — like Alice, Dorothy or Coraline — enters a magical, mysterious and sometimes dangerous world where everything is a metaphor.

Click to buy

THE UNFINISHED SWAN begins with a white screen. Scenery becomes visible only with the strategic lobbing of black blobs of paint, then the world becomes progressively more complex, introducing new colors and mechanics with each level. As Monroe pursues the titular swan and explores his surroundings, he learns the story of a lousy, self-centered king in need of a good therapist.

The game mechanics were original, the levels interesting, the artwork lovely and the levels fun. I bought this on sale for $2.99, which is a bargain for four or five hours of entertaining gameplay. Full price is $14.99. After completing the entire game and collecting every balloon, you can replay individual levels with new game features such as a fire hose or sniper rifle that shoots paint.

I completed the first two out of four chapters during Try-It Tuesday and finished the game the next day. Here’s the second half:

Nominated for three BAFTA awards for Original Music, Game Innovation, and Debut Game. The Original Music award went to Journey but THE UNFINISHED SWAN won the other two categories.

Available for Playstation 3, PS4 and PS Vita. Rated “E 10+” for everyone 10 and up.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Fallout 4 fanfiction: Eve of Destruction

Another story based on my first playthrough of Fallout 4. My Fallout 4 fanfiction doesn’t include the entire story of the Sole Survivor but is intended to fill in the gaps between the quests and storylines experienced within the game. In other words, it’s “headcanon.”

“Eve of Destruction” takes place after Fiona finds her son, and after the battle of Bunker Hill, but before she defends the Castle and destroys the Institute. Told from Hancock’s perspective, she’s romanced with MacCready but finds little comfort in the relationship as she buckles under the pressures of leadership.

If you’d like to see a tour of my actual Castle in the game, check out my video on Youtube.

Story spoilers, strong language and sexual references.

1,700 words

* * *

Part 1: MacCready’s Lucky Cap – MacCready meets Daisy & leaves the Gunners.
Part 2: A Home No More – Fiona adjusts to life in the Commonwealth wasteland.
Part 3: MacCready Meets the Mayor – MacCready arrives in Goodneighbor.
Part 8: MacCready’s Wooden Soldier – MacCready & Fiona share a moment.
Part 9: Wanton Wasteland – Hangman’s Alley – Adults only! In a dystopian, post-apocalyptic Boston, the ghoulified mayor of Goodneighbor indulges in whiskey and voyeurism.
Part 10: Happy Birthday, Fiona – Hancock deals with unrequited lust that just might be love.
Part 12: Eve of Destruction – Hancock helps Fiona cope with the stresses of leadership.

* * *


Fiona kept a bonfire burning on the battlements of the Castle. “A beacon of hope,” she called it, “to guide people lost in the wasteland.” When MacCready said it might also attract unwanted attention, she’d shrugged and replied, “Trouble will find us, whether we light a fire or not.”

Hancock appreciated her attitude. Reminded him of a certain ghoul mayor who hung a bright neon “Goodneighbor” sign over his door.

When the Minutemen weren’t busy cleaning weapons or repairing armor, small patrols ventured into the nearby ruins, scavenging supplies and more fuel for that fire. And so Fiona burned down the Old World, one building at a time, while she rebuilt the new. The fire became more than a light in the darkness, it became a symbol. The fire was Fiona’s rage, her sorrow, her hope. She rose like a phoenix from its ashes while new recruits flocked to the ranks of her growing army and new settlements joined the cause.

That’s where Hancock found her, looking out at the city. Light and shadow danced over her in the darkness but she didn’t move, didn’t greet him, didn’t even turn to glance in his direction or acknowledge he was there. He added some wood to the blaze and sat in the grass, listening to the crackling flames and the voices calling across the parade ground below.

They expected a full-scale assault from the Institute, any day now. Fiona had done what no one had ever managed to do before. She’d entered the Institute and lived to tell the tale, and there was no way the Institute was going to let her get away with it. That’s the story everyone knew. What they didn’t know, but he and MacCready did, was that her kid led the whole damn operation, and they called him “Father” like some sort of religious cult.

“Hey, gorgeous, come here often?”

MacCready’s voice shattered the pensive night like a bullet through a Nuka-Cola bottle. He stood at the top of the stairs, a pup with his ears perked up, hoping to be petted. Fiona didn’t turn around for him, either.

“It’s quiet… too quiet…” MacCready laughed. “What’re you doing up here by yourself?”

“I’m not. Hancock’s with me.”

Hancock wondered how she knew it was him.

MacCready rounded the bonfire and sat beside him, resting his rifle across his knees. “Hey, Hancock, you ready? This is going to be a lot bigger than a mutant invasion or a raider… raid.”

“I’m always ready, MacCready.” Hancock pulled a pack of fresh cigarettes and a gold-plated lighter from his coat pocket. Both were gifts from Fiona, swiped from the Institute before she told Shaun to fuck off. It was a goddamn generous gift, but he tried not to read too much into it. She and MacCready were planning to get married when the dust finally settled. If they both survived.

She’d asked Hancock to do the wedding, him being mayoral and all. He tried to defer to the pastor in Diamond City, but she wanted it right there on the ramparts of the Castle, broadcast on Radio Freedom. A grand, romantic event to inspire the Commonwealth. She was going to squeeze the Wasteland by its fucking balls until it covered her tits in Happily Ever After, and no one was going to get in her goddamn way.

Against his better judgment, he’d agreed, but he gave it six months.

Preston joined their little gathering. “No songs tonight, General?”

Sturges gave her a guitar for her birthday several months ago, and she put it to good use entertaining the troops. She knew a helluva lot of songs that weren’t on Diamond City Radio and probably hadn’t been heard for over a hundred years. Hancock had a real thing for music, which is why he paid through the nose he didn’t have to keep Magnolia around the Third Rail. Fiona’s musical talents were just icing on a big-breasted, tight-assed cake that Hancock wanted to have and eat, too. For the umpteenth time, he cursed the day he ever suggested she hire MacCready.

She turned, her profile lined in orange light. “I’m not really in the mood for an uplifting sing-along, right now.”

Hancock took a long drag and spoke as he exhaled. “Then what are you in the mood to sing?”

Fiona didn’t reply, but after a few minutes he heard her voice drifting with the wind and the rush of the waves breaking on the shore. She sang slower than the song’s usual tempo, soft and low.

“It’s all over but the crying, and nobody’s crying but me. Friends all over know I’m trying to forget about how much I care for you. It’s all over but the dreaming, poor little dreams that keep trying to come true. It’s all over but the crying, and I can’t get over crying over you.”

Her voice cracked a little. She wiped her eyes and disappeared down the stairs.

No one moved. After a minute or two, Hancock pounded his cigarette into the grass. “You going to go talk to her?”

“Me?” said MacCready. “She’s been up here all night, then I come up here and she leaves. I think she wants to be alone.”

Hancock couldn’t fathom wanting to be alone. Sure, he’d been alone plenty, but he never wanted to be. Fiona didn’t, either, he was certain, or she’d have left when Hancock first showed up.

Preston offered the biggest fucking understatement of the year. “She’s got a lot on her mind.” But he didn’t get up to go after her, so Hancock went himself.

She goddamned needed to know she wasn’t alone, that she was appreciated for everything she was willing to sacrifice and endure. He had to do it, if no one else could or would.

He crossed the courtyard, passed the radio tower, and went straight to her quarters, where he pushed open the double doors and found her sitting at the meeting table, bawling into her hands.

He sat beside her. “You wanna talk? I’m all ears. I don’t actually have ears, but you know what I mean.”

She pulled a blue bandana from her pocket and blew her nose.

“Everyone’s got such a hard-on to fight the Institute and I don’t blame them. But they don’t understand, and there’s no way I can tell them, oh, yeah, by the way, my kid’s been killing your family members and replacing them with synths. My son, my whole reason for staying alive in this… nightmare… My whole fucking reason for doing any of this…”

She waved her hand in a sweeping gesture and he assumed “this” meant the Castle, the Minutemen, and the Commonwealth.

“Now we’re mortal enemies. Mother and son.” She twisted the bandana in her hands. “What’s the goddamn point, now? Every broken coffee mug hauled back to Sanctuary Hills, every cap fished out of a filthy fucking raider’s pocket, every bullet scavenged from a dead Gunner? Turning tin cans into turrets? Rubble into a village? When will it be enough?”

“Enough for what? You think you do enough good, life will stop taking a shit on you? That’s never gonna happen.”

“I know. That’s an Old World myth. Good, hard-working people get a good life. It’s the lie we told ourselves so we didn’t have to admit how fucked up and unfair the world really was.”

“You coulda stayed at the Institute and not worried about the rest of us.”

“For fuck sake, Hancock, you know there’s no way I’m going to sit by and let anyone do this, even my own son. The Institute might have flushing toilets and hot water, but theirs is not the world I want to live in. The things I saw, the files I read. They abduct people, torture them, turn them into mutants, murder them, replace them. They manufacture humans and then treat them like slaves.”

“I know. They’re the worst kind of tyrants, the kind who think the end justifies the means.”

“All this time, ever since I left the vault, I just kept thinking, if I found my son, things would go back to… well, not normal, but something like normal. Me and Mac, we’d take Shaun and Duncan and live at Taffington, work on the house, plant a garden, watch the boys grow up, maybe have another baby. Live the life that was cut short by war. But… now… none of that makes any sense.”

“Why not?”

“Because I feel responsible, somehow, for the things Shaun’s done. And I refuse to see a broken world and do nothing. I’m not a mutant or a raider or a Gunner or the Institute. I’m Fiona, general of the fucking Minutemen.”

“You’re goddamn right you are.”

She was a natural leader who reveled in wasteland justice, with an overdeveloped need for excitement, achievement, admiration, adventure, chems, sex… Ok, maybe he was projecting just a little.

He fiddled with the gold lighter. He liked the way it sounded when it snapped open and shut, and it gave him something to do with his hands. Because what he really wanted to do was drag her into that bed in the corner, pop some Mentats, drown her in whiskey, and fuck her until she forgot everything for a little while. There wasn’t any happy ever after, only happy right now, and that’s the best anyone could hope for. He wanted to give her that. He wanted to give her that until she couldn’t walk right. The two of them together, they’d be unstoppable. The king of the underworld and the queen of hearts, they could bring together the poor and the poorer, make a better world, spend a little more time being high and hopeful.

“Thanks, Hancock.”

“Hey, any time. It’s tough at the top. I get that, you know.”

“I know. That’s why I like having you around.”

Did she, now?

She stuffed the bandana in her pocket. “I just hope we’re ready. I hope… I’m ready. It kills me, walking among them, knowing that… for some of them, these might be their last hours on earth.”

“They’re volunteers. Ain’t nobody being forced to risk their neck that don’t wanna be here.”

“Including you?”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

~ J.L. Hilton

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Skyrim smut, part 6: Return to Solitude

(c) spaceskeleton


The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Tamriel and its inhabitants belong to Bethesda. Zephyr Silvertongue is an original character.

With the shadow of Alduin lifted, the Dragonborn returns home triumphant to Solitude, where Stenvar, her husband in name only, insists she bring her Dunmer lover, Teldryn Sero, to Proudspire Manor. Are Stenvar’s motivations criminal, carnal, or just curious?

This final Skyrim story and is not just about Zephyr and Teldryn but very much a love letter to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, my favorite game.

Do not read if you are easily offended by romance, humor, open marriage, sarcastic Dunmer,  exhibitionist Imperials, or bathing with moon sugar soap.

3,600 words

– J.L. Hilton

* * *


Luna moths danced with the moons Masser and Secunda over Solitude’s strong, stone walls, gabled roofs and fluttering banners. I breathed deep the cold, crisp air from the towering Haafingar Mountains and smelled the salty Sea of Ghosts, the smoke of Beirand’s forge, and the perfume of Angeline’s Aromatics. The cobbled streets hummed with the power of the Aedra, as the Temple of the Divines enshrined all gods save one: Talos. The ruse used by both Nord and Thalmor alike to crumble the very Empire he had built in ages past. An Empire it would be my destiny to rebuild.

Octieve sang with enthusiasm outside the Winking Skeever, spilling more ale down his weatherworn armor than his throat. When we stepped into the ring of torchlight, the old man sputtered and dropped his tankard at Teldryn’s feet.

“My friend Zephyr! I mean, D-D-Dragonborn! Milady! Y-Y-You’ve returned! With your…” His eyes shifted nervously. “Eh… your… companion.”

My lover’s black brows pinched together in an even more menacing scowl than usual.

I clasped Octieve’s shoulder and held him at arm’s length, lest he vomit or piss himself in his inebriated excitement. “Calm yourself, man. Let us buy you a meal.”

Teldryn flipped the tankard in the air with the tip of his boot and caught it in his hand. “Oh, why not buy him another drink?”

Octieve made a pitiful moan, gesturing to the city gates and the guards posted there. “No, no, Corpulus would throw me out again and call the watch this time! I’m too old for broken ribs and damp jails.”

Katla emerged from the inn, and a wave of merriment poured through the open door. She took one look at me and went back inside, no doubt to report my arrival.

I comforted the aged veteran. “Not tonight of all nights, I promise you, Octieve. Tonight, we celebrate. Alduin is defeated and I’ve come home.”

In truth, I was born in Cyrodiil and declared thane in every hold of Skyrim. But, Solitude and it’s residents held a special place in my heart, even if it was the headquarters of the East Empire Company. Or, as Teldryn called them, the “heartless bastards” who monopolized trade across Tamriel.

I pressed several golden septims into Octieve’s shaking hand and curled his stiff fingers around the coins. “Go inside and warm yourself.”

“You’re too kind,” he said.

“Yes, she is.” Teldryn’s silvery voice stretched each word into a singsong of sarcasm.

“I have a generous spirit,” I reminded him, though he knew well enough I always had a coin or two for a beggar, and sometimes, for fun, would use my pickpocketing skills to slip gems into peasants’ pockets.

Teldryn placed his gloved hand over his heart and bowed. “There are as many reasons to admire you as there are ashes upon Red Mountain.”

Octieve cleared his throat with a riot of noise that sounded like an armored troll attacking a horker. “You’re husband’s inside. He’ll be happy to see you.”

Teldryn’s hand moved to the pommel of his daedric sword. “Overjoyed, no doubt.”

We entered the crowded inn and Octieve followed close enough to be seen in our illustrious company. Corpulus the innkeeper cried out from behind the bar, “The Dragonborn comes!” his eyes shining like the gold that filled his strongbox in celebration of my triumph. Bards played the tune while everyone cheered.

We’d heard the song a thousand times since descending the Throat of the World:

Our hero, our hero claims a warrior’s heart
I tell you, I tell you, the Dragonborn comes…

The entire town seemed to be there, even members of fair Elisif’s haughty court, along with countless faces I didn’t recognize. At the center of it all, my husband Stenvar. After nearly dying in Raven Rock Mine, he’d ceased adventuring and retired in Solitude to raise the orphans we’d plucked from the streets like gems from an urn. Which is when I’d bought Teldryn Sero for 500 gold septims, my heart and my soul.

“Welcome home, my dear!” His weathered face bore no malice. Stenvar was a practical man, not a sentimental one. Our marriage had always been a pliant alliance, given the intrigues of Skyrim and our dedication to Dibella, the goddess of pleasure.

He stood to greet me. Our adopted girls rushed past him and filled my arms. But my thoughts went to the children of my blood—half-human twins born with gray skin, pointed ears and lavender eyes—hidden away like Daedric artifacts. The girl, Illiri, with Karliah at the Goldenglow Estate, and the boy, Eldrys, with Savos in the College of Winterhold. For their own safety, secret even from each other. The children of heroes. The bastard babes of the Dragonborn and her Dunmer paramour.

Stenvar was the only Nord who knew that the real reason I’d brokered peace in the civil war was to go to Solstheim for their birth. The rest of Skyrim thought I’d been off doing whatever Dragonborns do. No one questioned the mysteries of the Dovahkiin.

“Mama, you’re home!”

“You’ve grown so much,” I told them. Sofie stood high as my forehead and Lucia as high as my nose. “I’ve brought you daggers from Skuldafn.”

Lucia hugged Teldryn, too. “I’m glad you finally got rid of that scary riekling.”

“A fierce little fellow, but he made more noise than a wild guar and smelled worse.”

She giggled at Teldryn’s imitation of the creature’s face and heavy breathing.

The emperor’s own cousin Vittoria Vici and Vittoria’s husband Asgeir surrendered their seats so I could sit between my husband and my lover.

Stenvar poured cups of spiced wine for us, then refilled his own tankard with ale. “We’ve been feasting since the first courier brought word of Alduin’s defeat. It’s been like the King Olaf festival for a week.”

Lisette sang The Tale of the Tongues, another tune I’d heard a dozen times since my ordeal in Sovngarde. Emeralds sparkled at her throat. By her nervous glances and Stenvar’s admiring gaze, I guessed her necklace to be a gift from my husband. If he’d found himself a Breton musician to play his flute, so much the better. She had nothing to fear from me.

“Silence, Lisette, silence!” Viarmo, headmaster of the Bard’s College, commanded everyone’s attention. “We have the Dragonborn herself among us! Let Zephyr Silvertongue tell us in her own words the capture of Odahviing within Dragonsreach, how she tamed and flew the beast into the east, entered Aetherius and saved us all! Let her sing the songs she heard in the Hall of Valor and tell us the color of Alduin’s blood.”

Viarmo had been kind to me, when I was an aspiring bard and not the Dragonborn. But he was an Altmer, and I wondered what he might report to the Thalmor agents in Castle Dour before dawn. I would support the Empire in the civil war, but I would not rest until the claws of the Thalmor were extracted from Skyrim and Talos restored to the Nords. With Alduin gone, Ulfric was the next beast to slay, then I’d be after the Aldmeri Dominion soon enough.

“Black, Viarmo!” I bellowed, and the room fell silent. “Alduin’s blood was black as a hagraven’s feather! Black as a dremora whore’s heart! Black as the eye of Sithis!”

I told of arrows flying fierce and true, the boom of powerful thu’um, and the doom that threatened to steal all souls, even such spirits as Jurgen Windcaller and mighty Ysgramor. I praised my comrades in battle, Harkon One-Eye, Gormlaith Golden-Hilt and Felldir the Old, long dead heroes of legend who fought beside me in the afterlife. I recounted each harrowing step of my journey, each growl of the World-Eater and answering slice of my blade. The bards present would rise to greatness repeating the words I spoke that night, and my tale would be retold long after my children’s children breathed their last, even if their Mer blood let them live a thousand years. I shared my story long and well, and in time reached an end.

The drinking and cavorting carried on, as soldiers reluctantly left to report for duty and merchants to open shops for those who’d come into the city to celebrate.

“I’m to Proudspire,” I told Teldryn. I craved a warm bath and a bed.

His whisper caressed the edge of my ear, light as a blue butterfly’s wing. “I’ll be here, waiting for you.”

I watched him rise and move through the revelers, like wind through a field of grain, as they parted with whispers and bobbed their bowed heads.

Stenvar watched him, too.

“You don’t need to keep up appearances on my account,” he said. “Not any more.”

“We must take care. You’re a Nord living between the Blue Palace and the Imperial garrison.”

“You’re a legend now, Zephyr, and legends are beyond reproach. Bring him home with you. I know you won’t have me, but there’s no need to sleep alone.”

“I’ll not disgrace you nor fuel gossip.”

“Don’t worry about my pride. You’ve made me richer than the emperor and my name will be inked beside yours in the chronicles of the ages, maybe even the Elder Scrolls themselves.”

We’d been through much together and I cared for the grizzled Nord. But as much as he ever cared for me, he cared for what he gained by me, whether a pile of treasure, a home, a title, or a handful of tits. I’d been content enough with that, until Teldryn.

“He doesn’t want to sleep in the manor.”

Stenvar took a long drink and lowered the tankard, foam clinging to his mustache. “What he doesn’t want is a sword between his ribs.”

“If you were going to kill him,” I stabbed a chunk of cheese with my dagger for emphasis, “you’d have done it by now.”

“There’s no way in Nirn you’d let me live if I spilled one precious drop of his dark elf blood, sweat or tears. And after you killed me, you’d leave me no peace in death but would enter Sovngarde, again, and spend eternity stomping my balls with Daedric boots of scorching.”

“You know me too well.”

I caught Teldryn’s eye while he spoke with Corpulus. He inclined his head in acknowledgment, finished with the innkeeper, and returned to my side. “Sera?”

“We will both sleep at Proudspire.”

“I’ll open a bottle of Flin,” said Stenvar amiably, “and you can describe the look on Balgruuf’s face when she told him she needed to trap a dragon on his back porch, or how Ulfric and Tullius must have glared at her during peace talks. I wish I could have seen them.”

“Tempting,” said Teldryn in a tone that told otherwise. “But I’ve acquired a room here.”

Stenvar’s gruff voice turned heads. “Don’t be difficult, dark elf. You’ve fucked my wife across the length and breadth of Skyrim, faced the same enemies, slept in the same bedroll, shit in the same bucket. Of course you’re welcome.”

Teldryn arched one eyebrow. “Well, how can I refuse such an eloquent invitation?”

With the matter settled, I had a few words with my Thieves Guild fence, Gulum Ei, and bid farewell to the girls, who would remain with Minette, the innkeeper’s daughter, for the night. A frequent occurrence, according to Stenvar, who saw no reason to coddle two children hardly children any longer, who’d survived alone on the streets long before we’d taken them in.

A boisterous procession escorted us to Proudspire and continued the celebration nextdoor at the Bard’s College. Two steps inside the door of the manor, Stenvar unbuckled his helmet and plate armor, dropping them in the parlor, and stretched with a groan.

“Sure, just throw it anywhere,” Teldryn muttered.

I sent the housecarl, Jordis, to prepare a bath in the master bedroom, and Stenvar opened a bottle of Flin, as promised. Teldryn paced, feigning interest in the collection of relics, weapons and musical instruments on display throughout the house, while my husband peppered me with questions about Sovngarde. I related every detail, except one particular moment I shared with Tsun, immortal guardian of the Hall of Valor. Which I held back not for Stenvar’s sake but for Teldryn’s, who would not like being reminded he had a god for a rival.

I could still hear the distant music and laughter of revelers when we left Stenvar snoring by the kitchen hearth. Upstairs, I undressed.

Teldryn took his time unbuckling his gauntlets and removing his gloves, preferring instead to watch me. “Was this your idea or his?”

“His. He thought we were well beyond the need for pretense.”

“Good. It’s about time.”

Naked, I paused at the edge of the tub. “Aren’t you joining me?”

He sprang like a Falmer trap, sweeping me into his embrace. His lips near mine, nose to nose, forehead to forehead, leather-clad chest pressed to my bare breasts.

“I’m not with you enough.”

“You’re always with me.” I brushed a kiss across his lips satiny purple as the skin of a jazbay grape.

“Not like this. Too much, we spend our lives in armor, watching the skies, and not enough naked in each other’s arms.”

“Then why are you still dressed?” My nimble fingers found laces and buckles, removing his doublet and undershirt to reach the smoldering ashen skin beneath. He no longer wore the chitin armor and red mask in which I’d first met him, but had taken pieces from the Dark Brotherhood’s Falkreath sanctuary. The assassins were gone—we’d killed them all—but they’d had style. The black and red studded leather fit his lean body as if Sanguine himself had made it out of passion and shadow.

Every inch of hard muscle, every fine hair under my fingertips and lips, stoked the growing frenzy within me. I tried to pull him into the water with me and he resisted, the two of us laughing and splashing, stealing tastes of each other’s skin in the midst of the struggle.

Suddenly, he pulled away, drew his sword and summoned a flame atronach. Reacting on instinct, I inhaled, and the words fus ro dah filled my mind. Whatever the threat, using the powerful shout would give me a moment to leave the tub and grab my own sword.

Stenvar stood in the doorway. He took in the wet floor, our scattered clothing, and Teldryn, half-dressed and tensed to unleash a flagon of flagellation, with the flickering conjuration at his side.

The corner of his mouth turned up in a half smile. “Be at ease, dark elf. I didn’t mean to startle you. You know, this room’s right above the kitchen.”

I exhaled and the power of the thu’um ebbed away. “Our apologies. I didn’t think we would wake you.”

Stenvar entered and sat in a chair.

“Please, come in, have a seat, make yourself at home.” Teldryn’s acidic tone could have scorched the shell off a mudcrab. The atronach did a backflip in the narrow space between the bed and the wall.

Stenvar crossed his booted feet on a table piled with platters of cheese, wine and sweet rolls. “She ever tell you about Vorstag and Thonnir? Very interesting adventures they had… in the rooms of several inns.”

Teldryn sheathed his sword. “I’ve met Vorstag. The Nord from Markarth. Facial tattoos, real traditional type. Haven’t met Thonnir. We tend to avoid Morthal.”

Bringing up that little piece of my past made me wonder if Stenvar had other motivations for inviting Teldryn to Proudspire. If so, I had to enlighten him.

“We don’t invite others to our bed, if that’s what you’re asking.”

He shook his head and reached for a bottle of wine. “I’ve no desire to use your dark elf as a whetstone for my blade.”

“I am both relieved and insulted,” Teldryn quipped. With a sizzling sound, the flame atronach disappeared.

“Do you remember Jarl Siddgeir?” Stenvar asked me. His suggestive tone was just the barb to get under my lover’s skin.

Teldryn sputtered in disgust. “The young s’wit in Falkreath? Really?”

Stenvar chuckled. “Will you tell him, or shall I?”

I shrugged in indifference and scrubbed my skin with moon sugar soap. No point in letting the water go cold. “There’s not much to tell.” Certainly not that the taste of Black-Briar Reserve still reminded me of the handsome bastard’s velvet cock.

Teldryn’s voice never lost its melodious quality, even when it had an edge. “Oh, please, I must know all about the slick, slouching Siddgeir.”

“I bestowed the blessing of Dibella upon him. Which is my duty as an agent of Her sacred pleasure. A duty I have since abandoned for you.”

Stenvar took a swig of wine straight from the bottle. “Right there in the throne room. He declaired us thanes before she could even swallow.”

I reached for a jar of alchemical soap, which I massaged into my hair while Teldryn seethed.

“The jarl of Falkreath is a snide, pompous and annoyingly insolent fetcher.”

“Well, isn’t it lucky for you I like snide, pompous, annoyingly insolent fetchers? Rinse.”

He squinted at me in annoyance, but lifted a pitcher of warm water and poured slowly as I tilted my head under the stream. When the pitcher was empty, I wiped water from my eyes and reached for my robe. Teldryn held it open, blocking Stenvar’s view as I stepped out of the tub and slipped it on. Not because of my modesty, which didn’t exist, but his own possessive heart.

I mixed a bit of lavender and honeycomb into a tankard of wine, which I warmed between my hands with a mild fire spell. “What’s the point of all this, Stenvar? Are you writing a new volume of the Argonian maid?”

“I want to know, of all the men and mer, how this second-rate sell-sword satisfies you. You! The woman who won the favor of the Daedra of debauchery.”

“‘Second rate’?” Teldryn echoed with indignation. “I entered the Bloodskal Barrow and defeated the the dragon priest Zahkriisos, when you could not.”

“First-rate sell-sword, then. Is that why you left me, Zephyr? Because my sword arm was too slow?”


For once, my silver tongue could not find the words. The truth was simple yet inscrutable. I had bedded men and mer, but Teldryn was something more. As one might enjoy ale and mead, then discover Firebrand Wine—if wine could make starlight brighter, roads shorter or laughter sweeter.

Teldryn’s eyes glimmered dark red as heart’s blood in the candlelight. My delight in the twilight shade of his skin, his ebony hair, the sardonic twist of his mouth, never faded. I adored his voice, his counsel, his humor, and his skill. For months we’d traveled together before I ever saw his face. And by the time I did, I wouldn’t have cared if he’d been a Dwemer construct or a frost troll.

“Then, by the gods, why?” Stenvar persisted. “A jarl, a king, a god, even an orc chieftain, I could understand. But this… hustler?”

Teldryn gasped in indignation.

I laughed. “Do you think I’ve been swindled? The mistress of thieves and sworn Nightingale of Nocturnal? Am I the doom-driven dupe of the dragon blood?”

“What does he do, what does he have…” Stenvar gestured in the general direction of Teldryn’s pants “…that I do not? I need to know. If not as your husband, for the sake of Mara, at least as a fellow follower of Dibella.”

Teldryn crossed his arms and leaned against the thick baluster at the corner of the canopy bed. “There’s more to life than coins and cock size, outlander.”

Stenvar scoffed. “Is there?”

I sipped my wine in the pensive silence, Stenvar no doubt considering the sincerity of Teldryn’s words, and Teldryn no doubt wishing Stenvar would go away.

I noticed Jordis waiting outside the bedroom door and I asked if Teldryn wanted fresh water.

“I’ll not bathe in front of him. He’s not my husband.”

I waved Jordis away.

Stenvar shook his heavy head and rubbed his brow. “I don’t understand why he is closer to you than your own shadow. He has nothing. He is no one.”

“No different than you, when we first met in Candlehearth Hall,” I reminded him.

“But I am your husband now, in Mara’s eyes if not in yours.” Stenvar dropped his feet to the floor and leaned forward. His deep voice growled with desperation. “I share your lands and titles. I hold your fortunes. Yet every night I fall asleep wondering when I’ll be sent to Sovngarde with an Elven dagger in my heart.”

“What a terrible way to live.” Teldryn’s voice softened with genuine pity. “Take comfort in being of no consequence to me and sleep well, thane of Haafingar hold. Zephyr is the greatest treasure in Tamriel, whether she is the Empress of Cyrodiil or a fishmonger in Riverwood. You and your manor houses and Nord traditions and everything else can go to Oblivion, for all I care.”

I needed to kiss him. It was a need like breathing, I was drowning without him. If I couldn’t explain to Stenvar how I felt about Teldryn Sero, or how he felt about me, we would show him.

I set aside my tankard and reached for Teldryn, my robe falling open, inviting his touch. He pulled me close and the conversation ended because our mouths were busy elsewhere.

We could have used an arsenal of magical enhancements, engorgement, enlargement, ice, heat, vibration, and frenzy spells. We could have bitten, slapped, bruised and scratched, then healed each other, again and again. We could have summoned a dremora to serve us, made creative use of troll fat, or I might have tied Teldryn to the bed, covered his blade with honey, and taunted him with my tongue until he begged for release.

But we did none of those things.

If Stenvar learned anything from us that night, it was that the brightest blessings of Dibella and the darkest pleasures of Sanguine are found not by those who have the most coin or highest rank, nor those who perform the wildest feats, but by those who share the truest love.

* * *

Skyrim smut 1: “Come with me to Sovngarde
Skyrim smut 2: “I need another stamina potion”
Skyrim smut 3: “Tickling the angry troll”
Skyrim smut 4: “The Dunmer of Debauchery”
Skyrim smut 5: “A Tsunny Day in Shor’s Realm”
Skyrim smut 6: “Return to Solitude”

How I left my husband for a guy with pointy ears

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Fallout 4 fanfiction: “Happy Birthday, Fiona”

Another story based on my first playthrough of Fallout 4. My Fallout 4 fanfiction doesn’t include the entire story of the Sole Survivor but is intended to fill in the gaps between the quests and storylines experienced within the game. In other words, it’s “headcanon.”

“Happy Birthday, Fiona” is my take on Hancock’s unrequited lust–and growing love–for the Sole Survivor. It takes place after Fiona becomes general of the Minutemen and kills Kellogg, but before she enters the Institute.

I’ve had this chapter ready for awhile and didn’t want to publish until I’d finished the bits in between, but I’m going in for surgery later this week, with several weeks recovery, and I’m not sure when I’ll be able to work on this series again. So, I wanted to put out what I had. Hope you enjoy!

If you’d like to see a tour of my actual Abernathy Farm settlement in the game, check out my video on Youtube.

Strong language, alcohol and sexual references.

2,400 words

* * *

Part 1: MacCready’s Lucky Cap – MacCready meets Daisy & leaves the Gunners.
Part 2: A Home No More – Fiona adjusts to life in the Commonwealth wasteland.
Part 3: MacCready Meets the Mayor – MacCready arrives in Goodneighbor.
Part 8: MacCready’s Wooden Soldier – MacCready & Fiona share a moment.
Part 9: Wanton Wasteland – Hangman’s Alley – Adults only! In a dystopian, post-apocalyptic Boston, the ghoulified mayor of Goodneighbor indulges in whiskey and voyeurism.
Part 10: Happy Birthday, Fiona – Hancock deals with unrequited lust that just might be love.
Part 12: Eve of Destruction – Hancock helps Fiona cope with the stresses of leadership.

* * *


Hancock joined MacCready in a dark corner of the Abernathy’s rooftop bar. The place was packed with people celebrating Fiona’s birthday. Minutemen, settlers, caravaneers, Trudy Drumlin and her kid Patrick, Deacon, Piper… Damn. He could’ve made a ton of caps, if they’d held the party at the Third Rail. But, then again, if the party was in Goodneighbor, most of these fine folks wouldn’t’ve shown up.

Music played on several strategically placed radios tuned to the Diamond City station. Preston Garvey guided his general around the dance floor to the song “What a Wonderful World.”

Hancock nudged MacCready’s shoulder. “She gonna dance with other guys all night?”

MacCready shrugged. “Dancing’s stupid.”

“She doesn’t think so.”

“I don’t know how, okay? I don’t want to look like an idiot.”

“Too late.”

“You trying to piss me off?”

“Just trying to help.”

Piper dropped beside MacCready, jostling the bench and making him spill bourbon on his coat.

“Jeez, Piper, c’mon. This stuff isn’t cheap.”

“Are you for real, MacCready? All the drinks are free. It’s a party.”

“That doesn’t mean you have to go around wasting them.”

“OK, I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but…” She grimaced in disgust. “We need to have a one-on-one.”


“Really? That’s all you’ve got to say?” She imitated his voice, adding more than a hint of dumbass. “‘Why?’ I suggest a one-on-one and you’re not going to say something that you think is a smooth come-on but is actually really weird and pervy? You’ve changed. It’s like I don’t even know you anymore.”

MacCready scoffed. “You never knew me to begin with.”

“A little radioactive birdie told me that you’ve been trying to find a way into the Institute.”

“Talk to Fi.”

“I don’t pay for information.”

“Fi, not fee, as in Fiona. My girlfriend?”

Piper busted into mocking laughter. “Oh, MacCready, you’re a riot. Stop the presses! ‘Delusional mercenary slash former Gunner has imaginary relationship with Minuteman general.’”

“I’m not delusional.”

“If she’s with you, then why’s she slow dancing with her second in command?”

Hancock split before MacCready could appeal to him to verify the relationship or Piper could grill him for information. He wove his way around the dancers and sidled up to Fiona and Garvey just as the music ended.

“Thanks so much for inviting us all out here,” said the Minuteman, doing his best impression of a knight in shining armor. “I can’t remember the last time there was anything worth celebrating, but you’ve changed all that, and I hope you know how much I appreciate it. How much we all appreciate it.”

Fiona smiled that healthy, white-toothed smile, like rows of perfect Mentats.

“I didn’t do it alone, Preston.”

“But you brought us all together and gave us a purpose. I hope you see that. We couldn’t have done it without your leadership. The past year’s been rough, for all of us, and I know we still have a long way to go, but it’s nice to be reminded of what’s good in the Commonwealth. If anyone deserves a happy birthday, it’s you. We owe you so much, General.”

“I wish you would call me Fiona.”

Garvey glanced in MacCready’s direction and noticed Hancock for the first time.

“Oh, um, yeah, well, I think it’s better if we keep things proper. Ma’am. Happy birthday.” Preston touched the brim of his hat and nodded to Fiona, then to Hancock. “Mayor.” Then beat a hasty retreat.

Preston was all sorts of well-fed, clean and respectable. Meanwhile, MacCready was a skeevy little bastard. Great in a fight, sure, and Hancock had nothing against skeevy bastards. But it didn’t seem like her type. Which was in Hancock’s favor. He needed to know more..

“Remind me again why you’re not shacking up with that one?” He nodded in Garvey’s direction.

“Hey, Hancock, glad you could make it.” She looped her arm through his and guided him to the edge of the roof, in the opposite corner from her old man and away from the crowd. “How’s the alley?”

She meant Hangman’s Alley, the downtown settlement she’d asked him to look after. “Doing good. The medical center needs supplies. We get a lotta messed up folks passing through.”

“I figured, given the location. I’ll take care of it. Think you could head over to Egret Marina, help them get their shit together?”


Fiona leaned against the railing and crossed her arms. He leaned beside her. She lowered her voice. “To answer your question, Preston has issues.”

He shrugged. “Don’t we all?”

“He freezes up when he should have my back. In the Old World, we would have called it post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Hancock nodded, removing a cigarette pack and a lighter from his coat. “Yeah, and…?” There had to be more to it than that.

“And he cares more about the Minutemen than anything else.”

He flicked his lighter, lit a cigarette, took a drag, exhaled. “You don’t?”

“I want someone who cares about me for me, not just how much I can contribute to their pet project. The Minutemen are great but…”

“They’re great now. They weren’t so hot before you came along.”

“They’re great as a vehicle for helping people, and for making the Commonwealth a better and more secure place to live, for everyone. Which will make it a better place for Shaun. But, ultimately, Shaun is my priority. I want someone who understands that.”

“Like, MacCready. That was a real sweet thing you did, helping his kid.”

“And now he’s helping me find Shaun, not expecting me to plant tatos at Tenpines or fix the water purifier at Covenant.”

“Yeah, first and foremost, you’re a mama deathclaw. I get it.”

“I got nothing against Preston, y’know? He cares, he really fucking cares about everyone, everybody loves him, everywhere we go. He should be the general, not me, but he can’t handle it.”

“And you can?”

The silver moonlight made her look like one of those marble statues downtown, the ones that were still standing, even after going through hell.

“I don’t let people down.” She spoke with the kind of certainty he wasn’t used to hearing from anyone but himself. “And if I do, at least I know I did my best. If my best wasn’t good enough, well, there’s no one else trying to do it. I like to think that an attempt, any attempt, is better than doing nothing at all.”

Before he could agree with her, he heard someone say, “Hey, Sturges!” and turned to see a hulking guy in overalls heading their way with a bundle under one arm.

Hancock chuckled.

“What’s funny?” She looked in the same direction.

“Another contender enters the ring.”

Sturges fussed with his dark coiffe of hair and flashed a big grin. “’Scuse me, Fiona? Am I interrupting?”

“No, Sturges, not at all.” She got a kind of flustered, hot-and-bothered look. Hancock would’ve given the Third Rail to get that kinda reaction out of her.

“Happy birthday. I brought you a present.” Sturges held out the bundle, something long, wrapped in cloth and twine. Hancock guessed rifle. He was wrong.

Fiona carefully unwrapped the gift. “A guitar! Where did you find one?”

“I made it.”

Her eyes grew red with tears. “You… made it? For me?”

Damn, he was good. Hancock dropped his cigarette butt and stomped it out.

“You’d mentioned it to me, awhile back, how you used to play. Figured it’s the least I could do, while you’re out saving the world.”

“Thank you!” She flung her tits against Sturges’ beefy chest and kissed his sideburned cheek like she’d done it before. “Thank you so much.”

So, that’s how it was, huh? She must have a wet spot for him, didn’t want to admit it. Which probably had more to do with her self-respect and those Old World morals she dragged around like an anchor, than her actual love for MacCready. Would also explain, in fewer words, exactly why she wasn’t hung up on Preston.

“Took a lot of trial and error, and research,” Sturges explained. ”I had Carla find some holotapes with old diagrams and photos. I thought about fixing it with a laser. You could shoot ghouls and sing about it at the same time. Uh, no offense, Hancock.”

“None taken.”  

“I don’t suppose you’ll play something for us? I wanna make sure it works.”

“I don’t know if my fingers still remember how to play, after being in cryo freeze. Let me practice a little first.” She gazed at the instrument like a lover and Hancock wished he had six strings. “Sturges, I’m… I’m at a loss for words. This is… amazing. You’re amazing.”

“Nah, it’s nothing.”

“It’s not nothing,” she gushed.  

“I just want you to be happy. Are you happy, Fiona?”

Whoa, that had subtext. Hancock couldn’t wait to hear her answer.

“I’m… I’m as good as I’m going to be, until I find Shaun. We’re getting really close. We tracked down the guy who took him and killed Nate. He’s a blood stain on the floor of Fort Hagen, now.”

She said that with such relish, it made Hancock semi-hard. “Anybody ever deserved it, it was that piece of garbage.”

Fiona took Hancock’s words as encouragement to launch into a war story, which she mimed with vicious enthusiam.

“It’s not our style, getting up close and personal, right? Mac and I like to hang back, let our guns do the talking. But we found Kellogg — that’s the asshole who took Shaun — and he had a Stealth Boy, which means my Pipboy targeting system doesn’t work. But Mac just ran right up, flipped his rifle around, started pounding and pounding. I didn’t even need to fire a shot.”

Bingo. Killing her husband’s murderer trumped Minuteman and handyman. MacCready would get a lot of mileage outta that. The little shit.

Warm and fuzzy Sturges got cold and prickly all of a sudden. “Well, that’s … great. I’m just glad you’re alright and you, uh, got some justice.”

“But we’ve still got to find Shaun. I’m working on some lead-lined power armor so we can enter the Glowing Sea.”

She said it as casually as Hancock might say, I’m working on a way to make Joey Slickfingers cough up those caps he owes us. Just another day.

“Jesus H. Christ, why do you need to go out there?” Sturges seemed get more uncomfortable by the moment.

“To find the information I need. To find Shaun.”

“Well, if there’s anything I can do to help, let me know. Right now, I think I’ll go grab a beer. See you later?”

Sturges went off to the bar without waiting for an answer.  

Hancock pushed up the brim of his tricorn hat. “You’re scaring people away, all that talk of murder and mayhem.”

“You’re still here.”

“I happen to enjoy murder and mayhem. It’s better than jet. So, what’s with you and your friendly neighborhood guitar maker?”

Fiona looked all forlorn and wistful. “He’d rather I stayed in Sanctuary Hills, but I’ve got shit to do.”

“Yeah, you do.”

“I… I probably shouldn’t admit it, but I miss him sometimes.”

She’d never tell MacCready something like that, he was certain. That sort of honesty was a gift, and he appreciated it, more than she knew.

Hancock adjusted the cuffs of his red coat. “Look, I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, but I… I think you should know something.”

Especially when I’m curious how you’ll react.

“What’s up?” She moved real close, like, smell the wasteland in her hair and the sweetness of her breath close.

“You smell like gumdrops.” He said it a bit too warm and sultry, he couldn’t help it.

“They were a gift from Piper.”

“You got any left? Don’t hold out on me.”

She fished a small box from her shirt pocket and offered it to him. “They’re hard as rocks.”

“I know the feeling.”

She laughed. He wasn’t fucking kidding, but to her he was a joke. She didn’t look at him and see someone with feelings and needs, the way she looked at MacCready or Sturges. She saw a melted wax clown.

“Um… Is that it? You wanted to tell me I smelled like gumdrops?”

“No, I, uh, had something else.”

He paused, wagged his finger so she’d lean closer, whispered in her ear. Strands of her auburn hair brushed his scarred lips.

“Sturges is a synth.”

She reached for the 10mm at her hip and Hancock grabbed her hand.

“Whoa. Not the Institute spy kind of synth. The rescued and rehabilitated kind.”

She fixed him with a look that could melt steel. Her eye twitched. All that sugary laughter from a minute ago, gone.

“How do you know?”

“Who d’ya think lets the Railroad operate in Goodneighbor? Shit doesn’t happen in my town without my approval.”

“Does he know?”

“Synths don’t usually know they’re synths. Once they get out of the Institute, get their minds wiped, they’re like anybody else, just trying to survive. I shouldn’t know, either, but I happened to be in the Memory Den when he passed through. Kinda hard to forget biceps like that, but I don’t have to tell you.”

She stared across the rooftop. “Everything seemed so real. I mean, it all felt just like… Damn.”

“Because he is real. Synth, ghoul, mutant, we’re not human, but we’re still people.” He needed her to believe that.

“I slept with him, back when I first left the vault.”

“Yeah, I kinda figured that out.”

“Not right at first, of course. At the time, everything felt like it just happened yesterday. But, after a few months, when we were fixing up the settlement… I was so lonely.”

“I ain’t judging you. Don’t judge him, either.”

And don’t judge me, that’s what he really wanted to say, wasn’t it?

“Thanks for telling me. I… I should go. See how Mac’s doing.”

Her port in a shitstorm. Well, we all needed one. Hancock’s was chems and liquor. But he wanted hers to be him. He wanted it bad, and he wasn’t used to that sort of feeling.

“Dream a Little Dream of Me” started playing on the radio. He didn’t let go of her hand but pulled her toward the dance floor, sliding his arm around her waist.

“MacCready’s fine. Let’s dance.”

* * *

~ J.L. Hilton

Connect, support, comment or contact the author here 

Posted in Free to read, Romance, Science Fiction, Video games | Comments Off on Fallout 4 fanfiction: “Happy Birthday, Fiona”

Fallout 4 fanfiction: “MacCready’s Wooden Soldier”

“MacCready’s Wooden Soldier” is my take on how my Sole Survivor, Fiona, romanced MacCready. Fallout 4 players will recognize some of their conversation straight from his max affinity dialog in the game.

Fallout fiction is rated M, just like Fallout 4, for language, violence, drugs and sexual references. However, not all chapters contain romance or sexuality, and chapters containing smut are tagged Wanton Wasteland.

1,400 words

* * *

Part 1: MacCready’s Lucky Cap – MacCready meets Daisy & leaves the Gunners.
Part 2: A Home No More – Fiona adjusts to life in the Commonwealth wasteland.
Part 3: MacCready Meets the Mayor – MacCready arrives in Goodneighbor.
Part 8: MacCready’s Wooden Soldier – MacCready & Fiona share a moment.
Part 9: Wanton Wasteland – Hangman’s Alley – Adults only! In a dystopian, post-apocalyptic Boston, the ghoulified mayor of Goodneighbor indulges in whiskey and voyeurism.
Part 10: Happy Birthday, Fiona – Hancock deals with unrequited lust that just might be love.
Part 12: Eve of Destruction – Hancock helps Fiona cope with the stresses of leadership.

* * *

MacCready’s Wooden Soldier

Fiona shuffled through sketches, maps, reports, supply requests, and various lists that Preston had scrawled on whatever scraps of paper he could find. She scanned an inventory of the Castle mess hall written on the back of an old Slocum’s Joe advertisement and then threw it back on the table.

MacCready slouched against the wall behind her, cradling his rifle in the crook of one arm.

“Any thoughts about rebuilding this place?” she asked over her shoulder.

He stroked the thin goatee on his chin. “I’m not really the hammer and nails sort of guy, but my guess is you’ll need a lot of concrete.”

“What we really need is people. The Raiders have sheer numbers, the Gunners are well-organized, the Institute… well, they’ve got whatever they’ve got, and it won’t be good. Plus, there’s a mutant camp not too far away.”

“People need guns,” he said. “A lot of guns. And ammo.”

She should have expected a former Gunner to say that. “That’s why I’ve been hoarding every weapon I can find. I know you whine about it, but we’re going to need them.”

“I don’t ‘whine.’ When have I ever whined about anything?”

“You’re whining right now.”

“Hey, you point and I shoot. That’s the deal. It was never in the contract that I’d haul eighteen combat rifles and fifty desk fans around the wasteland for you.”

She unrolled a drawing of the fortress, anchoring the corners with her 10mm, a combat knife and a couple of rocks. MacCready came over to take a closer look.

“Ronnie’s got schematics for artillery.” Fiona pointed to the northwest and southwest corners. “I thought maybe we’d also put gun turrets and guard posts here and here, along the ramparts… the, uh, walls…”

“I know what a rampart is. I’ve read every issue of Grognak the barbarian, except the one where Skullpocalypse teams up with Mastadonald.”

She smiled. Nate had liked Grognak, too. “You know, back in Sanctuary Hills, I have a small collection of issues that I’ve found throughout the wasteland. I might have that one. Or maybe we could search Hubris Comics again.”

His fingers twitched on his rifle and his eyes darted around the armory. “Listen, uh, can we talk? I’ve been waiting for the right moment, and I suppose this is as good of a time as any, since we’re alone.”

Fiona turned around and leaned her ass on the edge of the table. “Is something wrong?”

“After helping me get Duncan’s cure from Med-Tek, I figure I owe you something… and I always pay my debts. I wanted you to have this.”

He slung his rifle over his shoulder, reached into his coat, pulled out a small toy and handed it to her.

“A wooden soldier?”

“I know it’s a strange reward for risking your life, but this one’s special. It means a lot to me. It’s the most precious thing I have. I used to have a lucky Blue Quantum bottlecap, but I gave it to Hancock. Long story. Don’t ask.”

For a man who loved caps as much as he did, there had to be a reason he put so much value on a toy. “Did you make this yourself?”

“Do I look like the artistic type to you?”

That sharp tongue of his could sometimes cut through a tense situation to find humor, sometimes cut away bullshit to find truth. Sometimes it just cut.

“Sorry, Mac, I shouldn’t question a gift. If it means a lot to you, then it means a lot to me, too.”

His eyes looked more red and watery than usual, and he took a few long, shaky breaths.

“My wife Lucy gave this to me, okay? I told her I was a soldier and she made it for me. Never could bring myself to tell her the truth, that I was just a hired killer. The soldier story was the best thing I could come up with. I didn’t want to lose her because of what I was.”

“Sometimes it’s difficult to be honest with the people we love.”

“It doesn’t really matter anymore. She died a few years back.”

MacCready knew what happened to Nate. She was surprised he hadn’t told her about his wife before. “I’m so sorry.”

“We made the mistake of holing up in a metro station one night. We didn’t know that the place was infested with ferals. They were on her before I could even fire a shot. Ripped her apart right in front of me. There was nothing I could do. Took everything I had to escape with Duncan in my arms.”

“My god, that’s awful.” Memories of Nate’s death flashed through her thoughts. “I know how that feels. The helplessness, the horror.” Tears clouded her vision.

“That’s why I didn’t want to tell you about my wife, what happened to her. You have enough to deal with.”

“Mac, you can always talk to me.”

He sighed. “Sometimes I think maybe it would have been better if we’d died there with her.”

“You may have lost your wife, but you saved your son. That counts for something.” The hope of saving her own son was the only thing that kept Fiona going. She admired and envied MacCready for accomplishing what she had, so far, failed to do.

“Maybe. I don’t know anymore. Damn, I miss her.”

Fiona examined the toy soldier. She had so little to remind her of Nate, just his wedding ring and memories. Everything else was in ruins.

“I miss Nate every day.”

“No matter how bad things got, Lucy was always there with a shoulder to lean on. It gave me… well, it gave me the courage I needed to press ahead, to never give up. When she died, I thought that feeling was gone forever. Then I met you. You have the world’s problems on your back and here you are helping me with mine, lending me your shoulder like Lucy did. I just want you to know how much your friendship means to me.”

His face reflected her pain, the desperate fear of loneliness, the crushing weight of the world, their concern for their children, their shared losses, and the need for comfort.

“I thought, maybe, we might have more than friendship?” she suggested.

“I… I don’t know. I mean, I never thought you would feel that way. Not about me. What about your husband? I know he’s gone, but you still love him, don’t you?”

“Would it bother you if I did?”

“I don’t know. I miss Lucy to death, too. But at some point she would want me to move on, don’t you think?”

“Nate would want that, too.”

She took his hands and held them between hers. His thin fingers felt cold as ice, his fingernails outlined in dirt. She was surprised how fragile he felt. So different from Nate, who’d been her rock.

He started trembling like a tree branch in a radstorm. “I know I was taking a chance dumping all my feelings on the table. But now that I know how you really feel about me, it was definitely worth the risk.”

She leaned forward and kissed him. He tasted like stale cigarettes and Nuka Cola. He tripped over her boots trying to get closer to her and his teeth scraped her lip. She wondered if he’d kissed anyone since his wife died.

She pulled back just a little, to let him catch his breath, and asked, “Are you okay with this?”

“Absolutely. For once in my life, everything’s going right.”

He kissed her again. The brim of his hat hit her forehead and he didn’t seem to know what to do with his hands until she put one on her ass and the other on her breast. He groaned, pressing against her. He either kept a bull-barrel .44 in his waistband or he was impossibly hard. Fiona wanted to give him what he so desperately needed. What they both needed.

“General?” Preston’s cool voice interrupted the heat of the moment.

MacCready snarled. “We’re kinda busy in here.”

“What is it, Preston?” She gave MacCready a little push. He adjusted his pants just as Preston entered.

“Another settlement needs our help.”

She looked at MacCready. “Duty calls.”

“Sure. You lead and I follow.” He was all business, as if nothing had happened, except for the bright pink flush to his cheeks.

“We’ve had a distress call from Finch Farm. They’re being harassed by mutants and we don’t have anyone we can send out there.” Preston’s eyes darted back and forth between them. She could tell by the look on his face that he didn’t approve of the mercenary from Goodneighbor.

“We’re on it,” Fiona promised. But once those green bastards were handled, she was taking Mac straight to her house in Diamond City.

* * *

~ J.L. Hilton

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Skyrim smut, part 5: A Tsunny Day in Shor’s Realm

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Tamriel and its inhabitants belong to Bethesda. Zephyr Silvertongue is an original character.

Do not read if you are easily offended by fanfiction, romance, or an Imperial Dragonborn who snogs gods.

This story takes place in Sovngarde, just after the defeat of Alduin. While not “smut” like the previous installments of this series, it is a fun little interlude involving true love, temptation, and headcanon about the Dovahkiin’s relationship to Tiber Septim.

I’d actually written this many years ago, but didn’t want to publish until I’d finished the previous chapter, “The Dunmer of Debauchery.”

1,250 words.

– J.L. Hilton

* * *


With the dark fog of Alduin World-Eater lifted, color and light poured into Sovngarde like Cyrodilic brandy into a silver chalice.

I stood, swathed head to foot in dark leather, a spectre in the sparkling glade, and tried to conceal my disappointment. The Nord afterlife pleased the senses, but offered no treasure, no cunning crown, rare scroll, nor gold coin to steal back to the mortal world. I settled for a blue mountain flower—fragile and faintly aromatic as any in the land of the living—which I plucked and slipped into my alchemy bag. Delivered by the Dragonborn from the fields of Shor’s Realm, it would have the worth of a thousand sapphires in Skyrim.

Teldryn Sero might have suggested I gather pebbles, too, and sell them at a roadside stand outside the Thalmor Embassy. But, here, my snide Dunmer lover could not accompany me. The dragon Odahviing bore only one mortal to the ruins of Skuldafn, and I alone battled the dragon priest Nahkriin to enter eternity.

Bare-chested immortal warrior Tsun waited near. He served as sentinel of the Whalebone Bridge and the Hall of Valor, still and sturdy as an oak, ever watchful. When he spoke, his voice rumbled like a storm, shaking the boughs of the trees.

“Tarry not too long, the land of the dead is not meant for mortals to linger. Tell me when you are ready to return.”

There was a nip in the air despite the blossoms on the mountainside. Not cold but invigorating. I removed my Nightingale mask and drank in the idyllic landscape, wishing Teldryn could share it with me.

“Give me time, I implore you, mighty Tsun, to taste Aetherius and savor the soul hearth of the Nords, for I shall never walk here again.”

“When you have completed your count of days, I may welcome you with glad friendship and bid you join the blessed feasting.”

Ah, yes, feasting. Piles of meat and sweet pies filled the tables of the great hall, ale flowed like water, and swords clashed in friendly combat. Not unlike Jorrvaskr, but not my idea of paradise.

“I am pledged to Nocturnal.”

He stepped closer, radiating magical energy that prickled the hair of my neck into gooseflesh. The glow of him was not seen with the eyes but felt deep in the bones and in the spirit, a radiance that soothed aches and eased burdens I wasn’t even aware I had until I felt them cease. His hands moved over my shoulders as if dusting void salts from my armor.

“Aye. Shadow clings to you.”

I turned, my nose level with the guardian’s heart. In Skyrim, my height equaled any Nord, Dunmer or Imperial. But he stood head and shoulders taller than even Knight Paladin Gelebor the Snow Elf, and twice as thick. I tore my eyes away from his fur loincloth and the steel tassets over his impressive thighs, and looked up at his face.

“I’m an Imperial, not a Nord.”

Tsun hooked his thumbs under the edge of my hood and slid it from my head, cupping my cheeks in his enormous hands, reverent as if drinking water from a holy well. “The river of your lineage flows from the blood of Tiber Septim.”

The honorable shield-thane of Shor was no liar nor a fool, but the Septim dynasty had ended centuries ago, during the Oblivion Crisis. Or so said bards and scholars.

“How is that possible?”

He threw back his head and laughed, a robust laugh that echoed in the heavens. Then he smiled at me, his eyes sparkling. “In the usual way.”

“There’s no rumor nor record of any living Septim after the sacrifice of brief Emperor Martin.”

“Blood may flow without a name. Some songs are sung in darkness.”

“Ruling requires more than mere words – even those given to me by the glorious guardian of Shor’s Hall. For me to become Empress would require mighty deeds.”

He stroked my hair. “By such deeds as the doom of the soul-snaring worm Alduin, so the valiant Dragonborn will return to Sovngarde.”

I felt light-headed by the intoxication of his touch and my lips curved in a reckless grin. “Are you trying to convince me to come back? Or reluctant to let me go?”

His eyes turned hungry, as a bear might gaze upon a salmon in a stream. Was there not as much fornicating as feasting and fighting in Sovngarde? Truly, not the forever for me.

“Long has time been since I beheld a doom-driven hero of the dragon blood, and longer still since that hero be a shieldmaiden.”

“You are the lord of trials,” I said, standing on tiptoe and combing my fingers through chest hair that glinted like Dwarven metal in the holy light of the afterlife. “Would seducing you be as difficult as winning my way across the Whalebone Bridge?”

“Seduction is not the trial, Dragonborn, but the act itself would be formidable, unless you are as brave in bedding as you are in battle, as I hope you are.”

Of course, a legendary fighter would have a legendary “weapon.” The thought evoked an elemental clash of heat and dampness in my core. I’d not bedded another man nor mer since my first night with Teldryn, more than a year ago. This, however, was no man nor mer, but a god. Could I deny him Dibella’s holy ministry of pleasure?

I pressed as close as my leather armor would allow, my chest crushed against the ornate steel buckle of the fur belt girding his waist. He bent to kiss me and the silvery ornaments binding his thick, russet braids tinkled like bells. He smelled fresh as the wind and tasted like a mountain stream, lips supple as kid leather. I stretched my arms around his massive neck as he lifted me from the ground with surprising gentleness for such a hardened barbarian. The curved torc at his throat hummed with a host of enchantments, cold as ice against my skin.

I thought of the heat of Teldryn’s ash-gray flesh with its scent of lavender and leather, the long, precious points of his ears, and the web of deep creases around his red eyes. His lean elven physique fit mine like a hand in an enchanted glove. How nimble Teldryn’s lips would have danced across mine, around my ear and down my neck, while his musical voice whispered depraved desires. A sudden yearning for my dark elf overpowered the radiance of Sovngarde or any promise of powerful bedding.

Tsun set me on my feet and stepped back, straightening to his full stature. “The Night Mistress is not the only one who claims you.”

I belonged as much to Teldryn as to Nocturnal. He knew, with that preternatural knowing of a god, connected to the currents of magic and time that wove through all things, from a moth’s wing to an Elder Scroll, though I wondered exactly what he knew about the forces that bound my soul.

Stern and inscrutable again, he seemed disinclined to continue his daliance with me. I left my questions unasked, weary of arcane knowledge and the intrigues of Aedra and Daedra. The revelation of my birthright weighed heavy enough, and I had more to deal with in Skyrim, where the civil war would resume upon my return.

“Then I should go.”

He nodded. “Return to Nirn, with this rich boon from Shor, a Shout to bring a hero from Sovngarde in your hour of need. Nahl… Daal… Vus!”

And thus I left the afterlife.

* * *

Read more Skyrim…

Skyrim smut 1: “Come with me to Sovngarde
Skyrim smut 2: “I need another stamina potion”
Skyrim smut 3: “Tickling the angry troll”
Skyrim smut 4: “The Dunmer of Debauchery”
Skyrim smut 5: “A Tsunny Day in Shor’s Realm”
Skyrim smut 6: “Return to Solitude”

How I left my husband for a man with pointy ears

~ J.L. Hilton

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