A line of agitated dust in the desert was the only thing that gave the people of New Reno warning of what was coming. Lookouts in the skeletal ruins of the taller outer buildings, scavenged over time since the War to maintain the inner city's glitter, were the first to raise the alarm. Only one person travelled that way, and he was trouble.
Teacher was returning to New Reno.
The sort of man who seemed to prefer the solace of the wastes to civilization, he would wander into the oases of society for a few days before drifting back out into the deserts and mountains. Sometimes he would come back, his armour pitted, dented, and occasionally even breached, wounds littering his body, and he would rest for a few days. More often he would walk into the New Reno Arms and drop a load of blood spattered firearms in exchange for more ammunition.
No one had seen him for a few months, although rumour had it he had been down south around NCR and San Fran, looking for something. No one knew exactly what he wanted, and few really wanted to know. Some dismissed him as a crazy tribal who knew how to use a gun and had gone a little too deep into the healing powder. Some said he was slowly gathering up the pieces to some old pre-War tech to make some sort of doomsday weapon.
Most avoided asking. He wasn't the most pleasant person to look at. His body was withered despite his age, his eyes clouded over and his attention constantly shifting. Despite this he saw much better than most and had a reputation for precision brutality with a gun. If pressed, he claimed that the 'spirits' guided his actions and let him see things no one else could, but their price had been his twin brother at birth and his health.
Whatever truly happened in his head, only he perhaps knew, but there was a lot in his head. Teacher had picked up the moniker so many in New Reno knew him by when the Wrights made him a Made Man, and it had been because of his love of teaching the many children of that family about science and the knowledge lost from before the War. Many considered him a wimp for joining the Wrights, considered a family that only held on to power through the fecundity of Mrs. Wright's womb.
The patrons who had been in Salvatore's Bar when Teacher had walked in after killing everyone for one of the Salvatores' secretive desert transactions did not believe that. Apparently Teach had whacked old boss Salvatore in revenge for the rumoured killing of one of the Wright boys. Either way, he was the sort of man who while kind with children, was evidently not the sort of man who you wanted to wrong.
Eyes stared in wonder as the car rolled across the remains of the road, rolling to a stop on Virgin Street. There was a sort of shoving commotion in the back before the rear left door opened and a robed figure hopped out. Last anyone had seen Teach had been wearing a badly battered looking robe that was somehow capable of repelling bullets like rain, one of the crazy things he had found out in the desert. But everyone knew that Teach was the driver, so evidently he had passed it on to one of his followers.
Following behind the robed figure was a man dressed in the pale green carapace of combat armour or some variant thereof. Somewhat overweight, the man had a very large calibre gun slung over his back. Complaining loudly, he seemed upset with the cramped conditions in the rear of the car.
The whole car rocked on its hinges as the reasoning became apparent. Stepping out of the right rear was the other tribal who followed Teacher. Elaborately tattooed and with a bone sticking out of his nose, he wore dull metal armour decorated with tribal swirls that increased his bulk immensely. With a whine of servo-motors, the tribal shook out the cramps in his body and his power armour while a bandolier of guns clattered against his metal frame.
Not bullets, guns. He seemed to have a SMG for every occasion, along with enough magazines of ammunition for each to depopulate New Reno. There was also an assortment of nasty looking bladed instruments strewn about his person in case he wanted to get up close and personal. Alone he would have been considered trouble for New Reno, and just with the other two he might have been considered due cause for the families to set aside their differences in previous times just to stop him.
But the suspension rocked again and another man in power armour stepped out, a weapon of similar make to the one carried by the portly man in the combat armour at his side. Wrinkled and bald with age, he still had the look in his eyes that suggested that he had earned the right to old age out in the wasteland. Travelling with Teacher had certainly only enhanced whatever fearsome skills he had learned to get him so far.
Finally, as the engine died down for the last time, the ancient Highwayman heaved one final time as Teacher exited the vehicle. Where his companions were clad in metallic grey powered armour, he was wearing dark black armour with considerable more bulk and a sinister aspect. The dozens of severed and cured deathclaw hands braided together with Wanamingo tentacles only added to the fearful appearance. A cloak of dark purple fire gecko leather was draped over his armoured frame, concealing the enormous array of death no doubt concealed on his person, except for twin rifles strapped across his back.
One was a battered assault rifle he had with him when he had first appeared in town months ago, back when the few people who knew him called him Seth after the tribal death god he was named after. The other was an exotic and almost fragile looking thing that none knew the make of, but all instinctively knew was explicitly pre-War technology. Considering his love affair with first a battered hunting rifle and then a polished military sniper rifle, those who knew him guessed it was very powerful and very accurate.
His helmet off and clattering at his side, Teacher said a few words to his bickering cohort before he waved for them to follow him away from the car and towards the Cat's Paw. He had a dark look on his scarred face, of the sort that made most people run the other way quickly. Something had evidently gone wrong for Teacher, and it looked like he was ready to blow off some steam at the Cat's Paw before he unleashed all hell upon the offending party.
The silence was broken by the typewriter clatter of a pair of Tommy guns going off, overlapped almost instantly by the metallic ping of bullets striking Teacher's armour. For several awful seconds nothing else happened, until the click of the guns going empty was heard.
Standing at the entrance to the Desperado, flanked by the bouncers who had been the ones to open up with their guns, was Lil' Jesus Mordino. He bellowed out, "Teach you to betray the Mordinos!"
Completely unharmed, Teacher pulled his helmet off his belt and clipping it on to the bracket for it and replied in a tinny, amplified tone, "Oh you stupid fucker, you should have stayed out of the Jet."
Gunfire from his companions erupted on full auto, the tribal charging forward firing his SMG while the two men with the large calibre guns opened up on full automatic, the enormous report of the weapons identifying them as some breed of automatic shotgun. Trailing behind the armoured tribal was the hunched over figure in the robe, bounding along at an inhuman pace. The robe then fluttered back from wind resistance to reveal the horned visage of a grey skinned deathclaw, the appendages that gave its species its name flashing out as they tore into the blacktop for extra traction.
And Teacher… Teacher just casually ignored all of the chaos around him as reinforcements flooded out of the Desperado, and reached behind his back to pull out the exotic rifle stored there. Without a care in the world he flicked off the safety, shouldered the weapon, and then pulled the trigger. With a soft whip-crack noise the weapon discharged, and the bouncer Lil' Jesus had been hiding behind disappeared in a cloud of red mist, his upper body blown apart by the weapon.
A second later the tame deathclaw in Teacher's employ struck Jesus and began tearing the heir to the Mordino drug empire apart while the SMG armed maniac crashed into the thick of the Mordino guards, blasting away.
Something then shifted in the crowd of stunned onlookers. For a long time the Mordinos had been on top, their Jet production enslaving thousands across the wastes. The addiction, the craving, the need for Jet bound so many in servitude to the Mordinos. Watching the casual massacre, something finally broke.
First one, then another, then a dozen of the prostitutes indebted to the Mordinos all drew the shivs they kept on them to keep the Johns from thinking them helpless. Years of Jet addiction and repressed hatred boiled through their veins, and with a scream they all charged. Like a storm surge they flooded into the Desperado, frantically stabbing and slashing at anything associated with the Mordinos. Most of the guards were already dead, torn to pieces by relentless automatic fire, tank rending claws, or the unholy precision of Teacher's rifle, but a few discovered to their chagrin that having a dozen Jet fuelled prostitutes swarm you was a much slower and more painful way to go.
Walking through the carnage, Teacher made the barest of nods towards the frenzied ladies, who meekly shied away from the armoured behemoth. With an artificially altered, "Wait here," he then beckoned for his companions to follow him up the stairs. Panting heavily, the women just watched through bleary, crusty eyes as the group ascended the creaking stairs, their massive weight pushing the structure to its limit.
From above there was the sound of more screaming and automatic fire until a few minutes later Teacher and his group returned, their guns at their sides once more and the head of Big Jesus Mordino in one of Teacher's armoured hands. Strolling out, he casually bent over and picked up the remains of Lil' Jesus with his other hand, planting a colossal boot on the scraps of the torso left over from his deathclaw companion before he pulled. With a wet cracking and tearing noise the spine broke and the flesh parted.
Walking out into the sunlight, Teacher hurled the heads of the boss and heir of the Mordino clan into the middle of Virgin Street and then bellowed out, "Does anyone else need a lesson?"
Turning back to the crowd of whores in the bloodstained lobby of the casino, Teacher said, "You can have this place. Talk to Miss Kitty, I'm sure you can all work out something nice."
He then walked away, cool as ever. Just strolling down the road, he went up to 2nd Street and walked up to the Shark Club, his helmet still on but his guns tucked away. There was a nervous silence for a moment, but the bouncers didn't dare twitch, the gutted ruin of Salvatore's old place a pointed reminder of the sort of lessons in Teacher's curriculum.
Nodding, Teacher turned around and walked away. He and his men got into the old Highwayman and rolled away once more.
The man went by many names. In the north in the village he was from, he was given the birth name of Seth, after the lord of the dead from his people's mythology. He was also called the Chosen One, although in his failure to protect them from the Enclave he didn't really feel it. In Redding, he was the Sheriff. In Vault City, he was a Citizen. In NCR, he was a Ranger. In San Francisco he was the martial artist who killed the treacherous Lo Pan. Amongst boxing aficionados he was Piston, a man who could cave in a man's skull with a single punch. To the Wrights, he was Teacher, the man who had turned them from the weakest of the families to the most powerful.
The citizens of Virgin Street added a new name to his collection after that day. They called him General Hooker.