"You sir!" The bearded and disheveled man leaped from the alley, in front of the young adventurer walking along the Freeside backstreets. His head was balding, in stark contrast to his wild and untamed beard.
"Ah, Jesus, you scared me. What do you want?" The startled adventurer brought his hand close to the revolver at his side, just to be safe.
"Have you heard the tale of the Psycho of the Mojave?"
"Yeah, I heard about him. Some courier went postal and left a trail of bodies through the Mojave a few months back."
"Then you sir, are going to love the Mojave Psycho Museum!" The crazy man shouted, refusing to deviate from his script. "It's conveniently located at the old Goodsprings schoolhouse!"
"That doesn't sound all that convenient. That's a good two day walk from here."
"Sir, you will know that walk is well worth it once you enter inside and hear the full story of the Psycho of the Mojave!"
"Sure, why the hell not? I'll check it out next time I find myself in Goodsprings."
"Ah ha, I see you made it, sir! Welcome to the Mojave Psycho..." The curator stood in the front of the schoolhouse, now wearing an intact red dress jacket over his mangy clothes.
"Cram it, buddy. I just had to shoot my way through Scorpion Gulch at night, Powder Ganger territory low on ammo, and punch out like, a million of those frigging Bloatflies. I lost two rifles, at least a hundred rounds of ammunition, and my favorite pair of boots. This had better be the best god-damned museum I ever visit."
"Absolutely sir, you will not be disappointed!"
"I'd better freaking not be. Those boots were pretty comfortable."
"Why don't we begin our tour at the very beginning of the Mojave Psycho story? This way, sir!" He motioned for the adventurer to follow him into the schoolhouse.
"Lead the way, crazy museum curator."
"If you will look at this here display, you'll see a dummy representing just one of the many bodies the Psycho left in his wake during his murder spree across the Mojave!" The curator motioned towards a dummy lying across a counter, a man wearing a fancy gambling suit.
"That's pretty cool looking, actually."
"And over here, we have a map showing all of the Psycho's stops across the Mojave! It all began at the small town of Novac!"
The young courier climbed the stairs of Novac's dinosaur. As he made it to the top, he thought about how cool it would be to have a real dinosaur. He snapped back to the real world as he opened the door, and approached the sniper inside. The inside of the dinosaur's mouth smelled of a recently fired weapon. The sniper's weapon leaned against the wall, smoke still climbing from the barrel. The sun was just coming up, and the sniper's nest faced the sunrise directly.
"So, it's done. How did you know?" The sniper, Boone, asked in a gruff voice.
"How did I know what?" The courier innocently asked.
"That he was the son of a bitch who sold my wife." Boone was getting less patient, and louder as a result.
"Somebody sold your wife?"
"That's why I paid you to find him and bring him out so I could kill him!"
"Oh. That wasn't him, probably. I mean, I could have been, but if you want, I could try again."
"You sick fuck! You had me shoot an innocent man!" He was getting angry, and was much larger and stronger than the courier.
"Alright, calm down. Let's call that one a practice kill. How about I go look around and try finding this guy now?"
"I'll kill you!" Boone shouted, and spittle flew from his mouth. He lunged at the courier, whose face was still a creepy blank slate. The courier bent down as Boone swung a massive fist at him, and he grabbed his waist. He lifted Boone off his feet with all of his might, and brought him down hard on the lower teeth of the dinosaur. Boone cried out as his own weight drove a large spike through his chest, and the courier watched as he quickly bled out, gurgling. He wasted no time rummaging through the personal effects of the dead sniper, but was disappointed to find that Boone's unique rifle had somehow disappeared. But the courier was still pleased with his prize, a sweet NCR beret. He grabbed Boone's body by the feet and pried him loose from the tooth. The body slid off the top of the dinosaur, and there was a dull thud as the body hit the rocks below. The courier knew it would only be a matter of time before it would be found. He hurriedly climbed down the stairs of the dinosaur, and stopped upon meeting Manny Vargas, the daytime sniper, halfway down the steps.
"Hey, I remember you! Boone's friend, right?" Manny was Hispanic, and therefore usually full of enthusiasm.
"Where is Boone, anyway? Still up there?"
"Nope." The courier thought for a split second. "He grabbed a bite to eat." Needless to say, the courier was supremely satisfied with himself for his one-liner.
"If you see him, tell him he still owes me that 50 caps from our poker game!"
"Sure thing," the courier lied.
The two passed each other on the stairs. The courier prayed that Manny would not notice the blood on the dinosaur's teeth.
"Meh," the courier thought to himself. "He's Hispanic. He won't notice anything that isn't a taco, sombrero, or siesta." His racist thinking turned out to be partly correct, as Manny would not raise the alarm until it was far too late. The courier hurried down the stairs, and bumped into Cliff Briscoe, the shopkeeper.
"Hey, friend! Interested in buying a souvenir rocket yet?"
"You know what, Cliff? I like you. I'll buy a rocket from you, no, all of your rockets from you, if you do me a simple favor."
"Sure, name it!"
"Say what?" Cliff's face displayed his confusion.
"Drink a rocket. Drink the liquid inside one, and I'll buy every last rocket here."
"Come on, now, man. You know this stuff isn't good for me. It'll give you the..."
"I was wrong about you, Cliff." The courier moved for the door leading out of the gift shop. "I must have mistaken you for someone who wanted to sell all of his rockets."
"Wait!" Cliff shouted. "I'll do it. You buying all of these lousy things will let me retire with my girlfriend! Even if it does mean, well, being real sick for a few days."
The courier grinned as he handed Cliff one of the rockets sitting on the shop's counter. Cliff took it, and stared it for a moment, trying to muster the courage to drink the green contents. He slammed it against the edge of the counter, smashing the top of the rocket off and exposing the radioactive sludge inside. Both the courier and Cliff felt immediately dizzy and somewhat woozy, but ignored the effects of the radiation. Cliff brought the makeshift glass to his lips, and swigged back the contents of the rocket. He shuddered and threw the rocket to the floor in disgust. He wiped some of the sludge from his lips with his sleeve.
"Wow, I didn't think you'd actually do that," the courier said in amazement. Cliff was shaking by this point.
"That's that!" Cliff's speech was as unsteady as his stance, waving back and forth. "So the rockets. There's about two hundred of them, and at each one being..."
"Oh, I'm not buying any."
"You... you said you'd clear me out if I drank the rocket..." Cliff's health was rapidly deteriorating.
The courier gave a gentle push to Cliff's shoulder, which was timed great with the fact that it was the exact moment Cliff's body shut down forever. He crashed to the floor, and the courier made his exit.
"Shit." The adventurer said to the curator. "I never knew that about the Mojave Psycho. That's pretty messed up."
"That's only the tip of the iceberg that was his killing spree, sir! What do you know about deathclaws?"
"I know enough about them to know I don't ever want to run into one."
"Many people think the same, sir! But what if I told you the Psycho thought differently?"
"I wouldn't be all that surprised."
"Well, no doubt you know of the deathclaw breeding grounds by the old limestone quarry."
"Yeah, nobody's crazy enough to go down there."
"Oh, really? Nobody, you say?"
"Stay down, and don't make a sound," Rose of Sharon Cassidy whispered to the courier, both laying in a rusting railway car north of the quarry. Although by midnight, the two has just made it into what was considered 'deathclaw country', they still had a fair bit of distance between them and their destination.
A lone deathclaw hulked past the opening of the train car, detecting neither Cass nor the courier due to the dark night, and a chemical disguising their scent. After the massive creature passed by, Cass spoke again.
"So you're absolutely sure that the Crimson Caravan bitch who took out my guys is hiding in the quarry?"
"Would we be here if I wasn't?" The courier grinned, unseen to Cass.
"Alright, the moon's going behind the clouds again. We should use that chance to..."
The courier interrupted, banging a metal bar loudly against the sides of the train car, exactly three times.
"Clang clang clang!" He shouted with each hit.
Every deathclaw within earshot turned to face the origin of the banging and shouting. Even from within the car, they could both hear the creatures running towards them.
"What the fuck is wrong with you?" Cass whisper-shouted, although by this point, their fates were already sealed.
"No," the courier said innocently. "'Went the trolley!' That's your line!"
Cass stared at her companion in utter disbelief and befuddlement.
"What?" She shrieked, as the deathclaws closed in. She brought back her hand to the shotgun at her back, and looked away from the courier for only a split-second. In that brief window of time, he sprinted from the car, just as a deathclaw crashed into the opposite side of it. Cass readied her weapon only to find that her treacherous companion had disappeared into the night, and that an abomination of a creature was sticking it's head into the opening of the car. She raised the shotgun and pulled the trigger...
The courier was sprinting like a startled jackrabbit, and was rapidly dropping items off of himself in an attempt to run faster. He heard a shot ring out behind him, to the south. He threw his slung rifle behind, and heard another two rounds go off, echoing through the night and off the mountains. He bolted north, and allowed his poorly-tied boots to fall from his feet. He struggled to see ahead of himself in the dark. For the strangest reasons, every time somebody mentioned a word along the line of 'perception' or 'vision', the number '2' would rattle through his brain.
Another gunshot rang out through the night behind him, getting louder than before. Cass was following him, completely unrelated and unaided by the trail of the courier's possessions on the ground. The courier unexpectedly ran head-on into a solid object. He was knocked to the ground, and climbed back to his feet rapidly, bloodied and bruised. He reached for his rifle, which at this point was lying in the sand a hundred yards back.
He looked up to the object he had ran into. A snarling deathclaw stood before him, bringing back it's claw to deliver a deadly blow to the courier. At this exact moment, Cass had caught up with him, and he spun around to see her pointing the shotgun right at him. Her face was one of a woman about to kill, but unfortunately, so was the deathclaw's. It swung, and the courier ducked. He hit the ground, feeling the air rush over him as a massive claw flew towards Cass.
There was a sickening crunch and a mighty roar. She died a quick and fairly painless death, her last thoughts cursing 'that skinny motherfucker'. The courier grabbed for Cass's weapon, lying beside her body, and rolled forward on the ground, away from the creature. He landed on his feet, a result of far, far too much practice and experience with rolling on the ground. The deathclaw was poising to strike again. The courier trained the weapon directly at the deathclaw's head.
"Looks like you're about to be..." He pulled off his imaginary sunglasses. "Deathclaw'd," he said with a grin, before pulling the trigger and screaming a drawn-out 'yeah' at the top of his lungs.
"So you're saying this crazy motherfucker willingly walked into deathclaw territory..."
"And purposely drew attention to himself..."
"When he was unarmed and surrounded?"
"Yes sir, those are the events that happened. Just you forgot the part where the Psycho got a young woman killed for his own amusement!"
"I remembered it, I just didn't feel like bringing it up. Jesus, this guy was messed up."
The curator motioned towards a collection of objects sitting on a counter against a wall. The adventurer looked over the collection of assorted items: knives, scraps of clothing, shell casings, and blunt objects. At one end of the counter sat a pile of several dozen Sunset Sarsaparilla star bottle caps. At the center of the collection, deliberately showcased, was a red flag, burned in along the bottom. It had gold trim, and a golden bull on it.
"I know this flag," the adventurer said, not taking his eyes off it. "This is the flag of Caesar's Legion. How does this tie into the Pyscho's story?"
The curator gave the adventurer an 'is it not obvious enough for you' look, who quickly pieced it together in his mind.
"The flag is burned." The curator nodded as the adventurer figured it all out. "Burned and in this museum chronicling the life of Mr. Crazyfuck. I'm sure this is going to be an interesting story..."
"I'm sure this is going to be an interesting story," the Legion sentry said, flipping the courier onto his stomach on the ground. He laid naked before the walls of Fortification Hill, face down in the dirt, with the Legion guard tying his hands behind his back. "You want to tell me what you're doing here, profligate?"
"There must be some misunderstanding, sir!" The courier said, as the guard pressed his boot into his bare back. "I'm just a simple water salesman! Would you be interested in buying some?"
"If you're really a water salesman, where's your water? Or clothes, for that matter?"
"I can explain that," the courier said, before remaining absolutely silent for the next several minutes. The guard took this time to decide on what to do with the naked idiot he'd caught trying to scale the walls of the fortress.
"We're taking you to the slave cages, outsider. You just wait until Aelius comes back from Cottonwood Cove to relieve me, and I'll throw you in with the rest of the degenerates."
"Cottonwood Cove, you say?" The courier said, his grin unseen by the Legion sentry. "Do you have many friends in Cottonwood Cove?"
"Yes, several, now shut up and maybe I won't drag you across the rocks on our way up the hill." There were a few minutes of the usual awkward silence that occurs when there are two men together, and one of them is naked, and one isn't. After a while, Aelius came running from the distance. He was coming from the south, from the docks to Cottonwood Cove. As he came closer, it became obvious that he wasn't simply jogging, but was doing a full-speed fear-run. He stopped at the sentry and his prisoner.
"Ave!" The non-exhausted and non-sweaty of the guards said. "True to Caesar!"
"Octavius! Cottonwood Cove's been attacked!" Aelius was panting heavily, and looked scared, despite being a large and muscular man. "Everyone's dead. We've got to... run the fuck up to the... escape it!" His speech was panicked and disorganized. Octavius the sentry took his foot off of the courier as he put one hand on Aelius's shoulder.
"Calm down for a second. How many of the profligates were there? How many NCR Rangers?" Octavius the runner shook his head as he took a deep breath.
"I found a few of our men dying, but not yet dead. They told me and Recruit Pansa that there was only one man. One of the degenerates from New Vegas, not on of the NCR." As Octavius gave his report to Aelius, both turned to face the path to Cottonwood Cove.
"This degenerate," Aelius asked, uneasily. "I trust you killed him?"
"It didn't look like any man did it," Octavius said, staring off a thousand yards away, ignoring Aelius. "Not even the lowly scum unfit for slavery could have done any of that."
"You got him right?" Aelius repeated.
"The bodies... every last one of them was touching the buttocks of the fallen man beside it. He.. he's playing with us."
"Where is Pansa, anyway?" Aelius asked.
"We were checking for survivors when he jumped us from behind. Naked as the day he was born. Screaming at the top of his lungs. 'Give me those motherfucking bottle caps! I'm three away from that treasure!' He was swinging a sack of bottles over his head. I remember a sharp blow, then black, and before I knew it, I was swimming for my life across the river."
"So you left Pansa to die?" Aelius was outraged. "Like a coward? Like a degenerate?"
"I had no choice!" Octavius was close to tears by this point. "He kept screaming 'let's see how many star caps you have inside your ribcage'! 'Come on, don't hold out on me'!"
Aelius paused to think. They should definitely head back to Fortification Hill, report the attack on Cottonwood Cove. A search team to find the monster who slayed the camp should hunt down the attacker at night, as he stops to sleep. Turning back to the courier, Aelius considered the possibility that the mentally-handicapped fellow caught climbing the walls may have seen something useful. Nothing a little torturing couldn't solve, he thought.
"Alright," he said to the shaking Octavius. "We'll head back to the fort with the prisoner. We should..."
"What prisoner?" Octavius said, confused.
Aelius looked at where the courier had been lying in the dirt. There was nothing but the rope that had bound his hands, and nipple-prints in the dirt. Giving a quick look around, Aelius decided against chasing after him, what with the clearly-proficient camp-slaughterer still running about. If fate smiled upon Aelius and the Legion, the moron might even bump into the attacker, solving at least one of the problems.
"Help, he's got me!" A scream pierced through the air. Both Legionaries froze, looking down the path to the docks to Cottonwood Cove, the source of the shouting. "Oh my God, he's got me!"
"That's Pansa!" Both soldiers rushed towards the screams of their comrade, their swords at the ready. They quickly came upon a bleeding Legionary, hunched over a rock. He gurgled as the sounds of Aelius and Octavius came closer. As they leaned over him, he turned over, something obviously and terribly wrong. His face was lumpy and pale, almost as if it was a mask that didn't quite get past the uncanny valley.
Behind the mask that was moments ago Pansa's face, the courier's eyes opened. His disguised rolled onto his back, starling the two Legionaries. form As he brought up his bloody fist into the crotch of Octavius, simultaneously with his knee aimed for Aelius's, he called out to his new prey: "The star caps are behind your eyes, aren't they?"
"And that, young adventurer, is the end of the tale of the Psycho of the Mojave. The gift shop is in the next room, and features a wide selection of knives very similar to the Psycho's favorite weapon! Why, this one right here is a genuine Psycho machete! This piece of Mojave history can be yours for only 250 caps!" The curator picked up the machete in question, and hefted it around a little. "And don't you worry about damaging this fine piece of hardware! This antique was built to last!"
"Hey crazy museum guy?"
"How come you know so much about the Psycho of the Mojave?"
"Why, everyone knows about him, sir!"
"Yeah, but if he killed most of the people he talked to, that doesn't explain how you know about the conversations he had-HUURRRK!" The adventurer's eyes opened wide as the museum curator ran through him with the machete. In contrast, the curator's eyes were cold and dead as he pushed the machete handle-deep with one sharp thrust. His face, unlike the pained and confused look of the adventurer, was blank and emotionless. Blood seeped out on the curator's hand as the adventurer's lips trembled. The curator shoved the dying man off of his blade, and let him collapse to the schoolhouse floor with a thud. Sputtering to say something, perhaps to simply ask 'why', the adventurer laid sprawled on his back on the floor, shaking.
The curator leaned down to his latest victim. He noticed that by now, the adventurer's breathing had stopped and his shaking now still. The curator closed the man's still open eyes with his hands, and wiped off the bloody machete on his victim's pants. He laid the weapon back in its place at the gift shop counter.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. The curator froze.
"Who is it?" He called through the door.
"It's Steve, we met on the road into Freeside. The museum still open or what?"
A grin spread across the curator's face, as he rose and went to the door. He unlocked it, and let Steve, a casually-dressed, long-haired hippy-type, inside.
"Whoa, sick place, man!" Steve was noticeably impressed with the dark and creepy atmosphere of the museum. Steve also reeked of recreational drugs.
"If you will look at this here display, you'll see a dummy representing just one of the many bodies the Psycho left in his wake during his murder spree across the Mojave!" The curator motioned towards the bloody figure, still warm, lying on the floor of the schoolhouse.
"Whoa, sick dummy, man!"
"Steve?" The curator put an arm over his shoulder. "Let me tell you where the story all began..."