What Happens in Vegas Gets a Courier Shot in the Head
Disclaimer: I don't own the story or characters featured in Fallout: New Vegas. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only.
Chapter One: It's All A Haze
Friends and Romans, I'm your brother
I'm scratching to hang on
The pursuit of happiness is just
A common bagger's con.
When a can of Pork 'N' Beans can
Change my attitude, you won't
Give it up, but I could have
While the Masters and the Slaves
Scratch for pieces of the dream
For purple mountain majesties
Whatever the hell that means
They give up on each other
And that's the way they get ahead.
But I can still see the stars
Through these red, white, and blue prison bars!
Master and Slave- Cherry Poppin' Daddies
"Looking at this pistol, you must think you've gotten an 18-karat run of bad luck," the man in the checkered suit says. She frantically pulls at her bound wrists. Her numb arms prevent her from being able to achieve more than weak struggling. The blood running through her ears almost drowns out what the man says next.
"Sorry, kid," he says, and she can almost believe he is sympathetic. He raises his gun to point it at her. She is going to die, and nothing she can do will save her. She tries to think of her life. That's what is supposed to happen, isn't it? Her life flashing before her eyes, allowing her to relive those precious moments?
But all she can think of is her death, and her heart freezes.
"But the game was rigged from the start," the man says, and his voice holds no apology.
She can't bring herself to close her eyes.
The first thing that comes back to her is pain, blind and searing like a nuclear explosion in the middle of the night.
The second thing is that she is lying on something soft, with no clothes on, and smells air that is unfamiliar.
The third is that she can't place why the air is unfamiliar. And realization washes over her with a terrifying clarity.
She wouldn't be able to tell if the air was familiar or not, because she can't remember a God damn thing. She takes in a breath to calm herself. There has to be something, she thinks frantically. She is a woman. She knows that much from the swell of breasts underneath the blanket. Syllables forming a name enter her mind, but she isn't sure how they fit, or if they're even the right syllables.
"You're awake," a soft voice says, and she tenses. Her neck feels stiff as she turns it in the direction of the voice. "Hell of a shot you took. You've been out a few days now. " She pushes herself into sitting position. Oh God, but how the light makes her head throb.
"Easy there. Easy," the voice says, and she stiffens as she feels hands on her arms.
"Where am I?" she asks sharply. Her voice is slurred, and her mouth has difficulty forming the words.
"Goodsprings. I'm Doc Mitchell. What's your name? Can you tell me your name?" He asks, and his voice never loses that soft tone. She's startled.
"That's right," he answers. "Tell me your name. " She reaches for those unfamiliar syllables, turning them into unfamiliar words.
"Haze," she answers slowly. "Dolores Haze. Lola." He chuckles.
"Well, that's not what I'd have picked for you, but if that's your name, that's your name." He scrutinizes her for a moment. She fidgets underneath his gaze.
"Well," he says finally. "No sense in keeping you in bed any longer. Walk to the Vit-o-matic Vigor Tester, and we'll learn right quick if you've got all your faculties back." She swings her legs over the side of the bed, and tests them against the hardwood floor. She thinks they'll hold her up. She tentatively stands and stumbles toward the Vit-o-Matic Vigor Tester machine.
"Easy now. It ain't a race," the doctor chides. When she reaches it, she braces herself up against it.
"All right. Let's get started," Doc Mitchell says.
After learning that she did indeed still have all of her faculties, she finds herself sitting on the good doctor's couch.
"You did fine on the Vigor Tester, but that don't mean them bullets didn't leave you nuttier than a Bighorner dropping," the doctor says by way of explanation. So she begins to patiently answer questions she really doesn't know the answers to. Violence just isn't in my nature? Sure. I'm not taken to relying on others for support. Well, maybe. She finally loses patience, swearing and telling Doc Mitchell she doesn't know a damn thing about herself. He quietly looks at her for a moment before saying,
"I hate to say it, but that's pretty common after this sort of thing. Your memory will come back eventually." She doesn't answer him.
She is afraid of what she can't remember.
He gives her back her meager belongings, and a strange Vault suit to put on. She has eighteen caps, a decaying 10mm pistol, 3 stimpacks, and a delivery order to her name. She stares long and hard at the yellowing piece of paper. 'Courier Six? A platinum chip?' She strains her memory, but can't remember anything about the chip.
"Platinum?" she asks Doc Mitchell. He shrugs, and says,
"I thought it was a mite odd as well. Hell of a material to make a simple poker chip out of."
The feeling that 'simple poker chip' wasn't so simple gnaws at Lola's stomach. Where is it? Is it what I was shot over?
"Thank you for your help," she says awkwardly, looking down at the Pip-Boy on her right arm. He smiles.
"You're welcome. I'm sorry I can't offer you a place to stay, but the neighbors would begin to talk," he says. She nods.
"You've done more than enough," she says, and winces at how slowly the words come to her lips. Doc Mitchell tilts his head.
"If you'd like, I could teach you how to speak properly again. You might never sound the way you did before, but it'll be a start," he offers. She nods her assent. "It'd be a good idea to talk to Sunny Smiles for the rest. She can teach you how to shoot, and how to work with the land instead of against it."
"What about the men who did this to me? Does she know anything about that?" Lola asks, and Doc Mitchell feels a surge of pity well up in his chest.
"Well, you might want to talk to Victor. He's the one who pulled you out of your grave and brought you to me."
"Where can I find him?" Doc Mitchell smiles a strange sort of smile.
"He's usually taking a stroll right about now. You can't miss him. He's unforgettable."
Lola hisses as the sun blares down upon her. She rubs her temples in an effort to sooth her pounding headache. Her stomach aches with hunger, and she looks around longingly for a place to eat. The Prospector Saloon, a large neon sign proudly proclaims in the distance. Good a place as any. Plus, where there are saloons, there is alcohol. And where there is alcohol, there are people. Lola can remember that much. She makes her way across the barren yards of Goodsprings. What little wind that blows kicks up dirt, and she blinks the offending particles out of her eyes.
She opens the door to the saloon, and the first thing to enter her line of vision is a cheerful looking woman with a dog sitting next to her. The dog raises itself on her haunches when Lola strolls through the door. The woman puts a calming hand on the animal's head.
"Cheyenne, stay. Don't worry," the woman says, smiling. "She won't bite unless I tell her to." Lola isn't reassured, but she instinctively crouches down and offers her hand out for the dog to sniff. Cheyenne cautiously sniffs her outstretched hand, and gives it a tentative lick.
"Looks like that bullet didn't scramble your brains completely," the woman says approvingly. "I'm Sunny Smiles," she says with an out-stretched hand. Lola stands, wiping the dog spit off of her hand before offering it.
"Dolores Haze. For today, anyway," she says, smiling wryly. "Doc Mitchell said you could teach me how to shoot?" Sunny nods.
"Yes. But I think we'd better get you something to eat first." Sunny turns and leads Lola to the bar. Lola takes a seat next to her gratefully, and waits for the proprietor to take her order.
"So, do you remember anything?" Sunny asks as the barkeep walks over to them. Lola delays answering until the woman, who she learns is named Trudy, finishes taking Sunny's order. Lola is content to let the other woman order for her, and simply observe. She takes note of how Trudy's hand lingers on Sunny's, and of the smile that blossoms over the younger woman's face.
"Not very much," she answers slowly. "I'm having trouble spoon-speaking-and I remember that people gather at places like this. I think I remember my basket-name." Lola hates the sympathetic look Sunny gives her.
"Do you remember anything about yourself?" she questions. Lola rubs her temples. Her head hasn't stopped aching, and she's trying to glean the pieces of her life though the haze of agony.
"I remember the flag of the old world," she says tentatively, and that image fills her with a dread she cannot fathom.