An odd grainy feeling of dirt surrounded the breathing pipes of the somewhat lowly courier. A throbbing sensation began upon consciousness. The first reaction was to cough, cough out the substance that hindered any immediate breathing. It was unpleasant and bitter, sour enough to bring the captured messenger to wake from the radioactive desert floor. Lifting body parts, particularly the hands, became a difficult task given that the hands of the platinum chip bearer were tied in thick yellow gloves.

The memory of how this situation of bondage came to be was a blur. All that was remembered was lugging a package through the dust storms. Honestly the laborer couldn't recall actually knowing the contents of the small brown box, having only been told that losing it would result in ensured death. Big deal, it was often the speech the couriers received before any delivery. None ever took it seriously, except maybe a few hard asses. The rest of them knew that it was usually a crock devised to scare them into getting the job done with minimal hassle.

But now something finally had happened against the odds, or so this messenger thought. Some invisible bat, or other melee weapon, seemed to come out of nowhere to knock his target unconscious. That mission was accomplished. And now the pathetic body of Benny's goal was laid next to a shallow grave.

Now all that was heard at the late hour was voices. Not quite whispers, but harsh voices cursing every so often about things that could be assumed. When the bearer was brought to make out fuzzy images, eyes were lifted to a couple men only feet away. One was wearing a black and white hounds tooth, no wait, checkered suit coat. It was hard to make out with the dizzy perception of the world. He was not facing the suspect, and neither were the other men. Maybe this was a chance.

Quickly the figure struggled to break free, grunting slightly as the rope refused to break. The frustration was overwhelming. And that pathetic stare from the checkered man was even more than the courier could bare. Him and the rest of his men continued to discuss in more hushed than normal tones. The headaches became worse, drawing the victim to moan a plead,

"What... what happened. Who are you people?"

The man that stood out from the rest turned to face the pathetic figure. He didn't laugh like a mad man, or scold the messenger. This was surprising. Typically any man or person who was sick enough to put someone near death like this without any prior interaction must have been a sick demented twit. But his stare was now malicious, or as far as any normal person could tell. The courier bobbed it's head in defeat, leaning over tied hands,

"Tell me." Like that something seemed to snap, drawing the figure to whip it's head up with a look of anger, "Now!" With renewed strength and vigor, the words were spouted like the venom of a rattlesnake.

His attention was soon caught as he drew enough pity to respond. He did not grin, only weakly smiling to the fury that grew in the eyes he looked into,

"Calm down, kid, don't hurt yourself."

"Who are you?" The words came slow and weak, as did the others before,

"Doesn't matter. Not anymore at least." Why wasn't he mocking yet? In every story of any raider, it was common sense to be mocked in near death. It was a question how this time was different. What made this victim worthy of a say, villain with honor. The courier struggled with the rope again, which still refused to break,

"Why haven't you struck me yet? You some kind of pussy?" A sick and haste laugh escaped the man's bitter lips,

"I'm getting to it, slick." He removed a silver pistol from his coat to wave it in the face of the dazed messenger, "Some sick masochist or something? Do you want me to hurt you?"

When the bearer's vision cleared, the image of intricately detailed barrel was revealed. Tiny swirrels decorated the in between regions, and the image of something shining with gold rays was made out under Benny's hand. In actuality, it was a beautiful weapon. But right now the interest was not in weapons; the main priority was getting out alive,

"I want you to take your sorry ass back to where you came from and let me deliver my goddamn package."

"That ain't gonna fly, I'm afraid. You see, what you have here is something very important. Something even your sweet little ass would have a hard time understanding."

"You think I care? It isn't my business what it is, but I need the caps, so hand it over!"

"Kitten's got claws."

He joked, placing the pistol back into his coat pocket. With the slight motion of the hand, one of his goons appeared from behind him. The light of a fire revealed him as a monster of a man. The courier's eyes widened, the figure scurrying away in fear. The man approached with a bat to intimidate the messenger that kicked away in fear as it struggled to stand. A quick whip knocked the peculiar and feisty deliverer unconscious once more. But this time, recovery was quicker, as a moan escaped from muffled lips. The repeat of the wringing of the hands commenced, still to no avail,

"You got what you were after, so pay up!" A deep voice commanded. The courier was too weak to lift an eye at this time,

"You're crying in the rain, pally." Every angle of twisting and turning was futile, still the rope would not break,

"Guess who's waking up over here?" Slowly, the messenger lifted it's head,

"Time to cash out." The menacing hit men were tiring to the look. Normally one might widen their eyes at such colorful figures, but this bearer had seen it's share of characters. Threatening wackos were all part of life in the wastes,

"Will you get it over with?" The darker one spoke. To this the man in the checkered suit raised a finger, his eyes not leaving the face of the weak person,

"Maybe Khans kill people without looking 'em in the face, but I ain't a fink, dig?" Again he reached inside his coat, this time bring out a silver poker chip. But it wasn't plastic like most others, this one shinned in the moon light. It was made of metal, or... platinum maybe, "You've made your last delivery, kid. Sorry you got twisted up in this scene." Quickly he retracted the chip to replace it with his silver pistol. From the ground, the kid began to shake. Veins began to throb with it's beating heart, "From where you're kneeling must seem like an 18 karat run of bad luck."

At that moment the struggling ceased as the pistol pointed point blank to the messenger's forehead. Breathing came hard in anticipation. Fear, was probably a more fit word,

"Truth is, the game was rigged from the start."