New Vegas - 2283

Two years ago this place was a blood bath with Caesar's legion and the NCR willing to do anything to get their hands on hover damn. Now that it's over and every one lost we can all tell the game was rigged from the start. Some Courier so damn nasty two 9 millimeters to the skull just made angry, killed the guy that ran the city and used his robot army to push both powers out of the area.

Course it didn't hurt that the crazy bastard had an in with the Brotherhood of Steel tech loving isolationists with powered armor and f***ing gauss rifles. No one has an in with these guys and this lunatic not only gets them on his side but gives them the right hassle anyone on the roads around the city they damn well please.

They where my problem getting close to the city, guys like me we stick out like a sore thumb to them because we like the same tools. Armor that was designed and not add-libbed, weapons as far removed from " something sharp " and "unga bunga me though rock REALLY hard " as possible.

Seriously anyone that has the option of a directed energy weapon and picks something else is ignorant or stupid. . . except when the Brotherhood around looking for any tech worth a damn. Oh do i wish I had bullet throwing sidearm and shitty shitty armor about now.

"We don't want any trouble stranger just hand over that Plasma defender and let us check your duffel bag. Play along I give you my word you'll be unharmed, and we will even escort you as far as NOVAC, so you don't have to worry about your safety. "

These idiots will make of with all my energy cells for my sidearm and the unusual ammo I've walked a few hundred miles to trade. I try to be smooth.

"Want the Glock 86, take it. My pack sorry pal all I got is in that bag. "

I know I f***ed up when I called the sidearm a "Glock". A scavenger would have just called it an funky plasma pistol or ray gun. This guy knows I know a thing or two about old world weapons I'm sunk I just know it. Then a ghost from the past shows up, so save me or sink me I still haven't figured out yet.

An odd red and white power fist laden hand taps the Brotherhood guy on the shoulder and I just about sh*t myself. The power fist is attached to a suite of crap power armor covered in dents and a bright yellow "21" on the chest. The helmet is what throws me a jet black Enclave power armor helmet. F***ing Enclave, thought they'd found me. While I try to pretend I controlled myself and didn't go for my sidearm by choice truth is I was to f***ing afraid. The head Brotherhood Knight with the eye-bot floating over his shoulder looks at his two lackeys like hes pissed.

"You two let your commanding officer get snuck up on? To much time in VR or to little we'll talk about that later."

The new comer in the Enclave helmet starts to joke and I relax enough to take my hand of my gun and hope no one noticed.

"Come on Simmons you know they wouldn't shot little old me, or I hope they wouldn't I mean I don't do the shopping for you guys anymore but we are all still friends rights?"

"Veronica you left the Brotherhood. No matter who you work for now, remember that. "

The one in the crap PA looks at me with that damn helmet and back the the Knight.

"That's why I'm here this guys a Courier I hired to pick something up from a Happy trails caravan boss I know. He's late so I came looking. He's with me Simmons, and that means he's an employee you're supposed to be nice to employee's. "

I wonder if I could make it to that old ranch house on the horizon, or into those hills a ways off but remember I'm not a brave man. The knight points at me and barks.

"Hand over the Defender, or else."

The guns in his hand before the person (Veronica?) in the crappy power armor can object. They turn to leave and and barks a command at the eye-bot

"Move from passive surveillance to active defense code Steppenwolf. There ladies now the robot will do your jobs as head to HELIOS. "

I try not to look my advocate in the face as they walk off.

"I'm Murphy."

" Veronica Santangelo, and I'm guessing your headed to Vegas."

" Isn't everybody? "

"Mostly if they aren't going home broke. But you, you are wearing a pre-war riot gear helmet I fixed a few up for a friend and passed'em on to a Happy Trails trade caravan. I'm guessing you got the wish list I sent along with the guy. "

I tell myself I'm going to trade this f***ing helmet in for the first pair of decent sun glasses and head protection I can find before answering. It just looks to damn much like an NCR ranger helmet for my own good.

" Yea I just wanted to unload the stuff on him but he was headed in the other direction, and pointed me this way said someone would be willing to pay a decent price. "

"And you'd be right if it checks out."

I walked with Veronica in silence for a while. The day is clear and hot like most in the Mojave and as bad as the heat is I'm glad for the lack of moisture. The crap that can grow on you in a swamp or some such is something I'm glad I don't have to deal with.

We pass a sacked NCR base that had been turned into an impromptu memorial and I guess abandoned when the NCR pulled out of the area. The little shrine in front of the place has a sign reading "Ranger Station Charlie "She stops.

"It's getting dark, and there we get super-mutant trouble up around NOVAC a lot. This a decent place to crash. "

I don't argue seeing as I'm unarmed and technically in her debit.

" Sure, I guess. "

We settle in and I pick a empty camper to sleep in. Its got a mat that's clean enough, and its got metal on three sides of me. Safe enough too. We don't make a fire no need.

A bit before dawn I roll to me feet at the sound of gun fire. I kept the armor on but opted not to wear the helmet to sleep. Damn things heavy as hell, and uncomfortable to sleep it.

Reaching the gate to the compound I see three people and a Bahmin pack animal being set upon by a pack of three motley raiders. One of the men leather armor was on the ground with a bleeding head injury, and a thug standing over him with a baseball bat with nails though it. I'm not a brave man, but these people are going get owned by these thugs if someone doesn't do something. My eye catches revolver half way between me and them that the guy with the bat must have knocked away from the one on the ground.

"Fuck it."

I make a break for the gun without remembering how long it had been since I shot a bullet thrower. I get the gun in my hand before they realize I'm even there and I level it on the guy with the bat as he's winding up to slam the guy on the ground in the midsection. I pull the trigger and my wrist regrets me holding the damn thing like it wouldn't have any recall, because god damn did it ever have recoil.

Though some act for providence I catch the bat wielding thug just above his left eye and he drops. The other guard with the leather armor drops to one knee spent from the fighting. His opponent armed with a pair of spiked knuckles pulls a spear from a golf bag

on his shoulder and I level the gun on him and pull the trigger.

click

"Oh that's just not fair."

The savage chucks the spear at me. A SPEAR like some kind of cave man! It's slow enough for me to dodge it, and then . . then the two raiders left turn tail and run as Veronica runs past me. Powered armor is not something to want to take on with bats and spears. She shouts.

"Yea you'd better run!"

The people where traveling to Novc with medical supplies when they got jumped. Both guards live, and the third the "doctor" bitches about loosing medical supplies patching them up. I go to hand back the revolver and the guard raises his hand.

"Keep it."

I barely know how to use the damn thing but somethings better then nothing. Its got 6 empty cases in side I can maybe do something with, and the guns a nice one. It's a .357 with an ivory handle and the word "lucky" on it all fancy like. I figure it should trade for a decent price.

"Thanks."

I grab the bat with the nails too but leave the raiders body. I don't want to touch the filthy bastard and I can pretend this time at least I'm not THAT desperate.

We make it to NOVAC an hour or so later, and she buys us some food. Nothing special but it didn't come out a can so I'm happy. I trade the bat and a few energy cells for a box of crappy .38 special rounds that will work with the revolver. All the guys energy weapons are pricey as hell. Then we hook up with a trading caravan from Crimson Caravan company glad to have two more fighters on the trip to Vegas and we make it to Free side without issue.

The ghetto around New Vegas is wild but a gang called the Kings keep order for the most part along with a few tree hugers called the "Followers" of something something. They hand out free medical care as best they can and educate anyone willing to help out. They've started a few problems I'm told with people they've trained going on to cause trouble.

She pulls me aside and speaks.

"OK we got this far without TOO much trouble, but if you want to get into the Lucky 38 I need to see the merchandise. "

I grit my teeth a little and dug though my my bag and pull out just one tiny glowing tube. I hand it over.

"Well that settles it I have no god damn idea what the hell this is so yea its the ammo we are after. Congratulations you are are going to dinner at the Lucky 38 casino. "

She walks us over to the security check point that leads into New Vegas and a dirty blue Securitron Robot wheels over to us and Veronica flashes a passport. The bots wave us though and I get my first sight of the strip from the inside. Gleaming towers dedicated to separating people from their hard earned wealth.

"What a waste."

"Hu?"

"Nothing Veronica. "

A half a dozen more guard bots have weapons trained on us as we enter the Lucky 38 THE center of the strip. Inside a half dozen more are inside along with a multi armed "Mister handy" tending bar, and a few Protectrions manning gambling tables.

The odd part? There are maybe 50 people in here total. I hear grunting from behind me and turn to see a huge bastard in a spotless reinforced version of the armor i'm wearing and a bright read beret reading "first recon last thing they never saw" on the patch.

"Weapons please. "

I hand over the .357 without complaint.

"You'll get it back when you leave, if you behave."

Veronica quips.

"Oh Boone you're such a charmer!"

I wait about 20 minutes while Veronica ditched her armor in a f***ing coat room, really powered armor ... and slipped into jeans and a nuka cola t-shirt.

"I should have worn a dress. Come on time to meet the boss. "

We get long glances from the patrons as we walk to a vip table dressed like well like we just walked out of the waste land.

He's sitting there with an eyebot floating over his left shoulder. The guy that killed House, effed over the NCR and Legion both. He looks like ten miles of bad road covered in auto doc scars and wearing an old tux that reminded me of Dean Domino posters.

"Well well three caravan companies,a years work and your the first Veronica has brought to dinner."

I figure "what the hell" and pull out the tiny ouch from my duffle bag and plop it on the table.

"If that's what your after, lets talk fair compensation sir. If not sorry I take up your time. "

He looks at me and nods just a bit.

"Not out to play games, I''ll remember that."

He pours the bag on the table an 98 small cylinders with a faint white glow form a pile next to his drink. As he screws around with them a bit I can't help but notice the damn gold paint and rhinestone cover pipboy on his arm. Fine bit of pre war tech and you need to make it look like some gaudy show prop. I want out of this town, and fast.

"These look about right. Only ammo that will work for that damn strange gun I pulled of some big headed freaks on the way to meet that Happy trails caravan boss. Thing kills like a Tesla cannon with over charged ammo and it smaller then some hand guns. Not the kind of thing you draw everyday, but when your in my position if you need to draw it's best make it count."

I admit to not being how shale we say the diplomatic type. Let me be clear I know this guy can erase me, but I want out of this town. To much went down here for it to be done with, and I know eyes are still watching this place.

"Five grand is fair I think."

He tilts this head a bit, and if Veronica reacted I didn't notice.

"Do you now?"

"I'll take four if you can arrange a body guard contract with any of the caravans headed west. "

"Looking to get out of town fast? Why is that?"

I decide to be honest for once.

"I figure NCR is a nice safe place to live. Whatever BS I have to deal with to get some peace and one day forget the last time I got shot at I'll take."

He spends a second to take in what I said, then ruins my entire f***ing day, and week and month or so since I picked up those dam glowing energy cells.

"Not a bad plan, 'cept they find out you're an Enclave boy they will have more then a few questions for you. Along with a tiny windowless room i'm told. "

I try not to blink.

" What are you talking about? "

"Enclave Mister Murphy where you where born. They had a habit of etching serial numbers on a plate and implanting it in the skulls of their citizens. You had yours removed by a Doctor from the Followers of the Apocalypse. The Followers in the area get a great deal of funding from me. If you want to make a play at NCR citizen ship without anyone finding out I can help. I can also point you to some of your fellow ex-patriots that would suggest you do otherwise as its a lot safer."

The rug pulled right out from under me, because I waited till i found a doc with sterile medical tools to cut that plate out.

" Seven god damn years in the wasteland all i want is out. In Rock Raven all I did was maintenance not research. If I didn't need to test weapons for signing off on 'em for combat I wouldn't even know how to shoot. Whatever you think I know I swear your wrong. "

"Calm down Mister Murphy, I've a few prices on my head myself and won't be turning anyone in as a matter of principle. Before we go any further why don't I take your offer for the ammo. Five grand from me to you no strings attached. The fact that you had them was a bonus for me, but no where near what you might be able get for me. on top i'll call a friend over the Vault 21 and have her comp you a room. Take a few days, and if your interested in making some real cash we can talk. "

Whatever bone or organ makes men stupid I swear I was born with two.

"Sir, with all due respect let just hear it. "

Yea it didn't help that he'd just told me seven years after the Enclave burned people are still looking for us even out here.

"Alright, I've got it on as good authority as one can hope for the location of an intact ZAX AI. I want its core processor. "

"I never got close to Eden, none of us did. Maintenance bots handled everything to do with him! "

A few heads turn in our direction and for the first time Veronica speaks up.

"Oh I don't know about that. It would take a certain kind of setup to support an AI like that. At the very least you've dealt with an network run by a ZAX. Frankly that's closer then most if not oh anyone we are going to find. He'll make it worth your while, and if a ticket into NCR is what your after he can make that happen documents and all. "

I take the man up on his offer both of them actually. Not much of a choice really if I want out of the damn wasteland at last.

I hit vault 21 and a blonde walks me to a room with blast doors as an entrance. It smells of moths balls and disinfectant. She tells me I've been comped 250 chips by the boss and to let her know if she can do anything for me.

"Rum and Nuka keep it coming. "

I know willingly drinking anything radioactive is stupid, but screw it. Personally I never gave two shits about the Enclave's cause it was just where I was born. Being a cog in the machine was great, cogs are important well taken care of and don't have deal with anything outside their function. Then it all goes to hell and I'm stuck in a f***ing wasteland. Sure there are towns and a few cities but they are just barbarians aping civilization. Even this place New Vegas is just some echo of the old world. People come here thinking they will turn over the right card and never have another worry.

"Bullshit."

I down a few more rum and nuka's before i saw screw it and just get a bottle of whiskey. The next thing I remember my heads pounding and a drop a tab of fixer like it was aspirin. sh*t supposed to clean you out and let your system reset if your a junky, me I conciser'em a morning vitamin.

I get a shower for the first time in eight weeks, and hop on the terminal in my room. I send a message to the lucky 38 and tell them I'm ready to deal.

About dinner time Veronica shows up, and we get a meal in what I'm sure was once to be the vaults dining room.

"You look like you like it here mister Murphy."

"Vaults are a noble idea even if few of them turned out the way they where billed. Thing is if they don't end up opening sooner or later and DOING something it's just a long fight against entropy. You can't build a world in a bottle its impossible."

She smiles, mutters something under her breath about snow globes and then i see it. She checking notes on a robco pipboy. Not covered in gaudy gold paint like her bosses. Robco stuff is full of security holes if you know how to get into them, and the pipboy series is no exception. I know right away that her boss gave that to her, and why. I grab a napkin from the dispenser and a pencil from my bag. Words are a liability some times we might be overheard, and I know this place belongs to my prescriptive employer.

It takes me a few minutes but i sketch out a quick diagram of how Enclave techs used to turn pipboys into listening devices. Like anything Robco its not hard it just needs the right physical access to the device, in the case of a pipboy it's either close enough for the wireless data transfer to work, or connect a cable to hack the fucker.

I slip it to Veronica and let her know her boss probably has her wired for sound.

"Don't worry Murphy no signal down here and Sarah isn't brave enough to listen in. I mean she tried that crap on me once and the remote life support controls for her little vault shut down for a day and a half. With 40 feet of stone between her and her and manual controls she was afraid she might "oh no" have to go outside! After that she figured out I don't care if she screwing the boss or not. "

I kind of half blink and half shrug. Some time Veronica's jokes are hard to follow, but . . .

"You knew your boss had you bugged? "

" I figured out the pipboy was hacked an hour after I got it. Some times Knowing what people know about you is more valuable then knowing things about them. Thanks by the way sticking your neck out by trying to warn me was nice."

"Pandora's box" I remind myself was a hell of a thing once opened, but if I was going to walk away from this crazy city and try to find another way into NCR i'd have left by now.

"What am i getting into with this job Veronica?"

She smiles a bit before speaking.

"New Vegas, people always make the same mistake in this town. They win a little and think they can't lose. They take that 200 caps they own and give it right back along with whatever else they had. They keep thinking it was so easy that one time they got lucky, that if they keep going it HAS to happen again. "

I snap just a little. I don't mean to Veronica's been decent to me, but like everything else in this town their are games involved with her.

"What the hell and are you talking about woman?"

"My boss wants to stay king of town, but truth be told if he needed to run he could. I have no f***ing clue how he does it, but the most recognizable face on the strip just up and vanishes some times. The games rigged as far as hes concerned if he can't keep this place he's got some place he can sneak off to. "

"And that's got what to do with him spying on you?"

"He taught me the only way to win is to rig the game. That's how Vegas survives, that's how he's stayed on top of it. If he stays in charge good for him, if not hes taken more then enough out of this place to never have to walk the long 15 to Prim doing Courier work again.

Me if he stays on top he WILL be good to the Brotherhood of Steel because they control the area around the city and support him for the tech that brings. If he looses the city Brotherhoods in place to take more then a little of whats here. That's what I care about my family not wasting away in some hole in the ground.

The bugged Pipboy is just him doing the same, making sure I'm not moving against him, and truth is I won't. He's worth to much to me where he is giving the Brotherhood time to be strong again.

My suggestion for you mister Murphy, is to either take what you already won and be glad for that or run some kind of an angle. Everything in this town that does anything but leaves without to caps to rub together. "

I sit there for two full minutes taking it all in.

"Tell your boss I'll take the job on two conditions. One I want a side arm a real on no bullet throwing cave man toy. Two he can have the ZAX core, but I get the rest, and i mean all of it. The right to scavenge whatever else is this place he's got lined up. He uses his pull with the Brotherhood Of Steel to get them to leave my a** alone doing it. They want to buy fine if not they can piss off. "

Next " The Lost Kingdom "

Yea read a book on gambling casinos don't need to be crooked all the games are rigged to begin with, and on top of it your eating drinking and sleeping costs are just cake. Even with all the cash spent on anti cheating and security they are licenses to print money just about.