A couple of the screenshots are a bit random as I haven't taken any new ones so they are just for show and to break up the text.
- Primm and Robotic Tricks
"We should douse the fire before we move out." I said as I yawned and stretched my aching muscles. I think I had bruises from the hard ground and the pebbles that dug into my back during the night. "Can we hunt up some kindling for the next travelers who come by?"
"Why? Who cares." Niner replied. "You want to do the dishes as well? Really, Six, what are you thinking?"
"Just a minute." Delilah said, as she rummaged through her backpack. "I should whip up a few Healing Powders before you do that. I'm nearly out of Broc Flower though, so if you see some let me know."
"Very funny, Niner." I retorted. "It was just a thought, calm down. Psycho doesn't agree with you in the morning does it?"
"What's the matter with you two?" Delilah said. "We're all a little tense, but lighten up, OK."
I grabbed my duffel, called the dogs and stomped off in the direction of the Primm gates, where a lone NCR soldier was stationed, without waiting for the others. I liked Niner but he was getting on my nerves and it was only the second day. I told myself it was the drugs, but that wasn't it really. He was such a spoiled brat and for some reason he seemed to latch onto me like a lost puppy as though I had all the answers. I'm not even sure if that was the main problem really, something else was going on and I didn't like it. Maybe I am over-reacting as Delilah pointed out.
The others caught up and after a warning from the soldier about strategically placed mines, we decided it would be a good idea to scout the area around the casino before stumbling in like idiots and getting shot.
"Who are these Powder Gangers?" I asked the soldier. "Odd name."
"Prisoners rioted at the prison awhile back and took it over. They stole a whole heap of dynamite and just came up with the name. It stuck." replied the guard. "Bunch of lunatics if you want my opinion. They like to booby trap abandoned camps and buildings. Some they live in, some they just trap for fun and watch the explosions and body parts go flying."
"Who doesn't like fireworks then, eh!" said Niner, laughing. "Boom! Poof, red mist!"
I grabbed him by the elbow and shoved him stumbling forward. "There are mines right there on the walkway. Let's see you disarm them or it's really going to be fireworks."
"OK, OK. I get it." he said. "No need to get all uptight again, Six. Sheesh."
With the mines disabled we crept up behind a ruined gas station so we could get an idea of how many prisoners we'd be facing and if there was decent cover we could use. Two well armed Powder Gangers were patrolling the road on the left side of the casino and as far as we could determine, only one on the other side. We were supposedly going up against criminals and thugs, not trained soldiers, but anyone who survives in this savage wasteland are nothing to be trifled with.
"See that roller coaster." Niner whispered. He was switched on and alert, different. "Before the war Primm was a tourist attraction, but just look at it now. It's a wreck. I bet there are spotters up there, so keep your eyes open and stay down."
"Could we use it to get inside?" I asked. The roller coaster was attached to a big casino, the Bison Steve, but the casino itself had seen better days. In a couple of places the roller coaster had fallen onto the roof and round the side it had dropped onto a balcony with a door.
"Probably, but we need to deal with the hostiles out here first." Niner replied. One thing at a time. Stay here. I'm going to take out the lone guy, real quiet like, and see what's what around the corner."
Niner waited until the prison escapee was out of sight then duck walked to the back of the Vikki and Vance, the smaller casino. He waited and watched gauging the man's patrol path, drew his combat knife and crept behind him. He tapped the thug on the shoulder to get his attention, then as he swung round, startled and off balance, Niner slashed his throat from ear to ear. A hot stream of crimson gushed forth splashing Niner's jeans and boots.
"Would you look at that." Niner growled and viciously kicked the body. "You ruined my favourite boots. I hope you've got some choice gear besides that crappy little pistol, dirtbag. Now, let's check your pockets."
The rest of us quietly moved forward to Niner's position and as luck would have it one of the other Powder Ganger's ambled round the corner of the building. He was looking back over his shoulder talking to his partner so he hadn't seen us crouching there, as still as statues, but one false move and it would be on. I noticed his buddy was standing close to one of the ancient automobiles. On impulse and maybe a little panic, I aimed my plasma pistol at the ruined engine and fired shots one after the other. The ancient vehicle's nuclear reactor exploded in spectacular fashion vaporizing the convict and showering the other in flaming debris, setting him aflame and killing him seconds later. He burned to a black husk so fast he didn't have time to scream.
"Well, that takes care of that." Niner said nonchalantly. "Quick thinking there, Six. Looks like the spooters on the roller coater didn't even notice, if there are any, that is."
"Listen, do we really have a reason to go inside the Bison Steve?" I asked the others. "I'm almost out of ammo and I'd rather get moving towards Vegas than settle the NCR's score with a bunch of escaped convicts for them."
"It's more than fine with me if we leave them to it." replied Delilah. "What about you, Niner? It's not our fight after all and I've got better things to do than die today."
"Yeah, let's just scout around some of the derelict buildings and see what we can find. You never know. We should drop into the Vikki and Vance for a a quick visit if there's anybody in there. They may have a lead on the guy who put that slug in your skull, Six."
We didn't find much in the way of useable supplies but we discovered the body of another courier slumped outside the door of the Mojave Express offices and he had been shot in the head. He had a note on him very similar to the one found in my pocket. The note was crumpled and had been soaked in blood so was almost unreadable but it mentioned something about a mysterious delivery and not much else. I had no idea what it meant but it had me wondering. I don't believe in co-incidences and this had trouble written all over it. No pun intended.
Inside the office we found a broken Eyebot with instructions on how to fix it. Now this was my area of expertise. There were bits of scrap metal and old electronics laying around but the instructions said I needed a couple of sensor modules and they weren't easy to come by. I thought I could do it without them though given a little time and the bot might come in useful since it was weaponized.
It didn't take as long as I expected and while I worked the others went over to the casino to see if there was anyone there who could help out with info or supplies. I kept the dogs with me in case of trouble.
After a bit of jury rigging and bypassing some of it's hopefully non-essential circuits, plus a lot of concentration, I had the little Eyebot running. It had a sticker pasted to it's frame printed with the letters ED-E, so I decided to call it Eddie which actually worked out well with voice commands. I ran some diagnostics and managed to get the basic protocols running but I was either locked out of it's main databanks or they were corrupted. I was pretty sure it's weapons system would function though and the rest could wait until I had better tools and a workshop.
Delilah returned with a message from Niner, a small bundle of food a a little ammo. There were some people holed up in the casino waiting for the NCR to get off it's ass and drive off the convicts, but he did find out that a couple of Great Khans and a city boy with an attitude passed through some time ago on the way to Vegas.
"Ah, I found something else." Delilah said. "I'll look after her and I promise she won't be any trouble. I'm calling her Lady." A scruffy black and white puppy peered at me with big brown eyes from behind Delilah's legs. I shrugged my shoulders. One more couldn't hurt and dogs were less trouble than some people.
Niner was taking his sweet time but he finally arrived and was looking the worse for wear. He'd obviously had a few hits while he was gone and his eyes were glassy and unfocused. Great.
"Yeah, yeah, I know Six. Don't come down on me. I'll be fine." He muttered, not sorry at all. "Maybe we should get moving. I don't know about you guys, but I'm a bit hyper just now, and I couldn't sleep if I tried."
I just rolled my eyes hoping this wouldn't be trouble later, and I wondered again was going on in Niner's head and suspected it wasn't just the drugs.
Apparently, our next stop, if I wanted to stay on the trail of the snake who shot me, was a little town called Nipton but there was one detail that Niner had neglected to mention regarding his chat with the folk at the casino. There were rumours that The Legion was making inroads into NCR territory. I didn't know much about The Legion but if half of what I had heard was true we'd do well to stay well away from them.
I was starting to wonder if it was worth trekking all the way to Vegas after the little snake who shot me. What was I planning to do? Walk right up to him, poke a finger in his chest and demand an explanation? What was the deal with the Platinum Chip I was supposed to deliver anyway and did I care? Best thing to do right now I decided is to put it out of my head and see where the road led us. Maybe find some work, earn some caps and stay out of trouble for the time being.
A couple of hours later we came across a traveling merchant sitting by the side of the road with his head in his hands. His pack Brahmin was dead and his wares were strewn over the road. The sacks and boxes had been ransacked and anything of value had either been stolen or destroyed. Two mercenaries lay dead in pools of congealing blood, their weapons still holstered.
"Hey man, what happened to you?" Niner asked the merchant. "Looks like you were ambushed."
"Raiders. We never had a chance." He groaned. "They normally leave us alone but this bunch had a real wild look about them. I only made it because I pretended to be dead and they never checked after a few rounds of buckshot knocked me down. Didn't think I'd make it."
"Here, let me take a look at your wounds." Delilah said. "I don't have much in the way of bandages but I do have some Healing Powder. It'll take the edge off the pain, at least for a while."
"Thank you miss. That's good of you, but let me give you some advice." The merchant replied. "You don't want to hang around here too long. The Raiders might have a hideout around here somewhere and they could still be watching the road. It's not far back to Primm, right? I'll head there and let the NCR know what happened, not that they'll do anything of course, but I also need to let the Crimson Caravan know about this."
"We should do something about the bodies." I said. "I've heard stories about "strange meat" and I've got a bad feeling it's not a new variety of beef."
"Yeah, a lot of the feral tribes, the real bad ones anyway, are partial to a bit of human flesh." Niner said. "I've heard it tastes like pork, but there's something in it that messes with your brain and sends you crazy. I'll stick with a few hits of Psycho now and again. At least I know why I'm a screwball."
I laughed in spite of myself. Niner had character, that's for sure and he wasn't dangerous, just overly needy sometimes.
We dragged the bodies off the road behind some bushes and piled some rocks around them to keep animals away, but it wouldn't stop humans finding them. There wasn't much else we could do as this was pretty open country, but the merchant said he would try to send someone to collect them when he reached Primm.
We all agreed it was time to move on and Raider hunting might be a worthwhile diversion. A few less could only be a good thing.
To be continued.