Lonesome Road: The Bison Steve, and on to Nipton

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The Bison Steve at dawn. Majestic. Not.

The Bison Steve. Stupid name for a place, but no stupider than some of the ones on the Strip (I mean, the Tops? At least Gomorrah’s got a bit of style to it, you know?) Hadn’t ever been a place I’d frequented before. Never had a reason to. They were a little too out of the way, a little too pretentious. If I wanted a quick drink or a place to throw my caps away between runs, the V&V always did me fine. If I wanted something a little more interesting, I’d head on up to New Vegas proper, usually much to my own woe.

Looked like I was going to finally get the guided tour, though. Deputy Beagle was in there somewhere, along with the last of the Powder Gangers who were holding the place hostage. Maybe I should go into business as a hunter; might pay better, and given the number of the convicts I’d been taking out the last couple days, it looked like I had a knack for it.

On second thought, no. I value my own hide a little too much. I get shot at enough just trying to get the mail through; no reason to go out deliberately tryingto get more holes put in me.

I slipped inside, keeping low and with my 10mm against my thigh, and started rummaging around. There were a couple Gangers in the foyer, but they didn’t prove to be much of a threat. One of ’em got dropped before they knew I was there, and the other – some Jet-addict with a meat cleaver, by the look in her eyes and the bloodstains all over a dress that might have once been pretty – was gutshot and twitching before she got more than a single swipe in. My arm was bleeding all to hell, but it looked a lot worse than it was. I took a second to pop open a bottle of sarsaparilla, dumped some of it down my gullet and the rest to help clean out the wound, and kept on.

Found a safe and a set of keys in the office just off the lobby. Not necessarily something I’m proud of, but the places I’ve been and the things I’ve done have necessitated a bit of learnin’ in fields some would call unsavory; it’s made me friends with many locks. The safe was no different, and with some extra supplies pulled out of it and the keys jangling on my belt, I made my way upstairs.

There was a couple more Gangers waiting for me, but I opted for the quiet route. I could hear someone calling for help nearby, and if I could help it, I didn’t want to attract too much attention until I made sure he was alright. Picked up a beat-up machete one of the nutters downstairs had on them, and took three out in the hallway. Botched the last one; swung too early, ended up giving her a haircut instead of taking her head off. She started hollering, and there went the ballgame.

Five more came popping out from one of the hall doors, and I decided stealth wasn’t feasible anymore. I put my left hand up, dropping the machete. Tried a bit of the charm. “Hey, guys, know where the bathroom’s at?” That got me a shell just above the kneecap. About what I expected. I spun and ran, kicking open another door… and found my target.

Deputy Beagle was tied up, eyes wide with fright. I raised a finger to my lips, shushing him, and readied my shotgun. If the Gangers were as stupid as I was giving them credit for, they’d try to cram through the door all at once – probably shooting each other – and a few rounds of buckshot’d give ’em something to think about. Didn’t quite happen that way. One of them hucked a boomstick through the doorway, instead. It landed right on Beagle’s lap.

I ain’t much for cowardice… but I’m no hero type, either. He was chained to the water heater; the fuse was already half gone. I did what needed doing, and dove through the other door. The TNT went off, and the blast of air from the explosion knocked me into the door frame, giving me a concussion… as if my poor old noggin needs anymore knocking around. I didn’t hear Beagle screaming, so at least it had been quick for him. I shook my head, trying to clear my vision, and spun around, bringing the sights up on the door and listening for another stick to come flying my way. When it didn’t, I crept out to the hall again and saw that the Gangers were just as dumb as I thought. Just in spectacular new ways.

The blast had taken all of them out, as well. Body parts, scavenged armor and makeshift weapons blown hell to breakfast. Well, mission accomplished. Sorta.

I went back to check on Beagle, but he was a lost cause.

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Nothin’ tickin’ but his watch. Sorry, pal.

I checked his pockets, and was rewarded; he’d had a holo on him about the guys he was watching, and somehow it had come out unscathed. Listening to it, he mentioned the skeeze and his bodyguards had gone on towards Nipton, still apparently making their way to the Strip. I had what I needed. Luck be damned, yet again.

I beat it back downstairs, and to the Vikki and Vance, letting Nash know how it washed out. He seemed happy that the Gangers were dealt with, but pointed out a little problem: With Beagle gone – and the sheriff killed during the initial attack – Primm was now essentially a sitting duck. He was too old to handle the law in these parts, and the rest of the refugees were clueless for the most part. Sure, the NCR were waiting right outside, but giving them any more power seemed like a terrible idea – I mean, would you really want those guys in charge when they’d just been sitting there for a week or more instead of trying to help these people? – though Nash also suggested a former Marshall who was holed up in the NCR’s correctional facility. That didn’t seem any better; man still had NCR ties, plus he had the bonus entertainment of hanging out with the Powder Gangers, which I suspect wouldn’t endear him to me, any. He also suggested that I stick around, maybe fill the role myself, but I’ve got places to be and deliveries to make. Then I noticed Primm Slim clanking by, and got an idea.

Like I said before, it seemed like someone had already been at him; with a few more of those unsavory skills I mentioned earlier, I dug into his memory core and found some interesting intel on just where Vance’s prized gun and Vikki’s clothes might have gotten off to, though that wasn’t what I wanted. I figured I was going to have to program him almost from scratch – though, given that he was the curator of a hoodlum history museum, he’d at least have basic concepts of law and order in there somewhere – but I caught a break on that count. Seems like at some point, Primm Slim had been wired with a full set of law enforcement protocols. Was about as easy as flipping a switch, and Primm had a new sheriff.

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Wish I’d thought to program him to ditch the hat. Oh well.

Nash looked him over, and nodded. “That’ll do, Courier,” he said. High praise, from that man. I tipped my hat, and headed out.

The holo said I was headed to Nipton. Not looking forward to it – the place has always left a bad taste in my mouth, and the way the higher-ups there look at you says they’d sell you their mother if there was caps to be had in it – but Benny was headed that-a-way, which means I don’t got a choice. He’s still earning compound interest on that bullet to the head.

Courier Six out.

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