Powder Gangers – dead. New sheriff – installed. Paperwork – filled out to satisfaction. Wasn’t much else to do here in Primm, and the siren song of revenge was still pulling at my blood, tugging me onward. According to Beagle’s journal, Benny and his compadres had headed on to Nipton, making that the next stop on my world tour. Now, it might seem like I’m taking the circuitous route to get there – after all, I hear your saying “Six, don’t you know Benny from the Tops? Why not just head up to the Strip and wait for him?” – but I know what I’m doin’.
First: It ain’t so easy to get into the Strip these days, especially not for one desert rat like myself who may or may not have had previous altercations with management. You need cash – NCR dollars, caps, denarii, don’t matter what kind, just need it. They’ve started checking potential patron’s bank accounts pretty hard to avoid any more scroungers or moochers clogging up the establishments. Given that the check-suited jackass had seen fit to scavenge my pockets before tossing me in the dirt, I was a little low on liquid investments. Sure, I was making it back – and I don’t wanna hear about it, if the Powder Gangers didn’t want people taking their crap, they shouldn’t be trying to kill honest folks – but I wasn’t as flush as I liked to be just yet.
Two: House runs that place with an iron fist. You so much as cock a fist, you’ve got ten of those friggin’ ‘bots on you. Bring a gun or a knife into a joint and get caught with it? You’ll wish the Deathclaws had gotten you. Technically those rules don’t apply just outside the Strip or over in Freeside, but I really doubt the Securitrons are gonna say “Oh, you’re roughing that guy up five feet away but just over an imaginary line, so we’re not gonna worry about it.” Benny had earned himself some payback, and I intended to deliver. Private-like. No interruptions. If I could arrange it. Chasing him around the Mojave meant I was probably gonna catch him where it was just us and maybe a radscorpion or two; where I could take my time educating him properly without ten feet and three thousand pounds of steel telling me to “Please drop the weapon.” Capische?
Three: Taking the straight northern route from Goodsprings to Vegas is a suicide run. I ain’t exactly in love with my hide – I’m a courier in the middle of the Mojave who’d recently been brain-shot – but that don’t mean I want to die, you know? Smack dab between the two is an old mine that was crawling with Deathclaws last time I heard any news from that direction, and there’s also more than one impact crater full of muties that would just love to tenderize you with rads and peel your skin off an inch at a time. Raiders might not be a cakewalk, but at least you’ve got a chance. Deathclaws don’t stop charging just because you blew them off at the knees. Raiders do. Math made simple. In Vegas, we always play the odds, and the odds are better on the eastern circle.
All that considered, my little detour through Nipton doesn’t sound like such a bad plan, now does it? Right.
Anyway, as I was about to head out of Primm – and to hell with stopping to let the NCR know they didn’t need to be camping out anymore; if they hadn’t bothered to do anything in the last couple weeks, they deserved to sit in their little frozen tents until one of them stopped being so chickenshit and actually bothered to check on the citizens – Nash stopped me. Said he had a little somethin’ that’d come into the office that I might want to take a look at.
Seems somebody’d ditched an old EyeBot in the trash outside his office. Nash wasn’t too good at fixin’ things – at least not the things you couldn’t fix with either a face full of double-ought or by screwing a chunk of wood to the bottom – but he knew that me and electronics had a special relationship. Said if I could get it running, I could keep it. Honestly, I don’t know why they threw it away; except for the graffiti job some dipstick’d done on the little guy, he was in pretty good condition for his age, and once I had the lid off, it was a pretty easy fix. Still had power in most of the right places, so a couple quick reroute routines, insert vacuum tube A into slot B, flip the switch and away we go. Data logs claimed the identifier as ED-E. Seemed pretty helpful – and whatever raider band had their hands on him had apparently decided that the standard-issue Enclave blaster wasn’t enough, had mounted high-intensity melters on his hull – so I told him to come along. An extra pair of hands – or sensors, in this case – never hurt.
ED-E had some other junk code hidden in his chassis, too. A lot of it I couldn’t crack; Enclave encryptionists are pretty hardcore about their data routines. But there seemed to be something about Novac, and the Gibson scrapyard. Given that, if Benny continued his world tour as I figured he would, Novac would be just past Nipton (and the last stop before Vegas proper), I told the little ‘bot we’d stop in if we could. He seemed satisfied with that.
That’s why I like ‘bots better than people, most days. They appreciate the little things.
We started out just as the sun was finally starting to head to bed. Not much of a walk from Primm to Nipton, figured I could make it just after dark – and that’s when the place comes alive, anyway – scope the place, maybe crash and catch a quick nap if the snake wasn’t immediately accessible.
As we turned away from the sign and looked up the road into the town proper, I realized things might be a little more complicated. Some guy shoved by me, babbling about having won the lottery and not making any sense. Then I looked up.
Yeah. I think things just got a little more complicated.
Courier Six out.