The State of Kimball
Posted 02 October 2011 - 04:54 AM
By Thomas Jones
I'm Thomas Jones and this is my account of the Mojave after the Second Battle of the Hoover Dam. After a long proacted struggle with the Hub Times to get my report released in full, I have decided to independently release it for the public. There are many, including supporters of the Kimball administration, who don't want this account told, but in the name of truth it must be.
Many NCR soldiers have died for the Mojave, all for a Dam that now runs at half the efficiency as before the war. With Kimball dead, martyrdom has ascended his legacy and now the NCR is blowing full steam into Baja. As our nation moves forward, and as we continue to expand there are only two questions that must still be answered. The first being was it worth it?
To help me answer that question I went on a journey throughout the Mojave in discovery of the truth. Accompanying me on this trip was my life long friend Maria Weber and hired bodyguard with only a first name, Barry. As time goes on, and people's focus fades, we should all remember the lives given for our freedom, and for our safety, and ask the most important question. What are they dying for.
Bureaucracy, bureaucracy never changes.
On the way to the Mojave region speaking with random travelers it became apparent that the courier was a folk hero. Everyone from the smallest child to the oldest of the old knew that Francis Johnson had kicked the Legion's ass right back to Flagstaff. Even as a living figure Francis was becoming more myth than legend, and it was getting harder to separate the two. The NCR may have been becoming more divided as a nation politically but everyone could agree Francis was something special.
Given the courier's massive popularity it was surprising that he would even speak with us, but somehow the Hub Times had pulled it off. Our meeting was going to be in the Lucky 38 which was being turned into the NCR's new state capital for the Mojave. Our journey, like most, began at the Mojave Outpost, which just a few weeks ago had been the border of the NCR. As we approached the first person we saw was Sergeant Kilborn whose official duty was to stop all traffic about to head into the Terrority of Primm to make sure they were prepared for the journey.
“Hello there I'm Sergeant Kilborn, are you all citizens or foreigners?” Kilborn asked with the same look of boredom that other NCR troopers around the area had on their face. Kilborn was a black man of mind height, and large bags under his eyes. As we got closer it became apparent he was already tired of standing in the morning heat, and really wanted to go home. After we wanted in line behind some caravans for a little while, we finally were able to register.
“We're journalist from the Hub, uhh show him our ID's.” I said as I motioned to our bodyguard Barry. Barry pulled them out of his pocket and gave them to Kilborn.
“Which one of you is Thomas?”
“That would be me,”
“Here you go” he replied as he handed me my I.D back.
“Sergeant do you mind if I ask a few questions?”
“No, not at all but don't record any of them.”
“Why does the NCR still have an outpost here if the Mojave is now part of the NCR?”
“Well during this transitional period the NCR military thinks it's a better idea to keep the Mojave Outpost up and running until a new administrative building in Primm, which will serve the same purpose, can be set up.”
“Why does there need to be an administrative building in Primm if the whole Mojave is becoming a state?”
“Because there's going to be two states, not one. A lot of guys in the Senate think it would honor Kimball's legacy more if a state named after him is formed.”
I was slightly taken aback, the Mojave was smaller than Hub, it made no sense for the place to become two states.
“But the Mojave is so small, where will the boundaries be?”
“Primm is gonna be the capital of the state of Primm. The state of Primm will stretch from Good springs in the North and West, the old Nevada boundary to the south, and the Colorado to the east. It will definitely be the smallest state to date.”
“What about Vegas itself?”
“You know how north of Vegas is tornado infested wasteland almost no one ventures into?”
“Yeah everyone does.”
“If you take a look at an old map of Nevada you can see the wasteland, all of that down to the state of Primm is the state of Kimball. The army won't have any control of the region to the north but we still lay claim to it.”
“So what will happen to the Mojave Outpost?'
“Crimson Caravan recently bought it as a trading post, that's why these soldiers are dismantling all the extra equipment.”
“Thanks for answering my questions but where is Ranger Jackson? We made an appointment to speak with him.”
“If you wanna speak to Jackson go into that main building over there, and talk to the guy at the front office. Word of advice though, watch out for Knight, word around the barrack is that he's had a little bit of fun time with the courier, if you catch my drift.”
“Thanks for the help Sergeant.”
We all got our ID's back, and started walking towards the central office. It was a little hard to get to at first due to the large number of caravan's trying to sell us wares and all the hungover tourist walking back to California. Once we got into the office, we were overwhelmed by the humidity and heat of the place. It was over 100 outside, but the unconditioned building with few windows was worse. What made the situation more amazing was the fact that the troops inside were in full armor.
We had to wait in line for a while as some caravan owners registered again, with the soldier behind the desk who I would later find out was named Major Knight. Maria never liked the heat much, since she was from some mountain village in southern Oregon, and couldn't wait to get into air conditioned Vegas.
“Damn could this line go any slower?” Maria groaned,
“With a full battalion worth of troops gone and administrators slow to come to the region, this is probably the best service we can get.” I came off a little prophetical but the point was still made.
“I've been thinking though, it doesn't make any sense for there to be a state of Primm, there must be something else behind that.”
“I'm sure the pieces will fall together, in due time.”
The line moved forward but the man in front of us was disgruntled and wasn't going to let this go unknown.
“Major Knight at your service, citizen or caravan?”
“Caravan, is this the best you all can do?”
“We are understaffed but are working on it, your name is?”
“Why the hell do you need my name? This is a free country ain't it?”
“Sir, your a caravan owner, so there are regulations for traveling from a state to a terrority.”
“All this damn bullsh*t. Fine my name is Rick Scott. Can I go now?”
“As much as I would love for you to Mr. Scott by law I have to ask how many brahmin you have.”
I could tell Scott was becoming very agitated with Knight, but I didn't think he'd be stupid enough to attack him. Knight may be working a desk job but you don't get to the rank of Major in the NCR military without knowing your way around a gun. Add the other 3 troopers doing working at there cubicles and a Ranger in the back and he'd be crazy to do anything. Sure enough he was a crazy.
“That's it! I'm tired of his sh*t! I'm going into Nevada with my property now! I ain't answering these damn questions!”
“Sir you can turn around now, and go back into California or you can finish filling out this form, but you can't go into the Mojave without finishing.”
“The hell I can't and don't yah even try to stop me!”
Just as the man was turning around Ranger Jackson came out of his office.
“What's all this ruckus up here?”
It was odd seeing a Ranger in person. His whole persona was in dramatic contrast with everyone else in the room, even Knight. His Ranger uniform was spotless even though it was so hot, and even his shoes shined with a bright gleam. The room didn't fall silent but everybody's conversation changed. Most people had never met a Ranger and I could even see a few of the troopers in the back look over their cubicle to see what was happening.
“This SOB right here won't let me pass the Outpost!” Scott shouted, getting a little spit on Jackson's glasses.
“Calm your ass down sir, before I arrest you.”
Scott did calm down some, but didn't fully move his hand from his holster.
“Knight what is this fool going on about?”
“He doesn't want to go through with basic paperwork for his caravan.”
Jackson laughed a little, and took a step forward.
“Listen here, these are the rules, you answer the questions Knight ask you and get your ass out of here. Understood?”
“No it's not fine, I don't give a damn if you are Ranger, I know my rights! I'm going to Nevada and I ain't fillin' ou-”
Before he could finish that thought Jackson gave him a left hook to the jaw and grabbed his gun.
“Recruits! Get this sorry excuse of a man tied to a chair. After wards call Sergeant Kilborn and get this guy back into California, make sure he doesn't try to cross back over.”
All three recruits dashed from their desk and shouted, “Yes Sir!” in near synchronization.
Everyone in the lobby went back to complaining about the heat, or the wait in line. Jackson began walking back to his office when I got his attention.
“Uhh excuse me! Ranger Jackson?”
He turned around slowly but seemed more relaxed than everyone in the outpost.
“I'm Thomas Jones, the reporter whose supposed to interview you.”
“Thomas Jones? Why I've been waiting for you, come on back to my office.”
Jackson didn't have many expressions, through a lot of that had to do with his Authority Glasses that took up much of his face. We started walking back to Jackson's office when Major Knight stopped us.
“O wait I'm sorry I'm going to have to ask your two friends to wait up front.”
“You two heard the man I'll see you two later.” I said as I motioned at the seats in the lobby.
“Thomas” Maria said with sweat streaming down her face, “We'll wait outside it's too hot in here.”
“Fine with me.”
As I walked through Jackson's door way I noticed there was only one chair, instead of sitting he leaned against a rusty file cabinet.
“I'm really glad you agreed to this interview.”
“I'm glad I could help you out, how are you doing today?”
“Hot sir, very hot. Don't you all ever take those uniforms off? It has to be 120 degrees in here.”
“We would but NCR regulations are against it and such. So how was the trip to the Outpost?”
“Besides the few raiders it was fine, there were less of them than there used to be.”
“Yeah they've been reduced quite a bit since Kimball was elected.”
I knew the pleasantries were over now, and I still wasn't sure how Jackson would respond to the upcoming questions.
“It's interesting you bring him up. I've read many reports saying the Kimball administration has come down hard on you for hiring the courier and giving him supplies. Is that report true?”
“While the courier did help the Outpost I didn't give him any supplies and you can ask him yourself. The outpost doesn't hire mercenaries.”
“So the missing guns, food stuffs and amm-”
“Were all misplaced by my staff. I didn't have time to deal with small logistics like that anyway since I was helping run the Primm area.”
“Now Ranger, you've been a loyal Kimball supporter haven't you?”
“Then why are there so many investigations being launched about your conduct and handling of the war?”
“You know Jones, I'm really not sure, though I believe your over exaggerating the number of inquires.”
“Exaggerating? Sir the last we checked the Mojave Outpost has on going investigation concerning; bribes, mercenaries, homosexuality and misinformation concerning travel logs.”
“Yes there are many allegations but they are just that, allegations.”
“Doesn't the pure number concern you?”
“Listen I'm just a Ranger trying to do my job, I don't have time to worry about Internal Affairs. If they want to investigate they have the right. I need to get back to work you can see yourself out.”
“Thank you for your time Ranger Jackson.”
As I stepped out the office I couldn't help but wonder myself why IA would go after Jackson. Chances are most of the corruption charges were true but comparatively the Outpost wasn't that bad, well nowhere near as bad as Forlorn Hope or how Mccaran was. Of all the charges though the one that was the most interesting was the homosexuality charge. The NCR army had a policy of don't ask don't tell, but if a queer was found out he or she was normally kicked out, unless they were a REALLY good fighter or a Ranger. Sergeant Kilborn seemed to allude that Major Knight at the front desk was.
I counted floor tiles while waiting in line for some travelers got their papers. I had gotten up to 59 when I finally was face to face with Knight again.
“O your back, how can I help you?”
“Can I talk to you briefly?”
“Sure I can take a break,” with those words the people behind me in line groaned and complained but stayed civil. We walked over to his desk which was right under a NCR propaganda poster against STDs.
“Your name is Major Knight correct?”
“Yes it is,what did you want to talk about?” Knight asked.
“There are rumors circulating around here that your gay. Are they true?”
“This is all on record isn't it?”
“No no, I'm just curious, you are aren't you?”
“Yes I am, and I'm pretty sure the whole Outpost knows it too.”
“Does anyone ever talk about it?”
“No no they don't, though I've heard some of them talk about me behind my back about it. Luckily I haven't made any enemies so they haven't turned me in to the IA yet.”
“Aren't you concerned about the being discharged?”
“No I can't say I am, I want to go home, and I'm tired of pretending to be someone else.”
“Major I want to thank you but I have just one other question. Did you really have “fun time” with the legendary Francis Johnson?”
Knight smiled for the first time and seemed to look past me for a moment.
“You know what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,”
I never thought I'd be glad to be back in the Mojave sun, but only 30 minutes in the Mojave Outpost would do that to a person. It didn't take long for me to find Maria and Barry who had taken up residence under the Ranger Unification statue, which provided good shade it should be said. When I approached them I noticed that Maria was pretty far in conversation with some cowgirl.
“It's been mighty nice talking to you two I'm gonna make my way on back home now.”
The cowgirl stood up and dusted off her jeans. She didn't really notice me but I could smell whiskey on her breath as I walked by.
“You two ready to go?” I asked, trying to say in the shade as long as possible.
“Yeah I'm good, what about you Barry?”
Barry shook his head, and helped Maria up.
“Who was that chick you were talking to?”
“Named Cass and she had a pretty good story, but we have a long trip, and a long time to talk about it. What did Jackson have to say about the corruption changes.”
“What you would expect a Ranger to say when you accuse him of being corrupt. The whole thing doesn't make sense though, it's not as if IA has any reason to get rid of him.”
That's what I thought then, but just like a puzzle after a while all the pieces fall together.
The New New Vegas
Primm had changed more than I had imagined. Despite the fact that less than 2 months ago Primm was almost wiped out by the Powder Gangers, now it was more prosperous than ever. The NCR garrison had moved out of the town and now only a lone sheriff patrolled the new capital. Many had said Primm wouldn't be able to make a come back, but they were all wrong. The town population had tripled by the time we got there, and many NCR refugees who didn't have the funds to get back to California simply stayed. Unlike the slums of Freeside were they would face violence, here in Primm even if the locals didn't like them, NCR citizens outnumbered the original locals.
With this massive influx of labor and the resumed trade of the I-15, Primm became the top spot for investment from NCR companies, even more so than Vegas. As we got to the town outskirts it became apparent Crimson Caravan had the largest investment. Unlike the Mojave Outpost, Primm was guarded by Crimson Caravan guards, who were dressed in medium combat armor. They laughed and joked amongst each other as drunken travelers made there way back home. The guards didn't have any authority to arrest anyone but were basically just shows of force to raiders. The only thing the guards could do is defend themselves and more importantly Crimson Caravan assets.
“So wait your telling me that that Cass from the Outpost knew Francis Johnson?”
“That's what she said, but that after he found some 1st recon soldier named Boone she was sidelined. Apparently this Boone guy was a much better shot.”
“How did you two even start talking away?”
I couldn't believe Maria's luck, I mean what are the chances of meeting a follower of the courier? Her talk with Cass brought with it another pathway. Who else might of followed him would we be able to talk too? Speaking with some of his associates would definitely add to the public's profile of Francis.
“Hey Maria, do you think that we might be able to find some more of his followers?”
Maria looked at her watch and then walked in silence for a moment, then her mind was back with a response.
“You know, I've heard one of his former followers was in the Followers of Apocalypse, some guy named Israel Gannon or something.”
“Umm didn't the Followers get kicked out of Freeside?”
“Yeah, but they didn't just pack up and go home, they settled here in Primm. We can probably find him here if we look hard enough.”
“Good idea, but we have to talk to the Crimson Caravan traders first.”
Primm's layout had changed some with the influx of capital, and now the walls around the town had come down, making it easier to get around. We walked right off of I-15 and into the former camp of NCR troops which had been transformed into Crimson Caravan's new Mojave headquarters. The new office was in the ruins of a brick building that was under construction and had a make shift roof of tents over it. The fallen bricks were being reused when possible and the former walls of the town were making great construction material.
In front of the HQ two guards with Service Rifles stood watch.
“Halt citizens, what is your business here?”
“We are here to speak with Alice McLafferty”
“You those journalist huh? Alright wait a minute let me see if she can meet you right now.”
The guard walked through the door frame and up the stairs to what must be McLafferty's office. The other one tried to scan Maria without looking conspicuous but it was still obvious what he was doing.
“Hey baby what's yo name?”
Maria looked at what she saw and wasn't impressed. The guard was missing a tooth and the rest of the ones he had weren't being improved by tobacco he was chewing. He wasn't that muscular and his armor even seemed a little to large for him. The smell he gave off was worse than the average guard and his face looked like it hadn't seen water in ages.
“Whoa not need for hostility, I'm just curious that's all. Listen once you all are done with this meeting maybe we could talk some more?”
“No.” Maris said in her normal nonsense self. She didn't care much for small time people, and especially not small time men. I could tell she was more disgusted than annoyed at this guy and she had just met him.
Before the guard could try again his friend came back down the stairs.
“She can see you all now,” he said as he walked down the grey cracked stairs.
As we walked through the frame I could tell the guard was once again scanning Maria but my mind was trying to switch back into interview mode. I couldn't let this interview be as short as the one with Jackson or else I'd be in big trouble concerning content. No the tough issues would have to be worked in better, and I'd need to be less direct.
The walk up the stairs gave me time to organize my question flow and the fact McLafferty was writing a report when we came in gave me some extra time.
“Please give me a second, I need to finish this memo, but you can all take seats.”
McLafferty's voice was strong and I knew instantly how she got her reputation. As soon as she moved into the Mojave region sales surged again, the Caravan increased it's gun inventory and besides the Gun Runners was left the only large caravan company in the Mojave.
After a few moments of sitting Alice put her pencil down and greeted us.
“Nice to meet you, you must be?”
“I'm Thomas Jones, the Hub Times reporter, and this is my assistant.”
“Maria Weber,” Maria said putting some authority into her voice to match the tone of McLafferty. I couldn't tell if she didn't it to be slightly sarcastic or because she felt slightly intimidated.
“And whose your armed friend?” Alice asked, pointing her pencil at Barry's Marksman Carbine.
“O he's just Barry, and thank you for meeting with us,”
“No problem, press relations are key for this company.”
“So first of all could you tell us what it's like working in the Mojave?”
Alice put the pencil back on her desk and leaned forward some,
“It's hell my dear, the days to hot, the nights to cold and all the while savages are running around with plasma weapons killing caravans.”
“You must be speaking of the Fiends?”
“Of course I'm talking about the Fiends! Add the Powder Gangers from Vault 19, those mutants on Black Mountain, remnants of the BOS who no one wants to talk about and the damn Kings in Freeside who've been taken over by some street punk named Pacer.”
“Is that why Crimson Caravan has moved it's Mojave HQ to Primm?”
“Exactly my boy, Primm is the new New Vegas! Ever since the Powder Ganger threat as left, we've been able to make a good profit on caravans coming from California. I've even been considering investing in Nipton.”
“Nipton? But that place was burned down during the war! No one even lives there any more.”
“True but it's also located right on the railroad tracks, so we wouldn't even have to send caravans to sell goods and wares! Plus it's the main way to the rest of Southern Nevada, Novac, Nelson and the farming communities along I-95. I'm proud to say that Crimson Caravan has already sent construction teams to clear derby.”
“So in all of this what about Vegas? How do you guys still trade with the Vegas area if there are so many threats?”
“In truth hon we don't.”
That fact was hard for me to even digest, Vegas was a city of nearly a hundred thousand people, how could they simply give up those profits?”
“But Vegas is so large! Aren't you all missing out on profits?”
“Not really, tourism here in Primm has jumped 60 percent in the past month, and most people couldn't afford to get onto the strip anyway. Why travel so far, spend so much, and then travel back with no funds when you can do all of that closer to home? Add to that the numerous threats you face as compared to the safe journey between here and the Outpost.”
“Then how far does Crimson Caravan still trade these days?”
“As far as the Mojave goes? Only within the State of Primm, there's no way I'd risk my mens' lives on anything north of Sloan, through we do bypass the State of Kimball to do long distance trade with other regions.”
“On a different note, has the NCR been helpful in all of this?”
“Well as you know it has it's ups and downs. The best thing its done is move the hell out of the way.”
“Move out of the way?”
“Yes since the military has moved on to Baja we haven't had to deal with there corrupt grunts taking tolls or there arcane regulations.”
“How many NCR troops and Rangers are left in the Primm area anyway?”
“If you don't include the Mojave Outpost, only 2. One Ranger in Primm and one in Goodsprings. That said I think it's almost time for me to move on.”
“Move on? I just can't picture you going and retiring.”
“Retire, boy I should smack you for even saying such words. No I'm going to Baja, I've done enough here and that whole region needs trade goods.”
I could tell she was trying to bring this interview to a close but I couldn't leave without one topic unaddressed.
“Miss.McLafferty before we close this interview there is just one more subject that we haven't touched upon.”
“I assume your speaking of the Gun Runners problem.”
“No, I'm speaking of the Van Graff problem Miss.”
Alice's whole demeanor changed. Up until now she had remained cordial and probably as friendly as she could become. Now her whole face changed and she snapped the pencil on her desk.
“Now you listen here you low level piece of sh*t, if you even think I'm going to let you walk out of that door with that information you can kiss your ass good bye.”
Before I knew it Barry had his Marksman pointed right at McLafferty's' head, I had a Laser Pistol aimed at my eye, the two guards at Barry, and I'm pretty sure Maria had a revolver aimed at the horrid smelling guard from before. An old fashioned Mexican standoff was something I didn't expect to have in a CEO's office, but I've been in worse.
If you noticed I didn't have a gun out, that's because I knew the best way to stop a Mexican standoff was to tip the odds.
“How you wanna end this Alice?,” I taunted in a mocking tone.
“Boy I will end you right here,”
“Doubt it, Barry here is an ex-Ranger best shot in the Hub. If you even think about shooting, you'll have 3 bullets between your eyes.”
Maria had had enough of all of this and began moving towards the guards,
“What you two doin' huh? Think you about to become heroes? What about you smelly? Thinkin' about being a big man?”
Maria would often times regain her accent when she got angry and I would be reminded that she was half Mexican. It's weird because in these types of situations it's almost as if time slows down for me. I noticed things that I hadn't before, like the memo on Alice's desk that
Just as things began to get out of control I whipped out my .22 silenced pistol. It didn't have much stopping power, but I could sneak it past almost any guards without them knowing it. Alice's face changed in a micro-second. I knew that since she hadn't shot me when I pulled it that she wasn't going to shoot now with two guns drawn on her face, but the worst part for her, was that she knew I knew.
“This is how it's going to work Alice, we're going to back out here slowly, your going to put your gun down, and everyone's going to live to see another day.”
Unbelievably she did just that. She put down her gun and we backed out of there alive.
“You know that she's not going to give up at that easily right?” Maria noted before we went to the tourist part of Primm.
“I didn't expect her too as soon as Van Graff came out of my mouth. Let's get a few more interviews from around here and get the heck out of dodge, once we get north of Sloan we should be OK.”
O how wrong I was.
On the tourist side of Primm with the Casino, Mojave Express and Bison Steve Hotel I was able to speak with a lot of people. Unfortunately most of them were just NCR citizens or settlers and there accounts were roughly the same. They came from California because times were hard, they heard Primm was a good place to get work and raise a family, and they turned out to be right. Some of them were accidental settlers, running out of money on the way back and simply staying. What I really needed was to speak with a Primm native or two and it wasn't until I entered the Mojave Express that I found just that.
Johnson Nash lives with his work, literally. Mr. Nash and his wife Ruby Nash in a Mojave Express building that doubles as their home. The Mojave Express is one of the few original buildings left standing that hasn't been rebuilt. It was the absence of construction crews that drew us to the property.
As soon as we walked into the old building we were overcome by a smell of cooking food and metal, a weird mix but inviting none the less. Behind the counter of this store/home was none other than Mr. Nash himself, though I could hear his wife in the background.
“Hello there youngsters, how may I help you?”
“Are you the owner of this store?”
“Sure am, I'm Johnson Nash, though you can call me Mr. Nash. Me and my wife Ruby own this humble abode.”
All three of us walked up to the counter and shook his hand.
“We're from the Hub Times, I'm Thomas Jones, this is my assistant Maria Weber and this is Barry.”
“What can I do for all of yah?”
“I'm writing a report that will be read all throughout the NCR including here in Primm, I was hoping you'd answer some questions about Primm and your experiences here.”
“I'd be delighted. Can my wife join us?”
“Sure that would be great, two perspectives can never hurt.”
Nash backed away from the counter and went around the corner to get his wife. The sound of the stove overwhelmed any conversation we'd be able to hear, but it was clear from the look on her face she wasn't as happy about this interview as he was. Ms. Nash looked just as worn and old as Mr. Nash but still didn't seem as if she was ready to give up on anything. Her old flower dress was clean but worn, and smelled of whatever concoction she had been making.
“What is all this you want Mr.?” she asked Barry, assuming he was the journalist.
“Um excuse me I'm the one who wants to interview you.
“O then who are these two?”
“My assistant and bodyguard.”
“What is it you wanted to ask us?”
Before I had to re-explain myself Mr. Nash told her all that I had said more or less, once we were all up to date I began the interview formally.
“How long have you two lived in Primm?”
Mr. Nash began, “Our whole lives just about, we've been in Primm through good and bad times.”
“Why choose as a place to live in all the Mojave?”
“Deary,” Ms. Nash added, “Why not in a better question. We were free from NCR taxes, free from Powder Gangers, free from all those problems. Things aren't like that now of course.”
“I know both you can tell things are changing, but Ms. Nash don't you think the NCR is generally good?”
“It's alright, but the taxes rose to high to fast. My husband tries to ignore it but why wouldn't they let us have a waiting period? I mean as soon as we got admitted as citizens they took half of all the caps we had saying it was for back taxes. We can thank the courier for that.”
“Now come on baby, he did take that piece of robotic scrap metal off our hands, and he saved the town!”
“Robotic Scrap? Saved the town?”
“That's right, one day a two or so months ago he came in, killed all the Powder Gangers, and got the NCR to protect the town.”
The tale of the courier at the time of this transcript wasn't fully fleshed out and like I said, the myth and truth was hard to discern. In fact most accounts of his journey weren't even widely known until after he killed Benny at the Tops and after he took back Nelson. The news that he had saved Primm too didn't quite mesh with the official NCR story that Lieutenant Hayes unit took the town back. This and other facts would soon come to light.
I was confused and Nash and Ruby started arguing over details and facts for a few minutes. From what I was able to gather, Francis came from the north and worked with the NCR in clearing out the prison, (another fact that wasn't known until this report discovered it). After the main Powder Gangers were dealt with he cleared out the whole town of Primm and then got the NCR to include the town as part of the NCR. A few months later he came back to get E DE and leading up to the battle would still trade with the town despite the higher prices from taxes.
“He even helped me make a radscorpion casserole.”
“Radscorpion casserole? What does that taste like?”
“I'm cookin' some up right now, there's more than enough to go around.”
If anyone who reads this is ever in Primm, go and buy some of that casserole. I've tasted a lot of radscorpion in my life, but hers is truly something special.
After we all got pot bellies, I thanked the Nash's for there help and if they knew of any hotels in town.
“Back in the old days you would have been able to stay in the Steve Bison but that's being turned into the State Capital Building. Why don't you try the Followers Camp by the town water tower? They'd probably take you in for the night.”
“Hey Thomas that sounds like a good idea, and we can find that Gannon guy.” Maria chimed in.
“Alright I guess that's our next stop, thanks again for the interview.”
“It was pleasure,” Mr. Nash
“Yeah don't be a stranger.”
I wouldn't get a chance to come back for some more casserole.
Just as soon as we got to the Followers camp the shooting started. At first I thought I only imagined the ray of green light that blasted past my face, but once I heard the second “pwuh” and saw a guard turn to ash I knew Primm was under attack. Suddenly all the happy talk and conversations of the Crimson Caravan guards stopped and they became organized and deadly. Maria and I ran behind a small ranch house while Barry took cover behind a mailbox and reloaded his Marksman (which means it probably wasn't loaded when we were in Alice's office, a slightly worrying thought). From what I could tell there were two people shooting and both of them had plasma weapons. The thing that was off about them was that while the two men with the guns were going after NCR bureaucrats and the third member of the group was a female with a brown robe. Instead of shooting she instead punched guards and didn't even seem to flinch at the rain of bullets coming her way.
Barry moved from cover and shot one of men square in the head while narrowly avoiding a plasma round to the face. The whole while the town was descending into chaos. A man with blond hair and worn leather armor took charge at the female with the glove all the while screaming something or the other about getting his title back or something. Over the sound of gunfire it was hard to tell, but the woman soon put him back into his place and he was flung across the street into the window of the Nash's store.
As soon as the attackers came, they disappeared, probably with the aid of stealth boys. At the end of the assault only one of their men had died, the other two got away. Most of the NCR bureaucrats that were planning on working at the capital were mowed down in the street, and a few tourist were vaporized as well. Amazingly no Crimson Caravan guards died, though 2 or 3 did get hurt. In all the fight I had failed to notice Barry's wound.
“Whoa Barry that's a pretty big gash on your chest, any deeper and I think you'd be dead,” Maria exclaimed while looking over the wound. Barry didn't say anything but he did let us help him up.
“Maria do you think the Followers will be able to help him?”
“Only one way to find out,”
Til the last man falls
The pathetic tribals known as the Brotherhood simply wouldn't surrender. The courier had destroyed their bunker yes, but two more remained. As we rushed to the Followers Camp in the back of everyone's mind remained the fact that they still were still out there somewhere. I've covered the NCR-BOS war back home for the last decade, but killing innocents and noncombatants? That was a new low for those scum.
“What was all of that noise?!,” Julie Farkas, leader of the camp, screamed as she rushed down the hill to help us carry Barry.
“It was some kind of BOS attack I think, our friend here has been hurt. Can you help him?”
Julie looked at the wound for a moment in seldom silence then replied, “I've seen worse, I think we'll be able to make due.”
Even though Barry is simply a bodyguard I still wouldn't wish his injury upon anyone. Once we got to the medical tent it became clear things weren't going to be easy.”
“Arcade get in here!” Julie shouted while ripping the leather armor off of Barry.
“Yes what do you need?”
“We need stimpaks now! You two don't just stand around, go get me some water from the water tower!”
Maria and I both complied and quickly got some buckets for Barry's wounds. When it came down to it his Leather Armor ended up doing a fairly good job at taking the damage, the real culprit was the melting of the armor onto his skin. After seeing the effects of the BOS's plasma weapons on NCR troops I knew that he needed water to cool the area down, and a stimpak to fight an infection.
“We've got the water!” Maria and I said in near harmony.
“Good just pour it on the burn area. Arcade, time to administer the stimpak.”
Arcade worked with a skill that was hard to find in the waste. He injected the stimpak right into the area over Barry's heart while both of them scrubbed him and put on bandages. Only a hour after Barry was shot he was resting in a Followers tent and lived through a plasma round to the chest.
I don't care what anyone has to say about them, but God Bless the Followers.
After dealing with the Barry situation the Followers were quick to work on helping the Crimson Caravan guards and tourist who were hurt from the attack. In all the confusion Maria and I simply slept next to Barry's bed. At this point in the journey I didn't know much about Barry but after seeing him fight today I knew he was our best hope for staying alive during this trip.
“Quite a day, no?”
“Honestly Tom, I just can't believe this has only been day one.”
I looked up at the grimy tent roof and tried to reflect on everything I'd seen. We both just laid there in darkness listening to the organized chaos of the camp. Barry shared a tent with some guy in a suit who had lost a leg, and I was pretty sure he was eavesdropping.
A few moments later Maria spoke up again,
“Tom, all of this doesn't mesh. The Crimson Caravan AND Followers moving their HQs here. I mean the Followers have settled with some of the worst savages in the waste, how f*cked up is Vegas for THEM not to be there? There's no way that city is in good shape right now.”
“It's hard for me to gather my thoughts but a general outline is forming.”
“And that outline is?”
“I'll tell you what it should be!,”the crippled man was indeed eavesdropping and he was an opinionated one too.
“This damn Caravan is killin' off competition and then picks and chooses who get's goods. Hell I'd know I've worked for them!”
“What's your name?”, he had at least gotten my attention. His suit was extremely dirty and had many holes in it. His face was cleaner but it looked worn and old even though he was young man. His eyes seemed to be in their dying stages of all they could take and his face seemed as if it had carried more burdens than most.
“Don Hostetler, from Vegas.”
“OK Don Hostetler from Vegas, what's your story?”
“I've worked for the caravan ever sense they came to Vegas all those years ago, but it wasn't until a few weeks ago everything started falling apart. Once the NCR's base at Mccaran was slaughtered our orders in the Vegas area fell by 60 percent immediately. After that things only went to hell in a hand basket. The damn Fiends had lost more people but with the NCR basically gone and Westside still secure, they turned their attention the rest of the easy targets outside the city walls. The first to go was the NCR farm and the office complex. As a matter of fact I think a few of those jet-addicts joined them. In any case once all the NCR was gone nothing was stopping them.”
“So how did you end up here and hating the Crimson?”
Don looked up at the ceiling trying to stay cordial , I could tell this was draining him.
“So two weeks ago I was arguing with Alice McLafferty, you know the Crimson CEO, over whether or not we should relocate the HQ here. Things weren't looking good for Vegas by then, and we were losing large sums of money. I was hoping things would turn around, that the NCR army would come in but they never did. Just as the meeting was ending, the remaining Fiends attacked. I barely escaped to my home, only to find it burned down and everything I'd ever owned gone. After that I went, for lack of a better word, crazy.”
“I'm so sorry to hear that, but you went crazy?”
“That's right, in the ashes of my home there was still a 9mm sub machine gun. I hope you noticed I said the remaining Fiends. Well there aren't any remaining anymore.”
“Wait how many did you kill?”
“Over 10, of course I got my leg blown off by a Laser Rifle, but it was worth it. Even though I was sure the Fiend threat was gone now Alice didn't want to hear any of it and we ended up here.”
That story was more than I had expected from a random patient in a hospital tent but then again I was in Crimson Caravan's town.
“But wait you still never told us why you hate Crimson now?”
“It had been building up for years. I saw some pretty damn illegal stuff there but never said anything. Price gouging, drug running, and even the killing of the competition. But in the end I can understand why they'd leave Vegas, they don't have any real attachment to the place and it is still pretty dangerous and unprofitable. But it's a whole 'nother thing to stop other caravans from sellin' there.”
“What about your leg? How has it been doing?”
“Infected, hell I probably won't live.” Don said those words as if he was listing a grocery list, he didn't have any empathy for himself or his situation.
“You seem pretty calm for a dying man Don.”
“When you don't have anything to live for what good is fear?”
Don died later that night, without a care, without a fear.
In the morning all of Primm arose in a new form. Not really physically, since only a mailbox and a stop sign were destroyed, but in a different way. Native and NCR alike crowded in the center town square in front of the Steve Bison were the attack had occurred. Many had come to give support to the fallen but more had come to see what would happen to the two new prisoners. Earlier that morning the two remaining BOS were found entering Alice McLafferty's office/home when their Stealth Boy's failed. They had put up a fight, killing 3 guards, but were ultimately shot and captured.
Barry was feeling better and came with us to see the spectacle, though I knew he would need some more rest after this. A crowd of 30 had gathered while a stage had been quickly erected with two nooses tied. The two Brotherhood members had been put on stage and the nooses were already around their necks once we got there.
On stage two men, one in a suit one a Ranger, stood. The large man in the suit was already in mid speech. “And now! We shall start the War Crimes Trial for these two enemies of the State! Judge Alexander was killed yesterday but NCR territorial law states a Ranger can preform a trial.”
The crowd cheered and clapped as the Ranger took center stage while reading from a War Crimes conduct book.
“In the absence of a judge, a Ranger may take the duty of judgment over a case and enact punishment involving non-NCR citizens, even when the prisoners are not an immediate threat to safety.” The Ranger closed the book and began talking to the crowd,
“Are these two not the enemies who attacked us yesterday?”
“YES!” The crowd screamed in anger including Maria
“Did they not kill the Governor of Primm along with his staff?”
A bottle flew from the crowd and hit the female in the face. Streams of blood fell from her right eye as she tried to hold back the pain. Her brown robe soon had spots of red, but her expression didn't change. Both of them just step the same blank stare.
“Now now people, they aren't guilty yet!” the bald man in the suit sarcastically exclaimed. The Ranger then quieted the town and kept on with the State Script.
“Acting in accordance with NCR law I hereby find you two guilty of murder and sentence you to death! Alice would you please do the honors?”
It was only then that I saw a flash of emotion on what had otherwise been a blank slate. The female gave Alice a special glance, but not one that showed endearment. It was a look of hate, a look of contempt, but a look she only gave to Alice. The one thing from that day that I remember the most is the look on that girls face. I HATE the BOS but there was something off about that whole situation, I just couldn't put my finger on it, until Maria took matters into her own hands.
Alice McLafferty pulled the lever for the nooses which had too much slack and broke their necks. The town roared and cheered, while I couldn't help but wonder, had justice been served?
Troubles in Paradise
“Thomas, I have a hunch that Alice had something to do with all of this.”
Maria squinted in the sun as we all made our way back up the hill to the Followers Camp. She looked energized and full of life as a plan formulated in her mind. Maria reminded me of a school teacher with her old world reading glasses and stark black hair that covered her forehead some. From the moment Maria saw Alice I could tell she didn't like her or trust her.
“I was thinking the same thing, what are you planning?”
“I''m going to go into Crimson and see if I can find some information on all of this.”
“Good idea! The Crimson always keeps records,”
I've always been confused as to why an organization would keep records of wrongdoing but there has always been an sense of invulnerability among the powerful. It should also be noted that until this day Maria and I are still wanted in Primm, although no one in Crimson has gone to trial. Thank God the Rangers have been too busy to come after us on that warrant.
As we made our way back up to the Followers Camp a plan unfolded. Maria would sneak into Crimson Caravan and see what documents could be found, while I find Arcade and see what he knew about Francis.
“Maria met us back at the Followers Camp within 30 minutes OK? If you're gone for longer than that Barry and I will come to get you.”
Maria smirked some and laughed, “Thomas I can handle myself. If something goes wrong I'll still be back here in 30 minutes.”
I've never known Maria to back down from a challenge. She's been along with me for the past 10 years and we've been in a lot of situations where even the strongest of men would step back. That was partly why I was worried.
Maria fumbled with the strap on her dilapidated backpack for a moment while trying to get our her .44.
“Here goes everything.” she curtly said while reloading the pistol. Before I knew it she re blended back into the crowd and was gone.
Most of the junkies in the Followers Camp had cleared out to see the skeptical play in the town square. Even on the hill you could still hear the screams of the rally.
“Hey Barry why don't you get some rest before we set off again? We have a long walk ahead of us.”
He nodded and slowly made his way to the tent. The expression on Barry's face showed that the soul was ready to leave but the body was still bruised and battered.
There were 7 tents in the camp but all were dwarfed by the large Administrative tent were the doctors resided. For the first time I noticed a few Followers guards and one of them was even a ghoul. There were 3 of them simply sitting in front of the tent on empty supply crates. As I got closer the ghoul's glare pieced into my skin more than the burning Mojave Sun. I
“Whatdoya want smoothskin?” the raspy voice squawked from under a wide rimmed cowboy hat.
“I need to speak with Arcade Gannon, I'm a journalist from the Hub Times.”
The guards didn't seem to react to what I said at all, they just looked at each other and nodded.
“You look harmless enough smoothskin go on in.”
I've always hated the way ghouls call us smoothskin. It's not as if when I greet them I say, “Hey f*cked up face!” But that's just a personal pet peeve, overall ghouls are good people.
Inside the tent I was immediately overwhelmed with the contrast of sun on my face, to the relative coolness of this makeshift tent. I don't know much about tent making but the two electric lights hanging from the ceiling along with the soft hum of a generator in the back seemed to suggest the Followers were making Primm their home for good.
Inside there was only one 20 something man with blond hair. He looked like the typical Followers doctor but his attire was more worn than most. The white had been faded to light brown and the bottom rims suffered holes that looked as if bullets had plowed through it.
“Are you Arcade Gannon?”
“That would be me, who is asking?”
Within a few words it was easy to see he was educated. His very manner and presence was profoundly different than the average person. As he turned around I could see he was tired. Not just physically but even mentally.
“Thomas Jones from the Hub Times. Legend has it you helped the courier win the Second Battle?”
“I helped him some yes.”
“Would you mind if I interviewed you? The history books can't forget the heroes”
“I definitely wouldn't call myself a hero, but things are going slowly around here and I have time.”
We both sat down on some 200 year old school chairs and I started the official transcript.
“Would you like for me to call you Arcade, or Mr. Gannon?”
“Arcade is fine.”
“Alright then Arcade, when did you met Francis?”
“Umm,” Arcade took a moment to recall his thoughts, rubbing his face for a moment, “It was probably only two weeks before the Battle.”
“You were working at the Followers Camp?”
“Yes, we were making some progress there in Vegas.”
“Then what happened why come here?”
“We couldn't get resupplied. As much as we wanted to help Freeside, we couldn't find a caravan willing to take the risk no matter how many caps we offered. God knows me leaving didn't help any.”
“What did you and Francis get done?”
Arcade sat back for a moment as if he was trying to grasp the past, but he quickly snapped back.
“Nothing really, just finished some loose ends.”
I wasn't sure what to make of this guy, he seemed legit but there had to be more information he had to give. I decided to press the point.
“Yes the NCR wanted Francis to take care of some groups. The first group we dealt with was the Boomers whom I learned so much from.”
“Most people in California have never even heard of the Boomers what are they like?”
“They come from a vault just as the NCR, but they're much more isolated. Even know, being allied with the NCR they still don't let any one in, except for me and Francis of course.”
“What did the Boomers have that the NCR needed?”
“Planes. They had the equipment to fly one, the training to fly one and us to help them. In the end they helped us at the Battle by bombing the Legion's forces.”
“Were there any other groups you two outreached to?”
“The Kings. This one was close to me because of their relationship with the Freeside community. Francis was told by Ambassador Crocker to take out Pacer stealthy and we almost did that...except when we went to the Kings headquarters my stealth boy went out and we got into a massive gun fight. In the end the King got shot, though I'm not sure by whom, and Pacer was nowhere to be found. That one sent Freeside into chaos.”
“You know I was in Freeside during those riots, they were no joke.”
“Yea, they weren't a lot of innocent people died from that one stealth boy going out. I partially blame myself for that one, and now Freeside hates the NCR citizens AND the Followers.”
“Was that one of the reasons the Followers left?”
“Yes, the violence against us was to strong and we couldn't provide basic services. Now Pacer is running Freeside and the slums have never been the same.”
“Any other groups you guys helped?”
“The Great Khans. They were the most difficult case because I saw in them a fear of the Legion and yet they were heading head forward into that alliance. In all Francis simply wanted to kill them like he had done the Powder Gangers, and that was an option. Luckily we didn't listen to Colonel Moore and were able to work out a peace deal with them.”
“Really? From what I've heard the Great Khans have been killed off and driven out of the region.”
“Yea, they have. Moore didn't like the idea of them sticking around and neither did Oliver. From what I understand after the battle Oliver's power armored unit took them out.”
This Arcade guy was opening up, I knew I had to continue down this road.
“One thing that is bothering me is the fact that you didn't help Francis the Brotherhood.”
With that comment I saw the slightest of jerks on this otherwise blank slate of a face. Arcade wasn't fully open yet but we were getting there.
“Why would I help with that?”
“Because up unto this point you helped Francis and the NCR with these other three groups. Yet you weren't involved in the BOS operation. Why was that? Was it a difference in opinion?”
Arcade sighed some before answering, “After the Kings Operation Francis and I weren't whistling Dixie. The Khans mission with Moore was the full wedge point. Moore didn't like me, she didn't like my approach and was rightly distrustfully of both of us after the Kings Operation lead to Pacer taking control.”
“Where you and Francis friends?”
“We were associates, we worked well together normally.”
“Then was it him or you that ended that partnership?”
“We came to a mutual understanding, besides Boone was a better shooter and ended up helping him more than I could past that point. I ended up going back to Freeside and ended up here.”
“Have you and Francis seen each other since the Battle?”
Once again a micro expression came over his face. Not of anguish or regret but of happiness, I didn't understand and to this day still don't.
“No, but I think one day I'll make the trip to Vegas to see how he's doing.”
“Are you angry about what happened then?”
“You know, I used to be but at this point, I'm past angry. For now I'm just going to do what I can. If you would excuse me Thomas,” Arcade stood up, going for his clipboard, “There are patients who need to be attended too, thanks for asking those questions.”
“Thanks for giving me opportunity.”
I got up out of the rusted chair and made my way out of the tent. Just as I looked down the hill I saw Maria sprinting up it.
“Tom we need to go, now!”
“Why, what happened? Did you find something?”
“Yea I got this holotape, but we can talk about that later go get Barry we need to go!”
Soon I could see what Maria was so concerned about, 4 caravan guards and a Ranger were looking throughout the area, apparently in search of her.
I tried not to look conspicuous and half jogged to the tent were Barry was. To my surprise he was already up and had his armor back on. Maria was gathering our supplies into her backpack and still looked worried.
“You two ready?”
They both shook their heads.
“Alright let's go.”
It was time to get the hell out of dodge and away from this town. Earlier I noted that I haven't been back in Primm for the Nash's casserole. I largely have Maria to thank for that. Evading the 4 guards was easy enough and before I knew it we were on I-15 on our way to Goodsprings.
“Maria what the hell did you have to do to get that holotape?”
“Just a little bit of sneaking, but they never knew it was me. By the time I left the offices Alice was catching on that she didn't just misplace it.”
I had to hear this holotape that had caused so much trouble, it was very insightful but honestly no one should find it surprising.
Weekly Report- Alice McLafferty
Our plan to get rid of Governor Franklin has been successful. His whole staff as been killed by those BOS remnant fools. That false radio signal dragged them out in the open just as you said and they even went along with the false series of clues we've planted! This time we've been able to kill two birds with one stone! Not only will we now get a more “Caravan friendly” governor, but now the rest of those bothersome BOS remnants are dead too!
With those remaining loose ends rapped up I'm going to be heading for Baja now to make sure the troops have enough supplies like you asked. I must say sir we make quite the team.
The Rising Phoenix
The sounds of the dead can still be faintly heard, whispering far and yet near. That's the feeling that I get when I visit graveyards anyway. Covering the BOS war I've seen many dead bodies but something is dramatically unsettling about graveyards to me. They have a certain peace about them that is undone once the mind returns to the fact that they're zones for the unliving.
As we stood over the grave of the legendary courier I couldn't help but become filled with a sense of ah. This is a man whom ranks among the greats in my book, and is someone whom I still had an eager anticipation with meeting.
Barry lit a cigarette and the steady ember shined light on an otherwise dark hilltop. The wind was blowing more fiercely now and I knew that we'd have to venture into Goodsprings to find shelter. At that point, and til this day, I still don't know why we went to that graveyard. Maybe it was because we thought about our own flirts with death yesterday. Maybe it was our unspoken fear of what was ahead. No matter what drove us to this cemetery with every passing minute I wanted to leave.
“Maria.” and with that one word it seemed as if I had brought life into all of our conscious.
“Let's get into Goodsprings before a storm comes.”
It doesn't rain much in the Mojave, but when it does it STORMS. Not a star was shining in the vast abyss above and the darkness was seemingly all embracing. As we made our way to the flickering lights of the town below, I noticed Maria seemed shaken as well, and that Barry had gotten out another cigarette, seemly to occupy himself. I've never been one to believe in ghost or even spirits on Earth, but something was off about that graveyard, something I don't want to find out.
As we neared the town salon I became glad we left the cemetery when we did. The rain began to dance softly off of the front porch of the town tavern. Under this said porch a grey haired old man slept in spite of the thunderstorm roaring in the background. Directly inside of the bar a stray dog slept on the pre-war rug that had long since lost it's original colors for a more brownish flavor. The main attraction of the place was a large pool table that even had all of the balls required for a proper game.
At first I was confused to were the actual bar was; partially as a result of my tiredness from the long journey. After a walk into a restroom in the back I ended up making a full circle to a bar and dinner booths.
The woman behind the counter looked up from cleaning a shot glass and got a big smile on her face,
“Hey there I'm Trudy, you all look mighty tired.”
“Why we are, and wouldn't you know it, it's raining. Do you know were some weary travelers can get some sleep?”
“Sure do, I have some space that you say the night for. The overnight fee is just 30 caps.”
“We'll take it,” I dug into my pocket and pulled out a NCR 50 dollar note.
Trudy picked up the note and put it up to a lantern hanging from the wall. After seeing that it was real she staggered back to the counter.
“I guess I'll take it. NCR currencies still worth something I suppose. You all want some drinks?”
“I'd be delighted ma am.” Maria spat from her dry lips. She had been wanting some water for a while.
It was then that I realized that I didn't see any rooms in this bar, as we took seats on the stool Trudy could see this concern.
“You're probably wondering where the rooms are right?”
“It's been on my mind.”
Trudy dug in the counter and handed a key to me.
“This key is for the Poseidon Gas Station right up the road. It's a little damp and not much for accommodations but you'll find it adequate for shelter.” Trudy turned around and twisted the ancient knob on her wood grained radio. Suddenly the tavern was filled with the smooth voice of Mr. New Vegas who had been renamed Mr. NCR by NCR engineers. All the while she moved on to pouring some whiskey into some shot glasses.
“In a stunning announcement that's rocked the nation, Legendary Hero Francis Jackson has decided to run for the Presidency of the NCR. Up until now General Lee Oliver had been running unopposed in the election which will be held 3 months from today.”
Genuine shock overcame all of us, including Trudy who almost dropped the bottle of whiskey on herself. Before anyone could say anything Francis voice came over the radio in what was the first time most people had heard his voice. Now the whole Southwest was hearing it in unison.
“Today, a new course as been set for the NCR. I've been many places, seen many people in very distant lands. Yet I still haven't found a nation quite like ours. This nation, our nation, founded by Aradesh, Seth and Tandi has endured the test of time.” Francis paused for what seemed to be a large crowd of people who cheered for minutes.
“Many would have us now doubt ourselves in these times. Many would say that after our beloved Kimball has died that it's time for us to stop spreading the light of civilization into the waste. Those people are damned wrong. The great test of our nation is how far we can spread our enlightenment. The rest of this hoard land we call America has been burned with fire and killed with ash. Now as we arise like a phoenix from the oceans of ignorance, we are besieged on all sides by men of evil iniquity.
To the North and northwest of our ever expanding borders lie savages without a common language, without technology and with whom we have the greatest chance of quickly and rapidly spreading our way of life. To the south in Baja a war rages on against the last known vestiges of the Brotherhood of Steel. The so called ghost who rely on stealth boys to attack NCR terrority. Then the battle that's closest to my heart, my spilled blood and the battle that took Kimball's life. On our eastern border we still face the threat of a collapsing Legion and the implosion of Caesar's system of slavery.
In spite of these threats, the NCR still moves forward. In spite of the many men and women who've lives have been extinguished from the Earth we still do not give up the values which have brought us to this point today. No no my fellow citizens, we embrace the sacrifices made while realizing much work is yet to be done. 3 months from now every NCR citizen will be able to make a difference.
3 months from now every persons' voice shall be heard. As our nation's spirit is revived this is the time for a new leadership. This is the time for a new way of doing things. This is the time for a Jacksonian presidency. Thank you and good night!
May God Bless the New California Republic!”
The crowds simply couldn't be contained, with the Mojaves' hero announcing this candidacy anyone who wasn't an idiot could see he'd become the next president. Just as that thought flashed across my mind suddenly Mr. NCR was back on the air.
“You heard it here folks, Francis Jackson has declared his run for the presidency. Based off of a mathematical system of the late Mr. House's against a random opponent Francis Jackson get's 90 percent of the vote. Against General Oliver we project he'll get 95 percent.”
“I'll be damned.” Maria took the shot of Whiskey and let it burn in her throat for a while. Barry rarely showed emotion but he seemed to tear up a bit after that radio broadcast, a fact he denies til this day. Trudy looked speechless and just poured another shot into Maria's glass. The radio waded on about celebrations across the NCR but the unreality of the situation seemed like to much for me. I was going to interview the President of the Republic.
The rain couldn't stop the town from rejoicing. The whole town was listening to the radio broadcast and soon everyone was at the Prospector getting drunk, playing pool and getting drunk.
“Whoo Francis did it! That son of a bitch did it!” screamed some random girl in leather armor. The bar was full with joy and excitement. I didn't think that I've ever drunk more in my life.
“'Ey Traday!” I managed to make my brain work long enough to focus those words out of my mouth. The more I drank the harder it became to even form a idea let alone a sentence. With the thunderstorm clapping to the rhythm of music I sloppily put all the NCR dollars Maria and I owed for the drinks on the counter and picked Maria up off the floor.
“Wha? Wha ju doin' fool?!”
“Marria, you, you not doin' good. We, we gotta get to the room...member? We gotta get ta Sloan baby!”
“Get jo dam dirty hands off me! I can walk meself!”
Maria was normally combative but when drunk...she could turn into another layer of bitchiness. It was weird always being the responsible drunk but the party was winding down and the sun was even peaking over the horizon. As we stepped...OK fell out of the tavern even in my drunken state it was weird seeing a desert landscape soggy with the after effects of rain. The old man from before was still sleep and I don't think the party even woke him up a bit.
The many cracks in the road served as mini reservoirs for the dirty rain water. The events of that morning are hard for me or Maria to recall sense we were so intoxicated but we did wake up in the Poseidon Gas Station, which was extremely damp. Just as Trudy said it didn't have much but it was somewhere to stay. Somewhere to rest.
Damn my head hurt. As soon as I woke up I felt like a Cazador stabbed me in the forehead. The visions of last night were forever gone in a haze of drunkenness and partying, not that I'd want to recall some of the dumb things that happened anyway. The funny thing is in the end I had to.
“Uggghhhh f*ck” Was I all I could murmur as I lay on my stomach glancing at the dirty tile floor that made up this “hotel” room. The store shelves had been moved but after 200 years they still their left permanent impressions on the ground. For a former gas station the room wasn't too bad really, but now it was trashed. Maria and I's supplies were thrown all over and in every which direction. Apparently we drank more when we got back to the room because there were about 13 beer bottles in the area right in front of my line of vision.
From were I was lying I could see the whole room except what was behind the counter and the entrance. As my mind dizzily returned to self awareness I realized I didn't see Maria or Barry anywhere. The room was dimly illuminated by a few lanterns and the few cracks in the ceiling that dripped water in a consistent “bowp bowp”.
As I slowly got to my feet I looked down. It turns out I had a mild bullet wound that pierced my side slightly.
“f*ck what did I do last night?!” I screamed letting the sound echo off the walls. It was that moment when I stood in absolute silence that I knew I had to get out of there. It wasn't that the gas station was threatening but that I was wasting time and needed answers. I did a quick body check only to find more wounds and abnormalities. I had some new cuts on my left leg and I was missing a sock. Ironically (or not I've never been able to tell what irony is) I still had both of my steel toed boots on just minus one sock.
I gathered all of my things and put them into my backpack. After that I started the same process with Maria's bag only to be freaked out beyond all belief.
“AHHHH! THE f*ck?!” I screeched more than screamed. After a few steps back a small silver gecko came scampering out of the bag. My finger was bleeding from the little bastard biting me and I liked him from the go.
“Um I wonder where this gecko came from?” I outstretched my finger again and the little gecko climbed up my forearm. This time it didn't bite me but instead looked me right in the eye. I think it was sizing me up, courageous for a creature only a foot tall. After seeing I wasn't backing down he climbed back down and simply stood next to me.
“A gecko..umm not a bad pet to keep around, come on let's get out of here.”
I put the rest of the supplies in Maria's bag while looking around to see if I was forgetting anything. The lack of proper lights weren't helping but I had everything.
“Come on boy...”I did a quick check to make sure it was a boy; it was, “Let's go.”
As soon as I walked out that door things just got crazier.
Maria begrudgingly looked up with the same headache induced scowl that I had on my face.
“Wh-Where am I?'
“Your on top of a mailbox...and you don't have a shirt on.”
Maria instantly leaped to her feet and frantically searched for a shirt.
“f*ck! WHERE DID IT GO!”
It was funny to see her in such a frenzy. In truth I had the shirt in my backpack but seeing her like this was much to hilarious to end it quickly.
Maria held her hands to her chest and suddenly turned to me, I could tell the fun and games were over and I got the shirt out of the bag
“WHAT DID YOU DO WITH IT?!” Maria got into my face and I took the shirt out.
“Here, here! Just calm down!”
Just as I as handing it to her the gecko bit it and starting running down the road into the main town square. Maria's mouth opened wide in unbelief as she watched the gecko scatter away. She turned her attention back to me and almost foamed at the mouth.
“Tom. If you don't get that shirt, I will skin you for clothing, do you understand me?”
“Hey! It's not my fault your shirt was in my bag!”
“Tom, just get the damn shirt.”
Maria would often get angriest right after she tried to suppress said emotion, rather than fight about this I just went after the damn gecko.
“How did we get to this point anyway? sh*t.” I mumbled as I jogged down the hill. Before I knew it the gecko was running to the door step of the nicest ranch house in town. As soon as I entered the yard I was struck with the sight of a Nevada State flag blowing in the dusty morning air. At the front door the gecko was biting Maria's shirt (something to this day she continually blames me for).
“Come here motherf*cker!” I jumped for the gecko and grabbed it while simultaneously hitting my head on the door of house. After a moment of wrestling, punching and... admittedly biting on both sides I got the shirt back. Just as I looked at the tattered remains of her outfit and kept MF (Yes I named him MF) away from biting it again.
After MF and I settled our dispute the owner of the house came outside.
“What in the carnation is going on out here?”
This was the fist time I met Doctor Mitchell. Given that first impressions last forever I think it's safe to say I failed. I sat there a dirty man with his hands around a gecko's neck to gain control of a destroyed shirt, first impressions have never been my strong suit. I surged to my feet to shake his hand, only to see it was bleeding from the gecko biting me.
“Do you need help with that hand of yours?”
“To be honest...yes.”
“Come on into my house I can fix you up.”
“Sir I will come right back for that, but I need to get this shirt to my friend.”
Doc looked at me in amusement,
“Son, that looks like a rag.”
I didn't respond, mainly because I was running back up the hill to Maria by the time he finished that sentence. There was going to be hell to pay and I'm pretty sure she was going to take it out on me if not MF too.
“What the f*ck happened to my shirt Tom?” Maria held back as she put her face to her forehead. At this point she wasn't even mad anymore. I glanced at the shirt and then fully realized how much MF had devoured it. The bottom portions were gone, there were holes all over it and it was covered in gecko saliva.
“Just give me it already!” Maria snatched it from my hands and put it over herself faster than I thought humanly possible.
“OK now that we have that situation out of the way let's get to this doctors house. I'm bleeding all over.”
Maria was still mad at me, and still thinking of killing MF but luckily she held herself back. As we staggered back to the ranch house I had the feeling something was off.
“Tom three questions. A. What's with the gecko? B. What the hell happened last night? C. Where's Barry?”
“FUUCKK!” was all I could exclaim as the memory of last night still remained out of my grasp.
“sh*t Maria I really don't know. I was kind of hoping you'd know!”
“Why the hell would I know?! I've got a migraine the size of a deathclaw and can't remember anything past the radio announcement.”
I was still bleeding pretty heavily so the search for Barry would have to wait.
“Maria here take your bag, I need to get fixed up, I've been shot and I really don't want an infection.”
“You've got cuts too? sh*t I've got claw marks along my leg...wait a second they look like f*cking gecko claws.”
Before I knew it Maria was choking MF. I had to pry her off of him and I could tell MF had been beaten into submission.
“Maria get off of MF!”
“MF? Is that what you named that little Satan?!”
Like I said I've never been good with first impressions, well it seems I suck at second impressions too. I ended up in the exact situation as before only this time with Maria added into the mix.
“What the hell is wrong with you people?!” Doc screamed while grabbing me off of Maria.
“Sir it's...OK there is no way to properly explain this. Listen you said something about medical care right?”
“Yea I did, but you all can't be wrestling in my house like that now.”
“O sir you don't have to worry about that. MF stay!”
MF looked more tired than Maria and I and simply got into position to go to sleep. I swear to this day MF and Maria gave each other the same micro-expression of hatred.
We walked through Doc Mitchell's door as he lead us to his medicine room and made us both sit down on a bed.
“What are you two's names anyway?”
“I'm Thomas Jones, this is my assistant Maria Weber.”
“Are you two a couple?”
There was a moment of awkward silence, after a cough by Maria I went ahead and answered the question.
“Uhh no, we haven't been for a while anyway. Umm so what's your name Sir?”
“Doctor Mitchell. Do you mind me asking what you were doing on my front porch exactly?”
“Both times sir?”
“Yes if you don't mind me asking.”
“We were fighting my pet gecko.”
“A pet gecko? Whose ever heard of such a crazy thing.”
“It's actually quite common in some parts of California.”
“O so that's were you're from! I knew you both acted a little differently.”
“Yep, Hub borne and raised. I work for the Hub Times as a matter of fact.”
Doc Mitchell took out a stimpak and had me take off my shirt, despite the on going surgery basically he still kept on talking.
“So what are two Hub borne and raised reporters doing out here in the Mojave?”
“We, we came to see the region sir,” Maria interjected somewhat distracting me from the fact Doc was rubbing antiseptic on my many wounds.
“See the region? Lemme guess you two are writing a report about the NCR takeover right?”
“Of course sir,” I said biting my lip from the feeling of a stimpak needle go deep into my gunshot wound.
“That'll fix you up just fine. Now your turn,” Doc sat the empty stimpak next to me and pointed to Maria. “I see some cuts on your legs but do you have any other problems?”
“You mean besides the headache?”
Doc got up and got some Fixer for Maria while also getting some bandages.
“Do you mind if I rub the antiseptic on your wounds?”
“No no do what you need.”
Maria was in some serious pain, especially since her wounds were so deep but she pulled through. Just like he was giving a little girl candy, Doc gave Maria some Fixer and I saw a smile come over her face for the first time all day.
Once Doc was finished I knew I had to give him some money for his services. I started digging in my wallet and pulled out 5 NCR hundred dollar bills, Tandi's face covered in some dried blood from last night.
“Will this due for your services?”
“This will work just fine, but may I suggest you two take a bath? No offense but you two smell worse than a Bighorn after child birth.”
Maria and I looked at each other and then realized that we did smell horrible. She had a strong must smell and I think I was the Bighorn afterbirth he was referring too.
“You two can use my bathroom in the back, I even have soap.”
Maria got up faster than physically possible and semi-dashed for the bathroom. His house didn't have any running water but he already had a bathtub full of water in an oversized silver bucket like most people did for baths.
“While she's washing up, do you mind if I ask you some questions Doc?”
“Sure, bets sitting in silence.”
“How long have you lived in Goodsprings?”
“A very long time now, probably over a decade.”
“What do you think about Francis Jackson's announcement?”
“I knew ever sense I saw that boy I knew he would be something great.”
“Wait you saw Francis?”
“Yep even took the bullets out of his head.”
“YOU saved Francis Jackson's life?!”
“I wouldn't say that, House's robot..what was it's name?...Victor! He's the one who brought him to me.”
The story was finally starting to meld together. Francis got shot in the Goodsprings Cemetery, House's robot took him to Doc who saved his life. Afterward Francis killed the Powder Gangers, Legion and even House. But why kill the man who saved your life? Something still wasn't adding up.
“So did you ever see the courier after you saved him?”
“Yep before the big battle he came back and give me back my Vault 21 uniform.”
“Your Vault 21 uniform?”
“Long ago I lived their but that was then,”
I could tell he didn't want to go down that road and that was fine,
“What happened to Victor? The robot?”
“He left down the same night as Francis and we've never seen him sense. He was pretty nice for a robot.”
Victor? Mr. House? What did Mr. House have to do with all of this? Just as I was finishing that thought Maria peeked around the corner.
“Doc is it OK if I wash my clothes? They're covered in some kind of slop.”
“Sure thing hon, in the kitchen sink you'll see a bucket of water next to some deterrent. Don't use to much though Primm's been keeping the supply of that stuff low lately.
“Thanks for all of your help Doc.”
“It's no problem, I'm always willing to help someone in need, even if they do have a weird way of showing up on my doorstep.”
I must say that was one of the better bath's I've taken. Seeing the dirt and mud clumps gone and my hair clean in the broken mirror did a lot to dull the anxiety in my stomach.
“f*ck where's Barry?” was all I could think of as I washed my clothes and put them on. Once we left Doc's the answer became very clear.
In Doc's front yard a group of town citizens stood with their rifles aimed at Maria and I. There were only 3 of them but they had Barry in handcuffs and on his knees. I could tell he was pissed.
“Looks like we've found what we've been looking for.”
“f*ck! WHAT DID WE DO LAST NIGHT?!”
The mercenaries and locals took us to an abandoned house in the northern part of town. It was only a three room house but it was kept in fairly well condition. They drug us into the former bedroom and put Maria and I on our knees. Before I knew it our hands were tied behind our backs and all of our captors were in the room with us. The smell of bighorn glazed the air in a thick sickening funk. I turned my neck some to see that it was coming from a broken window behind us. Once I looked around I saw that there was only a bed and 200 hundred year old molded carpet.
Two mercenaries who I hadn't seen before were waiting for us when we got there. They both had Plasma Rifles and some pretty sturdy looking leather armor. The 2 locals weren't any of the people I saw at the bar last night either as a matter of fact they weren't even from around the area.
“So Norton? What we gonna do with this bounty?” One of the already present merc's asked.
The mercenary named Norton had to be the guy in charge. His armor was a dirty green and he seemed to be the strongest looking of all of them. A massive vain was from his
“Don't call me by my name you idiot!” Norton slapped the goon on the head.
“No we're gonna wait until night fall and then deliver these clowns back to Primm.”
Norton looked all of us in the eye before walking back to the main room.
“You two change back into your armor you look like hicks with that crap on. Then meet me outside, we're going to keep watch outside.” Norton turned around and pointed to the two guards with plasma rifles.
“Make sure they don't do anything crazy, we need them in prime condition so no abuse.”
Norton was a strong looking bald man with green armor. It became apparent this wasn't due to anything we did last night, but rather the whole Caravan issue. The other guards changed and gathered their sniper rifles from the back room. After they left the house drew defy quite and Barry and I glared at the same piece of glass on the floor from the window. The two remaining guards were bored and started talking amongst each other.
The merc Norton slapped was the first to speak
“Norton sure is a prick isn't he?”
“I don't know why he gotta hit people like that I mean damn.”
“Hell you remember when he hit Terry up at Jacobstown?”
“Yeah all cuz Terry said the super mutant reminded him of his wife. I mean sh*t it was just a joke.”
“I gotta say Terry's eye ain't been right sense then.”
The two guards moved to the grimy bed and sat down. These two were quite the characters, one black, one white their banter was actually pretty entertaining. Who knows, maybe in another world they'd be something more than low level mercenaries.
“Hey Jules you got some beer?”
“There's some in the back, but damn Vincent you know we don't need to go and drink right now.”
“Jules, Norton is gone. They're gone back to that bar to get supplies. Plus I heard he wanted to rob some houses before we left. We can get a little buzz and it'll be alright.”
Vincent was the white one, and he was fairly smooth talker; Jules wasn't buying his bullsh*t though.
“Shut the hell up Vincent, you know damn well the smell will still be on our breath. You remember what happened the last time Terry got drunk? Back when we were at McCarran?”
“Yeah, and he fell down that flight of stairs. I can see Norton kicking his ass right now after he embarrassed us in front of the NCR brass.”
“Then that damn courier came and took all the work available like he did at Jacobstown.”
This is when my interest starting peaking. The only info about Jacobstown up into this point was that they'd been wiped out by someone before the big battle. Jules and Vincent noticed I was paying attention and turned towards me.
“Hey there reporter boy, you tryin' to get a scoop?” Jules asked, he kept such a straight face it was hard to tell if he was sarcastic or not.
“What country are you from?”
“What ain't no country I've ever heard of. They speak English in what?”
“Say what one more time motherf*cker! I double dare you say what again.”
“What.” For the first time the whole trip Barry spoke.
Jules face went blank, he moved over to Barry and pulled out his pistol.
“Do I look like a bitch?”
“Jules calm down, he's not worth your time.”
Vincent didn't really seem more calm, in fact he looked like he was in a trance. I peered a little harder and saw a used Psycho needle on the ground.
“Nah, this snake with no tongue motherf*cka needs to learn some manners.”
Jules pistol whipped Barry and put the pistol to his forehead. Despite the stream of blood running down Barry's face he didn't change.
“Tell me do I look like bitch boy?”
Barry didn't say a word.
“DO I LOOK LIKE A BITCH?!”
Jules cocked the pistol for effect and Maria came back with a powerful retort.
“YOU DO NOW!” and with that Maria took the shard of glass she'd been cutting the rope with and sliced Jules across the face.
“The f*ck! Nah this bitch gon' die!” Jules screamed as he started shooting his pistol. Maria grabbed his wrist and wrestled for the gun. All the while Barry and I got up and kicked the junkie in the face. He stumbled against the wall and we kept kicking him.
“f*ck! I'M TRIPPIN' HARD!” Vincent screamed. Barry finally undid his rope and helped me out of mine. Maria got the gun from Jules and pistol whipped him until he passed out. Barry punched Vincent and he passed out. Afterwards the room became eerily quiet. We didn't say anything after that. Barry and Maria just got the two comedians and put them on the bed and tied them together. I went into the storage room and gathered all the supplies they had.
We left the house out of the back door to be greeted by MF who had been clawing at the backdoor the whole time.
“Let's get to Sloan guys.”
The trip to Sloan was an eventful one to say the least. Between the giant radscorpions, little radscorpions, and normal ones I'd say we had quite the time traveling. Once we got to Sloan it was late at night and most of the construction workers had gone to sleep. There was only one lone night watchman when we arrived and he was sleep.
“Umm excuse me sir.”
“Agghh sh*t Deathclaw!”
I couldn't help but laugh some,”No I'm sorry I'm no deathclaw. Are you alright?”
The man quickly stood up once he saw there where 2 other people with me.
“Yes I'm just fine, what do you all want?”
“We're passing through and need a place to rest. Do you all have any room?”
“Nah I can't say we do, we've had no many new arrivals from California. All the bunks are taken. Though you all can rest out here with me, I'd like some company.”
Maria was a little confused, “Aren't you supposed to be awake?”
The man looked slightly offended but pasted it on, “Officially? Yes, but ever since that courier came and killed all dem Deathclaws I really don't need to be.”
I know I should of started the traditional route of asking how this guy was connected but in all honesty I was tired, and we'd be talking to the courier in a few days anyway. The whole deathclaw hunt could simply be talked about later.
With that we set our things on the ground and went to sleep for the night, with the night time stars only out shined by the lights of Vegas on the horizon.
I didn't get the sleep I was expecting at all. I woke up at 4 something in the morning to the sound of Barry and Maria packing gear.
“Uhh?....Why are you two up?” I was barely able to say, gargling the words out of my mouth.
“Because Tom,” Maria started, “We've got a long walk until Vegas. According to McLafferty she won't send any of her men north of Sloan and those mercs probably won't put up the effort either. I'm not sure what the situation is like north of here but it's best if we get an early start.”
I really didn't want to get up, it was a cold night and the air felt perfectly settled around me. I lay there for a moment simply adjusting to wakefulness. Once Barry stood up, I knew I needed to stop wasting time. I got up and opened a bottle of water we'd taken from those mercs. I drank most of it, but used the rest to wash the crust out of my eyes. The guard from earlier was snoring loudly but I needed some answers about the road ahead. I grabbed his shoulder and he almost fell over.
“Ahh sh*t Deathclaw!”
“Will you stop saying that? It's me again.”
“O..what the hell you wake me up for?”
“I have a few questions I need answered before we go.”
“How's the road north of here?”
“It's just fine, plus the NCR duh gone and opened up a southern entrance right off the I-15. Now fools don't even have to walk into the slums to spend their caps!”
“We've heard the roads north of here are hell.”
“Wha? Nooo, I mean I heard about some Vault 19 or something or 'nother but nope no problems. Them Fiends went and massacred themselves, God rest their souls. And dem mutants? A few nights ago the signal went off the air. Yah know, a lot of caravans comin' through here have been surprised that the I-15 is OK to travel. The Crimson caravans seem more confident for some reason though.”
I immediately formed an idea of why I and others would think that. From what I had heard back west in California the I-15 had been shut down for months from a range of things like Giant Ants, Vipers, Powder Gangers, Deathclaws, Super Mutants, more Powder Gangers, and the Fiends. From what we could gather the Courier had killed many of those threats, but the Super Mutants were not one of them.
Then I remembered that Alice was stopping caravans going north to Vegas, and how the Crimson had a strong hold on both major trade routes to Vegas by holding the bottleneck points: Primm and Nipton. If you were going to stop a city from getting trade, that is how you do it. But they weren't stopping trade, and we wouldn't be safe from those goons going north of Sloan. No they were just making sure any trade with New Vegas was Crimson Caravan trade only.
“Black Mountain is clear?”
“Yep for about a week now, not one signal.”
“Did you see anything?”
“Boy did you just ask me did I see invisible super mutants?”
“I'm just gonna go to sleep now.”
I knew right then we had to go to Black Mountain.
“So let me get this straight Tom, you're telling me that Crimson wants to make a New New Vegas and be the only caravan company to the old one?”
“Basically I mean does it really sound that far fetched? They used the BOS remnants as pawns. The governor of Primm is dead. The holotape we have proves that.”
“I guess not” Maria shrugged as she readjusted her backpack. Barry simply trailed along as we kept making our way up the hill of killed Nightkin. The sight of these behemoths is a rare one. Ever sense the NCR kicked the super mutants out I haven't seen one in ages. Now walking up this mountain they were everywhere. I stopped over one and examined the cause of death.
“Look at that guys.”
Maria and Barry stopped walking. Both of them quickly saw what I was going on about. It was clear as day a plasma wound burned a massive gash into the dead mutants heart.
“Damn,” was all Maria had to say. As we examined some more bodies it became clear what the cause of death was. Most had died from plasma weapons, but the most unsettling thing was the simple pile of green goo at the top of the hill.
At the very top of Black Mountain lie a large pool of irradiated water. As we edged our way around it, I became mildly spooked at the sight of a large green mutant standing on top of the radio control tower. Barry quickly pulled out his Marksman but I soon noticed he wasn't charging towards us.
“Hold on Barry, I don't think he's going to attack us.”
Barry lowered his gun some but obviously wasn't comfortable with getting much closer. The mutant walked down the stairs and greeted us.
“Hello there humans. What brings you here today?”
It was easy to see this wasn't a run of the mill super mutant. Most could barely form sentences after years of using those stealth boys.
“Hello there Mutant. We just want to know what happened here.”
“My name's Neil.”
“O...Neil can you tell us what happened here?”
“I'm not a mutant. Call me a meta-human.”
“Ok Neil the meta-human will you tell us?”
“Isn't it easy to see? The Brotherhood came, 5 of them there were. Only 3 survived. They let me live though. “
“What happened to Tabitha?”
“Killed, her whole skull was exploded.”
“Why'd they come here of all places?”
“When I was hiding afterwards I remember them saying something about getting another clue.”
“And one last question. Why are you still here?”
“I must help my supe- I mean meta-human brothers and sisters get to Jacobstown.
I didn't know how to to put it for him. Jacobstown was destroyed by the courier, and it wasn't coming back.
“Jacobstown is gone.”
“GONE?! WHAT DO YOU MEAN?!”
“It was wiped out by a gang of mercenaries.”
Now I've been told my whole life that lying is wrong. But over the horizon down on I-15 I could see Norton and his gang of thugs making their way to Black Mountain. I've never been particularly fond of Super Mutants and it's not as if he had a purpose past this point anyway.
“WHICH GANG?! I'LL KILL THEM!”
I tried to put the most surprised look on my face possible.
“I see them now! They're on I-15! If you hurry you can catch them!”
With one fluid body movement the mutant hopped over the mountain edge and started dashing down the mountain side. We quickly followed after, our weapons close in hand. If we didn't take care of those punks then and there they'd be back later. Luckily the mutant took care of most of that. I've never seen such a large creature move so quickly...except a Deathclaw but that was only once. Before Neil could get to them the two snipers started lining up shots.
Even though both bullets went into his arms he balled up his fist and upper cut Norton. Norton flew across the highway median. The two snipers were next and by the time we were down the mountain they're heads and spines were detached from their bodies. Seeing this damage was an apt reminder of why these beast had been expelled.
Right before Jules and Vincent were killed they spoke up quickly.
“Damn I'm trippin!” screamed Vincent.
“Shut the hell up Vincent! Umm Mr. Scary Monster Dude? Do you speak English?”
“You killed Jacobstown!” was all Neil said and with one near fatal swing he almost killed them. Somehow they were able to get out of the way just in time.
“WHAO WHOA WHOA! Calm down! Hell not we didn't! That was the courier!” Jules screamed preparing his face for impact.
Neil stopped with a severe quickness. He turned to us faster than I anticipated, the blood from his wounds streaming down his green beastly arms.
Before I could speak Barry had 5 bullets into this beast head and he crumpled to the ground in a pile of blood and skull.
I looked back up at Jules and Vincent, revenge hot on my mind.
“So what do we do about these two clowns?” Maria pulled our her gun and adjusted the grip on her revolver, aiming it at Jules face.
“Now hold up. We didn't even like Norton.” Jules quipped.
“Yea yea guys! Hell just let us go! We won't bother you again!” Vincent added.
I turned around to Maria.
“What do you think? Should we let um go?”
“Take their guns and I think we can.”
I walked up to Jules and punched him across the face.
“That's for the damn threats. Give me your gun and we'll let you go.”
“This motherf*cker jus-...whatever fine.”
|Jules obviously was angry, but after he asked me those stupid questions AND kidnapped us I think it was justified. With that they handed us our weapons and made their way back to Primm.
“Let's go guys.” was all I had to say and we kept on towards the shining lights of Vegas in the morning sun. We were so close to Vegas. So much closer to our answers.
The transfer from terrority to terrority is a much simpler one than moving from a state to terrority. In fact the border guard only had a simple request for us. Ever since the Legion has been defeated the troops from Camp Golf have been moved to Border Guard duty and keeping Outer Vegas safe. It was a pretty easy job since the Fiends had been killed off though.
“Go and see McCarran. Go see how they're treating our men and women. It's a f*cking disgrace I'll tell yah.”
“What are you talking about sir?”
“Just go and see.” was all Sergeant McCredie had to say to us. We took back our I.D.s and kept walking with the lights of Vegas in our eyes. I really didn't want to go to McCarran to be honest. I've seen one to many massacre sights in my life time and didn't really want to add another to the list.
As we got closer to Vegas the ruins became more pronounced and I could see a rest stop that hadn't existed before; the Grab n Gulp.
“Hey there folks what can I get for you? I'm Fitz and this is the Grab n' Gulp. ” Fitz, the owner, asked. I was a little confused. The Grab and Gulp had been set up on Highway 93 on the other side of town the last time I checked. I couldn't help but wonder why they took the time to move all of their equipment and brahmin.
To move to the I-15 they had to transfer these massive shacks behind them, and they even had to reconstruct the brahmin pins. There must have been a pretty big reason for making a move that big. In the background Fitz' business partner, Lupe, was hammering the make shift shack they'd recently set up.
“Uhh Fitz? Do you mind if I ask you some questions? I'm Thomas Jones with the Hub Times.”
“The Hub Times? Why I used to read your reports about the BOS war, your a damn fine journalist.”
I was surprised, this was the first time during the whole trip someone actually knew who I was. Fitz looked at Maria and kissed her hand.
“And you must be the beautiful Maria Weber, why ever sense I read that article about you personally punching that BOS elder in the face I've grown a new respect for journalist.”
Maria blushed some and it was obvious she liked the attention. Fitz was about to continue on but the sun was getting hotter by the moment.
“So Fitz,” I said slowly destroying his previous train of thought, “Why did you move from 93? The last time I was at that one you seemed to be getting plenty of business.”
“Yeah that was before I-15 got cleared up. Once we heard the news Francis Jackson and some Veteran Rangers cleared out the Powder Ganger vault a few days ago we knew we had to move. No one is taking the 93 anymore. Especially since the ghouls from Searchlight and Cottonwood have been causing trouble.
“Francis? But he's running for President! How could he go and do an operation like that?”
This was a first in NCR history. Never in all the years of the republic had a candidate continued being involved in combat operations while running. Even Kimball had moved to an administrative role when he ran.
“You haven't heard? It's been the talk of the nation! They say Francis single hardly killed all of those convicts and that the Veterans were just there just in case something went wrong. Ever since this Radio NCR's been on the air everybody's listened.”
One of the main reasons that the earlier tales of Francis journey had been lost and corrupted is because Radio New Vegas couldn't be heard past the Mojave until after the Battle. In fact when the NCR engineers were recoding the AI for “Mr. NCR” the recorded news from the past 4 years had been erased.
I was about to ask Fitz about business on the I-15 vs Highway 93 but the small wooden radio next to his 200 year old snacks grew louder and everyone knew it was news time.
“Hello, there citizens! It's Mr. NCR reporting for you. In breaking news that's rocking the nation Francis Jackson has been shot today after an assassination attempt on his life. The attack happened right outside of Jackson's mansion, the Lucky 38. Sources close to Mr. Jackson say he was only shot in the shoulder and will make a full recovery. The culprit has yet to be found but a manhunt is underway. It's getting crazier out their, stay safe.”
Everyone just grew quiet. No one was angry, nor sad, we were all just very aware. The randomness, the fragility of everything was right on display for everyone to see. The set path that we could all see was almost destroyed with a snipers bullet and yet we had to keep moving on. I didn't have anything else to say to Fitz and just started making my way to the Vegas gates. Maria and Barry soon followed after and we didn't say a word.
As we walked along the massive concrete wall of the former Camp McCarran I couldn't help but notice the laser burns in the wall. The uncleaned dried blood that splattered the wall like a monument to wasteland violence. I saw the gates of Vegas ahead, the lights that burned brighter than the sun even during the day, but I couldn't care. My eyes, my mind kept looking at McCarran. The massive blast holes were Fiends had poured in, the piles of ash that still hadn't been cleaned up, the fire damaged central terminal that looked worse than the surrounding ruins.
Something about that broadcast changed my mind frame but it was only once I saw McCarran that I realized just how many people had sacrificed, along with the courier, to get to this point. I think Maria and Barry noticed me continuing to look and they both put their hands on my shoulder.
“Let's go in Tom.” was all Maria had to say, and we all knew what we had to do. We walked through the former gate of McCarran that had been tramped and saw in awe a scene of devastation. It had been a month since the Battle and yet only the dog tags of the fallen had been collected. Rotting corpses of Fiends and soldiers dotted the landscape in a shameful memorial.
I...I had seen enough, I scavenged the collapsed tents of soldiers until I found a shovel. All night we dug graves, and gave every soldier there a proper place to rest in peace; instead of some damn sidewalk in a ruin. We went into every room, carried every fallen troop, and gave them a ceremony. It wasn't a presidential level one but it was a ceremony none the less, one their families would be proud of.
Many reading are probably wondering why I gave a damn. Why I should I care if they didn't get buried. Why I would care some of them didn't have armor. That some of them didn't even have Service Rifles? Many of you are probably wondering why the hell I would give a sh*t about any of that. Before you think it, no it's not my coverage of the BOS war that caused this reaction of mine.
No it's from before that. I've been were these troops are. I've been on the front lines with no armor, no gun, no hope. Coming from that, coming from that past, I couldn't just let them rot.
For my actions that day I'm also wanted in the State of Kimball, apparently moving dead military personnel bodies is against the law. To be completely honest, I don't give a sh*t. Let the Rangers come, and I'll tell them the same thing I've said today. They deserved better, they got better.
The Mojave gets colder at night than most people would think possible for a desert. In fact just northwest of Vegas it even snows. To keep warm we all stayed close to the campfire letting the ashes float in the air. The sun had gone down for a few hours now and over the sounds of crowds in Vegas I still kept falling asleep. Camp McCarran made a fairly good camp sight, but it was getting to cold.
“Tom, let's get into Vegas. My shirt is still messed up and we need to secure our reservations at the Lucky 38.” Maria said, in between bites of meat on a stick.
“Hey Maria....I just realized I haven't seen MF in a while...”
She didn't even have to say anything, it was very clear what she was eating. I guess the night we went to sleep in Sloan she got him.
“MARIA! You can't just eat people's pets!”
“I agree but you can sure as hell eat their pest.”
I didn't have the energy to argue, besides after a few bites it was clear she made the right choice. Maria can cook gecko better than anyone else I know. Soon after eating we were on our feet and back in Outer Vegas on NCR boulevard. Up ahead I saw an unexpected sight; construction. The construction crew had gone to bed for the night but I saw that they were revamping an old hotel. With the Fiends gone and the Southern entrance opened more people were probably going to start developing South Vegas instead of along Highway 93 like before. In the back of my mind I still couldn't help but wonder if their efforts were for not with the New New Vegas going up down the highway...
At the new gate stood one of Mr. House's robots and a NCR MP trooper who seemed bored out of her mind. The robot was painted white, green and red after the colors of the NCR and the face had been reprogrammed to display an NCR troopers face instead of a police officer. As we approached the gate the guard readjusted her pistol, almost as a sign that we better not try anything funny. It was during this approach that I became self conscious. We must of looked crazy to her. My face was covered in dirt and green blood. Maria was wearing a half torn shirt, with yellow liquid all over it, and Barry still had a giant hole in his armor.
“Stop there!” The MP shouted still gripping her pistol. “NCR citizens or foreigners?” she continued.
“We're all NCR citizens ma'am” I said grabbing for my wallet. The trooper aimed the pistol at me screamed, “Keep your hands away from your pants! MK!”
“Yes ma'am?” The robot responded.
“Set targeting perimeters on these three, especially twitchy here.”
The guard walked up to me and dug in my pocket. She opened my wallet and fished out my I.D. along with hundred dollar bill. After a moment of gazing at the I.D. in the dim street light she give me back the wallet, one hundred dollars lighter of course.
“Alright you all are cleared to go in.”
“Uhh what about the 2000 dollar currency check?...And the hundred you just stole?”
“As far as the credit check goes, since your NCR there is no credit check.”
She put the hundred into her pocket and said no more. I waited for a moment to see if she would say something about the bribery or if she was going to just try to ignore it. After about 30 seconds of us just awkwardly gazing into each others eyes I spoke up again.
“So you gonna give me back that 100 or what?”
“Listen here, at this point it would be best if you just went on inside the Strip. Heaven forbid that MK here catches you on camera doing something illegal.”
“Me doing something illegal?! I want my damn hundred!” I was getting irritated to say the least. I've seen lots of corruption in my time but none as ballsy as this, that's for sure.
“Do you do this to everyone that enters or do I seem like Bubba the Clown to you?”
Her face didn't change, in fact I think she was enjoying this.
“No no of course not. Can't take donations from Crimson Caravan or anyone to rich or powerful that's for sure.”
“DONATIONS?! IS THAT WHAT YOU CALL IT?”
I was getting close to the edge of beating her when Maria pulled me back.
“Tom, Tom we can deal with her later, she not worth it.”
I peered over my shoulder again at this grunt of a human and dealt with the hand I was given. I'd get my hundred dollars back somehow. It wasn't even the amount of money that was the big deal, hell it's just the principal of the matter. That worm didn't deserve to wear the uniform she was in, let alone call her little fiasco a donation effort.
The robot opened the gate and our eyes feast upon the orgy that was Vegas. The lights almost blinded me, with all the hotels and casinos competing for brightness dominance. NCR troopers fell, sang, danced, and even skipped around with tourist. As we past the decrepit MP headquarters, I couldn't help but fully reawaken. The tunes of Bing Crosby burrowing in our ears like a cazador in the ground. The strip was more populated than it's ever been and much more festive.
In the Ultra Luxe Fountain many soldiers had gotten naked and drunk and simply rolled around while singing. The different separating walls on the strip had been taken down, giving an impression of largeness that wasn't there before. Some tourist waved an NCR flag while a Robot arrested a man for “public indecency.” As soon as I found a street vendor I knew what I had to get.
“What can I get for you?” she said ending a transaction with a drunken gambler.
“I need all of your booze.”
“All of it? Alright fine with me.” She picked up her portable cooler and handed it to Barry.
“That'll be 300 dollars, and yes you can keep the cooler. I can find another easily.”
I dug into my wallet and cursed that guard from before. After handing over the money I stood on my tip toes over the heads of the tourist to see how far we were from the Lucky 38's doors.
“Wow I can't believe Vegas had changed so much!” Maria shouted trying to overcome the sound of the speakers and screaming drunks around us.
“I know right?!”
After avoiding some passed out partiers and a few batches of throw up we finally made our way to those 30 feet high doors. I have to say for a moment I didn't want to go inside with the Gomorrah girls looking so good, but it had to be past 12 and there was no reason to let the reservations go to waste. In front of the doors stood two of House's former robots and NCR guard.
“Hello there, do you have business here?” The guard asked in a much more courteous tone than the female guard at the city gate.
“Yes we have a reservation for this hotel. I'm Tom Jones, the reservation is under the Hub Times group.”
The guard nodded his head and walked inside quickly to pick up a clipboard with a list of reservations on it.
“O yes I see it right here. This says we were expecting you yesterday.”
“Yes, well you know how the Mojave can slow a group down.”
“It's fine, we still have a room available for you all. We probably won't have more guest for a few days.”
“Thanks for understanding.”
The guard stood aside, handed Maria a ticket, and opened the massive doors for us to walk in. Going into the Lucky 38 was like walking into a living museum. Everything was of such an old date and yet some wonderfully vintage. The main color was red and yet it never for a moment was tacky. There were no more robots inside, but many NCR MP's in lighter combat armor standing watch. Many men with cowboy hats were at slot machines and many beautiful women in fine dresses sat at the bars chatting to some bachelors. The whole Casino area of the Lucky 38 was filled with servers moving quickly between tables taking and giving orders. The Lucky 38 was once again the “in” place to be if you were anyone.
Technically the Lucky 38 is the Capitol Building for the State of Kimball, but only the top 2 floors really serve that purpose. From what I heard on the third floor lay the most exclusive bar in the world with a waiting list that makes the Ultra Luxe seem like only a second in time. The rest of this hotel and casino was simply that, a high end hotel and casino but one that cost a brahmin fortune to afford. It wasn't until we started walking to the elevator to go our floor that I remembered my meeting with Jackson. Given his condition, there was no telling if the interview was still on.
“What floor partner?” the elevator boy asked.
“Uhh...Maria which floor are we on?”
“It says 3 on this ticket he gave us.”
“3 it is,” the elevator boy replied and we were soon shifted up 2 flights.
As soon as we stepped off the elevator and got into the room I knew those questions would have to wait. The room was the most luxurious I'd ever seen. The red velvet bed spreads on top of a gold lined King sized mattress. The antiqued Radiation King Television that actually worked showing a documentary of Kimball. The fully stocked spotless kitchen with fully working amenities. Yes this room truly had it all.
“I'll be damned,” was all Maria had to say as she sat her bag on the floor and headed straight for the bathroom. After a second of no sound we heard a mildly excited reaction. Barry put the cooler on the ground next to the couch and we both sat down to watch the documentary.
“They even have toilet paper!”
Maria proceeded to take a shower while Barry handed me a beer and opened a cold one for himself. This is a semi-real moment for me, televisions almost never worked, and even when they did there wasn't anything to watch. I was a little astounded to discover this documentary was so new and that someone even had a working video camera to make it. On the screen a pale man with slicked back hair was speaking right at the camera, while every once in a while the picture would transfer to Kimball or whatever object he was talking about.
“One thing about all of this is clear, Kimball shall go down in history as a leader on par with Tandi in his vision and accomplishments. The only difference being that Tandi had a much better group of military officers to deal with. Some names can't stated in this movie due to on going investigations, but needless to say many NCR military officials have been caught in scandal since Kimball's death, leading many to believe they were responsible for some of the failures. For more on this we've talked to the head of Internal Affairs in the NCR military. Thank you Mr. Knocks for coming on this program.”
“I'm glad to be here.”
In direct contrast with the narrator Mr. Knocks was much darker, almost of a Hispanic persuasion. He had a mild accent and if I had to put money on it I'd say he was from Boneyard. The narrator and Mr. Knocks sat opposite of each other heavily used rolling chairs, I even think Knock's chair was missing 2 of the 3 wheels.
“As with any campaign there were some mistakes made, how many of those mistakes were really just the results of corrupt officials?”
“O I'd say easily over half if not the super majority of them. The biggest known incident like this is Chief Hanlon who was falsifying information to try to start a military coup. I mean this was a man who served the Rangers for 4 decades and turned out to be the biggest traitor in our history. Unfortunately he wasn't alone, I can name corruption cases, mostly in the Rangers, that stretch from here to Dayglow!”
Something about Knocks didn't sit right with me. It's his speech, or cheap suit, or even what he was saying. It was how he was saying it, something about his body language didn't mesh right with everything. Of course that was just the thought in the back of my mind at the time.
“So what should be done about all of this corruption within the Rangers?”
“Quite honestly they need to be brought under the normal structure of the military. There's no reason the Rangers are the ones compiling intelligence reports that the rest of the Army just excepts. There's no reason the Rangers get should get special exemptions from IA investigations. Hell look at the NCR's heavy infantry corps. They report directly to Oliver and we didn't lose one at the dam.”
I stopped listening past that point, not because I was mad or anything like that, but because Ranger Jackson's problems then were in context. The IA was coming down hard on him because the Rangers were being blamed for the failures in the war. After Hanlon's failed coup the remaining establishment was going to come down hard with oversight on the Rangers, for better or worse.
The movie went on for about 30 more minutes and was basically devoted as a visual memorial for Kimball which is fine. It just got repetitive after the first 2 times of watching it and the novelty was gone faster than I imagined it would be.
During Barry and I's third viewing Maria finally came out of the bathroom with steam flooding the room.
“I'll be damned again! They have the hottest water, the soapiest soap and the robe to boot!”
“Are you finished in there?”
“Yep, I'mma bout to go down to the lounge see if I can get some new clothes.”
I got off the couch and started going towards the bathroom when I saw a letter that was slid under the door. Barry was really focused on the television and didn't notice and Maria was in another room changing. I put the letter in my pocket and strode into the bathroom. It was written on cringed yellow paper with a faded pen but I was able to decipher it's contents.
To Thomas Jones,
Do you seek more information concerning the attempted assassination of Francis Jackson? More importantly do you seek the motive? If so met me in Room 504 at precisely 10 A.M. Tomorrow. You will learn what you seek.
Guns and Patriots
My prologue wasn't completely honest. Those concerned about the Kimball administration's legacy are of course upset with some parts of this transcript, mainly the stuff about the Caravan's. But even when it comes to that there are no proven links between Kimball and these monopolistic organizations. In fact the NCR military still uses the Gun Runners, and Far Go Traders. No the real reason the Hub Times wouldn't publish this, is because of the following few chapters. The person I met has a very different perspective on Jackson, which is the BIG problem.
A few chapters back it was noted Jackson was going to win by about 95 percent of the vote, well it ended up being 97 percent. Even today with the honeymoon period over, a suggestion of negativity about Jackson is frowned upon and not even tolerated. It is in that light that I would ask you read these pages with an open mind.
A stream of light peered into my bedroom with a hazel brush of color lashed onto my blanket. Inside the Lucky 38 the air conditioning was colder than a Oregon mountain top. It's been decades since I've slept in an air conditioned room this cold, and even longer since I've had a cover for the occasion. This one hotel room was lavish with 2 bedrooms so that I didn't have to be bothered with Maria's constant snoring. As I lifted my head from the silk pillow I could see flashes of light dancing from the living room.
“Barry's still watching TV? Man he must really love it.”
Everyone knows a working TV is a real luxury and from the muffled sounds I could hear from the living room it sounded as if a different program was on. I turned my head to look at the Vegas cityscape, still more blinding than the sun, even with the ball of fire only over the horizon. It must have been around 5 o clock once I got out of the bed, because the moon was still in the sky along with an odd star that wasn't drowned out by the neon.
Gazing at the streets below I could tell Vegas had finally settled, if only for a moment, with few parties still roaming and drinking. Past the walled paradise of Vegas I could see Freeside and an edge of Westside. The only change to the general image of both places was a massive NCR flag hanging from the Old Mormon Fort and Westside Co-op respectively. Everyone knew that the NCR didn't really control those places, but a hundred foot flag poll never hurt anything.
After two minutes of just observing I slid off of the mattress, dragging the covers with me. I only got 4 hours of sleep and my body was not complying with my mind's commands; although the floor was just as comfortable. The dark red carpet was more comfortable than most bed's I've slept on. Down on the floor I managed to stay awake long enough to hear footsteps approach my door.
“TOM!” Maria yelled knocking on the solid wooden door.
“Yehyagg?!” was the sound I produced. Maria just stood there for a moment letting it echo nicely to the white ceilings.
“Tom, come on get up! We need to get to the shops before some Barons go and buy all the good stuff!”
“Alright I'll be there in a minute!”
If there was ever a night of sleep I wanted to last forever it was that night. I semi rolled onto my back and threw the covers onto the bed beside me. With a lift of my hand I had all the leverage I needed putting my weight on the soft yet firm mattress. After a putting my right leg in front of my left I finally completed the uncomplicated task of standing.
While rubbing my eyes, I gazed out of the window only to have my eyes shocked by the neon so close to my vision. Vegas could be seen from as far away as Sloan, and on a good night the lights could be seen from even farther. Stretching my arms some and yawning helped me overcome my drowsiness but not much. Needless to say I'm not a morning person, but up unto that point this one as off to a good start, then the power went out.
I pressed my face against the window to see a blue blast of Electric Pulse sweep the Strip.
“EMP?!” was all I could muster to say, with my face planted against the window to see what would happen next. All of House's robots were immediately rendered inoperable, their gigantic masses of steel and equipment now little more than cover. As I scanned for activity I noticed the former Northern Gate had been blown open and figures were emerging from the dust guns ablazing.
“THE f*ck HAPPENED TO THE TV?!” Barry stormed, flipping the coffee table over.
My attention couldn't be removed from the scene below me, with these figures in what seemed to be power armor attacking the few troops on duty. The drunken troops ducked for cover and some rushed the figures only to be gunned down quickly. MP's on the strip now had Service Rifles but this was no match for the firepower of the enemy. Before I knew it every MP on the Strip was rushing out of their headquarters to stop the attack.
At first it seemed the MP counterattack was working with the overwhelming force and number of MP's driving the attackers into cover behind the plants and knee high walls in front of Gomorrah. Then in an unexpected twist a dozen or so Kings flooded onto the Strip from the blast wall spraying everyone except for their Powder Armored allies. The King's added firepower suppressed the NCR MPs back into cover while the Power Armored unit blast open a sewer manhole. Before I knew it they were gone from sight and the MP's were only left fighting the Kings from the North, until another explosion rocked the new Southern Gate.
More Kings and someone in what looked like Westside Militia armor rushed in from the confusion and took the MP by surprise. Just as the NCR MP's were outflanked by this ragtag force some members of the Casinos and sober hotel guest with guns rushed to the street killing most of the Southern attacking force. With no cover this Southern group tried retreating only to be slaughtered by the Top's owners, even as they killed a few Barons.
Once the Northern Attacking group saw this their focus changed dramatically. Every civilian within their line of sight was targeted and killed, as they sprayed the Strip indiscriminately from cover. Once their ammo was gone one of the MP's approached slowly to finish this, only to get hit in the face with a grenade. Barry rushed into my room with his Marksman in hand and opened the window as wide as possible. With no words said he began firing at the Kings to keep them pinned in that one spot.
Somehow or another half of the Kings made it out of the Strip alive, even though Barry and some ground forces killed the other half. The MP's, and even a few tourist, took chase but made sure not to venture to far into Freeside in the process.
Not only is it calm before a storm, but it's also amazingly calm after one too. The normally loud streets of Vegas were deftly quiet, with only the moans of the wounded rising higher than the smoke. Barry removed his hand from his gun and wiped his face. While all the fighting had been going on the power outage had caused a that wonderful AC had stopped too. Barry and I both stuck our heads out the window to see scores of dead MP's outside of the Lucky 38 entrance, largely due to a lack of cover. Glancing more closely I saw quite a few dead tourist and Barons too and even a Top's member whose head had departed.
Maria came running into the room, pistol in hand.
“The f*ck! Did you guys just see that sh*t?!”
“Yeah! We saw the whole thing! Can you believe it?!” I shouted, still not letting my eyes move from the devastation. For an few hours all three of us just watched in semi unbelievable action. Right after the fighting the friends and relatives of the dead came from outside of cover to see if they were OK. In a few cases we saw that the person was only shot in a non-critical area, but in general many didn't get up.
After examining things for a while it was clear that more civilians had died than MPs, but if you added the Robots to the dead then it was hard to tell. The MPs quickly moved all of the fallen and wounded back to their HQ, but I quietly wondered how many medics and doctors there would be for all the injured, especially with the Followers all the way in Primm now.
About 2 hours into it Sergeant McCredie and his platoon were covered in sweat and were carrying the body of an NCR MP officer. At first I couldn't tell who it was, but once I saw the dirty blond hair and freckles I knew it was the guard from before. She was sprayed head to toe with shrapnel from the gate explosion and was the loudest person on the Strip. Even after what she did to me, I still wouldn't wish that fate upon my worst enemy. So much of her blood was being lost I knew she wouldn't make it past 1 more hour.
By the time the sun was fully up things had returned to a quasi state of normalcy but the lack of lights was chilling. The bodies had been moved to the MPs courtyard, and Sergeant McCredie's platoon took guard duty, keeping an eye on North opening and South gate. With things calming down I wiped the sweat off of my face and stood up.
“I'm going to go talk to McCredie, then I have some business to take care of. You two stay safe alright.”
“What business?” Maria inquired.
“It's complicated to explain, I'll tell you once it's over.”
I grabbed my jacket from the coat rack and exited the room, heading for the elevator. In the hallway sat two 20 somethings fanning themselves next to their room door. It was always easy to tell who the city folks are when the power goes out. They sweat more and have a harder time dealing with no AC. After I pushed the button on the elevator one of the guys on the floor asked me a question.
“You know since the powers out the elevators not working right?”
I didn't say anything, I felt so stupid I just pretended like I didn't just push the button and made my way to the emergency stairs. Even though I have black hair I still manage to act like a blonde sometimes.
The stairwell was surprisingly well lit with natural Mojave sunlight pouring in from a long slit window. The Lucky 38 has an amazing number of windows compared to what it looks like on the outside. As I made my way to the first story I couldn't help but notice how well maintained the stairwell was despite the massive amounts of dust that had gathered. The only place dust hadn't settled were the footsteps of other hotel guest who had to now use the stairs. I could already picture the rich baron's wives hot, sweaty and covered in filth after this journey.
I finally reached the first floor and shoved open the red and gold to be pleasantly greeted by a rush of cool air and a Hotel attendant handing out water soaked towels. She outstretched her hand and gave me the towel, the Lucky 38 symbol soggy with moisture.
“Here you go sir, we're so sorry for the inconvenience.”
“O no it's fine...uhh,” I peered at her name card after I wiped by face, “Karen.”
“Do you need anything?”
“Just some information, do you have time to answer some questions?”
“Sure, most people are just staying in their rooms. I'm really not that busy.”
Karen sat the towels down on a leather chair, a bright red thong rising steadly like the tide. I'm not going to lie I was distracted for a good three seconds there.
“Uhh weren't you going to say something?” Karen asked folding her arms.
“Uhh yea yea, my bad.” trying to readjust my eyes without looking like a prick, “How long have you worked here Karen?”
She put one hand on her chin and glanced up at the ceiling for a moment, “Time really flies here, but only 2 weeks.”
“How'd you hear about this job?”
“I was part of the Freeside workers project, I'm earning citizenship by working here for the next few years.”
“Few years? Isn't that a long time?”
“Sure, but this is the best place in the world! Were else could someone with no skills or education like myself get to live like this? Plus my family got to come with me too.”
“Why were you selected?”
“After the NCR won they set a legion of bureaucrats and Rangers throughout Freeside looking for people who were looking for work and didn't hate the NCR. The Lucky 38 is still undergoing renovations, and most of the people are from Freeside and Westside.”
“What do you do here exactly?”
“I'm part maid, part server, part janitor. Some people think it's hard work, but the AC and beautiful surroundings keep things in perspective.”
I had gotten so caught up in personal questions and admittedly looking at her, that I didn't notice the power was back on until that moment.
“Hey I just noticed the powers back on!”
“It never went out in the lobby, Mr. House had built in a backup generator. I guess it's strong enough to survive 2 EMP blast. Unfortunately we're running on small emergency AC units too, and can't cool the whole building.”
“The Great War remember?”
“Of course! How could I forget?”
I glanced over her shoulder to see some NCR diplomats walk into the 38, smiles crossing their faces when the cool air overcame them. Karen could tell I was getting drawn away but resumed the conversation anyway.
“Sorry about that, I only have one more question then I really must be leaving.”
“What do you want to know?”
“When will the power be back on in the rooms?”
“That's the question of the day! Right now all of the staff engineers are up in the Presidential Suite and State Capitol office stripping out old wiring and electrical competents. After that they'll work their way down. I can't imagine where they'd find enough working Televisions and Alarm Clocks.”
“Thanks for answering my questions Karen.”
I sat the towel aside and quickly moved to meet Ambassador Crocker. The ambassador had taken a set among his secretary and a few other bureaucrats gathered at table. A waitress had just taken their orders and taken by the time I got to the table was back in the kitchen. I couldn't help but notice how many people were in the lobby area, presumably to get some air conditioning. The stairwell is just to the left of the entrance and I could see the MP from before guarding the door from more tourist who just wanted to get from the heat.
The Lucky 38 was still beautiful, but the wear and tear of all of these people was showing. The carpet was fading in some places, quite a few lights were out from the EMP and now the Hotel had a red aura within it. As soon as I approached the Ambassadors table a wide smile crossed his face. After taking another sip of his water Crocker outstretched his hand.
“Hello there Thomas, how have you been? Long time no see!”
Crocker is a middle aged black man with big smile and trusting spirit. I've never met a NCR official quite like Crocker. Most are rude, short winded and short sighted, Crocker is the opposite. With a boutonniere flower and a damper gray suit. Crocker and I have known each other for decades now, in fact he was one of the first people I ever interviewed back when he was only a Mayor. It's always interesting to see were people's lives take them.
“I've been great!”
“What brings you to Vegas? Looking for some good times?”
“I only wish, it's kind of hard to think about good times with what's going on outside.”
It was then that I noticed that no one was playing on the slot machines, but the bar was swarmed.
“Thomas, why don't you take a seat?”
“I would be delighted.”
I pulled back a chair while shacking the hands of his other guest.
“And your names are?” I asked trying to be courteous.
The two women at the table both shook my hand while almost answering at the same time.
“Hanna and Leela? Very nice names, what are you twos' roles?”
Hanna was the older of the two, but she had aged well. Her dress was clean and finely pressed. I could tell from her silk white hat she was from the Capital, for only a Capital bureaucrat could afford such lavish attire. Leela on the other hand was proper but not as high class. She wore a skirt instead of a dress and her shirt had a few brown spots on it from the Mojave dust. Both of them looked deadly tired but the black coffee they drank gave them a mild stimulative effect.
Hanna was the first to speak, her jargon a very elite one, “I'm the provisional governor for the State of Kimball my dear. I would be back in my office upstairs right now, but as you know the elevators are out. Your the Hub Times reporter aren't you?”
“I am madam, I've worked for the Times for over two decades now.”
“I've read a few of your columns in the past. You've done some good editorials before too.'
“Thank you Ms. Governor.”
Most people have never read my editorial reports. It's always nice to find someone who had at least seen them.
“What about you Leela?”
“I'm Governor Hanna's assistant. It's been quite the day no?”
“I'd say. So what are you all doing now?”
Ambassador Crocker took a drink of water then began to speak, “Waiting my boy. I just got finished talking to the MPs. They're going to move all the bodies off the Strip and destroyed robots. The robots are going to be moved to the hole in the Northern Strip, overtime we'll melt them down but in the meantime they'll plug the hole well enough. Later this evening Governor Hanna here will go and address the Strip in a public address.”
“Once this brutal heat resides of course” Governor Hanna added.
“Yes of course,” Crocker continued, “After I finish this water we've I'm going to go talk to Sgt. McCredie. We need radio equipment immediately for the national address and Black Mountain is the nearest place we can get it.”
“Black Mountain is pretty far away sir. Won't the public miss the speech?”
“No, we'll just air it later. Luckily news of this won't travel back very fast so timing won't matter as much.”
Governor Hanna and her wide eyed assitant soon stood.
“It's been a pleasure Mr. Jones, but we must be going. I need to talk to some of the guest here and make sure everything is OK. Maybe I can even find someone to carry me up the stairs. In any case good day.”
“Good day to you to madam.”
Governor Hanna strutted away while Leela followed closely after. Before I knew it the Governor was talking to some Baron and asking about his wife.
“Why are you still here? I mean you are an ambassador and all.”
“The ambassador has been a title since we won Vegas. I really help run this place now. Kind of like a Mayor. Funny how things in life to a full 360 on us huh?”
Crocker chucked some and drank some more of the ice cold water, slowly shaking the glass.
“O and Thomas, call me Crocker.”
“Alright then sure. So Crocker, what was that attack about?”
“Knowing your investigative skills you probably know more about it than me. All I know is that we were attacked Primm style by the remnants of the BOS. The worse part about the attack is the damn EMP they set off. Vegas uses more lights and electronic devices than any other city in the NCR, hell probably the world. Now most of them are fried. Many people don't know this but very few bombs hit Vegas. That means the EMP blast never really effected this city and most of the electronics could function. Now all of that is gone.”
“What will happen now?”
“It's going to take much longer to develop the city, and cost more too. We really could of used House's robots for security but now they're reduced to scrap. Just take a look through the door outside.”
I moved back in my seat some and gazed over the 10 gallon hat of some tourist. The most striking thing was the darkness of the Gomorrah across the street.
“It doesn't look good Crocker.”
“Your right it doesn't. First the BOS attacks the Dam and destroys 2 of the generators, now they do this.”
“They what at the Dam?!”
The news of the Hoover Dam attack wasn't as well known at the time of this report, and many people still haven't heard the news.
“During the Battle, some jack off in planted C4 packs along the more efficient generators. During the celebrations following the battle the Dam was rocked by explosions. Now the Dam can barely run at half efficiency on a good day.”
“How do you know it was BOS?”
“We really don't, but the only way it could have been done is with stealth boys. The Rangers went to Hidden Valley but the bunker was cleared. Then the Primm attack happened and now this.”
“What's being done about all of this?”
“Well we got 3 of um in Primm but besides that we've had no luck. Once news of this attack spreads there is no telling what the public will say.”
Crocker rushed the last bit of water and stood up.
“I've got to get back to work. Stay safe Thomas.”
“You've got it Ambassador Crocker.”
The bag placed over my head was very itchy but had a surprising amount room for my nose. I've had bags put over my face many times before and every time it seems I didn't have enough room to breathe. I could tell from the go the bag wasn't for hostile reasons, and luckily the person I interviewed confirmed my thoughts.
“I'm not kidnapping you,” the heavy set voice comforted, “But we can't allow you to see my face.”
“I can understand,” I replied. My voice was crystal clear and I think he could hear me just fine. He helped me walk further then sat me down in a plush chair.
“You're probably wondering who we are and what we have to do with anything.” The man started off. From where the sound came from I could tell he was still standing, probably looking out the window or something.
“Somewhat, I have a lot of questions really.”
“There is plenty of time ask anything you want. The answers may not help you would want.”
“My first question is definitely am I free to go once this is over?”
“Of course, of course. When you're done you'll be escorted to the door wand you'll never hear from us again.”
As soon as he said “us” I knew he was BOS. Back west in California members of the BOS had gradually fazed out the use of the singular pronoun “I” in favor of plural ones like “we” and “us”. Trust me when I say this makes conversation very difficult when they are referring to themselves.
His voice was very deep, but not really tenor. He possessed no accent which disqualified him from being from the rural regions of the NCR, especially Boneyard. Without seeing him I knew I could still get a good grip of who he was as a person, despite the constant we and us thrown into the mix.
“That's good to know,” I responded sitting up in the chair, “So why did you contact me Mr...Mr..”
“Maxson, Lance Maxson.”
I grew deadly quiet, this couldn't be happening. It was impossible that this man was a Maxson. John Maxson had died in a battle years ago, I know, I was there, I saw the man bleed to death in front of my eyes. I saw his wife explode into a million pieces...there were no known survivors of that attack how could anyone had survived?
“How are you....how can you be-?”
“The first born of John Maxson and the last Maxson alive in our dynasty? Some people refuse to wait in a bunker for the enemy to attack. Some people take action. Let's leave it at that. ”
I suddenly became aware of the open window pouring in a cool breeze onto my hands, the memory of that BOS raid was still fresh in my mind. It was just as any other NCR attack on a BOS bunker. Large numbers of grunts died in a frontal wave attack. After death after death a trap was set and the explosives rang. The whole bunker was reduced to a nuclear crater and this guy had made it.
I couldn't believe this was a Maxson I was speaking to and I wasn't sure what I should do about it.
“Wh...why did you contact me Lance?”
“I had to get his message out, I had to let everyone know things from our side of view.”
“What is your message?”
“That the NCR may of won the Battle but they haven't won the War.”
“You're referring to the BOS-NCR war?”
“Of course! This Legion war was a side diversion and left us with a prime opportunity to take action. The NCR never expected us to change our tactics, but now we have and we're even one step closer to victory.”
The sad part about this conversation is that what he said was and still is true. Most people know that sense these events have happened the BOS has dealt some pretty serious blows to our homeland.
“How do you plan to win a war by attacking Vegas?”
“Mark my words friend, Vegas is just an example. Later today some NCR bureaucrat will speak to your nation. They'll tell you they're going to route us out, crush us once and for all. They'll say they're going to refocus, but in truth they won't break us.”
“The NCR has broken you before, what will stop them from doing it again?”
“Changes. Before the BOS was weak, we wouldn't attack civilians, we wouldn't attack cities, we wouldn't work with outsiders but those days are over. I know you saw the attacks earlier, I know you saw the Kings and Westsiders fight along side of us to the last man.”
“I also saw them get outflanked and run.”
“Allies aren't perfect, and the locals are no exception. We no longer stay in bases waiting for a siege, we no longer hold positions waiting to be worn down by wave after wave of human sausages with Service Rifles. No, those days are gone.”
I've covered the War for a long time now, but something wasn't right about this. The BOS were normally so predictable, something big must of happened internally.
“What's driven this change? What has caused you all to adapt so much?”
“Losing has Thomas. We've been losing this war for 30 years and those of us left have adapted and now we will win. Those who have stuck to their old ways have been killed by the NCR or will be shortly. The Mojave Chapter should be grateful we came to them with the hard truth in time or they'd be gone like so many others.”
“What could you tell them to make them change their minds so much?”
“After running a DNA test and discovering the truth concerning the Maxson issue most Chapters are very receptive to new changes, and most don't resist.”
“At this point Lance I have to ask, how in the hell are you a Maxson? I was aware of only one child named Arthur born to John and Jessica and he died in the attack. ”
“Jessica was only Arthur's mom if that's what you're getting too. Most people think that my dead little brother Arthur was the last Maxson but luckily that's not true.”
“Let me get this straight, you are the son of John Maxson, and now you're leading a guerrilla campaign; probably out of Baja, to weaken the NCR in a war of attrition. Now do you really think that will work?”
“Glancing outside of this window at the darkness of Vegas I'd say it already is.”
Lance paused for a moment and walked closer to me. After listening a moment I could tell he had sat down in a seat across from me.
“Thomas, to be frank, the only way the NCR could win is if Francis Jackson came barreling at me with a .44 himself, but even Francis isn't invincible to a snipers bullet.”
“Do you really think killing Francis will help your chances?”
“Increase our chances? As long as Francis breathes on this earth we have an uphill battle to climb. Right now that man is on the top floor of this building sitting at a conference table thinking of ways to kill us. Seeing what he did at the Hoover Dam we know he can do it too.”
“It sounds like to me you respect the man.”
“How could we not? Unlike that tribal Caesar, he's a man who takes action himself. Knowing Francis once his arm heals he'll come after me personally.”
“And you're fine with that prospect?”
“It's inevitable, both us can't exist. We are polar opposites and now Jackson has a hate bigger than any he's ever had before, except maybe for Benny. Once his emotions calm and reason returns, he'll find us, and we may not live on to breathe another day. It's because of that, that we're having this conversation. If we don't make it, at least this story to be heard.”
“What makes you think I'll publish your side of things?”
“Thomas we know you hate us, we know you've hated the BOS for a long time now, but this isn't the BOS you've known. We're the remnants and we're going to change things.”
“By killing innocent people?”
“This is war, war is messy, people die. But let's not turn this into a battle of ethics. You surely must have another question to ask.”
“What are your thoughts on Francis as a leader?”
“Francis is stubborn and of the same cred of Kimball, Moore and Oliver. He's an imperialist and mark my words given enough time the NCR will no longer be a republic.”
“Why do you think that?”
“We knew him for a short time, a long time ago. Back then he didn't know how to quiet his intentions. He's told us things that are no longer said. He's no patriot, he cares not about the NCR. He only wishes to rule, and to rule over more than any other man ever as.”
“And you plan to win a war against such a man how do you plan to win? I mean these hit and run attacks of yours do damage but the NCR is greater than a Dam or a City.”
“The NCR's military is lead by an incompetent idiot who wouldn't be alive this very moment if it weren't for Francis Jackson. The NCR Rangers have been stripped down, Hanlon is dead, and they are no longer trusted by the public or officials. Add to all of this that 2/5th of army has died here in the Mojave and are dying Baja right now and you have a very weak enemy. Francis will continue to overstretch the NCR in Baja out of his hatred of the BOS and the Brahmin Barons will keep the NCR's Power Armored Units tied up long enough dealing with petty raiders. Mark my words the Republic's days are nu-”
Behind me the sound of an exploding door rocked my ears. The smell of smoke filled my nostrils and screams of the force echoing from the front hallway foyer blasted my eardrums in a symphony of discontent.
“Get down!” someone shouted and I quickly complied failing out of the chair face first onto the carpet.
I yanked of my blindfold only to find Lance gone. I moved my head up and starred straight into the face of Francis Jackson.
“Would you like something to drink Mr. Jones?”
“No I'm fine.”
I leaned back in the leather chair letting my jacket make a mild swoosh noise in the process. Shortly after I became aware that my pants legs had bunched up to much and were almost over my ankles. After tugging at them for a moment they resumed their normal length around my shoes but then my back became uncomfortable once again. Needless to say I was nervous.
Sitting directly across from me sat Francis Jackson and he didn't seem to be in a very good mood. Even though Francis is a legendary figure most people don't know what he looks like. They tend to know the general things like he's black, but what's surprising is how he looks more like a Pre-War businessman than the rugged outdoors man that won the war. He had a hairless face and bald head, contrasted by his large glasses that didn't really scream world class warrior, at first glance that is.
Upon closer inspection the first thing that would strike a person about Francis are his rather large arms inside of his black suit jacket. The thicker than average neck and small cuts along his face also suggest someone who is not normally used to comfortable living. At the same time looking at his folded hands I could see his fingernails were godly clean. Even from where I was sitting I could smell the faint smell of bath soap and there was not a spot to be found on his suit jacket. From this description I was left wondering if Francis was an outdoors man by choice or fate.
“Mr. Jones one has to wonder what you were doing in that room.”
From the start I could see Francis was a very straight to the issue person. His face displayed no emotion and tongue pronounced not one syllable to far to make a point. Francis' manner of speaking was heavily standard English but I couldn't help but notice a mild rural drawl common of most NCR citizens.
“I, I was interviewing Lance Maxson.” I stuttered. I hadn't stuttered in years and it was only when I was in a really awkward or tense moment that it happened to me...a mix of both was happening then.
Francis showed no visible response to this news, in fact he simply pushed up his glasses and continued on.
“How did you come to interview Lance Maxson?”
“I got a note under my door last night that said to come to that room for a interview. The note said come alone and there was no sign it was the BOS's leader I would be speaking with.”
“What did Maxson have to say to you?”
At this point I found it odd that he wasn't shocked that Lance Maxson was in the hotel, but of course he probably had access to classified information. I carried on like I didn't notice.
“He told me about how he plans to defeat you, about how you're the only thing standing in his way of victory over the NCR. He told me how he's the son of John Maxson and that how he's changing the way the BOS fights in this war.”
Jackson started tapping his fingers on the hard, yet beautifully shiny, wooden table. After a moment of thought he changed subjects.
“I know you've had a long day like the rest of us Mr. Jones, so why don't we get this interview out of the way?”
“That's fine with me, although it would be better if I could get a pencil and paper.”
“Of course,” Francis leaned over his chair and screamed into the next room, his voice echoing off the high ceiling.
Suddenly one of House's former robots rolled into the room. I was to wound up to much even wonder how Jackson still had a working robot, but that wasn't what was interesting about it. Instead of the normal police officer face that most of securitons had this one had a smiley face.
Not only did the robot not have the face I'd expect but it had a happy almost joyous voice too.
“Could you go and acquire a pen and pad for our guest?”
“I would love to sir, but my arms have no attachment that would allow me to do so.”
“O yes that's right, you have clamps for hands, those and machine guns anyway. Well then go get someone with hands and tell them to get the pen and pad for our guest.”
That robot was way to happy for it's own good. Jackson turned his head and watched the quirky hunk of metal roll out of the room. Looking hard I could see a quick micro flash of a smile come over his face, but it was quickly gone, and he was quickly back to our conversation.
“Tell me Mr. Jones, what do you want to ask me about?”
“Well I figured I'd ask about your upbringing as a child first, since almost no one knows about your history. Then I'd move on to your adventures recently in the Mojave Campaign and then finish it off with questioning concerning your political positions, any problems with that?”
“No that's all fine with me, but if you don't mind let's keep away from questions prying to deep into my personal relationships.”
In the back of my mind I was debating whether he was referring to Major Knight, Alice McLafferty, General Oliver, Colonel Moore, Boone, or Arcade. In any case decided not to push him sense I didn't want this interview to last longer than 10 minutes.
Just as I was concluding all of this with myself a short female servant walked into the conference room and without a word set the pencil and pad on the large wooden table. Her face was beautiful except one large black eye. She seemed sad; no depressed but tried to hide it with a disingenuous smile. What happened to her eye I wondered?
Taking a look at her as she walked out,and then at Jackson as he watched her walk out, I could tell Jackson had some level of sexual interest in her. The servants dress was high above the waist but just low enough to not reveal any goods. For anyone else I'd say it was a coverup to have such a maid given the circumstances with Knight but that look on his face, the spark in his eyes when he saw her, it said something different. Who knows maybe the “funtime” was just a sideshow?
Glancing at the pen and pad my mind raced back to the fact that Jackson was waiting on me to start.
“Are you good to go Jones?” Jackson asked, his eyebrow raising slightly.
I pulled the pen and pad closer to me and untwisted the plastic cap. After sitting it down on the table and moving the pad once more I looked up and began talking.
“Mr. Jackson where did you grow up?”
“In a small town hundreds of miles south of here called El Golf. It sits at the intersection of Baja, The Gulf of California, Legion Terrority, NCR's most southern frontier, Mexican ghouls, and even a few BOS outpost. El Golf is probably one of the best placed trading terrorities in the world. I was the son of wealthy merchant and grew up with a standard of living higher than most people in this world can even dream of.”
“How much of a higher standard of living?”
“We had electricity and a sewage system. Despite the Hoover Dam up river lowering the water pressure my grandfather and town council were able to build a watermill based system. The sewage was pumped into the Gulf and eaten by the Rad Sharks and other mutated creatures. Then the local fishermen would kill those creatures and the economy continued to grow. Our town was so prosperous we were even able to afford deodorant and washing detergent, most of it from the ruins of Boneyard.”
I was a bit shocked about all of this. I had heard of El Golf but never been myself. It seems like such a town would be a major target for most groups.
“Wow I'm surprised the Legion or raiders didn't want this town.”
“Because of our far distance from most governments, like the NCR of Shady Sands or the Legion in Flagstaff, we had very little in the way of threats to our safety. The BOS never attacked us since we didn't use energy weapons or robots and the Legion didn't have enough resources to extent that far south and west. The NCR is just now moving into Baja with real force and if it weren't for me El Golf wouldn't be being annexed right now. Yes life was good, and because of the massive number of different people I found out more about the world than most people are even aware.”
“Do you know any other languages?”
“Vita bonum est. That's Latin for life is good. I know a little of that dead language because of the Legion caravans but not much. You'd think that because El Golf is in former Mexico that I'd know Spanish but since Mexico was annexed by the United States way back in the 2050s most of the Mexico City ghouls don't even remember it.”
“How did you learn all of this?”
“Well at the age of 8 I would head for the city market and just listen to all of the people's conversations, whether it was what they had to say about the road to Mexico City or how the weather was in Shady Sands. Whatever information I could get about the world I would. My father held a large book collection and many times my mom would read to be the old world books. When I was smaller the collection wasn't very good, but anytime my dad would give me a new book I would read it.
That isn't to say I didn't like the outdoors, in fact my best times were exploring the countryside around the village. Me and a group of friends would go gecko hunting and even fishing the Rad sharks in the harbor. I think it was from those experiences at a young age that developed my skill of shooting and killing. My childhood and even teen years were very good, and I won't change it for the world. Of course it wasn't up to me to change anything or not since life chooses the paths we go down. My dad died when I was 17 and I didn't have the skill of trade or barter that he did. My mom and younger brother took over the business and I set off into the waste with just leather armor, a lever action rifle and some old Pre war scriptures my mother had always repeated during bad times.”
“Where did you go once you left?”
“As soon as I left El Golf I headed for Legion lands. I had always hated the legion, I hated the way they treated their slaves, I hated the ignorance of most of their society to the fact they're just copying a dead ancient empire from over 2000 years ago; and badly at that. As soon as I came across a Legion outpost I would scout it for days looking for weaknesses, looking at guarding patterns and then in the dead of night I would attack.
I must of killed over 200 of them in all before I was caught. They were going to torture me to death but the centurion wanted to make me into his personal bitch. That night in the tent just as he was undressing I removed the knife I had stashed in my underwear and stabbed him 15 times. After this flirt with a fate worse than death I knew it was time to move on to something else.”
“So wait you went on a war against the Legion even though their caravans traded with your town?”
“The caravan members are just citizens unlucky enough to be born in Legion lands. No I heard their stories about Legion brutality and knew I had to do something. At the time I didn't think of it as if the Legion was going to take over my town because they couldn't. I didn't even think of it in a way that I hated the soldiers in it because I don't. It was just what they stood for...and it was good fun.”
“So after some time in Arizona where'd you end up at?”
“Eastern New Mexico. During my personal war against the Legion I was making my way east. I ended up on the front lines of the BOS-Legion war and the BOS out there were on their dying breath. It was in New Mexico that I grew a disdain for the BOS. Back in El Golf the BOS scouts getting supplies never talked to anyone else and always kept their heads down. As a result I knew very little about their organization. It was in Eastern New Mexico that I learned more.
There goal of keeping tech for it's own sake is foolish, the means by which they do it are brutal, immoral and counter productive. Some BOS members are better than others, but those in New Mexico deserved to be slaughtered as much as the Baja ones do now. The only difference is that the Baja ones have a much better strategy for winning.”
“How do you plan to address the Baja situation anyway?”
“I'll go down myself for starters but more on that later. In any case I saw the BOS take out civilian towns in New Mexico and even kill helpless slaves. The ones in California haven't been AS bad but I fear the Baja BOS is getting there.”
“So how'd you go from Legion killer to a courier in the first place?”
“Long story short, I needed some quick money and I happened to be at a Mojave express office.”
“Is it true you were shot in the head in Goodsprings?”
“Very true, by a crook named Benny and some Great Khans. Everyone involved is no longer alive.”
“Wait didn't you try to make a peaceful negotiation with the Khans?”
“I only did that to stop the follow of drugs to the Fiends. If that didn't happen Outer Vegas would have been destroyed even further. After the Battle the Great Khans were put down like the dogs they were.”
From this conversation it was easy to tell Francis had a moral code of some kind and didn't think much of many types of people.
“When did your journey with the NCR begin?”
“At Primm when I cleared the town out and had it annexed. The Powder Gangers tried to kill me when I was going down the I-15 and that was simply not going to be tolerated.”
“Speaking of the I-15 I've heard you went Deathclaw hunting?”
A smile came across Jackson's face and he even let out a little chuckle.
“I REALLY enjoyed that, it reminded me of hunting yao guais in Colorado. I don't normally laugh but getting to dodge three Deathclaws at the same time..that's just fun.”
Jackson's stomach rumbled loudly and he seemed to lose focus.
“I'm sorry I'm starting to get hungry. Violet!”
The servant girl from before came back into the room with wet yellow rubber gloves on.
“I'm starting to get hungry how about some dinner?”
“Sure what do you want?”
Jackson turned towards me.
“Have you ever had fried eel?”
“I can't say I have.”
“You'll love it, the electrical currents give it a little spicy kick.”
Jackson got up and I followed until we were in front of an incredibly large television screen. I'd never seen one like it and to add to the fact it had smaller but also large screens positioned around it.
“Jackson, where did you get this thing?” I asked while taking a seat on one of the leather chairs positioned in front of it.
“It was Mr. House's, I've converted it into a two way phone and regular television.”
“What can you watch?”
“Mr. House had archived every television program ever made if you can believe that. I must admit on my next vacation day this chair is going to become my paradise.”
“Who was Mr. House exactly?”
Francis paused for a moment as he fumbled with the remote control.
“Mr. House was a visionary and yet also power hungry. I was the first person to met him face to face in 200 years. After a conversation his true intentions were clear. He was going to push the NCR out of the Mojave along with the Legion using his securitions. After the dust settled he was going to charge punitive rates for using the Hoover Dam. His rule would have been despotic and yet somewhat fair to be truthful.”
“Did you kill him?”
“Do you regret that?”
“No I don't. He was going to rob the NCR of all of their gains, all of the blood, sweat and tears taming the Mojave, all so he could rule Vegas as a feudal king. I would do it again right now if needed.”
The room was silent for a moment and then I had another question.
“Why help the NCR? Why join us? Why become president?”
“Because I love what it stands for.”
Violet brought out the food steaming hot and set it on the table in between our seats. The food looked pretty good and Jackson wasted no time tearing into his plate, that is after he did a quick Sign of the Cross.
“Are you religious?”
“Not as much as I'd like, but enough of the interview for now, let's just enjoy this meal!” he smacked in between bites.
I'm not going to lie I didn't expect eel to taste so good.
“Where is this eel from?”
“The bay of my hometown. It's good huh?”
“It's a nice switch from eating Brahmin all the time that's for sure. Why haven't I had this stuff before?”
“There's only enough eel to feed El Golf and a few towns in Baja. That might change in the future but for now it's becoming all the rage on the Strip, especially with those folks at the Ultra Luxe who were saying Brahmin was becoming to “common”.
The movie on the screen was old world news program about some Resource War in Europe with commercials included, Jackson seemed to be really engrossed in it too.
“Do you ever watch old world movies?”
“Sometimes but I like the documentaries and news programs more. The more I can learn about the prewar world the better.”
We small talked for 10 more minutes or so and then finally finished our meals. Violet picked up our plates and we got back to the interview.
“I'm good and full now. Why don't you ask me about my positions? I have to be in a meeting with the Governor soon and she'll be here once she finds a way up the stairs.”
I had more questions I wanted to ask about the Mojave campaign but he was a busy man and I was lucky to have this much time.
“So if you had to describe your political leanings what would it be?”
“Libertarian Expansionist. People should be free to live their lives how they want but under the rule of a common law set and decided by the people. One law is much better than arbitrary rule.”
“Isn't it immoral to expand communities that don't want to be part of the NCR?”
Jackson put his finger to his mouth and sat back for a moment.
“No. I've journeyed far and have yet to find a village or tribe with written law based on democratic principles. Any society that at minimum doesn't have a set law is one incident away from mob rule and despotism. The only time a community would have the right to oppose NCR rule is if they were a democracy under a code of law, but I've yet to find that.”
“How far should the NCR expand?”
“As far as our feet can carry us. As of now we control all of California, the habitable parts of Nevada, Northern Baja barely, and Southern Oregon. As I said in my speech once the BOS are defeated Baja will need to be annexed fully. After that this nation needs a time of rest. We've just taken down the Legion Empire and are now about to defeat the BOS. Once this is compete this nation needs time to industrialize and since most mines have been depleted that means large scale scavenging. The NCR doesn't have the credit systems yet for that large scale capital investment either. Our army also needs to improve in size and quality and only time can solve those problems. It also won't hurt to build an air force or navy based in the Gulf of California but those are even further off.”
“What annexation would come after that?”
“The Northwest, East and then South in that order. Mexico is largely radioactive wasteland until you get to Mexico City and my terms would be up if before we even get east of Legion lands. There is a lot of work to be done that's for sure.”
“You spoke about an air force and navy. What about the Rangers?”
Jackson seemed a little uncomfortable but spoke anyway.
“The Rangers will be reformed and renamed. The chain of command will now run through a new post called Chief of Staff. The Rangers will be split into different departments also with different requirements for entry. There will be the Border Guard, largely posted along the Colorado to make sure any remnants of the Legion don't attack the Mojave area. Then there will be Despot Control, basically returning the Rangers to their roots of overthrowing tyrants in the waste only much more clandestine in nature. Lastly we have the Agency for Wasteland Control or AWC which will take down internal threats and protect the President.”
“Who will become the Chief of Staff?”
“Really? What about Oliver?”
“He'll be removed of his post as General, and not because he's running against me. He's the reason things were going so badly for us. His strategy of wait and see is what got a Battalion worth of soldiers killed at Camp Mccarran. I've been at Outpost were the staff couldn't even stop threats right down the road because of his orders!”
“Was it a mistake by Kimball to put him in that position?”
“No. In the NCR-BOS war in California Oliver's style of combat worked because the BOS were incompetent. The Legion on the other hand were a different beast, not random wasteland raiders or slavers.”
Jackson took up his glass of water and took a gulp.
“You must be aware of the current NCR military and Ranger investigations.”
“Yes I am.”
“Do you support those investigations?”
“As long as they're done properly and to the code.”
I could tell I wasn't getting anywhere down this road and changed the subject.
“Crimson Caravan has become the only caravan company to New Vegas and is almost the only one in the Mojave. Do you have a problem with that monopoly?”
“Crimson doesn't have a monopoly. No one is stopping other caravan companies from using I-15 or the I-93 to move and ship goods to Vegas. The truth of the matter though is that other companies aren't as good t trading and haven't made the proper investments to reap the benefits of Vegas like Crimson.”
“The current tax rate is 35 percent. Would you raise it? Lower it?”
“I'm going to lower it to 25 percent. This government could learn to do more with less. I'm also for cutting some regulations on caravans, private security, agriculture and industry.”
“On the issue of the Mojave. Are you for the two state solution?”
“Of course, I think an honorary State of Kimball is appropriate, especially after today's attacks.”
“What is going to be done about these new style of BOS attacks anyway? I mean there is no telling how much salvaging will need to be done to restore just the Lucky 38's electrical competents.”
“Trust me when I say you will see very soon.”
Jackson took another drink out of his glass and stood up.
“Mr. Jones this has been a great interview but I must talk with the governor. There is a big speech of mine coming up tonight also on the strip. If I were you I'd stick around down there something big is going to happen.”
I stood up and shook his hand. Behind me I could hear someone speaking. I turned around only to the see the Governor once again.
“Hello there Thomas. How are you doing?”
“I'm doing good Governor.”
I walked up the stairs and lightly shook her hand. I was going to say something else but her attention turned to Francis. At the top of the stairs I found Maria and Barry talking to the servent girl from earlier. My mind suddenly focused on her face and I noticed she had a blacked eye again.
As soon as I walked up the stairs Maria had something to say, “About time Tom damn. What did yah do? Make a cake or something?”
“Maria you know as well as anyone that interviews take time. How did you get up here?”
“Walked, although Barry had to carry the governor.”
Barry didn't seem to be in the best of moods.
“That's a lot of stairs Barry damn.”
I chuckled a little to defuse some of his anger but he didn't join in. I quickly turned my head to Maria again.
“Jackson said he was going to give a speech in a while. Let's get to the Strip.”
“Fine with me but now you need to tell me what business did you have to take care of?”
“I'll tell you more on the stairs down but let's just say I met a King.”
Posted 19 August 2014 - 11:57 AM
What is this. Did you actually just write a whole detailed story about you playing fallout? Wow as if gaming isn't a waste of time on its own.
Are you actually convinced that you live in the mojave wasteland?
That wasn't even worth the time it took to scroll down to see if people are taking this seruious.
Oh well lets see you write a step by step detailed story of you exploring every location and quest in skyrim.
That would solidify your legendary status.
Posted 19 August 2014 - 01:01 PM Edited by Ziggy455, 19 August 2014 - 01:02 PM.
Um... okay. Nice effort. A lot of effort. Can you explain this to me.... why?
What is this. Did you actually just write a whole detailed story about you playing fallout? Wow as if gaming isn't a waste of time on its own.
Are you actually convinced that you live in the mojave wasteland?
That wasn't even worth the time it took to scroll down to see if people are taking this seruious.
Oh well lets see you write a step by step detailed story of you exploring every location and quest in skyrim.
That would solidify your legendary status.
Now I haven't seen you around WD before, and your attempt at judging this guy's writing with obvious lethal interjections of pointless criticism must mean you either, A, do not like this guy, or B, have never critiqued a written piece of writing before. Either way, if you don't have nothing constructive to say, please return to whichever sub-forum you came from, please.
As for the original post. Slow down. Why have you crammed so many chapters into a single topic? Remove all but the first one, and build up the tension and climactic resolution to the story by adding another chapter every so often! I'll give this a proper bash when I've got some more free time.
- arch stanton likes this
Posted 19 August 2014 - 02:24 PM
Posted 02 October 2011 - 05:54 AM
- Tyler, Carbonox and Moonlight Traffic like this
Posted 19 August 2014 - 03:59 PM
Posted 02 October 2011 - 05:54 AM
Holy crap. I didn't see the date on it before.
@WasHanin: Why? Why would you do this to us?
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