Wednesday, June 29, 2011

//Log Date: 2281-10-26 09:27//

<<UserID:Webb>> Started the morning with a hell of a shock today, and no mistake. 

Last night, I started south after the sun was down. Crossing the Long 15, almost directly south of the Yangtze Memorial, I found a makeshift camp tucked into a small rock outcropping, manned by two ‘Gangers. Thanks to my scare in the bunker, I crept up slowly and realized the whole place was ringed with makeshift landmines, constructed from dynamite stuffed into tin cans and wired to a proximity sensor. 
I used my service knife to cut the wires and pocketed the charges, then worked my way partway around the circle, pocketing a half dozen of the rigged charges. Still moving quietly, I rifled through the satchel I had hung off of ED-E until I found a functional egg timer and, using the wiring and parts from the sensors, I taped all the dynamite back together and set the timer, then rolled it down the hill into the camp. I pulled ED-E down to the ground with me and waited for the boom.
I think the ‘Gangers are proving to be a bad influence on me.
When the dust -- and flying gobbets of ‘Ganger -- had settled, I hopped up and slid down the rock to inspect the damage. Against all expectations, one of the two men was actually still alive. The blast had taken off one of his legs just above the knee, but the rest of him was almost completely untouched. He was, thankfully, unconscious, however, and blood loss and shock were neck and neck to see which would kill him first. I decided to break the tie with a .357 round, then stripped his prison jersey, scrubbed out the spattered blood as best I could with handfuls of sand, and pulled it on over my shirt. I took his hat, too, a tattered baseball cap with a crooked bill. Combined with my sunglasses, it might be enough to let me get past the sentries.
And there are definitely sentries. After I was certain the camp was clear, I climbed back up the rocks and glassed the facility with the binoculars I’d found on the Bison Steve’s marquis. It was a clear night and the moon was almost full, so I was at least able to make out forms up in the old guard towers. 
Unfortunately, that meant they’d be able to make me out as well, as there was plenty of open ground between me and the prison. That ruled out my plan for a night-time infiltration, as they’d probably shoot anyone approaching at night. Now that I had something approximating a disguise, I figured I’d be better off waiting for daytime and slip in, pretending to be coming back from a raid or supply run or whatever it is escaped convicts do in their spare time.
With my plans for the evening scrapped, I dragged the corpses behind some nearby rocks, tidied up the camp a bit, flipped over one of the mattresses in the camp to reveal a slightly less filthy side, and settled in for the evening. The ‘Gangers had been roasting up some squirrel before their untimely departure, so I helped myself to that and dipped further into my clean water supply. 
While eating and drinking, I played around with the radio receiver on my PIP-Boy and picked up a new signal identifying itself as Black Mountain Radio. According to a news broadcast from Mr. New Vegas, it’s only recently come back on the air, and he described it as “less for outcasts, more for weirdos”. More for supermutants, in fact, if the broadcast is to be believed.

It’s run by two... women, I suppose? I always heard that the mutation process pretty much took care of any unresolved gender issues, so to speak, but maybe it’s just a matter of perseverance. There’s Rhonda, who sounds like a snake with delusions of culture, and Tabitha, who sounds like she’s in the process of angrily eating a molerat whole every time she speaks. The whole thing is music mixed with propaganda-style broadcasts for the supermutant utopia they’ve supposedly created. If it wasn’t for the constant references to radiation and centaurs, it would be almost exactly like the NCR propaganda stations back home.
They also mentioned something about a captive ghoul named Raul who is apparently facing execution. I’ve always liked ghouls, generally. A tough bunch, but sad, too. They’re like patients with terminal radiation burns who recovered -- but never quite managed to convince their body of it. Maybe I can help the poor guy out... sometime when I’m feeling up to risking a sledgehammer to the face from a ten-foot-tall monster, that is. One suicidal undertaking at a time.
Eventually, I’d had all I could take of Rhonda and Tabitha, so I switched off the radio, told ED-E to warn me if it spotted any unfriendly critters or anything with a prison uniform, and then turned in for the night.
Apparently, though, I need to be careful about being too specific with ED-E.
<<UserID:ED-E>> 010101010110111001101001011101000010000001100110
<<UserID:Webb>> Shut up, eyeball, I’m still mad at you.
<<UserID:ED-E>> 010100110110100001110101011101000111010001101001
<<UserID:Webb>> Hmmmph. Anyway, I woke up this morning to find an old man sitting on the mattress across the remains of the campfire, staring at me and idly munching on the last of the squirrel. He wasn’t wearing a ‘Ganger uniform, so technically I hadn’t instructed ED-E to warn me about him, but I still hopped up and went for my pistol.
The old man immediately dropped the squirrel and raised his hands to show me he wasn’t armed, all the while smiling in a lopsided fashion that made me think he might be going a little soft in the head.
He introduced himself as Malcolm Holmes and said he’d been following me for the last few days, which did absolutely nothing to calm me down. When asked to elaborate, he explained -- at least, I guess it was an explanation in his mind -- that he’d seen me pick up one of those Sunset Sarsaparilla caps with a star on it.
My hand went immediately to my shirt pocket where I’d put the cap that had reminded me of Callie, but it was still there, safe and sound. I questioned him about the caps, still not lowering the gun, and he explained that there was some sort of wasteland legend about an immortal guardian named Festus who will offer a reward to anyone who brings him enough of these star caps.
The whole thing sounds insane, of course. If Holmes is to be believed, this “Festus” has been around since before the Great War... if he’s not just a myth, he must be a ghoul. Some ghouls do go crazy over time, of course -- maybe there IS one out there collecting caps, out of some sort of obsessive-compulsive need. Can’t say it’s something that will keep me up at nights, at any rate.
What WAS cause for more concern, though, was Holmes’ warning that there were people out there who would actually kill for these ridiculous star caps. He said he himself used to hunt these star caps -- never lethally, or so he claimed -- but he was out of the game now. A madman named Allen Marks is supposedly the frontrunner in the cap hunt these days, and he has apparently racked up quite a body count already.
In terms of news to wake up to, this has rated pretty damn high on the weirdness meter.
I thanks Holmes for the information, told him to help himself to the rest of the squirrel, and bid him farewell... but I kept my revolver in my hand the whole time. Once he was out of sight, I took a few minutes to sort through my satchel of caps, and realized I did indeed have a few more of the Sunset Sarsaparilla caps with the little blue stars mixed in with all the others -- over a dozen of them, in fact. I separated them out and put them in a small side pocket on my satchel, just in case. Good lord, I think I caught some of that madness from Holmes. Callie's cap is staying right where it is in my shirt pocket, though, legendary treasure or not.
Now that I’ve seen off all the insane old men the morning has to offer, I suppose there’s nothing else for it but to put my faith in a dead man’s clothes and make the final push into the NCRCF.
Wish me luck, girls. Signing off.
//Recording Ends//

Friday, June 24, 2011

//Log Date: 2281-10-25 18:29//

<<UserID:Webb>> With all the excitement these people face in the Mojave, I’m surprised there’s anyone still left living here.

It’s been another... interesting day. I slept like a log knowing ED-E was on guard duty, something that hasn’t happened in ages. Maybe I’m placing too much faith in the floating eyeball, but I suppose I’m allowed a mistake or two in favor of comfort in my old age, right?
I finished off the last of the coyote meat for breakfast, along with another bottle of water, and then started east again. It wasn’t long before I crossed the Long 15 again, but I hadn’t been this far north up the 15 and, from here, I could see signs of some sort of a settlement just up the road, so I decided to take a look. It turned out to be Sloan, the mining town Sunny Smiles had mentioned, and, as advertised, they were indeed having more than their fair share of trouble.
A man standing behind a ramshackle roadblock greeted me cautiously but politely, and introduced himself as “Chomps” Lewis. We exchanged pleasantries, and he filled me in on the town, whose main purpose until recently had been to run the limestone quarry to the northwest for the NCR, sending the stone east to Boulder City to be made into cement. That had all changed thanks to -- who else? -- the Powder Gangers, who had raided the quarry and taken all of the dynamite and other blasting equipment. While the miners sat idle, waiting for resupply from the NCR, a pack of deathclaws had settled into the quarry, and now no one was able to get into the quarry, or north up the road to New Vegas, without becoming deathclaw fodder.
It was Lewis and the other miners who had been putting up the deathclaw warning signs on the roads and trails around the area. Even with no munitions or equipment, they’re doing what they can to stop other people from wandering into danger, which is more than I can say for the NCR, who still haven’t shown up to lend Sloan a hand.
Just once, I’d like to be surprised by the NCR riding to the rescue, but it looks like it won’t be today.
I asked about directions to the NCR prison, and Lewis kindly pointed out the best way on the map, but he mentioned that the ‘Gangers had been spreading out and establishing away camps in the surrounding hills, so it might not be a bad idea to wait for the cover of darkness to push a little closer.
I wasn’t in any particular hurry to catch a convict’s bullet, so Lewis and I shot the breeze a bit more, talking politics and lamenting the NCR’s inaction. When it came out that I was a doctor, Lewis lit up and mentioned that they had a patient that could use some attention.
That’s my trade, of course, but I stopped short when Lewis said he’d take me straight to “Snuffles”. That wasn’t so unusual -- after all, the man telling me this had introduced himself as “Chomps” -- but then he pointed out an overweight molerat digging through scrap outside the barracks building.
I quickly pointed out that I was a doctor and not a veterinarian, but Lewis explained that Snuffles was something of a mascot to the camp, and everyone’s spirits, low already due to the lack of work, were sinking steadily watching the little thing struggle with her wounded leg. Apparently, she had actually been tamed and used to help them dig tunnels for blasting, but her left rear leg had received a pretty nasty gash from a baby deathclaw after they’d nested in the quarry.
Looking around at the glum faces, I sighed and agreed to give it a shot. We fed Snuffles some InstaMash I’d laced with Med-X, then waited until she fell asleep. The amount I used was calculated based on the milligrams per kilo ratio you use on humans, so I was flying by the seat of my scrubs here, but her breathing was steady and she seemed unresponsive to stimuli, so I figured it was as good as we were going to get. 
Some of the miners moved her onto a tarp while I sterilized my hands and tools in the highest proof alcohol the miners could provide. Taking a look at the wound, I saw that the gash itself wasn’t terribly deep, but the whole area had become badly infected, so I actually need to begin by cutting out all of the necrotic tissue around the wound. Once I’d debrided deeply enough to reveal healthy, bleeding muscle, I did a row of interior sutures, then a loose outer row as well to allow any fluid to drain, then bandaged the area. 
I told the miners they’d need to help her keep the leg clean and change the bandages daily, as there would definitely be some steady seepage for the first few days, but Snuffles should be right as rain in a few weeks. 
I got a round of cheers, which aren’t exactly legal tender, and then an offer of lunch at their mess hall, which is the next best thing. Over lunch, the cook, a young woman named Jas Wilkins, asked me what the tastiest thing I’d ever eaten was. Eyeing my plate dubiously but not wanting to be impolitic, I told her it was home cooking. She agreed and said she’d been wanting to make a deathclaw egg omelette. I asked where in the world she’d gotten an idea like that and got a shock: she’s the great-grandniece of Rose -- from Modoc, where Jess and I settled after she got pregnant.
We chatted about Modoc for awhile. Jas must have left town just before we bought that farm, but we had plenty of memories to share, some even decent ones. I told her I’d bring her a deathclaw egg for old time’s sake if, by some miracle, I ever came across one without getting disemboweled.
Coming out of the mess hall, I was distracted by the horrific clanking and backfiring of the “town’s” -- and I use that term loosely -- generator, which looked like it had been put together by a blind super mutant using his feet. I pulled a wrench and some tape from my kit and tidied up the connections and piping. Lewis was so grateful he paid me two hundred NCR dollars. PAPER dollars.
Hmmph. Well, at least it’s handier for trips to the latrine than bottlecaps.
I still had a few hours to kill before sundown, so I decided to do a bit of exploring. To the east of Sloan, I found a small valley, almost completely fenced in, but with big enough breaks in the fencing that I was able to slip in. When I spotted the bunkers in the valley, I had visions of mounds of pre-war salvage, but the whole area had been pretty well picked over already. 
The first two bunkers were almost completely collapsed, but I did find some heavy ordnance poking through the rubble in the second one. Extremely heavy, in fact -- there were two micro-nukes, foot-long tactical nuclear bombs. The PIP-Boy’s geiger counter didn’t spike, so the seals were still intact. I packed up the nukes and headed to the third, which almost ended my scavving career permanently. Only ED-E’s warning music made me pull up short, just before I walked under a cluster of grenades, hanging from a line looped down to a tripwire about three inches in front of my foot when I stopped.
After my heartbeat slowed back down to something approaching normal, I carefully unhooked the grenades and released the tripwire, then -- even MORE carefully -- searched the rest of the bunker, but it seemed like the grenades were the only surprise in store. The place had been made into a temporary shelter by someone, but, whoever they were, they weren’t here now. I left quickly before they came home with more grenades.
The last bunker was a bit cleaner and in better shape than the other three, but that also meant that I wasn’t able to work my way through the blast doors. Make a note, Webb: head back here if you ever learn any tricks about unsealing military grade blast doors. There’s bound to be a bonanza down there.
I left the fenced valley and headed back towards Sloan, but I hadn’t counted on how close the path I’d chosen would take me to the quarry. The wind was from the west -- fortunate, in retrospect, as I was downwind from most of them -- and blowing stone dust from the quarry into my face, and I didn’t spot the single deathclaw darting towards us until it was almost too late.
It was wounded and limping, but the thing was still so damn fast that my shotgun fire and ED-E’s laser blasts didn’t kill it until it was actually in mid-pounce. The twenty gauge took it in the throat by nothing more than blind luck, and it flew passed me and slammed into the road like a sack of incredibly vicious meat.
Looking at it more closely, I realized the deathclaw that had come within a foot of killing me probably hadn’t even been full grown. That deathclaw we’d run into outside of Redding had been much larger, and it took the whole squad to put the thing down. We’d been sweeping the hills outside of town, and there was a deathclaw hiding in a culvert. 
Jess was the one who got the kill shot, of course -- the rest of us firing away with our service rifles only seemed to slow the thing down long enough for Jess to put a .308 round through its eye, and even then it kept on coming for what seemed like yards before finally keeling over. If this one had been that big or fast, I’d be dead.
Hands shaking, I slammed another shell into the shotgun, closed the break action, and tried to catch my breath. With visions of a quarry full of adult deathclaws descending on me, I opted for the better part of valor and raced back to Sloan as fast as I could. No way was I going to go anywhere near the quarry again, at least without packing some heavier fire-power... like a launching apparatus for those micro-nukes, for example.
I made it back to Sloan in one piece, at any rate. I’m going to hit Jas up for some supper, then head for the NCRCF as soon as it gets dark. Oddly enough, I’m nowhere near as worried about it as I was this morning. I suppose, compared to deathclaws, ‘Gangers lose something in terms of intimidation.
Signing off.
//Recording Ends//

Thursday, June 16, 2011

//Log Date: 2281-10-24 19:40//

<<UserID:Webb>> Ooof... dear lord, it’s good to get off my feet. If I never have to see one of those bullet-riddled Route 15 signs again, it’ll be too soon.

The scavving in the Bison Steve went well, and fairly quickly, thanks to ED-E’s help. It has an interior storage compartment, but mostly I was just hanging things off the little guy and floating him back and forth from the hotel.
The one thing that the folks of Primm AREN’T running low on in their self-imposed quarantine is caps -- they’ve gone through most of the other supplies in the casino, but the Vikki and Vance’s bank is pretty much untouched. They were more than happy to trade caps for the basic supplies from the Bison Steve, and Nash was willing to trade some of his stash of chems and medical supplies for the various weapons the ‘Gangers had been wielding.
I didn’t shift everything I pulled from the hotel, but at least I unloaded enough to be able to get back on the road. I’m starting to get something approaching a decent stock of easily transportable goods again, along with a pretty respectable satchel full of caps. 
Those good feelings of getting my feet back under me lasted for roughly half an hour after I started heading north up Route 15. I was listening to the PIP-Boy’s radio, enjoying the music, when, on one of the new breaks, Mr. New Vegas announced that there were reports of a courier recovering from a gunshot wound to the head in Goodsprings.
Assuming Checkers listens to the radio, there goes my element of surprise. Hell, he might even decide to double back to try and finish the job. I’ll have to be on the lookout for him and his Khans along the road.
I’m trying to look at the bright side of this: maybe I won’t have to chase them all the way to New Vegas after all.
Out of curiosity, I decided to take a little detour on my way. Nash had mentioned that the courier who had turned down the sixth package had left town heading northwest, so I followed that path as far as I could. It’s blocked now, but there are definite signs that Nash’s mystery courier headed this way. Numerous messages were scrawled across the wreckage that is now crammed into the canyon -- wreckage, by the way, that looks like it was created by the intentional detonation of pre-war automobiles. The messages are directed at me, but nothing personal, nothing with my name. Just vague things like “You can go home, Courier”, and plenty of “6”s daubed all over the place.
I still have no idea who this could be, but MAN, this guy is starting to piss me off.
Heading back to the road from the blocked pass, I stumbled onto a pack of coyotes jealously guarding a well-gnawed corpse. They came at me, and I drew my new revolver, but ED-E shocked the hell out of me, blasting out some tinny uptempo music from its speakers. 
That’s when I learned that the laser array -- the one I figured couldn’t possibly be functional -- was apparently getting enough power after all.
Along with the music, ED-E opened fire with its laser, burning the skin off the skull of the closest coyote and sending the others scattering. I took a few shots at them as they fled, mainly to feel like I was contributing in some way, but the job was already done.
ED-E played another snatch of music, this piece congratulatory and, somehow, smug. Maybe I’m just paranoid. I took a closer look at the body, whose uniform identified him as an NCR trooper. Poor bastard must have wandered too far afield from the outpost at Primm. I covered him with stones as best I could after pocketing his tags -- poor foot slogger probably has someone who’d like to know what happened to him. I’ll drop them off when I find someone more competent than Hayes. I took another moment to butcher the coyote, wrapping the choicest bits in cloth for later, and then I got back on the road.
I followed the Long 15 all the way back to the Goodsprings road and on up that to the town itself -- a little farther north than I needed to go, perhaps, but it was a good opportunity to replenish my water supplies, and I was able to unload the last of the salvage from the Bison Steve on Chet, who paid in caps, ammo, and some extended magazines and a bolt-on scope for my 9mm pistol.
From Goodsprings, I headed east in the direction of the NCR prison, setting my sights on a huge cross in the desert as an intermediate destination on the right path. Upon reaching the cross and reading the plaques attached to it, I realized it was a memorial to American casualties in the Yangtze Campaign -- which, if I remember my sketchy pre-war history, was one of the last campaigns before the bombs fell.
I dug out a bottle of pre-war scotch from my bags, one of the only bits of salvage I hadn’t sold, and left it at the base of the cross. It may have been a pointless campaign -- hell, it may have been the final straw that pushed the world over the edge into nuclear war, for all I know -- but that’s never the fault of the grunts on the front lines. Rest well, fellas.
A little ways past the memorial, I ran into something even more sobering: a sawhorse with a plank nailed to it, on which had been painted “WARNING: DEATHCLAWS AHEAD”.
Deathclaws... just hearing the word makes me shudder. Our unit ran into one once, and we only just barely managed to take it down before it gutted us. They’re fast, strong, and clever, and the horror stories people tell about them are, from my understanding and brief exposure, barely exaggerated from the truth.
Of course, the wasteland has its own sense of humor. Just as I was steeling myself to run at the merest hint of a deathclaw, a goddamn radscorpion -- one of the big ones -- rumbled out from behind a nearby scattering of boulders and came at us. 
ED-E played his little ditty again -- THAT’S not going to get old -- and opened fire, but I went straight for the dynamite tucked into my belt. I lit the fuse close to the stick, tossed the lit charge a few yards ahead of the radscorpion, prayed I’d judged its speed correctly as it barreled towards us, and threw myself flat to the ground. 
The gods of nitroglycerin must have heard my prayers, because the dynamite went off just as the scorpion was passing over it, ripping off the entire tail and a sizable chunk of the abdomen in the blast. The *Expletive Deleted* thing actually kept on crawling toward me, barrel-sized claws snapping, for several seconds before the news caught up with the rest of its body and it began spasming, flipping onto its back and its remaining legs curling inward over its exposed underbelly.
Call me crazy, but, after walking all day and blowing up an arachnid the size of a car, I was ready to call it a night.
I spotted a solid-enough looking trailer nearby, in the lee of the hills, and we made for that cautiously. I’m inside it now. Someone has clearly been using the place for a shelter, but it looks to have been abandoned for at least several weeks at the least. It’s drafty due to the holes in the walls, what little water there is is fairly heavily irradiated, and I feel like I’m going to get tetanus just looking at the place.
Still, at least there’s a roof over my head, and a door that fastens, which should help keep out any more radscorpions or deathclaws... as long as they don’t get it into their heads to simply rip their way through the walls.
I even found a dog’s chew toy, of all things. I’ll have to drop it off with Sunny for Cheyenne the next time I pass through Goodsprings.
I made a small, smokeless fire outside, just hot enough to cook some of the coyote meat I’d butchered earlier, and then buried the fire under a few shovelfuls of sand.
I’m back in the trailer now, just finishing up my coyote supper and washing it down with some of that lovely Goodsprings water.  I think I’ll listen to the radio for a bit while repacking the gear I’ve got left, then turn in. I’ve set ED-E to watch the door just in case anything comes knocking in the middle of the night.
I have to admit, it’s a nice feeling to have someone else around again to watch my back... even if that someone in this case is a something.
Signing off.
//Recording Ends//

Sunday, June 12, 2011

//Log Date: 2281-10-24 10:36//

<<UserID:Webb>> My old ma would be so proud, may she rest in peace: I made a new friend this morning.

I’m not being figurative, either -- I’ve literally built the little fella myself, or at least patched it back together.
I was up early again this morning, so, with Nash’s leave, I strolled over to the Mojave Express office again to take a closer look at the orb-like robot, now that I can do so without the immediate risk of being shot in the back by escaped convicts.
The thing is in pretty bad shape, its hull scuffed, dented, and punctured, but the innards and, perhaps more importantly, the hover thrusters seemed salvageable. It’s been patched up a few times already, and it looks like it’s come a long way. 
One particularly bad hull puncture near the exhaust is actually just covered by some sort of sticker from the “Roosevelt Academy” -- whatever and wherever that is -- and two armor plates are welded together with a Pre-War car license plate bridging the gaps.
The plate reads “2ED-E59”, by the way -- although the numbers are so worn down as to be almost illegible, possibly on purpose.
Heh, like a name tag, almost. ED-E it is.
The ‘bot has a huge rig of antennae, transmitters, and receivers, so it must be primarily designed as some sort of field communications platform. I bet the NCR would love to field some of these, but I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Maybe I can sell it to OSI for a tidy pile of caps. 
There’s also some sort of laser array attached to the thing’s underside, but I can’t imagine it’s functional -- even if it wasn’t damaged, I don’t see how it could possibly pull enough power from the fission batteries to fire a laser AND remain hovering. Still, if I can get it working, at least I can use it to carry my trade goods.
Like a pack brahmin, except with two fewer mouths to feed.
At first, I almost gave up on the job before I’d begun. One of the main circuit boards in the ‘bot was utterly fried, and part of it actually looked to have been punched through by a bullet or some other projectile. Some of its vacuum tubes and conductors were scrap, too, but I was relatively confident I’d be able to turn up replacements for those in the computers and electronics in the Bison Steve. With something as tailor-made as a circuit board, though, I didn’t have much hope of finding a replacement.
With a little poking around, though, I realized that I probably could reroute most of the interior circuitry around that board entirely, so I pulled the whole thing out and put in a few patch wires in its place. With that done, the rest of the repairs were fairly straightforward, with just a few dips into my own salvage supplies. 
From an engineering perspective -- in which field, admittedly, I’m no expert -- I’m sure it’s far from perfect, but... well, what is, these days? I’ve scrubbed all of the connectors with alcohol as best I could, and I’ve replaced his interior fission batteries with new ones -- or at least newER ones -- I found back in Goodsprings.
And... I think that’s everything. Fingers crossed. Here we go!
Damn. Nothing. Ah well, I suppose that’s that...
Wait. Webb, you’re an idiot. I forgot to reattach the connector to the interior transformer after replacing the fission batteries.
Let’s give that another try...
*Another click, followed by metal scraping and a growing hum.*
<<Unidentified Synthetic>> 0100010101111001011001010110001001101111011101000010000000101000010001000111010101110010011000010110011001110010011000010110110101100101001010010010000010010110001000000101001101110101011000100110101001100101011000110111010000100000010001010010000001100010011000010110001101101011001000000110111101101110011011000110100101101110011001010010111000100000010001010111011001100001011011000111010101100001011101000110100101101110011001110010000001110011011010010111010001110101011000010111010001101001011011110110111000101110
<<UserID:Webb>> Ha! Welcome back, little fella!
<<Unidentified Synthetic>> 0100000101101110011000010110110001111001011110100110100101101110011001110010111000100000010010010110010001100101011011100111010001101001011101000111100100100000011100010111010101100101011100100111100100101110
<<UserID:Webb>> Hmm. Okay, never had my own robot before. Let’s see... Acquire new ownership profile?
<<Unidentified Synthetic>> 010100100110010101110001011101010110010101110011011101000010000001100001011000110110001101100101011100000111010001100101011001000010111000100000010100100110010101110011011001010111010001110100011010010110111001100111001000000110111101110000011001010111001001100001011101000110111101110010001000000111000001110010011011110110011001101001011011000110010100101110
<<UserID:Webb>> I’ll... take that as a good sign. Here, hold still. I’m going to add it to the PIP-Boy registry so I can keep track of the bloody thing. 
Okay, ED-E, say something.
<<UserID:ED-E>> 01010011011011110110110101100101011101000110100001101001011011100110011100101110
<<UserID:Webb>> And just let me check the log... Perfect. 
All right, eyeball. We’re headed back to the Bison Steve and clearing the place out for salvage.
<<UserID:ED-E>> 0101001101110100011011110111001001100001011001110110010100100000011000110110111101101101011100000110000101110010011101000110110101100101011011100111010000100000011100000111001001100101011100000110000101110010011001010110010000101110
<<UserID:Webb>> ...Sure. Signing off.
//Recording Ends//

Sunday, June 5, 2011

//Log Date: 2281-10-23 19:17//

<<UserID:Webb>> I think Goodsprings has spoiled me. I was expecting an evening of free drinks after a day killing people. It’s almost like being back in the service, except without the possibility of ending up in the sack with a sexy NCO.
Miss you, Jess.
Unfortunately for my evening plans -- but perhaps fortunately for my liver -- the residents of Primm drank their way through the remaining alcohol stores in the Vikki and Vance within the first few days of locking themselves in. Even though the ‘Gangers in town seem to be dealt with, they’re still worried that vengeful reinforcements will arrive from the NCR prison at any moment. 
No one is willing to leave the casino or get back to anywhere near normal without some new law in town, and no one thinks Beagle is up to the job -- including Beagle himself.
Once I’d crossed back to the Vikki and Vance from the Bison Steve, I spent some time talking with Beagle and Nash, both of whom asked for help finding a new sheriff.
Honestly, ever since I came back to the Mojave, it’s starting to feel like no one can get anything done unless I’m there holding their hand.
I hated to give Checkers and his buddies more of a lead than they already had, but I think that, ultimately, if I left these people to moulder in this building while chasing after some vengeance, I’d never be able to look my reflection in the face again.
Unfortunately, Nash and Beagle differ in their opinions about who should take over. Beagle, who strikes me as a man who likes doing everything the easiest way possible, said we should just get the NCR to take over the town, since they were already here, and establish a small military force here to keep law and order.
The idiot gets on my nerves and got half my arm burned off, sure, but I still wouldn’t inflict that on him -- well, maybe I would, truth be told, but I have the rest of the town to think about. I pointed out how little help the NCR had been already and asked Nash if he had any better ideas.
He thought for a bit, then told me about a sheriff from another town in the Mojave who had been sent to the NCRCF for being a little too enthusiastic in his application of justice. Ironically, a sheriff like that might be just the thing a scared town like this needs... IF he’s still at the NCRCF, and IF he hasn’t joined the Powder Gangers.
We talked for a bit about the possibility of getting into the NCRCF to look for him without getting my head blown off, and I resolved to go back to the Bison Steve in the morning to see if I could find a prison uniform on one of the dead convicts that wasn’t too badly burned or ventilated. Maybe, with a hat pulled down low, that would get me through the door.
While we were discussing routes to the prison -- it sounded like the Long 15 was the best choice, once again -- Primm Slim wandered by us with his cheerful greetings, and I remembered the way he had grabbed me and hefted me up when I first ran into the casino.
I started to wonder if perhaps the solution was a little closer to home than anyone in Primm had realized. Slim was a Protectron, after all -- as I understand it, Protectrons were made by RobCo before the Great War to be security robots. Probably Primm Slim was no different and had just been repurposed to act as the Vikki and Vance’s tourguide. If the original security subroutines hadn’t been overwritten completely, it shouldn’t be too much trouble to simply flip the switch, as it were.
I’d been trained as a medic in my squad, yes, but that medical training had been in Vault City, and I’d learned a heck of a lot about computer programming and mechanical engineering just by being there and having access to their libraries. Besides, the worst that could happen was that I’d scrap a robot tour guide, right?
Beagle and Nash were in favor of the idea, if it could be done, so I cornered Slim, told him what we were thinking, and asked if he’d object to me poking around in his tapes. He has cheerfully acquiesced, so I’m just going to unscrew this panel here...
*Sounds of rasping metal.*
There we are! Now, let’s see... I’ll patch the PIP-Boy into Slim’s internal terminal, and...
Huh. That can’t be...
*Typing continues.*
Interesting. Looks like I’m not the only robo-surgeon to meddle around in here recently. A whole block of his memory file looks like it’s been intentionally corrupted. The PIP-Boy has a few decryption routines built in... let me run this block through those, see if we can... Aha!
Got it! Okay, looks like an audio log of the minute or so prior to the last hack. Let’s see what we’ve got...
<<Unidentified Male>> Is it still there?

<<Unidentified Female>> Yep, it's here, Sam.

<<Unidentified Male>> Well, hot damn! Let's grab it and go.

<<Unidentified Synthetic>> Howdy, Partners! Welcome to the Vikki and Vance casino and museum!

<<Unidentified Male>> Can you shut that thing up, Pauline?

<<Unidentified Female>> Sure thing, honey! Grab the gun, and we'll get going.

<<Unidentified Synthetic>> Please do not touch the exhibits.

<<Unidentified Female>> I almost got it. I'll wipe the memory file as well.

<<Unidentified Male>> Okay! Let's get going. I'm going to stick this bad boy in my safe until we’re ready.

<<Unidentified Female>> Alright, once I'm done with this memory block, we'll head back to Westside until we're ready to go.
<<UserID:Webb>> I’ll be damned. I figured those exhibits had been missing since the Great War. Well, shoot... A sheriff that can get hacked this easily is no better than one that’ll take a bribe.
Sorry, Slim, looks like you’ll be staying on as a tour guide for a while longer -- no badge for you.
<<Unidentified Synthetic>> Well, shucks, pardner! Ain’t no never mind to me! This job is awful swell!
<<UserID:Webb>> Uh huh. Great. That’s a real load off my mind, Slim.
<<Unidentified Synthetic>> Say, pardner, want to hear the story of this nation’s fourth or maybe fifth most famous celebrity outlaw co-
<<UserID:Webb>> Slim, I think Mrs. Nash needs some help getting dinner ready for everyone.
<<Unidentified Synthetic>> Why didn’t you say so sooner, pardner? Can’t have the trail-hands waiting on their grub!
<<UserID:Webb>> Swell. Thanks. 
Guess I ought to tell the folks of Primm that we’ll be looking a little further afield. I’ll grab some of whatever Mrs. Nash is cooking up for dinner, then get some rack time. Seems like I’m heading back up north tomorrow.
Signing off.
//Recording Ends//