<<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.