<<UserID:Webb>> *whispering* Good gravy, it’s getting cold in the evenings. Glad I grabbed this coat back in Primm.
<<UserID:Webb>> Hey, keep it down, Eyeball! Haven’t you ever been on surveillance detail before?
<<UserID:Webb>> Look, just... maintain radio silence, okay?
Just in case we DO get ripped to shreds by roaming ghouls... or eaten by Noonan’s chupathingy... I wanted to make a record of it as a warning to the town, so I’m going to keep this thing running. May as well fill up the silence with an entry while I’m at it.
Going to keep whispering, though. Got to keep the sound down. Can’t STOP whispering, actually. Maybe I shouldn’t have taken more Mentats tonight. Still, better than sitting blind in the dark. Also popped some Cateye -- the combo is making the night much clearer, but DEAR GOD those Mentats make my knuckles itch.
Shhhh. Sorry. Sorry sorry sorry. Gotta keep it down.
*Sound of scratching.*
Ahh, much better. Cateye’s good stuff, too, a hyper-concentrated synthetic compound of retinol that really kicks your night vision up a notch. Probably some other active ingredients, I’m not sure -- always seemed to me like the drug regulation industry of the Old World really went to hell in the last years before the bombs.
Maybe I should just stick to the Cateye in the future. Got a nice little stock of it this afternoon, along with a tidy pile of other chems. When I headed back out into the more rambling areas of Nova outside the motel, I ran into a young woman with two bodyguards who identified herself as Ada Straus.
Also called herself a doctor. If she’s a doctor, then I’m the *Expletive Deleted* Surgeon General of Shady Sands.
Don’t get me wrong, always happy to see other sources of medical attention in the wastes. And yeah, I’m just a glorified combat medic, but at least I had real training from real doctors in Vault City.
Got a fancy certificate and everything, too. All ash now, but still.
But the way it is out here, anyone with a pair of forceps and a scavved stethoscope calls themselves a doctor. Wouldn’t trust this one to suture a cadaver. Probably why she needs those mercs -- to fend off malpractice complaints.
God, Webb, you sound like an ass. Reign it in.
Still, what she DID have was a decent supply of meds and other chems. Since I’m already sounding like an ass, I’ll just come out and say it: I figured they’d be better off with me than with her. I swapped her the patched-up laser rifle I’d found on that robed ghoul in exchange for a huge chunk of her store of chems, including several bottles of Cateye pills, some stims, a decent supply of Med-X to replenish my dwindling stock, more anti-septics, and -- in anticipation of what might be waiting for me at the REPCONN site -- all of her Rad-X tablets and bags of RadAway solution.
Like I said, right now, I’m just glad for the Cateye. Glad glad glad.
*Sound of teeth grinding.*
Spent some time after that asking the other residents of Novac about Checkers and the REPCONN situation, but didn’t turn up anything new.
Did find a decent communal workshop area in an old filling station near the motel. Didn’t want to swipe anything belonging to the town, but there was a bench with a loading press and a vice, along with a little crucible and a burner hooked to a gas tank with tubing, duct tape, and a fair amount of prayers and good intentions.
Now that I had slimmed down my kit to just the revolver and rifle, both chambered for .357 rounds, I figured I’d take a bit of time to slim down my ammo reserves as well. I broke down all the ammunition I had, separated out the casings, powder, primer, and bullets, and spent half an hour or so recasting the lead and copper into .357 jacketed flat points, packing each one with a little extra powder besides, as I had some left over.
Never hurts to have a little extra punch when you’re facing down a pack of charging ghouls, right?
My pockets and ammo belts newly weighed down with custom lead, I went back to exploring the rest of the down. I eventually found my way to the brahmin ranch which had been the subject of the recent attacks. I knocked at the door and was greeted by a very pleasant couple, both probably between ten and twenty years my senior, who welcomed me inside.
I quickly learned, over the glass of good cold well water that was pressed into my hand, that they were Dusty and Alice McBride, and the rumors were true -- every night for the last several nights, something had been killing one of their brahmin right around midnight. If it kept up, they’d be out of brahmin, Novac would be out of meat, and the McBrides would be out of a living.
I asked if what they had done with the last brahmin killed, hoping I might be able to do a necropsy and confirm that it was the work of ghouls, but Alice simply pointed towards the kitchen.
Waste not, want not, I suppose.
The McBrides then insisted I join them for dinner. I put up a token protest, but the smells drifting from the stove just reminded me how long it had been since I’d had anything other than gecko meat, pre-war tins of processed garbage, or mess hall stew -- I caved in almost immediately.
Alice cooked the steaks just the way I remember my ma making them -- dusted with a little flour and fried in a pan with tallow -- and they were delicious. The majority of the brahmin had been cut into strips and was hanging over a smoking fire in the McBride’s side yard.
Over dinner, I asked them for more details about the town. Neither had seen Checkers or his gang, and neither knew much about the REPCONN facility other than it had been a prime scavving site before the ghouls invaded.
They had a little more of interest to tell me about the attacks on their brahmin. They’d heard noises during the attacks, possibly gunfire, which complicates matters. I still refuse to believe it’s a machine-gun-wielding chupacabra. Never seen any far-gone ghoulies using firearms, though.
Could still be related to what’s going on up at REPCONN, though. Might be some regular ghouls in with the ferals, who come down at night to do a little poaching.
I finished up my steak and told the McBrides I’d swing back by around midnight to see if I could spot anything suspicious -- least I could do in exchange for the meal.
That’s where I am now, out back of the McBride’s place keeping an eye on the brahmin pens. Nothing so far.
After I exchanged “good evening”s with the McBrides, I still had some time to kill before the poacher showed up, so I drifted back over to the dinosaur to wait for the guards to change shifts. Briscoe was closing up as I got there, but he waived cheerfully and asked if I wanted to play a hand or two of caravan after he locked up the till. I agreed, and we whiled away some time building trade routes and swapping caps. Briscoe tossed me a bottle of sarsaparilla as we played, pulling one out for himself. Nice guy. I’ll be sure to send some business his way, if I meet some likely looking folks on the road.
Around twenty-one hundred hours, a dour-looking man in a red beret entered the store, nodded to Briscoe, gave me a brief once-over, and went up the stairs to the sniper’s nest. A few minutes later, Vargas came down, said a brief goodnight to Briscoe and me, and headed off to his room.
I finished up my game with Briscoe, slugged back the last of my sarsaparilla, collected my winnings, and thanked him for the hospitality, then headed up the stairs to talk with the second sniper.
Definitely less chatty than Vargas. Name is Craig Boone, and, as it turns out, he has a rather different point of view on this town than his buddy. In fact, he--
Wait a minute. What was that?
There! Did you see that? By that boulder!
<<UserID:Webb>> I’d swear it was... Wait. There. Footsteps! That’s definitely footsteps.
<<UserID:Webb>> Almost positive there’s something over there. I’m going to get a little closer, see what I can--
*Hissing static of a stealth field deactivating.*
<<Unidentified>> HEAD VOICES SAY BLINKY ROBOT MAKE TROUBLE!
<<UserID:Webb>> HOLY *Expletive Deleted* IT IS A CHUPACABRA! SHOOT IT! SHOOT IT! SHOOT IT!
*Sounds of gunfire commence just as the recording ends abruptly.*