<<UserID:Webb>> Finally got some sleep last night. It’s amazing -- killing an insane giant bent on murdering cattle kept me up, but facilitating the murder of an old lady made me sleep like a little...
...like a log, I mean.
After Boone shot Crawford, I let myself into the dinosaur, climbed the stairs, and showed him the invoice I’d found in her records. He stared at it for a long moment, then crumpled it up and tossed it out into the night air in the general direction of Crawford’s sprawled body.
We both just stood there for a moment, him not saying anything, and me letting him not say anything.
I tried to imagine how I’d feel, if it was me standing there, looking down at the corpse of the one who had killed my girls, knowing I’d spilled the blood of the one who had done for Jess and Callie.
In the end, I decided I had no idea how it must feel... other than I’d probably sucker-punch any mouthy son of a *Expletive Deleted* who insisted on jabbering on while I was trying to drink it in. Taking that to heart, I stood there quietly, staring down at the dead body of a woman I’d helped kill and thinking of my own ghosts until Boone finally turned and nodded to me.
He offered to let me keep the beret by way of thanks, but I declined. No way I had a steady enough trigger finger to qualify as 1st Recon, and, besides, accepting payment for killing someone is a road I don’t want to go down. No matter if it’s a hat or a pile of caps, it’s all just haggling after the fact.
Sure, I’ve killed plenty of people in the wastes, but it was always out of necessity, or defense, or even mercy. I’m a doctor, damn it, not an assassin.
For lack of anything better to say, I asked him what he planned to do next. He shrugged non-committally, saying that he wasn’t sure, other than that he was definitely done with Novac and everyone in it.
I drummed my fingers against one of the dino’s teeth for a moment, considering, then asked if he wanted to come with me, as I’d be leaving soon anyway. Plenty of threats out there, including Legionnaires, and one is safer than two.
<<UserID:Webb>> Yes, of course, I didn’t forget you, eyeball. Three is safer still.
The point is, it’s rough out there alone, and I had vengeance of my own to pursue. I briefly told him about Checkers again, with a bit more detail than in my initial questioning.
Boone took it all in quietly, then asked if we’d be seeing any Legion troops on the way. I smiled wanly and told him we could happily spare some ammunition for any slavers we came across.
He responded thoughtfully, still without committing, that he’d seen some troop movements to the southeast, out of range of his rifle, and he was fairly sure they were Legion. I told him we could swing by and wipe them out before checking out the REPCONN site, and he nodded decisively, saying he was in. He’d leave with me at noon, after we’d both gotten some sleep.
I asked about Crawford, and he told me he’d been on break, but he was sure he’d notice something amiss after coming back on duty and alert the town. By then, it would probably be best if all out-of-towners were snug in their beds, sleeping the sleep of the just... or at least the sleep of the only-mildly-suspicious.
I took him at his word and headed with ED-E back to my room. All stimulents must have cleared my system by then -- like I said earlier, I passed out and slept through the commotion entirely, only waking up at eleven hundred hours with Vargas knocking on my door, asking if I’d seen or heard anything odd the night before. I said no, asked why, and feigned surprise when he told me about Crawford being found dead.
I’m not sure if he bought it, but, after all, Boone hadn’t seen me out and about, and he certainly would have if I’d had anything to do with it, right? Right.
It was late enough by that point, so I made my morning ablutions in the room’s bathroom, changed the bandages on my hip and calf with generous contributions from the bed’s sheets, and had a quick breakfast of Cram heated on the room’s hotplate.
When I left the room, I found Boone leaning against the railing outside, staring at the horizon. He nodded to me again -- a real miser of words, that one -- and we headed out towards the camp he’d seen.
Vargas called out to Boone as we walked passed the dino, but Boone didn’t even look back.
We hiked overland until we hit Route 95, then followed that south into the hills for a few hours until Boone indicated we were near the camp. Creeping quietly up the hillside, we saw them.
Boone was right. It was a small Legion camp, with tents pitched and several red banners bearing the Legion’s bull insignia snapping in the wind. Men wearing that mismatched red-painted amalgam of metal and plastic armor wandered about, tending their weapons and supplies, and several people with their hands tied knelt despondently around the camp’s firepit, huddling close against the chill November wind.
Pulling out my binoculars for a closer look, I saw that two of the captives were wearing NCRCF coveralls. I turned to tell Boone that these must be the remaining slaves taken from Nipton, but he was already lining up his first shot, and, before I could say anything, he pulled the trigger on his .308 rifle and put a round right through the forehead of a Legionnaire wearing a small flag strapped to his back.
Nothing could ever make me admit that someone is a better shot than Jess was, but this guy comes damn close.
By the time I’d safely stashed my binoculars -- time-intensive, yes, but a functional pair of lenses are rare enough to make them worth the trouble -- and pulled my repeater from its shoulder sling, he’d dropped three more Legionnaires. ED-E had his laser array warmed up by then, too, and he joined in.
I fired off a few rounds, just so I didn’t look completely like dead weight, but the fight was already over by the first time I worked the lever action. Boone was already stalking forward to finish off any survivors with his machete before the gunsmoke had dissipated.
He moved on to search through the camp’s meager munitions cache -- these brutes seemed to favor tribal weapons like spears and hacking blades -- while I went to the captives and cut through their bonds with my bootknife. The ‘Gangers bolted for freedom as soon as they were free, looking at me over their shoulders like I’d only cut the ropes because I’d missed their throats. I guess my reputation from Goodsprings and Primm proceeds me again.
The others -- two NCR troopers and woman who must have been a Nipton local -- stayed put long enough for me to check them over for wounds and rub some feeling back into their limbs. Nothing more severe than some bruising and minor cuts and scrapes from being dragged across the Mojave. I gave them some water from the camp’s stock and pointed them towards Novac.
Now that they’re gone, I’ve been going through the camp’s medical supplies... what few there are. For such an aggressive, militaristic group, they certainly pack little in the way of field dressing and meds. Mostly just herbal powders and poultices... more tribal garbage. I’d trade five pounds of this voodoo for a single stimpak.
<<UserID:Webb>> It’s disgusting. We don’t need an army to wipe out these animals -- we just need a little cholera in their drinking water, and they’re done for.
Hell, we just need to hope Caesar cuts himself shaving. Tetanus would take him out faster than--
<<Unidentified Male>> Finished the sweep. Got what there was to get. Ready to move out for REPCONN?
<<UserID:Webb>> Sure thing, Boone. Nothing here worth saving anyway.
<<Unidentified Male>> What are you doing?
<<UserID:Webb>> What, the recording? Just... therapy.
<<Unidentified Male>> Hmmph. Heard lots of vets go a little nuts. Are you?
<<UserID:Webb>> Aren’t you?
<<Unidentified Male>> Hmmph.
<<UserID:Webb>> Fair enough. Come on, then. Let’s shake some dust.