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Old 10-12-2018, 10:32 PM   #51
Obuzeti
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Moray hums in acknowledgement as his color settles, returning him to this new and strange placidity. Like a crocodile that's learned to accept pets; never quite comfortable to be around, but undoubtedly better to be on the good side of. "If you ever carried more than a sidearm and half a leather vest, maybe you'd scare people enough they wouldn't try fucking with you," he offers, bemused. "Have nobody trying to punch your ticket at all."

He slides down against the pack beside him, basking in his drowsiness and letting his eyes slide shut. "Devon said he'd have a job for me when I brought you back, so I imagine I'll be around anyways. Looks like another team job. Let's just hope there are less old, stupid friends of yours this time."

Moray rolls his neck and stretches, catlike, as he rolls his joints and settles in for the night. He doesn't have a blanket aside from the camo, but the chill isn't heavy enough for him to use it, and even now, relaxed as he is, his left hand never falls far from the heavy stock of his shotgun. Hrolf comes to his feet and pads closer to the fire, in between the two humans, and settles down between them - far enough that neither can touch.

"Probably some fuckin' place he wants cleared out," Moray mumbles, as he drifts towards sleep. "Stop worrying. I'll kill things and you'll talk to things. We'll figure out which when we get there."

The 'we' no longer feels strange on his tongue.
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Old 10-13-2018, 12:31 AM   #52
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“What’d be the fun in that?” One could just hear the smirk, however sleepy. What she doesn’t say is when things get bad, sometimes it helps to be severely underestimated. She’s got first hand experience with just how helpful it could be, and a lot of it. Maybe he was solid, maybe he wasn’t-but out here in the Mojave, Kara knew better than to show her hand. Better to play ‘em close to the chest.

“Oh ha ha.” Man, he was going to have that on her forever. She’s drifting off too quickly to offer something clever.

"Stop worrying. I'll kill things and you'll talk to things. We'll figure out which when we get there.”

She might’ve already been asleep when she murmured “Deal.”

///////////////////////////////////////

Sunrise-Kara had at some point pulled her jacket over her head to block it out, and who knows how long she might’ve stayed zonked and sprawled out like that if she didn’t come around soon as he started packing back up.

Her red hair was fluffed up from sleep and it -worked- for her, the mouthy merc managing to look good even out of a dead sleep. She stretched her arms over head, arched her back-then relaxed back and popped to her feet, jacket in hand and easily slipped on. The various prewar pins and emblems clinked together as she did so.

She talked a lot. Vaults she’d been in, a vault she hadn’t been in, a weapons depot-speculating what exactly Devon was looking for and whether or not she’d already been there. Mostly, she didn’t like him, and wasn’t sure she’d help him anyway, if she could avoid it.

Either way, she was decently sure talking was the way to go, there.

TENDERHEART:

People were a lot less happy to see Kara around these parts, but you wouldn’t know it by the way she acted-that damned pepped but lazy saunter as if she owned the fucking place, the merc dismissing their ire and their dislike as easily as a light breeze. It was a pretty rough town and there weren’t a lot of women in it to begin with-and most of what there were were in the brothel.

She mostly knows where they’re heading, and Moray definitely did. The guard at the door didn’t bother with the bounty hunter, but Kara had to hand over her pistol and the knife in her boot. He moved to pat her down and she brushed him off immediately, a swift step back. “Dinner first, pal.” And a salacious grin. Somehow, she got away with being let in unaccosted.

Devon’s inside, smoking. He’d been told ahead of time, as soon as they had passed through the gate. “And here I thought you’d be delivered hogtied, Kara.” Devon sounded almost genial. Likewise, Kara was almost suspiciously friendly.

“What, you thought I wouldn’t want to visit? C’mon Devon, I had so much fun the last time-why wouldn’t I come back?” She’s mocking him. Devon snuffs the cigarette out, eyeing her a minute as she pulls out the chair in front of his desk and plops down. She’s got that fucking smirk on her lips and one of her arms slung over the back of the chair, the toe of one boot tipping her onto the back legs, watching him right back.

He dispenses with the bullshit. “Where’s Vanessa?”

“Who?”

“You fucking know who-Vanessa. The whore you made off with.”

“Oh HER.” Kara suddenly ‘remembers’ with a snap of her fingers, letting the chair fall forward onto all it’s legs again. And just as Devon seems to think she’s going to fess up, Kara leans back again, her cocky smirk back on her lips. “Fuck if I know, I ditched her in the middle of the desert once I got bored.” This was a bald faced lie, but Kara sold it so well and it seemed to fall in line with whatever prank she’d pulled that Devon accepts it with a darkening expression.

“Then you owe me a whore.” He says, striking a match, lighting a new cigarette-and instead of watching the stick burn, glares at her.

“I don’t exactly keep ‘em around.”

“Then maybe you’ll be the whore.”

“I doubt your brothel's going to get much business with a reputation for dick biting whores.” Her response is so quick it was if she expected the threat-Devon began to lose his cool. This wasn't at ALL how he wanted this meeting to go. He'd sent the nastiest S.O.B. he could after her, maybe he should have opted for the box.

“Then I’ll have Moray wire your fucking jaw shut-”

“This really why I’m here?” A mild note of disdain, now.
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Old 10-13-2018, 01:33 AM   #53
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Moray looks bored for most of the passage through Tenderheart. Where Kara draws disdain and lust in equal measure, no one met his eyes at all, and there was a bubble of about eight feet in any direction around him. The locals had quickly learned the measure of his merit when Devon had hired him to run debt collection - he had promptly run out of patience with excuses and had just run people through with a fire poker until they gave up either their money or the ghost. That had left a definite impression on anyone that saw it.

When the threats start flowing between Devon and Kara, he lets it go for about ten seconds before his eyebrow tweaks once. He says, without glancing away from the wall he's been staring at since he got in, "I gave her my word of safe conduct until the conclusion of this meeting. You also have not paid me yet. I would recommend you correct at least one of these things before you pick a fight, Devon."

As threats go, it sounds mild, but the endpoint promised most definitely isn't.

Devon sneers at them both. "Figures you'd solve your problems by spreading your legs."

"That would be unprofessional," Moray says, soft, his eyes little painted dots way back in the darkness of his skull. "You are being unprofessional now. Stop."

Devon opens his mouth again, but some squealing animal instinct in the back of his head takes the words out of his mouth, which saves his life. He swears under his breath, turns around, and takes a long swig of some rotgut alcohol in a drawer of his desk. Then he wheels back around, and the businessman's face has come back, though there's something nasty glimmering at the back of it.

"Argument's redundant. I don't know where Vanessa is, but I do know what's happened to her. She got picked up to do canary work down at a place called the Sierra Madre. Ever heard of it?"

The name doesn't ring any bells for Moray. Canary work does, though. It's a vile trick slavers use to check for mines, tripwires, and other assorted dangers; they take a slave, slap a bomb collar and a heavy suit of steel armor on them, and march them into the area in question. The sheet metal armor sounds benevolent, but it's really not; it just ensures they get more than one use out of the slave in question, and meanwhile they broil to death inside of the sweltering outfit just as often as the traps kill them. The slaves are literally bolted inside, you see, to save on the cost of fitting armor.
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Old 10-13-2018, 03:00 AM   #54
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"Figures you'd solve your problems by spreading your legs."

Kara’s smirk freezes a fraction, as does the slight bob of the chair-but only for that barest of a moment before she fires right the fuck back, below the belt and just as crass.

“Figures you’d be jealous.”

Devon’s a cunt. Hypocritical pimp literally owns a brothel, but oh, he’ll slut shame her and make it out like Moray can only think with his dick. The insult is so base and uncreative it borders on boring. And like she needed to sleep with people to get them to do what she wants, anyway. But a protest or loss of her temper would only give him what he wants, so Kara had lit on something to piss him off instead, bold as brass and entirely uncowed. Because fuck him, that’s why.

And then Moray speaks again, his voice and implied threat cutting through the mood like a stiletto. Shit, that even raised the fine hairs on the back of HER neck, and it wasn’t even directed at her. ...or maybe it was.

"Argument's redundant. I don't know where Vanessa is, but I do know what's happened to her. She got picked up to do canary work down at a place called the Sierra Madre. Ever heard of it?"

“It’s a myth Devon, c’mon. ‘City of Gold?’ Please.” Her palms are getting sweaty and her heart just sank into her stomach, but she keeps slowly bobbing the tipped chair, careful not to have a ‘tell’. He’s full of shit about Vanessa. Or at least, she hopes he’s full of shit. Kara was a master at bluffing herself, and usually pretty good at calling it in others. But Devon seems to think he’s one upped her in some way. That he’s got a good hand. It’s not a good sign.

Devon’s eyes narrowed, and he opened a drawer to find the agreed upon payment for Moray. It’s mostly in prewar bills. He slaps the billfold onto the corner of his desk. “As agreed, Moray.” He didn’t look up from Kara. He’s tempted to tell her how exactly Moray’d suggested offering her up, but he doesn’t want to alienate the man-or get himself into a fight he can’t win.

“One of the Caravans said they overheard you talking about it.”

“I tell -a lot- of stories when I’m drunk.” Her fucking big mouth. Kara dropped the chair and stood up. “And I know this may be shocking, but they aren’t always entirely truthful. But you want to pay me upfront to go wandering the wastes after mirages and whores who probably died of thirst in the desert, by all means-otherwise, I’ll be at the fucking bar.” She gave an empty handed shrug and smirk, and then she turned and headed out the door.

Devon’s left with Moray, who he’d previously banked his hopes on. Goddamned Kara.

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Kara was playing a game of darts with throwing knives. Some rough hewn game the bar custodian had put together, and something she was decently good at. She was playing alone, though. The bar had some patrons but was mostly empty given the hour, and Kara had already ordered and thrown back a few.

Her big fucking mouth had gotten her in this mess, and on top of that, her stupid ass shenanigans (that began because someone had had a sob story) had given Devon something he thought he could hang over her head, dangle like some kind of carrot on a stick.

Sierra Madre-shit, might as well shoot herself in the head, fucking going there again.

She moved for the board and retrieved the six blunt edged but sharp tipped knives, stalking over to it, nearly. It put her at the little table the bottle'd been left on. She took a swig and then walked back, trying not to think about anything but hitting the stupid picture of Kimball in the center.
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Old 10-13-2018, 03:58 AM   #55
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The door closes behind Kara. Devon and Moray are left in the room with each other - one counting his freshly-collected money, and the other chewing on his lip in recognition of his failed gambit. "Shit," Devon says eventually, and kicks back in his chair. "I thought she'd go for that."

"You probably could have been more diplomatic," Moray comments without looking up. He's afraid that if the other man makes eye contact with him killing him will be an inevitability. As it stands, listening to the oily businessman's voice is testing his resolve. "What was your plan?"

Devon shrugs. He looks worried. "Got a new customer, real bigwig type. Was interested in an 'advanced technology' he said was hidden within the Sierra Madre. He was backtracing a contract and apparently the stuff is stored in the fucking vending machines there, of all things. Also, something about holograms, but I dunno, I was stuck on the super future vending machine shit by then. I told him the only person that probably knew where it was is Kara, on account of her having her fucking nose in everything."

Devon grimaces. "He said to get her on the job or bad shit would happen. Pretty sure if I don't, my ass is grass. So, here's the deal: I can't afford to have her say no."

He pulls out something from the same drawer as the whiskey, and suddenly Moray realizes why he was drinking so much - it's a bomb collar. "Put this on her, and you make 500 caps. I'll take care of the rest," Devon says, and then he looks up and makes eye contact with Jonah Moray.

~*~

Moray walks into the bar where Kara had vanished to, blank-faced. He strides over to his onetime companion and pokes her in the shoulder. "We should probably leave town soon," he says. "Negotiations failed."
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Old 10-13-2018, 04:46 AM   #56
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People that had been casting her glances here and there froze up and suddenly became a lot more involved in their drinks, and it doesn’t take long to realize why-he taps on her shoulder, of all things, blank faced and looming large.

“We should probably leave town soon.”

“Is he that goddamned mad?” She managed a bulls eye dead center of the photo and lit up. Maybe she should try and find a picture of Devon, see how long it stayed up for.

“Negotiations failed.”

The cryptic, short sentence is briefly mystifying to Kara, pausing in her knife throwing to face him proper-and then it clicks. Oh, damn.

“No time like the present.” She agrees swiftly, depositing the knives and throwing back the last shot of whiskey. Time to get the hell out of here before they ended up lynched or something. This was Devon’s town, after all. “C’mon.”

She led them down a back alleyway, to the wall, and then followed the wall to the gate.

Now that they were out of the town she picked up her pace significantly. “I got a bolt hole not too far from here, we’ll just-I mean shit, what happened? He try to hug you or something?” Kara reached into her jacket and produced her crappy map, giving it a quick study as she did the quick mental math. She stuffed it back into its inner pocket. She probably shouldn’t have had those last two shots. Still, she's pretty sure it's this way.

They came to a place where a cabin might’ve stood once, remnants of wood and metal flooring strewn about. Kara lifted the edge of one to reveal a solid looking vault door-she typed in the reprogrammed keycode and it opened with the hiss of a vacuum seal. It had a ladder but was a relatively short drop-his head would only be a few inches shy of the ceiling.

It was some kind of pre war bunker, it looked like. Cool air funneled in from somewhere, the only light a single swaying bulb. It was a simple, relatively clean space with metal shelving containing some basic supplies, a crate of rusty gears and springs, and what looked to be the remains of some bastardized chainsaw project.

There was a one of those military metal beds and a small table, and not much else. A backpack in the corner. She’s slept here more than a few times rather than camp in the open so close to a place like Tenderheart. She’d never been able to get a good night’s rest INSIDE the city either.
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Old 10-13-2018, 05:03 AM   #57
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Moray shrugs as they run, unwilling to discuss it mid-sprint. Once they make it to what is apparently Kara's little home away from home, he slips inside and waits for her to reseal the doorway, then drops himself on the table with a huffed breath. His backpack unslings and he sets it aside; stares at the wall for a long moment.

"Devon decided he couldn't afford to have you say no," Moray replies, "Which is one thing. Then he asked me to put a bomb collar on you. So I killed him."

It doesn't filter down any further than that for him. Kara, of the bright red hair, she of the twinkling smile - her face silhouetted by firelight, smiling in that warm night before they returned to Tenderheart - with a bomb collar on her neck. Slave to a man who called her a slut for smiling at him, and wanted her as a whore and worse.

No.

There's nothing more to say about that. Moray shakes his head and changes the subject. "He has some big business sponsor that was laying out a lot of caps to organize the expedition to the Sierra, whatever that is. I found an empty case that had ten insets and compared the size to a cap - someone handed him almost two thousand caps in a briefcase with no locks on it. That's serious pull, and confidence."

Moray glances back over at Kara. "If they're that invested, you can expect to hear from them again, I expect."
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Old 10-13-2018, 06:34 AM   #58
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Definitely should not have had those last two shots-and now with her blood pumping, it probably only circulated through her blood faster. This might’ve been fun if she wasn’t questioning what the fuck had gone on in the little time between her leaving Devon’s office and Moray tapping her on the shoulder.

She shrugs out of her own backpack, dropping it onto the bed before turning back around to look at him.

"Devon decided he couldn't afford to have you say no,"

What the hell had had Devon so convinced Sierra Madre was real, and that she knew where it was? God damn, she woulda thought her exit would put that to rest.

Then he asked me to put a bomb collar on you.

“Holy fuck, really?” Okay, on second thought, maybe she hadn’t drank enough. The idea of the sheer fucking balls and sociopathic personality to even consider a bomb collar-well, it sent a cold, sickening, near shiver down her spine. She would have blown herself-and him!-up before being enslaved to a fuck like Devon. Enslaved at all-she was -free-, no one was going to fucking take that from her.

Ever.

She rubs her forehead and sinks down into the edge of the bed. “‘No’ is apparently not an acceptable answer, and he passed my name on to some mysterious big wig weirdos. Great.” Bomb collars...

She gets into her backpack, withdraws the bottle of amber colored whiskey from it while at the same time shedding the jacket. “Sierra Madre is a goddamned ghost town. There’s a Casino in it somewhere, probably full of all kinds of old tech. I honestly didn’t get to explore much, there’s some kind of...caustic fog throughout a lot of it. Which by itself wouldn’t be a problem, it’s the weirdos IN the fog I’m wary of.”

She uncorked the bottle but didn’t take a swig yet, her eyes flicking up to his face.

“I’m just about positive he was bullshitting about Vanessa being there as much as I was bullshitting about dumping her off someplace. Least I hope so, because if she was sent in there in any kind of heavy anything she’s gotta be dead.”

Vanessa had been some lady in Devon’s stupid brothel that had wanted to go home, and Kara had on the spot schemed up a way to get her there. It had been her usual ridiculous antics, seen as little more than a crazy lark of hers. People didn’t guess at her motives real often-they figured she was doing it for her entertainment. Most of the time, they were right. Last she’d seen of her, she was reunited with a brother in the New Khans. Happy. Grateful. Confused by her antics. The usual, mostly.

The redhead takes a swig of the amber liquid with a shake of her head. “But yeah, the weirdos in the fog. You barely see them until they’re on top of you. I watched ‘em for a little while while I was slinking around. They carry knives, don’t talk, and are generally just creepy as hell. I’m not sure what they are. They don’t move like feral ghouls, but they were clearly some kind of human...something, at one point.”

She shrugs, offers the bottle up to him. Remembering the few days she'd spent there, what she'd gotten into. She's not sure why she's telling him all of this.
It would have been enough just to confirm its existence, and even the logic of that was iffy-but here she was describing what she knew.

“There’s a ventilation system that I think runs through town-I got one of the fans working before I had to head back, low on supplies. It wouldn’t be the worst thing to have to go back depending on what his fancy pants investors wanted, but it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before or since."
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Old 10-13-2018, 04:03 PM   #59
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Moray takes the bottle of whiskey, and considers it. He's only ever really bothered to drink with Beatrix before - the cowgirl understanding of the peculiarities life can twist itself into, without judgement or snide comment. Still, he's killed a man for Kara now and he doesn't want to get paid for it. The gunman supposes that counts as friendship for him. He takes a long sip and grimaces at the strong burn of the alcohol as it slides down his throat.

"Asked Devon some things before he died," Moray says, distracted. "He didn't know where this Vanessa is. He doesn't know, but he did tell the customer about her, and was told that 'matters would be arranged'. I don't know what that means."

The story Kara tells doesn't make him feel much better. "Pre-War science is always a terrible fucking idea," Moray grumbles. "Soon as the bombs fell everyone lost their fucking minds and decided everyone else was expendable. I don't know what Big Hat wants, but if he thinks it's worth throwing collars on people, he can eat buckshot too."

He lifts the bottle to drink from it again and changes his mind. Instead he shifts from the table to the other end of the bed closest to the wall, leaning against the corner of the room and handing the bottle back . "If it's human, it can be killed," he says simply, not worried in the least by these fog freaks. "Small arms probably won't stop them much, won't against ghouls either. Bring a shotgun, take some pieces off instead. Always worked for me."

Moray pats the heavy stock of his shotgun. Having seen his handiwork at the Powder Ganger hideout, he's not exaggerating at all; the weapon is entirely capable of tearing off limbs and mutilating bodies with its lethal spray.

"Either way, I'm leaving town," he says with a shrug. "He died messy. Probably going to avoid this place in the future. I'd recommend the same plan for you."
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Old 10-13-2018, 06:12 PM   #60
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Matters would be arranged…it sends the same chill down her back just like it had in Devon’s office when he claimed she’d been sold and made a Canary. Kara’s not trying to keep a poker face, right now-this information clearly fills her with a sense of dread.

Kara tries not to care. She tries really, really, REALLY hard not to care-but she thinks about the ‘grand escape’, and she thinks about the companionable adventure from Tenderheart to Vanessa’s home, and she thinks about how happy, how relieved the other woman had been to be home with her family. People that loved her.

“...maybe she’s still alive then, if it’s a hostage sort of...thing.”

She’s so angry with herself. There had to of been a better way to go about it, but instead she’d made off in a flash, playing another one of her stupid dangerous games-and done a ‘good deed’ for no pay and no reason other than bleeding heart emotions she didn’t really care to acknowledge.

She should know better. But instead of it putting HER six feet under, it might’ve put Vanessa in a horrific place-or grave.

He sits down next to her and Kara takes the bottle back-but she’s had enough of the stuff. She can feel it in the lightness of her head, but she’s not buoyed by it at all. She looks over her shoulder at him, tries to regain her usual flippant attitude, find her smirk. The mask that made life in the wastes so much easier in all of it’s pointless, horrific violence.

But she doesn’t, for once, find it. Of all the people to not wear it for. Of all times.

Kara moved to also sit against the wall, about a foot of space between them. Her vibrant blue eyes and her attention are still on him, considering, puzzling something out.

He’s so much bigger than she was, hard and capable of some serious violence. She had made a hobby of fucking with him, arrogantly confident in the relative safety of either being long gone when he’d find out or sniping at him somewhere safe and surrounded by people twisted around her quick little fingers. Besides-his strict and boring sense of professionalism kept him from strangling her off the clock.

That’s why Devon sending him out after her had been so very alarming. Tenderheart was definitely not a place Kara had a lock on. She’d considered the trip a fifty fifty shot of ending in her murder, and had set up the NCR to come a calling if she didn’t come back. That probably would have really pissed Devon off.

But slavery? She wouldn’t have accepted a fucking collar at gunpoint, but that wouldn’t have been much obstacle for Moray. He could have done it. Kept her hands bound up so she couldn’t set it off, drop her on Devon’s desk and walk away. Just another job. Can’t always be choosey in the Mojave, and Devon had been giving him steady work-she hadn’t thought Moray gave much of a damn so long as it was a paying job. Surely this one would have been, and it’d both remove a competitor and a thorn in his side, which she’d certainly been. Keep a repeat client happy.

It didn’t make sense. Maybe the collar-slavery was fucked up and anybody could refuse a job...but-

“Why kill him?” The question half spoke itself, her voice soft. Those large blue eyes still on him.
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Old 10-13-2018, 07:03 PM   #61
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Moray shrugs and doesn't offer his opinion: if you take a hostage, by far the best option is to kill them and disappear the body, so that no matter what the target does, they never get any evidence that lets them jump one way or the other. The fear of not knowing is a lot more useful to a kidnapper than your target's certainty. He is, however, absolutely certain that isn't something he wants to say.

He isn't sure how to answer her question either. He doesn't quite know what in the volatile cocktail of emotions he'd experienced had driven him to kill Devon, but had in the end found his continued existence intolerable. Maybe she'll know - Kara gets people better than he does. Probably him, too.

"I could not stand him," Moray says with a shrug. "I - view humans on two axes. Personal, professional. Devon has always been slime. And then he arranged a meet, would have slipped paying me, and tried to collar you for saying no. Weigh that against you - professionally, you have been competent, if frequently opposed. You do things that don't benefit you for what you believe in: the Ganger kid, this Vanessa. I respect this. And where previously I found your personality vile -"

His mouth purses, and he leans back further into the corner, slouched against the join, head thudding back to stare at nothing. "That's changed. A world in which you are chained to that filth's will because you said no, after he took a hostage? Instead of offering fair terms, or cultivating a better relationship? No."

Moray grimaces. "Even if he had - no. I obfuscate too much. There are checks and balances, but none to make that collar right. Never."
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Old 10-13-2018, 08:01 PM   #62
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And that was it? No endgame in mind, no bargaining chip, nothing. He had to have known she wouldn’t deign to show gratitude. Devon had simply overplayed his hand, and Moray had found him suddenly reprehensible.

And ended him.

The vividly colored eyes drift away from him, take in the lonely little bunker-before drifting back. She’s not sure he knows exactly why he did it. Kara can guess, but mostly-she’s never had anyone act without expecting something in return, or her having set the cards up to fall that way.

She hadn’t done anything to get stack Moray. Exist, apparently.

Kara’s right hand slowly reaches across her body, the petite mercenary purposefully telegraphing the movement-and touches his arm, her delicate fingers moving down to the wrist, curling around it. When he doesn’t growl or flip his shit, she lifts the arm and slides closer and under it. Nevermind if he tensed or not, she was there, her softer form pressed into the side of his hard one, radiating warmth. There’s a faint, pleasant scent clinging to her skin, her hair. Sweet but with a spice to it, not quite cinnamon but…

Kara doesn’t say anything. She’s not sure what she would say. As with so much else, she had had the impulse to touch him, and she followed it. She’s not sure why. She wasn’t really...or at least usually not someone who wanted to be held...maybe she just wanted to hold him.
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Old 10-13-2018, 08:49 PM   #63
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At the first touch Moray instinctively tenses, reaches for the hate-static and buzzing friction that's guided his entire life. He doesn't find it, and the realization leaves him slack as Kara slips under his arm and draws close, not a burning line but a calm warmth against his side. That warmth feels like rocks falling away from underneath his feet, leaving him without solid ground. Weightless, but for her grounding.

He doesn't know this.

He breathes in for long seconds, waiting for the return of his hateful tension. It doesn't come.

And, finally, his arm settles around Kara's shoulders instead, and he turns his head to nose into that red hair, seeking that faint, floral scent. Comfort he doesn't understand. Peace he's never known. The frothing, rabid animal in his deepest wreckage backs away and is gone from him. Even the iron certainty that forges Moray as he is feels empty. It's all gone, but this warmth and something too small for him to know it, carefully nestling in within his heart.

He doesn't know what to say. Doesn't think words will come here.

But for this, he knows all his choices have been vindicated. If he was confused before, he knows what direction he heads in now.
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Old 10-14-2018, 07:28 AM   #64
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The Next Day

“So I wasn’t willing to go out there for Devon. He was an ass. But you know, after sleepin’ on it, could be a pretty lucrative gig if his employer manages to track me down...and even if he doesn’t, probably enough loot there to make it worth it.”

Her mind is working out her next movements, what exactly she wants to do. Unlike the morning after camping out, she had been the first one up. She’s back to her flippant, cocky self, out for her own amusement and well paying adventures. Business as usual, it seemed like.

“I always figured on heading back out to Sierra Madre eventually. No stone unturned sorta thing.” She’s sorting through her bag, mostly for something to do with her hands while she talks.

“And you know, might as well check out Red Rock for Vanessa, see if she’s for real been kidnapped. I either get information on this Big Wig to track down for work or a job to go lookin’ for her. Both, if I’m lucky. If she’s there, then whoop de doo, Devon bluffed pretty good. Not that it mattered.” Right, she hadn’t cared about an absconded whore from an earlier shenanigan-what kind of attention span did people think she had, anyway? She’s got a lot going on without having to go backwards, thank you very much.

...God, she hopes she’s there.

“So.” She straightened. “I ain’t usually on this side of things but, given you’ve resigned from Devon’s employ-” Her euphemism was its own joke. “-and I might need the firepower; you suppose you might want to come with? Two on this are probably going to be better than one.”

That smirk is on her lips again as she slings the backpack over her shoulders, eyes all mischief and mirth. She props her hands on her hips. “Assuming you can stand working with me a second time, that is.”
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Old 10-14-2018, 02:44 PM   #65
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Moray checks the safeties on his carbine and shotgun, his ammo belts, and his belt knife in that order. Then he pulls out a map from his belt pouch and checks his current location (marks it with a little dot) and folds it back. Location confirmed and weapons secure, he glances at Kara, and takes her in anew - still a little dizzy from last night, that quiet embrace that had rocked so much of his bedrock philosophy. Still, he knows where he's going.

"Red Rock it is," he says, flat-eyed and even as ever, but after he climbs the ladder he turns and offers a hand down to Kara. "Come on, time's wasting."

For all her jokes and japes, this little red-haired woman has reached past everything to touch a secret heart he didn't even know he had. To know more about himself, Moray would follow her anywhere.

On the practical side, of course, she's still competent and it's highly unlikely Tenderheart will have any further work for him anyways, so it's not like he's sacrificing much.

"Oh," he says, after a moment. "Worth noting. I stole all of Devon's money. Hid it outside of town. It could be useful."

It had honestly slipped his mind, but he could see where over two thousand caps might be a useful thing to have around, especially when gearing up for a trip into a legendary death trap.
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Old 10-14-2018, 06:14 PM   #66
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He had reset too, seemed like. But he’d go, and Kara was glad for it. She’s never really traveled out with anyone but borrowed dogs and the occasional caravan-not for a loooong time-and it was odd to think on a partnership of sorts.

And whatever last night was. She doesn’t always have a lot of rhyme or reason to what she does, to be honest. Felt right though-and as he extended his hand down, Kara’s smirk shifted to one of those more genuine, small smiles again. She clasped the offered hand and he pulled her up the rest of the way easy.

She’s glad to see Hrolf a short distance away too.

Kara locked up and let the boards fall again. It was a handy little bolthole-she’d found a map in a radio bus to it, once. “Code’s 1536, you ever need it.” She shares companionably.

"Worth noting. I stole all of Devon's money. Hid it outside of town. It could be useful."

Kara about chokes, her brilliant eyes flaring wide. “You what?” The last word is strained through laughter. Someone advances Devon a crap ton of caps to find Sierra Madre for them, Devon in turn hires Moray to bring her to him, and then Moray kills him and makes off with the advance just so they could go themselves, for their own reasons.

That was hilarious. And the flat way Moray told it only made it more hilarious, and she can’t stop laughing. Devon was a stupid fuck, and THIS, this was just icing on his stupidity cake. “-c-cut out the m-middle man-” she manages to gasp before even more peals of laughter, a hand on her knee and the other holding her midsection.

Hrolf had ambled up and seemed just as confused as anybody might’ve been. Kara did have a reputation for being a little crazy. She had to be for some of the antics she was constantly engaged in.

“Oh-” Snrk. “Oh man, sorry-” She breathes as she finally straightens, swiping at the corners of her eyes. She wasn’t really, just aware she probably looked like a crazy person. She’s alright with that, though. “Whew!”

She gave a sharp tug on the front of her unzipped jacket, something that was beginning to look like a habit of finality for her. “I think that’d help, yeah.” So funny. “We’ll stop at my place too, before we go-ain’t wearing this out there, cept the jacket.” It was lucky, after all.

She’s got prewar bills tucked into three different interior pockets and the ‘pocket change’ caps loose in her pocket, plus the 40 percent pay from the Deathclaw job. She honestly hasn’t worried about caps in a long time, out here. Sierra Madre would be a bigger adventure though, she couldn’t travel as light as she usually did, not out there.

Honestly, they might not make it back. But that was about the same as anywhere, she supposes.
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Old 10-14-2018, 07:19 PM   #67
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Moray memorizes the code, then watches Kara crack up with flat eyes. "Shot him," he corrects, and then has to wait for the woman to finish laughing so that they can do useful things again. He doesn't get why it's funny, not really, but the sight of her so openly thrilled isn't a bad thing. He files the sight away for later. He'd like to see it again.

"Let's move," he says, disgruntled, and stalks ahead while Hrolf plays with a dead gecko.

~*~

They had picked up the caps from outside Tenderheart, hidden in an emptied-out cazador nest that Moray had clearly exterminated for this purpose, given that the bodies still hadn't quite dried out. With currency in hand, Moray directs them up the highway to the 188 Trading Post, where he parts the crowds with the ease of familiarity and long-established fear. Rather than proceed up to the overpass proper, he heads down under it, to a campfire where a batch of armed men laze around a caravan of brahmin, with one man in leathers directing the unloading of a crate.

"Alexander," Moray says, no louder than conversational, but the other man hears and turns with an upwards jerk of his head.

"Moray," he says in response, and looks over at Kara. He turns back to Moray without so much as a word.

"Going heavy for an op. I and my partner here need to gear up. Cost isn't an issue," Moray says, and the words bring a slash of a grin to the other man's face.

"Magic words, Moray," he replies, and gestures to the armed band of mercenaries, who begin to unpack the brahmin and bring out a truly dizzying array of weaponry, ordinance, and ammunition, all carefully packed and in gleaming condition. "The Gun Runners are always glad to do business with you."
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Old 10-14-2018, 08:14 PM   #68
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Kara would have probably skirted around the dangerous looking group on her lonesome-too much hurt on ‘em and what looked like more in tow. Strolling in the wake of her likewise looming companion she’s certainly relaxed enough, but she’s paying more attention than it’d appear at a glance.

They hop to it in a hurry when Moray addresses their boss, and Kara briefly wonders if the entire Mojave might be just a little wary-if not flat footed afraid-of him. Nobody asks what she’s doing there or gives her any other shit. That was nice.

But wait, the Gun Runners?! Oh, her ‘bestest gal pal’ Gloria would be pissed about that, no doubt. Snrk.

///////////////////////////////////////////////////

“What’s that one called?” She knows he’d recommended a shotgun the other night, but the last time she’d fired one of those, it had knocked her on her ass. She’d said as such too with a laugh-and an absent hand to the offended area, cause ouch.

Seemed like they were taking her size into account, pointing her in the direction of smaller arms she could conceal under her jacket if she wanted to. Definitely more her speed, particularly when she's slipping through vents and maintenance shafts. If they were going to get anywhere in that ghost town, she would have to get more fans going, clear some of that red fog.

“How many have you named?” It was like Kara to be more concerned with trivialities that didn’t much matter. “Oooh, what did they do with this Sauer?” The back end looked like the 14mm that she recognizes, but the barrel was shorter-which could be a handy thing. When things did turn to violence, she was usually up close, like with Lucas’ replacement.
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Old 10-14-2018, 08:55 PM   #69
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"That's the 5.56 pistol, fires a rifle round. Good punch, common ammo so you can usually find some sitting around." Moray replies absently, patting down the stock of a battle rifle before apparently thinking better of it. "These fog guys, did they have any kind of armor on? Just walking around in civvies, what?"

"Fog guys?" Alexander says amusedly.

"Making a run on the Sierra Madre," Moray says, to which the gun runner scoffs audibly. "Shit, I know, but it's a job. Apparently there's a bunch of people living there and some kind of fog. You got any rebreathers, air packs?"

"Coming right up," Alexander says, gesturing to one merc off to the side, who starts digging through a pack of neatly folded apparel. Meanwhile, he swings back over to Kara. "How many have I - woman, this is a gun shop, not a pet show. I don't fucking name my guns."

Moray, without looking up, points at a vicious little submachine gun set carefully in a case, with the word Sleepytyme etched into its stock.

"You shut the fuck up," Alexander says without any heat, and turns back to Kara. "Oh that's the - shit. It's a Sig 14mm rechambered in 12.7mm. Still a hell of a round, but snubnosed, concealable, and the short round means that it's still accurate out to about forty yards. Past that, not reliable, but this is a pistol, so you'd lose penetration at that range anyways."

"Check the handle to to see if it's named," Moray calls. Alexander throws up his hands.
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Old 10-14-2018, 09:32 PM   #70
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“Rubbery looking rad suits of a make I’ve never seen before.” Kara provides, distracted. Moray knew a lot about guns, which figured. The red head seems suitably impressed, however, considering the things he points out for longer than anything she picked up herself. “Come to think of it, in all that time I spent watching them, never saw any removal of the head gear.”

Like she had said-creepy. She doesn’t blame Alexander’s scoff. Moray brings up air packs which was something Kara doesn’t have back at home-but the rebreather she does. “I got one of 'em and I like it just fine, but you’d be outta luck.”

"How many have I - woman, this is a gun shop, not a pet show. I don't fucking name my guns."

Moray points, and Kara’s smirk is immediate, laughter in her eyes.

"Oh that's the - shit. It's a Sig 14mm rechambered in 12.7mm. Still a hell of a round, but snubnosed, concealable, and the short round means that it's still accurate out to about forty yards. Past that, not reliable, but this is a pistol, so you'd lose penetration at that range anyways."

“S’gonna break my wrist?” She grins at Moray’s suggestion and checks-a blink and the grin dropping off. Lil Devil.

“I’ll take it.” Kara says without hesitation, the grin returning in force. Fuckin’ A, and she thought Sleepytyme was good. She was pleased, to say the least.
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Old 10-14-2018, 09:57 PM   #71
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"375 caps for the gun, mags are 20 apiece," Alexander says, bringing Li'l Devil out and running a swift check of it; magazine, brass check, barrel sighting and rack test. Then he sets it on the counter and nods to Kara. "Caps first or no deal. Also, I don't do guarantees, but if it goes to shit and you make it back here within, call it two weeks, I'll do the repairs myself. No way the metal should strain that fast. That'd be a fault on the part of a GR smith, in which case fuck that guy. The Runners don't fuck around on business."

Moray hums in acknowledgement. He glances around at the array of weaponry and looks almost - disappointed. "My reserve come in?"

Alexander just grins, and gestures. One last box comes off the back of a brahmin, and the twin locks are undone. What comes out is a heavy, lethal-looking gun with oiled wood and fine-machined steel stained matte black, a slot for a box magazine and a folding stock, shoulder rest, and offhand grip. A laser sight is mounted underneath a barrel grilled with heat vents.

"One 5.56 light machine gun," Alexander says with relish. Even the mercenaries are looking at this piece; one whistles softly. "Technically, not even a gun. The NCR counts these as emplacements, these days. You're lucky you're on the shortlist, buddy."

"So I am," Moray says. He hasn't looked away from the LMG. Instead, he reaches into his backpack and produces Devon's case, which he slaps down and opens. The insets are full, and more have been carefully cut out - rows upon rows of caps gleam in the case. A quick glance over them and multiplied by the number of rows gives a ridiculous number: there's thirty-two hundred caps in this case.

Alexander nods, eyes gleaming as he closes the case and hands it to one of his men. "Always good doing business with you, Moray."

In exchange, the heavy weapons case is hefted up to Moray, and he takes it with the care of a man holding his newborn son. "So it is, Alexander. Last things last. Ammo."

The Gun Runner nods. There's an almost lazy expression on his face now. That deal probably made him more than he does in a month. After that, everything is boring. "5.56 box magazines, 40 a pop. Shells for your shotgun are still 3 a shell, you know the deal. Arm up and I'll cash you out."
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Old 10-14-2018, 11:13 PM   #72
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Kara’s got a little extra pep her in step as they continue on their way. At some distance she turns around to walk backwards and give an enthusiastic, full armed wave at the Gun Runners. More than one awkwardly lift a hand and wave back, only to be sneered at by their contemporaries.

As usual, Kara was amused.

Her eyes cut to Moray, trotting forward to fall into step beside him. A sideways, slightly narrowed glance, her usual smirk. “So…” Here it comes.

“Gonna introduce me to your new girlfriend?” Cat eating the canary satisfaction from the petite mercenary.
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Old 10-14-2018, 11:32 PM   #73
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Moray, with the LMG slung over his shoulder in a special-made sling, doesn't even flinch. "Only one I'll ever have that carries its own weight," he replies, perfectly even. In this moment, he is zen. "I give her bullets, she gives me dead bodies. Meanwhile, you're busy trying to pet wild animals and escaped prisoners. Pardon me if one is more enticing than the other."

He's in too good of a mood to really be bothered, though. Even Hrolf has come out of his usual barely-in-sight stalk to trot along maybe thirty feet away from them, sniffing the new scents they've brought.

On the other hand, this is a game he doesn't know how to play. Kara's probably traded jokes and jibes since she was a kid. That's not his territory. If he's going to learn - and he'll have to since she's not about to change that - might as well get into the pool.
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Old 10-15-2018, 12:19 AM   #74
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Kara seems to like the attempt.

“That sounds more like a lady of the night than a girlfriend.” She grins. “‘Sides, where’s the fun in always getting exactly what’s expected this time and every time? Variety is the spice of life, my violent friend.” And she winks at him.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Red Rock Canyon. Kara hopes, badly wants to believe Vanessa might still be here.

“Alright. I’d appreciate you not mentioning me being friendly with the NCR. That’d probably sour things in a hurry, and I’d like to walk away without a massacre or something, ya know?”

The Khans know Kara, and Kara knows the Khans. She’d gotten acquainted returning Vanessa-and then decently appreciated after winning a fistfight with someone handsy. She’d fought dirty, of course-and that was the end of that.

“This time, I really do have friends ahead-you uh, you been?” She’s not sure he’s been. A lot of people think of the Khans as savages, which Kara doesn’t feel is a very fair assessment. They were tough and always looking for a fight sure, but for what were essentially a group of civilized raiders, they were survivors eeking out an honest living just like the rest of ‘em, and having a rough time of it. Kara always did feel for the underdog.

And well, honest if you didn’t think too much about the drugs. Still, better than swooping in and taking everything off of others, and killing women and children while you’re at it.
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Old 10-15-2018, 12:41 AM   #75
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Moray shrugs. "I haven't actually done business with the Khans before. They don't have a lot of liquid assets and from what I hear they kill most of their own problems themselves, so I just never bothered to come down here."

He can respect that sort of independence. The drug trade isn't a dealbreaker for him either; injecting is a personal choice and he doesn't care what people do in their own time. Forcibly injecting people and addicting them is entirely another issue, but so far as he knows the Khans tend to just kill people instead, and he has no grounds to complain about that.

He adjusts the sling of the LMG, still a little giddy at feeling its solid weight bearing down on his shoulders, and then nods to his companion. "You've got the rep here; you lead. I'll follow your call. Try not to start any gunfights this time."

A slash of a smile, and he gestures to Hrolf, who pads up alongside them. "I've still got some trail jerky; feed him some of it on occasion. If this lot's still in good with the Legion, then having one of their dogs following you around is probably a good look. Try not to mention I killed his whole squad."
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