As things would turn out, they hadn't been as close to throwing down with the Powder Gangers as Toby had anticipated when they secured Sunny Smiles’ assistance. Speaking with her quickly led to the Goodsprings local recommending they gather even more support from the town before facing down the escaped convicts, a task that he and Quinn had split amongst themselves. At this rate, with all the extra preparations they were making last-minute, he was hoping they wouldn't be fighting the Powder Gangers at night. If they were, he’d be near completely useless.
He’d been in charge of getting Trudy’s support, and some first aid supplies from Doc Mitchell, while Quinn volunteered to talk the local merchant into supplying more guns and ammo for potential combatants, as well as getting explosives from Easy Pete. Luckily, Tobias hadn't found either of his tasks particularly difficult, as Trudy was sick of the Powder Gangers throwing their weight around and was happy to try and talk more settlers into fighting back, and, while he didn’t have much to spare, the town’s doctor was glad to give Toby what supplies he could. The Courier hoped it would be more than enough, provided they managed to chase the escaped convicts off, or that his insane streak of good luck didn't suddenly wear off.
Now, he was waiting for Quinn at Trudy’s bar, finally enjoying the glass of water he had wanted more or less since waking up that morning. Though lukewarm and tasting faintly dusty, it was the best thing he’d tasted all day - though there wasn't much competition there. He stared into his glass absently, scenarios of the soon-to-come confrontation playing in his head, though he had no real way of knowing how the two sides would likely fare until his new companion returned.
Meeting Sunny Smiles had been the best thing that had happened to Quinn all day. Not because of the woman herself, but because of the patchy mutt that she had with her. It had growled at the two strangers at first, but once Sunny had called it off, Cheyenne was perfectly friendly and let Quinn scratch her behind the ears. After that, the pale haired young woman was only half listening to what Toby and Sunny discussed, far more interested in the canine bumping her hand with its nose. She was sure Toby could give her a summary when they were finished, and hardly spoke up. Her input probably wouldn’t be very helpful anyway.
After they parted ways with the woman and her dog, Toby filled her in and they split the task of obtaining aid from the townsfolk. As she had no desire to speak with Trudy and the fact Toby would have better luck with Doc Mitchell, she didn’t argue with obtaining guns and explosives. She decided to see about the guns first, and headed over to the general goods store. Neither she nor the man she spoke to seemed too keen on formalities, and since she certainly wasn’t the most eloquent of speakers, it took a little more persuading and invoking a few local names to convince the store owner to donate a few weapons to the cause. On the other hand, getting explosives from Easy Pete had been easier than she had thought. She was more experienced with computer science and robotics, but had handled a few explosives in her day, and her knowledge on how to properly use them was what secured her the dynamite.
Satisfied and happy with her success, she headed back to the Saloon, and had no trouble spotting Tobias at the bar. She seated herself next to him and pushed her hood down as she stated, “We’ve got guns and dynamite.”
If Tobias had been able to get the aid he needed, which she was sure he had, then this whole fiasco could be over pretty quickly. Then they could proceed with finding the chip and the bastard who stole it from the unfortunate courier. And maybe she could get some answers to some questions she had had for years.
Tobias looked towards the door when he heard it swing open, his face lighting up the moment he recognized Quinn. “So, how’d it go?”
he greeted her, a small, supportive grin appearing on his face when she reported her success. “Fantastic! Thank you again for helping me with soliciting favors from the townsfolk - I don’t think I would've gotten anywhere with Easy Pete or the other fellow myself, to be honest. With their help, we might even be able to chase those convicts off just by appearances.”
He paused, taking a sip of water before sharing the good news of his own. “Doc’s pitched in with some extra medical supplies that we hopefully shouldn't have to use, and I got Trudy to spread the word to the other townsfolk that we’re finally going to chase the Powder Gangers off. A few people have already stepped up and volunteered to join us. I’m thinking we’re as well prepared as we can ever be. Ready to get this thing over with?”
Quinn gave him a mildly confused look at his enthusiastic praise before shrugging and half smiling awkwardly. ”Um, yeah, neato,”
she replied, then immediately mentally kicking herself. She wasn’t exactly accustomed to such a response for completing what she viewed as a very basic task. Thankfully he moved on quickly, informing her that he had, in fact, garnered the aid of the Doc and Trudy. It sounded like this would be over fairly quickly, with the numbers and the weapons they had. A couple of disorganized escaped convicts wouldn’t stand a chance.
Her smile turned roguish, the brow over her ruined eye arching when he asked her if she was ready. ”Sons-a-bitches won’t know what hit ‘em,”
she replied, cracking her wrapped knuckles and getting to her feet once more. She had never been much of a talker, but she had been a fighter since she was small. She couldn’t shoot long distance worth a damn, courtesy of missing half her field of vision, but she could hit most things at close quarters, and thanks to an old friend, she had a mean right hook. “Right, okay.”
Now it was Toby’s turn to be taken aback slightly, as if only just realizing he was about to fight real, actual people. Don’t even start thinking about it that way. I’m sure we can scare at least some of them out.
He was getting the feeling that the others were much more accustomed to fighting and killing than he was - or at least more than he was now. Had he ever killed before? He couldn't actually recall. His childhood had been void of any real confrontations with people, and with his recent memory gone, there was no way for him to know for certain. Either way, he hoped he had not, and that he wouldn't have to start today, even if their enemies were escaped convicts who had likely done some bad things to earn their criminal status.
Just then, Trudy walked up to them, dressed in leather combat armor that contrasted hilariously with her age and more matronly appearance. “Thought I’d let you two know that it looks like Joe and his boys are on their way up. Ringo and Sunny are already out and waiting on the porch.”“Alright,”
Toby breathed deeply, trying to mentally prepare himself for the rapidly approaching gunfight. He hoped he could shoot straight with the weapon Quinn had given him. He hadn’t had time to practice with this pistol, and it felt slightly wrong in his grip. He chugged the remainder of the water in his cup, setting down the glass before sliding off the barstool. “Let’s make these felons sorry they ever tried to throw their weight around here.”
Quinn hesitated for a moment when she notice Tobias’s apprehension. He didn’t seem so sure about this, which puzzled her. Didn’t he want
to get rid of the powder gangers? They were terrorizing the town, after all. Not that she had any love for these people, but she had a deeper hate of fear mongers who threatened others into submission to get what they wanted. She didn’t have time to comment, however, as Trudy entered, quite literally dressed to kill. While Quinn had decided that she didn’t like the older woman, she could respect her for answering the call to fight. She informed them that it appeared the Powder Gangers seemed to be assembling outside of town before exiting the bar.
Before she moved to follow, she paused to wait for Toby, watching him silently as he finished his drink then got to his feet. ”Hey,”
she reached out and put a hand firmly on his shoulder, stopping him, ”You gonna be alright there, Swiss Cheese?”
she asked, furrowing her brow at him. He had, after all, just recovered from an extremely serious head injury and might not be up for a shootout at the moment. She wouldn’t blame him if he sat out, though judging from what little she had seen of his character thus far, she didn’t seem him backing down. She made a mental note to keep an eye on him. She had just gone to all this trouble yanking him out of an early grave, no use with him ending up six feet under for the second time in 24 hours.
Tobias was surprised when Quinn pulled him aside, sounding genuinely concerned as she asked him if he was up to this fight. He paused, knowing sharing his own misgivings about his ability to kill would do nothing, except possibly give the current only capable fighter of the two something to worry about - and there was no reason for doing that. “Yes, I think so,”
he answered resolutely, “After all, I volunteered us in the first place. Though I didn't initially expect it to turn into this, it’s only right that I continue to be involved.”
Satisfied with his answer, Quinn left it at that and nodded. ”Right,”
she moved on, heading for the door, ”Then let’s give these fuckers a taste of their own medicine.”
She had been getting into scrapes just like this and worse ever since she could remember. These powder gangers were no different from any of the other raiders she had put down. Hopefully this would be over swiftly.
She pushed the door open and stepped out into the heat of the day, tying her hair back into a ponytail to keep it out of her eye. There was a respectable group of people gathered, Chet passing out guns and ammo to the folks who had volunteered to drive them off. Even Ringo had crawled out of his hole to lend a hand. Although, she saw no sign of Victor. She would have run off to fetch him, but Sunny Smiles approached her with a cloth bag. “Here’s the dynamite Easy Pete promised you,”
she said, offering the strap to Quinn, “You sure you know how to use em?”
She asked, raising an eyebrow at the pale haired young woman. “Yeah,”
Quinn replied as she accepted the explosives, “I’d rather not chuck em unless I have to,”
she added, reaching down to pat Cheyenne, who had trotted over to sniff the duster that she wore.
Any further conversation was cut short when Trudy pointed toward the road and announced, “Here they come. Y’all get ready.”
Quinn promptly hung the bag over her shoulders and traded it for the laser rifle strapped across her back, making sure it was loaded and the safety was off. Over the past month, she had avoided confrontation when possible, since she was traveling alone. But now with backup, she felt more comfortable getting into this gunfight. She glanced over at Tobias to see how he was faring. She had decided she would try to stick close to him if possible. over at Tobias, and while he had said that he’d be fine, she had made up her mind to stick close to him if at all possible.
It was clear the Powder Gangers weren’t fixing to talk things out, either, as a few of them were wearing kevlar vests in various states of disrepair, and many had clusters of grenades or dynamite attached at their belts, as well as a couple pistols and makeshift machetes. The people of Goodsprings were a bit better equipped, but Toby had no idea how good they were in fights - he now considered that the convicts might
just have the upper hand in this fight. He couldn't afford to start thinking pessimistically now, though, so he focused on priming his borrowed weapon, trying to ignore how unaccustomed he was to its grip.
He started to try and aim at one of the approaching figures, hands shaking slightly despite himself, when suddenly something flung from their side caught his attention.
!” Someone shouted, and with a jolt Tobias realized it was aimed right his way. “Oh jeez!”
Tobias exclaimed with a mixture of surprise and fear as he dove behind a very conveniently located stack of Sunset Sarsparilla boxes, hitting the ground somewhat hard before attempting to roll further away from the landing site of the explosive.
Shards of wood and glass blasted into the air before coming down in an unpleasant rain over the Courier, who was once again out in the open. Adrenalin was coursing through him now, his heart pounding violently against his ribcage as he realized how stupidly lucky he’d been. His ears were ringing too somewhat from the blast, and he had a feeling that wasn't going to go away for a bit. He shook off as much debris as he could from his arms and hair as he got to his feet, knowing that staying in one place too long without cover would definitely
get him killed.
As soon as Quinn deemed them close enough, she raised her rifle and aimed at the chest of one of the convicts, squeezing the trigger and sending a red laser flying straight for him. She missed her initial target, but the blast did strike the man in the leg, causing him to yelp and duck for cover. Before she could fire again, someone yelled, and she looked up to see a stick of dynamite sailing right for them. She bolted to the side and leapt behind a rusted pile of scrap metal that had once been a motorcycle, the explosion behind her causing her to hiss venomously, “Motherfucker!”
She wasn’t sure if anyone had been affected by the shrapnel, and she didn’t stop to check, instead reach into the bag that Sunny Smiles had given her and withdrawing her own bomb. She peaked over the bike she was hiding behind to spot the closest Powder Ganger, eyeing the explosives hooked to his belt. Oh yeah, this was gonna be good. After lighting the fuse, she stood up and hurled the explosive at him. ”Eat shit, dickhead!”
she yelled just after the bomb connected with the ground, and the horrified convict realized too late what was happening. The blast not only knocked the guy flat, effectively killing him, but set off the explosives he had strapped to himself as well, a cacophony of thunderous booms destroying anything close to it and injuring another Powder Ganger in the process.
Quinn was feeling very pleased with herself until she realized that she had made herself a target, the remaining thugs who had avoiding getting blown to kingdom come now zeroing in on where she stood. ”Aw hell,”
she mumbled, dropping back behind cover and shielding her head with her hands as a rain of bullets pinged against the metal and ricocheted off to God knows where. No doubt they were going to start hurling more bombs, so she was going to have to move fast if she didn’t want to join her unlucky victim.
In that time, Toby had retrieved the gun he’d dropped while ducking behind cover and booked it towards another stack of crates not too far from him, trying to evaluate the scene in spite of his vision being a bit blurrier than usual. He had turned his attention to the fight just in time to see someone - Quinn, he recognized her by her light-colored hair - throw a stick of dynamite at one of the more heavily equipped powder gangers, who shortly after exploded quite thoroughly. Suppressing the urge to vomit at that gory display, he then noticed that the majority of the Powder Gangers were now turning their attention to her.
Concern rushed through him as, suddenly, the awkward grip of the pistol didn't matter anymore, and he brought it up and aimed at the closest convict. He pulled the trigger. His target let out a long string of swears as they dropped their weapon, their dominant arm bleeding heavily and completely useless. “Fuck this!” The injured Powder Ganger exclaimed as they attempted to find cover themselves, only to get headshot-ted by someone else on his side.
He couldn't focus long on that, however, as a bullet whizzed past his cheek, close enough he could feel the heat of it. “Woah!”
He jerked back behind the cover of the boxes, not quite feeling confident enough to shoot again. He had their attention again, something he probably should have considered before acting.
Quinn picked up her rifle once more, waiting until the sound of bullets striking iron ceased before peeking over her hiding place in time to watch another Powder Ganger go down. She brought her weapon up and aimed at another, though this time she missed when he dodged behind a wrecked car. She cursed under her breath before taking a quick moment to survey the chaos. She realized that she couldn’t see Tobias, which was troubling since he had seemed so unsure in the first place. ”Hey, Toby, you still alive?”
she yelled over the noise, using this time to light another stick of dynamite and hurl it into the bed of the long abandoned pickup truck, the explosion blasting the back end to smithereens and the flying debris striking various Powder Gangers that had seen her throw the bomb. She was praying for an answer, ducking down again as more bullets rocketed in her direction, nearly striking the top of her head as she did so. She wouldn’t say she was attached to the courier, but she did feel some degree of personal responsibility for him, and would hate to have to drag him back to Doc Mitchell’s a second time.
Before she could receive an answer or reload her rifle, a less than happy Joe Cobb rounded the corner of her motorbike, rage contorting his features as he lunged at her with machete raised. It made sense that he had targeted her location, since she had been the one throwing the dynamite, and she hadn’t seen him coming since he snuck up on her blind side. She rolled from her crouch just in time to dodge the blow, instinctively reaching for the hunting knife at her belt, but he tackled her before she could do so. Now it was a war of who could get the machete first, both their hands on the hilt wrestling for control, Quinn on her back and losing the battle of strength quickly.
Toby barely made out the sound of Quinn asking him something, and was about to reply as he peeked out of his cover when he saw Cobb advancing on her. Before he knew what he was doing, he bolted from safety and over to the two, both of whom were currently on the ground wrestling for control, unaware of the few bullets whizzing past him. With Cobb’s back towards him, the courier had the advantage, though, not wanting to miss and possibly hit Quinn, he wasn't about to shoot. Bringing up the butt of the borrowed pistol sharply, he brought it down on the back of Cobb’s exposed head with a resounding crack, putting his full strength into the blow. Joe slumped forward, his grip on Quinn loosening.
With the lead Powder Ganger no longer posing a threat, and the others dead or demoralized enough to leave,Tobias pulled Cobb’s dead weight off Quinn and offered her a hand. “You alright?”
With a slightly shaky laugh, he added, “Let’s try not to repeat this sort of thing anytime soon, if that’s possible. I could barely see a thing.”
Joe had managed to press the machete to Quinn’s cheek, the young woman using every last ounce of strength to keep him from pushing it through her face. Then suddenly, the Powder Gagner wen limp, the machete falling to the side and his form slumping on top of her. She froze for a second, confused, before the body was yanked to the side to reveal Tobias, who was thankfully alive and well, his hand extended toward her. She cracked a grateful smile as she reached up and accepted the offer for help, getting to her feet. “Yeah, I’m okay, thanks,”
she said, nodding in agreement with his following statement, “Neither could I,”
she added, humor in her tone as she lifted her hand to tap the area under her scarred eye. She withdrew it and noticed crimson on her fingertips, and touching her cheek again, realized Cobb had managed to cut her cheek with the machete.
She turned to look down at the unconscious Joe and scowled, delivering a rough kick to his ribs as she muttered under her breath, “Asshole.”
A part of her want to just cut his throat, but the little bit of honor she did have wouldn’t let her kill him while he was clearly defeated. “Well,”
she said, surveying the damage they had done to the street, the Goodsprings citizens walking around to inspect the fallen convicts, “Looks like those dirtbags won’t be coming back any time soon.”
Toby cracked a brief smile when Quinn remarked upon her own blindness, adding into it in an attempt to create some levity, “Well, at least together we make one functioning pair of eyes. Sort of.”
It was then his eyes flicked to the cut on Quinn’s cheek, and concern flooded back into his eyes, but he figured she wasn't the kind of person who’d appreciate it being mentioned if she had already insisted she was fine. Instead, he turned his attention to the carnage and destruction that had just been wrought, feeling a bit ill as it sunk in how many people they'd just killed. There seemed to be a few injuries on their end, but no casualties among the Goodsprings citizens, which he was happy about, but he couldn't help but feel slightly guilty that people had gotten hurt because of him. “Yeah. Sure showed them, huh.”
He’d meant that to come out more light-hearted, but his voice betrayed him.
Quinn looked back at Tobias when he joked about their collective blindness, an amused smile crossing her face as she rolled her eyes and let that be her reply. She used the back of her glove to wipe the blood off her face, though she would have to assess the damage later. For now, she paused again, noticing that her newfound companion didn’t seem as excited as she was about their victory, his tone almost… guilty. That made her wonder how often he had actually been in fights like this, and judging by the grimace he was trying to conceal, it hadn’t been many. She said nothing, however, it wasn’t her business. Besides, these guys had deserved it.
Luckily for Toby, he wasn't left much more time to reflect on the more gruesome part of the aftermath as Ringo approached them, beaming like he’d just won the lottery. “I owe you two a huge
favor for this,” he began, handing a bag of caps over to the courier. “I'm glad we could help-”
Toby began, but cut off when the man grabbed his open hand enthusiastically and shook it, starting to do the same to Quinn but seeming to think he ought to do otherwise at the last second.
“These are technically Crimson Caravan funds, but I know they’ll understand once I explain things. If you're ever in New Vegas, feel free to look me up - I can pay you two the rest then. Thanks again for all your help!”“Um, okay.”
The slightly overwhelmed courier remarked mostly to himself as the caravaneer walked off, looking over at Quinn to gauge her reaction.
Quinn turned her head when she heard Ringo approach, silently watching the exchange between the two men. Whether it was the look of distaste on her face, the blood all over her hands, or the fact that he just didn’t like her, she found it rather amusing that Ringo hesitated to shake her hand before deciding against the action altogether. She hadn’t exactly expected the guy to reward them for their efforts, so she was pleased that he had handed over a healthy cut.
She waited until Ringo walked off before saying to Toby, ”I guess this means we can be off. Only-”
she paused, and frown as she looked down the street, ”I wonder where Victor is.”
The robot had promised to aid them in their confrontation with the Powder Gangers, but there had been no sign of him.
(Collab: Part 4)