Where to Go?
Cass sighed, fanning herself with her hat. "We should have never let Six get his hands on that camera."
Boone looked up from his lunch only for a second. "It was your idea to visit Angelo's workshop."
"And I regret it every day." After taking another swig of her moonshine, Cass looked out toward the giant Gecko – dinosaur, it was a dinosaur. Six really liked to make it a point that everyone in the group called it a dinosaur.
Novac was a quaint little town, a small population compared to some of the other settlements Cass has come across. On her first visit to Novac, a part of her grew fretful of the few inhabitants with the Legion pushing west. Even Boone mentioned his concern when he was on guard duty, especially after the Legion took Nelson. Nevertheless, folks found a way to get by contently. Maybe it had something to do with the increased NCR patrols, or more traders coming through since those Deathclaws and Cazadores overran I-15. Whatever the reason, people weren't stressing over the Legion that intensely anymore.
Except the former NCR soldiers, and No-bark, but the latter was a nut, so he didn't really count.
"You gonna finish those eggs?" Boone asked, flipping a finger toward Cass's plate. She shook her head, and he helped himself.
The two had taken residence in the tent set up around the center of Novac. A few other settlers were having their lunch on the other side of the table. Six and Veronica were off doing god knows what with that camera by the dino. Raul ran into a scientist, Chris something, and wandered off with him. Arcade was on repair duty, fixing up some of the gang's broken gear, with ED-E. Lily was with No-bark of all people, and Rex had stayed with the only pair of NCR citizens within the group.
Cass scratched Rex's backside, the dog whimpering slightly from where he lay. He was still healing from a run-in with a fire ant, greatly worrying Six, but Arcade said the cyborg would be fine.
"Who do you think he's going to choose?"
The sniper, finished with his meal, regarded his companion. She had a faraway look on her face. "Who do you mean?"
"Six," Cass clarified, setting down her hat. "Which side do you think he's going to go for?"
It was a private matter debated regularly by the more humanoid members in the group. Six could act like a little kid at times, like a cynical mass-murderer at others. Most times, however, he was usually an honest, good-hearted thieving mercenary. A mercenary that protected his friends with a strong passion. His loyalties with the big factions fighting over Hoover Dam, however, was a bit of a mystery.
For a time, Six was a slave in Caesar's Legion. He never gave much detail of his stay. He did let it slide that he grew to respect how disciplined and dedicated the Legion was to their work, no matter how sick and wrong that work was.
The NCR ended up liberating that slave camp Six was in. You'd think he'd support the New California Republic, but, in, his words, "I don't have much against the NCR, but I don't trust their leadership. Kimball and Oliver are asses from what I've heard."
Six had his reasons for not siding with the Legion or the NCR. That left House.
No one in the group trusted House. He planned and waited hundreds of years so that he could basically, as Veronica put it, "take over the world with an army of sex-bots." Arcade has said that House could be the strong government that New Vegas and Freeside needs to enforce the peace, but he'd rather have an actual person or committee overseeing the region, not a practically faceless king. Even Lily mentioned to Six to be careful around House.
But Six keeps saying that a man that old must have a plan that's worth finishing if he's lived for so long. As if House hasn't gone senile or has a hidden agenda he isn't willing to share.
House seemed to be the likely person Six would stick to. While Six didn't convey the message that he trusted or liked House, there was a degree of respect that he couldn't hide when he spoke of him. Six still did favors for the NCR from time to time.
Arcade's suggested that they, the gang, just take over. Six has access to House, so he can find a way to get rid of House. Unite the native towns and smaller factions, like the Kings and Boomers, to form a proper civilization instead of a wasteland. Six is already on the Kings' and Boomers' good sides, but everyone took Arcade's ramblings as just that, ramblings.
It did make them think, though.
"Six won't side with the Legion," Boone firmly said in his usual grave voice. One has to wonder if he formed even a ghost of a goodhearted smile in his life. "They're slavers and rapists. Six wouldn't stay loyal with them, not after everything."
It took a week for Boone and Arcade to trust enough Six to do some undercover work and play along with the Legion. Six had to get into House's bunker somehow, and he got to personally get to know the big people in charge of the Legion, even Caesar himself.
That didn't stop him from following Vulpes out of the Fort, resisting orders to kidnap and rape a family of farmers, and hanging Vulpes' body right in the middle of a Legion slave camp with the some help from Lily.
"Even if the Caesar still wanted him," Boone continued, "Six would just go back with a Fat Man and kill everyone."
Cass nodded. "Good point."
"It's still a toss between House and the NCR. Six has done a lot of favors for the NCR, but he was never a citizen. He might stay independent, work for House."
All speculation. "Well, either way, maybe we can finally get some patrols cleaning up the raiders and critters on the main highways once this is all over." Traders and couriers are what keep a sense of wide-spread civilization running in this mess of a wasteland. "Whether its NCR or Securitrons, as long as people can roam the roads without being targeted."
Cass leaned toward the NCR a lot more than House, but Cass owed Six for helping her find out the truth behind the destroyed caravans, the Van Graffs, and the Crimson Caravan. Six proved he wasn't an insane sociopath, most of the time. If Six stuck around with House and made all of the NCR's efforts to annex the Mojave obsolete, she could live with that. Worst case, she can settle somewhere in Vegas if things are worse off back home.
Boone picked up their plates and placed them on a pile of used plates and utensils nearby. He picked up a rag and began to wipe off some of the crumbs. Cass finished her moonshine and placed her hat back on. She would have got up and helped Boone with the dishes if Rex hadn't suddenly jumped up and barked. ED-E made an appearance with his beeps and defiance against gravity. Rex ran around the Eyebot.
"Something you need, little guy?" Cass blamed Six's influence for making her nickname the bot and unwillingly form an attachment to it. She never in her life expected to care for a floating hunk of metal, especially when she had called it a such on the day Six had first joined her for a drink.
ED-E beeped and bopped and all those kinds of noises. He faced its side to Cass and moved toward her and back in the direction of the motel. It did so repeatedly before levitating away to it. Rex followed.
"What's happening?" Boone asked as he approached Cass from behind. He was wiping his hand with a rag.
"I'm guessing Six called for a meeting." Cass pointed a finger toward Raul and Arcade walking side by side through the motel's gate.
The local motel featured a single building with multiple rooms for rent and three separate bungalows. One such bungalow was one Six's many safe houses across the Mojave Wasteland, and that was where the "Courier Six's Gang of Misfits" awaited with Six in the can.
Arcade came up with the name. Six made it stick.
Something was wrong with Veronica. She usually as talkative as ever before these meetings. Now, though, the hooded young woman sat on the couch without a word. Cass was about to question her odd silence when the swirl of a flushing toilet resounded and Six exited the bathroom.
"The toilet didn't overflow, did it, Boss?" Raul asked leaning against a wall beside Boone and Lily. "My knees are stills sore from kneeling so much to get that fixed."
Six ignored the question. He turned on a lamp on the coffee table and placed something beside it. The light illuminated what seemed to be a small pass card, the one used in corporate buildings with thousands of terminals.
"And what is that?" Arcade chimed in, filching up the card. The blond raised an eyebrow. "Lucky 38 VIP Keycard," he read out off the worn piece of metal.
"I'm killing House," Six said plainly. Everyone looked to him, shocked, and Cass was happy she wasn't the only one with her jaw dropping slightly. "That card will let me get to his body. His real body."
"What?" Arcade gasped incredulously before glaring. "You know how to kill House? You've been keeping this from us? How long have you –"
"Since the Tops. Yes Man gave me everything I needed."
The good medical man obviously wanted to give Six a rather fierce third degree, but Raul interjected before he could. "Why are we going against him, Boss? What changed your mind?" No one bothered to object at the use of the word "we."
Six bit his lip, the telltale sign of nervousness for him. "House wants me to blow up the Brotherhood bunker."
Now Cass got an idea why Veronica was so quiet. Six and Veronica were pretty much best friends and had the closest relationship than anyone else in the gang, and it had been a week since Six had last met with House. While it greatly bothered her that Six had been keeping such a big secret, she had to think what must have gone on in his head.
"And you're not going to," Boone stated, never breaking his gaze to Six.
"No." Six was silent for a moment. He took in a deep breath. "I don't want to kill any of them. They don't deserve to die just because House isn't willing to let another tech-savvy army not be dead or under his control."
"You sure you want to take the fight against House?" Cass said. Six was sweating. "What happened to him being stubborn enough to have a mission worth finishing?"
"That doesn't matter." Six turned to Arcade. "You want an independent Vegas, right?" He didn't let the Follower answer. Six swiped back the keycard and shoved a compact book against Arcade's chest. "I've been taking notes in my journal. Look through, and see if you can come up with a plan for your revolution."
Arcade appeared dumbfounded. "How long have you planning?"
"A long fucking time." Six looked to Cass, and then to Boone. "I don't want the NCR taking over everything."
"So is it all for you?" Boone asked quietly, arms still folded but back straight. "You're taking Hoover Dam and the Mojave for yourself?"
"Not for myself," Six scoffed. "I'm taking the Mojave, and Hoover Dam, and giving them to the people who are actually living in the goddamn Mojave, not to a crappy government."
Boone certainly supported his Republic, but he wasn't patriotic enough to argue with Six, not after Bitter Springs. He grunted before saying, "Whatever you want. As long as I get to kill Legion and we don't go to war with the NCR, Vegas can stay independent for all I care."
Lily and Raul said something along the same lines. Arcade and Veronica were still mute, Arcade reading intently and Veronica staring off into space. Cass was eyeing Six closely, trying to spot something. She had no idea what she was really looking for.
"What about you, Cass?" Six questioned. All eyes turned to her. "We're going for an independent Vegas. Fuck House, fuck the Legion, and screw the NCR. What's say you?"
Cass and Six were both frowning. Cass was unsure, indecisive. She could tell that Six was nervous about, well, a lot of things, but most importantly, he was worried about losing Cass as a friend. Because Six was really big on friendship and loyalty. He still beats himself every day for letting Ringo, some Crimson Caravan trader Six occasionally visited, lost his life during a Legionnaire assassination attempt. They were after Six and the gang, and Ringo got caught in the crossfire.
"I'm out of the caravan business," Cass finally said, "and I'm all out of friends, except you guys. Staying with you is better than heading back to California."
Six smiled, as did Veronica and a few others. Boone was not among them, of course, but he nodded discreetly when Cass looked in his direction.
"Alright," Six snapped his fingers, holding up the keycard in his other hand. "We've got planning. I drew a map, somewhere. Let me…"
Sticking around with the gang of misfits has to be better than dying from her heart problems in an old family home that no one lives in. If Cass is going to die, she might as well have her last few moments by friends, no matter how annoying they can be.
At the end of their planning session, those who could shared a round of moonshine.