Darkness hung thick from the rafters of the tavern, pushing back the light created by the old electrical lights barely hanging on the wall. The normal volume of sound was muted, as there was a smaller than usual crowd in the tavern this evening. Whispers were on everyone's lips.“Did you hear about the Militia? Wiped out to the last, heard the town didn’t get them what they needed.”“What did they expect?! When has the council ever done anything!”, a young Remnant snarled, the venom dripping from their voice. Upon hearing that a Retro slammed down their mug and drew a wickedly sharp scrap skewer on the Remnant. Taken aback by the violence of the action, the Remnant managed to get the words without a stutter. “Easy there rotty what’s your beef?!”“We’re not dead!”, the Retro fired back. “I’m so sick of hearing that. We’re out there dieing for you ass holes, and you act like we don’t even exist!”“Well how should I know!”, the Remnant replied, his demeanor turning defiant and righteous again. “It’s not like you got uniforms like those fucking Steel Works bastards.”“Fuck you guys!” The retro turned and stormed out, disappearing in the darkness.“Well they certainly weren’t part of the Militia,” the Remnant smirked.Thier companion looked at them and drunkenly slurred, “How could ya tell?”The Remnant replied, as they looked at their friend with eyes full of mirth, “Simple. That double bagger actually had a weapon.”__________“Oh, do you see it? Right over there!” a young girl whispered excitedly.The califia poppy stuck out from between the ground and the building, defiantly growing despite the lack of water. It’s petals formed a pretty wreath around the large bulb that most producers in town would love to get their hands on.Her mother trained her eyes from the girl’s pointed finger to the flower. “That’s a good find, Gigi!” They both walked over the the plant, the girl carefully picking it from the hardened dirt and placing it in her large hip bag. They had been scrounging for the last hour before the sun rose from the crest of mountains to the east. “We’ll get that to your brother to make into a nice paste to help when someone gets hurt.”“Mother, who were those two people you were talking to last night?”The older woman smiled at her question, “The couple? Oh, they were just asking about a priest.”“A priest?”“Mhm, they were looking to get married. Both of their fathers were priests, but recently died. So, they had been traveling looking for someone of their faith to marry them.”The girl looked down at her tattered boots, “Aw, I bet their fathers would have loved to marry their children.”“I am sure you are right. Young love is a rare sight these days.”__________
The smiling Natty scratched his ear, picked a flea off his scalp, and flicked it at the Rover sitting at the bar. “You hear about what happened to that rover clan just outside town? Some kinda nasty raiders ran through. Nearly wiped the lot of them! Some said they were eating out skulls or something… Nasty fuckers.”The Rover shook his head in disbelief. Natural Ones were so quick to point out the misfortunes of other Strains, and this one was pouring it on thick. The rage started building in his heart, but he couldn’t unleash it against the smirking primitive. The had been Raiders, but had acted with precision and tactics that typically came from an all-star Merc unit out of old Holy Wood or the deepest parts of the City of Lost Angels.
He remembered coming up on the fresh remains of his friends, right before the Gravemind took their broken bodies. He retched at the memory, and then most of his dinner and the ale that he had drowned his woes on spewed forth onto the Natural One, whose smile had finally disappeared.
The fires had finally died down, the Dancers spent from their labors and sleeping soundly after days of exertion. The Shaper had stopped pumping the bellows, and the pungent smell of the herbs that were ground down for some unknowable purpose faded as the cool night air wafted through the reeds. The moonlight reflected off the vastness of the inlet, and the monstrous shape stirred in the shallow water. “Hush my sweet pet, soon you will be well fed”, said the Saltwise, leaning down to stroke the beast.
The two fishmongers sat near the water’s edge, their poles barely moving and swaying in the wind. "Dude, this last month, I’ve been able to get to sleep every night, ‘cause the sheriff and his deputies have been keeping the streets secure. I think that tax we’ve been hearing about will be totally worth it”, said one, his craggy face belying the youth of his voice and tone.“Oi, that’s a good one, Rand”, his friend replied, her voice sharp and quick with wit. “I think I got a better ‘un for ya! I heard a guy went into town one day and sat down in the tavern to a meal. He then got into a HUGE fight with three tanks. He sat back down and proceeded to eat 15 rolls of sushi and went back out to kill three more."
"Imma catch me one of those giant crab thingies. I’m sure I can make one HELL of a gumbo out of it. Probably enough for three pots!", the Merican roared in the streets, as he walked drunkenly from the Greenstone Tavern to road that led past New Vegasia."Hey, I think I’m going to buy a whole bunch of slaves now that slavery is legal!”, the Solestros fired back, caught up in the enthusiasm of their drunk companion. “About time too, cause up till now, I’ve just been doing my own work like a sucker.” One hand on their friends arm guiding them around the Arena towards Mainstreet, they fired a glance at New Vegasia one last time, a thoughtful look on their face.