A Ranger's Code

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A Ranger's Code

Post by D R I F T E R » Sun Jul 22, 2018 4:14 am

A Ranger's Creed
Chapter One: A Chance Encounter
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The sound of Madame Tessara’s house band filled the lobby of the brothel. It was a busy evening. Dozens of clients had come and gone in the past few hours, men and women from all corners of the Midwestern Wastes, and it only looked to be getting busier by the minute. A lot of caps would be spent within the walls of the Brothel tonight. For the man in the brown and black armor stood in the corner of the lobby that meant being on high alert all night. The more people that came through the doors of the Brothel the more chance there was of trouble. A group of gang members had piqued the Ranger’s interest a few hours ago when they had interfered with the band but nothing had come it. The Ranger would be thankful when the night was done. On nights like these it was hard to relax.

In one of the brothel’s many alcoves the face of Tanya appeared. Tanya was the Brothel’s ward. She had been orphaned at a young age and had taken to working at the brothel in order to survive. She wanted to see the wastes and that took a lot of caps. Madame Tessara had disapproved but Tanya never let emotion stand in the way of a decision. She was dispassionate at the best of times. It was why the concern in her eyes concerned the Ranger so much.

From across the room he made out the word Tanya was mouthing. “Trouble.”

As they climbed the stairs to the source of the trouble the Ranger heard the sound of Madame Tessara’s voice. It was old, weathered even, but there was a kindliness to it that was unmistakable. She stood in the doorway to a room and let a tired sigh slip through her wrinkled lips.

“What’s going on here?”

Inside a bearded man was buttoning up his trousers as he stood over a black-haired female named Nadia. She gestured towards the man angrily as she reached for a robe. “This loser blew his load in thirty seconds and thinks that means he doesn’t have to pay for it.”

“That’s not true,” the bearded man shouted as he buttoned up his trousers.

The black-haired girl shoved the man with her foot.

“Trust me, if I was going to lie about something it would be letting a pig like you inside of me in the first place. I am not lying and I am definitely not letting you Stars get away with this again. Every week you try it and I’m tired of it.”

The bearded man outstretched his hand and grabbed Nadia by her robe and placed one of his hands around her neck. “Oh yeah? And what do you think you’re going to do about it, little lady?”

“Not her,” The Ranger muttered as he appeared in the doorway with Tanya. “Me.”

The Ranger noticed the look of relief wash over Madame Tessara’s face as she spotted him. Once the bearded man noticed who was speaking to him he relinquished his hold on the girl’s neck and stepped away from her with a nervous smile. Emblazoned on his arm was a black star tattoo that marked him as a member of one of the town's criminal gang: The Blackened Stars. With recent events, the gang has especially been growing of strength and number of late. As a result, more and more of them were passing through the Brothel’s doors.

“The whore’s lying, Ranger, it’s what they do.”

There was a haze to the bearded man’s eye that the Ranger recognized. He was on chems. It wasn’t unusual for clients to take chems before they came to the brothel, though Madame Tessara had decreed long ago that no chems was to be sold on the premise. The second they let people sell within the walls of the brothel they would to pick a side. That was the last thing Madame Tessara wanted. Instead those that wanted to use it were told to do so before entering and anyone that caused problems whilst on it would be thrown out. For the most part people rode their chems high in the company of one of the Brothel’s many employees without incident. This seemed like one of the few exceptions.

The Ranger looked to Tanya in search of answers. Tanya was truthful to a fault. If Nadia had something to do with this the Ranger would have seen it in Tanya’s shiny blue eyes. He was met with an earnest stare and turned to face the bearded chem user with a shake of his head.

“Hand over the caps.”

An incredulous look appeared on the bearded man’s face. “You’re seriously going to take her side?”

The Ranger reached down and placed one of his hands on the revolver on his hip.

“The caps.”

The man muttered an expletive under his breath and reached around in the pockets of his trousers. After several seconds he produced a handful of caps and threw them onto the bed next to Nadia with a look that could kill. He fumbled with buttons for a few seconds before pulling on a dirty leather jacket and storming towards the exit. As he passed them Madame Tessara looked towards the Ranger with an anxious smile. He could see in the old lady’s eyes that she had been more worried than she let on.


Three hours passed before the bearded man from earlier darkened their door again. By then the house band had stopped playing and had taken to propping up the bar in the Brothel. The number of people passing through had dwindled and it was clear that the bulk of the Brothel’s business had been done for the night. Lone traders and travelers that had stopped by to visit Freeman would stop in but for the most part the business day had come to a close. It wouldn’t be long before Madame Tessara decided to close up for the night. Yet there the bearded man appeared in the doorway to the brothel. His beady eyes were even mistier than they had been the first time and he clutched at a pistol between his fingers. The Ranger was the first to spot him and moved to confront him but the bearded man fired off a shot at the ceiling before he made it to him. The stragglers, the off work employees, and the band sat at the bar all fell silent.

“Where is she? I want to see the tramp that stole from me.”

The bearded man slurred as he spoke and was wobbling back and forth. As the Ranger approached him he could smell the alcohol on the man's breath. If one mixed the wrong type of chems and alcohol it could have very deadly effects. Not on the user but those around them. Most of these gang member types were quick to anger on a good day but with all those hallucinogens in their system there was no telling what the Star might do.

The Ranger’s calm, collected voice slithered through his mask towards the bearded man as he approached him. “You’ve had enough for one night.”

“I’m not sure that I have. In fact, I thought you might say that so I brought some friends along just in case.”

The doors to Brothel opened and pouring through it can five of the man’s friends. Each of them bore Blackened Stars tattoos on some portion of their body and were either brandishing or carrying firearms. There were two more men with pistols, a particularly aggressive looking ghoul with a shotgun and a man with a sharp, red beard mohawk that made him look slightly out of place.

From the balcony overlooking the lobby Madame Tessara’s voice sounded. “Look, boys, we don’t want any trouble here.”

A slurred laugh left the bearded man’s mouth as he paced towards the bar and picked up a drink.

“Trouble? Who’s looking for trouble? We’re here to spend some time with your women, that’s all, we’re not here for any trouble. Are we, boys?”

The red mohawk brandished his 10mm with a chuckle. “Nope, no trouble here.”

The Ranger could feel the weight of the stares from the people behind him. He was all that stood between them and death at the hands of the drunken gang members. He eyed their weapons slowly and looked the ghoul with the shotgun up and down as he plotted his next move. Rangers had faced off against worst than the rabble assembled before him and lived. Yet he’d been paid to look after the brothel. Even if he survived drawing down on the men the brothel would be destroyed.

“Go home.”

The bearded man threw the glass down at the Ranger’s feet angrily and pointed his handgun at his brown and black helmet. “Last I checked there was six of us and one of you, Ranger. I’m not sure you’re in any position to be handing out orders.”

The Ranger didn’t so much as flinch as the weapon lingered millimeters away from his face. Instead a voice came from behind the mask that dripped with contempt.

“Turn around and walk away whilst you still can.”

Again a drunken titter left the bearded man’s lips as he gestured up at the whores sat nervously at the bar.

“What’s wrong? You deaf or something? Maybe one of those whores is your girlfriend. What do you reckon, boys? Maybe the Ranger’s girlfriend spreads her legs for credits just like he does.”

On the balcony overlooking them Madame Tessara fingered the pistol she kept hidden beneath the ledge in case of emergencies. She had hired the Ranger for situations like these, she had hoped his reputation would be enough to scare away the Hellraisers, Stars, and anybody else that came looking for trouble, but the elderly woman was more than willing to get her hands dirty if she needed to.

The Ranger issued one last warning. This time his contempt was almost tangible. There was no fear in his voice, no hesitation, and he stared down the barrel of the bearded man’s handgun without a sign of submission or panic.

“I won’t ask again.”

There was something in the Ranger’s voice that stirred something in one the bearded man’s friend. He stepped forward and placed a hand on the bearded man’s shoulder and whispered something to him.

“Let’s get out of here,” he muttered. “This place is a dump anyway.”

Suddenly a look of clarity appeared on the bearded man’s face and he lowered his weapon. He holstered it on his hip and gestured to the other Blackened Stars to move out. They did so wordlessly and the man turned his back to walk out. The man with the mohawk backed towards the exit with a smug smile, pushing over a vase as he went, and gestured towards his eyes and then towards the Ranger.

As the door shut behind them there was an audible sigh of relief from the Brothel’s employees and the band. The Ranger looked down at the shards of broken glass at the floor in front of him and then up to Madame Tessara. She nodded at him in recognition and the Ranger looked back absently for a few seconds before disappearing down one of the alcoves and out of sight.
Last edited by D R I F T E R on Sun Jul 22, 2018 4:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Ranger's Code

Post by Quirbles » Sun Jul 22, 2018 10:08 pm


The North Star State
Nightfall


A blazing sunset along the west horizon cast straggling rays of orange along the a whitened sky. Streaks of light managed to break through the omnipresent snowfall, appearing as if rivulets of fire had scorched themselves permanently among the white. The light would pass, in time, as all things do; nothing was permanent, that much was known, and the sunset was no exception. It was best to appreciate the beauty while it was before you.

The sleepy town before the ranger, unnamed as far as he was concerned, was illuminated with an infernal glow of the dying sun as he stamped, slowly but surely, towards his destination. He’d made it before nightfall. Good. It lessened his chances of being killed by some straggling Deathclaw that wasn’t hibernating, and it also allowed him to have refuge from the incessant snowfall.

Wintertime in the remains of Minnesota was hell. This small city was on the border of Canada near the Great Lake that was along the state’s eastern edge; he’d long forgotten the body of water’s name, as with most people who lived here. Most just called it The Depths because of what lived there. In the coldest months, the lake froze over on the top with a thin layer of ice— sturdy enough to travel upon, but weak enough to be smashed through by some of the lake’s more dangerous wildlife. Caravans rarely used it as a crossing, but when they did, it significantly lessened travel times. The ranger debated whether or not to join a traveling merchant group if he was to leave.


No. Still too dangerous.

In the North Star State, snow was nearly omnipresent; however, in the traditionally “winter” months, the weather picked up exceptionally and resulted in near-whiteout conditions. The ranger barely saw the sign marking the town in front of him before he realized he was actually in the town. The realization was followed by a quickening of his pace, eager to get to an inn or some building. Evidently, his travels took him down a wrong path, seeing as a dead-end alley encroached through the snowfall as he walked. The ranger turned to backtrack, wondering where he’d gone wrong only to halt in his steps once six figures became visible through the snowfall. Blocking his path.

“Don’t want any trouble. Just passing through,” The ranger stated plainly. Six of them— three bore pistols, another bore a shotgun, and two had rifles. He couldn’t tell whether they were automatic or bolt-action, but he wasn’t about to bank his assumption on the latter and get gunned down. The alleyway was cramped— he’d use that to his advantage—

”You fucked with the wrong people, ranger. Wraith takes what he wants and ain’t nothin’ stoppin’ him. That whore is gettin’ killed tonight, once we take care of you.”

What?

The situation the raiders were expressing their annoyance over had bore no meaning to the desert ranger, whose armor was considerably less visible in the snowfall. He raised his hands in response to the accusations, shaking his head.

“No, you’ve been mistaken. I just came in through town, and—“

”You shut-t’fck up, ranger. I seen’t the way you look at me. Jealous. Jealous you ain’t a powerful mother’f’cker like me. I’ll show you how much of a man you are!”

The man shuffled and the ranger drew his sequoia, clearing leather within the fraction of a second and placing a round right between the silhouette’s eyes. Blood sprayed through the darkening air and stained the snow a deep crimson, splattering upon the man’s comrades as they each yelled out and raised their guns. The ranger fired off another round within the short span, having cocked back the revolver directly after firing his first shot and placing a bullet directly into the shotgun-ghoul’s left leg. A second later and one of the rifle-wielding raiders fired off a burst of shots, each missing the raider as he sprinted towards the group while snow shot up into the air around him. A well-placed shoulder bash knocked the assault-rifle wielding man into one of his own friends and down to the ground, the breath knocked out of him.

With two stunned, that meant three left for him to deal with. Two .22 rounds bounced off of the ranger’s combat armor plating, ricocheting off the back panel and striking the second pistol-user in the stomach accidentally. He screamed and dropped his own gun, falling to the ground and clutching his gut.

The ranger dove towards the second rifle-wielder and tackled him. Breath knocked out of his lungs, the raider tensed and fired his rifle in full-auto, flicking off bits of wood and snow as the bullets shot into the whiteout around them both. Two bullets found their way into the man with the gut-shot, killing him instantly. The man the ranger had tackled was sent into the wall back-first, eliciting a harsh gasp from the man and the dropping of his gun.

Four.

The shotgun ghoul recovered from his leg-shot and raised his weapon, aiming towards his target before the ranger turned and quickly shielded himself with the body of the man he’d just tackled. A shotgun blast ripped through the air and the stunned raider took the brunt of the blow, pellets tinkling off of the ranger’s armor paneling as his human shield sputtered and coughed up a river of blood. Richmond leaned against the wall and, using it as a support, kicked the dying man with one leg towards the ghoul. Another pistol round shot off towards the ranger but was intercepted by the man’s body, hitting him in the throat before the cadaver struck the ghoul and fell upon him.

Three.

The living raider with the rifle finally broke out of his daze from the shoulder bash, scrambling to his gun and raising it just as the ranger wrestled the pistol from his comrade’s grasp and delivered a destructive punch to the throat, closing the man’s windpipe momentarily as he clutched his throat and tried to breathe. A volley of gunfire rang out as the ranger felt a rip in his leg and arm— grazes, hopefully, but there wasn’t time to find out. Grabbing onto the choking raider with both hands, he quickly threw the man mid-rifle burst and dove out of the way of the gunshots, watching as friendly fire occurred yet again and the gasping raider caught two bullets in his abdomen. He hit the ground with a heavy thud, cracking his head on a patch of ice. The raider cocked abd aimed the pistol he’d grabbed from the now-dead raider, placing three shots into his rifle-wielding target and striking the man in the head once.

One.

The ghoul with the shotgun had since pumped his shotgun and taken aim, missing a burst of pellets when the ranger dove before pumping again and striking the desert soldier in the arm. While most of the small pellets simply bounced off of the metal armor, there were multiple pinches of pain as the buckshot tore through the heavy cloth upon the ranger’s forearm. Instinctively, he dropped the pistol out of pain.

The desert ranger scrambled to his feet, only to find that the ghoul had already tore through the night and cut his losses. Exhaling as combat came to an unsatisfying close, the ranger limped over to where his sequoia lie and picked it up, examining it before making his way out of the alleyway. The harsh snowfall had begun to die down, leaving him to wander along the side of the street as various townies gawked at his moving presence. His arm hurt, badly, but that was not a pressing matter at the moment.

No, what he needed was a fuckin’ drink.

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Re: A Ranger's Code

Post by D R I F T E R » Mon Jul 23, 2018 3:05 am

A mouthful of vomit came bursting through the Ranger’s lips just as he pulled his brown and black helmet from his head. For the most part the orange-brown mess landed in the sink in front of him but a portion of it sat within the helmet and along the Ranger’s black beard. The sweaty face beneath his beard was still youthful and largely wrinkle-free. As the Ranger stared into the mirror at his face he wondered how long that would remain the case if he had many more nights like tonight. He wasn’t sure how many more nights like tonight he could even survive. He turned the tap on and washed the sick settled at the bottom of the sink away before beginning to wash the sick from his beard. His hands shook violently as he did so and he had to stop for a moment to calm his nerves.

From behind him came the sound of banging on the bathroom door and it made the Ranger jump more than it ought to have. “Ranger? You in there?”

The man nervously reached for his helmet. He looked back at the bathroom door as it shook as Nadia’s fists banged against it and desperately attempted to scrub clean the sick from the inside of his helmet. As his fingers slid along it one of them slipped into the deep claw mark across the front where its previous owner had met their gruesome end.

Again the black-haired woman’s voice called out to him. “It’s Nadia, I just wanted to say thank you for scaring those Stars away earlier.”

The Ranger began scrubbing furiously as he tried to hold back a retch. The smell made his stomach turn. A real Ranger would have been able to hold their stomach. The man they called the Ranger had heard they were able to eat food that was so pungent that other people couldn’t bear to be near it. Here he was fighting back tears at the smell of his own vomit. Once the helmet was clean enough that he could fathom placing it back over his head he took a glance backwards. He could see Nadia’s silhouette stood in the doorway still.

“Go away, Nadia.”

This time the woman’s voice was tinged with suspicion. “Is everything okay in there?”

“I’m fine,” the Ranger called back as he placed his helmet back over his head. “Everything’s fine.”

He lingered in front of the mirror for a moment and stared at his reflection. The red HUD of the helmet's targeting system made the whole bathroom look blood red. Beneath his helmet the Ranger could feel water trickling down his neck where he’d cleaned the sick from his beard. He was trembling so much he had to grab the side of the sink to stop it.

He wanted the Ranger to die.

Henry Robertson wanted to live.
Madame Tessara watched from her balcony as the bartender wiped down the surface with a wet rag. He had been a caravan guard once, before the chem addiction, and had fallen on hard times before Madame Tessara hired him. It was a risk, perhaps too much of one given his limited experience, but Madame Tessara had always been swift to help those in need. She reached out one of her aged hands towards a drink that rested atop the ledge and took a greedy mouthful of it. Her nerves had yet to calm from that situation with the Stars several hours ago. From behind her came a knock on her door and the elderly woman turned to face it.

Through the doorway stepped the Ranger she entrusted to keep her brothel safe.

“You asked for me.”

“I did,” Madame Tessara said as she gestured to the seat opposite her desk. “Take a seat.”

The Ranger stood unmoving as Madame Tessara took to her seat. “I’ll stand.”

“Suit yourself.”

The old woman took another mouthful of drink, murmured under her breath with contentment, and then set the glass down with a smile. Her eyes ran over the Ranger’s armour as she collected her thought. The deep claw marks across the chest and helmet drew most of her focus but the slight signs of rust along the shins and gauntlets always piqued her interest. She had heard that Rangers took great pride in their armor but the one she employed seemed atypical of that reputation. It didn’t matter how he looked so long as he kept her brothel safe. He showed earlier that he was still capable of doing that.

“I was impressed with the way you handled those Blackened Stars. You could have lost your cool or risen to that man’s insults but you stayed calm. I appreciate that. This place is very precious to me. It’s very precious to all of them.”

Madame Tessara’s icy grey eyes seemed to grow misty with nostalgia as she spoke. After a few moments Madame Tessara recalled why she had invited the Ranger up to her quarters and smiled in the mercenary’s direction. Her smile was met with a cold, empty stare that the old woman did not seem discouraged by.

“Do you know how this brothel came into my possession, Ranger?”

The Ranger shook his head. The movement was so slight it was barely noticeable. There was an austerity to the armored man’s movements. He seemed to move only as much as he needed to and he spoke even less.

“Many years ago I worked here. I say worked but I didn’t have much choice. I was brought here by slavers and sold to the brothel’s previous owners. Believe it or not they were nice enough. At the end of each year they would allow each whore a fraction of the credits they had earned. You might not believe it to look at me now but once I was a very beautiful woman, Ranger. I had many suitors, and many, many more clients, and at the end of each year I would have more caps than any of the other women. Yet it was still not enough to buy my freedom. Not by a very long shot. That would take many years of hard work. Long after my body grew wrinkled and the suitors became fewer and further between, I toiled in the hope of earning my freedom. Though I had known nothing but servitude I yearned for a life where my flesh could be my own.”

The elderly woman paused for a moment to take another mouthful of drink. Once she swallowed she looked to the Ranger with a weary smile.

“It took twenty-eight years.”

Even as she spoke there seemed a surprise to Madame Tessara’s voice. She knew she had lived those twenty-eight years but the memories seemed so distant, so remote, that it felt as if they had happened to someone else.

“What do you think I did with my freedom? Where do you think I went, Ranger? Where would you go?”

A word crept from behind the Ranger’s mask. For once the Ranger’s voice sounded like it carried something resembling emotion.

“Home,” it spoke.

“As good a guess as any,” Madame Tessara said with a wry smile. “I was plucked from my family at such a young age I could barely remember my own name. This place was the only home I’ve ever known. The women I laid next to every night, whose wounds I tended to, and tears I dried were the only family I belonged to. It might sound... strange but leaving this place was never an option. Even as the other women begged me to leave I took to working once more, this time as a free woman, and though my body could barely take it I finally managed to save enough to buy the brothel outright. That took thirteen more years.”

A contented smile appeared on Madame Tessara's face and she stood up from her seat, drink in hand, and made her way back towards the balcony that overlooked the brothel. Her long black robe hung behind her as she walked. It covered a body that had no right to have retained the shape and form it did at Madame Tessara's age. The Ranger stood in place, arms crossed, and watched as Madame Tessara gestured to the brothel around them.

"Forty-one years of service, forty-one years of men and women travelling across the galaxy to fawn over me, to claw at my skin, to make me bite, kiss, and suck as and what they commanded, and finally I was a free woman. A truly free woman. Do you know what it is to be truly free, Ranger?"

There seemed a hint of recognition in the mercenary for a moment and his arms uncrossed, falling loosely by his sides, as he considered Madame Tessara's words.
Once, oh so long ago
On the floor of a cell in the Hub's Police Department was Henry Robertson. The scent of alcohol radiated from him so strongly it could be smelled several cells down. His clothes were ripped and stained with alcohol and there were several bruises along his face from the night before. Henry had been out on the town again and for the third time in as many weeks had been on the wrong side of a beating. It wasn’t the kind of behaviour that was expected from a Corporal of the NCR Army. Their regiment, though only a token garrison to guard the large trading settlement, was quite literally the only NCR presence in the Hub. Annexation of the settlement had been a peaceful affair, but that did not mean secession was out of the picture. In an effort to remove that possibility, the regiment was stationed there to win hearts and minds, as well as remind the populace whose flag flies above them. As such, Henry's scrapes with the local police force were a cause of constant embarrassment for his regiment and the latest one would no doubt cause his superiors another headache-- and possibly a court martial.

For the time being though Henry was more concerned about his own headache. To the sound of shouting his bloodshot eyes opened wearily and he winced as the pounding in his head intensified by the second. The sharp intake of light hadn’t helped. From behind him he heard the voice shouting once more and Henry realised it was directed at him.

“Wake the hell up you lazy sack of brahmin shit.”

Henry pushed himself up and looked towards the man stood at the gate of his cell. The man was a wall of muscle, clad in the grey and blue police uniform that Henry had come to loathe over the past six months, and the twisted, cruel mouth that stuck out from the bottom of his helm was familiar to him. Officer Dorn, he remembered as he pinched the bridge of his nose and tried to fight back his headache.

“Looks like your brother has pulled a few strings for you again, Robertson.” Dorn muttered as he unlocked the door to Henry's cell. “You’re free to go this time.”

The sound of the door clanging open made Henry's already throbbing head throb a little more but he refused Dorn the pleasure of seeing his discomfort. Instead he climbed to his feet with the wall as his support and wandered out of the cell that had been his home for the night. He picked up his things from lockup and made his way towards the exit only to find another familiar face waiting for him on the other side of it.

“Alec?” Henry muttered in a pained voice. “What are you doing here?”

Henry's brother let out a sigh and shrugged his shoulders, the brown cloak of his Ranger armor shifting as he did so. “What do you think I’m doing here? The colonel said if you got in trouble with the HPD again he’d court martial you. As much as you might get on my nerves sometimes I don’t want you in the clink back in Shady Sands.”

“Thank you.”

Both brothers walked alongside in silence for a few moments before Alec conjured up the courage to tell Henry what he had promised himself he would tell. The two spoke little following Alec's induction into the Rangers; he was almost a decade his senior and their paths rarely crossed as of late. Ever since the loss of their parents years ago, Alec had taken up the mantle of being a fatherly figure for his younger brother. It was why the words that came next carried such weight.

“This has to stop,” Alec muttered. “You know that, right?”

Henry nodded gravely in acceptance. “What am I supposed to do, though? I'm stationed in the ass-end of nowhere and you know yourself that I don't stand a chance of ever being promoted. It's easy for you to say, considering you're a bigshot fuckin' Ranger now. I'd have to kiss ass for months before those asswipes will ever forgive me. I’d sooner die than do that.”

He was twenty-three years of age, several years passed the usual age for a corporal considering he enlisted at the age of 17. Add to that his long list of troublemaking and misconduct, his chances of being demoted or incarcerated was much higher than the chance of him moving up in the ranks.

Alec let out a sympathetic sigh as he led his brother back towards the local garrison.

“Yeah, well, at the rate you’re going at you’ll have your wish before the month’s out, little brother.”

The Ranger snapped back into awareness as the haze of memories passed. All thoughts of Dorn, his brother Alec, and that jail cell left his mind and his eyes fixed on the elderly woman stood peering over the brothel’s balcony at the revelers below them. The Ranger strode out to the balcony to stand beside his employer one more.

“Why are you telling me all of this?”

Madame Tessara extended her hand to the young red-haired girl who stood sheepishly in the corner of the room beneath them. “You are fond of Tanya.”

The Ranger was fond of Tanya Meyers. Or more accurately: Henry Robertson was fond of Tanya Meyers. He thought he had hidden that fact from sight but the Ranger supposed the elderly woman had spent a lifetime in places like these. She knew affection, true affection, when she was it. Though she looked and sounded nothing like Triss there was something about her nature that reminded Henry of her whenever he was in Tanya’s presence. All the same he gritted his teeth beneath his battered helmet and shook his head curtly.

“No more than the rest.”

A wry, knowing smile appeared on Madame Tessara’s wrinkled lips. “If only you were as good at lying as you are with those revolvers.”

“She was an orphan when she arrived in Freeman. It is a dangerous thing to be in a place like this. One only realizes how important friends and family are when they find themselves without them. A young girl without someone to look out for her is a target out there. Tanya was a target.”

Beneath them Tanya gossiped with Nadia and the two shared a laugh with one another before the red-haired girl took to the bar and started up conversation with the man that worked it.

“Before I bought her freedom Tanya worked for the Athertons,” Madame Tessara sighed as she took another mouthful of her drink. “The savages passed her around like a piece of meat, forced her to take chems, and took pleasure in her humiliation. Had I not found her I am sure she would have died. If not at the hands of one of Atherton’s men then from a bad batch of chems. Yet here she is free. She can come and go as she pleases, ply her trade without fear of injury or abuse, and earn a decent living. She can save for the car she dreams for and maybe one day she will see the wastes. Maybe all of them will fulfill their dreams.”

There was love in the elderly woman’s eyes. A maternal love that the Ranger had seen nowhere else in the wastes. To him, the wasteland was dark and sickly to the touch. It consumed and exploited people and then spat them out once it was done with them. Madame Tessara Brothel’s was an oasis from all of that. The Ranger thought of Tanya in the hands of the raiders. He thought of Triss in their possession.

“I lost forty years of my life before I found freedom, Ranger, and this brothel is a mural to that sacrifice. It is the only brothel of its kind in these parts– a safe haven for the weak and vulnerable, those without friends and family, who see no other way out than to sell their flesh. You will find no slave within these walls. Only free men and women.”

Madame Tessara took one last mouthful and then upturned the vessel and placed it atop the balcony with a contented smile. She looked to the Ranger with her soft eyes and the Ranger felt them probing and searching beyond his visor for some sign of reciprocation.

“Do you understand now why we must protect this place? This place is so much more to a brothel, Ranger.”

The Ranger nodded. “I understand.”

Beneath his gauntlets Henry felt his hands growing sweaty as the magnitude of his task dawned on him. Not once had he felt guilty for taking Madame Tessara's money before but now he did. When he had taken the job this place had meant nothing to him, there are hundreds of brothels in the wastes after all, but now he understood this place meant more to Madame Tessara than anything had ever meant to him in his life. He pictured a future without Madame Tessara's Brothel. He tried to imagine where girls like Tanya might go or whose employ they might be forced into. Most of all he pictured a day when his skills would be called upon and he would be found lacking.

And for some reason he had a feeling that day was coming soon.
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Re: A Ranger's Code

Post by Quirbles » Mon Jul 23, 2018 3:29 am

The bullet wounds under the ranger’s armor began to itch. It was an odd sensation— one that he undoubtedly wanted to get rid off by scratching, but he knew that it would only bring him more pain than relief was worth. His limbs ached with each pull and contraction; there was no feeling of something stuck, no internal jostling or foreign objects among the pain, so each wound had been a clean hit, thank God. That meant he wouldn’t have to tend to them immediately.

Onlookers from Freeman sat on their porches and stared while others simply carried on with their business, not paying any attention to the wounded ranger that walked among them. Perhaps it was due to the regular occurance of a similarly-outfitted man walking amongst the town, or maybe it was simple apathy. Regardless, the ranger carried himself towards the nearest building that looked like a bar— MADAME TESSERA’S BROTHEL, emblazoned upon the top of the doorway. Suppressing a scoff, the ranger quickly shoved the door open and escaped the oppressive snowfall around him.

The place was spacious, far more spacious than the ranger expected. Patrons were conversing at the bar while others were busy doing various other activities— the faint sounds that reached his ears were also evidence enough that this was, indeed, a brothel, if the nearly-naked women strutting around hadn’t tipped him off. Not wasting any time, the ranger approached the bar counter and sat down at one of the stools, exhaling heavily as he let his tired body finally rest.

“Whiskey. Hell, fuckin’ anything you have that’s strong.”

His voice came out gravelly and low, courtesy of his dried throat from the walk through the snow. He coughed once and cleared his throat, looking around the brothel to survey the patrons before shifting slightly in his seat and turning back to the bartender.

“Your town is full of crazy bastards,” He began nonchalantly, speaking as if it was an indisputable fact he’d presented to the room. The people who had stared at him upon his entrance had long since returned to their prior engagements as he spoke.

“Got jumped in a fuckin’ alleyway. You got any meds?”

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Re: A Ranger's Code

Post by D R I F T E R » Fri Jul 27, 2018 2:14 pm

"Heh, ain't that the truth."

Absentmindedly cleaning up a pitcher glass with a rag that clearly needs to be cleaned up itself, the bartender answered without really taking a good look at his new patron. He only noticed the brown coat from the corner of his eye; too busy with his current work to give a damn about much else. With the Ranger providing security, it was unnecessary for him to even pay any mind to anyone. So long as they got the caps to pay, they were good.

Reaching underneath the counter, the bartender produced a bottle of whiskey and proceed to pour a glass. Only when the stranger inquired about whether or not the place sold any meds that bartender glanced up to look at him. When he did, a look of surprise dawned on his face for just a moment. It came and went as soon as it did, and the bartender quickly talked business.

"We don't sell chems here, bud. Best I can offer you is a stimpack I got stored somewhere."

Narrowing his eyes, he continued.

"Y'know, it ain't everyday you see a guy with an armor like yours roll up into town. You a friend of the Ranger?"

Indeed, anyone who's worked in the place long enough would immediately notice the obvious: The man standing before the bar was not the Ranger. Green visors, an armor devoid of deep claw marks and a voice not edged with the detached tone of the man everyone's come to know as the protector of the Brothel, it didn't take a genius to realize that this man was a stranger and not who they might've thought he was.

However, before the mysterious Ranger could answer, the real Ranger showed up just a second after the question was asked.

Having just finished his talk with the Madame, the Ranger was on his way back down the stairs when he noticed the newcomer. This, of course, drew the attention of several of the Brothel's patrons who gawked at the sight of the two men clad in the mythical armor of the Rangers. Even as far as the North Star State, the legend and weight behind the Desert Rangers was well-known.

There was a reason he got this job in the first place, and it was not just because he knew his way with a rifle and his twin revolvers. Sometimes, the mere sight of the Ranger armor was more than enough to keep the peace and intimidate any would-be troublemakers from stirring up anything. Unfortunately, the same thing applied to the Ranger himself.

Though no one would think nor see it, he was nervous. It was one thing to deal with gangsters and the occasional drunk belligerents, but a man in a Desert Ranger armor was another thing entirely. Especially one who looked like he's just been through a firefight.

Was he affiliated with the NCR? Was he just passing by or was there something he needed to do in the town? Was he sent here to deal with him?

It was unlikely, but the thought of it was enough to keep the Ranger on edge. Inconspicuously, his hand remained by his side, ready to get to work with his revolvers should the man attempt anything.

"Not a friend of mine," he answered the bartender's question, his voice laced with suspicion. "You new in town?"
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Re: A Ranger's Code

Post by Quirbles » Sun Jul 29, 2018 12:13 am

The bartender’s quick change in attitude brought a sneer to the ranger’s lips.

“If I wanted chems, I would— have said to bring me fuckin’ chems.” He stated through gritted teeth, the combination of adrenaline and frostbite wearing off and causing the pain from his wounds to return in full force.

“Now get me that Stimpak and a glass of your hardest alcohol.”

His voice waa throaty, almost garbled as if he hadn’t cleared his throat; a moment later, he did, casually taking out his Sequoia and grunting while he took a count of the bullets left.

3 shots. Better make them count.

At the mention of another “ranger”, his gaze shot back to the man behind the counter. The desert ranger’s glare was unseen behind the visor of the helmet but it could practically be felt in the way he halted in his examination of the Sequoia, the chamber being slammed shut a moment later as he set the revolver upon the counter.

“The hell do you mean?”

”Not a friend of mine,”

The desert ranger simultaneously set his shooting hand upon the counter, not quite touching his Sequoia but damn near close to doing so. His line of sight followed the sound of the intruding voice, eventually settling upon a man in a Veteran Ranger’s outfit much similar to his own. He scowled behind his helmet. Of course.

”You new in town?”

“Well, if I wasn’t, I’m pretty damn sure you would have heard of me.” The desert ranger replied with a degree of sarcasm, hand shifting a centimeter towards the handle of his revolver upon the counter.

“You can call me Richmond, seeing as the people ‘round here have already taken to calling you the ‘Ranger’, it seems.”

He paused for a moment, gritting his teeth once more as he turned to the bartender.

“For God’s sake, can you hurry up with the alcohol?”

Richmond’s gaze returned to the Ranger.

“I was about to stay in town before I got jumped. I’ll tell you what— the people in this town can’t shoot for shit. Claimed they knew me, too.”

Richmond gave a chuckle and shook his head.

“And here I was, trying to find out why I’d got shot up. I wonder who they were talking about?”

This time around, the sarcasm in his voice wasn’t subtle at all.

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