Wandering the Wasteland

2- Exploring New El Paso

Elyja, Chett Awesome and Helen decided to lock up their vehicles- Chett's combat robot, Elyja's Mountaineer ATV (Northern Gun), and Helen's "Wasteland" motorcycle (for that she had to park her motorcycle at a friendly looking Pecos tribe and pay them several E-clips to guard her bike).  They took what belongings with them (sans Mega Damage armor and weapons) they might need for a few days and headed to the gate.  As they approached the gate, they noticed the guards protecting the gate wore a variety of mega damage armors, most from Northern Gun, and had an assortment of weapons.  All of the guards had silver stars painted over the left breast plate of their armor and wore a common light cloth hat found throughout the Pecos Empire named "Cowboy Hat". After paying the guards a few hundred credits for themselves each, the guards searched the three friends and finding nothing, allowed them to enter the city.  A quick radio contact by the senior guard started the metallic gate to slide behind the wall (to the right) and gave a space wide enough for all three friends to go through.

The city inside the wall was mostly comprised of wooden buildings.  Most had covered, wood porches in front of the buildings.  The buildings had glass windows and most people appeared to have simple, efficient clothing.  Most of the buildings didn't have electricity (or appeared to have that at the current time) and the only street not made of the sand and dirt of the desert was this very road connected to this gate (it was covered in small, gravel rocks).  The wood signs of the businesses (all on the ground floor, since most buildings had 3 or 4 stories, the three friends guessed the upper floors were for multiple residences) had pictures of what their nature was (bread, vegetables and a chicken leg for a small grocery store, bullets, boots and clothes for a general store, etc.) and had the names of the establishments painted on in two languages- American and Spanish.  Most of the people were going about their business without a regard to what was going on around them and a couple of guards patrolled the street, they appeared like the other guards.

Chett recognized the overall building style ("old western" by his last Coalition officer) and the general technological level of the city (called "19th Century" by an instructor in one of his military education classes).  Chett also recognized the commonality of the city with other villages, towns and the few cities outside of the Coalition States- a vast majority (over 95% of all estimated human settlements- Dbee settlements just didn't count to the Coalition States) of all settlements in the world had this level of technology or lower (most settlements had lower tech), humans seemed to be the dominant race, and the technology and building "style" were very common throughout the Pecos Empire and in the Coalition state of Lone Star.  Chett, being a city boy from Chi-Town itself, silently prayed for electricity, indoor plumbing and hot water.  Elyja was from Kingsdale himself and had grown up with modern amenities himself but had lower expectations for New El Paso.

Seeing some higher, pre-RIFTS buildings (most appeared to be skeletons of their former selves) rise up in the distance, the players decided to go further into the city.  They decided to look for hotels as they walked and talked. Helen, always concerned about saving what little money she had, decided to look for smaller boarding houses and realized as she looked that it would take some time to find what she wanted.  Checking their radio functions and frequencies set, Helen set off on her own to find a cheap place to stay while Chett and Elyja decided to go deeper into the city, hoping to find a more "modern" place to stay.

As they entered the center of New El Paso, Chett and Elyja noticed the increasing number of street vendors and businesses in the vicinity.  Small time vendors selling cooked lizards on a stick, selling beer out of boxes, displaying clothing on wooden racks were in front of the buildings (new and old).  Some vendors carried their wares with them as they peddled to passing people.  The best businesses were the ones in actual buildings.  

Chett and Elyja also noticed that some of the ancient pre-RIFTS buildings, some going up to 80 meters above the ground and some of those leaning to the left or right, displayed signs of occupation and use- between the stone and pre-RIFTS metal pillars, beams, floors and ceilings of the upper floors (the buildings' "skeletons") were hand-made, wooden shacks, tents (cloth and some made of a plastic-like textile), and lean-to's with tarps (cloth and plastic)- all surrounded by children playing games, people cooking over open fires, and elderly people hanging their clothes out to dry.  The lowest floor of these buildings held better constructed habitats within the actual building itself- professional carpentry with glass windows and signs on these smaller, wooden habitats displaying the business signs proclaiming their type or the actual name, monopolized all space on the floor (the lack of children playing, burning fires and hanging laundry also testified to the dominance of money and power on that floor).

Noticing that there were more city guards here than elsewhere in the city, Elyja began to ask one of the guards where "nice" hotels were.  He was oblivious to the look of disgust in the guard's grimacing face.  Seeing that look, Chett stopped Elyja and asked the guard himself where the nice, fancy hotels were.  Happy to talk to a fellow human, the guard told Chett that the finest hotel was called "The Traveler's Inn House" and gave simple directions on how to find it. Chett put on some of his social polish to ensure a pleasant departure and the two friends began to walk to their destination.

Chett and Elyja were very surprised and happy to find that The Traveler's Inn House had mostly modern amenities!!!  Cool air from air-conditioning (worth the credits right there!) greeted them as they stepped inside, electric lights showed their way, signs along the foyer proclaimed to have hot, indoor plumbing, private toliets, personal showers/baths, complimentary radio, internal restaurant with bar, exclusive suites, laundry service and a meeting room for rent!  Chett (dancing and laughing hysterically inside) and Elyja (pleasantly surprised) knew they had finally reached civilization after weeks of hard, rough travel throughout the Pecos Empire.  The two friends eagerly rented a room each for four days and Chett began to flirt with the attractive bellhop, hoping he was gay and "available".

Helen had found a small boarding house close to the "downtown" area (apparently the locale where pre-RIFTS buildings were renovated and used).  The board house was like almost all other buildings- made of wood, a dirty glass window, no electricity or indoor plumbing, chamber pot-wash basin and pitcher of water available (but they did provide toilet paper!), and a breakfast (mostly eggs and fried lizard) served in a common room on the ground floor.  No real locks on the personal room but then only guests were allowed in and out of the building.

Helen was able to scrounge up some water in the basin to clean herself while Chett and Elyja fully enjoyed a hot shower.  Helen was able to bribe the owner to do her laundry while Chett and Elyja were able to dump their laundry off at the front desk.  Helen never felt the heat of the desert sun leave during or after her "bath".  Chett and Elyja enjoyed the artificial, cool air of the hotel's restaurant, devoured hot, cooked food and relished the purple moonshine (a Pecos Empire drink, made from the alien fruit tree "purple" found in the east and northeastern part of the Pecos Empire).   Helen stopped at a street vendor to buy some fire-cooked lizards and found a man selling water. Sure, Helen wasn't enjoying life to the fullest like her friends but then she was saving a lot of credits for the future.

The next few days consisted of the players meeting and wandering from saloon to saloon, store to store and the occasional foray outside the city walls to check on their vehicles and see if Northern Gun had showed up.  During those days the friends did find some interesting places.

Elyja found the two and last magic stores west of the Mississippi RiverThe El Paso Magic Shop run by a strange looking Dbee named Zalfeel, and The Mystic Travel Service, a human family owned magic shop.  Chett enjoyed the first store because it sold small books, mostly historical books covering the pre-RIFTS West (Chett loved the stories of manly men- tough lawmen, desperate gunslingers, secretive saloon owners with their promiscious saloon girls, strong, silent ranchers and young, blonde farmhands with blue eyes).  

The three friends focused on finding places to gather information and find work (or leads to work).  They enjoyed visiting saloons, talking to adventurers, and picking up nuggets of news here and there.  During these small, non-violent quests, the friends came across several interesting places- a casino called Honky Tonk Town,  an actual movie theater called El Paso Theater (specialties were pre-RIFTS western movies, a series of short films titled The Dukes of Hazard and several modern and pre-RIFTS porn movies at night), a few large name companies catering to adventurers- Wellington Industries outpost, Golden Age Weaponsmiths, Bandito Arms (exclusive to the Pecos Empire), The Halloway Armory & Outfitter, Wilks Laser Store, Dead Boy Goods (specializing in buy, trade or sell of Coalition Army weapons, armors and equipment), a bank called New El Paso Bank (which could convert the various credits- Universal (the Coalition States currency), Northern Gun Manistique Imperium- NGMI to most- and Black Market, from one currency to another), and a store which stunned Elyja as his home city of Kingsdale had one of the same- Flavarrel's Fine Wines. Chett was pleased to find two saloons catering to homosexuals, the Unforgiven and The Electric Cowboy.  Elyja and Helen were content to stick with the saloons catering to traveling mercenaries, adventurers and Pecos Raiders- Fort Bliss, Harley's, and Los Federales.  Chett and Elyja also visited the most expensive and exclusive saloon in New El Paso (Helen declined as she didn't like that kind of place), Dallas Cheerleaders.

News which the friends discovered was that most businesses (including the very nice hotel they stayed at) were owned by a King Wyatt Halloway.  King Halloway was also the King of the city-state of New El Paso.  Interesting that the King owned almost all of the businesses (the second largest owner was the company called Bandito Arms).  

Bandito Arms had a very large complex outside of the city, carved deep into the mountain range north of New El Paso.  It was said that Bandito Arms made (some whispered the word "delivered") their armors and weapons in the cave/mine system itself and sent their wares north and east of New El Paso.  

Many of the traveling merchant caravans would travel to New El Paso to sell wood, purple, clothing and Coalition weapons and armor.  From New El Paso they would take silver, armor, weapons, and a bit of everything from Northern Gun, Wilks Industries, Bandito Arms and Wellington Industries.  Of course many Pecos Empire clans, guilds, tribes, gangs and war clans would come to New El Paso to buy, trade and sell themselves.

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