Having determined that there's nothing for me in Little Lamplight, I return to the search for Paradise Falls and the Slavers Guild that has been laying waste to so much of the land. Having pretty much exhausted everything to the west of Big Town, this time I head north, starting from the train station leading to the vampire lair and heading north.
Amazingly, it doesn't take me long to find Paradise Falls. All I had to do was cross one hill and then head for the elevated Big Boy statue I suddenly saw on the horizon. And that was when I saw the big billboard for Paradise Falls.
You know, I've had a ridiculous amount of trouble finding this place for something so well advertised. But as hard as it was to find, getting in would prove to be relatively easy.
Guard: Halt! State your business in Paradise Falls.
Me: Just wanted to come in. Look around.
Guard: Ha! Yeah, I don't think so.
Me: Oh, come on! Why can't I come in?
Guard: Let's just say it wouldn't be your kind of place, do-gooder.
Me: Ah. Ya hoid of me?
Guard: Yep. And there's no way I'm letting your Chaotic Good ass in here.
Me: Everyone has a price. What's yours?
Guard: Well, I suppose I could ignore your reputation as an unblinking anti-slavery activist and brown-coated god of war and let you in... for 500 caps.
Me: Beautiful! Let me just go get the spare trenchcoat I keep my money in...
Here's how stealthy and skilled with small firearms I am at this point. After breaking off the conversation, I'm able to hide, become invisible to the guard immediately in the dark of night from about 10 feet away, move back another 10 feet, plant a land mine, move back another 10 feet, pull a sniper rifle, line up a shot and kill the first gate guard. Duck around a corner, switch to my hunting rifle, duck back around the corner, shoot at the second guard who is now looking for me, duck back around the corner. Wait. BOOM. Loot bodies.
Moving into the city, sneaking the whole way under cover of night, I spot another slave guard with the unlikely name of Forty. Dunno how I know his name but he's somehow tough enough to take a sniper round to the head and still keep going. I run in for an easier shot with the hunting rifle and see some poor sap in a collar make a run for it between us before suddenly going BOOM in the middle of the road.
Kid: Wow. The slavers are going to be mad at you. REAAAAL mad.
Me: I think they're past mad at this point kid. Now go on and get out of here.
Kid: Un-uh. No way! The collars are wired to explode if you go out too far. You saw what happened to that guy.
Me: Clever sons of... ah... heh. Yeah. Stay put kid. I've got this.
Kid: Could you help my friends? They're from Lamplight too.
Me: What? Send Mayor McBratty three more mouths to feed? Sure!
The battle with the slavers went fast and furious. A running battle throughout an entire square city block. Land mines were planted. Grenades were thrown. Good Karma was amassed for every named Slaver I killed. And I damn near got killed by a slavegirl named Clover.
Me: (having just gunned down another slaver) Ah! Running woman in a collar! Fear not! Salvation is at hand!
Clover: (pulling sword) Die! Die!
Me: (jumping back) Augggh! (shooting her in the head)
Clover: Whatsammater? Afraid of the sight of your own blood?
Me: Dammit, I'm here to save you! (shooting her in the head)
Clover: (laughs manically)
Me: Um... kinda out space here to run. (dropping a land mine)
It wound up taking five shots to the head and a land mine to bring down Clover. Amazing how a blonde in a sundress and a collar was better able to shrug off damage than the entire gang of slavers.
I take out the town doctor in her sleep. Literally walked into the barracks and into two slavers, who were dead before the door finished closing behind me. The gun-shop owner woke up to find his guard dead and soon found his kneecaps missing. It was at this point that I discovered that stealing items didn't result in karma loss and proceeded to loot the doctor's office and the armory blind. I also take down the head slaver - no surprise he's a pimp named Eulogy Jones. Noting that he has another woman with a collar with him, I aim for him first - controlled fire, no explosives - and bring him down.
Me: Fear not, good woman! I am here to lead you to -
Crimson: (firing her gun at me) Die!
Me: Ach! But - but I'm freeing you! He who held you captive is no more! He's bleeding out on the tiger-skin rug, for crissakes!
Crimson: Die! Die! (laughs insanely)
Me: Dammit! Why is it every attractive woman I meet is either crazy or trying to kill me? Usually both.
With the slavers all dead, this leaves me free to go to the slave pens (they keep a two-headed cow locked in with them just to make the point) and let everyone go. Luckily one of the Little Lamplighters was able to - somehow - rig the fence from inside his cell so that nobody's collars would go off. It takes me three trips to gather up all the excess loot, swag and booty from scavaging Paradise Falls. And with that, Paradise Falls... falls.
Score 900 xp for freeing all the slaves. Score a Level Up to 15. Score the Lawbringer perk.
Yes. The Lawbringer Perk. Let me type this one out for you from the manual.
Ranks Available: 1
Prerequisites: None, save being level 14.
Once you have the Lawgiver perk, any evil character you kill will have a finger on their corpse. This finger can then be sold to a certain person (whose identity is disclosed to you if you take this perk) for caps and positive Karma.
Free money and more good karma for what I was doing already? Sounds like a winner to me!
A quick check of my map reveals a new location out east of Minetown - Regulator HQ. Sounds a likely place to look for lawmen. It's a relatively peaceful journey, save for when I encounter two mutant black bears and have to blow about half of my remaining land mine stock dealing with them. Luckily the path heading southeast out of Minetown - which I missed earlier - HAD plenty of material for me to restock with. Unfortunately, I run into the bears just outside Regulator HQ - just after the bears slaughtered the two two-headed cows that were tied up behind the shotgun shack that is apparently HQ.
Me: Anyone here?
Regulator: You'll want to talk to our leader.
Me: Yes, but first I could use some stitching up. Bears just killed your cattle and I got cut pretty bad. Can I see the med bay?
Regulator: You'll want to talk to our leader.
Me: Or a trader/quartermaster? Buy a few stims?
Regulator: You'll want to talk to our leader.
Me: Can't you say anything else?
Regulator: Welcome to Corneria!
Me: ... moving on.
Leader: Hey. I see you got our message.
Me: ... Yes. Yes I did.
Leader: You've got a reputation as a good guy. Want to join us?
Me: Money for killing people I was killing anyway? Sure.
Leader: Excellent. Here's your regulation trenchcoat.
Me: Oooh... Browncoat. I like.
Leader: Yes, we all do. From now on, every evil person you kill, cut off a finger and bring it back to me. It's 10 caps a finger. 1000 if it belongs to a person on our hit list.
Me: ... wait, from now on? Like, from THIS moment on?
Me: So if I were to - hypothetically - have single-handed killed an entire city full of slavers BEFORE now..?
Leader: ...you wouldn't get squat.
Me: You know, it's a good thing I have 2000 caps, a full arsenal and a fairly good collection of medical supplies right now. Otherwise I'd be sorely annoyed.
I head south and clean the raiders out of an abandoned US Army Armory. By the time I'm done moving loot around and collecting fingers, I now have 3000 caps. Seeing a city called Canterbury Commons to the east, I decide to move on.
Oddly, on the way out to CC, the radio plays something new for the first time in a while. 3-Dog, the DJ on the Galaxy News station says there's reports that Canterbury Commons is being fought over by two people in costumes, with giant ants and robots fighting in the streets.
Yeah. This sounds like something I need to see.
I get into town just in time to watch one of these super battles. I decide to take a shot at the woman in the ant helmet, seeing as how she's monologuing about humanity falling before the might of... The Ant-Agonizer! The other costumed twit, by contrast, is monologuing about how her evil scehemes will not succeed - so sayeth The Mechanist! Despite two critical hits and a sneak attack, the woman shows no signs of being damaged though she and the ants run off fast enough. I try talking to The Mechanist, but he shrugs me off with a "No Time, Citizen! I must return to my Forge to prepare for her next attack!"
And then I meet the Mayor - Uncle Roe- who is understandably annoyed about this whole situation as it's scaring off the traders. Seems that they know who The Mechanist is - the former town mechanic - and that he started the whole Superhero thing after this crazy woman in the ant costume, who somehow kept the ants docile, started showing up preaching about humanity being corrupt and people needing to follow the example of the ants. She didn't actually hurt anyone though one of her ants did wind up getting freaked out by his pet robot and... well, one thing led to another as when neighbor's pets fight.
I walk around town and meet Joe, who runs the diner and the mayor's nephew, who is your typical 10-year-old comic book geek, who tells me all about the local characters. Naturally, he thinks this is a lot cooler than any of the adults do. Joe also tells me that he thinks the Ant-Agonizer might be Tanya, this girl whose family was eaten by giant ants a few years ago.
I also meet the town's two cops - a disagreeable woman named Machete who I perceive to be a Lamplighter from her name and disrespectful attitude - and a slightly more agreeable fellow named Dominic.
Dominic: Hey there. Welcome to Canterbury Commons.
Me: Thanks. So what else is there to do besides taking in the daily superhero battles?
Dominic: Well, not much since the traders are avoiding the place. Right now our main attractions are eating at Joe's and burying thieves in unmarked graves. Of course that last one is something of a lost art, unless'n you're planning to start taking something that taint yours.
Me: I wasn't planning on it. I'm a lawman myself.
Me: You really are that bored, aren't you?
Dominic: Being head cop of a town with seven people, two of them are cops and the other two are supervillains the mayor won't let me go after because he wants a peaceful solution? Hell yes.
I like this guy.
Deciding to go after the ants first, I head north and enter the tunnels that run under the city. The ants provide little resistance and I'm soon face to face with the Queen Ant herself.
Ant-Agonizer: Foolish mortal!
Me: I just came to talk. That's all.
Ant-Agonizer: Speak then! But know that if your words displease me, my beauties await.
Me: Why are you doing this?
Ant-Agonizer: Because humanity is crass and corrupt! Left to their own devices without a society to guide them, look what happens? They turn on one another! Kill one another when they should cooperate as the ants do!
Me: But don't ants also bully other colonies into joining them through force?
Ant-Agonizer: Uh... yes. But ants don't make nuclear arms! You can't hug children with nuclear arms.
Me: Actually, I know this scientist you should meet. Oh wait... you can't. Cause he's dead. But that's besides the point. The point is that, yes, humanity sucks. But it isn't beyond hope yet. I'm sure you could give it another chance somewhere without it coming to this.
Ant-Agonizer: ... you're right. Here, take the costume. I don't want to see it again.
Me: Wow. You're kinda hot without the mask and the body-armor.
Ant-Agonizer: I'm going to find someplace where I can just forget all of this. Farewell.
Me: *sighs* Every hot woman I meet is either crazy or trying to kill me or a cosplayer. Sometimes all three.
That done, I head south to The Mechanist's Forge (i.e. the abandoned robot store) There's one angry Robo-Brain in the lobby but I take care of it easily before finding a side-door that leads directly into the lair of The Mechanist himself after some persuasive picking, allowing me to avoid a factory floor-full of angry robots.
Mechanist: I see you hold the armor of my enemy! Let me have it, that her reign of evil may finally be ended.
Me: Wait! Before I do that, I have something I must ask you.
Mechanist: Very well, but speak quickly. For Justice can wait for no man!
Me: Hasn't it occurred to you that by doing this you are causing more trouble than the giant ants ever did? That heavily armed robots programmed to kill are ineffectual, at best, as a force for law and order?
Mechanist: Golly no... is it possible? Have I become a villain by encouraging the cycle of violence?
Me: Yes. You should give this up, Mechanist. The threat is over. Your violent ways solve nothing.
Mechanist: Wait a second - aren't you the guy who solved the gentrification problem in Tenpenny Tower by killing a bunch of people?
Me: Yes, but I didn't use uncontrollable robots with freaking lasers. HUUUUGE difference.
Mechanist: Oh gods... what have I done? I must go somewhere else... I couldn't face the town again after all this.
Me: Yes, yes. That's probably for the best... (quietly) and since you're going away, nobody will miss all this cool junk in your apartment.
So yeah - not much XP for solving the situation and getting both costumed crusaders to give up the fight. But who cares - now I have cool ant armor that increases my agility!
Me: Wasteland, rejoice this day. For you have a new hero with a mind as sharp Damascus steel and a gaze as steely as his mind. You are now under the protection of Adamant!
Joe: What, really?
Me: Nah... can you give me a Stim or 2 for this?
Joe: So you were joking?
Me: Of course. This armor was made for a girl. A very crazy... very special girl, whose family was eaten by ants... *sobs*
Joe: *sighs* Whiskey?
Now that the town is safe for trading again, I talk with the mayor about getting the traders to come back. One thing leads to another and Uncle Roe and I are suddenly talking investments. One thing leads to another again and I've invested 2800 caps into four different caravan companies for the purpose of upgrading their inventory. What's truly sad is that after selling various bits of Mechanist/Ant-Agonizer loot, I can easily afford it to do this and still have 1500 caps left.
Hell of a day.