With accounts settled in Freeside and a favor to think on, I decided I'd left the NCR Ambassador waiting long enough. One quick walk to the very end of The Strip and I began looking around for the NCR embassy. To say that security was a bit lax was putting it mildly.
Me: Was that the gate guard just stumbling by in a drunken stupor?
Me: Right. Just checking.
Me: I'm listening.
Ambassador Crocker: Now first, I should note that as my letter said, any crimes you committed in the past will be forgiven in exchange for your aid on this matter.
Me: What crimes? I haven't committed any crimes against the NCR!
Boone: What about all the prisoners we killed, thus derailing an NCR construction project?
Ambassador Crocker: Actually, we put that on all of our paperwork. We find it best to foster an attitude of paranoia and treat everyone as if they have done something. Let's us weed out the guilty ones a lot easier.
Me: But I haven't committed any crimes... really! Hell, I'm about as beloved by the NCR as you can be without being a member!
Ambassador Crocker: Quite so. Which is why I wanted your aid with a special mission. We need someone who is friendly with the NCR but not actively part of us to go act as a diplomat and speak with a gang called The Boomers. We need to secure their aid in the coming fight.
Me: The one with The Legion, you mean?
Ambassador Crocker: Yes. Will you help us?
Me: I'll think about it. To be quite frank, I came to New Vegas to handle some business of my own. I'm getting sick of playing errand boy because half the people in your organization stand around "securing" bases and the other half sit around playing Caravan.
Ambassador Crocker: That is an unfair and baseless accusation!
Me: So you don't want to play a game of Caravan with me?
Ambassador Crocker: ... pass me the deck.
As I headed back down The Strip - a bit richer - I saw an older couple that looked horribly out of place, even in this tourist trap.
Ethel: Will, let's just go home!
Will: Not until I get back at that low-down, side-winding...
Me: Excuse me, folks. I couldn't help but notice your comical arguing...
Ethel: Sir, would you please talk some sense into my husband?
Will: Woman, if you couldn't do it, what makes you think some random punk off the street will?
Me: What seems to be the problem?
Will: It's that no-good Heck Gunderson! He cheated me and lots of other folks out of our land and I aim to get him back somehow! It ain't right, doing that to decent, good people.
Me: (Speech 75) No, it ain't. But you doing something foolish ain't right either. Good folk can't go stooping down like that to deal with the bad folk. Otherwise, there ain't no good folk left to be good folk.
Will: Stranger, you got a point. You live by eye-for-an-eye justice and sooner or later everybody winds up blind. Come on, Ethel! Let's go home!
Boone: That was a good thing you did there - convincing that old man not to waste the rest of his life seeking revenge against someone who wronged him.
Me: Thanks. Now let's go track down that bastard who tried to kill me and stole my package!
Mr. House had told me that Benny's right-hand was a fellow called Swank. He was actually running things at the front when I entered The Tops casino. He recognized me as the new "high-roller" in town, who was the first to be allowed inside the Lucky 38 and asked what business House had with me.
I laid it all out for him, told him what Mr. House knew and further - what he suspected. I also showed him some of the evidence I had found along the way.... a lighter that belonged to Benny and some cigarette butt's I'd found by my grave which matched what was apparently Benny's preferred, very rare brand.
I don't know whether Swank's sense of justice, his loyalty to his people over his loyalty to Benny or just plain common sense thinking about what a fight with Mr. House would lead to that led him to help me out - all I know is that whatever his reasons were, he was quick to agree to let me keep my weapons and to provide a distraction so I could search Benny's suite for any incriminating evidence I could take to Mr. House that would prove his guilt but prove the rest of the Chairmen innocent of any treachery. I left Boone behind so I could sneak in alone, hoping to find something of use.
What I found proved to be much, much worse...
Yes Man: Hi! Can I help you?
Me: Gah! Who the hell are you?
Yes Man: Benny calls me his Yes-Man, so I guess that's my name. I'm Benny's assistant.
Me: But... you're a Securotron, aren't you?
Yes Man: Yes!
Me: I thought Mr. House controlled all of them?
Yes Man: He did. But Benny was able to stop me with a pulse grenade and then he got this nice lady from the Followers of The Apocalypse to reprogram me to be helpful!
Me: Helpful to Benny or helpful to everybody?
Yes Man: Hmmm... you know, the only people I've ever seen were her and Benny but I wasn't programmed to obey only Benny. I think that might be an oversight... but hey! I love helping people!
Me: Just what were you helping Benny with?
Yes Man: Well, I'm still connected to Mr. House's network, though I don't show up on it anymore. Benny said that once he had Mr. House out of the way, I was going to help him run this town.
Me: So you would control the other Securotrons... and Benny would control you?
Yes Man: Yes! Although that really only works so long as nobody knows about me. Otherwise anybody could command me to do anything. I'm not programmed to recognize just one specific person as my Master now... though I suppose I shouldn't have told you that either.
Me: Hmmm... no, no, it's fine. Listen, if something were to happy to Benny, you could help me with getting his plan into action, right?
Yes Man: Oh sure! I'd be happy to help.
I went back downstairs and told Swank I had the evidence needed to clear the Chairmen but that I wanted to speak to Benny in person. He directed me to the corner where Benny and his bodyguards were watching the floor. Benny was surprised to see me, to put it mildly. He tried to talk me into going up to the Presidential Suite before him. But I'm no fool. I insisted we'd go up together... alone. Without guards. Mano a Mano.
Benny began singing like a canary after that. He filled me in on his whole plan but didn't tell me much I didn't already know from Yes Man, save the name of the woman in the FotA who had helped him reprogram Yes Man. He offered me a cut of the take for the whole city if I kept quiet and helped out with taking over the whole she-bang. I decided he had a pretty good plan... but he was nowhere near smart enough to actual run this town and have a chance of keeping it running once things came to a head with the Legion and the NCR.
Maybe I was sick of being the only one doing a thing to try and help out the poor wretches of this pitiful berg, except for - near as I could figure - The King. Maybe I thought everyone should be free to make their own way without anyone, be them an army, a gang of slavers or an ancient man with his brain in a jar telling them how to live. Maybe part of me still wanted a piece of Benny for what he did to me.
Mostly though, I think I was sick of carrying nearly 50 sticks of dynamite in my leather pants. And Benny, for all his streetwise swagger, was remarkably easy to pick-pocket. And by pick-pocket, I mean "plant a lit dynamite stick in his pocket."
Benny's bodyguards came in but they didn't seem to make much of their boss kneeling down, smoke being in the air or the loud kaboom I'm sure would have been heard downstairs. I left them behind me and reported back to Swank, who told me the Presidential suite was mine for as long as I wanted it. Between that and Benny's room - which he wouldn't be needing any more - I figured that gave me four apartments in New Vegas. Five total counting my room back in Novac.
And just when I thought the day couldn't get any better, an old friend showed up as I left the casino.
Vulpes Inculta: Hail herald!
Me: Excuse me?
Vulpes Inculta: Be not fooled by my disguise, herald! Know ye not the manly jaw of the Desert Fox no matter what his guise?
Me: Huh? Oh - you're that guy with the LEGION!
Vulpes Inculta: SHHHHHHH! *looks around* I am undercover here. I have come to deliver thee a message!
Me: So Ceasar wants to meet with me?
Vulpes Inculta: Yes, and he is willing to forgive all your crimes! Neglecting your heraldic duties! Freeing his slaves! Traveling with an avowed enemy of the Legion and aiding the NCR!
Me: Don't forget killing his messenger on the Vegas strip with The Chainsaw of Justice.
Vulpes Inculta: I don't remember that charge.
Me: Oh wait! That's not on my wrap sheet. That's on my to-do list!
Boone: Ha! Got him in one. You owe me a new apartment.
Me: Dammit, Boone! I wanted to test drive the Chainsaw of Justice!
Boone: And ruin that fancy black suit that looks to be about your size?
Me: ... how does the Presidential suite at The Tops sound?
Me: Great, but you're going to have to get a dead body out of there first.
Boone: Yeah, yeah. I've rented an inner city apartment before.
My New Threads AND The Chainsaw of Justice!