"KC - you've been to Tesla, Vegas, several NEST towers - it seems just about everywhere. I have to ask - how do you do it?"
"I know where to find stuff, I know what people want, and I know how to take care of myself. Its a fine line to wall really - give too much of yourself, and people take advantage. Don't give of yourself, and people start taking because they believe you deserve it for being a [bleep]. Oh, right, your censorship thing. Sorry."
"Its all right. Please, continue."
"I live by the rules of the zone - I keep track of where I've been, I repay kindness, and stash what I can't take in marked sites so the next person coming though can be safe. If you're new to the wandering like, I'll help give you direction. But I'm not going to swear allegiance to anyone, and I don't pick fights. A fast motorcycle is ten times as good as a fast trigger-finger."
"There has got to be more to this than simply avoiding exploitation and confrontation."
"Not really. This world was almost big enough for billions upon billions of people five years ago. At ten percent of that, there should be enough to go around, and space that warring people should be able to get away.Its not like the yard at San Quentin.
"The prison...? You were at-"
"That's not appropriate right now. Maybe a better explanation is the Lone Star City-State."
"To be honest, I don't know much about them and if that's an apt metaphor. What can you tell us about the Lone Star arco complex. I hear they've become a de-facto city state, but not as much is said about them as all the others."
"They're kinda quiet, cause they don't want more trouble then they can take. NEST knows they've got problems, and don't mind using the radio antennas atop their two hundred story towers to call for assistance. Vegas thinks its still the rules of this country and sends out missives. New Birmingham wants to rule this country and points out their reasons loudly. Lone Star has most of what they need, where they need it. However, they're also stuck between New Birmingham's Expansion plans, a rather nasty group of the aliens that are far less personable then the one you've got working here, and a fairly high number of bandits - is that feed back or the thing speaking?"
"Sing-Sing - you know anything about the ones out west"
[High pitched squeel]
"Vocorder girl! uh - KC, would you mind if I went and spoke to her in her power suit, and you continued recording with Diego?
"Fine with me - how about you mister Dezf, des... I',m sory - how is it pronounced again?"
"de Zúñiga - like the fourteenth century Spanish philosopher. Not that Hobbes ever pronounces it correctly or spells it out in transcripts. But yea, you go talk to the alien, and I'll talk to our guest."
"If I can ask a question for a moment - how did you meet Hobbes, and how did an OB from the East Coast end up here?
"Its kind of anti-climatic really. We got stuck in this state when the EMP grounded air traffic, and somehow crossed paths, and both came to the conclusion we should get out of the big city quickly, because being stuck in an unfamiliar metropolis during a crisis was not going to be an easy trial to handle. A bit more to it of course, but our listeners probably want to hear about the Texas City State."
"Well, as I was saying, its in less immediate danger than most of the other states. Part of its territory was an old college campus so they've got education as needed, and a nuclear reprocessing station, so large amounts of electricity could be available. They're also pretty close to sea base meant to respond to event in the gulf and its resident cruisers. They don't have much in the way of industry - no micro-facs, nothing but some incomplete buildings that would have been zoned for it - yet everybody wants them.
It sits at a corridor into alien over-run California - so the PCs want it, NB wants its power plant for industry and the ships for power projection. Vegas shows the flag with occasional bomber over-flights because those ships officially belong to them. Frankly, I don't think the cruisers have left the docks once, because someone is going to blow them up if that happens - PC because they're a threat or USAF because they're stolen.
The people I've met there don't come off as wacky like Tesla or zealous as the religious freaks. You can still tell there is some sort of internal conflict brewing. I'd guess it has to do with which government they want to join, and on what terms. What else there is to it, they hide that pretty well."
"Don't they have some mag-lev hubs running through there or other transit stations?"
"I seem to recall such - yes."
"Is there a reason why you went there?"
"First and foremost, just to say I've been everywhere - you know, like why people climb mount Everest. The other is that there were a lot of rumors both down South and in Vegas about the reanimates down there. That they were a lot more organized then usual."
"I'd have to say yes. I snuck past a lot more of the advanced types then I've encountered anywhere else."
"Do you think there's a reason?"
"I'm sure there is a reason. Don't have a clue what it is, but I know there has to be one."
"Anyone even making a guess?"
"Well a lot of people claim its some sort of conspiracy, and that the reanimates are under the control of someone - be it the aliens, Vegas, lone-star itself as a way of border enforcement, or even scientists at Area 51. All that is perfectly reasonable compare to the one about the cows though."
"Yeah, its one of those really strange things. You never see any domestic cows, very little live stock of any type really, but never cows. Yaks, Zebras, even elephants escaped from zoos in some places, but domestic cattle. As the reasoning goes - factory farm animals packed together in feedlots were some of the most terribly hormone and antibiotic ridden creatures on the planet and a major source of contamination and resistant bacteria - so even more than humans, they were injected with nano-vac. When that stuff went haywire and produced the reanimates..."
"So you mean the whole undead thing could be becasue of [bleep] cows?"
"Seems I returned just in time - Language Diego."
"You here this about the cows?"
"Yes, and some interesting facts from Sing-Sing. But we're going over time, so lets try to wrap this up and find a way to present it a bit more eloquently."
"Fair enough - I'm getting hungry and the guest looks like he could use something too. File set saved, back ups OK, music set to go, and powering down..."