Streaks of orange, red, and pink spanned the dusk sky, casting a beautiful blanket of color over the scattered rooftops of Bucket Town. John stepped out of the rough yet sturdy supply store, Hooked, into the feint yet lovely light. For a moment he stared out at the lonesome dying sun, lazily hanging over the parched horizon. An equally lazy breeze blew in, kicking dust up along the trail running alongside the northern business district. Gravel crunched underneath his feet as he slowly paced down the trail, taking in the fresh sunset. The path took him past Finn's boarded up bus, appearing empty and abandoned as darkness set in. Further along he glimpsed the glow of lights around a bend in the trail, revealing a crowded Bobo's Bar. Cheers, whoops, hollers, and curses constantly erupted from within. John quietly observed a pair push open the curtain door and storm off into the street. Both were male and swayed back in forth when they walked, clearly intoxicated.
The pair were only a few steps in front of John, apparently headed in the direction of La Ranchero. They muttered inaudibly back and forth for a few moments before the larger one on the left raised his voice.
"It's the damn tourists and traders we've been attracting! Ever since we legalized drugs and whores, everyone and tier mother wants a piece of the Bucket Town pie."
"Calm down Roger!" The other snapped back at him.
"Why should I?" The larger man continued to fume. "We fought for this town! I should be able to find a place to sleep without some random fuck-up knocking my tent over and pitching his in the spot! There are no rooms left at Trapper's, hell you can't even order a damn drink without your damn table being stolen!"
"Screaming your ass off about it will only get us thrown out of town. Roy and his boys don't mind drunks in the streets, but if you start causing a ruckus...." The man paused for a moment, looking off at the sunset himself. "Well than I don't know what I'll do. It's two days to Big Brown, four to Brick. No chance in hell we make it as hunters in either place. Bucket Town attracts change. It's only a matter of time before someone comes through here and dethrones the council or blows half the businesses to shit and we stop attracting so many people."
John continued walking in silence, all to aware he was one of many causing the pair grief. Ahead the large one grumbled something, but kept his head and remained quiet. His friend swung his head around, scanning the area for anyone who might complain. In a matter of seconds he locked eyes with John. For a moment he looked like he might say something, but turned to his companion and muttered for them to leave. The pair turned and walked into the town square, heading directly for La Ranchero. John heaved a heavy sigh but continued looking for his destination.
Several shacks dotted the landscape behind the brothel, eventually giving way to an open field for nearly a hundred meters before a mass of crumbling ruins marked the boundary of the town. Luckily he didn't have many homes to search through, and on closer inspection only one shack appeared to be tin. John knocked softly on the door, letting his manners get the better of him. The door swung open and a beanpole of a man occupied the doorway. His face was aged, and his hair had all but disappeared. He had a rather angry look in his eye.
"Can I help you?" His voice a slow drawl.
"I'm here for Scratch, she said you would have a package for her? Turns out it's a lot easier to send me instead," John said with an honest smile.
"Yeah, yeah I got your package. Tell her to send someone sooner next time, I may be tempted to take a free sample if she doesn't get her act together." The man's voice was hostile but he produced the package with no comment.
"Have a nice-" John began, only to have the door slammed in his face. "No wonder the locals are being pushed out, bunch of assholes," he muttered to himself as he turned back towards the trail.
The last rays of sunlight inched over the horizon, a final notice to return home and rest, or as most people appeared to do, party. Once again John passed Bobo's, the noise from inside seemed even louder than before, and most likely would until the following morning. Finn's somehow looked even emptier than before, although John noticed the light from a welder's tool suddenly kick in. Finally, as night set in, John arrived back at the solid adobe structure, Hooked.
(OOC: Leave this open I'll likely come back to it, thank you.)
Another lonesome and dreary night had passed, the platoon of stars moving as a single body, arriving and leaving the sky at the exact moment their brothers did. The glow of the sun on the horizon marked the beginning of day, and with it, the beginning of John's next task. Everyone seemed to know Roy was the Sheriff of Bucket Town, or according to one or two of his gung ho supporters, Free Copperton. Most of the citizens seemed content with Roy, who despite being a man of few words, needed few to strike fear in the hearts of those standing against him. Still managing to control a frontier town like Bucket Town was no easy task, considering the general anarchy of the locale.
Few citizens were out and about under the dawn sun, those unseen were either dedicated hunters or lazy junkies lacking any ambition. John himself was patiently waiting for a drink from the well. A few weary looking travelers stood before him in the line, while a crowd of rowdy new arrivals, fresh off the most recent caravan, couldn't seem control their complaints. Small towns move slow, it was a simple fact proven time and time again in the wasteland. The caravaners couldn't seem to grasp that, and jeers and insults of slowness found their way to the front of the line. A few of the men seemed somewhat intoxicated, and comments about dehydration and headaches drifted towards John's end of the line.
After a few moments John was the next one up to use the well. The small canteen he had picked up to the south a few years back held only a small bit of water, and only a few minutes of attention was sufficient to fill it. The well was operated by hand, and bore water tasting more like dirt than anything else. Still water was water when you got right down to it. The first rowdy caravaner was now only two spots from the well, and had begun ranting about how soft town life must be if water was only a short walk away. John shook his head in disgust but hid his emotion from the newcomers. There was no need to start anything with a bunch of drunks. Silently John headed off in the direction of Roy's "Sheriff Office".
The back streets of Bucket Town were less lively than the square, although that was to be expected. Alleyways always had a way of attracting trouble, even in his youth John had discovered that, although it struck him funny his attempt at going straight involved the drug trade. Still few junkies accidentally got addicted, the choice to try chems was only that of the user's, as such John felt no passion for those trapped in the endless cycle of addiction.
The scent of fresh blood clouded John's nose, filling his gut with the need to be emptied. For a moment he nearly lost his small breakfast of bread and molerat. Slowly though, his senses adjusted and he continued down the alleyway. It exited into another open section of town, a small gated district usually reserved for incoming caravans or the wealthy residents of town. People were gathered around a pair of crushed tents, gossiping about the latest tragedy to strike.
Stakes had been placed a few feet from the tents, assembling a rugged square roughly five meters a side. Two men dressed in rough leather clothing adorned with large golden badges and clutching revolvers stood inside the square, forcing the crowd backwards. The scent of death and broiling blood hung over the scene, driving a few of the crowd members to lose their breakfasts. John drew closer to the scene, realizing he recognized the body sprawled atop one of the tents, several obvious wounds crossed the man's chest, the cloth of his shirt drenched a brick red shade. The corpse belonged to the larger of two tenants of Bobo's bar John had encountered upon the pair's exit of the bar. The man had made a case against the newcomer's in town, and now he had drowned in a pool of his own blood.
"All right people show's over. Head back to your homes, caravan's if you're lacking a place to stay," the elder looking of the two sheriffs stated. His hair was black, although dotted with specks of grey throughout. "Unless anybody can help identify the body the Free Copperton Sheriff Department would love for you to step back and not interfere with the investigation."
John took a step forward. "No idea who he he is but he came out of Bobo's yesterday with another man, they were complaining about the newcomers coming into town. Might have picked a fight he couldn't handle."
"We've found the killer son, some caravaner didn't take to kindly to this boy taking some food of his. Carved him up real nice. Damn locals need to realize times are changing, otherwise we might have another revolution again. Or even worse another election," the sheriff grimly responded, a dark grin appearing on his face. Something about a repeat election struck him as funny.
"So no clue who he is?" John continued.
"I could ask you the same question. Move along now we don't need anybody else gawking at this guy."
"Fine, didn't even know him myself. Any way you could point me to the Department's office? I've got a message from Ali over at Hooked."
"Yeah, follow the street down a bit more, take a corner or two and you should get there. This is the safest section of town, if you mind your business that is."
John nodded his thanks and continued down the street. More bystanders were flocking to the scene, nearly ten in all. He felt sorry for the obviously underhanded Sheriff's Department, if Bucket Town continued to grow Roy would have to expand his business or risk being overrun by crime. His thoughts drifted to a completely lawless Bucket Town for a brief moment, but he shuffled them to the back of his mind as he arrived at his destination.
Roy's office was impressive in terms of Bucket Town architecture; standing two stories and encompassing a good chunk of a small pre-war structure, a large sign displaying Free Copperton Sheriff's Department was chiseled into the wall facing the street. Two guards stood at attention on either side of the door frame. Both were younger than the man John had spoke to earlier, neither having a hint of grey on their heads. They were skinny and gaunt, lacking any true muscle, but each clutched a well made rifle; stating simply, they shouldn't be messed with.
"What do you want?" The guard to the left grunted. "Roy's not looking for visitors."
"I've got a letter from the good folks over at Hooked, supposed to be important that Roy sees it. I could come back later, doubt he's the type to take it too seriously."
Both were visually shaken by the thought, but neither relented. "I'm not about to let you just waltz on in, you'll have to submit all weapons and ammunition you have and any other lethal objects in your possession," the same guard replied.
"We'll also need to see the the letter as well, just to make sure you aren't looking to protest some of our methods. Last guy who pulled that ended up hanging in the gallows for a few days," the other guard replied, less irritated than his comrade.
John silently produced both his pistol and shotgun, as well as all his 9mm rounds and twelve gauge shells. The second guard looked over the note, leaving it unopened but checking for a mark identifying it as Ali's postage. Content with the result, he waved John into the building.
"Roy's office is the first door to your left."
The lobby was a large room, occupying the entire ground floor apart from Roy's office. A lone man sat behind a desk, absorbed in furiously writing a letter. He didn't look up as John made his way into Roy's office. John knocked once on a door labeled SHERIFF, earning a gruff and deep bark from inside.
John stepped into the room, finding a colossal man perched behind a much too small desk. His arms and chest bulged with mass muscles, nearly tearing the tight pre-war police uniform hugging his gigantic frame. His eyes were glassy and bloodshot, the sign of far too many buffout doses. His speech fit perfectly with his terrifying form.
"You there! Why you interrupt me?"
"Ali sent a message for you," John managed, fear running through his system. Never in his life had such a man existed, even the most dominating of tribal fighters would be no match for such a monster.
"Bring it. I'm a busy man. Can't waste my time on foolish couriers."
"It has something to do with independent smugglers, he must have thought you'd find it interesting."
"Hmmm... Smugglers. I should find a use for this," he snatched the note, ripping the envelope to shreds in seconds. He devoured the writing before turning to face John again. "You still here? I'll send my guy over to Hooked, get paid when you get back. Leave my office."
Without saying a word John slid out of the office, content to be leaving with his life. Roy's presence was enough to fill him with fear. He departed the building quickly, once again being completely ignored by the secretary. To say the Sheriff's Department had odd cases would be an understatement. Both guards bid him farewell with a wave, and he took the long way back to Hooked. Bucket Town wasn't what it seemed.