Unwanted Attention

Edie got out of her bed in Vault 21 and noticed an envelope pushed under the door. Curious yet cautious, she picked it up, noting the Caesar's Legion seal; however the contents were innocent enough: a piece of paper with writing it. She picked it up then tossed it away again, exclaiming, "Jesus Christ!"

Instead of ink, the message was written in blood. Once the initial shock had gone away, she picked up the letter again.

It read; "Edie,

After witnessing your valor in battle against the deranged heathen Fiends, I can only conclude that you are no ordinary woman to be taken lightly- that you, like Caesar, must be descended from the gods. Please accept my tokens and words of admiration.

Your devoted,

Vulpes Inculta."

The letter fluttered to the floor. Edie was torn between breaking into laughter and screaming. After a moment she collected herself, picked up the letter, and went out into the lobby where Sara was already up and hocking Vault equipment.

Edie asked, "Who delivered this?"

"Oh it was some guy in a brown suit. He was pretty rude. Since you were still asleep I just pushed it under the door. Why?"

"Here, darling, read it."

Sarah took the letter. "Is this-?"

"Yes."

"Ew." She read the paper and her eyes got huge. "Jesus."

"Yeah. I'm not sure whether to be amused or terrified. Finally someone goes nuts for me, and it's one of Caesar's psychos."

"Life's a bitch that way, isn't it?" She began washing her hands at the sink.

"Period." Edie tucked the note into her pack.

"You're not going to keep that thing, are you?"

"Not out of passionate attachment. My standards could use some work, but I'd rather bareback a ghoul than submit to that nation of rapists."

"I appreciate your attitude, but I did not need to hear that about the ghouls!"

"Sorry." She leaned towards the hotel-owner. "And I lied. In you, my standards are pretty high."

"Good. I was going to have to evict you otherwise."

Edie pecked Sarah on the nose. "I'm heading back into the Wasteland for a while. I'll bring you back any Vault stuff I find, on me, for insulting you."

Sarah kissed her on the lips. "Just in case Fox Man is somehow watching, I don't want to miss the opportunity to piss him off."

Edie made a quick stop at the Atomic Wrangler before really starting, avoiding Beatrix due to her comment about the ghouls. The long journey through the Mojave Wasteland took the rest of the day, and it was nearly midnight when Dinky the Dino's head winked "Welcome to Novac" at her. She was very tired and paid no attention to the small object outside the door to her room that tripped her, except to note that it made a glass clink. Probably an old beer bottle.

She woke up in the morning, enjoying fresh clothes from the dresser, and a bottle of purified water with a fresh pear for breakfast. Reasonably cheerful, Edie opened the door intending to see what Cliff Briscoe had for sale before she wandered into the Waste again, but the door struck the bottle a second time, and she looked down at it.

Her heart sank. It was filled with something that could only be blood, and there was a note tied around the neck of the bottle.

"Oh no." Edie read the note and gave the bottle a tentative shake.

Gladiator's blood. That was what it had to be, unless it was his own blood. Between the two of them, Edie was at a loss as to which was worse. The trip to the Dino Dee-Lite was now far from her mind. Double-checking that she had an NCR uniform in her pack, the former courier set off for Camp Forlorn Hope.

Dr. Alex Richards was not in the medical tent of the camp; he was outside smoking a cigarette.

"A fine example you set," Edie said from behind him, making him jump.

She was wearing an NCR sergeant's uniform; things were not so smooth between her and the Republic nowadays, or the Legion for that matter. So she kept the uniforms on hand.

"I didn't expect to see you here," Richards said. "What can I do for you?"

"I'm in need of some advice, Ally," she took Vulpes Inculta's notes out of her pocket. "I've got a legionary stalking me and leaving me little gruesome presents."

"What? Let me see." He took the papers and read them, the V-shape his eyebrows made becoming more and more pronounced. "Goddamn."

"That's pretty close to what I said," Edie remarked, looking penitent.

"Well, I don't know what to tell you."

"Didn't they cover this in your training?"

"I'm just a medical doctor. Not a lot of the high-ranking officers like to admit that mental stuff is a real problem."

"Not too different from the Legion in that respect. Well, if not as a doctor, have you got any advice for me?"

"As your friend, and a soldier, I'd say shoot him if he gets too close."

"I'll consider that as an option. In fact, it sounds pretty good." She looked back at the tent. "Do you need any help as long as I'm here?"

"No, it's been much calmer since you helped retake Nelson, and you should probably leave before the Major sees you."

"Yeah, take care, Ally." They hugged. "You know, if Vulpes is watching, it'd really piss him off if you put your hand on my ass."

Richards laughed. "I'm all for that, but he'd probably know my heart wasn't in it."

She thumped him on the back, he returned the gesture, and they broke apart.

"See ya around."

"Careful out there- don't get shot again!"

When Edie was a safe distance from the NCR camp, she began to change out of her disguise and into her outfit of choice: the Merc Charmer outfit. She liked suits and had altered Benny's clothes to fit her, even though the jacket was in questionable taste at best. Then again, her fondness for that was more out of personal satisfaction than a preference for checks. She looked good in it, though.

Edie had blue black hair, catlike green eyes, and a small red mouth. Her skin was unnaturally pale, and no amount of time in the Mojave sunlight changed that.

She was just pulling on her skirt when she heard a noise in the rocks to her left. Cursing under her breath, Edie picked up Benny's pistol, Maria, and leaping lightly around the rocks, pointed it at the coyote skin Vulpes Inculta wore for a headdress.

"Oh it's you," she said irritably, tucking Maria away at the small of her back.

"Forgive me," Vulpes replied, sounding not really sorry. "No man could resist the opportunity to look on such beauty."

"I don't suppose you tried very hard in any case. Don't you have anything better to do than spy on me?"

"That was not my original intent. I have another gift for you."

"Keep it… you flatter me too much. Or better yet, give it to someone else whom you don't have to stalk."

"I want no one but you. None of the other women are worthy."

"There you're wrong. The Mojave is full of women more worthy than me. Look at me, Vulpes. I drink, I pop chems occasionally, I sleep with… everyone, and I think fur is tacky. You don't want me."

He shook his head. "It proves that you are descended of the gods that you may indulge yourself in worldly decadence without falling to the levels of men and the breeding stock."

Edie grabbed his upper thigh and dug her fingernails in. "Listen to me, Desert Fox. Caesar made up all that stuff about women because he couldn't keep his toga on and needed a way to make sure he never ran into trouble for it."

Vulpes started to open his mouth, and Edie leaned in closer. He closed it.

"If you want any chance at impressing me, lay off the gory gifts and reform the way you think about and act around women. You can start by simply asking if they want to sleep with you and then accepting 'no' if that's the answer. And that concludes my divine advice. If I catch you peeping at me again, you will be sorry."

She turned her back on him, finished dressing, and went on her way back to New Vegas without looking over her shoulder at the head of the Frumentarii. After walking several miles, she stopped to drink some vodka.

"Ah, hell's bells," she said to herself. "I should've just shot the son of a bitch. Oh well, the Lord forgives, which means I can give the Roman wannabes another chance."

Boone and Veronica were waiting for her at the Lucky 38 when she finally arrived.

"Don't ever let me do that again," she told Boone.

"Huh?"

"Let a stalker live."

"You've got a stalker," Veronica asked. "Tell me!"

"Let me have a nap first, and then I'll tell you," Edie said, realizing that it was probably a bad idea to let Boone hear the story.

She slept for an hour or two then found Veronica poking around the cocktail lounge.

"Good you're up! This has something to do with Caesar's Legion, I bet, since you didn't tell Boone. Is Caesar stalking you?"

"Christ, no. It's Vulpes Inculta, the one with the headdress and shades. He's stalking me. He's been leaving me little gruesome presents. More like a cat than a fox. Here."

"Eww," Veronica said, reading the two mash notes. "What'll you do?"

"Well, Dr. Richards at Camp Forlorn Hope told me to just shoot him."

"That's not a bad idea. Punching is better, though. I guess you didn't, though."

"No, I got him where I knew it would get his attention and told him how things stand. Next time he tries something that ugly coyote he wears'll be walking around with nothing underneath it."

"Nice!"

"And depending on how I'm feeling, the somethimg may not be very much. I caught him spying on me while I changed clothes."

"I gotcha. The bastard's dead meat." She snatched up a bottle of Nuka-Cola. "How's Sarah, by the way?"

"Agoraphobic, but fine otherwise."

"Good. I'm so jealous that you found her first, but now that I don't have to wear those Scribe robes all the time, that's gonna change."

"Then have a night on the town, and I'll travel with Boone awhile. He's probably getting cagey in here, anyway."

"Yeah, cool. Uh, can I borrow some caps? All I've got is the grocery money."

"Sure. Whatever you want. I've got House's stash now, and he was on some pretty good clover."

"Thanks."

Edie gave Veronica a quick hug, whispered, "sic 'em, tiger," and went to find Boone. He was brooding, sitting in the double room on the 22nd floor.

"I went out this morning," he said abruptly. "There were a bunch of NCR women dancing in the fountain outside the Ultra-Luxe, and one of those damn Securitrons was trying to get them to leave."

She sat down on the footlocker across from her companion and waited for him to continue.

"That's where I asked Carla to marry me." His eyes were hidden behind his shades as usual, but Edie could imagine the sadness filling them, cracking his icy exterior.

She laid her hand on his knee and gave it a gentle squeeze, very different from the squeeze she had given Vulpes Inculta's leg.

Boone allowed her to comfort him only a second or two before getting up and gruffly asking if they were going to stay around the hotel all day or what.