Vera suddenly came back on… great. She sure had been gone for awhile, and so were the Ghost People, wonder what happened to her. Sol thought that they should be moving out into their positions right about now since Vera won’t be there forever.
Crap, Sol thought to himself, his chest was hurting again. He began to cough violently. The Cloud of the Sierra Madre wasn’t helping either, he had already gotten used to the nuclear radiation of the Mojave but this, this was something else.
The Madre’s security system had taken every piece of equipment he had on him when he first arrived, including his pack of medicinal cigarettes. All it left him was a jump suit, the system didn’t leave behind any weapons, the revolver was something he had to take from the Police station. Elijah said that it was a defense mechanism from foreign elements such as radioactivity, to prevent the place from being damaged, ironic since the Cloud did more harm than anything the nuclear fallout could’ve ever done.
The pain was excruciating, his lungs felt like pounding drum that kept shrinking by the minute. He shook his head trying to shake off the pain. He grabbed at his chest while attempted to breathe in slowly, he could feel his throbbing heart screaming of the dark pain that surrounded the Madre.
Sol never actually remembered when the pain in his chest started to grow. Maybe it was when he’s around forty or something. And before long he was smoking his cigarettes on a daily basis, they were like Stimpaks for your lungs. The material used to brew the substances in the cigarette weren’t too rare. Some coyote tobacco chew, a couple of broc flowers and few pounds of snake venom. Coyote tobacco chew aren’t exactly the same as the normal tobacco with regular cigarettes, but still, whatever works.
He figured out the recipes while he was experimenting with some of the Stimpaks and broc flowers. The recipe seemed simple, but the results were usually random, you could get what you’re after if you brew it right or you could get complete crap on some occasions, worst case scenario being brewing up some poisonous substance instead, you’ll never know. Luckily for Sol he knew of a way to rinse out the poisonous substance in the snake venom therefore guaranteeing the results.
But none of this actually mattered since there’re no broc flowers around here, there were no snakes crawling around here, and he was damn sure that there wasn’t any coyote tobacco plant around for miles as well. So if he doesn’t find a way to get out of here fast… the question wasn’t if his lungs collapse but rather when will his lungs collapse – which should be rather soon.
They were a little bit short on time therefore they had a change of plan. Instead of going to each location one at a time in a whole group, they instead decided to split up to save time. Plus it’d be easier to sneak around the Ghost People that way.
God had already parted them in order to get to the switching station of Salida del Sol, which was a big part of the plan in order to get the Gala Event going. For a big fellow like him he sure knew how to sneak around quietly. Sol didn’t even notice he was gone when he looked around.
Christine also left for the other switching station in Puesta del Sol. Elijah’s instructions stated that the Casino’s and Villa’s power source need to be rerouted in order to activate the event. When asked about how she would accomplish this, she made a motion towards her brain then made a little twirl, then afterwards made another motion that resembled a plus, minus, multiplication sign. She then pointed towards herself and gave herself a thumbs up.
It took awhile but Solmund finally managed to understand her:
“Ah, I see… you’re saying that even thought your head… your brain is damaged, you can still do math, right? So that’s why the Old man put you there at the station.”
She nodded in acknowledgment then quickly left into the shadows of the Villa. The Cloud and darkness were still there, surrounding the buildings.
That leaves only…
“Well now,” Dean said, “so, what now, chief? You’re going to leave me to my position as well? While you’re off doing God knows what?”
“There’s a console device” Sol explained, “up in the Bell Tower over by Salida del Sol. Once all three of you get into your position, I will trigger the Gala Event, then we can join back at the entrance and go into the Casino. At least that’s the plan.”
But Dean didn’t have a problem with the plan, oh no. What he was bothered with however was Solmund. Dean felt… disappointed.
“Ya know,” Dean said, “I trusted you… we shook on it… what about our plan?”
“Dean…” Sol sighed, “… okay, okay, for the love of Christ, I’m sorry, alright? I’m just really… frustrated right now. I really just need to find that bastard Elijah and get my friends back. ED-E is probably freaking out right now.”
“Oh, it’s a little eyebot I found, his name’s spelled E-D-E. He doesn’t like being in small spaces, it freaks him out. Took me an awful long time trying to calm him down after entering a small vault. You can imagine what a place like this would do to him.”
“Hmm…” Dean looked at him, thinking about it for a moment before he said, “Why did you come here in the first place? You should’ve realized by now that nothing in this world is free, and a promise of a free treasure? Just seemed too good to be true. Surely, coming into this hellhole with your friends captured wasn’t your intention, right? Then why did you come here?”
Sol thought about it, his memories were getting worse, not because of age, but rather because of rebirth. He seemed tired, exhausted, he smiled weakly:
“Can’t say that I know for sure. I’m just so… tired of everything, ya know. It’s like… as if… my life is a story that’s just waiting to be told. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an insane story, but a predetermined story nonetheless. It took me sixty long years to realize that. So I thought… this could be my last ride. Ya know, one more time, for old time’s sake. And a place like this? A place of rest, a place of promises and of new beginnings? I just knew it was too good to be true.”
Dean stared at him, Sol had a hard time making out his expression behind his shades… and yet…
“These friends of yours… they… mean a lot… don’t they?”
“Well, yeah, I met them on my journey. They each had their own little quirks, like how Cass pretty much confesses everything about herself whenever she gets drunk. Veronica kept going on and on about a dress and mushy love stories that she’d read in novels – although she’d never admit she’s into those kinds of things – then there’s Raul and his freaking mouth, it just won’t shut up, always knew how to lighten up the mood, I don’t know how I’d make it without Raul, whenever we’re in a tight spot thinking that we were going to die, he hit us with his goddamn sarcasm which motivates us to fight through this hell and survive just so we could punch him the face later on, ha-ha… Then there’s Boone and Arcade with the mysterious aura surrounding them, it’s always fun trying to piece together what kind of a person they are through their appearances… I don’t know… it’s just that… I came to this place expecting to die… but I never expected that I’d be dragging them along with me. So I wanted to find them… to at least… at the very least… say sorry for putting them through all of this.”
He might not remember everything before his rebirth, but make no mistake about it. Even though he’d never outright admit it, he’d lost many old friends, despite saying that he never knew them that well. So losing his friends now… would tear his heart into a trillion pieces.
But now? Fragments of old memories were slowly flowing back to him, it was blurry, he could barely make it out. They were memories of… friends… home…
Sol! You wanna have a drink? There’s plenty to go around, I’ll tell ya ‘bout the time when Judy…
Anybody can tell me where the New California Republic first originated… yes, how about you, Sol? Ah, very good Sol, indeed, it originated from a small community called Shady Sands that was…
Try it again at fifteen, you’re out of tune… didn’t I tell you to get your sax cleaned up? C’mon, man…
Dean suddenly stood up, stretching his arms. He then smiled at Sol. And for a brief moment, Sol could’ve sworn that his smile was actually genuine.
“C’mon,” Dean said, “Let’s go find that old fart, I have a good feeling about this… I just can’t wait to shove my fist down his throat.”
A thought then lingered in Sol’s head… just… one last time… he then smiled.
“Although,” Dean then said, “if you’re going to leave me on that damn building over Puesta del Sol all by myself, then I have three words for that – hell fucking no!”
Dean then rambled on for a little while on how once he activated the sound systems the Ghost People will be pouring into the area like ants so he wanted protection. But Sol didn’t really care much about his complaints, getting him protection would be a cake walk, there’re bound to be some holograms leftover around the Villa good enough to protect him while he works. What Sol really cared about was Dean… he’s… mysterious. He might have claimed to not know that much of what’s really inside the Sierra Madre, but he sure damn hell was hiding something. Sol had a hard time figuring out what it was. Perhaps it was a broken soul, or just an ugly side that one would never show other people in their lifetime.
…s… ttz… zzs… EVERYONE… r... t… zz… MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION… GUESTS AND RESIDENTS OF… THE VILLA ALIKE. I ASK YOU TO STEP OUTSIDE AND LOOK INTO THE NIGHT SKY, IT’S THE MOMENT YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR, THE REASON WE’RE ALL HERE… THE GALA EVENT… rr… tt… THE GRAND OPENING OF THE SIERRA MADRE CASINO… zz… z… t… RAISE YOUR… GLASS IN CELEBRATION, LET MUSIC FIILL THE STREETS. FIREWORKS LIGHT THE SKY AND… PRO…MISE OF NE…W BEGIN…NINGS FILL YO…UR HEA…RTS. NO MATTER WHAT YOUR… tts… zt… r… FORTUNE, NO… zz… MATTER WHAT YOUR CARES – LET GO THIS NIGHT AND BEGIN AGAIN….zz… t… stz…