"Yup," told the old man. "Headed on down that road, right there. A few cakes short of a picnic, that one." Dante joined the old man in looking west. The road that had once been, marked the way, although it was now little more than broken up strips of dark-grey tarmac in a sea of earth, concrete and relics of the old world. Still, the old roads continued to be followed by wanderers and traders.
"Did he say where he was going?" Dante asked. To the west of here lay New Manchester, and beyond that was The Pool, aswell as a few other smaller settlements. But New Manchester was where the Valley started and there was always a chance that his quarry could turn north there, going deeper into the wasteland. The old man shook his head and Dante narrowed his eyes in disappointment as he looked west. It wasn't all bad. When the rumours had first reached Dante's ear about this lunatic who was preaching about government conspiracy or some such radical ideas, and Dante had set out to look for him, he got onto the trail only three days behind. Now he was just one night behind the mad man. He'd have his answers soon.
The old man, who was a lead scavenger of Bullring Town, eyed the wasteland wanderer suspiciously. "What do you want with this guy, anyway? Bloomin' mad, he is. You'll get no sense out of him, I'll tell you straight." Dante ony half-heard the inquiry as he absently rubbed his jaw, pondering his next move. It was late, and roads in the dirty south of the Wasteland were often dangerous, but if he travelled through the night, he could be at New Manchester by... "Hey? I'm talking to you."
"Hmm," Dante turned his head to regard the old man, then realized his question. "I just want to talk to him, that's all."
"Then you'll go mad too. Mark my words, I'll tell you straight. Mad as a Brahmin with no balls."
Dante decided he'd just about had enough of this colourful old man and so he nodded a farewell, offering the man a few caps for his troubles. As the sun dropped behind the western horizon, Dante started toward New Manchester.
He arrived at New Manchester the next day around an hour after noon. It had just started raining. "State your business," said the guard on the gate.
"Repair," Dante replied, gesturing to the hunting rifle that hung, under his arm, from a rawhide strap looped around his shoulder. The rifle was scratched up and bent a little. The barrel was clogged, the handle was bent and the trigger was stuck.
The guard looked the gun up and down, then whistled with his eyebrows raised. "I reckon Sam can fix that for you. He's good with the weapons stuff. Guns, blades, bullets, nail-shot... he does it all."
"Where can I find Sam?"
"Check Katie's general store. He works out of there most days."
"Katie?" Dante echoed. "That wouldn't be Katie Wensdale, by any chance?"
"Uh? I dunno. Just plain old Katie to me. She's not been a resident long."
"Came from Neo Leeds, did she?"
The guard pointed at him in affirmation. "Yeah, that's right." Dante smiled.
The metal gate rolled open and Dante nodded his thanks to the guard, then went in. But the store is not where he made to go. He had more pressing matters before he could go about getting his rifle fixed or catch up with his long-time friend. He asked a local resident for directions to the ale house, which was called McCaffy's Saloon, and he found the place shortly after, pushing through the batwing doors and taking in the view of the room, his rain-soaked, white hair matted to his skull. After walking through the night and morning, it was difficult to suppress a yawn, but he did so, wiping an open palm across his face before walking toward the bar.
The bartender - McCaffy, Dante assumed - gave the wastelander a reverse-nod. "What it'll be, strider? Bed, beer, women...?"
"I'm looking for the nut-job who's claiming the end of all creation. He passed this way, perhaps heading for the Pool. I was wondering if he stopped by in New Manchester..."
"Well, you would be right to be wondering. He was in here last night." McCaffy placed both hands on the table. "But that's all you get for free." Dante understood the way of things. He had no gold on him, but he had caps and hoped that a purse of about half-a-hundred would do. When he dropped the drawstring pouch on the counter, McCaffy picked it up, peeked inside briefly, before weighing it in his hand. Satisfied, he dropped the pouch into his fanny-pack. "The Sheriff kicked him out and he went off north. I think he might be heading to Key 103 Radio Station to try and get his ludicrous message on The Truth's show. He's gotta be nuts if he's heading that way. The Key 103 building is right in the middle of No Man's Land. Surrounded by raiders, mercenaries, Super Mutants and maybe worse." McCaffy shook his head. "Not a place for me, I'll tell you straight."
"He definitely went north?" Dante asked again. When McCaffy confirmed, Dante nodded. "Thanks."
With that, he turned about to leave the bar.