The midday sun peaked through the shitty blue tarp on the side street of cardsharp lane in VictoeyVille. The best place to lose your assed chaps or make a fortune in Sokal outside of Last Vegas itself. Smoker looked over the cards in front of him. A two of clubs and a seven of hearts, excellent… But he’d had worse. Well, The was lie. It didn’t get worse. If he’d counted right the board wouldn’t have anything for him either.
Of course the guy from the ZFEC raised. If those was anything those bastards like to do it was show off how much they had, this Big Bob wasn’t an exception. The old lady Scav was playing a lot more prudently. She held, meant she probably had something. Smoker had taken to calling her Nana and she didn’t protest.
“Come on, I ain’t got all day. Put down your barter so I can win it and we can get on with our lives.” Big Bob spat through a mouthful of Mut-Ant slider that up until a hand ago hand belonged to Smoker. He was trying to throw him off. But Smoker knew he was actually in a hurry. The ZFEC caravan was due out in a few hours heading…. west. Big Bob didn’t know the Smoker was aware of this. That gave Smoker an idea.
Smoker reached into his coat and pulled out his last piece of barter. His last treasure he was willing to give up. The bottle of Tapatio. The small, stained bottle of red gold was enough to get everyone’s attention. Big Bod tried to hide it by wiping the sweat from his face. Nana didn’t bother to hide it and simply downed her shot. Whatever she was drinking it was so strong Smoker could smell it through his mask. If it so much as tickled her though, Smoker couldn’t tell.
It was a helluva raise. Nana saw it by laying some plastic bottles on the table. So popped them open to reveal some primo meds. The kind of stuff that can save a leg. Smoker would have to keep an eye on her.
Big Bob though, he must’ve thought he had a really great hand. Or he was bluffing. Hard to tell and that was the point. He reached into his coat and laid a fat stack of ZFEC bucks on the table. He looked up for a reaction. Both Smoker and Nana looked at him, the bills, each other, Bob, and cycled through those. The first to crack was Nana who let out a hardy, booze fueled cackle. Smoker followed wheezing through his mask. Seeing this Bob joined. ZFEC bucks were an open joke, even to some ZFEC. You were supposed to carry them around, and they were redeemable to ZFEC caravans for goods and services. But, you couldn’t eat them or use the to kill someone. So most Wasters laughed at the very idea of them.
“Now, for real Bob. What’ve you got.” Smoker croaked when the joke had finally passed.
“Don’t think I ain’t got the good shit too.” Bob said before digging deep into his bag and pulling out something that made even Smokers eyes widen behind his sunglasses. A heaping, unopened bottle of Rooster Sauce. No one knew the name for the stuff. Only that it had something called a rooster on the front and could make anything you put it on not just edible but delicious. It was a raise and a half. Smoker’s mouth watered.
When he regained his composure he leaned back. “Now, you must know I can’t see that.” Smoker intoned.
“I want more than just trinkets and food. I know what you’re really carrying. And I don’t mean your piece either. I want information. So cards on the table. Give me the biggest bit of gossip you can and I’ll call it even.” Big Bob was acting like he had Smoker by the Huevos. But like most situations, they didn’t know all the facts. He’d played right into Smoker’s plan.
“Alright, I know something that should interest you and yours. You all know about the Atom Bombz all on the rampant right?” Bob nodded acknowledgement. “Right, now everyone thinks them triplets are the ones running around taking prisoners.” Big Bob squinted. That WAS what everyone thought. “That ain’t whose in charge of taking prisoners. The good ol’ Tsar doesn’t want to stain the fightin’ pride of his boys by turning them into little more than slavers. There’s one person he can turn too though….”
Big Bob started sweating, well sweating more, it was damn hot like always. “You don’t mean…” Bob stuttered out. Smoker didn’t blame him. “Yep, they called in the Queen badass herself to get prisoners. Vulvasaurus Rex. The biggest, baddest bitch in Sokal. Which, is funny to me. She isn’t used to taking anyone alive. Hell if I got captured by her, I’d probably start praying for death. What’s more, my sources put her dead West of here…” Smoker left that hanging there and watched the color drain from Big Bob’s face as he did the mental cartography. His caravan was due to head straight for her.
Big Bob shot up and tossed his cards down on the table to show he’d folded. He either forgot or had the good grace to leave the Rooster Sauce on the table. Too bad too, he had three of a kind. The big man took off down the alley no doubt to catch up with his caravan before it headed out into a meat grinder.
Smoker chuckled and reached for the Rooster sauce. But an old wrinkled hand reached out and grabbed him. He stared at Nana. She flipped her cards to reveal pocket jacks. Smoker grabbed his bottle of Tapatio though. “He wouldn’t have folded if not for me. Admit it.” He gestured at her.
“Keep your crap son. I got what I wanted.” The old lady croaked toothlessly as she snatched up the huge red bottle. Vulvasaurus Rex wasn’t the only bitch in Sokal it seemed, just the biggest.