June 30th 2077
Duke was sitting at the The Tipsy Bull bullshitting with Brick “Brian Flannigan” (CR 1) over shots of Tennessee whiskey when his phone rang. It was Jack on the other end, slight tinge of panic in his voice. Vex had been picked up by the boys in blue. Duke reassured Jack they’d be able to handle it. He downed his shot, and rushed out the door with a tip of his hat to Brick as he went. He sprinted the couple blocks back to his shithole apartment and went for his room. Slid the false back out of each of his dresser drawers to get at his pistols. He went with his throw away pistols just in case he had to shoot a cop. After loading all four into their concealed holsters, he slung an Ingram Smartgun over each shoulder. This may not be the response Jack was hoping for but it was the only response Duke knew. He grabbed his duster and slung it on over his guns as walked out the door.
It was about twenty minutes later as Duke approached the only entrance to the Orc Underground that he knew of that he realized he had no clue where Vex lived in the vast underground system of hovels the city had recently legitimized as “livable”. What they meant was a new source of taxation and an excuse for police brutality. The whole damned thing was deplorable. As long as he was already here, Duke decided to stay and wait just in case he could help in some way. He posted up at the stuffer shack down the street. He was human and had no business going into the Underground uninvited.
Nearly three hours passed before Vex got a hold of him to let him know he was out. Duke had nearly emptied his flask and was so bored he was about to start buying things from the vend machines to use for target practice. In Vex’s call he asked for a favor. He asked if he could store his firearms with Duke for a few days, then followed it with asking to meet for drinks. Duke was more than willing to head back to the Bull to throw back a few. He saw no need to tell Vex he had been waiting at a stuffer shack for the last several hours.
They met at Dukes apartment and as soon as he asked to check the bag Vex tried to palm what he could only assume was some piece of Ares trash out of his sight. He let it slide. The hodge podge of crap in the bag nearly made Duke vomit in his mouth. Duct tape and useless crap attached to nearly every gun in the bag. The shot gun with the led display that slowly scrolled Vex and a little angry face emoji seemed to be some sort of monument to the broken sections of Vex’s mind. It looked like H. R. Geiger got raped by Jackson Pollack while doing shots of absinthe with Dali while the NRA jerked off to a snuff film in the corner. Duke would deal with this mess later. Vex sternly mumbled something about leaving his guns alone but Duke shrugged it off and they headed to the bar.
The Tipsy Bull was the ONLY country western bar Duke had found outside of downtown proper. It was his second home. Vex took one look at the mechanical bull and lit up like a kid on Christmas. It was a long running joke at the bar that the Bull was too drunk to buck. The damned thing had never worked in the time Duke had been coming here. He couldn’t help himself when Vex asked if he could actually ride the thing. He told Vex to go ahead and enjoy the ride. The sudden swell of laughter when disappointment settled on the hobgoblins face when the bull went through its initial startup routine and then just suddenly stopped, was priceless to Duke. He’d been on the receiving end of that laughter the first time he came in himself. Vex undaunted offered to fix the broken bovine, and after a little convincing that he at the least wouldn’t break it more, the bartender agreed to let him try. After an hour of tinkering with it Vex came back to the bar defeated and conceded they would probably need to ask Loup to do it.
As they left the bar Vex asked if he could crash with Duke for a day or two which he agreed to. It had been a long day and Duke had a lot of guns to clean and restore in the morning.