When a rat hides, where does it go? It goes to the filth, to dark corners, as far from the light as it can scramble. An Omerta on the run can’t be much different. Wherever Carlitos is, Stella knows, it won’t be under the neon glow of the Strip. No one would be stupid enough to stick around with the Omertas looking for them, with House’s securitrons recording every face that walks past. (Homes can make you do stupid things, Hayden says, but doesn’t argue the point. She’s been quieter than usual ever since they left Gomorrah.)
The brighter the lights, the darker the shadow. The slums surrounding Vegas have more hiding places for a rat than a sewer, and that’s where they start: the seedy bars; the two-cap brothels; the crumbling buildings untouched by House’s restoration project. Freeside reeks of desperation, even with the NCR’s relief effort filling empty stomachs and canteens. (Another thing Hayden had a hand in.)
And to everyone who’ll talk to them, Hayden asks: Have you seen this man?
No, they all say. Even the Kings – the closest thing Freeside has to a governing gang – haven’t seen him. Every Ranger is trained to tell a liar; as far as Stella can tell, they’re all being truthful.
But she couldn’t tell the Chief was lying, either, could she? It isn’t just Hanlon she lost trust in. It’s her own instincts. Her instincts said: he would never betray the NCR. They said: he would never betray his Rangers. They said: he would never shame Redding with a disloyal son, after Bloody Monday, after years of annual broadcasts listing off a litany of dead miners.
She was wrong. And as the search goes on, Stella can’t stop wondering: what else is she wrong about?
I had promised a KiriBaku kid something like months ago, and tbh most of the reason why it took me this long is because I couldn’t pick between these two so?? In the end just have them both I guess - some info about them under cut, in case you wanna know more!!