My name is Porter, informally known as Beast, also called ‘Courier Six.’ I am recording this to preserve my observations of Las Vegas and the Mojave Desert as they exist in 2281, 204 years after atomic bombs turned this world into a brutal free-for-all crater. Opinions are mine, but looking around I’d say subjectivity is rather limited. Should I be found deceased with this on my person, consider it my last testament.
Ah, death. I am a man who has teetered over oblivion’s edge, witnessed the gaping maw of nothingness that lay beyond, only to be tightened back onto the mortal coil by a shady robot and a gracious town doctor. Doc Mitchell did a great job stitching me back together, pro bono I should add, yet my head throbs from the bullets. Three to be exact, like the three nails from the old story. I was also buried in a shallow grave and brought back a few days later. Metaphors. Ouch, my brain.
It was no accident, my getting shot in the head. Before the checkered suit bastard riddled me with .9mm rounds I’d been roped into a hellacious mess. I am a courier. I fell into the work because the pay is good; I wouldn’t have risked it if I didn’t have a power armored Deathclaw’s endurance, as a courier’s job involves delivering dangerous packages to dangerous people.
Well, I ended up with a very dangerous delivery order indeed, one that can alter the course of everything that is and could come to pass. For brevity’s sake, it’s a poker chip—a very special poker chip, made of platinum.
Like I said, it’s been 204 years since the 2077 Great War ended in nuclear hellfire, and folks get by fairly well out here in the desert. They grow crops and livestock, maintain a stable economy, and thanks to the Hoover Dam’s intact functionality, use running electricity.
However, one wonders how long this lifestyle can sustain itself. It’s obvious that only hardcore survivalists live past 30. There is no manufacturing going on, so the people utilize what the Old World left behind. They hole up in places like ancient motels and airport hangers, hovels where the paint has peeled and the two-centuries-old wiring frightens me. Outside these salvaged dwellings, weeds grow between shattered and cracked highways, weapons and drugs trade like baseball cards, and Raiders patrol every space where authority is absent. But that’s nothing compared to when a poor soul wanders off the road. Mutants in the brush rival the most outrageous of ancient drive-in picture shows.
On the other hand, humans are reorganizing rule, law and order. Unfortunately, the problems start there. Three entities are in a standoff for the Mojave throne: the New California Republic, Caesar’s Legion, and Mr. House.
Electricity being invaluable in these trying times, he who controls the Hoover Dam controls all. Three years ago, the NCR clashed with the Legion over the dam. The NCR won, driving the Legion to the other side of Colorado River. Now tensions are heating again, and as bad luck would have it, the outcome rests with me. Every decision I make will have an impact.
The NCR expanded west from California where they restructured the United States government. On the outset, NCR seems like the most viable candidate. They’re all about freedom and democracy, and it’s obvious that they mean well.
Yes, but we can all “mean well,” can’t we? First, these fellows are a presumptuous lot. Good as their intentions may be, the NCR moves in and takes without asking. No one gets a say in whether they want assimilation. Second, despite being the Mojave’s dominant force, the NCR is spread too far and too thin. Starved for resources, they huddle in military outposts while the outside world suffers. I cannot count how many times frag mines crippled my limbs because no one has swept the roads.
If one values security above all, including liberty, they might be better off supporting Caesar’s Legion. That is, if the Legion weren’t made up of zealous, moralistic slavers. The Legion hails from the east, led by their enigmatic Caesar. Their discipline has led them to victory over 86 tribes. Now they are out to conquer Nevada.
God help us if they do. I have seen what happens to those who do not fall in line with the Legion’s moralistic code: fire, slaughter, tragedy. Witnessing what they did to Nipton is the second worst experience I have endured. The Legion also views and treats women as subservient cattle. I visited the Legion’s headquarters at Cottonwood Cove; when I saw female slaves climbing steep hills with cargo thrice their body weight, it took all the will I had not to chop up the entire rotten base.
Finally, there is Mr. House. His domain is the New Vegas Strip, where he sits in a casino turned impenetrable fortress. House, who commands a lumbering killbot army, supposedly has some great plan for humanity that involves playing all the other factions against each other.
I have met him as well…I think. It’s difficult to describe in words. What I can say is that House is certainly intelligent, not to mention rich and resourceful. However, as with all the other factions, problematic walls arise. House is a self-centered, condescending egomaniac. Maybe his grand scheme for carrying us forward is fool-proof, though it’s just as likely his narcissism has made him delusional.
All this raises an obvious question: to whom will I lend my support? It’s a conundrum for sure, one that gives this platinum chip in my pocket extra weight. Liberty but incompetence? Security but no liberty? Rule by a possibly mad aristocrat?
As of right now I lean toward ambivalence. I do not care for any of these groups. If only there were some way New Vegas and the surrounding Mojave region could end up governing itself without the descent into total anarchy that driving out ruling classes could usher in.
The good news I have limitless time to decide before I proceed, as well as a huge, sprawling world to explore. The Mojave is tremendous in scale, and every square mile yields something to do. If exploring doesn’t turn up sidequests to complete then there are vast treasure troves that could make discerning scavengers rich beyond their wildest. There are also plenty of locks to pick and terminals to hack.
As I complete tasks throughout my desert journeys, I grow stronger and more skillful. It won’t be long before I can cleave even the most elite Legionary in half with Knock-Knock, my signature weapon. But during my travels I have encountered a foe far more threatening than the NCR, Legion, House Securitrons, even Deathclaws or Cazadors: instability. More often than not I have found myself stuck not on but inside rocks. I have “crashed” or “frozen” while attempting to enter doors. I do not know if this is a surgical complication or if something more sinister is going on, but encountering these “glitches,” as I call them, is never a matter of “if” but “when.” It’s happened so often that I question reality. What if this is all an unfinished, broken, buggy computer simulation?
Well, the sky has turned a violet hue in the west, indicating that I have been at this a while. Dehydration and hunger have weakened my sturdy build. I’ll need to make camp soon.
As I look north, past the skeletal car frames and toward the neon glow of New Vegas, I wonder what the future holds, not just for me but the people I have encountered. Perhaps a hint will find me in my sleep—provided a Radscorpion doesn’t sting me to death.
FINAL GRADE: B