War… War never changes.
Since the first tribes of primitive humans joined together to survive, war has been inevitable. By separating themselves from each other they made conflict a certainty, competing with each other for land, for food, for survival. Tribe against tribe, kingdom against kingdom, nation against nation, the words may have changed, but war has been our constant companion.
As the flame of human civilization began to gutter and die, the world's resources all but spent, humankind once again turned to warfare to sustain its great nations for just a little longer, desperately trying to kindle their dying flames with conquest, throwing their neighbors onto the pyre to ward off the coming darkness.
Just as their distant ancestors fought over hunting grounds and natural shelters, did the men of the modern world fall upon each other over oil fields and uranium mines, each conquest serving as the fuel for the next campaign, consuming the resources they had fought so hard for in order to fuel the next conquest. The flame of humanity burned brighter and faster as the world spun on towards a greater war.
The war was fought for the most pragmatic of reasons, for the most basic of resources needed to sustain their modern way of life, but in the end the conflict they waged to sustain themselves made itself irrelevant. For two hours humanity's flame burned brighter than ever, scorching the world in brilliant light and flame. Then, spent at last, the world dimmed and went out, nothing but embers and ghosts now. The flame so carefully nurtured since the first human stood upright had been blown out, ten thousand years of history nothing but smoke on the wind.
Their lesson unlearned, the survivors emerged to view their shattered world, tiny embers catching light again in the endless darkness, clinging stubbornly to life. When they met, they traded and allied, or exploited each other as they always had. The world had changed around them, but they had not. In time they re-forged themselves, formed tribes, and then nations, organized and prepared, and in time they marched off to war.
They fought for the same reasons they always had since the dawn of the species, for land, for food, for fuel, and sometimes simply because they could not live in peace with another, so different were they. For his ideals of unity and peace, the Master would form an army of mutant warriors and menace the wastelands. For a better hope of survival the New California Republic would form together and march on a campaign of expansion. For the secrets of pre-war knowledge, the Brotherhood of Steel would send splinter factions to Chicago, Washington D.C. and Texas. For unity through conquest, a simple man would brand himself Caesar and form a legion of slave soldiers. For the ideals of a dead nation the Enclave would launch strikes from their hidden places of power, and plot to unmake the world so they could forge it anew.
The flags changed, the borders, the justifications. But war has been a part of humankind since our beginning, and it carried on just the same, its spirit unchanged by centuries of time and the scouring of the world in flame.
Even the Mojave, all but untouched by the great firestorm thanks to the vision of its self-appointed guardian Mr. House did not live on unscathed, and soon the harsh desert sands drank deep of blood as great armies clashed over its resources, population, and their own ideals.
From the east came the great Legion, the charging bull of fanatical slave warriors, a rogue military in search of a nation worthy of its fierce determination, coming to occupy and enslave, driven by ideology and utter devotion to their leader. From the west marched the ponderous hammer of the NCR, the bear greedy for the spoils of the old world, powerful but sluggish, tearing itself apart as base greed betrayed their high ideals.
For years the two monolithic nations clashed and tussled, spilling blood that stained the sands and desert stones red. But in the end it was not great armies, nor vast resources, nor the will of nations that decided the fate of the Mojave, or the glittering jewel of New Vegas. That decision fell to a single man, not a president, not a dictator, not an executive, but a humble wanderer.
Vegas had always been a city of fate. A place where the rich could lose everything, and the destitute could become kings, where a spin of a wheel or a roll of the dice could rewrite destiny, change a man's fate. A hundred chances, probabilities and informed guesses all came together to place the fate of the Mojave and all who survived there in the hands of one man, who held it all as easily as he did a poker chip.
The right man in the wrong place turned the conflict on its head, breaking the tips from the bull's horns and sending it stampeding back eastward. The bear had been stung and tricked, and wandered back to its cave, confused when its prize had been snatched away. The spirit of the old world had been put to rest, his position replaced by a child of the new world.
Now from within the glittering spire of the Lucky 38 that one man, a courier who had made his message heard by all the world, was faced with the prospects of governing his newly founded nation. The shining lights of the New Vegas strip, still open for business through the nuclear war, and its recent conquest, glittered and flashed below like a sea of gemstones reflecting the fires still burning amidst the wreckage of warfare.
Troubled lay the brow that wore the crown, for as he studied the signs and portents that lay before him, he knew what to expect. New Vegas, like El Dorado, was too tempting a target to be ignored forever. War was on the horizon.
And war… War never changes.
Alaric Reynolds sat in his office within the Lucky 38. He was a young man, Not even thirty, and handsome in the traditional sense. His black hair was neatly trimmed and styled back, his cheeks clean shaven with a neatly groomed goatee and moustache combo, his piercing blue eyes roaming over the desk before him as he examined the reports laid out there. His skin was normally the healthy tan of the wasteland but now bathed in the unhealthy green glow of the terminal screen as he worked late into the night.
Logistics compilations, intelligence reports, progress updates from engineering projects. At least what little projects were being undertaken at the moment. It had been almost three weeks since the battle at Hoover Dam, three weeks since he had sent the Legion scurrying home and politely betrayed the NCR to declare himself sovereign over Vegas.
The dam was secure, an army of Securitron robots preventing anyone from intruding, but lacking the manpower to operate the facility it had been shut down, the power for the strip was now coming from the Helios One power station. He smiled, throwing the idiot Mr. Fantastic out on his ass had been one of the true joys of his new position. He had left the far more capable Ignacio Rivas in charge of the facility. He had also dispatched an extra strong Securitron force to secure it, knowing well the Brotherhood was still obsessed with the power plant, and might try to retake it.
He frowned, the Brotherhood worried him. Not a peep since the battle at the Dam, they had marched out at his request, fought well despite their tiny numbers, and then rushed home as quick as they came. Now weeks of dead silence, it worried him, he did not like the thought of an army of power armored soldiers coveting the technological treasures of his new domain. Still, they were a problem for another day.
New Vegas itself was secure, his robotic legions and good relations with the various local groups had seen to that. The Kings kept Freeside stable, Westside chugged along as it always had, stable and happily independent. The Followers had their work cut out for them but his good standing with them kept them from being too mad at him, especially after he'd put them in charge of power distribution. That kind of big humanitarian project, with promised funding from him once he had the chance, was something that appealed to them, bringing light to the wasteland, it was a big step towards ensuring their survival in the longer term.
Food wasn't too much of an issue, the sharecropper farms had been quickly taken over and tended by Vegas residents and what farmers had decided to stay. Most NCR citizens had fled the region, assuming him to be an enemy of the NCR, but he had taken no action against them, aside from booting them out of their military bases. Alaric sighed, he had liked Colonel Hsu, sending the good man away in disgrace was not something he enjoyed, but he would not tolerate a large military base on the doorstep of his city. And it sent a message that needed to be heard, Vegas would not be annexed, this was not some paltry little wasteland town, this was a sovereign nation that bowed to none.
Still, there were a significant number of NCR civilians living within the city, and it was understandable that some local elements would take advantage of the chaos to get in their revenge at the people who had imposed on them for so long. The crackdown on such behavior was quick, examples had been made, the attacks declined to tolerable levels. Far from ideal, but these were far from ideal times. Many NCR citizens had flocked to Freeside, where they were safe under the King's watchful eyes. He's have to reward that man in some way, some way that didn't damage his pride, he was a valuable ally in the immediate surrounds and he appreciated the good work the man did.
The economy had taken a bit of a hit, Vegas' main customers had been the NCR and with them understandably soured to the Strip's charms they would likely be facing a bit of a recession soon. He'd had a quick chat with the management of the casinos, convincing them to lower prices on the non-gambling entertainments, it was worth it to increase national morale. Well, he'd talked with the management of the two casinos he didn't directly own, and then again he'd personally installed one of the other owners. It was a short talk.
Vegas was secure, what truly worried him was the surrounding countryside. The Legion had been driven off, the Fiends and the Powder Gangers broken so the only survivors were a few scattered bands, most of the bigger threats were gone for the moment, but it was chaos out there. A lot of towns had been hard hit by the Legion, the fool Oliver had stationed the vast majority of his force at the Dam and there was often little or nothing to oppose the Legion as it swept across the wastes, hitting targets as they pleased.
He had used his mechanical army to soften the blow as much as he could, but the Legion had numbers and most of his forces were tied up at the Dam, it had been a messy situation. A lot of people had died, people who didn't deserve to die, but this was war. Maybe if the NCR hadn't put a glory hound idiot in charge of the Mojave they would have lived, nothing he could do about it now.
There was a lot to be done in the days ahead. He played a high stakes game, and if he lost then it would mean a lot of people were going to die. With a final tired sigh, the sovereign of New Vegas retired for the evening.
The next day was bright and clear, with the sunlight streaming in through the great windows of the revolving lounge atop the Lucky 38, like a huge roulette wheel atop the spire. Magnificent, comfortable, broken, it was a fitting symbol of the city. Dressed in a black suit, Alaric was seated at a large round table over breakfast, surrounded by some of his most dear and trusted friends.
Veronica was taking the opportunity to wear a nice dress, she had amassed quite a wardrobe of them since his takeover and looked quite nice in them, though it was unusual to see her without a deadly gauntlet strapped to her arm. Boone was dressed simply, as he often was, fatigues with no unit markings. Alaric was sometimes worried about his friend, turning against the NCR might have been hard for him, but he seemed loyal to Vegas now, the quiet sniper's feelings often difficult to gauge. Raul was wearing a workman's jumpsuit, since the battle he'd been helping repair some of the old systems around the city. Arcade was back in his labcoat, power armor wasn't exactly good morning wear.
"So, you want to create an army?" Cass asked, the woman in her comfortable jacket and jeans. "Are the killer robots not enough for you or something?"
The sovereign of New Vegas smirked. "The Securitrons are a formidable force, but they cannot be our only tool to defend this city. Their numbers are limited, and as of yet we cannot build more. And while they are powerful they cannot go everywhere, they need smooth terrain to move, and their size makes it difficult for them to enter and exit many buildings. Put simply they cannot fight in all the same situations that humans can."
Boone nodded. "Robots are tough, but not flexible. They can't do the same things a soldier can, they can't be stealthy or discreet, or use weapons they aren't built with. Still, raising an army is no small task."
"I agree, my friend." Alaric admitted, cradling his coffee in his hands, looking out at the wastes through the wall of windows. "The Boomers are a decent start, well trained, loyal and numerous. But they lack… discipline. And they are not numerous enough to form an army that can patrol and police the entire Mojave. Besides, their loyalty is to Nellis, not Vegas. They're a very useful asset especially with that bomber of theirs, but we can't rely upon them to be the backbone of our army, we need to make something new." He passed out some clipboards with notes printed on them, he'd spent the past several days drawing the up.
"To my untrained eye." Arcade began as he flipped through the notes. "It would seem that you're emulating Caesar a little bit." His voice was not judging, but it was a little hard.
"Caesar was a monster, but he had some good ideas. Most specifically, he knew how to ensure loyalty in the ranks." Alaric countered. "We take recruits, volunteers, from all around and we mix them up, put them in uniform and train them to standard. Then we station them around the Mojave, put them on patrol. They'll be part of the Vegas Army, not just from any town or settlement. We need to ensure they're loyal to the region as a whole, not just dedicated to defending one town or another."
Boone nodded. "Makes sense, if you had an entire squad from Goodsprings, they'd never want to leave it. Still, big project, you need weapons, uniforms, training."
Again the city's ruler nodded. "Exactly, it's a massive undertaking. First off we'll need to establish some militia units, give them a little help to make the towns stabilized. The robot army is a great asset but they can't be everywhere, and if the towns can see to their own security then it frees up that force to deal with threats that might encroach on the borders. If you'll take the position Boone, I'd like you to be in charge of organizing the militia, and then the army."
The normally cold sniper was visibly surprised, one of the rare flashes of true emotion showing through his cold exterior. "Me? I'm not sure that I'm the right man for the job." He said, always modest and reserved. Thankfully Alaric knew how to coax him out of the walls he put up.
"You're exactly the man for the job. You have the training, the experience, the right mindset for organizing it all. Plus you'll be able to ensure that the project is properly managed, you know more than anyone what can happen when red tape gets in the way of an army's functioning. It's a pretty high calling, I'll understand if you don't want to do it, but I'd be grateful, the Mojave would owe you a lot, so would its people."
He waited, watching, as Boone mulled it over. The man needed a purpose, he had fought first for revenge, then for pragmatism. Without the threat of the Legion to keep him fighting he had no reason to carry on, he might have just wandered off. But to be in charge of keeping the Mojave safe, that was the kind of cause he could throw himself into.
"Still not saying this is a good idea, but I'll give it my best shot." The sniper said, getting the same look in his eye that he had when he sighted down on a Legion officer.
"Excellent, Yes Man can fill you in on the details of individual settlements and any threats we know about, for now just worry about getting recruits in the field. But you're not wrong, we need a lot of supplies and resources to field an army. Raul, we need guns, lots of guns. And uniforms, that means we need a manufacturing base. I've got a list of a few factories that we might be able to beat back into working order, if you'll oversee that. You've got centuries of experience and technical knowledge over anyone else I could put in charge of it."
The Ghoul nodded. It may not have been the calling of his heart, but for the moment the Mojave needed his technical skills a lot more than it needed his gun hand. "I'll see what I can do boss, though buying stuff from the Gun Runners would be quicker."
"True, but I don't want to be reliant on trade for supplying the army, if we can make it in house that would be ideal. Speaking of trading, Cass that's your business." He turned to the caravaner, who was flipping through the notes before pouring herself another shot glass of breakfast. "I'm putting you in charge of managing trade convoys.
Cass looked like she'd almost choked on her whiskey. "Me? Running all the trading in Vegas?"
"Well at least the trading that we directly control, I'll make some funds available to you to get something started. I'd rather we directly control at least some trading ventures rather than being totally at the mercy of independent contractors. Can you handle that?"
"Hell yes." She said, taking another shot. "Cassidy Caravans is back in business! I'll see what we've got to trade, gotta be something in his city somebody wants to buy."
Alaric smirked, he could always rely upon her to lift his spirits. "Arcade, I'm putting some funding your way, the region is hurting after the war and we need to fix that, we need to become independent. The Dam is inoperable currently, we don't have the manpower ready to get it working again, and Helios can't handle the strain all on its own. We need to get power flowing to the region, especially if we want to get an industrial base set up. Work with the Followers, I know I'm not the most popular with them since I increased their workload, but they'll trust you I hope. I'd start by looking at some of the more functional vaults around here, if we can get their power plants patched into the city's power grid it would take a lot of the slack of the solar plant."
"Sounds like as good a place as any to start." The warriors scientist said, looking at a map, already seeing the layout of power lines. "Vaults 3, 19 and 11 seem like good prospects, the Vault 21 generators are already helping out but they can't fully supply the entire city as is, let alone getting factories back into operation."
"Hopefully by then we can get the Dam functional again, it's intact we just need to get a trained workforce to operate the place." Reynolds pointed out, looking through his notes. "That just leaves one item on the agenda, Veronica."
The Brotherhood scribe turned to him, clearly interested. "Let me guess, you want me to help scavenge all the useful tech out there to help everyone else?"
"No, I want you to go back to Hidden Valley." Alaric said, trying not to feel hurt at the shocked expression on his face.
"There isn't much for me there. I'm not an exile but I'm hardly on the best of terms with the Brotherhood." She pointed out, and it was very true. Apart from some sympathy with elder McNamara she was not entirely welcomed by a lot of the more senior staff.
"True, but I need you there. I have a bad feeling about the Brotherhood, they were helpful but I don't think that attitude will stay for long. I need you to be my eyes in Hidden Valley, and to maybe try to influence some of their members."
"You want me to spy on the people who raised me." She said, voice neutral.
"Spy is a very… ugly word. I want to help ensure they don't do something stupid." He countered deftly. "I want a peaceful solution, you said yourself the Brotherhood needs to find a place in society, I want to help see that happen. But we both know they're not going to go there without a little help, or a little prodding. I need you to be that prod, the voice that helps to nudge them out of their bunker and into the light of day."
She nodded, interlacing her fingers. "And this new place in society, what is it exactly?"
"To be the protectors of the Mojave, to study the advanced technology we recover in our efforts, to use their skills and knowledge to improve the lives of everyone living here. That is why the Brotherhood was founded in the first place, is it not?"
She mulled it over. "It sounds like you're looking to recruit them." She pointed out.
He shrugged. "Perhaps, I want them to become useful, an asset to the region rather than a detriment. Right now they're on a course for self-destruction, and you know it. They're going down a dark road and they're looking to take a lot of other people down with them if they don't have a course correction. I need you to be the thing that helps lead them away from that."
Finally, Veronica smiled. "You're right, I'll see what I can do. Don't know if they'll listen to me though."
"Just do what you can." Reynolds assured her, ticking off the last item on his mental checklist. "Well, we've got a lot of work ahead of us, but I think we can pull this off." He said, in that confidant tone he used when he needed to get people motivated into doing something he needed done. "Thankfully for you all your employer is somewhat wealthy, so I'll make sure you all have plenty of money to throw at the problem."
There was a good bit of laughter at that, but Alaric knew full well that his resources were hardly limitless. They were in fact frighteningly restrained, business was down across the Strip as a war was understandably bad for tourism. Still, this all needed to be done if they were to survive. Vegas was independent, and he'd be damned if he lived to see it be brought low to anyone else.
=== Author's Note ===
The next few chapters should be coming shortly. Like most everyone else who played the game, I had my own vision of how Vegas turned out after the game ended. Being the obsessive that I am I just had to write my thoughts down and put them out there so hopefully someone else can enjoy my little daydream as much as I have.
I'd love to get your thoughts and feedback, so please comment and review, it all helps get more story written better and faster. So I really want to hear what you have to say! Yes, you, the one at the keyboard with the face and the limbs, I mean you.