Notes From New Vegas 25: WE'RE BACK
Hi, everybody. I promised I'd pick this series up again someday, and I think now that all the DLC is out and I've played through it all I can go back to Janice and her adventures for those of you who're still interested. For those of you who haven't been here before, allow me to link you to prior entries in this series:
Note 1: OW OW OW MY HEAD OW
Note 2: Stitch, Noooo
Note 3: Pants 'Em If They Can't Take A Joke
Note 4: Anywhere But Primm
Note 5: Mr. Scary Dog Hat Man, Also, Bugs
Note 6: OH GOD WHERE DID THE BLUE THING COME FROM
Note 7: AUGH ROBOT WTF
Note 8: Come Fly With Me
Note 9: The *Other* New Vegas, Only... Not
Note 10: I Really Wish I Had A Title I Could Put Here
Note 11: Horrible Solar Burny Death? Woo!
Note 12: YAY PUNCHINGS
Note 13: The Terrible Secret Of Vault OH HELL NO
Note 14: Okay, Okay, I'm Doing The Main Plot Now
Note 15: Wait, No, I Lied, Sorry
Note 16: QUESTS QUESTS QUESTS YAY QUESTS
Note 17: I Swear, If We Find Orks Down Here...
Note 18: Possibly Not The Best Overlap Ever
Note 19: Is One Sane Technology Company Too Much To Ask
Note 20: Jamie Want Big Boom
Note 21: ARRRRGH HATE THIS VAULT HATE HATE HATE
Note 22: Okay, Now You're Just Being A Jerk
Note 23: AGAIN? What, AGAIN?
Note 24: I Knew The Reavers, The Reavers Were Enemies Of Mine... You, Sir, Are No Reaver
Originally this was the tale of my first character to get through the game, and as such had no downloadable content elements in it anywhere. I've changed my mind since then, as I rather like the story elements of the downloadable content. We'll still get through the whole game eventually, we're just... drastically padding out the length of the series. And adding extra stuff, because dang, some of that DLC makes for a fun time. Increased level caps, new Traits and Perks, new equipment, etc. There were four story downloadable content packs and two 'hey, have more stuff' packs. The first story pack to come out was the hardest in terms of difficulty, and came with a warning that it was meant for experienced Couriers of level twenty or higher.... which means that it sucks to be Janice because I'm putting her through it first anyway.
When we last saw Janice, she had sent Ronnie back to the 188 and ED-E was with the Followers of the Apocalypse, ready to be picked up. Janice was gonna go back to Freeside and get him, and maybe pick up a new human companion in the process. About two steps into the process, she changed her mind. Her Pip-Boy was getting some funky signals that she wanted to check out. Something about an invitation to the Sierra Madre Casino and Resort's grand opening, and it wasn't on the Strip. It was a whole luxury resort somewhere that promised much nicer circumstances than the New Vegas area. Frankly, after all the running around in Vaults full of spores and drug fiends and unpleasant social commentary, the idea of a nice pretty place somewhere with cushy accommodations was REALLY appealing. This place sounded about as far from 'I got shot in the head' as it was possible to get. She could at least check out the source of the signal, right?
... look, it's 2281. The concept of spam mail has been completely lost. What can I say?
Anyway, Janice set off to trace the invitation signal back to its source. There's no indication in the words of the message itself of where the Sierra Madre Casino actually is, so I'm assuming she spent a lot of time triangulating with that Pip-Boy along the way. It wasn't wasted time, though. It was time spent not being shot in the head, or confronting people who had shot her in the head, or being confronted by people who might shoot her in the head again, and that was always a great way to spend her time as far as Janice was concerned. She did at one point have to wander through an NCR encampment called Camp Forlorn Hope, and she felt kinda sorry for the people there because they looked like they could use some help, but- VACATION. These were big grownup soldiers. They could take care of themselves for now, you know? So she just kind of put her head down and kept running right through camp and nobody stopped her, and triangulated a little and found her way to the source of the signal....
... which was a drainage grate in the middle of a patch of empty ground overlooking the river.
Okay, now, at this point Janice was pretty pissed off. Someone was being a jerk and it wasn't her. They'd broadcast a message of luxury and relaxation and nice places and fun and they'd done it from a HOLE IN THE GROUND. At this point she knew she'd been tricked, but kept going anyway, because she wanted to find whoever-it-was and get close enough to them to headbutt them a couple of times. After what she'd been through, having it turn out to be a lie was not cool at all. So she pried the drainage grate open and hopped down into what turned out to be some kind of a bunker or something, all metal walls and Sierra Madre Casino posters and badly spelled graffiti about going to the 'Seera Madre' and a dead headless white dude in a jumpsuit. Well, that was just prime. Especially after she went through the dead dude's pockets and found some kind of weird chemical crap in there, and when we say 'weird' we mean 'neither the Fiends nor the people behind Vault 22 had stuff like this on hand'.
The next level of the bunker didn't really get any more reassuring after that. Especially since one wall had a big ol' Brotherhood of Steel flag hanging up; considering what she'd seen of the Brotherhood so far Janice figured that that meant extra trouble. The weird art deco style vending machine she found in the room with the books and the workbench and the reloading bench and the computer and the footlocker was... well, it was interesting, especially with the mini holograms and all, but it didn't take caps or NCR money or Legion coinage, so whatever. That just left the room with the radio sitting in it, blithely transmitting the Sierra Madre commercial to all and BAM KNOCKOUT GAS AHAHAHAHA.
Well, at least there wasn't anybody standing over her gloating as she passed out. Seriously, I was waiting for Colonel Autumn for a minute there.
Fun fact: the DLC story packs all have their own opening and closing sequences. Slideshows with narration, just like the main game, except that they don't use Ron Perlman and they don't start off with "War... war never changes." This one started off with a man's voice saying "You've heard the legend of the Sierra Madre? We all have," and took off from there. Apparently the Madre was supposed to be widely and insanely famous and a legend in the Mojave and it was the most incredible casino EVER only it NEVER OPENED because of the WAR and now it's a CITY OF THE DEAD BURIED BENEATH A BLOOD RED CLOUD *cough* *wheeze* anyway, you get the idea. Casino. Big. Fancy. Funky tech, lots of luxury, lots of loot, all frozen in time because nobody can get in or out. And even if you get in, that's not the hard part- "it's letting go."
Yeah, remember that phrase, because the game's not gonna let you forget it.
Anyway, when the narration was over the screen came back up on Janice's view, which was of some holographic jerk with the same voice as the narrator and a... oh. Oh hell. Oh, the hologram said his name was "Father Elijah". As in Ronnie's old Elder, Father Elijah. She'd said he was seriously obsessed with tech, and, well, she was right. She'd left out the part where he was a TOTAL DICK. Seriously. There's "must have technology! Ignoring people now!" And there's "Must have technology! Kidnapping people to a land of horrible toxic red yuk and clapping an explosive collar on their necks so that if they screw up or try to escape I can kill them!". And guess which one Father Elijah was? Hint: not the first one.
Yeah, that was Janice's briefing. Welcome to the Sierra Madre. You're dressed in a jumpsuit, same as corpsey boy back in the bunker. All your stuff is gone, guns and tools and chems included, because local security systems didn't like it and sent it back where it came from. Try to escape, you die. Screw up, you die. There are three other people in the area with these collars on and if ANY ONE of them dies, everybody dies. The air is full of some kind of horrible poisonous red cloud that eats away at your health whether you're wearing a full NBC suit or running around naked and the only defense is being indoors so you'd better move fast if you're outside. Your collar has radio transmit/receive elements in it and if it gets too close to a local radio or malfunctioning loudspeaker the interference generated will cause the collar to think it's receiving the self destruct signal and everything north of your neck will go Jackson Pollock. You've got a funky new gun that works on some kind of weird hologram technology, don't ask why because Father Elijah's not going to explain it. Oh, right, you're here to gather up the three other people and rob the Sierra Madre for Father Elijah and then he'll let you go. Totally. All of you. Honest. That's the ticket. In the meantime, find Old World trash and craft it into stuff to keep you alive, that totally works.
Janice decided at about this point that if she really was in a casino full of Old World goods, she was going to go out of her way to find some dead lady's stiletto heels, reinforce them with strategically placed nails, and make sure she was wearing them when she finally met Father Elijah. He deserved them. In his groin.
Elijah went on to claim that the vending machines would take casino chips and assemble them into things Janice asked for and that if she found the right instruction tapes they could assemble even more stuff. Look, jerkface, if they're so useful why didn't somebody stuff her pockets with them while they were dressing her up in the stupid jumpsuit? And who put her in the suit anyway? Elijah apparently didn't, he claimed something about an FEV reject- a supermutant who apparently wasn't very bright and who probably wouldn't eat her if he wasn't starving- but Janice trusted him about as far as she could sneeze at that point. And had no real interest in talking to him further even if she could've gotten more info from the process, so she asked where she needed to go to find the mutant. Elijah pointed her in the right direction and told her via collar radio- or Pip-Boy radio, one of the two- that if she even tried to go near the exit he'd blow her collar- and so Janice set off in search of the mutant. The way she figured it, the mutant might or might not eat her, but hey, at least he'd probably be less of a jerk about it.
Boy howdy, would she turn out to be wrong.
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