Saturday, September 1, 2012

Fallout: New Vegas War Journal - Chapter Seventeen

There was one more task that needed doing at the NCR base - the science division of the NCR (OSI) was running experiments at a lab that had been set up inside an abandoned Vault out west of New Vegas. They hadn't heard from the project coordinator in quite some time. The head scientist, Dr. Hildern, just wanted me to grab the data and run. His assistant, Angela Williams a sweet Southern gal with a voice that belonged to a hog farmer rather than a scientist, asked if I could confirm what happened to Keely, one way or the other.

I didn't know what I was getting into, save that the project head was a ghoul who had been around for a while and that her experiments involved growing vegetation. What I did know was that I had heard some rumors from a traveler at some point about someplace out west that was full of lush, fresh vegetables... but also plants that ate men. I didn't think too much of it at the time - the wasteland is full of such rumors - but now I wondered. And I kept on wondering as Boone and I had a most uneventful journey west.

Me: You know... giant mantises frolicking in the over-sized fauna aside, I'm not too worried about this. You know why?
Boone: No.
Me: Because I figure it can't be that bad if they were able to put up a sign before it killed them all.
Boone: Hmmm...

We got fairly far into the entrance without seeing any signs of life. At least, animal life. The plant life was abundant. Overly so, in fact.

Me: Now this DOES worry me.
Boone: Mushrooms?
Me: Only grow out of dead things, most of the time. And these are BIG mushrooms.

Eventually I found a broken down old elevator. But not so broken down that even my meager repair skills couldn't get it working again. We went right down to the bottom level... Pest Control. It was there that we discovered that the rumors of man-eating plants were far from exaggerated.

Spore Planet: Feed me!
Me: GAAAAAAAH! A talking, singing plant!
Spore Planet: Feed me, Seymour!
Me: I'm not Seymour!
Spore Planet: Feed me!
Me: Fine! Eat lead!

The lab was full of more monstrosities, including these strange green humanoids - zombie-like things - which were covered in the spores and ready to kill. Were they born of the plants? Were they poor unfortunates who had come here and been infected by the plant life itself? In the end, it didn't matter. I put them to rest. It was in a hollowed out cavern past the plants that I found the project leader, Keely. We got her back up to her lab with little trouble and finally had time for a little talk.

Me: So you're in charge of the research here?
Keely: Yeah. Not that there's much to tell.
Me: I'm guessing things didn't go well?
Keely: Understatement of the year. Turns out the radiation makes the plants grow better... to a point.
Me: And at that point, they become man-eating, funk-singing show-stoppers that create their own zombie minions?
Keely: Yes. Which is why I need to blow the whole place up before the spores spread.
Me: How are you going to do that?
Keely: By sending you down to the fifth floor with a bomb while I flood the ventilation system with gas from here.
Me: ... you've got to be kidding me.
Keely: It's the only way to be sure and I'm not in any shape to go run it myself.
Me: Fine. Boone, wait here and keep the doctor company.

It didn't take me long to find a suitable place near the vents where I could throw a grenade and then dive for cover in a nearby room. It was in this room that I found two surprising things as the compound blew up around me: another spore-carrying zombie (easily killed) and a working mainframe that let me download all of the research involving the plants. I had another surprise when I went back to the elevator.

Me: Thought I told you to go wait with Keely.
Boone: Thought you might need help.
Me: But you could have been set on fire if you'd been down here.
Boone: Who says I wasn't? Wouldn't be the first time on this trip.
Me: ... I don't know if I should be touched or frightened.

Keely: You did it.
Me: Yep. So we can get out of here.
Keely: Not quite. I was just erasing all the data from the mainframe, but the records show that someone downloaded everything to a PipBoy a few minutes ago. You wouldn't know anything about that... would you, Mister "I have a pipboy"?
Me: I do, actually. I just downloaded it now when I was downstairs.
Keely: Well, I need to delete that too. You understand, right?
Me: Completely. We don't want any more of these things breeding top-side.
Keely: Exactly. You go on ahead and let them know I'm tidying up.

Dr. Hildern: Do you have the research?
Me: Not as such.
Dr. Hildern: Hmmm. Typical. You probably were looking at the wrong computer.
Me: Well, I actually HAD the research at one point.
Dr. Hildern: And?
Me: Keely and I deleted it. And burned down most of the complex.
Dr. Hildern: WHAT?!?!
Me: It turns out using radiation to enhance plant growth is a profoundly stupid idea that creates unholy abominations. Go figure, right? I mean, who could have foreseen that what with all the giant, radioactive monsters terrorizing the land around us?
Dr. Hildern: You're lying! This is all part of a plot to discredit me, isn't it?! I'll see you jailed for this.
Me: How? Your prison was taken over by convicts and - while it is ready to be taken over again NOW - your own people are too chicken-shit to come out of their tents and confirm that.
Dr. Hildern: Get out of my lab! Mark my words! You will rue the day you chose to cross me!

Me: Rue the day? Who talks like that?
Boone: Him.
Colonel Hsu Evening men.
Me: Colonel? You aren't going to arrest me, are you?
Colonel Hsu Arrest you? Son, the only thing you're guilty of is making the rest of us look bad. Fact is, I was looking for you so I could give you the keys to a hidden Ranger cache. Figure you could get more use from the gear than we could.
Me: Hey! That's alright! Nice to see we're getting what we deserve, eh Boone?
Boone: Whatever.

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