The Wasteland stretches from one horizon to the other, and very few people can say that they have walked it all. If a traveler sets out from the Boneyard on the West Coast and walks towards the rising sun in the East, it would take months before they reached the other ocean. It used to take a lot less time. Some of the old flight records at airfields say that people would fly back and forth across the entire country in an afternoon. Not many of those flying vehicles made it through the Great War intact, and the people who use them aren’t likely to take on passengers. The roads used to be smoother, and people built a steel bridge over every little river that got in their way. Even when folks didn’t have the time to fly from one city to the next, they could still communicate over great distances. At the time of the Great War this was done through wireless satellite transmissions, but even four hundred years ago people could communicate all the way across the country with a network of wires that were strung up on poles that lined the highways and railroad tracks. Some of those poles are still standing today, but the wires don’t go anywhere anymore. So today, if you want to know what’s happening on the other side of the horizon, there’s only one way to find out. Go see for yourself.
Lots of people go their whole lives without traveling more than a few days walk from the village where they were born. But for organizations like the Brotherhood of Steel, long distance travel and communication are on the front burner.
The Brotherhood of Steel has taken it upon themselves to preserve the technology of the old world. There’s plenty of old gizmos and gadgets out in New California, but the truth is, the capital of this nation used to be out on the East Coast. A few decades ago, in 2254, the Brotherhood dispatched a military contingent to the east, to recover advanced technologies from cities and bases dotting the Eastern Seabord. The Brotherhood sent teams East before, to Chicago, and some folks say they planned a mission to Boston, but the Capital Expedition was one of the most ambitious projects the Brotherhood had ever undertaken.
A promising Paladin named Owyn Lyons was chosen to lead a force that would learn what had become of Washington and the surrounding area. After months on the road, the first reports from Lyons weren’t promising. They passed through a hellhole that was appropriately named the Pitt. This pit of human misery fared worse than most after the Great War. “Pittsburg” is what they used to call it back then. Lyons led a Scourge of the city, killing any who fought back. Something was recovered that day, but only the Elder knows what it was. When the Brotherhood left the desolate city behind, the caravan carried twenty unmutated children saved by the troops.
This was the first of many unconventional moves from Paladin Lyons; he not only rescued those children, but he defied tradition and made them Initiates in the Brotherhood. Most of the people in the Brotherhood are born into it. Most of the people in the Brotherhood are born into it, descended from their ancestors that helped form the order two centuries earlier. Taking in an outsider is extremely rare for any Brotherhood chapter, but to recruit a group of children descended from irradiated scavengers and slaves? To some that made Lyons a hero. To others a pragmatic leader who needed the extra hands. And a few people saw him as mongrel-loving traitor to the Brotherhood.
The Capital Expedition didn’t stop with the Pitt, they pressed on into a region called Maryland, fighting raiders and slavers wherever they found them until they came to what was once the capital city of this land – and what they found didn’t fill them with hope.
Aside from slavers, raiders, and feral ghouls, there were also some of the biggest super mutants they’d ever seen. All of them full of rage and ready to attack on site. This was nearly a hundred years after The Master‘s Super Mutant army had been scattered, and Washington had the worst infestation of them Lyons and his soldiers had seen.
The disorganized band of humans were no match for the mutants. Out East, people live in pathetic little villages built in the ruins of highway onramps, the basements of pre-war monuments, and even some crazy folks who built a town out of the husk of a bomber plane – complete with a nuclear bomb right in the middle of town. There was no organization that could stand against the mutants.
The Brotherhood fought their way into the center of Washington, hoping that some remnants of the old world government might be there, but the whole town was mutants through and through. Dug in right in front of museums that housed priceless artifacts from the old days. Mutants walking the halls of the old Capital Building where great men and women once wrote the laws that defined their civilization.
And the biggest letdown of all was a funny little building with five sides. Used to be the headquarters of America’s military, back when the military was all that mattered. Lyons found the building had been hit pretty hard, just five crumbling walls around a courtyard. But that’s when the Brotherhood’s luck turned.
Those folks that built this “Pentagon”, built parts of it to last, and deep inside the roots of that building the Brotherhood found a treasure trove of pre-war intel, equipment, weapons and – best of all – a giant killer robot.
His name was Liberty Prime, and he was built to instill fear in the hearts of America’s enemies two hundred years ago. Liberty Prime could crush a soldier in power armor, he could throw nuclear bombs like footballs, and his eyes fired beams of electric death. All the while he spouted propaganda to terrify his Communist foes, and inspire his allies. He was the best toy any Brotherhood Scribe could ask for.
Liberty Prime never got to fight the Commies he hated so much. A machine that big, with integrated energy weapons, and the computing power to control it all autonomously? It was too much even for America’s most fanciful engineers. It took the Brotherhood’s most brilliant Scribes twenty years to get the thing running.
Lyons and his followers fought a hard war of attrition against the super mutant scourge that plagued Washington. They built up the ruins of the old Pentagon into a fortress that they called the Citadel. They recruited the locals to bolster their ranks, and built up the finest army that Washington had seen in two hundred years.
The goal of plundering pre-war military instillations became less important to Lyons. How to best defend the people around him filled his waking thoughts. In time some members of the Brotherhood felt that Lyons has abandoned their original goal of recovering the lost technologies of America’s capital. That included the main chapter of the Brotherhood back West, but also some of Lyons’ own men.
These men abandoned Lyons, forming a band of Outcasts – a name they wear proudly to this day. These Outcasts took over a pre-war military base on the outskirts of the city, and from there they keep up the Brotherhood’s original mission of gathering rare technologies from around Washington DC. They dream of one day marching right back to the Lost Hills – their arms filled with shiny new gizmos and rejoining the rest of the Brotherhood as heroes.
Travelers can identify the Outcasts by their black and red armor. They don’t care for Lyons’ “Knight in shining armor” sensibilities, so they even abandoned traditional Brotherhood titles like Knight and Paladin. Instead they use ranks like Defender and Protector. Maybe this change was intended to reflect that they’re defending the ideals of the Brotherhood, or protecting technology from the savages of the wasteland. But they certainly aren’t defending the people of the Capital Wasteland.
They’ll fight off any raiders they come across, and super mutants too, but do not mistake these actions for altruism. When the Outcasts clear out a slaver camp, or a nest of feral ghouls this is only because it furthers the Outcasts’ cause in some way. They view most people of the wasteland as ignorant cavemen, unfit to touch a plasma pistol. You do not want to become a problem for them, because they have a knack dealing with problems rather divisively. Their weapons and equipment are among the best available in the wasteland, and their patrols are augmented with combat robots that pack a mean punch.
These two factions of the Brotherhood in the Capital Wasteland tend to stay away from each other. But travelers don’t want to be anywhere nearby when these cats meet. The sad thing is, the average settler can’t tell the difference between the Brotherhood, and the Outcasts. They’re all just people in armored suits shooting each other with ray guns. To most people in the Capital Wasteland, the politics don’t matter, they don’t care who’s killing the mutants and raiders – they just want the trade caravans to run on time.
Maybe that’s why the citizens of the Capital Wasteland didn’t make that much of a fuss when the Enclave set up shop in the Capital as well. To them, the Enclave was just another group of tin soldiers with laser rifles talking high ideals. How does someone scavenging through a pile of rusty cans tell the difference? To the average Wastelander, the Enclave’s propaganda machine is something to disregard. All just words to someone who won’t make it through the night without a dose of Radaway.
The Brotherhood of Steel knew the Enclave was trouble right from the start, and eventually went head-to-head with them in a battle unlike anything seen before, even if the Wastelanders didn’t understand why they were fighting.
But that- is a story for another day…