As far as anyone knows, this wasteland is the best damned wasteland in the world. When America and China went head-to-head two hundred years ago, both sides launched everything they had and most people assume that China was blasted back to the Stone Age. The only way to know for sure is to jump in a boat and paddle across the ocean so folks just assume that China, Europe, Canada and the rest of the world got hit at least as bad as America did. People look out at this land and some of them just know in their hearts that it’s the garden spot of the whole world. Maybe that’s why we can’t go more than few decades without someone trying to take over the place.
When humanity was just beginning the struggle to rebuild after the war, there was no sign of the government helping out. People formed tribes lead by the strongest warriors and the smartest scavengers. The chain of command and the line of succession meant nothing to people who needed things done fast. The closest thing to a government that emerged was tribal elders, or the mayors of small villages.
Eventually, in 2189, some of the larger towns in California banded together and formed the New California Republic, but they never claimed to be THE government. With no communications from the pre-War government for over a century, the memory of it faded as new generations replaced the old, convinced the old president and his kind were long dead, but the wasteland ain’t so lucky…
Two hundred years ago, in the last days before the Great War, a secret coterie of America’s top-ranking political and corporate leaders decided to duck and cover – big time. They scurried right off the continent and hid inside a secret offshore base then cowered there while the rest of the country suffered a nuclear holocaust the government had caused.
There they stayed, safe and hidden for decades, and the group we know today as the Enclave is the result of ten generations of breeding between politicians, military brass, and corporate executives. The direct descendents of the people who caused the apocalypse? Not many people would make up a story like that, so it’s probably safe to take them at their word about their ancestors.
Regardless of who their great grandparents were, the Enclave certainly has access to an abundance of pre-war tech and weapons. They hoarded it on a man-made island – a metal city that grew out of the ocean floor. It was once used to refine oil, back when people could pull oil right out of the bottom of the sea. The Poseidon Oil rig was inaccessible to people on the mainland, so no one knew they were out there until they began their plan to rid the wasteland of everyone who didn’t fit their definition of a real American.
The Enclave had spent decades learning to improve upon pre-war weaponry- they weren’t just collecting artifacts of the old world like the Brotherhood, they were looking toward the future. They had devices more advanced than anything seen in the wasteland, including the Brotherhood. It wasn’t just better guns, or the ginchiest armor – The Enclave had a fleet of flying vehicles they called Vertibirds.
Most folk had never even seen a car move unless it was hitched to a team of brahmin, so these Vertibirds gave the Enclave an edge over every other human group in the wasteland. They could send in drop teams to kidnap whole villages at a time to use as test subjects. They could suddenly appear at remote locations, then just as quickly disappear. Most importantly, they could travel to and from their offshore base secure in the knowledge that no one could follow.
Well, almost no one. There was a person back then who seemed to have a knack for getting vehicles up and running again. People who lived in the Den swear up and down that somewhere around 2242 they saw a person in a Vault jumpsuit driving around in an old Chryslus Highwayman – with a big green mutant taking up the entire back seat, and a cyborg dog poking his nose out the window.
That’s the sort of tall tale that would be easy to dismiss, but it happened in the same year someone managed to get a ship seaworthy again. They sailed that tanker right out into the ocean to the Enclave’s base and took them down.
Stories like that – they fill a body with hope, maybe with enough work we could all be driving around in pre-war cars, living the good life. In a way, that sort of hope for the future was what the Enclave wanted, and they got it at the cost of their own lives.
Their ambition was their downfall. They weren’t content to live out their lives in prosperity, they had to take back their country from the people they viewed as sub-human. To do so, the Enclave engaged in the sort of daredevil science that brought about the end, the Great War. They engineered a virus tailored for genocide, performed inhuman experiments, and even took to playing God by creating a species of intelligent deathclaws – just like their ordinary brethren, they were giant beasts that could rip a man in half, but smart enough to think like you and me and even mimic human speech.
But even deathclaws were nothing when compared to the Enclave’s deadliest creation… A man named Frank. It’s hard to say just what Frank Horrigan was. People who saw him in person tended to die quickly and gruesomely. At some point he must have been a man, a brutal killer, but still human. But when the Enclave discovered the old Mariposa military base and the Forced Evolutionary Virus vats within, Horrigan was exposed by accident. He was among the first of a new generation of super mutants created years after the Master’s downfall.
The arrogance of the Enclave’s leaders led them to believe that they could improve upon the virus. The FEV and Horrigan were used for horrid experiments that would make the Master cringe. When they could learn no more from his suffering, the Enclave turned Frank into their most devastating soldier, a mutated cybernetic terror encased in their finest power armor.
It’s hard to imagine how anyone managed to defeat arguably the most dangerous being to ever walk the wasteland and bring down his Enclave masters… But somehow the “Chosen One” of an obscure northern tribe destroyed the Enclave oil rig, forcing the Enclave to flee New California.
Leaderless and directionless, they soon rallied behind Autumn, a senior scientist who was contacted by a new Enclave President. It didn’t take long for the remnants to reach the East Coast with their Vertibirds. They had no fancy oil rig this time, but they soon nestled into Raven Rock and Adams AFB, pre-war bases that were nearly as impregnable. They changed their routine in Washington DC, promising that they could guide America back to the golden age of malt shops and drive-in movies.
On the West Coast, they had a man who claimed to be the rightfully elected President of the United States, but by the time they reached the Capital Wasteland, things had changed a little. Now their “President” remained unseen and only addressed the public through a swarm of floating propaganda robots that spewed “Stars & Stripes Forever” along with political rhetoric so hollow that it sounded like it was written by a random word generator.
The war for control of the Capital Wasteland was a trial for the Enclave. Bereft of their island fortress, and without the unstoppable brutality of Frank Horrigan, they had to fight a hard war to gain territory. The Brotherhood of Steel had a strong presence in Washington DC, and super mutants roamed the streets looking for humans to abduct.
The Enclave still had their technological superiority, and their Vertibirds. They even took control of pre-war satellites, and could fire missiles that had been waiting in the sky for hundreds of years. But, their greatest weapons were deceit and manipulation. The Brotherhood relied on a local wanderer for help in combating the Enclave, and it is possible that the Enclave managed to convince this individual to implement a more subtle plan that could accomplish their goals even after their repeated defeats at the hands of the Brotherhood.
Yet it did not save them. In 2277, following their disastrous defeat by Liberty Prime at the Purifier, the Enclave was shattered again and with its leaders dead or missing, its major strongholds were soon annihilated by Brotherhood strikes. The few surviving members probably wish that they had stayed hidden on their private island out in the Pacific. Now the once mighty remnants of America’s elite have been reduced to a handful of wistful old men hiding out in the wastelands.
Most gave up on the Enclave’s vision of the world, and settled down to live quiet lives, getting as much peace as a person can in the wasteland. Travelers who visit a certain old motel in Novac can speak with a former Enclave pilot who isn’t as bad as the legends make the Enclave sound – she’s a tough old broad, but she’s no Frank Horrigan.
Out East the Enclave continues to operate in small bands that harass the Brotherhood, and anyone else who strays too closely to their remaining outposts, but they are devoid of leadership or any long-term plans. In the West, sharp-eyed travelers can sometimes spot the rusted hulks of crashed vertibirds, but there is little else remaining of the Enclave – or at least that the Enclave wishes to reveal. Could an organization with such resources be entirely stamped out? Much like radroaches the Enclave has shown remarkable resilience, and the people of the wasteland should be prepared to deal with another hidden nest of these relics of the old days.
For now, the Enclave has joined the ranks of those who fancied themselves the rightful rulers of the wasteland. Their glory has faded along with that of others like The Master, but it seems like some lessons are never learned, and there’s always someone new looking to claim our wasteland as their own. The New California Republic has flourished even as the Enclave faded. And while the NCR has ruled their lands with relative peace and prosperity, even this period of stability is threatened by a new would-be tyrant that seeks to rebuild yet another fallen empire….
But that- is a story for another day.