One of the eldest members of the 1st Recon Alpha Team stationed at McCarran, Sterling wasn't always a trooper. Nearly a decade ago, in 2273, he was an NCR Ranger, one of the first to scout the Mojave Wasteland for the New California Republic. Over the years, he reckons he walked every inch of ground between Shady Sands and the Colorado, close enough to make his feet feel sore years later. While his friends scoped out Hoover Dam, he took the lay of the land and learned about the local tribes and other folk, paving the way for the Mojave Campaign.
His career as a Ranger would have continued, was it not for the fact that he was captured by legionaries on the other side of the Colorado, up near Malpais. They took a hammer to his hands and feet, breaking every bone they could find. However, they made the mistake of not tying him up, as they figured Sterling wouldn't be able to walk away. They were correct. Instead, he crawled away on his knees and elbows, making it to the edge of the cliff and then tumbled down into the Colorado, figuring he wouldn't give Caesar's men the satisfaction of killing him. He was rescued from drowning by a unit of fellow Rangers, who pulled him out of the river after they saw him tumble down into the water. Although he recovered, the hammers resulted in lasting damage that prevented fine control of a sidearm or long-range patrols that the Rangers were known for.
While the Rangers would have given him an honorable discharge on medical grounds, Sterling was nothing if not persistent. He asked if there was a place for him in the military and was accepted into the Army after demonstrating his marksmanship skills. He was accepted together with other raw recruits. Lt. Gorobets had him transferred to 1st Recon, so that he can remain an asset to the Republic. He continued to use his old rifle, the lever-action La Longue Carabine. Gorobets didn't object: As long as Sterling could hit his target, it didn't matter what he used for the job.
Interactions with the player character
|This character is involved in quests.|
- I Don't Hurt Anymore: Sterling is needed for one of the paths to convince Corporal Betsy to get help for trauma.
- I Put a Spell on You: When asked if he has seen anything suspicious, he tells you that he sees the light on in the control tower around 1 AM. He says it should be empty at that time.
- Old School Ghoul: Talking to Sterling with Raul Tejada in the player's party will complete one of the requirements for Raul's quest.
- Three-Card Bounty: The player can bring Sterling and the rest of 1st Recon to take down Driver Nephi.
Effects of player's actions
- Killing him before initiating the necessary dialogue makes it impossible to complete Raul's companion quest Old School Ghoul.
- Upon completing the Driver Nephi portion of the Three-Card Bounty quest by claiming Nephi's bounty, the entire 1st Recon moves to Camp Forlorn Hope to help with the Legion at Nelson. Sterling can then be found inside the Camp Forlorn Hope command center.
- He is the only person in the 1st Recon who uses a lever-action weapon, and the only active member of 1st Recon to use a scoped rifle.
- He wears a Ranger hat instead of a 1st Recon beret.
- He mentions he was captured near Malpais. This might be El Malpais National Park in New Mexico. But this is rather out of the way, and surely the NCR would have found Hoover Dam by then if he made it out that far, rather than a year later.
- Oddly, when the quest I Put a Spell on You is active, and after completing Three-Card Bounty, speaking with Corporal Sterling will provide a dialogue option about the lights at the Camp McCarran Control Tower, even though at that point he will have relocated to Camp Forlorn Hope.
- "Nothing like a job done right. I wish I had a cigar." – On the killing of Driver Nephi
- "Used to be a Ranger... one of the first they sent out east, back before we took the Dam. Observation and reconnaissance. We took the lay of the land, checked out the locals, and kept ourselves inconspicuous. Couple friends of mine were the first to scout the Dam. That was back in '73, if I recall. Lot of those Rangers are dead now. Vegas always chewed men up... it's just a little more literal, nowadays."
- "Well... that wasn't really a matter of choice. Got myself caught by Legionnaires, up near Malpais. They had themselves some fun with me... mangled my hands and feet pretty good. Wasn't much good with a pistol after that. Wasn't gonna be trekking across the waste on any more long scouts, either."
Corporal Sterling appears only in Fallout: New Vegas.
Behind the scenes
- There is a cell found within the GECK, above the eastern cliffs of the Colorado River and across the river from Camp Forlorn Hope, named "MalpaisLegionCamp," perhaps alluding to Sterling's capture by the Legion near Malpais.
- Sterling was Caucasian rather than African-American at some point during development.
- The Courier: "You remember everyone who passes through here?"
Sterling: "Got a good memory for faces. Landmarks and such, too. Comes with practice, that's all. And a lot of scoutin' from place to place. I reckon I've walked every inch of ground between Shady Sands and the Colorado... or close enough to make a man's feet plenty sore."
- The Courier: "Have you always been with the First Recon?"
Sterling: "Used to be a Ranger... one of the first they sent out east, back before we took the Dam. Observation and reconnaissance. We took the lay of the land, checked out the locals, and kept ourselves inconspicuous. Couple friends of mine were the first to scout the Dam. That was back in '73, if I recall. Lot of those Rangers are dead now. Vegas always chewed men up... it's just a little more literal, nowadays."
- The Courier: "Why did you leave the Rangers?"
Sterling: "Well... that wasn't really a matter of choice. Got myself caught by Legionnaires, up near Malpais. They had themselves some fun with me... mangled my hands and feet pretty good. Wasn't much good with a pistol after that. Wasn't gonna be trekking across the waste on any more long scouts, either."
- The Courier: "How did you manage to escape Malpais?"
Sterling: "Caesar's boys figured I wasn't going anywhere, after what they done to me. So they didn't bother tying me up. I crawled out of there on my elbows and knees. Must have looked a sight. Then I rolled down an embankment into the Colorado. Guess I had a mind to drown, rather than give Caesar's boys the satisfaction of killing me. But a couple Rangers happened to be watching from across the river. They jumped on in and pulled me out of there. Lucky break, they said."
- The Courier: "Any ideas on how to convince Corporal Betsy to go see a doctor?"
Sterling: "It's a pride thing with her, and totally unnecessary. I mean, look at me - I was until the Legion got through with me. I was bitter, but if I'd kept my mouth shut, the NCR would've discharged me and sent me home. Instead, I asked if there was still a place for me. I had to prove I could still handle a gun alongside all the recruits, but look at me now - First Recon and still going strong. You tell Betsy that."
- The Courier: "Interesting rifle you have there. Lever-action, right?"
Sterling: "I call her La Longue Carabine. Didn't always have the scope - I added that myself. Been shooting with her so long... couldn't bring myself to toss her away. Would have felt guilty to part with the old girl. The other snipers use bolt-action, but Gorobets reckoned it didn't matter none if I was different, so long as I can hit my targets."
- The Making of Fallout: New Vegas DVD, chapter "The Story"
- The Making of Fallout: New Vegas DVD, chapter "The Factions"