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It’s 25th of June; the Vegas Strip momentarily stops in its tracks as every single Securitron begin to broadcast an ancient message, just as they have on this very day for countless years:

This is Mr New Vegas, wishing our benefactor and great leader, Mr Robert Edwin House, a very happy birthday.— Annual broadcast of Radio New Vegas

Few people remember the legacy of Robert House, and fewer still cared. The broadcast is a relic of an age gone by, a subroutine hidden too far in the systems of the Lucky 38. It is a hollow reminder that there was once a man who thought himself immortal. Approximately two weeks after the mission for House’s assassination was passed, NCR High Command at Hoover Dam received a single message from the Courier’s private radio frequency:

It is done.— Transcript Archive

Moments earlier, Securitrons throughout the Vegas area stopped to broadcast their pre-programmed message. But this time, it wasn’t a birthday greeting, it was an obituary.

This was something nobody could verify. At least with Caesar, we could send troops, but House’s defence systems were still very much intact. It’s no secret that we didn’t even know where House is located; he might not have been inside the Lucky 38 at all for all we knew. We had no choice but to take the Courier’s word for this.— Dennis Crocker, Former NCR Ambassador to New Vegas

The exact detail of how House died is still unknown; nobody accompanied the Courier in this task, not even his eye-bot. Stranger still is how the Courier subsequently managed to take control of the Securitrons and maintain their day-to-day operations. The news shocked some more than others.

It might not have meant much to the average tourist or even citizens, but for those of us higher up the food chain it was very interesting. I mean I’ve never met the guy personally, I’m not sure anyone did, but things were definitely going to change and the Three Families all felt it.— Swank, Head of The Chairmen and owner of The Tops casino

But as far as Kimbal was concerned, the news was a cause for celebration, albeit a quiet one: all political barriers for the annexation of the Strip were now removed. Rumours of foul play began to circumvent almost immediately, but it mattered little: Vegas’s only leader has died and nobody could step up and inherit his legacy. If the NCR does not annex Vegas, then the City of Lights would surely collapse into disarray. With that in mind, the NCR could now focus entirely on beating back the Legion, all the while moving more and more troops into Vegas itself; the local protesters no longer had anyone to back them up. Only one loose end remained: the Courier.

There was a lot of debate on what we should do with him. I remember being present in several meetings with General Lee Oliver and the Courier was always an item on the agenda. Some of us wanted to get rid of him as soon as possible, Moore certainly felt that way. But a lot more people wanted to keep him, at least until after we push Lanius out and then securing the Strip for good.— Dennis Crocker, Former NCR Ambassador to New Vegas

The propaganda machine, however, wasted no time in milking the Courier’s fame and image for all it was worth. Only now, the focus has changed: whereas before the Courier was seen as an outsider who believed in and fought for the Republic’s cause, now he was shown as a member of the NCR all along. But one question remained: where is the Courier? Ever since House’s assassination, the Courier has gone completely silent. Though his companions were spotted every now and again, there was no sign of their leader.

On more than one occasion, troops would come up to me and ask where the Courier was. I told them to piss off and mind their own business as usual, but the truth was I couldn’t tell them. I simply didn’t know; none of us did.— Rose of Sharon Cassidy, Head of the Happy Trails Caravan Company

In reality, the Courier has left the Mojave no more than a few days after House’s death. Before he left, he recorded a final message to friends, urging them not to follow him. The recording itself have since been destroyed, but according to those closest to him, this move was not entirely unexpected.

He didn’t really speak to us anymore, which was worrying cus one of the things he was known for was his way with words. Some people think that if the Courier stops talking, that means all bets are off, he’s being serious. But actually that’s not true: if he’s being serious he’ll be talking in a different tone, perhaps, but never going silent.— Veronica Santangelo, Elder of the Brotherhood of Steel Mojave Chapter
I always knew that our position in the Lucky 38 won’t last forever, so we all had our own plans on where to go if the worst came. That message he left us pretty much spelled it out: he was tired of the politics and the constant backstabbing, he was withdrawing. His involvement with the Mojave was over.— Raul Tejada, The Ghost Vaquero

Where the Courier went next was, at the time, completely unknown. Even to this day, the exact path he took is subject to debate, but we do know where he started. Less than a day after the message was discovered, a group of caravaners representing the Happy Trails Caravan Company left for New Canaan. As part of their standard log transmissions sent to their main branch, it was recorded that they hired a man with a Pip-boy after the previous individual who claimed to possess such a device proved to be unreliable. Considering how New Vegas was flanked by the NCR and the Legion, the West and East respectively, it is no surprise that the Courier might have chosen to head north. But unknown to them, their destination have been destroyed a long time ago.

New Canaan was founded in Ogden, Utah, which was hit particularly hard during the Great War. Most of the people who inhabited this region were tribal and a fairly substantial number of them lived as raiders, such as the White Legs, the 80s and so on. We had to defend our homes against these people almost on a daily basis.— Daniel, Mormon Missionary and mentor of the Sorrows

But it was one of those tribes, the White Legs, which ultimately proved to be the downfall of New Canaan. Desperate to join Legion, the tribe was determined to do whatever was necessary to prove their worth in Caesar’s eyes. Aided by Legion frumentarri, the once prosperous city of New Canaan finally fell to their relentless attacks. No more than thirty Mormons survived the ordeal.

One can only wonder what would have happened if the Courier really made it through Zion Valley without any incident: things wouldn’t be the same today, that’s for sure.— Daniel

Upon entry to the Valley, the Courier’s party was almost immediately attacked by members of the White Legs, with only the Courier himself surviving the ordeal. For the next few days at least, the man was recorded to have made contact with two other local tribes: the Dead Horses and the Sorrows. Because of their fiercely guarded nature, neither tribe was willing to reveal much information regarding their experiences with the Courier. However, the sudden disappearance of the White Legs from this area gives an indication of the Courier’s exploits. Most of the White Leg’s camps still existed; the other tribes consider left them as they were, believing that only Zion itself can remove the taint from the land.

The destruction of the White Legs and the subsequent revival of the Mormon community would slowly transform Zion Valley into a common destination for caravaners, one that the Happy Trails Caravan Company would later claim a monopoly upon. And despite the lack of cooperation from the locals, it can be deduced that the Courier himself did indeed return to visit this land, though his exact motives remains unknown.

We do not speak of the Courier but we do remember him. He has taught much to the people here, both good and ill. Despite his love for this land, he did not remain for long; I personally showed him the way to return to the Mojave. And while I cannot say I agree with all of his decisions, I did pray for his safety.— Daniel

Such prayers, it seemed, was indeed necessary. The Courier could not return the same way he came due to the unique mountainous paths, which offered extreme difficulty for even the most experienced climbers; one could only descend it. Instead, the maps the local tribes provided led the Courier East, and perhaps unknown to them, straight into Legion territory. Reports of the Courier’s path during this period remains conflicted, but perhaps a combination of good fortune and miscommunication between the scattered legionaries meant that neither Lanius nor the NCR High Command received full confirmation of his survival. After all, the Courier has since reached mythical status, not unlike the Burned Man or the Flag Bearer. And like any myths, members of the Legion were forbidden to spread it.

At some point in the following month, the Courier left a distinct trail at a place known as the Deathclaw Promontory. A breeding ground for deathclaws, this place has for decades been marked as a forsaken land from where none can return alive. It is also one of the only places east of the Colorado River that had a distinct bank leading straight to the water’s edge. It was here that abandoned equipment and the remains of several deathclaws told the story of a desperate fight for survival.

I have seen many worthy hunters enter that place and perish. Many believed it to be cursed but only those with true skill and honour saw it for what it is: a path of glory. I have seen the Courier best many of the Thorn’s beasts and he had personally delivered the eggs of many such dangerous creatures, deathclaws included. So when our newest hopeful hunter returned with the news, I knew in my heart that my hero was the one responsible. And of course, he was still alive.— Red Lucy, Owner of the Thorn

Tired, disorientated and quite possibly wounded, the Courier’s battle with the deathclaws, his subsequent swim across the river and the punishing climb to reach the Mojave area would have killed most men. But it became increasingly clear that he had indeed survived the entire ordeal. And yet, not a single scout, NCR or otherwise, could spot him. Despite all expectations, he had once again disappeared.

If the Courier did indeed swim directly across the river from the Promontory, then technically he should have reached Ranger Station Echo. Now they never reported seeing anyone coming from that direction at the time. But realistically, if you were to swim across that river, the water could indeed carry you further downstream, in which case he could have emerged in Cottonwood Cove. But again, there was no sighting.— Joseph Polatli, Former Major and commanding officer of Camp Forlorn Hope

But in actual truth, it was more likely that the Courier travelled further up the river in a bid to find an easier way up the cliff face. The trail ends at a spot near Camp Forlorn Hope and the recently liberated Nelson; ironically, that was the Courier’s handiwork. A very faint radio signal that matched the signature of a Pip-boy was briefly picked up by Tech Sgt Reyes at Forlorn Hope, but it was so faint it was initially discarded as interference.

Once again, the trail has gone cold.

If we had taken that final signal more seriously, we would’ve tried to triangulate the point of origin. Then we would’ve sent troops to investigate. To this day, I am haunted by the thought of what could have been, if only we bothered to check.— Joseph Polatli

But there would be no more signals for at least another month. While another signal was eventually picked up towards the south end of the Mojave near Nipton, it was once again regarded as interference. Even if the Courier intended to return to the Mojave, it seemed as if fate was keeping him out.

Then one day, it was a Sunday, I think, we had a trader who just arrived from central Vegas coming into the Outpost for a drink. He said he met and traded with someone on the way, some guy with a Pip-boy. Last we heard, he was heading towards Primm. We all thought: ‘no way, that can’t be him’. If he was that far into the Mojave, our people would have spotted him by then.— Lacey, Former bartender at the Mojave Outpost

Nobody at the time knew how the Courier had managed to travel from the ruins of Nipton all the way to the West of Primm before disappearing again without anyone detecting him. But just as the Mojave was starting to get used to the idea that he might have been gone for good, the people was shaken yet again.

At approximately 10am, I was doing my usual patrol inside Vault 8 when all of a sudden; every single alarm within the facility blared out at once. My colleagues outside assumed it was a malfunction, perhaps a faulty terminal, but at that instant, my gut feeling told me something wasn’t right. About a minute later every single door began to seal itself one after the other; I was trapped in the Overseer’s office with a technician at the time and we had a hell of a job trying to stop the whole place from going into lock down.— Mac Davis, Vault City security guard
We knew only so much about these Pre-War systems that we’ve only scratched the surface. But when I ran a diagnostic, I quickly realised that the vault was sealing itself as a pre-programmed response to an imminent nuclear attack.— Elise Porter, Vault City technician 1st class

Simultaneously and quite possibly across the entire continent, military bunkers and pre-war shelters began to seal themselves. Vaults, weapon storage depots and missile silos were all responding to a single signal located near the Pre-War military base of Hopeville and Ashton. This meant one of two things: either someone outside of the continent has launched missiles towards mainland US, which was detected by sensors in Hopeville and Ashton, or someone was attempting to launch missiles stored there. In either case, it would have resulted in nuclear war.

Understandably, everyone was confused. You have to remember that it has been several generations since the Great War: only some ghouls, like the ones in Necropolis, could even remember that far back. And even that was questionable. Nobody knew how to prepare themselves.— Julie Farkas, Leader of the Mojave branch of the Followers of the Apocalypse

Having virtually no anti air defences or large scale evacuation plans, an average NCR citizen was no more likely to survive an actual nuclear attack than any other wastelander. Across the entire West Coast, people desperately tried to gain access into the previously abandoned vaults in a scene that was reminiscent of the final hours of the Pre-War world. President Kimball himself had to be escorted to the nearest bunker. Approximately two hours after the initial alerts came the news everyone feared: confirmation. An intercontinental ballistic missile armed with a one megaton warhead was launched from the Ashton silo. Mere seconds later, the detonation followed: what was left of Hopeville since the Great War was wiped from the face of the Earth for good.

It was as if everybody in the country stopped in their tracks. For a lot of us it was way too far, not even the light would have been visible. But in our hearts we felt the explosion, maybe it was an instinct left to us by our ancestors who felt the same impact two centuries ago. We all felt it and we were terrified.— Mac Davis

Silence; no one dared to imagine what would come next. Documentation from other military installations indicates that Ashton had well over eighty such warheads during Pre-War times, and even taking into account the destruction of the war plus the erosion of time since then, an estimate of at least thirty to fifty remaining was still possible. For the people of the entire wasteland, stretching coast to coast, they could only wait and see who would be unlucky enough to be the next target.

The tension of not knowing is a feeling nobody would want to experience, especially when it could mean life or death. We only had confirmation of one explosion but the fact that nobody would be able to get anywhere near the Divide to investigate the matter meant that we simply had to rely on blind faith.— Elise Porter

But fate, it seemed, was not blind. Several hours after the explosion, radios across the West Coast received yet another signal. But this one wasn’t a warning. For most civilian radios the signal was too weak, but from military installations, NCR, Followers of the Apocalypse and even Brotherhood of Steel technicians deciphered a battle of words between two individuals.

…what I do now is an act of conviction (interference) you showed me a road, a way to carry my message. You’ve already answered for what you’ve done. Now the flag you follow will answer for it.— Ulysses, The Flag Bearer
…you may not have plans for the future, but the rest of us do…— The Courier

Thus began the legend of the Divide, where two Couriers fought beneath an ancient flag at the edge of the world. No one knows for sure what happened next: some believe that the Courier bested his opponent; others believe that they fought together against the horrors of the Divide. All we know is that the nationwide alert lifted soon after and no more missiles fell from the sky…

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