Fallout Wiki
Fallout Wiki

There are some fire geckos in the lower levels of the Vault. We need to get them gone so we can get to the sulfur.Samuel Cooke

Why Can't We Be Friends? is a side quest in Fallout: New Vegas.

Quick walkthrough

Side Quest: Why Can't We Be Friends?
Speak with Samuel Cooke and/or Philip Lem in the overseers' offices in Vault 19.
Enter the sulfur caves beneath the vault.
Cooke's objective: Kill all the fire geckos within the caves.
Lem's objective: Find a way to block off access to the sulfur caves.
Report back to Samuel Cooke or Philip Lem.
Lem or Cooke: Ask Papa Khan about the Powder Gangers joining the Great Khans.
Lem only: convince Philip Lem to surrender the group to the NCR.
Report back to Samuel Cooke or Philip Lem.
Reward: 300 XP
Powder Gangers fame

Detailed walkthrough

Speak with Samuel Cooke and/or Philip Lem in the overseer's offices in Vault 19 to receive the two quest options - the offices are located on either side of the vault entrance. Then travel through either the Red or Blue sector living quarters of Vault 19. There are a few frag mines and fire geckos the Courier has to worry about upon entrance. From the living quarters, find the common room with the pool tables and a hole in the floor. It will bring the Courier down to the Sulfur Mines. The player may either choose to kill all of the fire geckos for Samuel Cooke, seal the caves for Philip Lem, or blow up both the caves and Vault 19.

Samuel Cooke

Once the player has killed all the fire geckos, go back to Samuel Cooke to receive some Powder Ganger fame and caps. He then sends the player character to the Red Rock Canyon to meet with the Great Khans, where the player has to convince Papa Khan to join forces with the Powder Gangers in the vault. After the player has convinced Papa Khan, return to Samuel Cooke to finish the quest.

Philip Lem

In the caves, follow the path to the right into a large cave. To the left is a large yellow rock formation peppered with lumps of gray rock. This is the “Microcline Rock”. If the player activates it, the rock contains enough potassium to create an explosion large enough to block the caves or destroy the vault. The player character will need a Science of 40 or more to receive the options. Choose to "Plant enough C4 to blow up the caves" (Explosives skill of 60 and 3 C-4 plastic explosives). Return to Philip Lem and let him surrender the gang to the NCR to finish the quest. Alternatively, with a Speech of 40 or more, the player can convince Philip Lem to join the Great Khans, although the speech check is not required if the Courier has a "liked" reputation among Great Khans. Philip requests that the Courier acts as a liaison and requires them to visit Red Rock Canyon and talk to Papa Khan to secure their alliance.


Here the player can find four packs of C-4 within the vault:

  • Between filing cabinets in the clinic, behind the front desk.
  • Located between the two vending machines in the cafeteria.
  • Outside the underground entrance to the overseer's office elevator near the doorway with the fire hose box. When facing the fire hose box turn left towards the junk pile, the C4 is on the left side of the junk pile.
  • Located under a couch in the Blue Sector living quarters (not the first floor). Go to the second room on the right, then to the couch left of the door. The C-4 should be next to the right front leg of the couch (looking at it; left leg sitting in it). However, it may be completely invisible or disappear when the player approaches it. It can easily be found by crouching and inspecting the floor close to the leg.

Blow up Vault 19

In the caves, find the Microcline Rock and activate it. Choose to "Plant enough C4 to destroy the caves and the vault then run like hell." (requires an Explosives skill of 60 and 5 C-4 plastic explosives).

  • WARNING: This will fail the quest, and the player character will not earn any XP. The player character will be transported to the outside of Vault 19 and the "quest failed" message will pop up.
  • This will also leave the ending for Vault 19 unchanged: despite being utterly destroyed, the Powder Gangers there will still continue to raid the countryside.

Quest stages

For Philip Lem:

20 Find a way to cut off access to the sulfur.
40 Report back to Philip Lem.
50 Speak with Papa Khan in Red Rock Canyon.
70Quest finishedReport back to Philip Lem.

For Samuel Cooke:

10 Eliminate the fire geckos in the caves under the vault.
30 Report back to Samuel Cooke
50 Speak with Papa Khan in Red Rock Canyon.
60Quest finishedReport back to Samuel Cooke


  • Despite the fact that the convicts in the vault are escapees from the NCR Correctional Facility, they are not labeled as Powder Gangers, and while they will comment on the Courier relative to their Powder Ganger reputation, it has no effect on being able to obtain and complete this quest (the convicts will (usually - see talk) not attack the player with low Reputation). However, either convincing Philip Lem to join the Khans or agreeing with his decision to surrender to the NCR after destroying the caves will gain favor with the Powder Gangers.
  • Killing Papa Khan will cause the immediate failure of this quest.
  • The doors to Philip Lem's overseer's office will be locked after completing the quest by helping Cooke, and the only way to get in is through the cave. Upon entering the room, there is only a puddle of blood with unidentifiable body parts. Going back and talking to Cooke reveals that he has killed Philip Lem.
  • The doors leading to Philip Lem may not always be locked.
  • If the quest is completed by either helping Samuel Cooke or Philip Lem form an alliance between the Great Khans and the Powder Gangers, or convincing Philip Lem to surrender to the NCR, the vault will be empty the next time it is entered.
  • If the C4 is used to destroy the vault, the car park at the entrance will become a small mound of debris with smoke billowing out of it.
  • Having Boone as a companion will sometimes cause trouble, as he may start attacking the Great Khans, which will result in failure..

Behind the scenes

The name of the quest is a reference to the 1975 song Why Can't We Be Friends? by War.


  • PCPC Playstation 3Playstation 3 Xbox 360Xbox 360 If following the Lem quest line, the map marker will tell you to go to the "Sulfur Caves" entrance (now blown up and billowing smoke) to find and talk to Lem about joining the Great Khans after talking to Papa Khan. Lem is actually located in the Overseer's Office, and if you've opened the stairs leading to the sulfur caves he can sometimes be found stuck there. [verified]
  • Xbox 360Xbox 360 If you kill Motor Runner it will overwrite this whole quest and end it for an unknown reason. [verified]
  • PCPC Playstation 3Playstation 3 Xbox 360Xbox 360 If you enter the Overseer's Office from the elevator entrance (Hard Lock) in Sulfur Cave and open the Overseer's Office with the Average terminal, or just go through this route at any time, you may have some issues with your companions as mentioned above in less detail. When you ascend the stairs into the office your companions become confused and instead of following you up will run out the door back into the caves. If you are at the top of the stairs with a companion and run down they will run back into the vault. It is possible, however to keep your companions with you during this if you manually "push" your companion up and down the stairs. Just crouch and slowly move them and they will glide up, or down the stairs from your push. [verified]
    • This seems more like a path finding issue. Your companions will go back the way you came and reappear by your side a few minutes later, the same way they will if you jump from a ledge.
  • PCPC Playstation 3Playstation 3 Xbox 360Xbox 360 If the player chooses to destroy the sulfur caves and the vault, but didn't kill Cooke personally, then the ending sequence will still show Cooke still alive and the Powder Gangers terrorizing the Mojave. [verified]
  • Playstation 3Playstation 3 Xbox 360Xbox 360 After speaking to Papa Khan for Cooke and returning with the news, it is possible to enter Lem's office through the main door (not the overseer tunnel) to see the piles of bloody entrails. Returning to Cooke will not trigger the dialogue where Cooke admits to killing Lem; he asks you once again to go and speak to Papa Khan on their behalf even though this is now impossible. [verified]
    • This can sometimes lead to problems gaining full rewards for the quest, as the final option of informing Cooke will be marked as incomplete even though the mission will be marked as completed.
    • The dialogue options can be gotten by viewing the entrails first before telling Cooke about Papa Khan's decision. If you talk to him again after finding out he killed Lem, he will still ask you to go to Papa Khan.
  • Playstation 3Playstation 3 Xbox 360Xbox 360 If you have initiated the quest Oh My Papa and haven't triggered the conversation with Regis, the option to ask Papa Khan about Philip's/Samuel's group is not a dialogue option, making it impossible to finish the quest. [verified]
  • PCPC Playstation 3Playstation 3 Xbox 360Xbox 360 A detonator is not required to detonate the C-4 plastic explosive, although it is required to use C-4 during regular combat. [verified]
  • Playstation 3Playstation 3 If you close the Vault 19 door then climb the ladder into The Wasteland before the door closes, the next time you try to open the door it won't work. You will have to climb back out and re-enter. [verified]
  • PCPC Xbox 360Xbox 360 Sometimes when entering Lem's room via the passage under the Overseer's desk you will not be able to enter even though you have disengaged the lock from the terminal on the wall. An invisible barrier will keep you from entering. If you go back to Lem's room and walk down the stairs you can then leave the same way. [verified]
Main quests
Act 1Ain't That a Kick in the Head · Back in the Saddle · By a Campfire on the Trail · They Went That-a-Way · Ring-a-Ding-Ding!
Act 2Wild Card (Wild Card: Ace in the Hole, Change in Management, You and What Army?, Side Bets, Finishing Touches) · The House Always Wins (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII) · Render Unto Caesar · Et Tumor, Brute? · Things That Go Boom · Kings' Gambit · For the Republic, Part 2 · You'll Know It When It Happens/Arizona Killer
Act 3No Gods, No Masters · All or Nothing · Veni, Vidi, Vici · Eureka!
Side quests
New California RepublicAnywhere I Wander · Back in Your Own Backyard · Bitter Springs Infirmary Blues · Boulder City Showdown · Can You Find it in Your Heart? · Climb Ev'ry Mountain · Don't Tread on the Bear! · Emergency Radio · Eye for an Eye · Flags of Our Foul-Ups · Hard Luck Blues · I Don't Hurt Anymore · I Put a Spell on You · Keep Your Eyes on the Prize · Medical Mystery · No, Not Much · Pressing Matters · Restoring Hope · Return to Sender · That Lucky Old Sun · The White Wash · There Stands the Grass · Three-Card Bounty · We Will All Go Together · You Can Depend on Me
Caesar's LegionBeware the Wrath of Caesar! · Caesar's Favor · Caesar's Foe · Caesar's Hire · Cold, Cold Heart · I Hear You Knocking · The Finger of Suspicion · We Are Legion
The StripBeyond the Beef · Bye Bye Love · Classic Inspiration · How Little We Know · Pheeble Will · Talent Pool · The House Has Gone Bust! · The Moon Comes Over the Tower
Freeside & Outer VegasBirds of a Feather · Bleed Me Dry · Debt Collector · G.I. Blues · High Times · Someone to Watch Over Me · The Coyotes · Wang Dang Atomic Tango
BoomersAnt Misbehavin' · Sunshine Boogie · Volare! · Young Hearts
Great KhansAba Daba Honeymoon · Cry Me a River · Don't Make a Beggar of Me · Oh My Papa
Powder GangBooted · I Fought the Law · Run Goodsprings Run · Why Can't We Be Friends?
Brotherhood of SteelEyesight to the Blind · Still in the Dark · Tend to Your Business
OtherCome Fly With Me · Crazy, Crazy, Crazy · Ghost Town Gunfight · Guess Who I Saw Today · Left My Heart · My Kind of Town · The Legend of the Star and A Valuable Lesson · Unfriendly Persuasion · Wheel of Fortune
Companion questsED-E My Love · For Auld Lang Syne · Heartache by the Number · I Could Make You Care · I Forgot to Remember to Forget · Nothin' But a Hound Dog · One for My Baby
Unmarked questsA Bit of Slap and Tickle · A Final Plan for Esteban · Access Powers · All Fired Up! · An Ear to the Ground · Andy and Charlie · Arachnophobia · Arizona Scavenger · Barton the Fink · Bear Necessities · Big Winner (Atomic Wrangler, The Gomorrah, The Tops, Ultra-Luxe, Vikki & Vance) · Bounty Killer (I, II) · Brotherhood Bond (I, II) · Caching in at the Cove · Cajoling a Cudgel · Claws Mended · Claws Out · Dealing with Contreras · Defacing the Humble Stone · Democracy Inaction · Don't Poke at the Bear! · Eddie's Emissary · Exhumin' Nature · Fight Night · Flogging a Dead Corpse · Friend of the Followers · Gland for Some Home Cooking · Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger · Hat's Entertainment · Help for Halford · Hidden Valley computer virus · Highway to the Danger Zone (I, II) · Honorary Rocketeer · I Love Bananas · Iron and Stealing · Keith's Caravan Charade · Laurifer Gladiator · Lenk's Bad Debts · Lily and Leo · Long-Term Care · Malleable Mini Boomer Minds · Maud's Muggers · Meeting an Equal · Missing a Few Missiles · Most Wanted · Not Worth a Hill of Corn and Beans · Old School Ghoul · A Pair of Dead Desperados (I, II) · Papers, Please · Pistol Packing · Playing on the Old Joana · Poor Meat Never Makes Good Soup · Powder to the People · Power to the People · Razzle Dazzle! · Reach for the Sky, Mister! · Rest and Resupply · Ringo's Caravan Rules · Rotface's Loose Lips · Saving (or Savaging) Sergeant Teddy · The Screams of Brahmin · Silus Treatment · Short-Term Treatment · Smooth-Talking Criminal · The Star Showdown · Strategic Nuclear Moose · Straus Calls · Strip Search · Suits You, Sarah · Tags of Our Fallen · A Team of Moronic Mercenaries · Thought for the Day · Tourist Traipse · Trudy's Radio Repair · A Trusted Aide · Useless Baubles or Fancy Trinkets? · We Must Stop Beating Like This · We Must Stop Meeting Like This · Wind-Brahmin Wrangler · You Gotta Break Out a Few Eggs · You Make Me Feel Like a Woman
Add-on quests
Dead MoneySierra Madre Grand Opening! · Find Collars (8: "Dog", 12: Christine, 14: Dean Domino) · Fires in the Sky · Strike Up the Band · Mixed Signals · Trigger the Gala Event · Put the Beast Down · Last Luxuries · Curtain Call at the Tampico · Heist of the Centuries · Big Winner, Sierra Madre
Honest HeartsA Family Affair · Arrival at Zion · Bighorners of the Eastern Virgin · Chaos in Zion · Civilized Man's Burden · Crush the White Legs · Deliverer of Sorrows  · Departing Paradise · Flight from Zion · Gathering Storms · Gone Fishin' · Happy Trails Expedition · Prisoners of War · Retake the Bridge · River Monsters · Rite of Passage · Roadside Attraction · Sanctity of the Dead · The Advance Scouts  · The Treacherous Road · The Grand Staircase · Tourist Trap
Old World BluesAll My Friends Have Off Switches · A Brain's Best Friend · Coming Out of Her Shell · Field Research · He Came... And Went · Influencing People · Midnight Science Fiction Feature! · Old World Blues · On the Same Wavelength · Picking Your Brains · Project X-13 · Sonic Emitter Upgrade · Welcome to the Big Empty · What's in a Name? · When Visitors Attack! · X-2: Strange Transmissions! · X-8 Data Retrieval Test · X-8: High School Horror! · X-13: Attack of the Infiltrator!
Lonesome RoadThe Reunion · The Silo · The Job · The Launch · The Tunnelers · The Divide · The Courier · The End · The Apocalypse