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You have to understand that hard times call for hard measures. I had my hands tied. It's a shame, I know; but the airport is only a small portion of the theater of war.”— Major Polatli
Searchlight Airtport is an abandoned pre-War airport in the Mojave Wasteland that served as a temporary base for some troops of the Caesar's Legion. It is located south of Camp Searchlight and west of Cottonwood Crater.
The airport was once a hub for commercial import for the little city of Camp Searchlight, but after the Great War, it became an aeroplane cemetery. In 2279, during the Legion’s attack against Camp Searchlight, reconnaissance was made around the airport area, and troops were sent to clear it up.
It took them over two months to get the whole place cleared, considering the massive number of radscorpions and the bandits that occasionally assaulted their installations. Vulpes Inculta, also responsible for the event at Camp Searchlight, led the troops that explored the place back then.
The Legion then found out the huge underground network accessible through the tower and the tunnel that goes beneath the airport. The sublevels were used as storage for various products that went to Camp Searchlight, as well as armament from the military, considering that the war effort had already reached the area when the bombs fell. Vulpes Inculta sent word to Caesar to dispatch reinforcements, as the location was rather favorable for their tactics against the NCR.
The only problem was delving into the recesses of the base. The action of time had turned the sublevels into a den of various vicious creatures, from radscorpions to molerats. Action needed to be taken, provided that the conflict against the NCR was intensifying.
In 2280, in a desperate measure to collect funds for the decadent troops at Camp Forlorn Hope, Major Polatli secretly got in touch with the enemy over at the airport, for he knew that as Camp Searchlight was already history, and Nelson was a prime target, Forlorn Hope would not last long. He then proceeded to gather around 40 young NCR privates, supposedly to be sent on a mission to rescue Searchlight survivors and attack the airport, but instead sold the soldiers to Vulpes Inculta as slaves for a hefty amount of money that would enable him to fortify Forlorn Hope (strategy unknown to both NCR partners and the Legion). Inculta accepted, surprised with the act of “good will” from his own enemy in increasing the Legion’s slaves army, and used the fresh, young slaves to clear up the sublevels.
Major pressure from the environment
In 2281, attacks from ghoulified NCR soldiers kept coming from Camp Searchlight into the airport, as well as endless colonies of radscorpions that migrated from the west, and Caesar became skeptical towards Inculta’s trust put on the potential of the base. After one month of plans, the slaves’ leader, ex-private Colin Kerr, sneaked into sublevel A (back then the location where the Legion troops kept supplies and weapons, and that served as barracks for their soldiers), and hacked the security main terminal in order to change hostility parameters of the many turrets against the Legion soldiers themselves. Colin did not expect to be caught, but when spotted by a Frumentarius, accidentally set the parameters to “General Hostility” and fled back into sublevel B, thus killing many Legions soldiers, but pretty much trapping his comrades in the deeper corridors of the underground. From then on, the slaves could not go up to the surface, nor could the Legionnaires delve into the underground.
Seeing no more purpose for them to stay in the airport (especially after a considerable loss), Vulpes Inculta retreated with his troops back to Cottonwood Cove, abandoning the airport and the slaves to their own luck. News traveled over to Forlorn Hope, and Polatli feared that escapees might tell NCR authorities about his ignominious and treacherous act against the Republic. He then assigned a special First Recon sniper to guard the entrance to the tower, ordering him to shoot anyone on sight. This sniper is Charles Henning, a man of incorruptible obedience to his superiors, and a stern demeanour.
The Searchlight Airport used to be a fairly humble installation in the pre-War era. The airport is composed of a large, wrecked building (the Main Office), and a control tower, which gives access to the sublevels. The area around the airport is full of ghoulified NCR soldiers, and the only access into it comes from a tunnel that once served as a service entrance to the sublevels (in 2281, this entrance is blocked by debris). Once inside the airport proper, the player will deal with various radscorpions. Jets can be seen in front of the Main Office building. They are inactive.
There is not much inside the Main Office building, apart from metal boxes with random items (such as leaf blowers and paperweight), filing cabinets with cartons of cigarettes and similar junk. A 1st aid box can be found on the far corner of the building, containing 2 stimpaks and 3 bottles of Dirty water.
The control tower is the most attention-grabbing building in the airport. Upon entering it, the player will find a staircase leading to the main room upstairs, which does not contain anything notable, aside from old computers and filing cabinets with papers. Also, three normal-sized radscorpions will attack the player as soon as he/she enters the building. On the left-hand side of the entrance, however, a metal door can be seen. It gives access to sublevels A and B, and it has a Hard-leveled lock.
This is basically the armory and armament storage section of the airport’s underground network. Composed of three levels connected by a stairwell, the place is full of turrets that were programmed (accidentally by Colin) to shoot anyone. About ten Mark III turrets will be found scattered around the section, and getting past them can be a little annoying. To deactivate all of them, the player must get to the deeper of the three levels, hacking the security terminal (Science 80 or more required).
Many ammunition boxes and gun cabinets will be found around the three levels as well. Main types of guns include Caravan shotgun, 10mm submachine gun, Cowboy repeater and one Hunting shotgun (found just beside the security terminal, on the last level of the sector.
This used to be the underground section where large containers of supplies were stored. Medical equipment can be seen everywhere, but no weaponry is found here. The slaves were locked away by Vulpes Inculta on the last of the three levels of the area. Similar structure to sublevels A composes the environment. Here, many molerats and radscorpions can be found. Judging from the cafeteria found on the 2nd level and a Nuka-Cola machine, this section used to be frequented by employees as a resting area. First aid boxes can be found around, as well as tool cabinets.
Past the 2nd level going downstairs, the player will get to a Hard locked metal door. However, the slaves already have the codes to open it, and the player needs to talk to the intercom located next to the door. Milla, a former sergeant of the NCR, will answer. The player needs a Speech level of over 75, for she will suspect that he/she is a Legion soldier. Upon persuading her to open the door, the player can talk to the slaves (especially Colin), and get the quest “Freedom from our home”.
- "Freedom from our Home": If the player talks to Colin, he will tell you that he and the other slaves need help escaping from the underground. The player can offer to destroy the turrets on Sublevels A (or, if he/she has already destroyed them, tell him so). After that, Colin and Milla accompany the player to Sublevels A to get weapons for the slaves. However, upon escaping from the tower, Charles Henning will start shooting all escapees (including the player and companions), and his Anti-materiel rifle does a considerable damage, as his aiming is flawless. If Colin or Milla are killed, the mission is over. If Charles does not get it, or is killed, the player then procedes to confront Polatli, trying to convince him to turn himself in, or goes directly to Colonel Moore to report the incident (Moore will need proof, though; Colin offers a journal with details). Polatli will try and bribe the player with tempting 1000 caps to keep his/her mouth shut (he says that the slaves will be taken care of); if accepted, the mission will be completed, but with considerable Karma loss. Alternatively, the player can talk to Henning (who is always roaming outside the airport), and try to convince him not to shoot the prisoners (Speech 75 or more needed).
- "Airborne": The Legion has not lost their interest in the airport. Talk to Vulpes Inculta to get informed that he is interested in the jets located outside the Main Office building. For that, the player will have to collect three essential parts to get the jets up and running. Talking to the Loyal of the Boomers will give the player the locations of the three components: one is in Nellis Air Force Base itself, and can be bought for 500 caps; the second is located in the Jacobstown lodge, in Doctor Henry's possession (as it is a piece used in one of his medical terminals, persuading him to sell the part will be extremely hard; Speech of over 85 or Barter of over 80 are needed); the last part is sold by Old Lady Gibson by 700 caps. After that, the player can get the parts to Inculta and he will take care of the rest.
- "Hiding the Traces": Major Polatli is not satisfied with the slaves being still alive, and thinks he only needs an outside person to finish the job, since he mentions that "good Charles is there, but I don't want him to get blood on his hands unnecessarily". He will ask the player to kill the slaves, so that he can sleep well. The player can either talk to Henning and convince him to accompany him/her in an assault on the slaves, deactivate the ventilation system of the sublevels found upstairs in the control tower, or simply go deep into the underground and kill them the old-fashioned way. The reward is of 1200 caps, and there is a big Karma loss.
- If the player turns Polatli in to Moore (or convinces him to do so), he will be relocated to Camp McCarran, and will be found sitting in the interrogation cell.
- Colin Kerr is Samuel Kerr's brother.
- Charles Henning and Boone have had run-ins in the past. Boone will mention that "Traitors and bastards never change" when close to Henning. Henning, on the other hand, will eventually say "This idiotic weirdo with sunglasses around here? Must be trying to stay away from Bitter Springs, heh?".