The History of the Desert Rangers is a six-part book in Wasteland 2, detailing the history of the Rangers.
A spiral bound document with a blue paper title page under a clear plastic cover. The title, "The History of the Desert Rangers - by Ranger Simak," has been printed in 72pt Comic Sans."
- Ranger Citadel: The bookcase in the Museum (parts 1, 2, and 5).
- Ranger Citadel: The bookcase next to Gilbert "Thrasher" Sagarra (parts 3 and 6).
The History of the Desert Rangers by Ranger Simak
What comes after the end?
The story of the Desert Rangers begins at what many would have called the end of all human history - after the nuclear blasts changed the face of the world forever and left human civilization with scars that would never heal.
But humanity's resilience is its defining trait, and it should surprise no one that pockets of survivors survived the nuclear holocaust. I say pockets speculatively, and some would call me a fool for doing so, for though rumors persist of mutants being cured and turned into humans in Florida, these are obvious fairy tales, and in the century since the nuclear war we here in the Arizona wastes have heard no credible reports of others surviving outside our lonely stretch of desert land. It is therefore fair to assume we're the only ones left.
Who are we?
The Desert Rangers started as an Army Corps of Engineers battalion, who were deep in the Arizona deserts constructing roads and bridges on that fateful day when the bombs fell. Their isolation saved their lives, but could do nothing for their frightened, broken hearts. One can only imagine the horror they felt as they listened to reports of their home cities and states being obliterated one after the other on their radios.
The engineers did not know how or why the nuclear war happened, no more than we do today, but their supplies, military training, and knowledge of the region gave them advantages over their fellow survivors during the apocalypse and the chaotic years that would follow. They commandeered a nearby federal prison, being welcomed as saviors by the few remaining prison guards, and in a show of mercy that might have perhaps been better if tempered by wisdom, the Rangers freed the prisoners into the desert.
Why? Perhaps they felt that the apocalypse had already killed enough people, perhaps they simply didn't want to waste ammo it would have taken to execute them. In any case, the prisoners survived, which lead to a volatile mix of survivors all living together in the wasteland - isolated farming communities, scientists from secretive research facilities, citizens of small towns just looking to get by, but opposite them were not just the rapidly mutating monsters of the desert, but equally monstrous humans, cultists and cannibals. Many of these threats were from the original prison population, as well as formerly law-abiding citizens who saw the end of the world as an excuse to abandon all of civilization's constraints.
Faced with such villains, the army engineers could have hidden in the prison and lived only for their own survival, but they did not. Hearing the cries for help coming from distant radios, they invited many to join them behind their strong walls. They aided other, more established, towns, helping them build walls and protect their homes, training them in the arts of defense and war, and helping them develop into strong, stable communities.
Holding Back the Tide
Though the Desert Rangers never gained the numbers to patrol the wastes in their entirety, it is thanks to their efforts in the century that followed that many communities in the wasteland flourished. They helped protect the community of Highpool until it could rebuild the pre-war defenses that now make it the most well protected source of water in the wastes. The Rangers helped the Rail Nomads repair their trains and expand their rail lines, allowing them to establish a thriving trading and transportation network. They also helped the residents of the Agricultural Center go from a tiny farming community to a food research facility that has the potential to lead the wasteland into a greener, healthier future.
But despite these various successes, there was always a sense that the rangers were doing little more than holding back the tide, and that, were they to relax for but a moment, the raiders and madmen who lived on the fringes of Ranger territory would flood in and drown the young civilization before it had time to grow and stand on its own two feet.
And then, almost a full century after the end of the war, in 2087, a new threat rose that threatened this tenuous equilibrium more than any danger the Desert Rangers had faced before.
The library register in the front of this volume shows "Dr. E. Tidemann" as the last ranger to have checked this out.
Hell Razor, Angela Deth, Thrasher and Snake Vargas
Four Rangers - now legend - were sent out on a fairly standard assignment, patrolling and aiding the communities that the Desert Rangers had sworn to protect. They started in Highpool, a thriving community by now, but at that moment in need of a new generator for their water purification system. While helping the town to fix this problem, they saved a young boy from a rabid dog. Accounts differ as to what happened next, but apparently the owner of the dog - a young man named Bobby - attacked the rangers for killing his pet, and they were forced to kill him in self-defense.
The next few stops on their patrol were much less fraught with drama - they saved Ag Center from an animal invasion, bought an engine from the Desert Nomads, saved the Mayor in Quartz by defeating a mob boss named Ugly John, and freed a young mechanic named Ace, who joined them, and who has proven an asset to the Desert Rangers ever since.
But the wasteland is a place of madness and desperation, and insanity is not long in rearing its head. Which it did in the next town they visited: Needles. There they encountered the Servants of the Mushroom Cloud - who worship the nuclear holocaust itself - and the discovered the Temple of Blood. At this point rumors began to reach their ears that "something was wrong in the desertâ€, but they could not get any clear word on what, only that they would find the answer in the cesspit known as Las Vegas.
In Vegas, the polite but dangerous crime lord Faran Brygo told them that killer cyborgs had been threatening the town, and that his right hand man Max knew more about them, but had disappeared. Further investigation led the rangers to the Las Vegas branch of the Servants of the Mushroom Cloud. Before she would talk to them, their leader, Charmaine, sent the rangers back to Needles to retrieve the Bloodstaff from the Temple of Blood. Once they brought it to her, she told them to search for Max in the sewers of Vegas.
It is here that the rumors the Rangers had been hearing were proved true. The sewers were swarming with androids! Metal monstrosities of all shapes and sizes roamed the underground, attacking on sight. After a brutal fight with the androids, the rangers found Max - or rather pieces of Max - as he turned out to be a lifelike but disassembled artificial human. Max had hoped to negotiate peace with the cyborgs, but was ripped apart for his troubles. Though not before he had learned where they had been coming from - an ancient, pre-apocalypse military facility called Base Cochise.
Finster and Cochise
Armed with this information, the rangers marched off to end the cyborg menace, but it wasn't going to be as easy as walking through Base Cochise's front door. To fight the androids the rangers were going to need more and better equipment. To that end, they explored another old facility known as the Sleeper Base, where an automated training program taught them how to fly helicopters.
From there, they traveled to Darwin Village, yet another ancient military facility. To their horror, they found another major threat to the wastes here, as the former director of the facility, an insane cyborg by the name of Irwin John Finster, was creating dangerous mutated creatures that he hoped would inherit the planet once the cyborgs and a dangerous plague he'd developed had wiped out all humans. Unable to reason with Finster, the rangers decided to end this threat before it truly started, and destroyed him and the base.
Soon after, the rangers learned that the keys that would allow them to enter Base Cochise were held by a dangerous, xenophobic sect known as the Guardians of the Old Order, who were obsessed with preserving technology and keeping it out of the hands of the common people. When the Guardians responded to the rangers request for the keys with unnecessary force, the rangers assaulted their fortress, the Guardian Citadel a massive facility built into the side of a mountain. We now call the place Ranger Citadel.
In the end, Hell Razor, Angela Deth, Thrasher and Snake Vargas battled their way to the Guardians' inner sanctum, uncovering a cache of power armor and a functional Attack Helicopter, which they flew to Base Cochise, wiping out the android patrols sent to destroy them and landing on the roof. Inside the base, they found a malevolent computer known as the Base Cochise AI mass-producing the robot scourge.
The rangers tricked the AI into creating an administrative robot they named Vax, and with Vax's help, they dismantled the robot-making machinery. But knowing that the base would eventually repair itself - that they had only stopped the robot horde temporarily - they plunged into the heart of Base Cochise and fought through a gauntlet of mechanical madness to start a chain reaction of explosions that finally wiped the base off the map.
From Guardian Citadel to Ranger Citadel
In the 15 years since, the Desert Rangers have moved their headquarters from the old prison facilities that had served them for a century to the larger and more secure Guardian Citadel. Initially there was some thought given to keeping the Prison staffed and returning it to its original purpose, but this would have required manpower that the Rangers needed to keep patrolling the wastes for remnants of Base Cochise's cyborg army and Finster's monstrosities. For while those threats were averted, the mark they left on the wasteland has not entirely faded.
And so, with their greatest danger passed, the Rangers are now a strong and well-respected force in Arizona, fully capable of fulfilling their promise to their fellow survivors of the apocalypse - that they will be ever-vigilant defenders of the wastes, and strive with hearts, minds and strength of arms, to bring about a new and better era of human civilization.
Afterword: I undertook this task of writing an accurate history of the Desert Rangers due to an incurable fascination with history. While much historical writing survived the apocalypse, it pains me to think how much human accomplishment from that point onwards has not been written down, and could easily be forgotten.
That being said, though I did my best, I perhaps underestimated the difficulty inherent in historical writing, and dare not claim every word in this book is true, but only that it is the most accurate history of the wasteland I could construct.