Sgt. Salizar Contreras (born Dec 16th, 2250) is a New Californian and former NCR veteran scout and retired sharpshooter in the 1st Recon Sniper Battalion. Contreras was the first New Californian to step into the border of New Vegas, atop the Hoover Dam, into the Mojave Wasteland. Currently, Contreras is a squabbling, homeless veteran somewhere lost in the Boneyard, scavenging the skeletal skyscrapers and begging for food, forgotten as a shadow of his former self.
Contreras has a four-sided face with a well-defined, slightly pointed chin and a strong jawline. The cheeks have pulled back and cling to the bone like a starving Eagle with a long-awaited catch. Tired, grayed eyes which are slight and spaced evenly apart, rest below his slender eyebrows which seem to curve as a natural allowance of his broad, smoothed nose.
Once, long years ago, he had an innocent and smooth skin texture, but it has come to be tanned by the wind, burned by the Sun, aged by stress, and bereaved by withdrawal. Gaunt, sullen, and tight against his bone structure, his skin has changed like the turn of a season. The smoothed boy that went into NCR service has returned as a cadaverous man with experiences as weathered and worn as his skin.
Contreras keeps his mouth closed in a thin, conservative line; teeth always clenched against each other due to bruxism, which is the pre-war term for the grinding of the teeth. Desert lips cracked from the kiss of the winds hides the grit teeth; Lips that are always chapped. His hair—naturally black but powdered by Mother Nature into an optimistic brown grunge—was ruggedly self-cut and crushed under a helmet or beanie. The hair of his jaw was patchy and unkempt, plucked or chewed at because of his anxiety.
The trooper jacket he wore over his shoulders had ruggedly polished medals and bars from past victories, and the scarf around his neck has faded from the traditional yellow to a drab tint and was tied so that the ruffles perfectly filled the space left open by his armor. Contreras is never, ever, without a head covering; be it a hood or a scarf. He walks straight, his face held forward in a sturdy gaze, and has an air of authority that is real.
Contreras was once a proud soldier until Bitter Springs changed him. He has nightmares, shouting and flashbacks whenever he smells blood, which reminded him of Bitter Springs. He rarely laughs anymore, the age of innocence is over for him. Having gone through life-altering trials and warfare, it is no surprise that fear is no longer a foreign feeling to this once courageous man.
Contreras was born into a large sharecropper and trade settlement surrounding the Baja, California peninsula. Salizar grew up as a twin with his brother, Danny, in what was northwestern, Mexico.
NCR Military service
“I'm not too worried about joining the Republic - it's my job after all.”
After Salizar and Daniel's parents were killed by Mojave Raiders in 2253, they were adopted by other Californians who placed the young Contreras brothers on a path to become soldiers. Turned down by official branches of the New California Republic for being underage, the brothers were initiated into militant schooling through their youth. A sworn affidavit from their "parents" that falsified their birth dates by a year helped them successfully enlist in junior schooling on June 30th, 2261 in New California. Assigned to the infantry during basic training at Camp Colten at age 14, Contreras studied unconditionally and practiced. He was then sent to Fort Lautner for initial infantry training.
“Trainings are hard. I barely get any sleep... Sarge forces me to do night watch so I pass out at morning muster; I never have and never will. I'm sorry to disappoint him.”
Salizar was formally commissioned into the New California Republic military on April 10th, 2267, at the unknown age of sixteen. After completing the basic school, infantry officer courses, and the military intelligence basics, he was assigned to the 1st Scout Division. A timed youth, Salizar barely made any friends in the ranks, but followed through none the less and passed satisfactorily in all areas. Unfortunately, his brother Daniel had failed military intelligence and was absent from the majority of the courses, and was reassigned into Armorer training instead, where he would go on to manage shipments, ledgers, and requisites. Salizar served at Camp Colten, a small NCR marksmen tutoring camp, where he assisted as the Company Operations Officer in 1st Platoon, A Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, notably alongside Captain Dharti.
Salizar endured the strenuous training, exercises, and drills required to meet the standards of the NCR army. Though he did not possess the same strength level shared by most of his compatriots, he could outrun and even out lap the other runners during cardio exercises. This naturally gifted talent allowed him to gain the attention of his superiors, as he could clear distances swiftly and without tiring. Training to become a dedicated marksman has many requirements, all of which he was obliged to have. These included steady aim, great reflexes, and among other things, patience. Unbeknownst to him, Sergeant Bill Rheon, his superior, had taken to disliking him. Rheon would force Salizar to stay up all night on guard duty, where he would barely get sleep during breaks, and only slept an hour at a time at best: But he never broke and never once complained.
After a few years of begrudging practice, he earned the Marksman Badge with Rifle Clasp and the Expert Badge with Bayonet Clasp. Salizar passed basic training and entered full military service and deployment in the field at nineteen years of age.
“I can handle myself in a punchup. These oldheads tire out after their first few swings. Only takes a couple clean taps in the right places to drop em flat.”
In the Lautner camp, he made himself a name and a small sum of income by betting and competing in a small pit fighting ring run by the recruits. With a scanty stature and exceptional cardio, Contreras could tire out and slip and counter his opponents in the ring. One noted anecdote in the pits was when he single-handedly defeated two men at once in a handicap bout without being hit. However, the pit matches eventually caught up to him, as he was sidelined for a month after breaking his left middle and ring knuckles in one of his matches. After several victories in the pit, he would eventually retire from competition after he was thrown around like a rabbit in a bear's mouth by then-champion, Bruno Scherrmann, a six foot nine, 390 pounds Goliath. Suffice it to say, he no longer felt the urge to fight in the pits anymore, the change of heart coming from his days spent healing in the infirmary. The payment from the fights would usually be spent the same day, and always on bootleg Whiskey, cannabis cigarettes, and other illicit amenities, which his brother could smuggle into the camp under the noses of their superiors.
Discovery of Hoover Dam
“Its a big mountain cut in a way as to stop the waters. Its damn huge, sir!”
In October of 2271, he and twelve other troopers were assigned to a scouting party which was to pioneer northeasterly with the hope of finding adequate land and resources. After a lengthy trek which spanned over four hundred kilometres, which also resulted in three deaths from the violent wildlife and heatstroke, the tired troopers gazed upon the great Hoover Dam, which was inhabited by squabbling tribes. Seeing it as an incredible asset to the Republic, they hastily returned to the NCR Council to set a petition for annexation, as the power output would be immense, and the sight of lights in the middle of the desert was appalling.
Longest Kill Record
Contreras holds the official New Californian military (Non-Ranger) record for the longest sniper kill in active combat. The record was set at a range of 2,310 m (2,526 Yd). Contreras' shot was taken sometime after the First Battle of Hoover Dam during the Battle of Willow Beach. Contreras exceeded the previous record set by his teammate, Lance-Corporal Robert Perry by 120 m (130 Yd).
“They were innocent, and I can’t get the memory of them out of my mind, I cannot get the thoughts to leave. I was responsible, that if it were not for me, they would still be alive today.”
In 2278, after years of being stationed in Camp Golf with the rest of 1st Recon, as it was one of the first NCR establishments in the region; Command had heard about a recent Great Khan raiding party retreating to the north-east hills above Lake Mead, but is unaware of the subtle details. Contreras, being the best and the fastest scout of 1st Recon, is first to sight and follow the Khan’s raid party from afar. The Great Khans are followed into the hills and into a small settlement known as “Bitter Springs”. Reporting it back to the brass at Camp Golf without approaching, fearing detection, Contreras blindly reported to Camp Golf without knowledge of the camps internal aspects. NCR sent envoys and threats to the Khans, all of which were rejected by the tribals. Believing Bitter Springs to just be a Khan raider camp, Major. Gilles petitioned an attack on the encampment: It was certified, and orders were set because the NCR was constantly attacked and raided by the Great Khans, which immensely hindered their expansion of New Vegas.
As ordered, Contreras was positioned at Coyote Tail Ridge alongside the other members of 1st Recon. Notably, he was adjacent to Craig Boone and beside Thomas Ellis. When the NCR Army assaulted the camp from the entrance way, 1st Recon was to cover the side passage and fire upon anyone escaping through it. When they heard gunfire echoing throughout the valley, they then noted movement from the passage through scopes and binoculars. Major. Gilles ordered them to fire until they expended all the ammunition they had.
Following orders, Contreras was the first to fire his rifle, consequently causing the other members to follow the effect; firing until the valley walls deafened with screams and frantic return fire. He hit his first shot, missed his second, and injured with his third. When he aimed for his fourth shot after rebolting his rifle, Contreras noticed that the target he was marking was smaller than the others, and was, in fact, a child. He froze in the scope as the little girl, no younger than ten, was shot down as she fired a .32 pistol toward them. Contreras became unresponsive and traumatically distraught at the sight he saw: elderly, women and children, all being mutilated from constant rifle fire.
Contreras was a trained, experienced, and practiced soldier. With vital experience in Baja, support in the first Battle of Hoover Dam, and general military service for years, he was well versed in war. He has both seen and experienced death and despair, and he had endured and pulled through hardship himself. And yet it was this unusual, horrific event that was to be his disentanglement. Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder ever since, with his fight-or-flight response always in hyper-arousal, he would sleep with a loaded handgun under his pillow, and looked for solace in addictive sleeping pills known as Red-Eye.
One of his former squad mates and dearest friends, Robert Perry, who had taken part in the annihilation of Bitter Springs, ended up taking his own life over his guiltiness. Right in front of him, Perry fired a pistol below his chin and killed himself. This incident prompted Contreras to reconsider his upcoming reenlistment. After careful thought, Contreras ultimately left the NCR and traveled to The Hub for some downtime in 2278, four days after the massacre. After being unofficially discharged, Contreras spent the next two years numbed by alcohol and addictive chems. He had failed relationships, depression, and spells of homelessness.
"I saw them running towards us, many of them children, and I just followed orders. Carnage - everywhere. Bodies, bits of bodies, heads in helmets, legs in boots. Blood and guts. They expect you to deal with it. You don't think about it at the time because you can't."
―Contreras confides in his comrade, Thomas Ellis, who was unfazed by the event.
"Just as combat will give you friends you never wanted, it will make you miss them even more."
―Regarding his first scouting team, which has been disbanded.
"To this day, long after I have left those theaters of war, I still wonder what has happened to them, if they are still alive; still fighting."
―Regarding the 1st Recon squadron, whom he left many years ago.
"Say what you will about our ill-favored counterparts, after witnessing the courage, determination and will to fight they display on a daily basis, I grew to respect them and called many of them my friend."