Hard Luck Blues
Hard Luck Blues
Discover the source of the radiation at east pump station.
 Quick walkthrough
- Speak to Morgan Blake at the NCR sharecropper farms
- Go to the east pump station and enter it.
- Look at the terminal and restore the network connection.
- Go to Vault 34 and enter it.
- Find the terminal in the reactor room.
- Choose whether to help the sharecropper farms or the trapped vault dwellers.
 Detailed walkthrough
Go to the NCR sharecropper farms and speak to Morgan Blake. She says that crops are faring poorly, and thinks there may be something in the water. Blake will ask you to investigate the east pump station to find the source of the contamination. Agreeing to help her begins the quest.
Travel east along the pipe to the east pump station. Enter the larger building and activate the terminal on the desk. It has a damaged network connection which must be restored (a Science skill of 50 is required) before it will activate properly. Once the terminal has been repaired and activated, read the message marked "Warning". The message tells you about a problem the pumping station is having with radiation contaminating the pipes. If you have not already visited the farms and received this quest, reading this message will cause it to start.
Head east towards the Vault 34 map marker. Right before the main cave entrance lies a truck with many radioactive barrels surrounded by a group of golden geckos. The Vault is saturated with radiation, so preparations should be made before journeying into the vault. The Vault is also full of feral ghouls with high health and strong melee, and the corridors are badly constricted. Some areas are underwater.
The Vault 34 cave has two entrances - the second is at the summit of the bluffs. Unlike most cave entrances, the summit entrance is situated vertically, slightly recessed into the rockface. This entrance is labelled simply as "Enter Cave". This short, circuitous cave has a few golden geckos and minor loot. Deep within the cave lies Vault 34's open vault door. The Vault population has been transformed into feral ghouls, and the security officers have become glowing ones.
The Overseer's door is unlocked through the terminal in the security room. To access the security room, activate the terminal in the Utility Room, located next to the entrance to the armory, and select Activate Pump to drain the flooded level. The clinic (first door before the Overseer's room) has an Average wall safe containing eleven Rad-X and eight RadAway. You will need these supplies as there is a lot of radiation in the next rooms. Exiting the Utility Room, the Security Room lies to the right; this door is underwater and inaccessible until the pump is activated. Past this the door lies the terminal to unlock the Overseer's room. If you do not have the second terminal password, located in the underwater in the bottom left corner of the local map, you can skip this if you have science of 100, since this is a very hard lock.
Head back to the Overseer's door, and kill the Overseer waiting inside, but aware that the Overseer is highly damaging, has high health and Damage Threshold and has many ghouls surrounding him.
The terminal at the back of the Overseer's Office accepts the password he drops unlocks the pathway to the reactor room (as well as the armory door). Descend beneath the Overseer's desk to the reactor room. Past the dripping corridors, there is a room with half-flooded stairs. In the back, to the left of the stairs, there is a large, red-and-grey mainframe terminal. The terminal gives some vague information about opening a reactor door, closing the exterior vents and rerouting vault control. Reading the SOS message makes the alternative quest ending available.
Open the reactor door - it is just to the left of the terminal that unlocks it. There are two vault technicians transformed into glowing ones in the room. Kill them and access the computer terminal in the room. It presents the final choice as to how to end the quest.
Human vault dwellers are trapped in the (unreachable) underwater side of the vault. Either disable the reactor and remove the radiation contaminating the NCR sharecropper farms, or reroute control of the computer system to the Vault Dwellers. Enter the command first through the terminal in the reactor room, then backtrack to the mainframe terminal in the previous room to confirm the command. After one of two resolutions is chosen, no further commands can be entered through the terminal.
Neither decision gives you karma, but if you choose to help the sharecroppers you will get a faction boost with New California Republic and 100 experience points. Should you choose to help the dwellers, you will earn 150 experience points.
The rescued Vault 34 Dwellers, led by Horowitz, will travel to the Aerotech Office Park east of Camp McCarran, taking up residence at Suite 300. It takes them about a day or two to make their way there after being freed by the player. Dialogue with Horowitz offers the option to request a "Vault Trinket" but no item is added to the player's inventory.
 Journal entries
|1||Find the source of the radiation.|
|2||Shut down Vault 34's reactor to help the Sharecropper farms.|
|3||(Optional) Save Vault 34's trapped dwellers by leaving its reactor intact, dooming the Sharecropper Farms.|
 Behind the scenes
- "Hard Luck Blues" is a blues song first recorded in 1950 by blues/soul artist Roy Brown, for whom it achieved a No.1 on the R&B chart. The lyrics speak of a vagrant with a life very similar to that of the Lone Wanderer.
- Based on the cut terminal entries for the East pump station, the West pump station terminal was never meant to actually lead to Hard Luck Blues but instead was meant to be a red herring to throw the player off.
- If you choose to save the trapped vault dwellers from Vault 34 and meet them at the Aerotech Office Park the player will have an option to ask for a reward "Vault trinket", which doesn't actually add anything to player's inventory. Furthermore - dialogs appear to be looped and bugged. The vault dwellers might not appear at Suite 300 at all despite the quest being finished and your Pipboy entry showing that you saved them. Note: Sometimes after waiting 3–4 days and returning to the office park they will appear.
- The terminal in the east pump station may be accessible even without the required Science skill of 50; the terminal will turn on and the "WARNING" message will still be readable.
- Sometimes the terminal in the reactor room will be locked with the message "terminal locked please contact an administrator" with no way of activating it and not being able to finish the quest. Ensure the player grabs the Overseer's password from the Overseer's corpse beforehand.
- After choosing to save the trapped vault dwellers, one may encounter a docile glowing one. Sadly, the player cannot engage it in dialogue. It's marked as an ally, both in V.A.T.S. and as a tick mark on the mini-map. Like the unnamed feral ghouls, the glowing one has no name and nothing in its pockets.
- Upon entering the overseers office, he will be dead and no feral ghouls will swarm you.