Rivet City and the Brotherhood – An Actual Lore-Based Answer
For my first entry in this little blog, I’ve decided to tackle an issue that surfaces whenever the eastern division of the Brotherhood of Steel are mentioned: What’s going on with Rivet City? A single entry on the Prydwen gave rise to speculation that the Brotherhood violated it in one way or another, including a certain prominent YouTuber. I’ve decided to answer this question based on available lore.
First, we need to answer two questions:
What is Rivet City?
The denizens of Rivet City describe it as the most prosperous and technologically advanced settlement in the Capital Wasteland. Both claims are true, at least in 2277. However, it’s important to remember that they are all living in what’s essentially a shantytown established in a wrecked carrier that’s been rusting in the waters of the Anacostia River for over 150 years.
Its true that its residents have access to things rarely found in the wasteland: A stable food supply from its hydroponic bays, excellent medical care, and a security force serving a functional city government. The cost is that they are forced to live inside the rusting carrier, under the constant threat of tetanus infections and a variety of respiratory diseases caused by inhaling rust particles. There’s also the ever-present threat of the carrier’s structure failing, kept at bay by constant repairs, and of course mirelurks nesting below decks.
Rivet City denizens still pay the price as they have no real alternative. They don’t have the means to remove the ship’s systems and move them to a place that isn’t trying its best to kill them. Even if they did, the state of the wasteland before the Purifier Conflict is that they’d be trading one dangerous environment for another – decay and mirelurks for raiders and super mutants.
What is its relationship with the Brotherhood of Steel?
Although the Rivet City Science Outpost was only established in 2239, it’s still over a decade older than the Brotherhood of Steel’s Citadel and remained the primary supplier of edible foodstuffs to the Capital Wasteland for decades, aided by its technical expertise and security force. As such, the Brotherhood had to interact with it over the decades of its stay in the Capital Wasteland. We know that they made at least recruiting runs, inviting denizens of the carrier to serve in the ranks of the Brotherhood.
This tells us that the relationship between the two was definitely positive. Perhaps not particularly cordial, but certainly close enough for the Council to allow them to siphon citizens away, up to and including merchants contributing to the town’s well-being.
What’s more, after the activation of Project Purity, Rivet City became the first military ally of the Brotherhood in the Capital Wasteland, providing security for Lyons’ water caravans. Even in the face of losses as high as 75%, the security force continued to send escorts out in return for a share of the Brotherhood’s bounty from the war with the Enclave.
Given that all such measures have to be approved by the Rivet City Council, the alliance suggests that the City wanted to gravitate towards the Brotherhood of Steel, rather than stay away.
What does that mean?
Rivet City is perhaps the oldest trade partner and military ally of the Brotherhood of Steel, a stone’s throw from the Citadel. It has allowed the Brotherhood to recruit soldiers in its territory and then contributed men to Lyons’ water caravans. It is also a settlement forced into a hostile, toxic space that’s actively harmful to its citizens.
As the Brotherhood secures the Capital Wasteland, Rivet City is bound to move off the derelict and into areas more suited for human habitation as the super mutants and raiders are cleared away. We already see it in Broken Steel, where Lepelletier coordinates caravan operations from the half-finished building that connects to the City’s bridge, not the carrier itself.
They don’t even need to look very far, as there are ruined buildings across the bridge, in Anacostia, which can be made habitable by clearing rubble – especially if the Brotherhood provides aid. As the Citadel proves, they can undertake great engineering projects and make ruins habitable again.
It’s also worth remembering that the power requirements of Rivet City are relatively small. They definitely do not require a fusion powerplant designed for a nuclear aircraft carrier. At the present, these can generate hundreds of megawatts. For example, each A4W reactor used in the Nimitz-class is rated for 550 MW. 100 MW are used as electricity, the rest for powering the propellers.
For comparison, the most power-intensive infrastructure components of Rivet City are:
- Its science bay, which focuses on hydroponics and water purification; the former do not have high power requirements, while the latter can be done with improvised power sources, as Megaton’s example suggest,
- lighting, which might very well be quite efficient due to Ragnarok-proofing,
- air circulation.
Given the generally meager quality of life even at Rivet City, I doubt the average citizens consumes enough power to even come close to the average power consumption of American consumers (a little under 900 kWh per month). As such, these power needs do not justify using an expensive, hard-to-maintain fusion power plant designed to move a fully-laden aircraft carrier at sea and supply power to all of its systems, including elevators, computers, weapons, radar, and everything else.
Next, the Brotherhood in the East does not rob wastelanders of technology. What they collect in the Commonwealth has been abandoned for decades, if not centuries, or fell into the hands of super mutants, while interactions with wastelanders focus on trading with them. Apart from their deployment in Diamond City, Teagan mentions they trade Vertibird-based protection for preferential treatment when dealing with caravans. His requisitions are by necessity carried out unofficially and he never orders the Survivor to kill civilians, as that isn’t how the Brotherhood works.
Finally, Danse effectively hails from Rivet City and is the first to chew the Survivor out for unnecessary civilian casualties (“I don’t know how you think the Brotherhood of Steel operates, but the one thing we never do is murder the innocent!”). If anything less than kosher went down at Rivet City, he would at least mention that.
Given all of these factors, I find it implausible that the Brotherhood would take the fusion power plant by force:
- Rivet City has no reason to use the fusion power plant in the first place.
- It’s one of the Brotherhood’s most important allies in the wasteland.
- It doesn’t fit the Brotherhood’s general modus operandi for reasons outlined above.
- Danse doesn’t mention anything happening to Rivet City.
Last, even if Rivet City did use the power plant and they did prefer living on board a toxic derelict that’s bound to collapse and kill them all one day, the Brotherhood could simply trade them the Prydwen‘s old power plant.