Wilkes was born was born on the 1st of July 2258 in the Hub, one of the largest settlements on the western side of the American wasteland. As the son of a merchant family, he spent most of his youth on the streets of the city, inevitably becoming involved in violence and petty crime. He was not intent on living that life forever, though, so as soon as he came of age, he enlisted in the NCR Army - around the same time his childhood rival and enemy, Tom Perton, who had gotten in many a fight with Wilkes, did.
During the training period, Wilkes showed a particular knack for rigging explosives and setting up booby traps. This made it an easy decision for his superiors to assign him to a sabotage unit when the training was over. This squad, seeing as sabotage units were scarce among the NCR, saw a fairly large amount of action, and thus Wilkes soon became quite an experienced soldier. However, he had a hard time obeying the orders of his sergeant and other superiors, especially in the early stages of his career, and this kept him at a low rank for a long time. Perton, in the meantime, steadily started rising through the ranks through a combination of flattery and bribery.
In the years that followed, Wilkes turned out to be a strong-willed leader. This was both a blessing and a curse: his squad mates followed him with zeal, but when they messed up, he would carry out harsh repercussions. This went so far that at one point, he sent a soldier to retrieve dogtags from a radiation zone without protection, leaving him with severe radiation sickness. Insubordinate troopers also felt the butt of his rifle on more than one occasion. His abusive behaviour was an important contributive factor in the fact that he never made it past the rank of Sergeant.
Convoy fiasco and imprisonment
Roughly a year after the Second Battle of Hoover Dam, Wilkes' squad was part of an operation that was to establish a foothold for the NCR in Arizona. A convoy of troopers was on its way to there, but before they could pass through to the Arizona Wasteland, they had to get past a fortified position controlled by Caesar's Legion. In order to take out this position, Wilkes and his squad would sneak in, plant explosive charges, and then blow up the tower, so the convoy could pass safely. The mission started off smoothly, but after they had successfully planted the charges, the squad was discovered and got pinned under heavy fire. In the meantime, the convoy was nearly getting into the range of the tower's weaponry. In the heat of the moment, Wilkes saw no other choice than to escape the blast zone on his own, leaving his squad to perish - a tough decision, but a necessary sacrifice for the success of the mission.
After the mission, Tom Perton, who had by now become a Colonel, caught wind of Wilkes' act. Ever the petulant manchild, he decided to take advantage of the situation by slandering Wilkes and accusing him of intentionally killing his squad, arguing that he had abused his underlings before and that something like this was bound to happen. The slander campaign ended up in a court-martial for Wilkes. Since Perton had far more influence among the higher-ups of the army, it took very shortly before the decision was made to sentence Wilkes for life.
In the three years between his imprisonment and the launch of Project Cook, Wilkes spent his life inside an NCR correctional facility of undisclosed location. At some point during his time here, he developed an addiction to the makeshift chem Turbo, as a result of trying to cope with being falsely imprisoned. The addiction tore him apart, until he eventually got his hands on some Addictol. However, the rarity of this item meant that he had to go through some shifty channels at an incredibly high price; the leader of the local prison gang turned him into a servant to repay his debt, forcing him into enforcing gang law within the prison.
In 2285, Project Cook sent its first wave of announcements. Conversation between Wilkes and fellow project member Harriot later that year reveals the impopularity of the project, at least in the facility the former was held in. According to Wilkes, he was the only one who even considered signing up, stating that he "was the only one stupid enough to willingly go out here [into Denver]".
Project Cook and the Copper Toe conflict
Shortly after the convicts of Project Cook were sent into Denver, Wilkes established himself as head of scavenging operations in the council that the group decided to set up. Initially, George McGill was the de facto leader, but as time went on Wilkes slowly took over that position.
After a newcomer called Maxim decided to shoot a Copper Toe scout to display his marksmanship skill, the Project Cook community became entangled in a conflict that would change their way of life. The Copper Toes' leader, a man called Casamir, invaded the compound the community had set up inside the Blessed Sacrament Elementary School, demanding justice for the man he had lost. However, instead of taking Maxim, he executed Doug Fargo, in spite of Wilkes' attempts to reason with him, and shot Wilkes in the left leg, crippling him below the thigh permanently. He also pressured the community into an alliance of sorts, although both Wilkes and Harriot covertly vowed to destroy Casamir. While Wilkes was in narcosis for surgery on his leg, he was molested by Shiv. He would not figure this out until a number of weeks later, however, when Shiv learned she was pregnant; based on the time frame, as well as other circumstantial evidence, he discovered what she had done and that the child was probably his - at which point he punched her in the stomach, killing the child before it was even born.
In the aftermath of Casamir's assault, Wilkes found himself beginning to care for Harriot. They grew closer as time went on, especially after he helped her cure her Jet addiction. She even expressed romantic interest in him; however, he revealed that he perceived himself to be homosexual. Eventually, he shattered the community's involuntary alliance with the Copper Toes for her sake, when Casamir attempted to abduct her. Down the line, this resulted in a fateful assault on the community's compound, in which the walls were destroyed and the entire area was overrun by dogs. The community fled to the vacant Vault 56, which they claimed as their new home.
In the Vault, the community received a newcomer, Daniel Starling. Nothing about this man sat right with Wilkes; according to himself, Daniel had killed thousands of men, women and children. However, against his gut, he called for a group meeting to cast a vote. The eventual consensus was to let him in, as Daniel had the ability to create mindless servants from dead bodies - a boon that could prove vital in the war against the Copper Toes. Begrudgingly, Daniel was let into the community. A few days later, the community discovered that Mister Sunshine had engaged in a pedophilic relationship with the twelve year old Maria. Appalled by this, Wilkes expelled Sunshine from the community, but the latter was not compliant and opened fire, shooting McGill in the process. He slipped off afterwards, but Harriot and Wilkes chased after him to catch him and bring him to justice. They tracked him to the ruined school building that had been their old home, but while they were there, Copper Toes arrived at the scene and captured them, though not without a fierce struggle from Wilkes that ended up with him receiving a myriad of injuries.
The two of them were taken into the Copper Toe home base, where they were subjected to torture. Four days later, the Project Cook community mounted a rescue operation, which turned into a full-scale battle with the aid of Daniel's Lobotomites. McGill was critically injured in the process, and Wilkes finally succumbed to his untreated injuries, but not before he aided in killing Casamir. As the community made its escape in a captured tank, the Brotherhood of Steel arrived in Denver, with the objective of hunting down Daniel.
After Wilkes woke up again, he learned that Harriot was relapsing as a result of the Toes' torture. Determined to help her whether she wanted or not, they got into a heated argument, which culmimated in him locking her into the brig for a night. The next morning, he joined her there, to talk in a more relaxed atmosphere. In that moment, he began to realise that his feelings for her were not purely platonic, which was quite confusing for the both of them, as Wilkes had been under the impression that he was gay up until then. After a while, though, they both gave in to their feelings for each other and began an affair despite Harriot's relationship with McGill.
Around the same time, the Brotherhood forced its way into the Vault, searching the place for Daniel and killing him when they found him. They also pressured Wilkes into accepting a number of their men inside as an outpost after they learned that McGill had been treated by Daniel, and took custody of McGill to study him for a month. After two days, however, McGill woke up - except he was no longer McGill. Daniel had somehow transferred his consciousness into McGill, taking over his body as a host. He murdered the Brotherhood men studying him, before fleeing into the wasteland. He prevented the Project Cook community members from following him by sabotaging the Vault door; only the grief-stricken Harriot managed to follow him, but she could not kill him. In the wake of this terrible event, the community sealed itself inside the Vault, isolating them from the rest of the world.
Personality and traits
A retained trait from his time in the NCR Army, Wilkes is a commanding figure. Against outsiders of the project, he is quite often harsh and callous, especially if it concerns new arrivals that were just dropped off by the NCR. Towards insiders, though, he is quite a bit more friendly, and he engages in banter and friendly conversation on a fairly regular basis. Even so, he is not without a mean streak, and he punishes harshly upon failure. It is likely that he does so, however, because of the high amount of stress the project has to endure from various threatening, overpowering factions around them.
Wilkes is bisexual, with most of his interest going to men.
- Wilkes was originally intended to be uncharismatic and harsh, but that changed when Brothers in Binds was launched.