|Black Skull Company|
|Motto:||Only the best, unto death|
|Goals:||Profit; Opposition to the Army of Revolution|
|Enemies:||Army of Revolution|
Black Skull Company is a mercenary organisation operating in the Detroit Wasteland. Considered to be the most skilled and capable mercenary outfit in the region, even if not the largest, Black Skull Company takes pride in its reputation. The outfit was vital to the outcome of the Revolutionary War, demonstrating the value of superior tactics and equipment against raw numbers.
- 1 History
- 2 Organisation
- 3 Equipment
- 4 Membership
- 5 Facilities
- 6 Notable Members
Black Skull Company first formed in 2249, drawn together by a combination of circumstances. The chief of these was the rise of the so-called Army of Revolution, which had formed several years earlier. While at this stage more akin to a well-organised raider band then anything else, the Army of Revolution had begun doing mercenary work in the Detroit Wasteland. Due to their numbers, the had been successful in squeezing out smaller outfits and individual operatives.
It was this issue that bought together a number of independent operators in a meeting. Headed up by Evan Black, this group agreed to form a mercenary company that would sell itself on the skills and capabilities of its members, rather then just numbers. Their charter stated that a potential member needed to have an established reputation, be in good standing with their past clients, have demonstrated prior experience and be willing to work together with others rather than just looking out for themselves. No member of the organisation would be permitted to take independent jobs or hire on with another outfit while they were in Black Skull Company’s employ.
With Evan Black approved as their first leader (due both to his experience and his bringing together the group in the first place), Black Skull Company began its first recruitment drive. This initial stage was deliberately targeted at those that had issues with the AoR, or had fought them in past for whatever reason. However, the company also sought those with established records and known capabilities. In a few instances, they were willing to overlook past misconduct in order to secure the services of particularly skilled individuals.
At the same time, the company began advertising it’s services in the various Detroit Wasteland communities. Initial terms were rather generous, aimed not only at helping to build the company's reputation and client base, but to deliberately undercut the Army of Revolution in the mercenary market. This move helped keep the emergent Black Skull company ahead of its larger but less skilled rival.
As Black Skull Company’s reputation grew, it began to up the ante in its operations. Besides increasing its fees, the company began to take on larger-scale operations, as well as subcontracting smaller teams or even individual members as needed. In short order, the company was considered the pre-eminent mercenary outfit in the Detroit Wastelands, having effectively squeezed the Army of Revolution out of the market and proven to be more capable then other, cheaper options.
Evan Black ensured that his unit would maintain its reputation by enforcing a strict code of conduct. Once signed to a contract, his unit would ensure that it was fulfilled to the letter with no half-measures or “close enough” solutions allowed. The downside of this code of conduct was that it offered no options for reimbursement to an employer in the advent that the company was unable to fulfil their contract, unless it could be proven that there was deliberate negligence on their part.
Going into the 2260s, the Army of Revolution began to show their true colours, transitioning from a mercenary outfit into a well-organised raiding force. The Black Skulls upped the ante, selling themselves as a counter to the Army’s often large scale and well-organised operations to the various settlements in the Detroit region. While expensive, there were few communities who were unwilling to pay the prices that the Black Skulls demanded, rather then risk further losses or even subjugation.
In 2268, Evan Black opted to stand down from command of the unit. A long and active life as a mercenary had left him with numerous injuries and diminishing physical capabilities. Rather then becoming a liability to the unit, he chose to quit while he could and passed command to his second, Stanley Bradford.
Under Bradford’s command, Black Skull Company began to again diversify its operations. Confident in the unit’s size, and feeling that they had managed to contain the Army of Revolution (Which had been scaling back operations after considerable losses), Braddock sought out new clients and operations that did not focus on them. Technological recovery became an especially lucrative option for the company, with their combination of skilled operators and strong discipline allowing them to tackle operations that would have been otherwise seen as too dangerous.
The Black Skull Company also began working further afield, taking jobs beyond the boundaries of the Detroit Wastelands. The outfit was soon ranging across much of the eastern Michigan area, working for a variety of clients. Many of their operations bought them into conflict with not only human opponents such as raider bands, but also other threats of the wastelands such as dangerous mutated animals and feral ghouls. On the back of these operations, the Black Skulls began quietly collecting what high-tech weaponry and equipment they could in order to enhance their capabilities.
Not all of these operations were successes, however, with some of them proving to be disastrous failures. In 2279, the company was hired by a coalition of Detroit Wasteland communities to root out and destroy the Super Mutants that infested Zug Island. Despite the company’s planning, the mutants proved to have greater numbers and be better armed than expected, with the battle of Zug Island quickly turning into a bloodbath for the attacking forces. The Black Skulls were forced to pull back after sustaining severe losses, leaving the Super Mutants still in control of the island.
One of the casualties of the battle was Captain Bradford. Fatally injured during the battle, he lived long enough to name Stan Wendell, a young officer, as his replacement before succumbing to his wounds.
Wendell inherited a depleted command that had lost many of its more skilled and experienced officers. These losses cut deep; Wendell was aware that he likely would not have been Bradford’s first choice as replacement had some other officers survived the battle. Despite this, he remained committed to the Black Skulls and sought to rebuild the unit to its former glory.
Scaling back operations, he focused primarily on the Detroit Wasteland while largely abandoning more far-reaching clients. At the same time, Wendell also opened up work to jobs that would have previously been seen as being ‘beneath’ the company, looking for income and opportunities. Likewise, he opened up recruitment to younger or less experienced mercenaries that would have otherwise been passed over, looking to scoop up raw talent before they were hired by rivals. This process allowed the company to rebuild its numbers, even if its overall talent pool was still depleted.
While the unit was rebuilding, Wendell had also been ensuring that he had eyes on the Army of Revolution. In the last few years, the group’s numbers had swelled through new recruits and conscripts, and they had taken advantage of the Black Skulls’ situation by becoming more aggressive. While Wendell was still taking jobs targeting the group, he was wary of opposing them head-on due to their numbers.
Even then, Wendell was not ready for the scope of their so-called Revolutionary War. More than just raiding or occupation of outlying settlements, the Army of Revolution was aiming to take control of the Wasteland in one fell swoop. After the fall of several settlements made their intent clear, Wendell was flooded with offers from various parties, looking to protect themselves from the Revolutionaries’ aggression.
Initially, he rebuffed these offers while trying to get a better idea of the Revolutionaries’ goals and actual numbers and develop a counter to their offensive. It was only after a consortium of communities, headed up by Park Lane, made a considerable offer that Wendell relented and accepted it. That the Revolutionaries were also closing on the Black Skull Company’s headquarters had some influence on his decision as well.
Rather then fighting the Revolutionaries head-on, Wendell opted to break up the company into smaller autonomous units which would engage the Revolutionaries in surgical strike operations. In essence, he blunted their offensive and sapped their strength by drawing them into a protracted guerrilla war across their front. While again the Black Skulls faced not inconsiderable losses, eventually their efforts were successful, forcing the Revolutionaries to fall back and abandon much of their territorial gains.
While once again the Black Skull Company was forced into a period of rebuilding, this time it was flush with caps as well as equipment looted from the Revolutionaries’ forces. However, even with these advantages, Wendell still chose to take a cautious approach and be careful about what jobs the unit took, lest it be drawn into another large-scale conflict too soon. In mid-2284, he was approached by representatives of both sides in the Flint River War, looking to add the Black Skulls to their forces. In both cases, he turned them down.
The War on Mutant Terror
While the Black Skull Company had so far managed to avoid the chaos that was enveloping nearby Park Lane (admittedly, more due to fortuitous timing then any actual planning), events conspired to reel them in. In April 2287, Park Lane was attacked by a force of Super Mutants from Zug Island who had become convinced that the town held something of value to them. While the beleaguered Park Lane defenders had been able to beat the Super Mutants back, the attack had served to drain their already weakened numbers.
At the same time, the Super Mutants had been becoming increasingly aggressive in their stance towards Grand Central. While the larger city was far better defended then Park Lane (and had not suffered the same recent crises), that had not stopped the Super Mutants from probing their defences in what many felt was a prelude to an all-out attack. With this possibility in mind, representatives of Park Lane and Grand Central approached Black Skull Company with an offer of employment.
While Wendell was understandably wary, given the company’s past near-destruction at the hands of the Zug Island Super Mutants, he became more receptive as they outlined what they wanted. Rather than invading the island and wiping out the Mutants, Black Skull Company would be doing a ‘containment sweep’ of the City’s south-western side, aimed at rooting out and eliminating Super Mutant patrols and incursions while also searching for any forward bases they may have. The hope was to completely discourage Zug Island from launching any further attacks or, at the very least, to deplete their forces.
After arguing back and forth over the conditions of the contract and how long they would stay deployed (Wendell was deliberately trying to limit the contract to prevent being dragged along forever), they reached a mutually acceptable deal. The next day, Black Skull left their headquarters, moving in several large units as they began their sweep across the Wasteland. They had little concern about raider attacks, assuming correctly that their sheer numbers would be enough to discourage any such moves.
Establishing several bases in the south-western side of the wastes, Black Skull set up patrols to familiarise themselves with the area and its denizens. Most of what they encountered were either scavengers or low-level raiders, most of which opted to avoid conflict with squads of well-armed and well-organised mercenaries. They also made fleeting contact with Super Mutant patrols, and identified several locations that were apparent outposts for their operations. Using this information, Wendell planned for their next move.
On the first of May 2287, Black Skull Company launched a series of attacks on the Super Mutant strongholds that they had identified. For the most part, these attacks went well, with all but one of them being successful. In that case, the Black Skull troops encountered heavier resistance than expected and were forced to pull back in order to minimise casualties. Otherwise, the attacks went well, with the first wave targets being eliminated save for that one exception. Oddly enough, in several cases the Super Mutants opted to withdraw rather than fight to the death like they usually did.
The good results from the first wave meant that Wendell gave the go-ahead for ongoing operations. These were focused less on elimination of outposts and more on containment, by actively seeking out and eliminating Super Mutant patrols. Once again, the Super Mutants showed greater adaptation then expected, breaking contact when clearly outnumbered or outmatched and avoiding suicidal last stands or hopeless battles. Analysis suggested that they were trying to buy time, but why was as yet unclear.
To the brink
While the Black Skull Company had been engaged with the Zug Island Super mutants, other events were unfolding within the Detroit Wasteland. The most important of which was the fall of Park Lane to a combined force of raiders, mercenaries and the Army of Revolution. This was seen by Wendell as being a significant shift in the balance of power in the city towards the Revolutionaries and, obviously, an immediate threat to their future. However, they were still engaged with the Super Mutants, and could not afford to break away to counter this new development.
It was not until the middle of June that the Super Mutants withdrew, having apparently suffered some sort of internal strife. This was enough for Wendell to be able to declare a mission accomplished on the Super Mutant contract and withdraw his forces back to the Black Skull Company’s headquarters. Once there, he sent runners out to assess the situation in Park Lane as well as to make contact with Grand Central to create as complete a picture of the situation as possible.
What they found was not promising. The Army of Revolution had used its alliance with the Scrap Dogs to create a secure corridor through the wastes back to Scrap Iron City. The troops they had in Park Lane would be well supplied and have considerable stockpiles to fall back on, and so could not simply be starved out. Furthermore, the presence of allied mercenaries meant they would have additional troops to bolster their own. Finally, the effective destruction of the PLSP meant that there was no on the ground resistance to their control of the city.
Wendell immediately opened negotiations with Grand Central, who’s leadership was obviously concerned about the situation. Despite the long-standing rivalry between the two communities, nobody wanted the Army of Revolution to maintain control of Park Lane. Many feared that it would be a springboard for a move to take Grand Central, while keeping them there would only give them time to reinforce their position and make them harder to dislodge. The leadership of Grand Central were gladly willing to open another contract with the Black Skulls to take back Park Lane.
Returning to their headquarters to rearm, the Black Skull Company prepared for their operation to liberate Park Lane. What they were unaware of, however, was that their actions were being monitored. Shelbie Grande, one of the traders in Grand Central, was also an agent of the Army of Revolution and had been shadowing the Black Skulls every step of the way. Fully aware of what they were planning, she relayed this information back to Park Lane.
On the morning of the 27th of June, 2077, Wendell began his attack on Park Lane. Almost immediately he met heavier resistance then expected from within the city, as it became quickly apparent that the Army were ready for such a move and, more likely, had advance warning of his approach. The appearance of a Scrap Dogs force on the Black Skull Company’s flank served to underscore this point. Realising that he was not making any progress and was risking his force being enveloped, Wendell called for a retreat before their losses mounted.
After successfully disengaging, the Black Skull Company pulled back to their headquarters on the fringes of the downtown district. Immediately, Wendell and the rest of the company’s leadership began analysing what went wrong and making plans for a second attack. The first thought was to draw additional personnel from the GCPD or even Chryslus Castle, selling both settlements on the need to head off the Army of Revolution before they made their next move.
Their planning was interrupted by several explosions as a series of bombs planted in or around the building were detonated. As Wendell tried to regain control of the situation, the lookouts reported that a large force was closing on the building. Surmising that this was the Army of Revolution or at least it’s allies, Wendell tried to prepare his men as best as he could. Another battle broke out, and while the Black Skull Company were on their home ground, they were now fighting with the additional disadvantages of being outnumbered and having their defences compromised.
With losses mounting, Wendell was forced to declare the castle to be a loss. Using his remaining heavy assets, including the sole Power Armour that the unit possessed, he was able to create an opening for the battered unit to stage a breakout and then retreat through. Immediately they headed towards Grand Central, knowing that it was the only remaining safe haven for them, but fully expecting further attacks along the way. Instead, those failed to materialise, allowing the remnants of Black Skull Company to reach their objective.
Wounded, the Black Skull Company took refuge in Grand Central and did its best to take stock of its situation. While its personnel losses were notable, they were not severe; rather it had been a case of them forced to chose not to hold on in losing battles. What was more severe, however, was the loss of resources their headquarters represented, given how much they had stored there in terms of equipment, weapons, ammunition and so on. All of which left the company in a precarious position with no immediate signs of recovery.
Storming The Castle
Having lost their headquarters and a substantial portion of their manpower, Black Skull Company chose to remain in exile in Grand Central. While it was clear that the GCPD and the city’s leadership did not like their presence, they were also reluctant to remove them as the mercenaries served as a bulwark against any possible attack. Wendell was forced to once again try and rebuild the unit, only this time without the benefit of having their headquarters and its resources to fall back on. None the less, he found a number of recruits among other mercenaries displaced from Park Lane, as well as former members of the Park Lane Safety Patrol.
The news of a split within the Army of Revolution did much to boost their flagging morale, even if it did appear that they were not going to be able to retake the castle any time soon. Despite this schism (which seemed to be verging on civil war), the Army was too firmly entrenched, and had the dual advantages of greater numbers and their mercenary and raider allies. Scouts reported that the Castle was now being used as the headquarters of Rawson’s Raiders, a mercenary group with a long history of antagonism towards the Black Skulls. Furthermore, it was also serving as a staging ground for recon and probing missions towards Grand Central.
An opportunity presented itself in mid-September when Wendell was approached by an emissary from the Foundry, an industrial city located outside the Detroit Wasteland. They claimed that they were attempting to build an alliance to drive the Revolutionaries out of the Detroit Wasteland and wanted Black Skull to be a part of it due to their expertise and past history with the Revolutionaries. While he was sceptical, Wendell also saw an opportunity to take back their home and deliver some measure of revenge.
The summit, held at Bob’s Tavern, initially proved to be tense due to a number of factors. The first was the presence of an Army of Revolution officer; even if they were the apparent leader of this rebel faction, there was still the considerable history between the two groups. The second was Kara Stinson, whose presence served only as a reminder to Wendell of their past history. The third was the enigmatic figure of the Forgemaster who loomed over those present, literally and figuratively. Clad in a T-15b Power Armour suit, they had an intimidating presence.
Despite the disparity of those involved, all parties agreed to an alliance, aimed at driving the Army of Revolution out of the city. It was the one point that they could all agree on, and proved to be enough of an incentive to get them all to put aside their differences. Wendell was given the position of one of the Forgemaster’s aides to the campaign, but any honour he felt it held was tarnished by the fact that the other was an Army of Revolution officer.
The alliance did agree on one thing, however; their first goal was the liberation of the Castle from the Army of Revolution’s control. Not only did it represent a key strongpoint and troop concentration for them, but it would also serve as a symbolic victory, showing that the Revolutionaries could be beaten. As an additional advantage, the liberation of the Castle would give the alliance a base that they could use as a staging ground for a move on Park Lane.
Their plan called for a three-pronged attack on the Castle that would encircle it while leaving the Razors a deliberate opening to escape. While travelling across the raider-infested downtown region was considered to be dangerous, pathfinding provided by both Stinson and Black Skull forces allowed the allied army to mostly avoid engagements. Even then, there were those that found the lack of activity from the normally aggressive Wrecking Crew gang to be troubling, especially given the Revolutionaries’ prior use of raiders as allies.
None the less, the approach was went off largely incident-free, with the three groups assembling for the strike. Spearheaded by a quartet of Power Armour suits (The Forgemaster, Stinson, Farris and Thompson), the force hit the Castle with overwhelming numbers. The Razors’ defences quickly crumbled under the assault, allowing the force to penetrate the Castle proper and engage with their troops. While brutal, the close range, room-to-room fighting also quickly proved to be one-sided as the Razors realised the degree to which they were outnumbered and outgunned.
Wendell and several of his men were able to corner Whispering Willie, one of Rawson’s lieutenants and the saboteur who had been responsible both for the loss of the Castle and the death of the Park Lane city council. Realising his situation, Willie opted to fight to the death rather then surrender, and was quickly cut down. Slightly more fortunate was Rawson himself. Wounded in the battle, he was none the less able to disengage and retreat from the castle, taking with him a ragged group of survivors.
While the Black Skull Company had suffered their own losses in the battle, they were still victorious. At the end of the day, their flag flew over the Castle again.
Bringing the Pain
The retaking of the Castle did much to bolster Black Skull’s position and morale. The group’s veterans were revitalised by returning to their own home, as if they had erased a dark stain on the unit’s history. Many of the mercenaries that had fought alongside the Black Skulls saw their respect for the group renewed, leading to more then a few expressions of interest in joining the unit. Wendell approached these prospects with caution, picking out those that he felt would be valuable to the Black Skulls while still maintaining a degree of their hiring standards.
One group stood out to him, however. Xiphos Squad were a small mercenary outfit that were clearly professionals; well-trained and well-coordinated, the biggest limit on their capabilities was their small size. Two things about the group particularly caught his eye, however. The first was that they boasted a pair of Power Armour suits, one of which was an unfamiliar model that he did not recognise. The second was that one of their number was Kara Stinson, who had not only once been a member of the Black Skulls, but whom Wendell had once held feelings for. While he did not make any overt moves towards the group, he did keep his eye on them for potential future recruitment.
While rebuilding his forces, Wendell knew what would have to happen next. The Army of Revolution still held Park Lane, and still posed a threat to the rest of the Detroit Wasteland. He also knew that they would not be willing to surrender or withdraw, and would likely hold on to the town regardless of the cost. Finally, the Revolutionaries not only had a larger force present there then they had at the Castle, but also had the aid of the Raiders that they had allied with.
Working with the Forgemaster, he developed a plan to surround Park Lane and crush the forces within it. While brute military force would be the key to any such battle, Wendell sought to augment their capabilities as best he could while doing whatever possible to weaken the Army’s hold on the town. Drawing on his own forces, he assembled specialised teams of snipers, infiltrators and pathfinders to devise approaches to the town and ways to pin down and disrupt the forces within it. He also dispatched recon elements to get the lay of the land and report on the situation inside Park Lane.
What they found was a mixture of the expected and the unusual; while the remints of Rawson’s Razors had indeed retreated to the town and linked up with the rest of the Revolutionary forces, there was no signs of Cake or Death, who were known to be allied with them as well. Considering the silence from the Wrecking Crew, Wendell decided to err on the side of caution and not risk provoking them. Reporting his findings to the Forgemaster, the pair of them worked out a plan for the liberation of the town.
After consulting with the Forgemaster, Wendell had distributed his men in small squads among the rest of the attacking force. Given that they were generally better trained, more experienced and better equipped then the average Army of Revolution rebel or Foundry soldier, the idea was to supplement their forces with small groups of skilled individuals. This would allow them to spearhead assaults and deal with high-priority targets while making the most of their relatively small numbers. Privately, he also figured that it would give his men a degree of protection against losses with the enemy more likely to take out the massed hordes of the Forgemaster’s army then the Black Skull specialists.
Additionally, Wendell rounded up a number of skilled snipers from within their forces and assigned them to infiltrate the area around Park Lane and take up positions overlooking the town. As they did such, he and the Forgemaster prepared the main body of their forces and marched north from the Castle, heading towards Park Lane. As expected, the Army of Revolution attempted to stop them en-route, only to be outnumbered and out-gunned, resulting in their falling back.
This was when the next stage of his plan took effect. Acting on his orders, the snipers concealed around Park Lane began opening fire on the Revolutionaries and their allies. While they only inflicted light, near meaningless losses, the effect on the cohesion and morale of the occupying force was dramatic. Rather then staying at their posts or readying their defences, their soldiers were instead scurrying for cover and fearful for their lives. Furthermore, Wendell had his men specifically target the Scrap Dogs in order to weaken their resolve and willingness to stay and fight for their allies.
As the forces within Park Lane fought to maintain order, Wendell and the Forgemaster began their assault on the town itself. Use of heavy weapons and their small pool of Power Armoured soldiers allowed them to breach the walls around the town in multiple places, creating breaches though witch their forces could pour in. The Black Skull soldiers were a part of the second wave of attackers, taking advantage of the beachheads created by the Foundry in order to enter the town and seek out their priority targets. Officers, runners, skilled technicians and the like quickly found themselves targets of the mercenaries, their losses destabilising the Army’s chain of command and loosening their grip on the town.
This was not to say that Black Skull company escaped without their own losses by any means. The Army of Revolution were still well dug-in, and dislodging them proved to be a difficult and often costly process. While their losses were proportionately lower then those suffered by the Foundry or the rebels, there were still casualties from the fighting. The already thinned ranks of the Black Skull Company were further reduced, including a number of experienced veterans who had been with the unit for years.
However, despite these losses, the attack on Park Lane was ultimately a success. Early on the second day of fighting, the Scrap Dogs chose to desert their allies after their leader was killed during the fighting. Then, later that day, the remnants of Rawson’s Razors also fled, deciding that survival was more important than vengeance. As the last bastions of resistance fell, Wendell dispatched a team to capture Maurice Speckler, the commander of the garrison force. This operation was only a partial success; Speckler chose to kill himself rather than be captured, but his death none the less deprived the Revolutionaries of another skilled and experienced commander.
With the fighting over, Wendell turned to the grim business of counting the cost and, as always, ensuring continuity of his command. He immediately began putting out feelers among the various other mercenaries who had fought during the battle, seeking to recruit exceptional individuals who had fought alongside his men. While this would not make up for their losses completely, it would help give a foundation for rebuilding.
Two of the mercenaries in particular had caught his eye, but for different reasons. The first was Kirsten Farris, the leader of a small unit. Wendell had previously made overtures towards her for a number of reasons; she was clearly an experienced soldier and leader, she had shown a degree of professionalism that he respected, and she had a Power Armour suit of a type that he did not recognise. Wendell approached her, making a generous offer that included making her a senior officer within the Black Skulls and having options to bring in some of her men. Farris thanked him, but turned him down no less.
The second was Kara Stinson, who had previously been a member of the Black Skull company before he had her discharged at the end of the Revolutionary War. She now was a part of Farris’ unit, and had also come into her own Power Armour suit. While not offering her an apology for his prior behaviour towards her, he again offered her a place in the unit. In reply, Stinson publicly rejected his offer, berating him for his past behaviour and his refusal to admit his own mistake. Humiliated, Wendell agreed to keep his distance while refocusing on the rebuilding of his command.
A measure of vengeance
While Park Lane had been liberated, the Army of Revolution still remained and still had a foothold within the Detroit Wasteland. Wendell fully expected Black Skull Company to be again pressed into service to help drive them out. He had already begun rearming his troops and planning for what lay ahead, while using his scouts to identify targets and plan potential attacks. For Wendell, his goal was no less then the complete destruction of the Army of Revolution, aiming to finish what Black Skull company had started decades ago.
Instead, he was assigned a different task by the Forgemaster. They explained that while Rawson’s Razors had been driven from Park Lane and had suffered considerable losses, they were still a danger and, more importantly, still potentially an ally of the Army. The Forgemaster wanted the Black Skulls to eliminate the Razors so that they could not aid their allies. At the same time, they impressed on him the need to end what the Razors had started with their attack on the Castle, noting their ‘cowardly’ sabotage and their attempts to ‘defile’ the Black Skulls’ legacy.
Wendell agreed and began planning for the inevitable assault. He knew where the Razors’ headquarters lay, but that also was fraught with potential risks, being deep in Raider territory. Erring on the side of caution, he once more sent out scouts to plot out a route and get an idea of the sorts of forces they might be facing. What they found was that the damaged Scrap Dogs had no interest in engaging with their enemies, preferring instead to lick their wounds and recover. Conversely, there were no signs of Cake or Death, whose ongoing absence continued to be a concern.
However, they did find that the Razors had, as expected, retreated to their headquarters and were digging in for a siege. Knowing that they would be hard to dislodge, Wendell planned to use a powerful, initial strike to breach their defences rather than risking a prolonged siege in the middle of potentially hostile territory. Marshalling his forces, he marched on the Razors’ final bastion, determined to end their feud.
Contrary to his expectations, the battle proved to be somewhat one-sided. The Razors’ defences crumbled faster than expected, allowing the Black Skulls to enter their headquarters and take the fight to them. Once in there, they found that while the remaining Razors were determined to fight to the death, they were also greatly outnumbered, with many of them still injured from their prior battles. It quickly became apparent that the threat of the Razors had been somewhat oversold and rather than a dangerous force, they were facing the last dregs of a defeated army.
None the less, the Razors almost all chose to fight to the death rather than be captured. The sole exception was Rawson himself, who was caught trying to flee the battle. Captured alive, he was taken back to Park Lane.
The Black Skulls had been victorious, but in many ways, it was a hollow achievement. Wendell realised that the Forgemaster’s goal had not been to eliminate the Razors, but to sideline the Black Skulls so that they could deal with the Army of Revolution on their own terms. With their role in the conflict over, Wendell was left to rebuild, and plan for an uncertain future in a more stable Detroit Wasteland that no longer had the threat of the Army of Revolution looming over it, and where the Black Skull Company may no longer be needed.
More professionally structured than many other Wastelands mercenary outfits, the Black Skull Company bases its organization on pre-war US army planning. The company is divided up into a number of twenty-four man platoons, each under the command of a lieutenant. These are, in turn, divided into six-man squads. The platoons include both general-purpose teams and specialty ones organised around a specific focus.
Auxiliary forces are attached at the platoon on an as-needed basis. This can include specialty troops such as dedicated marksmen or infiltrators, or other assets such as robots. If two or more platoons are operating together, the command is based on seniority within the organization, with a less experienced lieutenant deferring to his more experienced counterpart. The presence of non-commissioned officers allows squads to act independently as needed, and also helps preserve the chain of command against losses.
Overall, the Black Skull Company is one of, if not the best equipped fighting forces in the Detroit Wastelands. The company does its best to acquire pre-war weapons through various means, as well as to ensure that they are kept in good working condition. Typically soldiers are armed with relatively common weapons such as R91 Assault Rifles, but more high-tech and exotic weapons such as AER9 Laser Rifles or M72 Gauss Rifles can also be found within their ranks. Likewise, most soldiers are outfitted with Combat Armour for protection.
Typically, the members of a squad will be assigned either the same weapon or at the very least, complimentary weapons based on their specialties and expected function. The Black Skull Company does its beast to avoid the often ad hoc nature of other forces, whose units are usually armed with whatever weapons come to hand, but sometimes, especially under field conditions, this is unavoidable. The company fully endorses the looting of dead enemy combatants, especially as a way of supporting field operations.
In addition to their human forces, the Black Skull Company has a small force of Mister Gutsy, Protectron and Assaultron robots at their disposal. Rather then being assigned to specific platoons, these robots are instead issued as required for their operations. The company sees the robots as being their property rather then intelligent beings like some, and treat them as such.
In order to join Black Skull Company, a person needs to be a mercenary or soldier known to be operating in the Detroit Wasteland. A potential recruit must demonstrate useful skills or abilities, as well as an ability to follow orders and act as a part of a larger unit and follow orders. They must also be in good standing and have a good reputation with their past employers, and display professional conduct when in the field.
While under Captain Wendell, these restrictions have been somewhat relaxed the unit still is somewhat choosy about who it will take in. Similarly, it expects its members to uphold the standards of the company; those who break its rules or act in a manner that will bring the unit into disrepute can expect to be dishonorably discharged. Severe infractions can be grounds for more severe punishments, including execution.
In theory, any human or Ghoul who meets the company’s requirements can become a member; the company does not discriminate on the basis of gender or ethnicity. In practice, unspoken deep-seated biases ensure that he few Ghoul recruits that the company takes in rarely rise to any significant rank.
The Black Skull Company is headquartered in the Grand Army of the Republic Building (Also simply known as the Castle), located on the western edge of the Detroit Downtown (and close by to Park Lane). After being only sporadically occupied for over a century, the Black Skulls took up full-time residence within the building shortly after their formation. The company has fortified the building over the last four decades, shoring up its structure while converting its interior to suit their needs.
Typically, the building is home to the bulk of the company’s strength, who are housed in barracks-style accommodation. Other facilities include a mess, offices, a briefing room and secured weapons, ammunition and equipment storage. An internal power supply ensures that the building can remain independently functional. The company has barricaded nearby streets to restrict access, and has regular foot patrols of the surroundings.
In addition to its headquarters, the Black Skull Company maintains offices in several settlements across the Detroit Wasteland region. These offices are used not only as a source of jobs for the company, but also for trade and recruitment.
The current commander of the Black Skull Company, Stan Wendell is a no-nonsense, results-driven man. A second-generation member of the company (his parents were both among its founders), Wendell is driven to do what is best for the organization and to ensure its continued existence. While obviously authoritarian in nature, he also ensures that his lieutenants are willing to say what they need to or point out his mistakes rather than simply rolling over and accepting his orders.
Wendell has little lie outside of the unit and is clearly aware of this. Most of his relationships have been short-term, with very little sense of permanence or commitment, and he deliberately avoids getting involved with other members of the company on a personal level. He has no children of his own (at least none that he knows of) and no family outside of the unit. The sole exception to this was his short-lived relationship with Kara Stinson. While he was somewhat affectionate towards her and clearly relieved when she emerged alive after the Revolutionary War, he still had her discharged from the unit after she confessed her own feelings towards him. To this day, he refuses to discuss his reasons why.
In addition to his leadership and tactical skills, Wendell is a skilled marksman and proficient with explosives.
The current second in command of the Black Skulls, Esposito is also understood to be Wendell’s successor should it ever be necessary. Even more driven than her commander, she is a harsh disciplinarian with an abrasive manner who is very demanding of her charges. She expects results and is willing to go to great lengths in order to get them. Her record within the company is unrivaled, boasting more successful operations than any other current officer.
A capable marksman, Louisa prefers automatic assault rifles as her primary weapons. She is also a skilled knife fighter, and has taken down much larger opponents with only a blade.
Formerly a cage fighter, Lukas Wallis was recruited by the Army of Revolution after they broke up the ring he was a part of. Having no love for his previous masters, he was only too glad to join the company and put his skills to what he saw as good use. Large and imposing, Wallis uses his sheer size and physical presence as a weapon as much as anything else.
An expert close combatant, Lukas prefers to use melee weapons or even just his fists over firearms. He often will perform excessively showy and brutal kills for the sake of demoralizing enemy combatants.
Seemingly one of the least ‘professional’ members of the Black Skulls, Betsy Wilford is loud and showy in her actions and demeanor. Given her specialty in heavy weapons, subtlety is rarely a part of her normal operations, however, she goes to excess even by those standards. She likes her presence to be known, and makes sure that whatever she does is accompanied by both the sounds of battle and her own, often enthusiastic cries.
Betsy has something of a rivalry with Lukas Wallis over who is the strongest member of the company. The two have gone back and forth in numerous contests, but without any clear outcome.
Rather than being a part of a specific platoon or squad, Jack Mills is an independent specialist within the Black Skull Company’s ranks. An expert marksman, Mills is considered to be the best shot in the unit. In addition, he is a skilled infiltrator, able to seemingly effortlessly sneak into and out of heavily guarded or populated areas without detection. Mills is believed to have single-handedly eliminated a number of high-ranking Army of Revolution members during the Revolutionary war.
Mills is otherwise a rather private individual, and does not engage with other members of the unit. In turn, he is seen as being rather intense and borderline creepy.
While only an average soldier, Roland Samuel is a platoon leader largely due to circumstance than any skills of his own. The sole member of the Black Skulls to be equipped with a suit of Power Armour, Samuel joined the unit on the condition that he be allowed to retain control of the suit. While not an ideal arrangement, Wendell also could not afford to pass up the opportunity. Samuel is at least still competent, and a capable, if unexceptional leader.
Samuel claims that he found the Power Armour suit, a T-45d model, in a pre-war shelter, but that has yet to be verified. Much of this is because of how cagey he has been about exactly where he found it and how. The suit is rather battered and in poor condition, and lacks the helmet.
Strictly speaking, Zeek Bradley is a non-combatant. Rather, he is the Black Skulls’ chief technical officer in charge of collecting and maintaining their array of high-tech equipment. Despite the fact that he’s not a soldier, he is still well respected for his skills and his contributions to ensuring the unit’s continued operations. This is especially true of the most complicated equipment, such as robots as energy weapons.
Bradley was one of the few to openly question Wendell’s decision to discharge Kara Stinson. He enjoyed working with her, and found her technical skills invaluable to his role. He had begun to suspect that she was a Vault Dweller, and has secretly wondered if that might have been the basis for Wendell’s choice.
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