|Goals:||money, power, hedonistic pleasure|
The Flames are a raider outfit working out of Central Oregon. They are nominal allies of the NCR and their Free Northwestern Army proxies, though skirmishes between the two aren't uncommon. They mainly concern themselves with raiding tribals or attacking renegade Badlanders.
The Flames were formed by members of the Purifiers who didn't agree with the ideological bend of the group. While fine with violence, these individuals didn't see the group's end goals as worthwhile (or achievable). Led by a veteran of the group named John, who started calling himself Flameskull, a group of these former Purifiers left Hell's Gate and headed north.
They attacked and robbed the few travelers they came across, but mainly passed quietly until they reached a Highway patrol station. Initially planning to rest for the night before moving on, Flameskull noticed the potential of the location, as well as the remaining equipment still inside. The highlight of these items was the fleet of motorcycles and cars in the impound lot that had been sitting since before the Bombs.
While none were running, an examination showed that there was potential to fix several of them. Combined with their proximity to the highway, the group began to fortify and clean the building, seeing it as a great base. The first motorcycle was fixed the same day that a caravan passed in front of the station and was promptly attacked by the group, who decided to call themselves after their leader, the Flames.
The Flames continued raiding and improving their dwelling for the next several months, until the Tree Shepherds arrived. Also former members of the Purifiers, the shepherds differed from the parent group on idealogocial grounds as well, but were almost equally different from the Flames. The two cohabitated for a brief time until the Tree Shepherds left, continuing north.
The Flames continued raiding passing merchants, though they also used their vehicles to venture further afield in search of tribute. While they initially avoided conflict with the local tribals, out of the belief they didn't have anything of value as opposed to any sympathy, several neighboring tribes began harassing the raiders, culminating in shots being fired in late 2235.
This sparked a conflict that lasted the rest of the decade, and saw the tribals forced away from the area, though the Flames took moderate losses as well. The fighting also raised their profile, attracting new recruits as well as better connected if morally ambiguous traders, who traded for items the group couldn't raid.
The tribals were worn down and chose to move on in early 2241, allowing the group to return to raiding full time. Caravans quickly tired of this additional threat, and began to hire Badlanders from the Twin Pines pack to escort them through Flames territory. This in turn brought more attacks as the raiders saw excess parts on the part of the mercenaries.
The clashes between the two sides occupied the better part of the next three years, until the raiders' attention began to fell on the prospectors and settlers coming north. While some claimed to be from a nation to the south, the Flames looked at them primarily as trespassers and sources of income, and treated them accordingly.
The raiders allowed the merchants through with less attacks, which in turn reduced the Badlander presence in the area, though the two sides clashed when they did cross paths. By mid-2246 the settlers had caught on and avoid that stretch of 97 north, causing the Flames to look to their nearby homesteads and settlements, most of which chose to willingly offer tribute rather than risk destruction.
The lack of conflict and surplus of supplies allowed the Flames to wallow in pleasure for a time, bringing recruits seeking an easy gig. Flameskull was content with this way of life until a patrol was killed in the spring of 2247, causing him to end the chem flow, and rally his followers. The Flames attacked several tribal villages over the next several months, initially doing minimal damage, having grown rusty without practicing their skills.
Their form was restored by that summer however, leading to several battle with their neighbors, as well as a detachment of Badlanders. On one such raid the raiders came across a caravan north, capturing most members for sacrifice or labor. One of these slaves was a ghoul mechanic from Gecko, who upon seeing the state of the group's radio array, said he could fix it.
Introducing himself as Ralph when asked by an annoyed Flameskull, the ghoul was told he had two days, or else he would be on a pyre. Properly motivated, Ralph finished his upgrades in 37 hours, and spent the next three showing various raiders to prove it was fixed. Impressed, the raiders let Ralph go, shoving him out the door with several Gristols and a bottle of dirty water.
Now equipped with an area able to reach to Seattle and beyond, the Flames quickly became enamored with the news and talk of the region, primarily the destruction and crimes of the New Order, and the activities of the Raid-It network closer to home. The Flames were eager to jump into the latter, predictably upsetting the older users, and causing several attempts at "moderation" which were all beaten back and burned.
This started to change in 2250s however, as travelers from the south began to increase once again with the expansion of the New California Republic. While not concerned at first with the stories of this state, the raiders were forced to change their mind when a group of it's soldiers and mercenaries attacked their base. Managing to eliminate most of the sentries silently, it was due to an unlucky ranger stepping on a landmine that alerted the raiders.
Even with this small warning the battle was hectic; the soldiers brought breeching charges with them and blew a hole in the wall of the garage, flooding in the building. This proved a mistake on their part, as the raiders were unwilling to fight there and risk damaging their precious vehicles. The Flames in turn waited in the other rooms, turning each doorway into a kill-zone.
While the troopers and mercenaries fought the raiders head on, the two surviving rangers went in through the front door, which was now unmanned. It was not undefended however, as two pre-war turrets were activated by the destruction of part of the structure and cut the rangers down. The attack ended when several raiders went around the compound and entered behind the troopers, roasting them with heavy flamers.
As the smoke cleared the Flames took stock of their losses, which turned out to be primarily personnel, though they did also lose a truck engine. They did gain valuable gear from the attack however, which they used to more easily waylay passing caravans. Despite this they did decrease their raiding overall as they rebuilt, now more watchful for the Bear.
The rest of the decade was spent on more targeted raids, sometimes even coordinated with their counterparts in Portland, though mostly it was Flaming, something that the group excelled at. the beginning of the 2260s saw the group suffer several setbacks, primarily the loss of three motorcycles in a mudslide during the rainy season. This was partially offset by absorbing a smaller crew in 2264, though they were soon faced with a bigger threat.
When the Northwest Alliance was announced, it didn't concern the Flames to any great degree, being mainly an item of conversation on the radio networks. This changed when NCR troops began traveling north, with the Badlanders doing the same. Flameskull decided to take advantage of this, started attacking the supply caravans that went with the newcomers.
This of course led to conflict, and soon the Flames and Badlanders were skirmishing up and down route 97 like pre-war biker gangs. Tired of the harassment of their supply lines, the NCR organized an attack of the Flames base. They gathered local militias, Badlanders, and mercenaries from the south, gathering them on the east side of 97 before sending them across.
The group was detected before they reached the Flames due to the militias' lack of woodcraft, and the raiders were ready by the time the attackers arrived. The resulting battle was short, as the raiders had the approached trapped and ranged, their gunfire picking off most of the first wave in moments. Despite the volume of fire the Badlanders managed to get to the walls, but by that time the militias had broken, and the mercenaries were quickly killed.
This victory raised the profile of the Flames, both with the NCR and with their enemies to the north, the latter of whom extended their congratulations. The NCR were less pleased, and increased the number of guards that traveled with their caravans. Flameskull directed his followers to avoid this, now targeting soldiers returning home from the fighting, many of whom traveled alone or in small groups.
This angered the NCR more than the raiders' previous targets and another attack was formed. It wouldn't occur however due to an unexpected quarter; the Purifiers. While things had been tense between the two groups ever since the Flames schism, the Purifiers hadn't brazenly attacked before. This changed in the spring of 2268, with a Flames raiding band killed and two motorcycles lost.
This led to a shift in the groups activities, as their warbands now targeted the Purifiers, allowing the NCR to move up the highway much easier. While the unexpected change was appreciated by many in the NCR's bureaucracy, some saw it as an opportunity for bigger gains. To this end several informants were leveraged to make contact with the group, with indirect notes being passed by mid-summer.
While clashes occasionally occurred between the two sides, the Flames and NCR had made some discreet agreements by that winter, as both began to look at the Purifiers. This came to a head the next summer, when the NCR and it's allies launched an attack on Hell's Gate, with the Flames aiding them. This decision was met with surprising and hostility by the raiders, many of whom had no idea that their leader was talking to the Bear.
This dissent was quelled, sometimes by force, and the Flames took the northern end of the perimeter. The initial siege went fairly well for the group, taking only light fire and mainly ensuring that the Purifiers couldn't escape. They (like the others) failed to realize the fanaticism of the cult however, and were unprepared for the volcano's detonation.
Flameskull, the raiders that accompanied him, and most of the NCR troops at the site were killed within minutes from the magma and ash shot into the air. To make matters worse, the flying debris also struck the groups headquarters, catching it on fire, causing a panic amongst the unsuspecting residents. The Flames quickly evacuated, heading north to avoid the ash cloud that was now fully visible on the horizon.
Their vehicles gave them an advantage as they fled north, allowing most of them to escape alive, though unable to reach the others on their radio. They stayed in the ruins of Beaver Marsh for a week, hunting radroaches to supplement the little food they had, before sending a group south. This trio returned later that night and reported that their former base had been destroyed, and the area covered in ash, with the few survivors reporting that the volcano exploded.
This led to a power vacuum as different members asserted their claim to the gang's leadership, with several deaths that night. When the sun rose the next day, a woman named Heat had the mantle of Chief, though that was precarious. To shore up support and hopefully find food, she ordered that the group would return to their former base to scavenge for anything of use, and hopefully find some survivors from the battle with the Purifiers.
They managed to find some supplies, though much was lost when the structure collapsed, and none of their comrades were found. They did encounter a pair of NCR rangers whoever, who cautiously approached the scavengers under a crudely made white flag. After a brief introduction they informed Heat that Flameskull and the others did indeed perish when the volcano exploded, but that the NCR did want to continue their agreement.
Despite her personal dislike of the NCR, Heat knew that the Flames couldn't last long with no supplies and a large chunk of their forces dead. Swallowing her pride she agreed to the rangers' terms. These were much along the same lines the previous agreement, though in the absence of the Purifiers, the Flames were to assist against hostile tribes.
This led to two more challengers for leadership, both of which were beaten down, though tensions in the group remained high for a time after this. When the NCR's supplies arrived the next week however, things calmed down. Waking to find three wagons of dried rations, ammo, and leather armor, the Flames were more willing to listen to the benefits of the Bear.
They took to their work dutifully, if not overly eager, mainly patrolling the highway and keeping tribal warbands away from the road. As they recovered and received more supplies they began to venture off-road to harass tribal positions, though never far from a way out. By the time of Black Peak the Flames had begun to rebuild, having a formal (for raiders) non-aggression pact with the local FNA groups, and charged a small toll from caravans.
Despite this limited success unrest brewed in the gang. Older members felt as though they were errand boys for the NCR and resented Heat's obedience, planned mutiny. This came to a head in early 2272, when Torch challenged her leadership, calling the chief out in front of the entire group. Unable to refuse, Heat accepted the duel, and made her stand.
While a decent fighter at range, she was unable to match the strength of the mutant's shishkebab, and was cut down within a couple of swings. In his first act as leader Torch led the group in an banquet of hedonism, consuming all of the chems and alcohol the group possessed, as well as sacrificing several slaves upon a pyre. After recovering, he led the Flames in raiding nearby homesteads to replenish their stocks.
The group also turned on their paymasters, raiding several caravans that came their way, causing a group of Badlanders to be sent against them. Torch led the defense against the mercenaries, and while he cut five of them down, he was finally brought down by the survivors concentrated fire. Despite this loss the Flames repelled the attackers, and took stock of their situation.
While supplies were plentiful the group was unable to settle on a leader, leading to a decade of instability, with the group changing leaders every few years and switching focus as a result. The lack of rival groups was their only saving grace in this time, as the NCR was lessening their direct footprint in the region and the local FNA wasn't able to organize effectively.
This changed in late 2281, when a new recruit called Crisp grew tired of the pointless violence, and challenged the current chief for control. The chief at the time was a veteran of the group and it's battles, and initially laughed at the challenge until he saw the newcomer was serious. The duel was quick if surprising, with the chief cut down in three blows, their rebar club not as maneuverable as a ripper.
Crisp wasted no time reestablishing order in the ranks, and the Flames have started to recover. They have reentered their agreement with the increasingly wary NCR, and claimed a new position on 97, though they now allow NCR traders to pass mainly unharassed while they skirmish with hostile tribes and elements of the Badlanders.
While the Flames come from the Purifiers they break from their view of the world, concerning themselves little about cycles or rebirths. They hold material gain and pleasure that comes from that in high regard, raiding to stay well fed and in chems. The Flames hold an annual festival at their camp where they construct a bonfire, though this is more a celebration than strict ritual.
The Flames are an autocratic organization, being led by a chief who has absolute authority within the band. The title is not hereditary however, and any member can challenge the current chief for leadership, ensuring the strongest always leads. While these contests usually are not fatal, most losers leave the Flames rather than live with the shame of their defeat. Their current chief is Crisp. Recruitment is usually on a volunteer basis, with new initiates tested to see if they are spies and have what it takes. Other crews have been absorbed as well, and there are a few born into the group.
Equipment & Tactics
The Flames posses an assortment of mid-tier firearms and melee weapons, with sub-machine guns and shotguns fairly common alongside varying pistols, knives, chains, clubs and molotovs. Since the end of the Purifier War and their assistance of the NCR and their FNA proxies the flames have come into possession of service rifles, battle rifles, and leather armor. This latter is the gang's favorite addition, being able to decorate it with paint and murals of accomplishments. In battle the group prefers to move quickly, harassing and wearing down their opponents before closing in. They use their pool of motorcycles and vehicles efficiently if sparingly, mainly scouting before a raid, or loading loot after one.