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- "They left us to die out here, in the pines and brush, now we fight those damned bureaucrats and cattle barons from the same trees and bushes that we almost died in. We give people here some hope. The NCR may take this land, but they'll have to do so over my cold, dead, body."
- ―Captain Jakob Stern, leader and founder of Stern's Raiders
|Type of Government:||NCR Armed Forces (formerly)|
|Group type:||NCR Military Unit (formerly), Guerrilla Terrorist Unit (currently)|
|Leader:||Captain Jakob Stern|
|Notable members:||Captain Jakob Stern, Horus B. Gamble|
|Founded by:||NCR Military Establishment|
|Goals:||The disruption of NCR control in the Oregon territory|
|Allies:||Northwestern Alliance, Oregon Tribals, Sympathetic Homesteaders|
|Enemies:||Twin Pines Badlanders Pack, NCR Army|
- "See you in hell, Ferguson."
- ―Captain Jakob Stern before eliminating Governor Roy Ferguson
Stern's Raiders, once known under the codename Taskforce Nomad, were a group of decorated NCR Rangers, each man proud to be some of the finest soldiers the NCR had to offer. It is unknown when or where the group started, but it is known that they were greatly publicized by the NCR media during the Ferguson War, during which they were directly responsible for the elimination of the turncoat Governor of Shasta County, Roy Ferguson.
Proud to Serve
- "Never give up. Never surrender. Never lose faith."
- ―A quote from Stern's book Proud to Serve
The group would have gained little more in the way of publicity had it not been for the actions of its up and coming commander, Captain Jakob Stern. Captain Stern was every war reporter’s wet dream, a dashing, strong-chinned, military man the likes of which led to various comparisons to great commanders of the past, from General Patton to Stonewall Jackson. His never-say-die tenacity and cut and dry euphemisms made him a poster boy for the Rangers, and his likeness was often used in NCR recruiting stations. However, such publicity was at first denounced by the Captain, he himself saying that he was just a man doing his God given duty to his country and fellow man, but as time went on he realized that his words could influence not only the moral of NCR soldiers across the myriad battlefields of the wastelands, but help the NCR win the war on the home front as well. Thus he grudgingly accepted the accolades bestowed upon him, and even wrote a book on his experiences in the field, Taskforce Nomad: Proud to Serve. During this time, the Taskforce fought in nearly a hundred deployments across the NCR's expanding territories, serving as a living moral boost to the grunts on the front line and a serious blow to the resolve of the NCR's enemies behind their own lines, whoever that may be.
Battle for San Montano
- "Bunch of zombies with rads for brains."
- ―Devon Johns describing the ghouls in San Montano
San Montano was a small, podunk town in southern California long before the Great War, and aside from becoming home to a large population of fanatic ghouls, changed little in the two hundred years since. The ghouls, under the leadership of a Samuel Grey, had established a cult proclaiming the ghoul race the next step in human evolution, and that they were to be the inheritors of the Earth. Thus it is no surprise that, nearly a hundred years after the cults founding, the NCR's diplomatic caravan sent there to negotiate the towns integration into the NCR was met with violence. Though of little apparent value, the town and its irradiated inhabitants were considered a security risk and NCR military forces were immediately deployed to conquer the area. The local ghouls fought with religious zeal, but some less indoctrinated members of the township quickly began to question the sensibilities behind this war. It was made clear that the NCR did not discriminate against ghouls, what with a few sizable divisions of their own armed forces being made up of them, and their treatment of even captured San Montano ghouls who had taken up arms against them seemed proof that this war was pointless. However, Samuel Grey and his fanatic personal guard and loyalist militia would sooner see San Montano burn to the ground then surrender to the 'smoothskins', and any who spoke against such a suicidal agenda was publicly executed. It would take Taskforce Nomad to break the siege. Deployed under the cover of night via Vertibird into the center of the town, the Taskforce made their way through the ruins to the city hall that served as Samuel's personal palace. Though anyone from a more 'developed' settlement could be forgiven in assuming that Samuel Grey's 'palace' was little more than an elaborate schoolhouse or a small church. The Taskforce would enter the hall through the roof after eliminating the rooftop guards with silenced sniper fire and then rappelled down into the main hall. From there, the eighteen man Taskforce would clear the building as quickly as possible, fighting room to room until they found the ghoul leader himself. Samuel Grey would die in his bed, a silenced .22 round punching though his temple as he feebly reached for the .44 Magnum he kept in his nightstand.
With Samule Grey dead, the loyalist ghouls quickly found themselves fighting not only the seemingly endless influx of NCR troopers, but also with the other half of the population who saw through the cult's madness. Within a week the last of the loyalists were driven out or killed, and San Montano officially became NCR territory. Taskforce Nomad was commended for their actions, and celebrated across the nation as heroes, as had become the norm.
The Border Wars
- "No hablo mutante, ¿verdad?"
- ―Jakob Stern butchering Spanish when confronting a band of ghoul Comancheros
Taskforce Nomad fought in various bush fire wars on the California/Mexico Border, mostly against Super Mutant bands and petty raider gangs, earning much renown for their actions. Most notable was the units rescue of a small NCR outpost set up in an old Border Patrol station that had come under attack by a sizable force of Super Mutants, led by elite Nightkin. Taskforce Nomad was inserted behind the enemies lines and provided harassment in the form of sabotage and assassination, eventually eliminating the enemy's leadership and buying the forces at the outpost time to reinforce their position so as to push forward, crushing the mutants.
Pacification of Glendale Heights
- "This blows."
- ―Black Jack speaking his mind while Taskforce Nomad waits for enemy caravans
When the large caravan town of Glendale Heights fell to a group of communist revolutionaries who had blown into the town from Mexico two years prior, Taskforce Nomad was deployed alongside various other NCR infantry forces. However, this was the first deployment in a long time in which Nomad would gain little to no recognition. This is due to the actions of then newly instated General Lee Oliver and his NCR Heavy Trooper platoons. While the heavy troopers and regular infantry engaged the communists, Taskforce Nomad, along with other Ranger units, were relegated to eliminating supply caravans attempting to reach the besieged rebels. While some of Stern's men complained about the waste of their skills on poorly armed smugglers, Stern himself reminded them that they did not fight for glory, but for the NCR. This would be a portent for things to come as Lee Oliver continued to promote his Heavy Infantry forces and leave the Rangers to more menial tasks.
Reclamation of Donnerville
- "What the fuck!"
- ―Black Jack walking in on a Follower medic blowing his brains out
Donnerville was a significant NCR agricultural center and otherwise large settlement in Northern California. The town had been plagued for years by occasional raider attacks, but when the town went dark following a period of rapid expansion, the NCR became concerned. After the first two attempts to reach the town via traders and small trooper squads yielded no result other than the disappearance of these individuals, the NCR deployed Taskforce Nomad to investigate. What the taskforce discovered was far from what the NCRs top brass predicted. Rather than raiders, or even mutants or wild beasts, the town was beset by some kind of plague! Townsfolk wandered the streets, their ailments ranging from skin lesions and sever joint pain to tumor like growths and outbursts of psychotic rage. When confronted with the Donnerville outbreak, the NCR government responded at first with aide, sending both military and civilian doctors under heavy military escort to provide some kind of relief. To this day, the cause of the Donnerville outbreak remains completely unknown, though a number of medics from the Followers of the Apocalypse believe it may have been the resurgence of the so called 'New Plague' that swept through the Old World prior to the Great War, somehow uncovered during the massive turning of soil caused by the expansion of Donnerville's vast farms. Regardless, initial relief attempts proved disastrous, with much of the relief forces becoming infected themselves. Instances of psychotic outbreaks spiked among the infected populous, and the NCR found it impossible to successfully instill martial law and set up a quarantine around the town with the ongoing relief effort.
In the end, NCR brass made the tough call, the town was to be quarantined, and the virus to run its course. Anything left would be burned. Taskforce Nomad, along with the 3rd and 5th Scout companies, would be assigned to the most brutal of the quarantine assignments. Plying their sniping skills to eliminate anyone who tried to breach the quarantine. Two members of the Taskforce committed suicide from the trauma, having taken the lives of men, women, and children. None could blame them, this isn't what they had signed up for when they had joined the NCR's armed forces. But as a testament to the iron will of the Rangers, Taskforce Nomad remained on station at Donnerville for two years, from the first outbreak, to the final purge when the decrepit settlement was leveled by firebombing. In the end, when the civilian population lashed out at the sheer brutality of the operation, Taskforce Nomad was one of the many scapegoats the military elite diverted attention to. Once hailed as heroes, Taskforce Nomad were slandered in the NCR media, reports that were supposed to be confidential bubbled to the surface, from the sanctioned assassinations of Followers of the Apocalypse who were attempting to smuggle out infected civilians, to the killings of mothers desperately trying to carry their infected children past the minefields and barbed wire, only to take a snipers bullet. Crucified in the media and even reviled by the ignorant grunts who had not even been at the Donnerville deployment, Taskforce Nomad soon found themselves shuttled off to far off lines where they would no longer inconvenience the face of the NCR military. Throughout it all, Captain Stern remained stalwart in the defense of his superiors actions, still desperatly clinging to his faith in the NCR and all it stood for. But deep down, doubt began to fester, both in Taskforce Nomad, and their commanding officer.
Operation: RED TRAIL
- "F... Fire. Clear out the place."
- ―Jakob Stern orders the attack after seeing their target in Taskforce Nomad's first "search and destroy" mission
Disheartened, Taskforce Nomad would be made to suffer the indignity of becoming government sanctioned assassins. Gone were the days where their missions were clear to them, where right and wrong were always easily identifiable. Since their image was no longer and issue, the NCR government utilized Taskforce Nomad in a variety of ways in the Oregon wilderness where tribals and independent settlements still resisted the NCR's "progress."
Most notable of these black wars was Operation: RED TRAIL, in which several NCR units along with Badlanders from the Twin Pines Pack, slaughtered several tribes who had banded together to fight off the NCR's oppression. The tribes in question called a large area of valuable timber and mineral rich soil their ancestral homeland, and had the gall to deny the NCR access to the territory. Though peaceful negotiation was attempted, the tribals refused all of the NCR's offers, and so the NCR mobilized the elite forces of the Badlanders and Taskforce Nomad, along with the Special Operations and Reconnaissance Squadron, to eliminate the tribals in a brutal preemptive strike. To this day it is unknown if the NCR presidency was even aware of the action before it was taken, and many, including members of the Taskforce and Badlander mercs who took part in the massacre, believe a joint interest group of senators and cattle barons funded the operation.
The systematic slaughter of over twelve tribes was over in a week, the NCR's elite forces making short work of all the tribes collective warrior groups in the first two days. That was the work of the mercenaries however, the Rangers, specifically Taskforce Nomad, were assigned to what command called "search and destroy" missions against "enemy assets." On paper, this sounded like a legitimate military action, in practice it was the cold and systematic slaughter of all tribal noncombatants. It was genocide, plain and simple. Taskforce Nomad had been completely numbed by the reality of their orders, and carried them out with cold, machine like diligence. Their patriotic spirit, their sense of duty, died in that one bloody week.
The Brushfire War
- "That's bullshit. Utter bullshit. They abandoned us and left us for dead. The NCR, the government, we're not people to them, we're tools to be used. Like at Donnerville, Baja, and here in Oregon right now. And you want us just to come crawling back to them? Like none of this ever even happened?"
- ―Black Jack going off after Cody Fern's suggestion of returning to NCR territory
Operation: RED TRAIL killed what little faith Captain Stern had in his own government, and with it any sense of loyalty to the NCR. Yet it wasn't until the Brushfire War six years later that he and his men became traitors. The Brushfire War was a highly publicized campaign against native tribes in the far north of the Oregon region, and rages on to some extent to this day.
Taskforce Nomad was deployed early in the Brushfire War, and fought for their lives against the tribal forces for more than a decade. It was during one cold winter in 2263 that the Taskforce would become Stern's Raiders. The Taskforce had been surrounded by tribal forces along with a contingent of Heavy Infantry, and were completely outnumbered. However, hope was on the horizon as an emergency Vertibird group was inbound to extract them. The group held out for two hours, the Taskforce taking the brunt of the casualties while the Heavy Troopers secured a landing zone. However, when it came time for the Taskforce to fall back, the Heavy Troopers left without them. The Taskforce was forced to fight its way out, at the cost of many of its members. The Taskforce made a temporary camp under the canopy of the cold winter pines. The Rangers nursed their wounds and warmed themselves by a campfire, stoking the fires of bitterness and hatred that they all now held against the NCR. As far as they were concerned, the NCR had betrayed them for the last time.
Several of the members of Taskforce Nomad initially denied their fate. One of the Taskforce specifically, Cody Fern, vehemently believed that the Heavy Troopers' abandonment had been a misunderstanding and Taskforce Nomad should make its way back to NCR territory as soon as possible. Fern was quickly rebuffed by many of his squad mates. Black Jack and Gorden McTavish especially were incensed with Cody Fern's words, seeing the Republic's abandonment as inexcusable and unforgivable. Captain Stern snapped at both sides and rebuked them for going at each others' throats in this dangerous time. The Captain, in a slightly less angry fashion, sided with Black Jack and Gorden, telling Fern that their time with the NCR was over. Cody Fern, Balthazar, and Huang Tao did not take Stern's words well and decided that they would return to the NCR on their own, if the rest of Taskforce Nomad was "deserting". With that, the three rangers left the relative safety of the Taskforce's campfire and headed out into the wintry waste beyond. They were well-trained NCR Rangers with good gear, but they were not prepared from the savagery of Oregon's winter. Those three rangers were never heard from again.
The remaining eight rangers settled in for their first night separated from the NCR. Victor Sanchez was put out on first watch to look out for any adventurous tribals or wolves. That was a rough night for all of them, even the cynical Black Jack. Many had nightmares but by the next day, the rangers had gotten over their initial trepidation of being in the Oregon wilds. Their NCR-issued supplies ran out after five days, even with rationing, and the rangers were forced to forage for food. They got on the move to look for more food and supplies.
Some of the rangers already wanted to fight the NCR at that point, but Captain Stern refused to discuss fighting, just looking to survive at that point. The rangers, although given training to survive in the waste, were still having difficulties surviving winter in Oregon.
The first people the rangers met after their abandonment were Oregon tribals, stragglers from the tribal forces that defeated them only days before. The tribals numbered eleven but were easily overwhelmed by the rangers' skill and were all killed. Stern ordered the rangers to loot the tribals of supplies and move on. The rangers did as ordered and continued moving south.
A day later, the rangers were confronted by a huge pack of vicious wolves, who were only driven back after a fearsome fight. The wolfpack eventually drove the rangers south towards I-5 and eventually Fort Eugene and the NCR. Captain Stern, Devon Johns, and Gorden McTavish knew this but decided to go on anyways, preferring possibly skirmishing with the NCR to fighting their way through a huge pack of wolves.
About a month after their abandonment in January 2264, the rangers were still be pursued by the wolfpack, making their way onto I-5. The wolves continued following the rangers out of desperation, hoping for a good meal during that particularly harsh winter. In one particularly ferocious battle with the wolves, the rangers found themselves aided by an unknown rifleman shooting several wolves from a perch in the trees. Horus B. Gamble even saw the bear of a man shooting and hacking apart several wolves but only for a minute or so, focused on the battle himself. By the end of the battle with the wolves, the man had melted back into the pines of Cascadia. Horus told the others about the man that night, and the rangers wondered who their potential ally might be as they sat around the fire. Devon Johns was the bearer of bad news when she told the others it was probably just a trapper or fur trader defending himself and not to get too excited about it. Black Jack promptly called her a bitch and the whole camp descended into bickering, then laughter.
The next couple of days were spent avoiding the wolfpack while going further south until the rangers encountered a party of tribal hunters. The groups had a brief standoff before calmer heads prevailed. The tribals and rangers continued their rather tense standoff while their two leaders came together to talk. Captain Stern addressed the leader of the tribal hunters directly and asked about the band's experiences with the wolfpack. The tribal said that the wolves were being driven by desperation to get any scrap of food possible. He also commented that the wolves seemed to have latched onto Taskforce Nomand for some reason or another. Stern acknowledged that and asked if the tribals would perhaps want to exchange technology for food. The tribal speaking to him refused, not wanting anything to possibly draw the wolfpack to the hunting party. Stern made increasingly desperate pleas to trade while the tribals simply laughed at him, amused to see "an NCR dog beg". This line drove Stern over the edge and without warning, he drew his revolver. Before the tribals could react, Captain Stern shot a bullet into the tribal leaders' gut. The other other rangers followed suit, blowing away the rest of the hunting party.
Two of the rangers, Horus B. Gamble and Brice Lowanskie, instantly protested the Captain's actions but were eventually talked down by the rest. They proceeded to loot the hunting party for their meat and keep moving to avoid the wolfpack.
As the rangers kept making their way south, Gamble continued talking about how shooting the tribals was not necessary and killing them was just a continuation of what Taskforce Nomad had done for the NCR. The other rangers ignored his talking for hours before Devon Johns told him to shut up. That got Gamble quiet.
Things were quite grim for a week after that. It was just running from the wolfpack and scrounging for supplies with very little talking. Victor Sanchez got injured by a wolf's bite one night and was forced to take the group's last stimpak to keep moving. Everyone was in a miserable mood.
One night, as the rangers were getting some well-deserved sleep while Gorden McTavish stood watch. McTavish sighted someone watching the camp and started yelling for the spy to reveal himself or herself. This awakened the rest of the rangers in camp and they became alerted of "the threat". Nothing was found. Black Jack, confused and angry, harshly berated McTavish for waking everyone up but soon was confronted by Gamble, who alongside John Bauer and Victor Sanchez defended McTavish against Black Jack's insults. McTavish responded to Black Jack with terse threats of his own, promising to deliver if the other ranger even touched him. Seeing arguments starting to break out everywhere, Captain Stern did the only thing he thought would work and fired his revolver into the air. All the rangers quickly wheeled about to see Stern staring down at them with shame in his eyes.
That night, Stern finally sat everyone down around the campfire and talked about their problems, man by man. Bottled up emotions did them no good. Horus B. Gamble started by stating the rangers' continued cynicism and brutality concerned him. He did not want to continue the downward spiral Taskforce Nomad had started at Donnerville and had come to see their separation from the NCR as an opportunity instead of a death sentence. He also commented on how he missed his uncle and home. Next came Victor Sanchez, who said his bones were chilled, his wound hurt, and the food tasted bad. That got a dry chuckle out of Captain Stern before moving on. John Bauer said that cooperation between the squad had taken a nosedive since their abandonment and that they needed to stick together to survive. Gorden McTavish, a man of few words, just said that morale was at an all-time low and needed improvement. Brice Lowanskie, not one to complain, initially declined voicing his concerns but was eventually egged on by Captain Stern and Black Jack to speak. Lowanskie said that the rangers needed to improve their attitude and, in a more out there suggestion, needed to forge their own identity part from their former roles as NCR Rangers. Lowanskie also agreed with Gamble, saying that he missed his family too. Devon Johns declined her opportunity to speak and was allowed to, unlike Lowanskie. After that came Black Jack, who started by warning that he might upset people by what he was going to say. Black Jack said that the team had been going soft since Operation: RED TRAIL, lacked more than basic winter survival skills, and needed to be more self-reliant, gathering their own supplies and food rather than "leeching" off of others. This received some biting responses, but those was soon quieted by the Captain, who stood up to speak and drew everyone's attention.
Captain Stern said that he broadly agreed with most of their grievances, if not with the phrasing. However, he emphasized the two most important issues on his mind: teamwork and survival. Stern elaborated on Bauer and Black Jack's points and put his own spin on them. In summary, the rangers would need to understand that survival necessitated cooperation on their part as well as survival skills. The other rangers, if some grudgingly, supported this view and went off to sleep at least somewhat inspired. Before going to sleep himself, Captain Stern took Gamble aside and said he would address Gamble's concerns soon. McTavish continued his watch and saw no more figures in the woods that night.
The next two days were spent slowly trudging down I-5, slowed by snows and wolves. The second day after the rangers' campfire meeting, they met a ghoul trader named Simon Wallis on the road. Wallis greeted them cordially, even though the rangers pointed their guns at him at first. The trader warmly introduced himself as a pre-War proctologist and a post-War trader in food and ammunition. Only Captain Stern even understood what a proctologist was, but the rest of the rangers were eager to trade. Taskforce Nomad managed to get some extra supplies and manage to live for another day. Gamble asked Wallis about the news in the area and was answered by some rather benign comments on the retreat of the NCR from Oregon, increased tribal activity, and the cancellation of the Adventures of Marty and Stu. Brice Lowanskie was really pissed about that since it had been his favorite show. Later that day, the ranger continued on their journey with Wallis wishing them well.
As dusk fell, Taskforce Nomad was attacked by the wolfpack once again as they trudged through the snow on I-5. The first was a tough one, even with the new ammunition provided by Wallis. All the while, the rangers could hear distant gunshots picking off various wolves. At one point, Victor Sanchez and Devon Johns were forcibly split from the rest of the group due to a deluge of wolves pursuing them off of the road. Fleeing into the pines, Sanchez and Johns were forced to fight the wolves in melee combat with their combat knives. It seemed as if they were through. That is until a fur-clad wildman emerged from the bush wielding a Bowie knife and began cutting into the wolves. The two rangers were quickly saved from the predatory wolves and for a moment just stared at the hulking figure, a mass of hair and musk. After that moment, the man extended his hand and introduced himself as Hedgehog to the two rangers. Sanchez shook Hedgehog's hand and thanked him while Johns kept her distance. After Sanchez stopped thanking Hedgehog, Johns asked if the rugged outdoorsman had been the one that had been watching them the last few days. Hedgehog quickly replied yes but then said there was not more time to explain until the rangers rejoined their group.
Hedgehog, Sanchez, and Johns made their way back to the highway through the snow with Hedgehog in the lead. Soon enough, the three met up with the rest of the rangers, who by then had by then fought off the wolfpack. The other rangers were quick to welcome Johns and Sanchez back while Captain Stern took notice of the shaggy figure who had joined them, questioning who Hedgehog was. Hedgehog answered by telling Stern his name and saying he had been the man who had been watching the rangers for the last week or so.
After hearing that, Stern quickly drew his revolver and demanded an explanation. Black Jack followed Stern's lead and pointed his rifle at Hedgehog while the rest of the rangers protested Stern's action. Sanchez told Stern that Hedgehog had rescued him and Johns, asking Stern to put down his gun. Stern did not put down his weapon and again asked Hedgehog to explain himself.
Hedgehog laughed off Stern's threats and promised to explain himself . He did this by first telling his story. Hedgehog had grown up in a survivalist community called Coburgia. The people survived through hunting, gathering, and the lumber trade. Hedgehog himself was a fur trader, as his father and grandfather had been. He typically hunted wolves, yao guai, and beavers, taking their pelts and selling them to traders. Hedgehog mostly lived on the fringes of Coburgia, often going out into the wilderness to trap and hunt. Living near Fort Eugene and Frankville, Hedgehog sometimes traded with NCR but knew very little about them aside from their strict laws and heavy taxes. He lived like that for years and grew isolated after his father passed away.
At that point, Black Jack scoffed at Hedgehog and told him to get to the point. McTavish shushed Black Jack and when Black Jack tried to reply, Captain Stern quieted him. Hedgehog continued his story after that as if he had not been interrupted.
In the spring of 2263, Hedgehog came back from a long expedition out into the Oregon brush to find Coburgia being frequently attacked by well-armed bandits. Hedgehog was enraged that his home was being attacked and went to work fighting off the bandits. It turned out the bandits were out of work mercs and caravan guards who had turned to banditry out of desperation. Hedgehog and the rest of the settlement tried their hardest to fight off the bandits during summer but were unsuccessful. Hedgehog's nephew even died in a skirmish between Coburgia and the bandits. This further enraged Hedgehog and caused his sister to spiral into a depression she would have the rest of her life. By the summer, the fight against the bandits seemed fruitless for both sides. However, prominent members in both groups (including Hedgehog) were too proud to try to negotiate a peace. So, some scared people from Coburgia decided that they needed help and went to NCR forces at Fort Eugene. The NCR quickly agreed to aid Coburgia, in exchange for "annexation". A detachment of NCR troopers arrived in Coburgia in August 2263, which royally pissed off Hedgehog. He felt the "cowardly few" had sold Coburgia from one oppressor to another stronger one. So, he and a group of friends tried to intimidate the NCR troopers into going away, but the situation quickly broke down into a firefight. Hedgehog and his friends managed to kill a couple of NCR troopers but Hedgehog was ultimately the only one of his group to survive the confrontation, forced to flee back to his isolated homestead. In the next couple of weeks, the NCR troopers fought both the bandits and Hedgehog. Hedgehog killed a few more NCR troopers, but that would not be enough. Seeing the writing on the wall, Hedgehog tried to persuade his depressed sister to leave with him. She refused. Soon enough, Hedgehog was driven off his land by NCR troopers and went north, hiding out in one of his winter cabins. He was a criminal now and had to keep a low profile. However, Hedgehog had few scruples about raiding the occasional NCR caravan and did so occasionally. This led to him gaining the attention of the powerful NCR caravaners in the area. As fall set in, Hedgehog had to avoid bounty hunters. So, Hedgehog moved to his northernmost winter cabin and resolved to ride out the winter there.
At that point, Captain Stern had become impatient too and urged Hedgehog to get to the point. Hedgehog continued his story, saying he had been originally been alerted to the rangers' presence while out hunting, hearing gunshots in the distance. He originally thought they were bounty hunters or NCR and prepared for a fight. No fight came and using binoculars, Hedgehog sighted a knot of NCR rangers fighting off a massive wolfpack. Not wanting to mess with the rangers, fearing retribution, Hedgehog decided to instead take potshots at the wolves. Gamble then piped in that he had seen Hedgehog, which Hedgehog ignored. After the wolfpack and the rangers moved on, Hedgehog had skinned many of the dead wolves and brought them back to his winter cabin. He had intended to go to sleep, after that but the sight of NCR Rangers this far north piqued his interest. So, he tracked the rangers down and spied on them. Hedgehog fully admitted that at first he was quite ready to kill them. However, after hearing Taskforce Nomad's story and their current situation, Hedgehog began to sympathize with them. So when he figured out they were heading into a trap, he had to warn them.
At that, Johns stopped Hedgehog and asked for clarification. Hedgehog explained that at Jebadahi's Crossroads, there was an ambush readied for them by the NCR. This was a half-truth on Hedgehog's part but all the rangers ate it up besides Horus B. Gamble. Gamble questioned why the NCR would set up an ambush for Taskforce Nomand if they were assumed dead. Before Hedgehog could think of an answer, Captain Stern silenced Gamble and moved on to more pressing issues, asking for Hedgehog's opinion on how best to survive the wolfpack pursuing them. Hedgehog offered to let them weather the wolfpack (and the wolfpack) in his winter cabin.
Although grateful for his warning, most of the rangers were still rather cautious around Hedgehog and did not want to spend the winter. That was excluding Sanchez, who had taken a liking to Hedgehog and his quaint winter cabin. After a lot of convincing, the rest of the rangers were persuaded to stay in the winter, even Gamble (who still mistrusted Hedgehog at that point).
The rangers spent the next month and half holed up in that winter cabin and the immediate area around it. That time was mostly spent brooding about NCR, hunting, and talking with each other. Sanchez, Lowanskie, and Bauer struck up friendships with Hedgehog while Gamble still distrusted him, suspicious of the wild man's motives. Gamble and Captain Stern talked a lot that January, about Hedgehog and the state of the team. They both usually ended their discussions unsatisfied. Hedgehog and his new friends often hunted together and exchanged crass jokes or stories. McTavish sometimes joined in but mostly regarded this group, even the old man Bauer, as "immature". He preferred the Captain and Johns's company though not so much Gamble. Gamble and Lowanskie often went scouting together as well, talking about the state of the group, wondering about their future, and hoping their families back home were okay. Black Jack typically typically stayed to himself, brooded about the NCR, and drank from Hedgehog's liquor cabinet. The name Stern's Raiders was first invented in the ranger's time in the cabin and was quickly adopted by most of the rangers as their new identity, along with Hedgehog. The Captain was a bit perturbed by the name at first but came to accept it. Hedgehog was overjoyed by all of it, though he tried not to show it. He was finally not alone anymore and had potential allies in his fight against the NCR menace. It was a dream come true.
As February came around, Stern's Rangers were dead set against the NCR, their hatred fueled by Hedgehog and time. Captain Stern was mulling over a way to get back at his superiors, Johns was cleaning her sniper, and Lowanskie was repairing any equipment left at the rangers' disposal in preparation for a battle. Black Jack in particular had taken a turn, decorating his armor with anti-NCR graffiti and sniping caravans in secret along with Victor Sanchez. This attracted more attention from the NCR to the area, with most back in Fort Eugene assuming it was Hedgehog's work. That brought a cadre of NCR bounty hunters with their own skills down on the Raiders' heads in late February.
On February 28, 2264, the residents of Hedgehog's winter cabin were suddenly shaken awake by the baying of dogs in the distance. Hedgehog instantly knew this meant bounty hunters and tried to get the rest of Stern's Raiders moving. Captain Stern told the Raiders to get moving, and soon enough, they had packed up their supplies and were on the run. The "leader" of the NCR bounty hunters, Phil, loudly announced to the retreating group that they were wanted criminals for crimes against the NCR, and he would be taking them in, dead or alive. At that, Captain Stern, McTavish, and Gamble decided to bring up the rear to hold off the bounty hunters and give the rest of the Raiders more time. The sight of NCR rangers firing back at them surprised the bounty hunters, but they had a job to do.
The fire exchanged between the bounty hunters and the Raiders' rearguard was fierce and a couple of bounty hunters died in the firefight. Ultimately, the rearguard managed to hold off the bounty hunters with no casualties, and the group safely retreated north into wilds of Oregon. The bounty hunters, exhausted by the fight and too weak to pursue, burned down Hedgehog's winter cabin and returned to Fort Eugene to tell of their fight with the rangers who had turned to banditry.
Two days after retreating from the cabin, Stern's Raiders finally settled in for the night and got some well needed sleep. However, Captain Stern, Johns, and Hedgehog stayed awake, discussing their path forward. After a long talk, they decided the best chance of they had of fighting the NCR was to convince the people of Cascadia to fight back against the Republic's expansion. So, they would go straight for the most powerful groups in Cascadia: the various city-states in Seattle and their caravans. Captain Stern knew it would be a hard sell to the caravan companies especially but he knew that if the Raiders wanted to really hurt the Republic, they had to go after their wallet. After coming to that conclusion, the three remaining Raiders went to sleep to prepare for the coming days.
A Baron's Ransom
- "Now let's just wait one godamn min-"
- ―Brahmin Baron Jefferson Wade protesting his being taken captive before getting a gun barrel pressed to his temple
Stern's Raiders forged further north towards Seattle, encountering wildlife, tribals, and bounty hunters on their way. Hedgehog used his renowned scouting abilities to avoid most of the threats ahead of the Raiders while they still fought off anything that got in their way.
In March 2264, Stern's Raiders entered NAP Territory, the home of the fiercely independent Sons of Liberty. Captain Stern suggested that the Raiders should go at it with stealth. However, Hedgehog knew that if they tried to sneak through the Sons of Liberty's land, they would be caught and bad things would happen. So, the Raiders decided to travel in plain sight as part of a caravan going north. They packed up all of their equipment to hide their identities as ranger deserters and wore different clothes. The caravan the Raiders went with was from Seattle, and they were grateful for the extra protection. This would shake the bounty hunters off the Raiders' trail for a while.
The journey through NAP Territory after that was rather uneventful. Still, the Raiders heard word of Chief Kill-a-Ton readying for another attack on NCR, a mass ranger desertion, and a Badlander army massing in the north for some unknown purpose. The Raiders themselves were safe though, with little no threats on the roads due to the Sons of Liberty's effective policing of their land. In fact, there wasn't any trouble until the group got to Oregon City, where they met Wade Jefferson for the first time.
Oregon City was a relief to Stern's Raiders, a large town that was not looking to kill them. Well, at least not the people within the town. The Raiders split up soon after they arrived but promised to meet up in the evening every day at an inn. They decided to keep a low profile in Oregon City but had a bit of down time. Captain Stern and McTavish mostly looked around various markets to buy new equipment and supplies. Gamble and Lowanskie explored the local landmarks such as the Willamette Falls Locks and occasionally went out drinking together, sometimes accompanied by Black Jack. Hedgehog, Sanchez, and Bauer drank and made merry while interacting with the locals at bars. Johns was forced by Captain Stern to "chaperone" the three rowdy Raiders, all older or as old as herself, but more often than not she just walked off to do her own thing. Black Jack sometimes came along with Gamble and Lowankie to look around while mostly keeping to himself. Black Jack spent most of his alone time drinking or trying to engage in his secret hobby, soap carving. He had not had enough soap at the winter cabin to practice and worried he was becoming rusty.
It was the three drunken Raiders that initially ran into Wade Jefferson and his caravan from NCR in a rather sleazy dive three days after the group's arrival. While the three were drinking, they overheard Jefferson bragging about his clout in NCR. This put a dark thought in Stern’s mind and he recognized the brahmin baron as one of the people behind Operation RED TRAIL. That made Sanchez see red, and he nearly wrung Jefferson’s neck then and there. Bauer and Hedgehog managed to restrain Sanchez, but the two left then and there to tell Stern what they had discovered.
Around the same time, the situation at the inn the Raiders were staying at had grown rather messy. Johns was having sex with some random Son of Liberty she had found off the street, something that seemed uncharacteristic of her to Captain Stern and McTavish, who were forced out of their room because of this. To make thing's worse, Black Jack had arrived back at the inn half-naked claiming he had been robbed. More willing to deal with that than with the situation at the inn, Stern accompanied Black Jack to get his stuff back. McTavish was the one left behind and was assaulted on both sides by noise when the three Raiders arrived back at the inn at the same time Johns emerged from her room, clad in ill-fitting clothing and mumbling incoherently. By the time the rest of the Raiders had arrived back at the inn, a shouting match had begun and people began pushing each other. McTavish had been unable to stop their bickering, Captain Stern descended on the rabble and separated the two main opponents: Devon Johns and Hedgehog. Stern did not even hear out the two's arguments and simply said that "they were going, all of them."
Black Jack's stuff had been recovered on the bright side, and Stern's Raiders did not lose valuable ranger equipment. They did however have to deal with NCR bounty hunters pursuing them just after they left Oregon City. Apparently, the bounty hunters had been tailing them ever since they entered the town but had not tried to take them in the town for fear of the Sons of Liberty killing them in response. So, the bounty hunters attacked the Raiders right outside of Oregon City.
Stern's Raiders was caught off guard by the attack, and most of them had not changed back into their ranger equipment. The Raiders scrambled for cover behind pine trees and futilely tried to return fire. It was a hard-fought battle on both sides but eventually the Raiders' skill and experience won out. There were casualties this time though. Black Jack took a plasma bolt to the leg and a gunshot to the gut, Gamble took a gunshot to his shoulder, and McTavish took a a gunshot to his right arm. They all had to get patched up, and quickly, to keep moving. Hedgehog attended to their medical needs fairly well. He even surprised Gamble with his medical know-how, making the once skeptical Ranger a little bit more receptive to the once enigmatic wildman. Hedgehog sewed up Black Jack and McTavish just fine while the group kept moving north.
Captain Stern decided to pause the Raiders' movement north at the Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River to give the injured a bit of a breather. That was when Victor Sanchez approached the Captain to tell him about Wade Jefferson and his caravan. Stern was reasonably concerned about Jefferson's role in Operation: RED TRAIL. Gamble, though injured, entered the conversation at that point, protesting that attacking Jefferson and his caravan would be a waste of resources and possibly unethical. He asked if the Raiders were prepared to have the blood of innocents on their hands again. Johns was the only one that agreed with Gamble while all the others felt Jefferson should pay for what he did, even Gamble's friend Lowanskie. It was then decided they would somehow stop the caravan. Black Jack then asked if they were going to have to go back to Oregon City to kill Jefferson, which Stern shot down as foolish. No, they would wait for the caravan to come to them and ambush them.
It would take a couple of days for the NCR caravan to leave Oregon City, so Stern's Raiders camped out to wait. That time waiting was surprisingly constructive. Johns apologized to Captain Stern for her inappropriate behavior and admitted to him that if the roles had been flipped, she would have treated him more harshly. She felt bad about that, but Stern easily forgave her, telling Johns that blaming herself was what got her in that position in first place. At that, Johns quietly sobbed, the first and last time any of the Raiders would see her do so, and Stern gave her some distance, as did everyone else. Around the same time, the rest of the group was chatting and exchanging stories. They grew closer in those days, as it would be important in the times to come.
The NCR caravan arrived at the Bridge of the Gods four days after the Raiders' arrival. They did not even send scouts ahead so it was easy to surround them. By the time the caravan made it onto the bridge, Stern's Raiders had positioned themselves on both sides. Captain Stern stepped in front of the caravan on the bridge and announced himself. The other Raiders stepped into their positions to ambush the caravan. Wade Jefferson came to the front to see what all the hubbub was and got Stern's revolver pressed to his head. The Raiders had originally intended to just blast the caravan away but when the Raiders saw that there were children among them, they were unsure of what to do. Stern decided to make something up on the fly, saying that he was taking the caravan hostage and was going to ask the NCR for a ransom for Jefferson.
At that, Stern's Raiders herded the caravaners into their camp and sent a messenger south to Oregon City to send a radio message to the NCR. They demanded a large amount of caps in exchange for the caravaners to assist the Raiders in their journey north.
Stern's Raiders kept the caravaners captive for about a week until they got a response. The NCR condemned the Raiders act as “terrorism” and refused to pay the ransom. However, more NCR bounty hunters latched onto the fact the Raiders were at the Bridge of the Gods, and they were soon back in the bounty hunters’ crosshairs. A week after the hostage situation began, Stern let the NCR caravan go and just kept Jefferson for ransom, who the Raiders had kept tied up in a shack near the bridge. Soon after the caravan’s release, more NCR bounty hunters attacked.
The Dogs of War
- "One thing I hate more than NCR: raiders."
- ―Jakob Stern upon being taken captive by King's Council at King County International Airport
Remnants and Savages
- "This is what I think of your country, this is what I think of your flag, and this-"
- ―Victor Sanchez making obscene gestures at Enclave remnants after negotiations before being stopped by Devon Johns
Rallying the Troops
- "Great tribes will stand with us, no sweat."
- ―Three Leaf reassuring his squad mates of the loyalty of the Oregon tribals to their cause
The War Begins
- "I still don't trust that bot. Still could be Enclave behind that eye of his."
- ―John Bauer voicing his concerns about ZED as he watches it disintegrate a Badlander merc
The Twisting Knife at Fort Eugene
- "Captain, no, this... this can't be happening. This can't be happening!"
- ―Rose Smith holding Jakob Stern's head in her lap as he dies from a stab wound
- "You heard me, that's commie, Marxist bullshit! What do I believe? In the Codex! Well... Most of the Codex that is. Damn woman, you're real loud."
- ―Wolfe halfway through an argument with Liandry Minh while the Raiders are encamped
Battle for Morden
- "I'm surrounded! They've taken all the houses around me, I'm going try to-"
- ―Dawn G. Salvador's last radio transmission before being cut off by gunfire
It All Falls Down
- "Quiet! Can you all please be quiet for just a second, someone would like to speak who hasn't given their opinion yet!"
- ―Gorden McTavish trying in vain to silence rowdy representatives at the Cascadian Convention in Harper
The Streets of Portland
- "I said go! Run! I'll hold them off as long as I can!"
- ―Wolfe making his last stand to save the rest of Stern's Raiders
Battle of Black Peak
- "Get behind me! They're pushing us up the mountain, let me buy you young folks some time by holding them here, no arguments!"
- ―John Bauer buying the Raiders some time as they scale Black Peak to try to escape their NCR pursuers
- "Not again..."
- ―Horus B. Gamble as he is discovered once again and forced to run
After the defeat of Stern's Raiders at the Battle of Black Peak, the group obviously ceased to exist. All but four of them were killed. The dead Raiders at Black Peak were cannibalized by the Badlanders while the two captured Raiders were taken south back to the NCR for trial, leaving a small pre-made memorial plaque behind at the battlefield.
Black Jack and Three Leaf were both put on trial by the New California Republic's military for their various crimes against the Republic. Their trial unfortunately descended into a media circus soon after it began. After a lengthy process, the court decided to incarcerate the two in a NCR prison in a small Mexican border town known as La Flor De Arena. The prison, named the Baja California Correctional Facility, was a former Brotherhood of Steel bunker that was known as the most secure facility under the NCR's jurisdiction.
However, that did not stop Black Jack from escaping the prison little more than a month after he entered to much controversy in 2271. He surprisingly left without his ‘friend’ Three Leaf which baffled the prison administrators. This was partially because he needed more Med-X to sustain his addiction that had been tormenting him for the last couple of months. Black Jack would make his way east to escape NCR authorities and would go on to to terrorize Northern Mexico as a one-man raider gang. Now, Black Jack is known as El Halcon Negro or The Black Falcon, and he is infamous for taking on Mexican warlords. He seems to have something of a death wish but as of 2287 has not been killed.
Meanwhile, Three Leaf is still stewing in the Baja California Correctional Facility, too unwilling or indifferent to escape. At one point, he held some small hope that Black Jack would return for him. However, now all Three Leaf can do is try to maintain his tribal traditions and stay alive. He sometimes hears of the remnants of Stern's Raiders, even Black Jack.
Besides Black Jack, Horus B. Gamble is the most notable survivor of Stern's Raiders who is still active. He wandered aimlessly for many years after the Battle of Black Peak, becoming a grizzled gunslinger. For many years, Gamble had to watch his back carefully since the NCR and their allies were still searching for him. Luckily for him though, in recent years the NCR has ceased their search for the remaining members of Stern's Raiders as the Northwestern Alliance fades into memory. Currently, Horus B. Gamble has finally gained a new purpose. He tracked the Raider's eyebot ZED to the war zone of the Boise Wasteland and now hopes to reconnect with at least one member of the old group.
Unbeknownst to Gamble (and most others), there is another survivor of Black Peak still in Cascadia: Butch Smith. Escaping during the chaos of the battle, Smith has lived in the area of Black Peak as a hermit ever since. He is a broken man who even seventeen years later cannot move beyond the mistakes he made in his youth. From his point of view, there is no hope left.
Another Raider is said to have survived the War of the Northwestern Alliance though not the Battle of Black Peak. Hedgehog went his own way when Captain Stern died at Fort Eugene in 2268 since he thought the Raiders would be doomed without Stern's leadership. He went north into Canada in the years following Stern's death and briefly took up residence on Vancouver Island. The wildman became a well-known resident of the island in a short time before hearing of Stern's Raiders' demise at the Battle of Black Peak. After hearing of this, Hedgehog packed up and left Vancouver Island for parts unknown, one step ahead of the Badladners that would arrive soon after to look for him. Hedgehog's whereabouts are currently unknown, but there have been sightings of him in places as disparate as Haida Gwaii, Anchorage, Seattle, and the Coast Mountains. There was even a sighting of him in his birthplace, Coburgia, in 2275. His motivations are unclear as of yet.
The remaining family members of the Raiders have kept a low profile after the War of the Northwestern Alliance due to most of them being in NCR territory. The only exception to this was Charles Gamble, Horus B. Gamble's uncle and a retired NCR ranger, who publicly condemned his nephew on numerous occasions.
Public perception of Stern's Raiders varies wildly even within the New California Republic as well as in Cascadia. The general populace of the Republic regards the Raiders as traitors and have little sympathy for their "cause". The military and their political allies (including Aaron Kimball) also regard the Raiders as traitors but also respect the guerrillas' martial prowess. Meanwhile, there are many in the Republic's upper classes and intelligentsia that sympathize with the plight of the Raiders and the Northwestern Alliance. Their hostility to the NCR's imperialism lends credence to the Raiders' cause.
In Cascadia, the situation is even more complicated. The divide between homesteaders, tribals, and urban-dwellers is wide. Urban-dwellers in places such as Seattle, Portland, and Grant's Pass largely regard Stern's Raiders with either distaste as trouble-makers who went too far or outright hatred as bandits aping nationalism. Homesteaders are divided amongst themselves about Stern's Raiders due to the Northwestern Alliance's overall messy relationship with homesteaders. Many homesteaders idealize Stern's Raiders as folk heroes while others demonize them due to their recent ties with the NCR and the Raiders' support for tribals. Tribals almost all love Stern's Raiders because of the Raiders' close cooperation with the tribals during the War of the Northwestern Alliance.
Ranger Combat Armor
A holdover from the Raider's time in service of NCR, the Ranger Combat Armor was the workhorse of the group, being the armor most commonly used by former NCR Rangers. It was fairly effective in warding off bullets and melee attacks and remained a staple of Stern's Raiders in their time wandering Cascadia.
Ranger Patrol Armor
A inferior version of the Ranger Combat Armor, Ranger Patrol Armor was also used by the former NCR Rangers within Stern's Raiders. Though it is not as good as the Ranger Combat Armor, the Ranger Patrol Armor is more easily repairable and typically more favored by many members of Stern's Raiders.
Some of the members of Stern's Raiders who were not former NCR Rangers possessed a variant of Combat Armor, whether it be the basic variant, the U.S. Army variant, or the reinforced variant. The Combat Armor was not always used but was kept handy for more intense battles.
T-51b Power Armor
Only used by the renegade Brotherhood Paladin Wolfe, the T-51b Power Armor was a very useful addition to Stern's Raiders. Wolfe acted as the group's heavy infantry, drawing fire and providing cover the rest of the Raiders. That led to his death in the end as he sacrificed himself for the group by drawing fire and sustaining a hit on his MicroFusion Pack.
Stern's Raiders were elite veteran NCR Rangers, considered some of the best of their prestigious organization. When they turned against the decadent and corrupt NCR, they took only the equipment on their backs and their years of combat experience. While it may not seem like much, as guerrilla fighter go, Stern's Raiders are any foes' worst nightmare, even when they are armed with only sticks and stones.
Most members preferred some form of sniper rifle or made do with a service rifle, a assault carbine, or even a hunting rifle. Magnums were standard issue sidearms, and shotguns of every description were favored specialist weapons. The group even had three light machine guns that were vital to many of their famous ambushes. In general, the group managed to keep these guns in working order, however, ammo was a constant concern.
Stern's Raiders were always proficient with whatever they could get their hands on, and due to their training and experience, could effectively wage a war on any group with little more than the environment around them. In later years, recruits from local Oregon tribes added to this survivalist ability, crafting axes and spears along with simple traps. Though considered quite primitive, nothing hurts enemy morale like a good spike pit. In hand to hand combat, bowie knives and hatchets were common place. One member, Three Leaf, used only his hunting spear in combat, and was quite deadly with it.
IEDs and mines were the groups bread and butter while they fought the NCR in the pine forests of Oregon, and their effectiveness could not be doubted.
Found in the hands of only three members, Kiki Wolfkill, Wolfe, and John Bauer, the Raiders rarely used energy weapons. This was more due to the scarcity of such weapons in the Oregon brush and the inherent difficulty of maintenance, regardless, the aforementioned specialists were formidable with their chosen tools of combat.
Stern's Raiders were always known for their guerrilla warfare and knowledge of the Oregon bush. After years of living in Cascadia away from NCR, they really adapted to the environment. When the Northwestern Alliance was formed with Stern's Raiders at the helm, the Raiders assumed a more commando tactical approach to things, supporting their various allies in fighting the NCR and their mercenaries in a war that would decide their fate and the fate of the region as a whole.
Horus B. Gamble
- "Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow."
- ―Horus quoting Shakespeare in wishing Captain Stern goodbye
A member from the days of NCR service and fanfare, and also one of the few surviving Rangers who saw the horror of Donnerville, Horus is now a bitter old gunslinger. But in his youth as he served, first as a distinguished Ranger, then as a wanted terrorist. Even as a terrorist, Horus always served with the utmost loyalty to the Captain and often acted as the Raiders' moral compass. Horus was the group's foremost marksman with his Anti-Material Rifle and Scoped Hunting Revolver. Following the last stand at Black Peak, Horus was separated from the rest of the group and held the dying Captain in his hands. He took up his officer's hunting shotgun and never looked back, defeated and disheartened, but unsure of what to do. Horus now wanders the wasteland, a killer without a cause. Recently he tracked another fellow team member, ZED, to the war zone of Boise, Idaho, and hopes to reconnect with at least one member of the old group.
Captain Jakob Stern
- "I feel like... we’ve gotten too big again. Perhaps nations like the Republic can’t exist without evil men behind them, just like before the war. Greed consumes hope, and nothing is learned."
- ―Captain Stern ruminating on NCR
The daring and dashing commander of Stern's Raiders, Captain Jakob Stern was the glue that held the group together, even before they separated from NCR. In his NCR days, Captain Stern was every war reporter’s wet dream, a dashing, strong-chinned, military man the likes of which led to various comparisons to great commanders of the past, from General Patton to Stonewall Jackson. He was never much for grand strategy though and preferred to go on gut feelings than "paper". Still, his never-say-die tenacity and cut and dry euphemisms made him a poster boy for the Rangers, and his likeness was often used in NCR recruiting stations. That only made it worse when he was presumably lost in 2263 and found to have entered a state of rebellion some time later. Captain Stern was instrumental in the creation of the Northwestern Alliance to fight back against NCR and his death at the Battle of Fort Eugene signaled the zenith of the war.
Stern was a humble man who never really asked for much in life but was seemingly called to greatness. His friends and enemies both often speculate whether this was born from Stern's own innate ambition or a calling from others. Those who did know him know will not deny that the man was a born leader and had a magnetism to him that is found in few men. He could make life-long friends easily and play a crowd effortlessly. However, Stern was also known by those close to him for being quick to anger and rash, something that would eventually bring about his downfall.
- "Bear took everything. No mercy, no questions, just took everything. Now, I do same."
- ―Three Leaf on his past
The last surviving warrior of the Bear Cave tribe, who were slaughtered by Badlanders, Three Leaf swore vengeance against the Badlanders and their NCR masters. With nothing but his hunting spear and his hatred, Three Leaf hunted down and killed every mercenary responsible for the massacre and waged a one-man war against NCR forces in northern Oregon until he was captured and sentenced to hang at the small settlement of Frankville. However, the Raiders saved his life by staging a daring raid on the settlement, and he joined their ranks soon after. He quickly became the group's top tracker and close combat specialist, as well as the master of improvised traps. He always remained in tribal garb to commemorate his lost tribe and to remember his family. Three Leaf survived the last stand at Black Peak, and is currently incarcerated in a NCR prison in a small Mexican border town known as La Flor de Arena.
- "No offense but I think energy weapons are best kept in the hands of people who can at least write their own names."
- ―Wolfe stirring shit again
A later addition to the Raiders, the power-armored rogue Wolfe only joined the Raiders after the group became well-known in Oregon and wider Cascadia. A renegade Paladin from the Brotherhood of Steel, Wolfe had left his native bunker in New California due to internal disagreements and gone north to wander, trying to create his own vision of the Brotherhood of Steel in the Oregon brush. This failed spectacularly and by the time Stern's Raiders had emerged, Wolfe had largely given up on his "experiment" and taken to the bottle. Wolfe staunchly opposed NCR expansion north and made a great ruckus when he wore his power armor to reluctantly aid homesteaders fighting off Badlander mercs near Bend. This attracted the attention of Stern's Raiders who aggressively pursued Wolfe for recruitment, initially sending Black Jack and Kiki Wolfkill to persuade him. That particular attempt did not succeed but eventually Wolfe agreed to join the Raiders after some convincing. He fought with Stern's Raiders with much distinction until his death on the streets of Portland in 2269, sacrificing himself so the rest of the group could survive and ultimately proving his love for his new-found comrades.
Wolfe made an invaluable contribution to the group because of his experience with power armor, his Brotherhood training, and his wide array of energy weapons. However, Wolfe remained somewhat of a loner who still realized the importance of being part of a group. He was an outsider in the group because of his Brotherhood origins and ideology and that was initially okay with Wolfe, as he saw his membership in the Raiders as an enemy of my enemy situation. He even rather disapproved of many in the group's use of advanced technology, in line with Brotherhood attitudes and often spoke derisively of tribals. However, Wolfe's perception of the group softened as time went on and in return his sarcastic wit and practicality won him over to the rest of the Raiders. By the time he died, Wolfe was truly one of the Raiders and was remembered as such.
- "Lay a hand on my gun, and you’ll lose it."
- ―John Bauer half-jokingly threatening Three Leaf for examining his Gatling Laser
A specialist armed with a Gatling Laser and a serious attitude, John Bauer was the group's premier weapons specialist and one of the oldest members beside Horus and Jakob Stern himself. Though Rangers rarely get their hands on weapons heavy as a Gatling Laser, the weapon’s light constitution and pinpoint accuracy made it an ideal weapon for a Ranger support specialist, and thus, when John got the opportunity to steal one from an NCR armory, he took it. John was a curmudgeonly old man, but he was also tough as nails and dependable. He would die with the rest of the group during the last stand at Black Peak.
- "Death to NCR, Free Oregon!"
- ―Kiki Wolfkill screeching platitudes during battle
A plasma rifle-toting tribal from the Granite Hills tribe in the northern Oregon, Kiki was a savage fighter and loyal member. Recruited by the Raiders when her tribe was wiped out by Enclave remnants still active in the mountains, Kiki grew up to hate the NCR and love the Raiders and their cause. Kiki adapted to civilized society better than the Raiders' other tribal member Three Leaf and often wore "civilized" clothes, belying her tribal origins. She was a crack-shot with her plasma rifle, which she took from the dead Enclave officer that killed her parents but was subsequently felled by the sniper Black Jack. Kiki would die with the rest of the group during the last stand at Black Peak.
- "Now see here, we’re not here to eat you m’am. We were just walking through and happened upon your homestead."
- ―Gorden McTavish talking down a homesteader who mistook the Raiders for tribals
A veteran Ranger who had been with the group back in their days of NCR service, Gorden was an excellent sniper and die-hard member. Though not particularly welcoming to new members or kind in any general fashion, Gorden was never the kind of man to leave a fellow rebel behind, and was certainly loyal to his comrades without question. His no-nonsense attitude and stern leadership ensured that, while he may not have been the most liked, he was certainly respected. When Stern died in 2268, Gorden took over the Raiders, becoming leader more through his will to keep the group alive than any other form of popularity. He would die with the rest of the group during the last stand at Black Peak. His last defiant act was to plunge his bowie knife into the throat of the opposing Heavy Infantry commander who was foolish enough to try and take him alive.
- "The east is red, the sun is rising!"
- ―Liandry Minh begins singing a propaganda song against NCR
A descendant of Chinese Partisans and a "closet communist", Linandry Minh was an outspoken critic of the NCR's capitalist ways and attempted to rally the free homesteaders and tribals of Oregon against the NCR expansion. When she was marked for political assassination by the NCR government due to her actions, it was Stern's Raiders who saved her life. Liandry became something of the face for the group, whenever they came to a free settlement she would preach of the evils of the NCR. Her reputation alone gave the group various hiding places and allies in both NCR controlled and free settlements, and occasionally won them free supplies. Liandry was personable and even rumored to have had a close relationship with Franklin Smith. Her abilities with her Chinese Assault Rifle were also notable but amateur at best. She would be killed in 2267 by a 4th Recon Sniper while she gave a speech in a supposedly free settlement, much to Franklin Smith's dismay.
- "What do men who fuck ghouls and hot dog vendors have in common? They both stick their meat in two hundred year old buns..."
- ―Victor Sanchez telling a dirty joke
A dependable Ranger who had been with the group years before they were betrayed by the NCR, Victor Sanchez was both an excellent sniper and weapons support specialist. When the group went rogue, he found himself more or less stuck with his NCR-issue Light Machine Gun, and became one of the squad's premier fire support specialist and heavy weapons experts. Victor was very gregarious, always cracking jokes and willing to settle down for a good night of chow and merry-making. He was well-liked by the group, especially Hedgehog, who related to his lowbrow sense of humor. Victor would die in the last stand at Black Peak, overwhelmed by NCR troopers as he bought the rest of his fellow Raiders enough time to scale the small mountain.
- "Horus, do you sometimes wish we had just bugged out and forgotten about NCR? Left everything behind? I do, a lot."
- ―Brice Lowanskie confessing his doubts about the Raiders
One of the team's senior members and radio specialist, Brice was always considered the kid of the group due to his young age and the fact that he joined the group after Donnerville. His knowledge with machines and technological skills assisted the team greatly when it came to hacking old computers or disabling and reprogramming dangerous robots. He struck up a rivalry with Butch Smith who he initially saw himself as superior to but eventually accepted as an equal. Unfortunately, Brice was tortured to death by Badlander mercenaries in 2266.
- "Fuck, fuck, fuck! Those Badlanders are going to eat us alive!"
- ―Devon Johns raging under her breath as she sees enemies approaching
The task force's forward scout and spotter, Devon, who had been part of the task force longer than anyone save the Captain himself, was second in command for most of the group's history, acting as a forward officer for the Captain. She was a hard, tough woman, raised on a Brahmin ranch in Redding and was also a deadly combatant with her .308 sniper rifle and magnum. Devon was respected, if not necessarily liked, by all of her squad-mates. Her death was a blow to the whole team as she was gunned down by Badlander mercenaries in 2268, preluding the Captain's death soon afterwards.
- "Our family has always had strong, defiant spirit. Me and my siblings are just the latest in that line. My great grandpa killed a raider warlord back in the day and took the guy’s daughter as his wife. Cool guy."
- ―Franklin Smith bragging about his family
The eldest of the Smith triplets, Franklin originally left his homestead in the free settlement of Harper to join the Raiders, and his two siblings followed much to his initial displeasure. Though at the time he was little more but a "would-be rebel" he believed deeply in the Raiders' cause. His skill with his hunting rifle was considerable, and his knowledge of local trails allowed the group to move undetected in certain areas where NCR presence would not have allowed such stealth. He was believed to be romantically involved with group spokesperson and communist Liandry Minh, being greatly distressed by her death. Franklin would perish during the battle at Black Peak in 2270, beaten to death by an NCR Heavy Trooper armed with a light machine-gun.
- "Stop! He’s already surrendered, please don’t kill him."
- ―Rosie Smith saving an NCR trooper’s life after a battle
The youngest of the Smith triplets, Rosie, along with her elder brothers Butch and Franklin, left their lives in Harper, hoping to make a difference in the one-sided war between the NCR and the homesteaders of Oregon. Against Franklin's orders, she and Butch followed him into the wilderness, hoping to join up. Unlike her brothers, Rosie had little weapons experience, but she learned quickly, and soon became the group's medic as well as its second heavy weapons support specialist alongside Victor Sanchez. She later developed a romantic relationship with Victor, which lasted up until the last stand at Black Peak, in which she died attempting to rescue him, gunned down by NCR Heavy Troopers. Rosie was kind, gentle-hearted, and well-liked by her teammates.
- "I... I... I failed them. All of them dead. I can’t... I can never go back."
- ―Butch Smith’s broken state after the Battle of Black Peak
The middle child of the Smith triplets, Butch was a rather unassuming person compared his older brother Franklin or even his sister Rosie. He was a tinkerer and a mechanic in the Smith's hometown of Harper. Not really much of a fighter or a rebel, Butch was more motivated to join Stern's Raiders along with his sister Rosie by the promise of adventure and the desire to protect his siblings. He assisted the Raiders mostly by repairing and maintaining their equipment and weapons. Butch was not particularly loyal to the Raider's cause and was more concerned about the survival of his siblings. Therefore, he was devastated at Black Peak when Rosie died, quickly followed by Franklin. The experience broke Butch and even though he miraculously survived the Battle of Black Peak, Butch has lived a hermit's existence ever since.
- "Oh shit, that Med-X was good! Really took the edge off after that last firefight. Who are you again?"
- ―Black Jack waking up beside a ghoul on a blanket in the middle of the woods
A ruthless sniper and former NCR Ranger, Black Jack was part the Taskforce from the beginning. Black Jack never had much love for the NCR's politics, having been raised by formerly independent homesteaders who had been forced to join. However, he naively believed in the NCR's promises of freedom and democracy, as well as the safety they tried to provide to the people under their banner. Soon after joining the Taskforce however, Black's faith in the NCR began to waver. By the time of the betrayal during the Brushfire War, Black Jack was more than ready to put a round in a Heavy Troopers head. During the group's stint as terrorists, Black Jack quickly became a sadistic marksman, killing NCR soldiers more for revenge than any higher cause. His actions quickly spiraled out of control, from developing a serious Med-X addiction, to the unsanctioned torture and rape of captured NCR troopers. For a while, his comrades turned a blind eye to this, still respecting Black's ability as a marksman and naively hoping that he would eventually level out. He quickly became unpopular with his fellows, alienating them systematically. By the time the last stand at Black Peak had occurred, his only friends left were Horus and Three Leaf, both of which had sincerely tried to help Black Jack out of his spiral of self-destruction and debauchery. Black Jack would, despite his best efforts, survive the last stand, and would go on to terrorize Northern Mexico as a one-man raider gang. Now he is only known as El Halcon Negro, or The Black Falcon.
- "Deathclaws are nasty buggers, for sure. However, I’d say I’ve been injured by Brahmin more times to be honest."
- ―Hedgehog confusing the other Raiders
A bushwhacking fur trader and wildman, Hedgehog grew up in the wild and untamed woods of Oregon. When the NCR tried to annex his settlement, he fought back the only way he knew how. He shot and killed several NCR troopers. Eventually he was run off of his land, and became a wanted criminal. He fell in with Stern's Raiders about a month after they went rogue, having tracked them down to warn them about an NCR ambush set for them at Jebadahi's Crossroads. From then on, he became the groups tracker and hunter, as well as lending a useful hand in battle with his old lever-action rifle and bowie knife. Hedgehog was well liked by all members, and his low brow humor and cooking was enough to lift most of the group's spirits when things seemed bleak. He would go his own way when Captain Stern died in 2268, eventually moving even further north into Canada. His current whereabouts are unknown.
Dawn G. Salvador
- "The NCR won’t be happy with what we did, that’s for sure. Still, I say enjoy this victory for all its worth. Better than being serious all the time anyways."
- ―Dawn G. Salvador enjoying watching A Passionate Liberation after the Battle of Fort Eugene
Dawn was the group's local mechanic and robotics expert, working alongside Butch and Brice. Daughter of a young junk trader and prospector who were both killed by drunken NCR troops for being independent homesteaders and simply being in the path of a ill-disciplined patrol, Dawn had plenty of reason to seek out an join up with Stern's Raiders. Though not particularly skilled in combat, her technical expertise made her invaluable to the group, and she was a fine shot with her scoped hunting rifle. She was usually an optimist, though she knew that NCR would get them one way or another but that never seemed to stop her from fighting them tooth and nail for the death of her parents, a general ruination of her childhood. Dawn would be killed in 2269 by NCR troops in a firefight outside the free settlement of Morden.
- "<Makes beeping sounds>"
- ―ZED mourning Captain Stern’s death
ZED is an Enclave Eyebot that the group captured and reprogrammed to act as a reconnaissance unit. Though a robot, the group considered ZED to be their "mascot" and many grew attached to him, save for Kiki and John. ZED left before the last stand at Black Peak and would go on to rejoin the Enclave at Fort Perpetual, Idaho.
- "Buga wapa!"
- ―Spaz resisting Horus’s attempts to teach him English
Spaz was a feral child who the Raiders simply found one day in the wasteland. The Raiders assumed he was a refugee from the war between the NCR and the Oregon tribals. They initially just moved on from the child despite the protests of Horus B. Gamble, but he followed them nonetheless. He was nicknamed Spaz by the Raiders for his sudden bursts of energy. Stern's Raiders eventually got used to Spaz's presence and let him stick around their camp, feeding him scraps and such. He was even able to witness the birth of Kiki Wolfkill's child and held her for a short time. Horus and Rosie tried to wrangle Spaz on various occasion and send him to live at a settlement, but that never worked. He always managed to escape somehow and grow more hostile to them. Rosie even tried to educate the boy to speak English, and it seemed to be working. As the war intensified however, Spaz was scared off from the Raiders by increasingly frequent attacks. By the summer of 2267, Spaz had seemingly disappeared into the wasteland and was never seen again. The only people particularly concerned by this was Rosie Smith and Horus B. Gamble, the two most empathetic of the Raiders.
- "Civilization runs in my blood, yes. But the blood of the tribes is there too. I am a Wolfkill after all."
- ―Alecto Wolfkill introducing herself to Oregon tribals
Alecto Wolfkill was born in 2267 to Kiki Wolfkill, with the father being assumed to be Wolfe. The two seemed to hit it off after Wolfe finally "assimilated" into the Raiders. Alecto's birth forced Kiki to leave the Raiders for about a month, taking refuge in Harper along with Rosie Smith, Butch Smith, and Spaz. It is rumored that Wolfe chose the child's first name while Kiki gave the child its surname. After the baby's birth, Kiki Wolfkill was faced with a choice: take the baby with her and possibly hinder her ability to aid the Raiders or leave it behind in Harper. Kiki ultimately decided to leave Alecto behind in Harper with a loving family in 2268 but not before taking her back to the Raiders to see for a short time. Captain Stern, Horus B. Gamble, and Wolfe were particularly fond of the child. Even today, Alecto remembers fondly how well the man in power armor treated her.
After her brief time in Stern's Raiders, Alecto was raised by the Smith Family with a homesteader's education, knowledge about her tribal heritage, and a love of Stern's Raiders. Alecto seemed almost groomed to take on the Raiders' legacy, whether she liked it or not. After reaching adolescence, Alecto left her previous home in Harper and returned to the lands of the Oregon tribals in northern Oregon to do what her parents could not: bring together the civilized and tribal parts of Cascadia. This mission has yielded mixed results since, with most tribals like Kill-a-Ton being ambivalent to Alecto's message while others accepted it more readily. This was due to a combination of the Wolfkill name still holding some weight and Alecto's message being appealing to those tired of years of war. Currently, Alecto is living in the brush of Oregon among other sympathetic Oregon tribals. She is a determined, stubborn young woman who is honestly in over her head.
- "Comrades, the time has come for us to rise up against the capitalist pigs that rule the..."
- ―Liandry Minh, her final words as the sniper's bullet pierces her skull
- "Stern's Raiders... I dunno, sounds a bit, much? I'm flattered, make no mistake, but the name wouldn't be my first choice."
- ―Jakob Stern upon hearing the proposal for Taskforce Nomad's new name
- "And then I told him to fuck off, I ain't gonna take orders from a man with no nose. What kind of man is that? And he looked at me like this, hahaha!"
- ―Hedgehog telling a story of a noseless raider trying to conscript Hedgehog into his gang
- "<Makes beeping sounds>"
- ―ZED observing the carnage in the wake of the Battle of Black Peak
- "Though our beliefs differed and our outlooks separate we cannot deny that Ms. Linh served the people in all her actions on this earth, so I ask out merciful Lord that though her heart may not have been the purest she is a good soul who protected the weak."
- ―Minister Owens at Liandry's funeral
- "Best bunch of misfits I ever knew. Not the best fighters though, I'm afraid... But still damn good!"
- ―Carl Wu, independent homesteader
- "Stern was an exceedingly interesting man who lived a very, well, interesting life. I only wish I had more time to have an in-depth conversation with him. And that he survived, and we won the war, of course. I still have his letters you know, in my trunk where I keep my war correspondence. Might dig them out someday, who knows."
- ―Commander Owen Curtis of the Sons of Liberty speaking about Jakob Stern after his death