|Black Skull Company|
|Motto:||Only the best, unto death|
|Goals:||Profit; Opposition to the Army of Revolution|
|Enemies:||Army of Revolution|
- "No caps, no kills"
- ―Unofficial Black Skull Company Motto
Black Skull Company is a mercenary organisation operating in the Detroit Wasteland. Considered to be the most skilled and capable mercenary outfit in the region, even if not the largest, Black Skull Company takes pride in its reputation. The outfit was vital to the outcome of the Revolutionary War, demonstrating the value of superior tactics and equipment against raw numbers.
Black Skull Company first formed in 2249, drawn together by a combination of circumstances. The chief of these was the rise of the so-called Army of Revolution, which had formed several years earlier. While at this stage more akin to a well-organised raider band then anything else, the Army of Revolution had begun doing mercenary work in the Detroit Wasteland. Due to their numbers, the had been successful in squeezing out smaller outfits and individual operatives.
It was this issue that bought together a number of independent operators in a meeting. Headed up by Evan Black, this group agreed to form a mercenary company that would sell itself on the skills and capabilities of its members, rather then just numbers. Their charter stated that a potential member needed to have an established reputation, be in good standing with their past clients, have demonstrated prior experience and be willing to work together with others rather than just looking out for themselves. No member of the organisation would be permitted to take independent jobs or hire on with another outfit while they were in Black Skull Company’s employ.
With Evan Black approved as their first leader (due both to his experience and his bringing together the group in the first place), Black Skull Company began its first recruitment drive. This initial stage was deliberately targeted at those that had issues with the AoR, or had fought them in past for whatever reason. However, the company also sought those with established records and known capabilities. In a few instances, they were willing to overlook past misconduct in order to secure the services of particularly skilled individuals.
At the same time, the company began advertising it’s services in the various Detroit Wasteland communities. Initial terms were rather generous, aimed not only at helping to build the company's reputation and client base, but to deliberately undercut the Army of Revolution in the mercenary market. This move helped keep the emergent Black Skull company ahead of its larger but less skilled rival.
As Black Skull Company’s reputation grew, it began to up the ante in its operations. Besides increasing its fees, the company began to take on larger scale operations, as well as subcontracting smaller teams or even individual members as needed. In short order, the company was considered the pre-eminent mercenary outfit in the Detroit Wastelands, having effectively squeezed the Army of Revolution out of the market and proven to be more capable then other, cheaper options.
Evan Black ensured that his unit would maintain its reputation by enforcing a strict code of conduct. Once signed to a contract, his unit would ensure that it was fulfilled to the letter with no half-measures or “close enough” solutions allowed. The downside of this code of conduct was that it offered no options for reimbursement to an employer in the advent that the company was unable to fulfil their contract, unless it could be proven that there was deliberate negligence on their part.
Going into the 2260s, the Army of Revolution began to show their true colours, transitioning from a mercenary outfit into a well-organised raiding force. The Black Skulls upped the ante, selling themselves as a counter to the Army’s often large scale and well-organised operations to the various settlements in the Detroit region. While expensive, there were few communities who were unwilling to pay the prices that the Black Skulls demanded, rather then risk further losses or even subjugation.
In 2268, Evan Black opted to stand down from command of the unit. A long and active life as a mercenary had left him with numerous injuries and diminishing physical capabilities. Rather then becoming a liability to the unit, he chose to quit while he could and passed command to his second, Stanley Bradford.
Under Bradford’s command, Black Skull Company began to again diversify its operations. Confident in the unit’s size, and feeling that they had managed to contain the Army of Revolution (Which had been scaling back operations after considerable losses), Braddock sought out new clients and operations that did not focus on them. Technological recovery became an especially lucrative option for the company, with their combination of skilled operators and strong discipline allowing them to tackle operations that would have been otherwise seen as too dangerous.
The Black Skull Company also began working further afield, taking jobs beyond the boundaries of the Detroit Wastelands. The outfit was soon ranging across much of the eastern Michigan area, working for a variety of clients. Many of their operations bought them into conflict with not only human opponents such as raider bands, but also other threats of the wastelands such as dangerous mutated animals and feral ghouls. On the back of these operations, the Black Skulls began quietly collecting what high-tech weaponry and equipment they could in order to enhance their capabilities.
Not all of these operations were successes, however, with some of them proving to be disastrous failures. In 2279, the company was hired by a coalition of Detroit Wasteland communities to root out and destroy the Super Mutants that infested Zug Island. Despite the company’s planning, the mutants proved to have greater numbers and be better armed than expected, with the battle of Zug Island quickly turning into a bloodbath for the attacking forces. The Black Skulls were forced to pull back after sustaining severe losses, leaving the Super Mutants still in control of the island.
One of the casualties of the battle was Captain Bradford. Fatally injured during the battle, he lived long enough to name Stan Wendell, a young officer, as his replacement before succumbing to his wounds.
Wendell inherited a depleted command that had lost many of its more skilled and experienced officers. These losses cut deep; Wendell was aware that he likely would not have been Bradford’s first choice as replacement had some other officers survived the battle. Despite this, he remained committed to the Black Skulls and sought to rebuild the unit to its former glory.
Scaling back operations, he focused primarily on the Detroit Wasteland while largely abandoning more far-reaching clients. At the same time, Wendell also opened up work to jobs that would have previously been seen as being ‘beneath’ the company, looking for income and opportunities. Likewise, he opened up recruitment to younger or less experienced mercenaries that would have otherwise been passed over, looking to scoop up raw talent before they were hired by rivals. This process allowed the company to rebuild its numbers, even if its overall talent pool was still depleted.
While the unit was rebuilding, Wendell had also been ensuring that he had eyes on the Army of Revolution. In the last few years, the group’s numbers had swelled through new recruits and conscripts, and they had taken advantage of the Black Skulls’ situation by becoming more aggressive. While Wendell was still taking jobs targeting the group, he was wary of opposing them head-on due to their numbers.
Even then, Wendell was not ready for the scope of their so-called Revolutionary War. More than just raiding or occupation of outlying settlements, the Army of Revolution was aiming to take control of the Wasteland in one fell swoop. After the fall of several settlements made their intent clear, Wendell was flooded with offers from various parties, looking to protect themselves from the Revolutionaries’ aggression.
Initially, he rebuffed these offers while trying to get a better idea of the Revolutionaries’ goals and actual numbers and develop a counter to their offensive. It was only after a consortium of communities, headed up by Park Lane, made a considerable offer that Wendell relented and accepted it. That the Revolutionaries were also closing on the Black Skull Company’s headquarters had some influence on his decision as well.
Rather then fighting the Revolutionaries head-on, Wendell opted to break up the company into smaller autonomous units which would engage the Revolutionaries in surgical strike operations. In essence, he blunted their offensive and sapped their strength by drawing them into a protracted guerrilla war across their front. While again the Black Skulls faced not inconsiderable losses, eventually their efforts were successful, forcing the Revolutionaries to fall back and abandon much of their territorial gains.
While once again the Black Skull Company was forced into a period of rebuilding, this time it was flush with caps as well as equipment looted from the Revolutionaries’ forces. However, even with these advantages, Wendell still chose to take a cautious approach and be careful about what jobs the unit took, lest it be drawn into another large-scale conflict too soon. In mid-2284, he was approached by representatives of both sides in the Flint River War, looking to add the Black Skulls to their forces. In both cases, he turned them down.
The War on Mutant Terror
While the Black Skull Company had so far managed to avoid the chaos that was enveloping nearby Park Lane (admittedly, more due to fortuitous timing then any actual planning), events conspired to reel them in. In April 2287, Park Lane was attacked by a force of Super Mutants from Zug Island who had become convinced that the town held something of value to them. While the beleaguered Park Lane defenders had been able to beat the Super Mutants back, the attack had served to drain their already weakened numbers.
At the same time, the Super Mutants had been becoming increasingly aggressive in their stance towards Grand Central. While the larger city was far better defended then Park Lane (and had not suffered the same recent crises), that had not stopped the Super Mutants from probing their defences in what many felt was a prelude to an all-out attack. With this possibility in mind, representatives of Park Lane and Grand Central approached Black Skull Company with an offer of employment.
While Wendell was understandably wary, given the company’s past near-destruction at the hands of the Zug Island Super Mutants, he became more receptive as they outlined what they wanted. Rather than invading the island and wiping out the Mutants, Black Skull Company would be doing a ‘containment sweep’ of the City’s south-western side, aimed at rooting out and eliminating Super Mutant patrols and incursions while also searching for any forward bases they may have. The hope was to completely discourage Zug Island from launching any further attacks or, at the very least, to deplete their forces.
After arguing back and forth over the conditions of the contract and how long they would stay deployed (Wendell was deliberately trying to limit the contract to prevent being dragged along forever), they reached a mutually acceptable deal. The next day, Black Skull left their headquarters, moving in several large units as they began their sweep across the Wasteland. They had little concern about raider attacks, assuming correctly that their sheer numbers would be enough to discourage any such moves.
Establishing several bases in the south-western side of the wastes, Black Skull set up patrols to familiarise themselves with the area and its denizens. Most of what they encountered were either scavengers or low-level raiders, most of which opted to avoid conflict with squads of well-armed and well-organised mercenaries. They also made fleeting contact with Super Mutant patrols, and identified several locations that were apparent outposts for their operations. Using this information, Wendell planned for their next move.
On the first of May 2287, Black Skull Company launched a series of attacks on the Super Mutant strongholds that they had identified. For the most part, these attacks went well, with all but one of them being successful. In that case, the Black Skull troops encountered heavier resistance than expected and were forced to pull back in order to minimise casualties. Otherwise, the attacks went well, with the first wave targets being eliminated save for that one exception. Oddly enough, in several cases the Super Mutants opted to withdraw rather than fight to the death like they usually did.
The good results from the first wave meant that Wendell gave the go-ahead for ongoing operations. These were focused less on elimination of outposts and more on containment, by actively seeking out and eliminating Super Mutant patrols. Once again, the Super Mutants showed greater adaptation then expected, breaking contact when clearly outnumbered or outmatched and avoiding suicidal last stands or hopeless battles. Analysis suggested that they were trying to buy time, but why was as yet unclear.
To the brink
While the Black Skull Company had been engaged with the Zug Island Super mutants, other events were unfolding within the Detroit Wasteland. The most important of which was the fall of Park Lane to a combined force of raiders, mercenaries and the Army of Revolution. This was seen by Wendell as being a significant shift in the balance of power in the city towards the Revolutionaries and, obviously, an immediate threat to their future. However, they were still engaged with the Super Mutants, and could not afford to break away to counter this new development.
It was not until the middle of June that the Super Mutants withdrew, having apparently suffered some sort of internal strife. This was enough for Wendell to be able to declare a mission accomplished on the Super Mutant contract and withdraw his forces back to the Black Skull Company’s headquarters. Once there, he sent runners out to assess the situation in Park Lane as well as to make contact with Grand Central to create as complete a picture of the situation as possible.
What they found was not promising. The Army of Revolution had used its alliance with the Scrap Dogs to create a secure corridor through the wastes back to Scrap Iron City. The troops they had in Park Lane would be well supplied and have considerable stockpiles to fall back on, and so could not simply be starved out. Furthermore, the presence of allied mercenaries meant they would have additional troops to bolster their own. Finally, the effective destruction of the PLSP meant that there was no on the ground resistance to their control of the city.
Wendell immediately opened negotiations with Grand Central, who’s leadership was obviously concerned about the situation. Despite the long-standing rivalry between the two communities, nobody wanted the Army of Revolution to maintain control of Park Lane. Many feared that it would be a springboard for a move to take Grand Central, while keeping them there would only give them time to reinforce their position and make them harder to dislodge. The leadership of Grand Central were gladly willing to open another contract with the Black Skulls to take back Park Lane.
Returning to their headquarters to rearm, the Black Skull Company prepared for their operation to liberate Park Lane. What they were unaware of, however, was that their actions were being monitored. Shelbie Grande, one of the traders in Grand Central, was also an agent of the Army of Revolution and had been shadowing the Black Skulls every step of the way. Fully aware of what they were planning, she relayed this information back to Park Lane.
On the morning of the 27th of June, 2077, Wendell began his attack on Park Lane. Almost immediately he met heavier resistance then expected from within the city, as it became quickly apparent that the Army were ready for such a move and, more likely, had advance warning of his approach. The appearance of a Scrap Dogs force on the Black Skull Company’s flank served to underscore this point. Realising that he was not making any progress and was risking his force being enveloped, Wendell called for a retreat before their losses mounted.
After successfully disengaging, the Black Skull Company pulled back to their headquarters on the fringes of the downtown district. Immediately, Wendell and the rest of the company’s leadership began analysing what went wrong and making plans for a second attack. The first thought was to draw additional personnel from the GCPD or even Chryslus Castle, selling both settlements on the need to head off the Army of Revolution before they made their next move.
Their planning was interrupted by several explosions as a series of bombs planted in or around the building were detonated. As Wendell tried to regain control of the situation, the lookouts reported that a large force was closing on the building. Surmising that this was the Army of Revolution or at least it’s allies, Wendell tried to prepare his men as best as he could. Another battle broke out, and while the Black Skull Company were on their home ground, they were now fighting with the additional disadvantages of being outnumbered and having their defences compromised.
With losses mounting, Wendell was forced to declare the castle to be a loss. Using his remaining heavy assets, including the sole Power Armour that the unit possessed, he was able to create an opening for the battered unit to stage a breakout and then retreat through. Immediately they headed towards Grand Central, knowing that it was the only remaining safe haven for them, but fully expecting further attacks along the way. Instead, those failed to materialise, allowing the remnants of Black Skull Company to reach their objective.
Wounded, the Black Skull Company took refuge in Grand Central and did its best to take stock of its situation. While its personnel losses were notable, they were not severe; rather it had been a case of them forced to chose not to hold on in losing battles. What was more severe, however, was the loss of resources their headquarters represented, given how much they had stored there in terms of equipment, weapons, ammunition and so on. All of which left the company in a precarious position with no immediate signs of recovery.
More professionally structured than many other Wastelands mercenary outfits, the Black Skull Company bases its organization on pre-war US army planning. The company is divided up into a number of twenty-four man platoons, each under the command of a lieutenant. These are, in turn, divided into six-man squads. The platoons include both general purpose teams and specialty ones organised around a specific focus.
Auxiliary forces are attached at the platoon on an as-needed basis. This can include specialty troops such as dedicated marksmen or infiltrators, or other assets such as robots. If two or more platoons are operating together, the command is based on seniority within the organization, with a less experienced lieutenant deferring to his more experienced counterpart. The presence of non-commissioned officers allows squads to act independently as needed, and also helps preserve the chain of command against losses.
Overall, the Black Skull Company is one of, if not the best equipped fighting forces in the Detroit Wastelands. The company does its best to acquire pre-war weapons through various means, as well as to ensure that they are kept in good working condition. Typically soldiers are armed with relatively common weapons such as R91 Assault Rifles, but more high-tech and exotic weapons such as AER9 Laser Rifles or M72 Gauss Rifles can also be found within their ranks. Likewise, most soldiers are outfitted with Combat Armour for protection.
Typically, the members of a squad will be assigned either the same weapon or at the very least, complimentary weapons based on their specialties and expected function. The Black Skull Company does its beast to avoid the often ad hoc nature of other forces, whose units are usually armed with whatever weapons come to hand, but sometimes, especially under field conditions, this is unavoidable. The company fully endorses the looting of dead enemy combatants, especially as a way of supporting field operations.
In addition to their human forces, the Black Skull Company has a small force of Mister Gutsy, Protectron and Assaultron robots at their disposal. Rather then being assigned to specific platoons, these robots are instead issued as required for their operations. The company sees the robots as being their property rather then intelligent beings like some, and treat them as such.
In order to join Black Skull Company, a person needs to be a mercenary or soldier known to be operating in the Detroit Wasteland. A potential recruit must demonstrate useful skills or abilities, as well as an ability to follow orders and act as a part of a larger unit and follow orders. They must also be in good standing and have a good reputation with their past employers, and display professional conduct when in the field.
While under Captain Wendell, these restrictions have been somewhat relaxed the unit still is somewhat choosy about who it will take in. Similarly, it expects its members to uphold the standards of the company; those who break its rules or act in a manner that will bring the unit into disrepute can expect to be dishonorably discharged. Severe infractions can be grounds for more severe punishments, including execution.
In theory, any human or Ghoul who meets the company’s requirements can become a member; the company does not discriminate on the basis of gender or ethnicity. In practice, unspoken deep-seated biases ensure that he few Ghoul recruits that the company takes in rarely rise to any significant rank.
The Black Skull Company is headquartered in the Grand Army of the Republic Building, located on the western edge of the Detroit Downtown (and close by to Park Lane). After being only sporadically occupied for over a century, the Black Skulls took up full-time residence within the building shortly after their formation. The company has fortified the building over the last four decades, shoring up its structure while converting its interior to suit their needs.
Typically, the building is home to the bulk of the company’s strength, who are housed in barracks-style accommodation. Other facilities include a mess, offices, a briefing room and secured weapons, ammunition and equipment storage. An internal power supply ensures that the building can remain independently functional. The company has barricaded nearby streets to restrict access, and has regular foot patrols of the surroundings.
In addition to its headquarters, the Black Skull Company maintains offices in several settlements across the Detroit Wasteland region. These offices are used not only as a source of jobs for the company, but also for trade and recruitment.
The current commander of the Black Skull Company, Stan Wendell is a no-nonsense, results-driven man. A second-generation member of the company (his parents were both among its founders), Wendell is driven to do what is best for the organization and to ensure its continued existence. While obviously authoritarian in nature, he also ensures that his lieutenants are willing to say what they need to or point out his mistakes rather than simply rolling over and accepting his orders.
Wendell has little lie outside of the unit and is clearly aware of this. Most of his relationships have been short-term, with very little sense of permanence or commitment, and he deliberately avoids getting involved with other members of the company on a personal level. He has no children of his own (at least none that he knows of) and no family outside of the unit. The sole exception to this was his short-lived relationship with Kara Stinson. While he was somewhat affectionate towards her and clearly relieved when she emerged alive after the Revolutionary War, he still had her discharged from the unit after she confessed her own feelings towards him. To this day, he refuses to discuss his reasons why.
In addition to his leadership and tactical skills, Wendell is a skilled marksman and proficient with explosives.
The current second in command of the Black Skulls, Esposito is also understood to be Wendell’s successor should it ever be necessary. Even more driven than her commander, she is a harsh disciplinarian with an abrasive manner who is very demanding of her charges. She expects results and is willing to go to great lengths in order to get them. Her record within the company is unrivaled, boasting more successful operations than any other current officer.
A capable marksman, Louisa prefers automatic assault rifles as her primary weapons. She is also a skilled knife fighter, and has taken down much larger opponents with only a blade.
Formerly a cage fighter, Lukas Wallis was recruited by the Army of Revolution after they broke up the ring he was a part of. Having no love for his previous masters, he was only too glad to join the company and put his skills to what he saw as good use. Large and imposing, Wallis uses his sheer size and physical presence as a weapon as much as anything else.
An expert close combatant, Lukas prefers to use melee weapons or even just his fists over firearms. He often will perform excessively showy and brutal kills for the sake of demoralizing enemy combatants.
Seemingly one of the least ‘professional’ members of the Black Skulls, Betsy Wilford is loud and showy in her actions and demeanor. Given her specialty in heavy weapons, subtlety is rarely a part of her normal operations, however, she goes to excess even by those standards.She likes her presence to be known, and makes sure that whatever she does is accompanied by both the sounds of battle and her own, often enthusiastic cries.
Betsy has something of a rivalry with Lukas Wallis over who is the strongest member of the company. The two have gone back and forth in numerous contests, but without any clear outcome.
Rather than being a part of a specific platoon or squad, Jack Mills is an independent specialist within the Black Skull Company’s ranks. An expert marksman, Mills is considered to be the best shot in the unit. In addition, he is a skilled infiltrator, able to seemingly effortlessly sneak into and out of heavily guarded or populated areas without detection. Mills is believed to have single-handedly eliminated a number of high-ranking Army of Revolution members during the Revolutionary war.
Mills is otherwise a rather private individual, and does not engage with other members of the unit. In turn, he is seen as being rather intense and borderline creepy.
While only an average soldier, Roland Samuel is a platoon leader largely due to circumstance than any skills of his own. The sole member of the Black Skulls to be equipped with a suit of Power Armour, Samuel joined the unit on the condition that he be allowed to retain control of the suit. While not an ideal arrangement, Wendell also could not afford to pass up the opportunity. Samuel is at least still competent, and a capable, if unexceptional leader.
Samuel claims that he found the Power Armour suit, a T-45d model, in a pre-war shelter, but that has yet to be verified. Much of this is because of how cagey he has been about exactly where he found it and how. The suit is rather battered and in poor condition, and lacks the helmet.
Strictly speaking, Zeek Bradley is a non-combatant. Rather, he is the Black Skulls’ chief technical officer in charge of collecting and maintaining their array of high-tech equipment. Despite the fact that he’s not a soldier, he is still well respected for his skills and his contributions to ensuring the unit’s continued operations. This is especially true of the most complicated equipment, such as robots as energy weapons.
Bradley was one of the few to openly question Wendell’s decision to discharge Kara Stinson. He enjoyed working with her, and found her technical skills invaluable to his role. He had begun to suspect that she was a Vault Dweller, and has secretly wondered if that might have been the basis for Wendell’s choice.
|This has been written by KayEmm. Please contact this user before editing this article.|