|Date of birth:||2259|
- "Out here, it’s amazing. You have the freedom to choose who you are, what you want to be, what you want to do with your life… of course, there’s also starvation, radiation, raiders, super mutants and whatever else, so take that as you may"
- ―Kara Stinson
Kara was born into a family living in Vault 54 in 2259. At birth, she was immediately inducted into the Vault’s ongoing social experiment by having her DNA matched with the individual who would be her eventual mate and help create the next generation of Vault Dwellers. As was the norm for 54’s inhabitants, Kara was introduced to her eventual partner, Dylan Wheeler, at an early age, knowing full well that they had already been paired up and the expectations of them.
Despite her indoctrination and her parents’ best efforts, Kara found that she had no interest in Dylan whatsoever. She found them to be rather incredibly bland and uninteresting, and certainly not somebody who she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. Added to that, she found the very idea of having children with Dylan to be strangely repulsive, despite Vault 54’s strict policies of population quotas and rewarding fecundity. Choosing not to have children was a crime that could see her and her partner cut off from supplies or worse.
After her eighteenth birthday, Kara directly confronted her parents about her feelings and her decision not to proceed with her planned life. Their response was to alternately plead, cajole and eventually threaten her in an effort to get her to change her mind. When this didn’t work, they went to Dylan’s parents, who tried similar pressure tactics, knowing that they could be cut off from their grandchild bonus. Again, none of this worked, with Kara going so far as to point out how bland and uninteresting Dylan was.
Initially, the two families tried to keep this quiet, fearing that they would both be punished for Kara’s intransigence. Eventually, however, matters could not be hushed up and Kara was brought before Overseer Mitch Mitchell. Given one last chance to recant her position and accept the will of the Vault, Kara refused. Feeling that she was no longer compatible with 54’s culture, Overseer Mitchell ordered the worst punishment possible; exile. Kara was cast out into the wastelands, with only a Vault Suit and a 10mm Pistol to her name.
(As a post-script, Dylan was eventually paired off with Kim Snodworthy, a “second-choicer” who’s intended mate had died in an accident)
Exile and Survival
By Vault 54’s rules, exile was final. There would be no return, no second chances, and no redemption. An exile was forsaken, forever removed from the gene pool and left to their own devices. The very threat of exile was meant to deter anyone from whatever path they were taking. Instead, in Kara’s case, she seemed to actively embrace it as a way to escape her past and pre-planned destiny. If she was going to die, then at least she would die a free woman.
Cast out into the blasted wastelands of Michigan, Kara found a very different world to the one she was used to. With no shelter, no protection, no useful skills to fall back on and nobody else, she should have, by all rights, died a quick and ugly death. Instead, if anything, she persevered through a sense of bloody-minded determination to prove herself and live a free life. Never was there any regret about her choices, but instead the determination to press on.
Somehow she survived. Abandoned buildings provided a modicum of shelter, and she was able to learn a bit about scavenging in order to find food and passably clean water. The discovery of a stash of preserved food helped her along her way, giving her something to live off for the interim. And in a strange way, years of Vault indoctrination did help her to a degree. Having been taught that everything outside was lethal and that any surviving humans were, in fact, insane cannibalistic murderers, she was incredibly cautious of anything that might even be remotely dangerous, and spent a lot of time hiding from perceived threats.
While at first, she was wandering largely aimlessly (Having very little knowledge of pre-war geography and none of the current state of the region), Kara eventually found herself heading towards Detroit, guided by highway signs. There was little logic to her decision, other than the thought that there might be some form of civilisation there. Along the way, she’d done her best to shed her vault dweller image. Looting had given her a thick coat and other suitable wasteland attire, as well as an R91 Assault rifle that she’d found in a stash. It also helped that her once-clean looks had instead degenerated into a mess of matted hair and dirt-stained features.
As luck would have it, Kara stumbled into a trading caravan who mistook her for a scavenger or a mercenary looking for work (They assumed she wasn’t a raider given that they had all but ambushed her, and she hadn’t demanded any caps). After a bit of initial confusion, Kara agreed to work as a guard for the caravan as they made their way towards what was referred to as the “free town of Park Lane” in central Detroit. Figuring that wherever they were heading was better than the wastelands of rural Michigan, Kara agreed to the deal.
It nearly proved to be a fatal mistake. Halfway to their destination, the Caravan was jumped by a Raider gang and Kara was forced to fight. Despite having never been in an actual gunfight before, she acquitted herself well, killing two of the Raiders and wounding a third. This was enough to drive them off, earning her the thanks of the caravan crew as well as first dibs at looting their bodies for anything of worth. She also took the opportunity to quietly throw up in a ditch out of eyesight of her employer.
The caravan made it to Park Lane without further violence, even if Kara did have to wave her gun at a few people to scare them off. At the end of the trip, the Caravan crew helped spread the word about her, helping to sell the image that she was indeed a mercenary and not just some dumb runaway. Kara had found her new calling in life, even if it was by accident.
Fortune had given Kara an opening, and she was determined not to squander it. Landing in Park Lane meant she was set up in a local hub, one where she would be able to find work and, hopefully, a place to call home. Even if her first load of caps did go into renting a space in a flophouse, it was enough to put a temporary roof over her head as she sought work. While she did such, Kara was careful to keep her ears to the ground and pay attention to what was going on around her in order to learn more about the world she was in and the Detroit Wastes in particular.
The latter suggested that she had come to the right place. From what she learned, the Detroit Wasteland was not claimed by any one powerful faction. Furthermore, the city was divided even further between different groups; be they other settlements, Raiders, Super Mutants, would-be empire builders or whatever else. In other words, it was a ripe environment for a hired gun to make a living.
Her bluff had paid off, and soon she was able to find work. Initially, it was low-level tasks, such as protecting caravans or covering scavengers as they picked over the ruins. The latter proved to be something of a boon for her. Kara had shown an affinity for technical tasks on her GOAT tests, and this translated well into her new role. In many cases, she found herself advising the scavengers she was working with, pointing out the best stuff from their pickings or how to access materials that they would have been unable to get to otherwise. This helped further build her reputation, bringing her more work. Kara also found work as a courier, moving messages and packages between different settlements and outposts, a career that taught her a lot more about the city.
She also saw plenty of combat during this time, both against animals and other hazards and humans. While at first she was deeply troubled by the issue, she began to accept that this was a part of her role and that in many cases, it was a ‘them or her’ situation. If she didn’t kill her enemies, they would do the same – or worse – to her. Even then it took her some time to keep her composure entirely, rather than doing her utmost to conceal it. She certainly spent a lot of time throwing up when she thought nobody could see her.
Despite that problem, her reputation grew, keeping her in work and a steady supply of caps. Within six months she had a home in Park Lane, regular meals and, save for the occasional visit to a particularly attractive and skilled male prostitute, free of destructive vices. Within a year she was taking work in other settlements as well, having built a reputation as a professional with an eye for salvage and a keen aim. Even better, nobody had openly challenged her story or even hinted at her real past. As far as she was concerned, the person she had been in Vault 54 was dead.
Moving up in the world
Kara’s activities earned her the attention of more than just potential employers. Her involvement in the battle of McMillain School, where she was part of a small group who cleaned out a particularly violent nest of raiders, drew her to the attention of Stan Wendell, the leader of the Black Skull Company. One of the largest mercenary outfits in Detroit, the Black Skulls were the best regarded and certainly the best organised. Wendell had heard about her and her work, and wanted to see what she had to offer.
Their initial meeting went well. Wendell was immediately impressed with the way she handled herself and her seemingly cool and relaxed disposition. He also liked her apparent technical knowledge, even if he did not openly question where it came from. Finally, a few trials demonstrated her marksmanship and other combat skills, all things that he was looking for in a potential recruit. He went so far to make this abundantly clear to her; the Black Skulls did not take just anyone, and as such, to be offered a position in the company was something to be proud of.
Kara, for her part, was smitten with the handsome and charismatic mercenary. While she had tried to focus purely on the professional side of their meeting, it was hard for her not to be drawn to him. And while she did accept his offer obstinately for the opportunity that it presented for her and the chance to further her career, the truth was her attraction to him was also a deciding factor. However, she also realised that to openly admit such would not be a smart move, and as such, she did her best to keep a lid on the situation.
Her welcome to Black Skull Company was surprisingly warm, given that she was walking into a band of professional hired soldiers. This, she realised, was due to the strong espirit de corps maintained by the unit; everyone looked out for each other, everyone treated each other with respect and everyone had each other’s back at all time. It was a strong part of their image, one that helped sell them as being the best that the mercenary trade had to offer. And even if its members were cold-hearted mercenary bastards by trade, each one of them was willing to do their best to look after the others.
Abandoning Park Lane and what she now saw as bit work, Kara moved into the Company’s headquarters and was ready for what she saw as the big time. Despite her experience, she was still put through a rigorous training program to “toughen her up” so that she would meet the Company’s high standards. If anything, the program made her even more determined to succeed if only to prove that she was as good as anyone else in the group. Ultimately, she was successful, becoming a full-fledged member of the company.
For the next year, Stinson found herself living the high life of a professional hired soldier. Black Skull Company took on the biggest jobs in Detroit and its surrounding areas, working for the highest bidder in each case. This saw them go up against a wide range of opponents, from gangs to Super Mutants and others, while completing a myriad of objectives. In many cases, Kara’s technical skills were just as useful as her combat ones, aiding in certain objectives or the retrieval of advanced technologies.
All the while, she maintained her unspoken crush on Captain Wendell, but was careful not to let it be known. The last thing she wanted to do was undermine her own position. Instead, she grew to enjoy the wealth that came from her newfound role, allowing her to live in (relative) comfort and security.
The Detroit Revolutionary War
Any thoughts of personal entanglements were cut off by the eruption of the so-called Detroit Revolutionary War in the spring of 2284. The conflict began when the Army of Revolution, a large, armed militant group, moved to seize a number of settlements within the city at once. Despite their high profile, the Black Skulls had not been approached by the AoR to provide support; this may have been as much for operational security as it was the revolutionaries’ desire to only use their own soldiers that they knew they could rely on.
The revolutionaries deliberately avoided antagonising the Black Skulls, knowing that to do such would only serve to create another enemy that they could not afford during the conflict. Instead, the Skulls were approached by several different settlements, including Park Lane, with desperate offers of employment. None of those settlements had the manpower to hold off the Revolutionaries, and were especially lacking in skilled soldiers.
Captain Wendell replied by holding fast, refusing their offers. He cited the level of danger that his company would be facing, and the risk of the company being severely damaged or destroyed. All of which was a stalling tactic to both hold out for more caps and see which way the war was going. Kara personally protested at this approach, but her objections were over-ruled in the name of business interests.
It was not until a coalition of settlements, many of which were on the front lines of the conflict, made a massive offer with very generous terms that Wendell relented. Given autonomy of command, he was free to employ his company as he wished to stop the Revolutionary campaign. Rather than attack them head-on, Wendell chose to break up his company into smaller units to conduct guerrilla-style attacks on the Revolutionaries, seeking to slow and distract their forces.
Kara was assigned to be a part of one team (Designated Squad Six) that primarily operated in the heart of downtown. This was a particularly dangerous assignment, given the nature of the region. Once heavily built up, it was now choked with debris, turning its streets into a maze. Many of the tall buildings had either fallen or were unstable, adding an extra layer of risk. Finally, downtown was home to other threats besides the Revolutionaries, such as wild animals, Raider gangs, and even roving Super Mutants.
These hazards worked together to very nearly kill Kara and the rest of her squad. An attempt to ambush a Revolutionary team fell apart when they were, in turn, jumped by a raider gang, turning the situation into a bloody three-way firefight. Separated from her squad, Kara took refuge in an empty but otherwise intact apartment building, the Hartford Gardens Tower. Sheltering in the rubble that choked the lobby, she was able to find an entrance into the building’s interior that was still usable, albeit well-hidden by the rubble.
For the next two weeks, Kara used the tower as a base of operations for her own personal offensive against the Revolutionaries. Rather than confronting them head-on, she would raid their supplies and harass their forces, and then disappear back into the rubble. On occasion she would snipe at opponents from the upper floors of the building, but preferred not to do such too much lest she reveal her base of operations. These attacks contributed to the failure of the Revolutionaries’ offensive, and their eventual collapse and retreat.
It was only after they had withdrawn that she made her way back to the Black Skulls, where she was not entirely surprised to find that she had been declared dead. Instead, after a little bit of confusion, she was welcomed back by the surviving members of the company. Taking the opportunity, she decided to privately confront Wendell and confess her feelings about him.
An hour later she was told to leave the Skulls and never return.
Dejected, Kara returned not to Park Lane but instead to the Hartford Gardens Tower. Her rejection had left her somewhat embittered, and for the moment she was more interested in seclusion then any attempts at interaction with others. Exploring the tower gave her something to do while working through her bitterness over her rejection and looking for other options for her life and where to go to from there. What she found was at least one apartment inside the building that was still intact and inhabitable, as well as a number of still functioning facilities on the upper floor.
With no better place to go, Kara chose to make the tower her new home. This required several weeks of work to clean up her new apartment as well as some of the remaining facilities. Even then, much of the building was still an uninhabitable mess, which would restrict access to the structure and discourage any unwelcome guests who had managed to find the entrance. This suited her fine, allowing her to live her life alone save for the building’s only other inhabitant, Willard.
Despite this, Kara still needed to make a living. She returned to work as a solo mercenary, taking jobs out of Park Lane. After a few months, she began to become more engaged in the community, but continued to keep herself and her personal life isolated.
The most remarkable thing about Kara’s appearance is that she has managed to keep relatively clean despite living in the wasteland for nearly a decade. She still has all her teeth, and is largely free of horrible scars, burns or other blemishes. Kara’s face features sharp, almost boyish features, and is surrounded by a crown of long, rust-red hair. She has a slender, athletic form. When working, Kara will usually wear functional fatigues and lightweight body armor.
Once something of a rebellious risk-taker, Kara has matured in the face of the reality of the wastelands. Her rejection has left her somewhat cynical and embittered and with a tendency to assume the worst out of people and situations. However, she does not regret the decisions that bought her to this point, more of their unexpected consequences. She has a particular dislike for Vault-Tec vaults, having discovered more about them and their twisted experiments since her exile. Amongst other things, this has made her realise that the people of Vault 54 got off lightly. She does not talk about her past or where she comes from, and passes it off with a vague 'a settlement somewhere, maybe in Wisconsin'.
Despite this, she sees herself as being a professional, and, when given a job, will do her utmost to fulfill it in a clean and precise manner. She sees herself as being something of an ‘ethical’ mercenary, in as far as such is possible. As such, she won’t take what she sees as being ‘dirty’ jobs, such as those that directly target civilians. She also will try to minimise the collateral damage from her jobs.
Skills and Abilities
Even though she would never admit Kara’s training in Vault 54 gave her a good background in technical skills. She has a better understanding of advanced pre-war technology then the average wasteland, both in how it works, how to use it, how to repair it and, possibly the most importantly, which bits are the most valuable as salvage. These skills have helped her in a number of ways during her life outside the Vault.
More useful on a daily basis, however, are her skills as a soldier. A good shot, Kara is capable with both semi-automatic and fully automatic weapons. While she normally engages in more street-level battles, she prefers to snipe from cover where possible. She has a good grasp of tactics and an ability to read the situation, and fights smart rather than engaging in reckless attacks.
|This has been written by KayEmm. Please contact this user before editing this article.|