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Basil Poledouris - Riddle Of Steel Riders Of Doom

Basil Poledouris - Riddle Of Steel Riders Of Doom

"You want... me? Alright, okay then..."
―Connor being asked to join a survivor band in 2078
Connor "Skull-Taker" Prowse
Connor Prowse
Date of birth:2055
Age:61
Blood type:a+
Gender:Male
Height:5'10
Mass:180
Race:Human
Occupation:Store Clerk, Asylum Patient, Survivor, Tribal Warlord
Status:deceased

Before the Great War, Connor Prowse was simply an insane asylum patient who had been institutionalized in Oregon State Hospital. After the Great War though, Prowse escaped and wandered the wasteland, joining a survivor band. Eventually, he became known as Skull-Taker and rose to become a cannibal warlord who razed Seattle and whose descendants people much of Oregon. When he died, Skull-Taker became enshrined in the local tribal pantheon and many tribes in Oregon trace their roots back to him.

Biography

Childhood and Teenage Years

"He's scraping at the door. SCRAPING AT THE DOOR! HE'S OUT FOR BLOOD! HE'S HUNGRY!"
―One of Connor's schizophrenic episodes

Connor Prowse was born in 2055 in the Northwest Commonwealth, Salem specifically. His parents were comfortably middle-class and already had three children when Connor was born. In many people's eyes, Connor had a wonderful childhood, receiving many toys and having numerous playmates.

However, as Connor developed into his teenage years, his young mind fell victim to a sickness: schizophrenia. Near his eleventh birthday, Connor began hearing the voices. At first, he was able to repress their beckons. However, as puberty hit and his resolve waned, Connor began to act more erratically. His grades suffered, and many of his friends left him. He felt alone and alienated, only making his condition worse.

Connor's father helped him get a job at one of Salem's supermarkets as a store clerk when he turned sixteen. The monotony of the job helped Connor suppress the voices but soon the voices reemerged, stronger and angrier. After being repeatedly beaten down by the voices, Connor decided to placate the voices by doing a few minor things for them. This included stealing some foodstuff from his workplace and skinning small animals. He thought this would make them go away. He was wrong.

The voices only got worse. Connor was soon forced to commit self-harm to satisfy the voices, but that predictably did not work. Eventually, Connor was forced to quit his job due to "emotional distress". After that, the voices vengefully called for Connor to do one last thing for them: burn down his former workplace.

Connor pleaded and begged with the voices but soon enough caved and did the deed. On the morning of August 4, 2071, Connor was found curled in the fetal position in the ashes of the store, murmuring to himself all the while.

It was determined that the perpetrator of the crime was Connor, and he was quickly brought to court for arson. After being forced to take the stand, it became clear that Connor was mentally unstable and not accountable for his crimes. The court and Connor's family agreed to have Connor institutionalized and treated for schizophrenia. Connor met his family for one last time in September before he was sent off to Oregon State Hospital. They were more ashamed than happy to see him. That did not help Connor at all.

Institutionalized

"I'm going to cave your head in, Spencer. I'm going to freaking kill you."
―Connor upon finding Spencer's crimes

Connor was put in Oregon State Hospital in 2071 and stayed there for six years. His time there was actually more productive than he could have expected.

In the State Hospital, young Connor was put on a daily schedule by the staff and was booked to talk to a therapist about his schizophrenia. The therapist was an attractive woman right out of college, and Connor appreciated his time with her. Also, the regimented schedule also improved Connor's behavior.

It was soon clear though that Connor would never integrate back into normal society. He constantly talked back to the voices in his head and refused to not acknowledge them, even with his therapist's advice. He even associated one of the voices, a reasonable one, with his therapist. Therefore, Connor had to stay at Oregon State Hospital indefinitely (or so he thought). He was treated well due to his good behavior, but his mental facilities did not really improve. Medication barely helped, and he had to just deal with it.

On October 23, 2077, the nuclear bombs fell on Salem. None of them directly hit Oregon State Hospital. Still, the staff locked down the facility. Connor stayed calm, sitting in his room reading. He barely noticed the bombs going off.

This went on for two days, with food continuing to come in and everyone being confined to their rooms. However, the food stopped on the third day.

The voices told Connor something was very wrong, and he agreed. Connor yelled out to ask for release. After an entire day, the door to Connor's cell finally opened. Another patient, already outside his cell, had heard Connor's cries and decided to open the door. Connor thanked the patient, who introduced himself as Spencer.

Oregon State Hospital had begun to fall apart even though it had survived the initial bombings. Radiation leaking in had ghoulified several patients, and the others died from radiation poisoning. The staff that had not died from radiation poisoning were subsequently killed by the feral ghouls. The only survivors were three patients who seemingly had a immunity to radiation. Spencer, a necrophiliac serial killer who had been committed thirty years before, had armed himself and killed the feral ghouls.

Spencer told Connor of what had happened and introduced him to the other patient, a schizophrenic named Jeb. Jeb was one of the most well-behaved patients and was terrified of Spencer and the possible return of his insanity when all the medication was gone.

The three looked outside at Salem and saw chaos. They decided that it would be best if they stayed in Oregon State Hospital, though they would live apart so as to not alienate each other. Spencer took over as their de-facto leader and took over an entire wing as his "territory". Connor and Jeb took over their own areas.

Connor's first job was to clear his area of the remaining bodies, ghoul and human. However, before dumping them outside, a little voice told Connor that he was wasting good meat by doing so. This disgusted Connor, but he could not ignore that. Ultimately, Connor decided to keep the human bodies "just in case" and dump the ghouls outside.

Luckily, the food in the Hospital would probably last for maybe months and Connor wouldn't need the bodies. All three of the remaining patients still ate in the cafeteria. While they ate, Spencer encouraged Connor to indulge in his condition, saying that to deny his passions and emotions would mean a loss of self.

Two weeks after the bombs fell, Oregon State Hospital was attacked by looters and raiders who hoped some supplies might still be inside of the undamaged building. Spencer did most of the fighting and killed six attackers. Connor used a makeshift club to kill one of them. However, the attackers set the hospital on fire to spite the defenders. Jeb choked to death from the smoke of the fire. Connor's area was also burned down, and he took refuge in Spencer's wing as the fighting concluded.

Spencer's wing stank of rot and death. It wasn't even blood from the battle, it was old. A voice encouraged Connor to continue to look. Entering Spencer's sleeping area, Connor retched in revulsion. The corpses of various women lay naked in the room, all violated by Spencer. However, the body that enraged Connor the most was his former therapist. He had loved her, and Spencer had violated her. The voices whispered to him, saying that Spencer killed her, that justice had to be served.

Leaving Spencer's wing, Connor encountered Spencer returning triumphantly from defeating the invaders. Spencer began to talk enthusiastically about leaving and starting a new group, maybe even a new nation. Before Spencer could finish voicing his plan, Connor swung his club at Spencer, catching him full in the face. Spencer fell to the ground but got up quickly, raising his revolver. He met by another smack to the face by Connor's club. That sent Spencer to the ground. After that, Connor smashed Spencer face for almost fifteen minutes until it was a bloody pulp.

After Spencer breathed his last breath, Connor got into an alcove, curled up, and went to sleep in the burning Oregon State Hospital.

The next day, Connor got up to see the smoking ruins of the hospital. Searching the ruined hospital, Connor found several charred corpses he recognized, Spencer, Jeb, his therapist, and the invaders. The bodies seem to whisper to him. The strongest two though were Spencer, who advocated for chaos, and the therapist, who advocated for order.

Connor, damaged beyond repair, felt that the myriad voices fighting for attention were a pain, and two would be just fine.

So, Connor cut the heads off of the corpses of his therapist and Spencer. He was happy to find that they still seemingly whispered to him. Knowing rot would soon set in, Connor stripped the flesh off of the heads to make them just skulls. Connor used the skulls as visual references for the two primary voices in his head for the rest of his life to cope.

Connor stayed in the hospital for a few months but eventually decided that it would be better to just leave the blasted ruin. So, Connor combed the hospital, gathering all the supplies he could find (food, Spencer's weapons, etc). After another day of preparation, Connor left the ruins of Oregon State Hospital to seek his fortune. He never looked back.

Wandering

"Do you really want to do this man? What, who are you talking..."
―Lionel Gent begging for his life with Connor

Connor Prowse's wanderings began in September 3, 2078, as he left Oregon State Hospital and made his way into the ruins of Salem. Connor walked among the shattered buildings of the city, talking to his two heads and scavenging for equipment. He wondered where everyone had gone, ignorant of the effects of radiation poisoning on the population. The remaining residents, ghoulified, had fled the town when winter had come in 2077.

Connor stayed in Salem for another week before deciding to go north, figuring the south probably got glassed. So, Connor made his way north to looking for civilization.

Going north, scavenging while he went, Connor found the city of Portland and was distressed to find that it was a radioactive war zone. The remaining buildings served as refuges for survivors from roaming cannibal gangs and Army remnants. The voices urged stealth, so Connor did. Connor sneaked through the city, avoiding everyone. This worked out for him. As Connor made it out into the suburbs, he stumbled upon a closed Vault. Not really understanding what the vault was, Connor knocked on the vault door and waited to see if there would be a response. When there were none, Connor looked around the door for things to scavenge.

He was happy to find unopened boxes full of Vault-Tec memorabilia, sealed safe away from the harsh environment or the Great War. Connor selected a Vault-Tec ball cap to wear and looted various Vault-Tec lunch boxes for their supplies and storage space.

However, the most valuable thing Connor found was a box of Pip-Boy 3000s. Connor wanted to try to take all of the Pip-Boys (which he knew was advanced tech) to sell or barter later, but the voice of his therapist's head warned against that, telling him to take only one and put it on his arm. Connor didn't even know what the Pip-Boys really were but did not hesitate. Following the voice's advice, Connor put on the Pip-Boy, and it whirred to life. Although he did not know it at the time, the Pip-Boy would become an invaluable guide for Connor in the future and be a source of many of his "adventures".

Connor continued north after looking over his Pip-Boy's map briefly. Crossing the Columbia River, Connor came upon the city of Vancouver. He was surprised to get a radio signal on his Pip-Boy and listened to it. It turned out to be a radio signal from a group of high schoolers and middle schoolers holed up in Pleasant Valley Middle School. They were trapped inside the school by "bandits" and needed help. Connor knew he needed to make a decision and decided to consult the skulls.

His therapist's voice encouraged Connor to rescue the trapped children and slay the evil men while Spencer's voice whispered darker, tempting things into his ear. So tempting that Connor decided to side with Spencer's voice.

Following Salmon Creek through town to Pleasant Valley Middle School, Connor spied on the "bandits" outside of the school from a nearby ruin. It turned out that the "bandits" were actually seven National Guard remnants, some mutated, who had gone AWOL and were trying to get at the children holed up in Pleasant Valley Middle School "for some reason". Following the directions of Spencer's voice, Connor fell upon their camp like a wraith. The National Guard remnants tried to resist but through his Pip-Boy and pure ferocity, Connor killed six of them. The seventh, an unmutated man named Lionel Gent, threw down his weapon and pleaded for his life. He said that he was looking for his family in Portland and wanted to live. Connor's bloodlust wore off at Lionel's pleading, and he hesitated. However, Connor was surprised to hear his therapist's voice telling him to kill Lionel. It said that Lionel would not have spared him if he had the opportunity to do so. So, Connor decapitated Lionel with his makeshift machete and moved on to Pleasant Valley Middle School.

The children inside the school were extremely grateful to Connor, saying that the National Guard had been besieging them for a week. The high schoolers even admitted that they had done things that they were not proud of to survive. Connor saw some butchered dead bodies and considered that. I've almost done the same, who am I to judge?

Connor Prowse proceeded to tell the children that they were not to blame for what happened, and they had what they needed to survive. The children thanked Connor for his understanding, and he and they had dinner out of some remaining Potato Crisps. That night, one of the high schoolers offered to sleep with Connor and he, though shocked, accepted.

The next day, Connor woke up and found some of his supplies missing. Furious, he stalked over to the children to asked for his supplies, ready to kill. The children laughed and handed back his supplies. This confused and angered Connor, and he decided to leave immediately.

As Connor walked out of Pleasant Valley Middle School, the children followed him insisting that they wanted him. Unused to this, Connor tentatively accepted their offer.

In the spring of 2079, Connor and his small survivor band headed north towards Seattle, picking through the ruins and scavenging. The children followed Connor, who was unnerved by their presence but did not leave them due to the encouragement of "the voices". He still talked to his two skulls which in turn unnerved the children. However, after about a month of traveling, the younger children became enamored with the skulls and often asked Connor questions about them. Connor was very careful in answering them, and that made the skulls only more mysterious in the children's eyes. They nicknamed him "Skull-Taker".

The older children could tell that Connor was a very sick man but was reluctant to confront him about his skulls for fear of his anger.

As time went on and the survivor band went further north, food became more scarce, and the children and Connor began to grow hungry. So, desperate and disconnected from morality, Connor decided that the best solution to their problem was cannibalism. Not of their own group though, of course, but of the corpses that now littered the road north. The younger children, now doggedly loyal to Connor, accepted this in stride while older ones felt very split on the issue. Some even left. Thereafter, Connor was solidified as the survivor band's leader and cannibalism became common among them.

In the fall of 2079, Connor's survivor band was attacked by mutants from Olympia. They killed two of the children but with his gun and machete, Connor killed ten of them. Soon afterward, as everyone was recuperating and recovering from their wounds, Connor found his first radio signal in months coming from Seattle on his Pip-Boy. Yelling to the children, Connor gathered them around him to listen.

The radio signal came from an Army Colonel who claimed to represent "the last vestige of the United States government" who also claimed to have secured Seattle as a refuge. He encouraged any who could to make their way to Seattle, to rebuild. Hearing this roused the survivor band's spirits and they immediately doubled their pace towards Seattle.

Avoiding raiders and mutants, Connor and his band arrived at a sprawling camp of tents south of Seattle. The residents of the camp were refugees from the south. They were desperate, irradiated, and starving. Asking around, Connor found that the refugees had been barred from going north to Seattle by soldiers on the highway. The de-facto leader of the camp, a former actor named Xavier O'Neal, had watched Connor and his survivor band since they had arrived. Seeing one man in charge of a large group of children, Xavier came to his own conclusions and that made his conscience kick in. He was worried about the children and asked Connor how they had fared. Connor, instantly suspicious of Xavier, replied that they were fine and their condition was none of Xavier's business.

Deciding to join the camp for its safety in numbers, Connor and his survivor band lived at the edges of the camp, keeping to themselves and eating strange meat.

As fall began to turn to winter, the camp fell into a fouler state. Starvation gripped everyone in the camp, and Connor and his band were about ready to just up and leave. Things got especially bad when Xavier died from wounds sustained fighting mutants and the camp fell into chaos. However, Spencer's voice saw an opportunity and whispered it in Connor's ear. He considered this but decided to "hold a meeting" between both skulls first.

One cold night in October of 2079, Connor and Spencer's voice argued their points with his therapist's voice, who was still reluctant to concede to this new plan. The tone and volume of Connor's voice even attracted the attention of several of the children and they came to his tent to watch the "debate".

Connor finally got his way by arguing the angle of order. The therapist's voice crumbled and Connor, for the first time, allowed Spencer's voice to call the shots alone. With that, Connor strode into the center of the camp and made history.

Proclaiming that he had enough, Connor caught the attention of most of the camp dwellers. He said that everyone was starving and it was the fault of the Army for barring them from going to Seattle. He even went further talking about the injustices many in the camp had experienced. Therefore, Connor declared that they had to make their way to Seattle by force and take what was rightfully their's before winter set in.

At that, the entire camp roared in agreement, and they readied for war.

Wartimes

"A bullet is too good for them. Give them the teeth."
―Skull-Taker condemning a groups of prisoners to death

After a day of preparation, the inhabitants of the camp headed north towards Seattle to take what was their's. Connor was at their head, his pistol in hand. The mob followed Connor blindly, violently overwhelming several thinly-manned roadblocks on the way to Seattle. The survivors only remembered one thing: the mob chanting Skull-Taker over and over. It was on the way to Seattle that Connor finally assumed the name.

Skull-Taker and his mob arrived on the outskirts of Seattle in late October, burning and killing as they went. Arriving at a barricade constructed by the Army in the suburbs, Skull-Taker led the charge and climbed up the walls.

However, just as Skull-Taker began fighting the Army soldiers, his voices kicked in and yelled for him to "get out of there". Panicking, he did, jumping off the barricade. Confused and leaderless, the mob also retreated.

Skull-Taker recouped his losses and regained control himself that night and continued the attack the next day. After some meditation with his voices and rallying his men, Skull-Taker attacked the barricade again the next day. The mob focused on scaling and attacking a specific weak point in barricade. The attack succeeded in getting over, and Skull-Taker's band streamed over the barricade. The Army remnants, trying in vain to stem the tide coming north, sent reinforcements in the form of soldiers and robots.

The next was bloody but ultimately fell in Skull-Taker's favor. In the end, Skull-Taker held a fragmented protectron over his head while his band cheered his name. They marched on Seattle proper from there.

By then, the Army remnants had exhausted their forces and put up little to no resistance beyond their headquarters at Campbell Armory. Practically unopposed, Skull-Taker raped, looted, and burned his way through the city of Seattle. The only areas in the city that were spared were Campbell Armory and Capitol Hill. Within three days, Skull-Taker had raped and pillaged enough and set up a sort of "court" in what would later become Emerald City. It was there that Skull-Taker and his savage band waited out the winter of 2079, continuing to raid and pillage Seattle's remains. Chinatown, in particular, suffered but managed to survive. Great big fires could be seen and the pungent smell of roasted meat hung in the air that winter. Skull-Take gave great pow wows with his skulls while his followers watched, gibbering mad prophecies and revealing dark truths. From the skulls' advice, he even sacrificed his Pip-Boy.

As the spring of 2080 arrived, Skull-Taker began to see the world more realistically again. Seattle could not be raided much longer and still yield gains. The other option, ruling the city, was also unattractive to Skull-Taker. His skulls encouraged him to instead return "home", to Oregon.

Accepting the skull's "counsel", Skull-Taker packed up and headed south. He and his band left Seattle and out of recorded history.

Mythos

"Whakka ogod Skulk-Taka. Glori!"
―A standard tribal prayer to Skull-Taker

Most records of Skull-Taker after leaving Seattle are hazy, ranging from rumor to outright myth. What is known concretely is that Skull-Taker did make it back south to Oregon, had numerous children, and lived until 2111 when he died of prostate cancer (according to most accounts). The rest of Skull-Taker's time after returning to Oregon is shrouded in mystery. It is guessed that he raided the area with his tribal band often, but there is no written evidence or ghouls to confirm it. There are also stories about Skull-Taker and his tribal band wintering in Portland, but these stories are not confirmed.

Skull-Taker's death heralded his deification by the tribals of the area along with his skulls, and he became a revered figure within the tribal pantheon. A god of war, Skull-Taker was reputed to have defeated last of "the Thunder People", survived the silent killer of the wastes (radiation), and even defeated the Sun to bring about nighttime. The Oregon tribals treasure these stories, and their influence of the tribals (avoidance of radiation, fear of guns) rivals Skull-Taker's actual influence on the tribals (the introduction of cannibalism). Skull-Taker's relics are housed in a tribal village east of Portland.

Appearance

In his early years as Connor, he was a lean bearded young man. He often had a kind of tick with his facial features, owing to his mental problems. When he wandered, Connor wore traveling leathers and various scavenged Vault-Tec paraphernalia.

Once Connor became Skull-Taker through and through, he became unrecognizable from his former self. Skull-Taker became a muscle-bound monster. His beard became more of a matted mane and covered much of his midriff.

Personality

Both Connor and Skull-Taker had misgivings about the voices but ultimately followed their directions. The voices defined his life and made him do various different things. It sometimes made him violent, sometimes charismatic, sometimes even timid. These unpredictable traits helped him enough to become the leader of a new tribe that would become the Oregon tribals.

After leaving Oregon State Hospital, Connor managed to unify his myriad voices into two and projected them onto two skulls. One, originally his therapist's skull, represented Connor's feeling of justice and order. The other, originally the skull of necrophiliac serial killer Spencer, represented Connor's passions and chaos. The actual skulls changed over the years, but their functions stayed the same.

Equipment

After leaving the Oregon State Hospital, Connor donned traveling leathers and scavenged a lot of Vault-Tec equipment, with some improvised armor as well. His weapons included a .44 magnum revolver and a makeshift machete. He also kept two skulls to talk to and serve as surrogates for the voices in his head. The most important part of Connor's equipment was his Pip-Boy, that he damaged and utilized a lot during his travels.

Once he became Skull-Taker, he donned little more than some tribal rags with bones as armor. Skull-Taker used a ballistic fist as his main weapon along with various machetes.

Quotes

About

"I'm not feeling well, please stop tormenting me!"
―Skull-Taker privately pleading with his skulls
"Skin and bone them, every one!"
―Skull-Taker's cry upon entering Seattle

By

"I'm sorry son."
―Mr. Prowse saying goodbye to Connor as he goes to Oregon State Hospital
"Skull-Taker, Skull-Taker!"
―Mob chanting on the way to Seattle
This has been written by MongoosePirate. Please contact this user before editing this article
Northwest Commonwealth