Story line continued.....

With more supplies on hand, Valdez set his sites toward the West. He believed it was time to take the fight to his enemy. He knew he would have to bolster his numbers to succeed. Forcing civilians and slaves to fight outside the area had little appeal; they would run away or turn on the Paseos at their first chance. The new flow of supplies from Trader Junction had helped expand his influence over more local towns, but he needed more.

Within the ruin of the Inner Kansas City, lie two decrepit former sports stadiums. Valdez's own Paseos never strayed near them, with good reason; for inside these arenas lived a tribal band know as the Chiefs. The Chiefs were crazy, even by Paseos standards. Considered to be little more than a band of violent lunatics by many, few people dared to go near them.

After the war, the abandoned stadiums became home to a collection of wanderers, traders, and all sorts of questionable characters. One day, a man named Hendricks moved in. He was a known drug users, but he was very charismatic. Soon, he had most of the stadium dwellers following him as some form of wise man, and he began to call himself "The One."

His hold over the area grew as people gathered to listen to his drug-induced visions.

"The One" declared that God had spoken to him through the light of the old scoreboard on the football field. He stated that God was not pleased and demanded a sacrifice to appease him. "The One" pointed to a man who had been questioning the visions he has, and voices he hears. "God, the brings of light, demands that man's blood as a fitting gift to prove your loyalty." The man had no time to flee; "The One's" followers mobbed him. Dragging him to the scoreboard, they held the helpless man on a table. Letting out a shrill scream, "The One" plunged a knife into the man's chest. Pulling out his heart, "The One" ate it in front of his followers. "God demands we all share in this bounty," he announced. With that, the followers carved up the body and feasted before the scoreboard.

Forming themselves into a single group, the followers of "The One" began calling themselves the Chiefs, a name taken directly from the scoreboard and the memorabilia scattered about the stadium. From that day on, the Chiefs were recognized as cannibals. Praying to the "Bringer of Light," they would sacrifice the unworthy before devouring them.

They set up an entire ritual, allowing their victims to earn their lives and freedom, or earn their deaths. Two captives would battle each other, or one of the Chief's warriors, for their entertainment. The loser would be sacrificed and eaten. Midwastelanders rarely ventured into the Chiefs territory, even decades later.

With that in mind, Valdez knew the Chiefs would make perfect allies. Selecting one of his least favorite officers, Valdez sent him on a peace mission. If the man failed, it was of little consequence. Much to the surprise of everyone, the man returned, battered by his survival fight. His fighting had impressed the Chiefs enough they gave him an audience. After much deliberation and praying to the scoreboard, the Chiefs allied with the Paseos in exchange for a steady supply of sacrifices.

A small band of Chiefs, with a Super Mutant believer, joined the Paseos for their march to the Republic compound. Valdez hoped a direct attack on the Republics' border base would isolate the other bases, ensuring an easier takeover by the Paseos. If his men failed with anything less than a complete victory, Valdez warned them, the Chiefs sacrifices would be pulled from the surviving Paseos who returned.

The days pass, and as the Paseos neared the border base, the soldiers of the Republic were ready for them. Word had been received well in advance and they had worked hard to shore up their defenses. Their one problem: they were unable to radio for backup. Their radio battery was dead, and so they frantically searched for a replacement. A report came of a good battery nearby but before it could be retrieved, the Paseos were upon them. The local population fled in terror for the safety of the base. Some fled past the border wall, into the safety of the Republics territory. Others stayed behind to help defend their town.

The days pass, and as the Paseos neared the border base, the soldiers of the Republic were ready for them. Word had been received well in advance and they had worked hard to shore up their defenses. Their one problem: they were unable to radio for backup. Their radio battery was dead, and so they frantically searched for a replacement. A report came of a good battery nearby but before it could be retrieved, the Paseos were upon them. The local population fled in terror for the safety of the base. Some fled past the border wall, into the safety of the Republics territory. Others stayed behind to help defend their town.

Lead by their mayor, Sean, the townsfolk collected into a small force. Sadly, they were too late to protect their mayor's own home; they watched in dismay as it burned to the ground. However, they gathered a stiff resistance and were able to locate the much-needed radio battery for the Republic forces.

The Republic was kept busy keeping their base and border wall protected. The Paseos and the Chief allies, were relentless. The Chiefs decided on a different tactic to prevent the Republic from calling in backup. One of their religious leaders, a priestess, approached the base to speak. She preached about the "Scoreboard, the Bring of Light," as she walked into town. It was a ruse. As she came upon the radio tower, she threw an explosive device, setting the building on fire. The Republic were able to extinguish the flames, but the building was heavily damaged. Yet the radio equipment was not lost.

During this distraction, a missionary from the Arch Mother dashed off to protect his Holy Church at the far end of town. He was assisted by Bookworm, a newcomer to town. Bookworm had a questionable past, but he was trying to create a library for the locals. He said he was going to the church to collect books. In reality, he was fleeing town; he was a wanted man, a murderer, and a Merc had finally tracked him down.

When the Paseos realized the church was occupied, they attacked. A relief force of locals and Republic troops rushed to their aid but Bookworm was captured by the Paseos. The Chiefs were preparing to sacrifice him when the Merc walked into camp. Paying for Bookworms freedom, the Merc took custody of his fugitive and led him away to pay for his crimes.

But Bookworm was shiftier - he escaped the Merc and fled into the woods. He was now wanted by the Merc, the Republic (for betraying their plans to the Paseos), and by the Chiefs as a sacrifice. To the Mercs pleasure, he retrieved a marker from Bookworm before his escape; a marker which would allow him to claim the bounty. But Bookworm wasn't seen again, by any faction.

The Paseos were getting desperate to destroy the base. With the few supplies left, they made a final push. They captured what was left of the radio station and lower section of the town, inflicting heavy losses on both sides. It seemed as though the Republic and the locals would trap them in the town and wipe them out. But out of nowhere two unlikely saviors came to the aid of the Paseos. A pair of feral ghouls roamed into town, and luckily for the Paseos, set their sights on the Republic and its citizens. This allowed the Paseos a chance to strategically retreat.

What was left of the Paseos and Chiefs collected their loot and started their march home. They were out of time. Though they had dealt a blow to the Republic, they once again fell short of a complete victory. Valdez was livid. He knew the Republic's losses weren't a large enough wound to stem their advance for long. Valdez picked through the look, taking the best then dividing it between almost all of the survivors.

In a grand show, he placed five returning Paseos in chains and gave them to the Chiefs as punishment for their failure. His message was clear: failure was not an option.

The Republic was able to hold onto most of their base, but the radio tower was destroyed. It would take time to rebuild, but they had their intact radio. They were unable to call for reinforcements and as a result, the Paseos retreated without interference. Parts of the base and lower town were so damaged it would take a long while to rebuild. Yet the wall was not broken. They found solace in that fact. Republic outposts were informed that until the main base was secure once more, only partial support would be available. Unfortunately for Valdez, it wouldn't take the Republic long to heal.

The local population fared well, with only the mayor's house lost to the Paseos flames. They had also secured their recent harvest. Together they rebuilt the mayor's house and those whom had fled, returned. Life, for them, quickly returned to normal.

The next strike in the war wouldn't come from Valdez. General McHenry of the Republic was planning a new mission. He called it "Operation: Restoring Hope."

Game #5 addition: Restoring Hope


A messenger rushed into the Paseos headquarters, pushing past the guards, and ran straight towards their gruff-looking leader. Without uttering a word, Valdez took the paper from his hand and read it. From outside, a collection of Paseos and Chiefs could hear loud screaming, followed by a single gunshot. Moments later he appeared on a small balcony, dragging with him the dead body of the messenger. Tossing the corpse over the side and down onto the street, Valdez raged at his troops. "How could you fail me again?!" he screamed, gripping the message tightly in his hand as he spoke. After an anger filled rant he vowed "This will ... must never happen again!" before he walked back inside. Dropping the message on the floor as he walked away, it was picked up by one of his captains. Passing it to someone who could read, the Paseo explained the bad news. Forlorn Hope was lost.

The events of what had happened all unfolded a week before. Valdez, full of hope that he would finally capture the town for himself to reap its rewards, was now without anything to show for all of his efforts.

The Republic had decided it was finally time to strike back at Forlorn Hope. They struck not just at the Paseos but at their traitors who had deserted and even assisted the enemy in capturing the town for themselves. They gathered a recon strike force, to be lead by Lt. Lee. The force available to them was small but they hedged their bets on collecting former Forlorn Hope militia members who had fled after losing the town a year prior. As they approached the town, they were able to collect a sizable force of these civilian soldiers hiding out in small groups in the wastes, trying to scratch a living. In exchange, the ragtag militia swore allegiance to the NCR and its cause, promising to fight with the NCR. In exchange for the NCR promised help in recovering their town, they would become a satellite of the Republic. They also helped the NCR troops by divulging the routes taken by the Paseos caravans, which were bringing money and supplies collected from the town down into the city for Valdez's use. Over the next few days, the troops and militia allies ambushed every single one of them. They stole all of the supplies which had been bound for the Paseos home base. That was the first sign of trouble detected by Valdez. He sent two messengers, Yuri and Boris, with a note up to the Red Queen. She was to find out what had happened to these caravans and correct the issue, or else. He would never hear back from his most trusted underling.

The town of Forlorn Hope was in turmoil.

Many began calling it "No Hope" instead. The once prosperous town was now a shell of its former self. The rogue NCR troops were trying to make a go of it but were having issues dealing with the Paseos and their Chief allies. Valdez had thought that to help support the town and his eventual takeover, he would send a small group of Chiefs to join his raiders. Those allies ended up causing more trouble. First they killed and ate some of the slaves working the farm fields that supplied the food for the city. The Paseos had to send out parties to capture new slaves to fill the gap. The Chiefs also thought that it would be funny to capture random feral ghouls for their personal entertainment. The ghouls were placed directly in the courtyard of the main town center and were being held there with an old, and on the fritz, electric fence system. Sometimes, for entertainment, the Chiefs would tease the ghouls inside. Sometimes, they even tossed in a slave to watch the ghouls tear them apart. The Paseos weren't much better, spending most of their free time doing drugs, getting drunk, or gambling at the town's new casino.

The town had become so out of control that Brian's former NCR troopers spent most of their time working to keep the Paseos and their Chief allies in line. The stress got to some of them as they soon also resorted to drug and alcohol abuse. When they had captured Forlorn Hope a year prior, they had high hopes for its future. But the future was flushed away in a sea of booze, jet, and gambling. Brian still hoped to salvage something out of the place, but some of his own soldiers were doubtful of anything good to come.

Some recent visitors added to the tensions in town. First, a couple of soldiers from the Brotherhood came in. They were on the trail of a couple pre-war laser guns believed to have been in the area. They weren't the only ones interested in these items. Members of the Arch Church, out of St Louis, were also on the hunt for these weapons, along with people with whom to convert to their cause. The Church knights had taken camp under an old observation tower just outside of town. They found themselves regularly at odds with the Paseos leadership, who didn't want the Church converting their own. But everything would come to a head once word reached town of a sizable force of soldiers, reported to be NCR, moving towards the town. Brian, in a panic, grabbed all that he could and fled the town. This left his second in command, Brandon, in charge of the NCR deserters. That single act would help keep him, and the rest of his team, alive.

The Paseos gathered their forces and initially worked with the Rogue NCR element to hold onto the town from the invading NCR and their militia allies. It worked at first, keeping the NCR troops at bay and out of the main part of town. Lt. Lee was able to capture a few of the Rogue troops and interrogate them for information. Once he got out of them what he wanted, he killed them. It was brutal but he felt it necessary to restore order. As the Paseos fought it out they had little knowledge of dissension in their own ranks. Lead by one of their own, a few broke off to be independent raiders, no longer beholden to Valdez or his commands. But being free wasn't enough for them. In the ultimate betrayal,they captured their own Paseos leader, the Red Queen, and handed her over to the NCR. This act left the Paseos and Chief fractious and weak. But the Rogue NCR was still holding their own and seemingly still on the side of the Paseos.

In an last-ditch effort to save the day, a Paseo raider names AJ gathered what we left of them and the Chiefs. Going over the details of a rescue operation with the Chief Priestess, they were going to make an effort to save the Red Queen. But sadly it was all in vain. The Rogue NCR, up til now a stalwart ally, took this chance to turn on the Paseos. Striking a deal with the NCR's Lt. Lee, they attacked the Paseos' rear as the NCR attacked their front. Many of the raiders were killed and the rest scattered away to save themselves. In exchange Lt. Lee allowed a Rogue NCR trooper to kill the Red Queen. Unknownst to him, it was the leader of the deserters who did it. Lt. Lee had been ordered to capture or kill the Rogue leader but didn't realize that he was right there in his grasp. After killing the Red Queen, Brandon left the NCR camp, costing Lt. Lee his best chance at achieving that goal. It also allowed Brandon to return to town and lead his Rogue troops in a final defense. His betrayal of the Paseos was just part of his plan to take full control of the town for good. He had never had an interest in working with or rejoining the Republic.

There were still some of the Paseos and Chiefs in the area, fighting in the hope that maybe they could finally pull through. The two messengers sent by Valdez, Yuri and Boris, saw the writing on the wall. They quietly slipped away before it was too late and passed themselves off as innocent civilians and caravan guards. Entertaining the NCR troopers with the stories and dances allowed them to pass by unnoticed. The Chiefs broke the fence holding back their ghouls, in a mad hope that maybe the ghouls would run wild, killing the attackers. It was hopeless for them, as the main fight now moved to the Republic troops and their militia allies, against the group of deserters defending the town. As the NCR troops swarmed throughout the town and capturing several key buildings, the Rogue leadership made one last effort to save themselves. Obtaining a courier with a death wish, Brandon convinced him to carry an armed mini-nuke into one of the buildings held by the NCR, effectively killing all the troops and devastating the building. But that was still not enough to stop Lt. Lee's efforts to regain the town. Utilizing some sentient ghouls who could survive the radiation, he recaptured that flanking position. This forced the Rogue troops back into a final stand. In the end, the deserters struck a deal. Some willingly rejoined the Republic forces, having had enough of a near raider existence. Others were allowed to leave but all refused to turn in Brandon, their commander.

The town was in shambles, with destroyed buildings and bodies lying all about. But Forlorn Hope might have a bright, if somewhat unexpected future.

The former townspeople and militia raised the flag of the Republic, as agreed. Some still weren't happy about it but they had little choice in the matter. Lt. Lee helped round up and kill the remaining ghouls, and he drove away the rest of the stubborn raiders. He also freed all of the Paseos slaves, some of whom remained as free civilians of the town. It would take a lot of time and effort to rebuild the town and attract new settlers to replace the dead. He would, for the time being, become more of an administrator trying to repair all of the damage and create a new town out of the rubble.

The Red Queen was buried in a shallow grave outside of town while the few remaining Paseos and Chiefs limped back towards the city. Valdez was less than pleased to see them and a few ended up as road decorations on old electrical poles. That idea had been given to him by the former Legion members in his ranks. He swore that he needed to make them pay and he wouldn't just be attacking the Republics' soldiers. He said this time even their civilians and towns behind their own borders would become fair game. Collecting his officers, they began to hatch a plan to hurt the Republic where it counted most.

The Rogue NCR mostly melted away. Some back into the NCR ranks, others into civilian life. No one knew where Brian went. Some think that he was killed, some that he became a farmer, and a few people think that he went raider to survive. On the other hand Brandon, the second in command also melted away and escaped NCR justice. But his story wasn't over yet.

A Stab in the Back:

The sun rose on another morning in Topeka Falls, a small town located in the fringes of the Republic. It was part of the Expansion and Olive Branch initiatives, to bring peace and prosperity to the lands.

Topeka Falls was a mixed settlement, filled with people of varies backgrounds and desires. From the heartland of the Republic came citizens bent on making a new life for themselves, with promises of land and a new lease on life. Soldiers were sent to keep the peace in the new town and work on the construction of a small outpost. The occasional drifter or new settler roamed in and out; these included a man bent on reviving the former Enclave, and a follower of the Church of Atom, who preached his sermons looking for converts. In those respects, it was your normal wasteland town, nothing special. As it grew and settled, the Republic decided to use Topeka Falls as part of its Olive Branch efforts to gain peace with former enemies. Representatives were sent to the former Legion and Khan clans, who were still lurking on their fringes and causing issues with the Republic. The clans were promised land, supplies, and peace in Topeka Falls. In exchange, they were to become peaceful citizens of the Republic, shunning their former ways, and given full amnesty for past actions. Both groups agreed, seeing few other options for themselves.

Thrown into this mix was a man with a questionable history in the Republic. He was known to all as Bag-head, due to his propensity to wear an old sack over his head so no one could see his face. Speculation ran wild as to him being a ghoul or some kind of mutant, intent on hiding his disfigured face from the outside world. What wasn't in question was his shifty and easily corruptible nature. He rose to political power in the small towns located in the Republic, starting in the Hub; a man out of nowhere who took the reins of power during a time of strife, and seemingly brought stability. Since then, he had been moving from town to town, at times leaving with little notice and becoming reappointed in a leadership position elsewhere. It wasn't by chance, as people found out after he fled, that Bag-head was a man of extreme self-interest. He was often running illegal deals through his office for his own gain, at the expense of the people whom he was charged with leading. As Topeka Falls became settled, it was converted from military rule to civil rule, and Bag-head was placed in charge to steer the ship once more. That transition happened just in time for the Khans and Legion to also settle down on their plots of land that were to be incorporated into Topeka Falls.

The Khans attempted to be peaceful, feeling that they had had enough of running and scratching a meager existence in the wastes. The Legion was another matter altogether. Their interest in being peaceful citizens of the Republic ended before the ink of the peace treaty was dried. They had a deep-seated hatred of the Republic and everything it stood for, a hatred that had not waned a bit since losing the dam years prior. That loss had brought total ruin to them, their nation, and their people. The Legion members mostly resorted to petty crimes and town brawls to show their disgust, while they secretly stored guns, ammo, and supplies for a future breakaway. Their hatred and desire for revenge was the catalyst for what would come to pass in the town.

Bag-head settled into his new role and wasted little time on forming a scheme to make money out of the situation. His best chance at the time was to sell land, Legion and Khan land, to new settlers; land that he, of course, didn't own. But that never stopped him before. He quickly realized that crossing the Legion in any manner was a bad idea, but the Khans were more peaceful, and likely more easy to track without fear. Soon people began showing up on land given to the Khans, holding deeds to a property they claimed was sold to them by the Republic itself. The Khans loudly protested, suspecting the Mayor was behind it, but Bag-head was smarter than to put his name on such documents. The discontent from the Khans would only grow over the coming weeks, thanks to the Legion, the mayor, and the local Trader.

Not content earning the few caps that he got from the shady land deals, the mayor was approached with an offer he couldn't refuse. The town's trader knew the routes taken by the supply caravans that went to the Khans and Legion, as per their deal with the Republic. If some of those caravans went "missing," there was good money to be made reselling the goods from them. Bag-head was unsure, because though he might have been a crooked man, he wasn't a violent man. The trader said that they could enlist the help of the Legion; in exchange, they would get a portion of the goods. The trader would fence the rest and split the money with the mayor. It took no convincing to get the Legion on board with the idea since it allowed them to amass more supplies for their own personal revolt. With this act, more money began to flow into the mayor's pockets but the Legion at times got overzealous. They ramped up their attacks on the caravans to get more supplies, leaving no survivors to point them out, and the Khans were slowly being starved out.

Back in the ruins of Inner Kansas City, Valdez was planning his next move. The positioning of the former Legion and Khans together in one town was a chance that he couldn't pass up. Sending an envoy past the Republics' borders, he convinced the Legion to join the Paseos war against the Republic. They weren't able to get the Khans on board but held out hope for a future alliance. In exchange, Valdez was assembling a large raiding force of his warriors to cross into Republic lands, raise a rebellion in Topeka Falls, and push the Republic's borders back from his. To help in this quest, he had pre- war ordinance, found in the old army base South of the city, transported to his strike force. This ordinance consisted of two small missiles, a couple of makeshift explosives, and a partially working G.E.C.K. They were going to go in with a bang and leave Topeka Falls a smoldering hole when they were done. To lead this force, he appointed one of his officers, known simply as AJ, who was a veteran of several campaigns against the Republic. Valdez assembled a large and well-equipped force, and sent them out to bring ruin to their enemy.

Crossing the border, the Paseos worked their way toward Topeka Falls and were less than two days march when the Republic forces in town found out about their presence. The Republic forces were inadequate for the job at hand, and their fort was incomplete. The commander decided that his best hope was to call martial law in Topeka Falls, drafting all civilians to defend the town with whatever arms they had. The former Legion showed no interest at all in the order, while the Khans were half-hearted. It didn't look good for the future of Topeka Falls.

Once the Paseos reached the outskirts of town, they wasted no time in their assault. They took the town by surprise as it prepared for their attack, capturing almost the entire lower town. This included the mayor's office, with Bag-head inside. Throwing the Republic forces into disarray, AJ quickly acted by transporting one of the missiles and placing it inside of the radio base. Setting it off, he effectively cut all communications with the outside, leaving the Republic forces helpless to call for help. AJ forced the mayor, at gunpoint, to sign over control of the entire town to him. As the Legion cut through the Khans territory, they rallied with the Paseos, increasing their numbers. By all appearances, it looked as though it would be a complete, and easy, victory for the Paseos forces. But of course, looks can be deceiving.

The biggest issue that prevented an easy takeover were the Khans. They weren't too eager to join in the fight against the Republic. They'd settled down, made homes, and weren't ready to trash all that they had done. Instead, they opted to work with the few Republic forces left, and the town, to rid Topeka Falls of the Paseos menace. It seemed touch and go at first, but gradually, a little at a time, the joint force was able to push the Paseos out of town, and regain control. What looked like a total victory for AJ was now in jeopardy.

Driven back to their base, the Paseos, with their new Legion allies, made several more attempts at capturing the town. All the attempts failed as the Khans, civilians, and Republic alliance held them back. AJ decided that drastic measures were needed and brought out one of their other secret weapons. Setting up the semi-functional G.E.C.K.'s timer, AJ headed out for a meeting with his enemies. The G.E.C.K. was not be working properly but it still packed an explosive punch that could wipe out a large portion of the town and its defenders. AJ's Paseo war party followed close behind to exploit the chaos from the explosion, and the Legion stayed behind to guard the base camp. No sooner had the Paseos marched off to their fate than almost all of the Legion force abandoned them! The Legion jumped at the chance to gain their freedom once more, marching away into the wastes to a future unknown.

AJ approached the town with the case in hand, asking for peace, but fooling no one. They allowed him to enter the edge of the town before the Republic's commander killed him just out of sight of the Paseos, who were waiting for AJ's signal to attack. Seeing the device was on a timer, a local courier acted quickly, grabbing the explosive device and rushed it directly back to the Paseos. Informing them that AJ was dead, most of them retreated back to their base camp to plan their next move, with the ticking G.E.C.K. in hand. They almost made back to their base camp before it blew up, ending their presence in the territory. Their own device became their undoing in the end. The remaining Paseos force was disheartened to learn that their other big missile had been stolen by some Khans due to careless handling by one of their own. Their last major weapon was some improvised explosive devices. One went off too early, only killing its user. Another was killed before he could approach the enemy, the third went off to minimal effect. A few of the Paseos tried to keep up the fight but it was, for all intents and purposes, over for them.

Meanwhile, in town, the Khans were using their position to get their way. The Khans and the townspeople heavily outnumbered the weakened Republic forces and took this time to settle some of their grievances. Surprisingly, they did it without violence, having seen enough bloodshed as of late. Placed between a rock and a hard place, the Republic commander had few options but to comply with their demands. The Khans wanted freedom and autonomy from the Republic, and to declare Topeka Falls and it's lands free from the Republic's control. In exchange, the Republic forces would be able to travel through their lands freely and give protection to Topeka Falls, allowing the town to remain peaceful neighbors within the Republic itself. Topeka Falls became a Republic protectorate town, independent of Republic control. An accord was struck, a new treaty was signed, and surprisingly Bag-head was able to retain his position as mayor. Though, no one knew where he would go or what he would do from there. Maybe he might actually settle down and become an upright citizen and civil servant for a change.

The Republic itself wasn't too pleased with the agreement but understood that it was required in order to keep the peace. Valdez, on the other hand, could not contain his anger. How could his warriors fail him once again? He might have struck a minor blow to his enemy but one which they could shrug off. He knew that if the Paseos had any more such battles they wouldn't be able to muster a small raiding party, much less a force that could hurt their enemy. Feeling the pinch, Valdez looked for allies elsewhere to help bolster his numbers and maybe turn the tide of war in his favor.


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