The Upper Midwasteland
By 2270, the Great War was almost two hundred years old, and life on earth had been forever altered. Yet, the Wastes held hope for a new, brighter future. Several factions had been created, and they flourished or failed, all in their own dreams of remaking the wasteland into their vision of the future. While some were big efforts, others developed out of unlikely situations; all dreamed of a single, united Wasteland, rebuilt on the ruins of the former glory that has been the United States. One such nation was growing up in the ruins of the former upper Midwest, born out of an unlikely source.
In 2270, a teenage boy by the name of Henry Johnson was rummaging through some ruins and came across a slightly charred pre-war book. He flipped through the mostly intact pages, tucked it into his sack, and went about his business. This book would be the inspiration for a new nation built on old-world visions. Because, no matter how much the world changes, things always remain the same. The cover of the book was plain, with a simple title, "The Juche Ideology."
Returning to his shack, Henry sorted through his finds, including his new book. He knew how to read and write, something that wasn't as common as it once was before the war. Sitting down with his little scraps of food, Henry began to read. His newest find was an English translation of a political book. But it went beyond politics; it explained a whole way of life, a way to run an entire nation. Henry became enthralled by the book, reading it over and over again as the months went by. He became infatuated with its ideas of a perfect society and dreamed that maybe one day it could become real. It had once worked in the pre-war world, he thought, why couldn't it work now?
Over the next couple of years, Henry preached the lessons of the book to anyone willing to listen. With this, he seemed to garner a collection of die-hard followers, believers in his words, his vision. The quest for a new Wasteland rebuilt in this ideology came about when Henry was elected as the leader of a town named Rome. From his books, he knew that as Rome wasn't built in a day, neither would the teachings of Juche spread like a wildfire. It would spread control through an active population, growth, and a strong military force. Henry wasted no time setting the stage in which he would become the center of all. Time passed, and his influence grew over the former Upper Midwest. More areas, town, and villages fell to his control, and his dreams of a Wasteland nation rising from the ashes were finally looking realistic. He was able to stumble onto more books related to Juche, detailing the history of the nation it came from, and he found some holo-tape videos as well. All of this inspired him and his push to bring more control, and order, to the wastes around him. He dubbed his new nation the Peoples Republic of the North (PRN for short) and moved further South, his forces growing. Anyone who opposed him fell to their knees in defeat.
By the 2290s, the PRN had conquered most of former Wisconsin, a good portion of Illinois, and sections of other surrounding former states. The more they grew, the more emboldened that the PRN, and Henry, became. He was on a quest to restore the Wastes in his image and wanted to stand before it all under the PRN before he died. But he knew one constant in war and expansion, that an army marches on its stomach. If he wanted to expand his "military first" ideology, he would need to supply his military with the necessities of life. That would require expansion in fertile territories, clean water sources, or alliances with suppliers. Hunched over a map, he chose his destinations to direct his efforts. Time was limited; he wouldn't live forever, and not a second could be wasted in the dream of having a new nation rise up out of the Wasteland.
Story addition #1: The Waters of Life
Henry Johnson stood silently, staring out into his growing city; waiting. His mind drifted back to his childhood, with visions of his parents and sister passing through his thoughts. A knock at the door snapped him out of it. "Come in!" he said, turning to face the visitor. It was one of his advisers with news of the expedition sent to the town of Wellspring, and it wasn't good.
Wellspring was a small town in the middle of nowhere; overall not interesting or exciting, but it offered something that was to help with growth, downfall, and rebirth once more; it had water. Wellspring was settled by roaming MidWastelanders looking for a stable place to call home. There they found a series of prewar buildings for shelter, open fields that could be farmed, and a well where water flowed in abundance. They gave the place its name, Wellspring, because it seems like the miracle sprung out from the ground like magic. Yet the water which enticed their settlement also would lead to their doom. Unknown to the newly arrived settlers, they weren't the first people to attempt to make a go of it here, and there was a reason why it was empty. The life-saving water was contaminated with radiation. The town grew as word of water spread, yet as time passed people began to feel the effects of the dirty water. Sickness spread, crops barely grew, or when they did they were often mutated in some form, and people began to die. The source of their problems was found out to be what they thought was their savior: the water.
Once the water was found out to have been contaminated, the town became nearly empty. People fled for a better place and only a handful remained, figuring that they would find no better place to live. But even though holdouts were on the verge of leaving, until the day a group of vault dwellers wandered into town.
Vault 39 was one of the few good vaults set up before the war. The best and brightest scientists, doctors, and engineers were sent there with more than enough educational information to keep the knowledge going long after their deaths. Many years passed and the vault finally opened, as the descendants of those original Dwellers stepped out into the MidWastes. They found a world in ruins and thought that they could help create a better environment with their collective knowledge. They soon realized that their reach wasn't far, and after much discussion they decided to break up, sending teams into different directions in order to better help create a brighter future. One team, led by a Dr. Moreau, wondered towards the North West. They helped people along the way but none of it had far-reaching effects. Then, one day, they stumbled into the town of Wellspring and found a place where they could help a host of people.
Utilizing their collective knowledge, Dr. Moreau's team was able to create a filtration system for the well. Once the water started flowing out clean and pure, word spread across the MidWasteland. People from all over the MidWastelands were attracted to Wellspring, and the town's population grew in response. The townspeople were so elated that they even made the doctor town mayor for life. Travelers also began to show up to collect water and transport it back to their own towns. A local set up a casino near the water pump to help generate some extra money from all of the visitors. But for all of the growth, there was a downside to Wellspring. More people lead to an increase in crime, and the water pumps were becoming overtaxed with the amount of water being pulled for both the locals and the travelers. Something had to be done, and Dr. Moreau came up with a solution.
A new fee-per-gallon would be applied to water given to travelers, and a small tax applied to the population. This would help provide funds to make any repairs to the pump and pay for a private police force. Control of the water pumps would become a business, and the Vault Dwellers became The Water Merchants. Things seemed to stabilize in town, until "the incident." Dr. Moreau began to use radiation and an FEV virus on both locals and travels. People were getting sick, mutating, and dying. When it was discovered as to why, the townspeople attacked Moreau, who hid in his lab and fled into the MidWastes through a hidden passage, never to be seen again. His son, Dr. Moreau Jr., took over control of the pump and the town. A general unease set in, and people became less trusting of the Water Merchants and Dr. Moreau Jr.
Time passed and the town kept chugging on with its normal problems. Some criminal activity and raiders, who were trying to get a piece of the action on the outskirts, were being dealt with by the Water Merchants police force. Dr. Moreau Jr. sent for a hired a group of monster hunting MidWastelanders known as The Silverhand to clear the surrounding wastes of the creations of his father. A few officials from a group from the North East called the Peoples Republic of the North (PRN) had been visiting for water purchases. They spoke of their nation in a glowing light as the hope for the future, asking the locals a lot of questions about the town's past and current state of affairs. The tranquility would all begin to shatter with a missing caravan.
The water pumps in town were beginning to break down from heavy use. Dr. Moreau Jr. had ordered replacement parts from a distant trader but the caravan never showed up. It was discovered that those troublesome raiders had attacked the caravan close to town and were attempting to remove the goods from the ruins. The Water Merchants police were keeping them at bay until they could organize a team to collect the lost goods. During this, people in town were also falling sick, similar to "the incident" and people began to question is the doctor was continuing his father's twisted experiments. They elected a representative to speak to the doctor and act as the voice of the townspeople to air their grievances. Into this mix walked a large party of PRN soldiers. The PRN had been a questionable group before, but with this military presence, Dr. Moreau Jr. felt even more uneasy about their intent.
The PRN's actions proved that doctors suspicions of them to be true. The took a very hostile stance against the Water Merchants and even assisted the raiders in capturing the trade goods from the caravan. The raiders, in response, offered a short-lived truce with the PRN. The PRN was also able to obtain the much-needed replacement motor for the water pumps. Fights between the PRN and Water Merchants erupted around the pump house and headquarters of Dr. Moreau Jr. Yet there was conflict in the PRN leaderships. Supreme Chancellor Johnson had sent them two leaders, a combat commander, and a political leader, on this mission. The political leader attempted to work out a peaceful, political solution to their problems, as the combat leader used death and destruction. This conflicting approach hampered the PRN during their entire operation at Wellspring.
With the added supplies from the caravan and the fighting between the Water Merchants and the PRN distracting the police force, the raiders took the opportunity to spread havoc and destruction on the local populace on the fringes of town. This disruption also allowed for some illicit trading, as a group of three drug dealers used the situation to hock their wares before everything settled down, and they could be arrested, or worse.
The fighting between the PRN and the Water Merchants was inconclusive, neither side ever gaining the upper hand. The local townspeople, lead by their representative in this time, holed up in their makeshift town hall, collecting their food, water, and needed farming equipment into the central location for safekeeping. Yet they continued to get sick and no one knew why until they caught a Merc slipping poison into their food. In a rage, they dragged her out and shot her in the center of town as a warning to others. But the damage had been done and a good amount of food, unknown to them, had already been infected. The Merc, as they would discover, had been paid by the PRN to poison their food and water supplies. The reasons as to why they did not know.
On the other side of town, the fight between the PRN and Water Merchants continued to rage. The on-again, off-again truce between the PRN and raiders continued. They would kill each other, then come together again, in part due to conflicting ideologies of their leadership. When their political leader would make peace and promises, their warriors would bring death, breaking the truce, and causing more conflict. Once again, the PRN's inability to have a central vision was hurting their cause. A stalemate seemed to be the result of all of this until a lucky meeting and a deal, with a Child of Atom and a MidWastelander with an ax to grind against the Water Merchants, seemed to tip the balance towards the PRN.
The Child of Atom was holding the key to the former laboratory of Dr. Moreau Sr; the lab that he had locked himself into before escaping. The Lab that had not been accessed since he fled a couple of years prior. The Child of Atom had met the doctor in the MidWastes, and the doctor went over some of his experiments with radiation, which greatly interested the Child of Atom. They struck up a friendship in a few days' time and before parting, the doctor entrusted the Child of Atom with the key that would grant him access to his former laboratory with all of his radiation experiment notes. The Child of Atom wandered into Wellspring soon after the fighting began. He offered the PRN leadership a deal and in exchange, he would give them the key to the lab. The PRN wanted to get the information inside as much as the Water Merchants did, for different reasons of course. The PRN fulfilled their end of the bargain and the Child of Atom passed them the key. During one of the fights, the PRN political leader slipped into town with a few guards and got into the lab. The reason for the PRN wanting it was to get their hands on Dr. Moreau Sr.'s medical journal for their own knowledge and to replace it with a fake journal that would implicate Dr. Moreau Jr. as being just ad evil as his father was.
After collecting the items that they wanted from the lab, the PRN read the fake journal to the people in town willing to listen. Dr. Moreau Jr. denied the claims inside as the people, including The Silverhand members, began to turn against him. This was aided by a MidWastelander who, for unknown reasons, hated the doctor. Unconnected to the PRN,he also began to plant fake evidence of Dr. Moreau Jr.'s wrongdoing in town, and this only enraged those already discontented. Some of his own Water Merchant police and The Silverhand turned against the doctor, arresting him for these crimes, as he preached his innocence. Yet his fate was sealed as they dragged him out between the Water Merchants and PRN to put him to death for his crimes against humanity. Before they could, the same person who planted the fake evidence sniped the doctor with a shot in the head. After this incident, some of the Water Merchants defected, and it seemed like the PRN would walk into town and take over without any further resistance.
Some of the doctors' most loyal supporters dragged his lifeless body back into the Water Merchants headquarters and, in the night, preformed an unholy ritual.
The day before, a couple of farmers were up on a hill and in the brush found the remains of an alien. With the alien was a strange container filled with an odd goo and a few strange looking crystals. These crystals were more than just simple rocks; they held special abilities that the doctor himself had seen before being killed. On a hunch, his followers broke up one of the crystals and used it to bring Dr. Moreau Jr. back to life. He was at first against having been brought back to life in such a manner but ultimately accepted that he had no choice, outside of dying a second time. His assistant felt no such compulsion, rejecting him outright as a monster, an abomination of science, and she left him to his fate. With Dr. Moreau Jr. back alive he was able to attract his errant men back into the fold and renew his defense of the town against the PRN. The PRN became more weakened in response, as some of their men also deserted to live with the raiders, and relations between PRN men and the raiders were sourer than ever.
The PRN political leader saw the possible downturn of events and sent a some of his troops to carry his report of the events, and the original medical journal of Dr. Moreau Sr., for the PRN Supreme Chancellor to study. His fear was grounded in reality as the tide turned against the PRN. The Water Merchants had rallied, The Silverhand had found out they had been duped with the fake reports planted by the MidWastelander, who was subsequently killed by them. His reasons and motivations for framing Dr. Moreau Jr. were never discovered. The Silverhand rejoined the Water Merchants and helped turn the tide against the PRN. The political leader of the PRN was captured and after dragging him around town, stopping to question him multiple times, the head of the police tired of his antics and shot him in the head. What was left of the PRN was driven from town and then reassembled in the MidWastes, regrouping to send a final report of what transpired.
In the end, it appeared as if Wellspring and Dr. Moreau had come out ahead in this fight, but appearances can be deceiving.
The Water Merchants counted heads, buried the dead, tried to pick up the pieces, and celebrated a victory. Yet the celebration was short-lived. The replacement motor had been recovered from the PRN but the much-needed water pump was never found. It had been held by the raiders and vanished somewhere in the fighting. The water kept flowing without the replacement parts and it didn't take long for it to fully break down. Without clean water, people began to stop visiting town, which was their main source of income. To top that off the doctor, having been brought back to life using questionable alien technology, began to mutate. Slowly, his body changed, until he became so disfigured townspeople began to shun him, then they drove him from town. Without his leadership, the Water Merchants collapsed.
The local townspeople of Wellspring suffered greatly. They were able to capture all of their needed farming equipment for the fields and harvest. Yet half of their supplies had become contaminated and a good number of people fell ill and died from it. When the water stopped flowing and the economy crashed, the casino closed, and they lost their source of pure drinking water and water for their crops. The population began to dwindle as people left in hopes of finding a better existence somewhere else.
The raiders were still as active as ever. As the town began to fall apart, the Water Merchant police were disbanded, and the raiders went wild. With no one to properly resist them, they become bolder and even took over Wellspring for a period of time. They stole everything they could find of value, killing people at will, and destroyed much of what was left. Once they got what they could out of the shell of Wellspring they dispersed for better-preying grounds. This left the population even poorer, and few people remained in the aftermath.
The PRN retreated back to their homeland except for a small squad tasked with keeping an eye on the comings and goings of Wellspring. As the town began to fall apart they sent a message back to headquarters. "Wellspring is weak, there's little left standing, the people are fleeing, the pumps are broken. If possible send some of our engineers, maybe we can salvage this situation."
Supreme Chancellor Johnson listened to the reports of what unfolded at Wellspring as his advisers sat silently. Johnson showed no expression as the disaster was explained and once the reports were completed there was nothing but silence in the room. Finally, his Chief of State nervously spoke up,"Supreme Chancellor, why did we take this approach with Wellspring? It is not our usual manner of action to create false information, like the fake journal. We've always been straight forward peace or war."
Johnson stood up from the table and turned to face the outside once again. "We needed a new way to wage war. To turn the people against them. I wanted to see them tear the doctor and his merchants apart from the inside. To know that he suffered."
"Yes sir, I understand" the Chief of Staff replied, "but why now? Why here?"
"Vault 39 dwellers killed my people, they deserved no better" Johnson retorted. Turning back around to face his advisors who look bewildered. "When I was but a child" Johnson began to explain, "my town was visited by dwellers from Vault 39. They promised us a new way, a brighter future, to cure all of our illnesses. They broke into a prewar research laboratory nearby and assured us that they would use it as a hospital to cure us of our diseases. Instead, they were careless and reckless! They played for forces that they did not understand and because of them, a virus spread among my people. My friends, neighbors, my own parents, and my sister all suffered painful, slow deaths because of them. Our town was wiped out, except for a few of us lucky ones who were somehow immune. They destroyed everything that I loved and cared about, and left us there to die without hope after they unleashed this horror in order to save themselves. I was an orphan and was forced to make my own way in this harsh world. Years later I came across the writings and knowledge that would help me create this!" he said, gesturing around them. "When I found out that Wellspring was run by those same Vault 39 people it was my chance not only to provide us with good, clean water but for revenge a long time coming. To see them suffer as I did. Gentlemen, we will wait it out and stand back on the outskirts of Wellspring. When the day comes to strike again, or if they become weak enough thanks to our actions, then we will move in and take over the town for our nation. I hope that these reports are true of us hurting them as much as we did. If so, the town will fall, and it will become ours one day soon."