“I don’t know how a whole group of people could live underground for decades and come out normal. Turns out they can’t.”
The Fall didn’t catch everyone by surprise; some people had taken to living in fortified bunkers and underground facilities long ago. When these survivors emerged from their underground safe havens and found the world they had heard about long gone, some rejoiced that they had survived, while others wept that they had been correct in the first place.
C.U.C.K. The Collective United Comrades Kinship
“Freedom ain’t optional! If you don’t agree, you’re a commie or a terrorist. I’m sure you’ve heard what we do to commies and terrorists, right?”
Proud defenders of an America that never was, C.U.C.K. likes to view themselves as the foremost historians on the great nation of America. Sadly, they are incredibly, ridiculously mistaken about the time before, what America was like, and even what it was called. Anyone who disagrees with C.U.C.K. openly is said to be spreading propaganda and labelled a terrorist, which usually results in a summary execution. Of course, most current survivors have no reason or knowledge to disbelieve what C.U.C.K. says about the America from before. Other than maybe the sheer ridiculousness of their claims, which range from everyone having been fed regularly to the point where nationwide obesity was a problem, to everyone owning a functional car, to the existence of free and competent medical care provided to everyone. C.U.C.K. espouses that freedom was the single most important thing to America, and the group will do anything to keep that dream alive, especially if that means blowing away a lot of people. Unfortunately for anyone who stands in the way of C.U.C.K., the confederacy has huge amounts of firepower and the will to use it.
Based out of a huge bunker complex called Whiskey Hotel, C.U.C.K. patrols all over Sokal looking for “Commies” and “Terrorists” to pump full of hot lead. Easy to spot, they usually wrap themselves head to toe in red, white, and blue and wield huge banners bearing their flag. They harbor an undying hatred for Bandits and Raiders, a trait that earns them a little goodwill in the Wastes. For every group of Bandits they wipe out, though, they’re equally likely to burn down a settlement for “communism” or shoot up a merchant caravan for “not loving freedom.” Getting along with C.U.C.K. can be very difficult because of this unpredictability, but a few people have figured out that they like big guns, bigger explosions, and generally being loud and boastful about personal achievements and America.
The current leader of C.U.C.K. is known to be a huge guy who calls himself Colonel Carnage. While having a leader would seem to violate C.U.C.K.’s strict “freedom isn’t optional” policy, C.U.C.K.’s fighting force — consisting of soldiers known as GIs — is purely voluntary, rather than conscripted, although it is strictly regimented. All the GIs are elite soldiers and are known to be crack shots with the various guns that C.U.C.K. never seems to be short of.
The Havassian Protectorate
“Who wants to deal with those assholes…. Well, okay everyone does deal with them if they want water or tech, but no one wants to deal with them. They’re a bunch of jerks. Just please don’t tell them I said that; they’d explode my head or something.”
Under Lake Havasu, in eastern Sokal, there is a bunker city known as Posterity. This remnant of a multi-century experiment combining genetic manipulation, social engineering, and selective breeding is a complex underground dwelling system that was supposedly completely self-sufficient for a span of three centuries; that’s half-again the time that the Posterity Project took to run its course.
The results of the Posterity Project are the Havassians. An insular people at best, the Havassians have erected social barriers that most outsiders can’t handle. The Havassians view the Posterity Project as an overwhelming success and believe that they could have led the world into a new golden age had the Fall not occurred. Instead, they emerged into a world devoid of cities to improve, a world that had no ability to make use of the Havassian’s advanced scientific achievements; the world’s problems were of a far more base nature that the Havassians were ill-prepared to solve. The Havassians therefore withdrew from the world, back into Posterity in a bid to simply outlast the last remains of humanity, waiting for everyone on the surface to murder each other and starve to death. The world above, however, kept finding them; they couldn’t remain completely separated from it.
Posterity, while a technological marvel centuries ahead of its time, was a machine like any other and subject to entropy. This forced the Havassians to deal with surface folk as key components failed, getting the resources and expertise required for repairs, so they created an elegant solution to this problem. Even a idyllic society like Posterity has its reprobates and criminals. The only punishment in Posterity is exile to the surface; there, one is forced to deal with the harsh, non-sterilized air and relentless sunlight. They serve their terms of punishment dealing with the surface dwellers and finding parts, developing their skills, and doing whatever else is deemed necessary before they can return. Through this process, Posterity is kept functional.
The Havassians, thanks to strange genetic anomalies purposefully bred into them over the years, are extremely sensitive to natural light; they will quickly become tired when exposed to it. Because they are not used to natural air, either, a Havassian’s skin will quickly turn into a network of exposed veins, sores, and bruises when exposed to surface air. While this may make them seem weak and vulnerable in the cruel world of the Post-Fall era, they are anything but. One of the strange genetic aberrations that occurred during the selective breeding program that was quickly isolated and chosen for propagation was enhanced mental activity. Over the years, this lead to the spontaneous development of psionic power within the Havassians. Given years of study and practice, some Havassians are capable of truly terrifying manifestations of mental power.
“They’re rude, tattooed all to hell, and insular but they’re the only game in Sokal if you want a battery charged.
Sometime before the Fall, California’s prison overcrowding had become such an issue that a massive government endowment was granted and Southern California Correctional Institute Chino was constructed over the remains of three defunct prisons. SCaCICh (pronounced Skay-Check) as it came to be know was a state of the art, fully self contained prison designed to house the numerous criminals held within the California Prison system.
When the Fall occurred, SCaCICh was unintentionally completely prepared for it: well stocked with food, recycling facilities, and machine shops, and possessing a fully functional nuclear power system. SCaCICh initially survived by locking its massive iron doors and not allowing anyone in for decades. Somehow in SCaCICh the division between the prisoners and guards in SCaCICh gave way to an uneasy peace and eventually disappeared altogether. Today the insularity and feeling of community with SCaCICh remain. Although they do send out occasional scavenging and trading parties to bring in needed materials.
The primary export of SCaCICh though, is power. While many settlements can boast access to solar panels and maybe even a methane generator or wind turbine, only SCaCICh is known to have a fully operational nuclear reactor with power to spare. While Posterity also boasted a nuclear power source, they can’t afford to upset the delicate balance of power levels in their complex thorium reactor array without risking permanent damage.
Life in SCaCICh isn’t ideal despite their many advantages though. Space is limited as are most resources so everyone has to pull their weight. Since their reactor is immensely important to their continued existence in the Wastes those with scientific and electronic skill sets are more valued leading to resentment amongst other professional castes. Given a lack of resources for weapons all conflicts within SCaCICh are handled with a ritualistic form of duel with small knives. A form of combat said to have been passed down from before the Fall. Most people don’t get to see the inside of SCaCICh unless they are a resident. The only exposure most people have to the place is through the orange clad scavenging teams and battery traders SCaCICh will occasionally send out.
Zales Free Enterprise Conglomerate
“You don’t deal with them so much as hope that they don’t screw you over too badly.”
Zales owes its success as one of the largest communities in Norkal to the Zales Free Enterprise Conglomerate, a fact of which the Mayor and Town Council remain painfully well aware. The Master Merchant Floyd Biggs, known throughout the Wastes as the Robber Baron, has used the threat of pulling out of Zales several times to keep them from creating trade tariffs or similar tax levies. Needless to say, there’s a bit of tension. However, with the constant threat of Bandits just waiting to descend on Zales and pick it clean like a week old corpse, they usually find a way to agree.
The Zales Free Enterprise Conglomerate, despite the rather grandiose name, is really just an organization of merchant caravans, traders, and scavengers. Working together under Floyd’s able leadership has enabled them to increase their profits and create the first semblance of a stable market economy in two centuries. Still, the Conglomerate hasn’t gotten as far as it has without an agenda all its own. The only law members recognize is that of supply and demand, and any town that tries to create trade laws, levy taxes, or prohibit the bartering of certain items will usually find its trade for necessities drying up as well. Rival trade groups are bought out almost immediately or simply “disappear” from the wastes if they refuse, most likely victims of the Robber Baron’s private army of caravan guards and mercs. Floyd wields the Conglomerate’s huge market share like a sledgehammer to smash any and all restrictions or competition.
Robber Baron enjoys a love/hate relationship with just about every community he’s become ensconced in. While they love the more or less steady influx of needed goods, they hate the fact that they have to trade tremendous amounts for the security that comes with it. Basically no one is allowed to regulate the goods the Conglomerate trades. Communities with access to the Conglomeration can quickly find themselves flooded in drugs, weapons, pornography, whatever, especially if these items are black market. Most communities just hunker down and deal with it; it’s the price they pay for reliable food and water.