During World War II, the Boeing Company turned from a small boat company into one of the largest manufacturers of aircraft in the entire world thanks to the American government’s need for planes and plane parts for the war effort. The manufacturing boom caused tens of thousands to come to the city, with Seattle’s population rising 27%. Knowing that the pristine environment would be ruined if nothing was done, a pro-environmental movement began picking up momentum over the next few years.
As a result of the efforts of the people of Seattle and surrounding areas to protect the environment, the area became a destination for those who simply wanted to “get away from it all”. Those that wanted to get off the grid came for a variety of reasons. There were those who wanted to escape from the hustle-and-bustle of modern life, those that wanted to start their lives anew, doomsday preppers that were convinced the end was near, those that were looking to have the freedom to do what they wanted for ideological reasons, those that were on the run, and a multitude of others.
Post-WarThough Seattle was targeted by the Chinese and struck by nuclear weapons, much of the Pacific Northwest avoided destruction. Seattle was partially leveled, but the surrounding areas were more affected by the devastating looting and chaos than anything else. The doomsday preppers, off-the-grid crazies, and secretive white supremacists were generally much better prepared for the end of days than their city counterparts.
Already insular and self-sufficient, the Great War cut these people of the from the rest of society, such as it was in the lead-up and aftermath of the conflict. Though most were prepared for the short-term, few were actually prepared for a complete and utter breakdown of society. Isolated for generations and exposed to the ambient radiation and fallout of the Great War, the descendants of these people became known as grungelings, called such because of their grungy and unkempt appearances.
Enclave experiments conducted at Kirkman Artillery Base have revealed that grunglelings are still genetically human, and not apeshits that had evolved further. Indeed, there are many similarities between grungelings and apeshits, outside of the obvious size difference. Both live and travel in small family groups that are fiercely territorial and do not tolerate outsiders to intrude into what they consider their territory. Both are omnivorous scavengers, eating whatever they can get their hands on, vegetation or meat. Both have primitive intellects, far below the average human, and both make their homes in the forests around Cascadia. Indeed, the two creatures come into conflict with each other just as much as they do with wastelanders trying to eke out lives in Cascadia, competing for limited resources in roughly the same geographic area.
Grungelings have poor eyesight but have an excellent sense of hearing. As such, they are more auditory creatures than visual creatures, and are attracted to sound. Many wastelanders have escaped pursuit by a grungeling by hiding and keeping silent. Indeed, there is a maxim among Cascadian wastelanders: “You can hear the footsteps of freedom when silence is on the tongue.”