- "The mounds... They spread death. Something evil sleeps in that place."
- ―An Oregon tribal describes Umatilla Chemical Depot
|Umatilla Chemical Depot|
A pre-War chemical weapons storage site, Umatilla Chemical Depot, also known as the Mounds or the Umatilla Mounds, continues to occasionally ravage the world even after its "end", the site's various gaseous horrors rearing their heads when unleashed. Wastelanders, homesteaders, and tribals have all learned to avoid the place, though all for different reasons. The only people brave or foolish enough to enter the dread place are foolhardy adventurers, people who know the site's significance and want to utilize it for their own ends, and people who want to stop the aforementioned people.
The Umatilla Chemical Depot was opened in 1941 to prepare for World War II. The depot's original mission was to store and maintain a variety of military items, from blankets to ammunition. The depot took on its chemical weapons storage mission in 1962 and at that time stored 12% of the nation's stockpile. These chemical weapons included GB, HD, and VX. The percentage of chemical weapons had increased to 19% by 2000 to the alarm of local residents. Numerous local attempts were made to shut down the depot or to at least add a disposal facility, but all these attempts fell short. The federal government would not budge on the issue, feeling that the chemical weapons were better left in storage (for later) than outright destroyed.
An incident occurred near Umatilla Chemical Depot in 2003 when a military truck, transporting mustard gas from a facility in Utah, was caught in a pile-up near the site. Mustard gas, not properly stored, spilled out of the vehicle, and several motorists were hospitalized. Luckily, no one died and business continues much as it did before, though now with a new degree of cautiousness.
By 2067, Umatilla Chemical Depot held 16% of America's stockpile and was put on high alert as the Sino-American War began. None of the chemical weapons from the depot were used during the war, but new methods were carried out so that the chemical weapons there would last longer in storage.
When the bombs fell in 2077 and darkness fell over the land, Umatilla Chemical Depot was quickly forgotten, as its original residents either fled or died soon after the bombs dropped. The site soon became overgrown, with most of the above-ground facilities falling into ruin while the entrances to the chemical weapons storage were covered by even more earth, creating a large series of mounds.
Legends began popping up about the mounds among Oregon tribals as early as the mid-2100s, but they were not really regarded as a real threat until 2167. That year, an entire tribe who had been foolish enough to camp among the mounds of the site were all found dead, with lesions and burn marks found all over their bodies. The other Oregon tribals of the area decided that evil spirits lived in the mounds and warned all to avoid the site after that. They did not know that the tribe had stumbled upon the site at just the wrong time, when one of the storage rooms within the mounds had been breached and was leaking its contents into the environment. This would happen every couple of years as the storage for the chemical weapons became less stable.
Many wastelanders were skeptical to the tribals' claims but could not deny that a large number of people disappeared when men entered the mounds. Whole caravans and hunting parties were sometimes lost among the mounds. Rumors of the cause of the disappearances ranged from bad spirits to inbred raiders to a "Ghost Mutant". The Ghost Mutant legend was particularly popular in the 2100s and even has some supporters in current times.
In 2184, a band of super mutants, remnants of the Master's Army fleeing north, stumbled upon the Umatilla Chemical Depot, liked the look of the place, and decided to set up camp there. These super mutants terrorized the area for a decade before moving further north and were not harmed their entire stay. They intentionally played into the legend of the "Ghost Mutant" and even named themselves such. Only a couple of the smarter super mutants discovered the mounds' secrets but wisely decided against trying to weaponize the chemical weapons cache to try to restore the Unity or something like that.
There were an unusual number of disappearances near the depot in 2203, even more than usual. Three caravans, four raiding parties, a traveling circus, and an untold number of travelers were lost to the mounds that year. The reason for this uptick in disappearances is unknown to this day.
Umatilla Chemical Depot claimed another group of victims in 2205, a slave caravan from Vault 9 in Portland. This disappearance did not go unnoticed or investigated, and the Overseer, unaware of the depot's reputation, dispatched an expedition of vault dwellers to look for the missing caravan and discover why it had disappeared. A month later, the vault dwellers discovered the remains of their caravan among the mounds along with many others. This greatly upset the expedition, but they stayed their mission, carefully combing the area for answers. They found one when one their number stuck her head into the ground only to emerge disfigured and burned but still alive, just barely. Now thoroughly creeped out, the vault dweller expedition returned to Portland, attempting to nurse their injured member back to health. Upon the expedition's arrival back at Vault 9, the doctors and educated people of the vault examined the victim's corpse and heard the expedition's accounts. The conclusion they came to, after pouring over many pre-War books, was that the secret of the mounds was a cache of mustard gas.
The elite of Vault 9 pondered this knowledge and what they should do with it. Some wanted to weaponize the gas, though did not know how. Others wanted to leave it alone, seeing removing it as too dangerous to be beneficial and a policy of avoidance being the most prudent. A very few benevolent vault dwellers, two to be exact, wanted to remove the gas through remotely detonating the mounds and letting most of the gas at once. The faction advocating avoidance won out and the vault dwellers kept their knowledge to themselves, at least until their society collapsed at the hands of one man.
Umatilla Chemical Depot remained a desolate, cursed place, causing more caravans and travelers to avoid the mounds. More disappeared as the years went on. However, the mounds were soon becoming a curiosity. In the early 2200s, adventurers began to explore the site of the disappearances, curious about the causes of the deaths or perhaps hoping to see the infamous "Ghost Mutant" or even looking for some pre-War treasure. Adventurers from Seattle, NCR, and other parts of Oregon came and continue to explore to explore the mounds to discover its secrets. Few ever found any secrets and even fewer of those survived.
One of the prominent early explorers of the mounds was William J. Faust, already a famed wasteland explorer by that time. Hearing about the mounds when he passed through the area in 2208, Faust walked among the mounds and looked for the cause of the rumored disappearances. He found nothing that day besides corpses, skeletons, and destroyed caravans. Faust was lucky enough to have arrived on a day when no chemical weapons were leaking. So, he just wrote down his experiences among the mounds in his personal journal.
Another notable explorer arrived in 2215, a wealthy treasure hunter from NCR, the Hub to be exact. His name was Thomas Kohn, and he was determined to find anything valuable among the infamous mounds of Umatilla. Kohn came with a small, well-equipped expedition to explore the Umatilla Chemical Depot. He with his second-in-command Gretchen set up a kind of command post right outside the mounds. Tribals came trying to warn Kohn of the area's dangers, but he brushed their explanations as largely superstition. Kohn's personal theory was that the culprits were a vast vault of robots beneath the mounds, the robots being highly territorial and wiping out any who came near them. For this reason, Kohn brought along a large supply of pulse grenades and used a YK32 pulse pistol as his sidearm. It turned out that Kohn was sorely mistaken though, as he found out when he descended into a small hole his men had made in one of the mounds on his third day. What was left of the expedition after that fled after hearing the strangled screams of those that had descended into the hole, going back to the command post. The remainder of the expedition came back to the command post to find it ransacked by opportunistic tribals. Soon afterward as they went south towards California, the remainder of Kohn's expeditions died off one by one until none were left. They disappeared just as many before had. The relevant part was that some in the NCR remembered Kohn's expedition.
As before, the Umatilla Mounds continued to claim lives for years to come. No prominent explorers went to the mounds for decades, and those who did were not successful.
The next notable person to brave the mounds was a wasteland scientist from out East, Dr. Dalton Hardy, in 2238. A man of questionable sanity and doctorate status, Dr. Hardy had been roaming around the Pacific Northwest searching for new ways to remove radiation from the environment. This research was not related to the mounds, but the area simply piqued Dr. Hardy's interest. Dr. Hardy set up an outpost on the outskirts of the mounds and from there, he conducted various tests to investigate the cause of the many disappearances among the Umatilla mounds. The good doctor came up with nothing as he was not getting any results from his (admittedly primitive) aboveground readings and was unwilling to descend into any of the already open mounds himself to do more. So he soon moved on, lucky enough to have survived.
Around 2241, Umatilla Chemical Depot was visited by someone new, the Enclave. The Enclave knew of the Depot's prior status as a storage facility for chemical weapons and sent some soldiers to check up on it in case it might be useful. The Enclave soldiers set up a small outpost, recorded their findings, and then returned back to the Oil Rig. Some of their equipment that was left behind and provided valuable loot for later adventurers.
The Umatilla Mounds remained mostly undisturbed for the next twenty years, until the Oregon Brushfire Wars came around. That brought increased activity to to the Umatilla Chemical Depot as various armed groups began criss-crossing the area to fight one another. This included Oregon tribals, Badlander packs, NCR patrols, and even Stern's Raiders on one occasion. All of those groups, except for Stern's Raiders, had people disappear in the Umatilla Mounds, especially the NCR. For this reason, the Republic, with the cooperation of the Followers of the Apocalypse, decided in 2270 to make a dedicated effort to discover the secret behind the Umatilla Mounds. Through actual use of the scientific method, studying pre-War maps, and more than a couple of deaths, the NCR did figure out the secret of Umatilla Chemical Depot, just as the vault dwellers had done years before. The NCR did not really know what to do with the information, as some in Republic's government run felt like they might want to make use of the chemical weapons someday and did not want to alert others to their presence. That was until an intrepid Follower of the Apocalypse leaked information on the Umatilla Mounds to various small caravans in hope of saving lives in 2271. This information soon worked its way up to Crimson Caravan Company, and now many in the NCR and Cascadia knew about the secret of the Umatilla Mounds in a limited state. Many more remained in the dark about the mounds and still believe the old superstitions.
One of these people came to Umatilla Chemical Depot in 2275, a "paranormal investigator" from Idaho by the name Helen Bond. She was looking for the infamous "Ghost Mutant" who was said to roam the area. Bond recorded more than a hundred hours of footage looking for the monster before finally having the bad luck of falling victim to some he chemical weapons leaking out of the mounds. Her footage is still out there somewhere.
The next notable person to explore the mounds knew full well its dangers. He was Thornton, the only ghoul manager of any caravan house in Seattle, and he meant business. Thornton wanted the chemical weapons for his own purposes and wanted to find a way to extract them from the mounds somehow. So, he has sent numerous expeditions over the years to try to retrieve the mounds' bounty. This has caused a couple of deaths but they soon learned how to resist the gas and succeeded in retrieving several canisters of chemical weapons, now in storage at Seattle. Thornton's expeditions now go to the mounds year-round and sometimes even clash with other foolhardy explorers. The NCR has become aware of Thornton's activities and is considering sending a team to try to clear out the mounds soon if Thornton continues. The Oregon tribals near the Umatilla Mounds also want Thornton gone, as they believe his expeditions are riling up more bad spirits.
Currently, the mounds are a source of mystery and dread. Any man with value on his life avoids the place. Caravans only go there if they have no other choice. Thornton's men and adventurers still roam the place and occasionally clash with each other though. No one lives there permanently though. Some say the "Ghost Mutant" still walks among the mounds. Others say a new monster walks the area. Ruins of various destroyed caravans, expeditions, and groups lie among the mounds, mostly untouched by man.
|This has been written by MongoosePirate. Please contact this user before editing this article.|