|Factions:||Tunnelers, The Zeroes|
|Notable events:||The War, First Attack|
A small town tucked in the hills of West Virginia, Wheeling has been getting by since before the War. Now relying on fish and game instead of Coal, Wheeler has managed to grow despite the odds.
Wheeling was a tiny, yet growing, little industrial town in West Virginia. In 2050, Interstate 70 was rerouted to the south, leaving the Wheeling Tunnel abandoned. By 2060, the remaining population was discontented with Project Safehouse, as there were to be no Vaults constructed in the area. Many options were examined, and it was determined that, with private funding, the derelict tunnel could be converted into a shelter. It would only be partially finished when the Great War happened. The town did not suffer any direct hits from the nuclear weapons, but a poorly aimed bomb intended for Pittsburgh damaged most of the buildings of the area with its shock wave.
Life inside the shelter was not easy. Insufficient lighting, boredom, and food scarcity afflicted the residents. The residents managed to survive, however. They harvested mushrooms and cave fish to supplement their food stocks. They learned to do many tasks by touch, or the meager light given from electronic devices. They sang, and told stories to pass the time.
The plan outlined a one hundred year stay inside. Barely thirty-three years had passed when the residents could no longer tolerate the cramped conditions in the shelter, and opened the sliding blast doors. They opened the doors at night to not be blinded, and at that time the devastation seemed only minor. The truth would reveal itself as the sun rose, however, and the wasteland was fully visible.
The older survivors wept as they looked over the ruins of their town, and the younger generation were disheartened at not seeing the world their parents constantly described. This situation lasted most of that first day, but by nightfall, a small band of Tunnelers were sorting through the debris for anything usable. This group was led by the former mayor of Wheeling, Conner Vensos, and they aimed to rebuild their community. Their example would inspire some, but others returned to the tunnel or simply wandered into the wastes. This latter group would be the first to encounter "The Zeroes" a group of survivors that lived in the ruins of the casino.
Having survived by scavenging and foraging, The Zeroes had begun to regress into tribalistic beliefs, and some of the youngsters believed in the 'Lucky Lady.' while this proto-religion and the perceived abandoning were issues at first, the two groups would soon begin trading. The Tunnelers would get their first taste of wasteland violence in 2111 when a group of raiders attacked their fledgling town. Having focused on trying to rebuild, the Tunnelers had only a few rusty hunting rifles to defend themselves with, and were quickly pushed back to their tunnel.
They might have been killed wholesale if not for The Zeroes, who had heard the commotion. After killing the raiders the two groups agreed to work together and to defend each other. This would initially take the form of the Zeroes watching the river and preventing raids from landing to begin with. The Tunnelers for there part would start to cultivate mushrooms and fish, giving the excess to their allies.
Things would hold this way for the next fourth years, until twin calamities struck the communities. Many of the Zeroes contracted Weeping Flu and would become bed-ridden, while the Tunnelers would find much of their outside crops struck with Crop Rot. These issues were compounded by increased raider attacks, seemingly aware of their weakness. There were some in both camps who advocating abandoning Wheeling, but they were overruled by the greater majority.
The communities might have been destroyed if not for the efforts of a young Zero, one of the few not sick at the time. While looking for food one morning, she discovered a raider camp with most of its occupants still asleep. She considered returning to her tribe, but would find a den of Hill Skunks on her return trip. The creatures began to chase the scout, attracted to the smell of some berries she had gathered. She was forced to run through the raid camp, managing to jump over a particularly large looking individual.
The pursuing Skunks would find the surprised raiders more appealing, and turned on the camp. When the scout returned to the casino and told what had happened, a war party was quickly mustered and sent out. They found the camp abandoned and three dead skunks, all of whom were butchered. The Zeroes would recover from their illnesses and aid the Tunnelers for the remainder of the year. Since then the town managed on without severe difficulty and is occasionally visited by Rafters and travelers on the river, along with raiders. As of 2287, it is humming along but still divided, the two camps interacting infrequently. It still remains a friendly respite in the wilderness.
The shelter itself consisted of the two great chambers, where automobiles had once passed, utility passages, workshops, and a portion of the abandoned coal mine. The great chambers, each 1,500 feet long, and 30 feet wide, housed almost 2,000 people. The utility passages were lined with shelves of supplies and tools. The workshops had been cleared of heavy machinery before the war, and functioned as kitchens, living rooms, classrooms, and theaters. The coal mine passages grew mushrooms and cave fish.
Today, the Eel Tunnel is still used to house a large portion of the population of the area, and the mines still provide mushrooms and fish. The lettering of the Wheeling Tunnel had broken and rusted over time, leaving "eel tunnel" as the shelter's only remaining label.
Ruins of Wheeling
The houses and buildings are mostly stripped and charred framework or rubble, but a few structures are still usable. Victory Theatre serves as the town hall. Across the street, a boarded up, relatively intact, storefront stands, bearing the name Wanda's. This is the only bar, restaurant, hotel, and whorehouse in town. There is a nearby pen for brahmin but that is the extent of the animal husbandry present.
The defense force here is woefully under-equipped, with most having to use homemade pipe rifles and makeshift armor. Only a handful of pre-war police pistols remain. Some of the guards have to use wooden crossbows and makeshift pikes to keep creatures away.
Just a few hundred feet to the west of Eel Tunnel is the river. Over a barely traversable bridge is a small island marked Exit 0. Before the war, this island held a casino and houses. Now, the casino stands ruined, and the houses are all rubble. The people here have survived, however, and live in the remains of the casino. They worship Lady Luck, who they believe is their ancestor. The Tunnelers call them Zeros.
They hunt Mudcats (identified as Whiskerclaws in local vernacular), Highway Squirrels, and Hill Skunks with crossbows, and grow mutfruit vines on the outside of the ruined casino. Part of the rite of adulthood is killing a raider trying to cross the river.
This is a holy site for the Zeros, where they bury their dead. The Zero Shaman lives here, along with a handful of ghouls who settled here shortly after the war. A few Zero warriors are always here, protecting the site and the advisors. The Shaman and the ghouls are important advisors for the Zeros, guiding many young tribespeoples. Most Zeros think the ghouls are the embodiment of their ancestors. The ghouls think most Zeros are harmless and misguided, but like feeling important and respected.
The Zeros and the Tunnelers work together to survive. Relations between them are cordial, but intermarriage is uncommon. Rafters are sometimes seen on the river, but trade is small-scale. The town still relies mostly on agriculture.
Wheeling is split between the Tunnelers and the Zeroes, both of whom have their own leadership. The Zeroes' chief is a hereditary position that is almost always the last chief's son. The Tunnelers vote on their leader every two years, though there is no term limit.
Wheeling operates primarily on barter, both amongst the citizens and with any passing traders. Many individuals possess caps as they are the wasteland's standard currency, but only trade them with outsiders due to residents not valuing them themselves. Pelts and mushrooms are some of the town's chief exports, but leather and dried foods are sometimes exchanged as well.
A few mutated oak trees grow near the river. Though they rarely live more than ten years, they manage to drop seeds a few times. Scrawny, fibrous weeds dot the hills. Spore plants are occasionally seen here as well. Mutfruit vines grow up some of the dead, pre-war trees. Wrinkled fungus grows where animal corpses have rotted. Acid Moss is a constant danger. Its brown coloring makes it quite hard to see against the dirt. Acid Moss releases an acid strong enough to damage footwear, or cause pain to bare skin.
- These rodents have not changed much since before the war. They are slightly larger, and their fur is patchy, and missing is places. They seem to be largely immune to the effects of radiation, and often glow. Lacking trees to nest in, they have adapted to the wastes by nesting in derelict automobiles. Their meat loses most of its radioactivity when dried, becoming no more radioactive than a can of pre-war food.
- These beasts are stupid and mean. Hill skunks have lost their ability to spray, but have grown many times in size. An average hill skunk is about four feet long, and hairless, except for a crest of coarse black and white fur on their head and neck. They seem to have no sense of danger, and will readily attack anything that moves. They chew apart everything they can, and seem to favor new construction over old. One group of hill skunks was even seen chewing through the concrete support pillar of an old highway overpass. After a few days, the pillar could no longer support the highway above, and the resulting collapse killed most of the skunks. When the dust cleared, the survivors started on the next pillar.
A semi-nomadic tribe, these vicious raiders come from the west, attempting to cross the river to raid the ruins of Wheeling. The Zeros usually repel most of them with crossbow sniping as they try to swim or boat across. They are known to take captives, and eat their fallen members. Lancers wear armor made from derelict automobiles, and wield mostly melee weapons.