|Date of birth:||2259|
|Date of death:||N/A|
|Status:||Traveling the Badlands Territory|
- "What the hell is that thing?"
- ―A wastelander upon seeing Evengelina
William Wilkinson was born in 2259 in Tulia, Texas, a sleepy village of farmers and ranchers. Tulia was located roughly 50 miles south of Amarillo, just down I-27. For years, the men and women of Tulia lived in fear of the religious zealots of Amarillo. By the middle of the century, slavers employed by the Followers of the Holy Way were regularly harassing the residents of Tulia, taking potshots at men and women just trying to go about their daily business and abducting those that strayed too far from the village. In 2264, the latter occurred to a young William Wilkinson and his brother, James. While picking honey mesquite pods, the two boys strayed too far from the last house on the outskirts of the town, and were abducted by slavers employed by the zealots from the north
When the boys arrived in Amarillo, the two brothers were split up. The older brother, James, was sold to the Followers of the Holy Way to be sacrificed. The younger brother, William, was sold to the No. 466 Railroad Nomad tribe, a group affiliated with the Satan Fe. Most slaves worked as gangers, pressed into bondage to lay track and engage in tough manual labor, but thanks to his age, William served the mechanics. His five-year-old body was just the right size to be able to wiggle into hard-to-reach parts of the locomotive the 466ers tribe maintained.
After six years of service to the tribe, Wilkinson was freed when the X4018 tribe attacked the 466ers. Though Satan Fe Railroad Nomads were known for their ferocity in battle, the X4018 were specifically equipped and trained to fight them. The slaves and rudimentary weapons the 466ers threw at the X0418 were ineffective, and the latter group quickly gained the upper hand when the two groups did battle. The X0418 struck the killing blow when they unveiled their trump card, an 8-inch M1888 railroad gun. The cannon was fired only once, crippling the 466ers’ engine. After the battle, the remaining 466ers were killed and their slaves given passage along the lines controlled by Wasteland Pacific, the mother company of the X4018.
The X4018 adopted William as one of their own, as the eleven-year-old boy had nowhere to go, and already possessed a great deal of mechanical knowledge due to his six years of slavery with the 466ers. For five years, until he turned 16, he worked with the X4018 crew. In 2275, he left the group to make it on his own. He disembarked for the final time on a branch line straddling the border of Wyoming and Nebraska. From there, he traveled north, to Deadwood, to start his new life.
A New Life In The Badlands
Shortly after arriving, Wilkinson got a job with the Gun Packers to support himself. He took the job not because he supported Custer’s American Army, but rather, because his knowledge of engineering made him a natural fit- though guns and other arms were not the same as the big diesel engine and railcars that he was used to working on. After only a few weeks in Deadwood, on the job, the young man became depressed. Having lived on the rails for virtually his entire life up until that point, he found himself out of his element, living the living the stationary life of “still-stockers”, as Railroad Nomads often called non-Railroad Nomads. The rails were in his bones, but the Badlands offered no such escapes. Suddenly motivated, Wilkinson realized that it would be up to him to be the change he wished to see.
The young man quickly realized that starting up his own rail company was not an option. Not only did the Badlands not have track laid down, but Wilkinson did not have an engine or a crew, or the resources to obtain either. Based on his experience with the M1888 railroad gun that the X4018 crew maintained and operated, Wilkinson began to envision something new and revolutionary. Instead of trains transporting people from place to place, cannons would. From time to time, he and the X4018 crew would theorize about the possibility of shooting people out of their rail gun, but never actually committed to attempting to do so. William Wilkinson would be the man to do so, the man to birth an entirely new mode of transportation.
Over the next few years, he dedicated all of his time and disposable income into the project. When he wasn’t working, he was making blueprints, doing math, buying scrap (or stealing it on the sly from his employers) and slowly building. In 2279, he completed Evangelina, the 20-foot, 20-ton cannon that would be the first in the “fleet” of ‘Cannon Travel’.
Cannon Travel and Related Hijinks
With the physical hardware in place, it now became time to run trials. He would now need to convince people to climb into the cannon, so that he could shoot them thousands of feet in the air. Having exaggerated how safe the cannon was, Wilkinson was able to convince a Gun Packers coworker to be his first test subject.
Early on a cool spring morning, he loaded Evangelina onto a specially constructed cart and hired pack Brahmin to tow it to the outskirts of Deadwood. He set up the cannon to fire his coworker at a landing site outside the city, specially constructed to protect him from the fall. When the moment of truth came, Wilkinson lit the fuse and successfully fired the man. That much was a success. Unfortunately, there was a miscalculation somewhere along the way and the man landed short of the landing zone, instantly killing him.
With its first test a partial success, Wilkinson knew that he needed to go back to the drawing board and work out the kinks. He would not be given much time, as the Gun Packers uncovered how he had been stealing from them as they did an investigation into the death of his coworker. The young man realized that he needed to leave Deadwood, and quickly, lest Custer’s American Army detain him, seize his cannon, and possibly end his life. Virtually overnight, he gathered as many of his belongings as he possibly could, purchased Brahmin to transport himself and his canon, and fled the city.
Since the unsuccessful test in 2279, he has wandered the Badlands. Invariably, he has worn out his welcome in every settlement that he has stopped in. In the ten years or so that he has been attempting to work out the kinks of ‘Cannon Travel’, there have been approximately 25 deaths attributed to William Wilkinson. In addition to the deaths, is believed to have conned tens of thousands of caps from investors, who have not seen returns or refunds on their investments. Many have lobbied for Wilkinson to be included in newer copies of Custer’s American Army Wanted Posters. Wilkinson, himself, fears this, as he believes that he is on the cusp of a breakthrough… as he has felt for virtually the past ten years.
Personality & Appearance
Wilkinson is generally encountered wearing what can be called a “surveyor outfit”, consisting of a pocketed leather coat, rough spun clothing, boots, and a satchel. When he is working, he sometimes wears a hard hat. He is known to own an operational pair of Better Society Spectacles, produced by Better Society, Inc. out east, and wears them when he is working as well.
Wilkinson has something of a superiority complex. He believes that he is a visionary, and that others are simply too reactionary to understand that. As a result of that, he has become numb, to some degree, to the concerns and emotions of others. Those that have died because of him are simply test subjects, whose lives will eventually pave the way for a successful Cannon Travel. Those that have lost hundreds or even thousands of caps because of him are simply investors that do not understand the power of their money, and deserve to be parted with it for the greater good.
Because of the many failures of his Cannon Travel idea, Wilkinson is slightly paranoid. Not only have many people died testing out the viability of the concept, but he has gypped numerous “investors” out of their caps numerous times, leading to a long line of individuals that might be interested in taking revenge against the young mechanic.
Despite all of this, Wilkinson is not a con man or charlatan. He does not cruelly send people to their deaths, or maliciously steal from investors for his own personal benefit. He truly believes that ‘Cannon Travel’ will someday be a viable enterprise. He simply believes that others are nearsighted, and that he is still doing the greater good by taking advantage of them.
Owing to his life on the rails, William Wilkinson is proficient with all kinds of mechanics. He is a skilled handyman and inventor and has been known to jury rig all kinds of machines. He is also a charming talker. Though not particularly charismatic, Wilkinson just has a way about him, which has allowed him to take advantage of so many people over the years.
Because he lives a life on the run, Wilkinson owns very few things larger than what he can carry on his person, or on Evangelina. His most sizable investment besides for the cannon are the six Brahmin, which he uses to pull it around the Badlands. Outside of the Brahmin, he owns all kinds of mechanical parts, tools, and scrap, all of which he uses to maintain, service and operate his cannon.
In the face of making numerous enemies across the Badlands, Wilkinson owns very little in terms of personal protection. Undoubtedly, this is because of his warped perception of reality, in which he perceives himself as an outcast visionary, rather than a mass murder. He only carries an M&A 9mm pistol and a combat knife for self-defense.