The Wastes
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When the first vaults began to open up to let in the first rays of real sunlight that had been seen by human eyes for several decades, they saw a vast, choked desolation before them. Almost all plant and animal life had been killed by the nuclear fallout that swept across every continent on the planet, and those things that had survived were alien… and often hostile. Most human structures had been damaged beyond repair, and the largest cities were the targets of nuclear attack, rendering all of the materials within several miles of their centers useless.

It wasn't long before people began to call the huge tracts of empty, barren land 'the Wastes'. The term sprung up in multiple places and lodged itself firmly in the human psyche simply because it fit. In the world of Fallout, people refer to the Wastes or the Wasteland in the same way that we might refer to the country or the countryside, except that the Wastes are even more all-pervading. The Wastes don't respect urban centers or terrain types - they are everywhere.

Everywhere, that is, except for a few small, incredibly rare spots that have somehow managed to retain just enough of their ecological or structural integrity to support human life. Some of these places are artificially created with devices like the GECKs; others have been created through sheer sweat and stubbornness.

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But the simple fact of the matter is, you can't go far without ending up exactly where you started out: in the Wastes.

Luckily, humans are a relatively adaptable species, and they have learned quite a few ways to deal with these seemingly unconquerable circumstances. Technology - such as water purification chips, large scale agricultural bio-engineering, and preservatives - have played a large role in helping mankind to deal with the harsh reality of post-apocalyptic life. Of course, these are only available to relatively advanced settlements, most of which were founded by those who came from the vaults. Smaller villages and tribal communities must rely on whatever meager scraps they can get. Some have managed to find plots of land that are just usable enough to support plant life. Others raise cattle in the form of the popular two-headed 'Brahmin', the mutated descendant of the bovine.

At any rate, survival in the Wastes is always difficult. Even the more 'cushy' settlements are under constant threat from mutated creatures, raiders, and other, more sinister forces.

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