the Scourge of the Wasteland
Jules "Grease Mouse" Pepper
Grease Mouse is about 4”3 and is extremely small and skinny. They look as if they could squeeze through anything, and they pretty much can. As for skin tone, they are black/mulatto, and they have a light caramel color to their skin. Their eyes are gold, and their hair is black and curly. They have a young face, with more round cheekbones and smiling eyes. In fact, they normally seem pretty happy, with their lips parting into a grin, dimples accenting, showing off their teeth as well as empty gaps. Their nose is fairly wide as well. They wear basic combat boots painted blue, the classic mechanic’s pants, which are baggy, almost wholly made of pockets, brownish tan, and rolled up to just below their knees. They also wear knee pads, which are basically dirt biker pads with a plate of metal over it. The left knee pad has 3 hubcap bolts (the really thick and long ones) screwed into it and sticking out, while the other pad is plain steel. Their shirt is a T-shirt with the sleeves ripped off and the armpits ripped out down the seam of the shirt. The shirt is a light grayish color, but with the wasteland and all, it has a dusty brownish coating to it. Painted on the chest of the shirt in orange is Grease Mouse’s symbol, a gear with a smiley face in it with three eyes. The shirt has several holes through it, and one can see through the shirt their sports bra as well as their several tattoos. Over the shirt is a blue yet also brownish dusty track jacket with the arms torn off. It has orange flowers painted on it, and on the right shoulder, an air filter is sewn on as a shoulder pad. The air filter also has their symbol painted on the top in orange. All of their clothes together, for the most part, effectively hide any indication of gender. Also, strapped on their back horizontally, like where a samurai would sheath their tanto, they have the crankshaft club from the destroyed war rig. On Grease Mouse’s wrists, there is a piece of metal with bolts through it and paracord wrapped around it to make a bracelet. However, sliding these bracelets over their knuckles doubles their functionality as brass knuckles. All over their arms are tattoos of a basic engine’s parts, basically being a diagramed guide to engine construction. They have a scar on their left side of their face, going from the hairline to the lower cheek just on the outside of their left eye. They have black war paint that follows the scar’s path. They wear 3 goggles constantly, one being around their neck, one being over their eyes, and one keeping their crazy, teeming and curly afro out of their eyes and off their forehead. The goggles over their eyes are basic riding goggles to protect against sand and dust. The glass, however, is tinted orange. The goggles around their neck are combat goggles, made to slide right over the riding ones. They are a muffler cut in half with eye slits cut through its side, to replicate some ancient medieval sallets. The goggles keeping their hair at bay are their welding goggles, a rectangular block with a single lens tinted so dark that the scorching sun’s rays don’t make it past. Their hair, like a halo around their head, frizzes out in all directions, merely kept at bay by the aforementioned goggles. The ends of their hair are seemingly dyed all manner of colors, mostly consisting of greens, reds, and an even darker black color. What this is, in reality, are car fluids in their hair, green being coolant, red being transmission fluid, and the black being oil. When they work, they pull their hair back into a bun with some paracord, and then use their own hair like one would use a blue shop towel, thoughtlessly running fingers through strands of hair to dry their hands.
Grease Mouse has a very bubbly and friendly demeanor, but they are very slow to trust people despite how kind they are. When in town, this mistrust will simply bring forth bartering that goes on for a while since they don’t trust the price and a pleasant but standoffish and mildly sassy attitude toward strangers. Grease Mouse will mostly ignore people or let Dreg do the talking, almost like a child hiding behind their parent. They may still interact with certain people, such as bar keepers or curious strangers in a restaurant (i.e. Taz), but that is because Grease Mouse is still very childish and curious. People who seem to have a story draw them, although those people will still have to work for their trust. Outside of city limits, though, Grease Mouse’s mistrust becomes much greater. Hitchhikers and strangers scare them immensely, and they would almost always, if up to them, either kill and loot or just ignore any interaction. Some strangers may even bring them to tears, basically because of the death of their adoptive family, the rig crew. Basically, Grease Mouse is terrified of people on the open road, and it’s understandable why. Despite this fear and mistrust though, they don’t make it noticeable, since they have such a light and happy attitude. Basically, the only living person Grease Mouse trusts at this point is Dreg, but Taz is earning more and more trust by the moment. Grease Mouse is also relatively greedy, but that greed really only pertains to scrap, which they want to get as much as possible so they can fulfill their dream of eventually owning and building their own car.
Jules Pepper grew up in an insignificant city-state on the fringes of society, in an unmarked and untravelled part of Irradia. This society, despite its irrelevance, functioned with an incredible amount of cruelty. As mentioned before, this was a fringe civilization, and cruel men too often seized power and then lorded that strength over the weak, keeping anyone else down permanently under their tyranny. In this society, there was a ruling oligarchy, made up of very fiendish and very rich men. This ruling class enjoyed amenities that should have been shared or preserved, like having lavish meals and spending caps to create useless decor for their greedy tastes. They forced their citizens into slavehood, and basic human rights were ignored, having the malnourished and weak people work for droplets of water and molding scraps. Out of these awful surrounds, Jules grew up, parentless and alone. They learned how to defend themselves, despite their small and weak size, and stole scrap when they could, becoming something of a tinkerer in the process.
Now this society would have several rigs sent out on monthly trips, where the rigs were meant to gather new citizens, precious resources and valuable trinkets for the ruling class, as well as maintain connections with other distant societies. The rig crew were given certain privileges for their work, such as more food and a reasonable amount of pay. Their jobs were the dreams of every poorer citizen, for one on the rig needn’t worry about the basic necessities for life anymore. When a rig was sent off for its long journey, the people crowded it, crying to be taken with, hoping for something better than the state they currently lived in. At one such occasion, Jules, a small eight year old, found themselves with an opportune moment. They crawled into the wheel well, and then up into the engine of the rig. They continued to hide on the rig, taking food here and there, but mostly just acting as a ghost to the crew. However, the rig got caught in a sandstorm, and couldn’t run. As the engine was searched by the mechanic, Jules was found, and thrown into a holding pen. But soon, with the recent sandstorm, scavengers came, looking for wrecked gems just like this rig. The rig crew fought off the scavs, but the engineer was lost in the process. The remaining scavs ran off to regroup and strengthen their forces. Another attack would surely mean death for everyone. Meanwhile, Jules snuck out of the cell, and seeing the desperate situation unfold, snuck toward the engine and repaired it, just as they were caught again. However, the crew, seeing their value, let Jules take over as mechanic, and they became part of this crew. Eventually, this scrawny little kid fit in with everyone else like perfectly aligned cam gears meeting with the engine block and fan belt to get the crank shaft pumping the pistons and the engine running. Jules had the family that they never could before, and they were taken care of by their own hard work and love from the crew.
Upon returning to the oligarchical society, one crew member mentioned that with Jules incredible knack for mechanics, they might consider joining the Order of the Engine, a fairly popular religion considering that most people abandoned any incarnation of god after fallout. Jules, finding symmetry in the Order’s beliefs and their own, joined the car worshipping cult, and received the ceremonial tattoos, with the Laws of the Machine scrawled on their back and the Guides of Motor printed all across their arms. After the ceremony, the rig left town again, with its now blessed kid mechanic excited to see even more beyond the walls of their shit town. In Jules heart though lay the desire to build their own car. That desire still pumps through their blood, their own personal mission from the Order.
Years passed without incident. Jules stayed with the rig constantly, a faithful mechanic through and through. No one outside the crew seemed to notice or care about the change; accidents happened, and a rig’s crew was given full discretion to replace members, so a child engineer was nothing of note. Fondly, the crew began calling Jules “Grease Mouse”, and the name stuck, finding its way into everyone’s memory more deeply than Jules ever was. However, as Grease Mouse became less of a feral child and more of an adult, the crew started to express fears. The ruling class, in all of its depravity, lusted after the beauty of young women, taking any meat they found attractive for their own private brothel, where poor girls were forced into horrible situations and used relentlessly. The crew, seeing this seemingly androgynous child grow into a very young woman scared them, for Jules was certainly attractive enough to be a target for the oligarchy. Their own fear and caution led Jules to become aware of the danger and also carry themselves with caution. Eventually though, as this fear grew, Jules came to a single conclusion; their own womanhood was dangerous, and they wanted to circumvent all and any danger. After a long talk with the rig’s organic mechanic, they decided that a risky surgery used in the ancient times for people’s pets would be better than risking a lifetime of sex slavery. With that, Jules underwent a spaying surgery. After that, just to remain inconspicuous, Jules would wear goggles, vests and war paint in public to hide any other female features that might give their sex away.
Despite everything, specifically the oligarchy that Jules directly worked for that was the biggest danger to their life, they were very happy. Their life on the rig with their adopted family was interesting, fun, and most importantly, uplifting. Seeing other societies and other ways of life brought hope into Jules’ heart. However, this happy life couldn’t remain, not in this wasteland. Something around 6 years after the rig’s newest mechanic joined them, this bond was broken. The rig was on a routine month long run, when they spotted a new civilization. Looking to make some new connections for their own town, the rig ventured forward, offering peace and trade. They were warmly greeted, and this civilization’s people seemed desperately relieved that someone wanted communication with them. Everything seemed perfect, right until the rig drove into this gated community. They were met with guns and cranes, and in the blink of an eye, the rig’s crew, Jules’ family, was gunned down. Jules crawled desperately away, right into their original hiding space, between the dashboard and engine. However, this spot wouldn’t last for long, because the rig was mercilessly being torn down to scrap by cranes, claws, magnets, and men. The frenzied and maddened destruction of Jules’ home quickly drew toward the engine, and a lunatic began to saw straight through the engine block, not noticing Jules. In a desperate attempt for freedom, Jules bolted, grabbing the crankshaft from the split engine as they did so. However, it was useless, and they were caught instantly and thrown down a mine, with several other captives clanking away at stone for an eternity. Luckily, Jules, now around 17, knows their way around a lock, and snuck out of the mine. They ran, tears in their eyes, into the desert, with everything they ever loved gone, save for a useless crankshaft that they wouldn’t let go of, and would never again let leave their sight. They flew, without water or food, into the empty vastness, destined to become a victim to the harsh elements, but by some luck or guiding hand, just as their consciousness faded from dehydration, a car rolled near, driven by Dreg, the tall, gas mask wearing car owner in need of a mechanic. The two have been together since.