By Juan Menendez
I stepped out of the armored Land Rover and into the unbearable heat, the smell of chemicals hung in the air in a sickening cloud around myself and my security detail. I was warned prior to our arrival that this smell would be present, but nothing could have possibly prepared me for it. It was a miasma of sour, acrid artificial odors, and it was positively overwhelming. This area, formerly the city of Boise Idaho, had seen continuous, brutal fighting since the first days of the war of division. In 2036, the city hovered at just around 800,000 in population but as of writing, it now is home to roughly a sixteenth of that. Most of the refugees that call the area home are natives to the area, but there is a sizable portion of them that occupy the city with the sole intent of scavenging anything that could fetch a hefty price on the black market. Medical equipment, abandoned US military ordnance and art from the city's museums have found their way out of the dust bowl and onto the global market throughout the years following the war. For instance, in 2039, a crate of American made M4 rifles was seized by Italian customs after they were discovered in a shipping container, inbound from Somalia. After extensive investigation and cooperation with the Cascadian Ministry of Internal Defense, the customs agency discovered that the weapons had been looted from a national guard armory on the outskirts of the city. Calls from the international community to police the zone and prevent the exportation of these materials have allegedly been heard by the Cascadian MoID but go widely ignored at the time of writing.
(Editor's Note: As of 2045, the exportation of contraband has yet to cease)
How does one of the fastest growing cities in the nation turn into a haven for criminals, terrorists and arms smugglers? A number of factors contributed, but the blame seems to fall squarely at the feet of the Cascadian government. President Victor Sarif of the New California Republic has condemned their perceived incompetence on numerous occasions, going so far as to say;
"In their haste to appease Russia, Cascadia has turned a blind eye to the rampant sale and distribution of weapons that occurs right under their noses (...) It would appear, to me and my cabinet at least, that they are absolutely liable for arming terrorist organizations the world over."
It's no secret that the NCR wants Cascadia punished for this. In 2042, the NCR demanded that Governor General Sunderland begin actively countering what they called "An epidemic of widespread terror". Offers for help in decommissioning the abandoned stocks of US weapons have been sent by both the NCR and the Chinese Communist Party, but have gone ignored. Talk of taking the matter to the UN has been common in the international community.
In my time in the city, I was escorted to the remains of Gowen Field, a former USAF installation on the south eastern edge of the city. The gates had been brought down long before my visit, many of the buildings had been looted clean -including the armory. Several armored vehicles including Bradley APCs and M1 tanks had been stolen from the motor pool. I cannot stress enough how uneasy it makes me to know that tanks can disappear like this. To imagine where it may have ended up, or who might be crewing it gives me a sense of physical dread that is indescribable. On the ground, you get a real sense of exactly how corrupt and ignorant the Cascadian government really is.
In the final days of the war of division a US army unit known as the 33rd Mobile Infantry, cornered by separatist forces, utilized white phosphorus against the attackers. From their post in camel's back park, they lobbed these warheads into the downtown area with abandon, killing hundreds. The separatists eventually overran the 33rd, taking the hill and seizing control of the FOB (Forward Operating Base), where they discovered the WP and took possession of it. To this day, it is unknown where these mortar shells are. Many believe that the True Freedom movement are actively hunting these shells for use against the Cascadian government.
Upon my return to the NCR, I attempted to contact the Cascadian MoID, but they have refused to comment on their plans for quelling the flourishing black market that they have spawned. Time will tell how this absolute ignorance will affect their nation and the world at large.