Autoduel QuarterlyVolume 5Issue 2

Excerpts from the NORTH AMERICAN ROAD ATLAS AND SURVIVAL GUIDE, 3rd Edition

By James Cambias

A land of swamps and bayous, long the industrial center of Louisiana and port for the entire central United States, Southeast Louisiana has survived troubles and retains prosperity. Still heavily dependant on foreign trade and offshore oil drilling, this region still looks to the river and the sea for travel and transport, so driving can be an adventure.

History

After Texas, Louisiana was the second of the Free Oil States, and much of the political force behind the secession came from the Southeastern part of the state. Disputes with the Federal Government over drilling rights, oil pricing, and strong resentment of the lack of Federal aid to combat rising ocean levels led to a powerful Secessionist movement.

Louisiana suffered greatly as erosion, subsidence, and rising sea levels from melting polar ice combined to work dramatic changes in the first decade of the 21st Century. Much of the coastal swamps disappeared, and thousands of displaced refugees fled to the cities along the river, which had their own problems. The loss of agricultural land was partly alleviated by the state's large fishing industry, reducing the severity of the Food Riots to come.

When the city of New Orleans was threatened by the rising waters, the state threw its entire resources into the effort to save the city, but with only partial success. Most of the city's inhabitants fled to upriver suburbs, and when Hurricane George demolished the floodwall protecting the city in 2009, the water rolled in. Baton Rouge, the state capitol, became the biggest city in Louisiana, and took over much of the port business. but a surprising number of people remained in the flooded region, creating an unusual amphibious lifestyle.

S.E. Louisiana Today

The economy of Southeast Louisiana is based on two things: oil and the Mississippi. Oil and gas from offshore rigs are piped to refineries along the river between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, processed, and then exported. Most goes upriver on barges, although a fair amount still goes overseas to the East Coast. A small amount of agricultural produce comes down the river from the few farming regions that remain in the Midwest, as do industrial products from the Ohio River Valley.

Most of the region today is water. Everything south of New Orleans was swallowed by the oceans, and much former dry land has reverted to swamp. Outlaws occasionally find refuge in the wetlands. Boats now outnumber cars in the area, with helicopters a strong third place, due to their use in servicing offshore oil platforms.

Highways

Because of the flooding, only the major elevated highways survive. They are maintained as well as can be, but nobody would call them good reads. Because they are so few and so important, they are heavily patrolled. State Police cars travel in pairs, often with a helicopter for support. Their primary concern is keeping the roads open. Duels are not interfered with as long as the victors are considerate enough to push any wrecks off the road, and to clean up any dropped weapons. Mines, however, are strictly prohibited as they tend to damage the road surface.

The roads are thus relatively safe, as cycle gangs or other organized raiders soon run into one of the patrols. But there is a kind or highway bandit the police are virtually helpless against: Boat gangs. using fast boats, armed and armored much like cars, these criminals can speed alongside the highway, firing at a lone car or even truck, until the victim can be forced to a stop. The bandits then loot the vehicle and speed off into the swamp, safe from any pursuit. Even helicopters are not much use as the thick tree cover in the swamp areas makes it impossible to follow a boat for very long. The state Coast Guard has a few small boats patrolling the swamp, but their main purpose is to protect oil pipelines from saboteurs and "juice thieves."

Facilities

Supplies for travellers are available in most larger towns and the cities. Auto parts may be expensive due to import duties on US goods, but oil and recharges are very cheap. Guns are readily available, as even the smallest towns have a hunting supply store - usually with a modest selection of duellist equipment.

Truck stops exist on the outskirts of Baton Rouge, Metairie, and Hammond, but the largest is in downtown Slidell on Interstate 12. All have major repair facilities and towing in the immediate vicinity, as well as food and recreation. In addition, the Welcome Center fortresses near the borders have food and power available - but only for Louisiana citizens.

Towing and rescue services are spotty in most areas, with the exception of Interstate 10 between Baton Rouge and Metairie, where service is more dependable. The major towns all have hospitals, and rescue helicopters are very common. There is one operator, Jim Scramuzza of Metairie, who offers towing and repair anywhere on the Interstate. He only has six trucks, though, so long delays are common.

Gold Cross has facilities in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, open to all card-holders. A local company, Lazarus Associates, also honors the Gold Cross card. The Lazarus rescue teams fly in two armed helicopters, and have been known to fire on Gold Cross crews in the hopes of stealing the patients.

Autoduelling

Local tradition holds that the sport was invented in Louisiana, not California, and certainly the driving habits of Louisiana natives gives credence to that claim. Organized arenas exist in every town, and Baton Rouge has four. Even in flooded New Orleans, duels are held in the Superdome, using cars floated in for the purpose. Impromptu road duels are common, since most drivers reach for the trigger as readily as the horn. Duelling is prohibited by law in all towns, but enforcement is lax, and usually a duellist will not be in trouble as long as no bystanders are hurt.

Off-road duelling, as it is known in the rest of the country, does not exist, since "off-road" is water over much of the area. But many boat owners have armed their boats, and boat duels are a frequent occurrence on Lake Ponchatrain. The Superdome in New Orleans is also the scene of occasional arena-style boat duels, with the stadium flooded for the event. Only in the Mississippi is boat duelling prohibited, due to the danger of commerce. The Coast Guard does not hesitate to sink first and ask questions later.

However lax they may be toward simple recreational duelling, both local and state police forces are very firm against crime. The restricted road network makes roadblocks singularly effective, so hit-and-run tactics often lead to stop-and-die conclusions. The high proportion of armed cars and experienced combat drivers also means that the police have a large cadre of willing, eager allies with respectable firepower.

Smuggling is difficult on the highways, and most South Louisiana operators prefer to leave that to boats, both from tradition and practicality.

Organizations

Besides the State Police and local police forces, Southeast Louisiana is also host to chapters of all major driving organisation, including the AADA, the Brotherhood, BLUD, and EDSEL. These tend to take a back seat to local organizations, though, particularly the Carnival Krewes. Originally, the sole purpose of these clubs was to put on the elaborate parades of the Mordi Gras season. But during the Carnival of 2025, the Krewe of Elks and the Krewe of Crescent City were assigned the same parade route at the same time. A spectacular battle resulted, and the following year both organizations began arming their floats. In subsequent years, battles between parades became common, until banned in 2031. Stymied by the ban, the Krewes turned to autoduelling. Today, several Krewes exist which no longer even hold a parade, being solely dedicated to autoduelling. The Krewes mostly consist of middle-aged, often wealthy people, and are in no way 'gangs.' Krewe members are always ready to lend assistance to people on the highway, usually helping the underdog in a battle. Their cars are heavily ornamented, often with flashing lights, animated figures, and elaborate paintings. Armament cam be quite expensive, as these people have the money to spend. The largest Krewes are Elks and Crescent City in Metairie, and St. Tammany in Slidell.


Issue 5/2 Index

Steve Jackson Games * Car Wars * ADQ Index


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