2020 - Generally-accepted end of the Dark Years. Plans are drawn for urban pacification and repopulation. Various social, political, religious and economic groups band together to stake out a claim and build a new future.
2021-2025 - Early recolonization attempts fail. Reasons include lack of organization, funds d firepower. In general, federal plans come to a standstill while state governments see some (minor) successes. The most notorious failure of these years is the Rhinefield Massacre of 2023. A sn ll clan of impoverished Amish refugees is forcibly relocated to Louisville, KY. Nearby refugee camps soon initiate violence against the pacifist Amish. With no outside help, little defensive capability and no offensive capabilities whatsoever, the Amish community is wiped out within days. Only a handful of Amish survive to make it to refuge.
2028 - Vehicular weaponry becomes widespread. Forced relocation is becoming more common, and is having some success. State governments now control more of the reconstruction process than the federal government. National Guard units and local militias make up the most numerous and effective defensive forces.
2032-2036 - The Federal government, after much rethinking, introduces a series of bills to encourage reconstruction of the cities. The Urban Renewal Act of 2036 promises free urban land to those who live, improve and produce off of it. "Bunker Villages" spring up overnight. Corporations send proxies to claim huge tracts of urban property.
2040 - Congress passes the Homestead Act of 2040. Free land is now available, both in and out of cities, to anyone who can settle on and improve the land they claim. Progress is slow due to the lack of basic necessities, the elements, gangs and feuding between the homesteaders. U.S. Army and National Guard units help organize the populated areas into defensible hamlets, modeled on the most successful "fortress towns" to survive the dark years. Conflict with the cycle gangs and less cooperatively-inclined homesteaders is common.
Corporations (many from the Japanese Protectorate) begin to actively buy or take over homestead land. Many honest land owners are forced out due to economic pressure or violence.
Today - Settlement expeditions set out frequently from population centers. Guerrilla wars between new homesteaders and old settlers intensify. Resistance groups such as the Big Sky Group in Montana and the People's Liberation Front are on the rise. The government admits that it is unable to handle all of the brushfire wars. Militias and ad-hoc peacekeeping forces are trying to rectify the problem.
Gas mileage can be increased by increasing tire pressure to reduce rolling resistance. But increased pressure means a rougher ride on uneven surfaces. Cornering ability also suffers.
Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. and England's Lotus Engineering (a unit of General Motors Corp.) are working on a "smart" tire that inflates and deflates in response to changing road conditions. The tire would run at 45 pounds per square inch on smooth highways, automatically deflate to 25 psi on a very rough road, and increase to 45 psi once the road smooths out again.
The system, named "active air," uses silicon sensors embedded in each tire which monitor pressure, temperature and motion, transmitting this data to a computer processor in the car, which in turn regulates pressure. The tire is reinflated with a small air compressor in the car. The system is primarily for use with an active suspension, a system also developed by Lotus using computer controlled, high-pressure hydraulic cylinders.
Goodyear and Lotus plan for their active suspension to reach the market in 1992, with smart tires following a year or two later. - New York Times Service
Smart tires increase MPG for gasoline engines or range for electric power plants by 10%, if used in conjunction with an active suspension. Solid, plasticore and off-road tires cannot be made smart. Smart modification doubles the base cost of the tire, and costs an additional $300 for the necessary electrical systems (no space or weight). All tires on the vehicle must be made smart. If a smart tire is destroyed both the mileage bonus and the normal HC bonus for the active suspension are lost until the new tire is "hooked up" electrically. This is an easy job for a mechanic. - Vince Laurent
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