Alternative History
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Monterey County California adjacents

The Monterey Lawless Zone was a term used by the government of the Chumash Republic to designate what used to be the County of Monterey. Most activity in the area was primarily centered around the Salinas Valley, the only easily traversable route from the south to the Monterey Bay. Due to its close proximity to Santa Cruz, it remained without a strong centralized government for decades due to frequent, bloody conflicts. With the area remaining a significant security concern for both the Chumash and California Republic, it was finally pacified during the Coalition War with Santa Cruz. Today, it is the northernmost region of the Chumash Republic, officially known as the Monterey Territory, although many still call it “The Zone”.

Doomsday[]

Monterey County suffered greatly from Doomsday. At least four nuclear weapons were known to strike the area: in the north obliterating Salinas, the largest city in the county, as well as Fort Ord and the nearby town of Seaside; and in the south, destroying Fort Hunter Liggett and U.S. Army Camp Roberts. Like most regions of the world, the area fell into anarchy soon after Doomsday.

It is not known exactly when, but the first groups to rise after the Doomsday formed out of existing street gangs and community groups, banding together for collective security. In the small towns of the Salinas Valley, they fought for control over the area’s rich farmlands, which had been among the most productive in the nation before the Doomsday occurred. At this point, regionalism and infighting prevented any meaningful cooperation between townships, only fueled by the numerous refugees flooding in from the north.

However, the first major conflict occurred when the town of Soledad attempted to expand its control. The city had been taken over by hundreds of escaped inmates from nearby Soledad State Prison in the early days of the post-Doomsday world, and they were notorious for using brutal gang tactics and horrific violence to keep their subjects in check. Their attacks on nearby towns triggered a cascade of territory wars and uprisings that killed much of the original population. Thousands of civilians fled deep into the Santa Lucia Mountains during this time, where many are presumed to have died in the harsh, waterless conditions, and the valley was left deserted.

The "Wild West" Era[]

For many years after the initial gang wars, the area remained populated by many individual homesteads and small outposts farming the land around the Salinas River, mostly belonging to refugees who arrived much later. Due to their experiences, they were viciously hostile to outsiders and tried to prevent any travelers from moving through their territory. However, in the late 90s the region gained a southern neighbor in what would later become the Chumash Republic, and soon after it gained a more violent one to the north: Santa Cruz, who they became prime victims of due to their decentralized nature. Throughout the mid-2000s, slaver raids decimated the few who were left, and ensured that what little agricultural production they had was exported as tribute. This led to the decline of farming settlements in the valley, as many residents instead shifted to a nomadic lifestyle to avoid the attention of the slavers.

During this time, groups of vengeful, outlaw-esque horseback riders began to form. They frequently attacked Santa Cruz settlements whenever possible, slaughtering their inhabitants and escaping with their supplies into the foothills. They also attacked northernmost Chumash settlements, robbing, looting and otherwise doing whatever they wanted. However, their viciousness gave little for the Chumash to differentiate them from the slavers, and with Santa Cruz frequently passing through the area to conduct their own assaults, the area was considered to be de facto under their control despite them possessing no permanent settlements.

Annexation and Development[]

In 2010, Chumash enacted the Expansion of Land Act, officially extending its claim to territory into what had been San Luis Obispo County. While the Act was originally to include the abandoned County of Monterey, President Vincent Armenta struck the clause from the legislation, claiming it a wasteful endeavor to try and pacify the region—nor did he want his nation to appear as a ruthless expansionist. Despite remaining ripe for settlement, Santa Cruz also expressed little interest in expanding its territory, preferring to keep it as a buffer zone between them and the Chumash Republic. This status quo would come to an ultimate end following the Coalition War in 2016, where it would be occupied and annexed by Chumash in the coming years.

With the successful Californian invasion and annexation of Santa Cruz, the Republic executed plans to clean up Monterey County and incorporate it into their territory. Today, despite retaining some of its frontier characteristics, it is developing well due to heavy investment into the region and easily-accessible trade with the California Republic. However, some groups of outlaws still exist in the Diablo Mountains of former San Benito County, and will return to attack settlements in the valley from time to time.

Other Areas[]

Aside from the Salinas Valley and Monterey Bay areas, other settlements were said to exist in the far western parts of the former county, although little information is known about them. In the early days of the Doomsday, many residents of Monterey and Pacific Grove were believed to have fled deep into the Carmel Valley. Evidence of former settlements has been found southeast of Carmel-by-the-Sea, but expeditions further into the valley have yet to be conducted, as years of flooding and the overgrowth of chaparral have made the terrain impassable. Aerial reconnaissance, however, has spotted smoke rising from various points in the countryside, making it likely to be inhabited; but larger, permanent settlements have yet to be found. Likewise, with the deterioration of Highway 1 due to numerous landslides over the years, many coastal communities in the Big Sur region were left completely isolated for decades. Only recently did Chumash patrol vessels confirm the existence of small fishing villages in the region, although they remain hostile to any attempts to communicate.

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