Dependent but divided. Rural communities are as entangled as they are contentious. You need each other as much as you resent each other for generations worth of conflicts and slights. Most days you have only each other: to hurt, or to help.
The acceleration in technological evolution defined each generation in distinct ways. Now, society is fragmented along generational lines. These fractures are thrown in sharp relief in smaller communities where no one can escape from each other.
Blame. A lot of the older generations are obsessed with it. Blame the trade wars that made it impossible to export products. Blame the corporations who swept into town, consumed the local businesses, then collapsed when they lost the urban market wars. Blame the obsession with efficiency over people, that ballooned production while cutting down on jobs. Blame the free education initiatives that lured their first born to metropolitan institutions and taught them only to value achievement and wealth.
Blame the children for never coming home.
Admit it. The younger folks want accountability from their parents and grandparents. Admit they leased land out to penal and military institutions rife with abuse. Admit they invited in the corporations’ R&D divisions whose risky experiments make their future more dangerous. Admit they turned a blind eye to the carelessness, the dumping, the spreading illness caused by those labs. Admit they are why the unpaved places are now the topic of horror stories. The reason no tourists leave the metropolis bubble anymore.
They are the ones who sold out the future for momentum now.
Blame. Admit. The shouting between sides froze conversation. Loyalty, to your generation or your town or your gang, became the only message that mattered. And in the noise of infinite information within the Feed, and endless threats from the Wild, volume became the great distinguisher.
Either you control the conversation, or you are irrelevant.
Rural towns remain desperate for any opportunity...and have little bargaining power. The corporations exploit their need to survive by leasing land for unsavory, escalating operations: warehouses for rogue AI; military test sites; mock-kingdoms for wealthy elite; hunting safaris of captured Chimera.
Criminal operations offer unmatched opportunity to the disaffected with one hand, and brutal violence to their opposition with the other.
Radical militias preach resistance but demand unquestioning, bloody loyalty.
You cannot leave. Maybe you are too poor to move. Maybe you are too bound to this place called home. Maybe you can’t leave behind family. Maybe you committed crimes that bar you from any opportunities where the law keeps a closer watch. Maybe you are stubborn. Or stuck. Or hopeful. Or love this place, despite all the pain.
But you are here now. This is your home.
And the question is: how do you save it?