| “Play your cards right on the Carretera and a man can make a fortune taking guns from the border down to the district, buying medical supplies there and bringing them back to the border to sell and buy more guns. Play your cards wrong and you'll be just another dead body thrown on the side of the road with a couple bullets in your back and not even a wood cross to be marked by.”|
— Harland Ross
Known as the highway of death before and certainly after the war, Carretera 101, officially in English the Mexican Federal Highway 101 is the long strip of road running from Tula in the Distrito Capital through Ciudad Victoria, The Papal States, San Fernando and Valle Hermoso of Cattle Country and all the way up to Matamoros in the Border Country of Tamaulipas. Among Tamaulipas' most traveled roads, it is a shot from the north to the south of the state and a road traveled by many an honest and dishonest man.
Carretera 101 was made before the War by the Mexican government as a means of providing transportation from south-central Tamaulipas to the American border at Matamoros. From early on, the highway was known as "La Carretera de la Muerte", the Highway of Death. Infamous for carjackings and armed robbery perpetrated by organized crime gangs and drug cartels, the highway was noted to be traveled mainly in the daytime out of fear.
When American soldiers moved into Mexico to occupy it for its resources, they provided patrols on the Carretera as it was instrumental in moving oil up to the Rio Grande and thus into the states. They cleaned it up of most crime, however, due to the legend and the reputation of American troopers to occasionally get violent with locals on the road, the nickname stuck. Several motor pools and depots were established on the Carretera by the U.S. Army, which was abandoned when the bombs fell.
When the atomic fire did engulf the earth, Carretera 101 remained. Having few bridges, it was over 90% intact after the bombings. Though packed with traffic trying to escape, the infrastructure remained solid for the next era of Mexican history to use. As soon as people began traveling in the post-apocalyptic Tamaulipas, the old federal highway saw use again. Travelers used it as a means to navigate the state, as did merchants, and those who would restore the old nickname, raiders.
Comancheros and other bad men quickly began setting up on the Carretera, preying on people by robbing, raping, and killing and even enslaving them. Carretera 101, while the quickest and easiest way to move throughout Tamaulipas, became one of the most dangerous and few men or women dared travel it without a gun be it their own or of the hired variety. As civilization arose in the Papal States and in Cattle Country, some areas of the Carretera were civilized by regulators who patrolled the road for banditos, but still to this day the road remains a long and winding, dangerous strip of cement cutting through the state. A dangerous necessity still worthy of being called 'The Highway of Death'.
Carretera 101 begins in Tula, just south of Ciudad Victoria, the capital of the eponymous Capital District in southern Tamaulipas, which is known as a militarized urban warzone. It then proceeds to make through the western strip of the Papal States before going through Cattle Country. This road interestingly enough connects the two largest agricultural communities in Tamaulipas, the towns of San Fernando and Valle Hermoso, which used the highway for driving cattle and for fighting with each other. North of Cattle Country it goes east through border country, passing The Citadel, Nuevo Progreso, the hometown of noted pistolero, "Two-Gun" Billy and then towards Matamoros, the hometown of acclaimed sheriff Harland Ross. As Matamoros is directly on the Texas border, the Carretera ends there.
There is no one set group that could possibly hope to regulate the entire Carretera, the task is simply too massive for any militarized group in Tamaulipas. Furthermore, since it cuts through so many swathes of territory, no group would benefit from regulating all of it. As a rule of thumb, there is very little regulation in the Distrito Capital and Border Country. Odd bands of mercenaries, thugs, soldados, or comancheros may own strips of it and collect tolls from travelers and traders at the muzzle of a shotgun, but there is no group of a notable size to speak of. In Cattle Country, the Carretera is regulated by either the Valle Hermoso Rangers or the San Fernando Anti Cattle-Rustling Committee, who keep an eye on any groups armed well enough to pose a risk to livestock. In the Papal States, the Carretera is well regulated by Papal soldiers, the right of regulation of inter-provincial roads and highways being reserved to the Pope by the Papal Charter of 2150. The Carretera is quite safe in the states, and well-armed Papal troops are a common sight. In the border country, the soldiers of La Ciudadela do some guarding on areas near the Citadel, but besides the odd band of Communist militiamen or comancheros there are no other groups seeking to keep the peace and collect tolls on this dangerous road.
Seeing as it runs throughout the most prosperous regions of Tamaulipas with the notable exception of The Protectorate, Carretera 101 is roughly a fifth of Tamaulipas' economy. That is to say that nearly one-fifth of all money and goods that change hands in Tamaulipas are bought, sold, or transported on the Carretera. While the regulated areas will have searches on merchants, everything from food, household goods, salvage, junk, weapons, medical supplies, books, slaves, drugs, and clothing is sold and transported on the Carretera, even livestock in some instances.