I’ll get back to dragons and Xiyatu. Right now, let’s talk rare earths.
“Rare earths” are a specific group of elements, utterly necessary for a great many industrial components. The magnets that allow wind turbines to produce electricity? Require rare earths. Semi-conductors (i.e. computer chips)? Require rare earths. So do night-vision goggles, precision-guided munitions, modern batteries (as are used in electrical vehicles), and many, many other common tools. Rare earths are required for the modern world to exist.
95% of the world’s supply of rare earths comes from China. Less than 5% comes from a single mine in California. (Other mines exist in other countries, but they have been priced out of the market.)
So, 2039. Let’s start with California, currently the only source for rare earths in the continental US. That California mine? Is in southern California, pretty close to Las Vegas, smack dab in the middle of Narco-kingdom territory.
Not only can’t the Fed (or anyone else) manufacture computer chips, they can’t even acquire the raw materials to begin manufacturing computer chips. The only source for semi-conductors, in 2039, is China. And the only continental US port with regular trade with China is Xiyatu.
China (specifically one of the two countries calling themselves the Republic of China) is the only source for semiconductors in the world. Rare earths are mined in one China (there are six), shipped to another for fabrication into chips, then shipped to Taiwan for assembly into computer components.
Some of these components are then shipped to Xiyatu (via a circuitous route), where they hit the American markets. The Fed, Texas, and various Outlaw trading companies all buy components in Xiyatu, and ship them across the continent, where locals make cases for the components. (Hence the phenomenon of dingy little Outlaw towns on the bare edge of survival who have one or two personal computers, both with carved wooden cases.) Monitors, hard disks, printers, and on and on: all are made in Asia, and shipped to America, thence transported across the continent on convoys. (Which hire Guns for security.)
Xityatu is the computing capitol of North America. It is the only source for computing equipment, and the center of Western OS design. (Computers in 2039 run Android. Technically an adulterated version of Android with components scavenged from BSD Unix and its cousin, Darwin. But you don’t really care about that, right?) Commercial applications programming is centered in Xiyatu, video games (such as they are) are designed in Xiyatu, and the headquarters of mesh hardware companies are all in Xiyatu.
Hence the oddity: a city on the cutting edge of 2039 technology, the computing capitol of North America, is a city-state monarchy, run by a clutch of seven dragons, and is also the magical capitol of North America.
I hope to talk more about that tomorrow.