Take a small bowl of India ink. Dip your fingers in it, then flick them at a piece of white paper. What you’ll get is a random pattern of dots, some bigger, some smaller, some so fine they can hardly be seen.
Now take a pencil and draw a shape around some of the dots. Circle, square, irregular pentagon, the exact shape doesn’t matter.
What you end up with is a good approximation of a political unit in the Outlaw.
The ink dots are cities and settlements, some bigger, some smaller. People live and work there, and there are police or militia (of varying sizes and competency) to defend the town. (The tiniest dots have 100 people or less, and a single halfway-decent sheriff, if they’re lucky.)
The line is the border, of Dakota, Xiyatu, the Siberian Junta, any polity anywhere in the world in 2039. It marks all the territory that polity claims for its own.
And the white space outside and inside the line? Well, folks, that’s the Outlaw.
Borders, in 2039, are incredibly porous. There just aren’t enough people or technology to police them or enforce them. So even the most vigorous, prosperous, thriving polity only controls a fraction of its claimed territory. The rest is wide open.
Bezerkergangs can cross the border at will, avoiding outlying settlements, striking deep in the interior. Bloodgangs can strike at the smaller cities on the edges of the map, taking food (that is, people) and fading away into the wilderness. And vortexes can appear anywhere, apparently at random, usually in the white spaces, with no one the wiser.
This is why Guns are important. Why they are needed. They aren’t just nomadic mercenary killers. (Not just that.) And the cities that need them, that hire them, aren’t just tiny independent hamlets lost in the vast wilderness of what used to be South Carolina.
The Outlaw is everywhere. The hazards and terrors of the Outlaw are everywhere. And Guns are needed…