“Where Old Meets New”
Bacatta, a city in the lower peninsula of Michigan, sits less than a hundred miles Northeast of the Indiana-Illinois-Michigan border. Originally inhabited by the Pottawatomi Tribe until the Treaty of Chicago, the land was formally annexed with the rest of the Michigan Territory between August 1821 and March 1822. The still-juvenile US government negotiated with the Pottawatomi, Ojibwe, and Ottawa tribes to seize it and the rest of the groups’ land and force them South along the Trail of Death.
In 1830, nearby Detroit and Grand Rapids’ growing demand for both lumber and agriculture saw the initial formation of Bacatta County. What was little more than a few, massive plots of plains and even greater forests, were quickly cleared and felled to create usable farmland. While the lumber-industry eventually secured itself elsewhere, the empty land it had left behind made for wide, open fields through-out Bacatta County’s borders. By 1835, when Bacatta was officially designated a settlement, the few land-holders there had already sown fields for half a decade. The possibility of high-profits from major tracts of sow-able land incentivized others to the county. The first settlers’ numbers were soon doubled.
By the beginning of the 20th Century, Bacatta’s municipal government had been established in a small, central plot of land between the largest farms on little more than a dirt path. This trodden grassland later became the first, official seat of Bacatta’s government; little more than a few, rickety shacks of mud and fresh pinewood. However, after the downward spiral of the Great Depression, and the resultant, upward rise thereafter, a decades-long industrial-revolution took place. By the middle of the 40’s, industry had taken residence in Bacatta, helped the town expand to those few, unfortunate souls’ land the Depression had claimed.
Not long after, agricultural equipment manufacturing became the town’s mainstay. For the first decade, growth was unprecedented. To support the County and town, more and more land was bought, built on. The rickety shacks turned to brick and mortar buildings, dirt-roads to gravel and asphalt, and settlers to villagers and citizens. While World War II ground the growth to a halt as Bacatta’s multiple, machine-run factories were seized for the war-effort, employment rose sharply. However, the town’s return to normal operations after the war left many unemployed.
Despite this, Bacatta continued to grow. Still more land was purchased from its tillers. Towering pines were felled in swaths, used to build homes and businesses along the stretches of reaped plains that formed its center. Unfortunately, Bacatta’s dwindling farmland also shrank its available pool of farmers, wounding the industry that helped to build it. By the early 70’s, the town’s growth had plateaued and only a single, industrial company remained: Agri-Plus had survived the onslaught by exporting goods across the country, making deals with various, distant hardware and department stores, and offering discounts to local farmers to drive up its reputation.
Though Bacatta began to shift from an industrial economy to a more diverse, functional one, it remained incapable of long-term survival without drastic change. Unemployment crept ever-upward. Homelessness infected small areas of the town, built-up since the war. Civic leaders scurried for answers, solutions, and Bacatta Times’ headlines ranted about a nigh-end to the town.
From the mid-70’s to the mid-80’s the plateau trended downward. The trickle of new-arrivals to dried up, effectively bolstered rumors of the city’s inevitable demise. Bacatta’s already sparsely populated lands watched its inhabitants turn away one-by-one, seek work and new-lives elsewhere. Then, in 1986, Pharmaceutical Solutions arrived with a promise to help bolster the economy. Abbreviated Pharma-Sol, the company set up shop to manufacture and research medicinal drugs near the center of town. Its thousands of vacant positions offered refuge for those hurt by the economic downturn. Various incentives, tax-breaks, and closed-door deals, bribed Pharma-Sol to use its third-party realty and rental corporations to purchase and lord over the land as its benefactor.
Despite these often-seedy deals, Bacatta once more boomed. The sudden growth caused waves whose effects would be felt for decades, but not all of them were positive waves. The next decades left certain, characteristic scars on the land and people, both figurative and literal. The proverbial knife had come down during the ’90s and forever scored the beautiful face of the town.
The cut first pierced skin with an influenza epidemic that spread through the town and outlying areas, crippled Bacatta’s earning power. As per their supposed goodwill, Pharma-Sol responded with a variety of high-priced vaccines to safe-guard the still-healthy. It was hailed as the proverbial, armored-mask against the knife. In truth, Bacatta’s government and health-care providers were given no choice but to pour their last resources into Pharma-Sol’s vaccines. The subsequent, massive financial debts to State, Federal, and Private lenders only further worsened the town’s economy.
Mere months after the fiscal catastrophe, and spurned by an anonymous tip, the FBI began to comb through Pharma-Sol’s operations. The mask it seemed, had been little more than a poorly-applied placebo. Already concerned with the possibility of foul-play, the FBI used the death of one of Pharma-Sol’s head researchers as motive to sleuth through its records, employees, and dealings. The wound left behind was only fully revealed once court transcripts were publicized. Media-fueled lynch-mobs appeared in protest, outraged by the revelation of a conspiracy and scandal that spelled disaster for both Pharma-Sol and Bacatta.
As evidenced by both court testimonies, and recovered information, the aforementioned researcher had been ordered murdered by Pharma-Sol’s CEO, and Board of Directors. The killer was never caught. However, many parties testified openly, assured the court that the man’s death-warrant had been signed by his discovery of the influenza epidemic as a hoax– one engineered by Pharma-Sol’s executives to increase quarterly profits.
In less than a month the scandal shuttered the company. Its CEO and Board of Directors were either jailed, executed, or committed suicide in fear of the repercussions. Investor confidence dissolved overnight. The company’s veinous tendrils, that had snaked beneath all of Bacatta’s economy to nourish it with fluid, green life, withered and died. Bacatta declared bankruptcy months later, and Pharma-Sol’s assets were seized as evidence, and either dismantled or auctioned off for small, Federal gains.
Unemployment, debt, and homelessness quickly ran rampant. Until the early 2000s, large swaths of the town were abandoned, eventually splitting it into two parts; Old Bacatta, and New Bacatta. Though more recent restoration efforts helped to revitalize Old Bacatta, those years saw its red and white-brick buildings tarnished with the dust and grit of a seedy underbelly. The once-strong town remained largely abandoned until early 2004, when Biological-Conventions (aka Bio-Con) opened its doors.
Bio-Con’s CEO, Ronald Jorgeson, a former Navy SEAL turned businessman, unfurled his own tendrils through-out the town and surrounding County. Through Bio-Con’s third party subsidiaries, he purchased, renovated, and reconditioned the land, and continued urban development that had been stalled for more than twenty years. In short, he fought to breathe new life into the city. With Bio-Con’s reputation, soaring stock-prices, and Jorgeson’s own, personal promise to resurrect Bacatta, investor confidence leaned sharply in his favor. Like Pharma-Sol, the supposed pharmaceutical company had brought jobs, hope, and direly-needed money to the near-dead town. However, unlike Pharma-Sol, Jorgeson used effective, economic stimuli to help the town regain its footing and blossom into a full-fledged city.
With his land holdings and subsidiary contractors, Jorgeson built office-buildings, shops, and suburbs, then leased them out or sold them off for low-ball offers to encourage emigration. Through a series of donations and arranged task-forces, Bacatta’s Police Departments were bolstered, began to chase the less-desirable elements out. As Bio-Con grew, Bacatta outpaced it by a wide margin. A new population, attracted largely by the increase in employment security, education, and public safety, formed a cosmopolitan city whose sole industry was diversity itself. In less than a decade, the town that had gasped for air, breathed, once more invigorated.
With most of the gang activity and vagrancy driven from town, the landscape reformed. In only a few, short years after Bio-Con’s initial appearance, large tracts of abandoned buildings were bulldozed, demolished for new, tan-concrete boutiques, shops, and parlors that sprang up through the center of its uptown district. Downtown, municipal and private office-buildings rose behind the height of North Main Street, its rear-half long-since the sole home of the city’s government.
Though certain areas of farmland, and former-businesses, remain abandoned along its outskirts, Bacatta has once more risen from the ashes. With wise investment and cautious remembrance, Civic leaders continue to secure Bacatta’s future. Its people live mostly happy, healthy lives, completely oblivious to its largely sordid history and shadowy benefactors. And, as per its motto, “Where Old Meets New;” Bacatta is where an old world and an new one converge to ensure a long, healthy life for an assuredly interesting future.