That would be really serious. As it would effectivley cut-off a lot of Alaskan communities. Even somewhere relativley sizeable, like Nome, would be almost out of contact.

Unless, I guess, that Alaskan civil aviation is incorporated into the CRAF?

So this was part of my old story in P&S, "Shelter From the Storm." The reasoning behind this was that the Soviets began flying more long range scouting missions along the Alaska coast in the lead up to the war. Following the KAL and KLM shoot-downs, FAA and DOD leadership were concerned that Alaska's airliners would end up in the firing line between the US and the Soviet Union. Given the proximity to Siberia and Soviet military air assets, the reasoning makes sense at the time. However, major communities like Nome, Kotzebue, and Bethel would be effectively cut off from outside resupply for the duration of the war and after.
 
Chapter 67
Chapter 67
Fort Myers, Florida
April 6, 1984


If God wanted humans to be just like Him, he would’ve just cloned Himself.


There is a point where discipline reaches its limits, where the force of human emotion overcomes all of the training imposed upon it. Humans are not machines, as the old saying goes. They bleed, they feel, they live, they die. And, as Will Rogers would probably add, they pay taxes too. Well, they didn’t now, not in this fragile remnant of what was a coherent human society. That fragility was not just because of the material changes, but because of the psychological ones imposed forcibly on the populace, and even the disciplined will falter under such circumstances. Oftentimes, it is a minor incident that causes the rupture, and that is what happened to Jan Klima on a Friday afternoon, six weeks and three days after the Exchange. He was out patrolling with Gene Rodgers again, asking why someone had called the older detective Genie earlier. The name was used in jest by the lieutenant, and Klima only wanted to know what the joke was. Rodgers replied that Jan should forget he’d ever heard it, with a seriousness that jarred the younger man. It was only a joke, wasn’t it? Why’d he get so serious?

Rounding the corner onto Newport Ct in the Park Place neighborhood (not nearly as tony as the Monopoly version), they came across a teenage boy breaking into a home on the right, one of those old Florida homes with the slatted glass shutters in place of actual windows. Klima and Rodgers moved in on the youth, a clear devotee of the punk movement, who spotted them coming and ran. The rangy Omaha native still maintained a close approximation of his wideout speed from high school football, and took off, chasing the boy through yards and palm trees and finally catching him two blocks later. After Klima caught him with a tackle that Tom Osborne would’ve loved, the boy spit in his face and yelled, “Fuck you, pig!” That was that. Jan hauled the kid to his feet, pulled out a blackjack, and whacked him upside the head with it. The teenager crumpled to the ground, and Klima pulled him up again. “Call me a pig, will you? My best friend is dead because he was protecting evil shitheads like you!” Up came a knee right into the midsection, doubling over the would-be burglar. Klima grabbed his hair, straightening the punk up, and was ready to give him another shot with the blackjack when Rodgers caught up and wrapped his arms around the younger man.

“Hey, hey, calm down, you’ve got him. You’ve got him. He’s not going anywhere,” Rodgers said soothingly. He let Klima go and proceeded to handcuff the punk, radioing for a car to come pick him up. The patrols were done by foot, but any arrest meant a vehicle would be dispatched and they’d all get a ride back to the station. Rodgers determined he’d sit in back with the kid before Klima turned him into Hamburger Helper. The ride back to the station was quiet, Klima staring off in the distance, the punk licking his wounds, and the patrol officer driving knowing better than to say anything. It was clear some shit had gone down and it was best to keep your head low when that happened.

At the station, the punk was booked and put into a holding cell while a nurse tended to his wounds. There was a cut and a nasty looking bruise on the side of the head where Klima had caught him with the blackjack, but nothing overly serious. Rodgers went over to his desk, reached inside for a smallish leather case, and motioned for Klima to follow him. He went into an interrogation room, one without the two-sided mirror, shut the door and had Klima sit down. Rodgers opened the case to reveal a pint bottle of Wild Turkey and a couple of small tumblers. He poured one for each of them and leaned back, his eyes boring a hole into Jan’s soul (or so it felt to the junior detective). “Alright, Jan, what’s going on? Why are you out there kicking the shit out of some dumbass kid? I mean, we’ve only spent a coupla weeks together, but that ain’t like you. You haven’t been that way with anyone else we’ve come into contact with. I mean, what’d he do? Call you a name? Spit on you?” asked Rodgers. “Yeah, he did both of those things. Said ‘Fuck you, pig’ and spit in my face. Disrespectful asshole, like it’s my fault he was breaking into something,” Klima replied.

“So he’s a teenage shithead. Not the first one you or I have dealt with, right? I mean, from what I hear, you’ve been chasing goddamn narcos and even had a run-in with a Cuban special forces type. I mean, Christ’s sake, you really gonna let that kid ruin your fucking job? If you haven’t noticed, you and I have it pretty good here in the last city on Earth. I know you’re hurting over Luis, and I get it, he was your best friend. I don’t have many friends, but I know they’re important and you got to hold on to them, especially at times like this, so it’s gotta be killing you that he’s dead and you couldn’t do anything to stop it. Let me tell you a story. Six years ago, this guy is being held in jail up the road a bit in Port Charlotte. White guy named Raleigh Porter, a junkie, killed an old couple whose house he broke into looking for money to get another fix. He shot them both when they were doing nothing but sitting and enjoying a peaceful evening looking out at the water. So, sheriff up there arrests him, puts him in jail while awaiting arraignment, and wouldn’t you know it, this sonuvabitch got out somehow. So now it’s an issue, he’s on this side of the water, and so I got sent up with some other deputies and detectives. We’re looking all over for him, he’s a murderer and escaped jail within hours of being put in it, and he’s desperate for a high, so he’s gonna kill again if we don’t find him.”

Rodgers paused, took a drink.

“So, we’re into hour 13 of this manhunt, and we’re searching in the state park, and the dogs got a whiff. Me and the deputies take off after them, and they took us to some real thick brush. The deputies pull out their shotguns, start poking in, and found him. He surrendered right away. We’re headed back to the cars when the radio goes off. Deputy chief of Punta Gorda, just 34 years old, kids, wife, now he’s dead. Name was Beecher, I think. It was pouring rain, and he was manning a roadblock when a car’s brakes failed and slammed into him. Nobody’s fault, just bad weather and an old car that couldn’t stop in time.” A tear, a choking sound now. “If we’d found this fucker a half hour sooner, that chief would be alive with his wife and kids. He would’ve gone home. He died on a roadblock because we weren’t fast enough. That was tough to get over—his wife and kids were just shattered at that funeral. I did some dumb shit, drank every night, really kinda killed my marriage at that point, I think. I know what it’s like to blame yourself for someone’s death and I know what it’s like to screw everything up around you. You’re about the age of that dead chief, and goddammit, I like you, even though I’m just a cranky old bastard, so don’t do something stupid, because I don’t want to see your wife and kids broken too, y’hear me?” Klima nodded. “Good,” Rodgers said. He raised his glass, and they toasted and gunned down the bourbon. Rodgers took out a napkin, wiped the glasses, and put them away.

The two detectives headed back to the front desk. The desk sergeant waved them over. “Detectives, we’ve got a problem. That punk you brought in—that house was his. He lives there. His mom came in, looking for him. She’s a schoolteacher. His dad…well, he was called back to the Guard, and we don’t know where he is. They didn’t station local boys here, thought it’d hurt discipline. So, yeah, apparently the kid got locked out and was trying to get back in, but you know these punks, they hate cops and any sort of authority, so he ran on you when you caught him. Dumbass. Lemme guess, he hit you or something so you worked him over a bit?” Rodgers held up a hand. “Something like that. He had it coming, I’ll leave it there. Where’s the mom at?” The sergeant pointed to a small waiting room to his left. “Alright, thanks, Sarge, we got it from here.” Klima and Rodgers walked over to the room. The mother was in her early forties, fairly short, thin. The circles under her eyes testified to the stress she must’ve been feeling. Her husband missing, surviving a nuclear war, and a kid who clearly was a handful. “Ma’am, I’m Detective Rodgers, this is Detective Klima. We’re the ones who arrested your son.” The woman jumped to her feet. “Can I see him? Can you let him go? It was our house, that’s not a crime, is it?” she said. Klima looked at her. “Ma’am, he ran from us and then when I caught him, he spat and cursed at me while kicking. That’s assault on an officer, which is not the brightest thing to do in this day and age. But, since it was his house, we’ll release him on your recognizance. However, if he does anything like that again to another officer, he’ll be put on a work crew and get reduced rations. Those crews don’t go to the nice places, ma’am, so make sure he understands that.” She nodded vigorously. “Absolutely, detective. He’s been more angry than usual lately, said this war happened because of a bunch of bloodthirsty old men and our world is ruined now because of them. And his father…” She trailed off.

Rodgers put his hand on her shoulder. “We understand, Mrs. Bergeron. It’s not easy for anyone lately. Just try to keep him out of trouble, okay?” The punk’s mother nodded again. Rodgers stuck his head out of the room, whistled, and motioned the sergeant to bring the punk up from holding. A few minutes later, mother and son left FMPD, her clucking over his injuries and scolding him for fighting a cop instead of explaining he lived there. Gene looked at Jan. “You got lucky today. Remember that the next time you want to smack around some mouthy punk.” He clapped him on the shoulder and walked outside into the sunshine.

*****
The Pilot and his family had lived well since the Exchange. Yeah, the supply of clean sheets was being rationed, and showers limited, and food controlled, but all things considered, having a nice hotel suite at the Cove Inn on Naples Bay. The Cove was older, but well-kept, and they were staying in one of the two penthouses. Things were somewhat crowded with the officers there as well, but they made it work. The Coast Guard had an auxiliary adjacent to the hotel, which gave the cops something to do once they had been able to leave the rooms. The two small boats had been supplemented by an 82’ cutter, USCGC Point Thatcher, out of Sarasota—it had been out on patrol when the raid warning came—and gunned it for Naples. The lieutenant commander helming the cutter still thought it was an act of God that kept them safe with submarines and missiles and bombs everywhere. The Pilot’s small kids were dealing as best they could—the Point Thatcher had located a radioactive hot spot close enough to the shoreline that swimming/fishing was forbidden, and there was debate amongst the few qualified people in the area as to whether it was from Key West’s destruction, a misfired missile, a shot-down bomber, or even a sunk submarine. The fog of war was still thick in this isolated part of south Florida, not helped at all by the recalcitrance of Fort Myers to do more to assist. Their opinion, repeatedly stated, was that Naples did not have the same flow of refugees that Fort Myers had, being further away from a ground zero than Fort Myers was, and having less refugees.

All of this was true, of course, as those coming out of the Miami area had a much harder slog through the Everglades, and few had lived much longer after surviving the journey. The Pilot was curious about the group he’d heard about from the Coast Guard…men with weapons and military training sounded ominous to him, and he figured it was as good a time as any to have a look at who these visitors were. Taking Officer Mallory with him, the two took a walk down 9th Street towards the small downtown. Sure enough, a pickup drove past with serious-looking Hispanic men, armed with rifles. The Pilot’s brow furrowed at that—they didn’t look like U.S. military, and would surely have been recalled to active duty at their younger ages. Mallory agreed with the observation. It seemed off. As the men continued their walk, closing in on City Hall on the corner of 7th Avenue and 9th Street, the Pilot glanced to his left and his eyes nearly popped out of his head. Walking out of City Hall with the city manager was Manny Rivera. The Pilot grabbed Mallory’s arm and steered him in the opposite direction. Mallory started to protest at the about-face, but stopped upon hearing the Pilot hiss, “Don’t look back, act normal, listen to what I’m saying.” Mallory gave an imperceptible nod. “Kid, walking out of City Hall with the city manager was a major drug lord from Miami. That was Manny Rivera. That means all those armed dudes we’re seeing going around here are his muscle. We’ve got big, big problems.” Mallory’s voice strained to keep a normal tone. “How do you know it’s Rivera? Detective Klima was hunting him for months.” The Pilot looked right in Mallory’s eyes. “Because I used to fly runs to Panama and back for him. I got nabbed by DEA, told them who I was working with, ended up in DC to meet with the Veep, then back down to Miami where your boss, the Major, struck a deal with me.”

Mallory’s jaw hit the ground. “No way. No fucking way. The Major made a deal with you and you just got to walk?” The Pilot stared right at Mallory. “Yeah, I got to walk, on condition I bailed all of you out of Miami when the shit hit the fan. You’re still alive because I got to walk. The reason I was already doing some walking is because the Agency was involved with the drug-running. The Veep didn’t know, hell, old Ronnie probably didn’t know either. They recruited me when Carter was still in office. I was supposed to do surveillance while running the drugs, and they let me keep the profit I was making on the runs. It was all covert, right? Well, three things happened. First of all, they didn’t warn off the DEA on me, because that would give away the game, so I got caught. Secondly, the Agency pretended they had no idea who I was, so I really had to convince the DEA and FBI I wasn’t fucking around, which was a lot easier when I gave them the names of three of the people involved. Some Panamanian colonel named Noriega—he’s probably ash in the atmosphere now, the Canal was a prime target and that’s a small country—and two of Rivera’s guys are ex-Agency. They ran the names of Rivera’s guys I gave them, came back with verification they were ex-Agency, and that’s when I started getting moved around. When I ended up back in Miami, I told your boss everything I knew about Rivera—you guys missed him a couple of times, apparently. He then passed an offer through that Detective Klima, said if I bailed you out when the shit hit the fan he’d make my file disappear for good. I had lots of cash on hand, booked that suite for the family and me, stocked up with what we could, flew them out here. Then I came back as promised, and here we are.”

The Pilot continued, “The real issue is, though, that we have a very smart, very vicious drug lord here with his goons and probably those ex-Agency guys too. They’re ingratiating themselves right now with the old money men running this town, who have no idea they invited a viper into their nest. Question is…” Mallory finished the thought, “how do we get the word to the Major and the Guardsmen in Fort Myers?” The Pilot smiled. . “That’s the one question. The other one is how do I avoid him seeing me? He knows I sold his ass out. That could be a real danger to all of us. I think I’m going to need to stay in the suite while we figure out what to do.”
 
Well, Jan reached his breaking point (and, really, given the crap that's been going on, I can't really say I blame him--shit, I'd have gone past it by now). Hope he gets past it as best he can...

It's nice to find out some background on Rodgers...

Well, the whole Rivera-Naples thing isn't going to end well for anyone, methinks (BTW, Reagan and Bush not knowing about the...activities of the Pilot is an interesting twist (1))...

Good update, BTW...

(1) There's a lot of conspiracy theories surrounding Barry Seal's death and the CIA drug smuggling (oh, and Bush and Reagan are involved in this, of course--as well as, of all people, Bill Clinton (2); some of this ties to the infamous "Boys On The Tracks" case and alleged drug smuggling in Mena, Arkansas (Google it, @wolverinethad)).
(2) Speaking of Mr. Clinton, how's Arkansas doing in the Protect and Survive universe? I suspect Clinton managed to evacuate the state government from Little Rock (Clinton is no idiot--he'd plan something, especially if he managed to talk to Governor Kerrey in Nebraska and/or Governor Graham) at least (probably to Hot Springs, since it isn't listed on the list of nuclear targets; Little Rock, being the site of an SAC base, would likely get hit several times--and don't forget about the Titan II missile silo sites, one of which suffered an explosion in September of 1980 IOTL)...
 
Panama probably dissolves into anarchy like 1983: Doomsday. In that timeline though, Noriega survives Doomsday but is killed in 1985 by some riot or ex-PDF raids.
 
Well, Jan reached his breaking point (and, really, given the crap that's been going on, I can't really say I blame him--shit, I'd have gone past it by now). Hope he gets past it as best he can...

It's nice to find out some background on Rodgers...

Well, the whole Rivera-Naples thing isn't going to end well for anyone, methinks (BTW, Reagan and Bush not knowing about the...activities of the Pilot is an interesting twist (1))...

Good update, BTW...

(1) There's a lot of conspiracy theories surrounding Barry Seal's death and the CIA drug smuggling (oh, and Bush and Reagan are involved in this, of course--as well as, of all people, Bill Clinton (2); some of this ties to the infamous "Boys On The Tracks" case and alleged drug smuggling in Mena, Arkansas (Google it, @wolverinethad)).
(2) Speaking of Mr. Clinton, how's Arkansas doing in the Protect and Survive universe? I suspect Clinton managed to evacuate the state government from Little Rock (Clinton is no idiot--he'd plan something, especially if he managed to talk to Governor Kerrey in Nebraska and/or Governor Graham) at least (probably to Hot Springs, since it isn't listed on the list of nuclear targets; Little Rock, being the site of an SAC base, would likely get hit several times--and don't forget about the Titan II missile silo sites, one of which suffered an explosion in September of 1980 IOTL)...

If you look at the location of the Titan sites and consider just how much you had to blow up to get at them (they were important targets because they'd inflict such massive damage is the belief I've gotten reading through old declassified items), I think Arkansas would be screwed. In fact, aides to Sen. Pryor and Gov. Clinton both believed if a single Titan malfunctioned and detonated, you could forget Arkansas [that wasn't true, necessarily, unless it was one of the missiles closest to Little Rock, in which case the state would be decapitated]. The layout of the missile fields does pretty well indicate that the Soviets would probably lob about 40 missiles at Arkansas total, enough to blacken the state with massive fallout and indeed, end it. So if Bill had a plan, it was probably pray it's over fast.
 
Yeah, the difference between Nebraska and Arkansas is, well, Nebraska is more spread out (and even then it got pounded in Omaha and the missile field areas in the west--Lincoln somehow got spared) and a larger state in area than Arkansas...

If you considered the Titan missile fields, yeah, Arkansas has no chance...
 
Chapter 68
Chapter 68
Southeast United States

[Note: In Duck and Cover, @gen_patton’s original attempt at a spinoff, which he later started to rewrite and then dumped, he covered events in Rome with Don Regan, SecTreas. I went back through it to prepare this chapter and recognized that there were unrealistic/inconsistent elements in it. As such, some of this will contradict his writing, but I think it’s important so the story works (and it expands upon Chapter 62's changes). The General hasn’t been on here since 2018, so if there’s no objections, this will be considered canon as it repairs the inconsistencies—namely, the Klan army, which could not have come from Stone Mountain as it was fallout black, nor could it have gone up Route 411—they’d be dead as it went straight through Atlanta, nuked to hell and back.]



“Gentlemen, a republic. If you can keep it.”
--Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention, 1787

“The situation is dire with no sense of improvement forthcoming. We are cut in two, and our neighbors to the north cut in three. We cannot cross the center of our states. Valdosta and Gainesville may host the state governments, but they are reduced to being regional warlords, and cannot hope to keep authority if a solution is not found soon.”

Excerpt from MG Ensslin security briefing in the Florida State Archives, delivered to Governor Graham and Governor Harris at a joint meeting in Gainesville April 9th, 1984


*****FLASH TRAFFIC*****

FROM: CO, PENSACOLA NAS
TO: SURVIVING COMMAND AUTHORITIES IN FLORIDA, GEORGIA, AND ALABAMA
RE: STATUS OF PENSACOLA NAS

8APR84 1138Z

TO WHOMEVER THIS MAY REACH:

USNR AVERY ISLAND, LA HAVE EVACUATED MOST PERSONNEL FROM PNAS. AVERY ISLAND IS COMMANDED BY MG MCILHENNEY AND LTG [INSERT NAME HERE]. NEW ORLEANS SURVIVES FROM CENTER OF LAKE PONCHARTRAIN WEST. WARHEAD OVERSHOT AND DETONATED OVER RAILYARD IN EASTERN TIP OF CITY. PNAS MEDICAL PERSONNEL AND CO TREATING WOUNDED IN BASE HOSPITAL. SUPPLIES CRITICALLY LOW. ESTIMATE ONE WEEK REMAINING BEFORE MASS CASUALTIES ARE INCURRED. RUNWAY IS CLEARED OF FALLOUT. MEDIVAC REQUIRED FOR ~200, PLUS MEDICAL STAFF AND CO. DO NOT, REPEAT, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TRANSIT OVER EGLIN AFB – FALLOUT BLACK, COMPLETELY DESTROYED.

--CPT JEREMY ROCKWELL, USN


*****END FLASH*****


*****CRITIC TRAFFIC*****

FROM: MG GRIFFIN, GNG
TO: MG ENSSLIN, FNG
RE: SECURITY—NORTH SECTOR

8APR84 1612Z


REPORTS FROM ROME ARE THAT SECTREAS REGAN WAS ASSASSINATED AFTER A CLASH BETWEEN ARMY RESERVISTS AND A LARGE NUMBER OF RENEGADE MILITIA OF SOME SORT. WE WERE UNAWARE OF HIS PRESENCE IN THE STATE—COMMUNICATIONS HAVE BEEN EXTREMELY SCATTERED. IF THESE REPORTS ARE TRUE, IT MEANS THAT THE ONLY SOURCE OF AUTHORITY IN THAT PART OF THE STATE IS DEAD. WE LACK SUFFICIENT AIR TRANSPORT TO TRY AND RETAKE IT—WE POSSESS ONLY HELICOPTER ASSETS IN VALDOSTA, AND TO AVOID RADIATION REQUIRES FIXED-WING AIRCRAFT. RECOMMEND SITREP FOR GOV HARRIS AND GOV GRAHAM TO DISCUSS NEXT STEPS. EXPRESS WILL JOIN IN FOR ADVISORY PURPOSES ONLY. PLEASE ADVISE ASAP.

*****END CRITIC*****


*****CRITIC TRAFFIC*****

FROM: MG ENSSLIN, FNG
TO: MG GRIFFIN, GNG
RE: SITREP

8APR84 1647Z

GOV GRAHAM AGREES SITREP REQUIRED. TRANSIT VIA JETRANGER RECOMMENDED. PLEASE BRING CURRENT ORBAT FIGURES FOR GNG. ENERGY RESOURCES GROWING LIMITED, FOOD SUPPLY HOLDING UP. SITREP AT 1400Z 9APR.

*****END CRITIC*****


*****FLASH TRAFFIC*****

FROM: WARDEN, FSP
TO: FLAGOV
RE: SUPPLIES


8APR84 1800Z

SUPPLY SITUATION CRITICAL. REDUCTIONS IN DEMAND NO LONGER SUFFICIENT TO MAINTAIN DELIVERY. FUEL, WATER, FOOD ALL REQUIRE REPLENISHMENT. REQUEST MEETING SOONEST TO DISCUSS ALL OPTIONS AVAILABLE, INCLUDING FACILITY SHUTDOWN.

*****END FLASH*****
 
“The situation is dire with no sense of improvement forthcoming. We are cut in two, and our neighbors to the north cut in three. We cannot cross the center of our states. Valdosta and Gainesville may host the state governments, but they are reduced to being regional warlords, and cannot hope to keep authority if a solution is not found soon.”

Excerpt from MG Ensslin security briefing in the Florida State Archives, delivered to Governor Graham and Governor Harris at a joint meeting in Gainesville April 9th, 1984

Good look at what's been happening in Florida and a glimpse of the outside world with the mention of New Orleans. The Florida state prison situation is bad...

On a sidenote, we know things in Florida are going to get back to "normal", if the state archive mention in the quote is any indication...

I'm wondering how one Britney Spears is doing (IOTL, she was born in McComb, Mississippi and grew up in Kentwood, Louisiana--with McComb away from any likely fallout plumes and Kentwood north of New Orleans, she's probably still alive ITTL)...
 
On a side note, with the Daytona 500 canceled ITTL due to the outbreak of World War III, we don't get the classic moment of Ronald Reagan watching Richard Petty winning the race, which occurred in 1984 IOTL (even if the race had gone ahead ITTL, Reagan would have been busy, obviously)...

Here's the OTL 1984 Daytona 500, BTW:

And here's the OTL 1984 College national championship game between Miami and Nebraska (the game ITTL is similar to OTL--it diverges at the last two-point conversion attempt by Nebraska ITTL):
 
On a side note, with the Daytona 500 canceled ITTL due to the outbreak of World War III, we don't get the classic moment of Ronald Reagan watching Richard Petty winning the race, which occurred in 1984 IOTL (even if the race had gone ahead ITTL, Reagan would have been busy, obviously)...

Here's the OTL 1984 Daytona 500, BTW:

And here's the OTL 1984 College national championship game between Miami and Nebraska (the game ITTL is similar to OTL--it diverges at the last two-point conversion attempt by Nebraska ITTL):
So Reagan's appearance in Daytona is butterflied away.

As for Orange Bowl 1984, amazing how the Florida Straits battle caused a shift in the butterfly effect with Nebraska winning in this timeline. I always wondered if a POD near a significant sports event in the alternate timeline will cause a shift in the results compared to OTL.
 
Just want everyone to know, this is not dead. Not at all. I needed space during the pandemic, especially with my own COVID scare. I have an idea floating about in my head and hope to bring it to fruition soon for a next chapter.
 
the Army commander is LTG Reid and he's out of Vicksburg...Gulf States Command has a bunch of helicopters and a 130 or two (or a bunch, we've never determined the number)
 
Chapter 69
Sorry it took me so long to do this, I had trouble wording one of the sections of this chapter and kept rewriting it. Enjoy.

Fort Myers, FL
April 9, 1984


(Ed. note: The reader, to gain the proper mood, should consider listening to Robbie Robertson’s “Remembrance,” found on both his album “Sinematic” and the end credits of The Irishman.)

Jan Klima was facing another sleepless night, an endless string in which day turned to night and night to day until the days completely blended together. Weekends no longer existed, not that they had much for the detective from Miami in the past, but you could tell what day it was. Now it was just measured by how long it’d been since The Exchange, how many cases of food were left, how much fuel the power plant had, how well the water treatment plant worked. Radiation levels in the water had mercifully measured safe for the residents of Fort Myers and the surrounding towns. An oasis it was, certainly better than the fate of those who’d disintegrated into fire and ash, or those who survived only to die a tortuous death, yet Jan could not find any solace in it.

Sometime around 1:30 am, Klima quietly got out of bed, pulled on some shorts and a t-shirt, and slipped out of the apartment – thankfully less crowded now. Housing had been secured for both Luis’ parents and the Simmons family, leaving the master bedroom to be shared by Rosa, Jan and Adriana and the other by Rosa’s parents. He got on a bicycle, the new transportation method of choice in the nuclear aftermath, and went down Edison, turning right quickly onto Broadway, up Broadway to Monroe, hanging a left and down Monroe into the small, unnamed park with the long pier known as Lookout Pier. Once more, he walked out to the edge and stared into the darkness, the Caloosahatchee River flowing past. Jan didn’t know what he was looking for here, but it was one of the few places that allowed for the isolation he felt in his soul to be matched by the physical environment.

Why did it come to this? Why didn’t we stop it?

WHY DID LUIS HAVE TO DIE?


That was probably the part that stuck in his head most, that made his heart ache. A good, fun, unselfish partner that he’d only known a few months and yet was one of the best friends he’d ever had. They’d been through so much together, stakeouts, being shot at, escaping a nuclear war together…

Antonio. Is this my punishment for shooting that prick? That because I murdered a murderer, my best friend got killed in return? Is that it, God? It wasn’t enough to sit back and let your beautiful creation get blown up by weapons of such strength they might as well have come from your own hands, you had to let Luis die for what? As penance for my sins? What’s the point of this? You PROMISED us you’d never destroy the Earth again, so why is this happening?

“He’s not listening to us.”

Klima’s head snapped around. He didn’t realize he’d said all that out loud. He turned around and saw the Bergeron kid he’d beat the shit out of the other day, puffing a cigarette on the rail. There was a long silence as they each recognized the other person on the pier. “I mean, my dad’s been missing for weeks now, and I doubt I’ll see him again. Prayers didn’t help that. You murdered a dude, though? What’s that about?” The teenager looked at Klima with that languid expression that disaffected teens the world over had used at least since James Dean made East of Eden thirty years prior. “Well, kid, you got a smoke?” Bergeron handed over a Camel. Klima hadn’t smoked much at all since leaving the Army, but the familiar rush came back to him as he took his first drag. “How’d you get these, anyway? Didn’t they all shut down production in early February?” Bergeron smirked. “I bought a few cartons at the end of January. Figured it wouldn’t hurt if war came. I mean, if I died, having extra cash wouldn’t have mattered, and if I lived, I’d be set for a few months.” Jan nodded. “My family and I lived in Miami. If I hadn’t taken a bunch of savings and gotten an apartment here, and some other things, I wouldn’t be here. We’d all be dead. Not that it’s mattered much in any case. The drug lord I spent months chasing didn’t get caught, my best friend got killed by some racist piece of shit, and all I’ve done since I got here is arrest an old hippie growing weed and get in a fight with you.”

Bergeron snorted. “A fight would’ve meant I got to hit you back. You beat the shit out of me, dude…but I was the dick who spit on you. I probably would’ve reacted the same way. I’m sorry about that. That’s pretty gross.” Klima took another drag. “Nah, I’ve been beating myself up since my friend got killed here, and I took it out on you. You gave me an excuse and I lost my shit and that wasn’t right. I’m sorry.” He stuck out his hand, and Bergeron took it. “Alright, detective, so who’d you kill?” Klima thought about it for a hot second, decided it didn’t matter in this new world, so why not just get it off his chest? “He was buddies with the drug lord I was chasing, a real shithead, tortured and killed people like they were animals in a slaughterhouse. We caught him, took him on a boat, and used cow’s blood to draw some sharks in. Told him if he didn’t talk, he’d be shark food. Took a few times holding his head right above the water to convince, but he talked. Told me everything I needed to know, including that my boss was taking bribes from the drug lord. That’s when I decided I needed to kill him. We went to one of those tiny ass islands nobody ever goes on, walked him onto the beach, and I shot him dead. Really fucked with his boss’s head, not knowing where his boy went. Also fucked with my friend’s head…he was pissed at me for doing it. I oughta be dead instead of him. The whole thing was screwy, and that was before all the nukes came. There you go. That’s how I killed a man.”

The pack of Camels came back out. Bergeron handed one over to Jan. “I think we both need another one. That is fifty shades of fucked up, dude.”

*******
Gainesville, Florida


“…and that’s what we’ve got left to work with,” concluded General Griffin.

To say that Georgia was in a dismal state would be an affront to Webster’s Dictionary—the accurate description was something resembling the Dark Ages. The northern pocket had devolved into a running gunfight between white supremacists and scattered military elements. The state had received confirmation via shortwave transmission that Treasury Secretary Don Regan had landed in Rome after a breakdown in the evacuation protocol that had been created by FEMA the prior year. Regan’s death at the hands of the white supremacists destroyed the work the former Merrill Lynch CEO had done to organize the area. There was no way to get help there—Chattanooga, Huntsville, and Anniston were all piles of ash and radiation. Tennessee’s government was unreachable and presumed decapitated—the same with South Carolina. It wasn’t that their governors hadn’t planned, in fact, both states were led by capable men in Lamar Alexander and Richard Riley. However, both states contained vitally important military targets, and in South Carolina, there just wasn’t a good place to build a bunker in that swampland. It was possible Gov. Alexander was in a redoubt somewhere in the Great Smoky Mountains, but without word from there, one had to assume the worst.

Bob Graham frowned deeply at that. He had, fortunately, a decent fighting force available to him with Tallahassee escaping attack. State Police plus National Guardsmen were worth something in the grand scheme of things, especially if they had the proper equipment. None of that was worth a damn to Governor Harris, whose state was only functional in its southwest quadrant. A National Guard and Reserve detachment at Valdosta, and a nuclear reactor to the west in Columbia, Alabama that maybe, possibly, could be safely brought online to provide power to his area and northern Florida. The Georgia-Pacific factory southeast of the plant was another key target for powering up. It wouldn’t even be close to easy. Fallout from multiple strikes on Dothan had gone through the area and made it rather hazardous to human activity. The factory had been sealed shut by GP when Soviet tanks had opened the hole in the NATO lines at the Fulda Gap, and could be reopened once the surrounding area had been decontaminated. The Farley nuclear reactor had a crisis team holed up inside of it—when the news of Kassel came, Alabama Power ordered the team to begin a scaled shutdown of the reactor. It was running at the minimal sustainable output, and the crew was safe inside still, but the situation around it was, as so many other places around the world, apocalyptic. The crisis team had 60 days worth of MRE’s plus whatever other food was usable from the cafeteria, and the estimate was that they had approximately 20 days of food left.

Graham turned to his left. “Sir, what do you think of our current situation? You know more about all of this than we do.”

James Earl Carter, 39th president of the United States, had sat quietly and respectfully during the briefing. A proud man, he’d been humbled by the scale of his electoral defeat at the hands of Ronald Reagan, the 40th and perhaps final president of the United States. He’d taken his time in the preceding three years building the Carter Center for Peace—an endeavor that never got the opportunity to meet its stated goals thanks to the nuclear conflagration. Ares had defeated Eirene in this battle. Yet fate had given Jimmy Carter the chance to use the best of his talents. Carter was a builder, a former nuclear engineer and successful farmer, who’d worked for the most demanding admiral of the past 35 years in Hyman Rickover, the father of the Nuclear Navy. He knew nuclear physics, he knew farming, and he knew all of the wartime plans and contingencies. The former President was a man whose talents were most valuable in this post-Exchange world.

“Well, Bob, the way ah see it, we need to do an aerial radiation surveh first, establish whether we can get closer, then return with a helicopter flying in at lower altitude to measure again. If both missions go off without incident, you can send a ground team in. Before you even think of starting that reactah up, though, we’re going to need a thorough inspection of the substations, and disconnection of any lines headed to areas we know are uninhabitable. Any power surges through those transmission lines could wreck this entire enterprise. In fact, it would be most prudent to disconnect all lines going west from the Farley reactor. This is going to be a matteh of weeks, gentlemen, so that team that is supposed to be inside the plant will need resupply before we finish. Have we had any communication with them?” Carter looked at his successor as Georgia governor. “Joe Frank?”

Joe Frank Harris shook his head. Graham beckoned to the Southern Company representative that was part of the Florida emergency group he’d assembled. “Mr. Denard, what do you know about this team?” The rep opened his binder. “They are a group of technicians and engineers, assembled for emergency situations. They’ve trained to handle shutdowns, startups, meltdowns, all of the typical instances we worry about with nuclear power. They have 60 days of food supplies. As long as the facility protection has held, they should be in the control areas inside the lead-shielded concrete walls. We designed that reactor so the inner areas could seal off from the outer areas, with airlocks and ventilation that could function during a meltdown or other similar emergency. They should be alive, but I agree with President Carter. They will need more supplies in no more than three weeks from today.”

Harris turned back towards Carter. “Okay, that’s all well and good. What the hell do we do about the rest of the state? Outside of our quadrant, the rest of the state is a smoking ruin, and the one other part that isn’t is fighting another Civil War. I swore an oath, sir, to protect the citizens of Georgia, and I’m sitting here helpless, unable to keep them from murdering each other in this…this…orgy of violence. They murdered the man that just might’ve been the last in succession for the Presidency. What will that mean for us when and if we get control of this situation?”

Carter bowed his head and rubbed his fingers against the sides of his nose. “We can’t do anything for them. We don’t have safe passage, we don’t have the resources. I mean, if the places that got hit by the Russians are what we believed them to be, we’d have to take such a convoluted route to get to the area around Rome, with no idea of the tactical situation. Our assets are limited. We hold good ground here. At best, we could try to assist this pocket,” and here Carter pointed at the large regional map on the wall behind him, “from Auburn to Griffin, cross the river at Eufaula, but that’s a lot of unknown area. First, we have to try and get this reactor opened. After that, the GP factory can manufacture a lot of useful items to help us out if we can safely open and man it. There’s advantages and disadvantages here where we sit, but our primary goal must be securing the area we hold and slowly work our way out to connecting with other areas. I don’t know about this Gulf States Command, but if New Orleans largely survived, that is very useful to the region. It might be the only working large ship port on the entire Gulf. These confirmed and supposed strikes, howevah, make it clear that the only way Rome and its surrounding areas will get help is if Tennessee brings it to them. We just don’t have the means, not without jeopardizing all of y’alls good work down here, Governah Graham.”

Bob Graham leaned back in his chair. Joe Frank Harris did the same. The two men shared a look. This wasn’t going to get decided any time soon.
 
Now I have to go back and get dates and what was going on in USGSC -- Gulf States Command didn't really come out of hiding until the end of May 1984, that being said, F-15's from the Louisiana Air National Guard patrolled the Gulf from the Pensacola area over to Texas...would it be too much to establish initial contact by aircraft?
 
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Hope that kid's dad is still alive--though, if he was stationed near one of the targets that got hit, he's likely had it, whether in the strikes or soon after...

Wasn't expecting Jan to be thinking out loud--he's lucky only that kid heard (though I wonder if his wife suspects something)...

It makes sense to have former president Carter here (and I'm amazed that, as of this writing, he's still alive at 95 (and the oldest living president after George H.W. Bush died last year at 94 (1)), and this after having suffered from melanoma (1) and having been treated for it), and doing something that's necessary here (since he was president and a nuclear engineer, he'd know a thing or two about fallout and its effects), and Carter's right--there's nothing that can be done to help the Rome at the moment, so do what can be done, and not try to do too much too quick (this is similar to the Covid-19 epidemic, in some respects)...

As I've said, with regards to Carter, he could have been a good president, but too many things in the 1970s were against him (and the Iran hostage crisis and his handling of it did not help at all); OTOH, he's had one of the best post-presidencies of any ex-president ever IOTL...

Good update, @wolverinethad, and waiting for more...

(1) Speaking of George H.W. Bush, at this time, he was the Vice-President, so he gets evacuated along with the President, but he likely didn't make it out, considering that there was a President Don Regan, IMO. As for his children: George W. Bush was in Midland in 1984, IIRC, Jeb Bush, as mentioned, was in Miami-Dade County, Neil Bush was in Denver in 1984, Marvin Bush was likely in Houston (he worked for the Houston-based HCC Insurance Holdings), and Dorothy Bush LeBlond (her married name at the time--she later divorced William LeBlond and married Robert Koch (no relation to the Koch Brothers, as far as is known) in 1992.
(1) Keep in mind that both of Carter's parents and all three of his siblings have died of cancer, which makes his survival even more amazing...
 
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