The Collapse: A New Beginning: Book 2
Prologue: Year Two
Caution: This Science Fiction Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Consensual, Romantic, Post Apocalypse, Group Sex,
Desc: Science Fiction Sex Story: Prologue: Year Two - It's a year since the beginning of Book 1. Steve and his small band have found some of the scattered survivors of what was called 'The Collapse'. These survivors have banded together in four small towns. Follow Steve and these survivors as they attempt to piece civilization back together and regain what was lost. This is the second book in the series. Read Book 1 first.
Many of our traditions have taken on new meaning over the past year. Holidays given much significance in the past have for the most part been replaced by impromptu celebrations of noteworthy events that have more meaning to us and our new way of life. Some holidays have remained as convenient excuses for us to let our hair down and commemorate the sheer joy of life itself. Tomorrow, however, will be a milestone that will be much different in many of our minds. Much has been accomplished during the past year and most of us feel our survival during all of our many anxious moments is a true cause for rejoicing.
There has been much debate about what to call this new holiday. I vetoed Founder's Day, one of the more popular choices. Founder's Day has such a small group feel to it that I didn't think it promoted the right attitude. After all, it wasn't one small groups' effort that brought us all together. I also disliked the mindset that suggested that we could look to the modest efforts of the past year as a pattern for our future. We have made so many mistakes. At this point we haven't come far enough, haven't learned nearly enough to think that our future is in some way safe and secure. After a year of searching and adding survivors our numbers have yet to grow beyond a mere four thousand people. That small number occupies four small towns and five other bases utilizing six undersized security detachments. Our towns were small military air bases before the collapse. The small security detachments guard other larger, strategic, yet unoccupied bases. That may sound like a lot, but it's a bare minimum for the survival of a race of people.
We finally decided to call our holiday Remembrance Day. I am sure that name evokes a different meaning for each one of us. Many seek to remember those billions that simply ceased to exist on that day. For most, the memories were more personal, perhaps memories of a special loved one or special loved ones that are no more. It will for almost all of us be a somber and bittersweet day. As it is we are constantly questioning our own existence. Why are we still here? Why are we too not forever gone like all the others, without a trace? For many the most meaningful thing was being rescued, becoming a part of a growing community. Finally, all of us here are thankful for our neighbors, friends and loved ones; those who make our community life more than mere survival.
We have all learned a lot during the past year. After some serious setbacks we arrived at a policy of closely questioning all those we rescue in order to weed out those with potential to cause us harm. The informal blackball committee has evolved into our Membership Committee. Ab Grayton was only the first of several troublemakers in our midst. Thinking of that brings to mind my most tragic loss; the loss of my beloved wife Julie. I still feel no remorse for my summary execution of the man responsible for her death. I will forever miss her loving touch and buoyant sense of humor. I only wish I could have had the foresight to shoot her killer dead upon our first meeting.
As each of us grieved and dealt with Julie's untimely departure, Irene and I were beyond consolation. Irene had been Julie's best friend prior to being her spouse. They had a bond and a closeness that hadn't been readily apparent to most but was in some ways deeper than that of the twins. Irene sat around showing absolutely no emotion, as if a part of herself had been killed. She wouldn't even let anyone bury the body of Julie's killer, such was her hatred. The body finally ended up on the refuse pit that had grown up on the other end of that base.
In my own mind, it was not only the loss of my beloved wife but my abject failure to protect one of those that I had brought to this place of safe haven. Her death was senseless on so many levels and a mirror of the tragic loss that we all felt because of the collapse. I also felt guilty because I knew that I had let Irene, my first love, down. All of this shame and despair soon became an insurmountable wall beyond which I could not move. Kim tried so hard to be my friend and comforter during those times. She would sit with us under our dark cloud, weeping with us. Much later I realized that a lot of her tears were those she had failed to shed for her father. Her feelings and actions so closely mirrored ours that she ended up being our lifeline. As we became more and more concerned for Kim's well being, both Irene and I began our own healing, a healing that is still ongoing.
On the positive side, I am so proud of what we had accomplished, especially our Aviation Brigade. With maintenance, ground crew and students, the brigade has grown and now numbers almost four hundred. Still we are stretched thin. Only fourteen of our original seventeen students are now somewhat seasoned pilots. Of these, a bare eight are qualified as instructors, able to train other pilots. We have almost thirty new flight students and yet, with weekly cargo and passenger service needed to connect each of the towns, with search flights and standby fighter crews, we are stretched woefully thin. I am still the only qualified helicopter pilot and still fly five times a week on slow weeks and can't believe that will end for a while. In addition, the maintenance crews are servicing and maintaining seven different fixed wing aircraft and three different helicopters. Since our use for many of these aircraft is presently minimal, the maintenance crews spend quite a bit of their time at remote bases, cocooning these aircraft in order to preserve them for the future.
All of that takes manpower, something we are still short of in many areas. Our alternate energy program is another manpower-intensive program that will show great benefits in the near future. Fuels for operation of the bases have almost run out. We have neither the expertise nor the available manpower to run the enormous refineries that turn fossil fuels into gasoline and jet fuels. Thankfully jet fuels are close enough to kerosene that we can make fuel system adjustments and use that abundant resource to power most of our aircraft. Luckily kerosene is a stable fuel and lasts almost indefinitely in storage. We have identified large reserves of kerosene that with proper conservation will last for a generation at least.
Gasoline is another matter, as it is produced with more volatile components that break down rather quickly during storage. The first symptom of this deterioration was when one of our small generators began to cough and idle roughly. Toby Smithers, a former machinist's mate with the Coast Guard, tore this small engine apart and found nothing amiss. After almost tearing his hair out he ran some octane tests on the gasoline and found that the octane had dropped below 70, which was barely sufficient to keep the small engine running, albeit roughly, under normal compression. An existing additive was found in auto parts stores that temporarily boosted octane but the supply of that additive is limited.
Toby and others began a process of identifying alternate fuels and vehicles that could use those fuels. It took six months but finally we feel we are self sufficient with a bio diesel product that we can produce in limited quantities at our own facility north of Whiting Field.
Weaning our towns (bases) off of fossil fuels is a much more ambitious project. We felt the jet fuel being consumed at Whiting and other bases was too valuable a resource to squander. Our first step was conservation. During this phase we found thousands of items on base that we disconnected from the power grid, thus reducing demand. The second phase was to add alternative sources of electricity to that grid. We were delighted to find that a former General Electric plant in Pensacola made large wind turbines. Of course the plant was no longer in operation but there were ten of the giant wind turbines waiting shipment to Texas. These are now in use in an energy field north of the base and produce more power than the base itself will need for many years. We reduce the fossil-fuel plant input when the wind generators are producing, then ramp them up as necessary when there isn't enough wind for the generators to work.
Using the plant's computer records we were able to track recent shipments and are in process of converting our other bases to a mixture of wind and solar power. With our limited manpower this priority project will still require upwards of three years to complete.
Another seemingly endless project is cataloging and storage of vital items that our new civilization will not be able to produce for the foreseeable future. Vaccines and medicines have limited shelf life and require production efforts beyond our limited knowledge. I had read many time travel stories where the hero went back in time and reinvented penicillin and other miracle drugs. I can now tell you that, even with the modern chemical laboratories at the nearby universities, this is impractical. The bacteria that were once so susceptible to the simple and easily manufactured varieties of penicillin and other antibiotics have evolved and become much more resistant to these drugs. In addition, many of our older citizens are on various maintenance drugs, mainly for cholesterol and high blood pressure. We are now hoarding those that we can find and trying to find long lasting storage methods that will allow the limited supplies to last until we can regain the skills needed to produce more.
On and on and on it goes. It seems we spend most of our nights brainstorming ways to stay ahead of the next shortage. Modern society was endlessly, and sometimes needlessly, complex with more technical jobs and skills than we now have people. Almost everyone among us wears at least two hats and many of us have three or four. Our scientists who had spent their lives up to the moment of the collapse becoming specialists in very narrow fields of study have found themselves becoming generalists and solving problems that in the past they would have gladly passed to colleagues in other fields.
Jim Baxley, Bill Jenkins and John Simmons have become masters at foraging and preserving irreplaceable items. Our storage locations are secret and as secure as we can make them. Thank god that most of the items we are storing are not those things that most renegades want or even think of. Not that we can figure out what they do want.
The renegades are the human equivalent to the wild dog packs that existed during the first weeks after the collapse. Most of those large canine marauding packs have broken apart as they turned their aggression inward towards each other. The remnants of those packs scattered and are presently hunting in smaller groups of two or three dogs. A few larger packs are out there but rabies and distemper and other animal diseases have begun to cut their numbers severely.
In the place of dog packs we now have small bands of pillaging human renegades that are viciously and savagely exploiting any remaining unprotected survivors. These somewhat less than human elements have reverted to the ruthless laws of the jungle. There is a kill or be killed code among these hardened semi-human marauders that allows for no parley or surrender. The groups we have encountered are also wasteful of resources as they loot, burn and destroy any supplies they have no immediate use for.
Like the packs of dogs that we feared earlier, these human gangs roam over large territories with no fixed base. They move swiftly for the most part, traveling for the most part on motorcycles which can easily move in and around the damaged cars that litter the as yet obstructed pre-collapse roads and highways. After many failed attempts to parley and communicate with these groups our policy has now evolved into one of destroy on sight.
The standard operating procedure when a search aircraft spots one of these gangs is to send a secure message to the nearest base. Each of our towns has a fighter aircraft continuously manned by a duty pilot. After alerting the base the search aircraft monitors the renegades' progress while the fighter pilot readies his or her aircraft for launch. As soon as the renegades stop for rest or reach an isolated area the search aircraft vectors the fighter aircraft to that location. The fighter aircraft then eliminates the threat with either Napalm or pod-mounted 20 mm mini-guns; both tactics that are quick and highly effective. So far this approach has managed to keep our territory clear of most of these groups.
Base defenses have had to be upgraded because of dangers such as this. Because of our air defense and our superior perimeter defenses, our regular security forces require only 400 permanent members. These regulars are supplemented by a well trained militia as need arises. Almost everyone sixteen and over who is not a regular is a member of the militia and has been through both basic and some type of specialized defense training. Regular drills are held in each of our towns where each person mans a previously assigned battle station. It is a point of honor for each town to have all of the defensive posts manned and ready in ten minutes or less.
We have found a core of experienced military officers and senior enlisted members who have been given charge of our towns' defenses and the regular security forces. The regular security forces have begun a practice of testing the defenses of our towns and detachments on a somewhat irregular interval. The results of these 'probes' and mock assaults are used to improve our sensors and static defenses.
One part of this defense employs additional standby fighters on the ground at each of our bases. T-6B Texan II aircraft have been adapted for this defense role. The Texan was a new training aircraft being delivered to both the Air Force and Navy just prior to the collapse as a replacement for several primary and intermediate training aircraft. Both the A and B models have hard points on the wing to allow the aircraft to carry drop tanks and weapons including a 20 mm mini-gun. The B model has the further advantage of a heads up display for the attack mode and a more sophisticated on board computer. Since it is very similar to the T-34 trainer it was much easier for our newly trained fliers to transition into than other more sophisticated aircraft. Flyers today will not be as specialized as before the collapse and our fighter pilots are gradually being taught to fly both the A-10 Warthog and the F/A-18 aircraft, which we believe will give us more flexibility in the ground attack mode. We have cocooned some of the more sophisticated fighters that we have found, including the F-15 Eagle and F-22 Raptor.
Another of the benefits of our use of the military bases as towns in our new society has been re-establishment of viable long distance communications. Using our MARS (Military Affiliate Radio System) stations to provide telephone patches and existing station communications centers, we can quickly telephone critical information from one location to the other. We have been working hard to reestablish basic telecommunications but at present we are limited to critical calls and air to ground communications for the flights necessary for our supply, search and defense efforts. We were sad to find that when the people disappeared all of the communications satellites, as well as all other satellites, were evidently destroyed, limiting any communications using this mode of transmission.
Farming and agriculture have moved out from the base to the surrounding countryside, inviting the comparison of our towns to the fortified cities and towns of medieval Europe. Our hopes are that someday our civilization will recover to the point that we can move our citizenry back onto those lands permanently and that our fortified towns will no longer be needed. At present this appears to be a long way in the future.
Our governance is through a strong executive system. I am that strong executive. I am supplemented by a council of advisors composed of selected men and women I trust that includes the mayor of each of the towns. All final decisions remain with me, but for most long range planning items I defer to the council's judgment.