After the Apocalypse
Chapter 96: Fractional Cabinet

by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue

The scene in the Honolulu radio room was unusually formal as President Arkwright convened a meeting of her Hawaiian advisors.

"Now that we've located a few American survivors," she began, "we need to figure out a way to coordinate our relief efforts. I mean, the Australians have offered to deliver any assistance they can, but it's not like we can work with the local governmental officials. The whole mainland's pretty clearly a disaster area, but there aren't any governors or National Guard left, as far as we know. Right, Mitch?"

McCormick had been charged with tracking American survivors. "Bingo. We've identified four, uh-colonies, I guess-of survivors; groups of people who've dug in and managed to keep going through the madness. Unfortunately, they all appear to be sort of renegades. No official personnel, as far as we can see."

"Could you give us a rundown on where they are?" asked Anu'ala'a.

"Okay: The first group we located was the Michigan survivors. And as near as we can tell, they're the best-equipped for survival."

"The ones at the Boy Scout camp, right?"

"Exactly. About 120 people-although it's a mystery why that area was spared. They seem to be caught between Detroit and Flint-both pretty high-risk target areas, one would think. Anyhow, that's probably our strongest single group. We have located another sizable group in northern Mississippi-they're not as well-supplied, but they're not dealing with snow, either. A greater margin for error. Colony three is in western Kansas-they're kind of in between the other two as far as survival status., And then there's the reports we've picked up about survivors in the Florida Keys-but news from there is sketchy, and there's no definite proof that they're still making it. It's been over two weeks since our last radio contact."

"Of course, this is just the survivors we've managed to make radio contact with," said Chen,. "Who knows how many more people are out there without radios?"

"Good point, Kevin," said Arkwright. "On the other hand, the only way we'll be able to coordinate from here is to talk to people on the radios, so those are the survivors who are most critical to any relief efforts."

"So what's the next move?" asked Chen, who was playing the nominal role of Vice-President after the governor of Hawaii had declined Arkwright's offer.

"We need a point man-or woman-in each of the territories that Mitch has identified. A 'governor', if you will-except they'll be working over a lot more space than just a state. Someone who can be our representative on the front lines, as it were. People who know the areas and can locate survivors, find airports we can land relief planes at-that sort of thing."

"Is it worth just evacuating people instead?" asked Jodi McCormick. "If we can get a plane in, can't we just as easily fly people out?"

"Maybe," said Arkwright. "But I don't think we need to abandon the mainland just yet. The radioactivity is decaying further every day, and I think we'll be better off working to keep people supported where they are. There are certainly more refugees than we know of, and the islands aren't going to be able to support 'em all. For some reason, these spots have been spared, and there's no point in turning our backs on the progress that people have made in getting along where they're at."

"As an option, though, it's worth hanging onto," said Chen.

"Of course. Particularly with that Michigan crew. Who knows how long they'll be fighting the extended winter?"

Mitch McCormick chuckled briefly before speaking-he knew more about the Winter Camp colony than any other member of the makeshift Cabinet, and was pretty sure that the campers would be willing to endure a lot of winter. "A long time. I've talked to one of their people a few times, and I don't get the impression that they're suffering in the cold. It's almost like they're a colony of engineers terraforming an alien planet-there've been a lot of challenges that they're facing down successfully. I can see why they might resist forced relocation."

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