New York City
The building on 59th street had a magnificent view overlooking the East river. Richard Redmond’s apartment took up a quarter of the 42cnd floor. As he lounged in his hot tub his gaze swept out over the river and across Queens.
He was a big enough man to admit it when he made a mistake, at least that’s what he told himself, and going on the Alchibah expedition had not turned out well. His goal of ruling an entire planet as a king had proven impossible to bring about. All that was over; now he was back at the center of the World government where he belonged.
The Rogon conquest had been the best thing that could have happened to Richard Redmond. He was one of the first to realize that the resistance was doomed against Rogon power. And with the resistance would go the war mongering Neanderthals who ran the military. Before leaving for Alchibah he had pushed through a 75% cut in the military budget. Further cuts had occurred while he was gone.
The trip back to Earth in the Rogon ship had been awful. By the last 4 days he had been forced to live off of Rogon food. Someone had described Rogon ship fare as whale blubber dipped in goats blood, Richard Redmond was certain that was a charitable description.
But after returning to Earth this morning he had enjoyed a working lunch with the Secretary General, veal cutlets, lobster, chocolate covered truffles and escargot.
Cham Lo, was if anything, more of a fool than the last World leader. It had taken Redmond 2 hours to finally explain how the Alchibah expedition was a resounding success. The rebel’s town and homes had been destroyed, and the rebels themselves had been forced to hide in caves. The images would prove to the resistance that their hopes for support from Hamilton and his runaways were futile.
But the house of cards was about to topple.
Decades before it had been realized within the environmental movement that it was unfair that the rich paid the same rates for energy as the poor. And so progressive rates structures for electricity and fuels were introduced; to insure that justice was done, metering and billing had been taken over by the government. This had the added benefit of allowing for precise regulation of the electric distribution grid.
At 21:00 all the computers that relayed demand factors to the power plants stopped sending. Over 70% of North American power generation came from nuclear plants, either fission or fusion. When the safety computers controlling the reactors suddenly saw there was no demand the plants began automatic shutdown procedures.
The 20 some percent of the plants that were either hydroelectric geothermal of fuel driven could be switched to manual operation; but this was not permitted for nuclear plants and so the operators of the power grid had to begin shutting off power to selected customers. Public lighting and commercial users were turned off first but it didn’t take long before residential users began losing power.
Richard Redmond was surprised when the light in his apartment suddenly went out, as he climbed out of his tub he could see block after block of Queens going dark. He soon discovered that his secure communication systems were inoperative. This was intolerable! He would have to go to his office and get to the bottom of this.
The first problem he encountered was that the elevators in the building were not working, by the time he reached street level he was breathing quite hard. Normally he would have a limo take him the 15 blocks up town to Turtle Bay. But tonight he would be forced to take public transportation.
The famed New York City subway system had been augmented with thousands of miles of overhead trolleys. To use the system all that was necessary was to purchase a token at an automated ticket machine at any boarding station. This could be accomplished using cash or credit as long as one had a valid UN identity card. Richard Redmond was ready to fly into a rage when the machine was unable to verify his identity.
In fact of the almost 3 billion retail transactions that take place each day in North America, over 65 % require presentation and verification of ID
And The UN computers that handled verification were down.
The banking system in North America and Asia had its own communications systems independent of the United Nations but when the banks opened the next morning they would still be dependent on the UN identity verification system.
The central banks of Europe were not so lucky, When the UN secure net, purged itself over 19 and a half trillion new Euros simply disappeared
In North America over 400 million people were watching the tri-vee when all the stations went dead, if that wasn’t enough to make a citizen mad all long distance phone coverage and about 60 % of local service was out. Beginning about 10 minutes after 9, large areas began to lose electric power. The people were angry and they were coming out of their homes. As the streets filled with people, rumors of riots, and UN police going berserk, even Rogon ships bombing cities, spread like wildfire.
Richard Redmond had finally flagged down a passing UN police cruiser and demanded a ride to UN headquarters, the streets were beginning to fill up with disreputable looking persons.
UN headquarters was provided with power from the Emergency grid that powers hospitals and other critical facilities. It was a surprise to Richard Redmond that the information systems were non functional there as well. The building did have some very old “hard lines”; dedicated links to world capitals.
The information that was coming in was very bad. Europe and Africa were if anything, hit harder than North America’ all power and 97% of phone service was out, transportation systems were all halted. Air traffic all over the globe was grounded.
Most of the Worlds Ocean going cargo was on automated vessels. The majority of ships simply began to drift, some however continued under power waiting for the signals that would guide them into port, these ships would not be stopped until they ran into something solid.
The people of Europe were asleep when the systems failed, but in North America the people were out in the streets. When they began to discover they couldn’t purchase food or liquor, because their ID didn’t work… they just helped themselves. Looting quickly turned to vandalism and arson. Within hours the mobs fueled by anger and rage, began to move into areas where taxpayers lived, here they got a surprise.
The small numbers of people with connection to the resistance had spread the word of what was coming. Across America millions of illegal firearms were brought out of secret hiding places. It was a night of unprecedented human tragedy. The streets ran red with blood, the fires in the inner cities began to spread consuming block after block of homes and stores.
In the days to come the ranks of the resistance would swell 100 fold.
At UN headquarters they worked through the night trying to find out what happened. Little notice was paid to the hordes of rioters in the streets below, driven off again and again by the police.
A picture began to unfold of UN agencies fighting a war amongst themselves. Plots to gain favor with the Rogons, schemes to discredit the current leadership, and plans to turn the UN army and navy against their leaders, by murdering the hostage families. And something had gone terribly wrong.
Richard Redmond looked out over the East River at the flames of a thousand burning buildings, and he smiled. “Let the world burn” he thought. The time for weak leaders was gone, The Rogons would need a man with a fist of iron to rule for them, and Richard Redmond was that man. In the morning he would move into the Secretary Generals office. He would contact the Rogons and a new era would begin. The slaves would learn to fear and obey a real master. Absolute power would be his.