[previously Ray has given Cameron the list of ten cities in North America that Nicolae intends to obliterate.]
The Range Rover, now with more than a few bullet holes, and it's three passengers, thankfully lacking any, arrived at New Hope.
Cameron and Alice got out without pausing their cell phone conversation, a desperate attempt to find anyone able to warn the targeted cities that they were being targeted, made more difficult by their decision to to turn on the government at the start of the war, hours before they had the information.
By now the tide had turned, a GC victory seemed unavoidable, and all that remained was to try to get as many people out of the way of the "lesson" the GC planned to teach to traitors. The problem was that getting people out of the way required getting the message out, and the GC had been dismantling the media since it realized the media was no longer under its control.
Most of those who weren't dead or detained were on the run themselves, in no shape to disseminate information.
Verna, who had been occupied by driving, had handed her cell phone off to Cameron, and now that she was out of the car she was ready to get back to trying to find someone, anyone, who could get the word out. She held out her hand, Cameron gave her his phone as he continued to talk on hers.
As Cameron walked into New Hope he was talking to one of the few surviving reporters on the ground in Washington. Cameron hoped that the man was just one of the few they knew about, and feared he was simply one of the few. Perhaps, at this point, the only. He'd talked to him earlier in the day and the situation sounded bad. "This is Camr-"
"I told you before I don't-"
"Just listen. Something is coming. Something worse than all the bombs that have been dropped so far. Maybe someone can stop it, but if the bomber gets through then there will no longer be a Washington DC so I need you tell everyone, no matter which side they're, on, to get out now. Head for the city limits and keep on going. Shelter if they have to, but it's not a safe bet."
There was a pause.
"I can't evacuate an entire city."
"Neither can I, but unless you know of a network of fallout shelters-"
"Would the subway work?"
"I have no idea. Just tell as many people as you can, however you can, the biggest bomb they've ever seen is coming."
"I can do that." *Pause* "Thanks for the heads up." The reporter hung up.
Cameron looked around, the inside of the church was a sea of faces and pain, most of the church now serving first aid needs. If there was an order he couldn't discern it and he didn't have time. He shouted, "I need to see Loretta!" over the cacophony.
A young woman he didn't recognize came up to him and said, "You're in luck, we just got back."
When the reached Loretta, Cameron introduced her to Verna, explained, about the list of ten cities of be nuked, and asked if they could use the church's underground network to get the word out.
This was interrupted by the phone Verna had ringing, "It's for you," she said to Cameron.
"Yeah. Listen, how important was your friend?"
"I'm holed up in an abandoned building looking over the tape. It looks to me like the hospital wasn't collateral, it was the target, and it's not just that, there's-"
"Listen, Jake, we don't have a lot of time, where are you?"
When Cameron asked where the nearest shelter was, the same young woman as before answered. "Can you give directions?" Cameron asked. She nodded. Into the phone he said, "I'm giving you to..." he looked at the young woman, "I'm sorry, I don't know your name."
"I'm giving you to Jane, she's going to guide you to safety."
He handed Jane the phone.
Verna and Loretta were hastily trying to combine the resources of the still-free media staff and the underground church system, in an effort both to save the rogue reporters and to get the word out using different methods. Phone trees and church PAs and commandeered radio stations.
Alice was helping, but she felt like she should be doing something else, something more in line with her skill set.
Cameron interrupted this to say, "Jake thinks the initial attack might have been targeting Bruce, does anyone have a reason why that might make sense?"
The New Hopers were wondering who Jake was, Verna and Alice were wondering who Bruce was. This was cleared up quickly when Cameron said, "Bruce was the pastor here, Jake is the one we sent to cover the attack that destroyed the hospital Bruce was in."
Lorretta shrugged, "He didn't have a lot of time to tell us anything before he got sick. We tried to look at his laptop but couldn't break the encryption, and it's been low priority."
"I can take a crack at it," Alice said.
"It's in his his office," Loretta offered.
Cameron said, "Everyone else is busy, I'll show you where." Verna and Loretta returned to the work of combining their networks.
In Bruce's office Cameron said, "I told you this day was prophesied right?"
"Yeah, you made a big speech, we all agreed to fight fate."
"That hasn't gone very well," Cameron said glumly.
"Day ain't over yet," Alice said while she booted up Bruce's laptop.
"Anyway, what I was trying to say is we've been preparing, to the best of our ability, for this day."
"Meaning that there's a shelter under this church intended to protect it's occupants from nuclear war."
"Big as we could make it in 18 months. And scattered others throughout the city." He paused for a moment, wondering how Chloe was doing in her's. "The point is, if things go to shit, follow the others into the shelter."
The door burst open, "You have to see this!"
Cameron looked toward Alice. She said, "Well go and report, reporter."
Cameron patted his pockets, "I don't have a camera."
Before he finished saying it Alice had produced a small video-camera from her bag.
By the time she finished saying, "I do." Cameron was out the door with it.
Most of the New Hopers were to busy to look outside, but those who weren't crowded into the parking lot, some standing atop the cars to get better views.
Cameron scrambled to the top of the Range Rover that had brought him there and recorded what had captured their attention. Straining the camera's zoom he could make out an aerial battle. From everything he had heard the insurgents didn't have much of an air-force left, but they must have found something to try to defend the city. It gave him hope that his warning had gotten through.
Then the battle was over. Balls of fire streamed from the sky, but there was no more fighting. One side had lost. As the plane zoomed closer Cameron's heart sunk. He wasn't a military reporter, he knew little about planes, but he knew that the thing that passed overhead was more likely to be used to drop a bomb than to shoot down a bomber.
It didn't pass directly overhead, but it did come closer on it's way passed, heading toward the center of Chicago.
It dropped its payload on parachutes, a way for the plane to get a safe distance while the bomb was still in the air, Cameron assumed. His hand shook, and the camera magnified every insecurity, since it was zoomed in so far.
Cameron zoomed out, but made sure the thing dropping on parachutes was still visible and mumbled something about the possibility he wouldn't keep it in frame because he was going to shield his eyes. Then he covered his eyes with the elbow he wasn't using to hold the camera, and waited.
The time seemed to drag on forever, the temptation to take a peek was almost overwhelming. Then he was bathed in light. Someone screamed, "Everyone inside!"
Cameron looked at the camera, it said it was still recording, but the video screen was black, he checked the lens cap and assumed that the light had knocked out the visual sensors. Maybe it could still record sound. He tried to describe what he was seeing, but the description felt like it fell flat. How do you describe your home in flames? How do you describe hope dying?
Then he ran. God only knew what the shockwave would be like.
[As a disclaimer, I know nothing about bombs, perhaps-nuclear or otherwise.]
[Skewed Slightly to the Left Index]