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Old 11-21-2012, 04:14 AM
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Thanks all. Sorry for the pause- life gets in the way.

Chapter 4
High in the sky.

Karl Hamilton whistled tunelessly as he riveted a filter frame into an air conditioning duct on the 15th floor of a new office building in the Brisbane CBD, yet another what would probably end up being a corporate office of some sort. Out the floor to ceiling window sprawled Brisbane, Queensland’s capital city; at his feet the CBD with the Brisbane River snaking through it stapled by multiple bridges, widening toward the east where it passed beneath the twin arches of the Gateway bridges and on to the oil refineries, container terminals and tanker docks. In the distance across the estuary he could just make out the low slung hills of Moreton Island and North Stradbroke forming a barrier against the vast Pacific Ocean.

Hell of a workplace, the 30 year old thought; and I even get paid! He had already sent his team home by the time his brother rang- had given them the afternoon off as deliveries of some ducting and filter frames had not arrived- some computer inventory screwup or something. No matter, they were a day ahead, there was enough work left for him to keep on with, and he wasn’t keen on going home to his flat- the Goth students upstairs were having a party tonight, and their music frankly sucked.

Still, his brothers phone call and emailed documents had put a bit of a dampener on his day. John always had been the older more cautious one; sure, the weather was funny, and Karl remembered coming across the Carrington Event during some electrical course he had done at TAFE years before- but odds on it wouldn’t happen. The Sun was huge- but it was still 93 million miles away. Anything it threw off would miss a small knob of rock the size of the Earth for sure.

He took a break, poured himself a coffee from his thermos and on his phone scrolled through some more of the files John had sent. Stuff it, he thought; he had no work that couldn’t wait till tomorrow- I’m going to make a game of this. Karl tapped out a quick reply to John, telling him he thought he was alarmist, but agreeing to meet if things west south in a big way, at the mine afterwards. He attempted to send but got a “Send failed, try again later?” message. Ah well, mobile network had been dropping in and out all day.

OK- he pulled his Panasonic Toughbook from his work bag, booted her up and ran a few headings and dot points, then made a quick inventory of what he had around him. Apart from what he had with him, he had the potential pickings of a worksite where literally dozens of trades were represented, with all the tools and supplies that entailed. If things went really crook, of course.

Shelter. He lived in an inner suburb of Brisbane in a ground floor unit of a lightly built apartment block. No use there. He would not have time to go home, grab his gear, then bail out south to John’s- he sure as hell wouldn’t turn up empty handed- that would never do, and by the time he sorted supplies the word would be out and traffic would most probably gridlock. But, he might have time to go home, grab some more gear and find somewhere a bit more sheltered....He looked around- sitting half way up a half built skyscraper, made of reinforced concrete and rooted in bedrock a block away from the river in a fenced off compound. This will do, he thought, especially if he made a nest in the central core; the floors above and below would make good thermal insulation, as would the distance out to the exterior walls. He would wait it out here, and make a run for John’s when it settled down.

Gear. Karl laughed at himself- being a tad lazy had its good points- last weekend he had been out bushcamping up the scrub in the mountains behind Brisbane and hadn’t yet taken the gear out of his 60 series ‘Cruiser. An ADF style Raven field pack had his sleeping bag, groundsheet, mattress pad, hootchie, mozzie net and spare bush clothes. His good Danner boots were at home, but his work boots weren’t far behind quality wise, black GP style boots with good grippy soles and steel toecaps. His pack also had his eating irons and brew kit plus his billy; a litre stainless paint pot he had picked up from Masters Hardware a week before and found worked well. A couple of ADF pouches and water bottles on a padded belt and H harness made a capable belt kit with room for his small med kit, balaclava, Headsox wrap, wet weather pants/jacket, fire kit and a small strobe and GPS/compass set. An MSR Whisperlite stove he had scored from a small Aussie online store AMTC Gear - great for cooking when there were no hotplates around- it was full luckily, so was good to go for a while there. A canteen cup he had “borrowed” from John years before and found too useful to give back along with a Honey stove clone a mate had made him from stainless offcuts.....A good M65 style jacket he had scored from a second hand shop- some sort of woodland camo with a Croatian Infantry badge on the shoulder. A bigger med kit aimed toward workplace injuries like metal splinters and cuts from sharp aluminium; plus a pack of N-100 particulate masks with valves. Leather work gloves, visor, Hi-Vis vest, hearing protection both plugs and muffs, and hard helmet rounded out his protective gear.

Water. In his bushwalking belt kit he carried a Lifestraw, barely used; in his pack was a Millbank filter which he used to pre filter the water before using the Lifestraw. Between the beltkit, pack and his possibles bag he had around 10 L of capacity, but around the building there would have to be more- there were vending machines down in the building site office dongas *, plus a couple of office style water coolers around the place.

Food- a few bits left over in his pack, plus in the rolling gear bag he used as his work possibles bag he had a few tins of soups and packs of noodles, some heat-and-eat meals plus muesli bars- he always kept a few bits aside in case he worked late, or like today when he was working way above where he could easily access snack vans.Not enough for more than a couple of days, but since he carried an extra few kilos Karl wasn’t worried about calories in the short term. For longer than a week though, he was well short; even with the built in energy stores around his waist. This would mean a run to a nearby shop for a quick butchers'* at what was available. If this flare thing was a bust, it would all go into his pantry for camping anyhoo.

Weapons. Huh. That was a bit lacking. In the lockbox in the back of the wagon was his Hoyt Carbon Matrix bow and a dozen arrows. Between his various packs and toolboxes he had a couple of good skinning knives and a Tramontina short machete, a Swiss Army soldiers knife, a cheap Leatherman clone (Karl was sick of losing good ones when he forgot where he put them while on the job.), a couple of cheap thick bladed folders rounded the sharpies out. Ah well, he thought, maybe not the shotgun, rifle and pistol plus backups that the US centric lists seemed to demand, but you went with what you had. If he got home, he had more suitable stuff there.....if he had time.

With his quick plan in place Karl moved his work bag into a small concrete walled room near the central core where the lift shafts were; it would be a wiring junction room when the sparkies* were done, but now all it held were a couple of plastic chairs and some milk crates for furniture, showing its status as an unofficial break room. Once he had done this he took the construction lift down to the ground and checked with the blokes in the guard shack- they pointed him to an Indian owned grocery down the street that was the closest supermarket- just what the doctor ordered he thought, he used Indian style premade meals for most of his camping and hunting trips.

A quick drive down the hill and he found himself in the sort of small supermarket/convenience store common to many inner Australian city suburbs, a general mix of groceries, cigarettes, etc but with a definite bias toward one or more ethnicities, in this case the Subcontinent. Grabbing a shopping trolley* Karl went quickly though his list. A 10 kg bag of white Pakistani rice- on special, make that 2- went on the rack underneath. Date rolls*; good ones, not the rubbish they expected contractors to use- most tradies brought their own, Karl was no exception with a roll in his possibles bag and another behind the seat in the ute; a couple of 12 packs. Noodles, the 2 minute type in various flavours, a half dozen 10 packs. Next the MTR precooked Indian meals, a half dozen of each of his favourite flavours, from Palak Paneer- spiced spinach gravy with cottage cheese, through Alu Muttar- curried potato and peas in gravy, and his current fave, Paneer Butter Masala. Karl loved these because they were simple heat-and-eat, came in a foil pouch, and had usually anything up to an 18 month best before date. Over a bit of boiled rice, great tucker.

The swaggies’* favourites; tea, sugar, white flour, golden syrup, treacle; getting into a rhythm he added a 2 kilo of dried milk powder, tin of dried yeast, big tin of Milo, and 4 flat 12 packs of UHT milk. A 4L tin of Olive oil, Weetbix cereal, rolled oats, a few of each. That pretty much filled the trolley, so Karl headed for the check out. The young Indian-Australian bloke on the register was not keen on him taking the trolley out of the store but a $100 deposit and a promise to be right back to refill was enough to calm him down, on the second trip he hit the tinned goods; baked beans, spaghetti, meaty stews, a lone tin of Spam in case it really was the end of the world, some creamed rice pudding, jars of honey. To round things off, a few packets of biscuits and crackers, then a half dozen packets of dried soup in various flavours, and a couple of big bottles of Coke. Since the supermarket had a bottleshop attached, it seemed as good a time as ever to add 2 cartons of Victoria Bitter. Workplace Occ Health and Safety be damned, he thought. I can always leave it in the ute....or bribe the onsite security, beer economy and all that...... Pushing the now quite heavy trolley ahead of him, Karl headed back toward the checkout.

Later, sitting in the ‘Cruiser and waiting to enter traffic, he pondered making a run for more gear from his unit across the city.......

*Sparky- Electrician.
*Butchers'- Having a Butchers' Hook- having a look around
*Swaggie- Swagman. Slang for Aussie blokes travelling around rural areas looking for work during the Great Depression, carrying a “swag” or bedroll.
*Shopping trolley - shopping cart.
*Date rolls- toilet paper.
*Tradies- tradesmen/contractors.
*Donga – originally an Aboriginal bush shelter, term now used for prefab offices, bunk rooms, etc.
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Old 11-21-2012, 07:07 AM
rextex rextex is offline
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Really good story, thanks.
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:01 AM
223shootersc 223shootersc is offline
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thanks for the new chapter
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Old 11-21-2012, 12:21 PM
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Swaggie is our hobo for hoe boy. They would carry their gear on the handle of a hoe they used for the odd job of hoeing.
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Old 11-21-2012, 01:20 PM
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Thanks for the new chapter, everything made sense at the time except the date roll , almost chocked when I saw what it was. LOL
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Old 11-21-2012, 02:51 PM
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Thumbs up CArrington Event

lasted not as a one day event but as about 7 days' worth of sparks a flying.

Great lead up and well written; many thanks,
overbore
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Old 11-21-2012, 04:25 PM
Marlin 45 carbine Marlin 45 carbine is offline
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yeah mate - bravos to ya!
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Old 11-21-2012, 06:20 PM
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Great story, please keep it up
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Old 11-28-2012, 02:15 AM
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I really enjoyed what you've done so far. Thank you.
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Old 11-28-2012, 07:37 PM
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It's been a week, we have been patient, mostly please give us more.
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Old 11-28-2012, 09:00 PM
rextex rextex is offline
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Ok there's a group of us on the way down to Australia. Better be a new chapter by then!!!! Joking of course!
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Old 12-06-2012, 12:40 PM
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Still checking everyday for MORE! great story, please continue it.
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Old 12-06-2012, 01:43 PM
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moar please. don't make us beg. ok, (begging) MOAR!
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Old 12-06-2012, 02:52 PM
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And another one bites the dust! lol
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Old 12-07-2012, 05:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rextex View Post
And another one bites the dust! lol
No, it's coming. Work, kids, plus what passes for domestic bliss all take their toll. I warned yoos' lot that it would take a while. I do promise I will see it through, but there will be gaps.
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Old 12-07-2012, 08:40 AM
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Hard Hittin 54r Hard Hittin 54r is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AKM. View Post
No but there will be gaps.
Hey brother, we don't care about your sex life just post another dang chapter...
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:49 AM
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Give the man his due. His happy life is what enables good scribbling time.
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:08 AM
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Chapter 5

Edges fraying.

Across the world, military units continued moving. A keen observer might have noticed changed patterns of behaviour amongst various power brokers; movers and shakers began to go on unplanned holidays to undisclosed locations with their families, or in some cases without them.....Several high level “anti terror” exercises continued in the US and across the world, with military units going on alert. Nothing out of the ordinary, just another in a series of drills that the US seemed to have been doing during this Northern Hemisphere summer. Naval units put to sea, and some might have noticed increased activity at various sub bases around the continental US- more missile boats and attack subs were at sea than at any time in the last decade, but all were so far travelling openly.

Chatter about solar activity flooded the internet, and more than a few of those who labelled themselves preppers and survivalists started taking more notice, especially when coupled with military movements changes and officials becoming more scarce. Some began moving up planned preparations and purchases, others deciding to visit their retreats “for a few days.”

Agitation increased among non-humans too; ants heading indoors and underground, fish moving into deeper water; domestic animals like dogs and cats more restive and distracted.

A sense of unease growing unconsciously among man and beast alike.


Main .Gov shelter, under Parliament House, Canberra.

Prime Minister Syd Reid leaned back behind his desk, and through half closed eyes surveyed the two men and one woman in the cramped office with him. Despite the no-smoking rule ruthlessly enforced throughout the rest of the underground town, his trademark pipe sent a faint plume of acrid smoke vertically toward the low ceiling where it disappeared into some hidden vent or other. He coughed irritably, making his belly shake where it strained his shirt as it spilled over his Italian leather belt. Chris Bland, burly former trade unionist and now Speaker reached into the small fridge built into a cupboard and pulled forth a bottle of Crown Lager. Popping the cap of the near freezing beer he hoisted it in salute to Syd, then drank a good half in long deep swallows before turning to the man perusing a file spread out along the top of another desk.

“George.....OY GEORGE!” He burped.

“Yeah what, Bland?” Senator George East replied without lifting his head from the lists he was going over. “What amazing thing is going to come dribbling out your cake-hole now?” The neat former ASIO analyst finally closed the file and turned to the other man. Decades of working as a public servant had inured him to the boorishness of the average elected representative and the interest groups that had got them there. His disdain of Bland was obvious to the others in the room, but Bland plowed on regardless.

“Donnelly. Chris Donnelly. The opinionated bastard that heads up EMA and is running the shelter program. He's pushing us to go public sooner, reckons it will save lives.”

“It probably will. Save lives that is.” East pushed his wire rimmed glasses back up his nose as he replied.

“Yeah, but it will cause panic. We are running behind with getting some of our final things done; and as sure as apples are red it will start to impact our schedules. That East Coast Low weather system in the Tasman is complicating things with the rain coming ashore. We got people out there who aren’t ready-” East butted in.

“You mean your “mates” who got you into office? I’m getting calls that some of your cronies are throwing their weight around.” Bland shrugged.

“So, you would rather risk people’s lives, over a few last minute “favours” for mates, hey?” This came from the far corner of the office, where Jo Cook sat working on a tablet PC. She flicked her shoulder length dark hair back from her face and narrowed her oval eyes at him. “The earlier the warnings get out, the more likely people will get a better chance at finding adequate shelter.”

Bland tilted a jaundiced eye in her direction, barked a short, bitter laugh.
“Ha! Millions are probably going to die in this country in the next few days. Maybe all of us- and you’re going to risk our own preparations over saving how many? Maybe a few thousand more?”

“Tell you what, darlin’” He leaned closer to her and sneered; his beery breath making her wince. “How about you give your spot to some mug from Macquarie Fields who doesn’t know his fist from his flagon? Some busted-@rse reffo cow with her 6 kids? You don’t think that maybe those folks out there are going to blame US for not getting them shelter? Their entitlement mentality needs someone to blame- and we, .Gov, will be the ones to blame. Like always.”

East piped up.” Yep, good to see you have such a supportive view of those in your electorate; you know......the ones who actually voted you in......” As Bland turned and began his retort, Reid spoke up. The experience gained from innumerable backroom and caucus battles over many years showed through as he closed Bland down.

“Bland! Shut it. I’m sure George is appreciative of your associates efforts in getting this program operational, but some of the ‘favours’ you have called in are causing disquiet among the crew. Hand picking your staff and stacking the deck with some of the people you have brought in rather than accepting the recommendations of Donnelly are leading to questions being asked. Tone it down a little, hey? And fer Chrissake leave my beer alone.......” Bland sheepishly returned the next unopened beer to the fridge.

“Yeh, alright Syd; I best be getting along to see a man about a dog anyway. Later, East.” He directed a glare at the senator as he slouched from the office. Once the door closed, Prime Minister Reid turned to Jo Cook. The facade of the cynical political animal dropped, revealing the concern and stress of a leader facing horrific decisions.

“Jo. Have you got the latest from the Canadians yet?”

“Yes PM; we have a message from Ottawa; they are confirming they are on schedule. Their analysts suggest that given the levels of US activity that they expect things to get bad by dawn their time, so only a few hours now. Being high summer is not helping- lucky for us though. Our data is incomplete, and we still don't have access to those new satellites of theirs that they promised. But- the RCAF also report activity that seems to point to some sort of move against Svalbard.” Reid turned his gimlet gaze on Senator East.

“Svalbard- Norway? Seedbank isn’t it?” East nodded.

“Yes. Arguably the biggest and best of over 1400 seed collections worldwide. Dug into a mountain, over 20 millions seeds covering 400 000 varieties. If they are looking at taking control, they must be assuming that we will come out the other side of this alive.” Reid pondered this for a moment.

“Hmm. Pretty serious strategic move.....Interesting they are preparing to move now. Sort of implying it might be difficult to do so later. Jo, your thoughts?”

“Nothing comes to mind- I’ll put it to the analysts- they’ll make sense of it.”

She made a notation on her tablet; while doing so an incoming message bleeped. “Sir, our assets have reports of increased activity at Darwin since this morning, both air and ground- unscheduled air movements coming in, and US Naval assets are leaving harbour. The US Ambassador has left his residence and is heading for the airport, his Marine escort are in battle gear- not a trusting feller it would seem......” The tablet bleeped again. Her face greyed perceptibly as she scanned the contents of the second message.

“....and we appear to have lost contact with Pine Gap......”
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Old 12-11-2012, 08:09 AM
elZ elZ is offline
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Very good, the story unfolds nicely with lots of interesting subplots to be developed in the future. I am really pleased with the mastery of the author on plot development and his talent for building up suspense.
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Old 12-11-2012, 08:40 AM
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Thanks. I'm just throwing out a few what-if's, along with average folks from peasant to politician having to choose between bad and worse decisions. Plus my decidedly dodgy humour. :D
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