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River of Night: Prologue

       Last updated: Monday, March 18, 2019 19:42 EDT



River Of Night

By John Ringo and Mike Massa


    During the endgame of the Fall, state governments and major cities of the United States lost their ability to provide essential services to their populations. This development was accelerated by the degree that each state and municipality relied on electrical power that was generated from feedstock, be it natural gas, coal or oil. A unique government corporation formed in 1933, the Tennessee Valley Authority, spanned seven southeastern states and operated a variety of power generation facilities, including traditional fossil fueled plants as well as nuclear power plants and hydro-electric facilities.

    These last had a dual role, providing not just immense amounts of electrical power, but also improving the navigability of the economically important Ohio and Tennessee Rivers as well as controlling the propensity of the region to severely flood during seasonal rains.

    Unfortunately, all sophisticated equipment requires human supervision and periodic maintenance. As H7D3 took firm hold in the region, the nuclear plants were safely spun down to cold iron. The infrastructure necessary to move fuel to the traditionally powered generating facilities broke down, and these fossil-fuel plants also went dark. Solar facilities and hydro-electric sources of power lasted the longest of all. However, the chaos of the Fall, the desperation of operators trying to protect their families and the inevitable fighting over increasing scarce resources also impacted these parts of the formerly vast network of power generation and distribution that was the TVA.

    As the lights went out all over the world, the myriad ways that humans had shaped their world for convenience and entertainment were set afire, shattered or abandoned. As with any radical shift in the environment, there were adjustments. Domesticated animals that had become dependent on humans for their daily survival were rapidly converted into food by the dwindling numbers of healthy humans or by their far more numerous competitors, the infected. However, food animals and what stored crops existed were a limited resource, and the great civilization that was built on automation and sophisticated logistics crumbled to ruins.

    It was the beginning of new dark age and a bad time to be human.

    On the other hand, there were winners and losers.

    The lakes and rivers that dominated the Tennessee Valley region provided a ready source of water to the infected that slowly dispersed from the population centers. A huge number of the dead ended up in the river system, and from a strictly pragmatic view, they enriched the ecology.

    Without any natural predators and now free of the bothersome humans, the channel catfish, the flatheads, and the mighty blues prospered, making the most of the expanded food sources so thoughtfully provided by their former hunters.

    It might have sucked for everyone else, but it was a pretty good time to be a catfish.

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