The American Republic which had endured civil war and world wars, which had survived for a quarter of a millennium, was abolished with the stroke of a pen. Congress and the judicial branch were eliminated, rendered irrelevant. It was proof, for those who sought it, that our imperfect union would not survive this latest and most terrible calamity.
Most in the MOCAS shelters barely cared. The world was ending, what was democracy worth?
It was the first act of the newly-empowered Executive. The history books can argue whether or not the President was right to issue Order 899. It amounted to triage of the 63 MOCAS shelters still operational. The ISU acted quickly with its newly formed Rapid Reaction Teams. Some shelters, understaffed, were simply abandoned. The inhabitants were relocated to facilities depending on their expertise and supplies were recovered from the bunkers.
There were other shelters, a few, near major metropolitan areas that experienced something different. These shelters were overcrowded with civilian refugees and inadequately provisioned to provide for their inhabitants over the coming months and years. Their names will be remembered. WITCHBROOK near Cleveland, FAIRLAWN on the outskirts of Los Angeles, and most infamously HAZEL near New York City.
The ISU teams crept in under the cover of night with lists of experts, engineers, doctors, and scientists. There were rumors of celebrity lists, approved by the President, and unsavory rosters of women handpicked by the ISU from ID photos to "improve the genetic diversity" of the important shelters. Mothers were torn from their children. Fathers were forced to leave their families behind. Those on the lists were bundled into helicopters and flown to RAVEN ROCK.
At WITCHBROOK and FAIRLAWN the ISU sacked the facilities for anything useful. The hydroponic labs were emptied, the non-perishables were put onto trucks, fresh water was pumped from underground cisterns into tanker trucks, the machine shops were stripped, and every replacement part was taken away. The last indignity was the removal of communications equipment. The ISU stole the voices of WITCHBROOK and FAIRLAWN, leaving the thousands behind to silently cope with their fate. No one knows what happened to them.
HAZEL was something different. Something terrible. Word had somehow circulated about what the ISU was doing. When the helicopters and trucks arrived outside HAZEL there was a murmur of unrest in the facility. Things proceeded in an orderly manner at first. The staff cooperated and scientists and doctors began to file into the helicopters. When the ISU troops began the ugly process of separating the unwilling wheat from the chaff things broke down.
Someone had smuggled guns into HAZEL. An ISU trooper was shot and killed. Another was badly injured. They returned fire, killing the attacker and two bystanders. It might have been contained then, but it wasn't. Brandishing a handful of small arms and improvised weapons, the thousands of refugees crammed into HAZEL rose up and attacked the ISU force. Another ISU trooper fell and then another. One was dragged into the mob and never seen again. The commander pulled them back, outside the facility, and sealed the locks.
The officers did an accounting. Of their list of over 300 fewer than 50 had been loaded onto the helicopters. The commanding officer was at a loss for how to handle the situation and requested clarification from ROCKY II.
The President never took responsibility for giving the order. ISU Director Donald Ridge pawned it off on the acting director of the USCF, a retired Army General at CHESAPEAKE named Burnham. Military engineers flew in from WOODSTOCK and set to work. Before dawn they had shut down and capped the ventilation system. HAZEL became an airless tomb. Thousands of men, women, and children suffocated inside.
The following morning the ISU cracked the hatches and reentered a silent bunker filled with corpses. No more protests or opposition. The troopers stepped gingerly over the huddled bodies of entire families as they ransacked the facility for anything useful.
There is a stone tablet at RAVEN ROCK commemorating the incident. On its glossy black surface are inscribed the names of the three men and one woman from ISU who died at HAZEL. The names of the 9,718 victims who were shot down or suffocated at HAZEL are only remembered by a list in the bowels of a central government database.
We might find we have more in common than we think if we just stop fighting long enough to combine our bodies into a singular organism.
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