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Springfield — On a desolate stretch of highway, only a few miles from the city, sits a nondescript warehouse, surrounded by a tall fence, and protected 24/7 by heavily armed guards. It is large, covering more than four acres, and it is filled with row after row of floor-to-ceiling shelves. One end is lined with massive refrigeration units, and the other is home to a giant vault. This particular warehouse is just one in a network of thousands like it spanning the globe, operating in the shadows, preparing for the largest disaster in modern times.

Each warehouse in the network is operated by a “cell” staffed by retired government employees. The Springfield cell is headed by Richard Wagner, retired EPA lawyer, who goes by the code name Mr. Black. He leads a small team of septuagenarians who have been working for more than a year, collecting supplies for the warehouse and planning for the big day. The day, coming in April this year, that life on Earth will be changed forever.

The company paying the bills for this operation has the generic name Consolidated Logistics Partners (CLP). The company has no web site, no social media presence, no publicly available information at all. Yet worldwide, it holds assets worth hundreds of billions of dollars. According to Wagner, “CLP provides integrated logistics services to governments and NGOs.” Except this appears to not be the case, as the most prominent NGO client he could identify, The American Red Cross, has never heard of CLP. To get an idea of the scale of this operation: the cells operating in the United States have 600 times the combined warehouse space of the entire American Red Cross. While the Red Cross boasts it could care for 100,000 people for 30 days with what it has on hand, this operation could care for sixty million.

The contents of the warehouses range from the mundane—peanut butter, toilet paper, medical masks and gowns, to the disconcerting—gold bullion, semi-automatic assault weapons, narcotics, and illegally produced copies of name-brand drugs. These contents are sourced both domestically and abroad, facilitated by a smuggling operation that the US Drug Enforcement Administration and Customs and Border Protection agencies are aware of, yet willfully ignore. (The authorities have been informed of all illegal activity uncovered while researching this story.)

When the big day comes, each warehouse is prepared to service its local community by providing supplies to those in need. Each family will be issued a color-coded wristband, which allows them to “shop” at the warehouse once a week. Armed guards will ensure that the operation remains orderly, and that the once-a-week rule is obeyed. Whether this is enough to alleviate suffering remains to be seen, as the disaster they are preparing for is unlike any that modern society has ever witnessed.

The cover story Wagner tells is one of environmental disaster. Between the effects of global climate change, destruction of habitat leading to loss of species diversity, and pollution, he sees the end of our way of life as inevitable. “My legacy,” Wagner explains, “will be that I helped to create a network of relief centers that helped humanity cope with the extinction level event.” What he fails to acknowledge is that this particular extinction level event is not the result of mankind’s irresponsible behavior spanning 120 years of industrialization. Rather, the event these retirees are preparing for is the result of just one really bad decision, made only 30 years ago—the nuclearization of space.

According to a high-level government source, the Strategic Defense Initiative—commonly known as Star Wars—was not the spectacular failure you read about on Wikipedia. In fact, using the first Gulf War as cover, this program managed to launch thousands of “brilliant pebbles” into orbit, intended to eliminate the threat of Russian and Chinese inter-continental ballistic missiles. And, according to this source, they opted for nuclear “pebbles” because, “You don’t need a direct hit when you blow up a nuclear weapon.”

Unfortunately, a design flaw allowed the Russians and Chinese to disable these orbiting missiles only a few years after they were deployed. So now there are literally thousands of nuclear warheads orbiting our planet. According to the source, “If you went outside right now and knew what to look for, you could find probably a half dozen of those pebbles over the top of us right now.”

This April, the first of those pebbles is going to fail and NASA is going to have to detonate it. According to the source, NASA agreed to monitor the “pebbles” as part of its Near Earth Object tracking program, when the SDIO shut down operations in the 1990s. In the case one of these devices loses altitude, NASA is prepared to destroy it. While the thought of a nuclear payload falling to Earth and ending up in the hands of terrorists is itself terrifying, the alternative of detonation may not be much better: gamma rays from the nuclear explosion will hit the atmosphere causing a High-altitude Electromagnetic Pulse—HEMP. Whatever country has the misfortune to be directly below the explosion will lose its power grid, and almost all consumer electronic devices will be destroyed. (Military hardware is likely to be sufficiently shielded and should survive the event.) As physicist Steve Harrington explains, “It would be like living in the 1800s for a while.”

Where this will happen is anyone’s guess, but suppose it happened here in the United States. According to various internet sources, replacing the entire grid could take years and cost trillions of dollars. Trillions of dollars that the government will not have, since the entire economy is likely to shut down. Productivity will likely soar, given the loss of the internet and social media, but productivity doing what? Even farming has evolved to be a high-tech industry these days. It isn’t clear what any of us could do to prepare for this, which may be why CLP has chosen to operate in secret.

We can only hope that wherever this tragedy occurs, the rest of the planet is prepared to help them recover once CLP’s supplies run out.

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