Chapter 1 (part 1)

[I am working on a novel and plan to post it chapter by chapter here on this blog. Feedback and encouragement are welcome! This is the first half of chapter 1. You can start with the prologue here.]

Chapter 1 (part 1)

When the world was watching Wichita burn, I was not, like Titus and Vivian, running around like an idiot trying to play God with who would be king next. I was preparing. For all his claims, Titus saved nothing. I don't think any other bombs would have fallen. There probably were no other bombs. I don't think anyone planned on dropping anything. I for all his claims of stopping monsters, I don't know that that particular monster would be any worse than the variety of monsters that run things now are.

No. He was an idiot. I am a genius. When you watch kids soccer, the little kids swarm to the ball. But the smarter kids are the first to figure out that instead of running at the ball, you run to where the ball is going. I am that kid. When everyone else was running around trying to figure out who was going to be king, I was figuring out how to how to live in this new world. I saw before anyone else saw that controlling resources (water, food, et cetera) was critical. I saw before anyone else that the game was going to be about lithium.

Yes, lithium. And Cobalt. Both of those metals are needed to make good batteries. And with the world falling apart batteries were going to be the future. In a country without infrastructure,  the weakest link is oil. Think about oil for a moment.

To get oil, we first have to find a pocket. This, by itself, is more of an art than a science. If you are lucky enough to find the oil, you then need to get drills in. This is expensive and requires very specialized materials. Once you get to the oil, you need to pump it out of the ground. This is dangerous and expensive. Once you pump it out, you need to put it in barrels, put the barells on a giant oil tanker, and sail thousands of miles to a refinery. Then you have to refine the oil (dangerous and expensive) to make gasoline. Once you have the gasoline you need to pipe or truck that to the various gas stations around the country. Then you need to have functioning gas pumps in a place where people cannot just steal the gas.

Honestly, it is miracle that we developed this in the first place. But if the world is in chaos, how the hell is all that going to work? If you have no internet, how can you manage money transfers and international business. If the country is falling apart, how can you manage interstate pipes and trucking? If the rule of law is undermined, how can you effectively distribute and sell a commodity like that?

So, where do lithium and cobalt come in? They are instrumental to making lithium ion batteries. And lithium ion batteries, as I predicted, became the dominant technology for transportation, energy storage, robotics, and generally keeping the world going. You see, batteries are much simpler. You can get electricity from the sun. From the wind. From every river. From burning garbage. It is so easy to make electricity. And then all you need to do is store it.... in batteries and you can go anywhere.

And here is the great thing about lithium and cobalt. There are only a few mines in North America. Cobalt only has one. In Idaho. In Silver Peak, Nevada. It is conveniently located close to the largest battery plant in the world (also in Nevada).  And all other ingredients needed have much more accessible supplies.

So, I saw that if I could take over and defend the one lithium mine, the one cobalt mine, and the largest battery manufacturer in North America, I could control the dominent energy source for a whole continent. And he who controls energy controls movement. He who controls movement controls the world. 

Simple right? Now you see why I am clearly smarter than Titus and Vivian. I am smarter than anyone. As everyone else was chasing the soccer ball, I went to where it was going. And I won.

I was not the richest man before the crash but I was heavily invested in gold and precious metals. When the crash happened and the dollar became worthless, suddenly my small fortune became a giant fortune. And with that giant fortune, I hired a small army to go take over those three locations. They were undefended. We went in. We forced the owners to give us the titles and sign them over to us and then we killed the owners. They were ours.

Now... defending them would be much harder. But it would get easier with time. Did you know that gasoline, even properly stored, only lasts a few months. Six at the most. Less than a year? After that, it starts to go bad. After that, anyone trying to take back my mines and factory would have to do so on horseback.

And you know what? I turned out to be right. As the forces throughout the nation fought, argued, moved troops around, gasoline supplies dried up and disappeared. Texas closed their borders and cut off everyone, a move I had not expected, putting more pressure more quickly on the gasoline supply. A few months passed before anyone of the regional governments figured out that alternatives to gasoline would have to be necessary. By the time they showed up at my doors, they were resource limited and desperate. The first of these governments to offer me a deal was California. California's control now included Nevada and Idaho so all three of my plants were inside their border. They tried to take them by force but all I had to do is offer a stick and a carrot. The stick would be that I would blow up all three facilities if they so much as fired a single shot. The carrot was that I promised to stock their military first with batteries for electric vehicles. This convinced them.

And now I am who I am. I would argue more powerful than any one government. At least in North America. And Titus thinks I am a villain. I think he is just mad because I thought of it and he did not.

But I don't care what he thinks. I don't care what anyone thinks. And frankly, none of this is the point. I just wanted you to know how I can see things before others can. If I was an ancient Roman, I would say that the gods revealed these things to me. But, divine or not, I have been on one hell of a roll with seeing the future.

Back to that. So, when Gilbert was just starting all this stuff, I warned everyone. I told the government. I told Titus' parents. I told Jeremiah. I told Isaiah. Everyone knew. No one did anything. Until, of course, it was too late. So, when they call me a murderer. When they say that I am the bad guy, keep in mind the number of deaths on my hands is less than 100. They are responsible for Washington. No one knows how many died there but it was probably at least half a million people. So, do not call me the monster. They did this.

I also warned about Government Emsworth. I told every leader I could talk to. Anyone that would listen. Everyone thought he could hold the government together. Everyone thought he was the great hope. I told everyone that the man is an idiot who could not tie his shoes if his wife did not do it for him. The chaos that followed Gilbert can be placed squarely on the feet of Emsworth. How many deaths came from that chaos? Hell, if they had not trusted Emsworth, we might still have gasoline.

So, despite the fact that it was not in my interest, I warned about Emsworth. What sort of monster does that? No monster. I am not a monster at all. They are. I simply see the future and do the right thing. And they are just mad about that I think.


So, why am I writing this? Why would someone with my life and schedule waste time writing down thoughts like this? Unlike Titus, I have no desire to make myself look good in history. I am not writing this for posterity. I am writing this as my next warning to humanity. I am going to tell you of these events in the past as a justification that you might listen to me. I will start with Washington and bring us through to today. And in the end, you will believe my warning:

Give me control or die.

I need to be ruling your government. I am talking to you Michigan. I am talking to you Dixie. I am talking to you California. I am talking to you Mexico. I am even talking to you Texas. Your time is running out. If you don't trust me, the fall out will make Washington look like a good day.

But I am getting ahead of myself. I promised to build a case before making my prediction.

My name is Lewis Ungit and I am the heir of the Ungit fortune. When I tell people that I am of the Ungit family, they often assume that I was born rich. But this is wrong. My great-grandfather built our family fortune. My grandmother, his only child, wasted much of it on charity. My father was left with only a few hundred million and left me with much less than that when he died when I was in the sixth grade. I was an orphan with almost nothing.


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