Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode four hundred and twelve.
Tonight we present The Irregular Division: Eye of the Sturm und Drang
This week’s episodes are brought to you by Get Published
Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.
Tonight, the public has its first encounter with the government-assembled group of misfits who would one day become known as the Irregular Division.
The Irregular Division: Eye of the Sturm und Drang
Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May
March, Year One
Source: Verbal Debrief Following Operation Pancake Grid
Adviser: Major Nelson Wily
Subject: Corporal Jennifer Glat, AKA Ms. Atlas
Wily: Okay, it’s recording. Just give me the rundown of how you saw the operation unfold. Who knows, maybe kids will be listening to this at a museum exhibit someday.
Atlas: Uh huh.
Following a two week period of downtime I was collected from a West Coast VA facility to meet in an administrative office in a Capital City hospital. Special Operative Head and I were formally introduced, and he was provided with a rundown of the situation. He was sarcastic and questioning. He challenged the plan, and insinuated that my daughter’s recent death would cloud my judgement.
I’d like to go on record as saying that, while I appreciate the opportunity to lead this unit, I feel that Head is not up to what was envisioned when the surgeons scraped what was left of me off of that floor in Aleppo.
I admit to an outburst that may have been peppered with a mild threat or two.
Wily: [unintelligible coughing]
Atlas: The situation was brought under control, and we were briefed on a fast moving scenario in New York state.
We were told a computer security expert by the name of Morris Fulbright had taken down essential components of the electrical grid, and that the operation zone, including New York City itself, was in total darkness. Fulbright had anonymously released a statement that the flaw he’d found in the public utility’s software had allowed him to run portions of the network at extreme heats until they burnt out. He also claimed he was working on behalf of a larger organization, although no evidence of that was found.
Intelligence intercepted the message before it got too far on the net, and the brains were hoping to turn the GDCF into a PR win by sending in a small strike force to subdue the what they termed a “cyber-terrorist.”
Eager for hearts and minds, the man responsible for the death of my daughter and I were sent to collect, as we were told, “a computer nerd from his plush suburban home.”
I recall one of the tech guys in the office telling us there was no way Fulbright could know we were coming, as the technology to break the encryption he’d used to anonymize himself was classified.
Despite the secrecy, however, it’s my understanding that the time and location was somehow misplaced so that a single news helicopter was on the scene to witness our arrival.
* * *
July, Year One
Title: Action Squad, Go!
I get it. On paper it looks perfect: They’ve got this guy with a prototype computer interface stapled to his brain and a vet that military doctors and cyberneticists have remade into the world’s first death dealin’ cyborg. The IT expert and the muscle, just like in any spy flick.
It’s funny on screen when the murder droid threatens to crush their geeky backup, but less so when you’re the backup.
There wasn’t much space to move around in the gun truck either. Strange how quickly you start unthinkingly using that sort of slang: Gun truck.
Anyhow, that’s when I realize that, as pissed as she is, and as much screaming as she’s doing at me, Atlas isn’t really moving. I finally understood that she was sitting in a [redacted], and that she likely didn’t want to break away from her charging plug.
Still, the longer we sat in that tiny space the more I wondered how many extra percentage points on her battery meter my life was worth.
With everyone stuck in the deep dark, civilian cell service was down, but there was a mesh of military drones overhead providing a connection as fast as anything AT&T has on offer. I was internally Googling possible escape routes from that model of tactical vehicle when the buggy came to a sudden stop.
“Go, go, go,” says the Major, and Jenny – she really likes it when I call her Jenny – was up and away.
“Remember that Atlas is in command on the ground. Listen to her if you want to stay alive,” says Wily, and I’m thinking listening to her may be the least safe thing I’ll do that day when the door slams shut behind me.
Now, I’d gotten pretty used to my neural pipeline by then, and I’d already fallen into the habit of flipping between social networks when nervous. Apparently we weren’t the only ones with service, as the major sites began to flood my feeds with updates on the second surge.
Over a hundred hard working line men and women, fried with their hands in boxes that were only ever damaged in their reporting software. Fulbright was one sneaky bastard.
A sneaky bastard with a television feed, as well, as he was apparently watching the news chopper’s feed as Atlas peeled away the front of his house.
That’s when the poop hurricane – the shite-nado, if you will – really began.
* * *
March, Year One
Author: December Hook
Title: New York State Powerline Terrorist Attack Thwarted
Dramatic footage captured by a Total News Television helicopter seems to show a military special operations force invading the Blooming Grove home that we now know to be the epicenter of the state-wide blackout.
A declassified communique, provided by anonymous military sources, indicates that the home’s owner, Morris Fulbright, released a rambling and incoherent message in which he claimed sole responsibility for the attack, and also specified that he was working alone to avenge a list of grievances that, as the source remarked, “can only be classified as being the figments of an unbalanced mind.”
Grainy footage shows government forces on the scene, believed to be led by Jennifer Glat, the soldier the press dubbed “Ms. Atlas” after a series of miracle surgeries replaced the majority of her charred muscle mass with high-powered electronics.
Unbeknownst to the operation, inside the house, Fulbright, who’d created a virus to fool utility overseers into believing a number of powerline assets had been physically damaged, had just forced a reboot of systems which went on to kill three dozen workers and injure over eighty others. Several remain in critical condition.
Anticipating a response, the accused cyber-terrorist had planted several pounds of improvised explosives at all exits of his household, and, as the strike team leader pulled open the front door, the madman was waiting with detonator in hand.
Although the explosion seemed to have left the woman’s right arm shredded at the elbow, the video shows her prying the brass knob from her dangling hand, then lobbing it into the building. Reports confirm that the missile lodged itself several inches into Morris Fulbright’s chest, killing him instantly.
An unnamed military spokesman referred to the effort as “a triumph” and remarked that it was unlikely that this would be the last we’d see of The Irregular Division.
This journalist, for one, is glad to have them watching over us.
Flash Pulp is presented by https://www.skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.
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