Friday flash fiction – Remote Retrieval

I don’t know if this thing is recording. I hope it wasn’t damaged in the attack. It probably doesn’t matter anyway. Even if you get here soon, it won’t be soon enough.

I found the drone, for the record. Node Charlie 1449. It came down outside ODIN’s search perimeter. Dumb luck to stumble on it. The mountains played havoc with its beacon. It didn’t ping the scanner until I was almost on top of it. If I’d crossed the stream another twenty yards on, I would have missed it. Then again if I’d done that, I might have missed the bear as well.

The drone’s transmitter is half-fried. Not intact enough to re-establish a link. Telemetry confirms it was hit with a worm distributed node to node through the encrypted handshake protocols until the entire network was infected. The kill code burned them out simultaneously. Two thousand surveillance drones gone all at once, dropping out of the sky like used-up fireworks. The eyes of the free world, gouged out.

One feeble signal got half the Agency’s boots out here following ODIN’s search plan. Just my luck to draw the short straw.

Charlie-49’s emergency chute was charred but intact enough to get caught on a fir branch about three floors above a ravine. It took all day to winch down a half-tonne chunk of scorched spy plane. I was freezing and exhausted. I had twenty minutes of light left to crack the casing and get the storage cards out. I didn’t hear it coming.

I’ve heard survivors of animal attacks say things like “I didn’t feel anything until it was all over”. Adrenaline spikes, fugue states, you know?

Like hell. I knew straight away that bastard ripped my arm off.

I rolled over screaming and there she was, looming over me like I’m cold cuts in a buffet. I tried to line my Gloch up for a double tap to the face. Everything blurred. I hesitated. One shot chopped up an ear. The other one made her back off a ways.

Listen, when you find me don’t copy this recording to the network. If it’s not too late, don’t play it inside any Agency facilities. For God’s sake don’t turn my phone’s network reception back on. ODIN will be listening in. Even if it doesn’t scan the data itself, it assimilates body language and facial tics faster than human thought. Don’t let it see your faces. It’ll know you’re onto it.

I’ve wedged myself into a crevice and cauterised my arms with a flare. Hopefully it’ll keep the bear away. If not, maybe it’ll decide to leave my body intact. Maybe.

Check the drone’s data if you want. That encryption is unbreakable. It’d take longer than the universe’s remaining lifespan. North Korea isn’t up to it. It wasn’t China either. Not a cell of methed-up Berkeley students. Nobody.

The hack was an inside job. Only an AI with access ten levels above top secret could have fed that worm the network security codes.

I can’t even guess what ODIN’s second move is, but it didn’t want any eyes watching.

I don’t know if someone from the Agency will find this. I don’t know if there’s an Agency left. Or people, for that matter.

I’ll bet the bears will be okay.

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