Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Quest: Redundant

Dmiti got out of the truck and stretched the kinks out of his back. In his mid-sixties and not physically active, he knew the bouncing ride from Capiche to the Buffer-Zone was going to extract a price.

He fussily oversaw the unloading of the boxes of electrical equipment.

Sammy heard through the grapevine that equipment with wires was being unloaded. He figured that he should look into it.

Dmitri had come unannounced and Sammy was surprised to see him.

Dmitri said, “Tell these men where to put the equipment. Then you and I need to take a walk.”

Sammy directed the fighters to put the equipment into his workroom. Then Sammy picked up an AR and a vest with six magazines. That was in addition to the 9mm handgun that Spackle required officers to either wear at all times or have within arms reach, even when showering or sleeping. It would not do to be unarmed when the balloon went up.

Sammy chambered a round and safed the weapon. While not a master with the weapon, he could hit a five-gallon bucket at a hundred yards while shooing off-hand all day long.

“First, you did well to think of more sensors” Dmitri said. “That is something I should have thought about.”

“The other thing is that you cannot know what you don’t know” Dmitri continued. “This is not a criticism, but you only got the problem a quarter-right.”

Sammy started to say something.

Dmitri held up his hand to forestall the flood of explanations.

“You were absolutely right that we need more sensors and that we need them in the Buffer-Zone, and yes, west of the Buffer-Zone” Dmitri said.

“What you missed is that for technology to work, you need to think about the entire system.”

“What happens if you do get rolled over? How are you going to do your job and support the fighters in the Buffer-Zone and the irregulars west of the BZ?” Dmitri asked.

“I will just have to step-up my game” Sammy answered.

Dmitri cast a sidelong glance Sammy’s way. “I don’t think you understand how ugly this is going to be. Likely, you will have to destroy your equipment and evade capture. Then where we all be?” Dmitri asked.

Dmitri did not add that there was a very real chance that Sammy would be captured or dead if his position was rolled over.

Sammy started to speak again.

Dmitri shook his head.

“No, you are only human. You will hyper-focus, looking at the immediate problem and you will lose situational awareness. How many times have you been in a video game and forgot to eat?” Dmitri said. “War is the ultimate video game. Even if you remembered the extra sensors, it would be too much information for you to process, too many fighters in the field to feed the information to.”

“So what is the point of installing extra sensors?” Sammy asked bitterly. Dmitri as much as called him a failure.

“Think of it as a system. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If you triple the number of seismic sensors and than double that with an equal number of acoustical microphones, then you are saying you can process six times as much information” Dmitri said. “And that is not realistic.”

Sammy shrugged. There was nothing he could say.

“The answer, my young friend, is to find two more people who can do what you do and to set-up fall-back positions for you to work from in the event getting rolled-over becomes likely.” Dmitri said.

“You see, you aren’t the only bottleneck. We run into problems putting all of that information on screens. We run into problems with computer processing power. The answer is to find one more person to back you up and to provide them with redundant processing equipment.”

“I thought you said two more people?” Sammy said.

Dmitri smiled. “Once the bullets start flying, I plan to be one of the other operators. Do you have any fighters you have been training and show enough promise to be your back-up?”


“No!” General Spackle roared. He rarely raised his voice but this was an exception. “No way in hell will Dysen be Sammy’s back-up. She needs to be in Capiche where I know she will be safe.”

Dmitri let Spackle roar. He remembered Quinn from when he was a kid walked along the road collecting pop and beer cans to make enough money to buy an ice cream cone in town.

“She can do that job from Capiche” Dmitri said. “In fact, that is probably the best place for her to work from.”

Dysen perked up. It had seemed awefully unfair that she would not be able to help “her boys” when the shit hit the fan. It had not yet occurred to her that she would be taking calls for medical assistance and reports of casualties.

Dysen gave Quinn “that look”. He knew that he would not win. The best he could hope for was to lose gracefully.

He relented. “OK. But I insist that she go back to Capiche with you so she can begin training with her new equipment immediately.”

Ordinarily, Dysen’s pronounced speech impediment would have disqualified her for the job as data analyst and dispatcher but the Buffer-Zone had boiled down virtually all communication into four character alpha-numeric codes and GPS positions.

Alpha-numerics can be compressed into very short bursts and are harder to home in on and disrupt than verbal communication. They are also immune to background noise, a factor that was expected to be important.

Before Dmitri headed back to Capiche, he helped Sammy install three more monitors. One of the monitors was to capture seismic data from the sensors installed within the boundaries of the Buffer-Zone. The other two monitors were to display data from the devices Dmitri had designed and fabricated to capture and process air-born noise; devices he called “Pickelmans”.



  1. Good planning. Sammy realized the very real possibility that the enemy just might do an end run way far around the Southern flank, and then rumble mostly unopposed through the buffer zone all the way to Capiche.

    Quinn has been thinking the battle of Vimy Ridge. I am thinking about JEB Stuart attempting a far and wide end run at Gettysburg, with the intent to roll up the Union flank at Little Round Top. Might have worked if he had gotten there in time.

  2. Nicely done, and gives them backup!


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