COL gate incident
On the surface of it, the COL Gate Incident seems simple enough. INFRARED gets hold of tacnuke. IntSec tries to relieve him of said tacnuke. Things go boom. But to fully understand the mess that occurred, some background information is required.
COL sector is unusual in that there is only one way in or out of the entire sector, a single tunnel containing several transtube lines, pedestrian walkways, autocar routes, and maintenance and data conduits. All of these terminate in the COL Gate building, a security checkpoint that doubles -- or rather, doubled -- as an office and laboratory complex.
The reason for bottlenecking an entire sector so is simple: security. COL sector is home to numerous top-secret R&D experimental facilities, as well as the private resort complexes of several High Programmers (including myself and several other members of this commission) and Alpha Complex's largest production plants for both dental hygiene products and super-sweetened beverages. Traffic into COL sector is thus highly restricted, and the COL Gate was equipped to defend against a theoretical Communist military invasion.
The INFRARED who triggered the incident was one Billy-BOB-3, now known to be a member of the Alpha_Complex_Rifle_Association_(ACRA). Exactly how they managed to obtain the tacnuke, or what they intended to do with it, remains a mystery, but the Internal Security agents posted at the gate picked up its unshielded radiation signature as Billy-BOB passed through the Mandatory Optional Deep Tissue Scanning security booth. They quickly and efficiently judged the hazards involved, and immediately deployed two dozen snipers armed with antipersonnel rounds to terminate the traitor before he noticed them.
At the same time, a shipment of miscellaneous oral hygiene and pharmaceutical products produced by COLgate_BioTech, whose offices and production laboratories were hosted in the COL Gate building, was being loaded into transbots for distribution throughout nearby sectors. This included a large, fragile glass tank containing ten sectors' supply of Bile_Suppressant for the entire yearcycle, positioned perilously close to one of the snipers. Further along the same platform, a number of defective items rerouted to COL sector by Committee_IC48934-Q23-HX45 were being offloaded.
Contrary to some early reports, the tacnuke never went off. Indeed, one sniper dropped Billy-BOB-3 cleanly with a single round from a distance of at least three hundred meters, and the tacnuke was eventually recovered from the wreckage. However, several problems (most likely due to sabotage) contributed to the subsequent disaster.
First, due to treason or incompetence in PLC, several snipers had unknowingly been supplied high-explosive anti-tankbot rounds instead of anti-personnel.
Second, due to garbled commands, com system tampering, Secret Society affiliations, or bad batches of B3, or indeed all of the above, at least half of the snipers were in fact aiming at other snipers, instead of the target.
When the shooting began, a high-explosive round shattered the tank of Bile_Suppressant, flooding the platform, the waiting transbot, and several nearby platforms and corridors. Exactly what it reacted with is unknown, but the radiation from the poorly-shielded tacnuke, the stale B2 in a decommissioned dispenser, or the modified electronics of Defective_Batch_ACA675T09-XXXX are all prime suspects.
Regardless, the result was a massive-scale example of classic Molecular_Dissolution_Reactions, or, as it quickly got dubbed by the rescue teams assigned to the area, 'cavity creep.' The entirety of the COL Gate building quickly collapsed into a giant hole at least five stories deep, which slowly but surely crept outwards, engulfing more valuable Computer property, until a neutralization chemical was found.
The results were catastrophic. All vital supplies to the sector were cut off, including power and access to any of the Computer's functions not handled by the local compnode, as was all traffic. All Emergency_Disaster_Response_Teams within a five-sector radius were called upon to rescue citizens trapped in the rubble, restore basic power and food connections, and, most importantly, provide vital supplies to the High Programmers remaining at their luxury villas. (This last task required four-fifths of the assigned personnel.) Similarly, the Armed Forces were brought in to provide suitable bodyguards for those High Programmers who chose to evacuate.
At the time of this writing, some semblance of normalcy has been restored to COL sector, thanks in part to the selfless work of Service Companies from other sectors pitching in. I am proud to report, for example, that several RON sector Power firms have provided temporary power hookups at a very reasonable surcharge. (On the other hand, I do think that some of the PLC companies supplying common goods have been price-gouging a bit -- make a note to look into that.) However, it is clear that the massive ongoing effort into COL sector's recovery is one of the reasons that the Toothpaste_Disaster was as catastrophic as it was. Had slightly fewer Emergency_Disaster_Response_Teams been occupied, for instance, perhaps the damage could have been contained. Alas, we learn these lessons only in hindsight...
So there was nothing about the Arm & Hammer group referenced in the Action_Squad_Alpha's Arm_&_Hammer_Infiltration_Report? This is curious, because it leaves a disturbing, not to mention rare, loose-end from such a fine squad of troubleshooters.
It's catastrophes like these that make me glad I sold my COL-Sector Pleasure Condo while the market was peaking.
Also, it occurs to me that we're having entirely too many Deliberate Friendly Fire Incidents (DFFI) of late and this COL-Sector case of SvS (Sniper vs. Sniper) is a quintessential example. It's always seemed like a good idea, in theory, to have multiple snipers ready for a must-succeed takedown like this one-- why stop with "one shot one kill" when you can have "many shots one vape", I suppose-- but in practice, the overlapping fields of fire always seem to end up overlapping the shooters. Maybe we should go back to simpler arrangements, like just one shooter... and a second, as backup... and maybe just one more watching the first two to make sure they carry out their orders.
Oh, and while I've never been in charge of any PLC ops in COL Sector-- and thus cannot directly comment on the erroneous distribution of ammunition to the snipers-- I did feel some professional obligation to look over their procedures on my occasional visits (when I still had property there) and I must say, I'm not surprised. It was all about R&D geegaws in COL; standard equipment was always being pushed aside or down-prioritized to make room for another rush supply of some whizbang techno-component or other.
Last I heard, IntSec was still looking into what aspect of this whole disaster could be blamed on the activities in the Arm_&_Hammer_Infiltration_Report. Preliminary analysis leans towards some complicity in the sniper activity, and possible hoarding of illicit substances that exacerbated the 'cavity creep,' but IntSec is still keeping fairly tight-lipped about their findings. Perhaps a High Programmer with closer IntSec ties than me could lever the truth out of them...
I never understood the obsession with residence in COL sector. Sure, it allows for increased defenses against Commie military incursion, but I think it's been effectively demonstrated that those wily Commies can get anywhere, and it's only through the tireless efforts of Friend Computer, the Troubleshooters, and PLC that we've beaten back their ongoing efforts to destroy our superior way of life. Having so many High Programmers in COL sector was just an example of putting all your zygotes in one tank. High Programmers are best when evenly distributed throughout Alpha Complex, like processor nodes and paperwork.
Oh, and Ken-U: I certainly don't have any special ties to IntSec, myself, but I may know someone who does. I'll keep you apprised.