Surge in the System

Author : S. Clough

We rebelled with a 100,000 watt transmitter.

Frequency Modulation and Amplitude Modulation. Both were abandoned by commercial radio and the military long ago, replaced by satellites and microwave bursts. Even 2.4 – 2.6 Ghz, those ubiquitous wireless standards, were thrown out in favour of coded neutrinos.

People still had radios; dusty old things which saw little use in this fast, modern age.

So we sat in international waters. Our prototype transmitter was mounted on a reclaimed fishing trawler, and we cruised the North Sea. Our initial coverage was just the UK; our website got hits from all over, confirming reception. We had enough power to cover the entire country; we scraped a good deal of Ireland, Denmark, France and Germany, too. Originally, we were just voice over FM and AM, talking to the youth, transmitting DRM-free music without fear of the heavies from EMI-Sony.

We attracted techies the world over; the last surviving slashdotters showed us how to modify our equipment, and showed our listeners how to modify theirs. Two months after we launched, we turned over another bandwidth to digital. Our regular schedule was now streamed in bits and bytes; we starting pumping out software, too.

Low-strength transmitters sprung up along our patrol path, blasting stuff to us in bursts; stuff we couldn’t get from the web. Homebrew ware’ of dubious purpose, some wannabee showmen. We rebroadcast a few, but most we just laughed at. These transmitters went up and down like flies; most just got bored, but a good number were seized.

And then, reports came in of blackspots. Entire cites lost reception at a time, got it back for a few days, and lost it again. Enterprising engineers mapped the borders of the interference and found radio jammers on top of government buildings.

We took this as a sign we must be doing something right.

The Manchester jammer was the first to fall. A slashdotter, straight down from their TreeHouse on the Scottish subnet threw the damn thing off the side of the building. He disappeared back into the highlands after notifying the city of their ability to receive again.

Our first transmission when we received this news was a call to arms. Loyalists fed us the locations they’d found, and we fed them right back to the public. Within a week, all but two of the jammers were offline.

Another week after that, an exocet missile struck the transmitter.

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