Editor’s note: This two-part story is based on the work of the 2014 cohort of fellows of the chief of staff of the Army’s Strategic Studies Group, which examined future operation environments, particularly large urban areas—megacities. The story is entirely fictional, and does not represent the position of the chief of staff of the Army, the Departments of the Army or Defense, or the US government.


Task Force Gotham HQ, March 25, 2029

The Joint Task Force commander was waiting for the “all clear” to come up from the clearance team in the last bunker. For Maj. Gen. Paul Thomas’s Task Force Gotham—the US Army’s new unit purpose built to fight in urban areas—it would be the culminating point of a three-week-long joint and combined cordon, search, and secure mission. The other nine sites had been mostly uncontested . . . with two heartbreaking exceptions. The JTF had lost a full company’s worth of soldiers and equipment on bunkers three and seven when the Lashkar-e-Fatah operatives detonated their radiological dispersal bombs rather than be captured with them. Most of the soldiers had received lethal doses of radiation from contaminated shrapnel before they hit the ground. Thomas wrestled with the logistics of his decision to reallocate some of his automated airframes and delay cleanup in order to facilitate his MEDEVAC. The ground drones’ ability to autonomously re-task from their cesium detection mission to evacuating their incapacitated human teammates had saved some, but not all.

The price was high, but securing the cesium-137 would prevent another LeF attack on Indian soil. The US State Department liaisons on Thomas’s staff were hopeful these operations would deescalate the nuclear saber-rattling which followed the LeF attack on New Delhi the previous November that had precipitated the crisis. The Pakistani Capital City Police in Karachi was some help in keeping the streets clear for JTF convoys but when requested to actually share intelligence on LeF, the Pakistani officials just shrugged. Maj. Gen. Thomas guessed LeF’s quasi-state-sponsored history had caused the Pakistanis enough embarrassment and underpinned their attempts to distance themselves from the problem. Thomas’s intel fusion officer still had contacts in Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, from his time in the Defense Attaché Office in Islamabad. Through that grapevine, Thomas had gotten some idea how the New Delhi attack had come to pass. Those rumors were confirmed by the Joint Interagency Task Force, which did dual duty as his combined intelligence and operations staff. The JIATF reporting reflected that somewhere in Pakistan an ISI handler leaked the location of the Pakistani government’s stockpile of weapons-grade cesium, salvaged from medical waste, to a LeF operative. Then things quickly got out of hand. Sometime later a dirty bomb was detonated in the New Delhi’s Dilli market, killing hundreds and irradiating thousands more when the cesium contaminated the water table. That cleanup would be next.

Pakistan openly condemned the attack and denied any direct responsibility for LeF’s actions. The United Nations mandated a ceasefire in the region and passed a Security Council resolution.  The resolution authorized the division-size JTF’s deployment, which was welcomed by the Pakistani government.

Finding the cesium-137 had required persistent overhead MASINT—measurement and signature intelligence. The drone swarm the JTF fielded established a rolling no-fly zone to keep up with LeF’s elaborate shell game of moving their dirty bomb precursors from bunker to bunker. The HUMINT network established by the Special Forces’ Regional Support Company had worked wonders prior to the arrival of Task Force Gotham. The HUMINT operations they had conducted alongside their counterparts from the local CIA station led directly to the identification of the bunkers’ hidden entrances. Once the bunkers were secure, pumping of the “render safe” gel allowed tailored bacteria to cocoon the radioactive isotopes in a radiation-insulating sludge that had the color of cement—and weighed about as much. The sludge was siphoned into massive transport bladders and carried off site by Blackfoot autonomous rotary-wing heavy-lift airframes in concert with their evacuation runs of the JTF’s wounded.

Rooting out the remaining LeF from Karachi was getting harder the longer it took. Every time the JTF was able to geolocate a burst transmission from one of the LeF’s cloned VoIP messages, the enemy became cautious and went to ground. The rapid network mapping algorithms—custom-built cyber smart tools—helped spot the counterfeit IP addresses where and when they popped up. Rumor had it that at least three of those detained were directly linked to the bombing in New Delhi. According to the FBI agents embedded with the JIATF, the captured LeF operatives would likely face international war crimes trials at The Hague.

Maj. Gen. Thomas was glad he’d been proven wrong. He’d initially feared his ground assault forces would get lost in the maze of the capital city’s fifteen million people. With so few places to air assault, ground routes proved the only viable option to get after the LeF, so he also worried that ambushes would eat up his formations before they even got to their intended targets. Between the all-out internet media blitz and his drone swarm keeping the rooftops clear while they dynamically mapped the road network, the city had not been the slaughter he’d feared. Most important to this outcome had been the relationship his forces had built with the provincial police force, Sindh Police, especially in the city’s South Zone. It was a bold move on Thomas’s part, integrating his force down to the squad level into the thirty-two South Zone police stations of the Capital City Police Office, but that’s what the Special Forces Regional Support Company and the regionally aligned brigade commanders had recommended. Over time, they’d been proven right. In Karachi, integrating with the police had afforded his force a degree of agility and situational awareness no amount of overhead imagery or signals intelligence could provide—more than partnering with the Pakistan Army could have.

The last “all clear” was sounded and Thomas knew he could shift his focus to the redeployment operations that would follow after the raids to find remaining LeF cell leaders were finished. It was up to his squads now…

Objective Jazz 7: Saddar Town, Karachi, Pakistan, March 26, 2029

Staff Sgt. Josh Parker stopped just short of the corner where the side street intersected with Doodarmar Street, dropped to a knee, and toggled his gunsight camera. He stayed behind cover as he angled it around the corner. The picture from the camera fed onto the display on his helmet visor. He could see most of the frontage of the left side of the street, but not the building they were on the corner of. It was a blind spot a block long and jammed full of people. He wanted it checked before they moved into the target building at the far end of the block, where Doodarmar intersected with Noor Marjad Street. Making their way up the street on foot would be like pushing their way through a packed nightclub to get to a gunfight. He pulled his rifle to his chest and leaned back on his heels.

The rest of the squad had taken up covered positions and now scanned the streets around them. This place looked like the Pakistani version of the NYSE trading floor. Constable Quarshi shooed people away from the squad. Spec. Bryant helped an older man clear the corner for which he received a handshake and a paternal pat on the head. Bryant was a class act that way; he knew it was important, that if he didn’t “keep it classy” as they said, they’d all be watching his mistake streaming on the internet in a matter of minutes. Then, the crowd of people who were due to flood the street soon wouldn’t just be a crowd; they’d be an angry crowd. Staff Sgt. Parker checked the time. He wanted to be off the street before the evening call to prayer. There was a mosque right around the corner on Adamjee Street and the streets would soon be full of people. He did a quick scan of the passing crowd and then pulled up the navigation app on his handheld Combat Personal Computer, or CPC, and thumbed through the map graphic overlays. He checked traffic. The outer cordon had only slowed things a little. He brought up the sentiment overlay. It took a short moment to update as it scraped local social network feeds and then converted the keyword hits into a multi-colored heat map. “Cool colors” were benign or positive posts, while “hotter colors” reflected animosity. He virtually checked the vibe on the street to confirm what his gut told him as he read people’s faces. So far his squad’s activities weren’t rubbing people the wrong way. If they were, it hadn’t made the internet yet. The sentiment map reflected curiosity and some minor annoyance but nothing the transliteration software interpreted as threatening. He had time, but not much. Parker opted to exercise some tactical patience.

He asked Constable Quarshi, his squad’s embedded Sindh Police officer, to please join him. He quickly laid out his scheme of maneuver and asked for Quarshi’s approval to execute. Quarshi looked intently at the little sand table Parker was scratching on the alley floor. When he finished drawing out his plan and looked up, Quarshi grinned and said, “Ok, ok. Very cool my friend.” Parker nodded and gave Quarshi a forearm bump—the obligatory combat handshake. Parker used his CPC to jot down a hasty maneuver graphic which captured his plan like a coach’s football play. He sent the graphic back to platoon headquarters to fill them in on the details. Parker decided he’d brief the squad face to face in case there were questions.

Parker called up Pfc. Velasquez and told her to pull out her cold launch mortar. She dropped to a knee and unclipped the reinforced carbon-fiber tube from her assault pack. As she prepared the mortar for action, she asked, “Sergeant, am I looking at something or blowing stuff up?”

“We’re gonna look first . . . then maybe we blow stuff up—so get both rounds ready. Start with the Bird Eye. I want that dropped right up this street”—he motioned down the right thoroughfare—“looking at the frontage and tops of the buildings. Both sides of the street. Turn it just before the target building.”

Velasquez grinned as she readied the sensor round and asked, “Look both ways before crossing the street, Sergeant?”

Parker kept scanning the street and answered, “Yup, safety first . . . and make sure the feed goes back to the two shop also.” Parker wanted another set of eyes on the video feed the Bird Eye would send back, and the S-2—the company intelligence section—would fuse the squad’s micro-UAV feed into their bigger composite intelligence picture and use Facemask software to compare any good portraits pulled from the video feed against a growing database of known LeF operatives and supporters. It would also crawl social networking sites for possible matches. It was never perfect; if he got one or two hits there might be some “false positives,” but if he got a bunch of hits back then he could bet his search for their target was getting warmer. He thought he might be wasting his time deploying the drone; people don’t exactly file down to the street holding signs that say they’re bad guys. It was a shame they didn’t, he thought smugly—it’d be so much faster. But if they wanted to be found, the LeF wouldn’t be hiding in these residential blocks and market streets to blend in with friendly old men. He thought back to his introductory psychology class and his paper on small-team motivation. How do I motivate these guys to come to me? Then he got an idea. It sure wasn’t in any of the field manuals, but he wanted to see if it would work.

He thumbed through his application menu on his CPC and pulled up local area broadcast. He spoke a quick public-service announcement into his helmet microphone and auto-translation software did the rest. He could have tried making the message himself but even with all the local language skills he had picked up during his regional alignment training, he thought it best to let the software do what it was designed for. He checked the message once and pressed the “send” icon. Similar to an old style AMBER Alert, his CPC sent out a localized mesh net burst, which co-opted cell phones within a 200-meter radius and squawked a text and audio message: “Official notice: there is an airborne drone in your area. This is for your protection and the safety of military personnel. Please remain calm; we will be done in just a few moments. We apologize for any inconvenience and we thank you for your cooperation.”

As soon as the message went out, heads popped up into widows all along the front of the building and scanned the sky. It never fails, he thought. The troops called the phenomenon “prairie dogging” and the effect was almost Pavlovian. They’d always made fun of it, but he’d never considered using it as part of a tactical approach. Have to write that one down, he thought. He called over his shoulder, “Send it V, and get the Bee Hive ready to drop.”

“Roger. Hanging . . . Fire!” Behind him he heard the telltale sound of the cold launch mortar’s initiator spring as she pulled the mortar’s trigger, which flung the round up and kicked off the gas tube primary charge. The round sounded like a bottle rocket as it shot up to rooftop height on a geyser of compressed gas. People in the street instinctively flinched and moved away as the round shot up. The soda can–sized Bird Eye drone fell out of its launch sabot and its video feed began streaming onto his display. The drone’s tiny shrouded fans deployed and it buzzed along roofs, scanning the windows and rooftop in the preset, “lazy W” search pattern Velasquez had programmed.

“All right V, put it in orbit,” he said.

“Roger, Sergeant. We’ve got it turning left for forty-four minutes,” Velasquez said.  Sergeant Parker looked at the feed on his CPC and saw lots of people pointing fingers, but not pointing guns. The Bird Eye was getting lots of good portraits; a little green halo would snap around each head when the pattern recognition software identified something that looked like a human face. The face painted on the billboard at the end of the street was getting lumped in there too, but Parker didn’t care. As the drone buzzed closer to the target building, the halo over one face flashed red, which meant a suspected LeF combatant. Okay, not a big deal yet, Parker thought. Then three more flashed red. There’s our local bad guy overwatch position, Parker realized. He swiped the screen on his CPC and brought the map back up; the sentiment overlay was spiking. The colors of the heat map warmed from cool colors to angrier yellows and reds down by the next corner. Looks like the bad guys are having a group therapy chat, he thought. The overlay flashed a geo-rectified call-out bubble over their target building. The sentiment software pulled a new social network post from an account associated with a resident of that building. It didn’t necessarily mean that person was in their target building right at that moment, but it was a good bet. The post was short and ominous. It roughly translated to, “They are coming for me, brothers. Prepare yourselves.” Bingo.

* * *

Parker toggled over to the company net. “ATTACK ONE FOUR this is RED TWO ONE, over.”

The voice of the company fire support officer answered back, “RED TWO ONE, ATTACK ONE FOUR, go.”

“Roger. Request music and mood lighting for Objective Jazz 7, over.”

The FSO paused and answered, “Copy, RED TWO ONE. Standby.”

Moments later, the FSO came back up on the net: “RED TWO ONE, ATTACK ONE FOUR. Ambience will commence in five mikes over.”


Parker toggled back to the squad net. “Lights out and jamming on the objective will start in five minutes,” he informed the squad’s members. “Sergeant Davis, pull Louie and Thelo off the cordon and call them over to our position. Looks like we got a fan club down there.” He pointed to the corner apartment at the opposite end of the building across the street from them. “The Bird Eye gave us bad guy hits on at least three LeF combatants in that corner apartment and we got some chatter which backs up our target being home. We’re gonna give those three the good news from here and then move right down the street to our target building. V, get ready to drop the Bee Hive on my go. I’ll guide it in. Everybody else get ready to mount up and move as soon as the Spiders get here.”  Parker waited, scanned the crowd again, and craned his neck to see if Louie and Thelo had rounded the corner yet. Their icons flashed that they were inbound and moving at a good clip.

“When we hit the front door, stack on Specialist Bryant. After that, you know what to do.” The squad members all acknowledged with a curt, “Roger, Sergeant.”

“Sergeant Parker, here come the boys,” Davis called as he pointed down the intersecting street to the corner. As Parker turned to look, the squad’s two Spiders, nicknamed Louie and Thelo, came veering around the corner. Their servos whined like oversized golf carts, a sound which belied their speed. As Louie and Thelo sprinted towards the squad, their front and rear legs retracted a bit to help them fit down the narrow side street. They were called Spiders but they never struck Parker as looking particularly arachnid; more like a ten-foot-long skeleton of some large robotic quadruped like a horse or a cat. The long spine which connected the front and rear axles was no bigger around than a 55-gallon drum, yet it hung the roll cages for soldier transport, housed the Spider’s main battery, and supported the elevation mount for its 30-mm auto cannon. Parker was used to the alien look of their skeletal shapes skating down the narrow streets on their four long limbs. The locals must have thought its variable-geometry wheelbase was just creepy, and the crowd on the street quickly hustled out of their way. Perhaps they thought the semi-autonomous transports might run them over by accident—or on purpose. Sgt. Davis pantomimed the hand and arm sign language to visually guide the Spiders to their loading points behind the squad. Louie fell in right behind Parker and kneeled down to lower its fuselage to waist level. Thelo tucked in behind Louie, spun in place, aligned its turretless 30-mm auto cannon down the street it just came, and kneeled down.  Each Spider could carry five combat-equipped soldiers, which was enough for his nine-person squad. It also left a spare seat for other equipment or, in this case, their embedded constable.

With the vehicle’s thin Spectra laminate skin and alloy skeleton, the Spiders were almost completely unarmored. Each of his fire teams weighed more than the vehicles they rode on, especially since they’d forgone the detachable armor pods. Parker often ran the Spiders “slick,” as it was called. His soldiers could mount and dismount faster and the team leader seat up front still had the quick-release ballistic shield. Hunched down on the curb, the vehicles sat motionless and silent, like prowling wolves, except for the spinning Light Detection and Ranging turrets which stuck out at various angles.

* * *

The squad quickly collapsed its security huddle. Constable Quarshi grabbed the empty bench on Louie and called back to his local station on his radio (Parker assumed it was to let them know the raid was moving forward). His team leaders, Sgts. Davis and Bristol, ran around the Spiders slapping the safety latches on the soldiers’ roll cages to ensure they were secure. Parker and Velasquez remained in the street.

“Thelo: standby!” Parker held his hand up. Thelo’s sensor turret slewed and focused on Parker. “Proceed to blocking position one.” Parker pointed up the street. “Execute!” Thelo rose up on its articulated axels, spun in place, and carried Bravo Team down towards the objective building at a sprint.

“Okay V,” Parker said as he aimed his rifle at the corner window, where the three LeF henchmen lay in wait, and toggled his laser aiming device. “Let it fly!”

“Roger. Hanging . . . Fire!” The Bee Hive round popped and fizzed its way to rooftop level as the Bird Eye had done, then the tertiary propellant kicked in and it streaked towards its target. Parker kept his reticule fixed on the corner window as the Bee Hive covered the block in a heartbeat, heading directly for the laser point Parker had painted on the window with his targeting laser. Its motor cut out right before it hit as the round punched through the window.

* * *

The three LeF operatives inside had begun gathering weapons and ammunition as they fortified their attack position. When the Americans attacked the apartment building across the street to capture their cell leader, they’d be ready. They had seen the little drone fly past, so they knew the Americans were close. Nevertheless, they all flinched when the window shattered.

The Bee Hive smashed through the window and tumbled into the room. The round came to rest, balanced on its nose. The body of the round sprang from its nosecone, four feet into the air, with a loud ping, and then exploded with a muffled pop. The plastic outer shell splintered and released hundreds of frangible, clay-filled, copper ball bearings. The shrapnel traveled slow enough that it wouldn’t fully penetrate through the walls of the apartment, but the LeF operatives were not so lucky.

* * *

“V, let’s move!” parker yelled. Velasquez had already slung her cold launch mortar over her shoulder and was headed towards Louie. Parker was right behind her and had barely locked in when he heard Davis order Louie to follow Thelo. Louie spun in place with whiplash speed and sprinted down the street backwards keeping its 30-mm auto cannon trained down the street to cover their rear flank.

Thelo had already made it down the street and peeled off to the left. Bravo Team was dismounting when Parker’s CPC alerted him that the tactical cyber assault on Objective Jazz 7 had begun. He couldn’t tell from the outside of the building but the power had just been cut off. Parker looked to see what music they were using to jam local cell phones. It was “Round Midnight” by Thelonious Monk. The FSO has style, Parker thought and smiled. Bravo Team would like that; their Spider was named after Monk. The tactical cyber attack had electronically isolated the building and anyone trying to use a cell phone or access the internet would receive a network message apologizing for the lack of service and hear a little Monk in the background. It might agitate some of the locals, but emergency calls would still go through and it was the only way Parker could see to get ahead of any LeF reinforcements or flash mobs.

* * *

Spec. Bryant was already at the door with Bravo Team behind him when the shooting started. The bark of small-arms fire echoed flatly off the old stone walls punctuated by the zip and crack of the rounds whizzing past Parker’s head. Parker flinched but managed to stay focused on getting to the door. The stereo microphones on his helmet triangulated the source of the shots as coming from his upper left. Ahead of them, Louie had spun around at its blocking position to the left of the intersection and elevated its 30-mm cannon towards the source of the rifle fire. Louie was requesting permission to engage. Parker could see Sgt. Bristol giving it the signal to “hold weapons tight” and not fire. It was the right call. That 30-mm cannon would have taken the front of that building off and killed everyone on every floor above the target. They couldn’t afford that kind of collateral damage—getting their target was their mission, but it couldn’t come at the expense of the trust they’d worked so hard to build with the Pakistanis. Louie almost looked dejected as it spun back around to cover the side street. Thelo spun around as it slid into a complementary blocking position next to Louie. Parker flung open his roll cage and leapt off before Thelo had fully lowered. Alpha Team was right behind him. They all fell in behind Bravo Team. Bristol gave the “Go.” Spec. Bryant opened the door and turned to cover their rear flank as the rest of Bravo Team flowed past him into the target building. Parker and Alpha Team waited outside as Bravo Team cleared the lobby. From inside, Bristol called out the location of two stairwells off of the lobby, a front and a rear.

The apartment building was old, very old. Parker hit the squad net, “Rear stair is evac. Front stair is attack. Bravo Team has evac. Alpha Team has attack. Execute.” Without a word Bravo Team pushed right through the lobby to rear staircase entrance. Alpha Team, with Constable Quarshi in tow, held at the first floor landing before heading up the stairs. Davis looked back at Parker and held up a Storm Cloud grenade. Parker gave him a nod and a thumbs up. Davis nodded at Spec. Stevens behind him, who pulled out a Storm Cloud of his own. They both held them away from themselves in an exaggerated manner as a visual signal to the rest of the team that they were about to deploy the grenades. The team sealed the latches on their face shields and turned on their overpressure packs. They both shouted, “Stormy out!” and popped the rings from their grenades and tossed them into the stairwell. Immediately there was a pop and the sound of high-pressure aerosol discharge. Parker pulled the stairwell door shut behind him and sealed the team inside with the billowing smoke. Within a four count, soot-colored opaque smoke filled the entire stairwell. Between the smoke and the lack of lights, the stairwell was now completely black. Parker toggled his multispectral imagers and their variable-frequency laser emitters refracted off the microscopic conductive crystals in the smoke. The LeF would have old-style night vision goggles, but they’d be useless in the chemical plume made by the Storm Cloud. And if they tried to use their infrared illuminators or targeting lasers they’d be reflected by the crystals in the Storm Cloud and white out their own NVGs. But chances were they’d be too busy trying to catch their breath in the grenade’s irritating smoke screen. Gassing out the staircase left evacuees (if there were any) only one route out of the building and that was secured by Bravo Team.

Alpha Team started up the “attack staircase” towards the target on the fifth floor. Parker couldn’t imagine trying to do this with a hundred pounds on his back. He thought back to his history class at the Advanced Leader Course and the cartoonish pictures of US soldiers in Afghanistan trying to patrol along rugged terrain with massive rucksacks loaded with more than a hundred pounds of “lightweight” gear. If he had tried that today, he’d get relieved for cause—breaking the fifty-pound load limit was a showstopper.

On the fourth floor the team pulled off and went down the hall to the apartment directly below the one occupied by their target. Davis called to Bristol, “BRAVO TEAM, RED TWO ONE, checkpoint one.”

Bristol answered back, “Roger. Stand by.”

Constable Quarshi moved around the team and knocked on the door. A man in his fifties answered and his eyes got wide when he saw a uniformed police constable in tactical gear. His eyes got even wider when saw the rest of Alpha Team. The team opened their face shields and tried to look as friendly as they could for a group of sweaty people in combat gear who had just been shot at. Quarshi held out his hand and the resident reached out and shook it as the constable explained. The man nodded slowly and stepped aside, still looking a little bewildered as the team filed past. Parker was the last to enter. He stopped, turned to the man, removed his glove, and offered his hand. “Shukriya,” Parker said in Urdu. “Thank you.” The man gave a confused grin, nodded, and accepted the handshake.

Once inside the apartment the team quietly fanned out and got the layout of the four-room dwelling as cartoons played on the family’s television. Quarshi spoke quietly to the owner as the team move through the apartment. They touched only the floor and didn’t stay long, but now they knew the location of doorways and closets and the layout of the target apartment above wouldn’t be a surprise. Once done with their walk-through, the team quietly filed out. Velasquez waved and smiled at a little girl she thought to be the man’s young daughter.

“Shukriyah.” Velasquez whispered.

The little girl sheepishly burrowed into her father’s side and answered back with the barely audible formal reply, “Nawazish.”  Velasquez had no illusions that she’d be invited back for holiday dinner just because she knew a little of the local dialect. But she knew that soldiering was a people business and every interaction was a chance to be one of the good guys. The door closed behind them and they made their way back to the stairwell.

“What’d he say?” Parker asked Quarshi.

“He says our bad guy, upstairs.” Quarshi said nodding and pointing up.

“Good thing for us, that guy decided not to evacuate,” Parker said. “Alright, that settles it. Let’s go.”

The team got ready to move and latched their masks closed again. Sgt. Davis opened the door and some of the smoke billowed out but the team hustled through the doorway. Davis pulled the door shut behind him and moved back to his place in the file. The team moved up the stairs quickly, with Spec. Stevens clearing corners with his gun camera along the way. They were silent except for the sound of Spec. Garcia charging his pneumatic breaching lance from his overpressure pack. They hit the fifth floor landing and Davis made another radio call to Sgt. Bristol before the team moved out of the stairwell without so much as a whisper. The hallway was completely dark, but not to the soldiers with their multispectral imagers. The combination of variable-frequency LIDAR and thermal imaging artificially rendered a picture of the hallway ahead of the team. To Parker it looked like a poorly colorized black and white movie. They stacked on the door. Constable Quarshi and Spec. Garcia moved around the team and this time took a position on the opposite side of the door, careful to duck under the door’s peephole as they did. This was going to be a different kind of door knock. Davis made eye contact with everyone in the stack and nodded at Stevens and Velasquez, who each pulled out another Storm Cloud grenade. Davis signaled Garcia and the final assault began.

* * *

Read Part II here.


Sgt. Maj. (Ret) Rick Russo is an intelligence and operations consultant, recently retired following twenty-four years of service as a US Army intelligence analyst. He served a Military Fellow in the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Strategic Studies Group. This team was tasked with exploring the complexities of megacities in the deep future and developing ways to help the Army prepare for this emerging environment. This story is a work of fiction and does not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the US government.


Image credit: Irfan Ahmed