With his notes on one monitor and his Forum open on another, John Reasman settled into his computer pod for a night of writing. The date is 10/25/2033, 3:30 am. The 15th anniversary of Black Sunday. For the past two weeks Reasman had interviewed his sources and tracked down information, collecting his research methodically. Tonight, He was ready to craft his story.

It had been 15 years since the Soviet Union dropped a nuclear warhead on Germany. And 15 years since the Western Coalition retaliated. The world was different, the Soviet Union was gone but at a great cost to humanity. Half of the Earth’s land was now radioactively quarantined and the West was left to rebuild.

The article Reasman planned would detail the U.S. military officers who coordinated the nuclear response against the Soviet Union in 2018. Less than 7 minutes after the Soviet nuke dropped on Berlin, the Western Coalition had launched their own arsenal of nuclear warheads, targeting every major Soviet city. The Western bombs destroyed the Soviet’s cyberphysical infrastructure, OGAS, crippling communication while the unaware survivors fell victim to nuclear fallout. It was a hard but necessary choice, destroying half of the world to save the rest; Reasman wanted to make that clear in his article.

In the middle of the night there were no other Journalist logged into the Washington Daily Forum. None on this side of the Atlantic, at least. It was comforting for Reasman when using the NATOnet at this hour, less distractions while writing.

As Reasman pondered his opening sentence, he was surprised by a ring from the monitor

1 New Message

Strange, he thought. He did't recognize any of his European colleagues online.

"What article?" He replied.

"You are wrong about the network."

Reasman had thoroughly researched the Soviet’s OGAS project, he was sure he knew everything he needed. The network was used to digitally organize the Soviet’s communist infrastructure. It connected the state to the factories and the factories to the people, maintaining the socialist system. Though revolutionary, the network was poorly executed and heavily censored making connection with the West’s NATOnet near impossible. As the Cold War continued to heat up throughout the 1990’s, the Western Coalition and Soviet Union established competing “internets”, splitting the world’s communication into two separate networks. One was devoted to the socialist state, the other to the capitalist consumer. Caught between the two super powers, nations everywhere were forced to decide which network they would adopt. OGAS however had one fatal flaw. As a centralized network it was vulnerable to nuclear attack, a weakness that was eventually exploited by the Western Coalition in their counteroffensive 15 years ago. Today, only the NATOnet is online.

“What do you have to tell me? It’s probably in my notes but I feel like its my responsibility to at least see what you have to say,” Reasman typed.

"Ogas worked."

“It may have been functional, but it was never a success, it was destined to fail from the beginning with its centralized design” countered Reasman. He wondered who this anonymous user could be, probably some drunk journalist fucking around on the forum late at night.

“That’s where you’re wrong, it was a distributed network. Where do you think the Western engineers got the idea from?”

Such a broad assertion bothered had Reasman. “Do you have any sources for this conspiracy?” he asked. “Newspapers work with facts that are verified, not crazy half-baked theories.”

Suddenly, another notifiction.

1 New File

“I’ve seen these maps before” Reasman wrote “but they were different, it didn’t look like this." He was confused.

“I’m sure they were. Who gave it to you…a government source? This is the real map of the OGAS infrastructure."

It couldn’t be accurate, Reasman thought. “OGAS was never this robust, it couldn’t even connect with the NATOnet consistently”

“The only information from the Soviet Union to reach the West was mediated. Manipulated to influence public perception. OGAS’s capabilities were censored”

Reasman paused for a moment to consider S’s claims. “Even if OGAS could connect to the NATOnet, these couldn’t be the plans. If the Soviet’s had built the distributed network detailed in these maps the Western Coalition would had never been able to take it offline. The counterattack wouldn’t have been successful. If these maps were legitimate, there would still be a Soviet Union today.”

There still IS a Soviet Union today.

Reasman now knew who he was dealing with. Some nutjob had probably hacked into the Forum to preach his conspiracy theories to the media. “You are wasting my time with these delusional claims. What do you want from me? I need to be working on a real article”

“You are the one that is disconnected from reality. We both want the same thing Mr. Reasman, the Truth. I believe we can help each other, come visit me and I can show you what’s really in the East”

And then he was offline.

Starring at the blank page Reasman typed nothing, still processing his conversation with S. He had drafted an article with substantiated facts supported by legitimate evidence, yet he couldn’t stop thinking about the information he has just received. The journalist sat in silence...

Suddenly the pod door ripped open followed by an object hurdled towards Reasman’s chair. Before he could turn to see it everything flashed and he was unconscious.

"Wake up Mr. Reasman, we want to talk to you."

"Your government needs you Mr. Reasman."

As Reasman slowly regained his sight he could start to make out the figures of two men in black suits. One was taller than the other and they both kept gesturing in Reasman’s direction. It wasn’t until his hearing returned that he realized they were talking to him.

"Did you have a conversation on the Journalist's Forum tonight?" asked the tall man.

"Yes uhh..uh Officer"

"Who were you talking to tonight?" asked the short man in a tone that suggested he already knew the answer to the question"

"Someone named "S" messaged me insisting they had inforamtion for my article"

"Your article about the destruction of OGAS?" in a similarly condescending tone

"How did you know that? I only told my editor what I was working on."

"We are here to discuss what you know, not me"

“They claimed that OGAS had been created as a distributed network and the U.S. stole the design."

The smaller cop stepped towards the table and slid his chair out to take a seat, never once breaking eye contact. “And did you believe it” he asked calmly.

“No! They were obviously insane. They believed the Soviet Union was still in power!"

For the next minute no one said anything.The taller man was looking to the short man for instruction, yet he still had his eyes fixed on Mr. Reasman.

“Despite the Western Coalition’s greatest efforts the Soviet Union is not yet gone. Not completely.” The short man said, finally breaking the silence.

“How? The West took out their whole communications network? Hasn’t the nuclear radiation made the area uninhabitable?”

“We never took out OGAS. We never dropped nukes on the Soviets.” The tall man answered.

Reasman's head was starting to spin. “But, Berlin, the bombing. We retaliated.”

“There was no retaliation because the Soviet’s never bombed Berlin” the short man explained, “the Western Coalition did.”

His headache now turned nausea. It made no sense. Why would the West nuke an ally? Reasman sat dumbfounded. “There’s no way. The West would never. We all saw what happened on Black Sunday. Why would they ever do that”

“You may have seen what happened through the lens of your media that you believe so much in but you do not know what really occurred …Black Sunday doesn’t mark the day we wiped the Soviet Union off the map, it is the day NATOnet disconnected all communications with OGAS. The day the West from separated from the Soviet’s sphere of influence. The day we established our very own Filter Bubble. We are now a globalist, capitalist society, living in a world completely free of communism. All we had to do was convince the people it was true. In the long run, the end always justifies the means”

Reasman was now tearing up, unable to accept the claims made by these men in black suits. It couldn’t be true. “I don’t understand why our government would do this.” He was sobbing. “Bombing their own ally, fabricating a nuclear war? ...Why would they go THIS far just to cut off communication with the Soviets? What was the Western Coalition scared of?!?”

“I believe your friend Mr. S had already answered that question for you” the short man replied.

OGAS works...

"BINGO! We have a winner!" Exclaimed the taller man

While before his mind was scrambled suddenly everything fell into place for John Reasman. The separation of the World’s networks wasn’t because the Soviets were threatened by NATOnet, it was the West that was threatened by OGAS. Fearful of its influence on the masses, the government had made a plan to blackout the Soviet network and preserve capitalist system. “It must work well to scare the Coalition this much” he said half laughing half crying. “If the Soviet Union isn’t nuclear waste and the OGAS really is online, Why is the government telling me?”

“Well Mr. Reasman, the Coalition needs your help. We believe the Soviets are attempting to infiltrate the Western News Media. We’ve read in the transcripts of your conversation that Mr. “S” invited you out East…We’d like you to accept that invitation.”

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